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A Conversation With @LanaLadonna

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There aren’t too many rappers with a voice like Lana Ladonna’s. She cuts through the air with a fierce energy that demands to be heard whenever she drops a sixteen. Her new project, $B1GLAN, is designed to make fans feel every bit of what she has to say and how she has to say it. Inspired by artists like DaBaby and Cardi B, it’s clear that Lana’s future is unstoppable.

Ahead of the release of her new project, Lana Ladonna sat down with 4ShoMag to discuss her new project and more. Check it out below.

Who is Big Lan?

“Big Lan” is the new head bitch in charge, AND THAT’S WHAT YOU GOTTA KNOW! (Laughing but very serious), no really, Big Lan is who I feel I am at this point.

A few people, more recent than not, have called me that as kinda like a joke because I’m short as fuck in real life, but my presence isn’t. Plus, everything I do is big, DUH. I also refer to it as another personality. The woman I’ve grown to be, my interests, my expectations, my vibe, are all components of this boss ass, glamorous, fearless, relatable being that “Big Lan” encompasses.

How did you get into music? 

I’ve ALWAYS loved music. From Prince, Luther, Sade, Tina Marie, and more my mama used to play around the house to today’s artists – I’ve always spent my time listening to music. After graduating college, and knowing I wanted to be in the entertainment industry, but not knowing how in the hell I was gonna tap into it, I literally just decided one day – “I think I wanna try being an artist.” Plus, being back at home was a reality check. “Damn, my people really not rich.”

“I really gotta create the life I wanna live from the ground, up.” Of all my failed attempts post-grad (youtube talk show series, writing for baller alert, radio, etc.) it was the one thing that stuck and actually felt right. I feel like people didn’t take me seriously at first because it was so random; shit, I kinda didn’t either. The feeling my first performance gave me though, I knew this was what I wanted to do, 100%. 

What was the creative process like for #BIGLAN? What will we learn about you on the project? 

My process this time around was honestly a lot harder. With my first tape, Dumbass Niggas, Vol. 1, I was just having fun. Not to say making my new tape wasn’t fun, I just felt very pressured this time around. Like, I legit have “fans” and people checking for me. That shit had my anxiety through the damn roof.

It took me so long because I kept discouraging myself, and being all scared and stupid. After I got outta my own head some time in November, it was just the same vibe – get me a lil Henny in my system, say what I feel, and just… be myself. 

I think people will learn that 1. I really do this shit foreal, like I’m a real artist. The songs, to me, are versatile and I like that. Secondly, more of my personality shows. Naturally, because it’s more songs, but I feel like every song is relatable to men and women. I looooove to talk shit, and I think that’s why my music has sparked as quickly as it did because who doesn’t love a shit talker? In all, people are going to learn what Lana LaDonna is about! Owwee, and that I love the cash app!

What’s your recording process like? 

My recording process is…. Random. Sometimes, I like to catch a vibe, and create in the studio. Other times, I like to create in the comfort of my own room. It really just depends. There have been times where I couldn’t sleep, and I thought of one line, turned on a beat, and made a whole song. That’s what happened with “YKWTFGO.” It was like 3,4 in the morning, and I was in my bed TURNT lol I still don’t know where that energy came from. I was damn near whispering the lyrics as I was writing them because it was so late, and I stay with my mama lmfao I do though HATE a bunch of people in my session. Everybody has a suggestion lol STFU PLEASE.

Your music is very direct and to the point, confident, and unapologetic. Who inspires you? What about them do you bring to your music? 

It’s kind of cliche, but Cardi I feel like is what makes me so unapologetic with my music. Her come up via her personality is what made me ever think I could give music a try in the first place. All the artists I listen to in general inspire me though – Megan makes me wanna be in my rapping bag. Drake makes me wanna be relatable to both men and women. Da Baby makes me wanna get into the pockets of beats. Future make me wanna be… toxic and lit. Everything inspires me in some way. Plus, I’m really bold and unapologetic in real life. 99% of the things I talk about, I’ve actually experienced, felt, and/or thought at some point. I’m heavy on the no rap cap. The other 1% be me speaking this into existence.

How would you describe the Detroit music scene? How would you say that you fit into it? 

Mmmmmmmmmmm, I would describe the Detroit music scene as….. extremely diverse. We have a lot of different sounds, but some are just more popular than others. I don’t know how to describe it. We fasho have our own sound, our own wave, that’s definitely like no one else’s. People try to mimic it, but imitation is the greatest form of flattery. Detroit people talk shit all day, every day. That’s 110% where I fit in. I’m also the epitome of a Detroit woman – bold, confident, fashionable, bossy lol with the shits, you know how we comin’! *flips inches* 

I also feel like we’re kinda slept on though, but it’s cool. I’ll be helping change that real soon. 

What are you looking to accomplish with $B1GLAN?

With $B1GLAN, I wanna wake niggas up! Dumbass Niggas, Vol. 1 gave me a nice lil buzz, but I really wanna turn up foreal. I want to collaborate with other artists from the city, shit everywhere, and just expand my brand. I’m looking to accomplish overall growth with this project. Scratch that – I WILL accomplish overall growth with this project, so get you some popcorn baby, and enjoy the show! *blows a kiss* 

Interviews

@ohwoweli breaks down his beat-making process in new video

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Nobigdyl’s “Stix” is a behemoth of a banger. The rapper’s bars make for an extra helping of stylish vigor that makes it a hit, but it’s really due to the thick, pumping beat that you want to hop out of your seat and go crazy.

Thank Wow Eli for this. The 20-year-old rising artist and producer made one hell of a riveting beat with enough bass to give you heart palpitations. In his new breakdown video, he shows how he made the beat for everyone interested.

Take a look at it below.

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Interviews

Get To Know Jesse Gray

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Thanks to artists like Lecrae and NF, Christian rap is in an entirely new space, somewhere between highly anticipated and highly appreciated. Their gritty, realistic look at uplifting that comes partly from a Christian lense but also in the streets around them, has given birth to a generation of artists influenced by these aesthetics and boldly pushing forward to bring the genre further than ever imagined.

One of these new artists is Jesse Gray, a Denver-based rapper with an intense and diaristic style that immediately captivates you upon listening to what he has to say. His recent release, “Catch Me If You Can” balances understanding with despair, utilizing past experiences to paint a haunting portrait of when things start spinning out of control.

We’ve spoken with him about “Catch Me If You Can,” the Denver rap scene, and more in an exclusive interview

Who Is Jesse Gray?
I am a 21-year-old rapper from Denver Colorado. I’ve been writing since I was 14, wrote 6 albums worth of music over the years and am finally ready to drop some music. I’m a creative guy who loves rap that tells a story  whether through a focused storytelling song or a concept album. 

How did you realize that you wanted to rap? 
I grew up in a Christian household and we went to church every Sunday. We almost exclusively listened to worship music. All of the songs that I heard were “positive” and meant to be encouraging, but when I was 14 it didn’t satisfy me anymore. I felt alone in my feelings, as many of us have, and I didn’t know where to go.

One day in the summer, I was searching around in Pandora and found this artist, Lecrae. My mom hated rap at the time, and he sounded like a rapper. So, me being a rebellious teen, I wanted to check out his music. The first song that came on was called “Prayin For You” and it brought me to tears. For the first time, I heard music that wasn’t just saying “everything’s okay” when I didn’t feel that. I heard music that I could relate to deeply, and I instantly fell in love with the vehicle of rap. That’s when I started writing my own songs.

Define “Catch Me If You Can” for me. What about your life is so fast that you want to slow down? 
“Catch Me If You Can” was written while I was in college. It was a really dark time for me, depression was hitting me harder than ever before in my life, and I had fallen out of contact with both friends and family. School was stressful and I didn’t know where to turn, so I fell into drug use. The only way I knew to deal with how I was feeling was to escape it.

At the time I had also lost motivation to write music, which brought me even lower. I felt like I was falling, like I jumped out of an airplane to skydive, except the ground never got any closer. I felt as if I had no direction in life, and no means to control my destiny. I was living fast and making rash decisions, and yet the days seemed so long. This song is a plea to anyone who cared for me, if you see me falling please, catch me if you can.

How do you bring your personal experiences into your music? 
For me,
it’s all about conveying emotion. The song “Prayin For You” had a huge impact on my life and opened my eyes to the fact I was not alone. Whenever I’m feeling something, whether it be joyful or upset, I try to write my feelings in a way so that others can understand and ultimately relate. It helps me understand myself better putting feelings into words, and the goal is to help others with similar feelings. Some people have journals or diaries to make sense of how they feel; I have music. 

What’s the Denver rap scene like? 
Honestly, I haven’t been to many shows or collaborated with anybody down here as of yet because I’ve just been honing my craft first. But I’m excited the begin exploring what the local scene is all about. There are a lot of talented people here.

What are you looking to accomplish in 2020? 
This is my first release, and I’m looking to begin building a fan base this year. I want people to talk about my music with folk who are struggling, I really just want to help people. I’m also looking to strengthen my pen game and work with producers on-site more than just over email. I think that stuff is so cool, collaboration is something I’m hyped for because all my time writing music I’ve been solo.

What are you working on at the moment? When can we expect more music?
I am working on several different projects, but one of them is coming very soon. It’s a full-length album, and “Catch Me If You Can” is the second track on it. It’s called “Limbo” and I’ve been working on it for quite some time, now it’s almost complete. I’m so incredibly excited to show it off, I’m proud of this album and I hope it makes a positive impact on people, and I hope it gets head nods and stank faces.

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Interviews

A Conversation With AddItUp Juan: Mogul in the making

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AddItUp Juan is the executive that you need to be familiar with. The CEO of AddItUp Ent. is putting something special together in these Detroit streets and he’s ready to make some serious change in the scene. Move over Diddy and Jay-Z: there’s another power figure coming for the spot.

Check out our conversation below.

Whats Is AddItUp Ent?
I found it to serve as all things related to entertainment. We are more than just music, more so a source for providing, producing quality lyrics, high energy artists, and beats made to perfection. We are positive support, love, and compassion for the AddItUp family. 

What do you look to accomplish for the city of Detroit?
To be able to develop new artists from the city who want to give back.To prove no one makes better material than us. To keep the culture of Detroit relevant, not just a memory.

What was the process like recording “ONE CITY?”
It was a continuous, nonstop grind. With so many different styles and artists, there were minor obstacles we faced due to working with schedules or just life in general. It was a hardworking process yet fun and enjoyable, well worth it. 

How did the collective come together?
We came together because of relatable passion and likeminded visions for this business. Working with people like Hunnit Andretti, Polo 2Time$, Illuminati G, and more who aren’t afraid to be expressive, not holding back because they feel it will interfere with their brand. We came together with the support from my wife and kids who want to help me leave a legacy. They motivate our efforts to push forward every day.

What’s the Detroit rap scene like?
It’s a growing scene full of talented raw underrated artists. Full of diverse hardworking artists who just want better for themselves without changing who they truly are.

How are you guys able to make such authentic music?
We are able to create such authentic music behind real-life experiences. I know that is often said but, for us, it’s still very real. For example: With the song entitled “S.O.S” artist/producer Hunnit Andretti expressed my situation through his lyrics which showed true art. 

Where do you see AddItUp Ent. in five years?
We will continue to provide great material as far as music and other entertainment. Sponsoring even more youth programs than we already do. Expanding our brand so that we are one of the main sources behind sports, music, movies(etc…). We will have our hands in everything and definitely own an AddItUp youth football/basketball organization.

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