Rap Coalition

A HOW-TO RESOURCE FOR RAP ARTISTS, PRODUCERS, & DJs. Since knowledge is power, here is your best defense to succeed in the urban music industry...

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

More Bob Lefestz:

Now this deal makes sense.

This is how I remind you that the major labels are too hip for the room. None of them wanted to sign Nickelback, they had to go to an indie. You could hear the greatness on their RoadRunner debut, all that was absent was the hit single. Which came on the very next album! An A&R man is supposed to be a visionary. A label is supposed to sign an act for the future, not one moon shot that is either successful and burns the act out or fails.

This is how I remind you that we live in a rock and roll nation, not a hip-hop country. Fortune 500 companies would be better off licensing a Nickelback track than a rap cut. This is the sound of America. This is the sound people want to see live.

This is how I remind you that the audience doesn't give a fuck what you think is good. People want something ear-pleasing, that envelops them and allows them to forget five dollar a gallon gas and low wages. Sure, the rock star life might be one of excess, but it's not about saying you're BETTER than your listeners, just that you're lucky. Actually, it's about hard work. As opposed to hanging in Hollywood clubs and appearing in TMZ and Perez Chad focused on the music. Guess you need someone from Canada to do this, someone smart, someone who can put two words together.

This is how I remind you that Nickelback's career has not peaked. Chad could do it alone, with Mutt Lange, he's got an ace in his deck. One thing Mutt truly understands is powerful rock. After all, this is the guy who produced "Back In Black", "Pyromania" and "Hysteria".

This is how I remind you that EMI isn't responsible for the Coldplay album's success, the band's manager Dave Holmes is. He quarterbacked the effort, assembled the team. Nickelback no longer needs Warner, to the degree recorded product is part of the equation all resources can be outsourced, hired on a need to use basis. You can hire a marketing guy, a radio promo team. Doesn't matter that Live Nation presently doesn't have infrastructure. If the company is smart, it will be lean and mean and rely on contractors. It's the overhead that kills companies.

This is how I remind you that Richard Branson signed the Stones to drive up the price of Virgin Records, knowing that the investment community was too stupid to know the legendary band didn't sell many discs. I've been scratching my head at all the previous Live Nation signings. Madonna's recording career is way past its peak. But she won't admit it and won't do a greatest hits show, the only thing that a truly mass audience is interested in. Jay-Z could sell records in the future, but hip-hop has always been a dicey live enterprise. Shakira was made in the U.S. by Charlie Walk, he did that deal with Verizon Wireless, he got the online community to make its own videos, he's the one who masterminded the integration of Wyclef Jean. Who's going to do all this at Live Nation? Who's going to care? And, without the train-wreck, how many people want to see Shakira live? She'd better start doing more work in Spanish, hopefully Live Nation can make its money back in South America and other Spanish-speaking territories. But Nickelback... Nickelback is something different. The band is not sexy, Wall Street may not understand, but it makes financial sense. This is Rock and Roll 101, hit records beget live demand, tickets are sold at a reasonable price, a ton of merch is moved, everybody makes money, year after year. Nickelback has already had enough hits. The band might not quite be classic, but almost. Certainly more than Rihanna and almost everybody else on Top Forty radio.

This is how I remind you about the power of one hit single.

Send me that MP3 running Nickelback's two hits together, tell me they're the same song. Tell me how the music's meat and potatoes rock. Tell me how it's not innovative. I'll just tell you "How You Remind Me" is a PHENOMENAL track.

Doesn't matter if you're a fan of this kind of music. You only need to hear it once. It's got power, it's got a catchy melody, great changes and worthy lyrics.

This is how I remind you that it's a new music business.

This is how I remind you that Michael Cohl was only about readying Live Nation for sale and it was smart for Michael Rapino to stop the endless spending, the deals that didn't make sense.

This is how I remind you that Live Nation can offer more to Nickelback than any label. Hell, a label's not even going to offer a killer ROYALTY rate. Give me fifty percent of the action. Seventy-five! Then maybe I'm interested. But you're beholden to the old model. So, the Eagles, Radiohead and Nine Inch Nails say fuck you and go off to make a ton of money elsewhere. They don't need the label, the label needs them.

But maybe the concept of the label is antiquated. 360 deals might make sense, just not ones where you're beholden to a record company.

This is how I remind you that the Napster era is over. This is not about theft of music, this is not about major labels lording over the business, this is about reaching the public, not holding back, but giving more. This is a new era, where you have to do whatever you can to make it, and then reap the ultimate rewards. This is an era when it's all about the music. You might think otherwise, but the public believes "All The Right Reasons" is great.
Are we having fun yet?

Bob Lefsetz weighs in on Management:

I'm fascinated by Usher firing Benny Medina and returning to his mother for management. The question arises...should you stay with who got you there, or switch allegiance to the big swinging dick?

My friend Jake Gold built the Tragically Hip. The first time I heard from him was back in '89, when the band's MCA debut hit the streets. It was hard to get him off the phone, his excitement was palpable.

Jake built the Hip into the biggest band in Canada. He got them to open for the Stones in Europe. But, despite signing them to multiple labels in the U.S., the Hip never broke through in the Lower 48. And the band abandoned him.

Jake talked about the Hip 24/7. He was always dreaming up new ideas. A fan club. Net exploitation when major labels didn't even know what the Internet was. "Newsweek" did a story. He got them on national TV at the turn of the millennium. But Jake was not the biggest manager around, and the Hip was his biggest act. So the Hip moved on to greener pastures. To a manager with platinum acts in his stable. A new record was released, and did worse. The Hip still have marquee value, but they're not as big as when Jake managed them. They can't be, because no one will ever care about the Hip as much as Jake Gold did.

There are two sides to every story. And a band built of five members has to go with the majority. This is not about the Tragically Hip so much as, should you leave your manager? The one who you started out with, the one who built you?

Usually your first manager is your friend. Who often gives way when you get some success. He's only doing you a favor, because of his passion. But frequently this original "garage manager" stays with the band as it rises. Then, when it hits the big leagues, the act starts getting whispered in its ear. It sees what other acts get paid, how they tour. Lawyers tell them about their options. Major managers swoop down and offer a better deal. So what do you do?

First, are you getting ripped off? If your manager is stealing from you, move on. It's too frustrating to work and not get paid.

Furthermore, if your manager is inept, leaving too much money on the table, fucking up everything from delivery dates to routing, he should go too.

But what if your manager's major failing is you're his only big act?

Should U2 fire Paul McGuinness?

Even though Irving Azoff has got a stable that dwarfs that of Principle, Irving's never going to take a bullet for Bono. He'll take a bullet for Don Henley, that's how he became Irving Azoff to begin with. Oh, Irving would make phenomenal road deals. But in the middle of the night could he talk about what happened in Dublin back in '82? Could he discuss your parents, your first wife?

Maybe that doesn't matter. Maybe your career is essentially on autopilot, maybe you just want the check. Like Aerosmith, like Def Leppard. They switched to Front Line and they're making incredible money. That's the kind of leverage Howard Kaufman has. And both acts know it's no longer about hit records, building their cred, but cleaning up on the road.

So, if what you need is a booker, if you're not confronted with questions beyond whether to go on the road and what your t-shirts should look like, it doesn't matter whether your manager is your best friend. It's truly a business relationship.

But if you've got more questions than answers, if you're still building, you need someone who will kill for you. Their passion, thinking about you 24/7, is more important than what their status is. You can't buy passion, you can't contract for it, people have to believe!

Like Jon Topper with moe. The band had a major deal for a time. If they were managed by a hack, or someone with bigger commission paydays in their stable, the members of moe. would be working day jobs today. But Topper lives and breathes moe. He's got them making first class records, doing their own festival. He's not worried about the major league business, he's in the moe. business, which is quite profitable.

Or Coran Capshaw... Maybe being outside the system, being based in Charlottesville, allowed him to come up with new paradigms for Dave Matthews. Coran could think outside the box, unencumbered by how it used to be done.

However, in today's changing times, your manager could make a deal with Front Line and you'd get the best of both worlds. Assuming your manager's loyalty continued to be to you, and not the Front Line behemoth.

But there are advantages to being with Irving. First and foremost, leverage. Irving is owed more favors than a union boss. And he uses these, to get Christina Aguilera on seemingly endless awards shows. To get Jewel on TV...

So what do you do?

Benny Medina didn't need Usher to succeed. He already has Mariah Carey. Whereas Usher's mother is only concerned with her son.

You've got to gauge the passion. Passion covers up a lot of inexperience. Passion has your manager scheming 24/7. If you succeed his image is polished and he makes money. If you don't, he's a broke nobody. You've got to succeed. It's his only way out of the hellhole!

So, if you've got traction and you're not getting ripped off, you should probably stay with the manager you've got. It's kind of like marriage, those who get divorced once are at higher odds to get divorced again. Divorced people are skeptical rather than trusting. They look over their shoulders. Whereas those married only once are dreamers, who believe they can conquer the world. They trust that their team will stay together forever!

Would Usher have sold more records if his mother had been his manager when his new album was released?

Maybe not. Certainly not many more.

But if he called at midnight, he'd get her complete attention.

You want personal management. You want someone in the trenches with you, bonded with you. Find a good one and stick with him (or her!)

Thursday, August 21, 2008

MySpace Music CEO
By Bob Lefsetz

The reason they can't hire anybody is everybody with a shred of tech knowledge knows it's going to be a disaster. MySpace is so 2006... And its software/interface sucks. And there was no traction with Snocap... So suddenly, because fat cats found out social networking/Web 2.0 was the next big thing, they're going to anoint this lame site as the future and their word will come true when it's already the past?

First and foremost, iTunes rules because of the interface. A place where MySpace scores negatively, if that's possible, inundated with ads/promotions so Fox can make its investment back. Permission marketing? It looks like 1999. I don't see them selling the space on iTunes for Google ads like Sony Music, which is why Apple's stock is through the roof and BMG sold for a pittance.

If you want to make a splash in the selling of music, you've got to deliver something different. And seeing how there's a minimum fixed cost to tracks, I don't see how MySpace can eclipse iTunes, especially since it lacks its own hand-held player...there's only half an ecosystem, at best!

If the labels want to leapfrog in front of the public, put a dent in iTunes, they're going to have to do two things... Lower the price and deliver more cluck for the buck.

Sounds like the same thing, I know... But it's not.

If you're going to sell by track, and that's not the future, that's like asking the cell companies to change their paradigm from one of subscription to pay by call, like asking cable companies to sell channels individually instead of by package, you've got to sell them really damn cheap. And since the biggest publishers are Universal and EMI, they can afford to do this. Lower prices across the board. Of course, the artists will scream, because they're getting screwed, and they're right, which is why there's never any progress.

So we've got to start out with fairness. In order to survive with power, the labels have to have fair deals and transparent accounting. But their business model is heinous deals and specious accounting. So, they're screwed. Who's going to change the model?

And the publishers don't want to get screwed either, but with the big kahunas owning their own publishing companies, chances can be taken, but they won't, because they don't want to devalue music, even though the value of music is now zilch, as in free.

But, when I say more cluck for the buck, this is where the labels can execute their secret weapon. Subscription without DRM that includes ownership. Maybe a la eMusic. For a low fee, you get a bunch of tracks every month. It's not about a new store, BUT A NEW BUSINESS PROPOSITION!


TQ: The Secrets Behind Cash Money's "Jailhouse Love"
From allhiphop.com May 29, 2008

A Team…

That always got me going. When I used to play football, my coaches always made sure we focused on that. It takes a team to win… That’s what made me jump at signing to Cash Money. It looked like a bunch of ni**as playing their part to win. A team.

That’s some sh*t that I fit well in. I always have. But in my career up until that point, I never really had one. It was always me against the world – a.k.a. me against a f**k a** record company…

These ni**as rolled with their bosses. I rode on Slim’s bus, ya dig? Ni**a, I saw Tommy Mattola twice! Do the math… If my bread was late, I didn’t have to have my manager call this person to “check on it” with that person or none of that sh*t.

I could walk my a** into Popeyes with Baby and quietly ask him, “Where the f**k is my money?” Now he could in return quietly tell me to, “Get the f**k outta his face” which he did on several occasions, but hey it is what it is. You the boss bruh…we don’t eat seeds on the West Coast though.

Like I said before, Baby doesn’t owe me a dime. Now he’d come around late every once in a while, but hey, who doesn’t? I think this is why I turned a deaf ear to all the rumors going on around me. Now New Orleans was like my second home at this point. I had been living there for about a year. There was a lotta chatter going on in the city about this big rift going on inside of Cash Money. I loved New Orleans, so I stayed in the streets when I was there. The streets talked.

Even though I was signed to Cash Money, I had some real TQ fans down here way before that. They would see me in the streets and tell me what’s going on within my own camp! Like they was trying to look out for a ni**a, you know? I found out that that Juve wasn’t f**kin with us no more in the streets. Some ni**as saw me at the Daiquiri Shop and and told me all about it over some Hurricanes. Same thing when Lil Turk said "f**k’em"… BG told me out of his mouth.

Can you imagine that feeling? It’s like, “What the f**k did I do?” I swear everywhere I went in the city, my fans were asking me why I signed with them “fake a** ni**as”… Fake a** ni**as… That was the theme. Everybody seemed to consider Cash Money as some “Fake a** ni**as”… Dawg, I’m from Los Angeles, ya dig? I’m just listening, making observations, and trying to be a diplomat.

It got to the point where I wouldn’t drive Baby’s sh*t no more. Too hot. I was finding out that that in New Orleans, most ni**as didn’t f**k with Brian Williams. “Call somebody and ship some of my sh*t down here!” I ain’t bout to get in a twist over some of this ni**as sh*t. Everywhere I go there’s somebody talking bad about this man in his own city! What the f**k? Nobody got sh*t good to say!

I’ll never forget the day we were in Baby’s old neighborhood shooting the video for “What Happened to That Boy.” He walked me over to this cat that he wanted me to meet. He was like, “T, you know how y’all got them ni**as out there that you call OG’s? Well you ‘bout to meet my OG…” I was kinda pumped as we walked over to the ni**a cuz I’m figuring I’m about to get some game. Man did I! The ni**a had just got out the pen.

We walked up to him, and Baby introduced us. I noticed that the cat wouldn’t look at Bird. Dude was like, “Yeah man I know who you are. We used to listen to your sh*t in Angola… I don’t know why you signed to this pussy ni**a tho… He ain’t gonna do sh*t but jack ya style and put you on the shelf. I hope you got your paperwork right with this bitch…”

I’m like, “Huh?” I’m lookin’ at Baby, then I look at the cat and I’m waiting on somebody to laugh or somethin’! Talk about a crazy ten seconds…Baby’s phone rings and saves his a**. He walks away. The OG tells me “Later Wo” and walks the other way. The lil’ ni**as in the projects who were sitting on the curb watching all this bust out laughing. Man I didn’t know what to feel… But that sh*t was funny though. That ni**a didn’t crack a smile! LOL.

Too much funny sh*t was going on at Cash Money. This ni**a Stunna would have a fit about me being out by myself. I’d tell him to chill out! Man I ain’t stupid. I don’t run around jeweled up like you. I don’t keep cash on me like you and my thang thang is registered to me, unlike yours. Chill the f**k out! Make no mistake, this ni**a is a boss. He’d send somebody behind me I guess. Sometimes the ni**a would call and blow on me about being where I was at the moment. The ni**a would say, “Get the f**k from ‘round there!” and I’d get the f**k from ‘round there. Quick too…

See this ni**a was the head of my team. I did what he asked me to do. I used to hate that sh*t though man…How did he know my every move? I wonder now if that ni**a was concerned with my safety or did he just not want me to hear his city sh*t on him… I don’t know man. Sh*t started leaving a bad taste in my mouth.

We did a whole Hot Boyz record with no Hot Boyz in the studio. I never saw Juve when we did Project English. The new movie that we were gonna do got scrapped because Nile wouldn’t do it. Baby owed them money man… Big time. Every last one of them… [Mannie] Fresh and Wayne were just being loyal and waiting it out I guess… Meanwhile all the new cats were working like slaves in the studio and not getting anything out.

Me, Gillie, Mikkey, Strings, Boo & Gotti, and Lac & Stone were in the studio with Fresh taking a whole bunch of old CMR sh*t and making it hot for the day. We’d give Baby the sh*t he asked for and then Fresh would make us our own sh*t on the sly. That was the best part about Cash Money to me. Muthaf**kin’ Mannie Fresh… When Bird was gone, we’d really get down. We gave that ni**a so many songs I could kick myself… He still got a bunch of sh*t! Win some, lose some right? He won that one.

Too much funny sh*t was going on at Cash Money. I’m sitting at the house in the East one day Wayne comes in and walks over to Baby and kisses him in the mouth. I didn’t just see that so I ain’t gonna say sh*t. When Wayne gets ready to leave, they do it again.

I guess some of them other ni**as recognized the look on my face and ran to the rescue. “T, don’t trip, that’s jailhouse love.” Jailhouse love? What the f**k? Them two ni**as and never been to jail! I’ve sent my fair share of Kites homie and I ain’t never heard of two ni**as kissing as being jailhouse love unless they was… ya dig? That sh*t was disturbing to me pimp. They say it’s a father-son thing. Ni**a I ain’t kissing my daddy in the mouth!

To each his own… I ain’t questioning a ni**a's sexuality cuz I just don’t get down like that, and I know for a fact that both of them cats like women. But it f**ks me up when them ni**as do that sh*t in public… Everybody always asks me about that picture. Well did y’all forget about 106 and Park?? Ni**a, my neighborhood rode me for months about that sh*t… I had to speak on it cuz y’all wanted to know.

That’s my spin on the whole “kissing” sh*t. I’m done with it.

TQ: The Cash Money rap-Up
From allhiphop.com 6/08

Back to the lecture at hand…

Too much funny sh*t was going on at Cash Money. I always considered Baby a helluva hustla. That ni**a could brown paper bag a whole region in a week. Man we was out doing parties and shows, two and three a nite! 30 stacks here, 50 stacks there…

The Big Tymers were hot! We made a hot a** album, and Bubba and Fresh were smashing the old way. I’d go to the bus, get my bread and jump on my rack with a coke and a smile! Sh*t I’m gettin’ paid b*tches! LOL! I was singing all the hooks!

But what about everybody else? Why am I buying food for our security? Why do “our” ni**as have to come to me and ask for a room when they wanna get down with a chick? Why don’t any of them have a dub in their pockets? These are your ni**as patna!

We had one bus that was extra raggedy. It was real f**ked up. It had 15 bunks and 27 ni**as on it. The air conditioner would go out and ni**as would argue cuz of the stress. We used to call it the Shark Bus.

I used to ride with Slim cuz he always had some food, some good movies, and a chick taking care of everybody… Not like that! Ya know, cooking and going to buy T-shirts and sh*t. LOL! I’d go to the Shark Bus cuz it was like the block…The Streets. The streets talk. Ni**as wasn’t happy.

Baby had a bunch of gangstas on the road – ni**as that did 10’s and 15’s and busted all kinds of head in the city. They had his back, so when they’d touch down, he’d put them on the payroll. I used to f**k with all of them cuz I liked to hear them talk about each other back in the day. New Orleans got some cold gangsta history…I wanna do a movie about that sh*t one day.

Anyway, ni**as started seriously beefing, and I’d come off that Shark Bus and put my thang on my bunk. How this ni**a Baby gonna have all these killers out here starving while he’s out here with a million dollars in jewelry and cash on him? We over here on this plush a** bus eating crawfish, drinking and smoking while them ni**as over there burning up trying to piece up money for meals?

These ain’t MY ni**as! They HIS ni**as! When they strike his a** what the f**k u think they gonna do to me? Remember this: I’m an outsider. I’m the one that didn’t grow up with the rest of them. I’m just listening, making observations and trying to be a diplomat…

Too much funny sh*t… I couldn’t get past the “Fake a** ni**as” thing. If they’re considered that and I’m rolling with them, then what are they gonna consider me? I worked too hard for the love I got. I ain’t trying to lose it over my business ventures with a ni**a that ain’t considered trill.

See I ate with Baby. That was my ni**a. I’ll never understand him and why he does the sh*t he does. Two minutes after he makes you think he’s 100, he’ll pull some f**k sh*t to make you hate him. That ni**a’s crazy. Period. Shouldn’t be a problem. He ain’t the only crazy ni**a, I know. But now my boss is fake? My crew is suspect? I had to start distancing myself, cuz sh*t is getting way too real.

I still didn’t have a release date. Mannie was fighting to get them to put my album out cuz me and Wayne were riding off “Way of Life.” That song blew up, and Fresh wanted to drop a single right behind it. Baby wanted to go on tour, so naturally that’s what we did. Every time we had a couple of days off I’d try to follow Fresh, cuz I knew he was gonna work and ball out. Not the Baby way, but the Fresh way!

With Mannie, it’s gonna be some fun involved. We going to Disneyworld or Six Flags or some sh*t and hittin’ a bar to get drunk with random people who don’t know who the f**k we are. By the end of the night, we know everybody, we got tickets for the game from somebody’s mom or sister. We piss drunk and headed back to the studio. I’m sponsoring the eye candy. Holla!

Baby wasn’t trying to hear none of this. He wanted me to run around to these clubs where it’s a bunch of ni**as standing around and no women. He wanted me to sing all his hooks for him and help him promote his sh*t. For that, he was down to pay, so most times I was down to ride. After a while, I start asking him about my sh*t though. Man what the f**k? When we gonna drop an album ni**a? He’d say, “It’s coming T… I’ma get you hot first!” Yeah? Seems like I’m getting YOU hot ni**a…

If y’all remember from the previous installments, I make my living outside of this country. All this time I’m spending here f**king around with CMR, I’m not putting anything out overseas. I’m missing them Pounds and Euros by the crate! Herein lies another f**k up… I shouldn’t have done a worldwide deal with these cats. We figured it was Universal, so they had a serious staff in other territories. We didn’t figure that Cash Money wouldn’t deliver an album. This was the beginning of the end…

Out of nowhere the Birdman comes with this idea. “T we gonna do an album together. We gonna call it R&B and Rap.” I’m like, “Ok… Who’s gonna do the ‘rap’ part?” LOL! Anyway, if it’s gonna help me get some sh*t out for my fans, then let’s do it. We get started on the record, and it’s coming along when we go to Chicago for a show. Gotti brings R. Kelly to the show and they perform “Fiesta.” This was Kellz’ first performance since the whole sex tape sh*t, and Chi-town gave the ni**a so much love he couldn’t believe it.

Me and Wayne were behind the stage about to go on, and we heard him talking to Gotti. He was nervous. He thought he’d get booed. We knew he wouldn’t. R. Kelly? In Chicago? Never. Anyway, he was real grateful to Baby for letting him perform that night and invited us to come out to his house.

We started f**kin’ with dude real heavy after that. All of a sudden one day this ni**a Baby is on the phone with Kelly. The ni**a says this and I quote… “Man, if dude don’t wanna cooperate you can do The Best of Both Worlds II with me! We can call it R&B and Rap!”…end quote. I couldn’t f**kin’ believe this ni**a. It was a wrap for his a** in my book…

Kelly agreed, and we went to Chicago and started on their record. I took it on the chin and kept it moving. Outta all the ni**as that rap that I’d wanna do an album with, Bird, bless his heart, would prolly be last…Or I’d prolly just do it by myself. Or maybe even let my son rap on it…lol! Whatever.

In true TQ fashion, I persuaded him to pay me five extra stacks per song, ‘cause this is some “historic boss sh*t.” “You and Kellz? Boy, that’s big!” He went for it. I took my a** to the studio… Chalk one up for the mouthpiece. Quiet as it’s kept, them ni**as’ album was gonna be hot. We had done about 15 songs, and I was all over it. I’m saying to myself, “We gonna break the bank off mechanicals next year” – but God don’t like ugly. And never count your bread before it’s in your pocket…Looks like bird sh*t for the Birdman.

Kellz changed his numbers and went and did The Best of Both Worlds II with Jigga. Baby found out when “Big Chips” hit the radio. We were in Miami. I never saw the ni**a more excited than at the idea of doing that album with Kelly. I never saw the ni**a more f**ked up than when he heard that song. I know a lotta ni**as that woulda loved to be there that day and see the expression on his face. Payback is a muthaf**ka.

My dumb a** felt bad for the dude. I told y’all I liked him. He was my ni**a and we had a lot of good times. But when my manager called me later that day and told me not to go back to N.O. I knew it was a wrap. See, my lawyer had been working on Universal to get me out of the deal. Cash Money was in breach.

They were a year past the deadline in putting my album out. They were late on publishing checks. My lawyer threatened to audit, and that would blow the roof off BG’s case, along with Juve, Fresh, Wayne, and Turk. Shady, double-sided contracts for Boo & Gotti and Mikkey would all have to be brought into court. They didn’t want that sh*t. They wrote me a check and voided my contract.

We had a show that night, and I was on a plane to La Leezy. I may as well have had a “Cash Deez” sticker on my forehead on the plane that nite. I took my chain off and threw it in my carry-on. I felt like I had wasted three years f**kin with these cats. I kissed the ground when I got home tho.

That was the biggest problem. I never could come home. Them ni**as was so f**kin’ scared of L.A. that we’d never come do sh*t out here. Man the West is my stomping ground! My home! Them ni**as kept me away for three years cuz they watch too many movies… So ask me how I feel when I see them Soo-Woopin…Boy please! In the words of the Great Pimp C “You Ni**as Lyin’!”

That’s another story. It ain’t none of my business so I’ma leave it alone. It is a bit suspicious though. Let’s just put all that up for further review. Sh*t…

I was hot at Cash Money my first night home. I couldn’t sleep. The next morning I met my lawyer for breakfast. He gave me one check for my second advance, which was based on term. They spent too long putting the album out. It rolled over into my second term and a day past the third. He gave them a break on the third... (I still don’t know why actually, LOL).

He gave me another check for back royalties for everything from “Baller Blockin” to “Big Money Heavyweights”. It all summed up to “two million holes” in the contract, just like he planned on in the beginning. I opened my sunroof on Wilshire Blvd. when I got back in the car. I peeled off from my lawyer’s office headed to the bank. I held up my middle finger and said to myself. God Bless Cash Money.

That was that and here it is. I don’t have a problem with the Birdman and Slim. After all, them ni**as opened their homes to me, ya dig? But they definitely STAY on some bullsh*t. Know that! So we ain’t exchanging money except on the Lakers and the dice. Matter of fact, I tried to get some N.O./San Antonio bets, but for some reason my calls weren’t returned…LOL.

So I guess I’m back a square one… Now what? I got some music and I got some money. I need the right partner. Have I ever had that? No. I’ve haven watched and learned a lot tho. Maybe I can do this myself. Maybe I can eliminate all the “Black Suits” and Birdmans out of my mix… Maybe it’s time for independence… Let’s see if they’ll listen…

TQ: Independence
From allhiphop.com 7/1/08

We got the Fourth of July coming up, and I wanna take a lil’ time to liberate myself. Congrats to our man Barack for doing the damn thang! Can y’all believe this sh*t???? I'm glad I'm here to see it!

Anyway, it seems like the last two installments of this column have ruffled some feathers... Sorry to hear that. The truth hurts.

What's f**ked up is that all these hater sites have taken my words and twisted them up into the "National Hate Cash Money" campaign. Well, I ain’t a member.

Seems a lotta folks still can't read.

This is AllHipHop. Keyword ALL. This site was nice enough to allow me to tell ALL of MY story. ALL of it. Just like any other story being told in its entirety, you’re gonna have good parts and bad, ups and downs, f**k sh*t and not so f**k sh*t. It ain't no difference.

I'm speaking to you about the true events that happened to me in my career as they happened. Period. Why did I tell my business about being in a slave deal with Sony Publishing? Cuz that’s what it was! Make sure you don't get in one.

Why say that Cash Money was on some bullsh*t? Cuz they were! They wasn't putting my album out, so they was on some bullsh*t! LOL! Wouldn’t you feel the same way if it was you? Why comment on Wayne and Baby kissing? Not because I give a f**k...Because I'm in the picture! Watch them f**kin cameras... If I woulda known one was there, I woulda ducked! You get it?

If I was gonna hate on somebody to boost my album sales, I woulda went for the gusto and hated on Hanna Montana! Now she's got sh*tload of fans, you dig? I'm just talkin’ bout the sh*t that I’ve been through and giving you my opinion on it. Feel free to disagree.

I think Baby shoulda checked Kellz for that bullsh*t he pulled on that Best of Both Worlds II album, cuz that was wack. Treat a man like a man and call him and say wuzzup, ya dig? I can think that all I want, cuz it’s my opinion, but I can write it cuz I spent a lotta time in the studio with them ni***s working on that sh*t. Feel me? Real simple.

F**k the sex playing. Calling ni***s gay is not cosigning what I'm saying. It’s a free world, but don't involve me, cuz I don't give a f**k about all that sh*t, and sexuality is a female subject. Men talk about sports, cars, money, and pu**y... and not in that order.

TO ALL CASH MONEY HATERS... We don't have room over here for y’all. There are many places on the net for you to vent your frustrations. Please save this area for TQ haters only!


And just to shut down any "rumors"... Ni**as aint "seeing" sh*t in the streets but what they saw the last time they saw each other: Frankie Beverly and Maze at Essence Fest... Ooh Weeh! If that went over ya head, don't worry bout it. N.O., holla if ya hear me!

Now that that’s over...

Here I was back home in L.A. trying to figure out my next move. My Cash Money contract stated that if I didn't take my option on the fourth year, I couldn’t release a major album for 18 months. My manager had started talking to Warner about a label situation before I left Cash Money. She figured it was a dead-end situation at CMR, and started working on a plan B.

Baby didn't have any rights to me as a label, and if I did a distribution-only deal and released my own album under my label, it wouldn’t be considered a major release, and and I wouldn't have to pay him a dime. Sh*t sounded good to me...

I also had what is called a “re-recording restriction.” This means that I couldn’t use any of the songs that I recorded there for a period of three years. Three years from what? There goes my lawyer and his "holes" again. He argued that because there was no specification, it meant three years from when they were recorded. That freed up most of the early music that I did with [Mannie] Fresh.

See, I used to steal my music. LOL! If that’s even possible...Any records that I was on, I'd go back to the studio and get copies from the engineers in exchange for weed and VIP passes. Baby was stockpiling all that sh*t, and he wasn't trying to hear ni***s playing sh*t for they hood and all that. You wanna hear your music? Go ride on his bus, cuz that’s what he was playing, over and over again!

F**k that sh*t! I had to get my songs to my publisher to get registered. I had to stay in front of the game. A lotta ni***s' missing checks broke they necks... Not the kid! LOL! When them ni***s left, I'd pull out the paperwork, write down all my copyright splits, and lyrics, and fax that sh*t from studio to Sony. Most of our sh*t in them days was registered before it was mixed! But I'm not a grimey dude. I turned in the splits as they really were. Correct percentages.

Anyway, I did the deal with WEA, got a couple of joints that I had done with Fresh, and started on my first independent album, Listen.

First thing you learn about being independent is that it’s a whole lot more work. Now I gotta book studio time, coordinate photo shoots, get flights, approve artwork, stay on top of my distributor about sales and product placement, and worst of all, answer every f**kin call that comes to my office cuz it might be some money...

Did I bargain for all of this? Can I handle it?

I've always seemed to make something out of nothing. I was born in Mobile, Alabama, and we didn't have sh*t. I moved to Watts when I was a year old, and we didn’t have sh*t. Moms married Pop when I was three, and we moved to Compton. Guess what we had when we moved there? You got it. Not a muthaf**king piss pot to piss in. Some kind of way, through the grace of God, I’d made it thus far.

At eight dollars a record, I should be able to go further than I've ever been, and stay my ass there... If I can sell 150,000 units, I can ride off with a ticket after expenses. Pull this off five times over the next four years and I’ma buy me big ass boat, move to Spain, and go fishing everyday with a bad ass chick! F**k all this work!

Seemed easy enough! I dropped Listen independently in August of ’04 - and I learned another valuable lesson. It takes a bunch of dough to break a record. By the time the album dropped, I was in the hole a couple stacks. I hit the road heavy. I hit up all the cities where I was getting airplay, and some where I just had a fanbase. I bought a tour bus, cuz I had given a lot of my homies jobs on the road, and that was the most efficient way to travel.

We was running around the West, brown paper bagging all day everyday. “No Olive Garden tonite boys…There goes a Popeyes! Pull over!” LOL!

I recognized something. I got all this from Baby. I watched this ni**a work and subconsciously his formula is the one I'm following. Make your money. Spend somebody else’s. You don't recognize the importance until you’re the one calling the shots. Dude would have us doing parties in bullsh*t spots, and I'm like what the f**k? Why are we here? I learned the answer real quick when I got on my own.

Checks come every 60 days. This bus needs gas every other day. These ni***s need their per diem and salaries weekly. Bus driver starts bitching every Thursday, cuz of all the "free" overdrives that he's given me outta the "kindness of his heart” – yeah, whatever! Taking all shows, parties, weddings, bar mitzvas, funerals, and whatever the f**k else yall got! I need some f**king money!

WEA ships 10,000 units...

10,000??? What??? Man them sh*ts was gone in a day! I'm getting calls from everywhere that peeps can't find my record! I couldn’t f**king believe it. My distributor tells me how excited they are that we sold out of all of our units! Man who gives a f**k? Y’all recouped today! I didn't make a dime! They had basically done 20k worth of promo with retailers. Do the math. First week sales, less my cut... They made all their money back.

At this point I'm itching. If I'm gonna lose, then I may as well had stayed a CMR. F**k losing. I watched one of the best do this. I can do it. WEA was not in this. I gotta act as if I have no partner. I found my own manufacturers and started making my own copies. I got with all the indie records shops. I could and gave them a better price on my records than my distributor. No Soundscan. If they were scanned, I'd get busted... Feel me?

I was renegading! I'd give boxes of promo singles, t-shirts and videos to barber shops, clothing stores, and liquor stores in the hood and let them sell them if they allowed me to put up posters and sell my albums. Whatever I had to do not to lose money, I did it. I didn't lose. Didn't make sh*t either though… until it dropped overseas.

Back over the pond I go - gotta get the dough.

Tune in next time for "Foreign Affairs." I’ma introduce y’all to my three best friends: The Pound, The Euro, and the Yen.

This will be interesting...

TQ: The Buck Starts Here
From allhiphop.com 7.22.08

Back in 1999, I performed at the World Wide Sony Music Convention in Miami... I blew the roof off that bitch. Point Blank. That day I learned the most valuable and important thing in my career.

Two guys pulled me to the side in the hallway after my performance. They were pretty high up on the chain of command at Sony International, and they invited me to the bar for a drink. I agreed cuz I remembered them from on stage... They were at the table with Tommy Mottola so I knew they were tuff sh*t.

They were up groovin' tho while I was performing! I mean they were lovin' it! Two British white dudes in their 50's, up dancing to me singing about shooting and sellin' dope! I loved it!

We went to the bar and ordered some drinks. They asked me had I ever been out of the country. I'm like, “Man I left Alabama when I was one! I been outta the country for years!” They laughed at me. I was tipsy and so were they. One of them said, "I mean out of the US..." I'm like yeah I go to TJ [Tijuana] all the time! They laughed again...I ordered another shot.

The other guy decides to cut to the chase. "We've been listening to your album for a while now, and we see something that no one else in this building can," he said. I frowned. He said, "We classify you as World Music. The music that you do appeals to many more people than you know. We'd like to promote and market you to them. I guarantee you that with our plan, you will be more successful than you could ever be in this country."

I didn't understand, but I kept an open mind. They explained the rest of their plan and I agreed to it. That shocked them... At the time I didn't know why. I gave them my cell and they gave me theirs. We ended the conversation with, "We'll talk soon."

They must've got to it quick. Within a week we were putting together my first European promo tour. Talk about excited!! Man I'm from Compton. Some of my ni**as ain't never been to the Bay, let alone Europe! I told my crew about it, and we all set off to get our passports. When we all got to LAX to take that flight, we were like a bunch of kids. Pumped the f**k up! LOL! We went over on Virgin Atlantic. All the flight attendants looked like models. I got a manicure and a massage on that flight. Then I got drunk at the BAR and passed out on the COUCH! Did I mention all this happened on the plane?? This gonna be one helluva trip...

When we landed at Heathrow Airport I didn't know what to think. From the time I got off the plane, I was signing autographs. Customs people, skycaps, you name it! They ALL knew me! It was a trip! Little did I know that I had the hottest record in the country. When we came through the doors at the airport, it was full of kids with “I love TQ” signs, flowers, teddy bears, and whatever else they could find to give me! I stayed there and signed autographs until the Sony reps made us leave. I said to my dawgs, "Looks like we're off to a good start boys.”

My first show in London was a different story... See for this market, I was something brand new. The mainstream was not into rap at the time and R&B just didn't have enough substance or support to really crossover. So here I come with music melodic enough for the masses, but raw enough to transcend to the DJ's and the streets. It was perfect until I got on stage.

My show back in those days was pretty violent. Chaos was my thing. We'd perform with bats or some other kind of weapon. We'd act out the whole "Bye Bye Baby" scene and I'd cuss like a sailor for the whole show. Worked like a charm at home. They loved it! Not here.

I came on stage and everybody was pressed up to the front... When I started doing my thing everybody started backing up! Can you imagine? That sh*t was weird man! I didn't know what to do so I just kept singing... And cussin'! They started booin' my ass! I was trippin'! You know those Southwest commercials "Wanna get away?" Hell yeah I did!! LOL! Man I couldn't wait to finish! When “Westside” came on I think they felt a little better, but when I left the stage the dancefloor was empty and everyone was just looking at me. No clapping, just staring. I got my ass outta there like a bat outta hell. We got in the car and just looked at each other... What the f**k happened? That was a royal f**k up. Let’s go home cuz these people ain't f**kin' with us... Little did I know what I had done…

I woke up early the next morning to the newspaper at my door. Someone had mysteriously folded it open to the entertainment section. I was shocked to see my picture big as day snarling at the camera with the mic in one hand and a bat in the other. It read! "America's Westside Invades London!" It was the absolute worst review I ever read on myself. They made me out to be this disrespectful thug who just cussed everybody out from stage. They said that I was "angry at the world" and that I gave a borderline X-rated performance. X-rated?

Oh, I knew it was over for my ass. I got dressed and headed to the Sony building. This was the day that I was to meet the staff. I was nervous. I felt like that show f**ked the whole trip up...

When I walked into Sony Music something scared the sh*t outta me. Everybody had on "Black Suits." LOL! I'm like aw s**t, here we go! The first person I went to see was one of the guys from the convention in Miami. He was the VP, and he was pumped. When I went in his office, he had the article from the newspaper on his desk... "Unbelievable thing you did last night," he said. "Let's go meet the staff." We hopped in the elevator and he told me that the phones had been blowing up all morning! Every major music show wanted me on! Every major magazine wanted an interview! The radio stations, DJ's, and everyone else wanted to get to me!

Seems that writer from that newspaper has put me on! People loved the controversy behind his review and wanted to see for themselves. When we got to the conference room, everybody stood up and clapped! I went to each of them shook their hands and apologized for the night before. They basically told me not to change anything! The fans will come around... "watch the difference in response at your show next week," they said...

Sure enough, I performed a week later after all the interviews and TV appearances. SOLD OUT! Two encores that night... It was on.

Honestly, this was the defining point in my career. In September, I'll take my 35th trip to Europe to do what I love. Writing songs and performing. Talk about an insurance policy! I've had over 20 Top 20 records that I've written, produced, or performed – and most of them on artists that my country has never heard of. Through all the bullsh*t that I've gone through at home, I've always had the rest of the world to fall back on. It's kinda like that degree that I never got, ya dig? I can always take the long flight for food.

That, my friends is what you call a blessing. I wanna say to all those fans that supported me around the world for all this time – Hey man, I love y'all for it and so does my family.

Now after reading this column for the last couple months, I'm thinking most of you can recognize how I roll... I'm always hustlin'. Period. Being independent makes me a bunch of dough that I wouldn't make being signed to a major. If I make six bucks off a CD, then I can sell 1/6 of what I sold making a buck... Get it?

Now what if those "bucks" weren't "bucks" at all? What if they were Euros at $1.43 apiece? Or British pounds at $2.01? I'm not trying to give you a math lesson. I'm trying to tell you that I'm about to put out my new album Paradise independently in the UK, Europe, Australia, and Japan. I'm trying to get all the way rich...Wish me luck!

I'll keep you posted...

Sunday, August 17, 2008

I usually just focus on urban music, but thought you might like to see who was on SoundScan (Aug 12, 2008) that has sold more than 1,000,000 CDs. This is the Top 200 selling CDs as of August 12th.

The first number (using the first line entry) of 44 represents the # of weeks the CD has stayed on the charts. The second entry ATLG is the label--in this case, Atlantic. The next 3 entries symbolize its place on the sales chart, this week, last week and the week before. This CD stayed at #4 for 3 weeks in a row. Then the artist is listed along with the name of the CD. The 90,310 rpresents how many CDs were sold this week. It's down 6% from the week before, hence the "-6." The week before saw 95,745 CDs. The last number is the total sales since release (1.5 million):
44 ATLG 4 4 4 KID ROCK ROCK N ROLL JESUS 90,310 -6 95,745 1,516,191
9 UNCM 5 5 5 LIL WAYNE THA CARTER III 67,138 -15 78,742 2,143,098
8 CAP 6 7 6 COLDPLAY VIVA LA VIDA 55,369 -21 69,665 1,523,029
62 DEF 11 12 9 RIHANNA GOOD GIRL GONE BAD 43,865 28 34,290 1,594,437
53 HOL 15 14 11 JONAS BROTHERS JONAS BROTHERS 32,381 5 30,881 1,510,534
94 BGMA 12 13 16 SWIFT*TAYLOR TAYLOR SWIFT 28,041 -10 31,068 3,291,841
27 UNJJ 35 34 36 JOHNSON*JACK SLEEP THROUGH THE STATIC 13,418 2 13,205 1,329,722
40 JIVE 37 32 41 BROWN*CHRIS EXCLUSIVE 12,539 -14 14,620 1,737,524
92 MERN 31 35 47 SUGARLAND ENJOY THE RIDE 11,259 -13 12,989 2,392,412
64 OCAM 45 37 49 MAROON 5 IT WON'T BE SOON BEFORE LONG 10,749 -9 11,795 1,947,359
56 UNIV 51 43 51 CAILLAT*COLBIE COCO 10,293 -6 10,998 1,722,118
42 ARI 42 48 54 UNDERWOOD*CARRIE CARNIVAL RIDE 9,954 -8 10,806 2,275,792
17 ISL 52 52 60 CAREY*MARIAH E=MC2 9,034 -9 9,956 1,135,764
40 PEAR 56 56 61 BROOKS*GARTH ULTIMATE HITS 9,008 -4 9,340 1,887,007
48 BNA 46 54 66 CHESNEY*KENNY JUST WHO I AM: POETS & PIRATES 8,460 -14 9,808 1,396,184
65 WAR 65 61 67 LINKIN PARK MINUTES TO MIDNIGHT 8,364 -3 8,620 2,515,435
46 LYST 72 60 70 RASCAL FLATTS STILL FEELS GOOD 7,974 -8 8,648 2,033,961
74 UNIV 89 70 80 WINEHOUSE*AMY BACK TO BLACK 7,070 -10 7,829 2,054,344
100 COL 107 85 82 MAYER*JOHN CONTINUUM 7,047 1 6,944 2,225,616
90 RCA 87 78 83 DAUGHTRY DAUGHTRY 7,043 -5 7,417 4,179,141
60 ARNV 69 67 84 PAISLEY*BRAD 5TH GEAR 6,970 -15 8,242 1,130,403
46 GEFN 103 85 92 COLE*KEYSHIA JUST LIKE YOU 6,584 -5 6,944 1,499,763
149 ROAD 91 81 95 NICKELBACK ALL THE RIGHT REASONS 6,452 -9 7,125 6,871,927
41 ERC2 93 90 100 EAGLES LONG ROAD OUT OF EDEN 6,083 -11 6,809 3,059,283
67 WAR 92 94 103 BUBLE*MICHAEL CALL ME IRRESPONSIBLE 5,934 -8 6,418 1,665,521
65 OCAM 113 101 106 FLYLEAF FLYLEAF 5,837 -5 6,174 1,116,634
59 DBV 98 88 109 HANNAH MONTANA 2: MEET MILEY C SOUNDTRACK 5,797 -16 6,932 3,125,902
39 J 101 102 116 KEYS*ALICIA AS I AM 5,518 -10 6,114 3,569,660
113 JIVE 124 121 129 THREE DAYS GRACE ONE-X 5,186 -2 5,278 1,294,418
42 ROUN 97 108 132 PLANT/KRAUSS RAISING SAND 5,112 -12 5,787 1,062,349
121 ATLG 145 129 144 BUCKCHERRY 15 4,631 -8 5,037 1,271,853
47 MCAN 160 137 154 MCENTIRE*REBA REBA DUETS 4,327 -8 4,727 1,437,626
52 DBV 150 150 155 HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL 2 SOUNDTRACK 4,319 -3 4,462 3,248,464
34 GEFN 180 161 179 BLIGE*MARY J. GROWING PAINS 3,696 -6 3,912 1,541,800
48 DEF 195 197 185 WEST*KANYE GRADUATION 3,525 11 3,174 2,153,592

THIS is the shit that matters to a major label. So the next time you ask for a record deal, please know that they ONLY give a fuck about the artists who make the lion's share of the money. Only one or two are rappers...

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Name Dropping
By, Mic Fiend (reprinted with permission from an email blast he sent out last week)

If you are trying to build a relationship with someone, the first words expressed should not be “ Yo I F*&k with So, and So” That tells me two things 1 you probably don’t, and 2 you don’t have any real business with me. The reason I say this is because name dropping make you look like a Dick Rider. I mean you are basically asking someone to do business with you off the strength of another man. So you use their grind to further your career instead of building real relationships. Another reason…. is say; you drop a name like Oh Ray J. Well I really don’t care if you did a track with Ray J, and say you drop a name of a dude who is shady with business, or a all out snake. You think I’m really going to do business with you after naming his name? So here you are looking like Boo Boo the fool cause you dick rode a slimy dude that no one does business with. Now i'm begininng to think you just enjoy Dick Riding.

Here’s something else…Say you drop a name, and I happen to actually know that person. Of course I’m going to inquire about them knowing you, or if ya’ll even spoke. They tell me no, now I gotta send you a email calling you all types of fake ass rapper, and of course your name will end up in my journals as someone to slap in the face on sight. If you notice I don’t drop names. I’ve got a lot of people enjoying my stuff, and my work with promotion. There is no need to impress anybody. Stop trying to impress us, and show us your value. Your name dropping tells us nothing except that we need to be messing with whosever name you just dropped.

There are times that name dropping is cool… Like if you’re in a conversation, and the person asks who you have done business with, or if they mention someone that you know. Things like that add value. That lets them know you are connecting with the right people. Hell you can even look on their MySpace see who their friends are, and contact them in order to build a network around the person you are trying to reach. Just please stop acting like you are connected with all these people when you’re not. Believe me they know. If you have to name drop use mine…Tell them you did business with me…lol It could work for you or it could not….

Next best thing Since Myspace!!

The Mic Fiend