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Hip-hop is everywhere. From the music wafting in the elevator at work to the biggest releases this summer. While hip-hop is expanding, the deep cuts and lyricism are here to stay. True hip-hop fans are still rocking to their #faves, while discovering the best and boldest of the newest artists.

Ways Hip Hop Fans Can Make Money Online

It’s this voraciousness that makes it easy for hip-hop fans to turn their love and passion for music into a side hustle. The internet has changed the way we listen, buy and engage with music, and brands and companies are working hard to provide the best music services to avid listeners. But they need you.

From tools to help discover new artists to transcription, here are 9 ways hip-hop lovers can make money online while listening to their favorite artists.

1. Transcribe Lyrics

Rhyming and wordplay are at the core of what makes hip-hop so exciting. Welocalize, a professional translation and localization service, pays passionate music lovers to transcribe the lyrics of the songs they already know and love with an app called Snap. Fans can make up to $4 per completed song, or around $20 an hour, while diving into the lyrical intricacies of some of the best in underground music. Whether you just need extra cash or are looking to make it full time, it’s up to you how much you make. Plus, you can do the work from anywhere at any time. Currently, users need a Mac to get started, but word on the street is that they’re launching a Windows app soon.

2. Sell Music

Music is the most powerful vessel through which hip-hop artists transmit their ideas and connect with fans. Selling music through platforms deeply rooted in the culture and history of underground hip-hop provides artists with the most direct way to share their product. For those who engage with Undergroundhiphop.com, the reward is twofold, as the website is both a platform for artists to sell records and a space for fans to discuss the music they love.

3. Review Music

For those who love sharing their ideas about the latest and greatest in hip-hop and analyzing every lyric and beat reviewing music online is a great way to interact with the rich network of upcoming artists and avid listeners. Slicethepie, the web’s most extensive music review engine, pays users to evaluate the music they listen to.

4. Discover New Artists  

If you have your ear tuned to the latest sounds in hip-hop, what better way to discover new artists than to make money in the process? Music Xray provides users with underground music content curated to their tastes. The platform allows upcoming musicians to share content and connect with receptive, passionate listeners. If you’re a hip-hop head looking to engage with the scene and make a little extra cash, platforms like Music Xray are the way to go.

5. Predict Who’s Up Next

Do you consider yourself a personal barometer of what’s fresh in hip-hop? HitPredictor allows users to shape the future of the scene by reviewing music and predicting the next big hip-hop hit. Users receive points for each song they rate. These points can be used to cash in on prizes like CDs, gift cards and raffles.

6. Teach Music

The universal networks of the web have created educational platforms “sans-frontières.” Access to even the most niche tutorials are just a click away. Platforms such as Udemy are optimal for those who have the urge to share their hip-hop-oriented skills, from beat production to wordflow, with others. Udemy allows users to take in-depth online courses or get paid to create courses of their own. Through these online courses, users can help shape the vibrant global hip-hop community and improve the musical literacy of those interested in the genre.

7. Make Your Music Subscription Based  

Hip-hop, despite its resonance with people around the globe, is personal. If you’re looking to share creative content and engage with the culture in an intimate, personalized way, creating a subscription-based platform is a great way to monetize the strength of a dedicated fanbase. Patreon provides a space for users to do just that, allowing creators to create personal pages to upload subscription-based content.

8. Host an Online Concert

To perform or listen to hip-hop live is to experience the genre in its most visceral form. For those who wish to create live experiences without the logistical red tape of traditional live musical performances, online concerts are a perfect medium. Websites like Concert Window allow musicians to broadcast concerts live for free across the globe and receive 70 percent of the a concert’s revenue the next day. Now you can spit rhymes to fans in the comfort of your own living room!

9. Create Hip-Hop Merchandise

Hip-hop is more than music, it’s a culture, and the biggest artists curate everything from their sound to their look. Merchandise is a great way for artists to integrate their music and style and, in turn, for fans to show love for their favorite artists. Websites like Merchify enable users to create original merchandise and streamline both the sale and shipping of their products.

Hip-hop has evolved from its humble beginnings into a worldwide industry. For passionate fans and aspiring artists, it has never been easier to tap into the ever-expanding genre. With new online services, those who live for music can earn cash while engaging with what they love.

Listen and get paid. Make $4 per song with the Snap app – connects right to your iTunes. Sign up and start transcribing lyrics today.

I have no recollection of meeting Donwill for the first time. It feels like he was always just a dope rapper everyone knows, ever since he arrived in Brooklyn from Cincinnati. A scene stalwart. I thought it might just be all the vodka I drink though, so I asked him if he recalls meeting me. He can’t call it either! “I just know it was love at first sight,” he said. “We never met, we just were.” Look at all that good Midwest pimpin’, hehe.

I remember where I was when I first heard Moonlighting, the first full album from Tanya Morgan. It was that impactful for me. Since then, he has steadily churned out great music, in the group and solo. He’s also provided music for podcasts like blackgirlnerd faves Another Round & 2 Dope Queens, and HBO’s This Week With John Oliver. He’s a popular DJ too, spinning for Wyatt Cenac’s weekly comedy show, Night Train, and together they do the hilarious Shouting At The Screen. Tanya Morgan’s new effort, YGWY$4 (You Get What You Pay For), drops July 28. “It’s an anti- hashtag acronym because we hate search engine optimization.” Donwill is so cool, and funny enough that I’m almost willing to forgive his traitorous body for rejecting avocado. Almost.

Do you love avocado, or are you a savage animal with broken taste buds?

I think that I’m allergic to them and that saddens me because when I discovered them I binged on them for a while. They are like cold-boiled eggs with an inedible yolk (at least in my mind anyway). One time we were in Denver and TiRon made an amazing batch of guacamole, and I afterwards I got really nauseous with a horrible headache. I tried again the next day and the same thing happened. Ever since, I can’t eat them w/out getting a headache. I’m not blaming my food-based allergy on TiRon ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. For the record, his guac was great and his music is amazing, you should interview him and find out why he tried to poison me.

They’re nothing like eggs. NOTHING! This is like when they asked the 40-year-old virgin about bewbs and he said they feel like sand. You’re an avocado interloper! But okay. Name a perfect song, and defend that song.

While it’s not even in his most popular Spotify songs, “Baby Be Mine” by Michael Jackson is hands down the greatest song ever recorded. There isn’t much to defend regarding this record because this is a time tested fact—the horn arrangements, the way the synth line turns into actual words in each successive hook, the modulation at the end, the cowbell that sneaks in midway through keep you moving. It’s fucking masterful.

Rod Temperton gave the Manhattans a version of this song called “Spice of Life,” and it makes “Baby Be Mine” even more spectacular because it was already a great song, but he went back and made it bulletproof. I have been known to play this song for hours on end (deadass) and it is the easiest way to change my mood at any given moment.

Who’s going to play you in the biopic?

In the past, I would have said Hill Harper or Prodigy but with the rise of Rachel Dolezal I’d like to submit dark-skinned Sammy Sosa and announce that I am officially the Dominican Dolezal. It should also be noted that I should have been cast as Eazy-E in the NWA movie and Eazy-E follows me on Instagram and is actively liking my photos as we speak. I live a crazy life.

What’s the first thing you do when you wake up?

I pull my phone from under my pillow, look at the time, check who emailed/texted me, then I go back to sleep or lay and think for like 30 minutes. This is also the time where I either assess my hangover or prioritize my activities.

Talk about a time you were star struck.

I saw Raphael Saadiq once at LAX. He was holding mad bags and a coffee and I walked up to him, held out my hand and was like “I’m a huge fan,” and I kept my hand out until he shook it. He looked super annoyed and Von was like, “Man you just pissed off one of your idols for a handshake.” But I regret nothing. Later as I boarded the plane, he was sitting in first class and as I walked past I gave him the Black man head nod, he shot me one back with a slight smirk. Again, I regret nothing.

What’s the most expensive thing you’ve ever given someone?

A child. She’s awesome, but hella expensive for everybody involved. I’m still waiting to see what the ROI is but it’s looking good so far so *fingers crossed*.

Give Machinko some good advice.

Consistency is more important than quality, and in most instances your level of output actually defines the quality. If you’re great once, it’s gotta have an impact that shifts the culture, but if you’re good all the time (and more importantly in a timely fashion) people will know that they can count on you to get their fix.

Punctuality is important too. I’m punctual to a fault, and I can usually tell you the exact time that I’ll be at a place even with travel delays. Time is more valuable than money, and not only do I respect it as such but I expect other people to as well. I got shit to do, b.

What human would you trade lives with, and why?

Pharrell Williams. I know he’s a real person, but he just doesn’t seem like a real person. It’s hard to even put into words, but like he has defined eras of music and is respected across several genres. Impeccable style, super inventive, and extremely forward thinking. I believe we all have universes inside of us and whereas most of us are trying to get it all out or even show a sliver of our greatness, his entire universe is on full display. It’s pretty amazing.

Name a celebrity you think is lame, and why.

That orange nigga they elected as their president. Fuck that nigga, man. Fuck him as a staff, record label and a muthafuckin’ crew. I refuse to call him the president. Nigga has no respect for the office or the people he serves. He’s treating the Oval Office like it’s a cubicle, man. Fuck that bitch ass nigga, man.

The church says amen. What thing do you love that you think would surprise people about you?

Kennedy Fried Chicken aka the real KFC. Not Crown’s, but Kennedy, the one by my house more specifically. Popeye’s is overrated as fuck, but Kennedy gets it right. This is the hill that I have chosen to die on, so y’all gonna just have to respect it or check it.

Check out more Fan of My Friends with the inimitable MeLa Machinko. 

The first time I met Talib Kweli was when I auditioned for his show. I was a scared little shaky-voiced bunny, and he was in the audition studio surrounded by a blur of famous faces. I sang “Jill Scott’s “Do You Remember” in the tiniest little voice I ever had. When I made it to the bridge, as I sang Jill’s ad libs, Dave Chappelle started singing the backgrounds. Kweli jumped in. Then my voice bottomed out. GONE. Because, fam… how are one of my favorite rappers and my favorite comedian singing background at my audition? They were being nice, but it took my feet right from under me.

I squeaked “Thank you,” and hauled off running.

Years later, I made myself a boss and would share many, many stages, many songs, many laughs, much libations, and many stories with this guy. He’s the best in lots of ways.

Mela and Talib Kweli
The 12th Annual Brooklyn Hip Hop Festival, Brooklyn NY 2016

What’s the worst job you’ve ever had?

Working at the cafeteria of the high school I went to.

Run that hair net photo, though. I know you got one! But, talk about a time when you were star struck.

When I met Bill Murray at the White House. I was so star struck, I forgot to ask him to please rescue that Wu-Tang album from Martin Shkreli.

What’s the first thing you do when you wake up?

Bake up.

If you could change one thing about your career, what would it be?

I would have gone the completely independent route way sooner than I did.

What are you the most proud of?

My two, beautiful, wonderful, talented children.

What’s the most expensive thing you’ve ever bought?

My house.

What’s the most expensive thing you’ve ever given someone?

A car. A nice car.

What kind of car and what did she do with it when y’all broke up? HA HA JUST KIDDING CRY LAUGH FACE EMOJI RUNNING AWAY BLACK GIRL EMOJI. Anyway, name a celebrity you think is lame and why.

Piers Morgan. Do I need to explain why? Who don’t think Piers Morgan is lame?

Yeah, I hope he falls of his bike and breaks his two front teeth. What human would you trade lives with, and why?

Bjork. I want to know what it feels like to have your own genre.

What thing do you love that you think would surprise people about you?

“The Family Feud” with Steve Harvey. No wait. Old “Judge Mathis” episodes.

Judge Mathis is a boss for his seasonal insult themes. The last time I saw it, he was calling everybody crackheads. The year before that, it was pimps. Another year he had a bunch of women from Detroit who stabbed people. He celebrated that, weirdly. But, I digress. Name a thing you haven’t done yet and still want to do.

A song with Bjork.

Who’s going to play you in the biopic?

Don Cheadle. He plays the best Black men.

That’s because he IS the best Black man. Okay, say something nice about your mom/dad so they can smile when they read this. You don’t call home enough, by the way.

My mom and dad are too smart for this, they see through your pandering, Mela.

I’m definitely pandering. Please tell mom I’m sorry again about all the cussing on the bus that time. Btw, would you go to Trump’s White House and shake his hand? If so, what the hell is your problem.

And this is why Steve Harvey has me upset, ‘cause I no longer want to watch “Family Feud.” Which I love doing.

Wouldn’t it be dope if we could pay Steve Harvey all the money he makes everywhere to shut up and just do Feud? I think we could crowd fund this. Do you love avocado, or are you a savage animal with broken taste buds?

TBH I didn’t learn to love avocado until living in Cali where you get it fresh. Old, slimy avocado is a turn off. And that shit turns. Quick.

Okay, this is fair. What do you deeply desire everyone to know about you?

That I love “Parks and Recreation” and can discuss it at length.

[Mela’s note: Also, don’t get this guy started on The Big Lebowski.]

Give Machinko some good advice.

Do more songs with me.

Why haven’t you introduced Machinko to The Rock, Idris Elba or 2 Chainz yet? Why don’t you want her to be happy?

I can make two of three of those happen with relative ease. You ‘bout it or nah? Also, I like that you like all different types of Black man lol.

Please don’t play with my emotions this way. Anyway, name a perfect song, and defend that song.

“Follow The Leader” by Eric B & Rakim. Don’t @ me.

Did you know that the Willie Lynch letter is not real, the Michael Jordan who played basketball and makes sneakers is not the same one who owns the prisons, Black women are actually supposed to menstruate too, and the horizon is proof of a round Earth? If not, please tell us how this information makes you feel.

I knew all of that. Do I get woke cookies?

Woke cookies sound gluten free. Here’s a bonus question though: how seriously amazing is Mela Machinko as a general human. Isn’t she completely killing this shit? Like seriously. C’mon.

She aiight.

TUH. Dancing lady emoji.

Check out more Fan of My Friends with the inimitable MeLa Machinko. 

With a new Perceptionists album on the way, the Massachusetts-based duo discusses what’s most important to them now.

Between Akrobatik’s emergency aortic dissection surgery and Mr. Lif’s near-fatal tour bus crash, the legendary Massachusetts-based duo The Perceptionists have experienced major events that have affected their perception of life.

“I can’t just approach life like it’s this infinite resource,” Mr. Lif explains. “There’s a finite amount of time that I’ll be here.”

With that in mind, Mr. Lif and Akrobatik hit the studio to write and record a new Perceptionists album, their first together since 2005’s Black Dialogue.

Their new album, titled Resolution, is complete and ready for a summer release.

“I couldn’t possibly have put more love into it,” Lif says of the project, adding, “One of the things I’m most excited about is that AK and I are still alive and that we’re sensible enough to understand that our friendship is something that should be not only nurtured and taken care of, but we should honor our friendship by making records together.”

UGHH caught up with Mr. Lif and Akrobatik to find out more about what’s most important to them, as they revealed six things their near death experiences taught them about life.

1. Embrace Self-Care

Akrobatik has become a huge proponent of living a healthier lifestyle.

“I don’t think that my mom has any intentions of burying any of her children,” he explains. “The first line of this new album with Lif is, ‘No mother should have to bury her child.’ That’s kinda what this whole thing is about; me and Lif getting back together after going through these situations, we look at our moms like, man, I can’t imagine putting my mom through that. It’s bad enough that what happened, happened, but I can’t imagine that.”

Akrobatik continued, “We gotta endure, and our moms are strong, so this could be another 30 to 40 years before this is even on the table. We gotta stick around for them, and let them watch us grow to our full potential.”

2. Dive Deeper Into Your Passions

Mr. Lif notes he’s become deeply passionate about being a recording artist and recording engineer. This means that while in the past he’d wrack his brain about buying a new mic or preamp, today he buys that mic or preamp, and immediately puts it to use.

“I don’t know how long I’m going to be healthy enough to embody this passion on this level,” he explains, “and I want to write this many songs, and record this often, (so) I should just have the mics I want. It’s not like I don’t use them. It’s not like it’s not gonna yield this product that I can put out into the world that’s gonna outlive me, so my whole point of view is if I get a microphone—and it inspires me to write more songs just because I want to rhyme into the damned thing—then I should go get it.”

3. Share Your Art With The World, Share Yourself With Your Loved Ones

“My art. I share that,” Akrobatik explains, “but my life is mine, and I definitely keep most of that stuff to myself.”

He continued, adding, “I like going outside and breathing the air, and looking at trees, and having conversations with people without having my face down in my phone. It’s way more important that I create something, or that I get to talk to some of the people that I love today. That’s what that shit’s all about. I’m never gonna lose hold of the things about life that have always made it great to me.”

4. Love Is Not A Finite Resource

Mr. Lif says the concepts of love and relationships—especially within the context of the norms of society—have always been a source of frustration for him.

“People look at love like it’s this diminishing resource, that if you have love for someone it must, in some way, deteriorate and erode the love you have for someone else,” he laments. “I feel like I’ve spent a lot of time in my life beating myself up because I’m not quote-unquote normal in terms of monogamy. I feel like I’m more aligned with being polyamorous. I have the ability to love more than one person at the same time.”

Lif notes that this type of love is actually something we all experience on a daily basis. “When I look around at the way people conduct their actual friendships—or you’re a child, you’re born, you have a mother and a father, you’re not expected if you love your mom that you can’t love your dad, or vice versa.”

5. Be Thankful

It’s almost always a beautiful day in Mr. Lif’s eyes, as he explains, “My day-to-day appreciation for life and literally stopping to just be like, ‘Whoa, my life is amazing right now’…just having that appreciation for “wow, I have a house, my mom’s still alive, I can drive places if I want to, I can hop on a flight”…there’s so many things to be thankful for. And I feel like maybe it’s also a byproduct of growing older, and hopefully wiser. Because of that—combined with the bus wreck—I feel like my appreciation for life is so deep right now.”

6. Social Media Can Be Bad For The Soul

Akrobatik and Mr. Lif share a sentiment about social media: outside of using it for work related purposes, they aren’t fans of the medium.

The way Mr. Lif sees it, if you spend too much time on social media, “You will leave feeling spiritually and emotionally fucked up.”

Akrobatik feels social media has created a narcissism epidemic that’s only continuing to grow. “Everything is about ‘look at me, I’m on camera, I’m the one in the spotlight,’ and it’s just hard for me to fathom that it’s so hard for people to look at the world from a different perspective other than ‘this is who I am, everybody look at me.’”

Mr. Lif seconds this, adding, “I feel there’s an unhealthy structure between everyone just posting a highlight reel of their life, and then not seeing many real images. I think if you live through social media too much, you get a very distorted feeling about reality, and ultimately you’re setting yourself up for failure because you can never be happy all the time.”

He also notes that on a personal level, he’s seen social media negatively affect his own mental state.

“I’d be on tour for like a month. I’d finally get home and have a chance to relax for a few days. I’d go on Instagram when I’m laying in bed, about to fall asleep, and then I’d see a picture of Macklemore rockin’ for 30,000 people, and I’d have this feeling in my chest like oh shit I should be getting up and working more.”

Mr. Lif continued, adding, “That was one of the big signals for me. [Social media was] bringing up feelings of inadequacy for me. It’s OK for me to relax. In fact, if I don’t relax, I can’t do any of the things I was put on this earth to do because I’m going to drive myself into the ground.”

Akrobatik adds that social media platforms change frequently, noting that everything people posted so passionately about on Myspace, MiGente, BlackPlanet, Friendster, etc., has become nothing more than “cyber waste.”

“You’re gonna have this generation of people who are grandmothers and grandfathers; what did you do with your life? I did all these little minor things and put them up on these web applications that don’t even exist anymore. What will you have to show for it?”

Akrobatik and Mr. Lif have plenty to show for their artistic efforts, and with a new Perceptionists album due out this summer, they’re continuing to add to their legacy…which is the one thing they’ll post about on social media.

Six indie hip-hop artists discuss mixing fatherhood with their music

For hip-hop artists who are fathers, their music and their children will always be intertwined.

Connecticut-based emcee Illus explains, “My son has been a hip-hop kid since birth. It’s always surrounded him and been a part of his life. It’s probably as natural to him as hearing birds sing.”

CookBook, of LA Symphony fame, also sees a direct connection between hip-hop and parenthood, saying that he and his five-year-old son “make up rhymes together on a daily basis.”

Ciphurphace—whose son and daughter have both appeared on tracks with him—adds that as children get older, they get more and more involved with the music.

“Sometime last year, I remember calling my son to say good night to him; it was a school night. His phone kept ringing, and there was no answer. Approximately 15 minutes later, I received a text message from him saying, ‘Sorry dad. I’m writing my bars.’ Needless to say, it was one of the best text messages I have ever received!”

UGHH caught up with these, and other, hip-hop dads to find out how they’re sharing their love of hip-hop with their kids. What all of these stories show us is that hip-hop dads share beats, share rhymes, and share life, and connecting with your kids through the culture you love is a beautiful thing.

Substantial

Back in January, I released my fourth album The Past Is Always Present In The Future which features my daughter, Serenity, on the cover—in the style of my first release, To This Union A Son Was Born, as a symbol of my life coming full circle.

A week after its release, Chuck D plays my single “Made in Maryland” on his show. After sharing the good news with my wife (who was out of town) she tells me that he’s speaking near where we live, and that I should go see him. So I buy tickets for my daughter and I, and begin to school her on who Chuck D and Public Enemy are. After watching ‘Fight The Power’ she was excited.

The next day, while at the event, a lady in the crowd asked Chuck who he listens to. To our surprise—while mentioning his radio show—he mentions me and asked if I was there. He shouts me out, and I feel a little elbow nudging me. I look down and see my daughter smiling up at me.

Before we walked into that event, I wanted my daughter to know we were going to see someone worthy of respect. Someone who has contributed greatly to the music we love, the culture we share, and to our people. Receiving the respect and kind words—in return with my daughter there to witness it—was surreal.

When we were younger, we wanted our dads to be men we were proud of. That day, I saw in my daughter’s eyes, not a look of surprise, but of pride; like Chuck was confirming what she already knew.

CookBook

When my wife and I were still dating, I took her and my now stepdaughter to an LA Symphony show. It was one of those bigger shows where we killed it and had the crowd going nuts. When the show was over, this little six-year-old girl looked at her mom and exclaimed, “We’re gonna be RICH!!!”

Since my son was born, I’ve always played him hip-hop.

I started him on my music, because I knew what it said, and didn’t have to worry too much that my one-year-old was hearing anything too crazy.

I’d always play him my videos on our TV. One of my proudest moments…he was around two, and he wanted to see a video of me playing live that he really liked. As soon as the video came on, he ran to his bedroom. I was confused, because I thought he wanted to see this video. After all, he’s the one who asked me to put it on; and by the way, I’m the shit! You don’t run away from my bomb ass video! Ha!

Well, to my pleasant surprise, he came running out of his bedroom with his tiny little toy drum set, saying, “I wanna play music with papa!” He started drumming along with my video, and I never felt so proud!

Illus

I started writing my album Family First when my wife was pregnant, shortly after we discovered we would be having a son. My life changed forever (and for the better) when he was born, and ever since then I’ve been making music dedicated to him, his mother, and now his brother.

My son is part Hawaiian; his name means “Gift.” And he has been a true gift and inspiration for me. Every song I record I make knowing that he will listen to the song. He is a part of the entire process. Even when he was just a baby, he was at Chuck D’s house hanging out while I recorded Family First in Chuck’s studio with DJ Johnny Juice.

I was still writing the album Family First when he was born, and I was actually able to record video/audio of him immediately after he was born—right when the doctor placed him on my wife. So for the song “The Gift,” I had DJ Johnny Juice sample those moments and incorporate them into the actual song. I even incorporated some of those visuals into the video. I was really lucky to get friends like Blueprint, Ill Bill, and Johnny Juice to participate in that intro.

My son has been in six of my music videos, his voice has been scratched and sampled by the legendary DJ Johnny Juice from Public Enemy, and he was also the model for my illustration of the Public Enemy album cover for The Evil Empire of Everything. That’s an exact illustration of him being held up by the evils of the world on that cover. He’s also contributed his art to my own album covers and interiors.

Now that my son is older, he even helps me pick out the beats I rock to.

Dirt E. Dutch

For starters, I started my record label in 2008, and it is actually named after my son, Little Ax. He was two years old at the time, a little guy, and his name is Aiden Xavier. His birth was a motivating factor for my career in music. He also set the stage for the first release on the label.

In the intro on the Troublemakers album with Breez Evahflowin, he is the voice that introduces us. He says “Dirt E. Dutch…Breez Evahflowin…That’s trouble!”

I’ve also worked with my daughter, teaching her how to use digital audio workstations—starting with Propellerhead’s iPad app—and using MIDI controllers. She has crazy rhythm.

BIG STAT

Before my daughter Adriana was born, I started writing down all the emotions and thoughts that were racing through my head. After she was born, I continued to jot down every milestone in real time.

All these notes turned into “Adriana’s Song.”

The best part about creating this song is that I held Adriana in the booth while I recorded it!

Ciphurphace

In September of 2016, I took my son to the Cypher Circuit #MurderTheBeat “One Year Anniversary Cypher” at the Marsten House in Philly.

I hit up one of the co-owners of Cypher Circuit, Moe, and was like, “Yo Moe! Is it cool if I bring my 12-year-old son to the Cypher?” Moe said, “Sure!” When I shared this wonderful news with my son Naiim aka Sunsere F., he was super excited. We went on a road trip to Philly all for the love of hip-hop.

When we first arrived in the neighborhood where the Marsten House is located, we spotted some dope graffiti walls. We took some pics in front of the fresh graff murals before heading to the studio. After arriving at the actual Marsten House, we met Moe/412Kev/Coast (Cypher Circuit), Steve Sxaks (Marsten House), numerous Cypher Circuit members, and countless other members/contributors of the hip-hop community. The big surprise bonus was when hip-hop legend CL Smooth came through! The entire day was one of the most memorable experiences of our lives.

Fast-forward to several weeks ago; the “Murder The Beat” instrumental on Cypher Circuit was ODB’s “Brooklyn Zoo.” For some reason, I just felt this was the one for both of us to rock on. I said “Son, let’s rock this Murder The Beat together!” He said, “Cool!” This was the first time we ever truly collabed on a track. The outcome: Father & Son Murdered The Beat!

It didn’t hit me until afterwards that doing the father/son thing over this particular instrumental was so fitting and perfect, considering ODB’s famous quote, “Wu-Tang is for the children.”

When it comes to working with my daughter, the second single off my In Phaced God We Trust EP was “I’ll Always Love H.E.R.,” and in the video, my daughter Sela Eunae stars as “H.E.R.” (Hip-Hop in its Essence and Realness). When this video was shot, she was seven years old. She, as a little girl, is representing the embodiment of hip-hop in its purest form: representing intelligence, exemplifying creativity, having fun, and being free-spirited, and inspirational.

arts & culture

Once I had a show—the kind where a panel of industry types scowl at you and tell you whether you fit in, and where. The host was a comedian. I stood up, full of something: chutzpah, tequila, something. I introduced myself as “your favorite rapper’s favorite singer,” started to sing, and I choked. Literally. I inhaled my spit or something and choked, and had to run to the bathroom and gag for two whole minutes while the host clowned my entire life. I came out and told him, “No, go on. I deserve it. Get those jokes off so I can finish my set.” He clowned for a few more moments and then had me back up, and I finished (and bodied) the show. Torae was there, perhaps a bit impressed, but thoroughly tickled by me. He went OUT OF HIS WAY to befriend me after that. Hehe.

If you haven’t heard this guy’s prolific bars—from 2008’s Daily Conversation to his newest release Still Waiting (produced by Amadeus and Trilogy Muzik)—then you’ve heard him daily on Sirius XM’s Hip-Hop Nation, hosting The Tor Guide Mon-Fri from 5p-10p. Or you’ve seen his influence up and through VH1’s The Breaks, as battle rapper Sig Sauer in the original movie, consulting on the series, or coaching Teyana Taylor on her bars. Or you’ve seen him diligently training for the Rap Strongman competition on his IG. Either way, Tor is one of the hardest working men in rap, but he still has time for my shenanigans.

What’s the worst job you’ve ever had?

Yo, I had a short stint where I was a…I don’t even know the job title honestly. I served food at this fancy catering hall. I absolutely hated every second of it, but it was decent off the books money. These wealthy people would come in for weddings, bat mitzvahs, all that and look at us like we were peasants. Needless to say, I didn’t do that too long. It was actually a blessing ‘cause it made me get my ass in gear and find various opportunities in the field and career I loved: Music and Entertainment.

Talk about a time that you were starstruck.

I meet tons of famous people on a daily basis, so I’m never too pressed either way. However, there was this one time TLC (greatest group ever) was up at SiriusXM for an interview, and I got to meet them. It was super dope, and I didn’t even try to keep my cool. We danced and sang. It was the best! My first concert was TLC (Christina Aguilera opened, and Prince was a surprise guest on guitar) at MSG. I always always listen to TLC before I perform. Yup, before I get on stage and spit the hardest rap shit ever, I’m in the green room pumpin’ “Ain’t 2 Proud 2 Beg.” So what, you can’t beat me!

What’s the first thing you do when you wake up?

Hop up out the beeeed, turn my swag onnnn… Really, I thank God, but I couldn’t resist.

What are you the proudest of?

My kids, Young Tay Tay and New York Nick. They’re really dope humans and not just ‘cause they’re my kids, but like as actual people. They really make me proud. Smart, humorous, witty, stylish. I’d be their friend in real life.

Taylor is you. She’s also hilarious and the star of your Snapchat. That kid’s going places. So what’s the most expensive thing you’ve ever bought?

My condo in Brooklyn. No mortgage either. Straight cash. How bout dat!

Oooooh you got MUNNEEEE! Lemme hold sumn. Anyway, name a celebrity you think is lame and why.

Bieber, Katy Perry, Iggy [Azalea], the list goes on and on. If I need to explain to you why, then add yourself to the list.

What human would you trade lives with and why?

I don’t know if I’d trade lives with him, but Lenny Kravitz is a cool motherfucker. I’d hang with son for sure.

But would you trade muscles with him though? Name a thing you haven’t done yet and still want to do.

Perform in Africa. I’ve rocked on four continents, and Africa is not one of them. Gotta change that in 2017!

Who’s going to play you in your biopic?

Me! duh! You ain’t see my award worthy performance on The Breaks? What kind of question is that? SMH. But young Reezy though; I like that kid who played Ralph Tresvant in the New Edition biopic. That kid was ill. Teenage Tor? Hmmmm I don’t know.

Say something nice about your mom/dad so they can smile when they read this. You don’t call home enough, by the way.

My mom is my hero; anyone who knows me knows that. She also my biggest fan, and I’m hers. We came from the bottom, so to see her killing it with like four masters degrees and doing all these amazing things is very inspirational to me. My dad is a good dude too. He didn’t raise me, but as an adult now I understand more than I did as a kid, so I get it. Sorta. We’re good though, we spend time together and we make the most of the time we have instead of dwelling on time we can’t get back. For better or worse. I learned how to be a good dad from my dad.

Would you go to Trump’s White House and shake his hand? If so, what the hell is your problem?

If I did, I’d use a gag buzzer and shock that damn toupee off his orange ass head. I’d do time for that, but as long as someone caught it on video, it’d be worth it. I’d also do a shit load of press when I got out and write a book.

Do you love avocado, or are you a savage animal with broken tastebuds?

I hated avocado my whole Black life, but I became vegan a year ago, and so with that my palate changed. As did my outlook on avocado. First batch of guac I ever tried and liked, my daughter made me. See? I told you she was dope.

What do you deeply desire everyone to know about you?

I get fucking BUSY with this rap shit. I might not have a huge machine behind it, and I missed all the millions they spent on MCs in the ‘90s but bar-for-bar, line-for-line on some rap shit, I’m dead nice!

You get especially busy on the ones where you featured me. FACTS. Okay, give Machinko some good advice.

FuckwithmeyouknowIgotit!

Why haven’t you introduced me to The Rock, Idris Elba, or 2Chainz yet? Why don’t you want me to be happy?

Damn I suck, ‘cause I’ve literally met them all. Guess I’m a bad friend or whatever. *Kanye shrug*

Yep, you’re gonna pay for this one, friend. Okay name a perfect song and defend that song.

Nas’ “The World Is Yours.” Musically, melodically, lyrically, it’s just absolutely perfect. You can debate me, but you’ll be wrong…and stupid. You’ll be stupid too.

Did you know that the Willie Lynch letter is not real, the Michael Jordan who played basketball and makes sneakers is not the same one who owns the prisons, Black women are actually supposed to menstruate too, and the horizon is proof of a round earth? If not, please tell us how this information makes you feel.

Confused.

How seriously amazing is Mela Machinko as a general human? Isn’t she completely killing this shit? Like seriously. C’mon.

She’s aight, but she’s not real. Hov said it best. Nah she’s dope. And so is the project she dropped titled “Hov Said It Best.” Cop that if you don’t have it.

You only say that because you put it on Soulspazm. I forgot to mention the A&R director gig too. You’re like a damn Jamaican.

Check out more Fan of My Friends with the inimitable MeLa Machinko. 

Fan of My Friends (or FOMF from here on out) is a regular column from bomb-ass singer MeLa Machinko. She knows mad people cause she’s cool as fuck.

I am MeLa Machinko aka New Money Machinko aka Katie Kaboom aka The Honey Badger aka Yung Oh No Baby What! Is You Doin. I’m a singer from Brooklyn, New York, and I’ve worked with a gang of rap folks, and put out a couple of FLAME ASS ALBUMS. But if you’ve ever heard me, it was likely on a Talib Kweli or Pharoahe Monch record. I’ve been all over the world and met a bunch of people, and they like me because I’m cool as shit, and cute as a button, and I have a great singing voice and good bewbs. That’s how I make friends, and I keep them by not being a dickhead. My friends are cool, talented, interesting folks, and I’m still a fan of them all. So I came up with a scheme to hang out with them, pick their brains, and have some fun. Y’all will enjoy it too.

… But since this is my column and DAMMIT I’m important too, I decided to interview myself first. So you can get to know me better and clock the goddess’ wavy stature.

I prefer if while reading this, you picture me sitting across from also me—wearing different ‘fits and hairstyles. Interviewer me is wearing round rimmed glasses. They aren’t prescription.

What’s the worst job you’ve ever had?

In high school I worked in the Accounts Payable Dept. of the Intrepid Museum. I basically cut checks all afternoon. My boss was a youngish pretty, nasty Puerto Rican lady who already hated her life but loved freestyle music. I almost jumped overboard. Fuck KTU, yo.

What’s the first thing you do when you wake up?

Wipe the cold out my eye. And see who’s Facebooking me, and why.
Seriously, it’s a terrible habit. I’ve got to stop rolling over and hopping on the ‘Book. It’s unfuckinghealthy.

If you could change one thing about your career, what would it be?

*snorts* I would have, like, so much more money. SO. MUCH. MORE. I mean, I’m still working on that, though.

What are you the most proud of?

I’m proud I got a lotta quality, stand-up people around me. It says something about me.

Name a celebrity you think is lame and why.

Wild celebrities are lame. WIIIIIIIILD celebrities are lame. This week, Tyrese’s lame ass is lame outside. AGAIN. Ignoramus. I hope he falls off his bike and breaks his two front teeth. Now if you meant one that I know personally who is lame? No comment. I don’t have enough money to be calling those people “lame” in my new column. Ask me again in a year.

What human would you trade lives with, and why?

Nobody. It’s live as shit to be me. Plus I earned all of this existence, and I deserve it.

What thing do you love that you think would surprise people about you?

Dr. Pimple Popper videos. Love. I could lose a DAY watching white goo ooze from sliced-open people. IN A CONTROLLED ENVIRONMENT ONLY THOUGH. Stop squeezing shit out of yourselves on YouTube, people! You’re not even doing it right. That’s why it keeps coming back. YOU HAVE TO REMOVE THE ENTIRE SAC.

Who’s going to play you in the biopic?

Young me, Azealia Banks (if she can summon a spirit of ackright from somewhere. Forever got love tho. We all we got.) Older me, Charnele Brown (Kimberly Reese from A Different World) Not a week goes by without one person stopping me in the street thinking I’m her. Don’t get me wrong, Kimberly Reese is a baddie. Pero Charnele Brown is a smooth 2+ decades older than me. Y’all gotta cut the shit.

Say something nice about your mom/dad so they can smile when they read this. You don’t call home enough, by the way.

Most of y’all hate your mom’s Facebook activity. I LIVE for when Syb shows up. Syb cuts UP on these hoes ok?! Love you, Mom. You my best thing.

Do you love avocado, or are you a savage animal with broken taste buds?

Bitch don’t try me. You know what it is. Avocado is a lifestyle.

What do you deeply desire everyone to know about you?

If you’re talking to me and my song comes on, I need you to not take it personally that I can no longer hear anything you’re saying. I didn’t snub you on purpose. I’ll tune back into your convo in like two and a half minutes. Unless the next song is my jam. Then I’ma just dance on you.

Why haven’t you introduced Machinko to The Rock, Idris Elba or 2Chainz yet? Why don’t you want her to be happy?

SIS WE WORKING ON IT, OK?

Name a perfect song, and defend that song.

“International Player’s Anthem.” It strikes every note correctly. It makes you feel every feeling it wants you to have, for as long as it wants you to feel it.

Did you know that the Willie Lynch letter is not real, the Michael Jordan who played basketball and makes sneakers is not the same one who owns the prisons, black women are actually supposed to menstruate too and the horizon is proof of a round Earth? If not, please tell us how this information makes you feel.

You better come through with the Notep buzzer beater, though! HA! yeah man all that shit’s dumb.

Yes, I know where I am. I also know where you’re reading this. But…

I never liked the term “underground.” As much as I have always been in love with “underground music,” it has always felt to me like the very thing I love about the music that tends to fall under the umbrella—the freedom and risk-taking sonically, the noncompliance to the popular rules of the day—it’s always seemed that the title “underground” sought to undermine those qualities, by boxing it in. And everyone who used it, used it that way…not just popular music lovers.

Beyond the catchall use of underground as “music that’s not generally commercial sounding and/or widely commercially released,” the term is at once used as a pejorative (see: Ebro) to mean “unappealing to the masses/unable to crossover because it’s not good enough” (which we know is horse shit)—as a badge of honor; a secret club for the smarter, cooler kids; a weapon used to shame anyone who dares like popular music. Most of that shit is wack and needs to stop.

It’s wild corny to fix your face to say that all the music that doesn’t make it past the corporate gatekeepers and onto the radio 100 times a day just isn’t as good as music that does. Plus a lot of that shit is trash.

But the so-called purist fans can hobble their favorite artist’s career by rejecting anything that to them remotely smells like they want to gain a fan beyond the hot, funky, obscure basement rap club they’re standing in. Think of any “backpack” or “conscious” (subsets of the underground) artist who collaborates with a mainstream artist and puts it out. Now recall their Twitter mentions that day. (Did you even listen to that 2 Chainz verse on De La’s album? He blacked. Haters hated anyway.)

Underground can mean how the music sounds, or how famous a rapper isn’t. It’s further complicated by the facts that A) the major deal is all but dead, so almost everyone is independent now (what that means these days is a convo for another time), and B) there are artists who do have major backing who pretend to be underground, for the authenticating narrative (and so they don’t get taxed in full by collaborators).

Soundcloud is a huge player in the underground conversation (and probably not so incidentally, “Soundcloud rapper” has also been used as an insult). Lil Yachty got his start on Soundcloud. Now he has a Target commercial. Some call him an industry plant. If XXXTentacion never changes his moody emo violent sound, but still gets chosen by Walmart ‘cause one day Drake apologizes and puts him on his Summer single, is HE still underground?

It’s exhausting.

I want the stigma gone, and I want the elitist heads to stand down.

Every rapper’s story began underground, one way or another. If the underground can mean all those things, then why can’t it mean the genesis stories of mainstream faves? Why can’t it mean the Polo Club, before they became the Migos? Kendrick is, as I type, coasting up the Billboard charts. He’s widely accepted as the most “woke” rapper of the times, still making the Blackest music. Section.80 is underground, ain’t it?

What if underground could be all the dope music that’s waiting to be brought to light, and all of the stories that come from the ones who went on to greatness?

I might could love that underground.

If you want more MeLa, and we know you do, follow her on Twitter @MeLaMachinko and stay tuned for more #StopMeLa at UGHHMag.