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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

Co-Founder of Haute Agency, Chealse Sophia, Aims To Build An Empire Within The Talent And Model Industry

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Toronto’s Very Own Chealse Sophia is the beauty-preneur creative behind your favorite brand. She has shattered the glass ceiling and revolutionized what it means to be a woman in a patriarchal entertainment industry.

It’s 2022, and this generation is moving different –the masculinity complex stigma is being challenged by empowered, devoted and self-driven women that are pushing the needle, trailblazing for the upcoming generations, and leading the charge for the hard-working women that hold contrary opinion, a voice of change that suits the world we live in today, and that value independence, and gender impartiality.

From Toronto, Ontario Canada – a woman currently grinding through her teeth to champion women’s resurgence in the corporate world, more so – the creative executive world –that is generally considered by a majority to be just music, film, sports & entertainment – and very much predominantly male and chauvinist in the boardrooms – is Chealse Sophia Howell, a 31-year old modeling executive that is building an Empire, a creative and healthy space for women to feel empowered, and equity to men alike.

Chealse is the founder & CEO of eponymous skincare product company SOPHIA, and the founder of talent agency Haute Agency, both of which have been making leaps in the creative industry. 

For Haute Agency, the company began in 2014 after a heaven-sent intuition sparked in Chealse’s mind that she could offer more to the more business, management, creative and branding side of the modeling industry. The company she founded at 23 years old has worked with multinational corporations such as Cover Girl, Amazon, OVO, New Balance, Pandora, Hello Canada, New Era, but not limited to. 

About six months ago, having been a model and in front of the camera before, Chealse would know a thing or two about what self-care & image essentially encompasses. The SOPHIA brand she says is about venturing into the cosmetics world, and later fashion. 

SOPHIA is a dream come true itself and it was only launched less than six months ago. In these 6 months we have gone viral multiple times on TikTok, sold out twice on our website and sold out on Amazon in the first 30 days of being listed, and have had a tone of organic support from big influencers” she chimes in vehemently.

Currently, Haute Agency is a 360 talent agency that was unearthed from her sheer determination to apply herself in vast areas of the modeling industry other than the actual performance aspect of it.

Haute Agency originally launched in 2014 as a model and talent agency, but I saw how social media was taking over this industry, so I quickly transitioned Haute into a full brand development agency where companies come to us to turn their brand into an empire” she explains.

Check out some of the work that Haute Agency has been a part of below:Hedley (models and video production) – “Crazy For You“Tory Lanez (models) “Traphouse“Trina (models) “F*ck Love,” ft. Tory LanezFelix Carter & Lights (models and video production) “Love Me

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Artist To Watch

Gusto sets the tone with his new track “Frozen Heart” featuring ZayZayy

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While most of the population was muddled over the pandemic lockdown, this young artist saw a golden opportunity to capitalize on his free time and pursue his passion for music. In the past two years, Gusto did an incredible job tapping into the global audience through his art. Now, he has established a stable fanbase that can’t seem to get enough of his unique flow. 

On January 28th, Gusto released his latest track, “Frozen Heart,” ft. ZayZayy. This artist went the extra mile to top the success of his last single, “Pray for Me.” The new track by Gusto focuses primarily on the impact of life experiences on a person. He mentions that betrayals from close friends, loss of love, and loved ones’ death can leave lasting scars on a person’s heart. 

“Music is therapeutic for me,” mentions Gusto. “Being able to get my thoughts out through music and knowing people can relate to the things I think keeps inspired me to continue. All my life experiences continue to shape my music. As I go through different situations and learn things about life, I put that into my music.”

While developing himself as an artist and sharing his musical journey with the fans, Gusto aims to collaborate with African artists to promote his culture. He believes that a man should stay true to his roots and take life challenges head-on to achieve greatness. For Gusto, music is about connecting with other people and sharing his piece. 

The track “Frozen Heart” is available across all platforms for listeners to enjoy. Gusto is also working on new projects to bring to the fans later this year. To learn more about this blessed artist, visit his Instagram at @godsgiftgus13.

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Artist To Watch

Jimmie Bishop & ZachTheHero kick-off 2022 with their latest project “So Far So Good”

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This new project brings a whole vibe to the listeners as Jimmy Bishop & ZachTheHero underscore their evolution as artists. “So Far So Good” focuses primarily on elevation and appreciating life for all its blessings. These artists went the extra mile to bring meaningful and relatable tracks to the fans. It is undoubtedly the perfect follow-up after the massive success of their last project, “The Ark.”

“We have to be grateful for where we are right now and continue to get better every day,” explains ZachTheHero. “The journey is challenging, but as long as we keep God first and focus on what’s important, that’s all that matters. If you really love and firmly believe in something strong enough, nothing can stop you from doing it.”

This message is truly inspirational and delivers hope to listeners struggling with some lows in their lives. While there are always negative aspects to every situation, it is impossible to grow when people are ungrateful for the blessings. So, these artists show their appreciation through this project and thank God for all the ups and the downs.

By listening to the first few tracks in the “So Far So Good” album, it is clear that this project was produced from a place of contentment. They recognize that their current success is just the beginning of their music careers and aim to be counted among legendary artists like Kanye West, Travis Scott, and Jay-Z.

After the overwhelming response from the fans, Jimmie Bishop and ZachTheHero have started working on more projects to bring to the audience later this year. Meanwhile, listeners can enjoy the “So Far So Good” album on all platforms. 

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