Music News

Friday Rap-Up: Frank E, Xzibit, 50 Cent, Slick Rick

LOCALS ONLY The name Frank E may not ring bells in the local hip-hop scene, but the DJ/producer is working like a mad man to help put the Colorado hip-hop scene on the map -- by going outside the scene.

Last month, Frank E scored a production and publishing deal with Warner Chappell Music, which oversees labels like Atlantic Records and Bad Boy Records and has already placed songs with big time rap artists Flo-Rida (known for the hit song “Low,” featuring T-Pain) and Plies (known for his hit “Shawty,” also featuring T-Pain).

“I was first contacted by an Atlantic Records A&R after submitting some tracks online for a Juvenile project,” he says. “We spoke briefly about what projects he was working on at the time, and he had me send a zip of my favorite twenty tracks. He ended up signing me to his own personal publishing company three months later, which is through Warner/Chappell Publishing.

"In the meantime," he continues, "I was sending five beats a week, and he was sending me feedback and ideas for his projects. The Flo-Rida placement came when I sampled a Roger Troutman acapella and used it as the hook for the track. Flo-Rida loved it, and the song got placed shortly after. Since I landed that track, I've been trying to find a 'sound' that I can go with, and finally applied that to an R&B track that ended up in the hands up Jamie Foxx, the Dream, and Plies.”

That’s a good look for somebody who only started making beats a few years ago. Frank E got his start as a DJ during his time at CU, spinning at a spot called the Player’s Club on the Hill, which was next to the old Tulagi’s. During that time, his ear for rhythms, cadence and tempo improved, so he dived in to making beats. For the past few years, he’s been working closely with local singer Melissa Lujan and Adelio Lombardi’s Side 3 Studios. Now he finds himself on the verge of breaking out, having produced the latest single from Flo-Rida, “Me & U,” from the album Mail on Sunday, and the new single from Plies, “Please Excuse My Hands,” featuring Jamie Foxx and the Dream. The latter track will appear on Plies' new album, Definition of Real, which is due out on Tuesday, June 10.

And he's not stopping there.

“Look out for projects from TI, Usher, J Holiday, Young Jeezy, Yung Joc, Missy Elliot, Juvenile, BOB, and Sophia Fresh,” he points out. “I'm hoping to work with Jamie Foxx after having him featured on the Plies song. Everything is really moving fast!”

On the local front, Frank E will continue to work with Lujan, in addition to JP, a rapper out of Fort Collins, Tre from the CBP Clothing crew, Prada, a rapper once signed to Carmelo Anthony’s label, and veteran Denver rapper Mr. Midas. He’s also currently on the hunt for R&B writers.

“We are going to make some noise for CO!” he enthuses.

Check out the two hits Frank E produced for Flo-Rida and Plies:

Xzibit’s newborn son dies of lung complications Los Angeles rapper Xzibit announced to his fans this week that he lost his eleven-day old son, Xavier Joiner. The baby was born prematurely and had been having problems breathing before passing early Monday morning.

“This week was extremely difficult for him because his lungs were not strong enough to handle regular oxygen on his own,” Xzibit wrote on his Myspace blog this past Monday. “Xavier passed away this morning at 3:30am, and I must tell you this: It is unnatural for a parent to bury a child. I am telling you this because of the same reason I tell you when I’m having great times, life is too short to be fake. Hold on to your kids if you have them, protect them and show them you love them every day you wake up and see them. Don’t take a second you get to hug them teach them and care for them for granted. You can have all the material wealth in the universe but it is NOTHING compared to having your family. I am thankful for all of my blessings and I’m not one to question God's perfect plan, so I leave you with great love and thanks for the love that was sent earlier on my pervious blog to my son. Of course I need to take some time and handle my loss, STAY FOCUSED PEOPLE. It’s not promised to any of us.”

Xzibit is one of the few rappers that actually shows his appreciation for fatherhood through his music. He’s written many songs dedicated to his children and family. His new album, X-Files 2: I Want to Believe, is set to hit stores on Tuesday, July 25.

50 Cent gets reality show on MTV

50 Cent and MTV announced a new reality that will debut in the fall. It will reportedly be in the same vein as The Apprentice, but with a hip-hop twist. The show will feature sixteen contestants competing against each other as they try to “master” the skills that 50 utilized from his journey from the streets to the corporate world. Each week, 50 will judge the contestants, which each episode ending with someone getting “fired.” The winner of the competition will receive a full scholarship to an undergraduate or graduate business program. What, no cash, Vitaminwater or a free video game?

Slick Rick pardoned by New York Governor

For more than a decade, legendary rapper Slick Rick (real name Rick Walters) has had to deal with immigration issues due to his arrest and conviction of attempted murder way back in the early '90s. The rapper served his time and was released in 1996, but not without the drama.

Rick was originally born in the U.K. but came over to the States as a child. The government has been trying to send him back. But New York governor David Patterson is tired of seeing Rick get picked on, since the rapper has been an upstanding citizen ever since he was released from prison. Patterson pardoned the rapper earlier this week.

“Mr. Walters has fully served the sentence imposed upon him for his convictions, had an exemplary disciplinary record while in prison and on parole, and has been living without incident in the community for more than ten years,” Patterson said in a letter. “In that time, he has volunteered at youth outreach programs to counsel youth against violence, and has become a symbol of rehabilitation for many young people. Given these demonstrated rehabilitative efforts, I urge federal immigration officials to once again grant Mr. Walters relief from deportation, so that he is not separated from his many family members who are United States citizens, including his two teenage children.”

Now if we can get a new album Rick, then the whole world will be right.

New Releases

J-Live Then What Happened When J-Live drops a project, you can expect straight-up, unfiltered, New York hip-hop. That remains to be the case with his new album, Then What Happened. Even with appearances from Posdnous (of De la Soul), Chali 2na, Oddissee and Oddy Gato, J-Live still proves that he’s one of the most underrated emcees in the game. It’s a wonder why hip-hop pundits don’t talk about him more often

Bun B II Trill On his first album since the passing of his UGK partner Pimp C, Bun B went all out. He recruited top producers like Scott Storch, JR Rotem and Jazze Pha to take care of the beats, and enlisted an array of guests, including Lupe Fiasco, Lil Wayne, Rick Ross, Sean Kingston, Junior Reid and a host of others. And the album is not without its dedications to Pimp C, “Pop It 4 Pimp” and “Angel in the Sky” are both dedicated to the fallen rapper. Pimp C even makes an appearance on “Underground Thang” alongside Chamillionaire. Overall, the album is a decent piece of work.

Killah Priest Behind the Stained Glass Killah Priest is the type of rapper you need to grab a dictionary, encyclopedia, Bible, Koran, study guide and quick rewind button to get the gist of his message. His new album is no different. Priest offers lyrics and content that well-known rappers are too dumb to write themselves or are just scared to even speak. If you like to learn a thing or two from your hip-hop music, this is something you shouldn’t pass up.

-- Quibian Salazar-Moreno

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Dave Herrera
Contact: Dave Herrera