When the documentary-styled crime drama Snow On Tha Bluff was released last year, viewers received a vivid account of what it’s like to walk in the shoes of Curtis Snow, a west Atlanta street hustler and robber.
What’s real and what’s fake is difficult to decipher in the film, making it enthralling to some viewers and bothersome to others. Some hearts were touched, some tempters were ignited, but, if nothing else, a conversation was created about the occurrences going on within the Bluff, a notorious neighborhood minutes from Atlanta's Georgia Dome.
For more than an hour, a stolen video camera captures several capers and drug transactions committed by Snow and his comrades in the film. The karma that comes as a result of the dealings is unfortunate but not a surprise to those familiar with the street lifestyle.
Although the film is based in Atlanta, it’s a candid depiction of the struggles that are prevalent in many underprivileged communities across the globe. And Snow is just one example of the countless souls plagued with the trials and temptations that come with residing in an impoverished community.
Taking a momentary step away from film, Snow is trying his hand at the literary realm with his book "My Name Is Curtis Snow And I’m A G." An autobiography of his life, primarily over the last few years, Snow discloses some of the trials he’s overcome to readers in a raw but sincere fashion.
Despite experimenting with literature, Snow still has a strong passion for film. He's currently prepping the release of Snow On Tha Bluff 2. He's also collaborating with DGK Clothing to release a line of t-shirts and skateboards.
Snow talked to me about his new book, how his life has changed since the release of Snow On Tha Bluff, the film's upcoming sequel, if he’s worried about negatively affecting the youth, and much more.
To check out the interview click here
The fascination that artist, producer and actor David Banner holds for superheroes has spilled over into his new mini web series, “Walking with Gods.”
Time travel, African mythology, spirituality, and supernatural abilities are all incorporated into the web series, which is centered on the character, Aket Heru (played by Banner). The son of a celestial king, Aket is betrayed by his envious brother, Liel, and subsequently cursed by an evil spirit known as Setus. The curse erases Aket’s memory and he becomes oblivious to his God-like abilities. Setus also destroys Aket’s family in the process, but spares his life merely for amusement and torment.
Due to his amnesia, Aket embraces a new name: Alex Light. Throughout the series, he's plagued with the burden of breaking the curse put on him by Setus and restoring his true identity and supernatural powers.
“Walking with Gods” is funded through Banner’s 2m1 (two million people with one purpose) Movement, a fundraising initiative that gives back to local communities and artists around the country.
David Banner talked about what inspired “Walking with Gods,” his future plans for the web series, recently starring in the multi-million-dollar grossing film "The Butler," and his 2m1 movement.
What inspired you to start this mini web series?
I’ve always been enthralled with superheroes and the ability to be something else. And through this journey, I realized that we actually are something else. We have the ability, but we don’t study or we don’t eat right or we don’t place our bodies or our minds in the right situation to be able to capitalize off that. So, all of that stuff came together and I decided that I was going to make my own [superhero].
How long has “Walking with Gods” been in the making?
It’s been about four years actually. This started off with me and 9th Wonder’s album, Death of a Popstar. I created the character. 9th wonder also had a character. We were going to do a graphic novel cartoon. Things didn’t go the way that we thought they were going to go as far as with the major label. [We were] depending on somebody else to believe in the vision and they never did. I ended up continuing it.
Out of all the approaches you could have taken with this series, why did you choose to theme it around a superhero?
One, because that’s what I like. You have to go with things that you’re passionate about. If nothing else, even though I know this is going to be amazingly big, I always wanted to be a superhero. I go to casting calls and all this kind of stuff, and hope that people see. I workout every day hoping that somebody will believe that I’m a superhero, or that I can be that in their movies. And then I realized, ‘no,’ I have to believe first.
I’ve always been passionate about space and time and traveling. It hurts me that every time you see a black man on TV for the most part, you see him doing the same things over and over. They keep us on earth. They keep us in the hood. Why stay in people’s boxes? Why continue being somebody’s jester, when you can be the king of the universe? Why kill a whole bunch of folks when you can heal?
Will "Walking with Gods" continue to be an online series, or do you have plans of expanding it?
It’s not specifically for anything. It’s whatever God allows it to be. I have plans of it being a full-fledge movie. A full-fledge television show. I plan on going all the way with it. And the thing that I want people to understand is this is so much bigger than just one person or one character. That’s why I called it “Walking with Gods” with an “s”.
The main character’s kryptonite, as some would say, would be him not believing in himself—him having the full potential. If you take away from it from a religious aspect, think about how many people limit themselves. God has blessed us with everything we need internally, we just have to go and find. We search so much for answers outside of ourselves [but] God has equipped us with everything that we need.
You recently starred in "The Butler," which has been a blockbuster in theaters, grossing more than $100 million. How was that experience for you?
That’s one of the biggest five minutes of my life. It has really been changing the scope of my life. The people that have been calling. The things that people have been saying. And it’s fun, because I’m starting to get noticed for that more than anything right now. I mean people of all races and all colors all over the world are like, ‘hey, that’s the dude from The Butler.’ And that’s really cool. I don’t have a problem with that.
Could you briefly touch on the 2m1 movement?
The purpose of the whole movement is really to just show people that we need to control our own images—both good and bad. If we want better TV, we have to make better TV shows. If we want better music, we have to provide for ourselves and create opportunities and situations for ourselves. 2m1 is about us controlling ourselves and our money, images, and music. If people want to do it, they can hit me up at davidbanner.com and be a part of the movement.
Hailing from the east side of Memphis, 20-year-old Xavier Wulf (formerly known as Ethelwulf) is a man of many aliases and styles. When he emerged on the scene with his debut mixtape in 2012, The Wolf Gang's Rodolphe, his delivery was reminiscent to vintage Three 6 Mafia and Bone Thugs-n-Harmony. But over the course of this year, he’s embraced a more melodic and nonchalant flow that is less dark and dated.
Xavier Wulf (also known as The Black Blood Alpha, Wulf the 14th Squad Captain, The Frozen Fang, and many more monikers) gained notoriety as part of the Raider Klan, an underground rap collective founded by Miami artist SpaceGhostPurrp. He left the group this summer due to creative differences and decided to establish his own musical blueprint. This is evident on his latest body of work, Sitting Wulf, a seven-song EP that’s relatively different from some of his earlier releases as a member of Raider Klan.
Although he's in the early stages of his career, he’s already performing paid gigs in places like California and San Antonio and has even been sought out by major labels such as Interscope Records, an entity that snagged fellow East Memphis representative, Don Trip, in 2011.
Xavier Wulf talked about how he got into rapping, what caused him to leave Raider Klan, his hate for every rap song on the radio, his appreciation for marijuana, what he honestly thinks about artists like Chief Keef, and much more.
Can you briefly tell me a little about your upbringing in East Memphis?
East Memphis coming up, it was in-between. It wasn’t all good, but it wasn’t all bad. We had good times and crazy times. I had a few good friends growing up that made everything cool. They came to my house. We’d jump on the bikes, play outside, play basketball or whatever. It was cool.
How important was music to you when you were growing up?
It was important to me. I never thought I’d be rapping at all. I just really like music. I liked bobbing my head to a beat when it came on the radio. I liked doing that a lot. I love music, but I never thought I’d be doing it.
So what did you think you’d be doing as a career?
Probably being a photographer or something, because I’m good with pictures and Photoshop. I used to play with that a lot in middle school and high school. I thought I’d do something with that.
What initially sparked your interest in rap?
In middle school, I was at my cousin’s house and he had a Bone Thugs mixed CD with a bunch of songs on there. “Crossroads” was on there. “Resurrection” (Paper, Paper). Then he had this song called “The Righteous Ones” that was on there. It was a bunch of their albums mixed on the CD. I heard that, and I had never heard them before. Them folks’ music just did something to me. I just liked them so much. I went home, looked up all the lyrics, and learned all the songs. Bizzy Bone was my favorite. I just used to spend hours learning Bone Thugs songs, but I still didn’t think I would be rapping. I just wanted to learn all that for me.
So when did you officially go from listening to and learning rap songs to actually trying your hand at music?
Eleventh grade. I was at home chilling and one of my friends, he was trying to do some music, and he had this friend who had this studio in Cordova. We went there, and we ended up doing a song. We were just playing around. And I was like, ‘okay, I like how that sound a lil’ bit.’ Then the next time we went back, I tried a little bit harder. Then the next time, a little bit harder.
[Last year] rolled around. I got my own studio equipment at my house. I just started doing my own stuff. That’s when I did my first mixtape, The Wolf Gang's Roldophe. That was all me by myself. That’s when I started taking it for real.
Tell me the origin behind the name Ethelwulf. And why did you change it to Xavier Wulf?
I just recently started using my real name, Xavier, but back in the day, I pulled that. “Ethel” means noble. I just really liked the way that sounded at the time, and then the wolf is my favorite animal, so “noble wolf.” That’s how I looked at it. ‘I’ll roll with that,’ but then as I got older and started growing with my music and getting more into it mentally, I said I’m going to start using my real name. I’m still Ethelwulf but I’m Xavier Wulf.
[Ethelwulf is also the name of the king of Wessex, a kingdom in southwest England, in the mid-800s]
Although you’re from Memphis, I first learned of you through your work with Raider Klan. How’d you link up with them?
Back in 2012, when I got my studio equipment, the first song I recorded was this song called “1st Chapta of tha Phonk.” I did that song, put it out, and this girl named Amber London who was already in the Raider Klan, she heard it, because she followed me on Twitter. When she heard it, she hit me in the [direct message] and was like ‘I mess with that.’ I was like, ‘Oh, fasho. Thank you.’ Then we had a mutual agreement to do a collab next time. A few days later, me and her ended up doing our song called “Trillanation.” That was on my first mixtape. We did that and then after that, this other Raider Klan member named Key Nyata caught onto my music. He started messing with me. He liked my stuff. Key Nyata was like, ‘I’m going to show SpaceGhostPurrp this stuff.’ They showed Purrp or whatever, and then a month went by and then Purrp hit me up. He was like, ‘I mess with yo stuff. You’re invited into the fam if you want to rep it.’ I got into the Klan and then started going from there. Everything started spinning off.
How did joining Raider Klan change your career and life?
My Twitter used to be real boring, like nothing, and then I just started getting folks tweet me all the time, follow me all the time, and tell me how good my stuff was. Shortly after me and Amber did our song, I dropped my first mixtape, which was The Wolfgang’s Rodolphe. People liked the tape so much. They just went crazy. And I blew from that. Everybody was just telling me I was the best. I was this and that. I started getting free clothes. Later on that summer, we went to California and did a show with Trash Talk, which is Odd Future’s band. I met OF, and I became real cool with Left Brain.
After that summer passed, the whole last year, 2012, August, September, I was just going back to Cali, doing something, just working. I had my first big show on Halloween last year in San Antonio. It was my first show actually getting paid a lot and traveling to a show. That was fun. I went with my friend Chris Travis.
A couple months ago, you and SpaceGhostPurrp exchanged words on Twitter as a result of your decision to leave the group. What exactly influenced your decision to leave Raider Klan?
Just like little personal issues with some of the Klan. We cool now. We squashed all the beef or whatever. When I left, I didn’t intend to stir nothing up. I was just like, ‘I’m departing. I’m doing my own thing.’ Raider Klan is cool. They’re doing their thing. I just need to eat off my own plate. I couldn’t grow as much as I had the potential to and wanted to stuck under that right there. And then there were just some other little minor problems within the Klan. I just had to get away from it to better myself. Purrp was the only one who really made a big deal out of it. Everyone else was chill. At the time when I left, he was just on Twitter going ham. But that’s just how Purrp is. I know what type of person he is.
Do you see yourself collaborating with them looking forward, or are you just solely focused on your own music?
I’m focused on my own stuff right now, but if one of them came to me with a project, like they want to collab on something, I wouldn’t be like ‘nope’. I’d do it. We’re all still cool and their music’s good. So I’m like, ‘Yeah, I’ll work with ya’ll. I fuck with that.’
Would you ever consider rejoining Raider Klan?
So being in the group was kind of holding you back creatively?
Yeah, a little bit. The whole Raider Klan sound, image or whatever, old 90s, dark or whatever, which was like real Three 6 Mafia-influenced or whatever, and that’s cool. I had that locked in, but as an artist, I just want to try different stuff and branch out. For the stuff that I do now and what I wanted to do back then that I do now, it just conflicted. It was like a box that I was low-key stuck in. And I had to just get out off it.
What are your thoughts on rappers out nowadays?
I don’t listen to nobody else really. I hate all these rappers. I hate every last one of them on the radio. I don’t fuck with none of them. I don’t listen to none of them. I listen to my fellow underground artists. I got a list of them. I listen to them, because they keep it real. We’re all coming up together. And I’ve been cool with most of them for over a year now. That mainstream stuff just gets on my nerves. They don’t rap about nothing but Louis [Vuitton] belts, Gucci this, Gucci that, poppin’ a Choppa [Ak-47], strippers … bruh, I don’t want to hear none of that stuff. I don’t do none of that.
In your music, you’ve criticized people for being quick to shoot somebody rather than fight them. How do you feel about the rap artists who heavily glorify violence in their music?
I can't mess with it. Chief Keef out here, every song he’s talking about guns. And then he’s got these young niggas out here thinking that’s cool, and now they’re clapping each other. Like the Lil’ JoJo nigga that got [killed]. Like that shit, I can’t fuck with that nigga just because all of that dumb shit he’s on. Like Chief Keef, I don’t wanna be in the room with that nigga. I don’t want to eat chips, none of that shit with that nigga. Nothing. I just don’t like folks like that.
On another note, I noticed that you’re into Japanese symbolism and anime, and you’ve used that in some of your mixtape art and videos? How long have you had a fascination with the Japanese culture?
Since I was a kid, because I love Kung fu. Jackie Chan, Bruce Lee and Jet Li. Their movies were just so live. And how peaceful they be, the clothes they wore, and how they just live life. It was always so clean to me and just so neat to me. It just made me feel at ease, because it’s just so simple compared to how it is out here where it’s rugged, it’s rough, and people are how they are. And then like Japanese, Chinese people, just Asians in general, they’re smart people. They’re real peaceful. They’ve got a lot of wisdom. You can learn a lot from them. I learned how to basically live life from Japanese movies. It’s just so simple. Just do right. Don’t start shit. Chill. Do what you need to do to survive, and mind your business. That’s what they always portrayed. Jackie Chan didn’t ever go looking for a fight. Fools just always came to him and he’d whoop them and go on about his day.
Listening to your songs, it’s evident that you have a strong appreciation for marijuana. Does weed make it easier for you to create music?
I’ve never recorded a song sober. I’ll tell you like that. Every song you’ve ever heard from me, I done hit something. Music is so much better to me when I’m high off marijuana. It’s just something about it. I don’t know if it’s just for me or if it works for other folks.
How long does it take you to create your music?
It just depends. If I’m trying to do like something really quick, and I know exactly what I want to do prior to recording, I go in, do it, and it probably takes about a hour. But if I’m just starting from scratch, I’m just like coming up with stuff as I go. It may take like three hour, all day if I stop and go back and do something.
How often do you write lyrics and record?
I have the studio at the crib, so it’s whenever I feel like it. It’s got to a point now where it’s harder for me to even write lyrics. Sometimes I say the best stuff when I freestyle, but I’ll never remember it. I’ll be in the car just snapping and soon as I’m through, I’ll try and remember something I want to remember, and I’ll just forget it. So what I started doing is, when I hear a beat, I’ll put up the stuff for the recorder and then I’ll play the beat again and then record a freestyle. That way I’ll get the fresh stuff right off then. Sometimes I might write if it’s necessary. I used to write a lot. This summer, I just started this freestyling.
Who are you listening to right now?
I’m listening to Chris Travis. Black Kray. T-Bo. I’m listening to these Swedish kids named Sad Boys, and I’m always listening to my boy Young God. He tells the truth. He don’t lie about nothing. See I love that telling the truth shit. If I can listen to your music and go, ‘yup, that’s applicable, yup that can happen, yup, I can believe that’ then I’m in. If I can relate to it, I’m with it.
When you’re not making music, what are you doing?
I am eating or watching Cartoon Network. Or I’m with my fools out in the street somewhere. Or if not doing that, smoking, of course but I really don’t have to say that.
Although you’re an independent artist, do you desire to go mainstream, since you’re an independent artist?
I wouldn’t have a problem taking it mainstream, but it’s going to have to be how I do it because I’ve been with Interscope. They done did that: flying a nigga out and buying everything, putting me in a big studio and everything, but what they want you to do is, they put you in all that right there, get you whatever you want to eat, smoke, and they be like, ‘Look, I got these beats. Check them out.’ Whack ass beats! But they want you to use those beats, because those are the label’s producers’ beats. There's a lot that goes with it. I know the whole system. They can’t play me. That’s why I’m just chilling underground.
Who are some artists you would like to work with looking forward in your career?
Curren$y. I mess with Spitta. He’s not one of those rappers that rap about none of that crazy stuff. He tells the real story. Every time I listen to him, I'm imagining what he's going through. I would like to work with Lil’ B. Based God come on so we can make that heat.
The uprising of social media and the allure of anonymity have made it easier for people to voice their opinions. But, at times, these opinions can be a little farfetched, disrespectful, or completely off-topic.
Although I highlighted early in the article that I wasn’t seeking to defame any particular race but to simply express my thoughts on the black race and what it’s like to be part of it, several commenters still accused me of “stereotyping other races,” being “ignorant,” among other things.
Considering that race can be a touchy subject, I presumed that I would receive varied reactions for my views. Stating that, it isn’t acceptable for people to be blatantly disrespectful with their opinions. But who can control this?
Whether you’re a journalist, an artist, or just a person who posts videos on YouTube or images on Instagram, there’s a great possibility you will encounter commenters—maybe they’re friends, family, supporters, individuals expressing their opinion, or, even, “trolls” desiring to use your post to spew thoughts that are negative or off-topic altogether. That’s the gamble you take when you post something on a website with a comment section.
On one end, the comment section on social media outlets can be a good place for people to share insightful feedback regardless if they agree with what’s posted. However, it’s another thing to be undeniably negative or off-topic all together when you comment on a post.
Take YouTube, WorldStarHipHop, or Livemixtapes.com for examples. The commenting sections on these sites are being used less and less for people to share their opinions on the content posted, but more for them to bash other commenters, promote certain things, or leave meaningless messages.
On the other hand, not every commenter is a person with boatloads of time on their hands just waiting to shoot loads of ammo from their keyboards at everything posted on the Internet. A lot of people actually pose thoughtful perspectives that spark conversation from others. But we all are aware this isn’t always the case.
Furthermore, the fact that a significant number of commenters remain anonymous or utilize pseudonyms as their monikers allows them to say whatever they please without repercussion. Across the country, numerous publications, social media outlets, and organizations are unhappy with the pool of commenters who choose to leave irresponsible, negative or irrelevant responses on their websites. And this is primarily because a large portion of them are unidentifiable.
The Huffington Post recently made the decision to ban all anonymous commenters on its website. The ban will require all new commenters accessing the site to identify themselves by name and verify their identity. This will hopefully increase more meaningful and civil discussions among commenters on their website.
To read more, click here
Tyrone “Tyke T” Stroble is determined to awe and inspire with his Driven By Music movement. And he does a good job of doing both on his debut EP, The OverLooked. Originally from Smyrna, Tennessee, Tyke T moved to Memphis in 2011 and has been making his name known among the Bluff City’s underground hip-hop movement ever since. He was recently featured on ABC 24 Local Memphis’ Local Sessions, which allows Memphis artists to showcase their talent. He was the first rapper to appear on the segment.
The brother of Core DJ Ron C, he's been surrounded by music since he was a youngster and began writing his own rhymes as a teen. Aside from hip-hop, Tyke T holds a strong passion for the business realm. He received both his bachelor's and master's degrees in business administration from Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) shortly before his transition to Memphis.
Balancing a nine-to-five job with a dream of making great music is no easy task, but that doesn't worry Tyke T. He released his EP, The OverLooked today. The eight-song collective offers listeners an earful of his punchline-heavy and relatively melodic flow, which tends to mesh perfectly over quality production. The EP is available for download on iTunes.
Tyke T talked about what listeners can expect from The OverLooked EP, how his master’s degree has helped in his career as a rapper, and where he draws inspiration to create his music.
What made you title the EP The OverLooked?
The reason I went with The OverLooked, if you look at everything in this nation from sports to business to politics, a lot of the people who are moguls in these industries had really humble beginnings because they were overlooked. All of the people on the EP’s artwork, they used it as motivation. If you listen to Oprah, she’ll tell you she used those painful memories of people saying a black woman would never be able to be on TV as motivation to keep going. If you listen to Jamie Fox’s story, he talks about how long it took him to get on as well but he used it as motivation, and it goes on and on. It’s kind of blasphemous to put myself on that cover with all those moguls. I have to get there no matter what it takes.
At what point did you decide to pursue rapping seriously, because I understand you also have a masters degree?
I’ve been doing this since I was, like, 15, but I always wanted to make sure that I could be good regardless, because there are no guarantees in life. Just because you get a MBA, that doesn’t guarantee you a job and there are no guarantees with music. So I always wanted to make sure that I would be good if something doesn’t go right with music. I made sure I got my MBA. I’ve been pursuing music seriously with a plan since I received my MBA. I was like, ‘Okay, I’ve got that educational goal out of the way. Now there’s nothing that can stop me.’ It’s so advantageous that I do have my MBA, because what it allows me to do is have the business background. It allows me to understand, ‘Yes, music is an art form, but to succeed and push forward, you have to know the business side of it.’
What brought you to Memphis?
I came to Memphis because of a job, but it was a blessing because it’s put me in the best place ever. If you’re in Tennessee and you’re trying to do hip-hop, you have to be in Memphis. I love Murfreesboro. I love Smyrna where I’m from, but it’s not like the connections are there. To come out here to Memphis where the indie scene is vibrant is a blessing. Originally, it started for work but now it’s music, and we’re going to keep working it through to get where we need to be.
What made you come up with the brand Driven By Music?
The biggest thing that I think separates a lot of artists who are going somewhere and the ones who aren’t are the ones that attach a brand to themselves. [For example], when you go to Burger King, you’re going to see the Croissan'Wich or the Whopper. You know that’s the product. There’s so many sounds right now, and what I didn’t want to do is get caught up in, ‘I don’t know who that guy is.’ When you hear ‘driven by music’ you think about Tyke T because I created it. Number two: I wanted to have something that everybody could relate to. Music is an art. Music is something that all markets, all types of demographics can understand. All ethic backgrounds are driven by music. That’s why I’m happy I created that brand, because it allows everybody to be a part of it.
Who influenced your style?
There are so many people. I think the thing that influenced me the most to rap was all of the old rappers. Like UGK, 8ball & MJG, Three 6 Mafia, the Hot Boyz, all the No Limit soldiers and all that, but I think what makes my music the best is because I grew up listening to a lot of R&B. Like Jodeci, Bobby Brown, and all of them. That helps me when I’m in the studio trying to create a record. I’m not just on the same key. I’m not just on the same cadence. It helps me to switch a lot of things up.
What do you hope your listeners get from this project?
I think what they’re going to get from The OverLooked EP is an introduction to Tyke T. It’s my story coupled in with some songs that I feel like a lot of people can relate to. We all go through struggles, but that doesn’t mean you can’t go out and have a good time. Even if you in that struggle though, you’ve got to just say, ‘Forget that man. We’re about to go out here and get it, and everything's on me.’ Or sometimes you wake up in the morning and you've got to go to work, and you're like, 'Dang, there are so many haters waiting on me,' but you can't stop us now. Or you wake up and you're like, 'Goodness gracious, I feel like the hand has just been dealt against me, but I'm going to still keep grinding. I'm going to still keep going for it.' There is just so much you can relate to on the EP. On some days we're going through the struggle and we're like, 'Man, I hate this,' and on other days you're celebrating and you're feeling good. We're always going through these peaks and valleys, and I think that's what the EP gets you through, and I like that about it.
[Saturday, Sept. 7th Tyke T is having his #OverLookedShow show at the Social Bar in Murfreesboro. The show will also feature hip-hop artist Professa C and singer/songwriter Montez Terrell of Black Umbrella.