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Producer .@kylestemberger talks process, Burna Boy collab, and more in exclusive interview

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Kyle Stemberger had an amazing year last year, and the crazy thing is that he’s just beginning. He practically lives in the studio, securing collaborations with artists like Jorja Smith, Burna Boy, and Flipp Dinero, and he’s quietly on the trek to becoming one of your favorite producers – you just don’t know it yet.

We caught up with the rising producer to learn a bit about what his process is like, how he got into

What’s your approach to making beats? Does it differ from artist to artist?

It depends on where I am. If I’m just at home making beats I usually just start messing around on the keyboard or guitar until I get something I like. Sometimes, use a melody that one of my homies created, then I just add whatever drums on top of it that fit the vibe of the melody.

If i’m in the studio with an artist it really depends on who i’m working with. For example, recently I was working with one of my good friends WHATUPRG for a while on some new music and I was just cranking idea after idea out and there were a lot of those moments where something just clicks or someone has that lightbulb moment when they hear an idea. Those moments are the best to me.

How did you get into producing?

I started off playing piano when I was extremely young, like 5 or 6, then I eventually got into guitar as well since I grew up on a lot of rock music. I got into electronic music a little bit when I was in middle school and I looked up how it was made because I was curious, then ended up downloading FL Studio and watching some tutorials. I got into rap music heavily around the same time and the rest is history.

What was it like working with Burna Boy?

Unfortunately I didn’t get to actually be in the studio with him for that single. I played the guitar and did a little vocal for that record. That song is probably my favorite that i’ve ever worked on. It’s crazy to have not only Burna Boy, but Jorja Smith on it as well. I think they meshed perfectly on it.

How do you manage to land such high profile replacements?

Collaboration. Through working at my craft, I’ve been able to catch the attention and send ideas/loops to some of the biggest producers ever. Big or small, collaborating with producers will get your beats heard by more people who you may not have direct access to. As soon as I get my foot in the door somewhere and see new opportunity, I try and kick the door down and really show them my potential.

What would you say that your favorite collaboration that you’ve ever worked on is? Why?

Jorja Smith’s “Be Honest” ft. Burna Boy or Flipp Dinero’s “How I Move” ft. Lil Baby are my favorites. “Be Honest” was my first placement outside of just rap music and I’m trying to branch off this year and get some more songs done with artists people wouldn’t expect me to work with. It was my first time hearing myself on the radio as well. “How I Move” because growing up in Georgia, everyone is a fan of Lil Baby and Flipp Dinero here. A lot of people were, and still are, playing that song. It feels like my first song where people actually know it and listen to it like that, locally at least.

What do you think makes a good hit? In terms of Sonics, is it replicable? Why or why not? 

I think every “hit” is unique in its own way, most of the time one hit is not like the other. In my opinion, it has to have just the right amount of repetition and a chord progression/melody that is very memorable as well. What comes to mind is “Ransom” by Lil Tecca. You don’t hear chord progressions like that a lot in rap music, so it’s pretty unique and i’m sure just about everybody reading this has the hook or at least part of it memorized. I think it can be replicable, but it’s never gonna be as big of a hit as the original is. I think it’s best off trying to do something new and fresh.

What are you looking to accomplish this year?

I want to grow more as a producer. I want to go back to my roots and focus back in on my piano & guitar skills, definitely a lot more live instrumentation. As far as achievements, I want to work on some big pop/dancehall records and some R & B stuff. I still haven’t got that #1 yet so that’s been my driving force recently. If I keep grinding for it, even if I’m not getting it, i’ll still be having a good chance of filling up the other hundred spots. I also want to develop a new artist, I haven’t found one yet and I’m not really actively searching, just want it to happen organically. And of course I want to work harder than I did last year and blow 2019 out of the water.

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@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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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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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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