When most people hear Columbus, Ohio they immediately think about the Big 10 college power house Ohio State Buckeyes. But here are a few names you might not know that are connected to the city & state: John Legend (Popular R&B singer), Bow Wow (Popular Hip Hop Artist), Bizzy Bone (Member of Hip Hop Group Bone Thugs-N-Harmony), Philip Michael Thomas (Well known Actor), Randy “Macho Man” Savage (Former Pro Wrestler), Michael Redd (NBA AllStar & 08 Olympic Gold Medalist) and Jack Nicklaus (Golf Great). I have one more name that will surely be added to this star studded list in the months and years to come…and HER name is TaNeal. This young artist has the urban style of Lauryn Hill and the soul of Mary J. Blige. Her soulful voice will simply blow you away and it’s evident when you listen to her bellow out songs without the assistance of a hot track or synthesizer. She’s taking it back to the old school where you really had to poses the talent to sing live if you wanted a career in the industry. She is multitalented and supremely motivated to concur her quest to be one of the top female artists in the world. And if you don’t believe me, just read this direct quote from her, “I’m Black, I’m Strong, I’m a Woman…and I will stop at nothing to get my time to shine!!!” Somebody better tell the Buckeyes and the rest of the boys to make room because TaNeal is here to stay!
Thanks for joining us today TaNeal. Tell me a little about growing up in Columbus, Ohio.
TaNEAL - Thanks for having me. I really appreciate this. Growing up in Columbus, Ohio was odd. I never really felt like I belonged there. It’s a Great City, don’t get me wrong, but I just felt like an alien. I always felt there was a place I needed to be, like I was missing something. I just stayed busy to keep my mind from going nuts. My musical influence began in Hip Hop culture. My cousins that lived with us growing up use to break dance in the basement and everyone in the street that thought they could rap knew they would be the next Eazy E. And me…I was just determined to get a better situation for myself. I have been singing since I was five…that’s about as far as I can remember. I sang in church, school and anywhere the moment hit me. If I was not working or playing a sport, I was at home in my room singing on my karaoke machine…making hits you know (lol)! No really, music has always been my safe place and I’m grateful Hip Hop showed me that I could be who I wanted to be through my freedom of expression and noble intuition.
How did you develop the soulfulness in your voice?
TaNEAL - I just love to sing. I didn’t realize it was as Soulful as it is until I was old enough to realize that it was my Soul that had me singing all along. It would have made a difference if there was someone like a mentor to tell me and know I was serious about being a writer and singer. As most people know Columbus, Ohio is a Football and Real Estate City. There are not too many people there who could have held my hand and help me realize it earlier on. The reaction of others didn’t even convince me for a long time! Singing just felt like a thing I just did until I recorded my first underground cassette tape. I took it home and listened to it and knew that I wanted to do more. Before I started performing I spent a lot of time at studios, hanging out with people who enjoyed making music as much as I did; but as before, I wish I would have had someone to tell me at the time that I needed to get out and meet more people and network. Since I didn’t have a mentor beyond the studio scene, it seemed to be all I needed at the time, but I didn’t realized then that people are not going to come looking for me to support my music.
Describe to me your personality.
TaNEAL - I’m silly…SILLY! No, I’m a real down to earth and open minded person. I’m very easy to warm up to. Some people say I look intimidating but I’m nothing but a social Butterfly! There are times when I do not talk at all though and while people think I’m just mean, I’m actually thinking about my next move. But I’m cool, anyone who knows me would tell you that I’m sure. Even if I get on their nerves sometimes, I’m the most pleasant and reliable person they know!
I’ve sampled your work and was impressed with your acapella skills. Is that something you do to separate yourself from other female artist and showcase your talent?
TaNEAL - Thank you for taking the time to do that! I’m glad you like it. I never thought of it as a way to separate myself from other female artists but that sure is a good point. I’ll remember that! I now have help on the song selections, but I’m no studio singer. I love singing live! I’m putting more effort into final projects now but my home studio mic is not a good match for my voice, so I think people on the internet can get a better feel of my voice without the music. I’m just giving them something to hold onto until I release something new.
What type of response to your music have you received from the listeners?
TaNEAL - Hmmmm, they get emotional. It’s weird because I do not know them well, but I understand that they can relate to me through my music and gives me validity that a successful career in music is where I’m meant to be. I keep pushing to reach as many people as I can because of it. A few ask a lot of questions as to why I wrote a certain song but the majority tell me what it did for them, that they love it and to let them know when I post another song.
You mentioned that you win most of the contests you have entered. Give me some names of those contests and where they took place.
TaNEAL - Aw, that was a promo boost and I normally do not do that. I have tried out for American Idol, Star Search, Columbus Give Me the Mic and got the same response, “We love your personality, but we just don’t think you’re ready for our show.” The let downs only made me work harder and opened other doors for me! In 2006, I won a local radio station contest called “WNC Idol.” That win gave me more motivation to complete my “Learning 2 Love” CD and now that CD has shown me that I understand what I can do and how I can make myself better. Each time I do better than the last. This past Spring 2008, I won second place in the Afr’am Festival in Richmond, Va. Along with that contest, they asked me to perform again. That made me feel good, there were a lot of big names such as Keyshia Cole, Mc Lyte, and Big Daddy Kane performing there as well.
Tell me about the opportunities you had to be the opening act for Jazz musician and vocalist Warren Hill and R&B sensation Mario.
TaNEAL - Through my network I’ve gotten these opportunities. I love networking! It’s the backbone of my mission. They are so supportive and I’ll grab any chance for the pleasure to open for such talent. Both shows were a learning experience, it just helps me understand how everything works in this business rather if it’s good or bad, I want to know.
Who have you had the pleasure to work with to date?
TaNEAL – By networking on the internet, I have worked with Producers and DJs all over the U.S. and overseas in Belgium. There is a lot more work to be done. There are a lot more people out there who are interested in getting vocals from me so I’m looking forward to that. I’m always willing to collabo with other artists. Even collaborating with a Country writer has been quite the experience!
In 2007 you released you first CD entitled “Learning 2 Love”. Talk a little about what this CD has to offer.
TaNEAL - L2L is an introduction to my music mission and who I am as a writer, producer and singer. Listening to the lyrics is a good way to get to know me when it’s convenient for you. There is a little bit of everything for everyone on it. I get great responses from all races, age and nationalities. I’m into so many different styles of music and it showed through this.
You have amassed over 200,000 listeners since releasing this CD, which is very impressive. What do you attribute this accomplishment to?
TaNEAL - The numbers is a shock to me. I do not even have a street team. Like I said, I am a social Butterfly...that would be my strength toward it. I want to reach as many as I can so I keep pushing!
How does it feel to now be sought after for paid gigs and how often do you perform?
TaNEAL - I do not perform as much as I would like at the moment, but when I get calls they seem to fall around the same time and it gets busy! It makes me feel like I’m a step closer to quitting my day job and no one ever said don’t. Once I get enough security, I’ll build a team and we are going to put a tour together.
Even more impressive about you is that you have accomplished all of this without financial backing, a manager or promoter. What’s the secret to your success?
TaNEAL - That whole Butterfly thing I always talk about….let me put it this way, everyone loves Butterflies. You can’t see a Butterfly and get angry, lol! I told you I was silly! Still I’m not where I wanna be so I’m not done yet but the end of my mission is already inside of me so I live and breathe it all day. My brain is always working on something new before I finish what I’m currently working on and I LISTEN to my fans! I pay attention to what they like and I stay consistent. That’s about all the Free Cheese I got for you for now.
Is it your goal to be signed by a major record label or would you prefer the freedom that comes along with signing with an indie label?
TaNEAL - The way things are right now…Indie is a great way to set things at a pace you are comfortable with, but I would be more than grateful to get a good distribution deal!
You also write and produce all of your music…correct?
TaNEAL - O yes, but I have help with production so right now I produce about 15% of it. I started out writing stories and poetry. Ya girl has too many interest! I’m looking forward to getting into the whole movie scene soon as well! My production is still being raised although I have created some good stuff. The song “Discovery” on my first CD is one of the best production pieces I have so far and I am very proud of it!
Are you currently working on your sophomore album?
TaNEAL - Yes I am! It’s another 10 track release but I’m gonna shop around before determining a deadline so I hope everyone is ready for this. It’s a monster already!
Let the readers know where to go to find out more about you and your music.
TaNEAL - First go to www.myspace.com/tanealnewartist and then to www.youtube.com/taneal . ADD ME as a friend, subscribe to my blogs and don’t be afraid to contact me. I get back to everyone! My endeavors live off your responses. I do not know what to do unless you tell me what you like so it’s important for you to contact me!
Any final words you would like to offer in closing?
TaNEAL - Yes, first thank you for this opportunity I really appreciate what you are doing! Thank you to my fans that have been with me through this mission of mine. I want to remind you all that even if you just tell ten friends to check me out, it will be more than enough for me to get this career where it needs to be so that I can reach you all. You have asked about me coming to your town but you have to share me I’m no secret, lol but I love you for checking on me the way you do. Share me with anyone you know so that I can come to your town and perform! I’m planning a concert in my town…Columbus, Ohio around the third weekend in November. It is a Hip Hop, R&B, Comedy and Fashion SHOW! We are going to do it BIG! VENDORS, Exclusive VIP, and DOOR PRIZES! To get the quickest response go to www.myspace.com/tanealnewartist, add me and subscribe to my blog! I won’t stop until my legs fall off and even by then I will have someone roll me on stage! Request me on your local radio stations and hold on tight because this train stops for no one! I love you all and God Bless You! Thanks again Randall, Nine5Four has my support 100%!
Hip Hop and R&B are alive and well across the pond in the UK. I think London is producing some incredible talent that could easily crossover in the states because the music is so universal now. I’ve come across 3 cool, sexy, hip hop girls that I would go as far as to dub them the UK version of TLC and they go by the name of TOMMI. Now I know that is saying a lot, but when you listen to these young ladies, you can’t help but draw the comparison. And let me say that they are NOT carbon copies by no means at all. They do have their very own sound and style that makes their music different and fresh just as TLC did when they arrive on the scene. Their songs are catchy and their flow is tight. And they are not just some pretty faces as they are all very established business women. You don’t have to be from the US to know how to hustle and grind for yours. They have a solid team behind them and it won’t be long before these young ladies are taking the music/media industry by storm. We may be looking at a UK invasion in the near future because this group is the real deal. Just remember where you heard it first.
Welcome ladies and it’s my pleasure to speak with you today. How did the three of you come together to form your group?
(PEEKS) - Our producer BJ, a very talented man, discovered us all in our everyday walks of life! We all had a love for music & performing so I guess u could say fate played its part & brought us all together.
(BAMBI) - Myself and Peeks have been in the group for eight years with other original band members leaving as time went on. Then about four years ago we met Juice at a video shoot and asked her to join the group. She did just that and now we are a happy little family.
(JUICE) - Well even though I have been in the group now for just over 4 years, I’m still the new one lol. After some of the previous girls left, Peeks and Bambi were looking for a replacement member and then they met me at a MO-AM video shoot, the rest as they say is history.
I’d like for each of you to give me your names explain the origin of your nicknames.
(PEEKS) - My name is Catherine Adesegon aka Peeks aka Peekaboo. I got that name because I use to wear hats or baseball caps low everyday! I always & still do when I wear a hat pull it right down so all you can see is me peeking back at you …so that’s how I got the name Peekaboo, not something rude like most guys like to believe! Lol. Sorry guys!
(BAMBI) - My name is Lily Bushe and my nickname was given to me by our manager and the original Tommi members who at the time all thought I looked cute at 15 years old like the dear from the cartoon. (I don’t see it myself lol.)
(JUICE) - Ok mine is Joanne Russel aka Juice. When I first met the girls on a video shoot, apparently the girls over heard a group of guys saying I was juicy, so that name just stuck.
Who came up with the group name and what is the meaning behind it?
(BAMBI) - Our manager came up with the name as we were all tomboys when we first joined thus the name Tommi. F.A.T. came about because our friend Flick joined our group and we created the name change Fresh As Tommi. She left to follow her solo career so now we have just continued with the name.
How long have you all been in the game?
(PEEKS) - We have been in the game now for going on 8 years since just leaving school! Wow time flies, but we’re having a great time & we have so much we want to achieve & try out so you have a lot more of us to see.
(BAMBI) - Oh my days ……It feels like such a long time, I think nearly nine years but still working hard and lovin every minute of it!!
(JUICE) - Peek & Bambi have been in the industry longer than I have, but I have been in the game now just over 4 years.
You are a Hip Hop & R&B group. What is the Hip Hop scene like in the UK?
(PEEKS) - The UK scene is still very much growing, vibrant & evolving. People in the UK very much love the music & we’re starting to see some exciting new talent emerge & break into the mainstream. We are hoping to be up there soon with the best of them.
(BAMBI) - I feel that it has moved on an awful lot. It is more recognized in the mainstream now and underground artists seem to do a lot more festivals and are appreciated by the masses.
(JUICE) - Its growing steadily and gaining support from the mainstream. There’s defiantly not enough support just yet for hip hop acts, but they’ve all got my support 100%.
I’m really feeln’ the flava that you all bring. Do you see yourselves, in a way, as a UK version of the best selling female group in the world TLC?
(PEEKS) – Wow, that’s a huge title & compliment to take on but most defiantly we would love to reach & achieve the success of TLC. They are very much our idols & I loved Left Eye’s flava & style. When they first came out I had the whole baggy jeans, boxers, and vest top lol, good times. We are definitely bringing the whole fun vibe to the industry & we hope people will enjoy what we have to offer as much as I did when I heard TLC.
(BAMBI) - We would definitely like to have the fame and fortune of TLC. We all grew up listening to them copying the dances, singing their songs and its sooo crazy to now be compared to them. It would be an honor to be appreciated as much as they were.
(JUICE) - We get compared to TLC a lot which is nothing but a huge compliment, but I do feel we bring our own flava to the industry without a doubt.
Who are some of the artists that influenced you all the most?
(PEEKS) - I love again TLC, Destiny Child, Foxy Brown, Lil Kim, Biggie, Jay Z and at present Kanye West, Chris Brown, JME Suga babes…gosh too many to mention!
(BAMBI) - I have been influenced by a lot of music that my parents listen to. My mum use to play Aretha Franklin, Otis Redding and Marvin Gay whilst my step dad is into the Eagles, Rod Steward and Joe Cocker. I would have to say that my faves are Mary J. Blige, Faith Evans and Jodeci.
(JUICE) - For me it has to be TLC and definitely Beyonce. I’m sure a lot of people say that, but for me, she is an amazing person, performer, businesswoman etc.
There are many up-and-coming female groups fighting for the lime light. What makes TOMMI stand out from the pack?
(PEEKS) - Our musical style, rapping, singing and our whole look and vibe is very different to what any girl groups are doing right now. People tend to say our style is different and fresh hence “Fresh As Tommi” lol. We also have our own unique sound if you hear the beats we perform over. We also act, present and model as well as run personal business roles outside of the group. We are putting our business hats on and covering as many bases as we can.
(BAMBI) - Our attitude, swagger and music give us that different edge. We have also been around for a long time and we continue to change our style of music to stay as fresh and original as possible.
(JUICE) - We are 3 strong-minded businesswomen as well as artists. We bring a funky edge to what we do which we include in our style and fashion. Plus, my girls are too hot to hold as well lol.
You ladies have so much going on I don’t know where to begin. Talk to me about your project entitled F.A.T.
(BAMBI) - It’s a CD we have put together featuring other artists to produce phat tunes to get you hype for a weekend out with your friends.
(JUICE) - Ok well this project is ongoing. We are just in the process of putting the finishing touches to our mix tape album. It’s just something to get the people feeling good about themselves. It’s a feel good project.
The tracks are amazing! Why did you decide to do the project and include a fourth member “Flick” (who’s writing skill was featured in our September issues “Poets Page” section)?
(PEEKS) - We did some work with Flick in the studio and on a few songs, she is also a childhood friend of Bambi, so she would also come to our video shoots and support what we were doing. So we thought lets do a few tracks together so people would also get to hear what Flick had to offer. We put a few tracks & videos together which went down really well. Flick has now gone off on a solo tip which was always going be the case as she is a solo artist in her own right & we wish her success in her singing & writing career.
(BAMBI) - Flick is a good friend of ours; she lived around the corner from me when I was about nine. She always cames to the studio with us and helps us write songs. One day we were in the studio writing and our manager said it would be good idea to do a tune together to promote us all at the same time. We all loved the idea and ended up doing more than one tune together. I love her to bits and her writing skills are fierce!
Your mix tape entitled “The Long Weekend” is HOT! Let the readers know what this CD is all about.
(PEEKS) - Thank you, this is an album fully loaded to see you thru a long weekend! Can you keep up with us three ladies for a whole weekend! Lol. There’s everything you need to first get yourself ready; get all your fly gear on; driving to the club; raving in the club; guys, friends, being misunderstood, relationships, get our drink on , romance etc… its all on there. We can’t wait till people get to hear it.
(BAMBI) - The CD is about everyday things that happen to girls whilst getting ready for a weekend out clubbing and having a laugh. We have also got some tunes about driving as Juice and myself think we are boy racers LOL.
Each of you tell me what your favorite track from the CD is and why.
(PEEKS) - I love the track “Takes Me Away” because it’s a wonderful uplifting track about that place we all think about where you have no worries, stress or fear. It’s just good vibes, happiness & carefree times. You can’t help but feel happy when you hear it…very happy and dancey (is that a word? lol)
(BAMBI) - My favorite is “Green Eyed Monster ” cuz it’s a heavy tune and I love singing it. It is about girls hating on you when your just enjoying life.
(JUICE) - Mine is also “Green Eyed Monster” especially because I use to get stick in school and I had a lot of jealousy around me. It’s a feel good tune and I’m sure you ladies can relate to it.
Your music videos are very well done. How did you hook up with MO-AM Filmz and how was it working with them?
(PEEKS) - Its always 1 big adventure working with MO-AM because they continually push us to grow and evolve. Everyone is so talented, creative and enthusiastic so it’s a joy working with them, were all like one big family! MO-AM grew from our producers vision for us all to branch out into bigger things so it’s not just MO-AM Filmz. It’s a creative studio offering music videos, films, TV shows, animation, 3D, graphics and web design. There are some great things on the way from MO-AM, so keep an eye on that name.
(BAMBI) - We have been signed with MO-AM management from the beginning and when the film side came about we were more than happy. Some of us work on the videos and on TV shows. MO-AM is a family and a great team to be part of.
(JUICE) - It started off as us working with them as a management and music production company, but we all now have our own roles within MO-AM. I for instance, run MO-AM Models and it’s an amazing team and family to be a part of.
Tell me about the promotional TV advertisement that you created for a newly released fragrance.
(PEEKS) - The fragrance brand is called “So Cosmetics” and they first approached us after a gig. They were there doing some promotional stuff and they came up to us & said we would be perfect to endorse their brand because we were relatable to the female market they wanted to target. They got us to do some photo shoots with their perfumes; we recorded a number of tracks with the titles of their perfumes like “So Superstar, So Kiss Me” etc. We also did some promotional gigs and they used our tracks for advertising in which we also featured in for a couple of the adverts. They gave us so many perfumes and cosmetics goodies which made great presents…he he!
Acting is another talent you all posses. What’s the 411 on the film projects you all have appeared in?
(PEEKS) - So far we have acted in 3 short films. “Broken Dolls House”, which is about these flat mates who begin to discover some very dark secrets about each other! Lots of drama, lol. “Losing It”, which is an award winning film. Juice acted as the girlfriend of the main character which slowly loses his mind after losing control over all the bad things that go on in his life. “Communication” is about the break down in communication between the street and the police and how if we speak about things earlier, things like violence & gun crime can be prevented before they get out of control. We are definitely flexing our acting muscles and planning to do many more films in the future.
(BAMBI) - MO-AM films are working closely with Wandsworth Council creating awareness films for the youth in the inner city. There has already been one about gun crime that we were all in and one about drugs. Juice did a great job in that as the druggies girlfriend. The next one I think is about teenage pregnancy which we hope to progress further our acting by appearing in that as well.
(JUICE) - Ok we have been heavily involved in acting in awareness films. I had a lead role in a film called “Losing It” which had a very serious message behind it and also featured in “Communication”. We have a lot more projects coming up and a lot more diverse roles, which we will take on so watch this space.
Is it true that each of you have your own TV projects in the works with SKY TV in the UK?
(PEEKS) – I have done 2 presenting jobs for Sky. I have a show called ‘Unsigned’ about unsigned musicians and artists. Another one I had a year ago was presenting the best of viral video clips from the web. Both are lots of fun, and as well as that I have done many presenting jobs for various events such as comedy, peace concerts, award events etc. that consist of behind the scene action.
(BAMBI) - Yes it is, I produce and present a chat show for a TV network called Cellcast.
(JUICE) – Yes, this is very true but mines a top secret!! I’ve been sworn to secrecy.
I think the cartoon featuring you ladies entitled “Diamond Anglez” is really cute. Who came up with the idea, what is the theme of the show and when will it get released?
(PEEKS) - Diamond Angelz is an actual cartoon series with lots of characters, a whole world and a comic book. There’s much more coming very soon so watch this space http://myspace.com/diamondangelz . The characters were designed by me in collaboration with MO-AM Creative Studios. We also have our alter ego’s in the Diamond Angel world lol. We like to feature the characters in our videos and we have t-shirts so it’s very exciting. You haven’t seen the last of these lil characters…trust me lol.
With everything you all have going on, it’s hard to believe that a major record company has not come knocking on your door. Have you received any offers to date?
(PEEKS) - We have had 3 record deals…Lol! But due to politics, we went on our merry way and we took matters into our own hands as time waits for no man. At the moment, we do have a lot of interest but we will strike when the time is right. It’s all about great timing.
(BAMBI) - We have interest but we are just doing our thang. When the time is right, we will know lol.
(JUICE) - We do have a few things/people in the pipeline but I’m keeping stummm.
Do you have plans on coming to the US to further your careers?
(PEEKS) - Is that an invite?? Lol. Well, we would love to come to the states and anything that can further our careers would definitely be on the cards! We plan on going everywhere we can so I’m gonna say yeeees! I’ll see ya next week lol! Ok on a serious tip, we never rule out anything so we shall see where our music takes us, but I know we would all love to be there because there is such a great market for our music there. Also some of the interest that we do have is coming from the states, so let’s hope its sooner rather than later! We’ll see ya out there!
(BAMBI) - Yes we do have plans. It has worked for a lot of artists, but we’ll have to see how it goes.
(JUICE) - Why yes we do. The plans are already in progress so you may see us sooner then you think.
What else can we look forward to from TOMMI in 2008 and beyond?
(PEEKS) – Gosh, we have so many things on the cards. We are all gonna be doing more acting, presenting and lots of great music and most important is performances and touring. You haven’t even begun to see what we got coming! Oh yes… stay tuned!!
(BAMBI) – Well, we have film work as well as the new tunes we’re recording in studio at the moment and all the time still presenting and modeling and our tour plans… Big, big, big!
(JUICE) - A lot more acting and presenting defiantly. Watch this space for our new photo shoots and videos and tour dates. MO-AM is the future!
How can fans and industry insiders contact you and sample your music?
(PEEKS) - You can get to see what we’re up to; get the latest gossip, news, pictures and videos etc. on our http://myspace.com/fatdivas and http://www.youtube.com/moamfilmz . The all new soon to be developed website from MO-AM can be found at www.mo-am.com . Look forward to seeing you there.
In closing, I’d like to get final words from each of you.
(PEEKS) - We’ve been blessed to come this far, still enjoy each other, the music, what we stand for and have the support and belief of those around us and most important MO-AM. We have so many great things in the pipeline and we really look forward to the day we get to show everyone what we have to offer. So stick around, it’s gonna get real interesting! And to other people, don’t put a time limit on your dreams, chase them diligently. Nuff love to all! Peeks x
(BAMBI) - Well thank you very much for taking the time out to interview us and to up-and- coming artist reading this, “keep on doing your thing and never stop!” You have tests in life that you must overcome, but in time, you will be rewarded for the work you put in. Spread love…not bullshit”. xXx Bambi xXx
(JUICE) - To everyone out there, don’t give up on your dreams. Remember everything’s alright in the end and if it’s not…it’s not the end. Much love always! Juice xxx
Are you good at distinguishing the difference between fact and fiction? Do you think all rappers live the life they rap about? Probably not, because it’s hard for me to believe that all of these dudes have been shot; have mad loot; women falling over them every step they make and diamonds in everything that they own. I’m not knocking the creative process but so many swear they are living the life that I find it a little far fetched. But then you have a few that have lived the life and found a way to put their life struggles into a song that you can actually ride out to. I found a young man that has lived the life and is the fourth of five sons who had it tough living on the hustling streets of Miami. From drugs, shootings and incarcerations, he has experienced struggles which many rhyme about but have never experienced first hand. And it is this experience that inspired him to write music which has led to a collection of truthful, eye opening and ingenuous tracks. I’m not saying that he’s the first to do it, but what he has to say is definitely worth listening to. His name symbolizes what he wants everyone that listens to his music to know about him…that he is simply “The Truth”.
What’s good TRUTH, how you feeln’ my dude?
TRUTH - I’m feeling pretty good, been out here on the grind all day everyday.
No doubt, how did your nickname come about?
TRUTH - I got my nickname from playing sports. I use to play basketball and football, and was pretty good at both, so everyone use to say “I’m The Truth”, so I decided to run with it. My music tells the Truth - its reality music. It stands for “The Realest Under The Heavens”.
That’s very creative. What part of Miami did you come up in and what was it like kickn’ it there?
TRUTH - I’m from North Dade, that’s Opa-Locka & Carol City area. It was ruff coming up, we was poor. My parents raised 5 of us working out of an ice cream truck. Where I’m from, I was the only white kid around, so being good at sports helped me get accepted. It seemed like every night helicopters where searching for someone. I remember hiding under the window seal a few times a week because of shootings, and people actually got caught or got away hiding in our back yard. When I was 9, I was almost shot in a drive by shooting. I was standing between the car and a house then I went straight to the ground when I seen the guns. I swear I heard the wind from the bullets. When I got up, I walked towards the house and seen a guy on the front porch reach up to me and took his last breath. I stood over 5 dead guys. I can go on with these stories forever. Besides the shootings and shit it was cool. Everyone knew everyone because we all stayed on the front porch cuz we had no AC. It was to hot to stay inside the house, everyone was struggling. It might be funny to you, but we eventually moved to Miramar, cuz my dad got a better job as a janitor. Yep a janitor was a better job. There was crime but less of it, but the same struggle was in Miramar. Me and my brothers actually got in more trouble there. I got away with stuff I should be in jail for right now, but I never got caught, and if I did my brother’s record was so long that he insisted to take the charges. So it was pretty ruff.
What a rough way to come up but the key is you made it. Who are the guys you looked up to that made you decide to get in the rap game?
TRUTH - Coming up I was a big Pac fan, but he never really made me decide to get in the rap game. The first time my brother got locked up, we use to write lyrics back and forth. While my other brother was making beats, but wasn’t too serious with it, I was just writing cuz my brother was sending me lyrics. Me and my homeboy bought a cheap ass keyboard and a $10 dollar mic and use to record on a regular radio with a tape deck. Our shit was sounding pretty good but cheap, so I invested in some studio gear. I started to make my own beats because I didn’t want to remix everyone else’s shit, and I started to record because I felt like I been thru a lot and had a lot to say, and people with the same struggle will be able to relate. But when one of my homeboyz passed away, I wrote a song dedicated to him and since then I started to take it serious. I started to put more into it.
Describe the swagga you bring to the table.
TRUTH - My swags a little different. I rap about real life events that I actually seen or been thru. And I know that most rappers say this, but most rappers ain’t telling the truth. With me you get 100% real, no sugar coating, if I say it, I mean it, did it or seen it. So I got a street swagga, meaning I don’t really see know one. But at the same time I respect everyone till that respect is broken. I’ll walk in the club like all eyes on me! I feel like I stick out like a sore thumb everywhere I go!
What is your take on the current state of Hip Hop?
TRUTH - You really want to know my take, cop the album and listen to track #7 “Hip Hop Ain’t Dead”. The first verse, I’m talking about all the rappers that died. The second verse, I’m talking about all the rap groups that broke up and the third verse I’m stating my opinion. Now I don’t have anything against certain songs. I understand the importance of commercial songs, but when I hear a whole album and the whole thing is commercial, I’ll never ride in my car to that. I wanna hear some real shit! I wanna hear something I can feel with a hard ass beat. I don’t want to hear about diamonds and dancing on every track but if you would have asked me this question a year ago my answer would have been different. I would have told you hip hop needed some help. But right now I think it’s starting to turn in the right direction.
Tell me about your new debut album “Street Eulogy” that’s in stores now.
TRUTH - “Street Eulogy” is a dedication to the streets where I was brought up (Miami, & Miramar). From track 1 to 15 all real life events, I got songs like, “My Block” which describes 13th Ave. in North Dade to the T. I have a dedication to a snitch that got my dog locked up. I have a song for my dog that died. I got some tracks for the females. I got a little of everything. Akon, NORE, Triple C, and Casely are on it, as well as a few local kats like LMS, Lay Low & Dirty Deeds.
Who produced the joint for you and how was it working with them?
TRUTH - Haz from Hazardis Soundz produced it. I grew up with this kat and he been on this music shit for a while. He produced CNN, Triple C, & Cypress Hill just to name a few. It was a pleasure working with him. We worked like dogs, recording, mixing and mastering it. We stayed in the studio all night sometimes till the sun came up. You def. gonna see more from The Truth & Haz in the near future.
I’ve heard a couple of tracks and I believe you might have a hit on your hands. How did you get these featured artists to collabo with you?
TRUTH - I appreciate it! That was my goal for these two singles. A lot of people feelin them right now. My first single is “Shawty Lets Roll”. The Diaz Brothers heard it and liked it so they let there artist Casely hear it, (who is now signed with Epic) and he agreed to do the track. We did a video for it and performed a few times together. Then the second single is “Down Low”. I was given the opportunity to do this track with Akon, so of course I did it!
You are said to be no stranger to the stage. How often do you perform and who are some of the well know artist in the industry that you have opened up for?
TRUTH - I opened up for Trick Daddy, Jackie O, Dirt Bag, Young Gunz, and a few others, but then I started to get booked to do shows in clubs on my own. So I performed at several clubs in Miami, Tampa, Orlando, and Atlanta. I try to perform as much as I can, very rarely will I turn down a show.
Have the radio stations shown you any luv?
TRUTH - Yeah, right now “Shawty Lets Roll” featuring Casely is getting played down here on Power 96, and is getting a good amount of spins and request. And “Down Low” featuring Akon will be released and played on the radio in about a month.
What has the response to your music been like from the streetz?
TRUTH - Its been all love! So many people hit me up, or approach me, telling me they feel the music and to keep staying real. The streets like to hear real shit, something they can relate to. Someone even told me, when I get a big deal, just keep it real like before the deal, and to me that’s some real shit!
What’s the connection between you and Miami’s mixtape king DJ EFN?
TRUTH - EFN is my dog! He helped me out with a lot; whatever he needs I got him! What connected us is that he heard a few tracks and thought that I could do something so he helped me with just about everything and taught me a lot of shit. He is one of the realest people I ever met.
Tell me about your record label and why you decided to create your own.
TRUTH - I’m not the type to sit around and wait for no one, so I figured if I just make music and put it out on my own, the labels would look for me. I wasn’t going to go around shopping my stuff. Most labels want to see what you done and who knows you or if you have a buzz etc. So I started “Tha Truth Records” and put an album in stores, songs on the radio and booked my own shows. Now if a label wants to sign me, they know what I did all while at the same time of learning the music business.
Do you think indie labels are the way to go for up-and-coming artist versus signing with a major label? Explain.
TRUTH - I think to start off, yes. But, to run a successful label you need money, investors or something. You can’t just record music and hope people hear it and every thing in this business cost. I don’t think a new artist trying to get heard needs to go looking for a deal off bat. Do your own shit, get a buzz, and labels will find you. GRIND!! And then try to get a good deal because major labels can put up money that you can’t. You gotta pay your dues and that’s how you pay them.
Good info for the inspiring artists out there. What else does “THE TRUTH” have going on that you want the people to know about?
TRUTH - Right now, I just started to work on my second album. I put together a group called “Sevens” which includes: LayLow, Mo Schemes, Dirty Deeds, Lajit and myself. I’m putting together Truth Records DJs, lead by DJ Gio. We are actually working on his mix tape now. And I’m always working on getting shows. I’ve been trying to stay pretty busy.
That sounds like enough to keep occupied for a minute. Let’m know where they can go to cop your new joint and how they can contact you.
Like I said earlier, I think you got a hit on your hands…real talk. Thank you for taking the time to share with our readers. Why don’t you throw some shout outs to your people as we close.
TRUTH - I appreciate it hommie! I’ll shout out: Angie, Lay Low, Dirty Deeds, Mo Schemes, Lajit, DJ Gio, my dogs Gil, Mr. Nickles, Haz, EFN, my dog NORE, Hops, Jess, and my son Dominic. All of the 305 and 954, & Nine5four The Magazine…keep doing your thing!!
Growing up in one of the toughest apartment complexes in Ft. Lauderdale, FL will age you very quickly. You get introduced to all of the pitfalls that life has to offer you as it consumes your every awaken moment. A single mother struggles to feed her children and forget about designer clothing for school. Drug deals, fast money and death surrounds you as you begin to suffocate on its addictive rush knowing that one day your card might get pulled. Not too many people get a second chance in life when facing this type of strife. But Freddie Coley a.k.a. “Devil Haterr” is one of those dudes. He credits God for turning his life around and now is looking to give back. With his talent for rapping, songwriting and producing; Devil Haterr is on a mission to show today’s youth that you don’t have to be a dope boy, gangsta or thug to live the good life. He is not in it solely for the fame and fortune; he is trying to do his part by stopping the killing in the hood. And for that, you have to give this brotha his props.
What’s good Devil Haterr? How did you get the name?
DEVIL HATERR - What’s good? GOD is good! Well believe it or not the name came after having a long conservation with GOD. I was mad at the world and had a lot of pain locked up inside me because of what I’ve been through. I was blaming the wrong person for baby mama drama, near-death experiences, losing so many homies to the streets and not being able to get revenge on two men who raped and murdered my 18 month old nephew. I almost went on a killing spree, but GOD convinced me that the devil is the only one I should hate. So, I started hating the devil with a passion that words can’t describe.
That’s heavy my man, sorry to hear about your nephew. How tough was it growing up in CSA (Cambridge Square Apartments) in Lauderdale Lakes, Florida?
DEVIL HATERR - Many people compared Cambridge Square to the movie, New Jack City, because there is only one way in and one way out. It was like the Super Walmart for the streets. Anything you wanted, you could get it from Cambridge Square, 24/7 ,365…and the ring leaders were 14 and 15 year olds. So, the toughest part about growing up in Cambridge Square was not having a lot of alternatives.
What made you decide to become part of the “Thug Life” there?
DEVIL HATERR - I don‘t want to sound cliché, but I did it for survival. My mom had six mouths to feed and our lights were off more than they were on. Eviction notices were on our door, every other month and at the time it was fun playing hide-and-seek with the police, shooting at basers for snatching rocks and making more money in a month than the police made in a year.. Real talk.
I understand that you were pretty heavy in the game too. What transpired that made you walk away from that life?
DEVIL HATERR - It was, what I now call, ‘Signs from GOD’. First, BSO found one of me and my partner Junn stash of weapons. Then, one of Junn’s cousins broke into a safe we had at his aunt’s house! The cousin cleaned it out and left town! My mom found out that I was selling dope, she start searching her house and found dope in the air conditioner vent. She called the police on me... so me and Junn went to Americas, GA to set up a dope house there. We thought we hit the jack pot! But, shortly after we opened up, they raided the house. We escaped but lost a fortune! Then I decided it was better to walk away from the game than to leave on a cart.
Fort Lauderdale was a hot bed (and still is) for talented athletes when you were coming up. Drop some names of guys you knew that went pro and did you not have the same aspirations in order to get out of your situation?
DEVIL HATERR - Albert Connell, Twan Russel, Frank Sanders and Michael Irvin. Yeah, after I stop selling dope, I started playing B-ball.
Why did you decide to turn your energy towards the music industry?
DEVIL HATERR - Because there are no limits… plus rapping about my life is therapeutic for me and I can help someone from making the same mistakes I’ve made.
How long have you been in the game?
DEVIL HATERR - I’ve been grinding for a couple of years now.
What makes your music different than what’s out there now?
DEVIL HATERR - My music lets people know that you don’t have to be a thug with a murder rap; a dope boy in the trap or rep a game to live the good life.
Have the streets embraced your style of music?
DEVIL HATERR - Yes. My music is the streets thinking out loud!
Nicely put…I noticed that your music is void of profanity use. Is that a conscious effort on your part or do you produce another version of your songs?
DEVIL HATERR - Yes. I don’t use profanity in songs or in conversation. Only one version.
I’m going to do something a little different here. I’m going to test your hip hop knowledge. As you know, Florida has contributed significantly to the hip hop game over the years. So, give me your Top Ten hip hop artist of all time from FLA.
DEVIL HATERR - There are so many artist that help put Florida on the map and I respect them all. But, I think JT Money showed the world that we ain’t just party animals.
Tell me about the song you wrote that is meaningful to you because it is about the life of a close friend of yours.
DEVIL HATERR - The song is called ‘Mercy’. It talks about the night the jack boys tried to get my homeboy Junn for his whip. Junn bucked so they started shooting and chased him. They shot out the windows and bullets hit the head rest. The jack boys got caught at the red light and Junn got away…. Not a scratch on his body. I was suppose to ride with Junn that night, go figure.
Do you think the music industry is ready to promote “positive” hip hop music?
DEVIL HATERR - Of course! I think parents are tired of the negativity and sexual content. I think America in general is ready for a change. Something they can listen to with the kids in the car…with no worries and Devil Haterr’s the One!
Are you looking for a major record deal?
DEVIL HATERR - No doubt, as long as I can continue to do me.
Do you have a full length CD or mixtape out or dropping soon?
DEVIL HATERR - Yeah, I’ll be releasing a CD later this year.
Where do you ultimately want your music to take you?
DEVIL HATERR - Well, I’m working on a book and I plan to do some acting.
Let the readers know where to go to check out your music.
DEVIL HATERR - http://www.myspace.com/devilhaterr8000
I really dig what you are trying to do for those that are caught up in the game. More artists need to follow your path because we need more “positivity” and less “negativity” in our music today. Thank you for sharing your story. I know you have some shout outs for FLA!
DEVIL HATERR - No doubt, I like to give a big shot out to wife, my homie, my pal, my bosom buddy!!! My bAoy Black Ice, Straight G Ent., Blue Flame Ent. and Wade Jones. All my homies from Cambridge Square, Junn, Pop, Carey G, Buke Daddy, Nard with all the quad, Ronnie G, Pokie, Tisdale, Maurice & Zack, Steve Graham & Johnny Graham, Tony Williams and everybody who been down with me from day one. Much love to my brothers Mike Slim, Cyp and Alton, my baby sis Kiki, my big sis Adrianne and to all my peeps in the 954, 305, 561 and All of FLA!!!! Hey, if I forgot to mention your name don’t get the devil in you!!! I know and you know if you cool with me or not!! So if we cool, holla when you see me!!!!
In Canada, there is a guy by the name of Ben G (Ben Graham) who truly represents what indie music is all about. When most people hear his name they think he is a hip hop artist. But he says his music can be best described as Euro-Trash. And don’t let that name fool you either, this kid has skillz. His sound has been compared to the likes of U2, Pink Floyd and Oasis. He is completely self-driven and has no manager, label backing or band but when you hear his music you can already envision the video being played on MTV or VH1. He has a super producer by the name of Dave Thompson that single handedly creates these amazing tracks that will make you believe that this is a five man band. Ben has been featured in media write ups, articles and interviews, both in print and radio in Canada and the US. His emotionally charged debut EP entitled “Cut You In” can be described as an eclectic blend of organic songs resonating with love, angst and the pursuit of an ideal. Let’s get to know a little more about this one time avid photographer now turned rock star in the making.
How did you find out about us?
[ BEN G. ] I came across Nine5Four The Magazine when I was looking for new ‘Indie’ music. I was instantly hooked after reading the June issue.
You have an interesting story behind how you began your career in 2006. Please share with us briefly.
[ BEN G. ] In 2006, I disappeared from high school for one week. Nobody knew where I was, except my close friends. Since I was a pretty good student the teachers didn’t really ask what was up. I needed a week off and they gave it too me. When I got back, everyone was pretty surprised by the songs.
Do you still have an interest in photography?
[ BEN G. ] I do absolutely. My friends Sara Brydges and Matt Decker helped me put together a shoot just for Nine5Four The Magazine because this is such a great opportunity. Photography was my major at Beal Art (High-School), I think I might know more photographers then I do musicians.
Tell me about Dave Thompson and what he has meant to your career thus far.
[ BEN G. ] Producer Dave Thompson is the most versatile artist I’ve ever met. He’s given me a lot of insight into the music industry and life in general. Check him out at http://www.digitalunderdog.com/
When I first listened to your music, I immediately envisioned you in a multi-member band. How do you and Dave pull off this great sound with only just the two of you?
[ BEN G. ] Dave is a multi-instrumentalist and can fill any instrument in a band…true genius. With just him and I in the studio, there was the freedom to create songs without five or six band members bickering constantly. Being in the studio with him was totally a one of a kind experience.
What is the music scene like in Canada?
[ BEN G. ] Lots of hardcore bands, emo kids, and “art rock” like Feist.
How do you classify your style of music?
[ BEN G. ] Euro-trash meets Alternative Rock.
You have been described as a provocative and unpredictable songwriter. Is that a fair assessment? Why or why not?
[ BEN G. ] I think people who speak their minds, and don’t allow other people to sensor their thoughts are usually considered provocative and unpredictable. I don’t have a manager or label so I get to be the captain of my ship, so yes, I agree that’s a fair assessment.
What is your method to creating songs?
[ BEN G. ] I don’t really have a method, each song on the EP happened in such different ways. I don’t have a formula, the songs just ‘happen’.
You are the poster boy for independent Artist’s as you have no manager, label or band. How difficult has not having these elements made on your journey in the music industry?
[ BEN G. ] It’s been a considerably difficult task. I take on the work of at least three people…which doesn’t leave much time for anything else. It’s always been hard to find a balance.
I’m not the sort of person who will wait around for other people to labor for me either. When the CD was complete, I immediately planned elements of the release and started getting photo shoots underway for the cover art. I didn’t wait around for a manager or label to pick me up.
I was lucky enough to receive support on my journey from Indie publications and TV programs which made all the difference, although I didn’t have someone driving me, I did have assistance which I’m very thankful for. On a side note, publications like Nine5Four The Magazine make all the difference for true indie music.
Talk to me about the regional award show in which you beat out a gold selling act to take first place honors.
[ BEN G. ] The Ceremony for the 6th Annual London Music Award’s took place in June. The Awards held by Scene Magazine were created to help celebrate and promote the Southern Ontario music scene. By giving fans the opportunity to nominate their favorite musicians and other industry players and then holding a vote. Those who received the greatest number of votes got an Award in their category. All this took place during Canadian music week.
Thanks to the support from my close knit group of friends, a series of performances, and an interview broadcasted nationwide on ATPN, I had received enough votes to beat 28 other bands. Two of whom are seasoned veterans who were recently awarded gold status in Canada (20,000 units sold.) It goes to show with good friends, hard work and a little bit of rock and roll, anything is possible.
Now let’s talk about your debut EP. What is the title and what do you have in store for the listeners?
[ BEN G. ] On “Cut You In”, listeners can expect songs about real life. So many artists on the radio were hand picked from birth to be pop-stars and they aren’t in touch with reality. They don’t care about the shrinking middle class or people struggling to get by. I work a minimum wage job, endure the brow beatings that come with it, and deal with the social pressures of everyday life. Real life is way more interesting then a manufactured fairy tail and truth is always stranger then fiction. Expect the unexpected on my CD.
Which song off the album would you suggest to an interested A&R to take a listen to that will definitely blow them away?
[ BEN G. ] “Addiction” is the song I most recommend. I think it best represents my music.
Describe your experience of performing in front of a sold out crowd at the London Music Club.
[ BEN G. ] I’m glad you asked, but it’s a sticky topic that I’ve shied away from because I don’t want to sound bitter about the past. I think everything happens for a reason, there was a lesson I needed to learn back in January about leadership and friendship.
The show went well, but the experience was soured by controversy. The back-up band was really… bitchy… can I say bitchy? I had to go back to the drawing board and get new members shortly after the show. I learned that you can be the center of attention at a party, but if the people around you are negative, then no matter how well you do, you will still feel defeated.
I have to ask you about this controversial photo shoot you had. Please explain the situation.
[ BEN G. ] Long hair + Army camouflage = Terrorist… at least that’s what some old lady browsing Facebook thought. I ended up with a visit from London’s ‘finest’ with a concern over my profile picture. After they left, I was on the phone with my friends at Rogers Television explaining the experience. They put together a news story dispelling any myths about me being part of any radical militia. The London police ended up making a public apology based on my interview and coverage.
Have radio stations taken an interest in your music? If so, who’s playing it?
[ BEN G. ] Some secondary radio stations picked up my tracks. The very first radio station to play my music was Erin Radio. They are really supportive.
Is your ultimate goal a record deal with a major label or are you content with being a totally independent artist?
[ BEN G. ] My goal is to create music so if a major label deal is the best way of continuing, then I’ll go for it. But, if I get enough support from Indie music fans to make recordings on my own, I’d be happy doing that too. I’m grateful to everyone who lends me their support. Artists like me depend on support from viewers like you, if you’re on iTunes, Napster or Pure Tracks. Your 99cents can really make a huge difference.
Where can your music be purchased and how can you be contacted?
[ BEN G. ] Pure Tracks, iTunes, my web store via Indiepool and Napster are the best ways to support my music. To contact me directly: www.myspace.com/bengmusic .
Thank you for your interest and support of our movement. Here’s your chance for shout outs…let’m rip.
[ BEN G. ] First off, I’d like to thank Randall Jones and Nine5Four The Magazine for being kind enough to include me in this amazing publication. Thank you’s, shout outs, kudos, props and high fives go out too: Dave Thompson, Jenn B, Blu, Steveo, his lovely wife Cher, and their son Alexander, Danielle aka Cupcake, Christian, Edwin, Colin Potts, Justin Plet, Rick and Jenn, Tasha, Niki, Tizz, Melissa, Mike Jay, Shawn, Cindy, Sid, Simon, Dana Harper, Michelle, Jason and Beau, Chantel, Karen, Kayla aka special K. Tyler, Nick, Mama Coates and everyone else at Eds. Niki, Naomi Von Doll Parts, James Tanney, Sue Nham, Melina, Ashley, Roxanne, Tarek, Sammar, Jryan, Andra, Kricia, Shona Leigh, Greg Baker, Jeff Burling, Sara Cawston, Morgan, Sara Brydges, Ashley Fay, Matt Decker, and all my friends at Fanshawe. Aunt Jackie, Uncle Greg and Molson. Amy Hume, Lisa and Marco Balestri, Steve Vieira, and Erin, at Uncharted Sounds.
Everybody knows Diddy but now it’s time to know Philly! Richard “Philly” Smith is the CEO of Badland Boss Entertainment and he is on his way to transforming his Miami based company into a Multi-Media giant. He does it all; music, models, movies, dj’s, parties, promotion etc. And he does it all in a BIG way. This young man has the business swagga and street smarts to go toe to toe with the industries best. He has learned first hand from working with some of the top music labels in the world like Universal, Aftermath, Bad Boy and Interscope to name a few. His grind is major and he has an incredible team that keeps this company on the come up. He is definitely looking to TAKE OVA Florida and the nation ala Diddy style, but make no mistake; he walks to his own beat. If you are unsigned talent out there, this is the dude you are going to want to holla at if you want your career to blast off! Trust me!
“Philly”, thanks for taking the time out of your busy schedule to talk with us my man. Tell me a little about the streetz you ran as a child growing up.
[PHILLY] - I was born and raised in North Philly by my grandmother. I’m from a block called Dauphin Street. A Dauphin Street Hustla as we were called. I was accepted everywhere from Lehigh, to Diamond, York and Susquehanna. Pretty much I was like a hood visa card. I gained respect from Slap boxing people 2-3 times my age at the age of 6 on the block. I got into street situations at the age of 9 and outgrew it at the age of 17-18. I didn’t see myself at 35 trying to be what other people thought I should be because of how they looked up to my father, uncle and godfathers. My grandma always told me I would make it and be something when even I did not see it. She passed away Aug 8th, eventho I have made it pretty far, Imma keep pushing myself to the limit. That’s what she asked me to do and for my grandmother, I would go to the end of the universe looking for a grain of sand. So before I go any further, Thanks Baby! Now we can proceed.
What was the hip hop scene like in Philly at that time?
[PHILLY] - Me personally I was a fan of 2pac. I listened to everything Pac. I felt like he made his music for me. I definitely believe he was the voice for my generation. The conflict I felt between going on along the right path or the wrong is what he was going thru as a person as well, so I felt deeply connected thru the music. When I first learned he passed, I was walking to get a cheese steak and a tetley at E&J’s between Van Pelt and Beechwood streets. That’s how hard it hit me. I will never forget where I was when I got the news. Philly Hip Hop was all over the place from E.S.T., to Tracy Lee to Ram Squad and others. Funny thing is, I met and knew most of State Property separately. Maybe if I knew they would eventually link up I would have capitalized as a youngin back then.. LOL. I was exposed to a lot of good music. My grandmother even had me dj her lil get togethers at the crib and I would be playing Marvin Gaye, Jackie Wilson, Aretha Franklin, James Brown and things like that. I remember when I tried to scratch a Jackie Wilson record. I was about 9 or 10. I got my ass whooped!! My grandma definitely did not appreciate the experiment. To this day I still think that was hilarious but she probably doesn’t. I’m a fan of current up and coming artist in Philly like Reed Dollaz, Joey Jihad, Meek Millz, Tone Trump, G.A.G.E., Chic Raw and Philly Swain. They are making my city worth talking about again musically.
Why the move to the M.I.A.?
[PHILLY] - To be honest, the cold weather. People in Miami have not ever felt 15 and 30 below 0 degree weather on a consistent basis if ever, unless they have traveled to the North. One day while living in Hartford, CT at the time, I took a shower and came outside to post up with my dudes and all the facial hair I had turned to little icicles. I turned around and went in the house and said I need to go somewhere it never snows. I shipped my clothing down, put 30 grand in my bag and left for Fort Lauderdale within a week of the incident. I had had enough.
You are a man of the Islamic religion. What is the biggest misconception society has about the religion that you would like to squash?
[PHILLY] - The biggest is that we are a hate-filled religion. Yeah there are a few nuts in every religion and every walk of life, yet the media has us looking like lawless barbarians. To be honest with you, if it wasn’t for Islam, I would be doing life for multiple homicides. It teaches you how to be peaceful, how to be diplomatic before anything else. I know none of my Muslim brothers or sisters I speak to on a consistent basis were pleased with what happened on 9/11. We actually felt like, damn, now we have to do extra to show we are different. No other religion deals with that issue. Study Islam before you take someone’s word on it. It’s just as if I was to ask you for $50,000… you are going to research me before you hand it over. That’s how everything should be regarded. Don’t be lazy, do the research.
Why do you describe yourself as, “Not much of a people person?”
[PHILLY] - Because a lot of people I come across are full of it or shady. I mean from failed robbery attempts from cats I have been around to chicks saying they have my back thru thick and thin and while I’m dealing with my grandma’s breast cancer situation, they become self centered and their true colors show and then I become distant. My grandma gave me what no woman in this world has given me or can give me and that’s a chance at life. Until she’s straight, no one comes before her. Trust, I give everyone a fair chance, it’s just the people I come across in these days and times aren’t genuine and pretty fake. Five years ago you wouldn’t be reading about me in this magazine or seeing me at the biggest parties. I’d be in the papers. So with all the snakes in the grass, I choose not to lie down on the lawn. Real recognize real. I’m starting to go back to that view of things. I have come to realize I need to implement my street mentality a little more in business.
I understand you are a huge sports fan. Who you got in any sport?
[PHILLY] - Philly all day! I definitely want to see McNabb capture a Super Bowl trophy and ring before he takes off the Eagles uniform for good. He carried our team for years. It’s about time they reward him with some talent like a Chad Johnson or Anquan Boldin to help him get over the hump.
You told us that what makes you unique is your ear for talent. Please explain this extraordinary talent you posses.
[PHILLY] - If you rounded up a few major players at the major labels and asked this same question they would probably say, “Philly may not co-sign the artist as far as his musical taste, but he can pick out a winner.” I understand that there is a certain formula for artist to make it big and stay big. A lot of people ask me why we don’t drop as frequent as the rest. My artist will not drop mixtapes and albums under me unless I am completely comfortable putting my name to it. I think hip hop can still produce artist who have longevity. I just think that everyone right now is looking for a quick payout. No one is developing the artist and nurturing their natural skills, so now you have them out there all half-assed with one hit or a regional buzz and before you know it, they are 35 still trying to get a rap deal.
And this talent landed you some big jobs with several major labels. Name a few of them and talk about the experience you took away from those opportunities.
[PHILLY] - I learned a lot, from deadlines to actual talent scouting. You can have all the talent in the world but that’s such a minor part of what a label is looking for. Most people I have come to realize don’t know how or want to grind. If you want to secure your success in this game, make sure your team is tight. Don’t be yes men. If you hear one flaw in a delivery or their cadence, let them know. You can’t half ass perfection. I can’t give away too much free game here or instead of being “like” Philly, they will try to be me.
When did you decide to create Badland Boss Enterprise?
[PHILLY] - I decided on Badland after meeting Diddy and Mariah. LOL. I already had a few artist numbers from Philly who had become popular but what happened was I kept hearing about Diddy and everyone going to Opium to party. So me being new to Florida at the time, I was partying in West Palm. I said fuck it; let me do it up on South Beach. I go to the beach and it’s me and 5 chicks I met since being in Lauderdale and I go to Opium. I’m in there with my Philly swag. Buying bottles and I got my dudes coming so I got 6 bottles of Belvedere and 4 Bottles of Top shelf Hennessey. Diddy walks over to me and says; “Damn, you came to get fucked up!” and then he asked what exactly it is I do. I told him I promote events. He chopped it up with me on a business tip until my dudes came and I been taking heed to his words ever since. Mariah actually got tipsy and told me she loves me! Shout out to Nick Cannon too, he pulled him one! I actually pop bottles as my way to network, just that now it’s not costing me $5000+ to do it. I even get my bottles for free now. I’m a hustler and I can sell a fur coat to a Polar Bear. There is not a big name artist who has not given me their direct number. With all the connections and contacts, why not use it?
You have an incredible multifaceted company that all unsigned talent would want to be down with. First off, talk to me about the music branch “Badland Boss Ent.”
[PHILLY] - Badland Boss Ent. is what started it all. At first it started off as consultation, promotion and marketing. What actually got me noticed by a few big names was a female artist by the name of The Last Donna. She is from Philly and is very talented. Interscope had come calling about her but the deal fell thru and we went our separate ways, but I was offered a consulting job there. Then Badland just spiraled into what it is. Right now, Chez is the premier artist on the label. He stays recording and out doing shows to the point. I don’t think he actually ever took time to promote his Myspace page. A lot of people wanted him to drop already but I did not want him to have to deal with adjusting his audience and other fatal mistakes that happens when a rapper under the age of 18 emerge on the scene.
Drop a few names of the other artist on your roster?
[PHILLY] - First there’s Chez he is from New Jersey. He has the ability to make timeless hit records. We are working on a big Reed Dollaz project with his label Beyond Bars Records. He currently has production from Scott Storch, Swizz Beats and others. Also, I’m working with other Miami artist such as P.M., Tommy Trouble, Colosus and others. The streets know whose Badland and who isn’t.
Any new music by these artists hitting the streetz soon?
[PHILLY] - P.M. has a mixtape out called “Get 2 Know Me” so make sure you go out and get that. Reed Dollaz has the “Back 2 da Streets” mixtape out as well, so go to his myspace and cop that. We also have the Philadel Castro “The Invasion” mixtape coming soon. I’m putting effort into it as if it was an album but it’s being released as a mixtape full of artist I worked with and currently work with.
The fellas are going to love your next branch. Let’em know about the “Badland Beauties”.
How can interested models crack the lineup or are you full right now?
You’re planning on launching a lingerie company too…right?
[PHILLY] - Actually that is coming very soon, it’s called “Le Sablier” and that’s French for “The Hour Glass”. Representing the figures we aim to cater to. I know a lot of times women pay in pain to look good for us men. Therefore we are having some designers work on this line to not only give you that high quality look you are accustomed to, but at the same time making it more comfortable and more affordable. So the next time ya man want you in nothing but boy shorts all day, it won’t be an issue.
I really dig this next branch in your company because like you, I feel it has been a lost art and very underappreciated over the years. What’s good with the “Badland Boss Dj’s”?
[PHILLY] - That is still coming together. It’s for all the Dj’s who don’t need money as a motivation to push a great record; the music should speak for itself. Shouts out to DJ Joe Braxton, Meddafore, Billy Bronco, DJ NoPhrillz, DJ Casper and DJ Heatrock. I mean there are so many to name I know someone is gonna say, “Damn Philly you forgot about me!”.. but that’s who got the Badland Boss Dj’s started.
Are you looking for more Dj’s, and if so, how do they contact you?
Finally we come to “Badland Films”. Give us the 411 on this branch.
[PHILLY] - That branch is still in the works. Thus far it just covers Badland Events, for somewhat of a documentary at a later date. It will encompass everything from Reality shows to Music videos. I definitely want to do more documentary type films than anything.
Are there any projects you are currently working on that you can tell us about?
[PHILLY] - Right now there are a few ideas being pitched around. The first thing definitely to hit the shelves is called Badland Beach. It’s South Beach at its finest, with us of course showing our ass. From Spring Break to Labor Day. You will get it all exclusive!
Now, to have a company this vast, you have got to have some top flight people on your home team. Give them a little shine right here.
[PHILLY] - First before I run down anyone’s name I want to say this: Fellas if you want to be successful in business keep women on your team. Women who aren’t intimidated by you are the key, because they will keep you in line and won’t allow you to slack up. I want to first show love to my biggest supporter “Tonto” I love you to death babe. If you go to my myspace you will see her... besides I don’t like to give out people real names much. Desire, she runs Badland Beauty Models technically, I just green light everything and sign off on it. I love her also; she is a ridah for real. Best believe if Desire doesn’t like it, it’s not going to happen. Mizz Tai is the V.P. of Promotions and Marketing and deals with everything in the Midwest region of the country. If you hear of my artist going to St. Louis to perform or Chicago, more than likely she had a hand in it. Also can’t forget Meddafore, one of the nicest dj’s around, he does a lot for Badland. He has a true ear for music and I appreciate what he does for us. Shout out to Phil The Mayor and Firm Ground Media who throw’s the Craziest parties @ Club B.E.D. I’m surrounding myself with the realest people right now and I’m sure to become a winner.
Since you are an avid sports fan, could a sports management branch possibly be added to the Badland Boss Empire?
[PHILLY] - I thought about it, and that’s about the extent of it. After seeing what Master P did to Ricky Williams, I know some things are better left to the pros.
Do you have any upcoming events or promotions you want the people to know about at this time?
[PHILLY] - Yes as a matter of fact there is. We are doing a launch party for my issue of this Magazine! So make sure ya asses are in the place. Also make sure you support my charitable event Bowling against Breast Cancer and the launch of The Elizabeth Smith Breast Cancer Foundation in Memory of my Grandma. The next one will be in October @ Lucky Strike on Miami Beach. Also check us out at Pillow Talk Wednesdays at B.E.D. and stay posted to www.myspace.com/badlandbeauties, www.myspace.com/badlandbossent or www.myspace.com/phillythaboss for the latest upscale events.
You definitely have things poppin’ here in FLA. Much respect to you and your Badland Boss team. I’m sure you have some shout outs for your peeps.
[PHILLY] - Shout out to everyone who runs with us. Most people, who know me, know I don’t do it for the celebrity part of it because I stay to myself. I do it with and for my people. Shout out to all my haters, I would have yall knocked off but then that would be hurting my cause. As long as you hate on me and what I do, I definitely don’t mind doing it. Our success will only make you even angrier. Definitely the few haters we have in the Miami music scene be it independent or major. Stay tuned for big things from Reed Dollaz, Chez, Tommy Trouble, P.M., Ricky Rude and a few more names yet to be announced. We already planning our New Years event so definitely stay on the lookout for that, it’s goin to be crazy! Thank you to Nine5Four for having me and much success to you all, preciate the look. Badland! To my grandma; I love you and I wish you could be here to see me accomplish all of our dreams. I know you will always look down upon me and I hope when you do, I’m doing something that makes you proud. You are the greatest thing to ever happen to me. I love you. Shout out to my mother as well the most important woman in my life as well I know our past was troubled, yet you know I will always love and honor you.