Monday, December 29, 2008


At a time when commercial radio is harder to penetrate than ever, one of the best ways to get the word out about your music is publicity. As the founder of Ballin PR, an LA based firm that specializes in hip-hop, here are a few of my tips to finding the right pr person and to knowing when you're ready:

1. The first question I ask artists when they call me is: is your record finished? You should be completely done--i.e. it should be mixed, mastered, and you should have a distribution situation in place before you hire a publicist.

2. Begin your search 4-5 months ahead of the release date of your record. Publicists hate to get calls about a release that comes out next week. It leaves us no time to pitch major monthly magazines who plan their coverage 3-4 months in advance.

3. Do not ask a publicist if they work on commission. The hardest and most grueling part of the job is what's NOT secured--all those follow up calls and emails that don't result in press--so asking if you work on commission is insulting.

Gripes of a White Girl:

1. Skits on records. It's so 1999.
2. Roger and Zapp voice-box singing. Inarguably the nail in the coffin for hip-hop.
3. The way the hip-hop media is obsessed with Blu. He's ridiculously good, but come on.
4. Artists who say they rap about their life experiences like it's profound. Who DOESN'T?

Notes From a Lawyer: What Every MC Should Know Before Signing on the Dotted Line

One of the key elements of success in the rap game is understanding the terms of your contract. I sat down with New York based entertainment attorney Andrew Krents, who has worked with hip-hop, dance, and rock artists for over two decades, and asked what 3 things every new artist should know before getting down with a major or an indie:

1. Know what rights you're giving up, specifically your rights in recordings, touring, publishing, and merchandising.

2. Know what costs will be charged against you. From soda to studio time to tour support--all this can make a dent at the end of the day to what moneys you see.

3. Pay attention to the "controlled composition" clause. This provision deals with the publishing copyrights and, depending on how it's worded, it can contribute to or decimate the amount an artist receives in respect to mechanical royalties per unit made and distributed.

Check Out the Video for "Don't Stop The Movement" by Bay Area Rapper Paris

Talib's Blacksmith Music No Longer with Warner Bros.

According to Tai Saint Louis of, Talib Kweli’s Blacksmith Music imprint has dissolved its distribution arrangement with Warner Brothers Records.

The Brooklyn MC confirmed the split to after rumors surfaced online that he had been released from his contract with the label. The roster includes Jean Grae, Strong Arm Steady and Guyanese/Canadian import Anjulie, the label's sole non-Hip Hop act.

Since its launch, the label has released a compilation album entitled Blacksmith: The Movement, collaborative projects between Kweli and Madlib, and Jean Grae’s critically acclaimed, 9th Wonder-assisted Jeanius. The label is also planning a new album by Strong Arm Steady, entitled Arms & Hammers and Party Robot, the debut album by Idle Warship, Kweli’s new group with singer Res and Canadian singer/rapper Graph Nobel.

While release dates have yet to be announced, all three projects were originally slated for 2008 releases, which would lend some truth to rumors that the split was related to the current economic situation. Kweli’s fourth solo album, Prisoner of Consciousness and Reflection Eternal’s Train of Thought II were also scheduled for 2008 releases.

Upsurge in Murder Rates Among Black Youth While Overall Crimes Drops

According to the Boston AP, writer Jay Lindsay says a new study released today shows that the number of young black men and teenagers who either killed or were killed in shootings has risen at an alarming rate since 2000.

Among their findings: an increase of more than 39 percent in the number of black males between the ages of 14 and 17 killed between 2000 and 2007, and an increase of 34 percent in the number of blacks that age group who committed homicide. Guns are the weapon of choice.

The increases for white male teens age 14-17 during that same period were nearly 17 percent and 3 percent, respectively.

That said, the numbers represent a vast improvement over those from the 1990s when the emergence of crack cocaine fueled an explosion in violence, the Northeastern report said. In 1993, about 225 out of every 100,000 blacks age 14-17 committed homicide compared with 81 out of 100,000 in 2007.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

If You Steal Music, Your Internet Service May Be Cut-Off

The Recording Industry Association of America said Friday, Dec 19, that it will cut back on lawsuits to combat illegal online music sharing because it has enlisted leading Internet service providers to discipline individuals accused of pirating copyrighted works.

According to the article in the SF Chronicle by Bernadette Tansey, the trade association said certain Internet carriers, which it did not name, have agreed in principle to impose escalating penalties on customers who ignore repeated warnings that they are breaking the law by distributing free songs. The association is negotiating for sanctions that could include the suspension or permanent termination of Internet service.


As a publicist, I'm the one who has to pitch, re-pitch, and sometimes twist arms to get your cd reviewed in a magazine or on a website. Unfortunately, I'm also the one who has to bare the bad news when a journalist says "no thanks." I asked a magazine editor at one of the most esteemed urban magazines for the top 3 reasons he opts not to review a CD, other than the music is subpar. Drum roll, please....

1. The pr person/label sends a mixtape, hoping for a CD review. This happens a lot these days since mixtapes are more popular than ever. But a mixtape is a promotional tool for the most part, not something that's going to garner a lot of ink.
2. The album release date is the same month--or week-- I get the CD. We plan 3-4 months in advance so we need CDs that far in advance too.
3. The cover art looks like something my brother made in collage class. 

Zion I's JUICY JUICE video feat. Buddy Love the Dachsund!!!

The Grouch is Stealing Christmas...

This Holiday season you can catch Living Legends crew members The Grouch & Eligh along the new Bay Area trio, The Bayliens on the second annual "How The Grouch Stole Christmas Tour." It's not too late to catch the last few remaining dates...For ticket info
Dec 20-Pasadena 
Dec 22-Las Vegas 
Dec 23 -Pomona 
Dec 27-South Lake Tahoe 
Dec 28 -Reno, NV 

Friday, December 19, 2008

2009 First Quarter Indie Releases

And yes, many of these are my clients. It's my blog.

Zion I's The TakeOver-Gold Dust 
Omar From Mars Volta -Old Money -Stones Throw 
DJ Signify-Of Cities-Ninja Tune
Endemic-Terminal Illness-Money Maker Records 
DJ Dusk's Root Down Soundclash DVD
Grouch & Eligh's Say G&E! -Legendary Music
Myka 9's 1969 -FakeFour Inc.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

BOOK OF THE WEEK: It's Bigger than Hip-Hop, by M.K. Asante Jr.

Check out this amazing book about the rise of a generation that sees beyond the smoke and mirrors of corporate manufactured hip-hop. For more info on the accomplished author, M.K. Asante Jr., logonto: