Girls-Club-Run-Up-2019
Courtesy of Project Girls Club

D. Woods And Shanell Share Details Behind Project Girls Club: Exclusive

Comprised of D. Woods, Shanell, Mika Means and Princess of Crime Mob, the ladies are taking a grassroots approach with their eclectic girl group. 

There's power in numbers, especially when it comes to black women. YMCMB songstress Shanell, former Danity Kane star D. Woods, Princess of Crime Mob and platinum-selling songwriter Mika Means have merged their talents together to form Project Girls Club, a group that not only boasts big female energy but also a sisterhood like no other.

The ladies' first single "Run Up" is all about the girl power while playing with boastful 808s. The video does the same with the ladies turning up industrial style as their colorful personalities bursts out on every verse.

The group's origins were planted in Atlanta over a decade ago with the women acting as supportive cheerleaders as they moved in their previous groups. After moving on to solo endeavors, the ladies decided to add a music component to the group which also includes mentorship of young girls.

Speaking to VIBE Tuesday (Jan. 22), Shanell and D.Woods, the sisters of the group, shared the creative process behind the first single.

"We put the track on and each girl just went in," Shanell explained. "We kind of feed off each other and that was the vibe. We are a little different than your normal girl group. We feel like power rangers and superheroes so we have that tough exterior. We're still women so we still have a softer side but the tough side is what you might get first."

The ladies know a little something about girl groups. At the start of their careers, three of them were apart of the biggest groups in hip-hop and R&B. Shanell was the sole female vocalist in Lil Wayne's Young Money group comprised of Nicki Minaj and Drake, D. Woods was famously in the platinum-selling girl group Danity Kane while as a teenager, Princess was apart of Atlanta's Crime Mob.

The ladies plan to hit the ground running with more new music and their upcoming album this year.

Check out the rest of the interview below.

__

I love the fact that "Run Up" is a confident track as opposed to a love song. Was that a conscientious decision to make the first single more braggy than a love ballad?

D Woods: I think that is just how we are as people. We didn't really have to think about it or make any type of strategic decision of what kind of subject matter. It just came out of how we really talk in every day in conversation.

Shanell: We put the track on and each girl just went in," Shanell explained. "We kind of feed off each other and that was the vibe. We are a little different than your normal girl group. We feel like power rangers and superheroes so we have that tough exterior. We're still women so we still have a softer side but the tough side is what you might get first.

If you could label each woman as a superhero who would be what?

Shanel: I can kind of give you the personalities of each one of us. Like Minka is the party girl, myself, I am like more of like, "Here is the plan," D keeps everybody organized and on task. Princess is our hood spiritual advisor. She's gonna give us a crystal and try and throw you a shot of jack at the same time.

So how did this group come together?

Shanel: We created Project Girls Club years ago with myself D, and Mika. We were all doing shows and mobs of guys would be on stage and there wasn't enough feminine energy.

So we were like, "Let's band together and do all of our shows together. So when you have a show we are gonna come out on stage; if I have a show you're gonna come and support me," so we kind of built it like that.

Then everybody got their deal and started getting pulled away from doing stuff together so much, me signing to Young Money, D being with Danity Kane and Mika doing her solo project, it was hard for us to keep doing stuff together but now, we're wiser and we're experienced

What would you say is the biggest difference between this and other girl groups?

D Woods: For me personally, these are people that I've chosen to work with instead of being put together with that I didn't know. That's the biggest difference. Shanel of course, is my blood sister and Meeka we've known each other since high school, and Princess, we know we cross paths so many different times in the Atlanta music industry so this is like we're coming together because we want to (laughs). That's the difference between me and anyone else's group experience. I was put in a group with people I didn't know and had nothing in common with before–

Shanel: And they were pitted against each other.

D Woods: We were pitted against each other and then put into a group to act like we're all on the same page. Even during the time I was in Danity Kane, there was Project Girls Club. I wanted to include my group into that but we weren't on the same page.

This is a lot being on the same page because we want to be on the same page and seeing the benefits of being on the same page. A lot of times in groups, people are competing against each other and are pushing out one leader and everyone else has to be background singers or just the backup to that person's vision. With this group, we have a hard time explaining that because we see groups, especially those with females, it's like "Who's the leader? What's the look?"

Everyone in Project Girls Group has their own vibe and we don't make anyone else have to be on everyone else's vibe. We celebrate each other's vibe (laughs). I'm not going to make my dream be your dream. Let's figure how to coexist these dreams and push them to the next level.

Shanell: For me, being a part of Young Money it was mostly men. I had Nikki [Minaj] for a while but then she went and did her own thing. It was a lot of creative things I wanted to but there was no female energy. I felt like I was the black sheep. Everyone was super rap and I was doing rock and R&B so I just want to build a place where all of those parts of me can shine. We've all thrived, we've all seen success and we all get it. This is like a more comfortable, a better space for me to tap into every stream of talent I have.

Can you tell us anything about the upcoming album?

Shanel: That's our timeline so we have to set our set dates so that we work toward those dates the project is going to have our plan is to feature as many female artists as we can and leave enough room for us to be on the records.

Shawna reached out and was like, "I want to be a part of this." Sharaya J who was on The Four wants to be a part. We are going to feature a lot of black women in the game and some new girls and just make it a party, make it fun.

D. Woods: Right now we just see black women fighting on TV and talking about taking each other's men and bend it over, pop it open, buss it open for these real ni**as like okay well we are going to be that other thing, that fun thing.

Do you think that because all four of you have these massive hits in your catalogs already that you will revamp those to fit within the group that you are doing now?

D Woods: I mean, that's an idea. I mean we still perform some of those songs for the audience for the audience that is there that is like can we hear something from Young Money and Danity Kane and Crime Mob, like we tap in and give them a little bit of where we came from but right now my focus is in creating this new sound, this new feel, this new vibe, this new culture of women who aren't afraid of each other, who uplift each other, who congratulate each other. What we are hearing and seeing now.

Lastly, what have learned about each other and the process of Project Girls Club?

Shanel: That is a special thing. Of course, we are positive thinkers, we move positively but being that we are all from different walks of life, different experiences, just learning each other's strengths and weaknesses.

When you say women working together it's easier said than done, just people working together is easier said than done so we have to constantly know that that is what we stand for so when we are challenged.

We argue, we bicker and get upset about certain things but it's like okay so we are learning ourselves how sometimes you just gotta figure out how to make it work and understand somebody else's point of view or show them something they don't know and learn something they can teach you. There has been crying, there has been fighting there have been happy days of celebration but it's all apart of this journey.

D. Woods: I joke and say I know everything because she is my sister but you know when you are around people and have known people for as long as we have known each other you tend to generalize people because you are too close to them you can't see the trees through the forest.

In this new stage of Project Girls Club and us having come back together after we have gone out into the world and fought our own battles, we have relearned each other's passions again and then relearned each other's talents and seeing each other's hearts.

We are here to support each other's vision and execute it together so we are learning each other's hearts again and making each other's dreams come true.

Check out the video above and stream "Run Up" by Project Girls Club below.

From the Web

More on Vibe

S-Curve Records

Premiere: Leslie Odom Jr. Provides Easing Mantras On Comeback Single "Under Pressure"

There's a climatic aura surrounding Leslie Odom Jr.'s new single "Under Pressure." Blame the favorable string instruments or the singer's light falsetto. Whatever it is, fans will enjoy the ride to clarity.

Produced by Theron “Neff-U” Feemster and Joseph Abate, the Grammy-winning artist takes a slight pivot from jazz into a traditional R&B format as he sings about the perils that come with success as well as internal strife. The thoughtful single was one of the last songs completed for Odom Jr's new project.

Setting up creative shop in George Lucas' Skywalker Ranch, the album is not only an array of emotions from Odom Jr. but stories that weave together his evolution.

"Under Pressure was one of the last songs we wrote for the record," Odom Jr. tells VIBE about the creation process with executive producers Joseph Abate and Steve Greenberg. "It came together after we’d spent some hours getting to know one another and we were comfortable with each other. Once you’re comfortable you can start asking, 'Ok so, what scares you?'"

The project also warranted emotional reactions from his tribe. "I played the record for my family this past week. My mom and my sister cried. My dad broke down which songs he thought were the “hits.” [Laughs] Writing the music started in such a personal way. Feels appropriate to share it with the people closest to me before we share it with the world. I hope everyone likes it. I really do. But if for some reason “the world” didn’t, I think I could rest knowing that it touched the people who’ve known and held me up the longest."

But "Under Pressure" won't give you anxiety. Throughout the track, Odom Jr.'s voice is complimented well with orchstrated production that includes violins, cellos and deep horns. It's a refreshing feeling only Odom Jr. can deliver.

Known for his iconic time on Hamilton, the award-winning entertainer has released two jazz albums including his self-titled debut album in 2014 and an amazing Christmas album titled Simply Christmas in 2016. Both albums topped Billboard's Jazz Albums chart.

Enjoy "Under Pressure" below.

Credits

Produced by: Theron “Neff-U” Feemster and Joseph Abate Executive producers: Joseph Abate, Leslie Odom Jr. and Steve Greenberg

Violins: Bruce Dukov , Alyssa Park , Charlie Bishara, Jessive Guidero, Lucia Micarelli, Phil Levy, Tammy Hatwan, Sara Parks Violas: Zach Dellinger, Shawn Mann Cello: Jake Braun Horns: Dylan Hart, Steve Becknell, Rob Schaer , Jonah Levy, Steve Suminski, Steve Holtman, Woodwinds: Heather Clark, Julie Burket, Lara Wickes, Stuart Clark, Don Foster, Dan Higgins Background Vocals: Suzanne Waters Orchestrations by: Bill Elliott, Gordon Goodwin

Continue Reading
Courtesy of RCA

Premiere: Next Town Down And 6LACK Make Love Look "Easy" In New Visual

Love looks pretty good on Next Town Down. The R&B group does the dance and then some in their new visuals for "Easy" with 6LACK.

The visuals are simple and sweet as the guys' court their partners with adoring compliments. Comprised of Leon, Malik, Terence, Tre'Von and Chris, the guys met on social media after sharing interests in legends like Boyz II Men and Chris Brown. From there, magic happened on the music and with fans via apps like Musical.ly and YouTube. "Easy" proves this as each vocalist is given their time to shine while flashing their unique style of pop-like R&B.

In a statement to VIBE, Next Town Down gushed about their major-label debut and working with Grammy-nominated crooner 6LACK. “It was insane to work with 6LACK on our first major-label release. We look up to him and his artistry and he really took the record to another level,” they said. The guys signed a deal at RCA, home to other popular acts like Childish Gambino, SZA, Zayn Malik, Miguel and Usher.

“It is our dream to sign at RCA, the home of R&B and of truly legendary artists like Chris Brown and Usher who made us all dream of pursuing careers in music," they said. "We are grateful to the entire RCA team for this enormous opportunity to be a once in a generation R&B group.”

Their "Evolution of Boybands" video helped boost their image with over 20 million views. In addition to big co-signs from "boy band" legends like Ricky Bell, Donnie Wahlberg, and *NSYNC, they're working hard to make their own lane.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

jus about ready to take over the damn world

A post shared by NTD (@nexttowndown) on Aug 7, 2019 at 4:34pm PDT

Enjoy the visuals for "Easy" below.

Continue Reading

Premiere: Josh Dean's "Funny Valentine" And Debut EP Is The Vocal Hug We Needed

There's more than a few powerful nayhoos behind Josh Dean. The singer-songwriter has a vibrancy about him that instantaneously puts anyone that is touched by him in a good mood. It's what pulled him into Janelle Monae's Wondaland orbit and a spot on Hitco's roster. It's also what makes his latest single, "Funny Valentine" so lovable.

The visuals for "Funny Valentine" are just as nostalgic as his interpolation (Sixpence None The Richer). Shot in black and white, Dean is all alone as he sings about the wonders of a cautious love. It's almost insane to think Dean's strong vocals weren't heard until he accidentally left his vocals on an early recording of Jidenna's "Classic Man."

Dean, who was interning for Monae's Wonderland as a graphic designer, was given a slot on the label's roster as well as an opportunity to record his debut EP Dear BlackSheepe. Some might call it fate or mere coincidence but for Dean, this feels like destiny.

"When I first got to Wondaland as an intern, I was having a conversation with Mikael [Janelle’s manager] he was like, 'People change once they get fame or famous.'" he tells VIBE. "I never want to change. I do want to be smarter, more of a seasoned singer, I want my connection with people to be stronger now than it is. In terms of who I am and the things that have shaped me, my foundation, I don’t want those things to change. I’m happy to be where I’m from, I’m happy to have been raised on a farm, I don’t think I would be the same person without it. I don’t want to step into this next phase of my life and feel like I couldn’t be myself."

The Alabama native is a clear student of music. Thanks to his grandmother, Dean started at an early age. He was taught the importance of melodies in the church and continued to explore music in school. But shortly after his mother's death, Dean moved to Florida with his father where he enjoyed the thrills of graphic design. That passion would lead him to attend Morehouse College in Atlanta to study Marketing and Computer Science. The power of graphic design also led him to an internship at Doppler Studios for Grammy-Award winning producer and songwriter, Bryan Michael Cox.

“I went one day and I sat in on this session they were working on, and I was amused by everything that I saw,” he said. By the end of the internship, Dean's passions began to intertwine. “It reignited my pursuit of music again, it gave me more of a reason and hunger to not only be in [that environment] but I was sharing my gift at the time in order to be there.”

Dear BlackSheepe showcases this with an appreciation for pop-R&B and funk sounds, specifically on fan-favorite track "DropDead." Like his influences (Prince, Michael Jackson) the singer has found a way to use upbeat grooves to heal painful memories.

"'DropDead' came from a sad place," he said. "My uncle passed away before I recorded that song. I was afraid because the song doesn’t necessarily sound like that. [My family] all thought he was doing really great, but what we didn’t know and what he didn’t tell us, was [that he] was suffering from an illness. And one day he literally drops dead and my whole family was shocked by it."

It's hard to ignore the Jackson influence but it's also easy to see Dean's vision. The singer isn't trying to emulate anyone other than himself.

"For so long in my life, I shied away from really just singing or having this connection with myself," Dead admitted. "When I got to Wondaland I wanted to step outside of that box. The whole idea of Dear BlackSheepe is that. It's a journey piece for me. Dear BlackSheepe is like, ‘Yeah we’re all different but we’re all alike and there are these things inside of us.'"

With his talents blending, he's keen on how his music videos like "Funny Valentine" and "DropDead" will be perceived. Artsy but not overly provocative, his visuals prove just how much Dean is aware of his artistry.

"The video shoot for "DropDead" was also a release for me too because I had never performed like that," he said. "I do it in front of my mirror all the time but it’s different once you’re performing in front of a camera. I learned so much that day about myself, about what I want to see on future sets of my music videos."

It may be early in his career, but Dean is checking off many moments off his bucket list. This includes opening up for boss lady Janelle Monae later this month in New York.

"I’m just really grateful because I think back to four or five years ago, I was sleeping on Janelle’s couch in her studio," he said.  "When I stepped through the doors of Wondaland, I had no idea that five years from now I would be opening up for her. It’s amazing to see how so much growth has happened in that bit of time. It all went by so fast, time flew by. She’s my big sister and I’ve learned so much from her style of performance [just by] sitting on the side of the stage. I’m really excited to take a lot of what I’ve learned and put it on the big stage. This will be one of my biggest shows to date. I’m excited. I’m looking forward to it. I’m a little nervous, but the nervousness I think is a good thing."

Josh Dean is still evolving, he’s still growing. He's also a gem that can shine in today R&B space.

Stream DearBlackSheepe here.

Continue Reading

Top Stories