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Interview: MC On The Rise Jamie Drastik Talks New Pitbull Collab And More

A rapper with a hands-on and visceral approach to his writing craft, Jamie Drastik is an upstate New York homeboy whose fledgling repertoire already boasts collaborations with Pitbull, Kelly Rowland and Flo Rida. His upcoming high-octane tune, "Chasing Shadows", featuring Pitbull and Havana Brown, boasts hooks that stick like glue to the aural senses. A certified club-banger that will be taking airwaves and nightclubs all summer. Drastik sits down with VIBE for an exclusive interview about his writing process, working with music's big league players and more.

VIBE: How'd you link with Pitbull?
Jamie Drastik: I had a record playing on my two hometown stations WSPK and WPKF both stemming from the top DJs in my area Ted Dillinger and Mr. Vince. After the record was in rotation on both stations, I started generating interest from the major labels. After a few dead end meetings I was approached by Pitbull's business partner, Robert Fernandez, about doing a deal with Pitbull's own imprint. Around that same time, Pitbull and I were both on the bill for WSPK's summer concert called K Fest, he got to see me perform and we got to meet and wound up doing the deal shortly after. After the deal I appeared on his album with a record that featured myself and Kelly Rowland called “Castle Made of Sand”.

What rappers inspire you artistically?
I draw more from my surroundings for artistic inspiration than other rappers. I'm a fan first so I'll be the first one to say I'm a fan of a number of different artists but I try to listen just as a fan. I always say I let my surroundings write my songs I just make them rhyme. I like to watch people’s detail. Most times they don't even realize they are showing me their whole hand by detail of how they carry themselves. A lot of songs are written from that point of view.

What about EDM producer-DJs?
I find inspiration in producers and DJs. Some of my favorites are Ta-ku and Flume, both from Australia, and Solidisco out of Buffalo, NY. I also really like the duo TNGHT, Lunice and Hudson Mohawk... trying to catch one of their shows soon.

Being from New York and the fact that "Chasing Shadows" is 'club-friendly', what are your fave nightlife spots in the Big Apple for music?
Well I'm from upstate NY, so a hole in the wall bar with some good drinks and some chill females is cool with me. But I've been coming into the city to record, party, get in trouble, and at one point live, so when I do come in to party I usually go to WIP and Greenhouse mainly because management has always been super cool and accommodating. I like Kiss and Fly, TenJune, Griffin, and a L.E.S spot called The Box. I used to do all the hip-hop showcases in NYC. At one point my winnings from them were paying my rent. Until they told me there was a three-time winning limit.

Do you write raps with certain producers in mind or do you just go off the dome? What's your technique?
I record by myself a lot, no engineer, I hit record and see what happens. A lot of times I will record to just a basic drum track and then send it off to a producer to build around what I did vocally. With “Chasing Shadows” I had the verse from Pit[bull] to a basic drum track, brought it to a producer we work named Matty C and started building a beat around Pit's verse. While we were building the beat I wrote my verses. At that point we still needed a hook, so I asked my friends Kinetics and One Love who wrote “Airplanes” for B.O.B. to see what they could come up with for a chorus. After they sent what they wrote, I sent it to Pit and he agreed with me that it sounded like a smash. He then asked Havana Brown to sing the hook for us, and she couldn’t have been any cooler about it. She knocked it out and here we are now. That took about 10 months to complete, so I hope you guys like it.

What's after "Chasing Shadows"?
I have a record out there right now with Flo Rida and DJ Suss One called “Single for Tonight” that’s doing really well for us, but after “Chasing Shadows” comes a full project called “Bikes at Night”. 12 – 14 songs. This project will be a more forward approach to sounds that may not be known to the mainstream audience. The imagery will have a lot of BMX bikes in it and the culture of BMX. It is due out in August of this year.

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Will Smith Celebrates 25th Anniversary Of ‘Bad Boys’

Will Smith celebrated the 25-year anniversary of Bad Boys on Tuesday (April 7) with a special shout out to his co-star, Martin Lawrence, and the film’s director, Michael Bey, and producer, Jerry Bruckheimer.

“Today is 25 years since the first ‘Bad Boys’ came out!!! We really putting this ‘for life’ thing to the test,” Smith captioned a video of him and Lawrence promoting the film in 1995 along with their recent Bad Boys for Life promo run.


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Today is 25 years since the first @badboys came out!! We really putting this “for life” thing to the test @martinlawrence 🙂 @michaelbay @jerrybruckheimer

A post shared by Will Smith (@willsmith) on Apr 7, 2020 at 12:03pm PDT

The first Bad Boys film was a box office hit raking in more than $140 million. The 2003 sequel nearly doubled the numbers of its predecessor.

Lawrence and Smith reprised their roles as detectives Mike Lowrey and Marcus Barnett in Bad Boys for Life, which grossed $425 million worldwide.

Speaking to VIBE during the film’s premier in January, the duo revealed the secret to maintaining a flow on screen after all these years. “A great deal of respect and love for each other,” said Lawrence.

Smith noted that their friendship contributes to why they work so well together. “You can’t really love somebody you don’t understand. If you don’t known what makes them laugh, what makes them cry, if you don’t understand what somebody needs, you can’t really love them and that’s what I was noticing about the two of us, we just understand each other.”

Watch the full interview below.


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Barack Obama Marks World Health Day With A Message For Healthcare Workers

In honor of World Health Day on Tuesday (April 7), former President Barack Obama sent out a message of gratitude to health care workers amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We owe a profound debt of gratitude to all our medical professionals,” tweeted the onetime commander in chief. “They’re still giving their all for us every day, at great risk to themselves and we can’t thank them enough for their brevity and their service.”

It’s World Health Day, and we owe a profound debt of gratitude to all our medical professionals. They’re still giving their all for us every day, at great risk to themselves, and we can’t thank them enough for their bravery and their service.

— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) April 7, 2020

With more than 18 million workers across the U.S., healthcare remains the fastest growing industry in the U.S. economy. Many healthcare professionals remain on the front lines caring for patients battling coronavirus, despite facing an increased risk of catching the viral disease due to a shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE).

The American Hospital Association launched a campaign to secure 1 million masks for health care workers, including doctors, nurses and caregivers of COVID-19 patients. “Our health care heroes on the front lines have an immediate need for personal protective equipment and we have to push on all cylinders to get these items produced and into the field,” said AHA President and CEO Rick Pollack.

The AHA is one of many efforts to get PPE to workers in need. McDonalds vowed to donate 1 million N95 masks to health care workers in Chicago, Apple announced a donation of 10 million masks to the medical community, Nordstrom has commissioned its tailors to sew masks, and Nike is making full face-shields and powered, air-purifying respirator (PAPR) lenses to protect healthcare workers against COVID-19.

NBA legend, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, donated 900 pairs of goggles to health care professionals in Southern California, Future and his The FreeWishes Foundation are also donating masks to hospital workers. A school in Baltimore City donated over 150 gloves and masks to the University of Maryland Medical Center, and a multiple Brooklyn schools banded together to donate gloves, goggles and hand sanitizer to local hospitals in desperate need of supplies.

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A woman wearing a protective mask is seen in Union Square on March 9, 2020 in New York City. There are now 20 confirmed coronavirus cases in the city including a 7-year-old girl in the Bronx.
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African-Americans Are At A Greater Risk To Contract Coronavirus

Racial disparities in coronavirus deaths are now coming to light due to the overwhelming amount of African-Americans dying from COVID-19.

Weeks after warnings from lawmakers and health officials, US Surgeon General Jerome Adams confirmed Tuesday (April 7) that African-Americans were at greater risk of contracting the novel coronavirus. "I and many black Americans are at higher risk for COVID, which is why we need everyone to do their part to slow the spread,” he said. Adams explained that Black Americans with pre-existing conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease are more prone to having the virus in addition to lack of access to proper health care.

In an op-ed for The New York Times titled "The Racial Time Bomb in the Covid-19 Crisis," Charles M. Blow compared the growing concern to the early days of the H.I.V./AIDS crisis affecting people of color. "On some level, H.I.V. is ravaging the South because Southern states have made a policy decision not to care in a sufficient way because the people suffering are poor and black," he said while pointing out the stark similarities in how both life-changing moments haven't provided the demographic with the right resources.

Numbers between race and ethnicity for the virus are limited but Stat News reports Black people in Illinois, made up 29% of confirmed cases and 41% of deaths as of Monday morning, but only make up 15% of the state’s population. ProPublica also points out how Black people make up nearly half of the 941 cases in Milwaukee County and 81% of its 27 deaths–but the population is 26% African-American.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention distributes data on age, gender, and location of COVID-19 patients but not their race or ethnicity. On Tuesday, CDC spokesman Scott Pauley responded to the data about race and ethnicity around the coronavirus. “Unfortunately, case report forms are often missing important data, including race and ethnicity," he said. "To address this and other data gaps, supplementary surveillance systems are being stood up to better capture ethnicity and race data, as well as other key demographic or clinical information.”

In a letter written by Sens. Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, Elizabeth Warren with  Ayanna Pressley and Robin L. Kelly to Health and Human Services (HHS), the group called for the correct information to avoid the gap from getting larger.

“The C.D.C. is currently failing to collect and publicly report on the racial and ethnic demographic information of patients tested for and affected by Covid-19," the letter reads. "Our concerns echo those from some physicians: that decisions to test individuals for the novel coronavirus may be ‘more vulnerable to the implicit biases that every patient and medical professional carry around with them,’ potentially causing ‘black communities and other underserved groups … [to] disproportionately mis[s] out on getting tested for Covid-19. Although Covid-19 does not discriminate along racial or ethnic lines, existing racial disparities and inequities in health outcomes and health care access may mean that the nation’s response to preventing and mitigating its harms will not be felt equally in every community.”

It was also announced New York Mayor Bill de Blasio and Melissa DeRosa, the top aide for Gov. Andrew Cuomo, promised to release data that reflects ethnicity and race as well. But as DeRosa revealed, hospitals in the Albany area haven't reported on the race of COVID-19 victims.

“The hospitals actually don’t report the race information directly to the state,” said DeRosa via The New York Post. “So what we end up doing on the back-end is calling the coroners’ offices around the state, after the death has been reported, so there has been a lag.“We understand people want that information. We want that information, too.”

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