Common, the rapper. Common, the actor. Common, the photographer?!
Common was host to the Canon PIXMA PRO City Senses event, and featured along with two local photographers (Kristyna Archer & Taylor Castle) to share their vision of the city through limited edition photography. There was a baseball theme amongst all of the artists' photos, and the photos were presented as a sensory experience in a gallery at Ignite Glass Studio. We walked in different rooms and were asked to use various senses like smell, touch, hearing, and taste (we got free hot dogs!) to create a new mood and perspective before the lights were turned on to view the photos. It was an interactive and innovative way to take in art, and surely an influence too, as we found out from Com himself.
Common talks about his photography — how he drew inspiration from his sensory experience of his hometown of Chicago and the concept behind his photograph "1st Base" (seen below). "1st Base, you gotta start somewhere."
"The sounds of the city.. I've throughout the years come home just to ride around Chicago, and feel how the smell of the city and what it sounds like, so I can write songs because I wanted it to be rooted where I come from. And I think all your citizens are important when it comes to making art."
As you can see, Common is very aware of his city, whether he's capturing it through photos or making music from its environment. Com even brought it back to growing up on Dorchester!
Plus, he shares some new info on the art he's most known for: his music. The central theme of his upcoming EP (to drop later this year) and album (2014) is now revealed, as Common also mentions he's been working with No I.D. & Swizz Beatz for the projects. Watch above to find out that theme and what to expect musically — a bonus, to finding out more about Common, the artist.
"1st Base" — a photograph by Common
(All images above and in the video were printed using the PIXMA PRO printer.)
I had the chance to catch up with the homies Krewella when they were getting set to rock the house at Maya Day & NightClub. The entire club was slammed body to body on an incredible Sunday afternoon. It was my first time experiencing the venue and it was nothing short of amazing. The ladies actually remembered me from back in Chicago! We go back from the club days.
Sidenote: I'd do asian carryout for Jahan and Yasmine any day of the week. In person, they are stunning ...even if they haven't showered lol!
Every year at Lollapalooza, I feel like there's one legendary hip hop act that either graces the main stage or a jam-packed after party. This year, it was Salt-N-Pepa in the latter environment at the ASOS Rocks After Party at the Hard Rock Hotel last Saturday night.
Before they took the stage, we got a chance to sit down for a candid talk with Salt-N-Pepa, as they updated their fans on...
- The 25th anniversary tour for the 'A Salt With A Deadly Pepa' album
- Their thoughts on Nicki Minaj, and if she could have made it in their era
- A message to today's generation of artists
- What else to expect from Salt-N-Pepa going forward
Right after the interview, we got as close as we could amongst the die-hards to capture their full-out show where Salt-N-Pepa performed all their biggest hits including "Whatta Man", "Let's Talk About Sex", and my favorite: "Push It", complete with a couple of dancers and a well-planned routine. It was pretty surreal watching the legends take me back to my early childhood (or the hilarious Jeffster cover on 'Chuck'), as the concert was a shoulder-to-shoulder party in the pit right in front of the stage. The true Salt-N-Pepa fans were having a blast up front: dancing and bumping into random fans all the while. Great times. It was an honor to see them perform and talk candidly above. Because, no matter your generation of hip hop fandom, Salt-N-Pepa is a must-see!
Other standout performances at the #ASOSRocks After Party this weekend were courtesy of Emeli Sande (whoo, she can sing.) and Angel Haze (whoo, she can rap.) More photos and a recap of our three nights at the #ASOSRocks After Party coming later today! Shoutout to BMF Media for putting on yet another fantastic weekend of events, year after year here in Chicago.
There is more to Skylar Grey than being a wonderful singer and songwriter. She has a wide range in her personality and music that are both seen in our interview and in her performance at a sold-out Schubas earlier this week.
After getting the chance to talk with Skylar and experience the concert in such an intimate setting, I became even more of a fan and further appreciate her artistry, complexities, authenticity, and overall style. Watch our new documentary style production above, in what is one of my favorite interviews to date.
Skylar Grey's debut album, Don't Look Down, is in stores now!
Skylar Grey reveals:
- the influence of hip hop on her music and album
- the first hip hop album she ever bought
- a new story about working with Eminem on the album (02:19)
- her first reaction to Lupe's direction on "Words I Never Said" (04:05)
- the different personalities that are conveyed on the album
I had the opportunity a few weeks ago to sit down with MoShadee after his show at The Flat in Brooklyn. MoShadee has some big things happening to him in the near future. He leaves the country for France in a few weeks to meet up with the other half of CM Jones, DJ Creestal. They will be keeping busy and laying down some serious work doing shows, radio interviews, and whatever else may come their way. We will be supporting them all the way.
In our interview we spoke about the formation of CM Jones, his upcoming trip to France, the upcoming project, ‘Perfect Hand Off,’ and the importance of getting that new project printed on vinyl. Check out the interview and get excited for what’s to come.
A special shout out to Tee for editing up the video and to The Urban Circuit for putting the event together.
P.S. If you're curious to what song is mixed into the video, it's "All Day Ridin'." (below)
Last week, T.I. stopped off in Chicago as part of his nationwide promo tour for Trouble Man: Heavy Is The Head, and above is our informative and highly entertaining new sit-down with Julian On Da Radio!
Informative? Because T.I. reveals a couple of interesting anecdotes in relation to the album, including the one artist he had not really known before collaborating for the album. And which were some of the toughest tracks and collabs of the 127 (!) that he recorded for the album, that didn't make the final tracklist. (SPOILER: One is "Trap N****" f/ Pharrell).
Highly entertaining? Because Julian premieres a new segment called "60 Second Quickies", where he asks rapid-fire questions to Tip in 60 seconds, where he has to answer with the first thing that comes to mind. Watch and see an unfiltered T.I. be caught off guard, or have the exact answer that will make you laugh out loud.
"60 Second Quickie" Examples:
What's the largest sum of money you've ever deposited in your bank account?
Who is someone, living or dead, you would have dinner with?
What is something perfect to have on a date?
Furthermore, check out the story behind the interview that I posted last week when, literally at the conclusion of our interview, T.I. bumped into Marlon Wayans at the elevator. Crazy! It warrants mentioning that, even though T.I. was on a time crunch, he was real genuine and grateful to us and we'd like to reciprocate the same to T.I. for his time and positive energy. Gowhere You Love!
And lastly, the video also contains some footage from the Trouble Man listening party we attended later that night, and I'd be remiss not to drop some thoughts on one of my favorite artists' new album.
- Of the singles that were previewed prior to today, "Sorry" f/ Andre 3000 and "Trap Back Jumpin'" are heavy in my rotation.
- "Can You Learn" featuring R. Kelly features a strong chorus from the latter and is a track with substance that I was expecting from Kellz' other high-profile rap collab earlier this year.
- "Guns And Roses" featuring Pink will be that Billboard single that charts the highest off this album. And it's a legit one with a relatable concept (how you can't stand someone not being with you, but can't stand them when they are), some dope rhymes from Tip, and sultry vocals from Pink. Another *Tibs Fav.
- "Wonderful Life" featuring Akon is my favorite concept from T.I. on the album. In a couple of verses, he speaks to himself from the perspective of his dad, and late friend Philant Johnson. An all-caps *TIBS FAV. off that alone (and Akon does his thing as well).
- "Hallelujah" is perhaps the most left-field of records you'd expect from T.I., but when you think harder about it, it's really not. Tip channels a gospel style singer for the chorus and an appreciation to the one above! The type of feel-good record I've been vibing with the most these past few months, and a fitting conclusion to the album.
- Everyone went bananas for "Memories Back Then" featuring B.o.B & Kendrick Lamar - a track that unfortunately won't make the album with the sample that's intended (as described in my post of the download for it earlier today)
- Trouble Man: Heavy Is The Head is a strong album from beginning to end, and continuing to grow on me. I hesitate to put it on the tier of Paper Trail and King, however, but as a T.I. fan since the beginning, I'm not disappointed in the album. A must-grab come tomorrow, December 18th.
Last week at New Era's downtown flagship store in Chicago, we sat down with Big Boijust before getting an exclusive listen to his upcoming album, 'Vicious Lies & Dangerous Rumors'!
In a collaborative video with our friends at Rap Genius, GY312 talks to Big Boi about how personal the album is to him - find out how the title is derived from the ATL emcee's grandma. We also get a genuine reaction from Big Boi about the creative GIF-style artwork for the album, the fun behind his bowling name (yup, Big Boi bowls in a league every Wednesday with his studio mates), and last but not least, a lyric from "In The A" is officially verified for Rap Genius. Catch the line in a slick graphic in the video and then hear the song for yourself here.
Lastly, catch a glimpse of the listening party itself with footage of the happenings at New Era, including a sneak peak at how the album monumentally starts off at the very end of the video. Other tracks to look out for: the fast-paced flows on the B.o.B collab "Shoes For Running", another Sleepy Brown feature that connects in "The Thickets", and (released earlier today) "She Hates Me" featuring Kid Cudi. The album has an impressive variety of sounds and I can't wait to sit down with it myself on December 11th.
One last shoutout to Rap Genius and GY312 as the groove maker just moved to NYC this weekend to build with RG. Follow 'em both closely for more major moves to come. Groove!
Newcomer r.O.b. isn't that new to the music scene; having already released a mixtape with Don Cannon back in 2010. The New York native has been dilligently preparing for his upcoming project, Circa XXV. I recently had the opportunity to chat with the rapper about everything from coming of age and how 90's hip hop saved his life. Get familiar with an artist who's name you'll be hearing a lot more of in 2013!
GWHH: Who are you?
r.O.b.: My government name is Robert Anthony Castano, My stage name is r.O.b (realist One breathin) Not FuturisticRO I don't know why people think that's my name. It's a cool name but not my stage name.
GWHH: Where are you from?
r.O.b.: I'm from the Bronx New York, Soundview section to be exact, but I was partially raised out in North Philly in the Badlandz section. Much love to Philly for the help grooming me.
GWHH: How did you get your start?
r.O.b.: I got my start in Hip Hop by being around my older cousins and brother who were heavily into the culture in all angles of life.The bug bit me so bad I started rapping the answers to school questions because it was that fun to me. The moment I realized I wanted to pursue music for a living had to be in the 12th grade when I battled this guy who was notoriously known for destroying opponents in battles. I was the complete underdog it was so bad that my homies from my block didn't believe I would win and they made sure I was aware of their opinion, so I stood focused and prepared and eventually won convincingly. After that moment I knew I could seriously do this music thing despite what anyone tells me because I had tough skin and determination and those were two of the biggest things anyone can have when pursuing a career in music.
GWHH: Rap has been a thriving form of music for over 40 years, What do you believe you are bringing new to the table?
r.O.b.: I wouldn't want to jump over the bridge and say I'm necessarily going to bring something brand spanking "New" to the culture because everything has been seen as well as recycled, but what I can say is that I'm going to present a Fresh element to the culture by combining different characteristics and emotions that necessarily haven't been combined in one artist before. We're so used to seeing "The ladies man" or "The poet" who only speaks about poverty and pain or "The dreamer" here I present a lot of those elements and more in one man because I represent the people and we are not only filled with one emotion or feeling. Sometimes we're passive sometimes were aggressive and I am here to vividly help the world understand us as well as why we are the way we are.
GWHH: Tell us about your most recent project? How did you link up with Don Cannon?
r.O.b.: "Higher Learning: The 90's Tape" was a project I dropped to show my admiration to the decade that help create my love for the culture that saved my life. It was compiled of 10 Tracks one from every year starting in 1990 and ending in 1999, I made sure to keep it B side records too. On the project I wanted to show my ability to rap because I'm from New York and that's what we do. I also know as I move further into my career I will delve more into the songwriting side and trying to create the correct mood of the record and when writing in those positions the focus is on the melodic aspect more so than trying to spit the best bars. When creating the project I knew I wanted Don Cannon to host it because he was the best fit for it in every department so me and my team searched tirelessly to try and find a way to get to him. After months of searching we found him pitched the idea and he was with it then we flew to Atlanta to meet and shoot some epic trailers which I still love to this day. We didn't shoot no videos for the project except the promo pieces nor did we have a single but people had their favorites "Uptown Anthem" and "Queens Bound" seem to be the standouts. Overall "Higher Learning: The 90's Tape" is a gem that people will catch onto later.
GWHH: How would you describe your brand? And how do you see it evolving over the next 5 years?
r.O.b.: I would describe my brand as a Futuristic, one because it takes the core elements of what made the Golden era special but combines with a fresh sound, look and direction. In the next 5 years I see myself and brand growing immensely because our goal has always been to evolve with every step we take whether it be visually from the videos to the Futuristic Experience (My Live show) to the sound of the music. We pride ourselves on being innovators and taking calculated risks so I feel as long as we continue to do that the appeal will increase naturally to high heights while keeping our core fans excited and proud to see us grow together as we enter the next phase of our lives.
GWHH: Tell me about Circa XXV; When can we expect a release? Any Important Artist/Producer features? What's the relevance of naming your project Circa XXV?
r.O.b.: "CircaXXV" is a beautiful project that you can expect at the end of January 2013; had to push it back to make sure everything was to beyond perfection can't cheat my believers by rushing the product. I kept it really light on the features but one standout would have to be Wara From The Neighborhood who's featured on a song titled "Sitting Back" I just feel he's one of the most unique artist hip hop has had in a very long time his ability to depict a gritty reality in such a stylish manner has only been displayed by Christopher Wallace his upcoming project is incredible. On the production side there are many standout guys but ApSuperProducer was probably the producer that gave me the one beat that made the project complete and I didn't notice it until after I finished the record. Its titled "Day | Night" it was one of the last records recorded for the project. The relevance of naming the project "CircaXXV" is... first I'm XXV years old and in this 25th year of my life I've finally come of age in all aspects from personal relationships to my confidence to me in my craft and I got here by simply doing what was right in my heart and that was chasing my dreams while taking the highs and lows to the chin and keeping it moving strong. So even if you're not XXV the project is for you.. The project is for anyone approaching that coming of age feeling. Knowing the world is yours regardless of all the emotional roller coasters you may have on the journey.
GWHH: Where can we find you?
r.O.B.: You can log onto www.IamFuturistic.com for everything r.O.b related. On the website you can find social media links.
GWHH: Final Thoughts, Catch Phrase, Anything else you think we should know about you?
r.O.b.: I definitely would like to thank the good people at GoWhereHipHop.com for the love it's highly appreciated. Be prepared for "CircaXXV" because one of your homies will be bumping it if you're dumb enough not to. One more thought fellas stop using them cheap ass NYC condoms those are baby making condoms. Catch phrase uhhhhhhhh "If you're not first you're last?". One fun fact about me is I love watching porno graphic movies but preferably ones where the girls have a huge ass. No specific race and I like my Oatmeal Lumpy.