Christian rapper reaches new heights with MTV video popularity

Written by: Ken Fallon

Christian rap artist Lecrae climbed to new heights in his nine-year career Friday night, when he released the video for his song, “Fakin’ ” on MTV and MTV2.

MTV's Top Videos Page

A screenshot of the MTV website shows Lecrae’s Fakin’ video in the top spot on the network’s Top Music Videos page.

It promptly became one of the network’s top-viewed, top-commented and top-shared videos currently in the Music Video Picks section.

The video makes no bones about its goal: to make fun of and point out the hypocrisy in the supposed “gangsta ” lifestyle portrayed by contemporary rappers, and to offer a path toward Jesus. A portion of the lyrics reads:

Quit tryna’ act like the trap is cool, ‘cause we tired hearin’ that garbage
Hey, bags of white, pints of lean, I been on dope boys since a teen
But this ain’t what we meant to be, and y’all don’t make no sense to me
You pump fakin’, ain’t shootin’, ain’t killin, ain’t doin’
Half them thangs you say you doin’, but 116 we stay true an’
Ain’t dope dealin’, ain’t Po pimpin’, talkin’ ‘bout my own folk killin’
We on that Jesus soul healin’, so serious, gorillas
Wild ain’t we, can’t tame us, been changed, can’t change us
1:16 – You can’t shame us. Live that truth; you can’t blame us

The number 116 is a reference to 116 Clique (pronounced one-one-six click), a Christian hip hop group with whom Lecrae performs. It is also shorthand for Romans 1:16, a Bible verse that many consider Lecrae’s core message, and which reads, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes.”

The reaction from commenters on MTV’s website was enthusiastic. One commenter named Elisabeth wrote, “finally something real worth hearing and watching. Best rapper in the game right here.” Another commenter named Gabe said, “Props to you MTV, for getting this real word out. These two fellas are legit, and crazy talented. No fakin when it’s for the Lord.” The comment about “two fellas” refers to guest rapper Thi’sl, who performs on “Fakin’ ” with Lecrae.

Some of the commenters on Lecrae’s Facebook page questioned why a Christian artist would submit his work on a secular channel like MTV, but a broad majority of commenters were supportive of the move as a way to “change hearts” among unbelievers.

Christian rapper Lecrae

Christian rapper Lecrae released his new video on MTV Friday, and it quickly became one of the highest-viewed videos on the Network

Lecrae, also known as Lecrae Moore, grew up on the streets of Houston, San Diego, Denver and Dallas, sometimes living with his working mom, sometimes with his grandmother in San Diego; he never met his father (who he later learned was a drug addict). At night after his grandmother went to bed, he secretly turned on the TV to watch videos of rappers such as Tupac, who became his role models. Through those videos, he learned to rap, and he learned to covet the lifestyle he saw.

“My world view at that point in time was what I saw on television,” he told CNN in a 2010 interview. “I just [rapped] about what I esteemed to be, what I wanted to be like. Most of that was gangsterism, false sense of masculinity, money, women.”

By the end of high school, Lecrae was dealing and taking drugs, and drinking alcohol. His name ended up a list of suspected gang members, and he was arrested on drug and theft charges.

He gave up that lifestyle as a 19-year-old, when he attended a conference where he saw people with stories like his, but who were “in love with Jesus.” Combined with an auto accident in which he walked away without a scratch, he pledged to follow God.

Five years later, he founded Reach Records and released his first album, Real Talk. Since then, he has released 10 additional albums, either under his own name or with 116 Clique, each to critical acclaim and increasingly-high sales. His 2012 album, Gravity, debuted at No. 3 on the Billboard 200, selling 72,000 copies.

The same day that Lecrae released his videos on MTV, he was one of six performers at the annual Super Bowl Gospel Celebration, an NFL-sanctioned gospel music performance that happens during Super Bowl Weekend. In addition to Lecrae, this year’s performers included Fantasia, Marvin Winans, Kirk Franklin, Donnie McClurkin and Bishop Paul S. Morton.

Lecrae’s popularity extends beyond rap music circles. As detailed in an October 2012 ESPN article, Lecrae is in popular with athletes around the country, and is in demand as a leader of pre-game prayer sessions. Among the players who have reached out to Lecrae are Jeremy Lin of the Houston Rockets, Andrew McCutchen of the Pittsburgh Pirates, Dwight Howard of the Los Angeles Lakers and Justin Forsett of the Houston Texans. His reach also extends to teams such as the Sacramento Kings and Minnesota Timberwolves in the NBA; New York Giants, Atlanta Falcons and Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the NFL; and New York Yankees, Atlanta Braves, Chicago White Sox and Arizona Diamondbacks in Major League Baseball.

Double Dragon Music Two Blazing Music Producers Lighting Up Amazing Music Artist Voices

Written by: Chawonza Nash, February 13, 2012

Double Dragon Music produces an ingenious blend of soulful R&B music and mixes smokin’ hip-hop beats for some of the best rap lyrics broadcasting the music airwaves. Production artists and brothers Roy and Elmo Chong, a.k.a. the “Funk Seoul Brothers,” hailing from Vancouver, Canada began producing music locally in 2001. These talented dynamos cut their music production teeth on collaborations with musical talents such as Canadian hip-hop artist Swollen Members, musical crooner Usher Raymond and gospel/Christian hip-hop artist Da’T.R.U.T.H.

doubledragon

Double Dragon Music Producer

Their production efforts did indeed sear the attention of the music industry. Swollen Members’ album Black Magic received a Juno Award for Rap Recording of the Year 2007. Da’ T.R.U.T.H. (member of gospel hip-hop collective Cross Movement) album The Faith propelled him center stage. Double Dragon produced two songs on The Faith album, “Incredible Christian” which debuted number seven on Billboard Gospel Charts and “2 is Better” which breathed an air of R&B. Double Dragon’s production successes has propelled them to work with some of the hottest Korean Artist in the music industry.

Anyone familiar with Korean Pop, Hip-hop and R&B culture knows you need only say Drunken Tiger, Tiger JK or Tasha Reid also known as Yoon Mi Rae, Yang Dong Geun a.k.a. YDG, Buga Kingz, Bobby Kim, Rain, Leessang and seismic waves from Asian fans screams will cross continents, tsunami across the ocean sending aftershocks into the US and Canada. Fueling these shock waves is Double Dragon’s smokin’ hot mixes and blended music productions.

2005 opened a collaborative relationship with Double Dragon and Drunken Tiger, members DJ Shine and Tiger JK (DJ Shine exited that year). Drunken Tigers’ album “1945 Liberation” became a phenomenal success on which Double Dragon produced song “Put Your Hands Up,” becoming a club hit and Karaoke favorite. Collaboration on this album as Double Dragon put it, “marked a milestone for us,” as it was their first production experience working with Korean artists. This production gave wings to more production opportunities with even more Korean music artists. They also produced Drunken Tiger song, “Doo Doo Wap Ba Balu,” by implementing an instrumental effect to heighten the song’s overall sound.

Another Korean powerhouse artist Double Dragon has produced for is none other than Bobby Kim. Silk wishes it had the texture his voice emits when he sings. Bobby Kim is also a member of hip-hop group Buga Kingz, including members Juvie Train and Gan-D. Double Dragon’s recent collaboration with these artist exhibits their true production genius. Buga Kingz recent release of mini-album “A Decade” includes hip-hop genres: new school, electronic disco, reggae and jazz hip-hop are all perfectly packaged in this album.

Double Dragon Music production resume includes collaborations with Korean artists Rain (Jung Ji-Hoon) and hip-hop duo Leessang (members Kang Hee-gun and Gil Seong-joon). Key to their success is their distinctive sound which is a perfect marriage of stirred not shaken blends ever produced for music artist voices. Double Dragon has said, “We’re two of the baddest Korean brothas you’ll ever meet!!! (Bad as in good of course).”

To elaborate on their statement Lord Finesse’s sample in hip-hop song “Rockefellar Skank” says it best, “Right about now, the funk soul brotha. Check it out now, the funk soul brotha.” Double Dragon productions are right about now some of the hottest produced sounds in the music industry, so check out these Funk Seoul Brothers masterful production blends on their Facebook page or Youtube Channel and yes it is Double Dragon Music.

Drake Sells Out UC Davis Show for Big Bucks

written by: Amani Liggett

Renowned hip-hop artist Drake is scheduled to perform a sold-out show at UC Davis’ Pavilion on March 7th. While student discount tickets are advertised for selling at $49.50, many students and non-students alike have parted with $100-$200 to snag tickets for this popular performer’s Club Paradise tour. Drake will be playing songs from his latest album Take Care, with opening acts from Kendrick Lamar and A$AP ROCKY.

Both general admin floor ($79.75) and upper level ($59.75) tickets have already sold out.

 

Many students considering themselves big hip-hop fans scrambled for the former, higher priced standing option. Unfortunately for Davis students, the student discount was offered for the upper level seats only, which let’s face it, is a little less glamorous.  

For those desperate to see the popular Canadian recording artist, there are still tickets available from scalpers online on websites such as StubHub and TicketsMore. The prices for these are considerably higher; an upper-level ticket going for around $130, while a standing floor ticket going as high as $350. The UC Davis Pavilion emphasizes that those who seek tickets from these sites buy at their own risk.

Despite this, student’s excitement about the performance seems to be over ruling

any sore feelings about high prices. Post-UCD grad Maral Pirinjian offered the reasoning that “I love Drake so much, I didn’t even care that it was $100 for the ticket.”

An understandable explanation when looking at Drake’s popularity and history working with other big-name hip-hop artists like Lil Wayne, Kanye West, Eminem, and Jay-Z. Drake has also been nominated for several Grammy awards, and was a main performer at the 2010 Grammy awards. Other UC Davis students commented on Drake’s acting work on the pre-teen show Degrassi in 2001 as reason to why he has such a loyal fan base.

In addition to making his own music, Drake has also written for other artists in the industry such as Alicia Keys, Jamie Foxx, and Mary J. Blige. He also tends to feature or remix tracks that he has written for other artists such as Unthinkable Remix by Alicia Keys. Drake and Lil Wayne have both also written for Dr. Dre together.

The last big name hip-hop performer to grace the UCD campus was Snoop Dogg, for a Valentines Day show last year at Freeborn Hall. Similarly, students threw down big bucks for last minute tickets to see the artist.

Drake’s performance in Davis starts at 8pm, and it is recommended to get there early.

89.3 The Current’s Seventh Annual Birthday Bash

89.3 The Current Birthday Bash

Brother Ali performs for a sold-out crowd at last year's Bash

Happy Birthday!

89.3 The Current Celebrates Seven Years on the Air at First Avenue

Tickets for the radio station’s two-day birthday bash at First Avenue go on sale this week.

Written by Agathe Panaretos. In celebration of its seven years on the air, 89.3 The Current announced its plans to host a two-day birthday party at the iconic First Avenue in Minneapolis. Tickets go on sale this week.

The shows are slated for January 27 and 28, 2012. The two night lineup includes a number of Minnesota favorites and music spun by The Current DJs.

The Friday night show will feature a headlining set from Tapes ‘N Tapes and critics’ darling Low, as well as local favorites Dead Man Winter and Night Moves. The lineup for Saturday night includes Polica, Suicide Commandos, MC Sims from Doomtree, and the angelic Haley Bonar.

Jim McGuinn, program director for The Current, made the announcement on December 19. “We’re really excited to showcase some of the best up and coming and legendary bands from our music scene,” he said. “Over the past few years The Current’s Birthday Party show has really become a chance to meet up and share in the great music produced in the Twin Cities all year long. We’re really looking forward to it.”

Tickets will be first made available to members of Minnesota Public Radio, the member supported organization that broadcasts The Current. Members will be able to purchase up to two tickets per night online at thecurrent.org starting January 5. A small number of tickets will also be available to purchase at First Avenue’s Depot. All members must provide their membership card valid before December 31, 2011. Remaining tickets will go on sale for the public the following day on January 6. All tickets are $15.

The Current first went on the air in Minneapolis and St. Paul in 2005. The non-commercial, member supported station became an immediate hit and later spread outside Minnesota’s borders through its online stream.  Broadcasting some of the best new music not often played on commercial stations, The Current fuses some of the latest hits with the classic and legendary sounds that inspired them. In 2010, the FMQB Triple A Conference named The Current Station of the Year and director Jim McGuinn Program Director of the Year.

The station has utilized the birthday celebration to showcase some of the best local acts of the preceding year. The show has increased the lineup each year and has completely sold out every event. Tickets are expected to be gone by Monday.

 

Hip Hop Ages, While Some Consider Changes a Death

The Original Hip-Hop Heads

Since its conception in 1979 with the Sugar Hill Gang’s Rapper’s Delight, hip hop has dramatically changed from the days of the Fresh Prince, to a mega-culture that took over the nineties, and finally to the culture of violence, bling, and womanizing that it is infamous for today. And, while the mainstream sensationalists that consume the genre appear to some as the death of hip hop – namely, Nas, who dropped an album in 2006 titled, “Hip Hop is Dead -” some aren’t quite yet ready to start digging the grave.

Devin Cole, a third-year political science student from Tampa, is one of those people. He doesn’t believe that hip hop is dead, he just thinks that it may have lost its direction, and he despises the fact that the meaningful songs from yesteryear have been completely replaced by the swagger-saturated anthems of present-day.

Paul Porter, the co-founder of Industry Ears and former music programmer for BET and Radio One, also agrees that hip hop is still alive, just not quite kicking; however, his concern for the future of music has inspired him to found Industry Ears, a non-profit organization that strives to ensure well-balance media – which couldn’t be more appropriate in a time where conglomerates run a major portion of all media outlets, convincing the public of what they like to hear.

Are you sure it's dead, Nasir?

As it stands, it seems more important for people to consider things for themselves, rather than worrying about the health of hip hop; art lives in the people.

Jay-Z Destroys the Pepsi Center in Yet Another Legendary Concert

Jay-Z with his famed baseball cap

Jay-Z, the chart-topping emcee and CEO of the entertainment company Roc Nation, transformed The Pepsi Center into a hurricane of hip-hop on Monday, in an event that truly was the cherry atop his legendary career as a hip-hop revolutionary. Shawn Corey Carter, who is known to millions of fans as either Jay-Z, Jigga or Hova, kept the entire stadium rhyming right along with him as he filled the airwaves with an extended list of hits.

As only Jazzy could, the famed rapper opened like a shaken bottle of cristal, exploding onto the stage with “Run This Town,” “On to the Next One,” D.O.A. (Death of Auto-Tune)” and then the somewhat-aged classic, “99 Problems.” HE complimented himself as he brought in backup singer Bridget Kelly to handle Alicia Keys’ hook in “Empire State of Mind,” and displayed video clips of Barack Obama brushing off his soon-to-be-presidential shoulder as the rapper erupted with “Dirt Off Your Shoulder.”

Young Jeezy apparently needs to step up his game

Jay-Z shared the stage for a short guest appearance by Young Jeezy. But the crowd was rather disappointed by his failed attempt to live up to a radio-sheened reputation; fortunately for him, Jay-Z decided to add his own flair to the struggling rapper’s “Mr. President,” which managed to save the entire song. The short verse was highly-concentrated hip hop, and certainly deserves to be quoted for the benefit of all those who didn’t have a chance to catch the man spitting fire in the snow-covered state of Colorado. It went as follows: “Rosa Parks sat so Martin Luther could walk/ Martin Luther walked so Barack Obama could run/ Barack Obama ran so all the children could fly/ So I’ma spread my wings/ You could meet me in the sky.”

KRS-One will Headline the International Hip-Hop Festival at Trinity College 2010

The Legendary KRS-One

KRS-ONE, the legendary old-school emcee, activist, and overall hip-hop pioneer, is scheduled to headline the 2010 International Hip-Hop Festival at Trinity College, to celebrate the fifth year of this weekend-long festival of featured performances, lectures, graffiti artistry, and a break dance battle – judged by Trac2 –  for a cool $1,500 grand prize.

Lawrence Parker (aka KRS ONE), whose name stands for “Knowledge Reins Supreme Over Nearly Everybody”, had three Billboard Top 100 singles, and has etched himself into hip-hop history as a preacher of peace, and a critic of violence in hip-hop. He received a BET Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008 for his work with the Stop the Violence Movement, which he established in 1988 as a response to the excessive violence that is so prevalent in the hip-hop community. He also established The Temple of Hip Hop, which is a national organization intended to maintain and promote hip-hop as a genuine political movement and culture. It was created on the Trinity campus to support the mission of the festival. It encourages socially conscious songs, and encourages radio stations to play more socially-aware hip-hop.

Graffiti artists will have a chance to showcase their talents at the festival

In addition to KRS-One, The reMINDers, Nomadic Massive, Anita Tijoux, DAM, Shokanti, Wagëblë, Flex Mathews, DJ Nio, DJ Boo, Self-Suffice, Zee Santiago, Readnex Poetry Squad, and DJ H20 are all going to play at the celebration.

G-Blakk’s Debut Album, ‘Blakk Planet,’ Revives A Dying Breed of Hip Hop

Mixtape is Coming Soon!!

Unlike the majority of modern-day rappers, whose lyrics normally revolve around drugs, violence, booty, material gains, or a swollen ego of badassness, G-Blakk‘s debut album, Blakk Planet, has a historically hip-hop mission behind it’s composition: fix the broken black people. Tracks like Fool’s Gold, and March may not be propagated by the”blazing hip-hop and R&B” stations (television NOR radio), but they support the success of the black community moreso than most of the music that infiltrates the many minds of the masses.

With lyrics that will tickle the true hip-hop heads that still have early Nas and Common Sense (before he went Common) albums in the player, G-Blakk should expect a heat-felt embrace by those that have been standing out in the cold, waiting for some new hot fire to heat up the rap game.  This album takes a shot at the usual suspects; understandably, the Man (of predominately Caucasian descent), The System, and the self-destructive habits of the Afro-American community.

Perhaps G-Blakk's Album Pays Title Homage to Public Enemy

Some may be disappointed to find that their are no song credits whatsoever, since that makes it hard to find more about who you like. In place of such attributions,  Willie Lynch’s infamous speech that allegedly recommended that slave owners pit their slaves against one another to ensure their complete subservience. And even though this letter has been refuted, it does the listened justice by truly setting the tone of the album’s deep-thought material.

Hip Hop Documentary Screened at Akron Art Museum in Ohio

Akron Art Museum

Yesterday, the Akron Art Museum in Akron, Ohio held a free screening of Hip Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes, a documentary film by long-time hip-hop fan, Byron Hurt.  This film was one of the official selections of the 2006 Sundance Film Festival, and is a very personal journey beyond the bling, which strives to paint a well-rounded picture of the complex blend of masculinity, sexism and homophobia through the eyes of aspiring rap artists, the fans who attendhip-hop events all over the country, and those who have gained fame as esteemed hip-hop celebrities. Hurt uses interviews with hip-hopcelebrities like Russell Simmons, D12, Fat Joe, KRS-ONE, Dougie Fresh, Talib Kweli, 50 Cent, Clipse, Sarah Jones, Toni Blackman, Chuck D, Mos Def and Busta Rhymes, to explore how modern-day hip-hop culture influences present-day society.

It was presented in association with the Akron Art Museum exhibit Pattern ID, due to artists in the show, like Kehinde Wiley, Mark Bradford and iona rozeal brown, who were inspired by hip-hop culture, and found ways to incorporate it into their own works of art.

Hip Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes

Hip Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes is a significant discussion concerning one of the most influential art forms of our generation; fortunately, the folks at the Akron Art Museum aren’t the only ones to see the value of this independent film, since it is also going to be used in a nation-wide outreach campaign, made possible by Firelight Media, the Independent Television Service, God Bless the Child Productions, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and the Twenty-First Century Foundation.