RaneRaps’ bodacious new single Look Alive alternates between the uncanny trap sound of Kenny Beats and a classic Timbaland bounce. Bursting with thunderous drums, gripping bass, and off-kilter synths, the self-produced record urges you to dance. Better yet, look alive!
Which one of your outfits should be on display in the Grammy Museum in DTLA?
The outfit of outfits: my fishnet bodysuit, white leather cutout pants, gold boots, and red studded leather jacket. It has a Thriller quality to it but I still manage to make it my own. Any person seeing this on display would be captivated. And if they weren’t familiar with my art, they’d be compelled to research me off the strength of the clothes alone. Furthermore, I’d expect the Grammy Museum to double up on security. This outfit is so incredible that somebody has to hypothetically plan to take it for themselves. It looks that good.
As fashion visionary with no limits to your style, what brand would make the best collaborator for the creation of RaneRaps product(s)? If I were to partner with a larger brand, it’d be 1 of 2 for me right now: FashionNova specifically for an underwear and legging line or Hot Topic for a line of neon fanny packs. But, being one always down for the community, I’d prefer to reach across to a smaller Black-owned brand Jada Lebour. They carry a range of apparel but we could make magic with a run of bodysuits. I’m thinking patent leather, animal prints, and a whole lot of skin showing! The people deserve to look their best in the wildest of creations so one of these brands has the know how and the aesthetic to help me pull this off!
Starbucks or Boba? Boba forever and always. I’m caffeine sensitive and also highly disagreeable to the taste of coffee. More power to those who drink it but it dang sure couldn’t be me! That being said, coffee does smell great. If Starbucks wants my vote, I’ll revise my answer for a nominal fee!
What is an uncommonly known fact about your hometown of Inglewood, California?
Where the new Rams stadium stands was a once-famous horse racing track called Hollywood Park. While the park wasn’t profitable in the long term, during its reign it consistently drew a large crowd of gamblers, horse race enthusiasts, and fans of sport at-large. My grandfather was all 3, ahah! The only thing left of the park today is the casino. Fortunately my dad took me to watch the jockeys practice a few times and I got a chance to see up close just how magnificent the spirit of the park was. The races must have been electrifying!
Name a non-Rap/Hip-Hop influence on your current music progression.
George Benson is a major influence right now. J Patz put me on to him a few years ago. I grew up hearing the song “Give Me the Night” but never knew who sang it. Ever since, I’ve built it into my repertoire of songs to study and internalize.
I’ve become a better producer thanks to Give MeThe Night, primarily in drum groove and transitions. I learned a lot about how hi-hats establish a groove and the use of risers or synth lines to help move a song from verse to chorus, chorus to bridge, and so on. Although I’m not driving much during the pandemic, I use my in-car time to air drum as much as possible, playing that record at high volume. It’s built my knack for coming up with drum patterns and playing them in live on my records. Look Alive is a great example of my finger drumming. You can hear my imperfections establish a push and pull in the beat. That’s what makes the record so addictive - it’s living, it’s breathing, tense and loose all at once.
With the impact of COVID-19 on in-person live shows/festivals, what do you see as the advantages and/or disadvantages of live stream shows/festivals?
Live stream festivals give smaller acts more opportunities to play gigs since it’s less about sales and popularity and more about the ability to perform: showcasing charisma, musicianship, and storytelling. Many acts lack those key traits yet they stay booked in a non-pandemic world. Performance should not be going through the motions. It MUST BE extreme passion and purpose. The biggest disadvantage of no live shows has been a lack of instant feedback. I make music alone to give my fans my truest self. But, when I perform, I need them live and direct. We feed off of each other’s energy to translate those words into raw emotions. I love observing people lose themselves in the moment and become one with the experience. I’m rarely thinking on stage and totally in the moment but when I become “aware” of the present, I relish in the crowd’s laughs, cheers, and more. No emoji in the comments can outdo that communal experience.
What kind of juices and berries do you use to maintain your fro?
While I don’t readily eat avocado, I have to praise the effects it has had on my hair. I’ve spent years using awful (in terms of results and ingredients) products on my hair and I finally found a brand that became my elixir: Design Essentials. They make a great avocado based leave-in conditioner. Aside from that, I use lots of WATER. That’s the foundation and then you throw in some shea butter, coconut oil, and a host of other herbs like marshmallow root that are magic. Honey is a great resource as well. It’s a humectant, so it’ll help your hair stay moisturized. I still haven’t cracked the code on getting the ultimate fro but I know my regimen has maintained my hairline in a life like this! That’s no small feat! May I age like Ronald Isley and have these curls forever more!
As your audience continues to grow, what sector of consumers do you aim to gain more engagement from? I hope to break into 3 markets: gamers, skaters, and environmental activists. I grew up a hardcore gamer. I’d be up till the AM in elementary school playing RPGs online and that habit stayed with me long into my teens. I enjoyed the community of playing with people all across the world and making friends that I could chat to even outside of the game. That same capacity for community is even bigger now! Long live Final Fantasy!
I don’t skateboard anymore, but I do longboard. Skaters tend to be open-minded and have great taste in music. It’s just a byproduct of being “counter-culture” I suppose. With songs like mine, any kid at the park can get in the right mind to show off their best tricks. My tunes are easily digestible, groovy, and expletive-free for max volume listening. Besides, who doesn’t want to land big flips while listening to Look Alive? I guarantee if anyone skated to that song in an X-games comp, they’d take home first in all competitions.
And sustainability is a big thing for me. I don’t shout about it 24/7 but I do my best to recycle and upcycle goods, shop at a co-op, etc to reduce my carbon footprint. While corporations are largely responsible for the current environmental crisis, I’d like to use my platform to signal boost activists, fund projects in the space, and compel people every day to become more environmentally-friendly.
If you had to trade in your boots for one, which would it be, Crocs or Chuck Taylor's?
Crocs. Unironically. They’re the polar opposite of my boots in terms of comfort and I think a strap-back shoe is at least mildly cool, right? I had a Chuck phase in middle school. But they left the soles of my feet in agonizing pain after each game of pickup basketball. Aesthetics: 10. Durability: 0.
The majority of your catalog is clean by radio and DSP guidelines. Why is that important to you as an artist? Is there an advantage business and branding wise to that approach?
I was forced to listen to only clean music when I grew up. Not that I cared, but it was just a part of my listening experience. I would hate for the youth to miss out on my music and message for the simple fact that it might have a strong word in it. Therefore, I opt to make clean music. Additionally (and in my opinion), curse words don’t add weight to a song the same way a striking visual can. I’d rather impact listeners with the cinematic quality of my lyricism and/or narrative than an empathic expression of a four-letter word. Clean music forces me to weave together a good story and squeeze the most out of every idea! I love challenges.
CREATE.Digital Music Staff
On the eve of his Oh That's Filthy/CREATE.Digital Music collaborative debut "Got Me Some Love" feat. Endz, we stepped into the energy that is Noa James.
Noa James, it's an honor to be blessed with your presence and energy, Please give our audience a short background on you as an artist and what your brands represent.
Blessings! I’m an emcee from the Inland Empire that makes purpose driven music. Creating music truly is my therapy. I rap about what I love, from self love & healing to growth to anime to wrestling & more. Everything I do, I do with love with my music, online store & other ventures.
Your new single "Got Me Some Love" feat. Endz drops 3/5/21 on Oh That's Filthy/CREATE.Digital Music. Give us a synopsis of the song concept and how you hope it will connect with your audience? Your vision will become clear only when you look into your heart. This track in another vitamin filled with big magic. The hook is a manifesting spell for the audience to cast.
You're known as a positive energy, spiritual, and emotionally grounded artist. What's the first thought that comes to mind when I say "Love?" Strength & power. When I’m thinking of love, it’s always about how it helps you overcome & find hope. To make love last, it requires effort & effort is strength to me.
As a pillar in the Inland Empire (CA) music community, what do you believe is its biggest contribution to music? What is an area of growth needed for the next 3-5 years?
The IE has its own unique style. You have from Hit-Boy to Travis Barker being from out here. We contribute a lot in the festival scene from major concerts to indie. I feel like we need more music media in the IE; blogs, journalists, magazines, different media outlets to help shine light on the artist.
Your fitness journey is well documented. We applaud your continued effort and inspiration. Give us your top 3 keys to maintaining that focus. My Granny really wanted me to get ahold of my weight so she’s definitely one of the keys that helps me maintain focus. I like being up & active, it’s the lifestyle I want for myself so I know I have to be healthy to be able to live it. I see it as, I have to be healthy to achieve the goals that I have set for myself. I’ve been in diabetic comas, that experience made me change my habits. I’m pre-diabetic now & I don’t want to go through that again.
Sunday, March 7, 2021 3:00 p.m. EST/1:00 p.m. PST
by The Bridge - January 28, 2021
90.9 fm The Bridge in Kansas City, MO featured CREATE.Digital Music artist, Eddie Moore on the Essence of His Music, Learning from The Watsons and Guiding Next-Gen Artists. Read the full article.
Interview by MissCallMe Cris. Edited for clarity.
The distinguished gentleman, Cleveland P. Jones, delivers a triumphant new single “Be Right There” and we sit with him to talk about the inspiration behind it, and how he developed the purity, honesty, and power that transcends throughout it.
When listening to your music, I hear something pure, powerful, and with a significant range. You certainly have a gift to make people feel what you are relaying. Where does that come from?
That’s such a good question! I’d definitely say that it was something that was simply given. A higher power has definitely gifted me with something. At first, it was hard to accept because I was always told “You sound so unique!”, and the word unique did not translate to me as positive. Eventually, I just thought to myself that I have to do me and not care what other people think. I’m also an empathetic type of person. I feel things, I see things, and when it comes out, it just happens to come out the way it does. What you are getting is honest and pure, and it comes from me thinking this could be my very last day. So, if you’re going to record, sing live, or whatever, give it your best every single time.
You definitely hear all of that in your new single “Be Right There”. Can you paint the picture of how it came about?
Well, back in 2016, I was introduced to PRO from CREATE.Digital. Back then, PRO wanted to know if I had released a song called “Mistakes”, and at the time, I already did. So, he was like “I wish I had gotten that song. But, we’ll do something together eventually.” Here we are 4 years later. He hit me up and said, “Hey, I hope we can team up and do something together.” I said, yea, I’d be open to it. What do you want to do? He said, “I want you to write something inspirational. We are going through a lot right now and we need something uplifting.” Within that period of time, my sister had a stroke. My sister and I are unbreakable and she became the main reason behind the song. Her situation helped me push to write and the thing that I always wanted her to know was, I am never going to leave her. I’m always going to be there. Even though we live in two different places, she knows by spirit, presents, by phone calls, and driving back and forth from state to state to check on her, that I will always be right there for her.
What was the creative process like working with PRO in A&R/Executive Producer mode?
He was totally open to my creative control in whatever I was doing. He also lends a helping hand. Like, this could be a good idea…or that could be, and I’m just like...“Thank you!” Because it can get complicated in my brain. I’m an over-analytical type of guy, and he just gave me nuggets to move forward, and that’s what made it easy.
Although “Be Right There” came from a personal place, I think many others will be able to relate. What do you hope others gain from the powerful lyrics and emotion of the production?
I hope people who normally would not shake or hold hands, get over themselves. I’m talking racism, sexism, classism, and that we understand the cliché “You cut me, I cut you, we all bleed.” It’s the truth! We are all the same and we came from something that is the same. If we really saw beyond the outer shell of others, I think the song is big enough to grasp people to just love each other. Just go ahead and love…unconditionally, without all the frails. I hope that the song encourages people to understand what unity is, and being there for someone. If you listen to the passion and the honesty of the song, it is undeniable that anyone that hears it with an open heart, it will translate well.
“Be Right There” is pretty big. Is there more music we can expect from you and your team of collaborators?
“Be Right There” did inspire me to want to write more. It gave me a huge, new surge of energy that said, “Cleve, you’re really getting comfortable with this thing. You’re getting used to yelling, screaming, and using your voice the way you want to.”... and it feels liberating! So, let’s just say yes, there is more music coming. I plan to write a jazz album for sure. I’ve always wanted to do jazz. So, I’m going to say yes to this question.
Interview by MissCallMe Cris,. Edited for clarity.
This week we sat with music producer and creator, NOBRAKES MIXX to talk about the vision of his latest release “Bang My Line” and how he saw the perfect artist combination to make it all come together.
Can you tell us who is NOBRAKES MIXX as a producer and entity?
I’m a producer and consider myself a creator in general. I’ve been producing for a long time, making beats since the age of 16. I started off producing for my friends who were artists, and began branching out to independent artists who really took their craft seriously. It all hit a fast-track when I started a production and marketing company called SOCAL Radio, where we started grass-root branding and marketing for different artists. But yeah, I’m a creator! I kind of move to the beat of my own drum. I make music I want to hear and stick with what I feel.
What was your role in the creation of “Bang My Line” featuring Pretty Pape$ and G-Funk Supreme? How did it all come together?
Me and Pretty Pape$ work closely together. I’ve known that he’s been wanting to work with G-Funk Supreme, and I’ve wanted to get a track with them together. So, I was like, I’m going to make a sound where I know both of them can fit, with them both having their own lanes. So, I made the beat, sent it over to Pape$. He loved it and came to the studio and recorded his part. After he was done, I called G-Funk and was like, hey, I have one for you! I sent it to him, he hit me back 20 mins later like “I already have my verse. Let me know when I can come in and record it”. What’s crazy is, the night he came to record it, I rushed to my studio and I left the charger for my laptop. I literally had 12 percent battery left on my MacBook. I had to turn my brightness down and disable everything in order to get his verse. As soon as he got done with his verse, my computer died. But, that was the premise of getting both of them on the track.
What was your process in completing the vision of the collaboration? How did you know this was going to be a perfect fit?
Their styles! G-Funk is from Long Beach, Pape$ is from Orange County. Pape$ is like rah-rah, in your face, while G-Funk is more laid back, cool, and collected. I knew that the two would mesh very well together. They typically don’t make the same type of music but, the sound in their voice and the way they approach music, I knew it was going to be a good mesh. Knowing their sounds individually, I just had to make the right sound for them to team up on, and it was a done deal from there.
How important do you feel collaborations are as a producer?
Anyone who follows me on Twitter or on social media, I’m yelling that all the time. Collaboration is key! The more eyes you have to look, the more eyes you’ll have looking. You can’t do everything by yourself. You’ll burn yourself out. Especially, in the field we’re in. There’s nothing that I’ve been able to do by myself. Everything has been team-oriented. I’m a big team guy, I want everyone else to shine. That way, you bring more people to the table and we all eat at the end of the day. So, collaboration is a big piece of what I do.
How difficult or easy was it to make the collaboration happen during a pandemic?
It’s a change. Back in the day, we had our studio and was just like, I’m going to be here on these days, just come through. Nowadays, you have to plan around it. I’m not so much recording in the studio with people right now. I’m kind of keeping my distance, working from home. It’s a challenge but, you have to roll with the times.
Interview by MissCallMe Cris and edited for clarity
This week we are joined by “Substance Pop" recording artist, singer, and songwriter, AZRA, as she drops her empowering single “Hell & Back”. Giving us hope through overcoming her challenges in life, in an upbeat, invigorating piece of work, in a much-needed moment in time.
Can you paint us a picture of how “Hell & Back” became a song?
I wrote the song a while ago with my co-writing and production team, The Heavyweights, with Jamie Jones and Matt Wong. I went into the studio one day with this idea that I’d been through so much in the past. Even just looking at my artist journey. I’d been doing music for a long time. Since I was born, I’d been dancing and singing. But, one day I was looking back at all the things like being in L.A., working in the industry, all of the experiences I’ve had with my eye being diagnosed with juvenile glaucoma in 2008, and just different challenges that I’ve had to face and figure out a way to grow from and move forward with. So, I went to the studio, and I was like “Hey Guys! I’ve been through hell and back”, even though people may not be able to pick up on that when they first see me. You would have no idea that I’ve been through some challenges. But, that’s very relatable to a lot of us. So, I wanted to work with the idea that there’s always going to be ups and downs in life, and it’s not a matter of only picking the positives to get through life. It’s actually accepting both. There’s always going to be the negatives, and if you don’t know the negatives, you’re never going to know positives. So, that’s how the song came to life. It’s a very upbeat song but, I wanted to make sure it had substance to it.
Why do you think it’s important to tell these kinds of stories?
In life, it’s not always going to be happy. There’s always the yin and the yang. I’ve been through a phase in my life when I was learning about positive thinking and discovering the benefits of being positive, and in the beginning, I didn’t know how to deal with all the negativity. I knew to just focus on the positives and hopefully, the negatives will just go away, I guess. That was my mentality for a while. But, this year with the pandemic and everything that is going on, a lot of us are forced to face the things that we didn’t want to face, including all the negative things. We can be oblivious to it but, that’s not going to last forever, and that’s not going to really make us grow and become stronger as a person. It’s really when we can recognize that there’s going to be good times, and there’s going to be some not so good times. It’s good to accept and recognize that because it’s only going to make us become more appreciative of the positives. I think that’s the true meaning of growth.
What kind of reception are you getting from the song so far?
It’s pretty positive actually, which I’m really grateful for. It’s very upbeat, it’s a different vibe but, still in the 6th Dimension. I’m getting a good vibe from it. The people that I’ve shared it with, they recognize that it’s not just a dance, pop song. They recognize from the lyrics that it’s kind of deep, and has a message. About two week ago, I shared the song with four of my closest friends, and one of my friends actually teared up during the bridge. That just motivated me, like yeah, I guess this is good!
What’s the one thing you want everyone to get from “Hell & Back”?
The one thing that I want people to get is a feeling of hope. That’s the most important thing. With everything that’s going on right now, it’s been really challenging. Speaking with a lot of my fans, it’s been rough. But, at the same time, seeing how people are figuring out how to rise from it, in the midst of all the darkness, seeing how people are coming out of it every single day and getting themselves up in the morning, including myself, it’s pretty damn empowering. So, I hope that my song can just add to that and give them a little more light. Even if it gives them a little boost and makes them want to dance a little, then I’ve done my job.
Is “Hell & Back” a part of a bigger project that we can look forward to?
Possibly!! Yes! I am constantly working on more music. I have been very actively going to the studio lately. Stay tuned!! I definitely hope to and plan to release more music this year.
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By MissCallMe Cris. Interview edited for clarity.
Hailing from North Carolina, Smart Boy Beatz is a multiple showcase winner and beat battle champion. When he’s not racking up these wins with his skills, he’s teaching his musical prowess to high school students in Atlanta, GA. With the Coronavirus lockdown still in place and putting a hold on things, we chopped it up with Smart Boy Beatz to see how he’s thriving through these days, and what he’s been working on.
So, what do you have going on these days?
I’m an in-house producer for Patchwerk Studios. In conjunction with Patchwerk Studios, every Tuesday we do #PWRBASSLINE, a show where producers and songwriters can submit their music, and me and my co-host give feedback. Every Saturday we also do this show called “The Pull Up”, a place online where songwriters and producers can come and vibe out for a little bit since we’re all in the house because of the Coronavirus. We’ve been trying to curate a lot of content so that people feel okay with being in the house, and that they are still being inspired and have the will to create. Being in the house can be depressing sometimes but, having these outlets and this content online is our way of helping to alleviate some of it.
How are you and your team thriving throughout the Coronavirus lockdown?
I’m an introvert, I’m shy, and quiet. I will come alive when I’m around my friends or when doing a show. But, I like being in the house, watching Netflix, and chilling. That’s where you can find me. However, I’d be lying if I said it hasn’t negatively affected me. I need other people around to be inspired. I need personal interaction sometimes. I like my close-knit relationships, and sharing the bond we’ve developed but, the Coronavirus has placed a hold on all of that stuff. Communicating electronically is cool but, there’s nothing like it in-person. Knowing that this is happening, knowing that this is prime time for all of us to capitalize on these emotions and the things we are feeling, we are all trying to keep each other lifted by creating these shows. So, we could be of service for the creatives who felt like they needed an outlet for the music that they have been cooking in their “Corona Caves”, where no one can hear them.
Where did the idea for Smart Loopz come from? How are people receiving it?
The Coronavirus lockdown definitely affected me. I was in a rut for a little bit and that’s where the pack came from. Being in that place. Knowing I had nowhere to go, I thought to myself, let me dig and see if I can find some inspiration. There were a lot of days I would just sit and play around with chords and melodies, play with some drums, and just put them aside for the pack. I was stupid excited to get it out, ecstatic about sharing the posts. I never made a loop pack before, this was my first one. It’s been a lot of support behind it too. I love the feedback and support that I’ve gotten from it. Some of my people back home never heard of any of this stuff, so when I explained it to them, they thought this was something huge. So, they’re sharing the posts, and they are excited for me. Also, shout-out to all my producers who have already copped the pack. They’ve given me some good reviews on it.
What’s something else you’re most proud of?
My favorite is a song called “Dolly!” by Tai the Cherub. It’s one of my favorite pieces. I feel like I got the mix right on it. I love her voice too. She and I went to high school together and just decided to start making music. I like to call our relationship something sort of like a Timbaland & Missy relationship. But, “Dolly” is my favorite…favorite song. It’s nice, upbeat, and vibey. It has some Reggaeton, Reggae, Afro-Beat elements inside of it. It’s one of my favorite beats and she’s just sitting on top of the beat so pretty.
Anything you’ve been working on that you are looking forward to dropping?
I’ve been heavy in the studio with this young artist named Riah. She’s from Atlanta. I’ve been working with her mother and Ciz from iStandard Producers for a few months now. We have 8 to 10 tracks cooked up, ready to drop whenever we get the roll-out plan together. I’m dumb excited about this! For her to be so young and on top of her game already, this is going to pan out very well. There’s a lot of people pushing the project, and I’m honored to be a part of it.
Special Thanks: Courtney "Cizzurp215" Carroll of 2ew Gunn Ciz, LLC.
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