Monday, March 28, 2011

Rappers Vs. Hip-Hop Artists

As you may or may not know I am currently in the process of putting the finishing touches on [insert mixtape title here]. This past Friday (March 25th), I played Phella an updated version of a storytelling verse I did to a Kanye West beat. As opposed to its predecessor, this one was recorded from memory (not off paper), and sounded it. After listening to it he asked something along the lines of “we both know you can rap, so why not prove that with a verse and a catchy hook, instead of a four minute story to a beat that reaches overkill after its 2 minute mark”. Although we agreed that it was better than the last, his reaction made me question whether or not it was worth releasing.
At this point Phella and I have built a big brother/little brother relationship. He’s looked out for me on numerous occasions, and continuously keeps pointing me in the right direction. It’s almost like I walk through the dark paths he’s already taken; so instead of me having to fall (and waste time and energy), he’ll warn me about the pot holes ahead. For instant, I’m sure I probably wouldn’t have explored recording without a piece of paper in front of my face had it not been for him. And although it requires a bit more effort, it’s more practical and saves trees!
I understood his concerns with the record. And I don’t think he was telling me to dumb it down either. But being a brand new artist, with no major big named affiliation can be tricky at times. Of course you want to get people to listen to you, but their attention span will be very limited simply because they don’t have a reason to listen to you yet (dope raps don’t seem to do it anymore folks). The logical solution to this problem would be, make “shorter, catchier, straight to the point” songs, right? But what if you don’t want to get your point across right away for creative reasons?
Believe me when I tell you (as a song writer), making something that sounds like something else is not at all difficult; just because you’ve heard something like it before. And although the argument can be made that that route may get you more listeners, I say it can be counter-productive. Let’s not beat around the bush: straight to the point means listener/radio friendly type songs. But those kinds of songs just make you “another guy with a song” in this context. In retrospect, that four minute verse could’ve been summed up in a punch-line; but then how would I standout?  
In this day in age I don’t think anybody really believes that the songs on the radio are really the songs that the majority favors. If that was the case Soulja Boy’s “Crank Dat” wouldn’t have charted. What happened was the radio got paid to play it and did so; so many times that it had to catch on and if you didn’t like it you had to deal with it (honestly, I refuse to believe that no self conscious respecting man took that song seriously). Soulja Boy successfully sold his song and dance and was able to stick around after the song; but off the top our heads, can we name the artists who made “Stanky Leg”, “Dougie”, and “Hit’em with the Flex”? No hate, but I couldn’t.
Maybe if these artists had songs that stood out (not formatted like others or filled with average Rap song content), then we’d be able to remember them. And whenever somebody would try to put them down, one of their fans could come back with, “go listen to “[insert song title here]”. But that’s the difference between Rappers and Hip-Hop Artists; we care about content, lyrics, and the all around art of what we do, Rappers don’t! They follow whatever “the new thing” is to stay afloat.
To furthermore differentiate rappers from Hip hop artists, let’s take Joe Budden and Yung Berg for example. While they were both introduced to most of us through “straight to the point” records, one strayed while the other stayed on that lane.  Aside from songs Yung Berg made in 2007, nobody can name one of his songs; as opposed Joe Budden who when his name is mentioned, you’ll hear “Dumb Out”, All Of Me”, and “In My Sleep” before you hear “Pump It Up”. Therefore if Joe wants to make a “Touch & Go” his audience is more forgiving due to him having more substance in his portforlio.
I hear radio friendly songs all the time that don’t chart; and the reason why is: those songs don’t work without the proper backing. It’s not to say that I’ll never make one of those types of songs (because that’ll be stupid and also limiting myself). I have in the past, and could most likely do a better job at it now. But my main focus at the moment is turning heads, and trying to make sure that I’m not just another voice in the cheer. So breaking away from the “norm” from time to time would be perfectly fine; art doesn’t have a norm. Picasso didn’t ONLY use red just because it might catch more people’s attention.
The time will come for me to make these kinds of songs more often… but it’s not today. At this point I feel like I still need to make stuff that ten years from now people will point to and say, “this stood out to me in 2011”. And at the same time I still need to challenge myself and try to bring something new to the table; like Slick Rick did with storytelling, or Big Daddy Kane did with compound syllable rhyming, and even Rakim with the calm, and subtle way of flowing. I still need something like that to be unarguably the greatest of all time. No matter how far it maybe, that’s what I’m gunning for; and I can only get there by going left.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Hollywood MILFs (Dreams 2011)/ Biggie Smalls Tribute

I remade The Notorious B.I.G’s “Just Playing (Dreams)” as a tribute to him. If you know anything about my musical taste, then you how much I respect what he did.

I originally planned on releasing this song his death date. Then I got to thinking, why do we only celebrate death?  Think about it; the day before they announced that Michael Jackson died, nobody (with the exception of myself who religiously watched his youtube clips every chance got that June) seemed to care about him anymore. But the second that his death was confirmed, everybody (even people who made comedy sketches disrespecting the black off of him) “loved” him again!

That’s why I decided to not to release the audio until Biggie’s birthday. I’d rather celebrate, and remember him on the day when he graced us with his presence. Because after all, had it not been for birth, there’d be no death.

Friday, March 18, 2011

This Little Light of Mine

The fondest memories I have of my childhood (6-12; since most of the things before that are a blur) were made in Cameroon. I remember gathering around the TV with my older cousins, neighbors, and whoever else was around to watch American movies, sports (mostly soccer), or music videos (mostly Michael Jackson’s).  After whatever we were watching was over, one of us would always jokingly say: [[broken French to English translation [ACTIVATED]] “that was nice, but when are any us ever going to get there.”

Everybody would crack up; and in the back of their minds, probably believing that statement to be true. Hell, truthfully speaking, I know I did! It wasn’t necessarily that we weren’t ambitious or optimistic. It was merely the simple realities that we were faced with. Believe me when I tell you, I was like “Richie Rich” in comparison to the vast majority of my peers. So if I DID NOT believe that to be a possibility at the time, why would they?

I thought of that because, although we saw anything inside of that box-set as unattainable because of where we lived, we also saw it as such because we felt like you needed a reason to be there…  A Talent! Sadly enough, now that these “pipe dreams” that we had as children are in my reach, I’m beginning to wonder if grabbing for them is even worth it!

After a conversation I had with Phella last weekend, I spent the whole week wondering what I’d write about in an ACTUALL blog. I feel like I speak so much through my art & poetry (you’ll understand why after you hear “Foreign Exchange”) that I don’t feel the need to say any more beyond that. Coming to think of it, when I’m being Karl (not Karl Anthony, or “The Karlster”) I’m just a naturally quite person. In fact, I often tend to feel stupid when I’m alone after I say too much around people. It’s like I said in “Smile”, “I tend to dumb down just to be more relatable”. If I may have a “Charlie Sheen moment”, I don’t think the average human can even begin to process my train of thought when I’m being my REAL SELF.

Now, after a week of blasphemy via youtube (i.e. the ignorant white girls joking about Japan amongst other things), and any other sort of media outlet in general, I find myself asking: What is the higher purpose? I mean, what does fame and fortune REALLY mean in today’s world? What do we consider entertainment?

Take somebody like Kim Kardashian for instance. She maybe one of the biggest names in the media; and although her spotlight was bright enough to make her family members shine, let’s not forget that  her claim to fame is a sex tape… is that really all it takes nowadays? Because if you rewind time to just a couple of decades ago, you needed a reason to be here. You either had to stand for something, or be EXCEPTIONALLY good at what you did to matter! Now I feel like you only have to get a "reality tv star" drunk, video tape it, and you’re set! And not to sound cliché, but the reason why I have not taken this route is simple: I don’t want to be famous.

I honestly, just want to let the world hear the story of the Cameroonian kid who came to America with his family, struggled to fit in, didn’t fit in, decided to stop trying, and shared his experiences with whoever would listen; in hopes that the next kid would learn from his mistakes and gain from his experience. Obviously, I'm sure those things (fame and fortune) will be inevitable after I’ve accomplished what I have planned. However, it’s not why I do it. I often tell people when asked, that if there was a way for the world to hear my music without them knowing me at all, then that’s the route I would take!

I remember not being able to stop grinning at Da Fam’s last photo shoot (Da Fam 2011). After I thought about it though, I realized it was the concept of “looking cool” to appeal to the public that I found amusing. It’s not that I didn’t appreciate the experience, because I did. Like I do everything else that music has allowed me to be a part of so far. It’s just that I find that “look at me” concept to be very childish in a sense. So it brings that childish side out of me.

At times I find myself wondering if a Martin Luther King Jr., Muhammad Ali and the Marilyn Monroe’s of the world would have had twitter accounts, or even the facebook “like me” pages. The conclusion that I come to is negative. They didn’t need to chase the “cool”. They were already shinning so bright that the crowd had to take notice. (Hence Uncle Charlie being able to pull 2,000,000 twitter followers in a day. #WINNING!)

So “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine”! That’s the approach that I’m taking towards everything for now on. I’m going to do my part by delivering my best effort everytime, and you’ll either love it, or hate it. I’d never want for anybody to feel obligated to listen to music. That’s supposed to be one of, if not the most therapeutic activity in the world!

I had more to say but I forgot, so there might be a “part 2” to this.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

AlBe Back - Mira, Mira (ft/ Karl Anthony & Fabolous)... Better late than never!

I added my part to this back in April/May of last year. And as time went on I forgot about it. I remember feeling like I "HAD" to do a verse to it because the hook had been stuck in my head for sooooo long [pause]!

Albe Back is one of those guys who I feel doesn't get his props musically; so if my opinion counts for anything, I think he/ this song definitly deserved more shine than it got. And I don't feel like it's "too late"... Good music doesn't age.

The "Official Video" for the song (without my royal input) is posted below:

Listening to these remixes I've made has inspired me. As soon as something hot drops for now on, expect to hear my verse on it!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Karl Anthony ft/ Phella - 2 Infinity And Beyond (Prod. By J. Rob)

Directed by Lawrencia Taylor

As you watch this video, I want you to know I was very cold. And I changed my mind... I'm throwing this up on "Foreign Exchange". It's too ill!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Family Business 2011 with Lawrencia Taylor

Over here at Da Fam we are in full swing for the 2011 business campaign. Tobi ‘Phella’ Alli (Founder), Joshua ‘Zoe’ Johnson (Pro Athlete/Da Fam Sports Group), and Karl Anthony (Artist/Da Fam Music) recently had the 2011 vision for the company captured by outstanding photographer Lawrencia Taylor.
The photo shoot served two purposes: Illustrating the “three headed monster” that is Da Fam Inc Branding & Marketing, Da Fam Sports Group, and Da Fam Music — and also showcasing the latest gear from F.A.M. University.
Enjoy the full set of photos and be sure to ‘Like’ Da Fam Inc on Facebook for more updates as well as info on how you can get your own F.A.M. clothing.