Bronx rapper Ricky Mapes transforms his transparency into a lyrical display of music that is daunting enough to challenge the common clichés of hip-hop music today. In a time where most of the musicians in our culture "play it safe," Mapes attempts to shift the energy towards the self-expression of creative authenticity. With a feature from fellow Bronx native Jae Tips, prepare to enjoy the emotional roller coaster this project allows you to experience. Not only can you click the link above to listen, but the project is also available on iTunes. Let us know what you think.
The fear of failure and comfort of job safety are the two main reasons most people work at jobs they hate and don't follow their dreams. Entrepreneurship is walking into that dark room, rolling the dice and following your dreams.
TheCulturePlug got a chance to catch up with young entrepreneur Joel Xavier. He is CEO and Founder of MUAH, an apple based app, that allows users to request makeup artists, hail stylist and nail beauticians to the comfort of their home. MUAH also provides a platform for freelance artists to manage and grow their businesses. We got the opportunity to gain some valuable insight from Mr. Xavier about entrepreneurship and how he overcame the hurdles to get his own corporation started at the age of 24. Check out our interview below.
Who is Joel Guerrero?
I'm 24. I'm nothing special. I enjoy inventing things.
Where are you from? How do you feel like this played a part in your business mindset?
I didn't grow up in Silicon Valley or any tech related hubs. I was born and raised in Kingsbridge in the Bronx and was taught hood politics at a young age. I was easily influenced by the wrong people and got myself into a lot of trouble growing up. It was until I escaped that environment and went to college that helped shaped my mindset into an entrepreneur.
What does Entrepreneurship mean to you?
Entrepreneurship is like jumping off a cliff while building your plane on your way down. One important aspect of Entrepreneurship that helped me grow my passion for it was my ability to solve problems without someone saying that I messed up or that I received an "F" for this. Entrepreneurship encourages you to fail forward. And in the process of failure, you will learn many new things such as how consumers behave and what are their innate desires. From there, it will help you re-build your product more robustly. That's what I enjoy most about Entrepreneurship. My ability to fail and understand that is merely part of the process.
What are some of the biggest difficulties you've faced in starting your own corporation?
Till this date, the biggest obstacle that I face is finding great talent. Most people that want to work are motivated by the idea that bills can get paid and they'll be financially stable. It is extremely rare to find a person who is up for the challenge to start from the ground up and work relentlessly despite not having a salary. Too many people are money oriented. You constantly hear "chase the bag" "stack money and build." But you never hear "Believe in your vision." "Change the lives of many."
Finding passionate people may be the most difficult part.
What is MUAH?
MUAH is a beauty on-demand app that enables you to book a trusted MUA, Hairstylist or Nail tech to the comfort of your home, hotel or event. We are also a freelance hub that encourages freelancers to manage their business better and build new clientele.
Where do you see MUAH in 5 years?
I see MUAH becoming a leader in the beauty salon industry that also dominates the online market. We want to combine collaboration, community, and empowerment to the beauty industry and form a new dynamic in which can help people uplift and support one another.
If there was one thing you wish you knew 3 years ago, what would it be?
That thought becomes things, so be careful with what thoughts you put into your head, the people you associate yourself with and the subjects you talk about amongst your core group. Or like Jay-Z said:
"Believe nothing that you hear and only half of what you see."
Who are some of your role models?
Dale Carnegie, Malcolm Gladwell, Benjamin Graham, Kendrick Lamar, Jay-Z, Mark Twain, Sia, Sheryl Sandberg, Mel Robbins, Adam Grant.
Do you feel like the faced paced, dog eats dog mentality of NYC is a facilitator or hindrance to start-ups?
In the time that we live now, collaboration is paramount for startups to grow and scale. The dog-eat-dog mentality can only work for so long until morale diminishes your team's work ethic and you're left with a toxic environment. That mentality will not work for Startups because Startups are built for the long-term. And the only way to stay alive in the digital world is to have a community behind you that will back and support your vision. Not just customers but partners, shareholders, and investors. We must remove the idea of competition from our mindset and replace it with collaboration. Until then, businesses will continue to pivot due to their zero-sum mentality.
What can we expect next from you, from a business standpoint?
I have a 10 Year Plan with MUAH. So until then, that is where most of my attention will be placed.
If you could provide some advice to an aspiring entrepreneur what would it be?
I believe we all have a 5-second window to take action on our ideas before our brain kicks in to stop us—maybe less. So the next moment you have an instinct to act on a goal, you must physically move within 5 seconds or forever fall victim to the distractions of the day. Also, I'm sure you are becoming aware of doubters and naysayers. They are everywhere. You must come to the realization that everyone is fighting their own battle. You must do your best to close the door to negativity and doubt—and begin creating new thoughts and positive thinking that will propel you forward. There is nothing good about the news. Instead, replace the news with books or podcasts that will help you develop new skills.
Connie Diiamond emerged on the scene as one of the most unique female talents in New York City and when her "Summer Sixteen Freestyle" dropped, the world began to take notice. At almost 50,000 views, the "Summer Sixteen Freestyle" visual introduced her to an audience outside of New York. One year later, she has been featured on The Source, and performed at Hot 97's Who's Next? concert. With that being said, it's safe to say that Connie is looking forward to her most successful year as an artist.
Despite the Missy Elliot comparisons, Connie continues to carve out her own lane. Last summer, Connie released her debut project Trap Elliot. The debut is a showcase of Connie's versatility as an artist. Not only does she give listeners lit tracks like "Go Yard," but also introspective joints like "Ma Motivation."
Connie is gearing up to release her all-female feature project this year, and "Fireplace" with Billy B is the lead single. The two female MCs have supported each other on social media and the chemistry is quite evident in their on-screen performances. The two go toe-to-toe in a friendly, but competitive battle for best verse and it's difficult to tell who came out on top. Nevertheless, it makes for a great track. Watch as the Connie and Billy take us through the deserts of Las Vegas in their new visual.
The strip club scene in Atlanta has evolved into a prominent hip-hop fixture where rappers use the club’s influence to promote their records. Although the strip club scene was more popular in the south for quite some time, regions across the country have recently adapted to the lifestyle. Rappers tend to bring their songs to the most popular clubs in their area to observe the audience’s response. In most cases, the DJs are in control of what songs get played, and club-goers tend to gravitate to the songs dancers enjoy the most.
Bronx native Charlie Wayy pays homage to the strip club scene with his new single “Mary Poppins.” The hard-hitting bass of “Mary Poppins” coupled with the clever lines and lyrics is what makes this record unique. It’s not just your average “turn up” song. Instead, there’s a level of sophistication associated with this record, and not only does Wayy convey this in the song, but also in the cover art.
According to Thisis50.com, “Mary Poppins was iconic for her umbrella. Opening an umbrella is the first thing most people do when it's raining. Making it rain is a strip club staple.”
Check out the song above and let us know what you think.
The advent of social media has given creators the ability to not only generate content on several different platforms, but also showcase their work and build a following. The explosion of Twitter, Instagram and other platforms has given a voice to videographers and allowed them to rise above the roll of rolling cameras and capturing talent on video. In a time where musicians have to be more accessible, videographers have become an important component in bridging the gap between the artist and their fans. Flash Tarantino is one of the young guns leading the charge and revolutionizing the art of videography.
“It all starts with the person holding the camera,” Flash said. “At the end of the day, wherever you go, you are a brand. I want people to know me as Flash, not just French Montana’s camera guy or the guy who travels with A Boogie. When people look at A Boogie, they’re going to know I shot it. I’m a brand as much as anybody else.”
Flash’s love for hip-hop culture resulted in a tenacious pursuit to be involved in the music industry. His love for hip-hop stems back to his younger days growing up with his mother. Flash would listen to the radio, and fell in love with the music after hearing artists like Ol' Dirty Bastard, DMX and Cam’ron.
“I really like the whole Dipset [and] G-Unit movement,” Flash said. “Cam’ron is in my top five and played a heavy influence in my life. I believe I had every Dipset mixtape that ever came out. But I didn’t have the physical copy. I downloaded it. I was a computer nerd. I don’t know how many computers I messed up with viruses from downloading music.”
Eventually, he purchased a Flip UltraHD Video Camera to capture his visions on film. Although he had no background in videography, Flash learned how to use a multitude of different cameras after studying YouTube tutorials. After his first camera, Flash eventually upgraded to a Canon. As he began to grow more confident in his skills, Flash used social media to build relationships that would accelerate his projection in the industry.
After he honed his skills shooting video for artists under French Montana’s Coke Boys Records, Flash’s big break came when he was assigned to replace the main camera man and produce vlogs for the label’s CEO. In 2014, Flash began to travel with French Montana and found himself on the road with the Coke Boys.
Now, Flash is playing an intricate role in another Bronx bred artist and this time, he’s the veteran. A Boogie has emerged as one of New York City’s hottest new artists, and Flash is using his experience and expertise to help shape and mold A Boogie’s presence on-screen.
“In order to get the best shot, you have to have some sort of chemistry with the person you’re shooting,” Flash said. “The way I shoot is through a first person point of view. I shoot as if you’re reliving the moment with A Boogie.”
Most recently, Flash has been credited with his work on A Boogie’s visual for “Not A Regular Person.” However, his career goals extend far beyond music. While music has fueled Flash’s passion to make his mark in the industry, his vision doesn’t just end with the art.
“My goal is to have a media brand—come up with a story, do research on something and bring it to life,” Flash said. “I’m also working with a non-profit organization called the Knowledge House. They are teaching classes and helping inner-city kids get jobs at major companies.”
Flash Tarantino has made quite a mark in such a short period of time, and fans should only expect more.
Led by Dave East, A Boogie and many other up-and-coming artists, New York City has been on fire. Despite the great music that is already buzzing in the city, there's a sea of potential talent still left untapped. Hailing from the East Tremont section of the Bronx, F.R.E.D. puts on for the X with his new single “On Fire.”
Directed by BenjiFilmz, the cinematic visual for “On Fire” captures the grittiness of the Bronx. BenjiFilmz has an impressive résumé, and the young director has built a name for himself directing videos for Jadakiss, A Boogie, Neek Bucks and Nino Man. "On Fire" is F.R.E.D.’s third music video and you can look out for his upcoming single “Take a Look.”
Highbridge the Label's own A Boogie and Don Q collaborate for one of the hottest projects in NYC. Click the link below to stream.
A Boogie is one of New York City's hottest young artists. His debut project Artist The Mixtape was released just two months ago and has almost half a million listens on Datpiff. Picking up where he left off, A Boogie dropped Highbridge the Label: The Takeover Vol.1 with label mate Don Q. "Half On A Baby" showcases A Boogie's versatility as he harmonizes over the R. Kelly sample.
Listen and download below.