Nico Segal Talks Life After Kids These Days, Lifting Lauryn Hill And 'Donnie Trumpet' Mixtape

For Nico Segal, music is music. Rap is to instrumentation what instrumentation is to rap—it’s all the same. The trumpeter of the Chi-Town Savemoney collective has been making moves since the split of his once-upon-a-time band Kids These Days, touring with Frank Ocean and now establishing himself as a vocal-less artist.

With his upcoming project, Donnie Trumpet, the 19-year-old Northsider who describes his voice to be his trumpet, hopes he can force listeners to rethink music.

“It’s how willing you are to wrap your head around concepts and how deeply you’re willing to listen,” he said over the phone on Tuesday night (June 11).

Nico admits that it was initially difficult for him to deal with the breakup of Kids These Days, but that he is excited about his next chapter. Touring with Frank Ocean is "different," he says, but he realizes it's an amazing opportunity. "It's a really great challenge and I enjoy every second of it," he says. "We have the challenge of writing lines on his songs that don't already have lines. We have to be creative and cool, but also stay out of his way."

With Donnie Trumpet, he has a little more leeway and knows that even with all of its features, it is something he can call his own. “Vocals on songs nowadays means that it’s their song, but if you look at old J. Dilla projects or old Madlib projects, they have projects where someone is rapping on every single song,” he says of the 'tape, which will feature cameos by Chance the Rapper, Vic Mensa and other Savemoney artists. “The vocals on the song aren’t always the most important thing and I kind of want people to get away from that, just listen to the music.”

The tape’s first single, “Zion,” is an ode to a woman Segal describes as one of his biggest inspirations.

“Lauryn Hill is easily one of my favorite and most influential artists of all time,” he said. “I love that song. It’s the only cover on the whole project and it doesn’t sound like her song at all. I re-harmonized the chords and I play her melody on the trumpet as if I was singing.”

Nico hopes to build on the work of modern hip-hop inspired instrumentalists like Robert Glasper. “When I started playing in school, I didn’t like the songs they had us playing, ‘cause they were really fuckin’ boring," says Nico. "What I started to do was play to the songs I loved and a lot of those were hip-hop and Latin and funk and what that taught me was that every kind of music has something beautiful for you to pay attention to. I don’t necessarily want to be the Miles Davis of hip-hop, but that is the way I think about it to a certain extent. The way I think about making music, is infusing these different styles and it becomes me.”

Donnie Trumpet is due on June 25, which is Nico’s 20th birthday and the same day he kicks off the worldwide tour with Frank Ocean in Germany. —Shannon Powell

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Billionaire Robert F. Smith Will Also Cover Parents’ Loans In Morehouse College-Debt Plan

In May 2019, Morehouse College’s graduating class of 2019 not only received the gift of their degrees, but also a unique opportunity to enter society debt-free. During his commencement speech, billionaire and owner of private equity firm Vista Equity Partners, Robert F. Smith announced his pledge to cover each student’s loans, and now their parents will be able to get in on the life-changing gesture.

According to Bloomberg, Smith will pay off the federal loans taken by the students’ parents, adding to a $34 million tab. Private student loans gifted by the college, and federal and state loans will be covered under Smith’s plan.

Morehouse's president, David Thomas, said this action will hopefully inspire the recipients to follow in Smith's footsteps. “It is our hope that our graduates will use their newfound financial freedom to pursue their career goals, to lead and serve the community, and to remember the spirit of the gift given to them by paying it forward to support the education of future classes of Morehouse Men.” The HBCU aims for the plan of action to be completed by 2020.

For Smith, with a reported net worth of $6 billion, his vision through this program aims to inspire other colleges and universities to take a charge against this country's student debt crisis and “to receive gifts from alumni and other supporters that can offset the burden of student loans and give students the freedom to pursue their dreams, the capital to invest in the economic growth of their families and the time that they can give back meaningfully to strengthening their communities.”

According to Forbes, U.S. federal student loan debt has totaled over $1.5 trillion.

Wow! Billionaire Robert F. Smith surprises Morehouse graduates by announcing his family will eliminate the student debt of the entire class of 2019 with a grant. #PayItForward #HBCU pic.twitter.com/lbZmttSsB6

— Tomthunkit™ (@TomthunkitsMind) June 10, 2019

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DMX Reportedly Signs New Deal With Def Jam

DMX has signed a new deal with Def Jam Records, bringing him back to the label that distributed his early albums and classic singles. According to AllHip-Hop, X re-linked with the record label over the summer and is set to drop a Christmas album, DMX-Mas, either later this year, or in 2020.

X dropped his quadruple platinum debut album, It’s Dark And Hell is Hot, via Def Jam/Ruff Ryders Records in 1998. He went on to release four more album under the label including, his triple platinum sophomore LP, Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of My Blood, followed by ..And Then There Was X, the latter of which became his most successful studio album selling five million copies in the U.S. alone.

X, whose birth name is Earl Simmons, is one of hip-hop’s best-selling artist with just over 17 million records sold, but like many other recording artist, the beloved MC hit more than a few bumps over the years. The 48-year-old Yonkers native has endured money struggles and a very public battle with sobriety that played a part in his returns trips to jail. He was most recently released from custody this past January, after serving a year in prison for tax evasion.

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J. Cole Says He Won't Be Doing Anymore Guest Features

Don’t expect to hear a J. Cole guest verse on songs for other artists. Cole recently blessed tracks like Young Thug’s “The London” and 21 Savages “A Lot,” but the North Carolina born rhymer says that he’s done making guest appearances after the release of his biggest feature yet: Gang Starr’s “Family and Loyalty.”

Naturally, the “Middle Child” rhymer was honored and elated to be featured on the track, and working with DJ Premier might be the perfect way to bow out of the features game. “This is the last feature you’ll hear from me,” Cole tweeted Friday (Sept. 20). “Thank you to everybody I got to work with during this run.”

This a honor to be on this song. NEW Gang Starr 🤯🤯🤯🤯 💎💎💎💎

This is the last feature you’ll hear from me. Thank you to everybody I got to work with during this run. 🙏🏿@REALDJPREMIER This song a classic, thank you. RIP GURUhttps://t.co/MMBI5Z2Fcq

— J. Cole (@JColeNC) September 20, 2019

“Family and Loyalty,” marks the first new single from Gang Starr in 16 years, and reacquaints us with the lyrical genius of Guru, who died from cancer in 2010.

As for Cole, the Grammy-nominated rapper has a lot on his plate between his solo career and the Dreamville Records imprint. The label boasts a star-studded roster that includes Bas, Cozz, Omen, EarthGang, and the incomparable Ari Lennox. The collective released their third compilation album, Revenge of the Dreamers III, earlier this year.

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