Category Archives: Resident Alien

GH Exclusive: Ice Cube, Bun B., Big K.R.I.T. and DJ Drama on learning Industry Rule #4080

Ice Cube and DJ Drama live at The Fillmore
Charlotte (June 30, 2012) – Ice Cube and DJ Drama host Coors Light Search for the Coldest semifinals at The Fillmore. (MillerCoors/Jamar Caldwell)

Coors Light’s Search For The Coldest emcee contest rolled into Charlotte’s Fillmore Saturday night with free beers and a panel of celebrity judges. Ice Cube, Bun B., Big K.R.I.T. and DJ Drama sat down for an exclusive with GrownHeadz before the show.

Cube, who seemed to be reserving the main of his energy for emceeing the competition, kept his responses short but pointed, while Bun B.’s guest lectures at Rice University(!) really seem to be paying off. Homey’s thoughtful, measured answers were just short of brilliant. K.R.I.T., too, was impressive as the panel’s youngest member and the newest to fame. And Drama? Well, we at GrownHeadz have high expectations for deejays, and he didn’t disappoint. Check it out below.

What Makes for a Cold MC?

Ice Cube: The coldest MC is someone who knows they’re a star before anybody discovers them. Lyrics, confidence onstage, mic control and different flows.

DJ Drama: I think it takes creativity, confidence, someone who understands beats and hooks, but definitely the bars. The lyrics are most important of all, the ability to put a good song together. I’m sitting here with Ice Cube and Bun B and Big K.R.I.T., so definitely someone who can stand onstage next to such great talent.

Bun B: They have to have command of the English language. Some people assume rappers all speak broken English, but the best MCs are masters of vocabulary. Also, depending on the crowd in various cities, [performing] can be intimidating. Some people start off with boos. You gotta have heart and confidence. I’ve seen dudes lose battles before the first word is spoken because they let the crowd break them. You have to have the will and the confidence to turn those boos into cheers.

Big K.R.I.T.: The coldest MC has to be able to get the crowd hype, no matter what.

How Do You Stay Sharp?

Bun B: Just because we’ve made it to a certain level because of our status, we can’t rest. I get challenged by young cats everyday. They try anyway (laughs). I love it. I don’t want to sit around eating off a rhyme from 2003. You gotta stay on your toes in this world, and not just as an MC but period.

K.R.I.T.: You’ve got to invest time; run your business, but sharpen your weapon at the end of the day.

Cube: I always got something to prove. You never know what people will hear from you, either a radio cut or a deep album track, so you never know where your next “audition” will be coming from. Whoever thinks you fell off next, you gotta change their mind. I was a B-boy so I had something to prove on every record, every album, to the general audience and to myself.

Hip-hop the art form is so different from the business of hip-hop. When did you learn, far as the music industry, that there’s no Santa Claus?

Cube: The day I met Jerry Heller.

DJ Drama: I can speak to that, though I’m not an MC. I can talk some really good shit, but I can’t make it rhyme. Spending a lot of time trying to get to the top takes dedication. Even after the great moments, even LeBron has to say OK, I made it, but what about next year. When I was coming up, it felt like rappers were superheroes. I don’t know if it’s because Meth is tall, but they were like 10 feet tall to me. Now, not to say the industry is tainted, but it’s still a business. You need passion day in and day out to love what you do and put in the work. Just remember Industry Rule #4080.

Bun B: The day I got signed. We saw KRS-One in the hallway and were like, yo, whattup, we just signed to your label! And he asked us, ‘Did you sign the paperwork yet?’ ‘Yeah, we just signed it five minutes ago!’ And Kris was like, ‘Damn, I wish I could’ve talked to you before you signed!’ I went from my highest high to thinking, ‘We just made the biggest mistake of our lives.’

K.R.I.T.: When I realized there is about a 3-month rollout period between finishing an album and releasing it, and that sample clearances change everything as far as retail value is concerned. “Can I use that? No. How bout that? No.” I just want to give my music away for free! But I had to be smarter.

What kind of background and output are you looking for in new rappers who approach you? How much of a catalogue?

Bun B.: For me looking at new rappers, it’s quality, not quantity. Plus a work ethic. Some cats have talent but drama. Always on the phone with the baby mama. That has nothing to do with getting in the studio. I’m not saying don’t look after your child, but you gotta decide who you are willing to offend, and who are you going to look after, in the course of making your dreams come true.

DJ Drama: For me, it depends on what the person in general is looking for. The way the game is going now, the Internet and social media give artists more leverage to come to the table and show what they’re worth. 50 destroyed what a demo tape was; it went from the ‘90s ‘Please listen to my demo’ to independent artists now being able to really make a living on their own mixtapes. It depends on the level you are coming to. With Coors [the competition], I could tell which people were in different positions, just by listening to them. I could feel who could be the coldest MC.

Cube: I don’t care about the catalogue, or how many songs they made. You gotta excite me. If I’m not excited listening to you, then I don’t feel like it’s ready. Plus, you never know if you’re building a star or a mess. Most artists, when they blow up, feel like they don’t need you anymore. On the flip, if they don’t blow up, it’s [my] fault for not supporting enough. ‘How come you did the first video, but not the second?’ Gotta find someone with their head on straight. It’s easy when the crowd is packed. It’s when it’s empty and the sound ain’t right that you ask what are you in it for, the music? The money?

K.R.I.T.: [Independents] have to go out and compete with the majors before you land a deal. You’ve got to be able to promote and brand yourself, keep that independent mindframe so when the label’s not acting right, you can go out there and create your own buzz. Promote who you are as an artist, or you’ll make songs you don’t believe in. Spend as much time on your craft as you can mentally, then get out there and put your all on the line.

Did your age change how you approach your subject matter?

Bun B.: I have children, and I have a grandchild. I take care of my family, speak the truth as I see it and go to sleep peaceful at night. All my music is reflective of me at the time. If it’s still relevant, I speak to it. People want to give us a bad rap. But I don’t consider it Cube’s or Drama’s responsibility to raise my kids. Too much is put on us that way.
Cube: Age ain’t nothing but a number.

DJ Drama: As a DJ, it’s a little different; I believe our main focus is to be the median between music and people. Sometimes, what I personally listen to may not be what’s hot at the time. I like to break what I believe will be hot. Back with the explosion of crunk, I felt there was a lack of attention to the lyrical skills of Southern artists. So on Gangsta Grill, I got Killa Mike, T.I., Big Boi. People asked why I didn’t use White Tee or Knuck If You Buck, just to pick those songs at random. Because they’ll be on every other mixtape. I promote what I think will be important to the culture.

K.R.I.T.: The way I approach my subject matter is by writing about my life experiences. The album I just dropped won’t be like the next album. I’m going to see different things: personal things, relationships, financial and spiritual changes. I write about the journey.

Following the Q&A (and a wooden endorsement from Cube: “Coors Light. The world’s most refreshing…beer?”), DJ Trauma got on the wheels to warm things up before the competition began. They had the models in silver leggings walking around, an ice bar (which is still news in N.C.) and were plying everyone with free Coors Light, but it was so damn cold inside the building I had to keep going outside to warm up in the hundred-degree heat.

To my surprise, the contest featured only two competitors, Felony Fame and Eddie Blaze, neither of whom I’d heard of. They seemed chosen more for their contrasting styles than any great skill. Felony is a stereotypical crunk rapper, clichéd than a motherfucker (“shining like diamonds,” whoo!) with the requisite piss-poor enunciation. Though his lines were more thoughtful and generally more positive, Blaze lacked stage presence and couldn’t seem to connect with the crowd. His “Where my college kids at?” drew a chorus of boos.

They went four rounds and I wasn’t moved by a single line. Charlotte’s real lyrical talent was NOT on display—anybody at Monday Night Mic Fights could’ve Antoinetted those suckers. I don’t know what label paid to push these dudes, but their skills were a joke. For what little it’s worth, Felony Fame took the prize.

Lackluster amateurs aside, we actually got to see some real emceeing when the panelists performed. Special Ed came through for a surprise appearance, and Big K.R.I.T. warmed the crowd up with “Forever and a Day,” “Cool 2 Be Southern,” Me and My Old School” and “Money on the Floor.” Bun B. gave a 12-song set of favorites including “Gimme Dat,” “Big Pimpin” and “International Player.” He also did “Sippin on Some Sizzurp,” but it was a bit off-putting, given Pimp C.’s demise just 2 years ago—I felt like he should at least put a disclaimer on it, out of respect.

Cube wasn’t bouncing all over the place like Big K.R.I.T., nor was he on Bun B.’s mellowed-out molasses vibe—he was just…Cube. Rock-solid confident and in complete command of the crowd. I’ve never seen a performer spark that kind of energy with just a “Yay-yay.” His ‘fro was like a black halo. The crowd, which had been mostly civil (poor Blaze) all night, just seemed to wake the fuck up. At the first signs of “Check Yourself,” hands were up, and “You Can Do It (Put Your Back Into It)” probably got its best reception in years. He finished off the night with “Today Was a Good Day.”

Coors Lights’ SFTC contest heads to NY for the grand finale July 26th.

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Somebody Needs to Tell…Antonio Cromartie

GrownHeadz isn’t into stereotypes about athletes. Our publisher is a former football player and Resident Alien has a mean volleyball serve. But these last couple weeks, our professional brethren have been dumb-jocking it to an exceptional level. We love them, but today’s picks need an open-hand smack to the face and a good long talk on taking precautions. They’re not completely lost. Somebody just needs to tell ‘em.

Somebody needs to tell…
Antonio Cromartie about an awesome invention called condoms, so you don’t knock up every single footballer-balling groupie that sneaks into your hotel room.

If only Antonio ran the math: a $9 box of condoms (one for each kid) would’ve saved him $250,000 annually in child support.  
A quarter of 

a mill a year is fine (well, no, it REALLY isn’t) when you’re 26, but it’s not going to be pretty when you’re 40, retired, and all four of your current crop of 3-year-olds hit college.

Check out the clip of him struggling to get all their names right. He missed one altogether! Get it together and stop fucking up innocent kids’ lives.

Somebody Needs to Tell…

Ozzie Guillen that Miami doesn’t play by the rules (i.e. Constitution, Bill of Rights, Amendments, Free Speech, etc.) when it comes to Cuban Americans and Castro. They will set that ass on fire.

Ozzie Guillen pres conference
"Ooohhhh, shit."

The Miami Marlins manager told Time MAgazine, “I love Fidel Castro. A lot of people have wanted to kill Fidel Castro for the last 60 years, but that motherfucker is still here.”

Guillen caught himself and tried to dial it back from love to “respect,” but Miami wasn’t having it. He’s on a five-game suspension, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s beefed up his personal security either.

Only one thing can repair his career in Miami: starting every sentence from now on with “Fidel Castro is a son-of-a-bitch.”

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22 Female MCs You Need to Hear NOW

Artist: Dubelyoo

In no particular order, a round-up of hot bars that you need in rotation. Some are new, some older, all dope–and all ladies.

  1. Ra the MC – Victory Lap
  2. Jean Grae – Don’t Rush Me
  3. Narubi Selah – U Already Know
  4. Invincible – Sledgehammer
  5. Boog Brown – Friction
  6. Rapsody – Imagination
  7. Nikki Lynnette – The Strong Survive
  8. Psalm One- A Girl Named You
  9. Lady Luck / Remy Ma – Battle
  10. Nitti Scott – Tell Somebody
  11. Miki Vale – Black
  12. Eternia – Evidence
  13. AzItIz – Industry Influence
  14. Brianna – Rack City
  15. Rocky Rivera – Swagger Jackn
  16. Rogue Venom – Afterlife
  17. Master Mimz – Back down Mubarack
  18. Marz Lovejoy – Sticky
  19. Rita J- No Regrets
  20. Miz Korona – Pete Rock
  21. Queen Pen – Ghetto Divorce
  22. Apani B- A Million Eyes

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Official Shotcallers of A3C Festival!!!

Guess who’s an official sponsor of the A3C (All 3 Coasts) hip hop festival Oct. 6-8 in Atlanta? Thass right. Not to pat ourselves on the back too hard, but we’re right there with Hip Hop DX, Jamla and other industry heavyweights, supporting our culture and helping to bring back dope hip hop.

We’ll be bringing you that grown man/grown woman perspective, letting you know new names to watch for, videos and show footage of your favorite emcees and straight running up on all the grownheadz who will be there. In the run up, we’ll feature artists like Jean Grae, Big K.R.I.T., Big Pooh, Elzhi, REKS, Aleon Craft, Ras Kass, Young Scolla, Rapsody, Danny, Gods Illa, Boog Brown, Lyric Jones, Bronze Nazareth and Saigon on the site.

There are over 80 confirmed artists for A3C 2011, making the 3-day festival the hip-hop Woodstock Rock the Bells never was. Also unlike Rock the Bells, A3C is recognizing dope female emcees with Jean Grae, Boog Brown, Eternia, Marz Lovejoy, Rapsody and The Reminders rocking the stages. See the ever-growing list of artists below.

  • Random Axe
  • Freeway
  • Murs
  • BIG K.R.I.T.
  • Freddie Gibbs
  • Dead Prez
  • 9th Wonder
  • Jean Grae
  • Cory Gunz
  • XV
  • Big Pooh
  • Homeboy Sandman
  • Smoke DZA
  • Elzhi
  • Reks
  • Termanology
  • Ski Beatz
  • The Kid Daytona
  • Jon Connor
  • Saigon
  • tabi Bonney
  • Ras Kass
  • J-Live
  • Laws
  • Thee Tom Hardy
  • Skyzoo
  • El Da Sensei
  • Percee P
  • Action Bronson
  • Actual Proof
  • Aleon Craft
  • Big Remo
  • Black Milk
  • Boog Brown
  • Chancellor Warhol
  • Chase N Cashe
  • D.R.E.S. tha BEATnik
  • Danny!
  • Dee-1
  • Diamond D
  • Dillon
  • Donny Goines
  • Eternia
  • Ethereal Eyezon Soweto
  • Front Page
  • One Be Lo
  • Guilty Simpson
  • Jarren Benton
  • Jon Hope
  • KD
  • LidoLido
  • Lyriciss
  • Marz Lovejoy
  • Moe Green
  • Neak
  • Nice Guise
  • Nottz
  • P Dukes
  • Rapsody
  • Rittz
  • Rockie Fresh
  • Shokanti
  • Soul Khan
  • The reMinders
  • Torae
  • Varsity Squad
  • Young Scolla

Hit us up with a comment and tell us if you’re going to be there, questions to asky your favorite artists and who you want to see us interview. And stay tuned, we’ve got some ill promotions up the sleeve!

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Elenora Fagan’s on that Rock $#!+…But Don’t Sleep On Their Rhymes

Still haven't figured this logo out...

Most of the time when rock meets rap, one of the elements is not up to par. Either the rhymes are strong but the chords are weak, or the guitar is hitting but the lyricist is a dull blade.

Enter Elenora Fagan. The Charlotte-based hip hop-rock band is the cure for both maladies: mindful, provocative lyrics backed by a tight trinity of guitar, bass and drum. Citing influences from The Roots to Red Hot Chili Peppers, their sound is a seamless blend of hip hop and hardcore, with hits of house and reggae.

Like DOC said, they’re funky enuff. But the real draw are the group’s two emcees, who pack their verses tight with humor, angst and social commentary. It’s a refreshing addition to Charlotte’s hip hop scene, crowded as it is with  enthusiastic but underpar rappers yelling about money at every single open mic night.

GrownHeadz caught up with lead vocalist Currin Hightower after a Michael Jackson tribute concert at Amos South End. He promised Elenora Fagan, notorious for doing kick-ass shows but having no mixtapes or tees for fans to take home, is working hard to finish their first studio album.

“We’re recording, but it should be ready by early Fall,” he said.

Fagan brought their signature brand of electricity to the MJ tribute, with Thriller riffs and an amped-up rendition of Dirty Diana that got the sluggish crowd to their feet. The Golden Pyramids, Joe Crush, Elevator Jay and DJ Pyro rounded out the lineup.

The crowd, a mix of hardcore Michael Jackson lovers, hip hop heads and rock fans, never exactly gelled. Some performers, such as Mother Earth, a doe-eyed afro chic who rocked the mic and the drums with Joe Crush, got a lot of love; other more rock-oriented acts like The Golden Pyramids got a bit of the cold shoulder.

Pyramids’ frontman William Curry was undeterred, kicking off his group’s set with “F@$% you if you don’t wanna get up.”  The band proceeded to play their asses off to a nearly deserted pit, then ceded the stage to headliners Elenora Fagan.

Elenora Fagan has said they chose the unusual name  to reflect their diversity of styles. It’s Billie Holiday’s government name–and “If you don’t know who Billie Holiday is, I feel sorry for you,” Currin tells audiences.

The group is made up of five guys: Rappers Hightower and Jahmaar Stafford, drummer Matthew Wood, guitarist Jevon Washington and Juan Ossa on bass. The band, which has been together going on 2 years, is picking up steam, booking shows at The World Famous Milestone, Wine Up, Loose Change and WSBF 88.1’s Spring Festival in Clemson, SC.

As yet untitled, the debut release will be ready to drop this fall. In the meantime, support the Queen City’s favorite hip rock band with a donation to their kickstarter fund

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Top 6 Tweets on Osama Bin Laden’s Death

President Barack Obama vs. Osama bin Laden
"I got you, sucka."

 6. @SeanUppercut wait….not only did he [okay, not really] kill bin laden, he waited till Donald Trump’s show to announce the body. SWAG

5. @LupeFiasco: Now kill poverty, wack schools, and US imperialism…

4. @ThroatChopU: Obama better have that long form death certificate.

3. @nicekicks: With bin Laden dead does that mean I still get molested tomorrow at the airport? Just asking… [All signs point to YES]

2. @HeroStatus: Osama Bin Laden killed after checking into his cave on @foursquare.

1. @Ken_Doll312: Obama Has The Juice Now

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Luke Raises $250 in Miami Mayoral Race

Luther Campbell
"I don't want special interest money--but damn!"

Hip Hop’s first uncle, Luther Campbell, may have put Miami Bass on the map, but he isn’t doing so well in his bid to become the city’s mayor. 
Luke, whose campaign slogan is “Are You Serious?” recently reported a war chest tally  of only $250. Wonder if it’s all in singles?
The tally is more than $150,000 behind the fourth-place candidate. He might do better leaving the posh Bay Village fundraisers alone, and work the crowds at Club Rolexx and Take One–the players might make it rain on him, for old time’s sake.

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Who will be Hip Hop’s 1st Billionaire?

Sean Combs in a tux
A different kind of shiny suit...

The Firm? A little squishy. Blueprint? Back to the drawing board. It looks like Hip Hop’s first billionaire playboy (alter ego notwithstanding) will be Sean Combs.

Folks over at Forbes say astronomical sales of Ciroc Vodka, Sean John clothing and even, we guess, an album or two have pushed the man behind Bad Boy closer to Big Baller status than any other rapper in history.

Read the full article here…

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Waka Flocka’s On the Tupac Path to Fame

Waka Flocka Flame is one of four people being questioned by police after a shooting in east Charlotte outside of a car stereo shop. He is not considered a suspect, but police are looking for two cars driven away from the crime scene. More than 5 shots were fired. Didn’t he just get shot at last year in Georgia, and again at another concert in Charlotte before this? 

Is he on the Tupac Plan for Success? It pays off in record sales but you can’t exactly enjoy it. Our advice: He gots to CHIIIIIIIIILLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL!!!!!!!!!!

See video here:

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Audio Session – Narubi Selah – I AM Living Math (Album)

Female MC Narubi Selah Could Save Hip Hop

First off, I know that’s a big claim. Narubi Selah is a newcomer to the hip hop scene, with only one album under her belt and far more poetry bonafides than tracks.

But she has the same number of hip hop albums as the (in)famous Ms. Hill, who as the most universally lauded female MC she’s bound to draw comparisons to. Like Lauryn, Narubi hails from New Jersey, and has a similarly raspy, lower-register voice. But Narubi is no clone.

On her debut album “I AM Living Math,” she annihilates each and every track with dope delivery, clever wordplay and an intent behind her lyrics as potent as a bullet to your brain. She aims to take you higher.

The girl spits burning embers on tracks like “Birdee” and “Living Math,” unapologetically gutting jokers of both genders with ease, while not compromising the lessons in self reflection and nation-building contained in the songs. It’s really no surprise to learn she maintains her secret identity as a teacher.

Narubi Selah also comes with some pretty impressive names behind her. Prior to her 2008 debut on Def Poetry Jam, she performed with KRS One, Lauryn Hill, Wise Intelligent of Poor Righteous Teachers, and Styles P.

After hearing her perform at the 2001 Essence Music Festival in New Orleans, former Editor in Chief Susan Taylor said “Her words could save our nation.” Narubi’s debut performance in the independent film, “What Goes Around” won the film the Best Urban Feature Film Award at the 2004 New York International Independent Film and Video Festival.

She’s also written and starred in her own ninety-minute play, “The Classifieds,” which premiered at the Nuyorican Poets Café. And The National Education Dance Institute sponsored her educational play “Free Your Rhyme,” in conjunction with the Trenton Dance Institute.

Hopefully we’ll hear more from Narubi Selah in the coming months. Meanwhile, cop Living Math. I’m already calling it a contender for Album of the Year.

EDITORS NOTE – We usually don’t like to make this into a review but Resident Alien just loooooooved the album so much we didn’t have a choice by the way, don’t forget, these are not the complete songs—just 90-second clips so you can get a feel for the music. If you like what you hear, go out and buy the CD.  Quality hip hop grows when we support the artists.

Music Playlist at

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