B.o.B.: FUCK EM WE BALL

B.o.B.: FUCK EM WE BALL – MIXTAPE REVIEW

By Ron Grant

 

So, at this point in his career, it still seems like a pretty bold move for Atlanta’s B.o.B to name a mixtape Fuck Em We Ball, considering that he became such a mainstream music darling so quickly just a few short years ago with the The Adventures of Bobby Ray and last years Strange Clouds. But it also goes a long way to proving B.o.B.’s versatility: being able to go from spitting authentic ATL slang over bass heavy beats to singing harmonies and strumming guitars is no easy feat, even in today’s world of blurred and nearly non-existent lines between genres in pop music.

Fuck Em We Ball is a mixtape full of gems showing Bobby Ray at his diverse best, from the braggadocios machismo of “Champaign” to the delicate guitar licks and harmonized chorus of “Be There”. True, B.o.B. isn’t the most lyrically in depth emcee, but that doesn’t quite matter on tracks like “Fuck Em We Ball”, as B.o.B. rides the staccato filled beat to a tee, effortlessly weaving his way through the sped-up constant changes that the track presents.

Though Drake is seemingly lauded and criticized for being the pinnacle of the 21st century singer slash rapper, B.o.B. stakes his claim to the title throughout Fuck Em We Ball. Especially on the Snoop Dogg-assisted “So Blowed” Bobby shows off his signature chops by refraining from the rhymes for a moment and getting his R&B on. And joints like the aforementioned “Be There” and “Roll One Up” give B.o.B the space to do much of the same in the way of crooning.

Overall, is Fuck Em We Ball groundbreaking or mind blowing? Not by a long shot. It’s just a fun romp by a successful emcee bridging the gap between his recent pop music, VH1 Top 20 countdown accomplishments and his next full-length project. But judging from the diverse collage of good music found on this joint, fans can wait confidently for the next B.o.B. album while enjoying some of his best, most unconstrained work in a while.

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6 Steps for Handling Interview Money Questions

6 Steps for Handling Interview Money Questions
Therese Droste / Monster
Everyone wants as much money as an employer is willing to shell out. Yet when it comes to job interviewing, salary questions make most people squirm. One reason is that such questions pressure you to tip your hand during the negotiating game. Winning the salary you want requires some evasive action on your part. Choose your words carefully, and dont be afraid to redirect a pointed question. These tips will help you stay in control of your compensation.

1. How to Handle Applications or Ads Requesting a Salary History

Diane Barowsky, who works in executive recruiting, advises job seekers not to include salary requirements. True, when you leave out the information, you run the risk that the employer wont look at you because youve not put a salary in there, she says. But you run a greater risk of selling yourself short, because you dont know what the range is.

Instead, write that you expect a salary commensurate with your experience and the jobs demands. You could also write, negotiable, because, frankly, salary is always negotiable.

2. What Are You Currently Making?

Answer carefully. State that the new job, while in line with your skills, cant compare to your current job. As such, your current salary isnt a good judge of what you should earn in this position. Answer: What Im making is not important, says Barowsky. What is important is whether or not my skills are what you need, and Im confident the range will be fair. This allows you to reveal your self-confidence.

In addition, this levels the playing field if there are two candidates, Barowsky says. If youre currently underpaid, answering such a question directly will work against you. What if you work for a nonprofit, and your pay is lower than that of another candidate who has the same skills and experience but has a higher pay because he is with a corporation that offers competitive salaries? Barowsky asks. You could be hired at a much lower figure than the other person would have received. Its not the past salary thats important. Its the skills and experience and what you can do for the organization.

3. Get the Employer to Say a Number First

Every employer has a salary range in mind that it can most often play with, says Barowsky. They have information you are not privy to, she says. When you dont know what the employer has in mind, you can underbid yourself. Employers will jump on that. Later, youll find out that someone two cubicles over from you is making more money for the same work youre doing. So find out what the range is before you state any salary requirements.

If the range is below what you want, state that you expect a range closer to XYZ. And make XYZ at least 10 percent to 20 percent higher than what you currently make. If youre grossly underpaid in your position, hike it even higher.

4. What If Youre Really Pushed to State a Figure?

State a range that reflects the amount you want to make. And remember: Employers will always look at the low end of your range, so make the low end as high as you are comfortable with. If you make $35,000, state a range of $42,000 to $55,000 or so.

5. Prepare Yourself by Doing Some Research

Research what others in the field make. Contact professional organizations and get their annual salary surveys. Read professional publications. Network and look on the Web to find out what others in your field are making.

6. Show Us Your Pay Stub

If an employer wants to contact your old employers to verify your salary, think twice about the job. Frankly, do you really want to work with someone who will intimidate you? If they badger you during the interview, a point where theyre supposed to be wooing and impressing you, think of what itll be like when you go to work there, Barowsky says.

The bottom line is that not only do you want good pay, but you also want respect. And a job that provides mutual employer-employee respect is bound to reap rewards.

 

To see the full interview click this link.

How Dividing Your Savings Can Help You Reach Your Goals

How Dividing Your Savings Can Help You Reach Your Goals
BY J.D. ROTH

If you’re like most people, you work toward several financial goals simultaneously, yet you keep all your money clumped into a single savings account. But this approach can have some drawbacks. Among them, a single account makes it difficult to track how much is earmarked for each particular purpose, or whether it might make sense at any time to “plunder” the savings for one goal in favor of another.

That’s why I started a targeted saving plan. With an online high-yield savings account (such as those listed at MoneyRates.com), I’ve split my money into several subaccounts, each named for a specific savings goal. Mine include:

An emergency fund, there to bail me out in case of personal or financial catastrophe.

A car fund, not for maintaining my current car, but where I make an imaginary payment to myself each month for my next one. (I’ve been eyeing a Mini Cooper.)

A travel fund, where I save money to support my wanderlust. Any spare cash I have at the end of the month goes here.

Targeted accounts also make it easier for me to visualize my progress. When my money is lumped into a single account, it’s tough to know how much more I need to reach a particular goal. But when I look at my statement and see the total in the “Mini Cooper fund,” I know exactly how much is required before those wheels are mine.

Finally, targeted accounts help me to prioritize. For instance, last year, when a trip to Africa was all I could think about, I held off putting money in my car fund and pumped every spare cent into the travel fund. I use an online bank for my targeted savings accounts, but there are other options. Previously I kept my savings at a community credit union. Despite their small size, credit unions offer big benefits, including the ability to open several named savings accounts. And, no, I’m not ashamed to admit that my first targeted account in 2006 was the “Nintendo Wii fund.”

Helping Hands

Targeted saving enables you to put aside cash for multiple goals. But what if friends and family want to contribute? Several sites–such as SmartyPig, Traveler’s Joy and myTab–allow multiple people to add money to an online account designated for a specific purpose, such as a wedding, the down payment for a home or a group vacation.

Any time I have a new financial goal, I open an additional, targeted account. For me it is a powerful motivator. Because each account has a name and specific purpose, I have an added incentive to pay into it. I’m much more motivated to set aside money designated for a specific vacation than I am to save it for placement into a plain-vanilla savings account.

Kendrick Lamar, “Good Kid, m.A.A.d. City”

 

Ever since the release of his critically acclaimed mixtape/indie album Section.80 in 2011, Kendrick Lamar has been well on his way to being the next Hip Hop “It” artist to emerge from indie success to mainstream prominence. Pretty much the poster child for both the Black Hippy movement and for Top Dawg Entertainment, Lamar is leading a charge of artists that include Jay Rock and Ab Soul that are continuously making strong name brands steeped in intricate lyricism and sincere yet diversified wordplay in new millennium Hip Hop.

Even though he had already recorded and released material through T.D.E., Section.80 was his coming out party to heads across the country. Now, having been blessed as the next big thing in Hip Hop by everyone from Dr. Dre to BET, Lamar just released his proper album debut with Good Kid, m.A.A.d. City.

Kendrick Lamar is the personification of Hip Hop in the post-Hip Hop generation: not confined by generational, cultural or regional boundaries yet still maintaining a brazen arrogance and pride that can only be a product of Compton, and a flow style that combines a plethora of different kinds of Hip Hop music from the last 10-plus years. From the sprinklets of social consciousness peppered throughout his rhymes that pays homage to old school East and West coast artists like Public Enemy and N.W.A., to the rapid-fire linguistics that remind listeners of Midwest rap heroes like Twista and Bone Thugs and Harmony, to the screwed and chopped voice manipulations that are a clear ode to the South. Kendrick refuses to have himself of his music marginalized into a box, and that desire to break away from the mold is constantly on display throughout Good Kid… .

Undoubtedly one of the best tracks on the album has to be “M.A.A.D. City” featuring West Coast O.G. MC. Eiht. Kendrick’s jittery, quivering yet focused flow about a day in the life in the Cali streets paired with a beat that starts out simplistically enough, then rolls into a vintage low-rider banger that harkens back to the heyday the West’s sometimes forgotten heroes Spice 1, Mack 10 and Eiht himself, will be enough to get even the most staunch Kendrick Lamar hater to nod their head. Also effective is “The Art of Peer Pressure”, a standard romp-through-Compton adventure that quickly evolves into Kendrick detailing the elements of drugs, violence and theft that gets him engulfed in the street life, and how both sides of his guilty conscience try to pull him in conflicting directions as he struggles with both his own inner demons and the desire to impress his homies.

On Good Kid, m.A.A.d city, Kendrick does better than many of his peers at finding that ever-elusive balance between radio jams and introspective songs that are heavy on reality. The current radio favorite “Swimming Pools”, along with “Poetic Justice” featuring Drake and “The Recipe” with Dr. Dre, will all bring the emcee more casual fans that may not have been following his career progress until now, while “Sing About Me, I’m Dying of Thirst” finds Kendrick contemplating the questionable choices he’s made and their impact on those around him, with his own brand of gut-wrenching self-deprecation and pity fully on display, and might just make believers out of those same casual fans.

Simultaneously, Kendrick pays more than enough homage to some of the West Coast’s most well-loved Hip Hop institutions, from sampling Janet Jackson on “Poetic Justice”, to the shades of 2Pac heard on “Sing About Me…”.

The greatest thing about Good Kid, m.A.A.d city is not only that it’s refreshingly cohesive and simultaneously multi-layered, but that it displays so many of the contradictions that Hip Hop too many times doesn’t want to admit that it has. True, other artists like Drake, Kid Cudi, J. Cole, Lupe Fiasco and others have been effective at doing this as well, but many times they seem to revel in them. Kendrick realizes and embraces those contradictions, but he doesn’t glorify them. He simply puts them on display as real as he knows how, and the end result is this body of work. While it’s very much a departure from Section.80, Good Kid… stands on it’s own as arguably the best concept album of 2012.

 

by Ronald Grant

Brandy: R&B Has Been or Is Her Two Eleven The Juice The Game’s Been Missing?

One of the hardest things to do as a writer, blog or otherwise, is remaining totally and completely unbiased when reporting. As the saying goes, “that’s easier said than done,” definitely applies here. Brandy Norwood or Brandy [to the masses] has had a rollercoaster career. Despite all of her success, and this is why I previously said being unbiased is easier said than done, Brandy to me has always been a mediocre/average singer and lacked that “IT” factor. She definitely has had a career full of accolades for her accomplishments and im by no means trying to take away from that. However, as the 2000s have proven, Brandy has been relegated to the category of people arent overjoyed at the news of hearing that you have new music, nobody is checking for you. She is a very boring as a celebrity and her lack of buzz doesn’t help at all. She shares this home with other 90’s early 2000’s artist like Ashanti, Omarion and dare I say, Monica. All of the aforementioned artist are either working on a new album, waiting to release a new album or recently released a new album. They are all hoping that they can reinvigorate their careers in the way that Mariah Carey did when she released her critically acclaimed “The Emancipation of MIMI.” Now this album or project has been a long tedious labor of love for Brandy. Label changes, underwhelming singles and a new found drive and excitement in life has culminated in the braggadocious, potent Two Eleven.  Anybody that dabbles in cheap liquor and beer knows that 211 is not to be played with and the ultimate question is, since Brandy has named her album after a drink that’s designed to get you messed up quickly and cheaply, is this the shot in the arm that R&B is in need of?

History has proven that Brandy can drop hot singles and can produce good albums. However, the 2000’s [in my opinion] have not been kind to her because she fell off severely and had it not been for Ray J, Brandy would have been relegated to the “Where Are They Now” specials on VH1. This album has continued that pattern with its lead single “Put It Down” feat Chris Brown. This uptempo club driven song has reached #2 on the Billboard charts and shows that this album is not one to just collect dust or to use as a coaster. She then dropped her latest single, “Wildest Dreams” and its slowly starting to get airplay and spins. However, this single is a reflection of the majority of the album. Its ok and shows promise but just isn’t quite there yet.  The album shows her growth as a woman and not just an artist and she shows this vulnerability and strength in the Frank Ocean penned “Scared of Beautiful.” This is my absolute favorite song on the album followed by “No Such Thing As Too Late” and “Can You Hear Me Now.” These two songs resonate the advice Mary J Blige gave on the Voice this past week, “If you can’t hit the note, sing the note with emotion and feeling. The words speak for themselves but make us believe them because you believe them.” Outside of these tracks the album is average, the production sounds very dated in places and the album slows in parts. I have found that this album rings true to the notion that what you are going through in life affects the emotions and perceptions evoked from music.  This album gets a C+/B- rating from me.

This is definitely going to be a sleeper album and will creep up on you slowly but will not blow you away. As previously stated, im not the biggest fan of Brandy but I admire her work ethic and in order for me to enjoy the album I focused on the lyrical content. I allowed myself to really listen to the story being told and not the vessel being used. Go show Brandy some love and cop Two Eleven! Brandy aint done yet and with a little more work and a few tweaks to her public persona she will be back on top of the game.

Iggy Azalea Trap Gold

I remember the first time I met DC Emcees Jay Mills, Maria J the Postergirl and Cedes at Pure for a relief concert in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. It was at that moment that I saw the hardwork and dedication each of these female emcees put into their craft and made me wonder why they didnt have major attention. Watching each command the stage and mic proved it was all about the skill and not just a pretty face, sex appeal or gimmicks. Consequently, I made it my mission to collab with them. Im 1 of 3 on the collab but that’s another story for another time. After numerous other performances (male & female) I left with probably the most life changing, thought altering statement of my life from these ladies. They said, “Dont call me a FEMCEE! I am an EMCEE! Does my gender limit my lyrical ability?” I was speechless due to the depth and complexity of the statement/question. I didnt look at the term disrespectfully but they’re statement resonated with me loud and clear.

Fast forward to October 2012 and im listening to the Grand Hustle, G.D.O.D. (Get Dough or Die), Hustle Gang first lady, Iggy Azalea! Now anybody that knows me knows I absolutely love Iggy. This is project 4 or 5 for Iggy and not dismissing the growth and obvious TI Influence, Iggy has stayed true to herself. Despite her major label deal with Interscope falling through when she aligned with Grand Hustle, Iggy has stayed in the mainstream eye. Where it be for her useless beef with NY rapper Azalea Banks, major features (where she more than held her own) or the major endorsements! With all the accomplishments Iggy has achieved she hasn’t forgotten nor forsaken what got her here, the MUSIC!

On the Trap Gold EP, Iggy has only one feature and it’s from southern legend, Juicy J. This speaks volumes for 2 reasons:

  • It’s from someone outside of her clique and yet its a legend in the game and he co-signs her ability as an artist and
  • She proves that she doesnt need her team to make her hot (like a French Montana)

Her last EP, Glory, featured 2 of her biggest singles, “Murda Buziness” feat TI and “Millionaire Misfits” ft B.O.B. Iggy also caught flack and her lyrical ability questioned due to her XXL Freshmen cypher. Now Glory showed that she can make good music but it appeared [on a grand scale]  she needed help. Fresh off the Hustle Gang cypher at the BET Hip Hop Awards, not only was she apart of arguably one of the best cyphers (comparable only to the Ruff Ryders) but her verse was better than 80% of those who participated. If we are comparing it to the other females that spit then she was bested only by Eve but then I could be slightly biased because its great to here Eve spit.

“Trap Gold” picks up where Glory left off. She is cocky, braggadocious and evolves along with her status in life. With every track, I hear the hunger of Ignorant Art while embracing the evolution of her surroundings and situation. This album showcases the direction of Hip Hop with the dance and experimental musical influence like the Diplo produced “Yo El Rey” or the FKi produced “Quicktime.” She keeps it gutter with Juicy J on “Flexin & Finessin” and then sexily gutter on ” 1800 Bone.” These are the standout tracks or the ones I grooved hardest too but this is 11 song album is no slouch. Iggy by far is NOT to be slept on. If you dont know yet, you really need to get familiar. You can cop the album here:

THE RELAUNCH, A NEW DIRECTION

WOW! Life has been moving a mile a minute. The #LALifestyle can be very overwhelming and is truly a survival of the fittest culture. This is the west coast epicenter of entertainment. Everybody is an artist, actor/actress, entertainer or some form of affiliate to one of the previously mentioned. Its amusing at how many people claim they are on their grind but are stagnant. Is it because of LA’s hurry up and wait mentality? Well I refuse to become complacent and get caught up in the trap. If life has taught me nothing else it has taught me this, “You cant count on anyone else to do what you wont do for yourself.” So with that being said, let’s relaunch this blog and actually bring my vision to fruition. This is more than an occasional blog for reviews. THIS IS THE FUTURE OF LUVA LAND MUSIC and its affiliates, as well as, an in depth look into our culture and what matters to us.

Going forth, forward, avanti, this is the NEW DESTINATION OF GREATNESS. We will be introducing you to the NEW LEADERS of the FUTURE via interviews and events (both major and minor) whose goal is simply to uplift and inform the community. However, we are not all business all the time this is most definitely the place to be to ROCK OUT! As a DMV native, LA transplant, you will meet the who’s who of the U.S. You will have the privilege of meeting young business moguls like Joeline “J Beauty” Bennett and #TEAMPRETTY and Vernon Davis (of Buckle Down Finance and the FeteLife) to underground sensations like Jared Brady and Sam3 (of Triple G’z Ent). The music reviews that you have come to love will still be here (consistently…LOL!), new weekly music drops to keep you ahead of the curve and we’ve even added to the staff! So look forward to the contributions from the new writers! I will introduce the new staff to you guys in a later post.

Lastly and most importantly, it is my (our) goal to keep the integrity of the blog intact and remain scathingly, unflinching in its content. Everything posted will e done tastefully but are the sole opinions and discretion of the writer. This will by no means be a place of shock value but will be unapologetically true to itself. Remember truth is subjective – what may be your truth, may not be mine and vice versa. So let’s spark conversation and debate. ALL COMMENTS, QUESTIONS AND CONCERNS ARE WELCOME AND NEEDED!!

Let’s make history…

~TL