Block Scholars is the indie Hip Hop musical collaboration between NOBULL (Bennett Baskerville; Bronx, NY) and Slimdog of Slimdog Productions (David Bell Jr.; Akron, OH), with the pair rapping their way through some of the freshest Hip Hop beats around. Originally a three-piece featuring 2mental (Nathan Andreas; Philadelphia, PA), the group first met each other through Myspace and mutual friends in 2005. Home now in Colorado Springs, CO, the rap act is heavily influenced by an eclectic mix of music ranging from Biggie Smalls, 2Pac, Madlib, Dr. Dre, Pharrell and Prince to even Jazz, Opera, Rock and Classical music. They are also considered a “triple threat” because collectively they can write high quality lyrics, produce and perform their own music.
Block Scholars received the 2011 "Excellence In Songwriting" Award from The 18th Annual Billboard/Starmaker 360 Worldwide Songwriting Contest for placing in 3rd out of 1000s of entries in the Rap/Hip Hop genre, plus being finalists for (R&B/Hip Hop) and semi-finalists (Unsigned Only) categories in the 2010 International Songwriting Competition for the song "Time Machine", both of these contests known for being the two of the best songwriting competitions in the world, were one of three 2011 grand prize winners of Patron XO Cafe's Music Project, with the winners getting sponsorship prizes from Patron XO Cafe with judges from SPIN Magazine & RCRD LBL, a free mp3 music download blogsite featuring emerging artists. Block Scholars were nominated for Best Hip Hop Artist/Song from Hollywood Music In Media in September 2012, July 2010 & January 2011 for the songs,"Time Machine", "Flossin'", "This Is For My People (The Rhythm Of A Scholar)" respectively & Slimdog Productions for 2012 Best Contemporary Orchestral/Instrumental, selected as one of the “Next 1000” artists to watch for in 2009 by URB Magazine, and were named the 2009 KIAC Open Songs Competition Winner in Hip Hop for their track, "Livin’ In Tha’ Jungle ft. 2mental". They also have received the "2013 Semi-Finalist Award" & “Collective Works Honor” from SongOfTheYear.com in 2009 for high scores on multiple works in that contest.
2011: Block Scholars
- "Lyrical Extermination" by Block Scholars from their upcoming album, "From Zero To Hero", is on Australia based Valleyarm Digital Music Distribution's, "Absolute Hip Hop" Compilation CD featuring the best Hip Hop from all over the world. Coming soon in 2011, the cd will be for sale on iTunes worldwide.
- "This Is For My People (The Rhythm Of A Scholar)", from the upcoming Block Scholars album "From Zero To Hero", is on Valleyarm Digital Music Distribution MIDEM 2011 Complilation CD to be distributed to top industry "movers and shakers" at the 2011 MIDEM Conference in Cannes, France and is on iTunes for sale worldwide. Also January's 2011 Hollywood Music In Media's
Nominee for Rap/Hip Hop.
2010: Block Scholars:
- "Weather The Storm" on sale at Magnatune.com & Uplaya Records in Spring 2010.
2009: Slimdog Productions
- "Crunk It Up Man!!!"(2004) in NBC/Universal Sports Television Library
2007: Def Jam's DJ DMA & Shadyville DJs
DJ DOMINATION present: Coast 2
Coast: Instrumentals Vol 1.
-MOS Definitely (2006)
2007: Sprite's: "NBA Freeflow on B.E.T." 2/13/07
-2 to da 3 (2007)
2006: Slimdog has 5 songs in the score of documentary film , "Mixtape Inc., The Movie" by Cando
Entertainment and Pixel Propaganda:
-Hateradez Beat (2004)
-Bubba's Beat (2005)
-The Westside Rattle(2005)
-Tripped Hopped (2006)
-Xtra Tight (2006)
The Unknownn: The Unknownn by Darkstone Ltd. (UK)
-The Unknownn's "Raw" Slimdog Remix ft. 2mental of The M7
-The Unknownn's "Raw" Remix (2006)
-The Unknownn's "Duplicituous Too" Slimdog Remix (2006)
Block Scholars - Time Machine
Block Scholars - You Can't Fight Us ft. 20/20
Block Scholars - Who You Foolin'???
The ONE ft. 2mental & 20/20
Livin' In The Jungle - Block Scholars ft. Brian
Can U Work With Me ft. 20/20
Block Scholars - Flossin 1.0
Block Scholars - Skitzo
Block Scholars - Go Hard 1.0
Block Scholars - I'm Gonna Say It
Council of 9 Remix ft. god-b/NOBULL of Block Scholars/Matt Maddox/Vagabond/Prosthetic Hip/DBE/Masspike/Knife Star/One Mic by Soulsellerbeats
Block Scholars - Lyrical Extermination
Block Scholars - F%@# the TV ft. Knife Star.mp3
Tell Me Why ft. Trinity i (John Lennon Version)
Block Scholars receive 2013 award from SongOfTheYear.com
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The Song of the Year songwriting contest has awarded Block Scholars the Semi-Finalist placement in t...The Song of the Year songwriting contest has awarded Block Scholars the Semi-Finalist placement in the song contest. Song of the Year receives entries from all over the world and only the top songwriters receive a Semi-Finalist placement in the songwriting competition.
"More information at www.iacmusic.com/SlimdogProductions"
Block Scholars In "Beats And Lyrics Magazine" Issue 14 p. 22
Preview Magazine at link
Block Scholars & Slimdog Productions Nominated for 2012 Hollywood Music In Media Awards
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OCTOBER 3, 2012 Posted by ADMIN in 2012 GENRE NOMINEES Artist Name City Country Category Song Title...OCTOBER 3, 2012 Posted by ADMIN in 2012 GENRE NOMINEES
Artist Name City Country Category Song Title
Allison Gray Los Angeles United States Pop Break Me
Ard Matthews Hollywood United States Vocal (Male) Providence
Block Scholars Colorado Springs United States Rap/Hip Hop Time Machine
Brent Payne Corona United States Country Now & Forever
Catya Mar_ Los Angeles United States Classical Leaving
Chris Greco Atchison United States Jazz Maia
Claire Wyndham Sydney Australia Folk/Acoustic Ordinary Words
Craymo Kissimmee United States Alternative Moment remix
Crystal Starr West Covina United States R&B/Soul Payback
Dennis Sy South River United States Pop Shine On
Enemo J derby United Kingdom Metal until the light takes us
Gary Lynn Floyd Dallas United States Vocal (Male) Unbound
Gregg Young & the 2nd Street Band Long Beach United States Pop Have a Great Day
Heritage Project Hollywood United States World Frere ennemi
ill-Logical Linguistics Somerset Bermuda Rap/Hip Hop Go Slow
International Farmers Long Beach United States Reggae Robot
Ivan Ruiz Serrano Madrid Spain World Heart of Africa
Jacnique Los Angeles United States Jazz Rise In Love
Jessarae Santa Monica United States Vocal (Male) If I Know You At All
Jessarae Santa Monica United States Pop Stuck On You
Karling Abbeygate Los Angeles United States Pop Goin Nowhere
Kelly Andrew Denver United States Contemporary Orchestral/Instrumental Retribution
Kim La Chance Los Angeles United States Metal Angels From the Dust
Kritikal Staten Island United States Rap/Hip Hop Fade Away
Latin Faculty Reykjavik Iceland Jazz The Image Of You
Lexa Raquel Tucson United States Pop Gettin' Ready
Lola Burbank United States Vocal (Female) Killer Smyle
Lyric Everly Hollywood United States Adult Contemporary/AAA Streetlighting
Marshall Chapman NASHVILLE United States Country BIG LONESOME
Matt Dodge Hollywood United States Adult Contemporary/AAA Miracles For Life
Melpo Mene Stockholm Sweden Alternative We Should Be Walking
Mina Koo Hollywood United States Dance More Than a Crush
Nadia Lanfranconi Los Angeles United States Adult Contemporary/AAA A Piece Of This World
Oscar Navarro Villanueva de la Canada ( Madrid ) Spain Classical "CREATION"
Phoenix Rising San Francisco United States New Age/Ambient Egyptian Fantasy
PJ Parker Somerset United States Blues Black Coffee
Princess X Los Angeles United States Dance Gimme All (Ring My Bell)
Purple Scream Tonsberg Norway Alternative Following You Home (Halloween)
Reseda Reseda United States Contemporary Orchestral/Instrumental Reseda
Robert Popa Los Angeles United States Techno/Electronic Heartbeat
Ronny Morris Los Angeles United States Adult Contemporary/AAA Still
Shani Ormiston Alicante Spain Adult Contemporary/AAA How Do You Know?
Shani Ormiston Alicante Spain Pop Lionheart
Sierra West Boston United States Folk/Acoustic In Your Hands
SiK Dallas United States Metal Way Down South
Sirens of Dionysus Malibu United States Dub Step Warm Soft Winter Moon
Slimdog Productions Colorado Springs United States Contemporary Orchestral/Instrumental SLIMDOG
Steve Cooke Hollywood United States Vocal (Male) Working for the USA
Taylen Los Angeles United States Pop Bonnie and Clyde
Thad Fiscella Hannibal United States Contemporary Orchestral/Instrumental First Dance
The Commander-In-Chief London United Kingdom Metal Evolution
The Wyld Olde Souls New York United States Folk/Acoustic Wyld Maiden
True Zebra Antwerp Belgium Alternative The Silence
Valet Las Vegas United States Rap/Hip Hop Something 'Bout Them Boots
Vinny Fazzari Avalon United States Adult Contemporary/AAA It's a New Beginning
Waterblack Limassol Cyprus Alternative Orem
Welcome To Winter Fort Collins United States Pop Style
Xenia Los Angeles United States Pop Only for Your Love
Local band Block Scholars wins national online contest
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Press release Three up-and-coming bands are one step closer to savoring the sweet taste of success....Press release
Three up-and-coming bands are one step closer to savoring the sweet taste of success. Maker of the world's highest-quality ultra-premium tequila, Patrón today announced the three Grand Prize winners of its Patrón XO Cafe Music Project.
The three Grand Prize winners of the Patrón XO Cafe Music Project are:
Block Scholars of Colorado Springs, Colo.
Cello Kid of Virginia Beach, Va.
Plastiq Passion of New York, N.Y.
“Patrón XO Cafe is a brand that is dedicated to supporting and celebrating music and musicians,” says Jennifer Long, Patrón’s brand director. “We set out to give these three deserving bands a new stage to showcase their talent and provide them with valuable resources to help them break into the music industry.”
In July, Patrón XO Cafe coffee liqueur encouraged unsigned bands thirsty for their big break in the music industry to submit their acts at apps.facebook.com/xocafemusicproject to receive advice from industry experts, the opportunity to perform at one of Patrón’s XO Noir music festival after parties and a chance to win their choice of a prize package (promoting, recording or touring support) to help them succeed in the music industry.
100 semi-finalists were selected by an outside judging panel comprised of prestigious representatives from RCRD LBL, after which time the public was asked to act as “Record Executives” and rate their favorite bands to help determine the Grand Prize winners. The eight bands with the highest scores moved onto the finals where the three bands were selected by SPIN and RCRD LBL to win the prize package of their choice.
The three grand prize winners will have a choice of the following packages valued at approximately $2,860 each:
“On the Road” Touring Kit: Includes prepaid gas and food card, hotel vouchers, PA system, mixers and cables
“In the Spotlight” Promotional Kit: Includes stickers, business cards, posters, banners and a radio spot
“In the Studio” Recording Kit: Includes rehearsal and studio time, a mixing and mastering session and CD copies
For more information about the winning bands, visit apps.facebook.com/xocafemusicproject.
Block Scholars on The Colorado Rap Report
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"The Block Scholars are a hardcore Rap outfit hailing from Colorado Springs. For us, they really cam..."The Block Scholars are a hardcore Rap outfit hailing from Colorado Springs. For us, they really came out of left field, and we were pleasantly surprised when their music ended up in our in box last week.
So far what we have heard is a wide array of various songs, in various styles, all put together extremely properly.
There is a lot you need to know about these hustle hard motherf***ers (including a dope Podcast they do), So we will be unveiling it over the course of this month, in fragments.
But for now..."
-THE COLORADO RAP REPORT 3/16/09-
Reverb (Block Scholars Win National Contest)
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"In his song "Madness," Del the Funky Homosapien made the Warholian prediction that, by the year 303..."In his song "Madness," Del the Funky Homosapien made the Warholian prediction that, by the year 3030, everybody will want to be an emcee. And from the looks of it, Colorado Springs is right on track.
First up we have Block Scholars, whose song "Time Machine" was just named one of the three grand prize winners in the Patrón XO Café Artist Showcase. Weirdly, the grand prizes don't include any actual Patrón, even though it became the tasty hip-hop beverage of choice thanks to mentions in songs by Young Jeezy, Ludacris, T.I., T-Pain, Pharrell, Nas, Lil Jon, Ludacris, Snoop Dogg and about a billion others I'm forgetting right now.
On the plus side, Block Scholars do win an "In the Spotlight Promotional Kit" with nearly $3,000 worth of customized merch, design services, e-mail list management, and other promo materials.
To celebrate the victory, the local backpack hip-hop group is offering free downloads of two Block Scholars albums, Zero to Hero and Weather the Storm. Track them down via facebook.com/BlockScholars."
Block Scholars, "Time Machine" Places 3rd In Hip Hop Category For 2010 18th Annual Billboard Songwriting Contest
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2011 Winners Rap/Hip-Hop 1."Prophecy" - Darrik "Dex" Curry aka Dex The Passion 2."The Test...2011 Winners
1."Prophecy" - Darrik "Dex" Curry aka Dex The Passion
2."The Testimony" – Street Spirit
3."Time Machine" – Block Scholars (NOBULL [Bennett Baskerville] and Slimdog
[David Bell Jr.])
1."Running Wild" – Demetrios Katis
2."Just For A Moment" – Mammoth Logic
3."Be One" – Roby
1."Mocha Maya" – Wild-Wood
2."My Own Texas" – Nebojsa Buhin Nebo
3."Rhumba de Azahar" – Capricho
1."Still Standing" – Evelyn Foxx
2."Holdin' On" – Charles DeWayne
3."Shadow of the Sun" – Still Pickin'
1."Come To Me" – William Brennan aka Bill E.B. Good
2."Until The Day Dims" – The Woodlands
3."Back to Life" – Brian Mahoney
1."November" – Savatije Ljubicic
2."Oasis" – Level 10
3."One of Those Nights" – Matt Cusson
1."Strata Red" – ACIDIC
2."Too Late" – Broad Way Sleep
3."Sunlight" – Turtle Giant
1."Whose Star Do You Follow?" – Walter Pappas
2."King Of The Ages" – Joey Stontz
3."To You" – Thirty-Nine Thoughts
1."Stronger" – My Heart's Cry
2."Love Is A Dancefloor" – Evan Bliss
3."Joy, Mirth, & Scorn" – Leo Goes Grr
1."Long Haul" – Effron White
2."Into The Wild" – Caitlin Harnett
3."I'm Not Ready" – Kevin Lucas Orchestra
1."Notches" – Scott Tonkinson
2."You're The One" – Myla Smith
3."Tennessee Blue" – Catfish Gracie
1."Can't Stop Falling" – Laurell Barker
2."Causin' A Commotion" – Greg Sczebel
3."I'll Be Waiting" – Terra Naomi
1."Is It Love" - Charles DeWayne
2."Please Come On Home" - Philipp Fankhauser
3."Rollin" - Tara Priya
Copyright Billboard Starmaker Song Contest 2010
Block Scholars, "Time Machine", a finalist (R&B/Hip Hop) and semi-finalist (Unsigned Only) in the 2010 International Songwriting Competition
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R&B/HIP-HOP Bootydrum Jeremy Merrick (Gloucester , ON, Canada) Cowboy Omar...R&B/HIP-HOP
Jeremy Merrick (Gloucester , ON, Canada)
Omar LinX (Toronto, ON, Canada)
Fallin So Fast
Erin Elisabeth Aubrey, Alex Post (Elizabethton, TN, USA)
I Want You
Calvin (CJ) Reed (Severn, MD, USA)
If I Didn't Ask
Lansford Dyer, Loren Dyer - Heart To Art (Bronx, NY, USA)
It's All My Way
Mariana Berdianu - MBeyeline (Chisinau, Moldova)
Thomas Gallmeier, Joshua Latif - J Latif (Woodland Hills, CA, USA)
Let Me Know
Jewel Bell - Influence (Murrieta, CA, USA)
George H. Choat (El Fuego), Mark 'Killaloop' Lewis (London, England)
Miles Jones, Matthew J. Samuels (Toronto, ON, Canada)
Shy and Out of Season
Ralph Joseph, Robert Bolton, Alexander The - Broad Way Sleep (Toronto, ON, Canada)
Streets To Nowhere
John Weber (Shell Beach, CA, USA)
Bennett Baskerville III - Block Scholars/Slimdog Productions (Colorado Springs, CO, USA)
Where Did The Music Go
Ryan Bradley, Tyrone Bradley - Tap Tap (Tacoma, WA, USA)
Bennett Baskerville III (Block Scholars/Slimdog Productions) Colorado Springs, CO, USA Time Machine Unsigned Only
Block Scholars Receive January 2011 Nomination For "This Is For My People" by Hollywood Music In Media
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This is the 2nd consecutive nomination for the Block Scholars by Hollywood Music In Media... ARTI...This is the 2nd consecutive nomination for the Block Scholars by Hollywood Music In Media...
ARTIST CITY COUNTRY CATEGORY SONG
28 North Pittsburgh USA Adult Contemporary/AAA Call Me Up
Alexander Cardinale Los Angeles USA Adult Contemporary/AAA Sick of Dreaming
Block Scholars Colorado Springs USA Rap/Hip Hop This Is For My People
Brandon Ashley West Hollywood USA Alternative My Decadent Thursday
BURNING BLACK Treviso IT Metal Purgatory Child
Catherine Duc Burwood NSW New Age/Ambient Evocation
EHM Eleventh Hour Messengers Redding USA Contemporary Christian A Christmas Tune
Elle Marchelle Baltimore USA Pop Around You
Eva Ilios Athens GR World Laughter
Jessie Sparks Melbourne AUS Blues Calendar Years
Justin Honaman Atlanta USA Country Saturday in the South
Kritikal Staten Island USA Hip Hop Keep Your Head Up
Les LaMotte Burnsville USA Production/Producer Without A Voice
Marcus McCauley Oakland USA Jazz When You Wish Upon a Star
Mary Sarah Katy USA Country One Time Around
O'Mega Red Boston USA Hip Hop Endz (Remix)
Sean Waterman Alpharetta USA Adult Contemporary/AAA Not at All
Steve Cooke Los Angeles USA Adult Contemporary/AAA Gravity
Terry Hanson Los Angeles USA Country California Whisky
The Front Line Columbia USA Contemporary Christian Day of Reformation
The Wimshurst's Machine Cafasse ITA World Wind Sailer
Timothy Wenzel Midland USA New Age/Ambient Snow Falling Softly
Whiskey Six Glendale USA Rock Love, Sex, and American Excess
Zupe & Nichols Altoona USA Instrumental Step On It
Block Scholars Rececive July 2010 Nomination From Hollywood Music In Media
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Babylon Saints Los Angeles USA World/Reggae burn on Block Scholars Colorado Springs USA Rap/Hip_Ho...Babylon Saints Los Angeles USA World/Reggae burn on
Block Scholars Colorado Springs USA Rap/Hip_Hop Flossin'
Brianna Haynes Los Angeles USA Pop let it slide
BURNING BLACK Treviso Italy Metal secrets to hide
Corduroy McDonough USA Americana/Roots walk with me
Dale LaDuke Tujunga USA Adult_Contemporary/AAA It's About Us
Ed Kaercher Massapequa Park USA Folk/Acoustic roll, river roll
Giovanni D Amore Coimbra Portugal Classical caruso
God s Weapon Beverly Hills USA Metal dirty queen
Heather McCready Arlington USA Americana/Roots neverland
Hostile Elmira USA Hip Hop I lyke it
Jackson Garrett Palm Springs USA Jazz high time
Janyse Kelowna Canada Contemporary_Christian Dreamers
Joseph Eid Los Angeles USA Folk save you
Karmina Venice USA Adult_Contemporary/AAA Slow Down
Kat Parra San Jose USA Latin azucar de amor
LA Velvet Los Angeles USA Pop Games of Love
Lena Prima Las Vegas USA Jazz silly in the middle
Manuela Oliveira Sydney Australia pop 4 on the floor
Na'Omi Bull aka Lady Nay Oakland USA R&B/Soul can we work it out
Negative Sky Asbury Park USA Metal negative sky
Panos Chatzigeorgiadis Athens Greece Classical/Orchestral Land of the Brave and Betrayed
Phil Common New York USA Rock one time I do
Public Jones Los Angeles USA alternative alright
Rotem Moav Los Angeles USA Instrumental Childhood
Soul Fyre Productions Cincinnati USA Techno/Electronic soul fyre
Stephanie Quayle Venice USA Country Sophia
Playground Festival – The Greatest Shit Show on Earth
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A few weeks ago, we were contacted by one of our favorite artists, David Bell Jr., aka SlimDog, of B...A few weeks ago, we were contacted by one of our favorite artists, David Bell Jr., aka SlimDog, of Block Scholars. The group had been scheduled to play at Playground Festival in Orange County, and he wanted to know if we could do a little promoting, plus come check out the show. A minute or two of research on Twitter will make it crystal clear that David Bell has been hands down the most active and evangelical supporter of Earbits. Of course we would help promote, and I’d absolutely be heading down to check them out.
As it turned out, several Earbits artists played, including Rachel Borovik and others. So, we put up a nice promo on the Earbits Los Angeles page a week or two before the show, bought some of the pre-sale tickets that Rachel had (more on this in a moment), and Saturday I headed down with a good friend, Eric.
Unprepared and Unorganized
We arrived just 20 minutes before 2:30, when Block Scholars were scheduled to play (The band, coming from Colorado for this show, received this schedule only one day before the event). It was a happy moment because David and I have talked a lot online in recent months and I’d been looking forward to meeting he and NOBULL. As worried as I was that we might be late for their set, he let me know that they were running behind, had been switched to play a different stage, were pushed one band further back in the lineup, and would be going on in a bit. So, Eric and I went and got a beer – a Miller Lite, the only beer, nay, the only booze they served at Playground Festival. FAIL.
When we returned, there was a bit of a commotion going on with David and the sound crew. All Block Scholars needed from the sound team was to plug their iPod into the board. Apparently, the promoter had told them to just bring the iPod, that everything else was taken care of. At a festival with over a dozen hip hop lineups scheduled, being able to plug in a CD player or iPod sounds like one thing you ought to be able to handle. Alas, the crew did not have an eighth inch to quarter inch cable, and did not seem to be offering any alternative to the band. Considering Block Scholars had come all the way from Colorado to play this festival, and the sound crew was starting to imply that they might not get to play, the guys handled it with the utmost level-headedness.
While all of this is going on, what really started to annoy me was the attitude of the festival staff. There is a band who has traveled here who is not getting paid, whose only interest is in performing in front of some new fans. They need a basic cable to plug in an iPod. Your job is to be prepared for basic band setups – and this could not be more basic. Instead of working hard to see what can be done, or apologizing, making changes that ensure that the band can go on later, I see this lazy 20-something kid on staff say, “Man, I just want my cigarettes. I want a sandwich. I want my damn break.” I wanted to tell this kid that a break is what you get when you’re working, and as far as I can tell, you’re not doing shit. So, fuck your cigarettes, fuck your sandwich. Get us a cable and shut the fuck up.
As luck would have it, I have an eighth inch to eighth inch cable in my car, and David’s headphones come with an eighth-to-quarter inch adapter. We offered to go get the items, only to be told that there might not be time and that they might not get to play. Then, the staff just stands there. Finally, completely fed up, I say, “Is there a reason we can’t go right now to the car and try to get this taken care of?”
The fact that nobody on the staff was making an effort was beyond me. Then, someone from their staff stepped up and offered to escort me to my car and back, since I did not have a performer bracelet. We made the long trek to my car to get the cable. To this one staffer’s credit, I told him he didn’t need to walk all the way to my car as long as he stayed by the gate and waited for me, which I immediately regretted, fearing I would come back to a locked gate and nobody there who would believe my story. Fortunately, the guy did wait and escorted me back in. The fact that this very basic task impresses me is a testament to the disaster that was Playground Festival (but thanks to that one guy).
Microphone Check – Thanks for the Help
When we got back, the staff informed Block Scholars they’d be moving stages yet again, and walked them to a stage in the walkway between the field and the Palm Stages where they were supposed to play. There was no grass, there was little shade, and it was not the kind of place anybody was going to congregate. The team had been effectively moved to the hallway of the festival.
There was a great band who played this new stage while we waited, and then they hopped off, pulled their gear to the side, and waited for a dolly, cart, or car that never came. They eventually lugged their equipment all the way across the festival grounds. We would later hear further horror stories from them while enjoying another Miller Lite.
Once they were clear, though, the Block Scholars were ready to be setup. Great…who is the sound guy?
What? There is no sound guy?
That’s right. There is no sound guy. Here is your stage. Here is your sound board. Here are your mics. Good luck.
Block Scholars Have to Battle a Drunk
Having been hit with a series of issues at a gig before, I understand how badly this can affect your ability to perform. That being said, I have never dealt with near the shit show that Block Scholars dealt with, and yet, these guys hit the stage like they’d just gotten fresh out of the green room after a solid night’s rest. Despite further issues with the sound, which they had to setup themselves, Block Scholars delivered the goods and put on a great performance. They kept their energy high, had the passers by throwing their hands in the air, and even got a few packs of go-go dancers to do a little rump shaking on their way through the grounds. All of this, while an incessant drunk is standing at the side of the stage and continuously begging to freestyle battle the duo.
For at least 15 minutes (over half of their now shortened set time), a pint-sized drunken moron stood there waving down David, yelling at them during their songs, and asking if he could get on stage to “battle” them. At one point, I thought he might actually unplug their iPod, which was sitting well within reach. Meanwhile, there is a security guard about 30 feet away, watching this happen, doing nothing. Eventually, the drunk gave up and walked away.
It was about this time that I started piecing everything together.
Pay to Play – for Next to Nobody
After looking around and seeing what was going on, the vibe of this show became crystal clear.
Playground Festival had booked dozens of smaller acts, scheduled them at the last minute, put them on tiny stages, provided them with no real engineers, and didn’t care if they even got to play, so long as they pre-sold 15 $45-65 tickets. The going price to play in the back of the festival grounds, be treated like shit, not get any help with your gear or sound, was about $675-975 for most bands. Coming from Colorado, David tells me they talked their way out of the pre-sales, but Rachel and others had helped to sell tickets to the show.
With half-hour sets and rapid fire changeovers (at the expense of sound, not because the crew was fast), Playground Festival had probably scheduled 30 or more smaller bands to play, drumming up close to $25k in pre-sold tickets. Then, they gave them whiny amateurs as technicians and put the stages where next to nobody would be standing. I even heard a rumor that they started the bands playing at noon, but didn’t open the festival gates until well after that.
And the Hits Just Keep Coming
I feel bad ranting and raving about this show while two of our artists played great sets. I’d love to write a glowing review of just their performances, but unfortunately, there is just no way that we could support artists in general and not give a full report of the disaster that was Playground Festival. I hope these promoters go down in flames, and from the looks of the news, they will (more on that shortly).
So as Block Scholars wrap up, sometime around 5pm (yes, 2 hours after they were supposed to), we head back to the Palms Stages to see Rachel Borovik play. I think it was sometime during this time that we found out that the symphony was going to be playing nearby, and that the sound from the festival was too loud, and that the entire festival was going to have to end at 8pm. The Game, Too Short, Lil Jon, these headliners were going to have to play a festival headlining slot at 4, 6 and 7pm, just before everybody would be ushered out by the police.
How does one schedule a festival of this size, and not know what time they are required to shut down the event until the day of? Or maybe they knew.
At any rate, Rachel hits the stage and I might feel bad saying it if she hadn’t said it a few times herself, but the girl has just got a sultry way about her that makes all of her songs a bit sexy and enchanting. She continued to lure the boys in as they passed by, and made small talk with the crowd between songs. Overall, it was a great little performance that, as far as I know, was relatively free of the complications that David and NOBULL suffered.
Hats off to Rachel and her band for keeping a great attitude during the madness.
Wait. This is the Main Stage?
Throughout all of this happening, Eric and I had sneaked off and had a few beers, but never quite made it all the way to the main stage. With the two Earbits performers I had come to see now done, we decided to go check out the main show. As we came over the hill that separated the area where the smaller bands played from the main stage, I was taken aback.
There could not have been more than a couple thousand people in front of that stage. With a field that rivals Coachella in size, this crowd could have fit in The Wiltern or The Palladium, easy. If it wasn’t such a pitiful disaster for the bands who thought they’d be playing for 10k+ people, it would be laughable. There was nobody at this event. In fact, if you consider that 30 bands sold about 15 tickets each, honestly, I think the bands’ sales may have constituted 10-15% of the total ticket sales. This was a joke.
Extra Fees, Bad Eats, No Tee Pee and More
Among other things that were wrong with the show, the $80 maximum ATM withdrawal with the $3.95 fee ranks up there, as does the lack of toilet paper and the fact that the port-a-poddies don’t appear to have received any attention all day. There were only 5 booths serving food, all of which looked like crap. And, they stopped serving alcohol at 7pm, probably to prevent a riot, which they probably only avoided because a riot would require that more people be there. I have even read one review that claimed someone was backed over by a runaway security vehicle that was parked on a hill without the emergency brake.
Oh, and No Headliners, Either
Come to find out, we don’t have to feel sorry for The Game, Too Short or Lil Jon playing for such a small crowd. They didn’t play. They, among others, either saw the crowd was too small and didn’t want to be associated with a losing event, or, as so many have speculated, they probably were not paid by the promoters and decided to cut their losses. Whatever the case, almost the entire headlining bill did not perform at the first day of Playground Festival. A little digging and you’ll see that there were a ton of no-shows on day two as well.
I want to give props to both the bands who made a stand and refused to play this ridiculous event, and simultaneously commend those who still performed and gave it their all. Both are noble positions to take and it’s just unfortunate that any artists had to endure the experience.
Turns Out, It’s a Scam
Before I wrote this article today, I wanted to make sure that I wasn’t the only one who thought Playground Festival was a clusterfuck. Maybe my anger at the way our artist friends were treated tainted my view. Surely, though, the headliners not showing up was enough to piss off the world, right? But I just wanted to make sure, so I jumped online and did a search for Playground Festival.
Not only did I find articles bashing the disorganization of the festival on day one and day two, but it turns out that the State of California recently sanctioned Elevated Sound Productions, the promoters, for hard selling investors on getting in on the festival at the last minute, promising them a 2 to 1 return. According to the Orange Country Register, Steve Blasko, a managing partner at ESP, claims they only tried selling to people who expressed an interest, but recorded calls and other information imply otherwise. What’s worse is that they were making these 2 to 1 on your money calls only days/weeks before the concert, knowing full well that their ticket sales were dismal.
Information is Power
I think the easiest way to end this story on a good note, other than applauding the great artists we did get to see perform, is to talk about the solution to problems like this, rather than just complaining.
The reality is that some promoters just over shoot their abilities and can’t deliver every promise, but they try. They show up, they take care of people, they try to make good on whatever promises they can.
Then, there’s guys like ESP, who may have done everything they did in order to try and deliver on their promises, but the scale at which they fucked up is enough that they should not be trusted again. And the best solution to that is for artists to share their stories as much as possible, and make the information not only reliable, but easily found.
If your band experiences a problem of this magnitude, make sure you find an outlet to report on it, make sure you have the full story, make sure you provide backing information and evidence, and make sure you do what you can to save other artists from making the same mistakes.
And, for the love of God, let’s stop paying to play untested events and “festivals”. Nobody putting on an event that is supposed to draw in 10k+ people needs 30 bands to sell 15 tickets. Anybody for whom bringing 10k people is a given, need only work a little harder to bring 450 more people. If your sales matter, they’re not bringing 10k people.
Thanks again to David Bell Jr., NOBULL, Rachel Borovik and everybody else who helped Saturday to be a good time, despite the drama. You guys rocked it.
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Block Scholars Slimdog Gets Own Listener Picks Channel On Earbits
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Block Scholars own Slimdog (David Bell Jr.) is the first Earbits listener to get his own channel on ...Block Scholars own Slimdog (David Bell Jr.) is the first Earbits listener to get his own channel on Earbits. "Slimdog's Lead Dogz Hip Hop Channel" features his favorite tracks of Earbits great Hip Hop artists. To listen to the channel, click "stations" and go to "listeners picks"...
Block Scholars on NPR's "Morning Edition"
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By Laura Sydell New Music Software Predicts The Hits : NPR A company called Music Intelligence ...By Laura Sydell
New Music Software Predicts The Hits : NPR
A company called Music Intelligence Solutions has released a computer program ... David Bell, of the hip-hop duo the Block Scholars, paid $90 to use it. ...
An Artists Perspective on Uplaya Part One 7/29/10
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This week’s interview with uPlaya‘s CEO David Meredith put forth a pretty convincing argument as to ...This week’s interview with uPlaya‘s CEO David Meredith put forth a pretty convincing argument as to why the company’s hit song science can help musicians. But while Mr. Meredith made a number of great points, skeptical musicians might be better convinced by one of their own.
To that end, I spoke at length with David Bell about his experience using uPlaya. Bell (a.k.a. Slimdog) is the founder of Slimdog Productions and part of the hip-hop group The Block Scholars. He has become something of an artist advocate for uPlaya and the Hit Song Science technology. The Block Scholars, consisting of Bell and lyricist NoBull (Bennett Baskerville), have used uPlaya to further their burgeoning success as independent hip-hop artists.
RS: As you must know, there are so many new services that have been rolled out recently, geared toward helping artists promote their music. And everything is changing rapidly in the music industry, so there’s a lot of new entrepreneurial digital services and web sites taking off. With all that out there, what is it that drew you to uPlaya in particular?
DB: The fact that the technology breaks down your song, and that they compare your music to the last 50 years of hits. It’s kind of a good gauge on how your songs may compare to other songs that have been great hits in the past.
It’s also kind of fun. You know, after you’re done doing your song, it’s kind of fun to go in and stick it through their hit song science technology and see if you got a good score or not. Just like last night, we’re working on an album for this winter, and we had just completed a few songs, so I went in last night just to see how the songs are. Of course we think all our songs are good, but just for comparison’s sake you stick it in there and we happened to get a 79, which is a platinum [Auddy] on one of our songs. It’s kind of fun to sit there and watch the HSS work, and you know see a score pop up. Sometimes it might not be good, I’ve had that happen too, but it’s still fun.
RS: Sort of nice positive reinforcement in the creative process.
DB: That’s exactly what it is. And like I said, you can kind of take the results and run with them, or you can just turn around and say, “Hey, whatever.”
RS: Did you have specific goals when you put your music onto uPlaya? Did you think, “I wanna see how these Block Scholars songs stack up against other hip-hop songs,” or “What’s their hit potential?” You’ve mentioned that you kind of used it to tweak your songs in certain ways. Was that something that you anticipated doing from the start or did that kind of develop along the way?
DB:It kind of developed along the way. At first I was like, “Let me see if what they are saying is true.” We have gotten accolades for our music even before I went to uPlaya. We were on many web sites; a Garage Band song of the day, one web site gave us hip-hop song of the year. So I went and took those songs and said, “These places already think the songs are good, let’s see how uPlaya judges them.” And the songs that got the awards got platinums and golds, so it kind of validates [the initial praise]. And then what I did was start experimenting with music, putting in demos that we just finished. [If they] didn’t get a good score, turn around, tweak it, add some more instruments, make the music clearer, a better bitrate, and put it through again, and up went the scores. Just little things like that make a lot of difference.
You know, I’ve put some 150-200 songs through, so I’ve invested a lot of money and a lot of music into uPlaya and you have to if you really want to see what it’s gonna do. You’re gonna have to go yourself and try it out. And I went and used the widgets and got great response on the widgets. They have a press kit. You gotta go use the press kit. I have a press kit with another site, you know, and I sit there and compare the press kits and see how many hits I get off of it. Are people looking at uPlaya’s kit as well as this other kit? Am I getting any feedback from anybody because of uPlaya, am I getting any feedback because of the other one? I do compare, on a daily basis, uPlaya to the other places that I’m at, and they’ve been great. It’s gotten us a lot of exposure as independent artists.
RS: So it sounds like your experience using uPlaya has played a role in shaping your career or how you promote yourself as an artist, the business side of things. Would you say it’s played a role in what you’re doing creatively? Do you feel like you’re still taking the same creative approach that you did prior to using uPlaya?
DB: I’m taking the same creative approach. Honestly, I’m not making songs to try and get hit songs on uPlaya. I’m making songs for me. Like I said, we’ve got a lot of songs that didn’t get great scores, but we’re still pushing those songs, as well as the ones that have gotten awards. I’m not gonna turn around and change what we do in order to get good uPlaya scores. Like I said, we were getting accolades and awards and stuff like that in magazines before we went to uPlaya. uPlaya is just one validation tool. It’s a validation. It helps validate what we already know about our music. Now it’s just a matter of getting it to the next level.
And the thing that really attracted me to uPlaya was to find out that some major labels are already using it. And places like Harvard had done extensive research and reports on it. I don’t know how many artists do, but I really looked to find out what uPlaya was about before trying it out and investing my money. Because a lot of us independent artists don’t have the money to do that. So I really went and looked for research from credible sources before I turned around and invested my money in it. Hopefully in the future all this investment stuff will pay off. It’s starting to a little bit. I feel with a little more promotion and maybe with some more help from uPlaya we can get our music to the next level and hopefully get it heard by somebody.
Stay tuned for part two later this week.
An Artists Perspective on Uplaya Part Two 7/30/10
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Yesterday we ran the beginning of a rather long interview we did with the Block Scholars‘ David Bell...Yesterday we ran the beginning of a rather long interview we did with the Block Scholars‘ David Bell about uPlaya, to offer a perspective that differed from its founder, David Meredith.
Part two is after the jump.
RS: Because a computer algorithm determines your uPlaya score, do you think it’s even more objective than getting the opinion of another music professional, maybe someone you don’t even know, don’t have a relationship with?
DB: It will certainly never replace the human ear. I don’t think it will ever replace an A&R because A&Rs have that experience in the music industry of knowing a hit. It’s gotta sound like a hit. Just because you got a good score doesn’t mean your song’s gonna be a hit.
A lot of people will turn around and say, “Well isn’t your music all gonna sound the same? Aren’t people gonna try and get scores? Aren’t people gonna try and build songs for uPlaya so they can get scores?” No, not necessarily. Because if you go by our site, or to uPlaya’s site, listen to all the different kinds of music that have gotten good scores. None of it sounds the same.
A lot of people say, “If you build a song that’s less than four minutes and it sounds this way, and it has this pattern, you know, the AABAA or something, then you’ll get good scores,” and that’s not true because I’ve got songs that are six minutes long that have gotten awards. It really doesn’t set any pop formula.
I don’t build songs to get good scores on uPlaya. I build songs for me. I have plenty of songs that didn’t get great songs that I will use on albums. The album that we’re going to release in the winter has songs that didn’t get good scores at all, but because I like the song want to put in there, I’m going to put it in there, you know?
RS: Do you think uPlaya could one day be used to help artists move in different directions? I could imagine some kind of songwriting tool that would help composers and artists write songs in a particular style. If they have the technology to analyze the sonic properties of a piece of music, that could become a toolkit to help write songs for specific contexts and get that done more efficiently.
DB: You know, I guess it could. I do think it will make more artists experiment with new things. With uPlaya, I don’t think there’s a set way to make music that will give you good scores all the time. You always figure that there’s somebody who will try to work the system, but if you get a good score on one song you basically have to have the same song again to repeat that score. You may change the words, but you need to have the same melody, beat, pitch, and overall structure.
uPlaya might help introduce new genres of music. You know, for fun we try different [genres]; our music ranges in hip-hop, everywhere from a more jazz style to electronica. The song we entered in last night has more of an electronica beat and we ended up getting a good score with that. So I think it makes you experiment to use more of your creative juices to see. You never know. Maybe a new genre gets invented because of uPlaya.
RS:Yeah, I see what you mean.
DB: Everybody says it hinders it. I think it enhances it.
RS: You’re convincing me. I’m a musician myself and I was a little skeptical, but everything you’re saying makes it sound appealing.
DB: It is. It’s a cool tool. Just don’t go in with the idea that you’re going to be a billionaire when you get a platinum score because there’s still other factors involved – you pushing your music and having it sound like a hit to the point where A&R’s and other industry people like your music. It’s not that cut and dry and I think a lot of artists are thinking that it’s cut and dry – you stick it in there, and you sit back, and uPlaya’s gonna do the work for you. It doesn’t work like that.
I’ve personally been at it for almost a year with uPlaya, with the widgets and stuff and had been able to build up enough of a resume before uPlaya to the point where we could get noticed a little bit more by some people. I’m still sending out stuff to labels every day. uPlaya is a great tool because some record labels are secretly using it. If you read the Harvard Science report that came out in 2009, they were already using it for Anastasia, J-lo, 50 Cent. They were already using it for those artists back then. So you know the labels are using it. It’s kind of nice to be able to turn around on your resume and say, “Hey, I’ve got a few songs here that have got great uPlaya scores.” And they know what you’re talking about. So it gives you a leg up a little bit, maybe to the point where A&Rs and labels and other places go, “Huh, he’s got good scores. He must have something to offer us as an artist. Let’s find out exactly what he’s done to get to that point.”
RS: Sort of an objective seal of approval.
DB: It is, it is. Like I said, there’s no emotion tied except for you waiting to see if you got a good score or not. But it dissects your song and splits it up and gives an honest opinion. It compares your song to 50 years worth of music. So it’s kind of neat to see how you stack up, mathematically, compared with songs from the past.
RS: That actually is a good segue. I wanted to change directions a little bit and ask you a question more specific to the music that you’re doing with the Block Scholars. As a group you guys definitely have your own style, and you’re admittedly trying to bring real hip-hop back to the forefront. This calls to mind a little bit of a nostalgic aesthetic. Because uPlaya draws from the reservoir of past hit songs, does having that nostalgic element make the site work a little better for your guys?
DB: I don’t think so. Like I said, the music that we’ve doing for our album in the winter has electronica on it. It’s got electronica styles, which isn’t anything from 50 years ago. And we’re getting good scores from that. According to uPlaya they turn around and they go in and look at the new songs that are being hits and they change their database all the time. It’s not just songs from the last 50 years…you’re also being compared to the new music that is out there too, the Billboard hits, all that.
I don’t think it gives you any type of advantage if you do older style songs. Because if you go through and listen to the featured artists there’s some that are doing electronica, there’s some doing some doing experimental stuff that are getting great scores. So, there’s no formula. Everyone thinks there’s a formula on getting good scores, but there really isn’t. There really isn’t a formula and I don’t go in there thinking that when I place a song in there. Like I said, we’ve got songs on this album that didn’t get any Auddy awards at all, but we still want to put it up there because we like the song. That’s what the bottom line is.
WAMM: And you should.
Breeding Ground: AllHipHop.com/Uplaya Finalists (Slimdog Productions takes 2nd Place)
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Breeding Ground: AllHipHop.com / Uplaya Finalists Wednesday, January 13, 2010 12:30 PM | By AHH Sta...Breeding Ground: AllHipHop.com / Uplaya Finalists
Wednesday, January 13, 2010 12:30 PM | By AHH Staff
"It was simple enough. AllHipHop.com and uPlaya.com requested that artists log onto uPlaya.com and submit their music. From there, we would sift through all of the entries until we picked our favorites. The uPlaya/AllHipHop.com contest will feature three finalists and one grand prizewinner. The good folks at uPlaya would eventually provide a number of promotional tools to help the contestants push their art across major social networks and music blogs.
We are to that point where the finalists are here for the AHH readers to witness. See them below."
Name - Slimdog feat.Preach Ankobia and Acapa DaKid
Location - Colorado Springs, CO by way of Akron, Ohio/Montreal, Canada...
"We feel it is an honor and a validation of the hard work that we all put into our music. We love Hip Hop and what it stands for and hopefully through our music, it does show. we know we are doing Hip Hop the way it is supposed to be represented. Preach Ankobia and Acapa DaKid are doing their thing in Montreal with shows and albums on iTunes. I hope to do more collabs with them this year. With myself I have music that will placed for album sales on Magnatune and digital sales on Uplaya.com. With the selection to the finals by AllHipHop.com/uplaya, 2010 has gotten off to a great start for us all and hopefully there will be more great things to come."
Catch Slimdog at: http://iacmusic.com/artist.aspx?ID=18168 or
Block Scholars selected to URB. COM's "NEXT 1000" FOR 2009
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Reviewed by Dan Vidal URB MAGAZINE.COM "There’s some knowledge you can’t get in school, it comes ...Reviewed by Dan Vidal URB MAGAZINE.COM
"There’s some knowledge you can’t get in school, it comes from experience. Block Scholars use lessons learned from their personal trials and tribulations to teach the masses through their music. Having blessed the raw funky production of Slimdog on previous collabs, MCs NOBULL and 2mental officially united with the producer in 2008. The result is a group that hopes to use their allegorical street tales as an instrument of change. The head-nodding beats are a nice bonus."
Block Scholars receive Song Of The Year.com Award
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Block Scholars receive December 2009 Collective Works Award from "Song Of The Year.com" on songwriti...Block Scholars receive December 2009 Collective Works Award from "Song Of The Year.com" on songwriting high scores on multiple works.
Sets can last as long as the venue wants. We have about 6 albums worth of material...Really. No Covers, all original music. Can and will do "CLEAN SETS" if needed...
There are no upcoming dates at this time.