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.

A slice of hip-hop: “Put My Mack Down” by Aye-P

Aye-P performs some sweet alchemy with “Put My Mack Down.” He takes a familiar scenario – a guy coming on to a woman in a club – and creates a funky rap built on top of his own beats and samples of Isaac Hayes’s version of “Look of Love” and Lil Wayne’s “Fireman” (a line from the latter being the inspiration for the title).

This song moves. After the soulful Hayes intro, Aye-P and fellow rapper Rell trade verses about a guy making the move on a woman with “Bright red skin/Light Brown eyes/Slim in the waist/Thick in the thighs.”

What makes the song for me is the interplay between the bass and tenor rap of Aye-P and Rell combined with the steady mix groove. The pace of their rap picks up gradually as they repeat their pick-up line, creating a sense of urgency before the song drops you with a brief burst of whammy guitar.

Aye-P, a music student in Jacksonville, Florida, says he first got serious about hip-hop in 2007. He cites Pimp C and Scarface as his musical influences. He created “Put My Mack Down” in a garage.

“I felt like writing a club song about how dudes might approach girls in a club,” he told me. “I made the beat first by sampling Isaac Hayes and then built on top of it.”

He said he started writing the song about a year ago. “I’m a perfectionist,” he said. “If it doesn’t sound exactly like I want it to sound, I won’t put it out.”

I think the song was worth the wait.

I first heard about Aye-P and “Put My Mack Down” 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 Aye-P on Global 14 and follow him on Twitter @dopetracks904.

Have you heard? “Get Away” by Latasha Lee

LATASHA LEE music video 2011 “Get Away” from LaTasha Lee on Vimeo.

Latasha Lee needs to get away from you — and it’s definitely your loss. In her song “Get Away,” the R&B artist from vamps for the camera with a gorgeous kiss-off that plays like an homage to Motown.

After a brief black-and-white close-up of her approaching an old-school condenser-style microphone, the video for “Get Away” cuts to a bold straight-away shot of her caressing the mike, singing goodbye to someone who evidently carries a lot of bad baggage. Her hair evokes Ronnie Spector, but her voice is all Latasha.

If “Get Away” makes you think of the Supremes, that’s probably the intent — according to her biography, she entertained her family with a rendition of “Stop in the Name of Love” at the tender age of 3.

I first heard about Latasha Lee 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 Latasha on Global 14 and follow her Twitter @Latashaleesing.

A slice of hip hop: “Wait for Me” by ILL Son


ComScore

Wait for Me” by ILL Son requires a close listen to appreciate. When I first heard the sweet female chorus and the gentle chimes that open the song, I thought ILL Son had shared with me another love song like his lush production of “Get 2 You.” But then ILL Son’s voice kicks in with a rap that reveals a man in torment over a girl who is with the wrong guy.

“Fast track marter rail/on your way to excel,” he raps. “But you want to give it up/say that you feeling him/Wrong step your life is full of wages minimum/that’s your world when you live with a criminal.”

And at the same time, I sense that the narrator isn’t so sure he’s the right choice, either (“I can’t keep putting you thu this hell”).

What else tells me this song is not all sweetness and light? The fuzzy guitar line, which provides some extra sting to the rap.

I got to know ILL Son, who is based in Atlanta, 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 ILL Son on Global 14 and follow him on Twitter @ill_son.

A slice of hip hop: “Imma Beast” by Prince Mick

“Imma Beast” by 22-year-old Prince Mick is raw and powerful, as is the video featured here. The gritty groove, built on top of a driving drumbeat, captures the feel of the stark, bleak Chicago cityscape captured in the video. Prince Mick raps with conviction and hell-bent fury. And no wonder: that’s his neck you see with a bullet hole in it during the opening scenes of the video.

The song is a compelling statement of purpose from someone whose life has changed. “Music is my new hustle,” he raps — and nothing will stop him, not even bullets.

Prince Mick cites inspiration both profane and spiritual for this song and video.

“My change in life inspired me to do that video,” he wrote to me. “I shot that video in my hometown Chicago. I just went to all of my old neighborhoods because it brings back so many memories. I have a story for each location I shot my scenes at. I’m inspired by God and His worship, I’m inspired by 2Pac, Da Brat, and pretty much Music and its legends.”

Prince Mick

Prince Mick, who is based in Chicago, shared “Imma Best” on Global 14 — a social community run by Jermaine Dupri and a hotbed of hip hop. Check out Global 14 and follow Prince Mick on Twitter @princemick1.

Music I like: “Get 2 You” by ILL Son


“Get 2 You” by ILL Son is sweet. The song evokes hip hop and urban contemporary (for some reason I thought of “Knockin’ Da Boots by H-Town when I first heard this song).

When you listen to “Get 2 You,” you feel a sense of urgency for ILL Son to get the girl (”life is like sports with many short careers”), which suggests “Just Wanna Love You Tonight” by the Average White Band. You don’t know if ILL Son will succeed, and I like that.

Here is what ILL Son told me about the song: “The inspiration for writing the song came from my real life experience — a life altering relationship that has brought forth not only the song but the basis of my entire project, ILLSONOMICS= THE STUDY OF WOMAN THRU A MUSICAL PERSPECTIVE.

ILL Son

ILL Son, who is based in Atlanta, shared “Get 2 You” on Global 14 — a social community run by Jermaine Dupri and a hotbed of hip hop. Check out Global 14 and follow ILL Son on Twitter @ill_son.

Music I like: “Be With-Without You” by Symon G. Seyz

Be With-Out You by SymonG,Seyz
“Be With-Without You” by Symon G. Seyz caught my ear because of its smooth arrangement reminiscent of better ‘70s R&B. What makes the song is SymonG’s soulful rap punctuated by a recurring Isley Brothers-style guitar riff (listen for it 27 seconds into the song).

Symon G. Seyz shared this one with me via Jermaine Dupri’s Global 14 social destination, which is an outstanding source of emerging music from aspiring hip-hip and rap stars.

Symon G. is an emerging artist from Hammond, Indiana, and he has a string of mix tapes under his belt. He cites his early influences as Silkk, the Shocker, Mystikal. As he commented to me, “It is so hard getting people to check me out because none of my songs are about drugs or shooting people . . . I’m fighting an uphill battle.”

So please check him out.

Music I like: “I Get Da Money” by Spade

The Global 14 social destination run by Jermaine Dupri is a hotbed of emerging music from aspiring hip-hip and rap stars. One of the benefits of being a member is having artists share their music with you personally. It’s like a holiday grab bag: sometimes you find a gift that you toss back into the bag, but other times you find a keeper.

One good example of a musical keeper is the tune “I Get Da Money” by Spade, whose video appears in this blog post. I like this one because the driving beat, Spade’s wordplay, and a Latin-fused chorus move you along with a provocative and tightly edited video.

Spade’s manager Imurge Thugwear sent me that tune on Global 14. Check out “I Get Da Money” and join Global 14 to explore more.

What music do you like?

Does Myspace have a future?

The future certainly looks bleak for MySpace. The Wall Street Journal recently reported that advertisers are wary of Myspace and cited companies such as PepsiCo, which has not run an ad on Myspace since 2009. And according to comScore, the volume of Myspace site visitors has dropped by 44 percent in a year.

With News Corp. attempting to sell the one-time social media darling, does Myspace even have a future? It might. Here are three ways Myspace can improve its chances of survival:

1. Clean up its site

The new owner of Myspace (whoever that adventurous soul turns out to be) needs to address a fundamental problem: the Myspace user experience sucks. It’s almost as if Myspace decision makers sat down and asked, “How can we design a site that alienates as many people as we can?”

Even after undergoing a redesign, the site is notoriously difficult to navigate, the layout is messy, and the personal accounts are hard to manage. MySpace would do well to hire an outsider like Forrester Research to do a basic site audit and quickly make itself more usable. Simply put, Myspace is going to have a hard time encouraging visitors if you can’t use the site.

2. Be the challenger brand to Facebook

What makes Facebook so formidable – its sheer scale – also makes it vulnerable. Myspace could improve its chances of survival by positioning itself as a friendlier, more approachable Facebook. For instance, MySpace could give itself a human face as Global 14 has done with producer Jermaine Dupri, who not only launched the site but is an active participant, personally responding to requests and comments.

And at a time when social media sites like Facebook offer zero user support, MySpace could differentiate with more personal customer experience (assuming MySpace cleans up its site).

3. Become useful

One of MySpace’s fundamental problems is that it no longer fulfills any particular use because Facebook long ago surpassed MySpace as a social network utility. MySpace can reclaim its role as a platform for connecting people with cool music, and certainly that’s what the site seems to be trying to do. One challenge: there are already plenty of site like Pitchforkmedia and the recently launched Noisey acting as a music connector. But Myspace does have brand visibility and 37.7 million unique U.S. visitors (and dropping). Myspace can be a worthwhile music and entertainment destination site, but it will need to launch a major partnership with another big brand to reinvigorate itself.

In fact, I can see morphing into the in-house music brand of a content-savvy company like AXE, Mountain Dew or Coca-Cola. As the lines between advertising, content, and entertainment have blurred, it’s no longer considered a sell-out for a corporation to act as music distributor.

What about you – do you think Myspace has a future?

 

Jermaine Dupri: musically social

Think the world already has enough social networks? Well, get ready for another one: Global 14, launched recently by Grammy-award winning producer Jermaine Dupri. Global 14 focuses on the interests of the rap and hip-hop communities. The site features 500 discussion groups on topics ranging from music to cooking. And Jermaine himself pledges to be an active enthusiast.

As he told AllHipHop.com, “People only know Facebook owner [Mark Zuckerberg] now because of his money. You wouldn’t have hung out with him before you knew what he did. I have an influence on producers, songwriters, artists and creative people in general.”

According to AllHipHop.com, the has secured 10,650 subscribers in less than three months and attracted interest from celebrities such as Nelly.

I recently joined Global 14 and find the site useful for making new friends among the rap/hip-hop world, hearing new music from lesser known artists, and staying on top of news relevant to the community. I need to contribute more wall posts, but so far I’m encouraged that people have responded to my own commentary to date.

Meantime, Jermaine remains connected with his fans and influencers in other ways, too, including a cool iPhone app that contains links to content he creates, such as videos, Twitter, Global 14, and iTunes.

I believe Global 14 is just a hint of what’s to come: more specialized social networks where members not only become friends but share new content such as original music.

I also believe we will see more celebrity-branded networks such as Jermaine’s, where a major brand name can exert his or her influence in a meaningful way.