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Hungry Lloyd Banks Leaves Audience Satisfied

By Dashaun Simmons

Some might say G-Unit isn’t much of a unit these days. With Game over on the West Coast still asking for a reunion, Young Buck drowning in tax troubles and sub par sales from each remaining member, times are tough. Lloyd Banks was actually dropped from G-Unit Records distributor Interscope in 2009, but he didn’t let that stop him. Instead Banks went back to the drawing board and pulled out the club smash Beemer, Benz or Bentley featuring Juelz Santana, and went on to earn a gold single independently. This paved the way for his latest release “The Hunger For More 2”.

For almost a full year Banks has prepared this new album dropping multiple singles to get back into the limelight through his new deal with G-Unit/EMI. It is an accomplishment for him to even have an album release show at the Best Buy Theater in Times Square at this point in his career. The audience was comprised of hood cats rocking fitted caps alongside fist pumpers with gel in their hair. All were in the house for some southside Queens hip hop. Banks’ opening acts were both relatively unknown to his fan base and to the industry at large. The first artist on the bill Theo Martins seems to be cut from the B.O.B. / Lupe Fiasco lineage. He does the same hop step that Lupe is known for on stage accompanied by music that ventures from traditional rap to crossover “Airplanes” type material. The crowd was NOT amused. He was booed offstage with no mercy. The second act Homeboy Sandman did little better to win the crowd. Sandman has created a respectable following in the underground scene in NY (or what’s left of it). He has an album out and can flow for days. However this audience did not care a bit about any of that. If your name wasn’t Lloyd Banks you needed to get off the stage. They let this Queens Homeboy know just that by tossing debris onstage during his performance. It wasn’t pretty.

A full hour after Sandman’s performance Lloyd Banks arrived on stage with DJ Whoo Kid on the 1s and 2s. As Banks and his unnamed hypeman began to rock, the annoyed crowd went right back to fan mode. Banks had the energy of a man on a mission. The mission was to get his spot back in the rap game; even if that spot was a number 2 slot behind a man whose popularity was falling by the second. You have to respect Banks for not resting on 50 Cent’s shoulders and going out on his own to make his projects work. Curtis wasn’t even at this show to support his artist. Banks however did take it back to the old G-Unit days by performing “I Smell Pussy” from their debut group album. The crowd ate it up as if Irv Gotti and Ja Rule were still viable opponents for Banks and his team. The performance of Banks’ debut single “On Fire” still puts the crowd on tilt like it just came out. The spotlight tonight was all on Banks…and well his laundry list of collaborators for the new album. Folks like Ryan Leslie, Red Café, Fabolous and crooner Jerimiah shared the stage at different parts of the night. New addition to the G.O.O.D Music label, Pusha T no doubt in town with his new boss Kanye (who was performing across town at the Bowery) popped in for two quick verses. It was good seeing so many artists supporting Banks and his new project. The songs performed from the new album ranged from mean mug street joints to lady friendly softer jams with a mix of club bangers thrown in for good measure. Banks isn’t straying far from the formula he knows.

When the track for Beemer, Benz or Bentley dropped the ladies went crazy. Juelz taking the stage in a fitted cap so low you couldn’t see his eyes didn’t hurt either. With the energy in the building already high Banks finished up with a song the whole place was yelling for all night, “Start It Up”. The posse cut features almost everybody in the rap world. You’d half expect DJ Khalid to yell out “WE THE BEST” at any moment during the song… but thankfully he doesn’t. Swizz Beats ran out on stage for this one with Pusha T taking Kanye’s spot in the lineup. It seemed like the perfect theme music for Banks breathing new life into his career. Start It Up indeed.

Distant Relatives find a home in Brooklyn


By Dashaun Simmons

On a warm afternoon in Williamsburg, Brooklyn fans of both hip hop and reggae came together to celebrate a rare pairing. One half Brooklyn born, Queens raised street rap, the other half Jamaica bred, reggae royalty. On paper the pairing of Nas and Damian Marley seems too big to work. Both have huge fan bases and are very successful on their own. Also we have all seen what can happen when two genres try to do a full project together. (Best of Both Worlds anyone?) So it’s easy to give a side eye to this project. However these guys prove their disbelievers wrong and gave fans of both genres a reason to party together.

The line for entry (which started around 3:00) stretched three city blocks in anticipation. Ticket holding fans mixed in with a number of hopefuls looking for anyone willing to sell an extra ticket, were excited to sing along, dance and…maybe smoke some weed. Let’s be real here, this is at least a half reggae concert, and therefore weed should be expected like wool scarves being worn in the summer (this is Williamsburg still). The weed part of the evening was in a word interesting due to the large amount of Homeland Security officers ejecting random folks found smoking the modern burning bush. Who would have thought Babylon rules would be enforced at a concert with a Marley on the bill. I suppose this is the new New York. Yet, when early on lighters were tossed from the stage into the audience, it’s hard to make sense of the whole thing. Unfortunately random arrests weren’t the only thing this audience had to worry about. The show itself took 3 hours to get started. About two hours were filled with DJ sets by Hot 97 personalities Bobby Konders, Jabba and Peter Rosenburg. The audience ate up the old reggae tunes as well as the hard-hitting rap tracks played by both groups (except the swag rap segment which was met with boos and thumbs down literally).

As the sun began to set and the band took the stage you could feel the energy rise in the venue. Once the music for the opening for the track “As We Enter” started, Damian walked out to huge cheers making way for Nas to join him. The two of them destroyed their set, flowing back and forth as if they’ve been performing together for years. After doing a few songs from the Distant Relatives album, Damian retired to allow Nas time to commune with his fellow New Yorkers. During this set fans were treated to songs like “Represent” and “If I Ruled The World”. Amazingly, Nas remembered all the lyrics to his songs. This is a rare occurrence.

The Distant Relatives album is perfect for a sold out show like this. Songs like “Dispear”, “Nah Mean” and “Strong Will Continue” keep the crowd on their toes pumping their fists and shouting along with immense feeling. For a moment Nas lets his guard down after rapping about his ex wife’s possible infidelity during their marriage. He says he’s been “going through it” and the fans on this night feel him.

Damian’s solo set while longer than Nas’ was equally enjoyable. This was especially evident when he performed his father’s legendary song Exodus. You could feel history being made right before your eyes. The two performers finished off this intense show with a range of emotions from songs like “Count Your Blessings” to the beautiful “Africa Must Wake Up”. The audience fell completely under their spell following Nas and Damian’s every word from raising lighters to fist pumping and none of it felt forced or contrived. There was a true moment being had both on stage and in the audience. By the hugs and handshakes given throughout the crowd at the end of the show, it seemed that more Distant Relatives were found that night in Brooklyn.

Dope Girls Brunch

One of my girls, Mary Pryor of We Fancy Agency, who I greatly admire put together a brunch today for a group of like-minded women to come together and discuss their fears and set-backs in their life/careers. This is the second meeting which Mary had created and will continue on a weekly basis until the main event in September in a loft.

Firstly, let me explain why I admire someone like her.. She is intensely self-motivated, driven, creative, intelligent and sociable. But the crazy thing is … she’s unemployed. She has been going through a lot of life and career challenges but despite all that, she still manages to work on projects and host an event like this.

Each week the meeting will present a new topic of discussion and new women invited but of course once you’ve attended one, you can go to the next one. I made a few new friends who I wouldn’t normally meet on a regular basis. The purpose is that the safe-space created allowed us to confide in each other and provided helpful insights and encouragement to create something positive. Without a meeting in this environment, it would have probably taken months or perhaps never for some of the people to open up or provide new opportunities that may have not existed otherwise.

The diversity of the group also makes it an interesting dynamic. Even from backgrounds in dance, art to marketing to music, we were all able to relate and contribute to each other’s opinions.

If I can say, this is the one thing positive about being in a shitty economy. It is a humbling experience and it brings people together.

Superbad BDAY

superbadbday_nyc2

Tonight

Introduction of Softwear by Microsoft
This an exclusive and private event. Admittance is by invitation only.
Invite is non-transferable.

Featuring the official unveiling of the apparel line designs inspired and created by actor and Grammy winning Hip Hop artist COMMON

December 3rd
8:00pm – 12:00am

Hosted by COMMON
Music By DJ Biz Markie


Foreign Exchange is coming!!!

Foreign Exchange

Foreign Exchange

I’m so excited! I’ve been a fan since my friend, Jen, turned me on to them last year. And finally they are going to be in town in November to perform.

“Four years after the release of their critically acclaimed debut “Connected,” The Foreign Exchange returns with their sophomore set, “Leave It All Behind.”

Consisting of singer/songwriter Phonte and producer Nicolay, The Foreign Exchange came together via the online hip-hop community Okayplayer.com in 2002. After trading files through Instant Messenger for over a year, Nicolay (living in his native Holland at the time) and Phonte (a Raleigh, NC resident) completed their debut album before they ever met each other in person. The album, “Connected,” was released in 2004 to positive reviews, and was praised by legendary DJ’s such as Jazzy Jeff, King Britt, and DJ Spinna for its inventive mix of hip-hop, R&B, and electronica.

“Leave It All Behind” finds The Foreign Exchange much closer in geography (Nicolay has since become a resident of Wilmington, NC), but located much further from their hip-hop origins. The duo’s second full-length is a dark, multilayered affair that features Phonte showcasing his abilities as an exceptional lead and harmony vocalist, while Nicolay extends his musical palette to include sprinklings of jazz, downtempo, and house. The lush, Darien Brockington-assisted “Take Off the Blues” picks up where Connected’s sleeper hit “Come Around” left off, while the complex polyrhythms and dreamy synthesizers of “Sweeter Than You” are described by Phonte as “swing jazz for the next century.” Marc Mac (of legendary UK production team 4hero), also contributes a string arrangement to the duo’s glorious cover of Stevie Wonder’s oft-forgotten 1991 gem, “If She Breaks Your Heart.”

In addition to appearances from longtime FE affiliates Darien Brockington and Yahzarah, the album also features guest shots from producer/keyboardist Zo! and vocalist Muhsinah.”

They will be performing on November 15th at Highline Ballroom.

Peep website: http://www.theforeignexchangemusic.com/

Show info: http://www.fusicology.com/new/index/events/detail.cfm?id=17934&rid=3

Raphael Saadiq

This man has been around for a minute. He delivers on all fronts when it comes to good vibin’ music with the blues, soul, etc etc. His next performance is coming up and you might just kick yourself in the ass for not going. Cop tickets to go to the show. Bring your friends, girlfriends, moms, dads… Check out SOBS FOR MORE INFO : http://www.sobs.com It’s going to sell out so get it fastttt!!!