Thursday, November 15, 2012
by Cyrus Webb
For Next of Kindredz members Big Pap, Rulet, Carlito Santino and Tazz music is not just what they do, it really is a part of who they are. Founded by Maurice Martin and brought together by destiny in Mississippi, the state would prove unable to contain the group's talent. It was obvious from the release of their debut album FAMILY TIEZ in 2004 that they were going to be a real force in the world of Hip Hop.
I became aware of the group not long after their album was released, and I knew from the first listen that they had something special together. Something that was bigger than who they were and the state that had brought them together. FAMILY TIEZ had messages of hope, pain, good times and even some tongue-in-cheek tracks that were sure to be just right for the clubs. My production company Shadow Play Entertainment (the former parent company of the Conversations Brand) was working with artists at the time, and the guys of Next of Kindredz asked me to work with them as well.
Though Hip Hop was not my specialty, it was great to not only broaden the work I was doing but showcase their talent as well. When it came time to introduce them on the radio, I was able to use Conversations LIVE (then called Conversations with C. A. Webb on WMPR 90.1 FM in Jackson, MS) to do so. It was there that they introduced their single RAIN N' SUNSHINE. Thanks to the Jackson Advocate Newspaper in Jackson, MS I was able to get the group their first write-up and some attention on their live performances.
They were moving forward, but there were some things internal and eventual external forces that would begin to affect their being able to be the best of themselves as a group. In 2006, after experiencing some relative success in the South, the group took a break and pursued other projects.
Big Pap went on to found D.I.G. M.E. (Dis Is Good Music Entertainment) and began nurturing his own artists. Rulet founded Mudd Life Entertainment, Santino founded M.4.D.P. (Muzic 4 Da People) Entertainment and Tazz founded Go Get'Em Entertainment, all of which included solo projects as well as Santino founding the group Jack Squad which included Rulet as well.
Though they were staying active in music, as the years went by it became clear to each member that the work of Next of Kindredz was undone. In 2012, with a new outlook on life and the music they could deliver, the group reunited, ready to take on the world in a whole new way.
"It just feels right," Carlito Santino told me during the group's first together in more than 8 years. "We have something to say that the world needs to hear, so we have to get to the work of sharing it."
The way that music is heard today has changed alot since the group was together, but Rulet says they are ready to mix the old and new ways of promotion together to reach the most people. "A lot of what people are hearing today is coming from the internet," he told me. "Being online is good, and we are going to go that route, but there is nothing like reaching people hand to hand. We are still going to be in these streets letting people know who we are and what we have to offer."
Big Pap agrees. "The streets got us to where we were before, and I know they are going to help us spread the word as to where we are today."
Beginning with their single RAIN N SUNSHINE they are reintroducing themselves to their fans in Mississippi who have been with them and new lovers of music around the world that will appreciate songs that speak to the mind and heart as well as entertains in the process. They believe that life has given them the gift and the opportunity to make a difference in the world of Hip Hop, and they are going to take advantage of every opportunity.
Stay in contact with the guys of Next of Kindredz and what's next for them at www.facebook.com/nextofkindredz.
I first heard of author Elizabeth Zelvin when I was introduced to her book DEATH WILL EXTEND YOUR VACATION earlier this year. It was great mystery, full of all of the elements I crave: memorable and relatable characters, a mystery that kept your attention and issues that all of us can get something out of.
When I had the chance to interview her on Conversations LIVE radio show it was brought to my attention that she was also a recording artist.
Under the name Liz Zelvin she has released the album entitled OUTRAGEOUS OLD WOMAN---and I tell you this: it is brilliant!
The album takes you on a great ride through her soothing voice and the lyrics that speak directly to who we all are as individuals. Whether she is tackling the somber issues that cause us to reflect on life and our purpose or the craze that is internet dating, Zelvin is able to do it in a way that is infectious and sure to bring together lovers of various genres along the way.
The stand out tracks for me are THE RAIN CAME DOWN, ONLINE LOVING, TWO TALL TOWERS and ALL SHE EVER WANTED.
Regardless of your age, I think we can all listen to the album and think to ourselves what can we do in our lives to be truly "outrageous". Individuals will try to tell you that once you reach a certain point in life that you should just stop pursuing that which you love. Liz Zelvin is one example of why that should never be the case! Let us all find inspiration to go the distance in our lives, knowing that is the only way we can truly be happy and free.
Find out more information about Liz and her album at www.lizzelvin.com.
Wednesday, November 14, 2012
Conversations LIVE radio show host Cyrus Webb calls recording artist Necie B the "Amy Grant of her generation" because of her amazing vocals, cross-over appeal and spiritual message. Giving the world songs full of hope, praise and themes that individuals of all ages can relate to, she has definitely tapped in to a way of worship that will draw music lovers young and old of any genre.
Webb talked with Necie B as she was promoting her new single NECESSARY, and she shared with him the road to where she is today. "I've been singing since I was about four years old," she told him. "Growing up in the church I had people like Yolanda Adams say to my mom 'This girl is going to be big.' I was going through some things early on, so it was hard to see what others saw. Three years ago, though, I began to see it. I realized that God promised me this. This is what I'm supposed to be doing. That gave me the confidence to move forward."
The beautiful young artist is now walking in that purpose, sharing that God-given gift and ability with the world, but it's not always as easy as you might think. "Doing anything when you have to put yourself out there brings some anxiety," Necie B told Webb. What helps her, though, is to remember that it's not about her. It's about those who are being helped and inspired by the words and the ministry of music. "That alone makes me enjoy what I do," she says. "The fact that people like it and want to hear me means so much."
Her album RUNAWAY LOVE is not available around the world and is full of messages that read almost like a love letter to God. Necie B wouldn't have it any other way, because she knows that's exactly where her trust and strength lie. "I've been entrusted with this gift," she says. "I've come to realize that if God gave you something to do, then he will also give you what you need to carry it through."
Necie B told Webb that the songs that minister to others speak to her in the same way, giving her the courage she needs. "That makes it easier to keep fighting and keep pushing," she says.
To find out more information about Necie B, her album and what's coming up visit www.necieb123.com. You can also follow her on Twitter at @inecieb.
Tuesday, November 13, 2012
For some people the arts are just a part of who they are. It's not so much a decision but a calling. Mississippi native Antoine Lomax has received and answered the call.
He is not just a recording artist that is respected for his lyrical ability but a talented visual artist as well. This year he was also a regular at my weekly poetry night that I hosted in Rankin County, so I got a chance to see firsthand how others responded to him.
"I found the passion for music when I was in high school," he told me during our conversation for this issue. "I was in a lot of groups but I realized that performing solo was my thing. It allowed me to speak about the things I was going through and knew about."
That ability to connect with individuals is a key part of his appeal. "I can touch people more," he says when describing the message he delivers through music." It is a gift that he says was encouraged by his family. "It was my great grandma that raised me and truly believed in me," he says. "She is by far my number one inspiration."
When I asked Antoine what keeps him motivated when others have stopped he explained that it was the passion that's in him. "I want to do something with my life. It's a calling. I've been blessed with the talent, and I just want to do something with it."
His advice for anyone getting started or who has a dream? "Don't ever doubt yourself. There will be obstacles in your path, but go past them, keep the faith and believe in yourself. If you don't believe you can't achieve."
Stay in contact with Antoine Lomax on Facebook at www.facebook.com/antoine.lomax.
If there is one thing I have learned it is that gifts are not just for the one whom it has been bestowed upon. Take Gospel recording artist Carl Brister. He has discovered that his gift of music is not just to bring him attention but a form of lyrical salve designed to provide healing in the world.
He takes the commission he has been given seriously, and while we talked about his album UNDEFEATED he gave me a glimpse into the making of a man of God.
"I am humbled to be recognized for the gift but I give attention to where the gift came from," Brister explained. "God has given me something that connects with people. The music helps get people through a tough time or remind them of a great celebration in their life. I see this as an honor and big responsibility at the same time."
What was interesting during my time with Carl was that he told me his gift has been something that has evolved for him as well. "I think it was a process of knowing what I had been given," he says. "There wasn't just one particular time I could point to where I realized the fullness of it. I'm eventually coming to an understanding that something special happens when I operate in this talent. One thing that I was always sure of, though, was that I knew it was God working through me."
It is not just the crowds he is able to minister to in concerts and events but those who are able to enjoy the music and the message online as well. "With the internet and uses of technology you can reach people all around the world," says Brister. When he reflects on the importance of being obedient to God when it comes to the music, he sees the results as proof. "It makes me feel like I listened, and I got it right," he explained. "People will write me and say 'Your song got me through.' It's confirmation that I heard the Lord, and I followed him. He was right all the time."
One of the powerful tracks from Carl Brister is CHAMPION: "I wrote this song at a really challenging time," he told me. "I had to encourage myself. This came at a time when I needed a war cry. I needed to reaffirm who I was in Christ." The message is clear: W don't have to be defined by our circumstances. We are more than a conquerer. "I came to understand that all things are working together for the good of those who love Him," he says. "God loves me. Throughout it all I still win. Jesus is the chamption and through him we are all champions, too."
Carl Brister wants all of you to know that the only thing that has to define us is our faith. No matter what the enemy tries to put in your mind you can overcome.
Stay in contact with Carl Brister at www.facebook.com/carlbrister and www.carlbrister.com.
Monday, November 12, 2012
True passion breeds something special in the lives of those who embrace it. I've seen it for myself in my daily journey, and recording artist NeJcion has experienced it himself.
In 2012 he has celebrated the release of his album MY TURN featuring the romantic single for the ladies "Lost In You", but the year has not been without its bumps in the road and personal challenges.
Through it all NeJcion has shown himself to be a young man set on his goal and ready to take the gift he has been given as far as he can. Lovers of real music around the world are gravitating to his talent and the dedication he has to the craft.
During our conversation we discuss how he got to where he is, what it has been like to do what he loves, and what he wants you to know about finding the way to your own success.
NEJCION ON MUSIC:
"It's been a love that I've always had since I was a little boy. I always wanted to be a star. I knew that was where I was supposed to be. It just about taking the steps to make it happen."
NEJCION ON THE ROAD TO THE TOP:
"It's hard. You have to put the work in. I love putting the work in, so I can enjoy the fruit of my labor. I use this as an example for others to go for their dreams no matter how many 'nos' you get."
NEJCION ON WHAT KEEPS HIM MOTIVATED:
"I am a firm believer in God. He would not give me a talent that He didn't want me to utilize. That has kept me driven. I want to be different than what I was showed. I love to sing, model act... I just want to make a difference. No matter what a person says to you stand firm to what you believe and go for it. "
"When it comes to my music I want them to feel what I felt when I was creating it. This is my life, so of course I want them to connect with me in a way that's real. "I can only have dreamed to have this. The important thing is that I know I'm having an impact on others. I'm very humbled by the fact that my music is touching people in ways I could only have imagined."
Though things have not always gone his way, NeJcion uses that as inspiration for moving forward and becoming better. "I have something I aspire to be because of what I've been through," he says. "Every day I try to utilize it to be stronger as a person and an artist."
The album MY TURN can be purchased now through online outlets like Amazon.com. Stay in contact with NeJcion at www.twitter.com/nejcion and find him on Facebook by searching "NeJcion".
Wednesday, November 7, 2012
Conversations Media Group is pleased to announce that Conversations with Music Magazine has been nominated for Internet/Print Press Group of the Year by the Rhythm of Gospel Awards.
"We are excited and humbled by the nomination," says Mississippi native Cyrus Webb, Editor-In-Chief/Publisher of Conversations with Music Magazine. "This shows that the hard work and dedication that we have given to this bi-monthly publication is paying off."
Conversations with Music Magazine began in early 2012 as a supplement to the monthly publication Conversations Magazine. It's purpose? To give a platform for nationally recognized artists as well as rising stars in music to share their stories and share how they have grown along their journey and what we can all learn from them and where they are going. Since it's debut it has featured the likes of Trey Lorenz, Ruben Studdard, Higher Authority, Israel Houghton, Freda Battle,Travis Malloy, Byron Cage and others.
Held in Jacksonville Florida, July 24-28, 2013 the 5th Annual Rhythm Of Gospel Awards ( www.therhythmofgospelawards.com ) is an annual nationally televised awards show filled with a variety of innovative and exciting showcases, choir competitions, pageants and achievement galas, bringing in over 6,500 excited, tourists, church, social and civic groups, families and business professionals throughout the entire USA, Canada, and Bahamas.
The Rhythm Of Gospel Award Show will spotlight 52 categories of recognition through various Churches and Religious Groups, Business/Community Leaders, and Independent Gospel Music Artist, giving them the opportunity to network formally while congratulating trailblazers from various sectors of the community and music industry.
This award show is an ongoing project and after only 5 years it has already been rated #3 amongst some of the more prestigious awards shows in the nation. This newly acclaimed show is constantly growing and is said to become one of the nations best premiered events in the country for unfound gospel talent.
Nominees like Conversations with Music Magazine will be voted on by the people. Because of this Webb will be coordinating "Voting Parties" for supporters of Conversations Media Group and Conversations with Music Magazine to help spread the word. Online Voting will start November 1, -March 1, 2013. To vote log on to www.therhythmofgospelawards.com/voting.html for more information. To contact Cyrus Webb, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 601.896.5616.