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Abiola Otusanya aka Musiq Man The Journals

Abiola Otusanya (Musiq Man) releases “The Journals”

16.10.2011

Abiola Otusanya aka Musiq Man The JournalsWe’re VERY pleased to announce that our good friend and Hip Hop artist/producer Abiola Otusanya (a.k.a Musiq Man) has released his debut album ‘The Journals’.

Now you know we don’t do reviews here, that’s because you can come to your own judgement by checking out the album below. The debut features Abiola Otusanya himself along with incredible artists including UK vocalist Sophie Paul and Coors Coldest MC winner PyInfamous.

We couldn’t be happier to support an artist who we know has a work ethic and mentality that simply puts making good music above everything else. With a clear dose of Hip Hop, Soul and R&B influence, this album is the amalgamation of years of observation and dedication. Be sure to check out our personal favourite tracks, ‘Another Late Night’, ‘No Stress’ and ‘We Coming Around’.

For more information about Abiola and his music, check out our interview with Musiq Man back in March 2011. If you like the album, please remember to share it!

twitter music promotion

WTBD’s 10 Twitter Promotion Tips for Hip Hop Artists

02.10.2011

Following up from our last post, it’s only right that we share a few Twitter tips.

Twitter has long been our first choice social media platform, because it bridges the gap between fans, Hip-Hop artists and professionals so easily. We’ve been able to network with artists directly which has been hugely beneficial to our own growth. We’re constantly sent Tweets and Direct Messages with links to music, videos and other Hip-Hop related media and we know what works. So take a look below at a few of our Hip-Hop music promotion tips below and if you like them, please RT them.

1: Don’t Buy Followers.

There are an unfortunate amount of websites out there that offer the opportunity to buy followers. Do not fall into the trap of thinking this is a quick win. Buying followers is not only lazy but ultimately pointless. Twitter is not always about the quantity of followers and is more about the quality of those following you. 10 authoritative followers (we’ll get onto this next) could be so much more crucial to your marketing strategy than 1000 bots or inactive  users. If you fall into the trap of becoming fixated on numbers, you’re likely to alienate your real fans and lose focus of the real marketing goals.

For example, we currently have around 770 followers, which in the grand scheme of things, isn’t that many. However, we’re followed by some Grammy Award winning artists and industry professionals relevant to our work which is a lot more important than potentially having 20,000 people who don’t interact with us.

2: Follow, Followers.

This is a very simple and hugely effective way of gaining targeted followers. Follow people who are following YOUR inspirations and peers. For example, if you’re an artist from the south US, you might want to start following followers of someone such as Big K.R.I.T.

Following Followers on Twitter, Big K.R.I.T example.

Start following a selection of their fans and you may just find a few of them will follow you back. Undertake this process for a few different artists and eventually you’ll have a selection of followers who are likely going to take some interest in your music as you have similarities to those who they have already been following. Particularly if you’ve got your user bio in good shape which we’ll look at next.

3: Make The Most Of Your Bio.

Getting your bio right is key if you want to capture targeted followers. As tempting as it is to put creative and mystic messages in your bio, being direct and on point is actually a lot more effective.

When The Beat Drops Twitter BioAs you will know, when you start following another user, the first thing that will happen is that they will be sent an email notifying them that you are now following, and your Tweet stats and bio are displayed to them. If you have a bio with relevant keywords and information in, it is likely that in that moment they may well follow you back straight away and take a look at your Tweets later. If all the recipient reads is, “I’m ALL about the swag and money”, it’s unlikely anyone in that very moment is going to take any interest in your whatsoever.

4: Don’t Spam.

If you really want to retain followers, then do not continuously spam the same Tweet with a link to your Soundcloud or Bandcamp page. Nobody cares, at least not yet. It’s unprofessional and impersonal. Remember followers are not necessarily fans and so you need to build a relationship with them before they even become interested in listening to your music. Tweet about a diversity of subjects and not just your own work. Actively respond to Tweets that you see on your timeline from people who you think could be potential fans.

5: Seek Out Authoritative Users.

Quite simply an authoritative user is someone who holds great reach to potential fans or followers in an industry that you’re in. There are a couple of tools which have their own Tweet authority metrics such as Klout or PeerIndex but in all honesty, the best judge of an authority user is YOU. You know your industry better than anyone, so try and start relationships or at least actively respond to peers or authority users in your genre/industry.

For example, we actively respond to Tweets from Hip-Hop news sites and have formed good relationships and been re-Tweeted by relevant organisations such as GlobalGrind, BET and Hip-Hop DX.

Hip Hop DX Twitter Reach

They have a far greater reach to relevant fans than we do because of the nature of their business, and thus we have been able to attract interest from a number of targeted new followers because of our engagement with them.

Don’t go spamming the hell out of authority users just to get an RT, but responding to questions that they ask and taking an interest in what they’re Tweeting will possibly lead to you getting a RT or shout out.

6: Tweet Regularly.

Tweeting regularly, particularly for businesses such as Hip-Hop clothing stores, is a lot more effective than Tweeting intermittently which can appear unprofessional. If you’re working two jobs or have several projects that you’re trying to manage and are struggling to keep Tweeting about them, you need to start scheduling Tweets. This can be done through software such as Hootsuite or Tweetdeck. Consistency is the key and will help you retain and win new followers.

7: Link Streams NOT Downloads.

If you’re a Hip-Hop artist who is sending out Tweets to your music, believe us when we say that you’re a lot more likely to receive a listen if your link is to streamed music rather than to a download file. If you’ve got someone’s attention and they click on your link, great, but there’s one more obstacle put in the potential listeners way if they have to then download a file. This is the point in which a user is likely to bounce, so why risk it? Use services such as ReverbNation, Bandcamp or Soundcloud so that your music is instantly accessible. We get sent a lot of music at When The Beat Drops, and are certainly more likely to listen to streamed music. Time is important to us!

8: Use Saved Searches.

Used advanced and saved searches to further target potential followers. For example if you’re a Hip Hop artist in London, UK you might want to search for the exact phrase “London hip hop” or use several words such as ‘London’ ‘hip hop’ ‘rap’ ‘music’. Twitter Advanced Search ScreenshotThese results are likely to return users who are interested in your genre as they’ve been Tweeting about it! Follow them, occasionally Tweet them and see if you can grab yourself a new listener!

9: Tweet Etiquette.

One of the easiest and best ways to promote your music and have people engage with you, RT your work and recommend you to other users is by being humble and friendly. Something like this:

Twitter Etiquette Example for Hip Hop Artists

Don’t go Tweeting people links to your music saying that “…it’s the DOPEST Hip-Hop you’ll EVER hear”. It’s probably not. Yet if you sent us a link to your work with a Tweet such as “Hey, i’m a New York Hip-Hop artist with a lot to say, i’d love you to check my work if possible (LINK)”, we’d be a lot more likely to take a listen. We’re not saying be boring, be creative as you want to be, just don’t be arrogant. This is not only the best way to market your music on Twitter but in general the best way to promote your music overall.

10: Get Taggin’.

Finding popular hashtags can be key to your Twitter growth and using them creatively is not only fun, but can win your followers. Don’t worry about being too on topic when it comes to hashtags, usually the stand out Tweets are the ones that use hashtags in an innovative and humorous way. You can take advantage of current trends or regularly occurring popular terms. Always create your own hashtags for any project releases and include them within your Tweets. Even for regular posts, try and include a hashtag within your Tweet relevant to what you’re Tweeting about. Don’t stuff your hashtags, 3 per Tweet should be your limit.

One more thing…

If you liked this post, come follow us on Twitter @wtbd

 

scarface

Why Do Hip-Hop Artists Love Scarface?

10.09.2011

Scarface’s Blu Ray Release

Last week, 28 years after its original release, Scarface hit a new high by announcing itself in Blu Ray format. Hip-Hop artists and fans rejoiced as Brian De Palma’s spectacular personification of one man’s rise and fall was given a new platform from which it could once again take on the world. So why has a film that was initially shot down upon its release, risen to become one of the most acclaimed movies of all time? More to the point, why is it that Scarface has unintentionally been taken under the wing of Hip-Hop and championed specifically, almost defensively, within Hip Hop culture? The association and bond between the movie and culture is so knowing, that it even defers the interest of curious film lovers who don’t like Hip Hop. Now that’s a crime.

“I’m Tony Montana”.

For the information of those non Hip-Hop fans I just referred to, Tony Montana Al Pacinois the soul bought to you by Al Pacino. It’s both the character’s background and Pacino’s ability to bring life through his own vision and experience which make Montana such a relatable character. I’m of the opinion that a lot is owed to Pacino, for there is a little of Tony Montana in him, meaning that only he could deliver this performance. Only Pacino could speak those lines with conviction, he didn’t need a script, the words were already feelings he had been through and this was his outlet. See by 1983, Pacino had been through that rags to riches journey himself. He grew up in the South Bronx and experienced a difficult early life, with his Father leaving home and Mother dying at a young age. Pacino also left school at 17 and worked a number of low paid jobs in order to fund his time as an aspiring and ever learning stage actor. He experienced rejection, after not being accepted into the Actors Studio and often found himself in the position of not knowing where his next meal or shelter would come from. Yet, he continued to strive and his hunger for acting combined withPacino meeting teacher Charlie Houghton through the Herbert Berghof Studio gave him all the fuel he needed. Over the next 15 years, Pacino’s performances in films such as The Godfather 1 & 2, Dog Day Afternoon and Serpico would propel him onto a level incomprehendable to him. From the streets, to stardom. The world was his. Sound familiar?

Tony Montana Now for those that don’t know the story of Tony Montana, he was a Cuban refugee who arrived in Miami as part of the Mariel Boatlift movement. He wanted to make money and with his street sense he quickly associated himself with one of the most profitable industries during the 1980’s – cocaine shifting. He ruthlessly hustles his way to the top in search of “…the world, and everything in it”. His rapid rise to the top overshadowed only by his gloriously dramatic demise. I won’t talk too much further about the actual movie here because, the movie says it better than I can, so go watch it!

“All I have in this world is my balls and my word and I don’t break ’em for no one”.

Now Hip-Hop started out as the movement of the underdog. The media, journaists and music snobs,  said it wouldn’t last, that it was just a passing phase that it had no substance. Not the right look or sound to to maintain any longevity. Hip-Hop laughed. The synchronised 5 elements intertwined creating a whirlwind of music that smashed through social, political, racial and human barriers from the late 80’s through the present day. It became a multi billion dollar industry. Though it too has become a victim of its own success, with all of its ambition giving birth to controversy. Some argue that it became too commercial, that it sold itself out, that quite simply, it got high on its own supply. It lost its focus and the very drive behind the movment could have been used to better effect. The beauty of that is, it’s up for debate. However what is clear is that there is a direct, transparent reflection between the real life of Al Pacino, the climatic accession of Montana and the life to date of the Hip Hop community.

Any Hip Hop fan reading this, will at this point be able to reference at least a handful of artists whose very lives have reflected this cinematic structure. Jay-Z, Biggie, Tupac, Eminem and Russell Simmons are just a few examples of those whose lives within Hip-Hop have too taken them from street corners and trailor parks to becoming icons, moguls and all out superstars. Not without controvery, of course.


 

“In this country, you gotta make the money first. Then when you get the money, you get the power. Then when you get the power, you get the women.”

There’s a common misconception that one of the main reasons the Hip-Hop community loves Scarface is because of the parallels in violence and drugs. Sure, to some there is that association and for good reason. However, hopefully this piece goes some way to identifying and highlighting the deeper intricacies. This film does not glorify drug use. Anyone with an ounce of sense will understand that. Pun intended. In fact, as time goes on it could be argued that Hip-Hop is starting to become less drug orientated, taking lesson from the fact that certain heights can’t be reached when high.

The Hip-Hop mentality of being able to produce something from nothing, about writing rhymes to kill time and surviving on nothing but your word and drive echoes that of Scarface. But there are also similarities in the obstacles that Hip Hop artists and professionals face when trying to reach their goals. Montana viciously killed off his competition. He made his way through a world of corruption based solely on his own instinct. Though ultimately his self involvement and egocentricity, combined with his ongoing reliance upon cocaine for escapsim affected his closest relationships with best friend Manny and wife Elvira. The same happens when an artist starts to receive exposure and recognition. Their relationships with mentors and friends change or they themselves struggle in adapting with the acceleration of their lifestyle. Paranoia sets in and something has to give.

Then there’s the dramatic ending. Going out with a bang. For those reading thisTony Montana Say Hello To My Little Friend who haven’t seen the movie, I won’t give anything away, but Hip-Hop too is all too familiar with ugly finales. A Hip-Hop fan will follow an artist almost religiously until their untimely demise, incarceration or unrivalled success. They watch Tony Montana in the same way, inspired by his determination and journey and then intrigued and mystified by his downfall.

So there we have it, hopefully this has gone some way to explaining that there is more to Hip-Hop’s love affair with Scarface than purely coke and guns.

The way I see it, Scarface is a theatrical example which unintentionally yet prophetically echoed aspects of the Hip Hop culture which emphatically followed. That’s my word.

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Footlocker London Riots

How The London Riots Affect UK Hip Hop

14.08.2011

UK Hip Hop Finding Its Feet

I’m not someone who likes breaking Hip Hop down into sub categories and regional genres. Though, undoubtedly they do exist, I like thinking of Hip Hop in its entirety, branching out into different areas of the world where those influenced by it can continue to add their voice and style into the mix and contribute towards its overall development.

The process above is what UK Hip Hop artists have been doing for the last twenty or more years. Struggling with finding their feet and comfortably leaving their mark on Hip Hop culture. By comfortably, I mean producing a sound and impression that fully embodies life from an unspoilt, organic UK perspective.

Derek B

Derek B

For a long time UK Hip Hop artists were heavily influenced by American culture and were striving to sound, look and practically replicate everything US Hip Hop artists were doing. Some of the first real breakout UK acts into American Hip Hop music were Monie Love, Derek B and Cookie Crew who all rapped in American accents. There’s no shame in that, and you always need those chosen few to help pave the way. However, it always felt as though a little substance from UK Hip Hop was missing, that’s what happens when essentially all you’re doing is diluting down someone else’s culture.

Eventually at the turn of the century along came garage and that intertwined with grime and finally the UK had a formula of its very own to work with. So Solid Crew hit hard and were rapping unashamedly in UK accents and dropping in local slang and references. This was the UK and this was the significant mark we could leave on Hip Hop culture as a whole.

It’s taken nearly ten years since So Solid Crew went mainstream with the track 21 seconds and in the last year we have started to see the ultimate successes from a decade of UK Hip Hop experimentation. We’ve recently had Chipmunk

Tinie Tempah and Wiz Khalifa

Wiz and T

hooking up with Chris Brown and Tinie Tempah rapping alongside Wiz Khalifa. Whether you like the music or not, there’s no doubt that this shows how far UK Hip Hop has come. Having the most popular UK artists standing side by side with their transatlantic counterparts on their own terms is nothing but successful. It’s felt as though UK artists had finally found their feet and were standing tall with something honest and unique to deliver.

London Riots

Then last week, in my opinion the London riots took a step to undoing all this hard work and development in 3 days of embarrassing recklessness. As well as many other things, Hip Hop has always been the sound of youth, struggle and the voice of the underdog. Therefore it’s unavoidable that certain boroughs of London with considered low opportunity and minimal resources have been influenced and have become synonymous with ‘urban’ culture.

Gradually, as mentioned above, guys like Tinchy Stryder, Wiley, Dizzee Rascal, Chipmunk and Tinie Tempah have all been celebrated as successes and leaders of UK Urban/Hip Hop music. They have risen to the very top with their own sound and came from extremely humble beginnings, the same as those who were destroying their local communities this last week. They found an outlet, worked hard and showed that it doesn’t matter where you’re from, it’s where you’re at. A Hip Hop lesson more of us should have learned by now.

UK DJ Trevor Nelson

UK Urban Music Pioneer Trevor Nelson

The rioting throws the hard work of DJ’s such as Trevor Nelson, Semtex and Westwood back in their face, after decades of them championing the UK Hip Hop and helping to bring UK Hip Hop into mainstream media without it being misrepresented or frowned upon. In 2002, nothing symbolised this dedication to proving that UK Hip Hop was more than just American imitation than the arrival of BBC 1Xtra, a digital radio station dedicated to ‘home grown’ Hip Hop/Urban music.

See, it felt like recently we had turned a corner. UK Hip Hop has suffered the same mainstream negativity as US Hip Hop dealt with in the 90’s. The media associated and presented Hip Hop as glorifying violence, gang culture and drugs. But we were JUST getting over that. The success of UK Urban music had started to, almost hypocritically, be celebrated be mainstream media with some artists even affectionately being labelled the ‘Brap’ pack by national media. Cheesy, yes, but significant also.

I feel as though, despite the UK still replicating aspects of US Hip Hop culture with its imitation of gang mentality still lurking in the background, finally UK Hip Hop music had overshadowed all those negative connotations. Then came the riots.

US Hip Hop Obsession

We had young people on TV wearing hoodies (which have also become synonymous with Hip Hop culture) tearing down their neighbourhoods. Looting places like Footlocker and JD sports. There’s an image I remember seeing of a guy who had just looted a sports shop and was checking the outside of a sneaker box he had just robbed. To me, this symbolised everything bad about UK Hip Hop culture and allowed it a national platform. All it done for me was highlight the fact that there are more followers than leaders within our communities and as a wider issue it showed that our generation are fixated on having things instantly without having to work for them. It exemplified Kanye West Self Graduatedeverything that is wrong with the majority of our generation. We want everything the ultimate Hip Hop lifestyle has to offer, without putting any effort to get it. That’s the reason we don’t have any artists or businessmen on the level of Jay-Z, Kanye West or Russell Simmons. You want the same clothes, cars and lifestyle as Kanye? Did you not listen when he said he locked himself in a room doin’ five beats a day for three summers? He deserves to do those numbers and earned those luxuries. You, do not.

Yes, I know that not EVERYBODY involved in the rioting was directly involved in Hip Hop. But when you’ve got young people from Hackney, Tottenham and Clapham throwing up their hoodies, looting places like Footlocker and dropping gang signs at TV cameras, SOME of those mainstream media authority figures are going to make that Hip Hop association once more. It takes us back a whole ten years. It shows me as a generation we are still infatuated with the lifestyles of US Hip Hop figures and want all those luxuries without putting in the long hours.

Some are saying that the riots were the acts of a mindless few. I personally don’t agree with that and think that it’s unfortunately it’s part of a wider issue. The majority of our generation are obsessed with having everything NOW, whether that’s luxury goods, a hood reputation or their five minutes of fame. There are no excuses; it’s just a pure lazy attitude. If you were a looter or rioter who had the energy in you to burn something down, you also had the energy to build but were too stupid to action positively.

I just hope that the minority of those involved in UK Hip Hop who are genuine, creative professionals and who have found their feet, voice and direction are able to overcome the negative associations which are bound to taint the name of Hip Hop in this country. We at When The Beat Drops are willing to support anyone who we feel represent the true values of Hip Hop.

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