Monday, July 30, 2012

"5 Questions" With XXL Senior Online Editor, Jaeki Cho

I had the opportunity to interview Jaeki Cho (, Senior Online Editor for XXL. Check out what this creative, hip-hop enthusiast had to say about online marketing, viral videos and more! 
1. What tips would you give indie and emerging hip-hop artists for launching and executing a strong online marketing strategy? Be realistic. Assess your manpower and budget. Hiring a publicist can work, sometimes. But you’re not the only one with a publicist. Editors and writers are pitched with a new artist every other day.  Over exposing your brand via social network, whether it is YouTube or Twitter, can definitely earn yourself a fan base. Your music can be awful, but you can still earn a fan base. But then the question is, “Are you trying to be a musician or an Internet celebrity?” If you’re trying to be a great hip-hop musician, just make great music. Make sure your visuals (videos and photos) are correct; make sure you keep in touch with the fans; but most importantly, make sure your music’s on point. 
2. In your opinion, what are some components for an effective viral marketing video?  Personally, a video with very stereotypical elements is boring. Nice cars, beautiful women, slow-motion footage, and grilling faces are great. But why would I watch your low-budget effort when I can watch something with much greater quality released by a major label. What’s really effective is coming up with something completely unique, hilarious, or visually captivating. If you can’t stunt, then use your brain to fulfill that missing void. Or, you can just rap really well. It's simple mathematics.
3. From your observations, who are some indie and emerging hip-hop artists who are or have done an excellent job with online marketing? TDE and Black Hippy, before their deal with Interscope, have definitely put out some outstanding visuals and music that went well with their online marketing. I’m personally impressed by acts like Dumbfoundead, who’s been able to garner a very strong following via YouTube. He was able to create a persona that’s getting more recognition than his music.
4. What are some factors that XXL considers when selecting the “Freshman Class”? I’m not speaking on behalf of my company. Personally, I just think an artist has to be nice, needs to have a buzz, and hints signs of a promising future. Now, there are many artists that don’t shine until later down in their career, and many artists with merely a hot spark. Nobody knows what’s going to happen. But if you’re nice, you’ll get recognized somehow, someway.
5. Besides Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and etc., what are some other social media/ online outlets that indie and emerging hip-hop artists should be utilizing to promote their music and brand?  Soundcloud,Tumblr, Instagram, Wordpress etc. If you’re trying to develop a persona, show the people a side of you that doesn’t just involve your music. But once again, if your music sucks, we don’t believe you (you need more people).
*Who are some of your favorite indie and upcoming hip-hop artists? Personally, I am a fan of Rekstizzy. I’m also a fan of Big Baby Gandhi, Alexander Spit, and T-Shirt. Indie guys with various daytime activities that are putting out great music and great packaging.

Thanks Jaeki!

Monday, July 16, 2012

"Mixtape Review" Luke Christopher "Tmrw, Tmrw"

A lot of times when you hear talk about a person with star quality you may hear the term “It Factor”; that indescribable something that is a huge component in the making of a star. Well, I’d like to introduce you to 19 year old, LA-based Luke Christopher, a guy that definitely has the “It Factor”. While listening to his mixtape, “Tmrw, Tmrw”, I was pretty engaged after the second track. If there was one word to describe Christopher’s music, it would be multi-dimensional. He is the definition of a modern day hip-hop artist. He raps of his truth through humor and wit. He doesn’t sell dope and he doesn’t buy out the bar in VIP. He is someone trying to understand the world and make his dreams come true while navigating through love and relationships, and working to define himself as the man he aims to be. That is what you hear in his music. Impressively, he produced most of the songs on his mixtape. He has a very organic ear for sampling, as shown in the song “On Fire”. You never get bored with the sound because each track is totally different while possessing enough common ground to tie the project together. “Tmrw, Tmrw” features a dope guest appearance from hip-hop legend Common. Additionally, Luke Christopher showcases his vocal talents on “Tmrw, Tmrw”.  His voice has a tone similar to Frank Ocean with a hint of soul that mimics a John Legend/Musiq Soulchild hybrid. It’s very exciting to see someone this young with so much talent and promise. Keep an eye out for Luke Christopher.

Monday, July 9, 2012

"Mixtape Review" Tribal Council "Reacquainted"

To be honest, when I first decided to review the group, Tribal Council’s mixtape "Reacquainted" I was skeptical. Because I wasn’t able to find much info on the group, I was expecting to hear something very amateur. However, I am pleased to say that Tribal Council is anything but. Tribal Council is so awesome in fact, that while listening to the project I was wondering why I had never heard of them before. On the very first track, “The Council”, TC’s emcees, B-Dot and InfoSlim, come out lyrically swinging. Alongside the other members, P_FrmDaTribe, Roc, Terence.E and Bob_frmthetribe, they take turns throughout the mixtape showing off their skills. The songs have a laid back vibe and an ease to them. The beats often have an old school hip hop feel that will have you bobbing your head from one track to the next. It easy to tell by listening to the group that they are all very comfortable and confident in their skills and thus don’t have to try too hard to make the music work. I am very excited to see how Tribal Council progresses from here. There is definitely a spot for them at the top.

Twitter (Individual group members):                                                                                       
@P_FrmDaTribe, @Bob_FrmTheTribe, @SheIsBDot (B-Dot), @DreamHrdTribe19 (Terence.E), @InfoSlim_HRD (Info Slim), @RockyFrmDaTribe (Roc)
The Council” Video:                                                                                               

Monday, July 2, 2012

How Odd Future Has Reached Commercial Success While Maintaining Independence

Many people first encountered Odd Future at the 2011 MTV Video Music Awards when Tyler the Creator took home the “Best New Artist” Award. Viewers watched as a group of rowdy teens took over the stage, while Tyler delivered a memorable speech that was so filled with profanities those at home could barely decipher. It left many asking who are these guys? Since then Odd Future's buzz has continually increased and they have accumulated a cult-like following.  Odd Future has perfected the art of lifestyle branding. Effectively utilizing social media and merchandising they cornered their niche market by connecting with fans and giving them the opportunity to feel as though they are apart of the Odd Future lifestyle. To date, they have released a compilation album, Odd Future Volume 2-  which peaked at  #5 on the Billboard 200 charts, performed to sold-out shows, developed a television show for Adult Swim, and haved received industry nods from major artists such as, Pharrell Williams, Kanye West and Lil Wayne. So how is it that Odd Future has achieved commercial success without a major label backing them and radioplay? Let's examine some of the factors.

The majority of Odd Future's buzz has been generated via music blogs and their own social media presence. The group is constantly updating their Twitter, group and personal Tumblrs, YouTube channel and website. There almost 24-hour like usage of social media gives fans a glance into their lives and mindsets; making them relatable, and when fans feel that they can relate to artists they are more apt to support their endeavors. Odd Future brings in a very respectable amount of revenue with their merchandise. What started as silly t-shirts and Free Earl hoodies has turned into a thriving self-made and self-contained brand, which is now expanding to jeans, jackets and skateboards. They currently have an online store, a shop in Los Angeles and subsequent pop-up shops in each city that they tour in. Independent artists can learn many lessons from their journey, which include finding your niche market and catering to them rather than the masses. Check out there latest video “Sam is Dead” below:


Odd Future Website:
Odd Future Tumblr:
Odd Future Youtube: