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Interview: Phil Adé Talks New Mixtape 'R.O.S.E.' Inspiration From Tupac

At the beginning of each new day, Phil Adé chooses to celebrate life by virtually toasting with his followers on Twitter.

Whether or not he actually raises his glass is unknown but the 25-year-old up and coming rapper surely has plenty of reasons to rejoice.

Navigating through the DMV, Adé has positioned himself at the forefront of the hip-hop movement taking place in the area. Following a brief hiatus, Adé has returned with his sixth mixtape, titled R.O.S.E. (Result of Societies Evil)—a sincere body of work he regards as his most mature offering to date.

Adé nods at drawing inspiration for the title from Tupac Shakur's notable poem, "A Rose That Grew From Concrete."

"I feel like there’s a message that needs to be heard, with all the stuff that’s going on with kids today," he says. "I just feel like people need to have some conviction, if you do something you need to know why you’re doing it and you need to be able to explain where it comes from...With this project I kinda want after everyone listens to the record, to feel like, where do I stand? Who do I choose to be as a person? What do I want to stand for?"

With R&B sensation Raheem DeVaughn backing his vision, Adé is on a relentless quest to have his voice heard by the masses and his music recognized appropriately. VIBE caught up with the Silver Spring, MD upstart to find out exactly what to expect from R.O.S.E. and how his journey has been shaped by the area that raised him.

VIBE: Your last project was #PhilAdeFriday2 and you released that in late 2011. Why was there such a long period of time between these mixtapes?
Adé: I felt like I had to take some time really to just get ahead of myself and also work on my craft as an artist. I wasn't there yet. I had records that we could've put out. As a team, we felt it wasn't there yet. The potential of what the shit could be wasn't there, so we definitely didn't rush it. Now, I'm in the right place, I have a better understanding of how to make the records that I want to make. From this point on it’s not going to stop. I'm already working on my next project and we about to keep it moving this year, 2013.

How was it touring with Rockie Fresh and Kris Kassanova on the Electric Highway tour?
It was cool, Kris was just there for one day but me and Rocky are homies. I've known him since like high school, before he even laid a record. It was just like I was traveling with a friend. It was fun. It was my first nationwide tour, so I got to see all parts of the country. It was real cool because I got to really see all the fans that I have in different parts of the country, like in places that I wouldn’t even expect there would be Phil Adé fans. It was cool to see that, people that were excited to see me in like Pomona, CA, all these random places. So it was cool. I can’t wait to get back out there.

What can fans expect with the upcoming mixtape, R.O.S.E.?
This project, I’m in a different zone as an artist. With the music I’m making now, I don’t want to say it's totally different but I have a lot bigger records. I’m excited about the message that I put behind Result Of Societies Evil. The message is basically all the stuff we’re exposed to growing up. When we’re born, we’re born completely innocent. You don’t see murder; you don’t see any of this stuff. But as we grow older you watch TV you see your friends smoking, drinking, you see how magazines and stuff like that just affect girls, all that stuff and how it plays a factor in people’s lives. I feel like in this day and age a lot of kids don’t have any conviction. After everyone listens to the record, I want people to feel like, where do I stand? Who do I choose to be as a person? What do I want to stand for? I feel like a lot of young'uns like myself and younger are just out here and don’t even really care. This project, I’m excited because there’s a story in it. I really get in deeper with my personal life and the lives of those around me.

Bun B is featured on "2 A.M." and you said most of the production is from Sunny Norway but who else did you work with on this project?
Sixx, he’s actually in a production group called the official. Teddy Rockspin, he did a couple records. Backpack Matt, he did the Xscape record. Bun B, Like from Pac Div, Rockie Fresh, Phil Da Phuture, Raheem DeVaughn. My crew Royal Fam, I have a couple of artists—Dboy, Ice the Villian. You’ll hear more from them but you get a little taste in the project.

Result Of Societies Evil—why that name specifically?
It was something that just kinda came to me, I remember I was riding with Dre [‘the mayor’ Hopsin] we were on 295, this was like last fall. I was just lost in my head and thought that would be a dope concept, the acronym R.O.S.E. You know that poem that Tupac wrote? "A Rose That Grew From Concrete," that’s kind of where the inspiration was drawn from. There’s a message that needs to be heard, with all the stuff that’s going on with kids today. I just feel like people need to have some conviction, if you do something you need to know why you’re doing it and you need to be able to explain where it comes from.

Can you explain Royal Fam?
It’s a play on my name. Adé in Nigeria means crown, royalty. I wanted to make something that my fans can be a part of and my friends can get involved with. It’s something I can take and really help create some positivity for my friends and just people all over to be a part of. What I try to promote with it is you’re a ruler of your destiny or whatever it is you want to do, you’re the king of your life and you decide what you want to do. So we have the Kings and the Queens and that sort of thing. That’s where that comes from, it’s just something my fans can be a part of, my friends can be a part of. We all rep and have fun.

What’s it like to have Raheem DeVaughn on your side?
It’s definitely been a help because he’s in the business, he knows the ins and outs about being an artist. It’s different because he’s an R&B artist, I do hip-hop, which is a completely different fan base, lane and all that. He’s definitely been a help with getting me in the mindset of being an artist, having a business mind. Dre also, they always tell me rap is one thing but have a business mind, have different goals for yourself. Both of them together have really been like father figures for me, the last few years. I haven’t spoken to my own father in a minute. When I got with them I was still in that process of making that transition from just a kid being in school to becoming a man. They really been like big brothers/father figures for real.

How would you say being from the DMV area influences your style?
Just going out there, you’d be able to see how much culture is out there. I would definitely say my appreciation for live music comes from being out there, going to go-go’s, we also real big on fashion out there. I feel like Diddy got his swag from being in D.C. when he was at Howard. They real big on Versace, Moschino and all of that. There’s so much culture out there, dressing is a big thing out there. I got my sense of style from being in the area. Definitely, the music and the fashion definitely from there.

Do you think it’s more difficult to come out of a place like Maryland that doesn’t have a huge hip-hop history?
Yeah, definitely because the industry is not there. There’s not a lot of people that do what I do out there, so you kinda have to move in and out of the area. You have to come up here [N.Y.] sometimes and move around. Branch out, there’s no industry in Maryland it’s not like Atlanta or L.A. where the labels are right there. It's been difficult but at the same time, it's been fun. It’s a learning process, its not hard if you know what you’re doing. Of course, starting up and trying to figure your way, it can be difficult at times.

Talk about the talent that’s coming out of the DMV area?
D.C., Maryland area, there’s so much talent out there it’s ridiculous. It’s almost not fair how much talent is out there that goes unseen and has gone unseen and will probably never be heard. I’m just happy and proud I could be a part of that ensuing spark of that movement out there. When I first got started, real talk it was just Wale, Tabbi, Raheem. That area has always been big for R&B: Ginuwine, Dru Hill, all of those cats are from there. But as far as hip-hop with the youth out there, go-go is the music that everyone listens to. Wale was like the first nigga that made it cool to be a rapper and do hip-hop music. Now you got Fat Trel, you got Black Cobain, you got Shy Glizzy, it’s just dope to see it slowly becoming a movement. People are really going to have to come to D.C. to find talent. It’s slowly getting there. —Christopher Harris

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Oscars To Pay Tribute To Kobe Bryant

In 2018, Kobe Bryant became the first pro-athlete to win an Oscar Award for his short animated film, Dear Basketball. Now, the annual ceremony will honor the late figure during Sunday’s showcase (Feb. 9), according to The Hollywood Reporter.

On Monday (Jan. 27), the Oscar Nominees Luncheon took a moment of silence in memory of Bryant and the other seven passengers on the helicopter, including his 13-year-old daughter Gianna. In a recap by Deadline, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ (AMPAS) president David Rubin noted that Bryant sat in that very same room two years ago.

During his Oscars acceptance speech, Bryant thanked his family and said he’s excited to know that athletes in his profession don’t just “shut up and dribble” but explore other mediums of inspiration. “This is not supposed to happen,” he said during an interview with Jimmy Kimmel. “I’m supposed to play basketball. Not write something that wins an Oscar.”

Throughout the interview, the Los Angeles Lakers legend said his win unlocked a new realm of responsibility to usher in diverse minds to the animation world. “How do I provide more opportunities for even more diverse and new voices to be heard in this industry? In the animation business it’s a serious lack of diversity," he continued. "When I won that award the other night, I was the first African-American to ever win that award in that category.”

Dear Basketball, directed by Glen Keane and narrated by Bryant, tells the story of his road to retirement from the NBA in 2015. The short film also won the Annie Award for Best Animated Short Subject and a Sports Emmy Award for Outstanding Post-Produced Graphic Design.

On Sunday (Jan. 26), Bryant, his daughter Gianna and seven other passengers aboard a helicopter died after the aircraft crashed in Calabasas, California. Investigators are still piecing together the exact cause of the incident.

They doubted a kid could make it in the NBA and he proved them wrong.

They doubted he could win a championship and he proved them wrong.

They doubted he could make movies and he won an Oscar.

Like all great artists, Kobe Bryant proved the doubters wrong.

Rest in peace.

— The Academy (@TheAcademy) January 26, 2020

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Kobe Bryant smiles at halftime as both his #8 and #24 Los Angeles Lakers jerseys are retired at Staples Center on December 18, 2017 in Los Angeles, California
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Petition To Redesign NBA Logo After Kobe Bryant Gains Over A Million Signatures

On Sunday (Jan. 26), a helicopter carrying families, which included Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, crashed in Calabasas, California. All nine people onboard were pronounced dead. As investigators continue to decipher the exact cause of the tragic incident, the sports legend’s supporters are pushing for his likeness to always remain a part of the sport he dominated.

A petition has received over a million signatures to encourage the National Basketball Association (NBA) to change its logo to feature Bryant. Currently, former professional basketball player Jerry West remains as the league’s logo. West was also a Los Angeles Laker.

Michael Jones, the organization’s managing director, shared that the petition has grounds to memorialize Bryant in a sport he changed forever. "Nick's petition is not only the fastest-growing on, it's also the first petition of 2020 to top 1 million signatures anywhere in the globe," Jones said in a statement. "As the world comes to terms with the death of someone as famous and well-known as Kobe Bryant, Nick has given basketball fans an outlet to create a permanent memory of someone who made history in the NBA."

As noted by The Undefeated, today also marks 23 years since Bryant, at age 18, became the youngest player to start a game.

Jan. 28, 1997

Kobe Bryant becomes the youngest player -- at 18 years, five months and five days -- to start an NBA game.

— The Undefeated (@TheUndefeated) January 28, 2020

According to CNN, the pilot received Special VFR Clearance (SVFR) to fly the Sikorsky S-76B helicopter due to weather conditions. The helicopter left from John Wayne Airport near Irvine, Calif., on its destination to Thousand Oaks where Gianna and her two teammates were expected to play a basketball game.

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Kobe Bryant #8 of the Los Angeles Lakers looks for an open man during Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals against the Portland Trail Blazers at Staples Center on June 4, 2000 in Los Angeles, California.
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NEXT: Kobe Bryant

This story appeared in the April 2000 issue of VIBE, months before he won his first of five NBA championships with the Los Angeles Lakers. Written by Isaac Paris

Okay, Sherlock, we know Kobe Bryant is way past the verge of stardom. As an all-star shooting guard for the Los Angeles Lakers, he gets thousands of fans screaming with excitement every other night. Bryant's baseline drives are as smooth as Nate Dogg's vocals, and his slam dunks bump like a gritty bass line from a DJ Premier track.

Now, with his debut rap album, Visions (Columbia), due in March, the 21-year-old is poised to follow in the footsteps of teammate Shaquille O'Neal (who he occasionally exchanges verses with in the locker room) and prove that his skills aren't limited to flying above the rim. Although Bryant realizes that being the man on the hardwood is no guarantee that you can actually hold it down in the studio (NBA stars/inept MCs like Gary Payton and Jason Kidd can attest to that), Visions proves his wordsmith capabilities are ample enough to allow him to play with the big dogs.

"People are gonna be surprised," Bryant says self-assuredly. "Toward the latter stages [of recording], I was real comfortable. I was like, 'I got this sh*t!'" In fact, tonight in his Milwaukee hotel room––on the eve of a game against the Bucks––Bryant's more pressed with defending the unproven mike skills of his homegirl that he is his own.

"Tyra can sing," he says of supermodel Tyra Banks, who makes her singing debut on Visions' first single, the buoyant "K.O.B.E." Destiny's Child, the Roots' Black Thought, 50 Cent, and Beanie Sigel also support the hoopster on the CD.

"The album is pretty hard. People expect me to come a little more commercial than I did," says Bryant. "At first it was all battle raps, but I really wanted to give the total picture of what was going on around me, like money, jewelry, women, and trust issues."

Nevertheless, money, hoes, and clothes aren't the only things this player knows. He also knows how to win. The following night, after No. 8 scores 22 points as the Lakers thrash the Bucks, he's convinced he'll be just as successful rapping as he is playing on his championship-contending team. "[On the mic] you want respect. If I want something I'm gonna get it. Just buy the album and see for yourself."

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