Bringing Home the Gold 

From the church to the top of the charts: Congrats to Joe Da C.E.O., who just received an R.I.A.A. gold certification for his work on Dem Franchise Boyz' On Top of Our Game. Joe provided the beats for the song "My Girlfriend." The album, released last February on Virgin Records, debuted at number five on the

click to enlarge Joe Da C.E.O.
  • Joe Da C.E.O.
Billboard Top 200 chart and moved more than 100,000 units its first week.

"I was working with Topcat Management at the time, and they were shopping tracks for me," explains the rapper/producer. "[Dem Franchise Boyz] weren't signed to Virgin yet, but they called me and told me they wanted to use a certain track. The song made the album, and the gold record happened just like that."

At just 21, Joe Da C.E.O. is emerging as one of the hottest players on the local rap scene. The Raleigh-Egypt graduate, who's played music in church all his life, runs his own Ill Legal record label and finds time to operate his own car lot, Collins Auto Sales on Chelsea Avenue.

He started working with Criminal Manne and DJ Squeeky when he was still in high school and later provided beats for Criminal Manne's regional hit "Tryna Bust Sumthing" and Pastor Troy's "Stop Lying."

A few weeks ago, Joe appeared on National Public Radio's Marketplace, along with rap advocate Wendy Day, founder of the Rap Coalition, who recently moved her operations from Memphis to Atlanta. On the program, Joe lamented underselling himself on the Kavious/Bun B/Pastor Troy remix of "Kodak Moment," released on Jermaine Dupri's Young Fly & Flashy Vol. 1.

"I sold away my publishing rights on that song for $1,000, and then it came out on a major label," Joe explains. "I'm only 21 -- I've still got a long way to go."

Up next for Joe Da C.E.O.: He's got four songs on Granddaddy Souf's upcoming album, and he's working on his own mixtape.

DJ Lil Larry also worked with Dem Franchise Boyz last week, pulling them into the studio for assistance on his upcoming mixtape You Can't Ban the Trap House, which, he says, should drop this week. As K-97 FM listeners already know, the compilation's title references Lil Larry's recent move from Hot 107.1 FM.

"Hot 107 let me go. I'm not ashamed to talk about it, because I didn't do anything wrong," he says. "It's all good. I'm in a new house right now, a really nice, big house, like a mansion. I really look at this like a blessing."

On K-97, Lil Larry fans can tune into his Saturday night show called The Trap House.

"My Trap House is basically my hustle, my grind. When I'm behind those turntables, I'm trappin', supplying what my listeners need to get through the day. I honestly get a natural high being in front of a thousand people and rockin' the crowd," explains Lil Larry, who will also be driving the wheels of steel for a weekly music-industry networking night at Pure Passions nightclub every Wednesday, starting at the end of this month.

Fans of late music critic Robert Palmer might want to head over to Pocahontas, Arkansas, for the city's sesquicentennial celebration, which kicks off this weekend. On Saturday, September 30th, the town will host a musical tribute to the late New York Times pop critic and author of the groundbreaking blues guide Deep Blues. Regional bluesman CeDell Davis, actor/guitarist Guy Davis, and the Ozark Jazz Orchestra are slated to perform a free concert on the courthouse lawn, while the following week, rockabilly greats Billy Lee Riley (a Pocahontas native) and Sonny Burgess will play, along with trumpeter Gary "El Buho" Gazaway, songwriter Bill Rice, and bluegrass fiddler Robert Bowlin.

"Bob's breadth of knowledge and the clarity with which he conveyed it was an inspiration to writers everywhere," says local author Robert Gordon.

"Deep Blues became the handbook for understanding blues. Bob created the perfect book that would introduce the [genre] to new listeners, and for those already familiar with the subject, he deepened our knowledge and appreciation," says Gordon.



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