Archive for the ‘Interviews’ Category

In case you missed it the first go ’round–like I did–here is the three-part Drake interview with veteran hip-hop journalist Elliott Wilson. In the interview Drake divulges on why Nothing Was The Same took so long to write, why he didn’t think Take Care was perfect, why his music is so emotional, and much more. Check it out below!

Part 1 of 3: “I tried to tell the story with the music.”

Part 2 of 3: “Pound cake happened while I was writing for Beyonce…”

Part 3 of 3: “Twitter isn’t real…”

When I think of Russell Brand, the words political and activist don’t initially come to mind. But, in his Newsnight interview with Jeremy Paxman on BBC last week, he spoke about a bevy of problems with the current U.S. political system. He also shed a much needed light on the existence of corporate exploitation, elitism, the greater good for man, the possibility of a revolution, the problems with profit in society, classism, and many other important socioeconomic, environmental and political issues.

During the ten plus minutes of his interview, I couldn’t help but think that if more U.S. citizens shared his outlook on today’s society – a realistic vision – Americans would revolt, would change our political system, and as a result would be a lot happier with our new government (a true government whose sole purpose is to provide what is in the best interest of its citizens, not corporations) and our new society (the proper and just society) as a whole.

Ladies and gentleman when I say we need more forward thinkers and realists like Russell Brand that is an understatement. We need all influential citizens to acknowledge the current and preexisting flaws of the system, to stop observing the world through rose colored lenses and truly take note of what the country has become: a governed society whose focus is more on the good of the individual (I) rather than the good of mankind (we).

With that said, I do realize Brand’s antidotes for the major issues of modern society may seem a little out of reach and to some, probably damn near impossible. But, at the risk of sounding like a utopian (as if that’s a bad thing), I think that if humanity and more specifically Americans were to focus more on our humanness (mankind) and worked toward a common goal of providing practical accompaniments like universal healthcare, livable wages, and a government that fulfills the needs of its citizens for every U.S. citizen, America truly would be the great country it so boastfully prides itself on being. I see the weak links in the societal chain and I strongly agree with Brand that we need a revolution and I have felt this way long before I even saw this interview. The only questions left to ask are how much longer will it take before we (the 99%) reach our boiling point and when that finally happens, what role will we play? Will we make sh*t stuff happen or watch sh*t stuff happen? Think about it! Check out the interview below and let me know what you think about the interview or my perspective on the issues by leaving a comment in the comment section.

Related Articles

1. Huffington Post – Russell Brand Revolution Interview

2. Gawker – Russell Brand May Have Started A Revolution Last Night

3. PolicyMic – Russell Brand BBC Teaches Americans A Lesson on Questioning Authority

Check out Drake’s hour-long interview on CBC radio’s Q with Jian Ghomeshi below. In the interview we get a much larger understanding of who the person, actor, and recording artist Aubrey “Drake” Graham truly is. He reveals his aspirations, his influences, and explains his story from childhood to present day “Hold On We’re Going Home” era. Check out the interview below and let us know if the interview changed or upheld your perspective on the grammy-nominated Torontonian rapper by leaving a comment in the comments section below the post.


As some of you may know, I graduated from Baltimore City College High School. (City Forever!) While at City, I met a lot of people. Some of whom are making or have made some pretty big waves in their fields. One of these individuals, Trae Harris, recently starred in the film Newlyweeds, which has gotten a lot of indie and mainstream buzz in the past few months. Less Half-Baked and more Eternal Sunshine in its approach to relationships and the like, the film, in its honesty, has gotten rave reviews from international critics. I had a chance to catch up with Trae recently and got to ask her about her role, her thoughts on some of the films out there, and a bevy of other topics.


Image courtesy of

Speed on the Beat: Trae, I’ll be honest. Growing up with you at City, this was a side of you that I thought existed but never knew for certain. Where did the desire to go into acting come from?

Trae Harris: Well, I began acting in junior high school. I started writing plays and performing them as one woman shows. The first play I wrote was about Ruby Bridges and the Desegregation of New Orleans schools. I won a young playwright completion, and from that moment, I knew I wanted to perform in that capacity more often! I joined the Arena Players youth theater and was able to incorporate my dance background, vocal training and a musical theater element. In high school, I took IB Theater and had the opportunity to direct, act, write and really grow as a theatrical performer. (Interviewer’s Note: If I’m not mistaken, Trae also makes a brief appearance in season four of The Wire, alongside fellow Arena Players—and City College alumni—Rashad Orange, his sister Rakiya and others.) I knew that I wanted to go to college and continue pursuing that path, and I did. I went to New School in Manhattan and studied theater there. So, to be honest this is not a new part of myself, it’s just that I am now getting recognition from others who don’t know me or my path personally and it’s awesome!

SOTB: I notice you also do photography. Did the photography lead to your film work or are they mutually exclusive?

TH: Actually, I’m not a photographer and never have been. You’re not the first person to think that, but I have no idea why. (Laughs) I have been shot by numerous photographers from all over the world, but I myself am not a photographer. I do not even own a camera! (Interviewer’s Note: While Trae does not do photography, she has made music, some of which is available for your listening pleasure on her homepage.)


Image courtesy of

SOTB: Well, at least I’m not the only one. I feel a bit less silly for asking. (Laughs) Now, for those that don’t know, Newlyweeds was shown at Sundance in early 2013. How’d it feel for your first film entry to be mentioned in the same breath as, for instance, Fruitvale Station?

TH: Well, it wasn’t really being mentioned in the same breath as Fruitvale. That was the honor for me. But, rather just that, my first feature film that I had a starring role in was being received so well and that people really loved our story!

SOTB: Did you get to meet Michael B. Jordan? Sorry, I have to ask. I’ve been following that kid since his “Wallace” days on The Wire (Laughs).

TH: (Laughs) No.

SOTB: Darn it.

TH: But, I met the screenwriter and producers from Fruitvale and they were amazing!

SOTB: But, back to Newlyweeds. I’ve read some of Shaka King’s interviews, specifically the one he did with Gawker. What was it about this film that made you pretty much jump up and say “hey, this is a project I want to be attached to?”

TH: I was excited to see a New York story being told in an honest, truthful way. I want to associate myself with work that is meaningful and honest. Newlyweeds is that on so many levels!!

SOTB: Would you say that there is a political element to the movie? I’m rehashing the Gawker question to Shaka to get your own take on it.

TH: Political? Hmmm, not really in my opinion. But, I’m sure that some folks can pull out certain social commentary about class and coming of age in an urban environment.

SOTB: What’s your take about the “uproar” concerning Miley Cyrus and “white” people “stealing” what’s perceived as black culture?

TH: Well, “blackness” as a cultural identity and “black art” as a legitimate art form historically, have always been appropriated and that obvious. Miley is only following her roots; her southern roots are deep and her family is very big in the country music world. Country music historically—just as jazz, classical, and various other musical genres—have very blatantly done the work to suppress and outright “steal” songs, musical styling and nuances that were created by black people whom were never credited. Now, with that said, Miley is not reinventing the wheel, nor is she doing anything that her family and friends in the industry have not done! This whole appropriation of blackness is not new, it’s always fashionable. I’m just not sure why now it’s a national discussion. No one is saying the same things about Justin Timberlake and Robin Thicke. Why have those white males been given the “appropriation card?” (Interviewer’s Note: This will be discussed in a future post to a degree)

SOTB: What’s your opinion on the upcoming 12 Years a Slave versus last year’s Django Unchained? While both movies are completely different in tone, they have similar topics—to a degree. (Interviewer’s Note: Trae’s Newlyweeds costar, Amari Cheatom, appears in Django)

TH: I have not seen 12 Years a Slave yet, so I do not have much to offer, but Django was an action film and a bit of a comedy. 12 Years is a drama so slavery is being addressed in very different ways!! I do believe or hope that 12 Years will finally bring a sense of humanity to enslaved people and their experience, as opposed to simply sensationalizing it.

SOTB: What’s next on the horizon for you?

TH: More work, writing, and performing. I just want to release more poetry and share my work on a global scale. I have new projects coming up and I am very excited!!

SOTB: Should we expect a sequel? (Laughs) Silly question I know, considering how the film ends and what it deals with. But, I mean, we know how Hollywood gets when they find a good property, independent or not.

TH: (Laughs) Not to my knowledge!

SOTB: Would you be open to working more “mainstream” films or is independent where your heart’s at?

TH: I just want to do progressive work. I don’t really care what the medium is. Do I long to be an indie artist without mainstream success? NO! But I am not willing to comprise my integrity for the industry.

For those even more interested, here’s the trailer for Newlyweeds. Be sure to check it out when it comes to your city.

Trae can be reached through the following social media sites:


Facebook: Search “Trae Harris” or gypsybruja

Instagram: gypsybruja

JayZ_MCHG_InstagramContrary to initial belief, Sean “Jay-Z” Carter has been awarded a platinum plaque by the Recording Industry Association of America for the unprecedented Samsung Electronics Co Ltd digital purchase of one million albums. Initially it was said that Nielsen and Billboard were not going to include the $5 million bulk purchase in their records or chart listings because, “…[They] don’t count free-to-consumers (albums).” But, in a twist for chart topping supremacy the RIAA has awarded Jay-Z platinum status, taking the digital download and bulk purchase deal from Soundscan fiasco to recording industry legitimacy. What this means is that Magna Carta Holy Grail went platinum before it was even available for purchase by mass consumers. Jay-Z said it best in the Samsung commercial, “We need to write the new rules.” And that is exactly what the RIAA has done. Score one point for Jay-z, zero points for Nielsen. For more insight into the thought process behind Magna Carta Holy Grail check out the four-part interview of Sean Carter himself on Power 105.1’s The Breakfast Club below.

Emerging from a budding DMV (D.C., Md. & Va.) music scene springs the eclectic and talented Ihsan Bilal. With countless features on local hip-hop artist’s songs and a style like no other, Ihsan Bilal is definitely on a path to bring her lifelong dream to life. Music has been a huge influence in her life since the young age of six. With a father who is a keyboardist and singer, and a brother who is an emerging music artist himself, there is no doubt that musical affluence runs in the Bilal family. With a knack for music and film, this songstress is destined for greatness and future success. I had the opportunity to meet Ihsan and briefly speak with her on a few occasions and although our conversations were brief, I could see that she has a beautiful spirit. Her professionalism combined with her talent and positivity are what caught my attention and made me to want to know more about her experiences, her hopes and dreams, and her plans for the future. So here it is:

Ihsan Bilal

@Arteest1: I know you have been writing and singing since the age of six. What inspired you to pursue music as a career?

@Ihsanbilal: There were a few instances but one that really stood out was when I was a little girl and I saw Michael Jackson perform on tv at the super bowl. I said to myself I want to be like that and have a gazillion people know who I am, anticipate my every move, and help people over the entire world lol through my music!

@Arteest1: What influence has your family played in your music career?

@Ihsanbilal: My family is awesome lol! We are all involved in the arts in some way. My father really believed in me at a very young age and always entered me in talent shows. I have four younger siblings and we were like a modern day jackson 5. My brother AB produces, writes, sings, and raps. He produces most of my music.  My brother Nabeeh creates music videos, he founded CreativeJunkFood and shot my animated “Barbie Doll” music video. My sister Karimah sings background for me from time to time and we all support each other.

@Arteest1: What is the motivation behind your music?

@Ihsanbilal: Art. Just pure Art. I could go on and say a specific show or movie. But, I’m inspired by Life and that in itself is Art.

@Arteest1: I know you have worked with numerous local music artists like X.O., Cayan, Nike Nando, and PHZ-Sicks. What other producers, music artists, and/or bands have you collaborated with?

@Ihsanbilal: Ra the Mc, Jay Millz, Emperess, Chris Barz, Deangelo Redman, 2tone 7, pert mcfly  and the list goes on and on.
I feel blessed!!

@Arteest1: Name some of your favorite music artists/musicians.

@Ihsanbilal: Of course MJ. My favorite is N.E.R.D.,Beyonce’, Prince, Marsha Ambrosius, Chaka Khan, Janet Jackson and a whole lot more

@Arteest1: What musicians/music artists would you like to work with?

@Ihsanbilal: I definitely would love to branch out of the city and work with everyone. NERD is #1 on my list:) They’re so different and underrated in my opinion.

@Arteest1: Describe your dream performance.

@Ihsanbilal: The super bowl and the Grammy’s- I fantasize every year these award shows come on- sighhhhh …one day lol!

@Arteest1: What is something that most people don’t know about you?

@Ihsanbilal: I love sports! I used to play soccer, t-ball, softball, tennis (for a few days lol) and basketball. I’m a huge basketball fan. Derreck Rose is the man. lol! I predict Chicago winning the ring this year!:)

@Arteest1: I know that you have executive produced a few music videos. What videos did you produce, how was that experience and do you see yourself producing more in the future?

@Ihsanbilal: I executive produced all of my music videos. We are up to number 6 yayyyyy! A lot of work goes into them, sleepless nights, literally blood sweat and tears.  I’m actually in the process of putting together my biggest production yet for my debut single “Big Band Theory” . We’re shooting that next month in a week! I have the Ballou Marching band plus over 100 other people on set. This will be pretty cool when its done.

@Arteest1: How did you link up with The Danvilles and how has your experience performing with them been?

@Ihsanbilal: Long story short- By me telling everyone that doesn’t know me that I’m a singer (you never know who you’re going to meet). I met Mike (the creator of merrifield records) and we connected instantly. The guys are cool. We rehearsed once and headed to Texas. Its been pretty awesome to know that no matter your race, color, or creed people just really love talent! I’m a black girl singing at 98% white events and I get so much love. Its so humbling!

@Arteest1: I know your debut album ‘Big Red Box’ releases on May 31st. What is the motivation behind it and what can we expect from the project?

@Ihsanbilal: Expect a different sound not only as a whole but each song is different. I have a song for every popular genre out there. But it’s going to give you an alternative R&B feel. Its my box of different sounds. Its my present to the fans.

Ihsan Bilal - Big Band Theory - Single

@Arteest1: What do you want people to take from your music?

@Ihsanbilal: Empowerment is what I aim for. I like to be thought of as a motivational singer/ speaker. I want to make people feel good and touched when hearing my music which in essence is everyone’s music once its put out!

@Arteest1: I always ask people I talk to about their hopes for the future. Where do you see yourself five years from now?

@Ihsanbilal: I see big success in the near future. With that success my team that pushes me to keep going will receive that, DC being even bigger than what it is now. I can definitely see me touring the world, starting up a few charities/ organizations, opening up a school for the arts, and being even happier than I am now.

@Arteest1: What would you like to tell your current and prospective fans?

@Ihsanbilal: For anyone wanting to pursue anything in life always be professional about it, never give up, give it time to grow (no one is perfect), and never let anyone tell you that “You can’t”!!!

Thank-you all for your support and I hope to continue to motivate, inspire, and empower you all!!!


Well, I can honestly say that you have the talent in you. As long as you keep the drive and the humility I can definitely see you going far in your musical pursuit. Keep up the positivity and remain true to yourself and your music and you will always have my support and the support of your fans. I appreciate you taking the time out to teach us a little about yourself and I hope to continue to hear great things from you in the future.

You Can Follow and keep up with Ihsan Bilal at:!/ihsanbilal

You can download her latest single
“Big Band Theory” today on iTunes!®

As a lover of Hip-Hop and R&B/Soul, and a huge fan of both Hip-Hop mogul Jay-Z and Neo-Soul crooner Maxwell, I was pleasantly surprised to discover a few weeks ago that a Miami-based, twin production team named Urban Noize made a mixtape featuring songs from Jay-Z’s American Gangster album blended with various Maxwell hits. The end result is what is known as a blend tape, or a mixtape that has beats of one genre combined with the vocals of an artist or group of a different genre. I was fortunate enough to come across this project titled Jay-Z & Maxwell – American Summer’s Night. After listening to the project, I was so elated to hear something so original derive from creatively producing and masterfully mixing the sounds of two of the greatest musicians of my time, that I knew I had to pick the brains of two of the most underrated up-and-coming producers. Urban Noize is composed of twins Steve and Steven. I recently had the opportunity to question Steven on the creative process of crafting a blend tape, his inspirations and his influences among many other things. This is what he had to say.

@Arteest1: So I know the two of you are twins. How does it feel to work with your brother making music?

@UrbanNoize: It feels great working with my brother because he understands me musically. As well as I do him. Most importantly, we share the same vision when it comes to music, which is progression.

@Arteest1: How long have you been making beats and who or what inspired you to start?

@UrbanNoize: We’ve been making beats for maybe about 8 years now. What inspired us was just being a fan of music. Whenever we’d listen to songs we loved, we’d always envision ourselves playing alongside our favorite artist. lol.

@Arteest1: You make some dynamic beats and are an amazing production duo. I have listened to your Jay-Z, Rihanna and Chris Brown mixtapes and I am very curious to know what influenced you to put your beats over big name artists songs and also create mash-ups/blends?

@UrbanNoize: Being fans of those artists definitely influenced us to remix their material. As well as just having a love for creating music and trying different things with it.

@Arteest1: What is the inspiration behind your beats and mixtapes?

@UrbanNoize: The inspiration comes from the production of the records, down to the performances that the artists give.

@Arteest1: Describe the artistic process in crafting one of your mixtapes.

@UrbanNoize: Well, when crafting mixtapes the ideal thing is to a create story and an experience. Not just throwing music together and calling it such and such. But bringing the listener and fan into the world of the artist.

@Arteest1: Name some music artists you have worked with.

@UrbanNoize: We haven’t worked with anyone yet, but we’re hoping to very soon.

@Arteest1: Who are some artists you would like to work with and possible producers you would like to collaborate with?

@UrbanNoize: One of the artists we’d like to work with would have to be Chris Brown. Honestly, because I feel like his mixtapes haven’t been his best. lol. But if we came together with the right vision, we could create a classic. As for producers, we’d love to learn from and work with danjahandz. Hands down, he’s one of the best in the game right now.

@Arteest1: Name a few projects that Urban Noize has already released.

@UrbanNoize: Some of the projects we’ve released are Jay-Z & Maxwell – American Summer’s Night, Chris Brown – Man In The Mirror, Rihanna – Last Girl On Earth Tourtape, and Beyonce and Lady Gaga – Fierce Fame.

@Arteest1: Where do you vision Urban Noize five years from now?

@UrbanNoize: Five years from now, we hope to be working with some of our favorite artists doing everything from producing songs to executive producing projects.

@Arteest1: What is the overall goal of your music?

@UrbanNoize: The goal of our music is to give people something different and to share the love we have for it.

@Arteest1: Where can people find and download your mixtapes and other music?

@UrbanNoize: One of the places you can download our mixtapes is Datpiff.  We have many more all over the place. lol.

@Arteest1: What would you like to say to any current and prospective fans of your music?

@UrbanNoize: Thanks for continuing to support and spread the word of our music. Without God bringing these people into our lives, we wouldn’t be who we are.

MESSAGE TO URBAN NOIZE: Thank you Steven for the interview! I appreciate you allowing me to share my love of Urban Noize’ music with the rest of  the world. Thank you Steve for partnering up with your brother to create genre-bending masterpieces. I wish both of you much success in the future.

MESSAGE TO MY READERS: If you are looking to download all of Urban Noize’ blend tapes, just Google them and you will see tons of websites that are currently hosting their projects. To stay up-to-date with them, follow them on twitter and don’t hesitate to show your appreciation with a tweet to them and a download of their music.