Wednesday, 30 January 2008

Astonishing the Hip-Hop world!

Astonish joins the veteran hip-hop collective, the Molemen, as their youngest burgeoning emcee. Originally from
Humboldt Park but now residing in Old Irving/Jefferson Park, Astonish embodies Chicago’s capacity to produce a street-smart lyricist with enough intelligent swagger to hold his own in the midst of both the thugs and the backpackers.

Having been reared in a diverse musical environment, Astonish gained a unique eclectic auditory experience that has helped him develop his balanced approach to music. Between the old-school soul records of his grandparents’ era, his father’s penchant for NWA, and his own musical delving with everything from Usher to Nas to Red Hot Chilli Peppers: Astonish’s rhymes convey a multitude of topics that reflects this musical heritage.

After gaining a street buzz as a younger teen, Astonish felt that he needed to restrain himself from putting out tracks without a proper network behind him to ensure that his first album wasn’t lost in a flood of underground releases and never heard. By biding his time, he was able to cultivate his craft and eventually gain the ear of the Moles, quickly earning their acceptance with his sincerity and the quality of his delivery.

With nearly six years of devoted rhyming under his belt, Astonish is in a solid position to quickly establish himself as one of
hip-hop’s newly tiered breakthrough artists. One of his songs, “Broken Dreams”, focuses on his strong impulse to take advantage of the opportunities presented to him while they are still available, and not to let time pass him by. Having joined up with the legendary Molemen collective at the young age of 21, it is clear that he is wasting no time in taking advantage of a very strong opportunity to allow his dream of becoming an internationally respected emcee to be realized.

HipHopInformant: How long have you been involved with Hip-Hop?

I been Rhyming since I was 12 but tryna’ pursue it as a career since I was 16. I just finally got my break this in May of 2006 when I signed wit Molemen Records.

HipHopInformant: What influenced you to become involved in Hip Hop?

I have a few influences that made me wanna’ do this. Of course the music I was listing to inspired me to wanna’ do this but also the things that I've gone thru or seen people go thru that influences the type of music that I make.

HipHopInformant: Where are you from and do you think that influences the way you rhyme?

Astonish: I’m from Chicago. Chicago definitely influences the way that I rhyme cuz’ that is where I draw my inspiration from. Chicago has its own style, slang, and swagger and it definitely shows throughout my music.

HipHopInformant: Do you think that Hip-Hop as it is a good influence to the youth today?

Astonish: I wouldn’t say its a good influence, but its definitely a reflection of what’s going on in the world. I don’t think Hip Hop is appropriate to use as a tool to influence the youth. Hip Hop, in most cases, is the story of a n##a going from nothing to something and is the harsh reality of how we live in poverty stricken communities. I don’t think its up to hip hop to teach the youth in every record, I think people should listen to hip hop and try to correct some of those problems that almost every rapper talks about whether they glorify it or not.

How do you think the way you rap differentiates from other rappers?

Astonish: It differentiates from other rappers because I’m telling my other rapper can tell MY story with my outlook on things going on. A lot of rappers think alike in some cases but how u put it out to the world is another story. I don’t try to preach about things on a positive angle all the time cuz’ things aren't always positive.

HipHopInformant: Are there any artists that influence you?

Astonish: I think everyone who does music has been influenced by another artist. I’m influenced by a lot of people like Nas, Jay-Z, Mos Def, Common, Kanye West etc.. but my favorite artist of all time is Big L.

HipHopInformant: Where do you want your career in Hip-Hop to go from here?

Astonish: As far as it can possibly go...I just wanna’ keep making good music that people appreciate.

HipHopInformant: Do your tracks represent what life experiences you’ve had and what you’ve been through?

Some of my music does but I also write about things that I’ve seen people go thru also.
What does your track “Can U Hear Me” mean or represent?

Astonish: "Can U Hear Me" is basically my introduction to the world and in it I just express what I’m feeling about music and how its affecting what’s going on in today’s culture and explaining what I’m tryna’ bring into the game.

How did you come up with your name?

Astonish: My rhyming partner from my RnA click gave me the name and it fits me well because a lot of times people didn’t expect me to rhyme as good as I do. So every time I spit a rhyme people would be in awe to hear something so ill out of something they didn’t expect.

HipHopInformant: What does the future hold for Astonish?

Hopefully the future holds a lot. I’m gonna’ keep putting out music, doing tours and videos so hopefully they world will accept me and finally be able to hear my voice....but for now "they don’t really hear me tho’".




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Wednesday, 16 January 2008

Hired Gun, Shooting through the streets of NY

Hired Gun is a Jersey born emcee representing the borough of Brooklyn since 2000. An educator, writer, emcee and event organizer, Hired Gun is a man who wears many hats within this hip hop culture. Gun is a co-founder of Say Word Entertainment, a New York based Hip Hop event company, and one third of the group 3rd Party. He also works as a solo artist, and is a after school mentor/teaching artist for UrbanArtBeat ( Gun is a child of the golden era, and his socio-political commentary, dense lyricism and high energy performance are a reflection of that.

One of the most versatile lyricists you'll ever see he also is a member of the Black Opz Drum n Bass massif. Hired Gun has performed all over the country doing both hip hop and drum bass as far west as Minnesota, as north as Vermont and as south as Virginia. Hired Gun has been blessed to share the stage with such legends as the Last Poets, Fat Lip of the Pharcyde, Rob Swift, and Slick Rick. If you're in need of music with meaning, high energy, and positivity...and you can find him (which isn't hard) maybe you can book..the Hired Gun.

HipHopInformant: What made u get involved with Hip Hop?

Hired Gun: The Stop the Violence Movement. Growing up in New Jersey the only direct exposure I had to the music was the radio, video music box (peace to Uncle Ralph!) and visiting my family in Newark, New Jersey. The first song I ever heard was "Self Destruction" and the song just resonated with me. It was cool, it was saying something, it just made me want to find out more about the music. From there, I found Big Daddy Kane, Gangstarr, Jungle Brothers, Kool G. Rap, Redman, Kid n Play, Rakim and it was on.

HipHopInformant: How long have you been involved in the industry?

Hired Gun: That's a great question. In terms of the mainstream, I have yet to, and probably never will. I've been independently releasing music, performing/touring and receiving mainstream press for the past three or four years (two albums, "Separation of Powers" and "Pressed for Time" with my group 3rd Party have been reviewed by the national magazine URB.).

HipHopInformant: Tell me more about your work as a mentor?

Hired Gun: I am a part of a great team of teaching artist/mentors for a program Urban Art Beat ( It is an after school program designed to instill confidence in youth, help them find their voice and expression through hip hop, while also giving them practical foundation in english literature,language and usage. Through creative writing we're able to supplement their academics in the classroom, get them to have fun and also believe in themselves. We are based in the South Bronx and have a sister program (The Mic Academy) in Queens. Its really the best thing I do in my life. Working with young people is amazing, they are so full of energy and potential. To be around that is inspiring in itself.

HipHopInformant: Do you try and present a positive image in your songs rather than an image of violence, sex and drugs which are so commonly associated with rappers and Hip Hop today?

Hired Gun: I truly dont believe its a conscious thing that I do. I come from an era where "keeping it real" meant literally to speak from the heart, to speak the truth. You talk about what you live, who you are, where you are. That's it. I'm a grown man, whose not afraid of my education, whose proud to be black, and have a woman I love. To live is to struggle, and everyone has something different. I just tell you mine, and hope you relate. As Brother J once said on Seeds of Evolution (his solo debut in 1996) "I refuse to get caught up in a positive and negative game". I just do me, I let others decide what that is.

HipHopInformant: You were on Donny Goine’s Do It For Hip Hop remix, how was that, working with those artists?

Hired Gun: Nuff respect to Donny, one of the true heads in this crazy game. I honestly cant speak to working with all the artist, as in this age of technology rare is it that you go into a studio with everyone on a song, but...I can say that working with Donny in the capacity we have thus far has been beautiful. He has a vision, he has talent, and real recognizes real. A good dude. I hope to work with him more and wish him the best.

HipHopInformant: Are there any artists that inspire or influence you?

Hired Gun: Too many to name. The Last Poets, Gil Scot Heron, The Native Tongues, Aceyalone, many...

HipHopInformant: How was it, working with Hip Hop legends such as Slick Rick?

Hired Gun: It was a pleasure to share the stage with a legend. We both performed at the Minneapolis Kids hip hop festival with a lot of other regional talent and legends. It was a great weekend.

HipHopInformant: Your music has meaning. What message does your music spread?

Hired Gun: Thank you. I think the message my music spreads is to question your world. Question your government, question your ideologies, question yourself. That is the only way to grow and change. Never be stagnant. I think for most this is a dated term but if there is such a thing as "Pro-Black", I think that is also something that you'll find in my music. By default, being an artistic black man, in this climate, one who is unafraid to speak his mind...that is a message in itself, feel me? Also I think I challenge people to look beyond conventions, to be different...dont go with the flow.

HipHopInformant: Do you think that the industry needs to change? If so, why?

Hired Gun:The industry is changing by itself. Their needs to be more balance, more inclusiveness in the sounds, and images it upholds and pushes. I dont worry about the "industry" too much, I'm an artist, I make music...I let it speak for itself, and those that feel it, gravitate towards it. Many doors have opened for me, without the help of "the industry". It is a machine that has become antiquated and is collapsing under its own weight. Their needs to be a better vision on how to run a business that supports and cultivates artists. It has to do a better job in those areas.

HipHopInformant: Finally how did your name, Hired Gun come about?

Hired Gun: Before I had this name, I was trying to come up with a definition of what I was as an emcee. I've done some experimental theatre work, some choreography, as well performing with live bands, and Jungle emcee/toasting. I felt that I was sort of a "mercenary", being contracted out to do various types of job, from there it just manifested as a "hired gun"..cept I usually get contracted to the lowest bidder. ha!

Tuesday, 8 January 2008

Profanity Not Tolerated

Marcas Harris also known as "Bullet aka Genius Jenkins" can go from defacing the integrity of an opponent in one punchline to passionately pouring his heart out to the object of his desire without missing a beat. He's both a nearly undefeated battle rapper with a record of 40 wins, 1 draw and only 1 loss. He also possesses the talent of songwriter with the ability to both garner the respect of the Streets, love of the ladies and the Hip Hop Community in general.

HipHopInformant: What made you get involved with Hip-hop?

Bullet:I got involved with hip-hop because it was very Theraputic for me. Im not good with expressing my feelings and emotions. So my notepad is like my diary. I just write how i feel. And In doing that I realized that so many people go through the same things I go through on a Daily Basis. So its only right I make sure whatever I go through and overcome, people can listen to how I overcame what i did and they can learn from my experiences.

HipHopInformant: How long have you been involved in the industry?

Bullet: I have been involved in it for about 3-4 years. Not that long lol, but it is still a Swanky Experience!

HipHopInformant: How would you describe your rapping style?

Bullet: I honestly dont have a style. Listening to each song I have they are all different. I chose to make sure I dont stay in one lane for the simple fact that fans dont want you just for one thing sometimes ya know? They want to feel your pain, but then they also want to see you happy. They want to see you party. They want to know what you had for lunch that day lol! I incorporate it all in my music. So im definitely Big on just talking about my life. Rather I ate a Bowl of crunch berries or just laid in my bed and looked at the ceiling fan lol!

HipHopInformant: What is your current view of Hip-hop at this moment in time?

Bullet: I like Hip-Hop for the most Part! I mean its somewhat of a balance coming back now. I like soulja boy YULE!!! lol and the reason I do is because I can now balance it with like Jay-z and Lupe Fiasco and Joe Budden etc. Before it was not really a balance. It was just Dance Dance Dance. But now Lyricist are coming back. Well Lyricist that can make songs lol.

HipHopInformant: Are there any artists that influence you and give u the drive to write rhymes?

Bullet: I give myself drive alot cause I love to write. But when it comes to Artists Lupe Fiasco keeps me on my pen game. Joe Budden keeps me on my pen game. Jay-z keeps me on my pen game. 50 cent keeps me on my pen game.And Kanye West definitely does too.

HipHopInformant: Tell me about some of your songs and what message you want to send out to your fans.

Bullet: The type of music I make is either gonna be Commericial or the other half is just very soulful! I never leave it in a middle! If a song is meant to be commercial I make it a song that can be a DOpe hit! I never half way do anything!
And at the end of the day I can just describe my music as ME! EVerything i do in my life is in my music. I go to
Columbia College Chicago! I eat Crunch Berries! I use weird Words! I think i am a Martian sometimes! Im a nice guy with somewhat of a Short Temper that im learning to deal with.
At the end of the day im just me! And the message I want to tell fans is just be happy with yourself! Dont let anyone change that!
Everyone is perfect in there own right! God made everyone in his image! which means we are ALL great! and thats the message I want to give to people. Just be yourself and Love yourself no matter what the world thinks.

HipHopInformant: You don’t use profanity in your music do you think that more artists should adopt the same stance?

Bullet: I dont think they should have to. Its a Free Country. They have the right to Free Speech. I dont like the fact they are trying to take that away! Other Genres Definitely use profanity so why can't we? Only reason I dont use profanity anymore is because i realized its a better way for me to express myself without cussing! And I know kids listen to my music Also and i Def don't want to be a Bad example! I just want to make the world a Happy Place! Thats All I have ever cared about. Making people happy! even if I suffer pain I just want to make the world happier! And Hip-Hop is my outlet to do so.

HipHopInformant: You have been called a “Battle-rapper” when did you win your first battle and where?

Bullet: The First Battle I won was at Luther South High School. I was a Freshman in High school and we were goofing around. This is when I first started rapping. And we wrote our rhymes on paper and then spit em at each other lol! CLASSIC ahah

HipHopInformant: Growing up in Chicago, what do you think about artist’s from Chicago such as Lupe Fiasco or Kanye?

Bullet: Im just proud to say that My Favorite artists Come from the City that I am from! Lupe is my Favorite artists! Much props to him and everyone at FnF! Kanye is Top 5 favorite artist! His passion gets me hyped so much! He just has this drive and determination that is really unmatched in this day and age

HipHopInformant: Do you think that Hip-Hop needs to change? If so, why?

Bullet: Hip-Hop doesn't need to change. Only thing that needs to change is the Hate that artists give other artists. I always try to understand why people hate on soulja boy! I mean we all know he isnt a lyricist! But i think we all know he is not trying to be a lyricist. And those rappers that hate on that man why dont they what he did and maximize it! he used the internet VERY well! now for those artists that think they are that Dope! why dont they use his same strategy and use the net like Crazy! and that way they dont have to hate on the next man for the way they came up.

HipHopInformant: Anything else you would like to share?

Bullet: Just want to thank you for this interview! Shout out to my school Columbia College! Shout out to Chicago! Shout out to the World! Shout out R.M.G
Shout out to everyone that loves me! And Back to the Lyrics coming soon Hosted by Tapemasters Inc.

Stay Swanky and remember the slogan:

Get behind me or GET BEHIND ME!

Wednesday, 2 January 2008

Back in Bizness

Never one to submit to the characterization of Gangster Rapper, Rich Tycoon claims to be a Street Rapper…not as in one who raps on the streets, but one who raps about the streets as a whole. His knowledge and understanding of the street culture is what sets him apart and entices even the most street savvy consumer to tune in for a lesson.

Each song is a testament. Some of Rich Tycoon's songs make you want to laugh and others make you want to cry, but amazingly they are all filled with truth. Some are even filled with some of life's answers. Tycoon's approach varies depending on the tune, but the message remains consistent.

HipHopInformant: What made you get involved with Hip-hop?

Rich Tycoon:
When i was about 12 years old...I started writing raps because I wanted to do something other people weren't doing. At the time most people were breakdancing and I wasn't that good at breakin' so, I started writing raps. It was only 3-4 people rapping at my school at the time.

HipHopInformant: How long have you been involved in the industry?

Rich Tycoon:
I did my first pro-project in 1993. I was featured on E-Dawg's songs Drop Top and Lil Locs on the compilation Seattle the Dark Side. We filmed a video for Drop Top which aired too. Sir Mix-a-Lot and Rick Rubin had a hand in the releasing of that compilation.

HipHopInformant: Where are you from and does this place have an impact on your music?

Rich Tycoon: I'm actually from all-over, but Oakland is my headquarters. I say that because growing up in "the system" I was shipped all over. I was sent to a group home at age 13. Since then I've lived in cities, suburbs, and institutions throughout California. That's where I pull alot of my material from...the street life all over.

HipHopInformant: What are your views on hip-hop at this present moment in time?

Rich Tycoon: I try not to focus on whats going on around me in hip hop too much...which can hurt you at times, but my reasoning is because I know from experience there are many listeners out there and if I focus too much on what others are doing it might discourage me from pushing MY material. Basically, I focus on getting my music to the fans. I kinda play it from my perspective instead of the industries.

HipHopInformant: Do you think that Hip Hop as a whole has become more and more about making money than the music itself?

Rich Tycoon: Definitly. Right now most labels won't sign you unless your between the ages of 17-25. Radio won't play you unless you're paying them. Promoters want you to pay them to be a part of their show if your not "big enough"...and choose less talented groups to open shows just because they paid to perform. It's hard for everybody, but if you love making and listening to the'll saty in the game regardless....all reasons i try not to pay too much attention to the industry.

HipHopInformant: Are there any artists in the industry that you aspire to be like or any Hip Hop legends you would like to live up to?

Rich Tycoon: In the past most of my favorite artists i looked up to I didn't know, but recently I've been getting to know more and more "artist" personally and I'm learning to respect their paths and stories regardless of their music. People like San Quinn, Yukmouth, Sean T. These artists are considered underground but their work ethics are amazing. For instance once I landed in L.A. and found Yukmouth filming his own DVD. He said his camera man was always drinking and getting at women instead of filming, so the show must go on. It's stuff like that that keeps me pushing and knowing that it's a struggle for us all.

HipHopInformant: As an artist do you think that the industry needs to change? And if so why?

Rich Tycoon:
It does need to change, but where do you start? CD burning and downloads are making people desperate and narrowing down the the varieties of music being promoted to the consumers by record labels. Everybody is messing it up...but i just keep rapping and making it. Thats where my priorities are. I can't let my reasoning for not making a record be lack of budget. I have to create art. The industry will take care of itself.

HipHopInformant: Are there any artists that inspired you to start rapping?

RichTycoon: Too Short, KRS One, and Rakim inspired me to start and along the way a gang of artist have inspired me to continue....C-Bo, Jay Z, E-40, T.I....everytime I hear a rap record I'm inspired.
HipHopInformant: Ive heard the BBQ Sampler and its outstanding. Do any of the songs relate to your life personally?

Rich Tycoon: On that sampler...RELAX was real personal and was a track I wrote actually telling myself to relax...THEY STOLE MY FRIENDS is about the police "stealing" my rap cohorts from me, so that was personal too. Most of my music is personal because thats why I get it off my chest. Thanks by the way for the compliment on the sampler.

HipHopInformant: I recently saw that you were featured on an album that was released in Germany, how did that come about?

Rich Tycoon: Myspace is big and as much as people (rap artist) talk down on myspace artist. I don't have the budget to get to these places, so that's how I network. Pensive (the artist I worked with) actually sent me a message and ask me to do the track. I agreed and we actually came up with a couple of decent tracks. I felt honored to be able to rap for people on the other side of the world. My only worry was the language barrier, but i guess that wasn't a problem.

HipHopInformant: Do you think that the issues you rap about mainly affect guys in California or do you think that the issues are universal?

Rich Tycoon: I'm beginning to realize that everywhere is the same more than different. People feel the same emotions and have the same issues. My music comes from America, but the struggle is worldwide. I want to do more music with artist throughout the world because they seem to be more open to making decent music instead of "HIT RECORDS."

San Quinn Presents Black Bizness/buyin n sellin

BLACK BIZNESS's sophomore release featuring Sean T/Dubee (Thizz)/Vital...more and being presented by Bay Area rap legend San Quinn.


We from Kalifornia

Ride Passenger

Oooh Weeee

Release Date: Spring 2008 /

RICH Tycoon aka Filthy RICH/currency

Debut solo album featuring San Quinn/Yukmouth/P.O.tha Profit...more



Ease My Pain

Ain't Goin No Where

Release Date: Spring 2008 /

also check