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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

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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Ben Thompson is a 19 Year Old Marketing Guru

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Social media has become a big part of our daily lives, especially for Generation Z. Ben Thompson has found a way to make a living off of it.

Thompson started his own management business, managing influencers social media pages, including the likes of producer Rojas On The Beat, entrepreneur Ponce Deleioun, and musician Sean Kingston.

His social clout came from building up meme pages that had hundreds of thousands of followers. The content had a lot of range but he mastered sharing content from a young age.

Thompson explained that he was in a giant networking group on Twitter that shared each other’s content, or “retweet for retweet,” which is when you retweet another page’s post, and they retweet yours, a skill used to gain more traction from a wider variety of audiences, and therefore more followers.

Now at 19, he is able to work to help deliver strong marketing techniques to models, athletes, and other influencers. Without a big homie or help from the music scene, he is killing it.

“I’m on a person’s account for like 15 to 20 minutes a day, and I comment under hashtags related to their niche,” Thompson said. “For example, I do this one guy who has a food truck out in California, a wing truck, and I’ll go under #foods, #spicyhotfoods, or #wings, and I’ll comment on photos all day for him. And that builds his impressions, his analytics up, his profile views up, his likes and comments up. All that.”

Thompson has around 15-25 clients, and makes around $4,500 a month.

Not bad for a 19-year-old kid. Thompson said he hopes to someday make a brand for himself, be more than the person behind the scenes. He would also like to maybe start his own marketing company.

Thompson said he has also begun managing artists, including what he said is a well-known artist from Connecticut, and even helps promote record labels and colleges.

Look out for Ben Thompson to make some more moves in the upcoming year. The pandemic has not slowed him down and he looks to prove his worth in 2021.

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.@uknowflyboi Is Ready

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We spoke to one of Detroit’s hottest rising lyricists about his journey so far and what he has coming up in the pipeline. This is one discussion that you don’t want to miss.

Who is FlyBoi Rich?

FlyBoi Rich is your average “hood” kid telling his stories from what he has seen and been through. I try to keep it 100, I just ain’t got no filter when it comes to what I talk about. I try to bring lyrics and bangers together. From the Eastside of Detroit Glenwood, I came up with a big circle tryna win together. I’m a sports junkie so it’s heavy sports talk in the music. There’s a lot of pain inside that I try to bring that out through the music so when you hear the music you are hearing me.


How did you get into the rap space?

I always played around with it. People around me started telling me I was nice and then I started taking it more serious. I jumped in it looking for whoever was trying to hear me spitting. I remember going around my neighborhood bookbag full of pressed up CDs selling and passing them out. I jumped in head first and aint look back since. I just started learning, getting dedicated, and grinding it out until I see the best results.


What’s your experience like in the Detroit rap scene?
It’s been cool. I’ve been around a few people that showed me some of the local areas early. It changed a lot as far as getting out face to face, it seems like social media platforms raise awareness a lot. Its all for the good, it’s bringing attention to the city I’m with it. Overall though, I’ve had a few good experiences and a few bad experiences from studio to venues but its all apart of the game.

Detroit’s becoming one of the biggest cities in rap, destined to overthrow hubs like Chicago and Atlanta. Why do you think that the city is now getting its shine?
I believe for sure the new talent coming out the city, plus they are going to gravitate to the surrounding areas to see what they can find. I think they always had an ear to us because of people like Em, Sean, and Dilla doing what they did and others. It was just a matter of time, can’t rush the process it’s perfect timing.


Do you think that this shine is overdue? Why or why not? 
Maybe so, because it started slowly picking up tho so can’t really say. The way artists are coming out now though I would say that it’s just the right time a few people either got deals or excelled higher last year than I seen in a while so I think the timing is right.


What was the recording process like for “New Jack City?”
New Jack City was inspired by the movie. I hopped in the studio one day after watching it. It kind of inspired the whole Black Movie Cinema Ep. Went in the studio got some of my “creative inspirations” together and I got to work. Writing process ain’t long for me, I go off whatever that I’m thinking about at the time. I usually try to get real witty with the words and play off them but I finished the track pretty quick think me N another artist Thatboy Hen dropped Adidas that day to. That goes crazy to me (video soon!)


Why do you think fans identify with your music so much? 
I think because it’s something good to the ears first and then the music aint trash it got a bounce so that catch em. It’s real and its something they can relate to. It gives them a vibe and you can understand it. Saying a quote or something that make a fan sit like damn what he say? I live for those moments. I think they identify because most of em seen me come from nothing and they can hear the passion in the music.

How do you think artists like Sada Baby and Tee Grizzley opened the door for Detroit artists?

I think Grizz started it out crazy with that first day out once Vezzo was gone. He got out and jumped out with that joint it hit the whole year. Getting people like Bron to hop on the gram and spit your shit gotta be making noise for real. Sada, on the other hand, showed how we have fun with it. His grind and dropping track after track showed our dedication and grind they fasho got they eyes open getting on bigger platforms performing at festivals they definitely repping for the city.

Who is your favorite rapper from Detroit? Why? Gotta say either Royce or Em prolly because they style is that Golden Era sound with those lyrics. I lean more so towards Royce tho just rock wit how his style is the lyrical part of the game I just latch on to heavy. Plus i can relate to the stories he tells in his music more.

What’s next for Fly Boi Rich? 
Going all out its non stop new Ep coming very soon new videos in the works as we speak. Getting out to more shows, putting out quality merchandise and music all 2019 trying to bring my circle up top like a halo if we blessed we neva stressed. More dedication more building more elevation all I’m looking forward to is touching as mmanypeople with this music as i can.


What’s your 2019 looking like?
So far its looking pretty good a few shows setup soon my own release party more videos and blessings. Hopefully partner up with a big label and get some of these ideas into works but for now it’s a constant grind constant drops be expecting to hear me a lot this year for sure.

Who are you looking forward to collaborating with? Why?
Royce probably because of the lyrical challenge it will bring and Sada because the energy we a bring to a track together. I rock with both they music heavy they on my playlist and it’s been on my head so when that time presents itself I’m waiting for it.

What’s one thing that you want to do for the city once you make it to the next level in the rap game

Bring back some of these old neighborhoods I use to go to or live at before its too late and somebody from out of town capitalize on it. We let too my people come and take our town profits away so I wanna keep some stuff I remember alive and build a few small businesses and try to help a couple of neighborhoods out with something at least a job or a decent spot to hang or be at comfortably.

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