Pasquale Rotella
Erik Kabik

VIBE Exclusive: Insomniac Founder Pasquale Rotella

Arguably one of the most innovative music festival and event conglomerates of our generation, Insomniac, gave $115,000 on Monday, July 30 to four charities in the city that first boasted their premier annual Electric Daisy Carnival (EDC). What can only be described as a state-of-the-art, boundary-pushing music-fueled circus, EDC profits helped Insomniac contribute to Rock the Vote in support of Spin the Vote, the Clark County School-Community Partnership Program, UNR’s Foundation’s Emergency Medicine Resident Research Fund and the Injured Police Officers Fund, and Speedway Children’s Charity.

Original night owl and founder of Insomniac, Pasquale Rotella has brought spectacular performances, pleasure and money to millions of people—festival diehards, music enthusiasts and those less fortunate alike. From mayhems that can ensue at large scale events to the sleepless schedule required to run an operation named for folks that stay up all night, the EDC visionary offers up insider details about his two decades of insomnia.

Here are his thoughts:

On getting started:
The first event I organized was a warehouse party in South Central that drew in 300 people, and I was hooked from there. I didn’t grow up in the most inviting [of] sub-cultures in California, and when I went to my first [underground electronic/hip-hop] event, people were so kind and open, accepting of one another, and that was something that drew me in. We reached a period where every event was getting busted, and then simultaneously people were knocking the growing popularity, which killed the scene. But I wasn't easily influenced and remained passionate about it. I originally started producing events because I wanted somewhere for my friends and I to go. I didn’t look at it like a business. I wanted to experience that feeling I had when I walked into my first party.

On the defining moment:
When at 19-years-old I was successfully able to get our events from warehouses into legal venues. This was a huge sense of accomplishment as it was very difficult to get approved for licensed venues for dance music events. In Los Angeles, the convention center, sports arena, and other large venues had been turning down dance music producers for years. I worked for six months to get the LA Sports Arena to agree to host Countdown, which was a New Year’s Eve Party.

On keeping it thriving:
The most important key to my career has been simply staying alive. Keeping Insomniac afloat through all of the different challenges. The dance music culture has been so scrutinized and beaten up, and we’ve been at the forefront, holding the torch and defending it as good. So many people have tried to jump in and capitalize on it during these upswings, not even just recently. It happened in 1992, 1996 and 2000, and it’s happening again now. Each time it’s been on a different scale with new challenges, but we just always stuck through it. I am most grateful for being able to survive and continue doing what I love through the ups and downs.

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On living in the moment--without sans smartphones:
People who stand with a camera in hand for hours are missing out. I understand trying to capture a special moment at the festival but don't want people to forget to enjoy the event first hand, and get home wishing they had. We put a lot into the shows in hopes of giving everyone the time of their lives. Living through your cell phone and social media isn't as good as the real thing. Take a quick flick then dive into the experience. Live in the now, dance like no one is watching and explore.

On social media:
Social media and the Internet overall have been huge for the growth of dance music. People are able to connect with people. Dance music was a lot more popular in Europe before America, and when the Internet was really catching on, people were able to connect in those markets where the music was thriving and share it at home.The influence of social media has been helpful for the producers too. You’ve got kids making beats, and they can get it out there and let it grow organically. They share it with their friends and before you know it, it’s gone viral.

Social media has allowed me even more so to connect with our attendees [and] help put out fires at the events, and I can engage with the fans to find out what they like. A great example would be at EDC in New York. I kept getting tweets about the lines being too long, so I immediately met with security and the production manager in order to fix the problem right away. Before, I wouldn’t have heard about this until after the event took place and it was too late to correct. It helps to let our attendees know that I care about their experience and learn how to become an even better producer. It’s not about making money for me.

On nourishing new talent:
We created the Discovery Project because my team of Insomniac Owls and I feel there are too many shows that include the same DJs featured over and over again. The plan is to discover new talent that we can create partnerships with by bringing the Insomniac platform to the table and using our resources and experience to help develop and manage their careers. Featuring them at our festivals, clubs, and concerts will only be one part of what our side will offer.

On what’s next:
I want to build out my own festival venue that is perfectly tailored to our unique needs as a music and arts festival producer. Our team is developing some new event brands. Plus, I hope to expand into new markets, including Brazil – which we’ve been talking about for a while. We’re getting close.

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Jaden Smith, 03 Greedo, Lizzo, And More Friday Releases You Need To Hear

For your enjoyment, we've created a list of the hottest Friday releases of the week. From Jaden Smith to Lizzo, and more, here are the projects that you absolutely have to hear.

Jaden Smith – ERYS IS COMING

Jaden Smith dropped a surprise, three-track EP, entitled ERYS IS COMING. The new project serves as the sequel to 2017's SYRE (ERYS is SYRE spelled backward).

While this is bound to get the fans going, many suspect a full-length album will soon follow. While we wait, listen to EYRS IS COMING below.

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Lizzo – Cuz I Love You

Lizzo is back with her third studio album, Cuz I Love You. The 11-track project features guest appearances from Missy Elliott and Gucci Mane.

The album includes the pre-released tracks, "Juice," "Cuz I Love You," and the latest dance hit, "Tempo" featuring Missy.

"3 YEARS HAVE BEEN LEADING UP TO THIS MOMENT RIGHT HERE. IM CRYIN," Lizzo wrote on Twitter. "CUZ I LOVE YOU. ALBUM OUT. NOW."

Listen to Cuz I Love You below.

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Smokepurpp – Lost Planet

Smokepurpp's Lost Planet EP is here. The 8-track project includes guest appearances by Gunna, Lil Pump, and Choppa. It also includes the pre-released songs, "Repeat" and "Remember."

Stream Lost Planet below.

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Shy Glizzy – Covered In Blood

Shy Glizzy has dropped his 12-song project, Covered N Blood, featuring YoungBoy Never Broke Again. It's a follow-up to his ambitious 2018 project, Fully Loaded.

"It’s a deep, deep album," he told HipHopDX in April 2019. "It’s a really deep album. A lot of my music is like a diary. This one is about what I’ve been going through the last few months."

Listen to Covered N Blood below.

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03 Greedo – Still Summer in the Projects

03 Greedo has released his new album, Still Summer in the Projects. It’s the rapper’s first full-length project since beginning his 20-year prison sentence last June 2018 for gun and drug trafficking charges.

DJ Mustard produced all 11 tracks on the project. The album includes guest features from YG, Shoreline Mafia, and Trilliano.

Still Summer in the Projects is a follow-up to Greedo's 2018 project, God Level.

Listen to the latest album from 03 Greedo below.

Apple Music Spotify Tidal

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Lil Yachty Shares How He Penned City Girl's Hit Single "Act Up": ”I Wrote The Whole Song Except For J.T.’s Last Verse”

City Girls' raunchy lyrics and persona are all their own, but Lil Yatchy helped the Miami duo with their latest hit single, "Act Up."

Yatchy shared details behind his collaboration with the rappers, noting that he penned the song with the exception of J.T.'s second verse on the song. “When it came out, people was so shocked and they didn’t believe it,” he told influencer and DJ Kerwin Frost Thursday (April 18). “I wrote the whole song, except for J.T.’s last verse. But everything that everyone is singing, I wrote the whole thing.”

J.T. (Jatavia Johnson) is credited as a writer on the song, but Caresha “Yung Miami” Brownlee isn't. This doesn't take away from Yung Miami's pen game as she's noted as a writer on other songs from their album, Girl Code.

Yachty added this was his first time writing a song for another artist. He was inspired to do so by a friend and wanted to embody their raunchy style with the track. “I just thought like them. I know them personally and I know what women like to hear,” he explained. “I was like, ‘What’s some raunchy sh*t?’ So before I went in the booth, I said, ‘No homo y'all.’ Because all my boys was in the room. And I started saying just crazy sh*t. But I came out and I was like, ‘Y'all watch, this is about to blow up.’”

Yachty was right. In addition to the Cardi B-assisted "Twerk," "Act Up" has been sitting pretty on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. "Act Up" hit the Top 40 recently while "Twerk" reached No. 29 in February. City Girls recently earned their third week at No. 1 on the Emerging Artists chart.

Yachty says the experience has inspired him to write for other artists and engage in writing camps with producers. A few of the songs he's done will be dropping soon.

"People always try to discredit me. So when I saw it, I realized how I get my credit a different way," he said.  "I write sh*t all the time… I can think like other people. That was a real fun experience for me, and it was most fun when it leaked to the public. I spent a few days just reading people’s responses because I didn’t speak on it, I didn’t say anything.”

Yatchy's knows a thing or two about making hits. The artist has two Top 10 singles and earned a Best Rap/Sung Grammy Nomination for "Broccoli" with D.R.A.M. in 2016.

Stream "Act Up" below.

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B-Real, DJ Muggs, Sen Dog, Eric Bobo of Cypress Hill attend a ceremony honoring Cypress Hill With Star On The Hollywood Walk Of Fame on April 18, 2019 in Hollywood, California.
Tommaso Boddi

It's About Time: Cypress Hill Receives Star On Hollywood Walk Of Fame

Cypress Hill doesn't always get the credit they deserve for their impact on hip-hop history, but they've been honored forever with a revered star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

With a career of 30 years, the legacy of the four-man group of B-Real, DJ Muggs, Sen Dog, and Eric Bobo (along with former member Mellow Man Ace) includes six platinum albums and 90s zeitgeist songs like "How I Could Just Kill A Man," "Insane In The Brain," and "Hand On The Pump." They released their self-titled debut in 1991 and the chart-topping follow-up Black Sunday two years later,  and have continued creating ever since, releasing their ninth and latest album Elephants On Acid in September 2018. Cypress Hill are considered West Coast rap legends, and the first Latino rap group to have multiple gold and platinum records. Anchored by Muggs' gloomy, gritty production and B-Real's nasal, charismatic rhymes, Cypress Hill is as much a part of rap history as anyone.

The group's ceremony included speeches from Latino comedian George Lopez and fellow West Coast rap legend Xzibit, who said 'it's about time' before detailing the group's illustrious career.

Xzibit pointed out Cypress Hill not only brought Latino representation in an industry that largely lacked it, but that they were staunch marijuana advocates way before today's growing legalization.

"The Grammy-nominated group showed us stoned is indeed the way of the walk. Long before the days of legal dispensaries and medical marijuana, Cypress Hill were advocates of that sticky icky icky oooh wee!" Xzibit shared. "...Cypress Hill are pioneers in their own right. Their accomplishments and accolades reach deep in the roots and history books of hip-hop, and today is another chapter in that saga. Yo B-Real, Sen Dog, Muggs, Bobo: you are our Rolling Stones, Ungrateful Dead, you are the West Coast Public Enemy."

Lopez insisted that out of all the 2,600 stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, "there are none more important than the one we're about to unveil for Cypress Hill. There's a lot of actors, there's a lot of comedians, there's a lot of entertainers who are on this (Walk of Fame). But there's only one cypress hill, the first Latino hip-hop group. But to everyone who lives the American dream, not the last Latino hip-hop group to ever be on the Hollywood Walk of Fame."

Cypress Hill's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame is unveiled pic.twitter.com/cNtpIUd8Xg

— Variety (@Variety) April 18, 2019

Xzibit says "it's about time" that Cypress Hill gets their star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame pic.twitter.com/DHap9UkzXq

— Variety (@Variety) April 18, 2019

George Lopez says there are 2,600 stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, but "none more important than the star we are about to unveil for Cypress Hill" pic.twitter.com/wuaakjKp6u

— Variety (@Variety) April 18, 2019

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