Tag Archives: Rihanna

Young Forever. Def Jam and Chris Anokute officially split.

Chris Anokute & Katy Perry

If you’ve been following the Twitter-sphere you might have picked up the leak of two of Katy Perry singles from her new album, PRISM, a little over a month ago.

As many had been eagerly anticipating that release, it goes without saying that the singles were retweeted and just like that, the planned October 22nd release of her album went up in smoke.

Allegedly, the leaks came from the infamous Perez Hilton and caused quite a stir at Capitol Records, Katy’s label, who were – how do you say – “pissed.”

As anyone who has used social media in this millennia knows, once something hits the interwebs, you can’t really take it back.

So Capitol should have run with it and pushed their marketing and promotions ahead to take advantage of the early buzz.

Or accepted the leak as great pre-promotion, as a litmus test to see which DJs in which markets were feeling and playing the records – and concentrate their efforts where buzz and spins were concentrated (or missing).

But Capitol Records, in typical dying record label form, blew its stack and started playing the blame game.

Instead of “capitalizing” (pun intended) on the moment, they started looking for someone to blame.

And do you know who ended up in their crosshairs? Chris Anokute.

“Chris Anokute? Isn’t he at Island Def Jam?” You ask.

That’s right.

But in the cover your ass shit storm that ensued, Chris became the scapegoat for the label’s ineptitude.

You see Chris, who used to A&R Katy Perry saw Perez Hilton’s tweet of Katy’s single and retweeted it (as did at least 60+ others who saw the tweet that morning).

Although Chris is no longer at Capitol, he and Katy remain close and she counts him among her closest friends.

So it went without saying tag when he saw Perez’s tweet, he shared the link to Katy’s single with his 14k followers.

Sharing is what friends do in the age of social media.

Right?

Well not if you’re a label exec.

Allegedly, the powers that be at Capitol and Island Def Jam felt that somehow Chris’ retweet violated some unwritten code of conduct.

And apparently that breach caused at least one executive to try airing it out on Chris.

And I say “apparently” because Chris put a response on Facebook, essentially blacking out on the dimwit dinosaurs running most major record labels.

Here’s a taste:

This is the abridged version of the blackout.

And with that, it was on.

Shortly after that incident Chris Anokute was released from Def Jam.

The deals of his termination are sketchy, and he’s probably bound to some draconian non-disclosure agreement, so unfortunately I can’t share all the juicy details with  you.

Suffice it to say, he’s not up$et.

His termination caps a tumultuous year for Def Jam, which has seen mass exodus of its top A&Rs to rival labels.

And while that spells bad news for Def Jam, it’s great news for Chris’ new company, Young Forever, and his new artist, Bebe Rexha.

Where one chapter closes, another opens.

Chris wasted no time in getting back to work, this time for himself, with the chart-topping The Monster by Eminem featuring Rihanna.

Chris’ artist, Bebe, has co-writing credits on the song and also appears on the hook.

Young Forever is but one of Chris’ latest entrepreneurial ventures.

Quiet is kept, he’s also working on a killer app that will keep folks talking for a hot minute.

If you want to know what Chris is up to, make sure to follow him on Twitter @chrisanokute, where he routinely provides inspiration to independent artists looking to break into the business.

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Spin class sucks (and forty five reasons why I hate Rodney Cummins)

Violence must be my theme this week.

While I’ve only been in one real fight in my life – with Darrell Cabbel when I was sixteen – I’ve had to suppress these urges.

I kicked his ass.

But that’s another story for another time.

Right now, we’re talking about why I’m plotting on taking out one of my colleagues.

Several months ago, when I started working at Usablenet, one of my team members, Rodney Cummins and I, started going to the gym down the block from the office.

Two or three times a week, we made it our business to get money.

For my urban vernacular challenged, get money = work out vigorously.

And get money we did.

Religiously, each week we’d get money.

We got so much money together, that our co-workers nicknamed us Chukummins.

Chukumba + Cummins.

I know, they’re juvenile.

Anywho…

The Red Barron, another one of our colleagues invited Rodney to spin class, also at the gym, and he went.

The Red Barron = a red-headed Irishman.

I mocked them mercilessly for going to an obviously sad excuse for money getting.

He came back from that class, bitching and moaning about how hard it was.

But remarking about what a great workout he got that day.

Spin class?

Hard?

Great workout?

The Red Barron?

I found the whole thing ludicrous.

The next time we went to get money, I had Rodney take me to the spin class.

So I could get my spin on.

And debunk the myth that spin class was in any way comparable to the money we were getting on the man side of the gym.

That day, there was no class being offered, but I decided to just jump on a bike and see what it was like.

I had Rodney play instructor and simulate a few minutes of the class.

He ran through a short warm-up of pedaling with slight resistance, before ratcheting it up.

“Pedal seated for a four count.”

“3-2-1.”

“Now up for a four count.”

“3-2-1.”

“Back down for a four count.”

“3-2-1.”

“And up again for a four count.”

“3-2-1.”

This is spin?

This ain’t shit!

Spin is for sissies, I thought.

Until he said, “now hold it for another four count.”

By this point, I was quite used to the simple rhythm we had going.

And I was totally ready for my “now sit 3-2-1.”

I needed to sit.

But when he told me I had that four count to go, I felt the burn in my thighs.

I started to sweat.

Mind you, we had been spinning for less than a minute.

My mind raced frantically.

WTF Rodney!

Hold it for another four count.

Really?

Right then, I decided that spin was the devil and promptly dismounted from the bike.

Nearly pitching myself over the handle bars in the process.

Spin bikes don’t coast and have no brakes.

The only way to stop is by gradually decreasing your rate of pedaling.

No one told me.

So not only were my thighs burning, but I nearly died too.

Curses flowed from my mouth like I was possessed by Beezlebub.

I cursed him like he stole from me.

Like he violated my mother.

Like the soulless bastard he was.

Eventually, as feeling returned to my thighs, and the burning subsided, I felt less hatred towards him.

And as time passed, so did my memory of that unfortunate 60 seconds of spin.

Until today, that is.

You see, for months, he and the Red Barron have been attending spin.

The running joke is the invitation they extend to me each time they go.

Knowing I’ll decline.

Rodney is cursed afresh with each invitation.

But today, another one of my coworkers was going with them.

And – against my better judgment – I was compelled to attend.

Pride is a motherfucker!

Despite the single digit temperatures in NY today, I was sweating on the (not long enough) walk from our office down the block to the gym.

Fear gripped me as I entered the spin class and took my assigned bike.

No. 20 mocked me as I sat upon it, strapping my feet into its toe harnesses.

As the class started, my hatred of Rodney renewed.

The whole time, mind you, he was clapping and uttering ‘motivational’ catch-phrases at me.

If I had a machete handy, a headless torso would have been pedaling astride me, instead of this bloody happy fool.

But no machete was handy.

All I had was Rihanna to get me through.

And my unwavering desire to save face in front of my colleagues.

So I pedaled.

Thighs burning.

Sweating like a slave.

Angry.

Cursing Rodney with each new hill – or sprint – or eight count.

45 minutes later (and only having almost pitched myself over the handle bars of my bike twice) I emerged.

Ass sore.

Broken, but unbowed.

I will never attend spin class again.

And if they ever find the headless torso of a Black man in gym clothes near the New York Health & Racquetball club…

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Rule No. 1 for the unsigned artist: Get on your grind (aka check yourself before you wreck yourself)

Everyday I'm Hustling DigitallyRecently, I’ve been approached by a number of artists and producers looking to get signed to a record deal.

I always entertain anyone who seeks out my advice, because it shows initiative.

But I’m always concerned when the objective, notwithstanding my advice, remains fixed on securing a deal.

It’s not that it’s an unobtainable goal.

But it’s unrealistic.

As one record executive told me, getting signed to a record deal is more difficult than shooting a hole in one – by hitting a golf ball through a hole in a brick wall first.

For some reason, these cats act like the labels are just handing record deals out.

“All you’ve got to do is be discovered.”

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been told about artists that are discovered.

That’s all it takes.

Record a song.

Post a YouTube video.

Get discovered.

And go from obscurity to fame, overnight.

“Madonna was discovered.”

“Lady Gaga was discovered.”

“Katy Perry was discovered.”

Yada yada yada.

My response is uniformly: “No. They weren’t.”

To be fair, there is that rare exception of a truly discovered talent, plucked from obscurity.

Like Rihanna.

But that’s a different story for another time.

The reality is that virtually every artist you’ve ever heard of, especially the superstars, busted their asses to get where they got.

Invariably, they were passed over, several times, by several A&Rs, at several different labels, before they finally got on.

Do you know how many people dissed Kanye before he was finally signed to the Roc?

It was a running joke in the industry how often Kanye asked folks to listen to his demo.

Katy Perry was dropped by Columbia before being signed to Capitol Records.

Lady Gaga was performing at open mikes since she was 14 (and she attended The Tisch School) before she was signed by Akon.

Justin Beiber is probably one of the few artists truly ‘discovered’ in recent memory, when Scooter Braun happened upon his video before taking him to Usher.

But their deals didn’t just happen.

It was the result of relationships, work and in some instances, dumb luck.

Many of the people who have approached me don’t have even the most fundamental basis for talking record deal.

There’s no website.

No Facebook page.

No Twitter account.

No YouTube channel.

Not digital presence whatsoever.

If they have any of the above, then there are few (if any) likes, followers or views.

If they’ve got a MySpace page, SoundCloud or ReverbNation account, there are virtually no fans and abysmally low play counts of their songs.

The content on their pages are old and haven’t been updated.

At the end of the day, I’m left scratching my head, trying to understand why these cats seem so…entitled?

If you haven’t done the work, how can you expect to win?

It’s like saying you’re going to win a gold medal at the Olympics, but you’ve never trained a day in your life.

Sure, it’s possible that you could get off your couch, hit the starting blocks and blow Usain Bolt away.

But it’s not probable.

Sure, it’s possible that you could record a song tomorrow, post it online, and some A&R somewhere will be at your doorstep offering you a deal.

But it’s not probable.

And with the ten hundreds of thousands of aspiring artists out there on their grizzy, going HAAM, what makes you think that you’re going to grab the brass ring first?

The game has changed.

If you’re trying to be a successful artist, know that your success is being gauged by empirical measures:

Facebook likes.

Twitter followers.

YouTube views.

SoundCloud plays.

A Google results page.

This is how A&Rs today are gauging an artist’s viability.

Can you draw a crowd – online?

Sure, you can sing.

But so can literally tens hundreds of thousands of others.

What makes you stand out from the crowd?

It’s your hustle and your (digital) ground game.

So artists, if you’re reading this blog, and you want to know what it takes to get a record deal, it’s one of two ways:

1. Know somebody;

2. Get on your grind (and build a digital presence).

Any questions?

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Is Rihanna a ‘Diamond’ in the rough?

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I was making breakfast for the kiddies this morning, when I heard Kay Foxx of Hot 97 say she ran into Jay Z who was gassed about a new Rihanna song.

Jay Z gassed?

Over a Rihanna song?

Maybe she meant to say ‘Beyonce’.

Yeah, that’s it.

Wait, she said it again.

Rihanna’s got this new song that Jay Z is excited about.

Hmmm….

I’m no fan of Rihanna.

She’s made a bunch of commercially successful songs, but her singing can best be described as…

…cats clawing a blackboard.

Her songs are cute, but her voice is so…annoying

Needless to say, I was intrigued to hear the song that Jay Z was gassed about.

The song is called Diamonds, and they played it right after Kay Foxx’s intro.

In a word, I was…underwhelmed.

There wasn’t anything particularly moving about the song.

There was no ‘umbrella – ella – ella – ay – ay – ay’ flair.

Or any flair, for that matter.

But maybe I’m just an old head, disconnected from that which moves the masses.

Perhaps Jay Z is a super A&R with a golden ear, who just hears hits.

Doubtful, but that’s besides the point.

Lest I concede that I’m an old fart, let me put this to a vote.

Is Rihanna’s song Diamonds a hit or not?

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When 8 and 5 equals Zero. Chad Ochocinco (is a jackass)

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I’ve just gotta put my two cents in on Chad Ochocinco.

He was recently arrested for head butting his wife during a dispute outside of their home.

As a result of his foolishness, he’s been released by the Dolphins and is likely looking at jail time.

Now, we all know that a man should never put his hands on a woman.

That presumes that you also don’t head butt, karate chop, drop kick or otherwise cause any other form of bodily injury to your woman (or any other woman for that matter).

People are asking, “what was he thinking?”

But clearly, he wasn’t.

If he were, he would have paused (at least momentarily) and reflected on the impact of injuring his wife: going to jail, losing his job, cancellation of his reality show and the absolute PR nightmare that accompanies domestic abuse.

Unfortunately (for him – and those who rely up in his income) he didn’t (think) and now he’s watching his life being flushed down the toilet.

But we are talking about Chad Ochocinco.

The guy who changed is name to the Spanish pronunciation of “8-5″ (the number on his Bengal’s jersey).

Who does that?

Who went on Dr. Phil to defend his refusal to voluntarily pay child support to any of his numerous baby mommas.

Because $600,000 a month is too little to live on AND have to share with your children.

 

(That was Terrell Owens – not Chad. But who can tell these trifling football players apart?)

And famously stated that he prefers light-skinned and white woman to Black women.

Thanks for validating our dark-skinned sisters!

Mr. Johnson (his real last name) is not known for his intelligence.

I’m ashamed and embarrassed (for him) and I feel really bad for his (soon-to-be-ex) wife and kids.

Some example this fool is setting.

I wonder how many Ochocinco-files are going to come out in support of him, as throngs did in the wake of Chris Brown’s assault of Rihanna.

Is Twitter going to be a flutter with girls asking to be head butt by Ochocinco anytime?

Will Jay Z and P Diddy continue to support their friend because we haven’t heard both sides of the story?

Hopefully, his wife will press charges and send this fool away.

But I doubt it.

If Chris Brown’s light prosecution and slap on the wrist sentencing (community service), or Floyd Mayweather’s three month sentence for assaulting his girl are any indication, it’s unlikely that 8-5 is going to do much time.

Or learn anything, for that matter.

I’m just sad that another Black man, in the public eye, is acting like a jackass.

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Barbara Walters’ list was bogus. The REAL most fascinating people of 2009

These folks were worthy of your voyeuristic attention this year.

Last night, I watched Barbara Walters’ Most Fascinating People of 2009 on ABC, and let’s just say I was underwhelmed.

After wading through *YAWN* Lady Gaga (who looked like Barbara Walters her damn self), Jenny Sanford (played out by her philandering husband), Glenn Beck (racist wasp), Tyler Perry (he’s RICH b*tch!), Adam Lambert (“I’m gay.” Duh!), Brett Favre (bustin’ out at 40), Kate Gosselin (Jon is a punk), the Jackson children (and why exactly are they fascinating?) Sarah Palin (Moronic, yes. Fascinating, no.) and…wait for it, wait for it…Michelle Obama, I was like that was BORING!

Michelle Obama is Barbara’s most fascinating person for 2009. Why? Oh, because of her great arms. What kind of absolute nonsense is this? How can a woman’s arms make her the most fascinating person in the entire United States? Does Michelle Obama have the best arms of any first lady? She might, but who cares?

I was so disappointed that I decided to create my own list, as follows:

10.  Jay Z. 2009 was a big year for Jay. It marked the first time he had a Billboard number 1 single, Empire State of Mind with Alicia Keys. He celebrated one year of marriage to Beyonce Knowles, and turned 40. Big things for the biggest name in hip hop.

9.  Bernie Madoff. Bernie made-off with an alleged $65M of other folks’ money. Even after he was caught and under house arrest, he tried to smuggle jewels and cash to his family and friends. I think they’re considering changing the name of the hustle from Ponzi to Madoff scheme, because Bernie took duping to new heights.

8. Dr. Conrad Murray. After the heat that Dr. Jan Adams (the doctor that killed Kanye’s mom) received, I thought that Black male doctors would have stepped up their game when it came to dealing with their celebrity clients. I was wrong.

7. Black women who support Chris Brown. What a commentary on the self esteem of women of color, when they rally to the defense of a punk ass b*tch who puts his hands on women. It’s one thing for his immature friends (Omarion, Ne-Yo, Puffy) to stand in his defense, because they’re boys. But the sheer hostility that other Black women demonstrated towards Rihanna, was SCARY.

6. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. He had amnesia and forgot he was a black man. How could I NOT put him on the list?

5. Jaycee Lee Dugard. Props to this girl for living through kidnapping and 18 years of unadulterated torture at the hands of a pedophile (he needs to be castrated). Her story gave hope to thousands of parents of missing and abducted children.

4. Lil Wayne. Who else can be perpetually high, have two baby momma’s (Lauren London and Nivea Hamilton) give birth at the same time, be featured on three top 20 Billboard singles and have a documentary (The Carter) all at the same time?

3. Charla Nash. She’s on the list for courageously surviving being attacked by Travis the Chimp because she didn’t want her daughter to be alone in the world AND for showing us how she looked on Oprah.

2. Maria Belen Chapur (aka Governor Sanford’s mistress). Her milkshake was so good that this fool went AWOL for it. Bump governing South Carolina. Bump the wife, the kids. Gimme some of that Argentinean booty!

1. Tiger Woods. Until he was caught, he displayed panache worthy of the most fascinating person designation (what’s the count at now, 15?). Who knew that the squeaky clean, world’s number one golfer could be so trifling AND sloppy?!

Full Disclosure: I picked my wife’s brain for some of the individuals featured on the list. She vehemently disagrees with Jay Z (she thinks he should be number 15 or 16).

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Best female rapper in the game? I think not. Who is Nicki Minaj, Part 2

I’ve gotten a bunch of push back from folk who felt like I didn’t give Nicki Minaj a fair shake in my post yesterday.

Is Nicki Minaj the best female rapper of all time? Nah!

A few suggested that Nicki Minaj is the ‘best female entertainer’ in the game right now. Others claimed that she’s got exceptional lyrical abilities, unmatched by her peers. And at least one person opined that she’s the best female rapper of all times.

Not one to forego an objective and even analysis, let’s examine each of these claims in turn.

Claim No. 1: Nicki Minaj is the best female entertainer in the game right now.

Response: Bullocks! Sheer and utter bullocks.

Rationale: For anyone to make this claim, and believe it, they’d have to say that Nicki Minaj trumps the likes of serious entertainers like Beyonce, Shakira, Madonna, Janet Jackson, Rihanna, and Lady Gaga, each of whom puts on a wicked live show.

If you focus solely on female rappers, then perhaps that claim has some validity. With Remy Ma doing a bid, Foxy Brown on permanent hiatus, Lil Kim struggling to make records, Lauryn Hill lost in la-la land, and Missy Elliott relaxing in her riches, there is an absolute void of female MCs. Moreover, artists like Trina, Da Brat, Rah Digga and Lil Mama, have ceased to be relevant, making this void even more pronounced.

Summary: Nicki Minaj is NOT the best entertainer in the game right now, but perhaps she is the most entertaining female rapper out today.

Claim No. 2: Nicki Minaj’s lyrical abilities are unmatched by her peers.

Response: Negatory. No. No. No. No. NO!

Rationale: Unmatched by her peers? It’s fair to say that Nicki Minaj is a rapper. That would place her in the same group as Biggie, Jay Z, Nas, Rakim, Grand Puba, Tupac, etc. But we’re not going to pretend that she can hold her own with any of these icons. If we focus only on female MCs, then she’s in the ranks of Lauryn Hill, Missy, MC Lyte, Rage, Queen Latifah, Eve and Remy Ma (to name but a few).

Even the most cursory examination of the lyrics of any of her songs, illustrates that Nicki possesses fundamental lyrical ability. But she’s got nothing to match the sheer wordplay of a Lauryn, the complexity of Missy or the intelligence of MC Lyte. Even if we focus only on her delivery (if you can get past that annoying voice), she pales in comparison to Remy or Eve, whose signature staccato delivery can’t be matched.

Summary: Compared to virtually any of these rappers, her stuff is marginal, at best.

Claim No. 3: Nicki Minaj is the best female rapper of all times.

Response. Pure unadulterated nonsense.

Rationale: Nicki Minaj has a total of ZERO records charted on Billboard. Outside of her ‘mixtapes’ she has released ZERO albums. She has no real spins to speak of in BDS or Mediabase. Grammies? Nada. With most of the female rappers named in this post each generating units moved in the MILLIONS, she’s got a loooonnnnngggggg way to go before she can even be mentioned in the same sentence.

Summary: Nicki Minja does not possess the track record to qualify for the ‘greatest female rapper of all times’ moniker.

Cats need to slow their rolls when it comes to Nicki Minaj. She’s got passable skills and a banging body, but passable skills and banging body do not a female rapper make. Let’s see if she’s got staying power, and can come with something more than pity-pat simple lyrics.

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