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When Collaborating With Other Artists, Don’t Settle

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Dick Grayson first suited up as Robin, Boy Wonder in Detective Comics # 38. Batman took the 8-year-old child under his wing, adopting him as a legal ward of the state. The Caped Crusader would morph the child into a valuable asset for the former’s everlasting battle for Gotham’s streets; forging a partnership that has withstood the test of time (the original comic came out in 1940). The relationship — up until Robin chose to become Nightwing — consisted of Batman taking the lead and Robin following accordingly. With Batman in charge, the two-man team soundly defeated ghoulish and criminal entities time and time again.

There was a reason for the duo’s continued success; besides the creativity of the comic’s authors penning the storylines. With the stronger hero and personality in charge, being Batman, Robin followed suit; finding ways to emulate Batman’s success and grow as a hero. This made proceedings fairly predictable but effective. Their track record, nearly unblemished, goes to show that someone taking the lead is much more effective than meeting somewhere in the middle ground.

In rap music, this kind of relationship doesn’t exist. In a genre defined by fake relationships, the concept of fraternalism becomes that much more important. The age-old mantra gifted to the public time and time again is that the industry is fake, rappers are bogus, and relationships are strictly for business purposes. It’s why genuine friendships constructed through industry experiences are celebrated by the media; Drake and Future’s unlikely connection — previously on the outs because of the latter’s comments about being better than the Canadian crooner — was the subject of many memes in its heyday. Kendrick Lamar and J. Cole, two artists of a similar ilk, are known to be close associates. Just recently, Lil Durk and Tee Grizzley publically declared their brotherly love for each other, becoming best friends in the process.

These types of relationships that form inside and outside of rap usually lead back into it in the form of collaborative projects. Friends, eager to celebrate and capitalize from their peers’ successes, hop in the booth together and give fans what they want from both; a best of both worlds collective effort that’ll surely knock the socks off of fans worldwide. Only, in nearly every case so far, results have been lackluster across the board.

 

Huncho Jack is perhaps the latest example of collaboration albums that stunk. Both artists have collaborated on a number of occasions, most notably on“Pick Up The Phone” from the former’s Birds In The Trap Sing Brian McKnight; Scott also credits Quavo for inspiring the name behind the album. Both have startlingly different recording styles; Scott uses autotune to support his zany rap-singing mix and warbles affectionally over constantly changing production while Quavo is silky smooth, primarily a trap aficionado who can drop a tone or two when necessary. The two’s consummation was heavily anticipated by fans worldwide, finally releasing on Dec. 21. While it does contain some bangers that will carry fans throughout the winter, the general consensus of the tape is that it is a missed opportunity. There’s a little bit of both worlds, but ultimately not enough of either one to be considered memorable.

When multiple star-level forces collide to create music, it often times results in a success — see “biebs in the trap” by Travis Scott and Nav or “Motorsport” by Migos, Cardi B, and Nicki Minaj. On single songs, the primary artist taps the other to meet them at their aesthetic, crafting their vocals to match their song’s intensity and style. The problem arises when artists come together to create a body of work without establishing a lead. A middle meeting ground solves nothing, only complicating the sonic message that both artists are trying to portray.

Drake and Future’s What A Time To Be Alive lacked the staying power to warrant it as anything but a passing fad. Drake’s intimate singing and rapping style contrasted heavily with Future’s more direct, yet spacey, method of warbling. The beat choices used on the project, a jarring mix of both’s preferred styles, only exaggerated this point, leading to some great recordings that followed into questionable ones. “Jumpman” was a rare feat that captured both artists in their best lights, while the following track “Jersey” lacked Drake entirely, presumably because he wouldn’t fit in on the Monster-esque production. On the very next track, “30 for 30 Freestyle,” Drake chimes in for a solemn outing, backed by softly-strung piano keys and muted bass. The contrast between the three tracks highlighted the fact that individually, both artists are amazing, but together, when trying to strike the right mix of both aesthetics, the two suffer considerably.

Perhaps the camaraderie that exists between artists is harder to marriage on wax then they let on to be. This would explain why Kendrick Lamar and J. Cole’s long-rumored project has never come to fruition. Or why artist and producer projects like Gucci Mane’s DropTopWop and Big Sean’s Double or Nothing — both featuring Metro Boomin as the projects’ beatsmith — often fair better critically than two artists collaborative works. Producers cater to the needs of the artist versus finding common ground. The latter would lead to some less than worthy results. Without the proper lead, the arrangements feel empty and barren. By this time next year, neither of these projects will remain remembered.

The enduring success of Batman and Robin as an iconic team, able to defeat nearly any villain in the history of the heroes’ lore, should encourage musicians to rethink their approaches to crafting collaborative projects. Huncho Jack should have been the talk of the town but has already received an alarming dropoff in appreciation so soon after its release because of the two powerhouses being unable to establish whose setting the stage for the other to join. It’s not about showcasing bravado or taking the backseat to the other’s arrangements — it’s about creating something wholesome that will be memorable for fans everywhere.

Editorials

INTERVIEW: Kevin Kartier Is Straight From The Mississippi Mudd

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Kevin Kartier

Kevin Kartier has been putting on for his area for years. The blog era was generous to him, and his peers have always respected him. His work in music has been consistent for almost 10 years now. He and his partner Tevaar Smith have done all they can to make it out and create a bridge from the Gulf Coast to the rest of the music industry. After putting together multiple playlists and entertainment seminars, Kevin’s mission to do it for the ‘Sip is nowhere near finished. His latest project, ‘Vibes & Vices,’ shows his growth as an emcee. With 8 tracks and features from Smoke DZA & fellow Mississippian Josh Waters, you have a project full of heart. Clocking in just a little under 30 minutes, Kevin leaves his fans with just enough to know that he’s ready for the big time. The Sony/Orchard distributed project has experienced a lot of playlisting support on DSPs and solid placements on various outlets. Not too shabby for a rapper from the 3rd coast!

Check out our interesting Q & A here!

Q: What does your area mean to you?

Kevin K: Being from Mississippi and specifically the Gulf Coast means a lot to me. I used to look at it like
it was a negative or it worked against me being from Mississippi but I realized it directly led to me
becoming who I am today. Being from Mississippi means being resilient, hard-working, and creative.
We’re used to doing the most with the least down here. That pride is directly what led to the creation of
Mississippi Mudd.

Q: As partners from an area with much music business infrastructure, who inspired you all?

Kevin K: When I was younger, I was really motivated by Jay-Z’s early story. He started as an
artist that nobody really wanted to sign, so he got with his boys and created a label. They built the
company around Jay and were able to lay the foundation for an empire. Jay was 28 when
Reasonable Doubt dropped, but he also knew it was a chess game, not checkers, and I think
that attitude helped guide him to where he is now. That kind of long-term thinking inspires me.

Kevin Kartier & Tevaar Smith

Q: What do you want fans to know about your upcoming project, Vibes & Vices?

Kevin K: Vibes & Vices is my official debut album and is a long time coming. As they say, an
artist’s debut album is the summation of their life and times up to that point. I think I’ve always
been technically, mechanically a good rapper, but this project really shows my growth and
depths as a real songwriter and performer. These are all songs that allow me to talk about the more
personal subject matter but are also timeless and are relatable to the listener. I’ve really been
able to “let go” more as a songwriter, and I think it shows. These words, thoughts, and feelings
have allowed me to go to another level performance-wise too.

Q: What made you all start doing your Mississippi Mudd playlist?

Kevin K: It all relates back to being from Mississippi and feeling like there was a distinct lack of
resources and outlets as compared to other areas. And instead of running away from it, Tevaar
(my manager) and I decided to face it head-on and begin the process of creating those needed
platforms and opportunities. Mississippi Mudd was born directly from that desire to help
Mississippi grows and connects all the dope creatives in the state.

Q: Can you talk about how difficult or easy it has been to continue to work during the pandemic?

Kevin K: I’ve been fortunate to have been able to stay busy during the pandemic. I actually have a
degree in film, so it’s been a wild time trying to freelance and stay active. Still, I was fortunate
enough to link up with a local videographer, and that was a great way to keep working and in
a way that I can still kind of have a say in what happens. Plus, I took the time during the pandemic
to really work on Vibes and Vices and keep myself back into the mode of a recording artist and
writing/recording. I’ve been able to work with different producers and engineers, too, which has
been a blessing.

Q: You have features with Smoke DZA, Cyhi, and many others! Who is your dream collaborator in
the future?

Kevin K: Yea, I’ve been able to work with some pretty dope artists, and I don’t take that for granted.
In the future, as far as other artists, I’d like to get one with Curren$y as he is a legend and
someone I’ve personally been a fan of for years.

Q: What are your goals for the rest of the year?

Kevin K: My biggest goal is to rollout Vibes & Vices and shares with the world these
songs and videos that represent a milestone and where I am in my life right now.

Being able to share all of the hard work and creative energy that was put into this
record from not just me but all the producers, engineers, and other artists. It
really was a labor of love, and I hope the listener gets that feeling whenever they
hear any of the music.

Peep his new album Vibes & Vices today!

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Editorials

Meet Princeofthegram: LA’s Most Sought After Nightlife Photographer

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Princeofthegram is currently working as Trey Songz’s private photographer and recently started an Only Fans management company with Trey Songz.

Princeofthegram is an East Coast native from Brockton, Massachusetts, currently living in Los Angeles. He got his start in the nightlife industry as a club promoter in 2018 and would take his camera with him at night as a “hobby,” and the rest was history. He started taking his craft seriously and fully started pursuing his vocation, visual arts. 

He started gaining the attention of the Los Angeles nightlife circuit as he began networking and owning his style. He booked his first paid job at Playhouse the following year. Then Penthouse Club, and after that, the business just kept coming in. As time went on, Princeofthegram became the most sought nightlife photographer in Los Angeles. Princeofthegram would then shoot for some of the most iconic venues such as Penthouse Day club, Le Jardin, 1 Oak, Argyle, Playhouse, Bootsey Bellows, Crazy Girls, Ace of Diamonds, and several more clubs. 

Currently, Princeofthegram has been working on expanding his portfolio and clientele. Most recently, he’s been shooting with Trey Songz as Trey’s photographer. Additionally, he and Trey Songz run an Only Fans management company called, Angels and Angles. Princeofthegram has said that “working one on one with him is like a childhood dream come true for [him].” 

He also said he has plans to work with “model clients by growing their brands through content creation.” In the future, Princeofthegram wants to focus on “creating publication photos for Vogue, Maxim, Playboy or magazines of this caliber.” 

With the rate Princeofthegram has been rising, it is only a matter of time before his name plastered all over the most prominent companies, artists, and influencers. 

His most notable work includes shooting Pop Smoke in the studio before his untimely passing, assisting in directing Yung Bleu’s music video “2 AM in Houston,” and working with a plethora of entertainers like King Combs, Tory Lanez, and Dom Kennedy

Be sure to stay on the lookout for who Princeofthegram is working with next! It could be your favorite artist. His Social Media accounts are Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, TikTok, all the same handle, @princeofthegram, with Instagram being his most used. 

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Editorials

MiAsia Symone Streetz 94.5 ATL New Prominent Voice

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Make way for the new voice gracing Atlanta’s airwaves on Streetz 94.5 on The fly Guy DC show from 6pm to 10pm, MiAsia Symone! Bringing her own flavor to the show, you can catch her hosting her very own segment called the “94-Second Scoop.” She discusses all things entertainment from news, city updates, and sports updates. Although MiAsia has found her lane in radio, the beginning stages were not easy. When she first started, the expectations were high of her and she had to find her rhythm, she says “all great things take practice and to become great, you have to keep doing it over and over.”

She may be the new voice on Streetz but she is not new to the game. For the past six years, MiAsia has dedicated her life to entertainment and sports. When asked her who her top two favorite teams were she said hands down the Hawks and the Clippers. As far as her biggest inspirations in the hosting world, she explained that Lala Anthony and Terrence J are two of her favorite hosts she looks up to. When it comes to MiAsias work ethic many people will say that she one day will become the next Lala & Terrance J because of her ambition and drive. When everybody is sleeping, she is still at work and one step ahead.

Currently, MiAsia is in the works of partnering with Kalisha Perera, a TV/radio personality, to start an indie platform that will help up-and-coming independent artists get the exposure they need. When she is not on air, she runs her online shoe boutique House Of Heels Atl, which she started during the pandemic. The sky is the limit for MiAsia. Her ultimate goal is to make her dad proud who she lost to cancer in 2019. She is unquestionably emerging in her industry and destined for success. 

Instagram: @miasiasymone

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