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While watching the video for “Hot N****” by  Epic Records’ newest artist Bobby Shmurda, I could hear a voice in my head repeatedly cry out, “the music industry hates Black people.”

Out of countless amazingly talented unsigned artists waiting for their big break, why would a record company sign yet another half-ass artist whose message is all about death, murder, guns, and more death? It couldn’t possibly be about all the money they project making off this Youtube one-hit wonder since the past couple of years have shown us that viral video stars like Trinidad James and Chief Keef don’t necessarily translate to real-world superstardom.

Why would music industry executives who are supposedly astute businessmen invest in the type of artists other labels don’t seem to have been very successful with? While these rappers may achieve short-term popularity, the amount of free mixtapes, guest appearances, and YouTube-to-MP3 music they put out can’t be profitable for the companies.

Why would someone like Bobby Shmurda get a major label deal on the strength of one poorly-produced video?  Is it because Beyonce did the Shmoney Dance (Bobby’s signature move) during one of her shows? Is it because Jay Z shouted out the dance in a freestyle at a concert? Is it because Drake, Meek Mill, Raekwon (WTF Rae?) and Busta Rhymes co-signed Shmurda?

Why would a label invest in a mediocre rapper who may be “hot” for a minute but will undoubtedly fade into oblivion like so many of his forgettable predecessors? Is it because Bobby Shmurda is an underground sensation who kids in NY have been listening to for the past few months so Epic Records jumped on who they felt might be rap’s next flavor-of-the-moment before someone else does?

Or is it simply because the music industry’s agenda to promote death and dysfunction to Black youth is bigger than its desire to make money?

Yes, I’m a conspiracy theorist. I don’t care how many people ridicule me. I don’t care how many “real street cats” call me an out-of-touch Hip Hop purist who doesn’t know what today’s kids are into. I don’t care how many industry execs mock my extreme views and so-called lack of music business knowledge. I don’t care how many idiots call me a race-baiter. I don’t care how many call me a hater for criticizing a kid I don’t personally know without even giving him a chance to shine. I don’t care how many dumb asses try to convince me that if he didn’t get a record deal, he’d be out shooting or robbing folks (that seems to be a popular opinion on the internet right now). I don’t care how many tell me that Hip Hop can’t always be positive or that I need to leave the days of De La Soul and Public Enemy behind. I don’t care how many fools try to sell me on the idea that the labels are just giving the fans the kind of music they want. I don’t care how many of you tell me that a record company’s goal is to make money, not save lives. I don’t care how many major artists co-sign this misled kid. And I don’t care how many of his fans insult me.

Nothing you can say negates the fact that Bobby Shmurda and other similar rappers are promoting the worst kind of images and messages. Nothing you can argue negates the fact that what these labels are marketing is toxic, criminal, and racist. No other form of entertainment, be it pop, rock, country, electronic, video games, movies, or TV, glorifies the blatant death and destruction of Black people while passing it off as entertainment you can do a trendy dance to. Mainstream rap is the only form of entertainment that prides itself on depicting reality yet ends up only promoting the ugliest part of that “reality”, often resulting in real-life drama, murder, arrests, and jail sentences. Why does the music industry keep promoting something that any other industry would consider a poor investment and a huge liability? What kind of business can you think of, beyond the field of entertainment, that would knowingly employ someone who glorifies crime and all other forms of disturbing behavior…unless there was a damn good reason?
So what are the music industry’s reasons? Does it have anything to do with “the commercial rap to prison pipeline“? Is it about selling a lifestyle that will send impressionable youth to the private prisons media conglomerates invest in?
I know most of you hate conspiracy theories and will accuse me of spreading baseless allegations. However, how many of you can provide a perfectly ethical answer as to why promoting Black death has become “business as usual”?  Please don’t tell me that it’s based on the age-old business model of  “supply and demand” when we know that the social and financial cons of signing an artist like Bobby Shmurda outweigh the pros.
However, don’t let the Beyonces and Pharells of the world fool you. These pop artists exist because their mass appeal generates millions for the industry. Their success doesn’t take away from the fact that the worst kind of messages and images are still filtered through many Black artists who, despite never achieving megastar status, become popular enough to have a huge influence on fragile young minds, even if their limited success isn’t profitable for their label. These are the artists in question here.

If it really just came down to the argument that sex and violence in music sells, we’d see it equally produced by all ethnic groups and equally targeting all ethnic groups. However, besides Black people, I can’t think of another group, be it White, Asian, Latino, Christian, Jewish, etc, that the music industry feels as comfortable overtly disparaging without a second thought.

Shame on Sha Money XL, who got Shmurda signed, and shame on L.A. Reid, Epic Records’ CEO, for contributing to the perception of Black people as criminals at a time when so many police officers around the nation already see them as a threat for no other reason than being Black. I’m sure the money and accolades make it all worth it. I can’t help but wonder if L.A. Reid would’ve been as open to Shmurda’s “talent” during his time as a judge on X Factor.

Ultimately, once Bobby Shmurda’s 15 minutes of fame are up, record labels will quickly move on to the next “shoot-em-up rapper” and the industry’s big decision makers (Jimmy Iovine, The Lipmans, Barry Weiss, Doug Morris, etc) who market this poison will continue to remain silent and unseen, just like Klansmen protected by the anonymity of their hooded sheets. In the meantime, the deaf, dumb, and blind co-signers will keep making excuses for an industry that celebrates the death and destruction of Black people.
This article can also be found on RapRehab at http://raprehab.com/the-music-industry-hates-black-people/
Every month, I’ll be picking my top 5 favorite Hip Hop related items.  This could include artists, videos, songs, events, books, shows or anything else that represents the best in Hip Hop culture for that month.  Keep in mind that my picks are strictly a matter of opinion.  In no particular order, this list is just my way of celebrating what’s right with Hip Hop.  Readers are free to agree or disagree. Don’t hesitate to share your feedback. Enjoy! Peace.
 
1. The Masters of Ceremony Hip Hop Reunion

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When was the last time you got to see EPMD, Slick Rick, Doug E. Fresh, Big Daddy Kane, Rakim, Biz Markie, Naughty By Nature, DMX, and more together on stage? Kicking off this July, the show will hopefully make its way to your city soon.

2. Chuck D Interview on the Combat Show

This is possibly one of the best interviews I’ve heard in a long time. Listen to Chuck and Keith Shocklee from the Bomb Squad share insight about Hip Hop culture, the origins of Public Enemy, the music industry, their work with other artists, and everything else you’d imagine the perfect 3 1/2 hour Chuck D interview to sound like!

 

3. Interview with Bob Power, the man behind the sound of A Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul, The Roots, Erykah Badu, and more.

Legendary recording engineer Bob Power talks about how he helped create the sound that some of Hip Hop’s most iconic artists are known for. If you’re into what goes on behind the scenes, this interview is a must!

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4. Sa-Roc’s new album, “Nebuchadnezzar”

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Craving conscious Hip Hop? The Goddess Sa-Roc doesn’t disappoint with a full-length offering featuring the likes of Wise Intelligent and David Banner. Can’t think of too many other MC’s who can touch her right now! Stream it and buy it here.

5. Jay Electronica at The Brooklyn Hip Hop Festival

The always anticipated Brooklyn Hip Hop Festival celebrated its 10th anniversary with many performers including Jay Electronica who repped the Nation of Islam to the fullest and surprised the audience by bringing Jay Z on stage to do an almost 15-minute set. I wasn’t there but here’s the video.

You can also find this on RapRehab at http://raprehab.com/the-top-5-hip-hop-picks/

Madd Mary, the L.A. based MC wanted for the lyrical assassination of Billboard chart topper Iggy Azalea has taken to Youtube with a graphic video of her last moments with the Australian pop/rap star. Investigators were able to locate the house where the gruesome verbal slaying occurred but were unable to find any clues which could lead to Madd Mary’s arrest.  However, scrawled in blood at the scene of the crime were the following four phrases:
“Hip-Hop is ruled by a White, Blonde, Australian woman ?” Not on my watch.
 What’s going on in Hip-Hop is tantamount to cultural genocide.
 I will not co-sign a fraud.
 Iggy Azalea needs to be called out as the degrading stereotype that she is.
The FBI and the LAPD are asking media and the general public to share the following video on Facebook and Twitter as well as all popular blogs in hopes of locating Ms. Mary.
 
Additionally, anyone with information regarding Madd Mary’s whereabouts is strongly encouraged to contact lead detective (and publicist/creative consultant) Sebastien Elkouby at SebastienElkouby@gmail.com.
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Hello Usher,

I just heard your brand new single “I Don’t Mind” featuring Juicy J and immediately felt compelled to congratulate you for releasing such a powerful song. While most of today’s mainstream rap and R&B newcomers regularly objectify women in their music, it’s nice to have an artist of your caliber give these young guys a lesson on how to treat a lady.

First things first, I really dig the hook.

Shawty, I don’t mind If you dance on a pole/That don’t make you a ho
Shawty, I don’t mind when you work until three/If you’re leaving with me
Go make that money, money, money/Your money, money, money
Cause I know how it is, go and handle your biz/And get that money, money, money
Your money, money, money/You can take off your clothes
Long as you coming home, girl, I don’t mind

Right off the bat, you let your girl know that trust is not an issue.  Too many artists paint women as shady and untrustworthy, but not you. You even take the time to reassure her that she isn’t a ho, just because she’s taking her clothes off for money. Trust is key to a healthy relationship and you don’t have a problem letting the object of your affection know that no matter who she strips for, you’re confident that she’s coming home to you, even if it’s really late at night…or very early in the morning depending on how you look at it.  I also like how you make it a point to reinforce the fact that her money is her money.  With so many songs generalizing all women as gold diggers, you’re quick to distance yourself from such narrow-minded foolishness.  I hope these young artists are taking notes to learn how the mind of a real man works.

Ok, on to the first verse.

The ballers in here tonight, they gon’ buy a hundred bottles
As soon as you shake it I know they gon’ make it colossal in here
Cause shawty you thinkin’ them tricks that you do with your body
Got all of these niggas they crowding around you like they seen Beyonce in here
You want your own and you need your own, baby, who am I to judge?
Cause how could I ever trip about it when I met you in the club?
I make enough for the both of us, but you dance anyway
You know I was raised in the A

Here, you prove how secure you are in your manhood. While most men wouldn’t feel comfortable with their girlfriends/wives sharing their special “bedroom” tricks with random dudes, you acknowledge the fact that since you met your girl at the club, judging her for the very thing which attracted you to her in the first place wouldn’t be right. Being nonjudgmental is a sign of wisdom and maturity.  Again, you’re showing these youngins how an adult thinks.  And even though you’re making millions upon millions, and she’s most likely not, you wouldn’t dare stop her from doing something she loves and that she’s obviously good at.  After all, the ballers wouldn’t be making it “colossal” if she didn’t have a reputation for being great at her craft.  That’s important…especially in the A.

Second verse.

When you get off of work I’ll be ready to go in the ‘Rari
And when we get home we’ll have us our own private party in here
So I don’t worry at all about the things they do or say
I love you anyway
You can twerk it while in a split, you racking up them tips
Your body rock and your booty poppin’, I’m proud to call you my bitch
They be lookin’, but they can’t touch you, shawty, I’m the only one to get it
So just go ahead and keep doing what you do, do it

After a hard day at work, even if it’s 3 in the morning, you’re right there for your girl, making sure she gets home safe in the comfort of your beautiful sports car.  That should make any woman feel good. Today’s rappers and singers are too scared to display any hint of chivalry and simply end up looking like jerks. You turn that notion around unapologetically. And you’re even willing to cater to her needs in the bedroom once you get home, because you know that the only thing she really wants after getting off work at 3 in the morning following a very busy night on her feet dealing with demanding customers, is her very own private party. There’s obviously nothing you wouldn’t do for the girl you’re proud enough to call your bitch. That’s real love, man.

Now, allow me to offer a little bit of criticism here.  I don’t mean to offend you in any way but I don’t think Juicy J is a good fit. His verse kinda kills the vibe.

I’m just tryna cut her up, tryna bust a nut
Tryna take somebody bitch, turn her to a slut
Tryna fill my cup, tryna live it up
Throw some hundreds on that ass, walk her out the club
(Yeah, ho) Lap dance for the first date
Bet I threw a few bands, that’s third base
It’s okay if you work late, we can still party like it’s your birthday
We can still party hard in your birthday suit
Knock that pussy out the park like my name Babe Ruth
Shawty she just want a tip, I just want to see her strip
If you fuck me like you love me shawty you might get rich
Have her own cake, her own place, blow her own gas, no role’
When we in the bed she like to roleplay, tell her friend to join in both ways

I know Juicy J is the go-to rapper of the moment but his lyrics just don’t capture the spirit of your song.  Whereas you go out of your way to be compassionate, understanding, and caring to your bitch, Juicy J is just coming off crass.  I know he’s trying to show these sluts some love, albeit in his own clumsy way, but I think he did a much better job displaying his sensitive side on the verse he did off Katy Perry’s “Dark Horse”. I don’t know if he intentionally toned down his sexually explicit content for Katy’s pop audience but I think strippers deserve the same consideration Ms. Perry does. If anyone knows anything about how hard it is for strippers or pimps, it should be Juicy J.  Thankfully, the song ends with your hook and everything is right again.

By the time you read this letter, I’m sure your song will be dominating the airwaves from NY to Cali and everywhere in between, which is great because kids need to hear examples of what loving and supportive relationships are all about.  I’m sure the children of Usher’s New Look, your organization dedicated to providing positive role models, leadership, and career opportunities to disadvantaged youth, are proud of their big brother/mentor for going against the grain of today’s misogynist music.  If you were a contestant on the Voice, I’d definitely turn my chair around.

Not to end on a sad note, but following the unfortunate passing of the iconic Bobby Womack, I’m glad that we still have artists like you to carry on his legacy.

Sincerely,

A fan

You can also find this article at http://raprehab.com/an-open-letter-to-usher/

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When I wrote “Notice to Black Artists: Your Services Are No Longer Needed” back in February 2014, Iggy Azalea hadn’t yet hitnumber 1 on the charts, Hot 97′s Rosenberg hadn’t yet insulted a Hip Hop legend, Damon Dash hadn’t repopularized the term “culture vulture”, and hipsters hadn’t become the target of my wrath. But here we are, four months later, and the issue of Black music’s cultural misappropriation is back on the table…or maybe it never left.

Are white artists really taking over rap and R&B or are we just acting like narrow-minded paranoids? Back in May, the Billboard Music Awards awarded Justin Timberlake as best R&B artist, Eminem as best rapper, Robin Thicke with best R&B song, and Macklemore for best rap song. There were no Black winners. Just look at who dominates Rock & Roll, Blues, and Jazz today. Is history repeating itself?

The truth is, white artists have been part of the R&B and Hip Hop landscape for a long time.  Acts like Teena Marie, the Doobie Brothers, the Average White Band, and Hall & Oates are often referred to as blue-eyed soul singers. The legendary 60′s musicians from Muscle Shoals, Alabama were behind some of the greatest R&B songs of all times. In Hip Hop, some of the world’s most loved rap songs were created by white artists including Planet Rock co-produced by Arthur Baker and Keith LeBlanc, T-La Rock and LL Cool J’s early work with Rick Rubin, the Beastie Boys iconic first album, and a number of Golden Age classics from Rakim, Ultramagnetic MC’s, Organized Konfusion, and Main Source produced by Paul C (RIP). While questions regarding rap and R&B’s white takeover have been raised over the last few decades, for the most part, these white artists have been judged on their talents and creative output.

It wasn’t until Vanilla Ice came into the picture that the idea of rap’s misappropriation became a “major” issue in the world of Hip Hop. However, his color wasn’t as big of a problem as him being a fraud was. And the real culprit wasn’t even Vanilla Ice, who was too naive and inexperienced to understand how he was being manipulated; it was the music industry who pumped millions into making Mr. Robert Van Winkle the king of rap. Their investment proved successful as rap’s Elvis became a multi-platinum selling artist. Years later, he realized how he had been played and distanced himself from his former rap alter-ego.

Although the Iggys, Mileys, and Riff Raffs of the world are definite examples of cultural misappropriation, there are many talented white rappers and singers like R.A. The Rugged Man or Daley who, although lesser known than a Robin Thicke or Macklemore, are generally accepted for their art. With watered-down rap and R&B appealing to pop culture sensibilities, or teenage white girls who make up the majority of the buying public, the issue now is more about how the music industry positions these white commercial artists to become the new face of Hip Hop and R&B.  Twelve year old Katelynn from middle America’s suburbs doesn’t know anything about cultural appropriation or the long history of the exploitation of Black artists.  She just thinks Justin Bieber is cute and likes to dance to his music in front of the mirror. The industry knows this and profits from Katelynn and her peers, not Hip Hop and R&B purists. And in the meantime, publications like the NY Daily News celebrate the rise of white rappers like it’s all good.
Although the music industry should be held accountable for its part in lowering the standards for quality R&B and rap and allowing subpar artists to become superstars, let’s not forget the co-signers and easily-impressed consumers who give mediocre artists a pass. I remember watching Amateur Night on Showtime at the Apollo and being upset whenever a white artist with average talent received a standing ovation while better or equally talented Black artists garnered a lukewarm response. Just because a white artist can “kinda” rap or sing doesn’t make them special.
I’m no fan of Robin, JT, or Macklemore. However, I won’t deny the fact that they are no doubt talented in their own rights. My problem is with the cornballs performing the latest minstrel show who couldn’t care less about their role in the whitewashing of rap and R&B. Let’s stop allowing generic artists to become stars just because they’re white and can carry a half-ass tune.  Novelty acts need to stick to karaoke night at their local bars, not redefine an entire genre.

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By now, the latest Hot 97 fiasco is already old news.  The station’s annual Summer Jam occurred, stupidity ensued, Chuck D took to Twitter to express his disgust with Hot 97′s misrepresentation of Hip Hop, and the station’s morning hosts, Ebro and Rosenberg, proceeded to insult Chuck by questioning his position and relevance in Hip Hop.  Rosenberg, self-proclaimed champion of Hip Hop had the audacity to say, “No one elected you president of Hip Hop. What are you doing to support this culture besides tweeting confusing messages in a 140 characters or less?

Hey Rosenberg, did you attend Chuck’s successful 2012 Hip Hop Gods tour that stations like Hot 97 never even promoted? Does that count as “supporting this culture”? Are you aware of everything that Chuck is working on or are you just a little out of sync with what’s going on outside of your station’s commercial rap world?

Message to Rosenberg and company: Hip Hop has its leaders and authority figures who have been appointed as such by virtue of their years in the culture, iconic status, commitment, and on-going contributions to Hip Hop. Only a fool would think otherwise.

But Rosenberg, Ebro, and the rest of the station’s staff are but a small part of the problem. Behind Hot 97′s lackeys stands Emmis Broadcasting, a company which owns various stations across the United States, including Hot 97 and Power 106 in Los Angeles. Both ranked as the world’s top “Hip Hop” radio stations, these two networks were launched by Rick Cummings, Emmis’ current President of Radio Programming.  Although he isn’t responsible for each and every song played on these stations, he’s undoubtedly the big dog programmer who Hot 97 and Power 106 program directors have to answer to.

Cummings, along with his colleagues, is the person who allows the N word, sex, violence, misogyny, drugs, and general disrespect of Black people to be promoted and glorified on his airwaves and events. He’s the guy who profits off the marketing of “entertainment” that celebrates dysfunction and ignorance. He’s the type of person who can remain virtually invisible and dodge any and all accountability because he has loyal worker bees who gladly defend the station’s agenda, no matter how destructive it is. He’s the type of cat who presents himself as a respectable professional while everything he promotes is far from respectable and professional behavior. He’s a culture vulture who makes it his business to exploit something he would never personally associate with if it wasn’t for the paycheck that comes with it.

But Cummings isn’t the only industry executive who maintains anonymity while cornball figureheads do the bidding of their unseen superiors. It happens all the time and these vampire-like execs always find someone willing to take the heat for them while they remain safe in the shadows. For fame and a little money, people can always be bought, even if it’s against their own self-interest.  Ebro and Rosenberg are just pawns in a huge chess game and Emmis isn’t even the biggest broadcasting company. Clear Channel, Radio One, Viacom and other media conglomerates all have their own program directors and sellout representatives who operate the same way for a paycheck. Today it’s Hot 97, next week it’ll be somebody else…and those who pull the strings will continue to remain hidden while the Rosenbergs of the world maintain their role as powerless yes-men.
You can also read this article at http://raprehab.com/who-really-runs-the-show-hot-97

 

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Exhausted with the music industry’s shenanigans, I left the world of PR in early 2013 with the intent of never looking back. But as fate would have it, it wouldn’t be long before I found myself helping artists once again, this time not as a publicist but as a consultant. The role was perfect for me and much more rewarding as it allowed me to assist artists in ways that my job as a publicist wouldn’t permit. Sebastien Elkouby, the creative consultant was born.

Being a creative consultant has given me the opportunity to be much more hands-on with artists than ever before. Depending on the client’s needs, my services range from critiquing content and production to outlining unique marketing strategies. I love what I do because I see my clients truly evolve as a result of our collaboration.  On the downside, my job also shows me how absolutely clueless some aspiring artists can be. And sometimes, I have to be tough and tell them things they’re not always happy to hear. Fortunately, they’re in good hands as there aren’t too many other Hip Hop creative consultants who understand both the music industry and Hip Hop culture.

So if you’re an aspiring rapper looking to pursue a career in the music industry, here are 3 reasons why you need a creative consultant.

1. Honest Constructive Criticism:
Let me start by being brutally honest. Most aspiring rappers are mildly to severely delusional. Some believe they’re much more talented than they really are.  Others are flat out convinced that they’re the best thing to come out since the wheel was invented, never mind the fact that they can barely spit two cohesive bars. And because they’re surrounded by equally delusional yes-men (and women), they never get to hear the truth about their talent…or lack thereof.

Every week I still receive emails from artists looking for PR who are unaware that I’ve transitioned to consulting. I listen to their music, watch their videos, and visit their websites before informing them of my new role. What is shocking to me is the number of artists who don’t realize that before they reach out to a publicist, their material has to meet certain basic standards. You cannot have subpar material and expect a publicist, or any other professional, to represent you…unless they’re scamming you out of your money. Secondly, the project needs to possess some type of artistic merit. The rapper who still thinks that rapping about sex, cars, drugs, and violence in 2014 will get them noticed is fooling himself. There are hundreds of interesting and unique things to rap about that can actually help an artist set them apart from other dime-a-dozen rappers. Contrary to popular belief, originality and skills still matter. A creative consultant can help you identify areas of improvement to increase your odds of success but you have to come to the table ready to learn and willing to grow.

2. Learning about the latest music business trends:
The music industry is an ever-changing field. Yet, many artists are holding on to erroneous or outdated beliefs about how today’s business works. The game is already much more different than it was just a couple of years ago. Many aspiring rappers are still under the impression that social media and getting popular blogs to review their music are the end-all, be-all strategies for self-promoting. While it might have appeared that simple in the recent past, it’s going to take much more to make an impact nowadays.

Everything from how music is marketed to how artists make money is evolving to adapt to the newest technology and how audiences consume entertainment. Sometimes, all it takes is for one trend to take off and cause a ground-breaking chain reaction throughout the industry, forcing everyone to readjust or risk becoming irrelevant. Of course, most aspiring artists aren’t privy to the inner workings of the music business and end up missing out on valuable information that could otherwise give them a leg up over their less-knowledgeable competitors. A creative consultant can give you the edge you need to move forward in your career.

3. Mapping out a realistic plan of action:
Once you’ve gained a greater understanding of how the game is played, you can begin mapping out a 3 to 6 months plan of action that will help you go from point A to B, C, and D.  It’ll keep you on track and help you achieve your desired short term goals. However, the plan must be realistic. It has to be within your budget, timeline, and realm of expertise. If your entire team is involved, all parties must agree on the plan and remain committed to the mission.  All successful businesses have a plan so if you’re serious about your career, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t have one as well.

Make no mistake, no creative consultant can make you a star overnight.  However, they can help you get closer to your goals. I’ve worked with many artists, some famous, some up-and-coming, and regardless of how talented they are, they’ve all benefited from the services of a creative consultant.
In an industry flooded with thousands of rappers competing for exposure, isn’t it about time you put the odds in your favor and get the right person on your team?
You can read this article at http://goo.gl/dt88R8