Sunday, May 28, 2017

Why Major Artists Like Ludacris And DJ Jazzy Jeff Are Going Indie On Distribution

When a Forbes Hip-Hop Cash King boasting 24 million records sold and a social media following of 40 million chooses a four-person startup with no venture capital funding to distribute his music, you know a tectonic shift is happening under your feet.

On March 31, 2017, Ludacris released his first single in two years, “Vitamin D” (feat. Ty Dolla $ign), through an independent distributor called DistroKid. Fans could sign up in advance to receive a text message from Ludacris when the single came out—allowing the rapper to build a reliable database of direct-to-fan contacts for future communications and sales, in a manner similar to Ryan Leslie’s SuperPhone.
Ludacris started his career as an independent artist. He saved up $20,000 over five years to finance his first album Incognegro, which was released in May 2000 through his own label Disturbing Tha Peace (DTP) Records. That same year, DTP began operating as a subsidiary of Universal Music Group’s Def Jam Recordings, but the unusual release of “Vitamin D”—most of DistroKid’s clients are unsigned, DIY artists—suggests that Ludacris has parted ways with the major distribution infrastructure, and returned to his indie roots.
Rewind to February 2017, when prolific hip-hop artist DJ Jazzy Jeff, who first rose to fame alongside Will Smith as DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince, worked with over 30 collaborators to record his new album Chasing Goosebumps in just seven days. Jeff not only documented the entire recording process on Facebook Live but also decided to release the album independently through a distributor called Stem.
“I’ve been doing music professionally for over 30 years, and this was the first time I ever had full creative control,” Jeff told me. “I don’t normally get that emotional on projects, but when we finished up the album and I sat down and listened to it from beginning to end, I broke down.”
Stem gained recognition that same month as the distributor behind Frank Ocean’s album Blonde, whose stealthy release strategy circumvented the major-label system and sent shockwaves through the music industry. The Los Angeles-based startup touts a more public profile in the tech world than most other distributors, having raised $4.5 million in April 2016 from the likes of Upfront Ventures, Gary Vaynerchuk and artist-management magnate Scooter Braun.
Similar to DistroKid, Stem’s main selling points are its clean, artist-friendly dashboard interface and its automated, consensus-based model for royalty splits. “It was the perfect slam dunk: we cut up the revenue pie evenly and easily without any transparency issues so that we could just focus on our creativity,” said Jeff. “Three days after we finished the album, it was up on every major platform, and now I know exactly how much money I’m making from it.”
This incremental shift of major artists toward indie distribution suggests that the idea of a level playing field in the music business is not as far-fetched as we may think. Commenting on Ludacris' move, DistroKid CEO Philip Kaplan wrote that “musicians at all levels increasingly have access to the same platforms used by the most successful artists in the world.” What is perhaps even more important is that the logic also travels in the other direction: the most successful artists in the world are now demanding access to the same tools used by DIY creators.
The concept of an “indie distributor” is neither new nor small. Some of the biggest players in the field, including CD Baby and Sony-owned The Orchard, were founded pre-Napster. DistroKid uploads nearly 600 new albums daily and paid out $2 million to its artists last month, while competitor TuneCore pays its artists over $40 million in total every quarter. Frank Ocean and pop-rap duo Jack & Jack are just a few examples of independently distributed artists who have topped the iTunes album charts.
Business models vary across distributors. CD Baby takes a 9% commission on digital sales atop fees of $9.95 per single and $49 per album; TuneCore charges similar fees for singles and albums, without taking a commission. Stem charges a 5% commission without any per-unit fees, while DistroKid bills a flat annual rate of $19.99 for unlimited uploads. Those with commission fees are incentivized to advise artists on digital strategy and playlist placement, fully embracing their role as artist service providers, while DistroKid “makes $19.99 a year per artist, whether their albums make a million dollars or nothing at all,” Kaplan told me. “Our incentive for helping artists get on key playlists to drive streams and growth is purely for the artists' own good.”
Two trends raising the profiles of indie distributors across the board are the capability of artists to interact directly with their fans through social media—as Ludacris and DJ Jazzy Jeff accomplished through SMS and Facebook, respectively—and the unprecedented rise in streaming income.
This article first appeared in Forbes 
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Contributor: Cherie Hu @cheriehu42

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Palace Hot 100 Radio - United States listen live free online radio station

Palace Hot 100 Radio - United States listen live free online radio station

Diddy Is the Richest Man in Rap

Sean Diddy Combs, Met Gala 2017On Wednesday (May 10), Forbes released its annual list of hip-hop’s wealthiest artists of 2017. Sean Combs, aka Diddy, made the top of the list with a net worth of around $820 million, all thanks to an ongoing partnership with Ciroc vodka, as well as his investment in the TV network Revolt and his continued presence in the music industry.
In second, Jay Z is still a crowning titan of hip-hop royalty with $810 million, followed by Dr. Dre ($740 million) -- and then, after a steep drop off, Birdman($110 million) and Drake ($90 million) to round out the top five.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Biggie Smalls is Tha' Illest

Today marks 20 years since Biggie’s death

On March 9, 1997, music mourned the passing of hip-hop icon The Notorious B.I.G. after he was fatally shot in Los Angeles. His impeccable flare and innate wordplay captivated listeners on tracks like "Juicy," "One More Chance," and "Big Poppa." Despite having his career curtailed at the age of 24, his magnum opuses, 1994's Ready to Die and 1997's double-album Life After Death, are still revered the culture twenty years later.
In hopes of maintaining his legacy, FOX 5 news reporter and host of Hot 97'sStreet Soldiers, Lisa Evers, created a TV special to celebrate Biggie's illustrious career. Evers tapped two of Wallace's close friends in Junior M.A.F.I.A.'s Lil Cease and Hot 97's DJ Enuff, Biggie's tour DJ, to ruminate on their days with the late rapper. 

Shaquille O’Neal was with The Notorious B.I.G. just hours before he died back on March 9, 1997. According to Shaq’s 2011 book, Shaq Uncut: My Story, the NBA great was with Biggie at a tattoo parlor that day. And he even planned on attending a party sponsored by Vibe magazine with Biggie that night before he fell asleep while he was waiting for his ride and ultimately missed the party. Shaq found out Biggie died when his mother paged him early the next morning to check on him.

Image result for biggie"I don’t say I could’ve prevented it," Shaq said. "I was just saying…if I was out there by the car, would they still have fired? That’s the only thing I would say to myself. I don’t wanna make it seem like I could’ve saved him. I don’t want to make it seem like if I was there, the shooters wouldn’t have shot. If I was there by the truck, after we all left and I’m dapping him up, would they still have shot?"

The Notorious B.I.G. videos


The following is excerpted from Original Gangstas: The Untold Story of Dr. Dre, Eazy-E, Ice Cube, Tupac Shakur, and the Birth of West Coast Rap by Ben Westhoff, forthcoming from Hachette Book Group

Biggie and other young rappers assembled in recording studios or hotel rooms to hear Tupac lecture about how to make it in the game. "'Pac could get up and get to teaching," said EDI Mean. "Everyone was transfixed on this dynamic individual, and soaking up all the information we could soak up." But Tupac devoted special attention to Biggie, grooming him and letting him perform at his concerts. Biggie even told him he'd like to be a part of another of his affiliated groups, called Thug Life. "I trained the nigga, he used to be under me like my lieutenant," Tupac said.
Tupac claimed to have directly influenced Biggie's style. "I used to tell the nigga, 'If you want to make your money, you have to rap for the bitches. Do not rap for the niggas,' " he said. "The bitches will buy your records, and the niggas want what the bitches want." As proof that Biggie had heeded his advice, Tupac cited the difference between his early track, the aggressive "Party and Bullshit," and softer songs from his debut Ready to Die like "Big Poppa," which appealed more to the ladies: "Soon as he buy that wine, I just creep up from behind / And ask what your interests are, who you be with?"
But before Ready to Die came out, Biggie worried he could miss his shot, considering that the new label he was signed to, Bad Boy—owned by his manager Sean "Puffy" Combs—hadn't taken off yet. Things weren't happening for him quickly enough, he complained. He asked Tupac to take over as his manager, in hopes Tupac could advance his music and film career as rapidly as he'd done his own. "Biggie looked like he was wearing the same pair of Timberlands for a year, [while] 'Pac was staying at the Waldorf‑Astoria and buying Rolexes and dating Madonna,"

Born as Christopher Wallace on May 21, 1972, in Brooklyn, New York, Biggie Smalls, also known as Notorious B.I.G.,in Brooklyn, New York, in the neighborhood of Bedford-Stuyvesant. Biggie experienced a rough childhood—at an early age, he was surrounded by drug addicts and dealers. As a result, by his early teens, Biggie had joined the life that was all around him. "Hustlers were my heroes," he once said. "Everything happened on the strip I grew up in. It didn't matter where you went, it was all in your face."

At the age of 17, Biggie was arrested for selling crack, and spent nine months in a North Carolina prison before making bail. As he navigated his young, uncertain life, Biggie started making music. He hung around a crew called the "Old Gold Brothers," and began experimenting on his own. Around his neighborhood, Biggie Smalls, as he called himself then, began building a reputation as a musician. After a tape of his landed in the hands of Mister Cee, a well-known DJ, Smalls was featured in the hip-hop publication,The Source.

The article was enough to catch the attention of Sean "Puffy" Combs, a young producer at Uptown Entertainment, a New York-based label specializing in hip-hop and rhythm and blues. When Combs split from Uptown to start his own label, Bad Boy Entertainment, he brought Smalls with him.
Image result for biggie
Immediately, The Notorious B.I.G., as he now called himself, got to work, appearing on a 1993 remix of Mary J. Blige's single, "Real Love," and followed it up with a second Blige remix, "What's the 411?" His debut as a solo artist came with the single, "Party and Bullshit," on the soundtrack to the film, Who's the Man? (1993).
In 1994, The Notorious B.I.G. released his debut album, Ready to Die, which told the story of his life, from drug dealer to rapper. Backed with hits like "Juicy" and "Big Poppa," the record went platinum and the young hip-hop artist became a full-fledged star. That same year, The Source named the rapper "Best New Artist," "Best Live Performer" and "Lyricist of the Year."
As his star power increased, Biggie did his best to share his prestige. He backed the work of several rappers that he'd originally performed with while starting out in Brooklyn, and took to the studio in support of other artists on Sean "Puffy" Combs's label. He also teamed up with such stars as Michael Jackson and R. Kelly. By the close of 1995, Biggie was one of music's best-selling and most sought after performers.

Troubled Times

However, success and wealth hardly brought peace to Biggie's life. In the immediate aftermath of Ready to Die's popularity, the rapper found himself in constant fear. In 1994, he told The New York Times that he was disliked for having more money, which came with his fame. The large rapper—at 6 feet and three inches, and tipping the scales at nearly 400 pounds—said that he jumped whenever the door to his apartment building opened, fearing that someone might want to hurt him.
Biggie's fear led to anxiety, which led to spurts of aggression. In May 1995, he allegedly beat up a man after they got into a dispute over a canceled performance. Later, he took a baseball bat to a group of autograph seekers. His most famous battles, however, occurred with others in the hip-hop industry, most notably with Tupac Shakur, Marion "Suge" Knight and Death Row Records. The rivalry turned into an East Coast-West Coast feud (with Combs and Biggie representing the East), and the tension escalated in 1994, when Shakur and a member of the Wu-Tang Clan were shot and robbed. The two men survived and Shakur came out blazing, accusing Biggie and Combs of orchestrating the attack. Both vehemently denied the accusation.
Shakur added fuel to the flames with a pointed slam on the East Coast rap world in the single, "Hit 'Em Up," in which he claimed to have slept with Biggie's wife, Faith Evans. In September 1996, East Coast-West Coast battle heated up even further, when Shakur was murdered in a drive-by shooting in Las Vegas. Rumors of Biggie's involvement immediately began to make the rounds, and when the rapper was one of the few hip-hop artists not to make an appearance at an anti-violence summit that was held in Harlem a few weeks later, the finger-pointing intensified.
Image result for biggie
Shakur's death amplified Biggie's fears about his own life, and his concern was tragically validated on March 9, 1997. Biggie, who had just come out of a party celebrating the 11th Annual Soul Train Music Awards, was sitting in an SUV when another vehicle pulled up to his car, opened fire and killed him. Biggie was only 24 years old at the time.
For many fans, the murder was viewed as retaliation for Shakur's murder. Biggie's death shook the music world, prompting fears that the hip-hop world might erupt into a full-fledged war, ending numerous other lives. That didn't happen, fortunately, but Biggie's friends, family and fans never received any answers regarding his death. Despite years of speculation regarding the identity of the gunman, Biggie's case was never solved. Biggie's family has been outspoken about its disappointment with the handling of the case, going as far as accusing the Los Angeles Police Department of employing rogue officers who were involved in the murder.
Biggie's death came just as the rapper was about to put out his second album,Life After Death. In the wake of Biggie's killing, the record was a giant hit, selling nearly 700,000 copies in its first week. Two years later, Born Again, an album of unreleased material from Biggie, was released. A third album of extra material, Duets: The Final Chapter, was released in 2005.
Today, Biggie is still one of the music industry's most admired hip-hop artists. Several musicians have paid tribute to Biggie by mentioning him in their songs, and his musical style has been emulated by countless up-and-coming artists. Undoubtedly, Biggie's talent as a writer and rapper will continue to be acknowledged for decades to come.Image result for biggie

Hot 97 Presents: B.I.G. 20 Years

Celebrating Hip Hop legend & HOT 97 family member for life, Biggie Smalls, 20 

years after his passing.


After 20 years, the Mafia-style murder of Biggie Smalls remains one of the most baffling mysteries in rap history.
The Brooklyn-born hip-hop legend was shot dead by a bow-tied assassin March 9, 1997, while sitting in a green Chevy Suburban parked on Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles.
He was struck with four GECO bullets — rare, metal-piercing 9mm ammo manufactured in Europe and sold only in certain California and New Jersey shops.

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Brooklyn Supermarket Honoring The Notorious B.I.G. With Limited Edition Grocery Bags

The Notorious B.I.G. tragically lost his life March 9, 1997, but his legacy lives on not only through his music, but in many aspects of culture that he touched. Even grocery stores.

As a child, Christopher Wallace bagged groceries at Brooklyn’s Met Food Supermarket and on the 20th anniversary of his passing, the store is paying tribute to the rap legend with special edition paper bags.


The Biggie Bags are the creation of Jed Heuer and his wife, Jennifer, who have lived in the area since 2000. There are 100 special edition bags at Key Food, the store that now stands where Met Food was at 991 Fulton Street, that are available for purchase on a first come, first served basis.

“This project is about paying respect to a legendary artist and sharing a piece of neighborhood history.”

Biggie was fatally shot 20 years ago in Los Angeles after attending a party. He died an hour later and the murder is still unsolved.

Remy Ma Ends Nicki Minaj Beef to Focus On Empowering Women

The internet undoubtedly had the time of its life picking apart each slanderous bar on Remy Ma’s “SHETHER,” but for the song’s creator, there is some disappointment in the hype of the track’s aftermath.

In a Facebook Live session with Buzzfeed’s Another Round Podcast, Remy explained why she’s not for the tearing down of other women, despite what went down between herself and Nicki Minaj.

She did clarify that if you rub her the wrong way, likely in the case of the Queens rapper, she’s ready to take aim.

“I do not condone or recommend the tearing down of another female,” Remy Ma said. “That’s not what I do. Anybody that knows me knows that I embrace females. I always want to do some girl-oriented thing. I think we work so much better when we work together and when we help each other. I just don’t, especially when I know someone who’s come from somewhere like I’ve come from, when you come from the bottom and you’ve actually managed to make something of yourself, it just makes me happy. It just makes me all mushy inside. However, in the event that you piss me off and we become archenemies, run for cover.”

Later in the interview, the Bronx wordsmith did fess up to not being “particularly proud” of “SHETHER.” She also explained that she and Nicki could have made an equally powerful impact doing a collaboration.

“It just bothers me that this record that I put out where it’s literally picking apart a female went so viral, and every media outlet wants to talk about it and pick it up. I feel like we could’ve done the same thing working together. I would’ve liked it so much better that way. … I don’t regret [“SHETHER”], but I’m not particularly proud of it,” she said. ” I just think it’s crazy the way people celebrate women attacking each other as opposed to working together.”

While admitting that she was “on high alert” in the week after dropping “SHETHER,” Remy is not among those waiting for Nicki’s response (which is probably not coming anyway).
“It’s over now,” she said. “If she wants to say something then cool, but I said what I had to say and that’s really it.”