Masego Masego
VIBE/ Stacy-Ann Ellis

NEXT: Masego Is Equal Parts Real Musicianship & Really, Really Good Feels

Masego is full of stories. The freshest of them sit at the top of the mind and the tip of the tongue. Others are deep-seated anecdotes, forming only after an inquisitive prompt or a moment of brief reflection. Like that time he made an impromptu nine-hour drive up from Virginia to New York to network with Twitter friends and wound up sleeping in Central Park in lieu of a hotel room. Or the times his creative nature got him fired from practical jobs: Dairy Queen for juggling the ice cream, Best Buy for playing his own music in the store and a government gig for excessively printing out pictures of cars (“I was an automation clerk. That’s a fancy name for filer, but if you tell any shorty you’re an automation clerk, the number’s yours”).

Sometimes these tales are told under the guise of “Uncle Sego,” the wise, croaky, playful voice stitched into the witty interludes of Pink Polo EP, his jovial eight-track project with Dallas producer, Medasin. But most times, they're told through the voice of Micah Davis, a 22-year-old self-taught saxophonist, pianist, singer and producer here to give an old soul sound a fresh new take in today's hip-hop music climate.

At first glance, Sego’s presence tells it all. Amid the naked branches and wooden benches of Williamsburg’s comfort food eatery, Peter’s Since 1969, he’s an immediate source of vibrancy and color. The complexity of his personality shines through to his threads. His slim frame is outfitted by a busy Hawaiian shirt, baby blue ‘ball shorts, black Nike Huaraches, patterned robe like Joseph's Coat of Many Colors (open your Bible!), wooden bead necklace, gold hoop earring and a high-top twist-out ‘fro worthy of its own YouTube channel. He towers well over six feet, but his demeanor is gentle and youthful, with broad smiles distributed heartily and often (he can count on one hand how many times he's been really angry).

Much like his sartorial selects, Masego’s music has an essence as spirited as the gaudy, thrift store brand of shirts he fancies. Pink Polo started off as a sunny assemblage of tunes born from a string of jam sessions with friends. It only took two weeks to package up and finalize the project before posting it on SoundCloud—the EP finally joined Spotify, Apple Music and iTunes’ rosters one year later—where its bolstering popularity translated to more than one million plays. What made the EP such a playlist mainstay was its departure from the sonic landscape of radio and club regulars without trying too hard to be "anti" or different.

“With Pink Polo, I wanted something I could listen to when I was doing different activities during the summer and also bring a message in it,” the indie darling says of his tape. He’s not talking weighty, morally-based declarations or anything like that. Despite Masego’s religious upbringing—his dad is a military pastor and his mom is the Minister of Music at their church—his music is far from preachy. It’s just the stuff he genuinely feels.

“She don’t play and she my type, she got brains and the tatas, she’s that lady/She’s gon dance, ain’t gon touch her phone, she gon’ live this moment,” he sings on the lush and melodic “Girls That Dance,” Pink Polo’s shining star of a lead single. When he made the song and video for it, his main objective was to get people to drop their phones and pesky SnapChat habits to have a good time IRL.

Moments of frustration manifest into sarcastic banter and a showcase of his Twitter-described jazzy "rapper persona." On “Throwin’ Shade,” he mocks and admonishes future music collaborators for adopting Drake’s emotive rap shtick. “I wanted to beat that out of peoples’ heads. Just because Drake works, doesn’t mean you can be Drake as well," he says, a tinge of irritation hovering beneath his laugh. Then there are the wordless wonders like “Sunday Vibes,” “TrapScat” and JR Jarris’ “Love Be Like,” where slick scatting, harmonious ad-libs, nostalgic boom-bap and funky elevator-esque music you’d actually want to miss your floor for do all the talking. At its core, Masego’s music is the kind of delight you want to soundtrack your morning drive to work at the beginning of the week and line-dance to at the end of it.

His audible treats pulled a host of new listeners into his orbit, including burgeoning DMV rap-singer and 2015 XXL Freshman, GoldLink. For those unfamiliar with Masego’s karaoke Vine chronicles, GoldLink’s sophomore project became a stage for Masego's smooth suede and charismatic rasp carrying the chorus of “Late Night,” an album gem originally meant for him.

“The way the producing world works, everybody’s like, ‘Yo, look who I’m working with right now,’ and it got to Goldlink’s ear,” he explains of being featured on And After That We Didn't Talk. “He was like, ‘I really want that for my project.’ We’re battling back and forth but I was like, you’re kind of popping more than me right now. This might be a good look for me. So I let him have the song.” A full solo version of the song will likely be on Masego’s forthcoming album, but in the interim, the exposure pointed hip-hop heads to a new low-key favorite and potential hook-man.

His sound can only be mentioned in the same sentence as the Bronx-born genre by association. Yes, he raps and yes, at times there’s heavy bass and booming drum kicks powering his production. But if we want to talk specifics here, TrapHouseJazz (which doubles as the name of his backing band) is the sub-genre he created for himself by fusing the feel-good genres across generations. “It’s really something that made me feel like I belong to something,” he says. “I like my drums to hit, saxophone is just a smooth instrument and the energy of house is synthesizers, which isn’t really embraced in Virginia.”

As a military kid, he was born in the Waterhouse district of Kingston, Jamaica (he didn’t stay long enough to carry the natural lilt of patois), then lived in Utah for a bit until the final move at eight years old to Newport News, Virginia, the place he officially calls home. His neighborhood was a stuffily quiet area housing both posh governors and misguided gangs. “Yeah, I was in a gang for a little bit,” Masego says to everyone’s surprise, including his own. He explained Newport News’ complicated relationship with crime, citing the source as a need to hold up to “tougher” cities like Compton. “Like why?” he continues. “I smile too much to be in a gang. I don't got that ‘hit somebody’ vibe.” Regardless of the scene surrounding his mailing address, he did most of his living across the water in Virginia Beach with fellow creatives and in Norfolk, where he attended Old Dominion University before eventually chucking the deuces. It’s here that he built upon the foundation of his multi-hyphenate artistic movement. 

Like a stereotypical pastor’s kid, he was involved in the church music ministry, picking up the drums just by watching the seniors before moving to the piano, saxophone and a host of here-and-there instruments like the guitar, trumpet, violin, bass and marimba. The sax, his live performance selling point, didn’t fully come into play until a pretty young thing caught his eye in middle school. After overhearing some girls talk about jazz musicians, he begged Mama Masego to get him a saxophone to woo his crush. It worked out for a little bit, he says, but the girl came and went, leaving room for the sax to become his main love.

In school, he’d get kicked out of his music classes for refusing to play the “corny” amateur songs being taught. “I'm in the hallway continuing with [the saxophone], so I leveled up super fast,” he quips. “Everybody else is Hot Cross Buns-ing it and I was playing stuff off the radio.” This self-teaching process and "YouTube University" paired with shed jam sessions with local VA artists helped develop and sharpen his skills, and he's still not done learning.

His smooth, instrument-like vocals developed a few years later at the end of high school, when he learned he didn’t need a voice like Jennifer Hudson’s to make people feel good. “I started to realize that you don’t have to be a certain type of singer,” he says. “You know Chance [The Rapper], he’s not a singer, but he’s speaking in tone. There’s a lane that you can carve for yourself.”

 

Three hours after lightly noshing on a chicken leg at Peter’s, Masego is across the East River in Webster Hall's greenroom, trying to get it together before his midnight House Party performance. To be quite frank, he’s a little tired having been up since before 6 a.m. and this is very much not his scene.

He neither smokes nor drinks, and to put things in perspective, his mom was bothered that the final version of GoldLink’s “Late Night” wound up with cuss words on it, even though he didn't say any of them. The same type of music and party scene he avoids getting sucked into now surrounds him on all sides. The greenroom is far from silent; at least 16 people mill about loudly as the bass of Bobby Shmurda’s “Hot N***a,” YG’s “My N***a” and “Grindin” by fellow Virginians The Clipse rattle the walls.

Just outside the door, sexually frustrated 19-year-olds dry hump each other in sync, pressed up against the same stage he’ll occupy in half an hour. A mob of shirtless guys on the stage act out their low budget rapper music video fantasies, throwing their bodies in dabs and disarray and mumble-mouthing the lyrics no one actually knows to Desiigner’s “Panda.” Amid the chaos, a disconnected and silent Masego sits in a chair off to the side with his head down and body propped on his knees, trying to block it all out and meditate (“I had to cast the devil out real quick,” he later jokes).

But something happens when he finally hits the stage. The moment he starts tinkering with his trusty Loop Station, a key part of his musical formula, firing off fragmented melodies into the mic and strapping his sax onto the lanyard around his neck, no one would guess how out of his element he felt prior to.

Sego has a way of roping in a crowd with his musical handiwork and his energy, no matter how new they are, distracted they may be, or different they are from him. He impresses them with songs from scratch that, with a little bit of polishing, could easily have a home on a new EP. Engages them with sing-alongs and call-and-response (“Sing, you drunk people!” he commands). Bonds with them by bending down into the front row for photos and in-song banter. Entertains them with scripted and unscripted jokes and shuffle dances. What he gives to them, they give right back. “Tennis match,” he likes to call it. He’s more than thrilled to be up there, sharing the music he loves to make and getting high off his own supply. “I don’t want to Kanye it, but I listen to myself a lot,” he says. “I’m hype about it.”

Polaroid moments like this in Masego’s life are happening in abundance. Last month, he got to make it rain Masego Money into a crowd of new fans at Fader Fort and six other SXSW shows. DJ Jazzy Jeff flew him out to his annual retreat where he brings young and established musicians together for conversation, mentoring and the creation of music. A revamp of his resource-swapping mobile app, Network by Masego, should drop any day now (“I’m all about using your leverage. What can I do for you that makes what you’re doing for me not hurt you?”). Next week, he’s headed to Indio to play his first Coachella-related show. And he got to shake hands with a TDE trailblazer who, to some, has already reached OG status. “That n***a’s like Tupac to me,” he says of Kendrick Lamar, face lighting up like a Broadway placard. “A person like Kendrick takes a ‘Really? Why’d you do this with the whole jazz thing?’ [moment] when you’re on this super high level, but it opens the door for an Anderson .Paak to be accepted. And it opens the door for other artists like myself to do more music.”

Masego is in a sweet spot right now and he knows it. “Full circle: 2014 I go from playing on the street to getting invited to play on stage, now 2016 I’m headlining,” he recently said of his upswing to his 11,000+ Twitter followers. He drops little bits of his excitement like this on social media often. There's nothing about him to hide. He's not one of the new crop of artists cloaked behind an obnoxious smog of faux mystique. No stern poker faces for pictures. No one word answers. No monotone. No monochromatic pictures or carefully curated Instagram collages. Just gratefulness and enthusiasm for the process, flexed cheek muscles from a fun life well lived and all kinds of good music to show for it. What can be better than that?

Video Credit: Jason Chandler

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Music Sermon: The One Minute Hit - When TV Theme Songs Were Lit

The idea of sitting around the TV for appointment television is an archaic concept. Multiple devices with screens for everyone in your home plus the control of streaming has changed how we consume nearly everything except sports, award shows, and Game of Thrones (until tonight). But the children of the 80s very much remember when TV watching was still an event, cable was basic, and the networks reigned supreme. Back in that era of genuine primetime programming, our favorite TV shows came paired with 30-second to one-minute themes. But not just a random little ditty to open the show; these were genuine mini-songs. Verses, chorus, hook, and maybe even a reprise for the end credits.

Now, a drive for more advertising inventory coupled with shorter attention spans has rendered the true theme song a rarity; but in the cases where they do still exist, the songs continue to be a key part of experiencing the show (again, like Thrones). The theme song draws you into the world of the show, it sets the tone, and it stays with you after. And the theme song game wasn’t a space like the commercial jingle game where only folks in the game know who the players are. The theme show business has its own OGs, but there are also names we know well - acclaimed producers, artists and musicians who helped create TV music magic. As such, there’s also a lot of hidden music history and connections behind some of these joints. I have watched an inordinate amount of television consistently throughout my life - you will pry my cable cord out of my cold, dead hands - and I consider myself an expert on the TV theme song. I offer you my list of some of the most soulful, slappin’ and impactful examples of the majesty of TV theme songs from yesteryear.

Sanford & Son

There is literally no music space Quincy Jones hasn’t conquered, including television. Q was in movie scoring land when Norman Lear’s partner Bud Yorkin came to him about composing a theme for their new show, Sanford and Son. “He said, 'I'd like you to write the theme for it.' I said, 'Who's in it?' And he said Redd Foxx,” Quincy told Billboard. “I said, 'Man, you can't put Redd Foxx on national TV!” I had worked with Redd Foxx 30 years before that at the Apollo. We used to do the Chitlin Circuit. I used to write this music for him to come out with.”

Q composed “The Street Beater” without even watching the Sanford and Son pilot. “I wrote that in about 20 minutes,” he said in an interview about his work in television. “I just wrote what he looked like. It sounds just like him, doesn’t it?” The funky, rag tag, backwoods bluesy song was the perfect musical accompaniment for Fred’s surveying his junkyard as Lamont’s truck rolled up, “It was raggedy, just like Foxx.”

Good Times

Norman Lear was the goat of working-class American storytelling on screen, but his shows also had some of the most iconic theme songs – “Those Were the Days” for Archie Bunker, “One Day at a Time” has great lyrics if you pay attention, he even had Donny Hathaway singing about pre-Golden Girls Bea Arthor for Maude. TV producers often used the same writing and production teams for their shows' themes, and Lear often tapped the husband and wife team of Alan and Marylin Bergman, who got their break co-writing with Quincy on “In the Heat of the Night.”

But as I said before, don’t let the TV theme song credits fool you, the Bergmans are two-time Academy Awards winners and in the Songwriters Hall of Fame. That’s the kind of talent behind Good Times.

The Good Times theme is a negro spiritual (there’s a Hammond B3 organ in it; issa spiritual), and singers Jim Gilstrap, from Stevie Wonder’s backing group, Wonderlove; and Somara “Blinky” Williams, a former original member of the Church of God in Christ (COGIC) Singers along with Andrae Crouch and famed session player Billy Preston, put some extra oil on it.

You don’t believe me when I say this is worship music? Watch this.

I really wanna know what the Bergmans knew about hanging in a chow line, though. I’m not even sure I knew that was the lyric before Dave Chappelle told us.

The Jeffersons

Before we move on from Lear sitcoms we have to pay respect to the best black TV theme song of all time. And before you argue with me, let’s please look at the stats: a 35-person choir, stomping and clapping - even double clapping! - mention of fish fry, and a reprise over the end credits with hummin’ like your big mama used to do while she was cookin’ on Sundays. Winner.

Even though it’s one of the best-known sitcom theme songs ever, what’s lesser known is that another Lear alum was behind it – Ja’net Dubois, aka Good Times’ Wilona Woods, co-wrote and sang the theme. Also, the male voice that joins her in the bridge isn’t Sherman Hemsley (although it really sounds like it could be him) but career backup singer Oren Waters.

Ja’net, who was a singer as well as actress, ran into Lear on the CBS lot one day and shared that she wanted to display her talent beyond acting. Lear partnered her with Jeff Barry to work on the aspirational Jefferson’s theme. Jeff had pop hits under his belt as part of producer Phil Spector’s stable; he wrote “River Deep - Mountain High.” He also wrote “One Day at a Time,” and later “Without Us,” Deniece Williams and Johnny Mathis’ yacht-rocky theme for Family Ties.

Dubois later told Jet magazine she pulled from her own experience once she’d “made it” with Good Times. “I moved my whole family. I bought (my mother) a house, bought her a mink coat. I did everything, retired her. I did everything I ever promised her.” And you can feel Ja’net’s testimony coming through as that moving van makes its way across the Queensboro bridge and up the East Side.

Amen

Sherman Hemsley had the good fortune of being associated with two entries in the Praise Songs of TV (I just made that up) category. Amen’s “Shine on Me” is not only a rousing bop, it’s a forreal and actual gospel song. The theme was written, produced and played by the father of modern gospel, Andraé Crouch, and sung by gospel legend Vanessa Bell Armstrong. Sister Vanessa was backed in the TV version by the choir from Crouch’s First Memorial COGIC church. She later did her own version, but it didn’t have quite the same oomph when slowed down a little and without the full voices of a choir behind her.

Sigh… Imagine a time when a sitcom about a deacon in the black church with a whole gospel theme song was a primetime network hit. Also shout out to “There’s No Place Like Home” from 227, which preceded Amen on Saturday nights.

The Cosby Show

We’re going to set everything about Bill Cosby the man aside for a minute to talk about the show and its music. Agreed? Amen.

The Cosby Show has to be in this conversation, because over the course of the show’s history, the theme song and opening sequence became a hallmark of the series’ greatness, and it’s a prime example of theme songs being deeper than just something to play over opening credits. Every season, a new adaptation of “Kiss Me,” the theme written by Cosby and Stu Gardner (who also co-wrote the themes for A Different World and Living Single), opened the show. The opening sequence featured a Huxtable family dance showcase, changing as the kids grew and the cast core cast added, and sometimes subtracted. We were as anxious for the Cosby season premiere to see the new intro as we were to see the show itself.

Season 3 is when it started getting crunk, with a little Latin action. Auntie Phylicia was gettin’ it.

In Season 4 (my least favorite), “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” mania had made its way to the Huxtable family with Bobby McPheren’s rendition and a bit of a roaring ‘20s (and for the sake of the show location, we’ll say Harlem Renaissance) feel. Elvin’s first year in the sequence, Denise’s first year out.

Season 5 was a production. Literally, it was staged like a Broadway production. By now, the show was known for exposing diasporic art and culture and the people behind it to the world whenever possible, and that was the intention here as well, on the low.

The set design was a little South Pacific-esque, and costumes had a Caribbean flair reminiscent of some Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater pieces - appropriate since the movement was choreographed by Ailey great (and Boomerang’s off the chain creative director) Geoffrey Holder. Cosby’s high school classmate James DePriest, one of the first internationally recognized African American orchestral conductors, arranged the music, played by the Oregon Symphony orchestra. It was sweeping and gorgeous and I remember it being kind of a big deal. Second season with no Denise in the credits. I think she had left Hillman and gone Africa by this point. Or something.

Season 6 is my favorite. It was a party. The entire family was getting it in to a jam session take on the theme remixed with Junior Walker and the All Stars’ “Shotgun.” Even though the opening was set in front of the Apollo marquee, this was the Motown sequence. “Shotgun,” was a massive crossover hit, produced by Berry Gordy, and featured Motown’s famed session players, the Funk Brothers on instrumentals.

Welcome back, Denise. And hi, Martin and Olivia. Theo and Vanessa were hitting. that. heaux.

Ok, actually, Season 8 is my least favorite. Least favorite season, theme song, opening sequence, all of it. Here, I think, it’s clear that the show was past its prime. This jazzmatazz intro didn’t feel super fresh or creative, and Theo was trying to hit b-boy moves, and cousin Pam clearly wasn’t comfortable, and Vanessa looked like she just got engaged to a 40-year old ninja named Dabnis, and Clair still had her coat on because she couldn’t be bothered.

But on the cultural side, it was still in theme. The mural was created by kids at Harlem’s Creative Arts Workshop, although a legal dispute over art clearances kept this visual from being used as originally intended in Season 7. On the horn is Lester Bowie, a trumpeter known for his free jazz style.

A Different World

Obviously, we were paying a visit to Hillman next. “A Different World” is one of the best theme songs of all time – for Seasons 2 through 5 (also one of the best shows of all time – for Seasons 2 through 5).

Dawn Lewis, aka Jaleesa, co-wrote the song with Stu Gardner. She was originally supposed to sing it, as well, until whoever hired her to write the song realized she was also in the cast, and whoever cast her as Jaleesa realized she also wrote the song. The collective powers that be thought Dawn singing the theme would center her too much when the show was about Lisa Bonet, so they went to Al Green. Yes, the Reverend Al Green. A version of the “Different World” theme song sung by Al Green exists out there in the world somewhere, and I now have a life mission to hear it. Producers didn’t like it, though. They decided to go with a female voice, and pegged folk and blues singer Phoebe Snow.

As the show went into its second season, producers decided to take a similar approach as The Cosby Show and flip the theme every season with different artists and styles. Then Aretha Franklin recorded her version, and that idea was dead, because why would you ever ask someone else to sing behind Aretha. Debbie Allen, who had just stepped in as the show’s executive producer (Aunt Debbie brought A Different World out of the middling fare of its first season to the strong, black and relevant show we remember it as, but that’s a different Sermon) called Auntie Re personally, and then brought her whole team from Detroit to LA on a bus (because Auntie Re wasn’t gonna fly, chile). Then, TV history was made.

“I just know that she came in and hit it,” Allen told Vulture. “It wasn’t like she had to do ten takes, that’s what I know. She just hit it. That’s what I remember and then we all kind of hung out and had food together, you know — she loved our show which is why she did it.”

I’m low key surprised Aretha agreed to do the song since her ex-husband, Glynn Turman, joined the cast in Season 2 and she’s petty like that, but she also watched a lot of television and was a fan. When most think of A Different World, they’re thinking of seasons two and beyond. That iconic montage we’ve see recreated in tribute again and again, from SportsCenter to Grown’ish Season 2 promos. Nobody references car washes and hanging out outside of….a barn, I think? Where they at a farm for the Season 1 opening sequence? (You can tell some white people put that together – no shots).

Finally, the last season of A Different World was sort of “Different World: The Next Generation,” so they went in a new direction for the theme with a very non-Boyz II Men sounding Boyz II Men (I thought it was Take 6 for the longest), but Seasons 2 through 5 still reign supreme.

Different Strokes

On to a different show about different worlds. Remember I mentioned OGs in the theme song game? One of them was Alan Thicke. Yes, Robin Thicke’s daddy was not only lovable TV dad Jason Seaver, but also a professional theme writer. Thicke penned the tracks for a couple of sitcoms, including Facts of Life (with Robin’s mama Gloria Loring on vocals), but his thing was game shows. Your grandma has Alan to thank for the “Wheel of Fortune” theme. He not only wrote but sang “Diff’rent Strokes” (sounding a little like his son), and I mean, the song is perfect. The opening, the harmony build in the second verse, the bridge, the breakdown “…and together we’ll be fine, ‘cause it takes…,” the hum at the end of the closing credits version. You can tell from this one-minute jamalam that Robin got his blue-eyed soul honestly.

Speaking of the Chappelle Show again (there’s a Chappelle reference for everything in life), Dave closes out his famous White People Can’t Dance episode (Season 2, Episode 3) with a spirited performance of “Diff’rent Strokes,” going into a “Facts of Life” vamp, backed by Questlove and John Mayer.

The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and Living Single

I’m putting these two together because they’re two of the last examples of the explanatory theme song for black prime time television.

The Quincy Jones-produced Fresh Prince theme tells us Will’s entire back story and the premise of the show – a ‘90s hip-hop answer to the Gilligan’s Island theme.

Living Single’s theme conveyed the high energy city life the four upwardly mobile friends were navigating, with emphasis from Queen Latifah’s sing-rapping about her homegirls standing on her left and her right, and the legendary dancing silhouette that is Big Lez.

Both shows, songs, and visuals have become representative of the hip hop generation’s takeover of ‘90s black television and ‘90s black culture, and both continue to hold up amazing well 25 years later.

We haven’t even touched on the soulful ‘70s themes that became hit singles, like “Welcome Back Kotter” (my joint) or “Angela” from Taxi, or sketch show theme songs like Heavy D for In Living Color (or TLC for “All That,” for y’all younger folks), or the cartoon smashes. There are gems galore to be mined, all containing shining bits of nostalgia and callbacks to a simpler time. These songs often resonate with us even more strongly than our favorite singles from the era because they were a constant for years instead of months. And thanks to networks later devoting blocks of time to classic TV reruns like Nick at Night and TV Land, many of these shows – and theme songs – have been introduced to a new generation.

We’ve focused mostly on black TV shows, but there are a few theme songs that cross cultural, generational and international boundaries. When the Golden Girls premiered in 1985, the series featured a remake of the 1978 song “Thank You for Being a Friend,” and it has lived in all our hearts ever since. So much so, that a member of the black church delegation gave the song a proper remix a couple of years ago. Let this be a reminder that great TV theme songs were not only catchy songs that stuck in our heads for decades, but also impetrated universal lessons about life, love, and friendship.

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#MusicSermon is a weekly series by Naima Cochrane that highlights the under-acknowledged and under-appreciated urban artists and sub-genres from the '90s and earlier. The series seeks to tell unknown and/or forgotten stories that connect the dots between current music, culture and the foundations of the past.

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8 Best Samples From Megan Thee Stallion, Tyler The Creator And DJ Khaled's Projects

Megan Thee Stallion, DJ Khaled and Tyler, The Creator have more in common than just a release date. The artists also know a thing or two about thoughtful sampling.

Their projects, which all happen to be some of their best efforts, find inspiration from 70s soul and deep 90s underground jams. Jackson 5, Jay-Z and Sizzla were sampled on DJ Khaled's previous release Grateful, but with Father of Asahd, the producer and proud dad jumps back into the crates. This time around, modern hits are used like Ms. Lauryn Hill's "To Zion" and Outkast's "Ms. Jackson."

Megan Thee Stallion's samples also prove her rhymes aren't the only thing fans should pay close attention to.

Check out some of our favorite samples from this week's releases below.

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Megan Thee Stallion- Fever 

1. "Hood Rat S**t"

Sample: Latarian Milton's Viral Video (2013)

Plucked from the wonderful world of viral videos, Megan uses the then 7-year-old's mischevious joy ride to accurately describe how she rolls with her crew.

2. "Pimpin"

Sample: DJ Zirk & Tha 2 Thick Family featuring 8Ball & MJG and Kilo-g  "Azz Out" (1996) 

There's something to be said about Megan's very clever samples. The chorus to the late 90s underground gem stems from southern legends like Tennesee's 8Ball and MJG along with NOLA's own Kilo-g. Megan grabs a few bars from the track and puts her own twist on them for the chorus: "Stick 'em up, stick 'em up, raise 'em up, raise 'em up Drop it off in his fucking face just to saw it off/Gotta get my a** ate, gotta make that a** shake/Gotta swipe this ni**a card so much they had to call the bank"

3. "Simon Says" featuring Juicy J 

Samples: Billy Paul, "Me And Mrs. Jones" (1972), "Looking For Tha Chewin,'" DJ Paul (Ft. 8Ball, DJ Zirk, Kilo-G, Kingpin Skinny Pimp & MJG) (1992)

Another variation of the aforementioned track is also heard on her collaboration with southern legend Juicy J. The soft intro by way of Bill Paul's "Me and Mrs. Jones" also offers a soulful touch to the track.

DJ Khaled- Father of Asahd

4. "Holy Mountian" featuring Buju Banton, Sizzla, Mavado and 070 Shake) 

Sample: "One Spliff a Day," Billy Boyo (1981) 

Boyo's legendary riddim has been used by a bevy of artists including SiR and Wiz Khalifa but Khaled's curation of the track with some of the biggest names in reggae takes it to another level. It also doesn't hurt that his longtime friend and icon Banton opens the album.

5. "Just Us" featuring SZA 

Sample: "Ms. Jackson," Outkast (2001) 

This sample definitely raises the eyebrows, but the careful loop paired with SZA's sing-rap flow makes it worth a listen.

6. "Holy Ground" featuring Buju Banton 

Samples: "To Zion," Ms. Lauryn Hill and Carlos Santana (1999) 

Grand opening, grand closing. Banton closes out the album with soul-baring lyrics and a thoughtful sample to match. Carlos Santana's chords from the original track give the song a sentimental feel along with Banton's lyrics about mass incarceration, cultural warfare and spiritual freedom.

Tyler, The Creator- IGOR

7. "A BOY IS A GUN" 

Samples: "Bound," Ponderosa Twins Plus One (1971) 

Tyler might have gotten inspiration to sample this song from Kanye West (Bound 2), but his take is smooth and subtle as he navigates through love and heartbreak.

8. "ARE WE STILL FRIENDS" featuring Pharell Williams 

Samples: "Dream," Al Green (1977) 

Underneath IGOR's tough exterior lies a gentle soul. The placement of Al Green's "Dream," on the latter end of the album takes the listener on a starry love high. Pharrell and Tyler allow the sample to act as a skeleton for the song as they point out how to keep love alive.

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John Johnson III

Megan Thee Stallion Helps DTLR Celebrate Fashion's Past, Present and Future

Fashion retailer DTLR has always curated the best of streetwear, with their latest fashion show proving the evolution is real and influential.

The fourth annual show took place in Atlanta this spring under a theme titled, "Genesis."  The event took place in Atlanta, GA, with hosts Yung Joc and DTLR's Radio's Tiara LaNiece. DTLR's Apprelle Norton, David Storey and KeJuan McGee curated the event to take their guests "on a journey through the past, present and future of fashion, featuring the latest from top leading brands such as Nike, Puma, Adidas, Levis, Champion, Reebok, Fila, Black Pyramid, New Balance, Tommy Hilfiger, Staple, Hustle Gang, Akoo, Ethika, Odd Sox, and many more."

In addition to presenting some of the hottest looks out, the event also welcomed performances from VIBE NEXT Alumna Megan Thee Stallion. Appearances from the the "Big Ol Freak" rapper was an added effort on DTLR's Vice President of Marketing, Shawn Caesar's part to make the fashion show more of an "experience."

"We wanted to add more of an 'experience' feel to the show this year," Caesar said in a press release. "[We wanted]  to encourage more engagement and interaction from our attendees, and to aid in creating more memories and reasons to stay connected to the DTLR brand long-term."

DTLR is quickly becoming a part of a class of successful upcoming brands. The brand has more than 240 stores in 19 states and Washington D.C. and it manages to combine fashion, sports, entertainment, sports, and community empowerment into one; all while providing their customers with elite footwear, apparel and accessories to match.

See photos from the event below.

 

 

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