Joe Black - VIBE

The UK VIBE With Joseph 'JP' Patterson: Joe Black

Yo! Joseph 'JP' Patterson here, back once again to drop some UK music knowledge on y’all. I know it’s been a while since I was last in touch, but there's an artist whose music I think you outta check out. North London’s Joe Black is a rapper who supports his own, often putting his friends before himself on the music side of things, but now it’s time that some of the spotlight was shone on him. So, please let me introduce one of the most lyrically deep rap artists I know, Joe Black…

Joe Black: I've been spitting from youth club days, the days when it was all about garage. I've been into music from a very young age, from when I was like 12 or 13, and we just used to MC for joke. People soon started to tell me, 'If you put work in, you could do well.' I went jail when I was 15 and when I was in there, I would listen to a lot of rap music because it was more relevant to my situation than garage or grime. After that, I never went back to MCing to garage. I started writing rap lyrics and the first batch of lyrics that I wrote were written with an American accent, but I eventually found my way and started putting my own British accent into it (laughs).

A lot of rappers have inspired me, the whole rap scene as a movement inspires me, but it was Big L back then. The way that I rap now is from when I used to listen to Big L and the way Big L used to break down his words and just make as many words in the line rhyme and make it all make sense. Maybe not even punchlines, but making sure that all the words rhyme. So, I could be telling a story and I'm trying to make sure that the story makes sense, but making sure it rhymes as well. That’s what I took from Big L and Jay-Z; they’re the kind of lyrical rappers that I learnt from. I've been rapping for a minute now and I like anything that will push it forward. I was there before YouTube was around. Before I started rapping, it was just for a hobby because I was thinking ‘right now, you need a major label to get yourself on the radio and to get yourself heard’. Now there’s the Internet and it’s much easier to reach people.

I don’t really like using the term 'UK rap', I’d rather use the term 'rap from the UK'. It’s no different to any other rap from anywhere else, whether it’s Brooklyn, London, Toronto, Germany or wherever. It’s just rap! It just happens to be that I'm from the UK so I might sound a little different, but it’s the same. What people don’t realise is that people from the UK are saying the same thing that US rappers are saying, it just sounds different. The same way an East Coast rapper might sound different from a West Coast rapper, it’s the same way you’ll sound different to a London rapper. Certain London rappers rap about the struggle, certain rappers rap about parties and some rap about stars, but that happens everywhere. It’s all one game, though. I make songs for the roads, but I make songs for the girls as well.

My last mixtape release, 'Realionaire', got the most feedback I’ve ever had. Everything has been a progression since I released my first one in 2004, which I only pressed 500 copies of to locally promote myself. I went to jail and came out in 2007 and that’s when MySpace blew up. I came out and everyone was on my MySpace, that’s when I made 'Business As Usual'. But that’s when I was selling it, because I was marketing mixtapes like they were albums: getting posters done, putting them in barber shops, etc. But it worked! Every mixtape I've done has been better than the last. 'Realionaire' might not have made me as much money as any of the other mixtapes, but it has given me exposure and more people have tapped into it. Because it was a free download, people downloaded it and listened to it and now they know more about me.

I've realized that there are more things that I can do for myself where I don’t need to rely on a record label for a song. It’s all about progression, man. If I bring out a CD tomorrow and it does better than 'Realionaire', I’ll be happy. If I get signed tomorrow, whatever’s meant to be will be! I’ve just got to keep playing my part and leave anything else to God. I've always thought that I was the best. I always think that I'm the best rapper in the UK, so getting mentioned in the list for The Source and The Mixtape Awards makes me feel like, 'Okay, so it’s not just me thinking that I'm doing something.' When I get recognition, it just motivates me to keep going. I haven’t come into the game thinking, ‘Right, I can make some money out of this’. I've always been rapping, going studio and making my friends hear it, so if I can blow up and get successful from doing what I love doing, then so be it.

I’m currently working on an independent LP and just testing the waters to then fling it on iTunes and see what it will be like for me to push out a project by myself, rather than just sitting around. I'm in the studio right now, getting beats and just rapping, trying to get things done. To be honest, it’s all trial and error right now. I've never had a manager before so me working with Ashley McDermot, it’s the first time I've been working with someone. It’s not always happy days, but it’s the grind. Until we put out the project, we’ll see how it goes. It’s always better to have two heads than one. You know who I’d like to work with in the UK? Wretch 32. I’ve worked with most of the UK artists, so I've been lucky, but Wretch is someone who I haven’t worked with yet and I think I could make good music with him.

The UK scene has grown and the people who I feel are getting recognition are starting to get what they deserve. As much as I wasn’t personally happy about not being in MTV’s best MCs list, there were people like Blade Brown and DVS who I respect as artists and know personally and have gone through the same struggle as myself. At least I know that people are looking in the right direction. I just want to big up the whole UK music scene – I could just sit here and big up my people, but I just want to big up the UK scene as a whole. This is the UK movement. This is us! --As told to Joseph 'JP' Patterson 

Photography: Liam Ricketts

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Courtesy of Netflix

Netflix Releases Trailer For 'Self Made: Inspired By The Life Of Madam C.J. Walker'

The story of Madam C.J. Walker's rise to self-made status will premiere on March 20 on Netflix. Starring Octavia Spencer as the titular character, the four-part limited series will depict the entrepreneur's rise in the hair care industry and the obstacles she faced from those within and outside of her community to become the nation's first black woman self-made millionaire.

According to Deadline, the show takes its cues from A'Lelia Bundles' book, On Her Own Ground: The Life and Times of Madam C.J. Walker. Bundles is the great-great-grandaughter of Walker, born Sarah Breedlove. The show is directed by DeMane Davis and Kasi Lemmons, touting production by SpringHill Entertainment, Warner Bros., and Wonder Street.

The series also stars Blair Underwood, Tiffany Haddish, Garrett Morris, and Carmen Ejogo.

View the trailer below.

Meet America’s first empire-building, barrier-breaking, self-made female millionaire

Octavia Spencer stars in Self Made, a limited series inspired by the incredible life of Madam C.J. Walker

— Netflix US (@netflix) February 25, 2020

#SelfMadeNetflix is out March 20th! So proud to be apart of this project about Madam CJ Walker!! @strongblacklead

— Kasi Lemmons (@kasi_lemmons) February 25, 2020

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Larry Busacca/Getty Images

Philadelphia Names Street After The Roots

The Roots' hometown of Philadelphia is showing the musical collective brotherly love with a new honor. According to the Philadelphia Tribune, the city council named East Passyunk Avenue after the band, the street now adorning the sign Avenue of the Roots.

"They had first started there on Passyunk and South Street, that's where they would go and do their singing at night," Councilman Mark Squilla said. "Philadelphia is still a land of music and arts and culture, and the more we bring attention to it, the better we are."

On Instagram, Questlove shared that the group planned to unveil and celebrate the moment in May but the surprise arrived early. "Really awesome to see the place we honed our skills and craft embrace us like this," Questlove wrote. The ceremony will still take center stage in May.


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Welp this is very Philly: technically we were supposed to wait for the vote and then like in May come Picnic Time we’d have an unveiling w confetti & kool aid lol but cats was like “NOAP!!! WE FINNA PUT THIS JAWN UP NOW!!!!!”—-“ really awesome to see the place we honed our skills and craft embrace us like this. #Repost @whyy ・・・ Philadelphia government may never have gotten anything done this quickly before… . A stretch of East Passyunk just below South Street is being dedicated as “Avenue of The Roots” in honor of the famed Philadelphia hip hop group. A resolution to add the honorific was introduced Thursday in City Council by Councilmember Mark Squilla — and by Friday morning, the little red street sign was already installed. . . ✏️ @phillydesign 📸 @imagicdigital . . . #whyilovephilly #philly #philadelphia #phillyevents #visitphilly #discoverphl #phillypulse #peopledelphia #ourphilly #billypenngram #theroots #therootspicnic #phillymusic #phillyhistory #phillyblackpride

A post shared by Questlove Froman, (@questlove) on Feb 23, 2020 at 7:21pm PST

In a 2019 interview with OkayPlayer, Leroy McCarthy shared his plans to have hip-hop legends recognized in their native cities. That April, he revealed his plans to work with Philly's council to honor The Roots which has now come to fruition. He's also on a mission to have certain New York City's rap pioneers receive a street-renaming ceremony.

"I’m trying to honor hip-hop in every borough. Moving forward, I’m trying to honor Beastie Boys in Manhattan. That’s pending. Biggie was successful in Brooklyn, Wu-Tang is successful in Staten Island. I initiated the honoring of Phife Dawg in Queens, and that was successful but I’m also really trying to get them to add to that same street pole, 'A Tribe Called Quest Boulevard.' So that’s hopefully in the works. I’m trying to assist the family of Big Pun to have a street named for him in the Bronx," McCarthy said.

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Courtesy of adidas

Rapsody And Pusha T Inspire Students At Adidas' All-Star Weekend Career Day

The recording artists, alongside WNBA star Liz Cambage, encouraged student-athletes to chase their musical dreams at adidas Legacy's “World’s Best Career Day.”

Last weekend, stars from all over the country flew into a frigid Chicago for the 69th annual NBA All-Star Weekend, where they celebrated their accomplishments, promoted their projects, and rubbed elbows with other industry leaders.

The NBA All-Star Weekend often serves as a fun spectacle with slam dunk competitions, brand-sponsored parties, and big music showcases. But on Saturday afternoon (Feb. 15), adidas gathered professional athletes, media personalities, musicians, filmmakers, and other creatives to participate in a more impactful endeavor – making connections with the youth and giving them the exposure and resources to chase their dreams.

adidas hosted 240 student-athletes from eight Chicago public high schools at its “World’s Best Career Day” event in downtown Chicago during the highly-anticipated weekend. The event gave the kids an opportunity to get some hands-on learning experience using professional equipment and face-to-face time with celebrities, including Jonah Hill, James Harden, Candace Parker, and others.

Rappers Pusha T, Rapsody, and WNBA star Liz Cambage ran the “Sound Lab,” which served as the music portion of the seven interactive workshops during the career day. The “Sound Lab” consisted of professional recording equipment, including a vocal booth, turntables, mixing consoles, and drum machines. After a brief panel discussion, the students broke up into three groups, where they could work more closely with one of the stars.

“A lot of people don’t have these opportunities, I didn’t have these opportunities,” Pusha T told VIBE after the workshop. “People weren’t really pushing you to go toward your dreams if they were in the music business. To see all of this put together like such, to have makeshift recording studios, engineers, people of quality, who can really explain the game to you. To me, it just sort of reinforces the idea of pushing kids toward their dreams and goals. I think that’s what it’s about.”

Pusha’s workshop mostly focused on the technical aspect of working in a studio and emphasized the importance of the vocalist and recording engineer relationship. He referred to engineers as “the cornerstone of making music” and explained that while it’s an overlooked job in the music business, it’s an important and lucrative one.

After he spoke with a group of about 13 students, a couple of them went into the vocal booth to spit a verse. The G.O.O.D. Music President gave them tips on recording vocals and explained that having a trusted engineer is crucial.

“When the kids did get in the booth, sometimes there’s a bit of anxiety and feeling like, ‘oh man I gotta rush and hurry up,’” Pusha said. “The engineer is the reason you don’t have to rush and hurry up. You can take your time. You can do four bars at a time, get it perfect. And get another four bars, put it all together, and make it sound seamless. You know just being new to the recording structure, I was trying to share those tips with them.”

Rapsody also shared how she hopes the kids in attendance will learn to “think outside of the box” after the career day event. She said the “Sound Lab” workshop will show them there are many different avenues to pursuing a career in music.

“There are so many ways to inject yourself into the music business, outside of just being an emcee, or just being a producer,” Rapsody told VIBE. “Just opening their minds creatively and interacting with them one on one. It’s always dope to look at people who are doing things that are successful and be able to reach them and talk to them because it gives you an aspiration.”

During her section of the workshop, she and her producers, Khrysis and Eric G, showed the young athletes how to use drum machines and samplers while using her song “Aaliyah,” from her 2019 album Eve, as a reference of how to chop up samples.

“Exposure is the biggest thing for kids,” Rapsody said. “Once you expose them to something, it’s endless, like their mind goes. But if you don’t expose them to it, it’s sometimes* they think that it’s not for them and they put themselves in a fishbowl. So it’s dope to be able to have these kids touch machines and talk to myself.”

After the workshop, Rapsody was approached by a few of the student-athletes, including a young, teenage girl who sang for her.

“I grew up in a small town in North Carolina, and for music and creativity, all I really had was TV. I watched videos,” she said. “If I had something like this, I would’ve started following my heart, my passion a lot sooner. Just to have the knowledge, for somebody to teach, to show me that it is available to me. Whatever I want to do is available to me, that I can do it.”

Cambage, who is a house DJ in addition to playing for the WNBA’s Las Vegas Aces, spoke to the teens about being an athlete who also has a passion for music and other creative outlets.

The three-time All-Star center spoke to them about her love of house music and referenced Canadian DJ/producer KAYTRANADA as one of her favorite current artists because he often takes “old ‘90s hip-hop and (puts) a house beat with it.” During her interactive workshop, she showed them different mixing and beatmatching techniques.

“You don’t know how talented someone can be at something until they try it,” said Cambage, who won a 2012 bronze medal as a member of the Australian women’s basketball team. “We could have the next Mozart in the building today, and I think that’s the really exciting thing. Kids are putting themselves out there, being like, ‘yeah I really am interested in this, and I do want to learn about it.’ And adidas is giving them that platform to go chase another dream.”

Since all of the students that attended the career day event are basketball players, Cambage told VIBE she wanted to show them that they can “break that mold of just being an athlete.”

“We do it all, it doesn’t have to be just one thing,” she said. “There are so many things I love and things that inspire me... So I think it’s really important that we’re not just one thing, we can keep learning, we can keep evolving, we can keep finding things that inspire us.”

Fellow WNBA star Chiney Ogwumike, who moonlights as full-time basketball analyst at ESPN, also emphasized to the kids at her workshop they can be a successful athlete with other interests. Ogwumike worked on the broadcasting workshop, alongside Tracy McGrady, Candace Parker, and Maria Taylor.

She viewed the event as a great way to show the teens, particularly the girls and young women, that they can achieve so much when they have opportunities and the infrastructure to succeed.

“Visibility matters, especially for those who feel invisible in society,” she said. “It’s on us as women to uplift others. For so long, we’ve been so competitive, because like a seat at the table, there’s only one for a woman. Now there are more seats at the table, so instead of being competitive, we’re now being collaborative. We’re harnessing our collective power to lift each other up.”

The “World’s Best Career Day” coincided with the launch of adidas Legacy’s expansion to Chicago. The high school basketball program, Legacy, partnered with eight underserved Chicago public high schools, providing their boys and girls basketball teams with fresh adidas gear and opportunities to connect with peers, learn from mentors, and gain exposure to different career paths. The program was founded in Los Angeles in 2017, later expanded to New York City in 2018, and now serves a total of 28 schools and 840 student-athletes within those cities.

Brandon Walker, adidas’ head of North America Sports Marketing - Basketball,  highlighted how Legacy equally serves the boys and girls basketball programs and is made up of 98 percent of students of color.

“I just hope it’s an opportunity for these young men and women to reimagine their future,” Walker told VIBE. “It’s very difficult to dream it if they’ve never seen it. And for them to be in these workshops and see people that look like them, it gives them a chance to realize their potential long-term. Them having a chance to sit across from somebody and get hands-on learning, and say, ‘you know what? Broadcasting isn’t all that difficult, I might be able to do it myself. I’m a real good sketch artist or I can draw, I could be a designer for a major brand.’ Those types of moments are what we hope these young men and women leave with, just opening up their ideas of what’s possible in the future.”

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