For the People Entertainment was incorporated on January 5th, 2004 by a group of five friends from Baltimore, Maryland. Their main inspiration for starting For the People Entertainment was the lack of funding they received in their non-profit efforts to run social programs with the Holistic Life Foundation. For the People introduced themselves to world with their March 2004 show at the Otto Bar, called “The Beginning”. Later that year they debut their first album, the For the People Mix Tape Sampler, featuring all of their artists and producers.
Since then, For the People Entertainment has thrown dozens of shows at local venues including Fletcher’s in Fells Point, the Otto Bar, the Royal Casino, Sonar, the 8x10, the Brass Monkey, and the Belvedere Lounge. Each show featured For the People artists along with other regional talent. For the People also partnered with the Holistic Life Foundation to throw the Family FunkFest, an event in Leakin Park, celebrating family and promoting health. Their music has also appeared on WEAA’s Strictly Hip-Hop, numerous mix tapes from around the country, and dozens of college radio stations. With several talented artists and gifted group of producers, For the People Entertainment consistently puts out some of the best music ever to come out of Baltimore City.
FTP artists have traveled to Massachusetts to open for Dead Prez at a stop the violence concert, performed in Puerto Rico and California, appeared on the Big Phat Morning Show on 92Q, and performed on the Baltimore BELIEVE Tour. For the People has opened for KRS-One, Raekwon, The Clipse, Boot Camp Click, Slick Rick, Guru, the Beatnuts, Black Sheep, and the Last Poets in Baltimore. In FTP’s music you will hear influences from all forms of music from classical, to jazz, to rock, to all forms of hip-hop. Their music is creative and entertaining, while their live show is filled with energy and one of the best you will ever see.
For the People artists also serve as mentors and volunteers with the Holistic Life Foundation after school program, keeping to their roots in social programming. With a solid and growing fan-base For the People Entertainment has become the regions hottest label.
Cutthroat: Words Can't Explain It, Chapter 4
For the People Entertainment: Silent Flutes
Cutthroat: Words Can’t Explain It, Chapter 1
Cutthroat: Words Can’t Explain It, Chapter 2
Cutthroat: Words Can’t Explain It, Chapter 2.5
Cutthroat: Words Can’t Explain It, Chapter 3
Bear: All We Got is Us, Vol. 1
Bear: All We Got is Us, Vol. 2
For the People: Reality Check
For the People: The Blue Light District
For the People: Mix Tape Sampler
Billo: Daily Grind Vol. 1
Billo: Daily Grind Vol. 2
Yuk and Cut: Get It Da Hard Way Vol. 2
Ace: The Product
Cutthroat: Oh No
Cutthroat: I Love this Music
Cutthroat: Natural High
J.O.: She was the Best
Millianos: So Legendary
Millianos ft. Tron: We Run this City
Millianos: Can't Get Enough
Cutthroat and Bear: No Way
Cutthroat and Bear: Hey Shorty
Cutthroat and Bear: Number One
Cutthroat and Bear: Splurge
10 Reason's to Attend this Year's Artscape
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Sound-Off! Competition: For the People Entertainment takes the festival stage Friday at 2 p.m. and t...Sound-Off! Competition: For the People Entertainment takes the festival stage Friday at 2 p.m. and the main stage Saturday at 3:30 p.m. to show fans exactly why the group received the bulk of the 14,000 votes cast at Artscape.org.
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In 2001, two Baltimore brothers, Ali and Atman Smith, and their friend Andres Gonzalez started the H...In 2001, two Baltimore brothers, Ali and Atman Smith, and their friend Andres Gonzalez started the Holistic Life Foundation. "We're a nonprofit, and we do after-school programs and mentor programs," Ali, 31, says about the program, which they run out of the Druid Hill YMCA, and which birthed the local record label For the People Entertainment.
He's talking during a relaxed, private get-together for the label's many artists and producers in Suite, a lounge in the basement of the Belvedere, where the crew has previously held concerts. "The big thing is, like, holistic health," continues the large, soft-spoken man with a shaved head and bushy beard. "Like we do a lot of yoga programs, we do a lot of environmental advocacy. We do a lot of gang outreach stuff, a lot of community stuff, but [expose] people to the other side of it."
You might think any downtrodden Baltimore neighborhood would welcome such a noble endeavor with open arms, but it was difficult at first for three twentysomething men, two black and one Hispanic, to gain everyone's confidence or raise funds for the project. "People looked at us, and we were so young, you know what I mean, that they were like, 'We don't wanna give you a big chunk of money, because we think you're gonna run off to Jamaica or somethin' with it,'" says Gonzalez, 28. "They were so surprised that we were over here tryin' to help the community."
But soon Gonzalez, who raps under the name Cutthroat, realized that there were several members of Holistic Life with musical ambitions, including William "Billo" Lunsford, 25, and Cornelius "Bear" McMurray, 29, and hatched an idea. "We got talent, [the Smith brothers] had friends like Billo and Bear, and all the other artists and the producers. It's like, hey, we should start this entertainment thing, hopin' we can do shows and stuff like that that'll accumulate money, and so the business so that we can run our programs for the kids and we can get like a youth center and stuff like that," Gonzalez says.
In early 2004 the trio founded For the People Entertainment, a promising record label with a full roster of rappers including Billo, Cutthroat, Bear, Ace, Lil Shank, and the duo Yuk and Cut. Collectively, the artists on the label released nearly a dozen self-distributed albums and mixtapes over the next four years. The Smith brothers, while still active with the Holistic Life Foundation, became integral to the operation of the label.
"Everybody's really talented, so they make my job real easy," Ali says. "So I just, I can book shows, stuff like that."
It's a diverse group of guys, ranging in age from 16 to 31, all representing different neighborhoods. "We from all over the city," Ali says. "A few people from East Baltimore, me and my brother from West Baltimore, like, North and Smallwood."
The youngest member of the crew, teenage rapper/producer Lil Shank, initially came into the fold as one of the students they'd mentored. "He actually still comes back to our after-school program and mentors the younger kids that we work with, so it's kinda like he's giving back," Ali says.
"I remember when he would come [to] our program, he would show me books," Gonzalez says, laughing as he recalls that Shank would fill up his notebooks with song titles before he was even writing any lyrics. "He'd, like, have 18 sheets of white notebook paper stapled together, and it'd be a picture-he'd be drawin' himself in a hoodie or whatever."
Eventually, though, Shank did start writing. "And it was the coolest thing," Gonzalez says. "And I knew, out of all the kids in our programs, everyone wanted to rap, everyone wants to be a rapper, but you knew he was the one that was real serious with it."
Lil Shank is also part of the label's four-man production team-alongside Nacktronics, Auz, and Sketch-that provides For the People with its distinctively warm, organic sound. While most independent hip-hop artists fill mixtapes with "freestyles" over beats from mainstream hits, For the People releases feature almost exclusively original productions. "We don't do no instrumentals," Billo boasts. "Make a note of that, we don't do no rappin' over other industry tracks."
Shank, hunched over a laptop full of music files in Suite, is asked how many beats he has on the computer, and he estimates roughly 200, while others figure that the entire production team has nearly a thousand tracks at the ready for the label's artists to work with.
Billo, perhaps For the People's best-known artist, went by the nickname the Hood Rockstar for years before hits like "Party Like a Rock Star" made the phrase an inescapable cliché. And he plans on burying that alias with the February release of his third album, Death of a Rockstar: Kurt Cobain Edition. "The 'rock star' thing is dead, believe that," he says. "People are never gonna hear me say that ever again."
The new year is quickly shaping up to be a busy one for the label, with both Yuk and Lil Shank working on solo debuts and several other artists releasing their second or third albums. And although both Cutthroat and Bear have solo releases set to drop early in 2008, the project they speak about with the most excitement is Silent Flutes, an upcoming collaboration between both rappers. Not unlike the Wu-Tang Clan's many homages to kung fu movies, Bear took the inspiration and title for the album from the unproduced Bruce Lee screenplay The Silent Flute, and he and Cutthroat quickly found that they worked together well as a duo. "Our styles are so different, I think that's why we make it so much better," Gonzalez says, contrasting his politically conscious lyrics with the street perspective of Bear, a former ABA basketball star who flashes a gold tooth when he grins. "It's gonna be amazing, man," Gonzalez promises.
In addition to the solo artists and duo formations on For the People's roster, all the MCs on the label work under the name Squadre Committee for live performances and posse cuts. And though one of the label's first releases was a sampler of all its artists, credited to the group's name, there hasn't yet been an official Squadre Committee album, and it appears that the thought had never occurred to the crew. When that question comes up, everyone's eyes light up, responding immediately, "That's a fantastic idea," and, "That would be the greatest album ever." By the end of the night, the Squadre album is being mentioned in the same breath as other finished projects, despite the fact that it hadn't even existed in theory an hour earlier. And quickly it becomes apparent that that's how this group of friends has always operated, enthusiastically discussing pipe dreams until they become a reality.
The Top 20 Baltimore Hip-Hop Releases of 2009
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3. For the People Entertainment - Silent Flutes (For The People Entertainment) I was initially at...3. For the People Entertainment - Silent Flutes (For The People Entertainment)
I was initially attracted to For The People for how big and prolific their roster is and how unique their whole organization is as much as for their music. But I always saw the potential and the creativity there, and they really delivered a release that lives up to that promise this year.
For the People Entertainment
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Lest you think the moniker for Baltimore based company For the People Entertainment is just that – a...Lest you think the moniker for Baltimore based company For the People Entertainment is just that – a name – you might want to familiarize yourself with who they are and what they do. To that end, I checked out their after school program, during which I got a chance to chat with one of the founders, Ali Smith.
For the People’s story, founded in 2004, is unique even in the reason why they formed the entertainment company in the first place. A few years prior, Ali, Atman, and Andy Gonzalez (AKA Cutthroat) had started the Holistic Life Foundation. Ali describes the genesis of the foundation: “Originally, myself, Andy Gonzalez, and Atman [Smith, his brother] – we were practicing yoga at the time and we had an opportunity to work with a school. The principal wanted us to coach football or basketball or something, but we saw how good yoga was affecting ourselves at the time so we decided we wanted to teach some kids yoga, and we took in from there – formed a non-profit and here we are.”
The brothers Smith and Gonzalez saw a clear need for something of the sort for the kids in their neighborhood.
“When we were growing up, it wasn’t just our parents helping us out – it was also the older dudes in the neighborhood,” Ali remembers. “[When we got back from school] we realized the younger kids didn’t really have that anymore. The kids were terrorizing the neighborhood, and the older people in the neighborhood were looking at us like ‘Do something.’ So we just started rounding them all up, bringing them down here after school, taking them on field trips and stuff like that.”
For the People Entertainment was born a few years later, when producer Nacktronics and MC Billo were brought into the fold. Money made through For the People Entertainment is funneled back into the Holistic Life Foundation to fund the after school program. Billo serves as a mentor to some of the students, and Nacktronics (who was featured in Forbes Magazine at the age of 15 for building a robot) teaches students how to record and make beats in his studio.
The after school program includes yoga, homework help, computer classes, swimming, field trips, and more. Every day, members of the Holistic Life Foundation chauffeur their students – who span from third to tenth grade – to and from the Druid Hill YMCA in West Baltimore.
While yoga isn’t the most familiar thing to many children, Ali says the kids took to it pretty quickly. “If you present anything to kids the right way, they will try it.” Ali and Atman actually started practicing yoga with their parents as children. Andy, Ali, and Atman all attended the University of Maryland College Park, and got back into practicing yoga as they were finishing up their studies.
On the day I visited, I arrived while the yoga class was in full swing. Ali was sitting at one end of the room, with a younger assistant at his side (older students who have been in the program help teach the younger kids), while Atman was at the other end leading another group of students through different poses. Atman repeatedly told the kids, “Keep pushing yourself!” One young girl said proudly “I’ve been pushing myself the whole time!”, to which Atman replied “You sure have.” After a guided meditation, Atman summed up the class to the children: “Today, a couple people got it, a couple didn’t. If you ask yourself who didn’t get it, then it’s probably you.” Before they headed down the hall for a snack, the students introduced themselves one by one, shaking my hand, and even showing me a magic trick.
For the People Entertainment has been busy of late, with releases from Billo, Cutthroat, and Yuk & Cut. (I have two of the three CD’s, which I will be writing about in future issues). In addition to Nacktronics, Shank, Sketch, and Auz are also producers for For the People.
As is music and community efforts don’t keep them busy enough, For the People recently began filming an independent film. They have also started a company called the Traveling Yogis, through which they offer private yoga classes. In fact they are currently in the process of getting their own style of yoga recognized by the proper yoga certification avenues.
So, whether you are young or old, looking for good music, yoga, or film, it seems For the People have you covered.
Top Ten: The Year in Local Music
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7 Cutthroat and Bear: Silent Flutes (For the People Entertainment) After over a dozen solo albums ...7 Cutthroat and Bear: Silent Flutes (For the People Entertainment)
After over a dozen solo albums from its roster, the sprawling hip-hop collective For the People Entertainment has finally neatly summed up its whole offbeat sensibility in one disc featuring two of its best solo MCs. The hoarse but charismatic Bear (aka Don Cornelius) and the thoughtful Cutthroat, who titled Silent Flutes in homage to Bruce Lee, made a thumping kung fu hip-hop record that would do Wu-Tang proud, driven by the warped, crawling beats of FTP producer Nacktronics. Bear's refrain, "started in the dungeon but ended up in the gutter," on "Untouched," says it all: No matter where their music ends up, it's gonna be somewhere dark and below ground level.
Beatnuts Still Get Props Over Here
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...next was For The People Entertainment, the unorthodox local rap label we ran a No Cover on late l......next was For The People Entertainment, the unorthodox local rap label we ran a No Cover on late last year. For The People encompasses several groups and solo artists, so it's never entirely clear who'll be the focal point of a given performance, but this time the set belonged entirely to Cutthroat and Bear. Both recently released solo albums, the third chapter in Cutthroat's Words Can't Explain It series and a reissue of Bear's debut All We Got Is Us, but they chose instead to perform mainly as a duo, previewing material from their forthcoming collaborative album Silent Flutes. It would've been nice to hear more familiar tracks from the two earnestly political MCs, but the chemistry and group dynamic they displayed with the new material still made for an entertaining set.
For the People Entertainment MicroShow at Mobtown Studios
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My good friends at Mobtown Studios in Charles Village have been doing a series of 'microshows' over ...My good friends at Mobtown Studios in Charles Village have been doing a series of 'microshows' over the past year, with Baltimore musicians giving intimate performances for an in-studio audience. And a couple weeks ago Cutthroat from For The People Entertainment became the first hip hop act to do a microshow, with live musicians backing him up on guitar and percussion and keyboards. And it came out really well, I think they're excited to get more hip hop in the mix in the future if anyone else is game for something a little different. Here's one of my favorite songs from that night, but you can download or stream the whole set at the Mobtown site. Catch FTP opening for Raekwon at Bourbon St. next week.
Cutthroat: Words Can't Explain it, Chapter 3
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Cutthroat is one of the founding members of For The People Entertainment, who I featured in the City...Cutthroat is one of the founding members of For The People Entertainment, who I featured in the City Paper last year and are probably my favorite Baltimore hip hop label right now, mainly because they're an actual label with several artists who all put out their own albums, not just a vanity imprint for one artist/glorified CEO that the whole thing revolves around. And out of all the artists on FTP, Cutthroat is probably the one that makes the most solid and cohesive records, and finds a way to say some thoughtful shit without it getting too artsy or boring about it. Bear and Cutthroat both recently dropped solo CDs (this and a re-release of Bear's first album) in preparation for their collaborative project Silent Flutes, which I previewed a track from last year and am still really looking forward to. This CD features 10 new songs, and one bonus track, "Exquisite," which was one of my favorite songs on Chapter 2.5.
For the People Entertainment
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Hip-hop labels are a dime a dozen in Baltimore, but the overwhelming majority are vanity imprints fo...Hip-hop labels are a dime a dozen in Baltimore, but the overwhelming majority are vanity imprints for one rapper/founder/CEO, with maybe a few hangers-on who appear on the posse cuts. For the People Entertainment, on the other hand, has quietly become one of the most active rap labels in the city, releasing albums or mixtapes by five of its artists--Billo, Cutthroat, Bear, Ace, and the duo Yuk and Cut--just in the past year.
No single MC on the label’s roster is the clear breakout star, at least at the moment. But even without the kind of radio play or industry buzz that allows the occasional local MC to headline the club room at Sonar, For the People demonstrated enough of a grass-roots following to pack the place for its “March Madness” showcase last Saturday.
All of the artists on For the People collaborate as a crew, but instead of taking the strength-in-numbers approach onstage, each artist had a brief solo set. First up was Cutthroat, a Puerto Rican rapper with a penchant for political lyrics. Killing the house lights and hanging a lantern onstage, he started his set off on a dramatic note with "Exquisite," a quietly intense track from his 2006 album Words Can't Explain It.
For the People Entertainment's Silent Flutes
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Almost two years ago, I posted "Splurge," a track by two artists from the For The People Entertainme...Almost two years ago, I posted "Splurge," a track by two artists from the For The People Entertainment label, from a duo album they were working on together called Silent Flutes. And when I wrote an article about FTP they talked about the album more and sounded really excited about it. So I'm really happy to say that the album is finally here, and it's probably the pinnacle of what these two MCs, and maybe the whole crew, have been working toward the past few years. Beat and Cutthroat are both kind of humble, low key rappers, but together they really have a rapport and make dope songs together, and FTP's producers, mainly Nacktronics but also D.J. Auz, really create a whole unique sound that covers so much ground from track to track. It's very much an underground album and isn't flashy or virtuosic, but somehow all these songs hang together really well ("Splurge" is on here but has since been retitled "Tony Montana"). They're looking to get the album available on iTunes this summer, and FTP will be having an event at Fletcher's on Friday, June 26th and Silent Flutes will be available there.
Typical set time 45 minutes to 1 hour
She Was the Best
We Run this City
Firts Jay of the Day
I Love This Music
Is This the Life
Number 1 Without Second
There are no upcoming dates at this time.