BABY BOY DA PRINCE
Out of the West Bank of New Orleans comes the Prince of The Cityâ€¦Baby Boy da Prince. His career began at the age of 16 opening up for No Limit Records artist Choppa. Baby Boy created a name for himself in New Orleans with a lavish on stage performances and catchy feel good records. Then in 2004 he stepped from behind the scenes and into the spotlight hooking up with a local management company, Bosshogg Entertainment (B.G., Juvenile, Choppa). After years of hard work, Bosshogg Entertainment inked a deal with indie label Extreme Entertainment. Baby Boy hit the road in early 2005 to spread his music and fan base further outside of New Orleans. He went on tour opening for platinum acts, Juvenile, Paul Wall, 50 Cent, and many more. Then in August 2005 Baby Boy’s world came crumbling down as New Orleans was hit by Hurricane Katrina. Throughout the ordeal he vowed that he would get his life together and continue his dream of becoming one of Hip-Hops newest stars. Living in a FEMA trailer, Baby Boy began writing new material for his upcoming album. He continued to do shows in New Orleans to show his fans support. In 2006 Q93 in New Orleans began to play his hit single “The Way I Live”. The single became an instant hit and in 3 weeks was the number 1 record at the station. Baby Boy had reached a new plateau and proved that his music could perform with the best artists in the country. The buzz in the city started to spill over and major labels began to take notice. Universal Republic Records jumped on the opportunity and signed Baby Boy as their premiere Hip Hop act. Baby Boy’s hard work and dedication brought him out of the trials and tribulations that affected him throughout his career. His music is a testament to the revival of New Orleans and the people who live in it.
VIDEO: BABY BOY DA PRINCE – “THE WAY I LIVE”
He has a style that is undeniably fresh, surrounded by a crew that emulates HBO’s Entourage quad. At 21 years old, this Chi-town native is quietly plotting his take over of the phenomenon we know as Hip Hop. Possessing a flow that sounds as classic as a Marvin Gaye tune, with charisma more contagious then the common cold, Yung Berg is the definition of what happens when skills and swagger are pooled into one powerhouse. Previously signed to DMX’s Bloodline Records, Yung Berg got his first taste of the music business at the age of 15. Unfortunately Yung Berg’s bite of success left a bad taste in his parent’s mouths, which lead to a mandatory relocation to military school in 2001. This move would prove to be a blessing in disguise; with no television or radio available, it forced the budding lyricist to develop and hone a style all his own, free of the influences of the wave of hip hop that was popular at the time. Yung Berg decided to take a different road to stardom upon his return in 2003. Berg refocused his energy and decided that learning the “behind the scenes” aspect of the business was going to propel his career to the next level. So in 2005 he signed on as a hype man for Disturbing The Peace’s first lady of rap, Shawnna. The entrepreneur in Berg was cultivated during this time. Embodying every quality of a true leader, Berg launched his own entertainment venture – the Yung Boss imprint – currently comprised of a roster of equally talented producers and emcees. “We’re setting the standard for what’s acceptable,” says Berg. “Every other young dude was put on; we’re putting ourselves on.” Now a little older and a lot wiser, Yung Berg is signed to Epic Records, gearing up to release his debut album, Look What You Made Me. The record boasts a wide variety of material ranging from specially crafted songs for the ladies to street anthems made to resonate in anyone’s “hood”. Look What You Made Me is Yung Berg’s story in his own words and is poised to be one of the best new releases of 2007. Having snagged writing credits on albums for some of hip hop’s elite including Shawnna and Eve and dropping verses on mixtapes for the likes of Clinton Sparks, Young Berg is guaranteed to bring that same spark and energy to his own project. With a solid music foundation, a powerhouse creative machine and an increasingly growing fan base, Yung Berg is well on his way to becoming the voice of hip hop’s next generation. The combination has undeniably resulted in the birth of the most versatile and unique emcees to enter the game in quite some time, ultimately the reason why hip hop’s future is firmly in tact.
NCE (Nothin Comz Eazy) Records is the movement. THE ALLIANCE is the click. Comprised of rappers BLACKOUT, P.O.P., SKINNY, female rapper BLISS, and in-house producer TY-CUTTA, their hit song “TATTOO” featuring FABO, is sweeping the nation faster than you can say “Tat-Tat-Tatted Up”. This club banger is one that’s not going anywhere! One thing is certain; regardless of your set, the fact of the matter is that The Alliance inked up just right! The tattoo, whether if it’s displayed in clothing apparel designs or directly on the skin, is an expression of a lifestyle that represents total individuality and freedom of expression. Dripped in individuality, THE ALLIANCE, signed to Asylum / NCE Records, is able to hold it down as a group while each member is successfully able to rip the stage. As the brainchild of their manager, Q, THE ALLIANCE fulfills his vision that comprises of a strong unit but also one in which each member remains to stand on its own legs and reach the highest heights in music. They breed versatility and won’t allow themselves to be lumped into the â€˜crunk’ category although the group is from Georgia. Instead, they want the world to know that they will eventually branch off in various directions with diverse sounds and solo projects. No one-hit wonders here! Instead they use THE ALLIANCE as a platform, just as the tattoo, as a vehicle for creative expression (and by the way- everyone in the group sports tattoos). The mastermind behind the tracks is TY-CUTTA. A native of Atlanta, he is a very dynamic element to the group. A source of raw and untapped talent, TY-CUTTA, with the help of engineer Scott, brings diversity to the table with each beat. His clever way of assembling drums and kicks makes his beats undeniable to any ear. Able to keep his ear to the streets and to THE ALLIANCE crew, he is able to hear each distinct rhythm, flow, and style and pushes his music to the depths of his creativity. Bliss, the sole female in the crew, always knew that she was destined for great things. After spotting rappers SKINNY, P.O.P. BLACKOUT and TY-CUTTA on-stage at a concert, the following actions changed the course of history for this sweet Georgia Peach. Jumping on stage to show off her lower back tattoo, this tiny femme-fatale, knew her destiny and claimed this concert as her opportunity to make a place in the rap game. Holding down the crew with her recognizable flow, sex appeal, madd tattoos, and cool laid back stance, BLISS reps the click well and is the 1st lady of THE ALLIANCE. Weighing in at 150 pounds with a head full of locks is SKINNY. Small, yet lyrically hard-hitting and full of energy, exudes a confident and compassionate lyricist. SKINNY, since age 11 has been writing the lyrics of his life and understood at an early age that he needed to become a financial don for his family. Overcoming challenges in the streets, music was his escape and his experiences make him an official street-music ambassador. P.O.P. inspired by music, learned at an early age, to play musical instruments, namely the keyboard. Although heavily influenced by his family, he knows and understands the daily struggles of the streets. With his family by his side, he continues to work to stay focused on his passions and roots them in his music. Through their motivation, has elevated his music game from playing instruments to writing. His penmanship is evolving him into a lyrical genius. Undergoing the struggles of living in a single parent home, crew member, BLACKOUT, used rap as his role model and escape. Instead of living up to the stereotype of what many anticipated BLACKOUT took full advantage of his time to develop his skills in free-styling. At an early age he was into word play. He took a strong liking to depth of poetry and the energy of rock and roll. As he grew older he made the two work for him and is able to successfully translate that into hip hop. Motivated by the past superiors of hip-hop BLACKOUT strives to inspire the younger generation of hip-hop like the greats of his time did for him. In many eyes hip-hop can be seen as a source of negative energy, however, THE ALLIANCE uses its momentum to pull their personal experiences into a positive light. â€˜Real Life’ is the underlying thread of THE ALLIANCE. Overcoming trials and tribulations is each of their life stories as urban youth. It is by their life experiences that they are able to relate to each other and bring their real life stories to masses of people. They use great strategy and the negativity and jealousy that they get from naysayers as a catalyst to continue making hot crossover material that their fans love and appreciate. While they remain humble and hungry as they add to the overall culture of hip-hop they want everyone to know they are about the business of strategically putting out music the fans want to hear and that Nothing Comes Easy.
As the 2007 recipient of the Southern Entertainment Award for the Independent Artist of the Year, Memphis based recording artist Kia Shine has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that he is a force to be reckoned with. Kia Shine is a major figure on the Southâ€™s hip-hop underground scene. Now with his national debut on Universal Motown Records entitled Due Season Kia Shine is finally stepping up to take his rightful place in the hip-hop world. Born in and raised in Memphisâ€™ infamous Frazier neighborhood, Kia Shine witnessed first hand the devastating effect that drugs and poverty had on his community. â€œWhen I think about Frazier I think about New Jack City,â€ says Kia. â€œI remember when there wasnâ€™t any such thing as crack and I remember when it first came into the neighborhood and how it was affected. It looked like you were either selling it or your folks were using it.â€ Thankfully Kia Shine was able to resist the temptation of the cheap high and the fast money that crack offered many ghetto youth. â€œI knew God had bigger plans for me. It just took me a little bit longer to realize that music was the thing that he wanted me to do.â€ While it may have taken him a while to figure out that music was his true calling, it was always a huge part of his life. He grew up listening great soul artist like David Ruffin, Willie Hutch and Womack & Womack and classic hip-hop by pioneers artists like Eric B & Rakim, Grand Master Flash & the Furious Five and Kurtis Blow. This music had a profound impact on him as a youth and would eventually mold Kia Shine into the artist/producer he is today. But before Kia Shine answered the call to be a rapper/producer he first answered to the call of corporate America, working for the casino conglomerate Harris Entertainment. He did well with the company, eventually earning a promotion that would have taken him to companyâ€™s headquarters in Las Vegas. But at that point the call to music was too loud for him to ignore. In 1998, Kia Shineâ€™s little brotherâ€™s L.I. wanted to release a record. Kia Shine invested his own money and poured himself into his brotherâ€™s project from start to finish. Later that year the group dropped their album on a local label called Diamond Cut, which was distributed by Select-O-Hits through a deal procured by Kia Shine. Although the record wasnâ€™t a huge hit locally, it opened many doors for Kia Shine. As luck would have it, a Universal Motown executive was in town trying to sign a local artist and bumped into the budding producer. Impressed with Kia Shineâ€™s business savvy and entrepreneurship the executive urged him to come to New York and play some music for him. â€œAt that time I was working on [L.I.â€™s] third album,â€ recalls Kia Shine. â€œSo I went up to New York to try and let him hear the music. He didnâ€™t really like the music but he liked one of the beats. I sold him that beat and came back and signed every hot producer that I could find in the city. I even bought some equipment and started making beats myself.â€ Kia Shine also teamed up with another burgeoning entrepreneur Jack Frost and formed Rap Hustlers Entertainment. Using buddy passes for Northwest Airlines Kia Shine would fly to New York and sell beats to high profile recording artists like Jersey Mone, Juvenile, 8 Ball and Ludacris. His work led to a production deal with Ruff Ryders and a publishing deal with Universal Music. He also went back to his independent roots in Memphis and signed some of the cityâ€™s biggest underground artists, including TVT recording artist Yo Gotti, La Chat, Kingpin Skinny Pimp, Criminal Mane and Gangster Blac. Through indie deals with Koch and various other joint ventures Rap hustlers managed to sell over 200,000 units, making them one of Memphisâ€™ most successful independent labels, but things soon fell apart. â€œAt one point my company was going through some hard times,â€ explains Kia Shine. â€œI lost a lotta money recording for various artists, but I never got paid for my work. All my artists left me and before I knew it I was broke. God says do it yourself so thatâ€™s what I did.â€ Making the transition from producer to rapper was a natural progression for Kia Shine. In the past three years Kia Shine has featured on some of the Southâ€™s biggest underground hits like â€œTVs,â€ featuring 8 Ball and Kingpin Skinny Pimp â€œDirty South Soldiersâ€ featuring Lil Jon and â€œRound & Roundâ€ featuring Mike Jones. When he dropped the club banger â€œRespect My Freshâ€ the public was more than ready to receive their Kia Shine with open arms. They were even more receptive when he dropped â€œI Be Everywhere.â€ The song garnered over 5,000 Media Based spins. The buzz around Kia Shine piqued the interest of Universal Motown Records which promptly signed him to an unprecedented deal to release his debut CD Due Season. Due Season contains a bevy of bass-laded, trunk-rattling beats, catchy hooks and extra fresh rhymes that makes the album a unique listening experience. The CD is filled with club friendly joint like the blazing â€œI Be Everywhere,â€ featuring Jim Jones, an ultra hyper song with a thunderous bass line and a dark gothic strings that play a haunting melody. â€œRespect My Fresh,â€ is a funky ditty about Kia Shineâ€™s reputation for wearing the freshest gear including his own line of high end sneakers called Traffic Jams. Built around a bubbling bass line, an arresting guitar riff and a pounding 808 beat, â€œRespect My Freshâ€ is one of the flyiest jams on the album. He continues to flaunt his fresh on the slamming heaters â€œKrispyâ€ and â€œWow.â€ Replete with bangers like these, Due Season proves emphatically that Kia Shineâ€™s time to shine is right now. â€œLast year I made people respect my fresh,â€ says Kia Shine. â€œThis year I made them respect my grind.â€
AUDIO: KIA SHINE – “RESPECT MY FRESH”
It all happened so quickly. Or so it seems. One day Sheed, Meany and Fat were grease monkeys at a makeshift garage in their Bowen Homes neighborhood, the next they were swiftly-rising hip-hop stars, progenitors of a growing musical movement they call â€˜â€˜hood rock.’ But like most overnight successes, Shop Boyz’s rise to fame took many years. Cousins Demetrius “Meany” Hardin and Richard “Fat” Stephens grew up with best friend Rasheed “Sheed” Hightower in the notorious Bankhead area of Atlanta, the stomping ground of some of the city’s most successful hip-hop artists (T.I. and D4L, among them). They worked on cars, hustled, did whatever they could to make ends meet and when their work was done for the day, they turned to their true passion: making music. Their unique, groundbreaking style didn’t go unnoticed. It wasn’t long before a local producer named Richard “Fire” Harris stepped up and offered to make beats for the group — free of charge. Fresh on his heels was an ear-to-the-street businessman named Brian “Bingo” Ward who took the guys under his wing, put them in his studio and recorded a bevy of songs on them, among them the group’s hit single “Party Like A Rockstar,” a clever, hook-driven joint that is as much about living life with fervor as it is getting your party on. Within four months of its release, “Party Like A Rockstar” set off a frenzy of activity at radio and clubs throughout the southeast and spread like wildfire across the country. The electrifying song with its contagious hook appeals to the spirited, carefree rocker in all of us â€“ from school children and working class dads to hard-core hip-hoppers and blue-haired, Mohawk-wearing Punk Rockers. From note one, excited fans begin strumming air guitars, crowd surfing and building mosh pits that rival those of any major rock concert. “Rock stars party freely,” says Sheed. “They don’t hold back. That’s the way we like to party.” And it’s the way they like to make music. The guys say the hook to “Party Like A Rockstar” was stuck in Meany’s head for weeks. When he finally shared it with them, they knew it was different, that it was edgy and unlike anything else in the clubs or on the radio. It was the perfect introduction to their unique brand of music. “I think our sound is different,” says Sheed, “because we would listen to what everybody else was doing and we thrived on not doing what everybody else was doing. We didn’t want to be just like them and that’s not disrespecting them but we want to create our own lane, not follow somebody else’s path.” As for their definition of the newly-created sub-genre known as â€˜hood rock, Sheed says, “It’s got energy and a rock feel to it but at the same time it’s all about rocking the club, getting the club charged up. We don’t want to say crunk because we’re not followers of the crunk movement. We’re trying to have our own sound that’s still energetic.” But in an industry that often encourages imitation over innovation, Shop Boyz knew that coming from a fresh perspective could be risky; still, they were willing to take the plunge. “Sometimes people are afraid to take risks,” says Sheed. “Meany came to us with that hook. He wasn’t scared to say something to us and take that risk and we weren’t afraid to get behind him on it.” And a popular deejay at Bankhead’s famous Pool Palace wasn’t afraid to put it to the test in the club. “We’re just glad that DJ T-Rock decided not to second-guess our music,” Sheed says. “It grew so fast that we were really chasing behind the song,” Meany adds. The song quickly transformed into a phenomenon and took on a life of its own, garnering airplay from Georgia to Texas to New York and everywhere in between. It wasn’t long before Shop Boyz found themselves and their label, ONDECK Records, negotiating a joint venture with Universal Music Group, a move that would truly catapult them beyond their southern boundaries and afford them the opportunity to test their brand in unfamiliar territory. The verdict: a hit is a hit is a hit. Like their Bankhead brethren, Shop Boyz project a sound and image that appeal to their street comrades but, at the same time, they shun over-the-top vulgarity and shy away from glorifying street life and the trials that accompany it. “We from the streets,” offers Fat, “so if you’re from the streets and I’m from the streets, there ain’t too much I don’t know about. I don’t wanna hear about you not having gas for your car when I can’t pay my rent. I want people to go on another levelâ€¦.If you say you sold drugs, I did too at one point. You stole a bike; I stole a bike at one point too. We come from Bowen Homes and Bowen Homes, at one point, wasn’t the place to be and it’s still like that. But in our music, we don’t have to talk about that. We can take it to another level.” Shop Boyz’s debut CD, “Rock Star Mentality,” is a sampling of the creativity and diversity that go into each and every song that this creative collective churns out. Whether they’re flossing and having fun on a track like “My Car” or showing respect for their ladies on “She Knows,” Shop Boyz tell new stories in new and exciting ways. “Rain Dance,” a sure standout, is bound to inspire some new moves on the dance floor. “It’s a lot of energy,” says Meany. “I think people are gonna like it because you gotta dance to it. It’s another movement.” And a group favorite, “Rollin’,” is a track the guys swear is actually hotter than their blazing “Party Like A Rockstar.” “It’s so next level,” says Meany. From spending hours with their heads under the hoods of hoopties in Bankhead to scheduling photo shoots and promo tours all over the country, Shop Boyz are enjoying their success. “It’s been great,” says Sheed. “We’ve been so blessed. You go from saying â€˜Please God, please do this, please do that’ to â€˜thank you God.’ I used to wonder why I had to grow up in Bowen Homes and why I had to see the things that I saw and why my mama and daddy had to have me out here. But now it’s all kinda coming together. I’m not looking at the fame and money part. What I’m looking at is the fact that my son don’t have to worry about nothing.”
VIDEO: SHOP BOYZ – “PARTY LIKE A ROCK STAR”