#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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#IndieSpotlight: Major D-Star Drops Off “Stack Pray & Stay Out The Way” Visual

Gotta love when an artist you like drop a project you’re feeling, and proceeds to give a visual identity to…

Gotta love when an artist you like drop a project you’re feeling, and proceeds to give a visual identity to the records you were feeling the most. That’s the case for AAHH mainstay Major D-Star; after releasing his long-awaited Trap Star  mixtape back in February, he is dropping off “Stack Pray & Stay Out The Way,” a song I personally described as an illustration of his immense focus on his “current hustle of choice, music.”

RECENT: Major D-Star Drops “Trap Star” Mixtape

The video, like his others, delivers on quality. Directed by Wally Woo, with a multitude of scenery interspersed around a loose storyline of himself working as a mechanic — which he playfully describes as his way of “stacking and staying out the way” in the into — it gives ample life to one of his project’s most infectious earworms. If you have yet to bump his full mixtape, go ahead and click here; either way, press play on this catchy little banger, below.

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#IndieSpotlight: Long Island Rapper Maui ARN Premieres “Feelings Attached” Visual

Sometimes you just have to make things happen. Every artist’s love for their craft comes from somewhere. For Long Island,…

Sometimes you just have to make things happen. Every artist’s love for their craft comes from somewhere. For Long Island, New York rapper Maui ARN, he knew he had music in him. Maui’s career in music began in 2010 when he joined a rap collective known as Maui Nation with friends OTHERPRO (producer), DapperDon E (rapper), S-Clive (rapper), and Flee Capo (rapper). Although, Maui officially started taking rap seriously three years ago.

“That turning point was when [I knew and said] ‘oh I’m nice,’ I’m doing something other people aren’t doing,” says the rapper. Hailing from Long Island, New York a place that has produced legendary hip-hop artists like Rakim, Biz Markie, EPMD, Public Enemy, Method Man, and MF Doom, Maui ARN explains how being from the suburban county shaped him as a person and artist.

“It made me take risks, everyone does their own thing out here,” says Maui. “I pretty much did my own thing. I have been a fan of music for so long; I just make music that relates to me.”

#IndieSpotlight: Long Island Rapper Maui ARN Premieres "Feelings Attached" VisualGrowing up Maui listened to all types of music. He’s a big fan of R&B which rubbed off with his smooth sound in raps. Some of his favorite artists growing up were, T-Pain, Ne-Yo, and Kendrick Lamar because of their delivery and storytelling techniques. Maui uses this technique with his music. In his latest single, “Feelings Attached,” Maui talks about a young lady in a relationship catching feelings for Maui because of his suave persona.

“You gonna need more than racks, cuz lil momma got feelings attached,” raps Maui unapologetically in between scenes accompanied by friends and beautiful women in the newly released visual shot by Qasquiat and featuring DapperDon E.

“Feelings Attached” captures the essence of mainstream hip-hop culture. However, fly clothes, fast cars, and faster women do not overshadow Maui’s mastery as a rapper. “The substance [in music] is lacking nowadays,” he notes. “I like to say what I’m going through. It makes better music for listeners to relate to.” “Feelings Attached” will be featured on Maui’s first EP Don’t Sleep On Me which is set to release later this year.

Towards the end of our conversation, we touched on Maui’s interests outside of music. He’s interested in learning more about stocks and investments. “Some people get into music to get whatever is useful out of the game [money, cars, jewelry], but they don’t know how to maintain it,” he notes. “This is why what Nipsey was preaching was so pivotal.”

Maui plans on making it big in the rap game because he will always stay true to himself. “The impact I want to leave on the world is to be yourself and take chances. I’m going be me regardless.” Says Maui ARN.

Make sure you check out Maui ARN’s new visual for “Feelings Attached” above.

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#IndieSpotlight: Silas Luster’s “W.A.V.” Is A Slice Of Subversive Goodness

Provincetown, Massachusetts, MC Silas Luster released a brand new EP W.A.V. on March 29th that I’ve meant to share my…

Provincetown, Massachusetts, MC Silas Luster released a brand new EP W.A.V. on March 29th that I’ve meant to share my thoughts on, but to be honest, it was a dense listen. Not in an unapproachable way, mind you. Instead, it’s like an onion made of many, discussion worthy layers, painted atop lush soundscapes that are (at points) reminiscent of OG EL-P production from the early Def Juxx days.

RELEVANT: Getting To Know Provincetown Artist Silas Luster

 
The EP kicks off with “Sion,” which starts with his wordy flow over a head-nodding instrumental that switches up halfway through, into this bongo drum pattern over which he drops the strongest verse easily on the project; I’d love to see it live. “Diewittit” is another song that I found myself revisiting over and over. His cadence and rhyme schemes at times have this loose appeal that reminds me of the Freestyle Fellowship-esque aura that dominated college radio in the 90s.

 
He speaks a lot about his journey, and also a lot of spiritual topics — from the universe to putting meditation over medicine. It’s a lot to unpack, in a good way. You can hear the spoken word elements that seem to be the backbone of his bars — check the acapella interlude “What’s Love?” as a great example of what I mean.

The almost haunting chorus on “O.S.H.N” wasn’t necessarily jarring but did set the song apart as a black sheep of the EP. Not that it’s a bad song — it’s one of the strongest tracks — but, it’s just a different vibe that stuck out to me.

Overall, I dig this EP a lot. If you find yourself a little inundated with the sea of Lil rappers, and the endless sea of meh that often dominates the mainstream consciousness, Silas offers up a slice of subversive Hip Hop. It’s music crafted to both cathartically get things off of his chest and also get your thinking — depending on your aptitude on some of his topics, maybe even get you googling and reading shit.

He is currently touring throughout New England and the Tri-State. Check the schedule.

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#Interview Mark Spratley AKA @SpratFool Is Proving You Don’t Need Clout Tokens To Solidify A Musical Empire

Mark Spratley is a name in the industry you certainly should get acquainted with. A master of many, creating an…

Mark Spratley is a name in the industry you certainly should get acquainted with. A master of many, creating an entity in so many different lanes within the industry from management, PR, writing, events, curation and much more. Within five years of the industry, Sprat has accomplished what takes many 20-30 years. The young 27-year-old mogul is creating an empire before our eyes, and it only seems to be getting more and more impressive. Why wouldn’t it?! From helping to bring artists such as Lud Foe, DDG, DaBaby, Smooky Margielaa, Albee Al, Sicko Mobb, Nikko Lafre and many more to the limelight, his resume is vast.

Take a look at our most recent interview with the Starting Five CEO as we discuss music, how to get in the industry, his journey and much more.

Make sure to follow Sprat on Twitter and IG @SpratFool

You’ve been in the music industry for only five years and have already created something massive. How did you do it and what is planned for the future?

Countless hours, grind, plotting and studying. I’ve learned, and LVL’d UP. That’s it. I knew if I put in the work, I would find a way. I go 3000% for whatever I do or whoever I work with. Some people make the same moves and expect things to change. Some people aren’t willing to starve to binge forever. I’m out here mastering and succeeding at whatever I do. I make sure of it. I’ve got an insane ear for music, that’s been known. That’s why some of your favorite A&R’s would be asking me to pull up to their office on the regular.

I’m here to take over though. I’m going to continue to put people into position and maintain my brand. The empire is forming; the foundation has been laid and built.

We recently saw in another interview that you have a new platform on the way? What’re the details on that? (If you can give us any)

NEW DAY, NEW WAVE (LITERALLY). Zias (Popular youtube star &influencer) and I are partnering up on a new media outlet x platform for something special. We’re about to surpass the field quick. Two powerful influencers, we already got the traffic between both of us, both widely connected. Run it up!

Bunch of content on the way from both of us

If you could tell someone looking to get into the industry one piece of advice, what would it be?

GRIND SMART. Bring something to the table. Your passion and time can go a long way. Learn. Be willing to do what the next man is not.

Do you know how much free time and work I gave out to get to where I am now?! Now my time costs. Money isn’t everything, in the beginning, work for your opportunity. People worried about $20-$5000 (Short term money) when sometimes you just need to see the bigger picture.

You wouldn’t want everyone to bring ketchup to the BBQ; you need someone to bring the bun, the burger, the juice, the drink and everything else. Do you feel me?! Same goes for the industry or any job you do in life. Bring something different to the table and create a demand for it. That’s when you create stock for yourself (You create worth).

What were you doing before becoming a music mogul?

I was doing the school thing before I decided to leave for music full time. I was making money however I needed to.

What new artists do you have your eye on?

NEW SIGNINGS on the way. I’m getting back in my artist bag 3000%. Look out for all of that. I got to hold my list down for the time being.

How did you get into PR?

Fresh Moss and Neako had me on a lot of PR type of moves early. I always studied and noticed was going on in the game. Got tired of hitting up a lot of these foolish and corny “Bloggers” and people that were out and around at the time that felt entitled. A lot of them aren’t even around anymore haha. Many didn’t want to see someone else moving faster or making something out of all this. I decided to take everything into my own hands. From then on I turned this PR wave into something masterful. Countless artists have popped off since through my PR, their ability and me connecting these dots on the daily.

Top 5 modern artists most likely in your daily music mix?

It all depends on the day and mood

Lately… DaBaby, pre kai ro, Lil Baby, YNW Melly, Stunna 4 Vegas & DaiDough. I’ve been bumping FBG Duck heavily as of late; bro got energy.

A few artists are rising out of New Jersey that you’ve been alerting us about for over a year or 2. From Daidough to Coi Leray and many more. New Jersey has some talent for sure, how do you think your state will hold up in 2019?

New Jersey is UP right now, and it’s only going to get crazier. A lot of artists doing their thing. Daidough got home and been going stupid. Coi Leray has been spazzing since G.A.N.

Albee Al doing him as always, Tsu Surf home and just dropped a fire project, Arsonal on damn TV, Fatboy SSE is outta here and in his lane, Mir Fontane been putting in work. Jersey got a wide variety of sounds, every city/town is different, North and South Jersey completely different.

Beyond the artists, there are so many talented people coming up out of NJ and doing their thing in this music industry or elsewhere. It’s great to see people winning from your home state.

We remember you going crazy at SXSW with Smooky Margielaa a few years back when he was only an artist with a 10k following, how did you all meet?

Shit, my man Mike had told me I had to bump something while we were in LA. The track happened to be ‘Layed up,’ heard it and it was a wrap for me. His mans was GRAPE, we were all in LA, so we all linked up at the apartment, vibed and got to work immediately. Started putting in that push, went to SXSW and went full force after SXSW. Glad to see Smooky up right now.

We dove into your Twitter and did a little google search on you while doing some more research. We saw you got into it a little with Akademiks online last year? LOL, tell us more?

LMAO! If you did some research like you said I’m sure you know what was said. Jersey people certainly don’t tolerate bullshit. I called BS on something he spoke on. Jersey got behind it. That’s it.

What ever happened to Nikko Lafre?

Man, I can’t speak on another man that’s not with me. We had something crazy growing, that’s where I’m going to leave it.

Drew Love out here winning though with THEY, Lee Beats out here winning, Johnny Rain out here still doing his thing up.

#Interview Mark Spratley AKA @SpratFool Is Proving You Don't Need Clout Tokens To Solidify A Musical Empire

Thoughts on R Kelly latest situation and documentary?

SHEESH! I don’t want to believe it, but it’s their right before our eyes. It’s a shame because his music and voice are legendary. I feel as though 60 Minutes would have been a more credible platform to present this problem to the world instead of a Lifetime documentary. I’d like to hear R Kelly voice his defense for sure, but regardless his actions are sickening. We’ll see how it taints his legacy, it is 2019 so who knows.

2019 plans?

REGULATE

#Interview Mark Spratley AKA @SpratFool Is Proving You Don't Need Clout Tokens To Solidify A Musical Empire #Interview Mark Spratley AKA @SpratFool Is Proving You Don't Need Clout Tokens To Solidify A Musical Empire

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