#IndieSpotlight, Editorial, interview, Interviews, Main, rileysbest

Two-Cents: BK Singer/Producer Donavon Cuts Through The Clutter

As a writer — for some big platforms — Incan assure you that inbox is nothing less than nauseating. I…

As a writer — for some big platforms — Incan assure you that inbox is nothing less than nauseating. I am constantly inundated with requests to check out and give some pen game to new records of varied quality. As corny as it sounds, standing out does make all the difference as I arbitrarily decide how to dedicate my daily attention span.

Singer/producer Donavon gets it. The young Brooklyn-based artist offered to send anyone who gave two-cents on his latest track “Arora” two-cents (via PayPal)— and homie paid out! “I have a bunch of friends who are journalists, and they’ll get a 1000 email a day,” he said on a phone call with me earlier this month, “you should appreciate that someone’s taking to listen to your shit.”

“Like, if you saw that as a subject line on an email, what would you have to lose?” he asked me, rhetorically. “You know, like why wouldn’t I click on that shit?”

Pretty slick ice breaker; and once I pressed play, I realized that the music fire — this kid is talented as hell. What began as a post on Reddit spilled over to emails, which is how it eventually floated on my radar. As an artist, Donavon is a lot like (early) Weeknd in a way; he has a shadowy persona that’s devoid of identifiable characteristics, yet he does have a past, which is easily searchable (with a few hints of course).

“Everybody knows what everybody is like [personality wise] and what they look like before they put out a song — so it’s cool to pull back from that a little bit.”

Originally performing under the name Don Scott, he was signed to a major label and shared management with Fetty Wap and Shaggy.

Unfortunately, like many similar situations it didn’t quite work out; there are no hard feelings, though. “I still do production stuff for them … I wrote [for] a bunch of artists there, and got a bunch of production points.” The situation, though, has prompted Donavan to approach this new chapter in his career by himself.

Fast-forward to “Arora.”

“I originally wrote and produced the song [Arora] to send to Jeremeh, but it ended up not going anywhere,” he explained to me. “That’s common when you’re trying to get production or writing placements.”

One of the unique parts of his creative process is that he’s putting a lot of thought process into creating content in tandem with visual concepts; “the director of that video we work closely.” Donavon continues to explain that the game plan is to “put out visual after visual … I’m focused on putting out videos because it’s just only thing I want to do now.” His thought process is that having a video be the first thing people see has an infinitely higher chance of resonating off the bat.

“Like you said you get a million songs a day in your email,” he tells me coyly, “and, they can all be monotonous sometimes … but a visual could help cut through [the clutter]. That’s where I’m at.
A former SoundCloud employee — and A&R — to be exact, who was effected by the last round of layoffs, he saw the writing on the all for using streaming audio platforms as your main hub, as opposed to video, which accounts for the highest percentage of general internet engagement.

At the end of the day, Donavon’s visual for “Arora” is compelling and worked to peak my interest in his career and the mysteriousness of his artistic persona.

Check out the video below, and follow his Twitter. His next visual is dropping end of summer.

Riley here — father, artist, videographer, professional writer and SERIOUS hip-hop head. I'm a member of the Universal Zulu Nation, and I think everything is better on vinyl. Add me on Twitter! @specialdesigns
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Is No Jumper Good for the Culture?

The problem with No Jumper is that it introduces its guests based on character instead of music.

During 2016-2017, the podcast No Jumper became the definitive source for finding up-and-coming rappers on the internet. The podcast, filmed to be YouTube friendly, began creeping into the suggestions of every hip-hop head searching for music videos and interviews on the platform. No Jumper’s claim to fame was catching hip-hop artists right before they blew up by purposely hunting for “SoundCloud rappers” who showed potential, but the podcast quickly turned the tables and became the most sought out platform for establishing a career in the hip-hop industry.

Thus, No Jumper’s creator and owner of Los Angeles BMX shop & brand ONSOMESHIT, Adam22, solidified himself as one of the major gatekeepers of new rap.

His most notable guest from early on in the podcast was XXXTentacion; a social media phenomenon turned rapper who got his name from bloated SoundCloud plays, beef with Drake, and a series of violent criminal accusations. Adam got XXXTentacion on No Jumper at the exact second he blew up, which in turn blew up the podcast. It was after this interview that artists began flocking to the ONSOMESHIT store and the No Jumper YouTube page—but like XXX, No Jumper’s rise to fame was born out of controversy.

 
The first controversial video clip featuring Adam22 was in the LA news, where the BMX mogul defended his crew for using homeless people as props for bike tricks on Skid Row. Adam posted this news clip to his BMX Youtube channel in 2014. Since then, he has fully embraced his controversial character. Vlogs of him using drugs, shooting porn, and doing “hood stuff,” are some of the many activities featured on No Jumper’s Youtube page, and virtually every woman interviewed on the podcast is a pornstar.

Adam sometimes vlogs during the functions he attends, where he scouts out people to have sex with him and his girlfriend—basically, acting as a talent scout for amateur porn. The host can be seen asking any decently attractive girl if they are of age, and continually jokes that No Jumper is “out here respecting these women.” But aside from his raunchy, and sexist vlogs, Adam is a pretty decent interviewer, stretching his questions into casual conversation and making his guests feel comfortable in the back of his bike shop where the interviews take place. Guests can smoke, drink, and pretty much do whatever during the 45 minute to sometimes 2 hour long conversations.

While the opinions of commentators fluctuate on all of No Jumper’s videos, Adam got the most shit early on from hanging out with Floridian trap prodigy Lil Pump. Lil Pump Jet Ski was 16 when he started seeing significant success in the rap industry, which typically goes hand in hand with drugs, sex, and partying. Adam was hanging out with Lil Pump and even put him on the debut “No Jumper Tour” super early on in the rapper’s career. He admits to inadvertently condoning the 16-year-olds use of Xanax, Lean, and mountainous piles of weed, but for No Jumper’s advanced level of apathy, this is nothing. Pump would obviously be doing all of this without Adam22 present (I mean come on it’s Pump) but his being there didn’t help the podcast’s image, mainly because the host loves to joke about hip-hop’s infatuation with these drugs.

Adam joked about Fredo Santana’s “lean gut” before the 27-year-old rapper tragically passed away this January, presumably from complications brought about by a history of abusing the drug. Of course, the No Jumper host could have never known the rapper would meet this fate, but it’s a perfect example of No Jumper’s general immaturity and lack of professionalism. Ironically, this is probably what most of his fans crave.

No Jumper is rooted in edginess, which attracts a plethora of artists who feel they can be themselves in the relaxed, non-judgmental environment of ONSOMESHIT’s storage space. But now it’s become more than an underground YouTube channel. Big names like Hopsin, Tech N9ne, and Action Bronson have begun appearing on the show. Adam was even featured in a Rolling Stone article, citing him as “hip-hop’s underground tastemaker.”

This is where shit gets sticky. Is this really what the culture wants?

If you enjoy hearing about what rappers have to say you’ve probably been watching/listening to Sway, Hot97, and the Breakfast Club for years. It was perhaps time for a fresh voice to enter the scene and break down hip-hop’s evolution to SoundCloud rap, mumble rap, cloud rap and the overall weirdness that’s flooding into the mainstream. No Jumper is perfect for this. Adam has put so many young rappers on who would have otherwise been overlooked in the sea of people creating and releasing music. In fact, I’ve found some of my favorite new rappers through the podcast. And who else would interview 12-year-old rapper Matt Ox with no questions asked?

 
The problem with No Jumper is that it introduces its guests based on character instead of music.

Adam even said in his questionnaire with Rolling Stone, “Rap is really about character-building more than anything. I always compare it to wrestling – that’s cliché, but it’s true. You see people all the time who get way more popular because they go to jail. They get way more popular ’cause they beat somebody’s ass or kill somebody – or people think they might have killed somebody.” While this may be the unfortunate truth of the artists behind modern rap music, it says nothing about the music, and it indeed seems as if the music is secondary on No Jumper.

Adam is too infatuated with the “lifestyle” of hip-hop, which perpetuates the stereotypes that rappers do drugs and love violence while distracting from the music that these people put their heart and souls into producing. Even if a song includes lyrics about killing people, that’s not the point; the point is that it’s a song. No matter how ‘lyrical’ a rapper is, once the character becomes more important than music, the songs are going to be trash. Not once has Adam22 asked a guest to rap on his show, or even played snippets of their music as a means of introducing them. This is perhaps a contributor to hip hop’s devolution, and also why XXL Magazine let us all down with their mostly subpar 2017 freshman class.

So when Rolling Stone calls Adam22 hip hop’s newest “tastemaker,” I would take that with a grain of salt. Adam22 cares about hip-hop like Lil Pump cares about throwing ones in the strip club; it’s all about what it looks like on camera. But, if you haven’t already go out and watch some No Jumper interviews. Just make sure you listen to the rappers that it’s promoting because while it’s interesting to learn more about the people behind the music, quality hip hop will always put the music first.

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#Premiere: Brooklyn’s Own Corey St. Rose Drops “No Time” & Announces Documentary

We can expect new music and visuals from Corey this year, as well as an EP in 2019.

Yes, it’s Valentines Day–but, not everyone is wrapped up with celebrating a day of romance. For those who are in their bag all 2018, Brooklyn’s own Corey St. Rose drops a new single entitled “No Time.”

“I ain’t got no time for love,” the rapper tells AAHH. Fresh off his latest project, Vibes, Corey is focused on staying persistent this year with releasing new music. The 20-year old started rapping in his mid-teen years with six of his friends in his basement. After telling his dad that music is something he wants to pursue, they’d rebuilt the basement into a studio.

“I started making beats first, then rapping,” he says. “We all started from the basement.” Being trapped in the studio, he embedded his focus on rap. Corey didn’t realize until going to college that rapping was more than just a hobby.

“College develops you. Honestly, college developed me to be like ‘nah, life is not a game,’” says Corey. He took breaks during semesters to focus on music, which was when he released Vibes, but decided to go back to get his degree in marketing while chasing his dream.

His energy and personality matches the music perfectly. I can tell you guys that Corey St. Rose is here to stay and plans on leaving a mark in the rap game. Corey explains his versatility: “I like to rap about things people can relate to. I don’t go to the studio and be like – ‘let me just [rap] about designer shit all day.’ I could do that, but most of the time I try to hit home with some real stuff. I think I make music that hits different emotions. I can make you think; I can make you turn up or feel sad.”

We can expect new music and visuals from Corey this year, as well as an EP in 2019. He also announces a documentary in the works entitled No Time, which is based on the single and about his upbringing in East New York.

But for now listen to his new single and let us know what you think!Stream “No Time,” below.

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Michael Blackson, Clifton Powell, & Omar Gooding Star in New Film, “Ea$y Money”

Producer Jason Henderson–alongside Bay Area Producer Sam Bostic–bring the highly-anticipated new Action/Adventure, Ea$y Money starring comedian Michael Blackson, actor Omar…

Producer Jason Henderson–alongside Bay Area Producer Sam Bostic–bring the highly-anticipated new Action/Adventure, Ea$y Money starring comedian Michael Blackson, actor Omar Gooding (of Baby Boy fame), and more, to all DVD and streaming platforms. There are also cameos from numerous recording artists and athletes, who appear throughout the film.

Shot on location in Las Vegas and Sacramento, the film follows brothers K.C. and Jojo (no connection to Jodeci) who assume they’ve found “easy money” after discovering a stash of credit cards. However, they quickly learn the deadly downside a life of luxury can have as they find themselves knee-deep in trouble from both sides of the law.

Up-and-coming East Oakland group Black Collar Hustlaz (best known for their hit, “Bandz”), also make an appearance in the film. They also have a single entitled “Million Bucks” that appears on the soundtrack.

 
See the official trailer for Ea$y Money below via ITN/Sony Pictures Home Entertainment/eOne. Follow the film on Instagram.

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Jamo Gang Have Big Plans For 2018

The trio have a large-scale tour and LP in store for this year!

It was back in early 2017 when rhymer El Gant, West-Coast vet Ras Kass, and Brown Bag All-Stars alumni J57 announced they were forming a super-group. In a video that featured the iconic DJ Premier dropping a heavy co-sign, Jamo Gang announced an upcoming project; a few singles and live footage followed.

That was over a year ago, and most fans had started to come to terms with the possibility that this collaborative project, like that of Liknuts, may never see the light of day.

 
Then, just last month, the trio resurfaced with new singles “All Eyes On Us” and “The Alter.” On January 30, their official EP finally hit the net.

“We were ready to release a full album back when we announced the group,” J57 tells AAHH. “We then developed a new plan to create a ton of [new] songs and release an EP followed by the LP in 2018.”

“The EP consists of songs that were intended for the first album, except for ‘Welcome to the Golden Era,’” he continues. “That was one of the new ones that were going to be on the LP, but it made so much sense to be on the EP … so that’s where it lives now.”

 
The trio initially met up while working on some songs in J57’s Brooklyn studio back in late 2015.  “We decided to form a group once we realized how incredible the songs were turning out,” El Gant recalls. “Also, ‪DJ Premier‬ said that we should make this group a priority; we agreed.”

With the EP finally out in the world, they are turning their sights on a tour and finishing the impending LP. “The LP is 98% finished,” J57 reveals. “We might add one more track, but we have a lot of songs right now for it. We’ll probably just end up selecting which ones will make the LP and whittle it down to a strong 12, maybe 14.”

“We are going to be doing a full US tour, Canadian tour, European tour and an Australian tour, all in 2018.”

The most immediately captivating aspect of the group is their undeniable chemistry, which shines through both on and off the record. “It’s interesting because on the one hand I’m working with someone who has become a very good friend over the years, so it’s very natural,” El Gant says of Ras Kass, “but on the other hand sometimes I look over and think to myself “That’s F&%king Ras Kass! I have always been a HUGE fan of his work, so it’s an honor not only to be working with him but the fact he takes my artistry and input very seriously.”

Aside from mutual respect Gant, Ras Kass is a big fan J57’s production. “I’m a big fan of things being sonic, and J57 embodies that,” he says.

 
As Ras Kass explains, J’s beats do half the work. “It’s his drums that first struck my attention, but then it was these gigantic soundscapes he presented which are very inspirational to me [as an artist]. Very often the mood alone of J’s beats tell the story that we as the MCs then accentuate.”

The question on my mind — after hearing a top-secret song from the EP’s upcoming vinyl release (via J57 himself) — is when is the LP dropping. “The LP is going to be released in fall 2018 for sure,” J57 says.

If you haven’t bumped the EP, do so immediately.


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