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Wednesday, 25 April 2012 01:04

Hugo Da Boss is the next big thing. WOW! That’s a huge statement, but this talented rapper, who plays piano and sings, too, is ready to live up to it.

The music that the Son of Harlem is doing now, for his debut cd, is called “swag music,” but if you think that Hugo Da Boss is just about rap music, you would be seriously mistaken. His “swag music” is about “flava and musical instrumentation, plus some strong musical intelligence.”

The piano prodigy, who as a young teenager, attended the world renowned Juilliard School of Music in New York City, and is a trained classical pianist who learned music theory and took vocal classes. As a kid, he listened to his brother deejaying and the music of P.Diddy and Mase, both from his native Harlem, spilled out of the room, mixing with the sounds of Scott Joplin, whose life story and musical innovative pierced Hugo’s ears when he saw the classic movie starring Billy Dee Williams and got him interested in piano. The gifted musician has played the legendary Carnegie Hall, where he wowed (there’s that word again) the crowd. All of these intricate sounds and beats mixed in Hugo and he wants to blend hip-hop with the various styles of music (jazz, blues, pop, et al.) that he has learned to appreciate while studying at the prestigious music school.

“I like to call what I do ‘swag music.’ It’s the music that Ludacris, Akon and Fabolous (among others) do, artists who brought the party back to music. I want to do that kind of music so that hip-hop can be the music of the people again and not just about bling-bling and places that people might never see. I want to get back to music that you hear in the club and music that just makes you want to dance. I make music for the ladies, like any young artist does, but I consider everybody. I think about the party. I feel like only a certain amount of people can keep talking about violence and be relevant. The party and fun, that’s always relevant!”

With supportive parents who believed in his talents but also enforced the importance of school, Hugo Montrose became Hugo Da Boss and he’s daring to change the face and style of hip-hop. Hugo Da Boss began writing lyrics and producing his own songs at 14, mixing his classical music background with his Harlem hip hop swag. Soon, he found himself doing shows and gaining fans. Of client biography course, time in the studio soon followed and now, Hugo is developing his “WOW” style and his sound, which has already been heard by almost 1.6 million listeners on MySpace. (“WOW” is Hugo’s signature swag call and you will soon hear it on tracks and in clubs everywhere. “WOW” means this track is so sick or “WOW” this so good, I can’t believe I did it!)

“I can talk about harmony and melody because I sing and know music well.” Hugo shows his “WOW” style on songs like his first track, “LOVE POTION,” where Hugo flipped his flow and added Caribbean influences, which he gets from his father, to show his dexterity as an artist. “My pop’s is from Trinidad and I thought that would make the track more interesting.” He shifts and changes his style track-by-track and as an artist, Hugo hopes to show off all of his skills. Whether on joints like the club-banger “GOT ‘EM BOTH” or the smoothed out “WHEN I GET HOME,” Hugo Da Boss shows that he can be what’s hot in music and take that up a notch or ten. “I want to be seen like a male Alicia Keys, because she flips styles from classical to pop to R&B and plays piano,” which she does with the same skill.

Hugo Da Boss is in the studio, working on songs and tracks, while doing shows because he loves to perform. “I am working hard to really gather up my sound and concepts so that ‘swag music’ takes hip-hop to another level.”

Hugo Da Boss says, with his own skillful intelligence that “what makes hip-hop interesting is the metaphors and the ability to paint pictures with words, so that you can tell the story at so many levels. My mom’s advice that I keep up my education definitely pays off, because knowing how to write and read lots of different things, so that you have a larger range of information, helps so I can take it to the next level.” The 18-year old adds that “having my parents’ support definitely made it easier to dream.”



Tuesday, 16 August 2011 06:06
When producers decided to get behind the mic, it's not always a happy ending. But if your name is Swizz Beatz, it's a whole different story. The man who has successfully produced for newcomers, moderate artists up to high caliber ones is now demanding the solo attention that he actually need not to worry about. His second solo album 'One Man Band Man' hit the street on August 21, 2007 and was immediately grabbed 45,000 copies in the first week. It ranked at #7 in Billboard Hot 100 and #1 in Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums. Next thing Swizzy sees is a hope coming true. He once said, "I want to be remembered as the producer who changed the dynamic of music while inspiring artists to be creative and innovative. I won't stop until history is made."

Swizzy, aka Kasseem Dean in birth, was always about art even in his youth. Born on August 30, 1978 in South Bronx, New York, his father Terrence Dean found Terrence Dean Entertainment Management that took artists under the company. With the field already established, it was not long that Swizz walked on the entertainment path. While a teen, he often took jobs as DJ at parties, although much of his early work were samples and rather experimental. Luckily, his relative opens the opportunity to produce tracks through a label called Ruff Ryders. He produced his first track at the age of 16 and was soon acquainted to many different and bigger labels like Roc-A-Fella, Shady Records and many more. He was also involved in the establishment of Full Surface Records that will eventually excel greatly later on. The label pointed him as the president and CEO by the time he was 23-years-old.

From then on, various artists like DMX and Eve have been closely associated to him. DMX's 'Stop, Drop' gained popularity and consequently helped people to acknowledge Swizz's name. In 2002, the producer who is of Jamaica and Puerto Rico descent, thought it was the right time to have an album featuring his affiliates. 'Presents G.H.E.T.T.O. Stories' was released in December that year and debuted at #50 on the Billboard Hot 200 chart after counted selling 59,000 copies in the first week. At that point it was unquestionable that his credibility as a producer proved to be a huge factor behind his fame. He was soon tapped to produce albums from singers like Mariah Carey, Madonna, Britney Spears, Jennifer Lopez, Usher, Chamillionaire, Ja Rule, Busta Rhymes, Beyonce Knowles, Chris Brown, 50 Cent, Kanye West, Ludacris, Mary J. Blige and many more.

He married R&B singer Mashonda who gave birth to his son in January 2007. He also has an older son named Nasir. After several years credited as producer only, Swizz was back as a solo artist with his album 'One Man Band Man' that was released under his own label Full Surface Records in 2007. Drag-On, Lil Wayne, R. Kelly, Jadakiss, Ciara and even Coldplay's Chris Martin were more than happy lending their talents for Swizz. First single off the album was 'It's Me B*#@hes' (2006) that invited controversy for its profanity. While people started thinking that the song should not be performed on stage, Swizz mildly answered that they took the song "too seriously". In August 2007, Vibe Magazine named the record 'The Best Rap Album of 2007' while Spin Magazine also boasted the album with three and a half out of four



Tuesday, 16 August 2011 06:05
“I’ve got a whole new sound plus I’m a little older now,” says Drag. “I’ve got my label Hood Environment so I’m repping something totally different. I can’t come back to the game the same way I left it.”

A native of the Bronx, Drag-On (born Mel Jason Smalls) overcame a tumultuous adolescence – including abandonment, drug-selling and homelessness – to find his way into the music industry as a teenage emcee.

In 2000 amid Ruff Ryders’ musical dominance in the streets, Drag-On released his first album, Opposite of H20. Boosted by the hit singles “Spit These Bars” (featuring Swizz Beatz) and “Niggaz Die 4 Me” (featuring DMX), Opposite of H2O was a success, selling 700,000 copies and peaking at #5 on the Billboard Top 200 and #2 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums charts.

As the young spitfire of the Ruff Ryders family, Drag-On became a mainstay on various double-R projects including numerous DMX albums, the Ruff Ryders compilation Ryde or Die Vol.1(1999), the L.O.X’s We Are the Streets (2000), Eve’s Let There Be Eve (1999) as well as D J Clue’s The Professional (1998).

On the heels of a successful musical debut, Drag-On launched a film career, landing co-starring roles alongside DMX and Steven Segal in Exit Wounds (2001) and Cradle 2 The Grave (2003) featuring DMX and Jet-li. He also appeared in The Hustle (2003), starring Ed Lover and Doctor Dre.

Drag’s second album, Hell and Back, came in 2004 and debuted at #5 on the Billboard Top R&B/Hip Hop Albums charts. The CD depicted a darker side of the artist and included personal tales of his mother’s battle with throat cancer, street fights and losing unborn twins to a miscarriage. However, the momentum Hell and Back had built was halted suddenly in 2004, when Drag was slapped with a million dollar lawsuit stemming from a road rage incident that left an NYC motorist severely injured. The experience proved to be a personal and professional setback for the rapper for a few years.

But not for long. After four years away from music, Drag-On took his career into his own hands and established Hood Environment Records in 2008.

“I’m just trying to create another umbrella in this game and show the industry how it’s supposed to be done,” says Smalls of his label. “I don’t want to sound typical, but we really go hard for our artists.”

Drag credits the creation of Hood Environment and the birth of his daughter, Melody, with re-igniting his fire to get back in the studio. In 2008, he recorded the song “School of Hard Knocks,” produced by the Individualz and featuring Swizz Beatz. The track signaled his return to the industry and was followed up by several appearances on mixtapes from DJ Big Mike and DJ White Owl and a feature alongside Maino, Talib Kweli, Styles P, Cassidy and Swizz Beatz on the Sean Bell tribute song “Stand Up.”

A 2009 appearance on Jadakiss’ “Who’s Real” remix featuring Swizz, DMX, The Lox and Eve confirmed that Drag-On could still spit flames. Now the TK will make his official comeback with the spring 2010 release of his third album My Life, My Legacy, My Melody on Ruff Ryders Indy/Hood Environment/Fontana. My Life will be Drag’s last album on Ruff Ryders, but the artist insists there’s no beef.

“Ruff Ryders is family,” he says. “They were the first label to give me a chance in this game and I will forever love them for that. But, still, it’s my time to branch out and do my own thing.”

With production by the likes of Swizz Beatz, Neo da matrixx, Dame Grease, and Avery Chambliss of the Individualz, My Life, My Legacy, My Melody takes the listener through Drag-On’s musical history while displaying a new sound and a more mature artist.  The album ranges from party-starting tracks like “Dance Over Here, Don’t Glance Over Here” to gritty, street anthems like “Metal Spray” to a touching tribute to DMX entitled “Thank You.”

“I’m giving people a breakdown of my life and what I’ve accomplished over the years,” says Drag. “This album will show how my lyrical content has stepped up from when I first got with the R to now.”

Guests on My Life include Cassidy, AR AB and Hood Environment artists Eyez B and Terror Da Dude. Drag-On maintains that his new sound and role as a CEO will shed new light on his abilities as an artist and businessman. And he plans on being around for a long time -- no matter what life throws at him.

“You can’t get rid of me. I live and breathe Hip-Hop, so it’s impossible for me to do anything else,” he explains. “Drag is back. Drag is here.”


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