Waka Flocka Flame
I never in my life wanted to rap. Let me quote that sh*t now.—Waka Flocka Flame on his 2009 debut mixtape, Salute Me or Shoot Me, Vol. 1
Waka Flocka Flame didn't want to be a rapper when he grew up. He didn't want to write hit songs, perform in front of thousands of people at packed clubs or hear his songs played on radio stations across the country. But more than a year after bursting onto the scene with his debut single, "O Let's Do It," the Atlanta rapper has managed to make more of an impact on the music industry than most rappers who have spent their entire lives trying to do it. And thanks to an influential cosign from fellow ATLien Gucci Mane, and a string of chart-topping singles, including the remix to "O Let's Do It," featuring Rick Ross and Diddy, and his latest hit, "Hard In Da Paint," it doesn't look like Waka Flocka is ready to quit rapping anytime soon.
"I never dreamed I would be doing what I'm doing today," says Waka, who earned his unique nickname from a cousin when he was younger while they were watching an episode of Jim Henson's classic puppet show, The Muppet Show (he later added the "Flocka Flame" to the end of it at the suggestion of Gucci Mane). "I never imagined I'd become a rapper, let alone a successful rapper."
Born Juaquin Malphurs in Queens, N.Y., Waka Flocka certainly had all the connections to forge into music at a young age. He grew up around the corner from Murda Inc. recording artist Ja Rule, lived near LL Cool J's grandmother and even had a cousin who used to hang around the popular group Lost Boyz in the mid-1990s. But when his mother Debra Mizay—now the CEO of artist management group Mizay Entertainment—relocated the family to Riverdale, Georgia when Waka was 11, he shied away from music and instead focused on his love for basketball. And after his youngest brother died in automobile accident when Waka was just 14, he moved even further away from it, instead opting to spend his time running the streets of Atlanta with his friends.
"That whole period of my life really messed with my head," says Waka. "I ain't even gonna lie—it killed me as a man. But it also made me stronger as a man in the future."
At 18, Waka looked on as his mother began managing the career of Gucci Mane, who had established himself as a force to be reckoned with in Atlanta at the time by performing relentlessly throughout the South. Within two years, Waka began messing around with music himself alongside local producer Tay Beatz, who helped him shape his rambunctious personality on the microphone. "I was going through so much at the time," says Waka. "I had so much stress and so many issues. I couldn't release my emotions physically, so releasing them verbally was the only option I had."
The result was Waka's 2008 mixtape, Salute Me or Shoot Me, Vol. 1, featuring the trap anthem, "O Let's Do It," a song that caught on instantaneously in the A and quickly spread to other parts of the country. It allowed Waka to take his show on the road and also earned him a coveted slot in Gucci Mane's 1017 Brick Squad clique. "Gucci and them were kind of shocked," says Waka, "because nobody really knew I was rapping and then, all of a sudden, I had the biggest song in the South."
But all the sudden success also took its toll on Waka. In January 2010, he was shot several times at a car wash in Atlanta during an alleged robbery attempt. The following month, legendary East Coast artist Method Man was doing an interview on satellite radio and spoke out against Waka, criticizing the lack of lyricism involved in crafting his style of music. He also endured a short rift in his relationship with Gucci Mane recently after the rapper parted ways with his mother's management company in May. The incidents earned Waka a reputation as one of the most controversial artists in the industry—a reputation that he doesn't feel he deserves.
"People have definitely gotten the wrong impression of me so far," says Waka. "I don't know why they think I'm so controversial. I guess people just don't know the real me yet. It's up to me to change their minds."
He's spent the better part of 2010 doing exactly that. Earlier this summer, he released "Hard In Da Paint," a catchy Lex Luger-produced track that inspired a slew of freestyles by other artists. He also put the finishing touches on his debut album, Flockaveli—the first released through So Icey/Asylum/Warner Bros. Records. Featuring the rowdy intro, "Bustin' At 'Em," the strip club anthem, "No Hands," featuring Roscoe Dash and Wale, and the brutally-honest closing track, "Fuck This Industry," it promises to be one of the most energetic debut albums of the year.
By naming it Flockaveli, Waka—who calls 2Pac his favorite rapper of all-time—is also doing more than just being controversial for the sake of being controversial. "2Pac introduced me to a guy named Machiavelli," says Waka. "His back was always to the wall and people threw sticks and stones at him and he had to keeping blocking them. When I recorded this album, that's how I felt."
And if anyone doesn't like it? "I don't care," says Waka. "I'm just going to keep on making my music."
For a guy who claims he never wanted to be a rapper, he's certainly come around to the idea.
Wooh Da Kid
As an original member of the So Icey Boys, Wooh Da Kid is stepping out and making his way. Originally from New York, this Queens born and bred rapper is making moves and taking names. With songs like "Body Bag", "Get Up Off Me", and "Totally" that features fellow Mizay Entertainment family members Gucci Mane, Waka Flocka, and Muffy, he's definitely doing right by the fam. Expected to have an even more stand out year in 2011 than he's had previously, Wooh Da Kid is definitely on his way.
A multi-talented young lady, fifteen year old Reema Major has a bright future ahead.
First introduced to music at the age of 5 through her older cousin who used to rap, Reema has been around the mic her whole life. She moved to Kansas City at the age of 9 and spent a lot of her childhood there writing and rehearsing. Bay Area artists were a big influence in Kansas at the time, and she was mainly introduced to hip-hop through them. Eventhough she doesn't listen to much of it now, Reema still manages to astound listeners with her delivery and lyrical abilities.
Moving to Toronto in 2009 facilitated a lot of things for the young artist. She was introduced to Kwajo Cinqo from Canada's legendary hip-hop group Ghetto Concept, and her career took a toll for the better. Kwajo absolutely loved Reema. "From The Moment I met her I knew that she was destined to be a superstar," Kwajo says. "I was very impressed by her confidence, swagger, and lyrical wordplay. I feel she is the hottest female in the game and she's only 15!" Besides her skills on the mic and her glowing beauty, Reema has incredible work ethics. A studio enthusiast, she understands the amount of effort and work that goes into taking herself to the top. In one session she easily records 3-4 records, which she pens herself. Her writing ablities make her a sought after ghostwriter. "I want to go down as one of the best female rappers ever," she says matter-of-fact. And she knows it's not going to be an easy task.
Her sound is versatile, and it depicts her worldly outlook on life. At only fifteen years old, Reema speaks Arabic and Tribal Tongue (Sudan) as well as English. Her music is a reflection of her personal experiences and not those of others around her. As an artist, Reema has the potential to relate to a large fan base thanks to her vast cultural exposure. For the past three years she has also been taking acting classes both in the U.S. and Canada, preparing herself for a career in film also. Her style doesn't fall behind of her music either. Reema is looked up to by a lot of young females her age for her impeccable fashion sense. Although she is young, Louis Vuitton and Gucci are her favourite stores to shop at any given day.
Working with G7 Universe as her home label, she has access to some of the best guidance and resources any label could offer. With a powerful team behind her, Reema Major is sure to break boundaries with her music. Her first single "Gucci Bag" was released to an online audience in October of 2009 introducing her to the public. Due to the large demand and positive feedback, Reema released her first mixtape "Youngest in Charge" in January 2010 to an online audience as well. The feedback was terrific. Her second street single "Arabic Princess" off her mixtape followed shortly and it has helped Reema break through a young audience. Both her singles are now available on iTunes. Currently she is working on her second mixtape entitled "I'm So Major", which is due to come out in spring 2010. This CD will differ from her first mixtape as all the songs will be on original beats produced by Kwajo Cinqo, T-NYCE, Major Music, and the Fliptones. To maximize the fans' visual experience, G7 will soon also be releasing short videos for Reema's first two singles: "Gucci Bag" and "Arabic Princess" in spring 2010. This year, Reema is also working on several other projects outside of music, and is preparing to launch her own clothing line in Fall of 2010.
Reema Major has a big year ahead, and it's all hers for the taking.
DJ D Strong [BET 106 & Park]
As a rising star on the scene, seasoned beat blender DJ D-Strong is quickly becoming one of the most notable and dynamic DJs, one who is writing his own rules and trail blazing his way through the music industry. Drawing on his diverse musical background and a rapidly expanding fan base that began in Central Florida, DJ D-Strong knows no limits and is fully committed to his craft.
Whether it’s thousands of fans cheering worldwide on tour with multiplatinum recording artist Ciara or thousands of partygoers standing wall-to-wall at some of the country’s hottest nightclubs, DJ D-Strong’s electrifying turntable talents will undeniably keep the crowd rocking all night long. His high-energy delivery and unmatched, cutting-edge music selection will guarantee anyone in his presence a good time.