*Newly nominated for a 2010 Independent Music Award for Best Hip-Hop Song ("Jesse Jackson").
**Fresh off an International Tour, opening for and backing Universal Recording Artist, Leigh Jones!**
"Animate Objects - illustrious hip-hop"
- Andy Downing, Chicago Tribune
"It is possible to make positive hip-hop without being unrealistic. This album is a prime example of what looking at the past (with its soul and jazz hooks) while looking to the future (with its optimistic lyrics and subtle production work). In other words, this is the perfect summer album."
- Valerie Enriquez, Innocent Words Magazine
Winners of the Best Hip-Hop Song category in the 2008 Independent Music Award for their hit single "El Dorado," Animate Objects have been featured in Billboard Magazine and other major publications around the world. Integrating eMCees and live instrumentation, the band embodies the spirit and soul of the new generation of hip-hop music.
Boasting a lineup that has performed with a veritable who's who in hip-hop and soul (with a list that includes, but is not limited to - Lauryn Hill, the Wailers, All Natural, Common, Mos Def, Tinariwen, Brother Ali, Digable Planets, Dilated Peoples, RJD2, Blueprint, One Be Lo, Illogic + DJ PRZM, Heiruspecs, Bobby Conn, Leigh Jones, the Opus and many many more!) the band provides a dynamic live experience!
Hailing from the Musical Mecca of the Midwest, Chicago, Animate Objects is a clear leader in the Midwest's vibrant and rapidly emerging live Hip-Hop scene. The band mixes melodious keyboard harmonies and kinetic guitar riffs with sophisticated percussion rhythms and deep-pocketed basslines to form a sound as diverse as its cultural background.
Priding themselves on a healthy knowledge base and professionalism, the band has won the praise of peers and critics while performing across the globe.
Defining itself by staying true to the origins of Hip-Hop while daringly forging the future of a musical generation, Animate Objects shall fuse their organic sound with your soul.
I.A.M. STRONG Tour featuring Universal Records own, Leigh Jones
Oregon Trail Tour (In Support of Dubs, Grunts and Things)
Opened for Dilated Peoples
CMJ Music Marathon (Headliner for the Independent Music Awards Showcase)
NACA South Regional
North by Northeast
Pygmalion Music Festival
Millennium Music Conference (TunerWar Stage)
Armed Forces Entertainment Tour of Guantanamo Bay and Honduras
Independent Music Award Winner, Best Hip-Hop Song, "El Dorado" (Judges AND Vox Populi Voting)
Debuted at #2 on CMJ Hip-Hop Adds Chart on 11/14/07 (190+ adds)
Sept. AirGod at AirSpun.com
Going.com Battle of the Chicago Bands Champion
iGo Car Sharing "Audio Emissions CD" Contest Urban Champion
Metromix Rock 'N Vote Champion
Reviewed as 'Album of the Year' (2007) by independent reviewers
IMC Award Best Hip Hop Band
The Roots, A Tribe Called Quest, Amp Fiddler, Common, Kanye West, Raphael Saadiq, Mos Def, Talib Kweli
S. Squair Blaq - Vocals
Aquil - Vocals
Charlie Coffeen - keys
Justin Boyd - Drums
Prashant Vallury - Bass
High Notes For Low Lifes
Danya and the Fail Present: The Shit!
Danya and the Fail Present: Dubs, Grunts and Remixes
Dubs, Grunts and Things
Animate Objects Presents: V.P. Rao - Obrigado Advogados
Ourstage Hip-Hop Compilation (Various Artists)
Millennium Music Conference Compilation (Various Artists)
"Riding In Fast Cars With Your Momma" (Released 03/31/07)
Windy City Records Urban Music Compilation (Various Artists)
Atlantis Music Conference Compilation (Various Artists)
iGo Car Sharing Compilation (Various Artists)
Green Street Records Compilation (Various Artists)
The Beautiful EP
Billboard Magazine: THE INDIES: BASE GRATITUDE
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By CORTNEY HARDING When musician Prashant Vallury was wandering around the South by Southwest confe...By CORTNEY HARDING
When musician Prashant Vallury was wandering around the South by Southwest conference last year, he was looking for opportunities to get his band, hip-hop act Animate Objects, some gigs outside their hometown of Chicago.
Gigs in Los Angeles or New York would have been just fine. Instead, he and his band would end up playing in Cuba and Honduras. It was all because of a chance encounter with some representatives from Armed Forces Entertainment, who book indie acts at military bases around the world, that Animate Objects found themselves in front of a packed house at the notorious Guantanamo Bay Naval Base.
Unlike the better-known USO, AFE works mostly with unsigned and indie acts, hosting more than 1,200 shows every year at 270 military installations. Bands apply online, submitting electronic press kits, pictures and MP3s for judging. "A panel of at least three people evaluate the music based on a number of factors," AFE chief Edward Shock says. "We base our judgment on how the bands sound and look, of course, but we also take their politics into account."
It's probably safe to say that a band like Rage Against the Machine wouldn't be accepted, but since Kid Rock and Bret Michaels are two of AFE's more famous performers, it appears almost anything other than overt Bush-bashing goes.
Once a band completes the application process, is accepted and is matched up with a base, it is flown to whatever far-flung location is currently demanding acts of its genre. Joe Henry of rock band Adam's Attic has played in Portugal, Spain, Italy and Greenland since he hooked up with AFE; prior to those trips, he had never traveled internationally.
But free trips to exotic locales aren't the only benefit indie acts can get from working with AFE. For Henry, who came from a military background, there was a sense of "giving back" to an organization that had sustained many of his relatives. More tangibly, though, bands can get a career boost out of completing a tour.
R&B singer Margot B says hooking up with AFE and playing in Cuba was "the best decision of my life." Aside from having the once-in-a-lifetime experience of performing for soldiers and detainees at Gitmo, she says that her career has "opened up" in the year since she did the shows. "I'm still getting e-mails from soldiers thanking me for playing, and they've been passing my music along to their friends and families," she says. "Because of the connections I made, I've been picked up for compilations in Europe and called to audition for 'Spring Awakening' on Broadway."
Adam's Attic has had a similar experience. "We've had people start street teams on the bases for us," Henry says. "Military fans are really loyal, and as they move from base to base, they spread the word." The band is planning on self-releasing a record digitally in December, and hopes that the fans it gained during its world tour will support the act.
While the tours are all expenses paid, bands are not allowed to sell merchandise on the bases. They are free to give away copies of CDs and direct traffic to Web sites, and a few manage to create individual partnerships with on-base stores. According to Shock, however, these partnerships are rare. Bands that want to sell their albums in stores on military bases face much higher hurdles, including the need to be affiliated with a recognized distribution company and make it past a rigorous screening process. Jeralyn Rice, the lead music buyer for military retailer AAFES, says that many of the records it stocks tend to be best sellers that interest younger listeners.
But even if a trip abroad to perform with AFE doesn't lead to moving more units, it can still be a boon for an up-and-coming band. "We've had a huge increase in the amount of interest we get from the press," Vallury says. "The story of the AFE tour is something that a lot of people want to hear, and it really sets us apart from other bands. Plus, it's just a great thing to have on your résumé."
Animate Objects – High Notes for Low Lifes Self-released: 2010
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Animate Objects – High Notes for Low Lifes Self-released: 2010 Unique. That’s probably the first...Animate Objects – High Notes for Low Lifes
Unique. That’s probably the first word that comes to mind after an initial listen to High Notes for Low Lifes, the latest release from hip-hop band Animate Objects. It’s also a fitting word to describe the group’s journey. And, of course, it’s the perfect description for what Animate Objects is – a hip-hop band.
High Notes for Low Lifes is the band’s third full-length album – and it was truly a labour of love. As noted previously on PIMB, the band raised the funds needed to produce the album via a Kickstarter campaign. The fact that they raised more than they needed is a testament to the respect hip-hop heads have for this band.
The Kickstarter campaign was just part of a busy year for the five-man, Champaign, Illinois-based band. Just one year after introducing MC Aquil (who joined S. Squair Blaq/CZAR Absolute) Animate Objects shuffled the lineup again in 2010. Out was drummer Danya Thompson (although he is credited for both drums and MPC loops throughout High Notes for Low Lifes and continues to work in a production team named “Danya and the Fail” with founding members Steven Dobias and Prashant Vallury); in was Charles Coffeen on the keys.
Thankfully, for their fans, the changes did not affect the quality of the music. And make no mistake, it’s the music that counts for Animate Objects. The band (which, for most of the album’s tracks, features more than just the 5-man roster) offers a diverse sound that is clearly influenced by funk, jazz, soul and even pop music; MCs Aquil and S. Squair Blaq offer lyrics that go beyond the clichéd posturing of many of today’s artists. They pertain to real life and, perhaps most importantly, they reinforce the importance of being yourself – without being preachy. It’s clear that the members of Animate Objects are happy making their music.
This point is driven home in “Third Coast Clear,” a guitar-heavy track that gives the MCs a chance to shine. The phrase “I don’t care what people say/I’m a get mine anyway” goes beyond trash talk and is a statement of independence and originality.
On the reggae-influenced “No Sorrows,” Aquil and S. Squair Blaq continue the theme of introspection. High Notes for Low Lifes is certainly not the album to pick up if you’re look for punch lines and battle raps, but that isn’t to say the band’s MCs don’t deliver. Both have engaging voices, thought-provoking lyrics and a musician’s approach to their delivery – never wavering from the beat.
But it’s not all about spitting rhymes over fantastic instrumentals. “Balancing Act” is a very laid-back track featuring vocals from Sherry Amour (who co-wrote the track with Dobias); in addition, High Notes for Low Lifes features vocal contributions from Lester Jay, StephStaa and WizDom (from SPQ-Her), as well as S-Star (from Sidewalk Chalk). And on the album’s closer, “High Notes for Low Lifes,” Aquil and S. Squair Blaq deliver spoken word verses over a jazz-inspired instrumental.
At the end of the day, it’s Animate Objects’ unique take on hip-hop that leads to their success – and the success of High Notes for Low Lifes. Unfortunately, that individualism will also earn the band some detractors. But, if we’ve learned anything about them, we know this: they won’t care. And we’ll be better for it.
EXCLUSIVE: Animate Objects – Danya and The Fail Present: THE SH!T [Mixtape]
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One of Potholes’ favorite groups hit us up to exclusively drop their latest project and we would hav...One of Potholes’ favorite groups hit us up to exclusively drop their latest project and we would have been insane not to participate. Animate Objects have been steadily killing it in the Chicago scene for several years with successful albums and EPs alike. We loved their last project, Dubs Grunts & Things, so much so that we recruited them to remix one of their cuts for our Transmitting Live Vol. 1 release.
Thankfully, our relationship didn’t end there.
This project, Danya and the Fail Present: The Shit, is actually the group’s first mixtape. And it’s filled with 16 tracks of that dope hip-hop we have come to expect from Animate Objects. Below you will find a widget to stream and/or download Danya and the Fail Present: The Shit, a 16-track prelude of sorts to Animate Objects’ upcoming remix EP and full-length album. They are also touring the country and Europe right now to support the troops so be sure to check out a show if they come to your city. The tour dates are listed here.
Album Review: Animate Objects – Dubs, Grunts and Things EP (2009)
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Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Potholes Note: The bold text is from Sir Alistair and the rest comes from me...Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Potholes
Note: The bold text is from Sir Alistair and the rest comes from me, Marty. We both thoroughly enjoyed this EP and wanted to collaborate on the write-up.
As I wrote about Inverse’s fantastic So True EP, it’s become clear that ‘free.99' has become the new price for album-teasers from burgeoning hip-hop acts. And, to be honest, it’s a nice change from the never-ending stream of mixtapes out there that are consistent but typically way too long and poorly mixed – though I write that with a tongue-in-cheek sentiment after hearing 8thW1's “Sound Quality Convo”.
So you can understand the immediate appreciation for Chicago hip-hop band Animate Objects Dubs, Grunts and Things. It’s a quick but powerful statement stretched easily across five tracks that blend soul, rap and funk. And it’s also an interesting look at another side of this act that used their last album, the highly-regarded and enjoyable Riding in Fast Cars with Your Momma, to showcase their abilities to rock a banging hip-hop anthem as well as a mellow soul joint.
Also important is the fact that in only five tracks, AO could easily have tried to fit too much into each song in an attempt to impress new listeners. But rather than overdoing the whole project, AO sticks to their roots, creating a simply fluid vibe that carries over from track to track. Furthermore, some may accuse Dubs of lacking any outside the box tactics, however, AO simply bases Dubs in well-established musical techniques from their favorite genres, and builds from there to create an innovative organic sound.
But on Dubs, rap takes the wheel and never looks back as the EP opens with the working-man’s theme “Bluebloods”, a track driven by the tight, smooth rhythm section of bassist Prashant Vallury and drummer Brian Derstine, airy jazz-guitar from Steven Dobias and Artur Wnorowski’s shiny keys. And over that musical amalgam, emcees CZAR Absolute and Aquil introduce themselves to anyone sleeping on the Animate crew. That fervor continues across the next four cuts: From the summery vibe and soulful stylings on “Five” to the breezy and slightly darker “4Love”, which features the emcees rhyming about making hip-hop “for the love.” And wrapping it all up is the refreshing “Look to the Sun”, an introspective, broken-heart platter of rhymes served by Aquil and CZAR.
To call AO’s tunes smooth, neglects the fact that additionally, there is a energy that comes through which provides extreme authenticity. So when AO declares “we do this for the love,” people won’t just hear them, they will believe them.
It certainly says a lot about the Animate Objects when only one of their tracks, “Goodbye, Foolish Bird!”, is a slight misstep. While it’s not necessarily bad in the conventional sense, the contrived “we bringing it back” hook leaves a lot to be desired, though the DJ Premier-esque scratching at the end almost saves it.
There is also a sample by Black Thought of The Roots from “Don’t Say Nuthin’” on “Goodbye, Foolish Bird!”. To say that AO is comparing themselves in some manner to The Roots is not that far-fetched [Although very few are actually on the level of the Legendary Roots Crew]. Stylistically the two are compatible, favoring live instrumentation, and although they call Chicago home, AO’s music occasionally hints at Philly-soul inspirations at times.
Overall, you have to love the fresh and cohesive feel of Dubs. While the emcees won’t knock you out with their punchlines or storytelling, they ride the beat well and hold your interest. Also, the concept of a hip-hop band is one that, not yet anyway, has not been beaten to death. Here’s looking forward to Animate Objects’ next project, which should be coming soon.
Download the EP
Animate Objects :: Riding in Fast Cars With Your Momma
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The concept of rap groups playing their own instruments has always been an appealing one. The idea d...The concept of rap groups playing their own instruments has always been an appealing one. The idea directly conflicts with the negative pretenses many casual music listeners have about the genre in the first place. The seven person collective that consists of Animate Objects is one such hip-hop group that incorporates live instrumentals into their tracks, which first became popular with live performances from stellar groups like The Roots. It's a tall glass to fill, but Animate Objects aren't afraid of the task at hand.
"Riding in Fast Cars With Your Momma" is the new release from the featured group. Having a 'Dozens' name like that for an LP might make you assume that the Animate Objects' new disc is purely meant as a comedic experience. Actually, the album is not all laughs, there are moments that make you smirk, but there is a good range of material. More importantly it is an entertaining 'experience' unlike the typical rap album nowadays. The most apt comparison that can be made is to relate them to a jazzy, feel good group, like Jurassic 5 or Ugly Duckling.
"The Weight" kicks off the album with a snappy snare drum and nice DJ Premier-inspired scratch. The first line says it like it is, stating, "It's real hip-hop music." Ultimately this is just to set the mood of the album as emcee CZAR reflects on the conceptual aspect of the album, how there is a level connectivity to everything, inviting the listener to open their ears. It is a sad circumstance that they opt not to flow over the mellow beat that is constructed by the entire group but mostly accentuated with the slick sax work from member Peterson Ross.
No worries. The title-track comes through to get the head noddin'. This one is more driven by some high pitched synth-keys, offered by Artur Wnorowski. The song is infectious as it repeats "Riding!...in fast cars with your momma," for the hook. The real meaning of the song is mostly an ode to purely good hip-hop music, though, as substantiated by the rhymes:
"We paid the piper just to cross the bridge
To return to the place that we used to live
Forget the dough; forget the fancy cars and clothes
We take it back, what they stole, this is for the soul
The next will remind you of the days of old
Why you do what you told? We're here to break the mold
Your shit is garbage, no matter how many copies sold
Y'all are slaves, pick your chains platinum or gold?..."
Most of the disc has simple but enjoyable lyrics like these that make a listener recollect some top-notch old school rap material. There is one point later in the song that proves the skills of the emcee, CZAR Absolute, when the beat enflames with a guitar spike, the tempo changes, and they spit-fire onomatopoeias lyrics in a precise, tightly wound, form.
As the introduction alludes to, everything (every track) has its own story. "Phoenix" brings up the subject of a deceased father that still acts as a source of inspiration in overcoming shortcomings in life. There is a clear depth greater than most music out there. "Beautiful" has this feeling too. The latter fits its name perfectly as guest Charles Hammond Jr. croons the hook atop soft violin strings.
"El Dorado," the first single off the album, is responsible for Animate Objects gaining more popular according to CMJ's music charts. The single has also been chosen as a finalist for the 7th Annual Independent Music Awards. It shares the same excellent ingredients as the good majority of the tracks. It is perpetuated by an almost folksy style.
There's not too much to complain about when listening to the musicianship and rhythm of this strong piece of music, so you're spared the degradation trip. The only thing that can be fairly mentioned is that despite the variety of instrumentals, sometimes the sound can get slightly repetitive. Almost all of the songs are stylized to sound like jazz or funk; yet, it almost always works.
"Riding in Fast Cars With Your Momma" is one of those albums you put in your player and know that you are going to appreciate immediately. This album does not grow on you--it is growth. This is the direction that hip-hop needs to be going in: good lyrics, good musicianship, and good times. It comes as no wonder that they come from the Midwestern Mecca of music, Chicago, which seems to constantly spawn innovative artists. The Animate Objects' album sheds negative connotations associated with 'hustler rap' to bring a golden album, indeed.
Music Vibes: 9 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 9 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 9 of 10
Animate Objects Take Broad View of Hip Hop
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So what is hip-hop? It's a question often faced by the seven members of Animate Objects, a live b...So what is hip-hop?
It's a question often faced by the seven members of Animate Objects, a live band whose music oozes an almost Philadelphia soul sound with layered grooves punctuated by rhymed lyrics about a world where hope exists alongside darkness, and women are seen as complete human beings.
It's a side of hip-hop that's almost absent from the mainstream sound so often heard rattling through the windows of sport utility vehicles, so much so that people at Animate Objects shows have been known to say, "That really changed my view of what hip-hop is."
"There are a lot of people who have a misconception of what hip-hop is," explains drummer Brian Derstine. "They hear rap on the radio and they think, 'Oh, that's hip-hop,' and they don't have exposure to acts like A Tribe Called Quest, the Roots, Common and people who come up from the underground. And they hear our music and it's not what they were expecting."
Formed in 2002 in Champaign, the band also includes MC's CZAR Absolute (Antar Jackson) and Wondur Wie (Alan J. Griffin), guitarist Steve Dobias, DJ Mike Mabborang (DJ Mabbo), bassist Prashant Vallury and keyboardist Artur Wnorowski (A-Dub).
Vallury offers that what makes the band "hip-hop" is their diversity as musicians.
"We are an amalgam of different styles of music - funk, soul, ruck, blues, world music - and we're able to bring all sorts of textures and sounds," he says, "So its like we're sampling our culture every time we lay a track."
CZAR adds that the remarkable diversity of the band's members is also an asset.
"We've got people from Poland, the Phillippines, the sons of first-generation American citizens, people from the suburbs, people from the inner city, people raised by Jewish women, and when you have all of that, you'll be able to make a lot of connections with the external world."
As for skeptics who think live instrumentation should not be a part of hip-hop, CZAR says "Even though hip-hop was born as a digital art form, it builds off of rock and it builds off of punk, which was always played by bands. So for hip-hop to make this progression is only natural."
Vallury says this progression also allows Animate Object to show people just how musical hip-hop can be.
"We've had sound people come up to us at the end of the shows and say 'It was an honor to mix you guys because I didn't think hip-hop had song.' And that;s almost a slap in the face because the music we like we think is the best music there is. To say hip-hop isn't music, man , you need to dig deeper. Hopefully we can be a conduit to that."
Animate Objects just completed recording their debut album "Riding In Fast Cars (With Ya Mama)," which will be released on their label, Nutta Records, early this spring. The first single, "Beautiful" can be heard on the Web at www.myspace.com/animateobjects.
Q&A Animate Objects
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For Animate Objects, staying connected to their supporters is a part of their roots.Soul Train had t...For Animate Objects, staying connected to their supporters is a part of their roots.Soul Train had the opportunity to speak with bass player, Prashant Vallury from Animate Objects to learn more about the band, future goals and what it’s like being in a band compromised of many personalities and talent.
Soul Train: Where did the name Animate Objects come from?
Prashant Vallury: Squair had the name picked out before our first practice. No one in the band at the time had any objections to it, so we stuck with it.
Soul Train: How did the group come about? How did you guys meet?
Prashant Vallury: We met at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2003. I was introduced to Squair through a mutual friend, Larry Gates (of Curb Service). Between us, we put some pieces together. Squair needed a guitarist and bassist, and I joined and brought Steve Dobias into the fold with me.
Soul Train: How did growing up in Chicago affect your music style?
Prashant Vallury: Chicago is the clearinghouse between N.Y. and L.A. Between us and Detroit, there is so much incredible music that passes through here and its up to us to take advantage of the unique opportunities we have to see just about every conceivable notable musical act. Those of us who grew up here definitely took advantage of those opportunities and we like to think that the varied influences from our upbringings are reflected in our music.
Soul Train: What does the term independent artist mean to you?
Prashant Vallury: It means that there is nothing blocking the paths of communication between artist and fan.
Soul Train: How would you describe Animate Object’s musical sound?
Prashant Vallury: Soulful, organic, and good for you.
Soul Train: Where does your inspiration come from when writing and producing music?
Prashant Vallury: Each of us has our own way of finding inspiration. For me, its wandering around and just soaking in the environment wherever we are. If I see something particularly touching, I try to write something that reflects the connected emotion.
Soul Train: Who is someone you would like to collaborate with in the future? Why?
Prashant Vallury: Man that is really hard to decide because we all listen to so many different things. We just did Lauryn Hill’s pre-show party and we all dug her set afterwards, so maybe we would all agree on working with her. Robert Glasper, DJ Logic, De La Soul, Snarky Puppy–these are all artists we have been talking about at length recently.
Soul Train: How do you set yourself apart from other bands?
Prashant Vallury: We try to maintain at least six feet of distance between us and anyone else. [laughs] Really though, we try to imbue any and all influences into our sound which makes our style wildly diverse.
Soul Train: How do you stay connected with your fans?
Prashant Vallury: Twitter, Facebook, e-mail, everything! But nothing beats a face-to-face conversation.
Soul Train: What’s the best part of being on tour?
Prashant Vallury: Waking up in new surroundings, not having any “to-do-list” other than show up to the venue on time and put on the best show you can on that night.
Soul Train: What’s the worst part of being on tour?
Prashant Vallury: Eating right and rooming with Charlie.
Soul Train: What’s next for Animate Objects?
Prashant Vallury: Our calendar is rapidly filling up and we have two records in the works that we hope to release in 2011!
For more information on Animate Objects, please visit www.animate-objects.com/. Be sure to follow them on Twitter, @animateobjects.
– Drew-Shane Daniels
* * * *
Drew-Shane Daniels is a Philadelphia based writer maneuvering through life and graduate school. Hailing from Dallas, his Southern charm and East Coast hustler mentality fuels his ability to tackle stimulating lifestyle and cultural topics. He’s the creative genius found on his personal blog www.heardhimsay.com. His work has been featured on Clutch Magazine, Black College Wire and BET.com. You can also follow him on Twitter @drewshane.
Concert delivers 'I. A.M. Strong' message
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FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- More than 2,200 Soldiers in Basic Combat Training and Advanced Individual Trai...FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- More than 2,200 Soldiers in Basic Combat Training and Advanced Individual Training gathered at the Solomon Center Monday to be entertained and educated by performers of the I. A.M. Strong Tour. The Army's I. A.M. Strong program encourages Soldiers to intervene, act and motivate others to prevent sexual harassment and assault among the ranks.
The program featured comedy, spoken word and musical performances and was headlined by singer Leigh Jones, who said she appreciates the opportunity to combine that message with entertainment.
"It's an important topic that we all really want to touch on and the fact that we can come and bring it to (the Soldiers) in a creative environment is exciting," Jones said.
Sgt. Arnita Miles, Fort Jackson president of Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers, said the show provided the right mix of entertainment and information.
"It was excellent," Miles said. "The message was clearly put through all phases of the concert."
Fort Jackson was one of 23 stops of the tour. Garrison Command Sgt. Maj. Christopher Culbertson said it was important to expose BCT and AIT Soldiers to the I. A.M. Strong program to educate them about sexual harassment and assault early in their careers.
"It was at the right time with the right audience," Culbertson said.
Sgt. Anthony Profit, BOSS vice president at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, said the I. A.M. Strong program provides a more peer-oriented approach to teaching Soldiers about sexual harassment and assault than traditional training.
"The I. A.M. Strong point is saying, 'We're not just a corporation, we're a band of brothers and we can actually prevent it from within and eventually stop it from happening," said Profit, whose spoken word performance illustrated examples of sexual harassment and assault in the Army.
Pfc. Santino Gitano, Company A, 187th Ordnance Battalion, said he had a good time at the show and he hopes the message got across to everyone.
"I feel that sexual harassment and everything else that leads up to the bad things that happen is horrible," Gitano said. "I hope that everyone understands what was being said out there. I know I do. I believe in those values."
A Brilliant Debut Album
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Riding In Fast Cars With Your Momma is the debut album from the Champaign Illinois Live Band Hip Hop...Riding In Fast Cars With Your Momma is the debut album from the Champaign Illinois Live Band Hip Hop group Animate Objects. The use of a backing band with hip hop is becoming a more illustrious way of distinguishing yourself from other groups and bands, while adding a new element to a style of music that is extremely technology based. It's not hard to see why more groups are taking this musical approach as it allows a group collective to share their own influences, creating a more full and round sound. The biggest influence is obviously the Philadelphia based group The Roots, who's unique sound helped them pierce the mainstream bubble and give people a starting point for an incredibly well developed style of hip hop.
The first thing you will notice is the lack of the typical mainstream "gangsta" fascination that has been the focus on most mainstream hip hop in the last two decades. The first line in the song "The Weight" starts with "This is real Hip Hop music/ from the soul". The song then goes into a spoken word delivery from CZAR Absolute talking about how if he could tell you about all the things that make up the subject matter of mainstream hip hop (i.e. drugs, promiscuity, commercialism, consumerism, and violence) he would, but can't because those are all things he does not posses. Right there, you're given an idea of what the album is going to be like, this isn't a stereotypical hip hop album this is a thinking man's album. It only gets better as the song transitions into the titular "Riding In Fast Cars With Your Momma" which talks about bringing the soul back into a style of music that has been continuously used to push merchandise and false ideas onto a impressionable youth. Possibly the best song on the album "Phoenix" talks about how a deceased father can still be an inspirational figure in the shortcomings of life. The fifth track "Beautiful" is one of the slower, more melodic tracks, but does well in bringing to light that love can persevere as well as inspire you through the toughest parts of your life. The use of a violin in the background really helps add an extra element to the song. Lyrically, this album truly delivers, both inspiring and positive, something mainstream hip hop desperately needs.
As there is a full band in the background, it adds a whole other element to album. You'll often find yourself listening to each track twice, once to find the meanings behind the lyrics, then the other to just listen to the instrumentation. Sound wise, the album switches from a jazzy sound to funk in the songs. The transitions are well done and feel extremely natural. The music really does well on reflecting what CZAR Absolute is saying in the song, the slower songs like "Beautiful", "Midnight Blue", and "Phoenix" follow a more melodic slow style. Each instrument really feels like they're contributing equally and are all audible. The guitar never overpowers the bass, and the drums beat happily in the background, usually following a simplistic beat.
There really isn't much to criticize as it's a pretty flawless album to be honest. The only thing I can really think of has more to do with the instrumentation which can get a little repetitive at times. It's not necessarily a bad thing as the instrumentation really does seem to work well with the lyrics, and the structure of the song. However, for the most part it's extremely laid back, I felt that at least one high energy song would've been nice. Other than that miniscule complaint, the only other one I can think of is the overall length of some of the songs, which I felt were a little too short and could have been filled up more, either with an extra verse or some kind of an instrumental solo.
Animate Objects - The New Hot Sauce
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The Lyrical Lounge gets an exclusive peek into the minds and personalities that represent Animate Ob...The Lyrical Lounge gets an exclusive peek into the minds and personalities that represent Animate Objects, a crew that sets out to call attention to questioning accepted social norms of work (music), love and life. Their name and music is an active social commentary, and Angelica LeMinh gets to the sum of their hearts:
ALM: What is your take on hip hop love songs? While “Beautiful” channels The Roots’ “Silent Treatment,” “Slow” reminds me of BEP (before Fergie) “Feel.”
Wondur: If you look at all music, there is probably no other topic covered more than love. Nowadays, cats are so caught up with being thugs they forget about love.
Artur: Love is timeless, universal. No matter what the genre of music, love will always be floating around. I need to look into death metal love songs, shit should be interesting (smiles)
Prashant: I personally liken “Beautiful” to the remix of “the Hypnotic” by the Roots feat. D’Angelo (Men in Black Soundtrack). And it’s ironic that you bring up “Feel” by golden-era BEP. That song was one of the main inspirations for writing “Slow.” You’re extremely good at this!
DJ Mabbo: “The Light” is one of my top 10 of all time. A great hip hop song is a great hip hop regardless of the subject.
ALM (sidebars with CZAR): I just had to say that I love the part when you say, “what a beautiful scene, (she) walked in with such a beautiful weave.” But can you speak on what beauty is to you?
CZAR Absolute: (chuckling) Just a heads up, that’s “beautiful lean” not “beautiful weave.”
ALM: Shucks, you caught me joking, but seriously though, how do you walk in with a lean? Is that some pimp limp shit?
CZAR Absolute: (laughs) With a swagger, not necessarily limping, but with a little swing in the hips, a little sway, you dig? I guess it’s possible to lean a little bit if your weave is heavy. )Beauty is the ability to make a positive transformation from our innate beauty to that which surrounds us. We all have the potential to better ourselves, and we become that beauty when we become that change.
Wondur: Beauty to me is a rolled blunt on a summer night, or when you are in a moment so hard that you feel it everywhere, anything that makes your senses feel good.
Brian: Beauty is an amorphous concept in our society today because so many people are trying to rebrand it or turn it into the latest hot button issue. Since so many things in our society “must” be dumbed down to black-or-white issues, there are rare occasions for grey area, interpretation, or personal taste. It’s like the state of radio today, but don’t even get me started on that.
Artur: Beauty is unconditional acceptance, non judgmental and always forgiving.
Prashant: Anyone who has soul and passion is beautiful to me. Freedom is beautiful. Yams are beautiful. Black licorice? Not so beautiful. Aesthetic beauty is only a fraction of the package and depends completely on the product.
ALM: What do you think of the Barbershop movies? Content-wise, Ice Cube as the protagonist, were they an accurate portrayal of South Side Chicago?
Prashant: I’ll defer to CZAR. My barbershop was John’s Barbershop in Oak Park, IL. Wood paneling on walls adorned by baseball cards featuring the Chicago Cubs of the 1980’s and 1990’s. Man, I miss Domingo Ramos and Doug Dascenzo.
CZAR Absolute: I’ve only seen the first one and it was cool, but I’m from the West Side anyway, (laughs).
Wondur: I love them movies. The characters needed to be exaggerated a bit for a good story, but cats is really like that. Obviously they weren’t sayin’ the whole South Side is like that block, but there are plenty of similarities with a lot of streets and people you might see. Ice Cube’s character was an honest man trying to make something of himself, and I think they got how hard that really is.
DJ Mabbo: I liked them and I didn’t really think much deeper than that. Ice Cube’s cool but his recent movie roles have been pretty weak.
Brian: I grew up in the Southwest SUBURBS, so I couldn’t say. It wasn’t a soul-shaking film like Hotel Rwanda, but I enjoyed it.
ALM: Were you disappointed when you saw Common modeling waffle shirts for the Gap? Favorite album by Lonnie, and do you prefer the pre or post Badu model?
Artur: Common GAP, why not?
Wondur: It was disturbing, but honestly he has laid so many bricks in this hip hop game as the definition of a real MC that I feel like he has amnesty from callouts of sellin’ out, I just hope he got paid as much as the other artist they’ve featured. Can I borrow a dollar is my favorite and I hate to hate, but I didn’t like any of the stuff he was doing when him and Badu were clickin’, but I still got nuthin’ but respect for the man.
CZAR Absolute: Like Water for Chocolate
Brian: Disappointed? Not really, who am I to judge his career decisions? Anyone who can put his name on Like Water For Chocolate could model zebra thongs if he wants.
DJ Mabbo: Can’t really hate on Common for getting that money ‘cuz we all gotta eat! And at least it wasn’t Old Navy cargo shorts (laughs). It’s a tough choice for favorite album between Like Water For Chocolate and Be.
Prashant: I was a little surprised, but if he is making money that he puts towards making that music, it’s all good. I’d much rather see him hawking clothing as opposed to some wannabe thug. He has made dope albums before and after the Badu-izm, but Resurrection is his best. I hope this new joint makes me reconsider that choice.
ALM: Where do you see yourself in the middle of the Chicago music scene that never seems to stop flourishing?
Brian: There are a bunch of live hip hop groups working hard to carve out their own niche in Chicago, which is heavily rock, blues, jazz and classical. The city has historically not been very friendly to music, but with The Police performing in Wrigley Field, Lollapalooza going on it’s third consecutive year, and the tide changing in support of good music, we are finding a lot of local support and love for our unique sound.
Wondur: As far as Animate goes, we’re the new hot sauce, we represent the cats that want hip hop to be more then the shit they spoon feed us on the radio. As far as heart and spirit goes, there isn’t even a close second for a city with that. The underground scene is were the city truly shines, as I still feel like without help from LA and NY Twista, Common and Kanye wouldn’t have been able to be where they are now.
DJ Mabbo: I have no idea where we fit in, ask Czar.
CZAR Absolute: Chicago is the birthplace of gospel, the city where Sam Cooke invented soul music, the place where house music originates. Chicago has been a center for the blues, for jazz, and most recently a crossroads of hip hop where elements of east/west coast and dirty south can be found. Chicago is a natural breeding ground for music experimentalism, growth, and evolution. I believe that Animate Objects represents this “Center City,” which embodies change in musical sound and culture.
Prashant: In the Chi, there is a commotion in the underground. We are just waiting for the first artist to break out and set us all free. If anything, hanging on to past Chi legends is like placing extra rocks on Sisyphus’ collar. We cannot be compared to any past artists outside of Lonnie Rashid Lynn, Jr., although, I would certainly welcome any comparisons to Gil Scott Heron.
ALM: (sidebars about Chitown’s Peed Piper) I dare you to talk about R.Kelly.
Prashant: I dare anyone to talk about R.Kelly
Wondur: R. Kelly, that mafuka’s voice is so good he can tap lil’ girls, pee on em, film that shit and I still be in the car singing’ along to his shit, what can I say? He lucky he’s a musical genius.
ALM: Whose mama are y’all riding in cars with?
Prashant: I dunno. Need a ride?
Artur: Yo momma for sure J
DJ Mabbo: I wouldn’t know, they put me in the trunk with the gear.
Steve: I am not at liberty to say due to pending litigation.
Wondur: Prolly some 3 year old kid who calls his Gramma “mom” and his mamma “Stacy”
ALM: Ludacris’ “Runaway Love” vs. “The Battle of Now”? What do think of Oprah’s stance on hip hop? Have you ever been in the live studio audience?
DJ Mabbo: We had “Battle of Now” written way before we heard Luda’s track. I want Oprah to adopt me.
Art: I do not know about Oprah’s stance on anything.
Prashant: “Runaway Love” came out maybe two years after we recorded ”the Battle of Now.” I wrote the music 5 years ago when I was in a period of heartbreak. I can’t speak to CZAR’s lyrics, and I have not heard the Luda track from beginning to end. However, we are certainly aware of the similarities between the two joints. Luda was born in Champaign, IL. The original AO lineup was formed in Champaign. Maybe he heard us at a practice? Haha, you can tell him I said that (laughs).
Oprah needs to cool out. Has she ever listened to ATCQ? De La? Common? She has a freakish crush on John Legend, shouldn’t that link her to some dope artists? I think she will be giving away hip hop cds as studio gifts in no time.
Wondur: Man when I heard that song on the radio, I was floored. Dat shit is dopski 100% on all levels; musically, lyrically, and storywise. I was just plain proud of hip hop, which is sadly a hard thing to do with half the bullshit they put out now.
Brian: I think Oprah would love our music, and we could walk over to her show anytime, the studio is practically in our back alley. I’ve never been in the live studio audience (missed out on my chance for that G6).
ALM: Being a former diehard fan of Scottie Pippen, (Rodman never did apologize to him in front of everyone after they won that championship like he promised) humor me for a hot minute by using hip hop as a metaphor or basketball, a team sport that only celebrates individual merit. Why does nobody want to be the 6 th man?
Prashant: Former diehard fan? I have two Pip jerseys in my closet that I rock before any Jordan one. Hip-hop in the band context is a team sport. CZAR and Wondur can’t run as far without our instrumentation and we can’t run as far without them. We play off each other and definitely have to run some set plays during our live shows. I guess if we were the embodiment of those Bulls teams, I would be Jack Haley. I kinda sit in the corner in my own little world and then after the set, I go sit in another corner. When I get playing time, I’m certain to pick up 3 hard fouls in 25 seconds. However, all that matters is that 72-10 record. We are shooting for a straight 82.
Artur: AO is the only player and the individual merit doesn’t come first.
Brian: We each bring different things to the group and the interplay of different concepts keeps us growing.
ALM: You say you rep for the “real hip hop.” What does that mean to you? (I know that
you “don’t make music, you make change”, but tell the peoples)
DJ Mabbo: It’s real ‘cuz it’s what we feel and enjoy.
Wondur: To me, the real hip hop cats do it to actually express something and not just look cool, I’m pretty against cats out there simply so they can tell mafuckas “I’ma rapper.”
CZAR Absolute: I got my start performing through grassroots organizing and being part of a movement that embraced hip hop as not only an art form and a culture, but a vehicle of social change. I’m talking about a culture of visual arts (graf writing), audio arts (dj-ing), literary arts (Emceeing), and kinetic arts (breaking). Hip hop is the child of ALL people. However, I’m aware that all children must grow and as hip hop does so, those of us who represent it must embrace not only its beauty but its faults as well.
Steve: To me, real hip hop comes from individuals trying to make art with what they are doing, and that means drawing on the full range of experience, lyrically and musically. That means going beyond the old, rehashed subject matter that pop lyrics have fallen into to actually say something different that expresses who you are.
Brian: I feel that the media should stop using Rap and Hip Hop interchangeably or recognize Live Hip Hop as different from Hip-Hop/Rap; Hip Hop and distinguish that Live Hip Hop (like ours) is more instrumental, soul, jazz influenced music from Rap the clubby, cash/money/cars/clothes/hos radio fare.
Prashant: There was a time when poets were emcees. That was when hip-hop was real. Poignant social commentary sparked by real-life experiences. There are not too many “real” emcees out there. We happen to have two in our group.
ALM: Go on and plug anything you think is important.
CZAR Absolute: Unity, Peace, Love
Brian: Vote for us in the iGo Audio Emissions contest: http://www.igocars.org/igoaudioemissions/vote. No more Bush.
Art: GO POLAND 2012!!!
Wondur: I’m Wondur the bastard son of Animate Objects, which started as a side project to me ‘cuz I’m full-time with my other hip hop group Dynamic Vibrations, (album coming soon) but we’re all family, so if you see Animate goin’ somewhere, DV will most likely be a part of it. I like to think that DV’s my wife and Animate is my mistress and in my house, that’s cool with both of ‘em, so that’s about it…
If you’re lookin’ for plugs for Chicago peeps doin’ it right: Treologic, Pacifics, Garden Music, Phillip Morris, Idris Goodwin, Maker, DJ Intel, DJ Pickel, Qadraphonics, Chi Sky, Network, Trump Tight, Ben Official, Verbal Kent, etc.
So, that’s that! Straight from the mouths of humans. The guys are in almost complete consensus in choosing Lisa Bonet over Janet Jackson (in both categories of child actresses on The Cosby Show and Diffr’nt Strokes respectively and inspiration of Lenny Kravitz and O-town songs, though one-I’ll let you guess who-said “fuck O-town and fuck Lenny”) and range from doing all to none of their grocery shopping from Trader Joe’s. Soul music most certainly has its place in hip hop, bitches. But don’t just take my word for it, check for yourself at: www.myspace.com/animateobjects
Posted 4/25/07 at www.shotgunreviews.com, The Lyrical Lounge (Hip-Hop) by Angelica LeMinh
Beats, Rhymes, Life
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Animate Objects state their intentions right off the bat, opening the album with "The Weight," a tra...Animate Objects state their intentions right off the bat, opening the album with "The Weight," a track redefining what real hip-hop is over a decidedly animate band. There's no question that listeners will be Chica-goin' back to what Gil Scott was hearin'. In true underground fashion, they mention Scottie Pippen, rap about guns, history, inspiration, love and your momma in the "windy city segregated, heavily separated." The segues are perfect, the jazz chords, motifs and handclaps are solid, and respsects all around to any emcee who pledges his commitment to being grammatically correct on wax. The effort gets increasingly better, but the bottom line is that folks could contest soul music's place in hip hop, but "like a wack dance movie, y'all get served, like a stack of hors-d'oeuvres, like you deserve."
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PIcture your favorite local jazz combo teaming up with your favorite club MC and DJ, and that only c...PIcture your favorite local jazz combo teaming up with your favorite club MC and DJ, and that only covers the surface sound of Animate Objects. Originating in Champaign - Urbana and winning local wards during their college tenure, Animate Objects took it back home to Chicago. Like the city, their sound is big, rich and just the right amount of dirty. Perhaps not dirty so much as a bit clouded, like smoke at a backyard barbecue.
Even if you can't afford fancy rims and Cristal (mentioned in "The Weight"), there are many beautiful moments in life (the title track). Yet as beautiful as life can be, there are moments, like in the bonus trac "The Battle of Now," where life doesn't move. "Keep my eyes wide open and I'm hoping for change, but the older I grow, the more it stays the same. It may be a shame, we can't save today. But if we live for tomorrow, we're gonna be OK." Nonetheless, the need to keep moving is apparent in the lyrics "though it's dark in the streets, it's still blue in the sky" in "Midnight Blue."
In the end, it is possible to make positive hip hop without being unrealistic. This album is a prime example of what looking at the past (with its soul and jazz hooks) while looking to the future (with its optimistic lyrics and subtle production work). In other words, this is the perfect summer album, whether it's between school terms or between graduation and "the real world."
A Natural and Undeniable Groove
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Lean, jazzy, funky and soulful live band hip hop from Animate Objects -- an expertly crafted set, to...Lean, jazzy, funky and soulful live band hip hop from Animate Objects -- an expertly crafted set, too -- whether their rolling out keyboard-textured grooves or harder hitting boom bap! Animate Objects spin the live sound very well, and capture it just as strongly on this LP -- keys, bass guitar and drums -- with occasional horns and extra strings. There's a natural groove here that's undeniable -- the live band sound wholly belongs to this material, some cuts are laidback slow rolling, others hit with more of a funky bounce. A trio of MCs drop forthright lyricism -- bringing even more depth to the proceedings. Nice stuff! "
K-Murdock Reviews "Axioms" remix
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Last fall i got into regular contact with this cat Prashant aka "Pee"- the bassist from the dope pro...Last fall i got into regular contact with this cat Prashant aka "Pee"- the bassist from the dope progressive hip-hop band called Animate Objects. AO hails from Chicago and serves as a live backing band for other Chi-town artists when they arent doing their own material. Anyhow, Pee invited me to remix the song "Axioms" off their latest album High Notes For Low Lifes and below is my re-imagining of this very uplifting song...
Hopefully this won't be the last time i get to collaborate with these guys as they are totally on the same wavelength i'm on. Shouts again to Pee of AO for not only helping make this remix happen but also showing mad love by letting me & Random crash/take over his spot while we were recently in Chicago... next time u are in the DC area, my couch is yours homie!
Animate Objects groove their way to the dirty Dale
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Right out of the windy city, Chicago natives Animate Objects will play their smooth, soul-filled hip...Right out of the windy city, Chicago natives Animate Objects will play their smooth, soul-filled hip-hop and jazz beats at Thursday’s sunset concert.
The members of Animate Objects conjure up a head-bobbing groove that’s hard to ignore. The group flawlessly combines two relatively different styles of music to create a powerhouse of sound. The songs are layered and deep the hip-hop beats are weaved with jazz, soul and rhythmic vocals.
The very fact that this hip-hop group plays its own instruments gives it a leg up on others. If that isn’t enough to separate them from the norm, their lyrics have a clever poetic flow and none of the crass, demeaning jabs that are typical of some hip-hop and rap artists.
Frontman and MC Squair Blaq formed the group in 2003 in Champaign for a battle of the bands competition.
Bassist Prashant Vallury said Blaq is also the mastermind behind the group’s name.
“To separate us from the norm of MC/DJ combos that oftentimes lack any sort of visual appeal, (Blaq) branded us Animate Objects because we are a unitary whole comprised of wholly animate parts hopefully more visually appealing than your standard hip-hop show,” Vallury said.
The group won the battle and has continued down the road of success since. They won the Best Hip-Hop Song category in the 2008 Independent Music awards for their hit single “El Dorado.” They have also been featured in Billboard magazine and other major publications.
Vallury said the award helped motivate them to move forward.
“It is easy to lose focus and direction when it seems like your work can’t find an audience, but when your efforts are validated by your peers, it gives you a feeling that you may be on the right track after all,” Vallury said.
The group has been heavily influenced by artists such as J Dilla, Flying Lotus, A Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul, the Roots, Curtis Mayfield, Marvin Gaye, the Beach Boys, The Rolling Stones and the Beatles.
Vallury said although it is hard to be away from family and friends while on tour, it’s a sacrifice that comes with the job.
“It’s a wonderful feeling to wake up in new surroundings and get paid to do what you love,” Vallury said. “We relish the opportunity to share our work with folks that may not be too familiar with us.”
The group is made up of six members. Aquil and Squair Blaq provide main vocals, Steve Dobias is the string man on guitar, Prashant Vallury slaps the bass, Charlie Coffeen plays the ivory keys, and Justin Boyd on the drums.
Animate Objects has gone through a few member changes over the years, but old, new and former members remain close and continue to help each other out in their music careers.
“Our original keyboard player is going to be mixing and mastering three new singles for us,” Vallury said. :Our original drummer and DJ have contributed remixes to newer projects, and there is always something going on musically between all of us.”
The closeness between previous and current members is what gives the group an edge in the hip-hop world, Vallury said.
“We are constantly entertained by tales of the band in its previous incarnations, which seems to inform our decision making (for better or worse) based on those prior experiences,” he said
We can play forever, and love to experiment. We can be both deejay and headliner.
Brown Eyes Blue Soul
Axioms (A Tribute to 12-4-06)
The Lowest High
Grown A** Man
Walks For Hipsters
Ridin' In Fast Cars With Yo Mama
Covers (if requested/as needed):
Little Brother - Lovin' It
Daft Punk - Robot Rock
Nina Simone - Funkier Than a Mosquito's Tweeter
Brother Ali - Take Me Home
Estelle - American Boy
Michael Jackson - Billie Jean
OutKast - Roses
Jill Scott - Gimme
Wild Style OST - Wild Style Theme
Soho - Hot Music
All Natural - Renaissance
All Natural - 50 Years
Eric B. and Rakim - Paid in Full
PDF RiderAO Rider and Performance Contract
There are no upcoming dates at this time.