1/11/11 at 11:11am and 10 sec?!

Posted by The Zodiac | Blog | Wednesday 12 January 2011 1:09 am

Dammit!! I was off by one damn second. Stupid flash on the damn phone!

Aw, Hell NAW!!

Posted by The Zodiac | Uncategorized | Tuesday 11 January 2011 11:10 pm

www.ZODIACUNIVERSITY.com – Sign Up/Testing

Posted by The Zodiac | Blog | Monday 10 January 2011 5:34 pm

Zodiac University is practically done.¬¨‚Ć I’m just testing it out but would like for people to sign up for it.¬¨‚Ć I’m trying to get a database of underground artists, creative people, singers, etc. to join up so collaborations and other such things could be accomplished.¬¨‚Ć If I need a producer, I’ll go to Zodiac University.¬¨‚Ć If you need a featured rapper, you can go to Zodiac University.¬¨‚Ć I just need a few sign-ups to test it out.

If you’re interested, visit http://www.zodiacuniversity.com and the controls are up top under the “Zodi U” drop-down menu.¬¨‚Ć Anyone can join, not just artists!¬¨‚Ć Pass the word along so we can have our own community!¬¨‚Ć Thanks.

My Influence: Bill Withers

Posted by The Zodiac | Uncategorized | Monday 10 January 2011 9:54 am

It’s funny to think so long ago when I started rhyming in 1987 who my influences were at that time.¬¨‚Ć Of course you had Run-DMC, LL Cool J and Kurtis Blow.¬¨‚Ć Eventually, my list grew to Kool G. Rap, Rakim, Big Daddy Kane, Ice-T, and Scarface.¬¨‚Ć But it wasn’t till a little later, when I was in college, when I was influenced by another musician.

I remember being home for a college break and my sister had a cassette tape of Bill Withers Greatest Hits.¬¨‚Ć It was pale with a plate and a rose on the cover.¬¨‚Ć Very non-descript.¬¨‚Ć At that time, I had been enhancing my rhymes and developing a bit of a deeper sense of the poetry behind the rhymes.¬¨‚Ć My vocals were still monotone compared to today and could’ve used some attitude but I was still in a writing phase and just getting to be known as a rapper in college.¬¨‚Ć No one really knew I could spit back then until I discovered others who could.

Well, I popped in this cassette because it had the song, “Lovely Day” on it and I remember hearing Vanessa Williams’ version and loving it so I wanted to see if the original had anything on it.¬¨‚Ć And damn!¬¨‚Ć Did it?!!¬¨‚Ć This Bill dude could flow!¬¨‚Ć His voice was all smooth and had an emotional touch to it that had you bobbing your head and actually FEELING what he had to say.¬¨‚Ć I never really got emotion out of music before but listening to “Lovely Day” had me open.¬¨‚Ć So,¬¨‚Ć noticed some other songs he had on this cassette:

“Ain’t No Sunshine”, “Just the Two of Us”, “Lean On Me”, …¬¨‚Ć I was saying to myself “Damn!”¬¨‚Ć This guy had all of these classic songs and I never even knew his name!¬¨‚Ć Then I saw a song on there called “Grandma’s Hands”.¬¨‚Ć I popped that in and played it.¬¨‚Ć From the first strums, you recognize the sample from Blackstreet’s “No Diggedy” but once Bill lets that ride and says the first two words, “Grandma’s Hands”, he did something I was immediately influenced.¬¨‚Ć See, I remember hearing this song as a kid sitting in the front seat of my dad’s station wagon back in the day.¬¨‚Ć I was probably around 10 years old and we were headed to the barbershop in Montclair.¬¨‚Ć From the first words, my dad hums and turns it up a bit.

That moment was etched in my head the second I heard the song again probably a decade later.¬¨‚Ć NOW I knew who it was!¬¨‚Ć But that wasn’t it…Bill did something in his music that I strive to do in mine:¬¨‚Ć Bill Withers can pick an instance in time and write a song about it.¬¨‚Ć Not so much a storyline…he picks an instant and elaborates on it involving emotion and feeling with a soulful sound.¬¨‚Ć Think about it in this context:

Bill Withers: “Ain’t No Sunshine when she’s gone / Only darkness everyday”
Zodiac Translation: “She went to the store and Bill misses her already”

Bill Withers: “Lean On Me if you’re not strong / And I’ll be your friend, I’ll help you carry on”
Zodiac Translation: “You’re struggling right now and I’ll help you”

Bill Withers: “Grandma’s hands clapped in church on Sunday morning”
Zodiac Translation: “Dude made an entire soulful song about his grandmother’s hands!!!”

Bill Withers: “Who is he and what is he to you?”
Zodiac Translation: “Ok…I see that stare in your eye and his too..what’s up?”

It goes on… “Sweet Wanomi” is a song about a woman relaxing in his arms.¬¨‚Ć The whole song!!¬¨‚Ć “Lovely Day”…it’s a lovely day!¬¨‚Ć Today’s artists don’t choose a moment in time and just sing/rhyme about it.¬¨‚Ć What Bill does is incredible.¬¨‚Ć It’s as if someone took a photo and Bill would stare at the photo and make a 3 minute song about it.

Since that cassette tape, I’ve attempted to create songs that merge that type of feeling in it.¬¨‚Ć It’s harder as a rapper than it is as a blue’s singer because I have a minimum 32 bars and hook mixed in but that emotional part of it and to connect with an audience based on an instance is still a goal I use in certain songs.

“10 Seconds” feat. Manchild
“Second Universe”
“The Calm After The Storm” feat. Manchild
“Don’t Put Me In The Ground”
“Increase & Release”

…and more…

So, peace to Bill Withers: one of my influences.

New Collab Plans

Posted by The Zodiac | Blog | Thursday 6 January 2011 12:02 pm

The Zodiac hip hopAight…so, I’m thinking of a new collab. Remember back in the days, you had “Posse cuts” where a whole bunch of your favorite rappers jumped on one track and spit hard lyrics? Remember “The Symphony” or “The Scenario”? Remember “The Grand Finale” or “Bring It On”? What happened to those? Sure, you have “Monster” but that was something to be desired and didn’t really hit as hard as I think it could’ve been. I like the gritty stuff that wasn’t as much a single or today’s ringtone music always has to be. Nah…I want a posse cut from the 80’s and 90’s style that proved that each rapper could hold his/her own on the mic with their peers.

So, my idea is to have one of those. I want a bunch of rappers to spit on a track and submit their lyrics. I’ll provide the track (unless I find a producer who can produce a hard-hitting track with some change-ups, good melody, and hip-hop flavor). But the kicker is this:

I also want to shoot a video for it. I’ll let you know how that will happen later. For now, anyone who is interested should say that way…I’ll reach out to you. If it’s a hit, then I’ll do a part two with a new set of cats. For now, let’s see what we can do with the first one. Trust me…2011 will be The Year of The Zodiac. Ha!