Vinyl Me Please
VIBE/ Stacy-Ann Ellis

In A Digital World, Vinyl Me, Please Is Reviving The Lost Art Of The Record Collection

VIBE spoke to the guys behind Vinyl, Me Please to discuss their grassroots success and why they are the "Best Damn Record Club Out There."

There are many traits we get from our parents. Their eye color, their wit, the charming dimple planted on the side of their cheek that instantly makes their smile feel warmer. But aside from genes, if there's one gift we'd all be obliged to put respeck (word to Birdman) on, it's certainly music — the harmonious vocal and instrumental combination that evokes the most beautiful form of self-expression.

For many, their musical taste is a direct reflection of their parents. And for those old enough to remember, it all started with vinyls, the grandfather of CDs, and a record player. However, that was then and this is now. The times of carefully grasping the sides of the record with steady fingertips, operating the tonearm and needle with the sharpest precision, and slipping into a state of musical bliss without the option of fast forward has faded into history books territory. Nevertheless, the lost art is having a undeniable resurgence. From the lifestyle section of your local Urban Outfitters to your favorite artists' merchandise store, the growing demand for vinyls is being delivered at a fascinating rate. Another exciting presence in the market being Vinyl, Me Please, an independent record club that delivers record junkies the nostalgic dose of polyvinyl chloride they've been waiting for.

"Growing up during the Napster generation, if you will, I’ve always longed for a tangible connection to something. So, Vinyl really fosters that experience better than anything," says Vinyl, Me Please founder Matt Fielder. But instead of choosing what you'd like to spin on your turntables, the musically-inclined staff chooses an exclusive vinyl each month to send its customers, giving each the thumbs up as an essential to any record collection.

VIBE spoke to the guys behind Vinyl, Me Please to discuss their grassroots success, the importance of bringing vinyl back to the forefront, and why exactly they are the "Best Damn Record Club Out There."

So, of all things, why vinyl?
Matt Fiedler: The reason we started Vinyl Me, Please was to create an experience around music. Our mission is to help people explore, experience, and enjoy music on a deeper level, using vinyl as the medium. There's a nostalgic tangible nature that has a forced intentionality around it that actually makes for the best listening experience. It’s a unique discovery experience, too, because you’re not being served up something by an outlet or being able to click around and all that stuff. You have to sit with it and be with it and get through it.

Do you remember your first experience with vinyl? 
Matt: My dad amassed this huge record collection, and ironically enough, he bought one of the first commercially available CD burners. It's the pre-industrial looking recording equipment where you mount it into the wall. He used to have me take records by one and burn them onto CDs and then put them onto the computer so he could listen to them on his iPod. He'd pay me a dollar a record or something like that. You couldn’t fast-forward, so I would have to sit and listen to all of these records to ensure that the sound was transferring properly. So that was my first interaction with vinyl, and weirdly it was at a pretty young age. So when I came back around, I was already pretty familiar with the components and how it all works.
Severan Johnson: I had an older buddy in the neighborhood who was three years older than me, and I stole his Too Live Crew, As Nasty As You Want To Be. I hid in my closet and put it on my first cassette player when I was 12. I never heard anything like it. My dad had a turntable and every Sunday he cooked waffles in his underwear with music blasting. Now that I think of it is was really weird [laughs]. But I got his turntable and I tried to scratch because I heard all these cool sounds. It was this nice turntable, too. I ended up getting an a** whooping man. It wasn’t scratching turntables either. So yeah, my introduction to vinyl, trying to scratch Too Live Crew and getting an a** whooping.

Lots of times, when people look back at their favorite albums, if they really think about when they first connected with it, it’s often not the album that they would’ve picked. —Cameron Schaefer

How did you guys formulate your idea of an updated vinyl experience into a thriving business?
Matt: It all started when Tyler, my co-founder and then roommate, really wanted to get into vinyl after my dad gifted me turntables for Christmas. There were tons of records that we loved and wanted to own, but me personally, I have severe purchasing anxiety. When I walk into a record store I want them all and can never pick one.  So we thought it would be cool to create a record club that was for the new generation. We decided to focus on one album each month: something that's sort of a diamond in the rough, something that flows from start to finish, and something that's really great and probably undiscovered, that everyone will get it, and then build from there. We didn’t take any funding or financing. It was literally something we put up on Facebook, saying, 'Hey we’re going to try this and if you’re interested, put in your email address and we’ll let you know when we’re ready to launch.' In January 2013, we launched with just twelve members in our first month. Our main focus was creating product that was cool and exciting enough for those people to tell their friends. By the end of that first year, we grew to about 300 members. However, the whole concept shifted soon after doing one-on-one consulting. What we realized is that we were calling people and saying, 'What do you want to listen to? What do you want on this playlist? What should we curate for you?' And they were like 'I trust your taste, so just give me something that you think I should be listening or what you’re listening to or something new cool.' That was a light bulb moment for us because we were realized we could be curators and tastemakers.

What's the process of picking the record of the month like?
Cameron Schaefer: I lead that process. Ultimately, every single record is a team decision that we all listen to multiple times and debate vigorously until we decide.
Severan: Sometimes blood is shed [laughs].
Cameron: Yeah, but we first approach it by dividing up the calendar year and just saying we know we want four to five major reissues; three, maybe four new releases from smaller artists to have that element of discovery. Then, we fill the rest with what I like to call undiscovered gems – albums that maybe came out a few years ago and were great, but for whatever reason, we feel like didn’t get the attention they deserved. After I identify a few potential albums that could be our featured record, then I’ll bring it the team. We’ll all listen normally three or four times, each album. We kind of have development over time, our internal score card, the different elements that we kind of judge to think that this would be a great release for our members: a coherent narrative and something that was intentionally put together to tell a story and isn’t just some singles that’s sporadically thrown in with some filler. And above all else it has to be a great album from start to finish. So, everyone gives the records intentional listens and scores them. We’ll put it all together and see where things line up. Generally, we get down to two albums and then the debate begins, which is a lot of fun.

Would Metro Boomin’ trust would your scorecards?
Severan: I hope. I would love to do something with Metro Boomin’ [laughs]. But like Matt said earlier, we're all about the music at the end of the day. So I think there’s a level of respect in the industry when people see that and in return they trust us.

The idea of a vinyl club is nothing novel, so what separates Vinyl Me, Please from others in the market place? 
Matt: What separates us is our core values as a company, which are humanity, humility, and authenticity. We’re real people and real music fans, and we’re incredibly passionate about what we do. It starts with the music and ends with music. It’s not about being the cool startup or any of that other bullsh*t, which is very obvious in our product. The curation element is key because most of the industry has tried to move into a space where they look at your tastes and try to give you recommendations based on data, whether that’s what you’ve been listening to on Spotify or what you like on Facebook. We're different. It's not that we ignore those things; we’re totally aware of them. But we recognize that there’s lots of great music discovery that happens through serendipity and a bit of randomness.
Cameron: Lots of times, when people look back at their favorite albums, if they really think about when they first connected with it, it’s often not the album that they would’ve picked.

via member @laneydfisher #vinylme #torres #vinyl #newmusic

A photo posted by Vinyl Me, Please (@vinylmeplease) on

There's also the really cool element of artist involvement in your membership, too. 
Matt: Yeah, it’s always better for us if the artist can be involved in the creative process around creating the package. It just feels way more personal and way better because it feels like it’s coming from the artist rather than just us and the label putting our heads together. We like for them to be involved in many ways whether we want to look at maybe changing up the album artwork. Or do we want to do a new lyric booklet and have them write a foreword or a personal note to members.
Cameron: Before I started working with Vinyl, Me Please, I was actually a pilot in the Air Force. On the side I had a music blog that I was writing with a friend they got wind of. Originally it was called Vinyl and Cocktails; we would just listen to albums, make a drink, and then write about it for fun. Matt and Tyler came to me saying they'd love to have a cocktail pairing component to the monthly package that compliments and the listening experience. So, that's also another major feature we offer our customers.

You guys are based out of Colorado. What's the appeal of the city since it's not really a music hub per se?
Matt: The day before my wife and I were to get married, I got a job offer in Colorado. At that point, Vinyl Me, Please was pretty small at that point, so we took this job and sort of just moved the fulfillment to our apartment in Colorado. We weren’t like that’s where we build this business. It just all came together for us in the same way we talk about the serendipitous music discovery, it was a serendipitous experience for us.
Severan: There was actually a discussion of whether we should be in Los Angeles or New York. We actually found a lot of benefit by staying in Colorado because we were separated from the scenes. We're outside of the vortex, so much to the point that we don't get caught up in the hype.
Matt: Right. It's like having a pretty unbiased opinion because we’re not being forced in a certain direction by anybody. So you know, I think it’s something that’s special and we’ve always been very cognizant of preserving so even when we hire people, it’s like this is what we’re hear for and this is what we’re about, do you fit into that kind of culture and that mantra.

Are there any future plans for expansion?
Matt: For us it all comes down to iterating the membership, iterating the features of the membership, and making it better to be a member. We just introduced a new feature called Swaps, which for three, six, or 12-month members you have the ability to swap a featured record for something else. So if there’s a title that you’re really not interested in or you already have a copy, or issue it gives flexibility to the member and encourages that we're not being a**holes just telling you, you need to take this record. Our member store is growing tremendously, too, so we’re continuing to focus on that by adding more titles. We’ve somewhat recently started doing limited edition of 750 to 1,000 copy runs of other records. So there's unique, limited edition records like Young Thug's Barter 6 and Future's DS2 that we put in the store that are exclusive to members only.

Lastly, what are you guys' top three albums of the year so far?
Severan: Radiohead's A Moon Shaped Pool and Car Seat Headrest's Teens Of Denial. Young Thug's Slime Season 3 was f***ing brilliant, too.
Cameron: I would say the new Car Seat Headrest as well. I really like the new Marissa Nadler album, Strangers. And then I would probably say Parquet Courts' Human Experiences.
Matt: I love the new Sturgill Simpson record. Anderson .Paak’s Malibu is amazing. We saw him at South By South West and was mind blown. Kendrick Lamar's, untitled, unmastered, I really dig that too.

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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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