Category Archives: Hip-Hop 101
This section is made up of various posts for individuals interested in multimedia entertainment careers. The information given away for free would normally cost you a considerable amount of money to find out.
So.. apparently the new “challenge” is doing a remix of Monica’s track “So Gone” from her “After the Storm” album (which by the way was originally released on my Birthday June 17th in 2003). Absolutely one of those timeless albums that if you played it today 13 years later it would still be good.
So what I’m sharing is in my opinion one of the best (if not thee best) #SoGoneChallenge attempts I’ve seen by Elwood (Elwood Music).
You can check Elwood out on Facebook & Twitter:
This is a new project I’m personally putting together, so any submissions for this project must fall under the guidelines of spiritually conscious and be free from sexually explicit lyrics & profanity (college radio friendly) Project submissions are open to any artist/song that meets this criteria. Send submissions to email@example.com include artist name, track title, & producer name. (Hosting DJ TBA)
The Kurtis Blow is one of those names in hip-hop that when it’s mentioned, everyone just sort of pauses in homage. Even the 80’s babies know the name even if they can’t pin point exactly why they know it. So for those who are unfamiliar (especially new comers in hip-hop), class is in session.
“In 1979, Kurtis Blow signed a deal with Mercury Records, making him the first rapper signed by a major label. His album Christmas Rappin’ sold more than 400,000 copies. His follow-up album, The Breaks, went gold. He went on to release 10 albums over the next 11 years and also produced albums. Blow became an ordained minister in 2009 and founded Hip Hop Ministry.” (http://www.biography.com/people/kurtis-blow-5444) How many times have you said or heard someone say,”these are the breaks” or “those are the breaks” and they almost always do it with a shoulder shimmy and a tune? How many of you instantly think of Nas when someone mentions the song title “If I ruled the world”? Now you’ll know exactly where they came from if you didn’t before.
Rapper and producer Kurtis Walker on August 9, 1959, in Harlem, New York. Blow got his first practice as a DJ in grade school, mingling with guests at his mother’s parties to take their music requests. By the time he was 13, he had a fake ID and was sneaking into New York City clubs to hear DJs spin their tracks.
In 1975, Kurtis Blow enrolled in Harlem’s High School of Music and Art, but was kicked out for selling marijuana. He transferred to another high school, where he was soon caught selling the psychedelic drug PCP. Recognizing Blow’s intelligence, the dean gave Blow the chance to test for his General Equivalency Degree as an alternative to expulsion. Blow passed, and went on to study at New York’s City College.
In 1979, Blow signed a deal with Mercury Records, making him the first rapper signed by a major label. His album Christmas Rappin’ sold more than 400,000 copies. His follow-up album, The Breaks, went gold, led by its iconic title track: “Brakes on a bus, brakes on a car, breaks to make you a superstar.”
Blow was soon officially a superstar as well. He went on to release 10 albums over the next 11 years. This included 1985’s America, featuring the song “If I Ruled the World.” The song cracked the Top 5 on the Billboard charts on first release, and returned (in sample form) a decade later when Nas’s version debuted at No. 1. Blow also produced albums for artists like The Fat Boys, Run-D.M.C., Russell Simmons and Wyclef Jean. His influence on hip-hop was so profound that rapper Run of the seminal trio Run-D.M.C. initially called himself the “Son of Kurtis Blow” when just starting his career.
As his rap career progressed, Blow—a devout Christian—made a commitment to himself to keep his lyrics family-friendly. “I’ve recorded over two hundred songs and I have never used a profanity and I always thought that was just me trying to have some dignity, some integrity,” Blow said. “I knew that in order for this thing [hip-hop] to last and spread all around the world, it had to be wholesome, it had to be something that families could listen to, something people could play for their kid, something you could sing in church and I can sing all my songs in church.” Blow’s songs include “Magic Words,” a track recorded with a children’s rap group about the importance of saying “please” and “thank you.”
Kurtis Blow’s faith eventually led him to a new career, when he found himself reading the Bible and unable to put the book away. “I got to the last book in the Bible, Revelations, and it’s sort of like a prophecy. And I said I’d better get my act together before all this stuff starts to happen.” Blow became an ordained minister in 2009 and founded Hip Hop Ministry, a movement that incorporates rap into worship.
Besides recording, producing and hosting radio shows, Blow speaks out on behalf of a variety of causes. He coordinated the recording of the song “King Holiday” in tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr. He also campaigns against racism and drug use. He will always be credited as one of the biggest influences on rap music. “Rappin’ is totally ours—nothing can take it away,” Blow said in 1980, when rap was still in its infancy. “It’s kinda what we are giving to ourselves.” Kurtis Blow. (2015). The Biography.com website. Retrieved 09:12, Aug 10, 2015, from http://www.biography.com/people/kurtis-blow-5444.
Discography Info: http://www.discogs.com/artist/13151-Kurtis-Blow
Be sure to check out & support his latest project, “Hip Hop Church, Volume 3” now available on iTunes!
Now although the information I post under this category is really information you would have to pay for (by hiring a management or development person or paying for it in the way you spend all of your money before you learn it), I can’t stand to see people be stupid. I’m probably going to upset a few folks with this post because in the event aspiring recording artists actually read this, they may stop wasting money.
First, let’s break a few things down. Major record labels are your Def Jam, Sony, Atlantic, Etc. Independent labels are smaller versions of majors, independently owned/ operated and they actually turn a profit. An “indie label” is NOT a company that you and a few friends started and didn’t even follow through with the proper business end to make it an actual business. I’m explaining this because a lot of UNDERGROUND artists refer to themselves as indies. The word indie actually refers to a professional recording artist that is signed to an independent label. The misunderstanding of terms causes things like ten thousand people thinking their You Tube videos are going to be taken down because the article said “artists signed to independent labels” and they were referring to mainstream independent artists (i.e. Tech N9ne, Frank Ocean) not underground artists. Like with any career, it’s important that you know what you’re talking about for your own good and it’s extremely insulting to the folks who actually know what they’re doing. It’s like me showing up at the hospital to preform surgery because I can cut good with a butter knife.
“The Record Deal”- Please. This hardly happens at all since the game turned digital. NOBODY is “signing” any artist for a significant amount of money unless that artist is already making the kind of money that is worthy of that investment, The deal that some of you would be willing to sell your first born for tomorrow isn’t even what you think it is. A standard major label contract is 80/20 or 70/30. Meaning you get 20% or 30% the label gets the rest because they put up the money for your videos, hotel rooms, studio time, clothes, shows, rented cars, etc. They OWN YOU with these contracts. They own your stage name, social media, and dictate your sound, style, lyrics, and to top it all off if you refuse? They “shelf” you. That means they own you as the artist and they wait out your contract and you release no music until you fulfill what they are requiring or whoever you are as an artist is silent until that contract is over. Good luck being a new artist and not having anything in rotation for five years. The only time an artist can be the wealthy that most people dream about is when that person invests their money in other things or has major sponsors like Pepsi.
We could go in deeper but today I want to pull the curtains back on specifically the “Digital Distribution Deal”. In case you didn’t know ( and you SHOULD KNOW if you consider yourself an artist), the digital world is very underground /indie artist friendly. For under $200 you can get your music copy written, and distributed to all of the major electronic stores like iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, iHeartRadio, etc. There are plenty of sites (Tune Core, CD Baby, Band Camp) you can get your music out for very little money. What good does that do you? Absolutely nothing if you don’t have a fan base or to buy your music and a budget for promotion period point blank, end of story. Making music is not cheap and being successful in music costs lots of money. The digital world may make it look easy, but if it was? Don’t you think everybody would be driving around in a Mercedes?
There are different levels to the “Digital distribution Deal”. In most cases, you end up paying a record label to use their distribution account. They have the same exact “digital distribution” that you can get yourself. Most companies that offer this have an actual record label attached to it and you are paying to use their digital name. Meaning, I am a Hell Razah Music, Inc. artist. We could make Hell Razah Music Digital, charge you $1000 for our distribution through Hell Razah Music Digital (watch the word play, it looks the same but being signed to “digital” indicates you are not an actual label artist) and you are paying for our name so you can tell people you’re signed to Hell Razah Music Digital and whatever weight the name carries is what you’re paying for and we may even throw in logo use so you can deceive who is willing to be fooled that your deal is more then using our Tune Core account. Then, we also collect a percentage of your music sales as well as count the numbers of whatever units you moved towards our overall units moved for the year, then we as the actual label look much better to our investors because of the total number of units we moved. If we offered this deal to 50 people, we make $50k and if each person sells 100 units, we can add 5k units moved to our overall numbers as a label. Let that sink in and some of you may have to read it twice. Most “digital deals” are exactly this, a hustle and you my dear are the one being hustled because it’s cheaper to pay the fee and hope you are also buying buzz and fan base then to spend thousands of your own money the right way.
This is not all digital distributors just the majority. Most of these digital distributors do not offer any promotion or anything else with the “deal”. Some may actually include some type of promotion and that is an important thing you need to find out (NEVER sign anything without an Entertainment Attorney present, and yes that costs money too). In some cases you would be better off spending that thousand on your own digital distribution account and pouring the rest of the money into promotion. If you’ve ever seen a label and scratched your head when you saw their “artists” this is probably why. Just because someone has signed a digital distribution deal, does not in anyway, shape, or form mean they are “signed” to a label in the traditional sense you’re used to and a good deal of them? ARE PAYING TO WEAR THE LOGO.
The average person would have no idea that the logo above isn’t actually Def Jam. Def Jam Digital actually partnered with Tune Core for awhile a few years back, made Def Jam Island Digital and a few lucky folks got to pretend they were signed to Def Jam and made a few bucks. I’m familiar with this because a former mainstream artist tried to “help me” a few years back and told me that all I had to do was add Def Jam Island Digital to Battlegrownd Entertainment and I would be able to charge people for distribution. Too bad I’m not a person who robs people, I probably could have made a nice chunk of change 😉
I’m so sick of folks out here acting absolutely crazy. I want to explain a very simple principle to you. First ask yourself this,
If you played little league…. Are you now a professional baseball player?
If you drew pictures in Art class….. Are you now a professional artist?
Should everyone that can carve a turkey be a surgeon?
Fam… just because the world has made it easy for you to make music, doesn’t make it your profession. It’s actually VERY disrespectful to those in the game that have suffered and clawed their way through being broke and all kinds of other things you have NO IDEA that await you in the music industry. Making music is a beautiful thing. I think everyone should experience its joy. It is OKAY for it to be a hobby. Too many people aren’t honest with themselves. Honestly Fam, let’s keep it real. There is music links circulated all over the net of some music that’s terrible. It’s not even recorded properly and it just wastes space in cyber space.
I don’t know who has been lying to you, but I’m going to tell you the TRUTH about what kind of money goes into funding your own music career. Incase you didn’t know, you will spend THOUSANDS of dollars on it and possibly NEVER make any back. You will give away music for the first few projects. Those projects will cost you money. Promoting those projects properly (which means you hire someone to promote you) cost money. The more you want it exposed, the more money it costs. If you don’t promote your project, you will not build a fan base. If you don’t have a fan base, who’s going to buy your music? If you buy downloads and followers… what happens when you put a song on iTunes? If you have 100k fake followers and can’t sell 2 Singles for $1… why on earth are you wasting time & money? There are THOUSANDS of other emcees JUST AS GOOD IF NOT BETTER then you. I’m not trying to be mean, this is REALITY. You should know exactly how big the mountain is.
SOME OF THE WORST THINGS PEOPLE DO EVERYDAY:
Tweet strangers (people you don’t even follow) your links directly. They don’t click on it. You’re wasting time.
Tweet your music to famous people hoping they click it and love it. Let me know who get signed that way when you find out.
You are the only person promoting yourself. If you don’t invest in you, why would a label?
If you are still doing illegal things and your MXTP cover is your product, who is going to sign a law suit waiting to happen?
DISRESPECT THE DJ If you don’t know how important the DJ is? You are banned from making anymore music. It shows you researched NOTHING.
Get on social media and DISRESPECT the people that created the music of the game you’re trying to get into. NOBODY invests an artist who is disrespectful, immature, & unprofessional. You know why? THERE’S A MILLION MORE OUT THERE.
Not have help. There are a few (not many) folks in the music industry (myself included) that will not take your for a ride and rob you and actually give you what you pay for. What I’m telling you FOR FREE would cost you THOUSANDS of dollars to HOPEFULLY one day learn it from a Management or Development person.
Get mad when people don’t like your music. If this is you? You are banned from hip-hop. NOBODY likes everything. How dare you ask people to listen and when they tell you the truth, you get mad? You need to pay attention. Why? Because this is your BASELINE OF FEEDBACK. If 100 people listen to your song and anything over 80 say they didn’t like it? You need to seriously re-consider doing music or the kind of music you’re doing or accept that your fan base is going to be smaller then you anticipated.
Waste your money.
Not know what kind of rapper you are.
Let me expound here a little bit… When asked “who is your fan base?” EVERYBODY is not an acceptable answer. Everybody would include kindergarten, middle school, high school, and senior citizens all in the same group.. In the words of Sneak Vandel, “FALSE”. We’re going to get into this in depth in another article but it’s something you need to think about. I also want to give you a reality check about “getting signed”. In the words of Gryndhousz, “You have a better chance winning the lottery.” and that is 100% true. The days of getting signed to a major record label for a 50k advance and all that are long gone unless you are an artist ALREADY making money and numbers on your own that warrant such a deal. These days labels sign known artists or very young artists, they get a 100 page contract and lose all sense of ownership and identity to themselves as an artist. Make no mistake, anyone raking in the dough on the level you aspire for? Most of what you see come across in costume, dress, sound, etc is entirely dictated by the label that own’s the artist. We’ll visit that in depth in a future post.
Fam, this information would normally be contained in a development or management session. I am spilling FOR FREE what I use to eat & pay my bills with because in all honesty, I don’t want you stupid. If I know the way, it’s my job to share it. I don’t depend on any of you to buy services here, hit my blog, or buy our music. I depend on God. What most people don’t understand is that giving things away can get you credit at a bank you’ll never owe it back to. #ProphetTweet LOL Okay, back to business. Let’s start with something basic… Your first MixTape.
You want to drop your 1st MXTP
Studio Time: $35-$250 p/h depending upon where you go. You get what you pay for in most cases unless you happen to personally know somebody. If you don’t know the studio ask to hear some of their work!
15 Song MXTP: You should record a minimum of 25 songs to choose from. You should never just throw something together.
25 songs x $40 per hr for each song to record
25 songs x $40 per hr for each song mixed (bare minimum it’s more when it’s done 100% professionally)
If you want your tracks Mastered, it’s going to cost an additional $25 -$100 per song
Features: Well this depends on what kind of splash you’re trying to make on the scene. Let’s say the fan base you’re aiming for is Little Wayne’s fan base because for whatever reason he is your hip-hop hero. You should be aiming for those kind of sound features. Get Wayne out of your mind though unless you have a million dollar budget for this project because a 16-bar verse from him is going to cost you well over 50K. Your feature cost depends on the caliber of the artist. There are some you can get for $500-$1000 but nine times out of ten you have to know somebody that knows them to get that price, so plan on $1000 at least for each feature. If you’re having a well known underground artist feature, they may not charge you for the verse if they like the project but they will definitely charge you for their studio time which would roughly be $100.
Production: On a MXTP if you are using other people’s beats (aka “industry beats” beat from a song on the radio) this won’t cost you anything. If you have a friend or team member that makes them you’re still fine, but if want original music and don’t have anyone around that makes beats? You can tack on anywhere from $100 (for something decent)- 5k per beat depending on what kind you want & the caliber of the producer. So multiply 15 songs x $100 per beat and that’s another $1,500 on the bill.
Artwork: Decent underground artwork $30 -$100
Duplication: If you want hard CD’s, you’re looking at $250 off the rip (CD & Case) depending on how many you want and they are expensive. Sometimes 50 CD’s are $200.
Promotion: Typically, folks who make hard CD’s skip this step and just pass out CD’s which of course only reaches where YOU DO. Artists that are hip to social media should hire people to promote there.
If your MXTP is hosted by a DJ, add $100-$5, 000 depending on the status of the DJ
If you do an indie video, add $300-$500
Also add what you afforded for the song’s promotion again because the video also needs promotion.
Add in promotion costs for however long you plan to promote this project.
You will do all this for FREE music. This music you are GIVING away. You have to build a fan base. Nobody is going to buy your music unless they know you or they just rock with you like that. Honestly, if you put out a song on iTunes today, how many people do you know for a fact would buy your single for $1? Count them times .70 (iTunes sells your track for $1 but you only make .70 off each single). That’s how much you’d make with no fans. It costs $10 to load it to iTunes so subtract that from that number. It costs roughly $100 to copywrite & publish the track so subtract another $100. Whatever you’re left with is what you’d make right now selling a piece of music with no fan base. Is your number positive or negative? You will more then likely do this kind of project at LEAST 2-3 times before you should even try to sell anything. Fam, if you are not willing to commit to that? You won’t make it. Some of us have lost EVERYTHING over our music. My team? In the words of @kinggeorge427 “We starved together, we’re going to eat together.” Anyone of the greats in hip-hop, went through most if not all of everything I mentioned. If you’re not prepared for battle, don’t try to be a soldier. We’re only hiring warriors in hip-hop for the next 5-10 years. But if you’re ready? Welcome to #OPERATIONREVOLUTION
If you are in need of organizing, help with your project, or are interested in pricing for this kind of service, click the Queen the Prophet BIO at the top of this page and submit the inquiry form. Please allow up to 72-hours for response due to the high amount of inquiries received.
This has been a @queentheprophet public service announcement.