When Inspirations Help You Inspire Others…

Infamous and undefeated heavyweight champion boxer Floyd Mayweather is claimed to have witnessed a tragedy at first hand.  His label protegé on “The Money Team” Earl Hayes shot and killed his wife and then shot himself in an apparent murder suicide.  Reportedly, Floyd witnessed it all via FaceTime.  This is such a sad and tragic story for two individuals whose careers were fairly new and steadily enhancing.  Mayweather’s business partner turned foe, 50 Cent, reached out to Floyd to disrupt the beef and amend differences.  He publicly offered his condolences and expressed his love for Floyd, as he states that is his “little brother”.

Relatively, here at Berklee Valencia we have been working on proposals for our culminating experience thesis project.  I am writing a producing a song inspiring people to avoid suicide and to ultimately choose life.  Research proves that celebrities and musicians’ leading cause of death is suicide.  In turn I wanted to find a way to use my passion, music, to prevent suicide.  This project should promote opposite solutions to issues like the above, where a man accuses his wife of infidelity and instead of working it out or divorcing he chooses to end both of their lives as a means of solution.  Something needs to be done about this; and it can start and end with an inspiration.  It is situations like these in the entertainment industry as well as amongst people who are not famous that make it clear that changes need to be made.  Changes that inspire people to choose life no matter what problems they may be going through.

Welcome Home Meek Mill… Philly’s Back!

My hood right nowwwww!

A post shared by Meek Mill (@meekmill) on

The streets of Philadelphia were excited to welcome home the infamous native rapper Meek Mill home after a six month stint in prison for a “presumed” probation violation.  As one of the major entertainers to make it out of the hood to become a leader in the hip hop industry, Meek Mill coming home was a big deal not only for his fans worldwide, but for the streets that raised him in Philadelphia, PA, “North Philly” to be exact!.  The notorious and diehard “Philly Fan”comes into play for sports, cheesesteaks, and music.  As one of those official diehard fans, this moment marked one time where I wish I was actually home from Valencia for the “holidays”!

The above video explains his real “Started From The Bottom Now We Here” story in an artistic way.  As a native Philadelphian I can share the value of his talent and his release.  This marks the re-entrance of the city that Meek Mill carries on his back to the pop music and entertainment world.  Him, along with comedian Kevin Hart are the only people who represent the “City of Brotherly Love” in entertainment culture.  Previously, Philadelphia has been recognized as one of the most artistically cultured cities in America.  Birthing talents of incredible entertainers like Patti Labelle, Boyz II Men, Will Smith and Jazzy Jeff, Jill Scott, Musiq Soulchild, Frankie Beverly & Maze, and the list goes on.  However, in the current years, Meek Mill has been the only musical phenom from Philly that has come out, went mainstreamed, and stayed mainstream.  Perfectly put in relation to Meek Mill’s return home, Philly’s back!

Now that Meek’s home, his new album is set to release pretty soon.  His time in prison pushed back the initial release date in September back.  I cannot wait until his second studio album, Dreams Worth More Than Money is released because even if the Eagles don’t win the Superbowl and the Sixers don’t win the NBA championship it does not matter because Meek Mill is out and he said he’s never going back, so Philly’s back and here to stay!

The Return of the Boy Bands… Jodeci

After nearly two decades of solo ventures, Jodeci is back together!! Their first reunion performance was at last nights Soul Train Music Awards.  Since, the start of my tenure here at Berklee Valencia my classmates and I have discussed what “real music” is, how newer artists are totally pop without any substance, and what it takes for up and coming artists to make it in the industry.

In two words, R&B group Jodeci can be summed up as “real music”.  I can remember in the 90s as a young child, riding in the car with my mother as she blasts Jodeci’s latest hits through the car’s stereo system.  It was then that I developed an infatuation with soulful passion filled love music developed through the sounds of groups like New Edition, Boyz II Men, Dru Hill, and Silk.

Accordingly, this reunion recreated the music that I fell in love with as a child, and grew up with.  I hope that their future success as a group can match or even overpower their past success:

Lifetime’s Aaliyah Biopic… Dust Yourself Off & Try Again

If you Google “Aaliyah Biopic”, the first returned feed is entitled “America Hated Aaliyah Biopic, Twitter reacts as expected“.  With any grand television release, the success is often measured by the tweets and social media posts related, whether it be a new movie, an award show, or in this case a “biopic” that did not do the deceased songstress any justice.  The second returned feed is “Did the Aaliyah Biopic at least get the fashion right“.

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Since the death of this beautiful, fashionable, and extremely talented young singer in a tragic plane crash in 2001, her fan base has long-awaited a film to honor and celebrate her life.  The movie that Lifetime network aired on Saturday, Nov. 15th did exactly the opposite.  Everything from the casting and music to having the accurate dates of significant events went wrong.  The only way to salvage a biographical film to commemorate her life is to live out some of Aaliyah’s most notorious lyrics, “Dust yourself off and try again“!  Try again with a new cast, a better and more accurate story line, a new production team, and a new network.  Aaliyah was well liked and her artistry was greatly appreciated because she embodied a genuine and pleasant character.  Til this day she is still one of my favorite singers/ dancers/ actors.  Often referred to as “baby girl” since she was young and ahead of her time, any impression of her has to be top-notch & exceed expectations because if not, America is not having it!!

Check out Aaliyah’s former producer, advisor, manager, and “big brother”, notorious producer Timbaland’s response to the Aaliyah biopic.  Also several memes posted on social media are shown in this video.

Still Queen of The Night…

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On Monday, November 10, 2014 Whitney Houston’s Greatest Live Performances were released!! For a limited time, this album was available in a vinyl souvenir compilation, a CD/DVD combo, and on basic CD.  The regular album is also available via iTunes and Amazon.

Super producer Clive Davis  and renowned songstress Jennifer Hudson share their thoughts about Whitney Houston, best known as “The Voice” on The Today Show.  The video clip below captures their love and admiration for Houston’s remarkable talent. Furthermore, in a article on Official Charts Company website, Davis shares that “watching her [Houston] on stage gave his goosebumps.” Many of her fans, like myself, share the same feeling.  Hearing her unmatched voice, literally gave me chills.  Which is why I purchased my limited edition CD/ DVD greatest performances compilation.

The biggest question I have about this project is the handling of royalties.  Does Clive Davis and his business or the Whitney Houston estate get the most compensation?  This always seems to be a big deal at the release of new projects for iconic deceased artists.  Such relevance can be assumed by Michael Jackson, Tupac Shakur, Elvis Presley, and many more.  At the end of the day, I guess the person who has control and ownership of the artistic content has the final decision on how it is ultimately used.

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Qult, Something New For Hip-Hop

A few weeks ago, while in Berlin Germany for the Rethink Music Venture Day, I took a break to grab a bite to eat in the city center.  While walking to get a sausage I heard some booming hip-hop beats in the direction of a big crowd.  Of course, I was drawn to hear more and become part of that crowd.  I saw three guys and a DJ captivating a sidewalk full of people with their German rap lyrics, and song.

Since I am not fluent in the German language, I did not know what they were rapping about but I knew it was hip hop.  The one member of the group who sung the chorus also had lyrical talent.  He was my favorite.

The three band members had different rhyming styles, one was fast and chaotic with his tunes.  The other had a slower flow with a deeper and smoother voice.  And the singer/ rapper brought every song home by keeping the momentum of the audience going as he switched up his flows.  The group’s DJ stayed on top of things and continually walked out in the crowd to make sure the sound was right and up to par.  Throughout the entire performance, Qult had representatives walking around with flyers that had their contact and social media info.

This is definitely a group that I would love to do A&R for!

Rethinking Music

My journey at Berklee Valencia has been both intense and worthwhile so far.  About two weeks ago I, along with several other classmates from Global Entertainment & Music Business, had a chance to attend Rethink Music Venture Day in Berlin, Germany.  Rethink is about bringing the “new” to the music industry.  12 professionals competed, pitching their ideas for a successful music business.  Berklee’s own “Play It Forward” team successfully came in third place!

This has been one of my greatest experiences since my start in September.  I have been exposed to so many new networks, new people, new business ideas, new ways of thinking, and new music in general.

That same weekend in Berlin, a Music Tech Festival occurred.  There were so many cool music startups from a therapeutic method to create music through body gestures and new methods that SoundCloud will be using to gain a greater audience.

It’s an Indie Thing

Since October is A&R month, Pete Dyson has been giving the Berklee Valencia business students some great insight to the ins and outs of A&R.  Accordingly, an unsigned artist that I think could be successful in the music industry is described below:

Hailing from the DMV (DC, Maryland, and Virginia) area, 24-year-old Cecily has decided that her singer and songwriter talents need to be shared beyond her home base, with the world.

This indie artist embodies an Acoustic Pop Soul flavor inspired by the sounds of Lauryn Hill, Adele, and Erykah Badu. As explained by Cecily, “It’s Acoustic because I like to work with real musicians and real instrumentation. It’s Pop because it has crossover appeal, and it’s Soul because it gives you that warm, soulful feeling, like back in the day.”

She is currently working with Grammy Award winning producer and arranger Benjamin Wright to complete her first album. Being a recent college graduate can inhibit some dream chasers when it comes to funding personal projects, but not Cecily. Last year she launched an Indiegogo crowd funding campaign to help raise money to finish her album. The campaign is ongoing and the link to that project is below:

http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/cecily-s-debut-ep

One of Cecily’s greatest musical accomplishments to date, has been the iTunes release of her single “Heaven in Your Eyes” featuring Washington DC native, Tabi Bonney. To checkout some of her music, interviews, and a cappella covers visit her YouTube channel:

https://www.youtube.com/user/CecilyMusic/videos

The Queen of The Night

I am extremely excited about the upcoming release of Whitney Houston’s Greatest Live Performances on CD, DVD, Amazon, and iTunes! Known to the world as “The Voice”, Whitney Houston has a world-wide fan base that has been longing for something satisfying like this since the very unexpected death of the songstress.

Relatively, an experience here at Berklee Valencia has allowed me focus on this upcoming release.  Using my personal RIVE (Key Resources, Internal Activities, Value Proposition, and External Activities) model, I had to create an innovative business model relative to something going on in the world today.  What better way to engage Whitney’s worldwide audience/ fan base than to accompany this live performance release with a hologram tour.  She is one of my favorite singers ever so my passion and interest in innovation combined to create this.  Check out the promo for the Whitney Houston hologram tour:

“In the heat of the hype about the upcoming release of Whitney Houston’s greatest performances live on CD and DVD on Monday, November 10, 2014, our business model will focus on one of the most important aspects of the music industry. The music industry is broken down into recording, publishing, and touring. Craftily, an accompanying tour to the album release is relevant. “Queen of the Night” hologram United States tour will commence in January 2015, spending one night in New York, LA and Houston. With pre-order opportunities on both Amazon Music and iTunes, the anticipation is building while the fans are impatiently waiting for the release of the seven-time Grammy Award winner’s greatest career moments on CD/DVD.”

First Assignment in Global Music Business

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One of my first homework assignments since arriving on Berklee Campus was to create an album cover and an accompanying 10 song track list about my personal life.  This assignment was for my Entrepreneurship and Innovation course.  After changing my cover idea several times, I stuck with the decision that the above cover and track list were most suitable.

The concept behind the idea of the “Fresh Princess” had a lot to do with the 90’s sitcom “Fresh Prince of Bel Air”, in which a teenager from the city of Philadelphia, in search for a better a life, leaves the “hood” and moves to the suburbs of Hollywood, California.  Similarly, I was born and raised in Philadelphia, and moved to the suburbs of Prince George’s County, Maryland after my single/ newly divorced mother got a new, higher paying, job.  Additionally, the use of a childhood photo imitated Lil Wayne’s, one of my favorite artist & music business men, Tha Carter III and Tha Carter IV.  In turn, my 3 minute presentation of this assignment was a short freestyle using the original “Fresh Prince of Bel Air”‘s anthem with a twist of my own lyrics.  My classmates helped me out with a classic drumming on the desk to the theme song’s beat.

The track list of my album are all self made up titles that describe my journey from birth in Philly, my move to Maryland, my journey through high school and college to my growth of how to love and realizing my personal dreams and goals that I will accomplish.  Of course, I had a track dedicated to one of my favorite rappers/ actors/ activist/ poet/ human artists/ fine asses of all time, Tupac Shakur, in “My Letter To Tupac”.  The final track on the album is entitled “Super Bowl Champs”.  This is a metaphorical title, describing my sight of the “end zone”, and upon accomplishing my music career goals, I will be a champion.  Coincidently, it shares my confidence in my favorite NFL Team, the Philadelphia Eagles, and their journey to Super Bowl XLIX.

Here is the link to the original “Fresh Prince of Bel Air” Theme Song if you would like to get a visual idea of the “Fresh Princess”: