A Slice of Hip-Hop: “Game Light,” by Signs


I met hip-hop artist Signs (aka Sunny Ade) on a cold Chicago sidewalk, when he handed me his album All I Need and told my wife how beautiful she looks (which is an effective way to get my attention if you want me to listen to your music). The album consists mostly of life-affirming songs that veer into holy hip-hop territory — but with a dose of gritty realism, too. One such example that has grown on me is “Game Light,” which tells the story of “trying to survive the streets just to be a success.” In “Game Light,” Signs addresses pain. The lyrics alternate between asking for God to transcend obstacles and just giving up and maybe checking out permanently — a real struggle with no promise of making it but a resolve to deal with life. And the music just adds to the mood, especially the samples, which combine Isley Brothers style funky keyboards and a killer horn riff a la Isaac Hayes.

According to Signs, the song “Is about inspiration and faith,” but he does not consider the song to be about religion, either.

“This is not a Christian song,” he said to me in an interview conducted over Facebook. “It is simply a song about struggles in life and how we are to constantly maintain ourselves within those struggles by believing because the just shall live by faith and not by the problems they see.

“Game Light” is what happens when you catch someone’s ear with music and a story. In this case, the story happens to be spiritual in nature. You can usually tell when an artist sets out to make a statement, whether spiritual, political, or social: too often, you get cringe-worthy crap. Why? Because the artist who focuses on the statement foremost forgets that you have to make compelling art, too.

That’s why it makes total sense for Signs to sing about his spiritual inspirations but also claim that he’s not creating a “Christian song.” And because he puts the songwriting first, “Game Light” succeeds.

Check out the entire All I Need record here and meet Signs on Facebook here.

Life in the hip-hop underground with Symon G. Seyz

Hip-hop artist Symon G. Seyz lives not for record sales but for the passion of making music. The 28-year-old rapper is a member of the hip-hop underground – where unsigned musicians find audiences by giving away their own mixtapes on the streets, performing at clubs and private parties, and using Twitter as their de facto booking agents and PR support.

You won’t find the hip-hip underground in the pages of Hip Hop Weekly but on social community Global 14, where many hip-hop artists are connecting with audiences and others like them. In fact, Global 14 is where I met Symon G. Seyz, a resident of Hammond, Indiana, an industrial town just south of Chicago.

In the following interview, Symon G. Seyz, a teacher by day and rapper by night, provides an open assessment of what it’s like to create and share your music in the hip-hip underground. And he has a lot on his mind. He believes hip-hop has an image problem, and he worries that maybe he’s too clean to be cool for hip-hop – or at least what middle-class America wants to hear from the art form.

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A slice of hip-hop: “Lounge Music” by Ha-Rih

Just when you think you’ve heard enough chill-out from Hed Kandi to last a lifetime, along comes a song like “Lounge Music” to make you feel like you’re discovering the genre all over again. With “Lounge Music,” Ha-Rih blends chill-out with hip-hip to create a pretty damned sexy and coy tribute to the joys of lounging, Ha-Rih style.

What makes the song for me is piano that really works as baseline anchoring the melody while Ha-Rih raps, “Listen up I’m your host just vibe/We on the road roll slow just ride out/blow smoke watch it go to the sky,” complemented by a gentle percussion. Here’s how Ha-Rih describes the song to me:

“Lounge Music” is a laid back type of song that was inspired and composed off of the daily, weekly and occasional routines of my crew, or group of friends as well as myself. The song basically describes things we like to do in our spare time as well as certain rules or mottos we may follow as a group.

The “Lounge Music” video was actually shot in my hometown Richmond, Virginia, inside an upscale hotel. The view from the suite’s window was very fitting for the song as well as the room’s decor and hotel’s amenities.

Ha-Rih also credits the work of friend and producer Smooth for the creation of the track.

The song is one of the highlights of Ha-Rih’s mixtape, Digital Vinyl, which is available for a free download here. The entire mixtape alternates between laid-back vibe of “Lounge Music” with the brash swagger of “Digital Vinyl (Intro)” and “Nostalgia.” Here’s another taste of Digital Vinyl via a new video Ha-Rih just released, “By the End of the Night”:

Ha-Rih raps about turning her on at the end of the night, but the song turned me on at 6:00 a.m. when I heard it.

Ha-Rih, a rapper, producer, and business executive from Richmond, considers music his calling. He has been involved in music production since he was 14, composing tracks in high school. He continued developing his career while attending Full Sail University, where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in entertainment business and developed relationships with artists, producers, fashion designers, and engineers.

He released Digital Vinyl (his first mixtape) in 2011 and will soon release a new mixtape, The Syndication.

I first heard about Ha-Rih and “Lounge Music” on Global 14, which is a social site run by Jermaine Dupri and source of vibrant communities who share lifestyle interests ranging from hip hop to relationships. Check out Ha-Rih on Global 14, follow him on Twitter @Ha_Rih, and Like his page on Facebook here.