DJ Rashad Passes Away at 34

Image

Earlier this week, Chicago-based DJ Rashad (Rashad Harden) died at 34 from a suspected drug overdose. Rashad, along with his crew Teklife, pioneered Juke music and played a prominent role in expanding the sound internationally.

This news is especially saddening as DJ Rashad was just beginning to become a household name within the global electronic music community. After years of establishing himself within a small and regionally isolated juke scene, it seemed that he had finally found a way to bring both his music and the work of his close peers into the limelight. It’s tragic to have lost such an innovator at a time where his career was just taking off. For those of you unfamiliar with his work, here are a few of my favorite Rashad tunes. RIP.

 

Advertisements

A&R – Artists to Watch: Singer-Songwriter Cole Fournier

searchlight

Independent and unsigned Canadian artist, Cole Fournier has been making some serious waves off of  his debut release, “One Morning, I’m Going To Wake Up,” the 25-year-old singer songwriter explores age-old themes of love, loss and lust against a lyrical backbone borrowed from the likes of Jesse Lacey (Brand New) and Max Bemis (Say Anything).

The eleven song LP was written over a period of eight years and across four continents, documenting the singer’s life as a busker in Paris, tree planter in Prince George and Camp Counselor in Spain. Co-produced by JUNO nominee Ben Leggett, “One Morning, I’m Going To Wake Up” sees Fournier go beyond his pop roots offering insight into modern relationships (“I’m With You But I’m Lonely”), and loss (“Austria”). The single from the album (“Pegasi”) has garnered Cole a position in the top 24 on CBC Searchlight’s Best New Artist Contest.

Here is a link to what could be one of the best promotional video EVER.

Head over to www.colefournier.com to cast your vote and find out where Cole is headed next.

WARE have you been? Meet JESSIE WARE

Who is JESSIE WARE?Jessie-Ware-red-lipstick-effect

Another artist that I slept on was Jessie Ware! I didn’t discover Jessie’s music until this year. Here’s a quick rundown on this budding starlet:

The Deets

  • Origin: UK (London)
  • Label: PMR Records
  • Started her career as a background vocalist for Jack Peñate and SBTRKT
  • She collaborated with Sampha (long time collaborator of SBTRKT’s) on the song “Valentine”
  • Released her debut album “Devotion” August 2012
  • Debuted at #5 on the UK charts
  • Most successful single “Wildest Moments”

ps_jessie_ware_01_129

Jessie has spent the last year touring at numerous festivals throughout the UK, Europe, and the States. She recently started working on her sophomore album during the 1st quarter of this year. I’m highly anticipating her next release! I can’t wait for some new music! In the meantime, listen to some of her tracks below.

Wildest Moments

Devotion (Title Track)–One of my faves!

Bonus Vid: Valentine

Dates of Upcoming Shows:

  • Wilderness Festival (August 7, 2014-Cornbury Park, Charlbury, UK)
  • Berlin Festival (September 5, 2014-Flughafen Tempelhof, Berlin, Germany

For more info on Jessie, check out her official website jessieware.com

Young Guru & Sean C: A&R Tips

For my culminating experience, I am working on a A&R / Artist management project. I’m not fully participating as an A&R for the Disrupción records, but that’s the field I want to learn the most about.
 
When Sean C and Young Guru came to Berklee few weeks ago, I tried to attend most of their sessions and workshops. I felt like their workshops were very helpful even though I didn’t really get to actually talk to them for hours. Just hearing their experience, how they started in the industry, how much they love working in the music industry, I was very inspired.
One of the biggest take aways  from their sessions was that “If you want to be an A&R, be an A&R NOW, Don’t wait for someone else to hire you and make you do the job. Sean C said just look for talent now and act like you are doing the job already. There are plenty of talented artists around us and we may not realize it, but also we need to force ourselves to make sure we are surrounded by talent. To become an A&R, we need to have the ear for the talent, and budgeting, learning how to balance can come later. Of course, you have to know how to put the record together.

We need to learn why other people fall in love with certain records, it’s easy to fall for music that we specifically like however, as an A&R, we need to figure out why other people like and why they are popular. Even though you don’t like it, you need to know that. The example they gave us was Ne-yo how he puts himself into other people’s situation. He would write songs as if he is in a female perspective. They told us to think about why other people are attached to some records. Also Young Guru was saying he brings his songs to his usual Barber shop so he can get other people’s opinion because they are the most honest people around him who would tell him they like the song or not. 

These advice may sound typical, but to me it was a wake up call. I really try to listen to whatever I want to listen to. I easily shut down the music genre I don’t like even if they are all over the radio. I always rather listened to new songs, but most likely repeat the songs I like. Before I go to bed, I should really try to think over why people like Pitbull so much now. 

Random Thoughts I had on the Train

I’ve mentioned through previous writings on the Berklee Blog about how I am starting a record label with a good friend of mine outside of the school practicum. Being in charge of my own project has been exciting and far more hands on than working within the Berklee Record Label practicum, specifically in terms of artist/musical direction. Most recently, I’ve received a new remix for a 12” single we plan to put out in the next few months and have begun to develop the preliminary album cover designs for our first few releases.

The 12” single, a tune called Hang On by Sasquatch, will include a remix from Distal, an electronic producer and record label owner operating out of Atlanta. Both my friend (label co-owner) and I have been big fans of his production and label (Embassy Recordings). Admittedly, the first few drafts of the remix that were sent to us needed work. We were unsure how he might be able to fix the remix so that it was in line with our vision for the release. Some artists become turned off and disinterested in the project they are working on after receiving constant (and seemingly never-ending) feedback, however much to our delight, Distal handled our criticism professionally and has turned in a new draft that I’m very excited about.

As far as artwork goes, we’ve started to work with a Hong Kong based artist and designer. His work with Archie Pelago initially caught our eye. A lot of his designs resemble strange dreamscapes and seem to incorporate unspoken stories that relate to the music. We are currently working on the first two album covers (both of which are in the draft stage) and are using old Gong record sleeves as references. Slowly but surely we are developing a product that we feel will best suit the direction for our label.

Starting out, it seems the most valuable asset for my label is time. We are not in much of a rush to get anything out and are trying to make sure everything is top notch before we share our music with the public. While working with the Berklee label has been an exciting and interesting experience, sometimes I feel as if our final products might be compromised by deadlines created from the academic schedule. It’s extremely difficult to maintain a consistent aesthetic and level of professionalism when records need to be cranked out in such a short period of time. No matter, I have confidence that we, as a class, will be able to best represent our artists and put out records they are proud of. In the end, working with the Berklee record label as well as a label of my own has proved to be an excellent learning experience. 

That’s it. No more ramblings for now. 

August Alsina:: Testimony

I remember listening to TLC when I was young while living in Korea, I had no internet,  and didn’t have a lot of money to really buy CDs. I was watching AFKN (American TV station in Korea) , saw the music video and fell in love. Ever since then, my favorite music genre was R&B. I went to the states and it was a heaven. I had Destiny’s Child, Brandy, and Aliyah. For a while, Mario, Craig David, Ne-Yo, Usher and other R&B artists kept my CD player busy. I was driving to Canada from New York for 8 hours, I remember purchasing Ne-Yo’s album and put on Because of You on repeat for 8 hours. Trey Songz, Chris Brown made me drive down to NYC to see their shows. There aren’t a lot of artists who are doing R&B anymore. I miss it but I know not a lot of people are into it as much as before. I had Frank Ocean and John Legend but I had to hear Pitbull once in a while because I was forced to. 

Image

I was checking itunes album chart and found out about August Alsina. I thought it was interesting because he was number one on the album chart and it’s not EDM. Then few days ago, I read an article about this artist that his debut album “Testimony” debut on Billboard 200 at number 2. I went on Spotify (sorry) listened to the whole album and today, I just purchased his whole album plus  previous EPs. I hardly really purchase whole albums on itunes unless they are Pharell, Drake or Frank Ocean. August Alsina sold more than 63000 copies the opening week. 

New Orleans artist August Alsina is just 21 years old who’s under Radio Killa (The -Dream) and Def Jam. Initially , he approached me as an artist who sounds like the old Chris Brown.
I feel like..he is probably the only R&B artist who is singing about real struggles, and problems today. He talks about his childhood, drug abuse, growing up in the hood, and of course love. His songs are honest and it’s about his life which made me open my wallet to actually purchase the whole album. A lot of the R&B song are about sex and some songs don’t even make sense to me. 

“The date of the the album’s release, April 15th, holds special meaning to Alsina because his brother was shot and killed on that same day a few years ago. On the album’s intro, “Testify,” he sings about how his brother’s death has inspired him to keep grinding. “Heard my brother got gunned down, and it hurt me to my heart/ So I kept grinding’, kept pushin’, he told me to go far.” In fact, a large portion of the album’s subject matter is about the struggle, and Alsina’s past days on the corner selling dope. It hasn’t always been easy sailing for the singer, as he describes on the following track, “Make It Home”.

The album Testimony is definitely a strong debut for August Alsina. All the songs are well presented, produced, well ordered too. Of course I have some favorite tracks but I did not skip a track. Some people won’t agree and probably don’t like the genre but I can’t help myself repeating the whole album since yesterday. If you like R&B, you absolutely must check August Alsina out!

August Alsina-I Luv This Shit (Explicit) ft. Trinidad James

 

Some Bizarre Mix I did that is now on HighOnBeats.com

Occasionally I’ll throw together DJ mix of tracks I’ve been digging at the time. This particular mix was recorded late last summer before leaving for Berklee. All of the tracks featured are dance tunes that are slowed down to 2/3’s the speed of the original tempo. It’s kind of like a DJ Screw mix with club songs rather than rap. 

I thought I was onto something at the time, however both Boston Bun and Dubbel Dutch (two of my favorite producers at the moment) had put out mixes of a similar fashion that are both killer. Oh well. 

The mix has been posted to HighOnBeats.com with a slightly exaggerated yet semi-detailed description of where the selections are coming from. I hope you enjoy the mix. I had a blast making it.

#FivetipFriday

Five tips to ruin your reputation in almost any field!

1. Talk, but don’t walk.

-Your word is all you have, its weight is always felt, or not.

2. Appear, but not be.

-Make no mistake, in the end, matters always come to light.

3. Slander, not praise.

-People listen, people remember.

4. Act, but never think.

-The ability to deny or suppress an impulse is what separates beast from man.

5. Practice dishonesty, not virtue.

-Karma is the way the universe serves justice.

 

Love

Follow on Twitter: @Avrelivs_

Solange/Saint Heron

All eyes are on Beyonce. Always. There is no doubt she’s doing great things for Pop music. However, many fans often forget or overlook Solange Knowles. Perhaps overshadowed by the colossal success of her sister, Solange operates within the indie realm, making records with iconic producers like Blood Orange, DJing internationally, and heading her own record label, Saint Heron. Last year, Saint Heron released its first compilation and, in many ways, pushed the envelope within R&B. 

The compilation (titled Saint Heron) features a rich cast of relatively lesser known artists as well as tracks from both Solange and Cassie. Many of the newcomers on Saint Heron are already making a splash in the pop music scene; Kelela has been gaining press for her work with the Night Slugs label while Sampha and Jhene Aiko are heralded for their collaborative efforts with artists like SBTRK Drake. Additionally, some of the most exciting tracks on the record come from both BC Kingdom and P. Morri$, a R&B vocalist/producer and beat maker who are bubbling up within their niche LA music scenes respectively.

Saint Heron was one of my favorite releases of last year. Each song on the compilation takes traditional R&B norms and turns them 180 degrees to create a futuristic and gritty aesthetic that is both suited for the car and the bedroom. Even though music headlines will often praise Beyonce’s latest musical efforts, be sure to pay attention to Solange in the future. It’s clear that her tastes and connections could very well generate tomorrow’s classic R&B record. 

NEW Music From Keyshia Cole: “Rick James” (HOT or NAH??)

a340c640-afcb-11e3-8ce5-9b873ba3eaa8_keyshia-cole-steve-madden

The old K.C. is back and in full effect! Keyshia Cole is known for belting out heartfelt lyrics, but over the years some of her fans insinuated after getting married that they didn’t like the “happy” Keyshia as much as the “old” Keyshia who sang about heartbreak, pain, and relationships.

As of late something has brought the old K.C. out of hiding on her new track “Rick James.” It’s a catchy track about her slapping up a female (in Rick James fashion) who her man cheated on her with. It also refers to Dave Chappelle’s “Rick James” skit (w/ lines such as “feet up on your couch”, “slap a bitch like Rick James”). “There’s a lot of speculation around the track since Keyshia unfortunately has experienced marital problems as of late.  Nonetheless, I’m glad to see that she’s back on the scene…

artworks-000073959311-d6t7sn-originalChorus:

Why does it matter now?
Who can do you better?
Feet up on your couch
Yeah bitch I’m Rick James
Yeah bitch I’m Rick James
Yeah bitch I’m Rick James
Slap a bitch like Rick James
I’m Rick James

 Peep the vid below featuring Juicy J:

What do you think? Banger or nah??