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Honoring Hip Hop Legend Masta Ace
Category: Classic Hip Hop
Tags: masta ace hip hop legends word life production online entertainment

Masta Ace has always managed to remain current and totally classic in the exact same breath. I know it sounds impossible, but the truth must be told. As one of the most imaginative, narrative and prolific lyricists ever to emerge from the mean streets of Brooklyn USA, his albums are like mini-movies. As a matter of fact, the man has been born, and re born, and born yet again. In his 1988 lyrical debut, he took a stand along side Big Daddy Kane, Kool G. Rap and Craig G on hip hop's most important posse cut, ‘The Symphony’. His first full length album, the Marley Marl produced Take A Look Around (1990), established the rookie emcee as a sophisticated voice from the ghetto. Slaughtahouse (1993) was an ingenious conversation with hip hop, as Ace and his incorporated crew took on the entire gangsta rap genre. In 1995, his Sittin' On Chrome LP unified American car culture as a celebration of rims and rides and rap music. Then after a 6 year hiatus, Ace caught the world off guard with the epic Disposable Arts (2001). This classic theme album, complete with plot, main characters and score, played like a feature film on wax. A Long Hot Summer, (2004), was the prequel to Disposable Arts. These two “flicks”, were connected, and although Ace was the only actual recurring character, the storylines blended together in a well thought out arrangement. "Coming off of Disposable, I knew I wanted to do another theme album," Ace admits. "I watched ‘Thunderbolt and Lightfoot’ with Clint Eastwood and Jeff Bridges. The whole side-kick movie thing was the original inspiration for that album.” In 2004 he announced that “…Summer” would be his fifth and final solo album. It seems that he was planning a unique and different way to continue making contributions to Hip Hop. Ace has teamed up with Wordsworth, Punchline and Stricklin to form the new group EMC. All three were featured heavily on his last two releases and the chemistry that resulted was undeniable. Ace mentions, “After touring together for the last 6 years, the group album became the natural evolution of our friendship.” The album will be released this summer on M3 Records, an upstart independent label formed by Ace and his partners “Filthy Rich” and “DJ Rob”. "I'm hoping that M3 thing is gonna be the next cool hip hop label," he says. "When you see the logo you're gonna expect quality music. Like back in the days when people saw the Cold Chillin' label they bought the record because they knew it was gonna be something hot. I hope to establish M3 with this new album.”

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Jodeci was definitely a huge part of the Golden Era
Category: The Golden Era
Tags: jodeci golden era word life production online network support 90's music

Artist Biography by Steve Huey

If Boyz II Men are portrayed as a clean-cut, wholesome R&B vocal group, then Jodeci's wild, sexual, bad-boy image represents the other side of the coin. Made up of two sets of brothers, the group's name is a consolidation of three members' aliases: "JoJo" Hailey, Donald "DeVante Swing" DeGrate, and Cedric "K-Ci" Hailey; the group also includes Dalvin DeGrate. Natives of Charlotte, NC, all four members toured the South as young boys singing gospel music, even recording albums; both families belonged to the Pentecostal church, and the DeGrates' father was a minister. The boys were able to hear each other's gospel songs played on the radio, and eventually were introduced through girlfriends as teenagers. However, when they did meet, K-Ci was with a girl Dalvin had been dating, and a fight nearly broke out. The Hailey brothers and DeVante started hanging out together, partying and talking about making R&B records together, coming up with the name Jodeci at this time.

 At age 16, DeVante ran away to Minneapolis to get a job in Prince's organization, but was refused. He returned to Charlotte, where he wrote a song and recorded JoJo singing it. The two planned on going to New York to shop the demo around by themselves, but both K-Ci and Dalvin decided to tag along at the last minute. By the time they got to New York, they had demo recordings of 29 songs, which they brought to the offices of Uptown Entertainment. They were almost rejected, but rapper Heavy D overheard the tape and talked Uptown president Andre Harrell into hearing the group. Harrell was impressed, and just like that, Jodeci signed a recording contract. In 1991, they recorded Forever My Lady, which featured the gold single "Come and Talk to Me" and went on to sell over three million copies. A minor feud resulted over the band's follow-up album, Diary of a Mad Band; Jodeci, unhappy with their treatment by Uptown, flirted with the idea of leaving for Dr. Dre's Death Row Records, which resulted in almost zero promotion for their new album. It didn't matter much, as Diary went platinum. The group's troubles got worse in 1993; DeVante and K-Ci were involved in an incident with a woman K-Ci met at a club and brought back to DeVante's apartment. The woman filed charges against the two, saying that K-Ci had threatened her and fondled her breast, while DeVante pointed a gun at her. Both pleaded guilty, but that wasn't all; shortly afterwards, DeVante's house was robbed of over 160,000 dollars in jewelry and clothes as the singer was held with guns in his mouth and at the back of his head.

 Jodeci's third album, The Show, the After Party, the Hotel, was released in the summer of 1995. DeVante also was afforded the opportunity to work with Al Green, one of his idols, writing and producing the song "Could This Be the Love."


Category: Classic Hip Hop
Tags: hip hop legend guru word life production online entertainment

Artist Biography by Jason Birchmeier

 The most influential MC-and-DJ tandem of the 1990s, Gang Starr set new standards for East Coast rap with a pair of early-'90s touchstones, Step in the Arena (1991) and Daily Operation (1992), whose appeal has only grown over the decades. Beginning with these classic releases, both listeners and critics heaped mounds of praise upon Guru and DJ Premier -- the former because of his socially conscious lyrics and no-nonsense stance, the latter because of his DJ-style beat-making and jazzy sound. Following Step in the Arena and Daily Operation, Premier became one of New York's most demanded producers, crafting hits for the city's finest MCs, including the Notorious B.I.G., Nas, Jay-Z, and KRS-One. Guru likewise collaborated with plenty of well-known artists -- Roy Ayers, Donald Byrd, N'Dea Davenport -- on his solo debut, Jazzmatazz, Vol. 1 (1993), and its series of follow-ups. Following Hard to Earn (1994) -- the duo's fourth Gang Starr collaboration overall -- Guru and Premier began focusing primarily on their solo projects, reuniting infrequently -- too infrequently, many fans felt -- for albums such as Moment of Truth (1998) and The Ownerz (2003). During this period of solo activity, Gang Starr became increasingly recognized as a touchstone, one that critics and hip-hop purists frequently cited as a standard-bearer for streetwise, socially conscious East Coast rap.

 Guru (born Keith Edward Elam on July 17, 1966, in Boston, MA; died following a battle with cancer on April 19, 2010) and Premier (born Christopher Edward Martin on March 21, 1966, in Houston, TX) began working together in 1989. Guru had founded Gang Starr a couple years earlier, in 1987, and had already established a working relationship with Wild Pitch Records. The partnership of Guru and Premier as Gang Starr led to a formative debut album, No More Mr. Nice Guy (1989), and its featured single, "Words I Manifest." The DJ-spotlight track "DJ Premier in Deep Concentration" is another highlight of the album, which spent years out of print. Between albums, in 1990, Guru and Premier contributed a song, "Jazz Thing," to the Mo' Better Blues soundtrack. Gang Starr subsequently moved to Chrysalis Records for their second album, Step in the Arena (1991), on which they perfected the approach of their debut, that is, a stark, hard-hitting jazz-rap production style, complete with Premier's masterful DJ cutting, over which Guru's battle-rap-hardened yet smoothly delivered lyrics -- often thoughtful, sly, and streetsmart -- take flight. Gang Starr's third album, Daily Operation (1992), furthered the duo's approach stylistically; widely considered an East Coast rap classic, it's arguably Guru and Premier's finest work, along with its predecessor.

 Beginning in 1993, Guru and Premier began working separately. Guru's debut album, Jazzmatazz, Vol. 1 (1993), took the so-called jazz-rap style to a new level, featuring jazz musicians such as Lonnie Liston Smith, Branford Marsalis, Ronny Jordan, Donald Byrd, and Roy Ayers, along with guest vocalists such as N'Dea Davenport (of the Brand New Heavies) and MC Solaar (of French rap fame). Meanwhile, Premier produced six tracks for KRS-One's solo debut, Return of the Boom Bap (1993); moreover, in 1994 he proceeded to produce three tracks for Nas' debut, Illmatic ("N.Y. State of Mind," "Memory Lane [Sittin' in da Park]," "Represent"); two for the Notorious B.I.G.'s debut, Ready to Die ("Unbelievable," an unreleased remix of "Machine Gun Funk"); five for the self-titled debut of Branford Marsalis' Buckshot LeFonque project; the entirety of Jeru the Damaja's debut, The Sun Rises in the East; and also a handful of remixes for various artists. Amid all of this activity, Guru and Premier found time to record their fourth album, Hard to Earn (1994), which was more hardcore-fashioned -- as was the style at the time, in the wake of Death Row's uprising -- than past Gang Starr albums and, also unlike past efforts, featured guest rappers. The album spawned the duo's biggest hit to date, "Mass Appeal," their first to break the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart (peaking at number 67).

 Following Hard to Earn, Guru and Premier resumed their solo activity. Guru released Jazzmatazz, Vol. 2: The New Reality (1995) and a various-artists compilation, Guru Presents Ill Kid Records (1995), while Premier produced the bulk of Livin' Proof (1995), the debut of Gang Starr affiliates Group Home (a duo comprised of Lil' Dap and Melachi the Nutcracker, who both had been featured on Hard to Earn). Also in 1995, Premier produced three tracks on KRS-One, the rapper's second solo album; and two tracks on Hold It Down, the third album by Das EFX; as well as assorted remixes and one-off productions. While Guru remained more or less inactive during 1996-1997, releasing no solo albums, Premier stayed busy, producing the entirety of Jeru the Damaja's second album, Wrath of the Math (1996); five tracks on Bahamadia's debut, Kollage (1996); six on M.O.P.'s second album, Firing Squad (1996); three on Jay-Z's debut, Reasonable Doubt (1996) ("D'evils," "Friend or Foe," "Bring It On"); one on Nas' second album, It Was Written (1996) ("I Gave You Power"); two on Jay-Z's second album, In My Lifetime, Vol. 1 (1997) ("A Million & One Questions," "Friend or Foe '98"); two on the Notorious B.I.G.'s second album, Life After Death (1997) ("Kick in the Door," "Ten Crack Commandments"); four on O.C.'s second album, Jewelz (1997); two on Rakim's solo debut, The 18th Letter (1997); two on the Lady of Rage's debut, Necessary Roughness (1997); and more.

 In 1998, after four years between albums, Gang Starr returned with Moment of Truth, their first album to chart number one (on the R&B/Hip-Hop album chart, that is; it peaked at number six overall, still their best showing commercially to date). Moment of Truth was a significant departure from past Gang Starr efforts, very much contemporary in style; for example, the album features numerous guests (Inspectah Deck, Scarface, G. Dep, K-Ci & JoJo, M.O.P.) and bore little trace of the duo's jazz-rap beginnings. The lead single, "You Know My Steez," became the second Gang Starr hit to break into the Billboard Hot 100 chart (peaking at number 76). A double-disc retrospective, Full Clip: A Decade of Gang Starr (1999), subsequently marked the duo's ten-year anniversary. In the years that followed, Guru and Premier continued to focus on their own work. Guru continued his Jazzmatazz series, beginning with a third volume, Streetsoul, in 2000; he also released solo rap albums, beginning with Baldhead Slick & da Click (2001). The next Guru release, Version 7.0: The Street Scriptures, arrived in 2005 on his new label, 7 Grand Records; the album featured beats by Solar, who would prove to be an important contributor on additional 7 Grand releases. The fourth volume of Jazzmatazz, including the typical array of guest vocalists and instrumentalists, was issued in the summer of 2007, along with the "raw" companion disc Guru's Jazzmatazz - The Timebomb: Back to the Future Mixtape. Guru 8.0: Lost and Found, the rapper's next 7 Grand full-length, followed in 2009. Premier continued his production activity, working with superstars such as Jay-Z, Nas, and Common, as well as underground rappers such as Royce da 5'9", Termanology, and NYG'z; he even dabbled in mainstream pop, most notably working extensively with Christina Aguilera on her double-disc album Back to Basics (2006).

 As for Gang Starr, Guru and Premier did reunite for The Ownerz (2003), a celebrated return to form, but the reunion proved short-lived, leaving back-catalog collections such as Mass Appeal: The Best of Gang Starr (2006) to fill the void. Sadly, Guru died at age 43 on April 19, 2010 after battling cancer, suffering a heart attack, and for a time falling into a coma.

Check out a collection of his work here: 

Bee Gees Tags: music hall fame bee gees word live production online network

 In a career that lasted more than four decades, the Bee Gees sold over 200 million records worldwide. Barry, Maurice, and Robin Gibb experienced commercial dry spells, and critics frequently dismissed them. But their songs have stuck in the public consciousness — especially the phenomenal disco crossover success of their Saturday Night Fever era and modern romantic standards they'd created earlier, like "To Love Somebody," to "How Can You Mend a Broken Heart" — and the Bee Gees versatility and knack for creating hits have earned them a belated critical respect.

The three Gibb brothers (Barry and fraternal twins Robin and Maurice), sons of English bandleader Hugh Gibb, started performing in 1955. They moved with their parents to Brisbane in 1958 and worked talent shows and other amateur outlets, singing sets of Everly Brothers songs and an occasional Barry Gibb composition, by this time calling themselves the Bee Gees. They signed with Australia's Festival Records in 1962 and released a dozen singles and two albums in the next five years. The Gibbs wrote their own material, and close high harmonies were their trademark, and.

Though they hosted a weekly Australian TV show, their records went unnoticed until 1967, when "Spicks and Specks" hit Number One after the Bee Gees had relocated to England. There they expanded to a quintet with drummer Colin Peterson and Vince Melouney (both Australians) and found themselves a new manager, Robert Stigwood, then employed by the Beatles' NEMS Enterprises. Their first Northern Hemisphere single, "New York Mining Disaster 1941," was a hit in both the U.K. and the U.S. (Number Four, 1967), and was followed by a string of equally popular ballads: "To Love Somebody" (Number 17, 1967), "Holiday" (Number 16, 1967), "Massachusetts" (Number 11, 1967), "Words" (Number 15, 1968), "I've Got to Get a Message to You" (Number 8, 1968), and "I Started a Joke" (Number 6, 1969). Their clean-cut neo-Edwardian image and English-accented three-part harmonies were a variation on the Beatles' approach, although the Bee Gees leaned toward ornate orchestration and sentimentality as opposed to American-style straight-ahead rock.

Cracks in their facade began to show in 1969, when the nonfamily members left the group and reports of excessive lifestyles and fighting among the brothers surfaced. From mid-1969 to late 1970 Robin tried a solo career and had a Number Two U.K. hit, "Saved by the Bell." Meanwhile, Barry and Maurice (then married to singer Lulu) recorded Cucumber Castle as a duo and cut some singles individually. The trio reunited for two more hit ballads — the gold "Lonely Days" (Number Three, 1970) and "How Can You Mend a Broken Heart" (Number One, 1971) —before bottoming out with a string of flops between 1971 and 1975. Stigwood effected a turnabout by recruiting producer Arif Mardin, who steered them to the funk-plus-falsetto combination that brought them their third round of hits. Main Course (Number 14, 1976), which included "Jive Talkin'" (Number One, 1975) and "Nights on Broadway" (Number 7, 1975), caught disco on its earliest upswing and gave the Bee Gees their first platinum album.

In 1976 Stigwood's RSO label broke away from its parent company, Atlantic, rendering Mardin unavailable to the Bee Gees. Engineer Karl Richardson and arranger Albhy Galuten took over as producers, and the group continued to record with Miami rhythm sections for hits such as "You Should Be Dancing" (Number One, 1976) and a ballad, "Love So Right" (Number Three, 1976), which suggested a Philly-Motown influence. By this point, the brothers had relocated to Miami. Stigwood, meanwhile, had produced the film versions of Jesus Christ Superstar and Tommy, and asked the Bee Gees for four or five songs he could use in the soundtrack of a John Travolta vehicle about the mid-1970s Brooklyn disco scene, Saturday Night Fever. The soundtrack album, a virtual disco genre best-of, included Bee Gees chart-toppers "Stayin' Alive," "Night Fever," and "How Deep Is Your Love," hit Number 1, stayed on the album chart for over two years, and eventually sold 30 million copies worldwide. Barry, with Galutan and Richardson, also wrote and produced hits for Yvonne Elliman, Samantha Sang, Tavares, Frankie Valli, and younger brother Andy Gibb [see entry] as well as the title tune for the film version of the Broadway hit Grease.

In 1978, with Saturday Night Fever still high on the charts, the Bee Gees started Music for UNICEF, donating the royalties from a new song and recruiting other hitmakers to do the same. They also appeared in Stigwood's movie fiasco Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band and continued to record. After Saturday Night Fever, even the platinum Spirits Having Flown (Number 1, 1979) with three Number 1 hits — "Too Much Heaven," "Tragedy," and "Love You Inside Out" — seemed anticlimactic. As of 1979, the Bee Gees had released five platinum albums and more than 20 hit singles.

Along with such phenomenal commercial success came a backlash. While the intense antidisco sentiment certainly played a role, the fact that one almost literally could not turn on a radio without hearing a Bee Gees track did not help. Their career then entered another dry season. In October 1980 the Bee Gees filed a $200 million suit against Stigwood, claiming mismanagement. Meanwhile, Barry produced and sang duets with Barbra Streisand on Guilty (1980). The lawsuit was settled out of court, with mutual public apologies, in May 1981. Living Eyes (Number 41, 1981) was the Bee Gees' last album for RSO. They composed the soundtrack to Saturday Night Fever's dismal sequel, Stayin' Alive; the soundtrack went to Number 6, achieved platinum status, and included "Woman in You" (Number 24, 1983). Barry also wrote and produced an album for Dionne Warwick, Heartbreaker. With his brothers he cowrote Diana Ross' "Chain Reaction" and the chart-topping Kenny Rogers–Dolly Parton hit "Islands in the Stream."

In 1987 the Brothers Gibb again joined forces and refired their singing career with E-S-P, which included "You Win Again" (Number 75, 1987). While these records appeared commercial disappointments in comparison to previous chart showings, in fact this was the case only in the U.S. E-S-P went to Number One in Germany and the Top Five in the U.K. Thus began another phase of the Bee Gees' history, in which their singles and albums would top the charts practically everywhere but the U.S.

In March 1988, their younger brother Andy Gibb died of myocarditis, a heart condition, at age 30. He had a long history of addiction to drugs and alcohol, and his surviving brothers were devastated by the loss. They retired for a time, and Maurice suffered a brief relapse of his own alcoholism. They returned with One (German Top Five, U.K. Top Thirty) featuring the trio's highest-charting single of the Eighties in its title track (Number Seven, 1989), followed by High Civilization (1991), which did not even chart in the U.S. but hit Number 2 in Germany and the U.K. Top 30.

In 1997 the Bee Gees were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. They also released Still Waters (Number 11, 1997), which produced the minor hits "Alone" (Number 28, 1997) and "Still Waters (Run Deep)" (Number 57, 1997). The live concert soundtrack One Night Only (Number 72, 1998), Tomorrow the World, and This Is Where I Came In (Number 33, 2001) followed. The group has twice received Britain's Ivor Novello Trust for Outstanding Contribution to British Music (1988, 1997) and the BRIT Award (1997), all in recognition of their outstanding contribution to British music. In 1994 they were inducted into the Songwriters' Hall of Fame.

The Bee Gees continued to tour occasionally until January 2003, when Maurice Gibb died of cardiac arrest while receiving treatment for an intestinal blockage. Barry and Robin have reunited on stage and on TV a few times since, and have discussed possibly touring at some point in the future.

Portions of this biography appeared in The Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock & Roll (Simon & Schuster, 2001). Chuck Eddy contributed to this article.

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