Boyce Watkins: Tech N9ne Declined A $60M Deal B/C He’s His Own Boss

Leading scholar and social commentator, Dr. Boyce Watkins of Financial Juneteenth offers his perspective to VladTV as it relates to Hip-Hop’s MCs earnings and how they manage their money. The conversation soon centered on the self-made independent artist Tech N9ne – who Boyce Watkins feels is one of “the greatest rappers in the world right now” – and how he successfully made the Forbes’ 2014 Hip-Hop Cash Kings List.

“Tech N9ne is a brother out of Kansas City, MO who is killing it…he actually turned down a deal for $60 million,” shares Dr. Boyce before adding, “A lot of the reason that he can turn down deals of that magnitude is because Tech has figured out the secret of how to make your own money.”

That comment is soon expounded upon when the analyst offers that “you don’t have to go through any industry begging and borrowing and asking people for an opportunity – you can create your own. And the best thing about being independent is when you sign yourself you’ll never fire yourself.”

Dr. Boyce later contends that the “Anghellic” lyricist’s business acumen has helped him to create his burgeoning empire. “He’s truly different not only in terms of his amazing rapid fire lyrical style, but in the way that he’s been able to monetize his ability in such an effective way.” Make sure you watch the entire clip to find out the “Three Tech Tips” that everyone needs to know in order to make the most money from your business and why Dr. Boyce Watkins feels that “walking away from education is the hugest mistake that any human being could ever make.”

Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson Makes Rap Debut In Tech N9ne’s ‘Face Off’

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson became famous as a wrestler and an actor. Now he’s also adding rapper to his résumé. 

The 49-year-old actor made what he calls his “historic rap debut” with a feature in Tech N9ne’s song “Face Off,” released Friday. The song, which also features rappers Joey Cool and King Iso, is part of the Kansas City rapper’s newest album “Asin9ne.” 

“Made my historic rap debut (thankfully I didn’t suck) Huge shout to all the hip hop & music fans for your HYPE reactions,” Johnson tweeted Friday. 

Johnson lays down the last verse of “Face Off” rapping about “drive” and “power.”

“We stay hungry, we devour / Put in the work, put in the hours and take what’s ours / 

Black and Samoan in my veins, my culture bangin’ with Strange,” he raps referring to Tech N9ne’s record label Strange Music Inc. 

In an interview with Variety published Friday Johnson said he doesn’t see a long-term career in rap but would think about giving it another go in the future. 

“I would love to do a repeat with Tech N9ne and Strange Music. If I had the opportunity to collaborate with another artist out there — hip hop artists, blues artists, outlaw country artists — then let’s talk and let’s figure it out,” Johnson said. “If I could rap about the right words that feel real and authentic to me, then I’ll be happy to break out that Teremana, take a few big swigs and jump back into the studio.”

“THANK YOU to my brother, the GOAT @therealtechn9ne for coming up with this big crazy idea of wanting me to drop some Rock gasoline bars on the fire,” Johnson wrote on an Instagram video with a clip of his verse. 

Source: USA Today

The Dual Album Design Of Kendrick Lamar’s Major Label Debut Offers A Glimpse Into An Alternative Future

The two albums’ early 90s photographs are highly personal to Lamar, but have a familiarity to the beholder as well

In 2012, good kid, m.A.A.d city brought hip hop’s finest new storyteller to the attention of the masses. Kendrick Lamar’s major label debut tells the story of a kid growing up in Compton, Los Angeles, circumnavigating the pitfalls of gang life, whether by accident or design. The cover art meanwhile provides two stories, perhaps offering us a glimpse into an alternative future. 

It’s a cinematic roman-à-clef that comes at you out of sequence—memory isn’t linear, after all—and the two photographs chosen for two editions of the album conjure up different but connected memories from the immediate past: one is a family scene from a kitchen, and the other, a van sitting in the driveway of Lamar’s old house. While personal to the artist, these pictures from the early ’90s have a familiarity to the beholder too, even if they’re not our own memories.

Exhibit one, for the initial 12-track release, is a picture we’re to assume is of the baby Kendrick surrounded by three older figures who may be relatives. According to Marcus J. Moore’s excellent new biography The Butterfly Effect: How Kendrick Lamar Ignited The Soul Of Black America, that is indeed Lamar in diminutive form, with two teenage uncles and his grandfather sitting to his left. In an interesting visual twist, the eyes of these other figures are blacked out with identity-obscuring oblongs, while the toddler—who you’d expect to be the protected party here—stares into the lens. A few years after this photo was taken, Kendrick, aged just five, would witness a teenage drug dealer gunned down before his eyes, and the year before, he’d seen mass rioting in the streets following the infamous attack on Rodney King by LAPD officers. 

On closer inspection, the photograph is communicating dangers via signifiers, such as a bottle of alcohol sitting on the table—something he’ll addressed on ‘Swimming Pools (Drank)”; meanwhile, the uncle whose lap young Kendrick is sitting on is throwing a surreptitious gang sign with his left hand. Potential downfalls are hiding in plain sight in a picture as symbolically rich as Holbein’s The Ambassadors. “That photo says so much about my life and about how I was raised in Compton and the things I’ve seen,” said Lamar. 

Exhibit two, mounted on the cover for the deluxe version of good kid, m.A.A.d city, is not as easy to read. Lamar’s mother’s van, parked on the street in front of their family home, appears on the cover, shot through a fisheye lens. Intriguingly, while this photo offers less in the way of visual portents, the house itself has become a shrine to fans. Type “Good Kid M.A.A.D City House” into Google Earth and you’ll find the rapper’s childhood home in Compton, and pictures of fans assembled outside like they’re at Graceland. Furthermore, scrawled under the battered Chrysler are the words “a short film by Kendrick Lamar,” adding to the hauntological vibrations.  

“I fought not to have that on the cover!” says designer Don Clark on a Zoom call from his Seattle office. Clark set up the design agency Invisible Creature with his brother Ryan in 2006. “At the beginning I felt a photo of a minivan wasn’t worthy of an album cover, but I’m not always right. Because then his art creates this thing that becomes greater than any of us. That’s the sweet spot I love when working with other artists, when it takes on a life of its own.” 

Clark was initially reluctant to talk about good kid, m.A.A.d city because of his lack of conceptual input into the design. Invisible Creature took 4×6 photos supplied by Lamar and scanned them, adding crease marks to the corners to give the packaging a more distressed appearance, and then superimposed the pictures onto various textures until they found a background that most resembled an old Polaroid. But otherwise, the direction all came from Lamar himself. Within the space of a five-minute conference call, the musician, who was just making a name for himself at the time, had laid out exactly what he wanted in fine detail. His objectives were clear for every inch of good kid, m.A.A.d city, visually and audibly.

There are ten polaroid photos laid out across the deluxe gatefold edition, again all chosen in sequence by Lamar. Clark also disapproved of the graffiti-style font at the base of the sleeve, but he’s willing to concede that that cover has become a fan favorite, and that it has an enigmatic quality, too: mystery, after all, is in short supply these days as cover art becomes utilitarian and avatar-like, a one inch box on a tiny smartphone screen to click on or swipe away. 

The alternative 12-track cover still makes more sense to Clark though, and a couple of serendipitous details add to its ability to communicate: the Parental Advisory sticker is analogous to the photo’s message, and use of the black strips across the eyes of the adults was actually at the insistence of the label. “That was more of a legal thing,” says Clark. “Interscope and the family wanted to do that to obscure their likenesses.” 

Other than obfuscating the identities of the grownups in the room, Interscope was happy to allow their new signing complete artistic freedom to unleash his vision, a gamble that obviously paid off given that Kendrick Lamar is one of the most acclaimed rappers of all time, a state of affairs that really began with good kid, m.A.A.d city

“From the beginning they let him do what he wanted,” says Clark. “He was also [Dr.] Dre’s guy and I think that had a lot to do with it. That’s another amazing thing about him in that he doesn’t care what people will think and his art speaks for itself, and I appreciate that audacity.”

Source: AIGA Eye On Design

Reddit Acquires TikTok/Triller Rival Dubsmash

Reddit has acquired Dubsmash, the lipsyncing video app which launched in 2014 and was largely supplanted when TikTok showed up. 

Announced via Reddit’s blog on Sunday, the annexing of Dubsmash’s 12-person team to Reddit’s 700-strong horde is the popular website’s first major acquisition in its 15-year history.

While the financial terms of the agreement haven’t been disclosed, Dubsmash will be keeping its own platform and separate branding. Dubsmash’s Android and Apple apps will continue to operate as normal, with its video creation tools simply integrated into Reddit’s infrastructure. 

Reddit currently allows users to upload and livestream videos, however its editing capabilities are somewhat lacklustre — a problem this acquisition hopes to address.

“The transition to video will be bigger than the transition to mobile,” Reddit co-founder and CEO Steve Huffman said, speaking via the Wall Street JournalWhich sounds fake, but okay. Pivots to video historically haven’t worked out well, but perhaps the distinction between editorial and user-created content will yield better results.

Dubsmash went through a slow decline in the wake of its 2015 popularity boom, before revamping itself in 2017 to stage an unlikely comeback. While still not as successful as TikTok, the short-form video app established a significant audience by focusing on the one demographic still using it — Black teenagers in the U.S

As such, both Reddit and Dubsmash’s acquisition announcements heavily emphasised the diverse, underrepresented creators who use the app. According to Reddit, a quarter of Black teens in the U.S. use Dubsmash, while 70 percent of users are women or girls.

“By joining forces with Reddit, we expand our ability to serve the creators that represent the lifeblood of Dubsmash, helping them connect, share, and deepen their impact on culture,” wrote Dubsmash co-founders Suchit Dash, Jonas Drüppel and Tim Specht. The trio further reaffirmed their goal to “[create] a safe and welcoming platform for underrepresented communities.”

“Both Reddit and Dubsmash share a deep rooted respect for how communities come together,” said Huffman. “Dubsmash elevates under-represented creators, while Reddit fosters a sense of community and belonging across thousands of different topics and passions.”

Source: Mashable

Japan Debuts ‘World’s First Foot-Operated’ Vending Machine For The COVID-19 Era

Before the virus crisis, people would click on the buttons in vending machines to make their purchases but nowadays physical contact is strongly discouraged. So, a Japanese company called DyDo has come up with a new invention. 

It has launched the “world’s first foot-operated” vending machine that is completely “hands-free.” 

The new innovation allows people to use the foot pedals installed in the vending machines to make their selections. They can also opt for contactless payments by tapping their smartphones to the machine’s display. 

Customers can also choose to preorder their items online and then scan their phones to collect their products. 

The machine also includes a food tray, which opens when a customer steps on a lever. It is equipped with UV light sterilization to ensure the products are decontaminated the moment customers retrieve them. 

Source: DesignTAXI

The first battery-free Game Boy wants to power a gaming revolution

The battery-free Game Boy. A video game console powered by a combination of energy from the sun and button-mashing during gameplay. 

It’s an orange brick about the size of a paperback novel but weighs only half as much as the original Nintendo Game Boy released in 1989. De Winkel, a computer scientist at Delft University of Technology, has been working on building the device for about a year. He calls it his “baby.”

Officially it’s dubbed the “Engage” (no relation to Nokia’s failed console, I’m told) but the inspiration is obvious. Beside the absence of a battery slot on the back, the device looks exactly like Nintendo’s revolutionary handheld. “It was critical from the start of the project that we maintain the feel of a Game Boy,” de Winkel says.

Source: CNET