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Teen Development In 2017

I’m so proud of my teens.  They’ve grown so much this year.  Here are some comparison before and after tracks.  Jacorey and Marquis really found their unique sound this year.  Reminds me of The Cool Kids out of Chicago.  Jaylon and Kadarious wrote a true story rap about when their brothers, friends, and they themselves got arrested.  I am proud of them for bringing some truth to their lyrics.

Marquis and Jacorey before:

Marquis and Jacorey after 6 months of consistent studio time:

Kadarius and Jaylon before:

Kadarious and Jaylon after:

Announcing Our First Student Lead Initiative: NFN Ent. Group

I have had several teens emerge as leaders and creative curators in the studio.  Jacorey and Marquis consistently make the most of their time and always pump out killer tracks.  Today, we discussed starting an Entertainment Group where teens are the driving force behind the scenes.  They are hyped about the idea.  Jacorey wants to be the in house engineer and Marquis will be one of our artists.  We are going to partner with South Atlanta High and Carver High to hold auditions and fill the roles of; rappers, singers, producers, engineers, instrumentalists, creative director, booking agent, social media guru.  The group will work to release 5 mixtapes next year and market them .  All songs, marketing, branding, and production will be entirely youth lead.

New Music!

I’ve got new tunes from Christa, Lila, and my South Atlanta High School crew.  Lila’s track is a fun tune where we explored trumpets and their utility in compositions.  In Christa’s new track, we explored singing in rounds.

My South Atlanta crew did a radio edit on a song about what it takes to survive in their environment.  Keeping a positive mindset is essential.  This can be heard throughout the song in the lyrical theme of “winning.”  We also talked about how their environment has desensitized them to guns.  We talked about the difference between glorifying violence and acknowledging realities in lyrics.  One of my teens notably remarked, “Every black man in America needs a gun.”  They stressed that they would never use a gun unprovoked.  They, however, feel it is important to be ready for when you have to use one.  All of them have told me they know someone who has been mugged or attacked.   “If you are sweet or soft, you will get taken advantage of.”  For them, putting forth a hardened image is a survival tactic.  It is my goal to have them open up about this topic in more detail through their lyrics in future songs.

1st Annual Notes For Notes Benefit Show

We had our first annual Notes For Notes Benefit Show last week at Smith’s Olde Bar which featured Alex Guthrie, Chelsea Shag, Baby Rose, and NFN’s own D’Angelo Miles.  Big thanks to Evan and Garrett from 99X’s “Must Not Suck” for emceeing the event, and Juliett Rowe from Georgia Music Partners for basically putting everything together.  It was an awesome night filled with good vibes and good music.  See ya’ll next year!

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Atlanta and Cleveland Team Up For Collab Track

Lila is a nine year old home school student who comes to the studio to record her songs on Wednesdays.  This is the first song she wrote.  We put a slamming bass and guitar line to it, but when it came to drums knew we should find someone special.  That’s where Caleb comes in.  Caleb comes in to our Cleveland Studio before most youth get out of school and plays drums.  I heard a video he shared and knew he should be the one to collaborate with Lila.  I sent Ryan, our Cleveland leader, the track.  They loved it and put some sweet drums to it.  It came together beautifully and I sent it to a volunteer from SAE for mixing.  It’s my pleasure to present to you, “Momma Told Me,”  Atlanta and Cleveland’s first collaborative track!

Jack Johnson Meet And Greet At Lakewood Amphitheater

This past Saturday a few of my students got to meet Jack Johnson during his sound check at Lakewood.  Jack was very enthusiastic, kind, and gave us a tour of his stage plot.  The youth even got to play the band’s instruments on stage during sound check.  They played an original song that Jack’s band compared to Belle and Sebastian.  Matthew even got a pair of drumsticks.  Jack was very generous and gave front row tickets to the youth and families to that night’s performance.  They youth were all thrilled and loved the experience.  Big thank you to Jack and crew!

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Alex Guthrie Visits The Studio

Alex came to hang out and jam with our members yesterday.  It was very free form and casual.  We sang Bill Withers’ Lovely Day, some Hendrix, and some Daft Punk.  He even helped 6 year Cazmere learn some blues riffs:

Cazmere’s left hand is paralyzed.  We give him a slide and tune his guitar to an open tuning.  In leiu of a slide, we give him a triangle.  It works just as well and is easier for him to grip.  He even jammed with Rijon and Alex!

Be sure to catch Alex perform the Notes For Notes benefit with Chelsea Shag on Oct 19th at Smith’s Olde Bar.

Musician Highlight: Rijon

Rijon started coming to the studio in June.  As soon as he came in, he went right to the drum set and started banging around.  I noticed he had a keen sense of rhythm and major confidence on the kit.  I remember trying to show him some techniques, but it seemed the words got in the way, so I asked him to watch me play.  He did, and immediately picked up on what I was trying to explain.  He told me he was in to gospel music, so for his lessons I’d put on a gospel song of his choice and let him play.  At the end of each lesson, he asks me to play for a few minutes while he watches.  We mixed in some free jams too to sharpen our ears and gain confidence in each other musically.

His progress has been incredible.  He is now keeping solid beats, mastering independence exercises, and listening for dynamics.  I watched his progress in the studio, but got a surprise when his Granny came in the other day to tell me just how widespread his progress has become.

She came in the other day to personally thank me and the opportunity the studio has provided him.  She says his behavior has improved 100% since he started taking drum lessons.  She says he works better with his piers and has started drumming at church.  She said he has gotten so many compliments at church that the pastor personally offered to pay him out of his pocket.  I remember in the beginning of the summer Rijon seemed to get his fair share of write-ups and could be a bit aggressive.  With her telling me this, I realized I hadn’t seen him in “time out” for a while.  His grades and behavior at school have also improved.  She said he has a lot of trouble focusing, and drums has helped with that as well.  She told me she wants to buy him a drum set to encourage his playing.  I was humbled and happy by her visit.

After our conversation, I wondered out to the lobby to call my next lesson, and noticed Rijon had volunteered that day to help the front desk staff call dismissals.  I got a big goofy grin at that sight as I once again witnessed the power the studio has.

The above video was taken several weeks ago during his playing time in studio.

B100 Radio Visits The Studio

Tasha and Peter from B100 Radio sat in on a recording session today with studio members Kadarius and Corterio.  They talked about everything from copyrights, PRO’s, and the what it takes to get signed to a label.

Kadarius asked what Peter looks for when signing artists.

“To me the most important thing is the artist’s character.  Are they a good person?  Are they honest, are they hard working?  Do they have respect and are they humble?”

We then drew the conclusion that personality traits such as respect can be evident through lyrical content.

Tasha emphasized the importance of college and acquiring knowledge while pursuing a rap career.

“You never know how the future will spin your plans.  Your rap skills may translate in to a career as an English teacher, or a producer, or a manager.  Give yourself options, and be open to education.”

The duo says they rap about the struggle they face in the neighborhood.

“We like to keep it real,” says Corterio.  “I don’t know what other rappers talk about but for me I rap about what I know.  I’ve been through hard times.  I don’t have to lie in my lyrics.”

Kadarius, Corterio, and Emilio are the members of TOSKD.  They aspire to form an entertainment group.  They just got a little closer to their goal.  Peter and Tasha have offered the group to come be guests on their teen program.  Their goal for the next month is to write a song that’s radio ready for airplay during their debut interview on b100.

B100 is an iHeartRadio affiliate founded by Deb Atney and Wacka Flocka.  They are based in Atlanta Georgia and feature multi genre music.  Find them on IG @b100radio.