Motivational Hip-Hop Quotes

Cover of "The Lost Tapes"
Cover of The Lost Tapes

I grew up listening to Hip-Hop and still love it to this day. The beat, the tempos, the lyrics – those are the things that make Hip-Hop great. But there are many songs that stick out above the others. There are those songs that always make me turn up the volume and compel me hit pause at certain parts, so I can rewind, and listen to a specific string of lyrics. Sometimes I do this over and over again. These are lyrics that have stayed with me and they are words I think about in business, in relationships, and in life.

These are just a few:

  • “Turnin’ nothin’ into somethin’ is God work, and you get nothin’ without struggle and hard work” – Nas, Doo Rags – The Lost Tapes
  • “I never ask for nothin’ I don’t demand of myself. Honesty, loyalty, friends and then wealth” – Jay Z, Justify My Thug – Black Album
  • “Now I’m on the rise, doin’ business with my guys. Visions realize, music [your craft] affected lives. A gift from the skies, to be recognized, I’m keeping my eye on the people, that’s the prize” – Common, The People – Finding Forever
  • “Speak what I want, I don’t care what y’all feel. ‘Cause I’m my own master, my Pop told me be your own boss. Keep integrity at every cost,” – Nas, Bridging the Gap – Street’s Disciple Disk 2
  • “Every interview I’m representing you making you proud. Reach for the stars so if you fall you land on a cloud.” – Kanye West, Homecoming – Graduation
  • “Far from a Harvard student, just had the balls to do it” – Jay-Z, What More Can I Say – The Black Album
  • “Whats up with your motto? Will you lead? Will you follow?” – Nas, My Generation – Distant Relatives
  • “The victory’s found in truth, like innocence found in youth Self defeat is your own dispute ” – Damian Marley, Strong Will Continue – Distant Relatives
  • “Sometimes you gotta be an s.o.b., you wanna make a dream reality” – Mark Knopfler, Boom Like That – Shangri-La (not Hip Hop)

What others should I have on this list?

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What the hell is SkullCandy?

That was the overwhelming response I got from my friends in college. I had a beat up card board box sitting in the corner of my bedroom with 25 “skull crushers” and a square, black banner from SkullCandy.

“What are you going to do with them?” my friend asked as he was pointing to the box of headphones. “Give them away” I said. “I’m going to have the performers throw them into the crowd at the Halloween Party.”

My friend continued with the questions, “Really? Where did they come from?” I said, “The Consumer Electronics Show. This guy Rick started a headphone company. I couldn’t leave his booth. He had the sickest headphones with ridiculous designs and backpacks with built in speakers. Every design was so interesting and unique. I thought it would be awesome to give these away at the Halloween Party so I called them up and asked if they wanted to sponsor the party. They said yes.”

I’m pretty sure this was one of the first events they ever sponsored. The event was great and I sent them pictures as proof.

(above: picture of Collie Buddz in front of the SkullCandy banner at my Halloween event)

(above: picture of the DJ spinning in front of the SkullCandy banner at my Halloween event)

 

This was all a result of my 2003 trip to the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, the same year SkullCandy was founded. I met Rick Alden, John Lisichich, Brad Williams and a few other folks from SkullCandy while I was walking the exhibition hall. I don’t know the exact figures or size of the show off the top of my head, but suffice it to say, you could spend weeks walking the exhibition hall of that show and still not see every booth. And you would want to. As a tech junkie of gadgets and gizmos you could stay busy for hours looking at all the toys, but for some reason I couldn’t leave the SkullCandy booth once I stumbled upon it.

Apparently I wasn’t the only one either.

Fast forward to today. The company is now a publicly traded company and no matter where you go you’ll find SkullCandy product.

When I think about that box sitting in my room I often wonder about what they did so differently or what they did that made them so successful. After all, they were just selling headphones and in a business sense being in consumer electronics is typically a pretty hard business.

But the more I think about it, the more I realized their success came from great marketing and hustle. Rick and his team enthusiastically spoke to almost everyone that walked through their booth and they had a product they were proud to stand behind. It was a product they were excited about and a product mostly everyone else was excited about. It’s pretty easy to see how they would of had success getting their “skull crushers” into stores and moving them off the shelves. And now they are a global brand with product in almost every store.

It’s really exciting to see a small underdog grow up to be a leader in a space and its equally as gratifying to have have been a small part of the ride. I hope I see more success stories like this and hopefully one day I’ll have the opportunity to build a company like Rick did.

Now they are on to much bigger and better events than my tiny Halloween Party.

 (above: “Identity” concert I went to in Camden NJ on 8/19/2011 – DJ avicii is on stage)

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Will.i.am is the Man – Creating a New Era of Music Media Platforms

Picture from the event

I always knew there was something super advanced and different about the Black Eyed Peas. My first sign was when I saw them perform at Intel’s private launch party for their Core 2 Duo processor at the 2006 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas (thanks to Marc Harrison – pictures below). It was the first time I ever experienced a collision of mainstream music, technology, celebrities, and media all in one room, at one major event.

Yesterday I read an article in the Rolling Stones by Chris Norris titled “40 Reasons To Be Excited About Music” and sure enough, coming in at No.1 was “The Black Eyed Peas – Will.I.Am and the Science of Global Pop Domination.”

The entire article is certainly worth a read for anyone that’s in to music, but the piece that really hit me was this…

“To Will.i.am, songs aren’t discrete works of art but multi-use applications – hit singles, ad jingles, film trailers – all serving a purpose larger than music consumption. Creatively, he draws no distinction between writing rhymes and business plans, rocking arenas and PowerPoint, producing albums and media platforms, all these falling under a cleareyed mission to unite the largest possible audience over the broadest range imaginable. It’s a mission he communicates with a combination of Pentecostal zeal and Silicon Valley jargon, suggesting a hybrid of Stevie Wonder and Steve Jobs.”

It’s the idea that media and music are really one in the same. That business and music are thought about the same way and are less complimentary but more interconnected.

Over the past year, the lines between technology, software, media, music, marketing and news has become increasingly blurry.

Here are just some examples:

  • Meredith Media, a company that used to be a traditional publishing company is now acting as a fully integrating marketing agency.
  • Global advertising holding companies like Havas, OMD, and Publicis are now looking to build their own technology units in house in an attempt to replace the need for Ad Networks and control the entire online advertising stack.
  • Software is Media, says Fred Wilson in a recent post –  “Media are the tools that are used to communicate. And software that runs on the web is part of the media landscape.”
  • NBC recently launched a new program called “Behavior Placement” which is “designed to sway viewers to adopt actions they see modeled in their favorite shows.”

And even today there’s news about how Hearst, another traditional publishing company, is looking to buy the digital advertising firm iCrossing for $375M.

As are lives continue to digitize, the companies and artists that continue to take a longer, interconnected view on culture, technology and media, will be the ones that succeed. Will.i.am and the BEP are definitely on “that next shit now.”

Intel – Black Eyed Peas

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Exclusive Music: Yolks – Drive Wise Volume 1

When it comes to Hip Hop, there are those artists that stack up on the top of my list. Guys like Nas, Jay-Z, Talib Kweli, Common, The Roots, Notorious B.I.G, but one of my favorite hip hop artists is someone that most people have never heard of. His name is Yolks. A guy from Madison, Wisconsin who could freestyle and write lyrics with the best of them.

Check out some of his tracks below. My favorites are I’m Yolks, Trappin, Chop It Up, and Dem Boyz

Yolks – Drive Wise Volume 1 by danreich

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HOW TO: Streaming on demand music in your car

The Pandora app rocks...will the Masses use it...
Image by K. Todd Storch via Flickr

Forget pricey satellite radio, the crappy commercial filled FM radio, massive amounts of CDs, or your stale and unupdated iPod…

Here is how you can get free on demand music in your car:

  1. Take out your phone and download the mobile version of Pandora or Slacker radio (they are both free)
  2. Buy a cassette adapter for CDs or MP3 players
  3. Buy a car charger for your phone
  4. Connect the car charger and the cassette adapter to your phone
  5. Go to your Pandora or Slacker application and press play

Hands-free Bonus Feature:  When people call you just put them on speaker phone. Your friends will sound like radio jockeys.

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Remembering What’s Important

The inauguration is right around the corner.

There are high expectations set for the new president.

I hope when Obama steps into that oval office, he remembers and keeps all of the promises he made, and does not forget what’s important. Even though the economy is in the dog house, there are still those issues that will never go away.

My sister put together this video for her high school class, and it happens to be excellent:  Remembering what’s important.

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MySpace = Record Labels 2.0

When MySpace first announced their MySpace Music agenda, I remember thinking, “It’s ‘about fu$!ng time”.

Lately, whenever I want to listen to some tunes by a particular artist, I find myself going to their MySpace page. If I want to listen to streaming music, I’m either always signed on to Sirius, using Pandora or Last.fm, but when it comes to any one individual artist, I jump onto MySpace.

To me, MySpace is becoming an interactive record store, where artists can advertise their latest tracks or band using MySpace MyAds. You can buy the music right then and there through Amazon, and on top of that, you’ve got the artists tour dates, video messages, promotions, and whatever else they think is good to throw at you.

As the RIAA continues to straighten out its own agenda, with their latest announcement…

Music Industry to Abandon Mass Suits

…MySpace will slowly emerge as the new record label of the decade, if they continue to focus on music networking.

Cool video by Kanye West (from his MySpace page):

[myspace]http://vids.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=vids.individual&videoid=47150156[/myspace]

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We are the Hip Hop Generation

“I Love Hip Hop” cover
Image via Wikipedia

There was Rock and Roll, Billy Joel, Greatful Dead, Allman Brothers….and then there was Hip Hop. Our generation has grown up with Hip Hop, and along with technology and a few other big cultural game changers, it has defined our time. Our generation.

With the election right around the corner, it seems as if EVERYONE has a say about these candidates and this election. But will the younger voters make it to the voting booths (And I don’t mean the young voters in the video)? My friend is currently exploring this very issue, and it is called Project Youthanized. The issue of apathy within our generation.

It is amazing how many people I know weigh in on the election, yet could not or did not make it out to the primaries. Will they make it out on Nov 4?

Thanks to Jake S for sharing this video.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UxlwYP0HNdc[/youtube]

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Today’s Music Label

If Sony BMG, Universal Music, Def Jam, Motown, Warner Brothers, or any of the big music labels were to create their business model today, what would it look like? First, a quick glance at their methodology:

The old model was simple:

  1. Provide the artist with resources to create an album (Studio, equipment, personnel)
  2. Manufacture the Album (CDs)
  3. Distribute the Album (Stores)

Clearly this model has failed while trying to apply it to todays marketplace. Here is why:

  1. Provide the artist with resources to create an album (Studio, equipment, personnel). Artists can download superior programs and can obtain quality hardware.
  2. Manufacture the Album (CDs) Everything is digital. No need for tangible items.
  3. Distribute the Album (Stores) Distribute the Song/Album (iTunes, MySpace, YouTube, etc).

Because these music labels have not completely adapted or changed with the times, they have been resorting to legal action. (Larry Lessig goes into great detail about the issues involving innovation, technology, and law…his blog is definitely worth reading)

If the music labels reinvented themselves or started from scratch, what would their business model look like? I’d first argue that the first three points need to happen. Resources to create the music, making music, distributing the music. With the advent of cheaper hardware, P2P file sharing, and social media, these points can be easily attained.

But where do you go from there?

Social Media Music Label – An organization that can most efficiently and effectively market and distribute songs. An organization that can generate a brand that encompasses a group of artists, while sharing revenue to some capacity. An organization that leverages the brand to obtain revenues outside of direct music sales. A brand that engages the listeners/users on every level from audio, video, blogging and networking.

I don’t know exactly what that model looks like, but we can just take a look a Chamillionaire‘s success and realize the rules have changed. (Below is Pete Cashmore’s interview with Chamillionaire)

[googlevideo=http://video.google.com/googleplayer.swf?docId=-4798499561605779000]