It’s very important that we don’t pile all of America’s powerful business moguls into one catagory. Just because an exec is rich and successful doesn’t mean they have the same knowledge, power and influence that the other has. Saying that Bill Gates and Oprah Winfrey speak for the top tier of the recorded music industry is completely untrue. Bill Gates is an IT master, Oprah is a television mogul, Donald Trump is a real-estate tycoon. If you asked them anything about the inner workings of the music industry, they would not have a clue how to answer you.
People like Seymour Stein, the founder of Sire Records, L.A. Reid, the founder of LaFace Records, and the current CEO of Epic Records and Lyor Cohen, the former North American Chairman of Recorded Music at Warner Music Group, and one of the most prolific business insiders at Def Jam Records(developing legendary hip hop acts like L.L. Cool J and Beastie Boys) are people you should be praising or complaining about if you are serious about taking your band or career to new heights in the music industry.
Let me introduce you to one of the most innovative, and down to earth music executives of the 20th century. I’m not saying that any music executive is right or wrong in regards to their methods or ideology, but if you don’t know who to learn from, your information will always be skewed and so will your results. When you know better, you do better!
Cohen has recently resigned from his 8 year stint at Warner Music Group, he had this to say to his staff:
“To all the artists and employees who live and die for the music every day,” he said in a statement, “and who personally sacrifice for the good of the creative process: ‘keep on keepin’ on’ in the tradition of a company that respects and honors the artistic community.” - New York Times
His insight on the new digital music age and industry is also invaluable:
Duck Down’s Buckshot has paid his dues in the hip hop game and continues to be a trailblazer as an independent hip hop artists. In this video,…
A couple months ago, as I browsed the news feed on my Facebook account, I ran across a rapper that went by the name B.E. Anyone that knows me, knows that i support local talent always! With that being said theres a lot of artist that I run across that really have a lot of maturing to do when it comes to delivery, wordplay and quality of the overall project to say the least. Without hearing any of his material I “friended” B.E. (Rubba band B) because I noticed that we had mutual friends that I respect in the local hip hop scene. I was gonna give him the benefit of the doubt, why not right? Well once he approved the request i searched his page for some of his product, to find that he had recently released a project titled “Story of The Underdog.”
Shocked by the title I gave the tape a listen… From the beginning I was intrigued. He started with a strong Intro, and transitioned to a hot feature with Frankie D, then going through tracks of solid production leading to the track “The Underdog” featuring Tokes Eastwood. I was severely impressed not only by the composition & production, but the energy of every line and message behind the track titles! I immediately saluted B.E. and showed appreciation for the tape. One would assume that with projects stemming as far back as 2005, he would be somewhat cocky in his material. It was the complete opposite! It’s refreshing to find out that there’s still artist in the “DMV” that maintain a sense of humility when dealing with followers of their product/brand. Through conversation I realize that he has launched a line of clothing under his label name, N.O.T.M.E. Entertainment. The line consists of sweatshirts, hoodies, for both male and female and can coordinate with just about any popular line of sneaker. Just ask him, and he can make it happen for you. Nicasio Music sat with B.E. for a Q&A session and we learned a lot about him, heres some of what we talked about…
1. Who is BE? How long in the game etc..
A: B.E (BREATH EXTENSION) IS A ARTIST, SONGWRITER, PRODUCER FROM NW WASHINGTON DC, GREW UP IN TAKOMA PARK MD AND HAS ALWAYS BEEN A PASSIONATE WRITER BUT HAS BEEN DOIN MUSIC SERIOUSLY SINCE 2005
2. What are your musical inspirations, it can be any genre of music?
A: MUSICAL INSPIRATIONS IS THE THINGS HE HAS BEEN THRU AND OVERCAME, THE SOUL WITHIN HIM.. BELIEVE IT OR NOT FAV MUSIC TO LISTEN TO IS R&B..HELPS HIM THINK AND BRAINSTORM..THERAPEUTIC
3. Talk to me about your discography? What projects have you done, and where can you followers get your music?
A: HAS DONE SEVERAL MIXTAPES COLLABING WITH MANY POWER PLAYERS AS WELL DJ ANONYMOUS, DJ HEAT, DRE ALL DAY, HERKULES JUST TO NAME A FEW.. FOLLOW B.E ON TWITTER @HOMETOWNHERODMV ..WWW.HOMETOWNHERODMV.COM WILL BE BACK UP SOON..TOOK IT DOWN TO RECONSTRUCT
4. Im curious to know about the “Story of the Underdog” what inclined you to title it as such?
A: THE “SOTU” PROJECT CONCEPT CAME ABOUT BECUZ I SIMPLY JUST WANT TO TELL MY STORY..AND FELT/FEEL LIKE A UNDERDOG IN THIS THANG..AS WELL AS OVERLOOKED..WORK JUST AS HARD/HARDER THAN THE FAVARTISTS AND ACCOMPLISH JUST AS MUCH IF NOT MORE
5. Who is N.O.T.M.E. Ent.? WHat does that mean?
A: N.O.T.M.E ENT IS MY COMPANY THT I STARTED BACK IN 2001..ITS A WAY OF EVERDAY LIFE “NEGROES/NIGGAZ ON THE MOVE EVERYDAY”
6. I see you heavy in the apparel game with the sweaters and T-shirts, are you a fashonista? If so, describe your style..
A: I ALWAYS BEEN INTO FASHION AND THT HAS NOTHIN TO DO WIT NAME BRAND OR DESIGNER..I BEEN FLY AND GOT TROPHIES! LOL.. I DO ME WHEN IT COMES TO FASHION AND LOVE TO COORDINATE
7. What’s next for BE? (collabs, projects)
A: NEXT PROJECT IS “WAKE MY CITY UP” VOL 2.. VOL 1 WAS RELEASED IN 09..AND CURRENTLY STILL ON HIPHOP 4 HOMELESS TOUR..
8. How do you feel about the music game in the DMV? And what would you change if had the opportunity…
A: IM NOT TOO IMPRESSED BY THE DMV MUSIC SCENE..TOO MANY CRABS IN THE BARREL AND PPL IN POSITION TO GET US OVER THE HUMP ARE ALL OUTTA TOWNERS..WE NEED MORE REAL DMV PPL IN POSITION..THESE ARTIST NOT IMPRESSIVE
9. Anyone in the DMV that gets your respect? (Names)
A: (Blank stare)….. Next Question
10. Give me your definition of “GRINDING”
A: DEFINITION OF GRINDIN IS MAKIN IT HAPPEN..NO EXCUSES OR EXPECTATION OF HELP.. GO N GET IT!
11. Celebrity crushes? WHo in the game is smash material?
A: MICHELLE OBAMA
(ROUND OF APPLAUSE, LOL)
12. If you were to collab with anybody, past or present, who would that person/group be?
A: JADAKISS, NAS, HOV, FACE, ALLIYAH, LUTHER
13. Is there anything that you would do differently in your musical career thus far?
A: NOT PUT SO MUCH FAITH IN MY FRIENDS
14. What do you feel when on stage rocking out a crowd? Take us through the thought process building up to taking the MIC..
A: ITS A NATURAL PASSION..THIS IS WHY I NEVER REHERSE BECUZ U CANT DUPLICATE THE FEELIN WHEN LIVE..DISECT THE CROWD AND LET IT TAKE U THERE
15. What do you want your fans to know? (PLUG any website, pages, social accts, whatever)
A: I PRECIATE ALL CONTINUED SUPPORT AND STAY TUNED FOR MY BEST YET..WEBSITE B BACK SOON..UNTIL THEN @HOMETOWNHERODMV TWITTER/IG.. B.E202@YAHOO.COM
DOWNLOAD THE MIXTAPE:
You work hard to create something you think is great. Getting that something noticed oftentimes feels like the most challenging part of the process that is to follow. Marketing itself can be creative and artful at times. Promotion can be costly. Developing the plan for it all can be time consuming. How do you get them to press play? How do you make them a believer? Hey, maybe posting that same video to the same group of friends everyday on Facebook will work. Buy some YouTube views or go ape shit blasting your email list and social networks.
The truth is, we’re all growing numb to it. When overexposed, viruses sometimes become resistant to antibiotics in the same way we have become resistant to the overexposure of traditional marketing and advertising. We ignore your pleas for attention without even thinking about it. It’s almost a knee-jerk reaction. Admit it, you do it to others. You’re the hot chick in the club that’s been approached all day by dudes using the same lame ass delivery. She’s not a bitch. She’s just become a pro at spotting time-wasters and you walked up using the same self-promotion. We’re all rejecters on auto-pilot to certain things. We don’t see the commercials. We remember the catchy jingle but not the product being advertised. If only we knew the formula, we could execute and continuously repeat the process…
So yesterday, a friend shared a video on Facebook. This friend has credibility with me. The original poster of the video titled it, “DAM HE NEED A RECORD DEAL I LIKE” Most of my friends and associates on Facebook are fellow artists and people in the music industry, so seeing a promoted or shared music video in my news feed is far from unusual. This is one of the reasons why I stopped accepting friend requests to my personal profile. The overbearing self promotion can be overwhelming.
Anyway, what was unusual about this particular video was the fact that the original post had over 35,000 likes and close to 85,000 shares. It was posted on the 14th of January. Today is the 23rd. This along with my friend’s own personal commentary compelled me to take the bait. I played it. Then I understood.
The video I saw was a Facebook embedded with no name or title attached to it. So the only way I could find out more about him was to search through the comments. Keep in mind the artist himself hasn’t promoted anything to me and I’m already investing time to find out more about him. So once I get a name, I do a YouTube search. And to my surprise, slices of this captured moment is spread across several YouTube channels. It’s hard to make out at first if any of them come from the artist himself. This particular video is over a year old and the last count had it at over 700,000 views. Funny thing is, most of the videos of this same moment have views in the hundreds of thousands in all the other channels that have may have hijacked it. The comments in all of them are current and up to the hour. People are still presently discussing him.
I haven’t done a thorough background check because it’s irrelevant to the point I’m trying to make in this post. But from what I’ve gathered, his artist name is Alpoko Don (aka Dondada) and he appears to be from Greenville, South Carolina. You should read the video comments. Most are from people pleading for somebody to notice him and give him a major deal. This, from a video shot on his front porch most likely with a mobile phone. Most can’t deny that it resonates. This was lightning in a bottle, and you can’t plan this. One look at it, and it’s obvious that this didn’t come from a marketing think-tank. His twitter account is active but I’m not sure if it’s hurting or helping him. When you’re buzzing and fans are a creating a legendary mystique about you sometimes is best to stay low key, and continue putting out amazing art. Then there is an official video that states at the end of it that he’s been sentenced to serve 8 years in prision. This should be corrected or explained in the video description because he appears to be free. A lot of fans commenting are confused.
Alpoko Don is in the best possible position as an indie artist right now. He has a slew of enthusiastic fans that are hooked on him and only him. Not his beats, not his jewelry, not the flash, and not manufactured hype. If he’s smart, he’ll continue to do what’s working for him, I’ve heard him on top of produced beats and beats for him are like paint thinner to varnish. He doesn’t need them, or he needs the production to be minimal at best. He didn’t need them to get where is now, he shouldn’t fix what’s not broken.
It’s all in his hands at this moment. He could blow it. I saw a video of him flashing cash and bragging about how he sells drugs. This isn’t smart. Why draw that kind of attention to yourself? But there is no denying his talent and his ability to make an unforced connection with those who listen. He should use that gift wisely, constantly put out a barrage of dope singles, and let his loyal fans do the rest. I’ll be watching.