Friday, March 26, 2010

Jordan Releases + Sneaker Saturdays: March 27

Unbelievably, I haven't posted anything on Jordans the entire time I've had this blog but that changes today. Anyone really on Jordan's knows that Mike releases his beloved shoes ever Saturday; tomorrow is no exception. The 3's, 4's, and 9's (my personal favorite out of the bunch) will be released in all white. Hope I can cop at least one pair. Crossing my fingers as we speak. If anybody wants to buy me a pair I'm a size 12. Hey, can't blame me trying.

Props to 23isBack

Swing Bata' Bata'

There are so many funny things happening in this picture I don't even know where to begin.

Props to Michele for putting me on this.

iStandard's Studio Essentials: Elite

In this clip, Elite talks about the different programs he works with to create his signature sound.

Shauna Barbosa & Omen

Here's the second Omen interview I promised. He said his interview with SB was by far his best one so far. Seems she has that affect on people; good great writers usually do.  Check out the interview below:

"Here we are at Sway again. The air is thick in this Manhattan Spring Street lounge, concentrated – the musician, Omen, with mic in hand standing on top of a burgundy couch. I feel everyone around me, in front of him. Maybe it’s the wine.
Now there are words. His confidence bleeds through the speakers, coming down the walls, blending in with the couch. He’s performing songs from Delayed, his mixtape sampler. I’m hearing the audience sing the chorus to a mid-tempo track, “Beyond.” This is the prelude to his forthcoming mixtape, Afraid of Heights. My mouth is open and I cannot believe Omen is up there as if he’s done this hundreds of times. He hasn’t – the Hyde Park, Chicago-bred lyricist isn’t new to expressing himself through words and music, but is fairly new to New York, fairly new to headlining a show.
He’s inspired by everything around him. He’s quiet and calm and aware of his talent, aware of his worth. He’s controlled – if something does not represent who he wants to be as person, he will not do it. During our talk, he assures me several times in several areas that he is “Great.” I ask if he’s sure. He says “Very.” We laugh and we talk about giving people music that awakens more than one of five vital senses.
And it was not the wine. I opened my small black Moleskin planner to find the notes I wrote while Omen was performing:
He has so much confidence. He really owns this stage right now. Okay, this couch. This couch is his.

His story, your story.
I think when you first start out as an artist you’re just trying to be like the people you like. I like Nas and Common a lot, that’s all I listened to. I liked Canibus too – early. All my stuff would sound like them; you couldn’t really tell where I was from. People would always say I sound like Common – I’m like, “No I don’t!” I guess I did.
Early on you’re just writing to write. My music is authentic; I’m talking from my perspective. A Chicago perspective, even though in Chicago I’m kind of an outsider. Now that I am becoming an artist, I talk about my experiences and I talk about other people’s experiences. Or at least the way it looks through my eyes. I write it where it’s specific enough where you get that this is my experience, but not so specific where you can’t relate to it. There has to be a balance. I’m similar to some artists in the fact that I’m an observer so that makes me kind of a storyteller. I produce and play the piano and Fender Rhodes. I started playing at fourteen but I stopped when I went to college. I want to start taking lessons again just to get that discipline back. I use to play like two hours every day. If I can get that discipline, I’ll be back to being Great. (laughs)

On writing with no clothes on.
Lately I’ve been more personal – which used to be hard for me because I’m a really private person. When you’re writing it, you kind of trick yourself into thinking no one’s going to hear it – or if they do, you already wrote it so it’s too late. I’m growing to a point where I can give details about successes or past relationships. I write about my life. I still do storytelling, but it’s much more myself in the music now. Even in the actual production of the music, I still sample sometimes but I’m gearing much more towards original production. I want to express who I am. It’s possible to do that through a sample, but when you’re actually playing something it’s completely you. The emotion of the music, the changes, the tempo, all of that is reflective of who you are in that moment you’re creating it. It’s a much more bare-naked expression of who you are. I want to be as naked as possible. I want people to see who I am. If you can really be who you are at your core – you’re going to stand out. Everyone is different at his or her core. It’s scary to be that way because you have no kind of barrier. If you’re fronting and people don’t like you, you can always say, “Well I was frontin’ anyway.” If you’re really being you and people don’t like you, it’s like, “They really don’t like me.” That’s kind of hard to swallow but I think at the end of the day people will respect that more. I know they say lyricists don’t sell, but if you look at Lauryn Hill or Andre 3000, these are huge artists who wrote from their core, from an honest place it felt like. A lot of music today, you hear it and it’s hot, but that kind of music, you feel it. That’s what I want to do as an artist.
It is said quite often you do not look how you sound on records.
I’m not that expressive as a person. But if you give me some time to write what I think and write how I feel than it’s easier. I’ve had time to really think about it. When it’s impromptu you can say something but it may not really represent how you really feel. You may wish you said something else. When I have time to write something it’s a lot easier. It’s different when you’re in room or the studio and it’s just you and the music and you don’t feel any kind of inhibitions, you feel connected, so you express how you feel. Performing is a little different, it’s almost like acting. You don’t feel that emotion anymore, and you have to act like you do. It’s a little different than the actual creation. I see “Delayed” as inspiring. My grandmother said it’s depressing and not to play it for anybody. I don’t feel that way right now, so you’re not going to get that out of me in person. You’ll just get how I’m feeling right now, which is usually calm. But if we get into a debate about something you may see me become passionate, get a little louder – you may see things that you see in my music.
“You write profoundly.”
I played “Delayed” in the car for my grandmother, she liked it. But she said it was too heavy, she said “You write profoundly” – she always says I’m profound, that’s her word – “but this is so heavy, you’ve got to think about the times peoples are living in right now, I don’t know if this is something they want to hear.” That’s an honest opinion, whether I agree with it or not. I see it as inspiring, something people can relate to. It was reflective of how I was feeling at the moment. There’s some hope in “Delayed.” I sent her the video for “Terminal”: “That one is alright. ‘Beyond’ has that beat I like. ‘Terminal’ doesn’t have any kind of melody in it. How are you making music if your equipment is here?” I said, “My laptop, I have a couple things.” “That’s probably why it sounds that way.” Ha. She’s very blunt and honest. I respect that. I would rather someone tell me that than “Oh it’s hot,” and not really mean it.
On Beyond, you talk about flying away. Where are you flying from, where are you flying to?
I would go somewhere where you can be free. I know that’s a cliché, but I don’t feel like we’re free. It’s a choice you make yourself. It’s very hard to live your life completely free of making decisions based on other people’s opinions. When you’re born, you’re taught fear, taught what to do and what not to do, a lot of things that stay with you throughout life that can cripple you a little bit. It’s accepted because that’s the way it is, but what if we can live in a world where that didn’t exist? When I wrote that song I was working at a college, filing medical records in alphabetical order, it was insane. I thought Why am I here? I’m in a place working with people who are satisfied with that. 35, 40 years old and they’re cool with it. I have talent, I’m good. I know I’m good, I’m meant for more than this. I’m better than this. Not better than them, but better than the job. I don’t know if anyone ever reaches a point where they have everything they want, completely. But you just want the positives to outweigh the negatives. Flying from sadness to happiness, from bondage to freedom – even if it’s self-bondage.
What do you know about self-bondage?
I know it exists. My dad was a singer on Motown, but he got snaked by his label, so he never reached the heights he should have reached. My step-dad is a pianist, guitarist, vocalist, bassist, crazy musician – and he took the corporate route. It starts out, I’m going to just work here and still do my music. Then you get a promotion, then another promotion – now you’re making money – and all of a sudden you have a wife and kids, then all of it stops and you forget what you were even going after. He’s still doing his thing, but it’s Delayed. My mom wanted to sing, but she wasn’t really pushed. Because of that they remind me all the time, “You don’t have any responsibilities, go after what you want.” I’m grateful to have that push behind me. I saw what happened to them, not to say their lives are bad, but they want more, and hopefully I can be the one to give it to them.
I’m very particular about what I let influence me, I make an effort to read a lot of positive things, whether it’s a quote or a self-help book. That helps me to stay positive. I’ll be listening to my music and I think it’s great. But I’m in the same situation I was a year before when I didn’t have this music. You start getting into that doubt mode, like Is it worth it? What am I doing? Sometimes you feel like you’re running a race and you can’t see the finish line. Am I going to make it? Does it even exist? Is this in the cards for me? I thought I should have been successful a long time ago. That Delay starts to bother you.
Sometimes you will not get it. If you haven’t felt it.
I sent a song I did called “Outta Space” to a friend of mine whose opinion I really trust. He said it was alright and that he didn’t like it. There’s a verse in there about a past relationship. He broke up with his girl and like two days later he was like, “I love this song.” A lot of times it’s where the person is in their life when they hear it, you don’t even have anything to do with it. If you love it – that’s what matters. Others may or may not. But you make the best music you feel and the right people will find it. Even the people who don’t like it may end up liking it later.
On living in a generation of branding and selling.
Some people may see it, as there’s so much competition, and so much to filter out. But I’m big on belief. I’m big on you creating your own destiny, having faith, thoughts having power, all that type of universe stuff. I don’t care if there are a million people – if I do my job and create from a pure place, then once it’s created I really really believe that this music has its place and it’s going to get to its place. I don’t see a problem with everybody trying to be expressive. The people who are good are going to stand out. I don’t feel threatened by it. Even the way I create music is different from when I started. When I started all I wanted – and I still do – was to have a Hip Hop classic, and be mentioned in the Top 5; that’s like the rapper’s dream. The more I started doing music I started to want a little more. I don’t want to follow the same path as the people I looked up to. I want to create my own path – I’m doing the music a disservice by following someone else’s path.


Faith is knowing. If someone asks what color is the sky, you don’t believe it’s blue, you know it’s blue. Real faith is when no one can tell you otherwise. It’s perseverance. Knowing something is going to happen regardless. You continually tell yourself it’s going to work; it’s going to happen, until you get to that point of knowing. Whatever you expect you get. I really believe that.
Is being a musician it?
I think writing is really what I’m supposed to do. For so long I resisted that. When I was young I wrote comic books in my notebook for myself. I really wanted to be the person who came up with the concept for video games, just the idea for it not the graphics. In high school and college I started resisting writing because I was forced to write about things I didn’t want to write about. I don’t relate to Shakespeare or Charles Dickens, yeah they’re great but they’re not speaking from my perspective. Now I have to decode all these books and go on SparkNotes. I would love to write a sitcom. I think I’m hilarious, though some people may disagree.
Afraid of Heights, the mixtape.
I want the mixtape to be cohesive. At some point I lost the fact that that was what I was going after, which is why the mixtape is taking so long. I want it to be more than a mixtape; I want it to be a project. I want listeners to say, “That’s better than a mixtape.” I want it to be layered, where you go back and hear different things. You may go back six months later with a different interpretation of a song. I want to make songs that people can live with.
Owning what you create.
What I create is free. Not monetarily. It’s not about rules, it’s not about a traditional way of doing things – and it’s skillful. I really pay attention to the Greats as far as rhyme structure, rhyme scheme, breath control and intonation. There’s a lot to rap that is studied that people really don’t see. If it’s not completely my experience, it’s genuine. People always say I’m different in person. But I’m not – music is just a different way of showing who I am.

Interview by Shauna Barbosa"

Props to Lets Just Eat Cheese

iStandard's My Top 5 Producers: Elite

Elite talks about his 5 favorite producers. Can't argue with this list.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

SoulCultureTV: B.O.B.

B.O.B. lays sits down with SoulCultureTV and talks about mixtapes, his relationship with Hip-Hop, "Nothing On You", the cohesiveness of his upcoming album, signing with Grand Hustle, and the next single. Another one of my favorite artist from the "new school." 

Street Logik Interview: Omen

Omen's been a busy man lately.

In addition to putting the finishing touches on his upcoming project, Afraid of Heights, the Chicago bred artist (and I mean that in the truest sense of the word) recently sat down with both, Street Logik and Shauna "Elle" Barbosa to deliver what I believe to be two of the most intriguing interviews I've read all week (side note: Street Logik interview was done March 15); I learned a lot about and from him in these interviews (And to think, I play tetris with this guy online). The transcript of the Street Logic interview is listed below; I'll post the interview with SB later.

P.S. Gotta love those "career goals" as well.

"The folks over at recently gave me an interview, and posted it up on their site. Here is the transcript. Hope you enjoy the words...

You’re pretty new to the game, tell us a little about yourself?

Omen: My name is Omen, I’m a musician born and raised in Chicago. I’m a person that really dreams big and is always trying to grow.

What made you decide to pursue a career in the music industry and how long have you been making music?

Omen: I’ve been playing piano since I was like 14 off and on, I’ve been rapping for about 8 years now and producing for 5 of those years. Music is just something that’s always been in my family, whether it was just being played or actual family members pursuing it as well. So it’s always been a love of mine, but it took me awhile to really take it seriously. I was focused on hoop dreams like every other guy in my neighborhood.

Who are your musical influences?

Omen: Rap wise, my biggest influences were probably Nas, and Common early on. Right now, I’m not really directly influenced by any one person, I just get inspired by different people’s songs or careers. I think the more you grow, the less you are influenced by someone else; and more so by your own life, things you see, hear, read, and just your own world.

The word “omen” usually has a negative connotation attached to it although your music has a sense of heightened awareness. What made you choose the name Omen?

Omen: Omen is a name that really has nothing to do with the devil or whatever else. It’s just that movie that created that. The real meaning is more of a sign of things to come, whether positive or negative. It’s a symbol of change, and it has a certain divinity to it. I’m a pretty spiritual guy, so it just felt right when I was choosing a name. It also was a high school nickname.

Many people will agree that a rap song is simply poetry over a beat. Being a poet as well as a rap artist, would you agree or disagree with that statement? And do you incorporate your poetry into your music?

Omen: Well, poetry is such a like subjective thing to me. It’s kind of hard to determine what’s poetry on a beat and what’s just rap, you know? It’s more so a person’s preference that will determine that for them. But with that said I do write poetry every blue moon, but rarely put them to music. However, I am considering putting this poetry joint I did on the upcoming mixtape. We’ll see though.

Tell us a little about what your working on as of now.

Omen: My upcoming project is actually a mixtape called Afraid of Heights. The sampler I released a little while ago, Delayed, is just a precursor to this project. It’s coming along nicely. I’m handling the majority of the production, and I have some pretty cool features on it so far. Other than my own production, so far the only other producer on it is Volatile, who’s an ill overall artist that you all should be hearing about soon. I’m still writing though, so you may see Elite or some others on production as well. But it’s important to me that people see that I’m more than a rapper right now.

Who would you give your right arm to work with in the music industry? Producers?

Omen: I’m a big fan of tons of producers in the industry. My favorite producer of all time was Dilla. And that’s probably one of the only times a person I had never met that had passed, impacted me like a family member or friend. Working with him was a big goal on my checklist and it’s just something that I’ll never be able to complete. So that one kind of hurt. I’m not giving my right arm for anybody though (laughs) maybe my momma…maybe (laughs).

What is your ultimate career goal?

Omen: I honestly don’t have one ultimate career goal because there are too many things that I feel are equally important. I could say something vague like, to be successful or to add value to people’s lives but what does that really mean? I just wanna continue to grow as a person, as a musician, and as a writer. I want people to love the music, I want financial freedom. I want people to connect with the emotion of the music and for my time here to make things better for people in some way. Before I’m done, getting actual critical acclaim from some of the greats like Stevie Wonder or Quincy Jones wouldn’t hurt either.

What are some of your upcoming projects?

Omen: Right now, my main focus is the upcoming mixtape, Afraid of Heights, and making it incredible by my standards. People can look forward to more videos for songs from the sampler and for the upcoming mixtape from Impakt Studio. I’m doing production for a couple singers and maybe some interesting collabs coming soon as well.

Any shout outs?

Omen: Yep. Shout out to The Bulls, The Lakers, The Last Dragon, Harold’s Chicken Shack, Gucci Driver Shoes, Air Jordans, my momma, and God."

Props to Dopart Academy and Street Logik

Source Cover Photo Shoot: J. Cole

Here's a behind the scenes look J. Cole's Source cover photo shoot. Dope stuff.  

Young Hollywood Interview: Nas

Queens finest talks with young Hollywood about his upcoming project with Damian Marley Distant Cousins Distant Relatives, his influence on younger rappers, and his favorite upcoming artist.

As great as Nas is, I didn't realize how much he has influenced me over the years until some time ago. Undoubtedly one of the greatest to ever do it.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Throwback Dunk: Vince Carter and Fred Weis

Before Lebron and after Michael, there was another UNC alum crowned as the heir apparent to Air Jordan's throne: Vince Carter. Although many would agree Carter never fully fulfilled that destiny (He's still working on winning that ever elusive championship. This is probably the best team he's played on to date) it would be hard to argue that he didn't at least live up to hype in one aspect: dunking. Carter advanced dunking the way MJ did when he took over for Dr. J and David Thompson. And none of his dunks were more impressive than the one above (Well maybe. My feelings on that last statement are unsettled).

I still shake my head every time I see this. Too bad there were no dunks like this in the Slam Dunk contest this past All-Star weekend in Dallas. Shameful. Guess we'll just have to wait on the next generation of great dunkers (that actually enter the dunk contest people) and until then reminisce over the plays and highlights of year's past. Sad

Sidenote: Weis, according to cantstopthebleeding and ESPN's international basketball guru Chris Sheridan, might actually play in MSG when it is rumored France will take on the U.S. Senior National Team this summer:

"I don’t know how many of you spend your Saturday’s scouring L’equpe for international basketball news, serious props to True Hoop’s Chris Sheridan, who raises the very real possibility the Knicks’ 1999 first round pick Frédéric Weis might make his long-awaited Madison Square Garden debut next June. Sheridan speculates that France will be Team USA’s opponent at the Garden, thus raising the specre of Weis’ most famous moment on the hardwood, ie., the time he was brutally posterized by Vince Carter in the 2000 Summer Olympics. Though Weis isn’t currently on the ViveMenorca active roster, who amongst us wouldn’t love to see, say, LeBron James, attempt to replicate or better VC’s effort?"

Chris "Birdman" Anderson's Commercials

Apparently Birdman's a pretty popular dude in Denver. He has two commercials that are, I'd like to think, fairly entertaining. The one above is the funnier of the two; the other one, listed below, is okay. Gotta respect his business sense though; can't knock the hustle.


Absolut Presents NY-Z: Jay-Z Documentary

"You can't make art with business in mind. You have to make art first."

Check this newly released documentary on Jay-Z brought to you by the good folks at Absolut; this video is apart of Absolut's Concert Series. Here, Mr. Carter talks about his upbringing, Madison Square Garden, it's significance to him, collaborations, how he mixes music and business, and his philosophy of genres in music. Here's what Absolut had to say about the documentary on their YouTube page:

"ABSOLUT Vodka presents "NY-Z", a new 15-minute documentary featuring Jay-Z. The film was directed by Danny Clinch. More exclusive content at

Continuing to collaborate with creative visionaries, ABSOLUT Vodka presents this new 15-minute short film featuring Jay-Z. The documentary, titled NY-Z, was directed by Danny Clinch and paints a rare portrait of the global hip-hop icon. With unprecedented access to Jay-Z the days and moments leading up to, and after, his legendary September 11th benefit concert at Madison Square Garden, Danny Clinch gives us an intimate glimpse into Jay-Z: his childhood, his motivation as an artist, his passion for music, and his muse, New York.

NY-Z kicks off the ABSOLUT Concert Series, a collaborative partnership between ABSOLUT and two New York icons: Jay-Z and Madison Square Garden."

Side note: Smh at how they blurred out Wale's face at the 9:32 mark; kinda funny.

Ruby Hornet: 7 Minutes With J. Cole

In this video, Jermaine sits down with DJ RTC of Ruby Hornet TV and talks about gaining fans, Puff's parties, and the significance of mixtapes to the fans and artist.

J. Cole at SXSW

J talks about the album, No I.D., and the influence he's had on Cole's production. He also performed "Last Call", "World Is Empty", and "Lights Please."

Nas & Damian Marley at SXSW

I'm so ready for Distant Relatives to drop. May 18 can't come soon enough. Until then, here's a little sample of what's to come with "Strong Will Continue." Enjoy.

Props to Nah Right and Hip Hop DX

Monday, March 22, 2010

J. Cole: Friendly Reminder

I know this is an older video from last summer but Mr. Cole's message remains resonant with me.  I needed to hear this today.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

J. R. Smith: 360 Alley Oop

Wow. J.R. Smith must have ate his Wheaties or got some extra sleep on the way to Minnesota because this right here is just flat out disrespectful. I wouldn't use this in a dunk contest like some people are saying. But to do this in an actual game is pretty phenomenal. Guess he just wanted to remind everyone why he was in the dunk contest that twice even though it didn't work out for him either time.

2005 Slam Dunk Contest

2009 Slam Dunk Contest

PSA of the Day: Problems

PSA of the Day: Problems are just like dirty dishes, you can deal with them as they appear and get them out of the way or you can let them pile up. Either way you've got to deal with them eventually.

Monday, March 8, 2010


I always wondered what would happen if all the logos in the world came together in their spare time; now I know.

Last night, Logorama won an Oscar for best short film. It uses logos (hence the name) to tell a story about some images that should be very recognizable. It's very well done and the concept itself is simplistic yet quite ingenious and entertaining all the while. I hope there's a sequel or a spin off. I wonder how long it took to make this. They clearly took their time with it. Absolutely fascinating, that's all I can say.

Not sure how long the link will be up but I decided to post them anyway. Enjoy them while you can...

Friday, March 5, 2010

Welcome D. Rose

This is Derrick Rose's first time on my blog; I'm pretty sure it won't be his last though. In actuality, I should have put him on here after he did this.

Let's get back to this week. This play is just outright ridiculous, even if it is on Zach Randolph (who can't seem to avoid being "posterized" as of late, interestingly enough by ex-Bull Tyrus Thomas whose new owner once played for the Bulls [hint..Michael Jordan]. Maybe the Bulls just don't like Zach). I'm not a mathematician but I think it's safe to say this:

[athletic, high-jumping dunker] + [undersized, no-hops defender] = Highlight reel material  

I said all that (or at least most of it) to say this: Rose is clearly the most athletic point guard in the NBA today (Russel Westbrook is second in case you were wondering. Don't believe me see what D. Rose thinks.) and will be generating "oohs" and "ahhs" for years to come. So with that being said, here's a top 10 list of D Rose's best dunks since he entered the league almost two years ago. Don't hurt yourself watching this.

iStandard Interview: Elite

"Elite, Elite, Elite!"

In this interview, Elite sits down with iStandard and talks about how he got into producing, his time working at Ruff Ryders, meeting Timberland, his re-emergence as a writer, working with Omen & J.Cole, and the process behind making "Heartbreak" (Great story by the way, I need that software he has on his phone asap!).

Elite's definitely a consummation of hard work, dedication, and passion paying off. Now if his beloved New York Knicks could do something remotely resembling what he's done in his career, the world just might be a better place (No shots). Enjoy.  

Props to iStandard; Here's the original link.

PSA of the Day: Viewpoint on Success

PSA of the Day: In order to reach your dreams in life, you have to see success in terms of eventuality and not possibility. By doing this you create a time frame for your goals to materialize into reality, as opposed to questioning whether or not they will ever actually manifest themselves. The latter exemplifies self-doubt and insinuates you don't believe in yourself; if you don't believe in yourself, who will?

So exercise your confidence, have faith in yourself, and don't wonder if you dreams will come true; just stay consistently diligent, motivated, focused, and be thankful when you finally reach the stars you have shot for.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010