Monikker's Hip-Hop Blog

#41: Just Do It! Pt 2 

Part 1 of this series was #31: Just Do It!

As I mentioned in that show and blog post, people wildly underestimate how long it can take to achieve a specific goal.

It's rarely the case that a task is actually hard; it just takes much more energy and time than I thought it would.

It's like Hercules when he's swimming in the Underworld and trying to get to the old ladies before they cut his life thread...but he's aging like 20 years as every 5 seconds passes.

And because of that, it becomes hard to accomplish big tasks.

Of course there are the instances where I don't have the skillset and it's not something I can easily figure out.

But most of the time, those tasks are things I have to do rather than ones related to my passions and calling that I'm CHOOSING to do.

Maybe you're not trying to start a business or have a career as a musician.

What are other areas in life that usually take way longer than we thought?

Hmm...getting a job. 

Finding a spouse/partner.

I've made the mistake of thinking that a few job applications would do the trick.

You could be a few swipes away on a dating site from your dream person.


It could months later with many interviews or dates or people you've talked to and you've got no job or partner.

That's usually how it goes unless you settle for the first lousy offer.

When I was looking for a job a few years ago, I read that it was common for a highly qualified candidate to wait 6 months before getting a decent job offer.

You'd think that if you had a lot of skills and experience, it'd be a cakewalk to land a good job, right?

Nope because all the interviewers are brand new faces who don't know who on earth you are.

It takes a lot of time and energy to prove that you're someone worth hiring.

Let's think about this if you're in business or a musician marketing yourself.

You need to put in a lot more effort and time than you thought you did just to get noticed by a few people.

This is where my local indie friends seem to come up short.

One of them complained that some folks who moved here from out of town were a popular act here.

He was like, "They're not even from Austin."

Ironically, my friend wasn't even originally from Austin either...he's just been here longer.

I got the weird idea that he felt entitled to have more success than the other group just because he's been in Austin longer.

The stories we tell ourselves!

Nobody owes you anything, especially when they don't even know you.

The more popular act made better records than my friend and put on a better show than he did.

They also had a strong networking game.

In other words...they put more time and effort into the whole thing.

Why was my homie so entitled? 

He hadn't done much. 

If you want people to talk about you, you need to actually do some stuff.

And probably a lot of stuff.

Getting rid of your entitlement will help. 

Then, you are free to succeed or not succeed.

You're willing to do the work no matter the consequence.

Like it's 2:30 am and I haven't posted in awhile.

It's really easy to stay embarrassed and just continue not posting or just...fade away.

Or go to sleep.

Or whatever.

But I'm posting anyway.

(I did take Excedrin and these are normal waking hours for me so no harm no foul ;P )

There's a lot of excuses people give as to why they think others should just bow down and pay attention/$ to them...

  • I've been here longer
  • I'm 50 and you're 20, you're dumb
  • I have a PhD
  • I'm an artist
  • I made music
  • I put music online
  • My music is on iTunes
  • My childhood was worse
  • I'm a Christian
  • I'm not a Christian
  • I'm gay
  • I'm a woman
  • I'm not gay
  • I'm not a woman
  • I'm not a man or a woman
  • I can rap good
  • I made something and now I'm selling it

The most wonderful feeling is realizing that a lot of people are judging and criticizing you and pretty indifferent about whether or not you succeed.

But I kind of like pissing people off by existing and publishing my own content that they think sucks.

It's fuel to me to know that people are out there talking about me.

Hey, free publicity.

When I'm dead my name won't be on nobody's lips for too long.

Don't worry about your content having pristine I've said, if no one even knows who you are's not like the president is going to be looking at your content.

But even then....

The president eats KFC and McDonald's so quality is not exactly his standard.

You see what I mean though?

Some people LIKE low quality.

By low quality I don't mean that the IDEAS behind the content suck, I just mean that the execution is low budget/bad skillet/not great.

If the ideas and personality are there, you're allowed to have grammar and spelling errors and iPhone videos (Selena Gomez shot both of her new music videos on the new iPhone...just saying...) and out of focus photography.

I just posted an IG post today and I'm pretty sure I'm not all the way in focus (I'm the subject of the pic).

And I thought it hilarious, I posted it anyway and on purpose.

I'm gonna post pics that aesthetically offend people on purpose.

I haven't gotten many leads from IG anyway so, it really *doesn't* matter.

To me it matters more that I hooked up with a new photographer, got some free photos, and made it work for my content strategy.

A lot of people just sit around and go "I can't afford a photographer" and I have no idea how to find someone who won't charge me.

You gotta be creative ALL THE TIME.

Not just when you're making music.

Sometimes when people act like marketing is a nasty disease I have a hard time dealing.

Doing marketing is like being in a room with someone whose face is ugly but has a beautiful soul.

Marketing has an ugly face but a beautiful soul.

So everyone just thinks it's ugly cause they never took the time to learn about its soul.

I think of marketing as an art for sure.

You have to take a product or service, one that probably hundreds of thousands of people are also doing, and compete for business.

It's like the Business Olympics.

There aren't really awards for best marketer or best copywriter...just best CEO, best artist, best product etc etc.

Even the fans and consumers get more love!

Without any marketing, no one even knows who the CEO is.

So let's give it up for the folks who magically and masterfully turn $50 into $150.

Let's give it up for the folks who take aesthetically crappy media and figure out how to get people paying attention.

Because that needs to be you (if you don't have anything else...just DO YOUR BEST LIKE MOM ALWAYS SAID)

And you don't have give yourself any label that you don't want.

Don't call it marketing just call it..."not being a dumbass if I want people to care about who I am."

If the president can eat KFC and McDonald's as his preferred meal choices, and still become president, then nothing is impossible for you my friend.

Post those out of focus photos with the grainy quality and "umms" in your podcast and blogs that 5 people will read.

ALL of my favorite entrepreneurs and musical artists started off with crappy YouTube videos.

They all came up in the 2000's decade but I really don't think it's changed enough for you to suddenly need $1000 videos.

In fact, people are tired of the polish and fake and deceitful marketing so...

Time for some honest, authentic marketing.

Now, this doesn't mean you should lose mystery.

Configa and I were on a phone call this week and agreed that posting 5 selfies a day is a bad idea.

But a couple selfies a week...I don't see the problem.

Just make them flattering.

Google how to take better selfies.

I think I actually learned one tip from Justin Bieber and it improved my selfies a lot...

In general, don't post unflattering stuff.

It can be crappy aesthetics and still be flattering.

If it's flattering but the aesthetics suck I think that only adds to the mystery.

When it's all clear and polished and perfect there's not really any mystery...unless it's staged mystery...but's staged.

People like authenticity.

But at the same time, they like being lied to.

Just ask any honest person who goes on dates - they're still single.

You gotta learn to cloak yourself in some mystery, not give it all away, not be too forward and revealing.

You can do that at any quality level.

Basically, you have to learn how to be authentic and lie to people all at the same time.

I actually do have a term for this: I call it "staged authenticity."

Some people I've worked with have claimed that marketing is dead because everyone wants authenticity.

Believe me my friends, marketing will never be dead as long as humans exist.

And believe me, people THINK they want authenticity.

It's exactly like how we all know that girls don't want the good guy she says she wants.

She THINKS she wants the gentleman who opens doors, waits to sleep with her, is her friend, is super nice.

But nope - that's not what she responds to. She wants the guy who gives her an EXPERIENCE.

So you gotta give your people an experience and there ain't nothing wrong with that.

Bieber's YouTube videos worked so well not because of the videos - there was something special about that kid!

That's what I'm getting at.

Just communicate YOU in the most flattering light.

Finding what's flattering and what people respond well to takes time.

Unless you've already got an incredible charm - then please stop reading and go make content.

Find and exploit your charm - that's why we love those old hip-hop records because they had charm, not polish. 

This is music from people who can't afford stuff.

I want to talk more about this in Part 3.

P.S. You can take down content any time you want.

I do this all the time.

Then it becomes sort of a game - if you can simply delete it then is any of this even real?

(It's not real anyway; time is an illusion, you're going to die and then sun is going to blow up. One day soon it won't matter if you did or didn't publish content and give yourself a shot at ALL THE THINGS YOU EVER's better to just go for it.)

Makes me think of a discussion I had about panic attacks with former co-workers: I thought I had bad anxiety at times, but I found myself in a convo with 3 other people who said they get actual panic attacks.

Maybe I've had a couple before, I don't know.

But theirs sounded BAD.

And these were people way more competent at their job than I was (not music or marketing related lol).

One of them said she keeps Xanax or some other anxiety med with her: "Just knowing that I have it in case I need it makes me feel better."

So think of the delete button like your emergency Xanax: it's there if you need it! Should make you feel better!

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#40: Use Social Media (Don't Let It Use You) 

A lot of people complain and argue on social media...often about politics. 

What if they continued that conversation on a blog post, podcast or video?

Then at least you're turning your complaints into something productive...the potential for a future revenue stream.

If you only want to distract yourself on social media, maybe this blog isn't for you.

Every time you post content online (a single tweet is content), you're placing a tiny brick in the foundation of your brand.

I believe that everyone is their own brand whether they realize it or not.

Even if you don't have a tangible product to sell.

Your opinions and beliefs that you post online are branding you.

We’re using Facebook and Twitter to brand ourselves, but most of us aren’t strategizing our brand.

We’re helping Facebook and Twitter’s brand more than ourselves.

“If you’re not paying for it, you’re the product.” 

Every time you post, you’re allowing social media platforms to keep their doors open.

They sell data and ad space. 

They can't do that without consistent, loyal users.

I said in Episode #11 to take your relationships off social media as soon as possible.

The reason why is because you don’t own your social media posts or followers - the platform does.

Every pic you post of your cat or kid or event isn’t your photo anymore.

Facebook owns it.

It doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t use social media, just that social media is a tool for you to use.

It’s just one part of your overall strategy to connect with people.

Since you don’t own your social media posts and you don’t own your list of followers, you need to have a list of contact info outside of social media.  

Relying ONLY on social media could lead to a bad time if your account goes down for some reason.

You can organize your opinions and monetize them one day

If you're archiving your thoughts online anyway, why not organize them beyond social media?

You may be one of these people who can talk all day...

I see a lot of long Twitter threads...

There's your outline for a blog post or for a show.

Turn on your mic and go to town for 30 minutes...then post it.

Then do it again and again and again.

It's cathartic, almost like therapy where you get relief just by getting it out of you.

It might be a long time before anyone wants to buy anything from you.

But maybe someday they will.

If you keep going, you'll find your niche.

Doing this at least gives you control over your problems rather than being a victim of them.

You can at least say you turned the negatives into a positive (you have a cool blog, show, art, etc).

Most people just complain on social media and do nothing positive with that energy.

The energy is always going to be there.

It's up to you to do something negative or positive with it.

Ranting and raving on social media is one way to use that energy...

Here's a more positive way to use that energy, which will also help distract you from your woes:

Turn those same opinions into a well thought out argument, organize it into content on your website, then promote your site and mailing list through social media.

Find your people and community who want to hear from you.

One day, your following and archive will be long enough for you to charge $ for something.

A subscription site, a book, a course, a speaking tour, services for hire...the sky's the limit.

In the peer-reviewed "How much is social media worth? Estimating the value of Facebook by paying users to stop using it," the researchers found that a Facebook user's account is worth at least $1000 a year.

If Facebook were going to pay someone to deactivate their account based on the value of the account (to Facebook), they'd need to pay the user at least $1000 a year.

That’s how much FB owes you for a year of using their site and posting on it.

That’s how much your membership is worth to them.

If you’ve used FB for the last 10 years like I have, that’s $10,000. 

We’re all basically part-time employees with no paperwork. 

If you’re regularly on a handful of social media sites, you’re promoting those sites for free.

The least you can do is use your accounts as a tool to develop your own voice and brand. 

Those long tweet threads make a good outline for a longer piece of content.

You can then promote your content through social media and drive traffic to places you own like your website, channel, mailing list.

It gets you off someone else’s turf like Twitter and playing by your own rules.

If you don’t like to write, record a voice memo or video and go on Fiverr and get someone to transcribe it.

Then you can post the transcription as a blog post or just post the audio/video recording. 

Go earn your $1000 that Facebook won't pay you. 

Take care of yourself by organizing and monetizing your views. 

It’ll take your mind off all the things you can’t change.  

This is in your control.

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#39: The Evolution of the Mixtape 

The evolution of the mixtape goes hand-in-hand with the evolution of hip-hop and rap.

The mixtape has always been an effective medium for street music to be passed around.

I asked you on Twitter if you think the mixtape is dead - it seems not.

Mixtapes have transformed throughout the years since those first hip-hop tapes in the '70s.

It remains to be seen how its role for rappers and DJs will play out.

We can break the evolution into four eras:

1. The ‘70s-’80s focused on the DJ. 

The first hip-hop mixtapes were mainly live mixes for fans to relive concerts.

Hip-hop broke through the mainstream on radio and vinyl sales with "Rapper’s Delight." 

But the majority of hip-hop fans knew that hip-hop was mainly captured on low quality dubbed tapes.

These mixtapes weren't made professionally in the studio.

Some early hip-hop crews like the The Furious Five had dozen of live mixtapes they’d sell at their shows. 

In Red Bull Music Academy's "History of Hip Hop Mixtapes," Grandmaster Flash said people with money would be the ones hitting him up for his tapes...

“'The people that was buying my customized tapes [in the ’70s] were the scramblers, the dealers, people that had money,' Grandmaster Flash told in 2007. 'I was making a couple thousand dollars a month, easy, just doing this.'”

That’s almost $5k a month in today’s dollars since the value of a U.S. dollar has doubled since 1980.

Just for dubbed live tapes. 

This was an incredibly lucrative market... even though the tapes weren't sold in more established music stores and catalogs.

These always have been street tapes, away from the eye of the mainstream. 

2. The ‘80s-’90s shifted focus to the vocalist/rapper.

Fans, labels, and music executives began to focus on the rapper instead of the DJ's skills.

DJs responded by making compilations with exclusive artist freestyles.

They concentrated less on their mixing.

Turntablism and scratching became less prevalent. 

Mixtapes were used to launch rapper careers.

The music was no longer focused on DJ skills or live shows but on the vocalists.

Labels and record distributors caught on and the mixtape process became industrialized in cities outside of New York 

In some ways, mixtapes replaced four track demos.

Artists previously pitched their demos to record labels to get signed and drop a more professional album.  

3. In the 2000s, the DJ became unnecessary for a mixtape.

The mixtapes were still curated by DJs...until 50 Cent dropped 50 Cent is the Future in 2002.

As DJ Drama said in Billboard, "There's the mixtape game pre-50 Cent and post-50 Cent."

This changed the entire mixtape landscape.

Rappers no longer needed a DJ co-sign to launch their careers.

The long era of DJs controlling the music was officially over.

Artists used mixtapes for free promotion and to build hype... 

Jacking popular beats with their own raps and promoting as their own song. 

50 Cent is the Future was a smash hit and led to his signing to Shady Records.

Shady released his #1 rap album, Get Rich Or Die Tryin'.

50 Cent is the Future came after his first label, Columbia Records, dropped him.

They shelved his still unreleased original debut album.

50 Cent took his career into his own hands by dropping his own music...

Much like how Jay Z created his own label when he couldn’t land a record deal several years earlier.

50 didn’t even record this album in the U.S...he had to record it in Canada because he couldn’t find a studio in the U.S. who would record him.

Talk about no excuses. 

Another 50 Cent mixtape before Get Rich Or Die Tryin' had the hit single "Wanksta"...paving the way for mixtapes to achieve radio success. 

Blogs and mixtape sharing sites moved many careers forward with these digital downloads during the late 2000s.

Examples include: Meek Mill, Young Jeezy, Drake, Mac Miller, Logic, Kendrick Lamar, Nicki Minaj, Gucci Mane, and Lil Wayne.  

4. The 2010s
the "studio album" mixtape era

Mixtapes from artists like Drake and Chance the Rapper seem more like studio albums.

They perform well on the charts and award shows .

We're in the era of the "studio album" mixtape, but... 

The mixtape is still, at its heart, a reflection of the streets. 

It’s one of the cheapest ways to throw together a project that reflects your skill as a rapper.

You don’t need original beats or be good at mixing and mastering.

You don’t have to spend a ton of $ on artwork.

There’s charm in the DIY makeshift project that fans still connect with.

This is the spirit of the original dubbed tapes.

It still lives on today as rappers drop mixtapes via physical CD or through platforms like Soundcloud. 

Mixtapes were a way to bypass radio, stimulate your fan base, and stay discreet.

They still are for the majority of hip-hop artists.

Despite the commercialization of the mixtape, they still remain a medium for artists to utilize.

And a way for mainstream artists to satisfy their fanbase in between albums. 

Of course, the mixtape can also mimic a professional studio album if it wants to...

Many mainstream artists in the last several years have taken advantage of the free promo that comes with a highly professional release.

This is quite the opposite from the early days...dubbed tapes from live shows, which might have been recorded on an audience member’s boombox and still sold like hot cakes.

Sometimes at a steep price.

The tapes had to be handmade.

Now, a mixtape that sounds and looks like a full studio album is available to anyone on the planet with an internet connection. 

You don't HAVE to give away your mixtape for free...

Nipsey Hussle sold his physical mixtapes for $100 each last year.

"[Nipsey's] mixtape sold out in 24 hours, and just like that [he] had $100,000 and a whole lot of hype. 'It’s time we acknowledge what we all know: the music is free,' [Nipsey] said. 'We shouldn’t force people to buy it, what we should do is create different methods to monetize the connection.'" 

Smart dude, RIP.

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#38: Is Hip-Hop Dead? 

Another requested topic: hip-hop vs rap.

This is always an interesting discussion, often facilitated by Nas' 2006 album Hip-Hop Is Dead.

We ask is hip-hop dead?

No, it lives on in the underground, people say.

It's led me to ask how you define "the underground."

Nas admitted that although there were deeper implications in his album title, he also named it Hip-Hop Is Dead just to get people talking.

The conversation hasn't stopped.

If you look at the history of hip-hop as a subculture, you could argue that its origins are largely gone...

But that the spirit and power of the movement live on.

We find that most people think of hip-hop as a musical genre.

The "purist" way of thinking is that it's a specific subculture exclusive to its origins in the Bronx and Queens boroughs of New York.

From there, it spread via radio and performance and grassroots word-of-mouth.

That subculture was unique to that era in the ‘70s  

It's often referred to as a lifestyle that incorporates at least four elements of hip-hop: DJ’ing, rapping, graffiti, and breakdancing.

Rap is simply one of the elements...

You could make the argument that as hip-hop grew more in popularity, rap evolved into its own separate a musical genre.

Is rap a lifestyle or subculture? 

A community of people, a spirit, a movement?

Or is it a musical genre?

If you go back to its origins, hip-hop is inherently underground.

That is how it started.

If you're staying true with the original spirit of the subculture:

Music made from turntables...bootleg mixtapes passed around...illegal distribution and profit of copyrighted music...

The idea that a hip-hop artist should not care about money (the way a modern day rapper is perceived to care) neglects the fact that a lot of illegal profit was made during the early days of hip-hop.

In "#39 The Evolution of the Mixtape," I wrote that early crews were making as much as $2000 a month selling bootleg mixtapes in the '70s.

That's pretty good money for no radio play, small niche audiences, and underground mixes.

I've heard arguments that say if you hear rapping on the radio, it can't be hip-hop.

Hip-hop in its original form is by definition underground (if you believe that).

But there’s one problem...

I haven’t really found a good definition of what underground is.  

Has the internet changed the definition of underground?

Is there no more underground anymore? 

An article by Festival Peak argues this about the history of the underground:

"Underground" literally meant you couldn’t see or hear from that artist.

They didn’t have an outlet.

It’s the first time that a light went off in my head by hearing the word "underground."

When something’s underground, you can’t see it.

You don’t know it’s there.

In the older days, being underground meant people couldn’t see or talk to you - literally.

But the internet has made it possible to book all your shows, distribute your own music and have direct relationships with fans. 

Many people mix together "underground" and "independent."

It seems popular to say that independent artists are underground, especially if they're not on radio or considered mainstream.

I took to Twitter to ask you your thoughts on this.

Looks like you don't agree that underground and independent are the same thing!

However, more people agree that the internet has erased the inherent underground nature of music that can't be seen or heard.

If you can distribute your own music, are you underground?

If you have enough core base to make a full-time income from music, are you underground?

These are existential questions that may not have a definitive answer.

But I always come back to KRS One's famous quote:

“Rap is something you do. Hip-Hop is something you live.”

Leave a comment below and let me know what you think.

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Hip-Hop Daily Dose #37: What Would You Do With $1 Million? 

Just a couple things first...

1. The new Laidlaw Media podcast show.

It's Episode 2 and we got another fire episode on the way before December hits!

2. Diving into hip-hop memorabilia.

Starting my collection and giving away my first pieces for free...

The first is an autographed photo of Common.

I have two different photos...if you win, you get your choice.

DM me your email or just click here to sign up.

You'll be entered into all my free contests.

Let me ask you...

If you had $1 mil, what would you do with it?

It's one of the most common questions I've heard throughout my life.

It's easy to sleep on it, but your goals and desires may be buried deep within your answer.

Most of the time I hear people saying they'd blow it all.

It's easy to spend it on a nice house, luxury car, vacations, and expensive products.

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to spend $ on yourself and have fun.  

But...the people who would blow through it all probably aren’t listening to this podcast 

There’s no way you’re listening to this if you don’t have long-term goals. 

Maybe in the past you answered this question and said you’d blow most of it.

$1 mil isn't actually a lot of $.

You'll likely need more than that to retire...just for 20-30 years of living expenses.

We’ve heard hundreds of stories of athletes making millions and blowing through it all ending up bankrupt.

It's easy to do.

The Breakdown

You'll have to pay tax on this income.

You don't really have $1 mil.

Let's keep it simple and not get too bogged down in the taxes...

We'll just say you're starting with $750,000 cash.

Here's what I'd do with mine.

It aligns with my life and career goals

25% of $750k = $187,500

  • Pay off debt
  • Put one year of living expenses in checking account ($30k)
  • The rest in emergency savings

25% of $750k = $187,500

  • $187,500 invested in index funds and/or real estate
  • Not touching this until retirement

We've used up 50% of the total $750k.


$5k for business travel

One thing I forgot to mention in the audio show was the $5,000 I'd spend for traveling.

In the show, I only accounted for $745k instead of $750k.

Whoops, my bad.

That $5k wouldn't be for a nice luxury vacation.

I'd go to LA, New York, Atlanta, or possibly an international trip...

To meet music industry contacts and make beneficial connections.

I'm not getting a new house or car at this point.

$50,000 to upgrade my home studio recordings

Nothing too crazy.

Just good quality gear, mics and products to improve the acoustics.

The final $320,000...

All for Monikker Music content and promo.

  • Content production (could get expensive - outsourcing for videos, photos, social media, other content)
  • Merchandise and packaging
  • Building funnels and creating new digital/physical offers
  • Funding a tour

The rest would go to advertising to promote all of the above.

I should have $100k for the advertising budget.

And that's it...

With enough good content, merch, offers, and a good live show + using my advertising $ intelligently...

The goal would be to turn a profit out of $ spent on the entire second half of the $1 mil:

Business travel, upgrading my studio, and content + offers + promo.

If it takes longer than a year to recoup my investment, I still have over $100k in emergency savings.

This allows me another year or two at least of living expenses.

That's more time to successfully turn enough profit on my asset investments.

What would you do?

How has this post and show made you think differently about it?

Drop a comment below or Tweet me.

Click Here to get a free exclusive 16 bars freestyle from Monikker.

Hip-Hop Daily Dose #36: Should You Release a Single, EP, or Album? 

Got a request for today's show from @smokegenerxtor.

Great topic.

In this show and post, I talk about the pros and cons of EPs, singles and albums.

I find often that people don’t know what an EP is.

They’re typically not artists. 

Just as often, I find artists who seem to think an EP is beneath them. 

I’ve never quite understood the stigma against EPs. 

Why is an album better? 

Especially in the current musical climate:

People are ADD.

It’s hard to get and keep their attention. 

A lot of artists release standalone singles to combat this and give people a quick taste of their music.

Personally, (both as a fan and an artist), I’d rather hear 5 rock solid, incredible songs than 10-15 that have filler on an album.

Even if I really like that artist, I don’t tend to listen all the way through albums as much as I used to.

I want to hear the highlights.

But shouldn’t any release, whether it’s a single, EP, mixtape, or album only be filled with your best work?

That’s my mindset and how I want to approach any type of project.

My approach is that any song I write could be a single.

I’ve picked up this idea from TobyMac, who says he writes every song as if it would be the single.

I think sometimes artists get the idea that a “single” means it’s the most commercial track on the project....

Or the most pop, or has the widest appeal.

I just can't come up with a good reason to not get as many listeners as you can with your music.

That doesn’t mean you have to water it down or go “pop” or anything like that.

In my head, it means you’re bringing your, lyrics, and delivery.

If somebody who didn’t know you picked any random song from your should be as strong as any other song on the record.

Even if you’ve got different tempos, styles, and vibes on there.

That’s my mindset but I’m curious to know what you think.

Think of your project as your resume.

This is all that somebody has to go on right now...they’ve never heard of you before.

How are you going to approach that situation?

If you want to date somebody or make a new friend or business connection, do you bring your less impressive “filler” game?

Or are you out to make an impact on them?

You’ll probably at least try to be your sharpest, funniest, charming version of yourself.

Winning a new fan is a lot like seducing somebody (romantically, professionally, or otherwise.)

Give your absolute best.

If you’ve only got the juice to do that on 5 songs, I’d rather hear that project.

You might have to record 10 or 15 songs to get the 5 best songs.

What is an EP?

A recording project between 3 and 8 songs. Total run time doesn’t go over 30 minutes.

Apple actually inserts 'EP' at the end of your project title if your project meets their specific requirements for an EP.

Their definition of an EP is: a record than contains 4-6 tracks and is under 30 minutes.  

We tend to think of a single as just one single song, but Apple and Spotify have different specifications.

They consider a release to be a single if if has 1-3 tracks, and each track is under 10 minutes.

If any of the tracks were over 10 minutes long, they’d consider it an EP.

A lot of artists put "EP" in the title and cover art of their project on their own accord.

I'm not sure why there's such a need to make sure everyone knows this ain't a legit album!

The pros and cons of releasing an EP


  • Takes less time and $ to create   
  • Easier to plan out a concept or theme 
  • Audience attention is on the decline (shorter projects may keep their attention)
  • Easier to justify asking for the sale ($5 for an EP vs $10 or $15 for an album)
  • Big artists used EPs to help them get a record deal, including Black Flag and Eminem 
  • Used by established artists to keep fans happy in-between album releases 
  • An excellent project with 5 tracks is better than a good project with 12 tracks 
  • Keeps audience hungry 
 you always want to leave them wanting more, not less 
  • Less room for disappointment 


  • Often seen as an entry level debut 
  • Not taken as seriously
  • Media outlets don’t think it’s as newsworthy 
  • Weird stigma that an album is better because it has more music on it

EPs are great for artists still building their core base

You're more likely to introduce new fans to your music.

How likely are you to listen to an entire album by a random rapper you saw online?

At this point, I don't always listen to the full albums by artists I've followed for years.

An EP is easier to digest...especially if it's full of your absolute best music.

Whether it's our collective attention span or our patience that's declining...we move on quickly.

We like to stick with what we're familiar with (as much as we say we want novelty).

How will you break through to someone who's never heard of you before?

An EP can give people a taste of your sound and whet their appetite for a larger project.

Maybe people look down on EPs because they see them as an appetizer with the album being the main course.

I’d take an excellent EP over a good album any day.

But there’s no denying that an EP can essentially work as a glorified demo, which isn’t a bad thing at all.

It’s better to give people less and make them want more...than to give them too much.

Always leave your audience wanting more.

This will only help convert people to your side.

I often find that albums are just way too much (even with my favorite artists).

Save the less impressive cuts for your subscription site, mailing list, free download, or a B-side compilation later on.

You can use them for standalone singles in-between projects so people know you’re around with music good enough to release.

Sometimes artists don't release singles from EPs.

Why wouldn't you promote one project as heavily as you promote another?

It doesn't make sense to hold back on EP promotion...except that media publications don't cover EPs as often as albums.

Screw the media!

You've got social media, email, and texting accounts.

Plus doing live shows...and your website.

Get your music in front of people with or without media publications.

I love when artists release most of a project song by song before the final project release date.

Some of my favorite artists will drop a new song every week or every other week before the final release.

Only a few songs on the album are still unheard on release day.

There’s an excitement I get knowing I get to hear most of the album ahead of time if I pay attention. 

It's one of those treats you give to people who always want to hear more from you (your core or true fans).

I think it’s a good strategy to release multiple singles from a project.

Spend anywhere from 1-3 months promoting the crap out of each single.

If every song is hot and you’ve approached each song like it could be a single, why not? 

Most artists just drop the full project at one time with no pre-launch promo...

Other than some social media posts talking about the project.

You can drop one or two singles before the project is out to build anticipation for it.

This does take planning.

Here's what Quartz said in "Unless You're Adele, You Have No Business Releasing Album Tracks All At Once":

Superstars like Adele can get away with dropping a full album of new music...but it doesn’t make sense anymore for lesser known indie artists to spend years working on a new album and not drop any new music.

Quartz advocates for dropping steady singles throughout the year.

Then releasing them in a compilation such as an EP or mixtape.

Everyone's favorite rapper, Macklemore, took this approach to his success:

“More mainstream artists, like Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, took similar routes when breaking into the music scene. The Seattle-based hip hop duo began pushing tracks from their debut album 'The Heist' more than a year before the record dropped in 2012 to hype it up." 

The Chainsmokers stayed creative with their track releases:

"[They] released a new original track every month, along with music videos, behind-the-scenes videos, and other social content. After fans started discovering the new and older tracks, the Chainsmokers compiled their songs into an EP called 'Bouquet,' released in October. As of today (Oct. 29), the compilation is number two on the iTunes dance album charts.”

Whether you've only got a couple singles, a few tracks for an EP, or a full album...

Take the temperature of your core base and marketing strategy.

Have you built enough momentum for a full album release?

Is it reasonable to expect many people to buy it?

If yes, an album might be great for you.

Are you still scraping just to get people to remember your name?

Maybe you could drop your hottest single and promote the crap out of it (see other Hip-Hop Daily Dose shows for ideas on how to do that).

Got people asking what's coming next? 

Drop them with a single every month or so and then compile into an EP or mixtape.

Whatever you do, always remember that it's not so much what you're releasing but how you do it, and why.

Don't give up!

Want the best marketing tips, hip-hop coverage, and free music you can't get anywhere else? 

Just enter your email underneath "Be Part of the Movement" on the Monikker Music Home Page. 

Welcome to the Community :)

Hip-Hop Daily Dose #35: Pettidee Talks New Album, 'Alien' 

Pettidee celebrated the 20th anniversary of his first album, Still Alive, a few days ago.

"My first and second album, I was still living in the hood.

It was still really real...

'Hey don't wait until I die to put me on a t-shirt.

Put me on one now while I'm still alive.'

The whole concept for the first album was:

When I became a Christian, nobody see me in the hood anymore...

I was always at the studio, always at church...there was a lot of rumors in my hood that I had got in a shootout, I had got killed, I went to prison...

I was like you know what, I'm still alive. That's why I called the album Still Alive."

Pettidee escaped the throes of his early environment to become a successful rapper focused on his faith in Christ.

When he was in high school, Pettidee's sister and best friend were both in prison...

The DJ in his rap group shot somebody.

"As a hood kid I just saw the rotation...this is not gonna stop until it get me, cause it's getting the people around me."

Pettidee eventually left the hood, but his trials and tribulations didn't stop.

Grief hit when family members passed away, including his mom.

The financial collapse of 2008 forced him to lay off folks at his label, Soldier Sound Records.

Pettidee was sad to release artists from their contracts.

He said he felt kind of like Job from the Bible.

In the Bible story, Job's faith in God is tested through all sorts of bad luck and misery.

The record label had just started to pick up some steam.

Pettidee had a lot of questions for God.

"We just got this stuff going, what's going on? What did I do wrong?"

Somehow through it all, Pettidee pressed on.

Now he's back with his first release in almost 10 years, the brief and to the point Alien.

The concept for Alien comes from his reflections on culture as well as his own trials and tribulations.

Between the economic struggles and Pettidee's personal grief, he reminded himself:

"This ain't where I'm from...I'm an alien here."

As a believer, you adopt the mindset that you are "in this world, but not of it" and shouldn't lose sight of your spiritual purpose.

All the bad events are distractions from our true purpose on Earth.

Pettidee says the fast fashion element of social media and the way we give our opinion is really knocking us off our true path.

"I'm not trying to be super over spiritual, but at the same time the world and the ways of this world are really trying to snatch that from the church...

It's ‘thus saith my opinion' or 'what my take is on it.'

Everybody has an opinion...they’re saying stuff and then they gotta go back and apologize for it...

Did you ask the Lord if it was alright for you to say that or not?

No, people just think it, and type it and send it."

Pettidee wants people to take personal responsibility for their words.

But the record isn't meant to preach on culture or criticize.

Alien is an album full of anthems for the working class to turn up.

"If you on your way to work, that's why I got the song 'Work.'

The average working person don't have a theme song."

"Work" is that anthem you get up and listen to in your morning shower or on the way to work.

This is the first Pettidee record with zero production from Pettidee. 

Half of the records on Alien came from a producer named Mr. 808. 

808 grew up listening to Pettidee.

He's now on a production team called Boom Squad. 

They produced on Rick Ross' most recent album. 

Mr. 808 built a relationship with Pettidee over the years. 

When 808 sent a hot batch of new beats recently, Pettidee was ready to create Alien.

Pettidee knows what his lane is and he sticks to it.

He's not out here to impress everybody or get attention.

With song titles like "Work," "I'm On It," "No Pain No Gain" and "Be About It," he's here to get people up out of bed and moving in a positive direction.

It's authentic.

He knows from personal experience that sometimes you need a break, a hiatus, a change of pace...

But you gotta get back on it if you have a passion and a calling.

This brought us to a really important question:

What advice does Pettidee have for artists who want longevity in their career?

He's been in the game for over 20 years with multiple awards and nominations, film and TV placements, his own record label, and several successful releases.

I couldn't let him get away without finding out some of the work ethic and mindset behind his success.

Pettidee says he wants to inspire other artists to do what he calls "working in the windows."

"I write everything down because it keeps it out of my mind and on paper and I can check it off.

Working on the windows is...

'You know what? I have all these emails written down and I need to make these return phone calls.' 

So I'm at the bank or waiting somewhere and I'm gonna wait 15 or 20 minutes...that's a window.

So you take the windows and get something done...

Most people, in those moments that’s when they go to Instagram, Facebook, Twitter...

And they scroll over what everybody else is just waste some valuable time that you actually need...

On what everybody is doing and what the trend is..."

Pettidee says that one of two things can happen when you spend time looking at what everyone else is doing:

1. It can inspire you

2. It can fill you with doubt, anxiety, and overwhelm as you see people doing things you're not doing

When it comes to the latter reaction, Pettidee says:

"You can't do that.

Those time you spend swiping and liking, and I do it too, but I make sure that I'm not wasting time when I could be working in the window."

I asked Pettidee highlights from his career.

His achievements are impressive.

He produced on 5 GRITS albums, which included a Grammy nomination.

A lot of my friends know GRITS from the song "Ooh Ahh" which was the theme song for a popular MTV show called The Buried Life.

I mentioned one of my favorite GRITS tracks, "I Be," which Pettidee produced and rapped on.

He told me the story behind it.

"We were all on tour together. I produced that beat in the back of the tour bus.

They was like, 'We love this track! You gotta be on it!' 

I was like, 'What?!'

Even though they my homeboys, I'm still a fan. 

So I was cool with just producing for them and they was like, 'Yo, you gotta be on the record.'

I'm like, 'Bro I'm gonna be on a GRITS album! I'm producing and I'm gonna be featured on it!'"

Other achievements throughout the decades include production for the artist iROCC. The album won a Stellar Award.

One of Pettidee's albums, Resurrections: Past, Present and Future, was nominated for a Stellar Award.

He said he's been nominated for Dove Awards as well.

He also notes how much he's enjoyed spending quality time with his kids and staff...celebrating wins with them along the way.

Pettidee worked at a record store as a kid before he became a Christian.  

He met a lot of major artists and learned the music industry. 

The top artists would come to the top mom and pop record stores to sign autographs. 

It was during this time that he learned how important the hook is to a song. 

"When I would sell music...back then you didn't have Google...[people] would hear something on the radio or see a music video...they wouldn't know the artist, they would just come in with the hook in their mind."  

Folks would come into the store and say, 'Hey I want them boys that say, 'Heeeyyy, hoooo [the hook to 'Hip Hop Hooray' by Naughty By Nature].' 

And I would answer 'Oh ok that's the new Naughty By Nature.' And then I would grab them the record. 

And as an artist I was like oh ok, elementary hooks... 

These guys are lyricists but people are coming in...they don't know the artist but they know a piece of the hook. 

Even to now if you look at Missy Elliott, Jay Z...[hums melody to 'Dirt Off Your Shoulder' and recites hook to 'Get Ur Freak On'] 

It's like the elementary hook [is important]. 

Even if the lyrics are compact...I learned that... 

But I couldn't stay at the store forever... 

It was the peak of the crack epidemic and a lot of the music industry was funded by drugs... 

You had a lot of drug dealers and kingpins that want to hang around the music...and the record store... 

They want to be there when the artist get there and they want to show the artist a good time... 

Just kinda started being involved with what was going on in my neighborhood with the drugs...homeboys selling dope...another homeboy that was robbing people...getting involved in that but at the same time, deep in my heart knowing this ain't right, having a conscience." 

One of his neighbors invited him to church. 

He went just to appease her, but ended up dedicating his life and rapping career to Christ. 

Pettidee's formula of dirty south beats and street music to glorify his faith has worked well.

Pettidee had me tell the story of how I found his music.

(Not captured on the recording due to a bad connection at the end.)

I was active in church as a kid and my youth group had some rap CD's laying around.

They included some popular Christian artists at the time such as T-Bone, John Reuben...and there was Pettidee's Thug Love album.

He mentioned in our conversation that Thug Love was a high career point for him.

It was a smash hit in the Christian market.

Some of the music received placement on shows such as the #1 FX show, Sons of Anarchy.

I borrowed the CD from my youth group in high school and somehow never returned it.

I still have that copy.

I'd call it an accident that I didn't return it, but maybe I just knew no one else at that church would love the CD's as much as I would...

This is so long ago that maybe I'm making this up in my head, but...

I recall the pastor at that time giving a sermon.

He said he listened to Pettidee while writing the sermon.

He scored huge points in my world.

Just imagining the door open and seeing the pastor bobbing his head while Pettidee growls, "YYeahh!"

So funny and dope.

I'll never forget hanging out in my room with a Walkman, constantly changing the batteries because I played the T-Bone and Pettidee albums so much.

Pettidee is always writing and recording.

He currently has no plans to stop. 

Listen to the full interview for more valuable insights and wisdom from Pettidee...there were too many to count!

Cover photos used courtesy of Pettidee/Soldier Sound.

Buy the new album Alien here (currently on sale for $5.99) and snag the Pettidee shirt he was wearing in our conversation.

Laidlaw Media Podcast, Episode 2 

A brand new show from Laidlaw Media, headed by Configaration Records CEO and producer, Configa.

This is the second episode.

Click here to go back to the first show.

In #2, Configa begins an artist spotlight series.

The first feature artist is Maddogg McGraw.

Submit your music to Configa if you want to be considered for a future show.

Next, Monikker recapped a few recent and upcoming hip-hop releases:

  • New Black Star!
  • Lil Kim's 9
  • Yelawolf's Ghetto Cowboy after his separation from Shady Records

Last but not least, Monikker talked about a new Eminem autobiography entitled Not Afraid: The Evolution of Eminem.

Michael Carter (aka MC Said) hopped on the mic to finish out the show.

He detailed a riveting re-telling of Eminem's life and career.

MC made some unique points and observations...even re-naming some of Eminem's albums based on new context.

Tweet us your thoughts on the show @configa @laidlawmedia @monikker @101mwc.

Enjoy, and enter your email on the Laidlaw Media website to get new shows and more news. 

Sign up at the bottom of the home page.

Hip-Hop Daily Dose #34: What Happens When You Stay Consistent 

The main reason I'm dropping a podcast every day possible is this:

Consistency builds momentum.

The one thing successful rappers have in common is that they consistently write and record.

Many of them do it every single day.

(See "Hip-Hop Daily Dose #15: The One Thing You Must Do Every Day.")

Lil Wayne, Eminem, and Tupac are famous examples.

I also did a whole episode on Lil Wayne's content strategy.

I've talked to the vocal coach of one of the most famous singers of all-time (I'll probably talk more about this later).

He told me that consistency is what this industry looks for.

Let me unpack some of the great examples I've had in business and podcasting...

There's a guy named Dre Baldwin.

He used to be a pro athlete.

Now he writes about sports, discipline, mindset, and business topics.

He came up by posting a video every day during the early years of YouTube.

They were just videos of him doing basketball drills in the gym.

He didn't know what he was doing with the videos.

There was no plan to build a brand or following.

(Also, these weren't high quality vids...he used an old home movie camcorder)

Flash forward a few years...Dre's one of the most prolific YouTubers in the site's history.

Not many people publish a video every single day (maybe no one else has).

That's not all Dre did:

For years, he posted articles to his blog every day.

And I've been getting his daily email for years.

In 2016, I finished up an internship and was jobless for a few months.

(I tried and failed to monetize this very blog you're on right now)

At that time, Periscope was big.

Live broadcasting was just beginning.

As usual, Dre wasted no time diving into a new trend.

I'd get the notification that Dre was live and watch him talk about interesting topics.

Mindset, how to deal with people, business, marketing, creating content, rap, basketball...

Everything I'm interested in.

Shortly after, Dre started a podcast.

He discussed his decision to drop a podcast every single day for a year.

After the first year, he kept posting one every day.

The latest episode is #1279.

That's 3.5 years of a daily show.

Somewhere around 30-60 episodes ago, he started pulling them off Soundcloud.

The recent shows seem to cut off while he's in the middle of a point...they cut to an advertisement for his group membership offer.

These used to be free podcasts.

Now he calls them Masterclasses and charges $19 for each one.

They're also available as a collection on his membership site.

I used to have unlimited free access to them... 

I squeezed a lot of value out of them, but now I think should've taken notes. 

(I'm probably going to join his Game Group, it's inexpensive and has a lot of other exclusive material I've never seen.)

For years, he published the following:

  • A video
  • An email
  • A blog post
  • A podcast show
  • Social media posts

Every. Single. Day.

This guy really went hard in creating content.

Some would call it overkill.

But you know what...

He created courses around all of his content.

He's got over 10 of those...maybe even closer to 20.

He wrote books that expanded on the topics.

He's got around 20 books.

Yes, I didn't even mention that yet!

While publishing at least 4 major pieces of content a day, he still managed to write a lot of books!

And he works out every day because he's an athlete...runs marathons and stuff.

That's insane.

That's the kind of person I've been following for the past 5 years.

Thank goodness I have this example.

This is a real, true example of consistency to an almost absurd level.

People tell him he acts like a robot.

He robotically executes great content on a daily basis.

The quality isn't perfect...he's not spending too much time worrying about the design flaws of the pictures and videos and audio... 

He puts most of his focus on the subject matter.

Dre's consistency has led to the monetization of his brand.

Every idea and related experience goes into the creation of some form of content.

Then he recycles, refreshes, and adds upon the subject matter in a different medium.

What was once a blog post is now a podcast show.

What was once a free podcast show is now material for paid members-only.

You might think there's no way I'd pay to listen to shows I've already heard...

But he combines the archive with other material I'm not familiar with.

Dre's not the only model I have to follow...

I talk about Gary Vee a lot on Hip-Hop Daily Dose.

He's pretty famous.

Started off as a teen working in his dad's liquor store.

Built the Wine Library TV and had the first vlog about wine...

During the early days of YouTube.

When he took over operations of his dad's liquor store, profits skyrocketed.

How did he do it?

He vlogged non-stop.

Posting crappy, low-quality videos that got 50 views.

But his personality and wine expertise shone through.

Gary was always in the email marketing game...

He built the email list and sent a lot of emails.

He blogged.

He was on Twitter for hours every night after work, hopping in every conversation about wine.

Now, he has a pro media crew that captures his keynote speeches, conversations and random life moments and turns them into daily content.

He drops a podcast almost daily now.

He thinks that quality is subjective...some people will think your stuff rocks while others might pick it apart with critiques on your design.

Gary's message is to produce a lot of volume on topics you care about.

The right people will be attracted to it.

Chuck D posts a mammoth hip-hop show every single week.

Doesn't matter if he's at the train station, he'll still record.

There's a new "...AndYouDon'tStop" every single week.

Chuck D isn't too good to create can the rest of us be?

It's a good reminder to stay humble and not feel too entitled...

No one's required to listen to anything we put out into the world.

They have a lot of other people vying for their attention.

It takes a lot of patience mixed with impatience...

Impatience is needed on a daily basis, creating at levels that other people may find too much.

They're too patient...waiting days and weeks, or months.

Just taking way too long to publish something.

(See "Hip-Hop Daily Dose #29: Just Do It!")

In that sense, every day must be approached urgently and with impatience.

The long run is a patience game, however.

If the day-to-day is a sprint, well the long-term is a marathon.

It takes patience when you see that your shows and posts only have 8 listens.

It takes faith in the process that good content over time snowballs into an established brand.

It can take years.

Dre posted a daily podcast for over 3 years before selling the content to recent converts.

He's throwing so much other value into his offer that older converts (like me) are interested in paying him $ too.

Low views on your music, posts, podcasts etc are a rite of passage.

Every great influencer had 8 views at one time too.

It's not always about how many are listening, but who is listening.

It reminds me of a passage from the singer Sting's book, Broken Music.

When his old band The Police had their first single out, "Roxanne," radio didn't know who the group was yet.

The Police played a show and only around 10 people showed up.

They played their heart out anyway.

An influential radio guy happened to be there and started playing "Roxanne."

Other radio stations caught on.

They blew up from there, starting with that one radio guy.

A powerful reminder to do your best, and as much of it as you can, regardless of who's paying attention.

I need to make up a bit for lost time.

Here's what first foray into podcasting was at the very beginning of 2016.

I had a show on here called "Monikker's Rap Show."

I'd play some of my favorite tracks from the previous week.

It was fun, but cumbersome.

I fizzled out after a few shows.

This year in March, I created a show called "Money Talk."

I love the concept of it - it's not so different from Hip-Hop Daily Dose.

HHDP is probably what Money Talk would eventually become.

A show centered around hip-hop, marketing, and business.

There was some kind of mental block with that show.

I'd stay up all night, working on one show for several hours.

I've only released 3 shows of "Money Talk."

I worked on another podcast this year.

It centered around book reviews.

It was hours and hours of preparation to read a book chapter and outline it.

Then my friend and I struggled to record the material with the right flow between us.

I spent hours editing each episode...I think we made 3 episodes that I didn't completely finish.

It just felt like SO much effort and I wasn't sure why.

It was emotional energy for me to get on the same page with someone else.

Looking back, all this tells me I wasn't working with the right mix of material. 

When you're passionately connected to the material and have enough experience and research ability, you can get content out much quicker. 

When I got the inspiration for HHDD, I knew the scope of this show was more attainable for me.

Now I can get a HHDD show done in 1-2 hours...sometimes I spend extra time researching, listening to artists etc. 

Attaching long written posts such as this one takes a lot more time too. 

But it's all clicking in a way none of the other shows did (and I didn't do a single lengthy write up to accompany any of those past shows!)

By dropping a show every day, I feel like I'm making up for lost time.

What if I had published "Monikker's Rap Show" consistently over the last 3 (almost 4) years?

I'd be sitting in a totally different place, assuming I was happy making the show and people were vibing to it.

Podcasting was JUST taking off in 2016.

It was different from today, when "everyone" seems to have a podcast.

In the last couple of years, consumers have adopted podcasts as a viable entertainment source.

The last 3-4 years went by without consistent content from me.

I feel the consequences of that now.

The only option is for me to produce a lot of valuable material now.

All my "failures" have led be to become an urgent, action-taking producer.

My entrepreneurial role models see trends developing and jump in as early as they can.

It was smart to establish a regular podcast in 2015 or 2016.

Gary Vee and Dre Baldwin used them to add to their credibility and catalog of material.

Don't let too many days go by while you sit and ponder what to say.

By the way, I just found an article that says when Chuck D started his weekly radio show, "...AndYouDontStop."

(I couldn't find anything about it at the time of recording this HHDD).

He started in Nov 2009...

That's 10 years of a weekly show.

He's not racking up thousands of views on the Mixcloud tracks of the show...

Many of the shows don't even get 100 views and he barely has 1000 followers.

(I'm sure thousands of people tune in for the radio syndication, however.)

Here's an example of someone so committed and connected to the material, regardless of the outcome.

A LOT of people show up at his consistent live performances.

What he's doing is working really well.

Tons of past superstars fall off, never to be heard from again...

They put out a project no one buys...

People don't buy tickets to their concerts.

That's not the case with Chuck D.

He takes the time and effort to stay in the conversation.

The show name itself explains his work ethic "...AndYouDontStop!"

Chuck D doesn't take the time to stop at the age of 57.

I explored common music industry excuses in HHDD #32...

I dissected a promo email from an artist retiring a stage name due to all these "external circumstances."

I call them excuses that lead to failure if you maintain a scarcity mindset.

Chuck D has none of those excuses.

His results speak for themselves.

Success doesn't happen in one day:

It's the result of accumulated tasks you've completed over and over.

They compound each other, snowball, and create a wave of momentum you may have never even imagined was possible.

Go out there and just do it!

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Mini Manic: "Nothin's Real" 

HADES is back!

Mini Manic, his duo with New Orleans-based vocalist and guitarist, Jillian Kay, has released its first song.

The music is published via HADES' independent Austin-area record label, Black Market Pluto.

"Nothin's Real" is a trip hop-drenched track with Jillian's deep bluesy vocals.

Jillian's tortured vocals pull you in while HADES' music sounds darkly urgent.

The poetic lyrics represent a soul looking for relief in a broken world.

Reflecting on the new music, Jillian Kay said:

"It's crazy how it came together so unexpectedly.

Hades hit me up to collaborate and at that point I'd never really explored into this genre of music. It felt experimental to me.

I was definitely intimidated at first, but we just opened up another cool little door. I'm excited to keep moving and exploring with this project."

There's an other-worldly feel to the sound.

It's as if ghosts are trying to help us see what they see...the invisible forces around us.

It feels like Janis Joplin was transported back here to settle some unfinished business of her soul.

In the verse:

"Simplicity pulls me out of the self-induced coma my soul's been exploring.

Sacred is broken, nothing aligns in normal formation for spirits as I'm Aquarian, 'I'-rrationally trying to rationalize."

In the chorus:

"Nothin's real...something else shows its face and nothin's real..."

The beat has dropped out and it's mainly manipulated effects behind her vocals.

It feels...ghostly.

Jillian's howls of "Nothin's real!" at the end of the chorus may be the most impactful moment.

I start to believe her (ok maybe I already agreed with her) but now I really believe!

It sends chills down my spine.

The unique sound perfectly captures a dark, cynical, (possibly) fatalistic view of human behavior.

In the next verse, a critique on society:

"Stand back while society burns down...

What's been found by the world's been twisted around, listening to conspiracy sounds."

HADES and I talked about the collaboration back in October.

He described it as "spooky and dark, and bluesy. It's nuts."

Maybe it really is like HADES from the underworld, giving us a glimpse into what hell is like. 

The spider-like key/guitar/horn parts tip toe around in the background shadows, starting at the end of the chorus. 

There are things going on underneath we don't completely know about. 

The spiders fully emerge at the end of the track while Jillian hums. 

I'm really imagining HADES the producer as the mythical HADES of the underworld... 

Locked away in this creepy, dark, candlelit room making music... 

While tortured souls stop by to record guest vocals. 

You can see silhouettes of spiders and cobwebs in the corners of the cold, stuffy, dusty room. 

Ok, I've combined Miss Havisham from Great Expectations with HADES of the underworld.

That's what this feels like:

A Miss Havisham-HADES musical mashup...

It's creepy and wicked.

Black Market Pluto expects to release more Mini Manic songs one by one...the next song expected by the end of November.

HADES said about the new music:

"I'm just hoping these songs find someone who enjoys them and shares them to other people who could potentially enjoy them.

That's what we are currently doing."

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Subscribe to the Black Market Pluto Youtube Channel where they'll be dropping new songs.