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Rhythm D is a G-funk legend

Eazy-E's Real Compton City G's" producer charts a new course"

David Weldon grew up in South Central Los Angeles. As he was coming of age as a hip-hop producer in the early '90s, he got caught up in a feud between the two biggest West Coast rap names of the time: Eazy-E and Dr. Dre. The pair had great success together with N.W.A, bringing gangsta rap to the masses, but Dre left the group over a financial dispute and allied with former bodyguard Suge Knight, as part of the upstart label Death Row Records.

Weldon, who goes by Rhythm D, was initially aligned with Death Row, and left not long before the release of Dre's legendary 1992 album The Chronic, complete with its eviscerating Eazy-E disses on "Fuck Wit Dre Day." "You fucked with me, now it's a must that I fuck with you."

Weldon instead joined the camp of Eazy's Ruthless Records, stepping into Dre's role as the label's in-house producer. Weldon's most memorable production to come out of this era, Eazy's "Real Compton City G's," was a response to "Fuck Wit Dre Day," and was equally raw: "Watch the sniper, time to pay the piper," Eazy rapped, as well as mocking Dre for the feminine outfits he'd worn in his previous group, World Class Wreckin' Cru.

Weldon went to great lengths to convince Eazy that the G-funk sound on "Real Compton City G's" set the appropriate tone. That the song was a hit — and helped Eazy get the last word in the famous battle — owed much to its sinister beat. Rhythm D's star was in orbit. But his newfound notoriety came at a cost: Those involved with the Ruthless/Death Row dispute had reason to be scared for their lives, and Weldon was watched over by a bodyguard named Big Animal. "I couldn't go nowhere," Weldon says. "It was a real beef."

Indeed, such beef would take the lives of Tupac Shakur and Biggie Smalls, and by the early 2000s Weldon had had enough. The Southern rap sound was ascendant, and he began making frequent trips to Atlanta. "Our music was caught up in gangsta rap instead of making people dance and have a good time," Weldon says. "The business was flourishing out here more than anywhere else. Instead of being mad at the South I came down here."

Working with rapper Bonecrusher and shown the city's ropes by V103's DJ Nabs, he became increasingly enchanted with Atlanta. "People here are a little more warm, with the Southern hospitality," he says.

Following the death of his sister from cancer, he quietly moved down here permanently in 2010, and now resides near where Atlanta meets Cobb County, off of Marietta Street. Not a lot of Atlantans realize they have a '90s production legend in their midst; Weldon also crafted the classic Paperboy track "Ditty," and helped Bone Thugs-n-Harmony define their sound on their first album. But Weldon seeks to make a big splash this year. His entertainment company is launching a pair of artists, and he thinks the Atlantans, from audiences at the strip clubs to the local colleges, will enjoy what he's trying to do. "Their minds are a little more open to a different sound."

Weldon is tall, fit, and resembles Key & Peele actor Keegan-Michael Key. He discussed his plans recently at his studio, which is adorned with gold records for artists he's worked with such as Snoop Dogg and Mack 10. For his new company, which launched last year, he has partnered up with an industrial marijuana grower named Ben Shlesinger, who splits his time between Atlanta and his fields in Oroville, California, an hour north of Sacramento. As marijuana's legalization slowly spreads throughout the country, the misty countryside of Northern California has emerged as a primary supplier to smokers everywhere. Using Weldon's production royalties, the pair have formed Red Ram Entertainment. Aiming to be more than a record company, they envision a music distribution service along the lines of TuneCore, which places artists' music with digital stores such as iTunes.

That operation hasn't yet gotten off the ground, but in the meantime Red Ram is promoting artists including Shlesinger himself, who raps under the name Ben Familiar. His new album, Cannabusiness, has a medicinal flavor as well. Single "That Loud" name drops a dispensary's worth of marijuana strains, and its video was filmed on Shlesinger's farm, in front of plants taller than he is. Another single, "All Work No Play," has a glossy feel, a clean, hypnotic beat from Weldon, and a video filmed in Miami. Shlesinger is most compelling when he's musing on his real life as a grower, however, which he also does on a reality show called "Kush Rush," for which Red Ram is seeking distribution. The program documents the glories and the setbacks of the business through the eyes of Shlesinger and his girlfriend.

Though marijuana is becoming mainstream, there's still an outlaw feel to its cultivation, and it all fits well into hip-hop, a genre where seemingly every rapper brags about dealing — or at least smoking — a ton of weed. "People don't know what you go through to make those harvests happen," he says. "Even though it's a peaceful flower, the business behind it is very serious."

Weldon met the company's other artist, Billie Jeanz, while working with Bonecrusher. She was signed to his Vainglorious label, and has done acting and modeling as well. An Atlanta native born Priscila Tejeda who lives now near Atlantic Station, she has a sharp-edged new track, "How2Ack." In the video she wears a bandana across her mouth and, at the end, douses the object of her scorn in gasoline and sets him on fire. It's an extremely compelling piece of hard R&B, a sound she and Weldon are positioning as a subgenre called "ratchet pop." "It's pop with a little hood flavor in it," she explains, adding that she and Weldon compare it to Katy Perry's recent hit "Dark Horse," which has a trap music-style breakdown.

She adds that Weldon is a dream to work with. "He's so creative. We get work done so fast, but it's quality. He just vibes, and I end up writing to the track as he's actually doing the beat."

As for Weldon, he's anticipating both the upcoming N.W.A biopic, Straight Outta Compton, and the 20th anniversary of the death of Eazy-E, who passed away in March, 1995 from complications due to AIDS. It's a chance to reintroduce himself to the masses. He says now that "Real Compton City G's" reflected Eazy's sadness about losing Dr. Dre more than anything. "He played The Chronic all the time," Weldon says. "He was mad but he still thought it was dope." Eazy's relationship with Knight was another story. "He wanted to kill Suge, to be honest with you," Weldon says.

But beyond G-funk, Weldon is also focused on "what's popping in the clubs," and is working on a compilation of EDM music from artists that aren't normally associated with the genre, including Ying Yang Twins, Houston O.G. rapper Scarface, and Musiq Soulchild.

Even if Weldon's work remains, for many, the soundtrack to the combustible gangsta rap era, Weldon is focused on staying current and relevant. After all, such instincts are what brought him to Atlanta in the first place.

Editor's note: This story has been updated. Shlesinger, in a conversation following publication, said proceeds from his California-based marijuana business were not used to help form Red Ram Entertainment.



More By This Writer

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Monday March 5, 2012 07:03 pm EST
Featuring alums such as Saul Williams, CX KiDTRONiK, and Sol Messiah, no one in Atlanta’s emerging, early ’90s hip-hop scene was stranger than K.I.N. | more...
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  string(6389) ""You bring any bitches with you?" manic 20-year-old Donquez "Quez" Woods asks me as I walk into his group Travis Porter's frenetic recording session. It's a fair enough question. After all, the night was supposed to be about, well, ladies. The original plan was to hit the nudie bars.

Strip clubs are practically the trio's natural habitat, after all. As 16-year-olds they got their first exposure at Kamal's 21 — "Atlanta's Home for Upscale Ebony Adult Entertainment" — where they performed after being clandestinely let in the back door by trio member Ali's mother, a manager there.

But our adventure was not to be. The act signed with Jive Records last year, and the label is anxious about rushing out an album while their national popularity is swelling. Sure, they've been known for a couple of years now in Atlanta, where their playful, hypersexual style is considered the new incarnation of '90s booty/bass music stylist Kilo Ali. But they've become more popular than local legend Kilo ever was; suddenly their songs are staples on satellite and terrestrial radio and "106 & Park," and they're playing shows around the country. They've developed a reputation as the good-time jam purveyors of the moment.

And so, even though they're on board with acting out such hits of theirs as "Make It Rain" and "Go Shorty Go" at a strip club with me, Jive puts the kibosh on our plans. Instead, the label insists that, during their few free days in Atlanta between shows, the guys — Quez, Harold "Strap" Duncan, 20, and Lakeem "Ali" Mattox, 21 — get down to recording their yet-untitled major label debut, due out in August.

Instead of meeting at Kamal's we hook up just down the street at Soapbox Studios, a modest, no-frills Midtown facility where they're in the process of recording dozens of songs. When I arrive shortly after 10 p.m. I first encounter producer Bangladesh, the A-lister who has already laid down a number of prospective tracks for them, hoping one will be picked as their first single. He's eating a lobster tail in the lounge.

The group members themselves, meanwhile, are running around the studio, occasionally recording largely improvised verses but otherwise smoking blunts, drinking root beer, eating barbecue and goofing around. The image they project in their videos — wild Atlanta kids seemingly concerned with little else than parties, cash and girls — is how they act in person as well, and Quez is the most untethered of the bunch. Reedy and extremely tall, he's animated and uninhibited. When it's clear that I've arrived sans "bitches," he makes the same inquiry of a cute light-skinned girl visiting from Virginia who's somehow found her way into the studio as well: "How about you?"

As for Strap, despite the corporate edict he has already been hanging out at the strip clubs today, "for motivation," he cryptically explains. With tats on his face and a diamond pinky ring, he's the toughest-looking in the group, shy but vaguely menacing. When he was 15, he spent about a week locked up on a gun possession charge in Gwinnett County, he says. Ali, meanwhile, is the most polished and composed of the three, dancing to Bangladesh's beats as an engineer manipulates them, and wearing a shirt that says "OG" in the style of the Chick-fil-A logo.

It's hard to imagine their personalities were much different as friends coming up together in Decatur. Quez and Ali are stepbrothers, and the guys attended various DeKalb county schools before deciding to drop out en masse as juniors to focus on music full time. "School was in the way, so we were all like, 'Fuck school, we finna rap,'" says Quez. Another turning point was three years ago, when he was shot in the hip by rival kids from another neighborhood, just outside of Ali's mother's house. "We all realized then that it ain't worth it," says Strap of the street "foolishness" they'd been involved in. "We was so talented."

They recorded on computers at their mothers' houses and hooked up with a manager named Charlie Jabaley, who helped establish their Porter House imprint. The name Travis Porter was meant to be "Google friendly," and though it has proven infinitely confusing — many think they're an individual, not a group — their ascent has been rapid. They went from passing out CDs to attendees at the 2009 Hot 107.9 Birthday Bash concert to performing at the show a year later, and were boosted by their appearance on Roscoe Dash's song "All the Way Turnt Up." (Dash was unhappy when they claimed credit for it, however, and later remade the song with Soulja Boy.) Videos for songs like "Waffle House" — the true story of a drunken pursuit of a sausage biscuit — went viral.

The act signed with Jive in November of last year, believing that because the label isn't flush with hip-hop artists they would receive significant attention. But besides slightly curtailing their cabaret regimen, the imprint hasn't messed with their style, they say. Indeed, the big-budget videos for "Make It Rain," "Bring It Back" and "College Girl" maintain their signature giddiness, bordering on absurdity.

Listen to Travis Porter "Bring It Back"


What separates the group from other Atlanta rap acts who have made brief splashes on the national scene in recent years is that they truly seem to be having a good time. Many rappers manage to sound bored or disillusioned while rhyming about the spoils of success, but there's nothing cynical about these guys, and very little posturing. The way they craft songs speaks to their spontaneous, seat-of-their-pants nature, and it's fun to watch here at the studio tonight. They don't plan their songs out beforehand, they explain, they simply go with the flow.

"You hear the beat, and it makes you feel a certain type of way," says Ali.

They're not profound rappers. Their songs are stuffed with rap clichés: "Rain, rain, that's what the hoes be screamin'," imparts Quez on "Make It Rain." "Blang blang, that's when my diamonds be gleaming." But they succeed because they're enjoying themselves more than the next guy.

"You just have to think fun," says Quez. "Everything I talk about is fun, about the fun I'm having and the fun you need to be having. I'm going to make it sound fun, so you can go on ahead and do it. I don't know why I'm here, on the earth, so I'm just gonna live and see what happens.""
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  string(6681) ""You bring any bitches with you?" manic 20-year-old Donquez "Quez" Woods asks me as I walk into his group Travis Porter's frenetic recording session. It's a fair enough question. After all, the night was supposed to be about, well, ladies. The original plan was to hit the nudie bars.

Strip clubs are practically the trio's natural habitat, after all. As 16-year-olds they got their first exposure at Kamal's 21 — "Atlanta's Home for Upscale Ebony Adult Entertainment" — where they performed after being clandestinely let in the back door by trio member Ali's mother, a manager there.

But our adventure was not to be. The act signed with Jive Records last year, and the label is anxious about rushing out an album while their national popularity is swelling. Sure, they've been known for a couple of years now in Atlanta, where their playful, hypersexual style is considered the new incarnation of '90s booty/bass music stylist Kilo Ali. But they've become more popular than local legend Kilo ever was; suddenly their songs are staples on satellite and terrestrial radio and "106 & Park," and they're playing shows around the country. They've developed a reputation as the good-time jam purveyors of the moment.

And so, even though they're on board with acting out such hits of theirs as "Make It Rain" and "[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PYMb7ZulYVw|Go Shorty Go]" at a strip club with me, Jive puts the kibosh on our plans. Instead, the label insists that, during their few free days in Atlanta between shows, the guys — Quez, Harold "Strap" Duncan, 20, and Lakeem "Ali" Mattox, 21 — get down to recording their yet-untitled major label debut, due out in August.

Instead of meeting at Kamal's we hook up just down the street at Soapbox Studios, a modest, no-frills Midtown facility where they're in the process of recording dozens of songs. When I arrive shortly after 10 p.m. I first encounter producer Bangladesh, the A-lister who has already laid down a number of prospective tracks for them, hoping one will be picked as their first single. He's eating a lobster tail in the lounge.

The group members themselves, meanwhile, are running around the studio, occasionally recording largely improvised verses but otherwise smoking blunts, drinking root beer, eating barbecue and goofing around. The image they project in their videos — wild Atlanta kids seemingly concerned with little else than parties, cash and girls — is how they act in person as well, and Quez is the most untethered of the bunch. Reedy and extremely tall, he's animated and uninhibited. When it's clear that I've arrived sans "bitches," he makes the same inquiry of a cute light-skinned girl visiting from Virginia who's somehow found her way into the studio as well: "How about you?"

As for Strap, despite the corporate edict he has already been hanging out at the strip clubs today, "for motivation," he cryptically explains. With tats on his face and a diamond pinky ring, he's the toughest-looking in the group, shy but vaguely menacing. When he was 15, he spent about a week locked up on a gun possession charge in Gwinnett County, he says. Ali, meanwhile, is the most polished and composed of the three, dancing to Bangladesh's beats as an engineer manipulates them, and wearing a shirt that says "OG" in the style of the Chick-fil-A logo.

It's hard to imagine their personalities were much different as friends coming up together in Decatur. Quez and Ali are stepbrothers, and the guys attended various DeKalb county schools before deciding to drop out en masse as juniors to focus on music full time. "School was in the way, so we were all like, 'Fuck school, we finna rap,'" says Quez. Another turning point was three years ago, when he was shot in the hip by rival kids from another neighborhood, just outside of Ali's mother's house. "We all realized [[then] that it ain't worth it," says Strap of the street "foolishness" they'd been involved in. "We was so talented."

They recorded on computers at their mothers' houses and hooked up with a manager named Charlie Jabaley, who helped establish their Porter House imprint. The name Travis Porter was meant to be "Google friendly," and though it has proven infinitely confusing — many think they're an individual, not a group — their ascent has been rapid. They went from passing out CDs to attendees at the 2009 Hot 107.9 Birthday Bash concert to performing at the show a year later, and were boosted by their appearance on Roscoe Dash's song "All the Way Turnt Up." (Dash was unhappy when they claimed credit for it, however, and later remade the song with Soulja Boy.) Videos for songs like "[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zvrCzcJrhng|Waffle House]" — the [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9kAbQNuOtSY|true story of a drunken pursuit of a sausage biscuit] — went viral.

The act signed with Jive in November of last year, believing that because the label isn't flush with hip-hop artists they would receive significant attention. But besides slightly curtailing their cabaret regimen, the imprint hasn't messed with their style, they say. Indeed, the big-budget videos for "[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J5yhIQsQJWg|Make It Rain]," "[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VTCkmvSwIjw&feature=relmfu|Bring It Back]" and "[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J5yhIQsQJWg|College Girl]" maintain their signature giddiness, bordering on absurdity.

__Listen to Travis Porter "Bring It Back"__


What separates the group from other Atlanta rap acts who have made brief splashes on the national scene in recent years is that they truly seem to be having a good time. Many rappers manage to sound bored or disillusioned while rhyming about the spoils of success, but there's nothing cynical about these guys, and very little posturing. The way they craft songs speaks to their spontaneous, seat-of-their-pants nature, and it's fun to watch here at the studio tonight. They don't plan their songs out beforehand, they explain, they simply go with the flow.

"You hear the beat, and it makes you feel a certain type of way," says Ali.

They're not profound rappers. Their songs are stuffed with rap clichés: "Rain, rain, that's what the hoes be screamin'," imparts Quez on "Make It Rain." "Blang blang, that's when my diamonds be gleaming." But they succeed because they're enjoying themselves more than the next guy.

"You just have to think fun," says Quez. "Everything I talk about is fun, about the fun I'm having and the fun you need to be having. I'm going to make it sound fun, so you can go on ahead and do it. I don't know why I'm here, on the earth, so I'm just gonna live and see what happens.""
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  string(6698) "    Root beer, weed, and a quest for girls with an exploding Atlanta rap trio   2011-06-16T08:00:00+00:00 An evening with Travis Porter ben.eason@creativeloafing.com Ben Eason Ben Westhoff 1306409 2011-06-16T08:00:00+00:00  "You bring any bitches with you?" manic 20-year-old Donquez "Quez" Woods asks me as I walk into his group Travis Porter's frenetic recording session. It's a fair enough question. After all, the night was supposed to be about, well, ladies. The original plan was to hit the nudie bars.

Strip clubs are practically the trio's natural habitat, after all. As 16-year-olds they got their first exposure at Kamal's 21 — "Atlanta's Home for Upscale Ebony Adult Entertainment" — where they performed after being clandestinely let in the back door by trio member Ali's mother, a manager there.

But our adventure was not to be. The act signed with Jive Records last year, and the label is anxious about rushing out an album while their national popularity is swelling. Sure, they've been known for a couple of years now in Atlanta, where their playful, hypersexual style is considered the new incarnation of '90s booty/bass music stylist Kilo Ali. But they've become more popular than local legend Kilo ever was; suddenly their songs are staples on satellite and terrestrial radio and "106 & Park," and they're playing shows around the country. They've developed a reputation as the good-time jam purveyors of the moment.

And so, even though they're on board with acting out such hits of theirs as "Make It Rain" and "Go Shorty Go" at a strip club with me, Jive puts the kibosh on our plans. Instead, the label insists that, during their few free days in Atlanta between shows, the guys — Quez, Harold "Strap" Duncan, 20, and Lakeem "Ali" Mattox, 21 — get down to recording their yet-untitled major label debut, due out in August.

Instead of meeting at Kamal's we hook up just down the street at Soapbox Studios, a modest, no-frills Midtown facility where they're in the process of recording dozens of songs. When I arrive shortly after 10 p.m. I first encounter producer Bangladesh, the A-lister who has already laid down a number of prospective tracks for them, hoping one will be picked as their first single. He's eating a lobster tail in the lounge.

The group members themselves, meanwhile, are running around the studio, occasionally recording largely improvised verses but otherwise smoking blunts, drinking root beer, eating barbecue and goofing around. The image they project in their videos — wild Atlanta kids seemingly concerned with little else than parties, cash and girls — is how they act in person as well, and Quez is the most untethered of the bunch. Reedy and extremely tall, he's animated and uninhibited. When it's clear that I've arrived sans "bitches," he makes the same inquiry of a cute light-skinned girl visiting from Virginia who's somehow found her way into the studio as well: "How about you?"

As for Strap, despite the corporate edict he has already been hanging out at the strip clubs today, "for motivation," he cryptically explains. With tats on his face and a diamond pinky ring, he's the toughest-looking in the group, shy but vaguely menacing. When he was 15, he spent about a week locked up on a gun possession charge in Gwinnett County, he says. Ali, meanwhile, is the most polished and composed of the three, dancing to Bangladesh's beats as an engineer manipulates them, and wearing a shirt that says "OG" in the style of the Chick-fil-A logo.

It's hard to imagine their personalities were much different as friends coming up together in Decatur. Quez and Ali are stepbrothers, and the guys attended various DeKalb county schools before deciding to drop out en masse as juniors to focus on music full time. "School was in the way, so we were all like, 'Fuck school, we finna rap,'" says Quez. Another turning point was three years ago, when he was shot in the hip by rival kids from another neighborhood, just outside of Ali's mother's house. "We all realized then that it ain't worth it," says Strap of the street "foolishness" they'd been involved in. "We was so talented."

They recorded on computers at their mothers' houses and hooked up with a manager named Charlie Jabaley, who helped establish their Porter House imprint. The name Travis Porter was meant to be "Google friendly," and though it has proven infinitely confusing — many think they're an individual, not a group — their ascent has been rapid. They went from passing out CDs to attendees at the 2009 Hot 107.9 Birthday Bash concert to performing at the show a year later, and were boosted by their appearance on Roscoe Dash's song "All the Way Turnt Up." (Dash was unhappy when they claimed credit for it, however, and later remade the song with Soulja Boy.) Videos for songs like "Waffle House" — the true story of a drunken pursuit of a sausage biscuit — went viral.

The act signed with Jive in November of last year, believing that because the label isn't flush with hip-hop artists they would receive significant attention. But besides slightly curtailing their cabaret regimen, the imprint hasn't messed with their style, they say. Indeed, the big-budget videos for "Make It Rain," "Bring It Back" and "College Girl" maintain their signature giddiness, bordering on absurdity.

Listen to Travis Porter "Bring It Back"


What separates the group from other Atlanta rap acts who have made brief splashes on the national scene in recent years is that they truly seem to be having a good time. Many rappers manage to sound bored or disillusioned while rhyming about the spoils of success, but there's nothing cynical about these guys, and very little posturing. The way they craft songs speaks to their spontaneous, seat-of-their-pants nature, and it's fun to watch here at the studio tonight. They don't plan their songs out beforehand, they explain, they simply go with the flow.

"You hear the beat, and it makes you feel a certain type of way," says Ali.

They're not profound rappers. Their songs are stuffed with rap clichés: "Rain, rain, that's what the hoes be screamin'," imparts Quez on "Make It Rain." "Blang blang, that's when my diamonds be gleaming." But they succeed because they're enjoying themselves more than the next guy.

"You just have to think fun," says Quez. "Everything I talk about is fun, about the fun I'm having and the fun you need to be having. I'm going to make it sound fun, so you can go on ahead and do it. I don't know why I'm here, on the earth, so I'm just gonna live and see what happens."             13060898 3333875                          An evening with Travis Porter "
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Article

Thursday June 16, 2011 04:00 am EDT
Root beer, weed, and a quest for girls with an exploding Atlanta rap trio | more...
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  ["title"]=>
  string(61) "Killer Mike going mainstream? Au contraire, mon frère."
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  string(74) "The Atlanta MC remains as unpredictable as ever with two opposing releases"
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  string(74) "The Atlanta MC remains as unpredictable as ever with two opposing releases"
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  string(70) "Content:_:Killer Mike going mainstream Au contraire, mon fr egrave re."
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  string(7400) "Killer Mike is a contrarian, the kind of man most satisfied when he's unpredictable. A conscious rapper who praises drug dealers and a black empowerment advocate who criticizes President Obama, he's opinionated, loud and passionate every hour he's awake; getting in a word edgewise is out of the question.

Many folks know him as the highly touted OutKast protégé who won a Grammy with the group in 2003 but never quite achieved the solo commercial success expected of him. Just as he appeared to be settling in for a long career as an outspoken MC with a passionate underground following, however, he released PL3DGE, a new album on which he dares to court the mainstream with, by his rough estimation, nine singles fit for radio.

He expects to acquire hordes of new fans drawn to poppy collaborations with Gucci Mane, Young Jeezy and T.I., not to mention a remix with his long-estranged mentor, Big Boi. But he then plans to promptly alienate them by way of a mainstream-inaccessible work with esoteric New York producer El-P, titled R.A.P. (Rebellious African People) Music, due out later this year. "It's a project that says, 'Ha, you liked PL3DGE?'" says Mike. "'Fuck you.'"

Mike discusses both albums while smoking a joint in El-P's living room, a couple of months before the release of PL3DGE — the third installment in his venerated I Pledge Allegiance to the Grind series. An oversized, generous man who is focused and sharp when he's sober and enthusiastic and prone to rambling when he's high, he makes the case that he "wasn't ready" for mainstream stardom in the past, and contends he's not bitter that he's not a household name. "Bitterness is like an IV, not like a faucet," he says, meaning that it flows constantly and you can't turn it off. "How can I be mad at this? I rap. I can make $50,000 a year rapping. I can sustain the audience I have."

He's quick to add, however, that he's now ready for more, and believes PL3DGE (which came out on May 17) to be his best shot at the title. While the work contains his trademark vitriol and political jabs — particularly on early single "Burn" and "That's Life II," which calls out Bill Cosby, Oprah and various conservative pundits — it has more than its share of mindless party fare, including "Animal" with Gucci and "Go Out On the Town" with Jeezy. Mike says that Bob Marley's example taught him "you can't revolt every day," and that party music, by offering a release, is as important as message music.

But he's absolutely serious about matters concerning his record label, Grind Time Official, which put out PL3DGE as a joint venture with Grand Hustle. In fact, his struggles with running it in recent years convinced him to reconcile with Big Boi — with whom he'd split five years ago due to the fallout after Mike left Big's Purple Ribbon label. The beef apparently got physical at one point, and Mike says both parties were forced to roll "15, 20 people deep" when they went out. But he adds that he no longer blames Big for the unraveling of their partnership because he now knows how difficult it is to run a record company. "It's hard to be responsible for people," he says. "When you got to sell off two of your rental properties to keep your label going like I did, you goddamn right it's hard. That's when I said, 'I get it.'"

The pair's reunion is going so well, in fact, that they're planning an album together, along with Grind Time affiliate Pill (who recently signed to Rick Ross's Maybach Music label).

"I was there," says El-P. "I was sitting in Stankonia with the trio, and I saw them call a meeting and decide to do a super group. I definitely felt like a fan."

But for a certain segment of the hip-hop community — the one that adores both the Dirty South and the golden era — it is the collaboration between Mike and El-P that is the most tantalizing. Because, as good as PL3DGE is (and it's one of the best rap albums of the year so far), the pair's joint LP together has the chance to be something unprecedented — a progressive, gothic rap masterpiece.

New York City is overrun with El-P fanboys, the twenty- and thirtysomething kids who grew up on the backpacker hip-hop of his label Definitive Jux, which shuttered last year. And so, he makes this reporter swear on his copy of The Cold Vein that he won't give away any hints about the location of his Gotham apartment.

Its interior, however, looks exactly like the space you'd expect to house this crafter of epic, dystopian opuses — a repurposed warehouse space with multicolored walls and records stacked nearly to the ceiling. There's a sense of controlled chaos: As Mike smokes and scribbles lyrics, El works in the studio and his cat sleeps calmly on the couch in the midst of it all.

"We have a skeleton," Mike says of R.A.P. Music, the news of which shocked and delighted the rap blogosphere when it was announced at the end of last year. The project came together through their mutual friend Jason DeMarco, a Turner employee who suggested the pair collaborate on a project for Adult Swim. Though initially the plan was to pair Mike with a number of different producers, he fell for El's work immediately. "It felt like the closest thing I'd heard to Bomb Squad beats," he says, referring to the crew (Hank Shocklee, Keith Shocklee, Chuck D, Eric "Vietnam" Sadler) that created Public Enemy's riotous soundscapes. "I'd always wanted to rap over beats like that, that felt changing and driving, and you couldn't predict what was next."

The pair bonded during an Atlanta session in December, and apparently even more so in New York. (Shortly after Mike's arrival the two got shit-faced and play-fought. Mike kicked him in the chest, but El warned him, "You'll kick my ass, but if we fight you'll walk away changed. You'll never be the same again.") In any case, they plan to make a whole album's worth of tracks together, provided that El — in the midst of work on his own record — can find time for a full-length. The handful of songs they've finished are flush with El's signature dark, industrial layers, and Mike's overconfident baritone fills the space like few of El's associates can. It's a dream pairing of sorts, and it works because of the contrasts — the rap mecca and the current rap capital, the art world and the street corner, the experimental and the polished.

Having reappeared from his studio with a Yankees cap on his head and a cigarette between his lips, El says his goal with this collaboration is to take Mike away from the Southern sound. "Because, you are Southern," he recalls saying during their game-plan conversation. "Anything you do is going to be Southern, so you don't have to make the same record as everyone else, sonically. ... You're expanding what the South is."

Mike has taken to favorably comparing El with rap production royalty Kanye West, and their work together has been so fulfilling that Mike's small financial remuneration for it doesn't bother him. Although, the same can't be said of his wife. "Me and my girl have laid there and talked about that. She's like, 'They paid you what? I can't even buy a car with that.'"

For Mike, the collaboration is about his continuing evolution as an artist, even if that means briefly putting on hold his evolution as a businessman. As long as it involves defying expectations, he remains satisfied."
  ["tracker_field_contentWikiPage_raw"]=>
  string(7572) "Killer Mike is a contrarian, the kind of man most satisfied when he's unpredictable. A conscious rapper who praises drug dealers and a black empowerment advocate who criticizes President Obama, he's opinionated, loud and passionate every hour he's awake; getting in a word edgewise is out of the question.

Many folks know him as the highly touted OutKast protégé who won a Grammy with the group in 2003 but never quite achieved the solo commercial success expected of him. Just as he appeared to be settling in for a long career as an outspoken MC with a passionate underground following, however, he released ''PL3DGE'', a new album on which he dares to court the mainstream with, by his rough estimation, nine singles fit for radio.

He expects to acquire hordes of new fans drawn to poppy collaborations with Gucci Mane, Young Jeezy and T.I., not to mention a remix with his long-estranged mentor, Big Boi. But he then plans to promptly alienate them by way of a mainstream-inaccessible work with esoteric New York producer El-P, titled ''R.A.P. (Rebellious African People) Music'', due out later this year. "It's a project that says, 'Ha, you liked ''PL3DGE''?'" says Mike. "'Fuck you.'"

Mike discusses both albums while smoking a joint in El-P's living room, a couple of months before the release of ''PL3DGE'' — the third installment in his venerated ''I Pledge Allegiance to the Grind'' series. An oversized, generous man who is focused and sharp when he's sober and enthusiastic and prone to rambling when he's high, he makes the case that he "wasn't ready" for mainstream stardom in the past, and contends he's not bitter that he's not a household name. "Bitterness is like an IV, not like a faucet," he says, meaning that it flows constantly and you can't turn it off. "How can I be mad at this? I rap. I can make $50,000 a year rapping. I can sustain the audience I have."

He's quick to add, however, that he's now ready for more, and believes ''PL3DGE'' (which came out on May 17) to be his best shot at the title. While the work contains his trademark vitriol and political jabs — particularly on early single "[http://www.2dopeboyz.com/2011/01/11/killer-mike-burn/|Burn]" and "[http://www.2dopeboyz.com/2011/05/13/killer-mike-thats-life-2/|That's Life II]," which calls out Bill Cosby, Oprah and various conservative pundits — it has more than its share of mindless party fare, including "Animal" with Gucci and "Go Out On the Town" with Jeezy. Mike says that Bob Marley's example taught him "you can't revolt every day," and that party music, by offering a release, is as important as message music.

But he's absolutely serious about matters concerning his record label, Grind Time Official, which put out ''PL3DGE'' as a joint venture with Grand Hustle. In fact, his struggles with running it in recent years convinced him to reconcile with Big Boi — with whom he'd split five years ago due to the fallout after Mike left Big's Purple Ribbon label. The beef apparently got physical at one point, and Mike says both parties were forced to roll "15, 20 people deep" when they went out. But he adds that he no longer blames Big for the unraveling of their partnership because he now knows how difficult it is to run a record company. "It's ''hard'' to be responsible for people," he says. "When you got to sell off two of your rental properties to keep your label going like I did, you goddamn right it's hard. That's when I said, 'I get it.'"

The pair's reunion is going so well, in fact, that they're planning an album together, along with Grind Time affiliate Pill (who recently signed to Rick Ross's Maybach Music label).

"I was there," says El-P. "I was sitting in Stankonia with the trio, and I saw them call a meeting and decide to do a super group. I definitely felt like a fan."

But for a certain segment of the hip-hop community — the one that adores both the Dirty South and the golden era — it is the collaboration between Mike and El-P that is the most tantalizing. Because, as good as ''PL3DGE'' is (and it's one of the best rap albums of the year so far), the pair's joint LP together has the chance to be something unprecedented — a progressive, gothic rap masterpiece.

__New York City__ is overrun with El-P fanboys, the twenty- and thirtysomething kids who grew up on the backpacker hip-hop of his label Definitive Jux, which shuttered last year. And so, he makes this reporter swear on his copy of ''The Cold Vein'' that he won't give away any hints about the location of his Gotham apartment.

Its interior, however, looks exactly like the space you'd expect to house this crafter of epic, dystopian opuses — a repurposed warehouse space with multicolored walls and records stacked nearly to the ceiling. There's a sense of controlled chaos: As Mike smokes and scribbles lyrics, El works in the studio and his cat sleeps calmly on the couch in the midst of it all.

"We have a skeleton," Mike says of ''R.A.P. Music'', the news of which shocked and delighted the rap blogosphere when it was announced at the end of last year. The project came together through their mutual friend Jason DeMarco, a Turner employee who suggested the pair collaborate on a project for Adult Swim. Though initially the plan was to pair Mike with a number of different producers, he fell for El's work immediately. "It felt like the closest thing I'd heard to Bomb Squad beats," he says, referring to the crew (Hank Shocklee, Keith Shocklee, Chuck D, Eric "Vietnam" Sadler) that created Public Enemy's riotous soundscapes. "I'd always wanted to rap over beats like that, that felt changing and driving, and you couldn't predict what was next."

The pair bonded during an Atlanta session in December, and apparently even more so in New York. (Shortly after Mike's arrival the two got shit-faced and play-fought. Mike kicked him in the chest, but El warned him, "You'll kick my ass, but if we fight you'll walk away changed. You'll never be the same again.") In any case, they plan to make a whole album's worth of tracks together, provided that El — in the midst of work on his own record — can find time for a full-length. The handful of songs they've finished are flush with El's signature dark, industrial layers, and Mike's overconfident baritone fills the space like few of El's associates can. It's a dream pairing of sorts, and it works because of the contrasts — the rap mecca and the current rap capital, the art world and the street corner, the experimental and the polished.

Having reappeared from his studio with a Yankees cap on his head and a cigarette between his lips, El says his goal with this collaboration is to take Mike away from the Southern sound. "Because, you ''are'' Southern," he recalls saying during their game-plan conversation. "Anything you do is going to be Southern, so you don't have to make the same record as everyone else, sonically. ... You're expanding what the South is."

Mike has taken to favorably comparing El with rap production royalty Kanye West, and their work together has been so fulfilling that Mike's small financial remuneration for it doesn't bother him. Although, the same can't be said of his wife. "Me and my girl have laid there and talked about that. She's like, 'They paid you what? I can't even buy a car with that.'"

For Mike, the collaboration is about his continuing evolution as an artist, even if that means briefly putting on hold his evolution as a businessman. As long as it involves defying expectations, he remains satisfied."
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  string(7904) "    The Atlanta MC remains as unpredictable as ever with two opposing releases   2011-05-23T12:00:00+00:00 Killer Mike going mainstream? Au contraire, mon frère. ben.eason@creativeloafing.com Ben Eason Ben Westhoff 1306409 2011-05-23T12:00:00+00:00  Killer Mike is a contrarian, the kind of man most satisfied when he's unpredictable. A conscious rapper who praises drug dealers and a black empowerment advocate who criticizes President Obama, he's opinionated, loud and passionate every hour he's awake; getting in a word edgewise is out of the question.

Many folks know him as the highly touted OutKast protégé who won a Grammy with the group in 2003 but never quite achieved the solo commercial success expected of him. Just as he appeared to be settling in for a long career as an outspoken MC with a passionate underground following, however, he released PL3DGE, a new album on which he dares to court the mainstream with, by his rough estimation, nine singles fit for radio.

He expects to acquire hordes of new fans drawn to poppy collaborations with Gucci Mane, Young Jeezy and T.I., not to mention a remix with his long-estranged mentor, Big Boi. But he then plans to promptly alienate them by way of a mainstream-inaccessible work with esoteric New York producer El-P, titled R.A.P. (Rebellious African People) Music, due out later this year. "It's a project that says, 'Ha, you liked PL3DGE?'" says Mike. "'Fuck you.'"

Mike discusses both albums while smoking a joint in El-P's living room, a couple of months before the release of PL3DGE — the third installment in his venerated I Pledge Allegiance to the Grind series. An oversized, generous man who is focused and sharp when he's sober and enthusiastic and prone to rambling when he's high, he makes the case that he "wasn't ready" for mainstream stardom in the past, and contends he's not bitter that he's not a household name. "Bitterness is like an IV, not like a faucet," he says, meaning that it flows constantly and you can't turn it off. "How can I be mad at this? I rap. I can make $50,000 a year rapping. I can sustain the audience I have."

He's quick to add, however, that he's now ready for more, and believes PL3DGE (which came out on May 17) to be his best shot at the title. While the work contains his trademark vitriol and political jabs — particularly on early single "Burn" and "That's Life II," which calls out Bill Cosby, Oprah and various conservative pundits — it has more than its share of mindless party fare, including "Animal" with Gucci and "Go Out On the Town" with Jeezy. Mike says that Bob Marley's example taught him "you can't revolt every day," and that party music, by offering a release, is as important as message music.

But he's absolutely serious about matters concerning his record label, Grind Time Official, which put out PL3DGE as a joint venture with Grand Hustle. In fact, his struggles with running it in recent years convinced him to reconcile with Big Boi — with whom he'd split five years ago due to the fallout after Mike left Big's Purple Ribbon label. The beef apparently got physical at one point, and Mike says both parties were forced to roll "15, 20 people deep" when they went out. But he adds that he no longer blames Big for the unraveling of their partnership because he now knows how difficult it is to run a record company. "It's hard to be responsible for people," he says. "When you got to sell off two of your rental properties to keep your label going like I did, you goddamn right it's hard. That's when I said, 'I get it.'"

The pair's reunion is going so well, in fact, that they're planning an album together, along with Grind Time affiliate Pill (who recently signed to Rick Ross's Maybach Music label).

"I was there," says El-P. "I was sitting in Stankonia with the trio, and I saw them call a meeting and decide to do a super group. I definitely felt like a fan."

But for a certain segment of the hip-hop community — the one that adores both the Dirty South and the golden era — it is the collaboration between Mike and El-P that is the most tantalizing. Because, as good as PL3DGE is (and it's one of the best rap albums of the year so far), the pair's joint LP together has the chance to be something unprecedented — a progressive, gothic rap masterpiece.

New York City is overrun with El-P fanboys, the twenty- and thirtysomething kids who grew up on the backpacker hip-hop of his label Definitive Jux, which shuttered last year. And so, he makes this reporter swear on his copy of The Cold Vein that he won't give away any hints about the location of his Gotham apartment.

Its interior, however, looks exactly like the space you'd expect to house this crafter of epic, dystopian opuses — a repurposed warehouse space with multicolored walls and records stacked nearly to the ceiling. There's a sense of controlled chaos: As Mike smokes and scribbles lyrics, El works in the studio and his cat sleeps calmly on the couch in the midst of it all.

"We have a skeleton," Mike says of R.A.P. Music, the news of which shocked and delighted the rap blogosphere when it was announced at the end of last year. The project came together through their mutual friend Jason DeMarco, a Turner employee who suggested the pair collaborate on a project for Adult Swim. Though initially the plan was to pair Mike with a number of different producers, he fell for El's work immediately. "It felt like the closest thing I'd heard to Bomb Squad beats," he says, referring to the crew (Hank Shocklee, Keith Shocklee, Chuck D, Eric "Vietnam" Sadler) that created Public Enemy's riotous soundscapes. "I'd always wanted to rap over beats like that, that felt changing and driving, and you couldn't predict what was next."

The pair bonded during an Atlanta session in December, and apparently even more so in New York. (Shortly after Mike's arrival the two got shit-faced and play-fought. Mike kicked him in the chest, but El warned him, "You'll kick my ass, but if we fight you'll walk away changed. You'll never be the same again.") In any case, they plan to make a whole album's worth of tracks together, provided that El — in the midst of work on his own record — can find time for a full-length. The handful of songs they've finished are flush with El's signature dark, industrial layers, and Mike's overconfident baritone fills the space like few of El's associates can. It's a dream pairing of sorts, and it works because of the contrasts — the rap mecca and the current rap capital, the art world and the street corner, the experimental and the polished.

Having reappeared from his studio with a Yankees cap on his head and a cigarette between his lips, El says his goal with this collaboration is to take Mike away from the Southern sound. "Because, you are Southern," he recalls saying during their game-plan conversation. "Anything you do is going to be Southern, so you don't have to make the same record as everyone else, sonically. ... You're expanding what the South is."

Mike has taken to favorably comparing El with rap production royalty Kanye West, and their work together has been so fulfilling that Mike's small financial remuneration for it doesn't bother him. Although, the same can't be said of his wife. "Me and my girl have laid there and talked about that. She's like, 'They paid you what? I can't even buy a car with that.'"

For Mike, the collaboration is about his continuing evolution as an artist, even if that means briefly putting on hold his evolution as a businessman. As long as it involves defying expectations, he remains satisfied.             13060483 3231036        /mediaserver/atlanta/2015-17/music_feature1-1_04-8.jpg COURTESY OF KILLER MIKE  /mediaserver/atlanta/2015-17/music_feature1-1_04t.jpg               Killer Mike going mainstream? Au contraire, mon frère. "
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Article

Monday May 23, 2011 08:00 am EDT
The Atlanta MC remains as unpredictable as ever with two opposing releases | more...
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  string(34) "The most hated man in Southern rap"
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  string(133) "An excerpt from Ben Westhoff's new book, Dirty South: OutKast, Lil Wayne, Soulja Boy, and the Southern Rappers Who Reinvented Hip-Hop"
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  string(133) "An excerpt from Ben Westhoff's new book, Dirty South: OutKast, Lil Wayne, Soulja Boy, and the Southern Rappers Who Reinvented Hip-Hop"
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  string(9644) "I'm at the corner of Peachtree and Eighth Street when a long BMW pulls up next to me. Driving is Michael Crooms, the producer known as Mr. Collipark. We've scheduled an interview at a restaurant here in midtown, but after surveying the situation he isn't having it. "Hop in," he says, turning the wheel and steering us north.

Apparently, I'd picked a bad spot. There's a gay bar nearby, and he doesn't want people to get the wrong idea. You see, a few years back the rapper Ma$e was stopped on a traffic violation around here, and before long gossip websites reported that he'd come to pick up a transsexual prostitute.

His paranoia feels a bit strange, considering that Collipark isn't normally a tabloid target. In fact, he keeps a low profile. Clad in a preppy gray sweater with a collared shirt underneath, he's inconspicuous and not wearing much jewelry. When we arrive at a quiet sushi restaurant about a mile or so north, he orders a Grey Goose and cranberry and notes that he doesn't do many promotional photo shoots. "I only pop bottles, maybe, three times a year," he adds. This helps explain why he's not a household name, despite having launched some of southern rap's most popular (and maligned) artists, including Ying Yang Twins and Soulja Boy.

But he's been tremendously influential. In fact, Collipark could be called an anthropologist of talent. His specialty is finding rappers who are popular in their hometowns — particularly those behind dance crazes — unearthing them, and bringing them to the mainstream. "I want to take that group that's dope as fuck, but can't nobody see it but me," he says.

His brand is everything elitist rap fans detest. It is the epitome of what people complain about when they complain about southern rap, and the kind of thing that inspired Nas to title his 2006 album Hip Hop Is Dead.

But Collipark makes no apologies. Kids like what they like, he says, and they are rap's most important constituents. "The youth is what always made hip-hop go."


Collipark was raised in College Park and earned his first nickname, DJ Smurf, for his diminutive size. He went off to college at Alabama A&M, where he studied telecommunications and then business. But academics didn't captivate him. Instead, he saved money from DJ gigs and as a rapper self-released a single called "2 Tha Walls" in 1992. The song's chorus may sound familiar:

To the windows!

To the walls!

Till the sweat drip down my balls!

When that chant landed in Lil Jon's hands a decade later, it would become crunk's siren call. In the nineties it could be commonly heard at black fraternity parties, so Collipark hadn't invented it, but he was the first to get it on wax.

He dropped out of college to team back up with Atlanta's first rap star, MC Shy-D. In 1993 Shy-D released a trunk-rattling work called The Comeback on Atlanta imprint Ichiban Records, with Collipark helping out on production.

Collipark proceeded to hook up with Ichiban himself, releasing 1995's Versastyle and 1998's Dead Crunk. But it was time for him to face facts: his career as an artist had stalled. Still, during Dead Crunk's recording he'd stumbled onto a second career as a talent scout. For a track called "One on One" he enlisted a rapper called Kaine and his friend D-Roc, the latter of whom had appeared on hit Atlanta record "Bankhead Bounce" when he was fifteen.

Their pairing on Collipark's track proved to be a memorable one. "It sent chills, hearing them back and forth," Collipark recalls. "I was sitting in the studio like, 'Oh shit.' I said, 'Y'all might want to stay fuckin' with each other.'" They did, and, despite being unrelated, were christened Ying Yang Twins to emphasize the polarities in their styles.

Collipark signed them to a production deal, and their 2000 debut single "Whistle While You Twurk" roughly splits the difference between bass and crunk. Two years later Ying Yang brought the "2 Tha Walls" chorus to Lil Jon, and "Get Low" helped propel crunk into the stratosphere.



Though Lil Jon got most of the credit for that movement, Collipark was quietly fashioning one of his own. These days his specialty is finding unknown talent and putting them on a national stage. His methods differ from those of Jermaine Dupri, who signed and crafted the images of rappers like Kris Kross, Da Brat, and Bow Wow, and also wrote and produced their songs. The slumping music industry now prefers to take on performers who already have big local fan bases and proven sales track records, sparing the companies from investing time or energy in artist development.

Collipark doesn't mold his artists, dress them, or write their songs. Instead, he simply seeks out already-established independents with hometown followings. "I believe in organic," he told the Dallas Observer. "It's the records and the acts that are truly on the tips of people's tongues, and that are truly hot in that market. ... What's in their cars when they're driving down the street? Or what's playing in the store when you're buying your liquor?"

page
It's not always so easy, however. In fact, Collipark wasn't initially impressed in early 2007 when he first caught wind of a skinny, charismatic rapper called Soulja Boy Tell'em. Only sixteen, he reportedly had a massive MySpace following, but Collipark didn't believe his millions of hits were the real deal.

And so he set out to determine if this kid had any living, breathing fans outside of cyberspace. At his sons' T-ball game he asked random children if they were familiar with Soulja Boy, and almost all of them said yes. Astounded, he consulted with influential Atlanta radio DJ Greg Street.

"He said he'd been getting requests for the song [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8UFIYGkROII|'Crank That']] but he didn't know what they were talking about," Collipark says. Having bypassed the industry machinery altogether, Soulja Boy had somehow built a massive fan base.



If Jermaine Dupri had signed Soulja Boy, he may well have revamped his image and changed his songs, but Collipark did no such thing. "I allowed him to be who he is," he says. "His first album was literally just us going in and rerecording songs he had on MySpace."

We all know what came next — Soulja Boy became the first megastar rapper of the Internet age, racking up some half billion YouTube views and selling millions of MP3s and ringtones. In fact, Soulja Boy epitomizes the disparaging term, "Ringtone rapper," which refers to those deemed simplistic enough to get their point across in the few moments it takes for a cell phone to chime.

Almost all of Collipark' future artists would fall under this category. When rap elitists were looking to blame someone for the downfall of hip-hop as they knew it, they picked the wrong target. Instead of Soulja Boy, it should have been Collipark.


"I love watching peoples' reaction to my new groups for the first time," Collipark wrote in a Twitter message not long ago. "It's this confusing look that I can't explain but it's priceless!"

Shortly after Soulja Boy's arrival came the debut of another Collipark discovery, Shreveport teenager Hurricane Chris. Unlike Soulja Boy, Chris could actually spit, but you wouldn't know it from his hits like "A Bay Bay," a simple sing-along with an irresistible ear worm. ("It's so hot up in da club/That I ain't got no shoes on," he raps.) In the famous 2008 mixtape track where Ice-T famously accused Soulja Boy of having "single-handedly killed hip-hop," he also took time to insult Hurricane Chris — as well as his signature braids. "Take them fucking beads out your fucking hair, kid," he said.

Up next for Collipark was Atlanta youngster V.I.C. and his Soulja Boy–coproduced title shot "Get Silly."

My chain too silly/ My wrist too silly

The girls throw me dish 'cause my rims big billin'

My ride too silly/ I ride too silly ...

I be wilin' on a island somewhere just like Gilligan

It was an example of the increasingly common "fooling around with the Casio presets" aesthetic but even more grating, and the song was a hit.

In early 2010 Collipark took on a pair of Dallas newcomers called Treal Lee and Prince Rick, who had a local smash called "Mr. Hit Dat Hoe." It had its own dance, naturally, performed by a furiously gyrating Urkel look-alike. Collipark says he knew immediately, just from the song's name, that it might be something for him, and after getting wind from his brother Derrick that the song was a phenomenon in Texas, he flew to Dallas to check it out.

Taken to a "hood sports bar" where the song was in rotation, he witnessed pandemonium. At one point a fight broke out, resulting in a girl's weave being thrown across the dance floor. "That's the kind of thing you've got to see to know something is legit," Collipark says. He released the single on his label, but not before changing its title to the somewhat-less-domestic-violence-y, "Mr. Hit Dat."

Collipark, now finishing his second vodka and cranberry, smiles at the memory. To him, finding an underexposed southern music scene (like the one in Dallas) is like a baseball card fanatic discovering a box of old Topps packs in his grandmother's attic.

But whether he has ushered in hip-hop's apocalypse or simply created an ultraefficient way to give fans what they want is up for debate. What is not, however, is his unparalleled ability to predict what a devotee of the Wu-Tang Clan is going to hate — and what is going to drive an eleven-year-old girl wild.

Excerpted from Dirty South: OutKast, Lil Wayne, Soulja Boy, and the Southern Rappers Who Reinvented Hip-Hop with permission from Chicago Review Press.




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Apparently, I'd picked a bad spot. There's a gay bar nearby, and he doesn't want people to get the wrong idea. You see, a few years back the rapper Ma$e was stopped on a traffic violation around here, and before long gossip websites reported that he'd come to pick up a transsexual prostitute.

His paranoia feels a bit strange, considering that Collipark isn't normally a tabloid target. In fact, he keeps a low profile. Clad in a preppy gray sweater with a collared shirt underneath, he's inconspicuous and not wearing much jewelry. When we arrive at a quiet sushi restaurant about a mile or so north, he orders a Grey Goose and cranberry and notes that he doesn't do many promotional photo shoots. "I only pop bottles, maybe, three times a year," he adds. This helps explain why he's not a household name, despite having launched some of southern rap's most popular (and maligned) artists, including Ying Yang Twins and Soulja Boy.

But he's been tremendously influential. In fact, Collipark could be called an anthropologist of talent. His specialty is finding rappers who are popular in their hometowns — particularly those behind dance crazes — unearthing them, and bringing them to the mainstream. "I want to take that group that's dope as fuck, but can't nobody see it but me," he says.

His brand is everything elitist rap fans detest. It is the epitome of what people complain about when they complain about southern rap, and the kind of thing that inspired Nas to title his 2006 album ''Hip Hop Is Dead''.

But Collipark makes no apologies. Kids like what they like, he says, and they are rap's most important constituents. "The youth is what always made hip-hop go."


Collipark was raised in College Park and earned his first nickname, DJ Smurf, for his diminutive size. He went off to college at Alabama A&M, where he studied telecommunications and then business. But academics didn't captivate him. Instead, he saved money from DJ gigs and as a rapper self-released a single called "2 Tha Walls" in 1992. The song's chorus may sound familiar:

''To the windows!''

''To the walls!''

''Till the sweat drip down my balls!''

When that chant landed in Lil Jon's hands a decade later, it would become crunk's siren call. In the nineties it could be commonly heard at black fraternity parties, so Collipark hadn't invented it, but he was the first to get it on wax.

He dropped out of college to team back up with [http://clatl.com/atlanta/shy-d-and-tony-mf-rock-original-atliens/Content?oid=1267221|Atlanta's first rap star, MC Shy-D]. In 1993 Shy-D released a trunk-rattling work called ''The Comeback'' on Atlanta imprint Ichiban Records, with Collipark helping out on production.

Collipark proceeded to hook up with Ichiban himself, releasing 1995's ''Versastyle'' and 1998's ''Dead Crunk''. But it was time for him to face facts: his career as an artist had stalled. Still, during ''Dead Crunk'''s recording he'd stumbled onto a second career as a talent scout. For a track called "One on One" he enlisted a rapper called Kaine and his friend D-Roc, the latter of whom had appeared on hit Atlanta record "Bankhead Bounce" when he was fifteen.

Their pairing on Collipark's track proved to be a memorable one. "It sent chills, hearing them back and forth," Collipark recalls. "I was sitting in the studio like, 'Oh shit.' I said, 'Y'all might want to stay fuckin' with each other.'" They did, and, despite being unrelated, were christened Ying Yang Twins to emphasize the polarities in their styles.

Collipark signed them to a production deal, and their 2000 debut single "Whistle While You Twurk" roughly splits the difference between bass and crunk. Two years later Ying Yang brought the "2 Tha Walls" chorus to Lil Jon, and [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IYH7_GzP4Tg|"Get Low"] helped propel crunk into the stratosphere.



Though Lil Jon got most of the credit for that movement, Collipark was quietly fashioning one of his own. These days his specialty is finding unknown talent and putting them on a national stage. His methods differ from those of Jermaine Dupri, who signed and crafted the images of rappers like Kris Kross, Da Brat, and Bow Wow, and also wrote and produced their songs. The slumping music industry now prefers to take on performers who already have big local fan bases and proven sales track records, sparing the companies from investing time or energy in artist development.

Collipark doesn't mold his artists, dress them, or write their songs. Instead, he simply seeks out already-established independents with hometown followings. "I believe in organic," he told the ''Dallas Observer''. "It's the records and the acts that are truly on the tips of people's tongues, and that are truly hot in that market. ... What's in their cars when they're driving down the street? Or what's playing in the store when you're buying your liquor?"

[page]
It's not always so easy, however. In fact, Collipark wasn't initially impressed in early 2007 when he first caught wind of a skinny, charismatic rapper called Soulja Boy Tell'em. Only sixteen, he reportedly had a massive MySpace following, but Collipark didn't believe his millions of hits were the real deal.

And so he set out to determine if this kid had any living, breathing fans outside of cyberspace. At his sons' T-ball game he asked random children if they were familiar with Soulja Boy, and almost all of them said yes. Astounded, he consulted with influential Atlanta radio DJ Greg Street.

"He said he'd been getting requests for the song [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8UFIYGkROII|'Crank That']] but he didn't know what they were talking about," Collipark says. Having bypassed the industry machinery altogether, Soulja Boy had somehow built a massive fan base.



If Jermaine Dupri had signed Soulja Boy, he may well have revamped his image and changed his songs, but Collipark did no such thing. "I allowed him to be who he is," he says. "His first album was literally just us going in and rerecording songs he had on MySpace."

We all know what came next — Soulja Boy became the first megastar rapper of the Internet age, racking up some half billion YouTube views and selling millions of MP3s and ringtones. In fact, Soulja Boy epitomizes the disparaging term, "Ringtone rapper," which refers to those deemed simplistic enough to get their point across in the few moments it takes for a cell phone to chime.

Almost all of Collipark' future artists would fall under this category. When rap elitists were looking to blame someone for the downfall of hip-hop as they knew it, they picked the wrong target. Instead of Soulja Boy, it should have been Collipark.


"I love watching peoples' reaction to my new groups for the first time," Collipark wrote in a Twitter message not long ago. "It's this confusing look that I can't explain but it's priceless!"

Shortly after Soulja Boy's arrival came the debut of another Collipark discovery, Shreveport teenager Hurricane Chris. Unlike Soulja Boy, Chris could actually spit, but you wouldn't know it from his hits like [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wsXP-sylja8&feature=related|"A Bay Bay,"] a simple sing-along with an irresistible ear worm. ("It's so hot up in da club/That I ain't got no shoes on," he raps.) In the famous 2008 mixtape track where Ice-T famously accused Soulja Boy of having "single-handedly killed hip-hop," he also took time to insult Hurricane Chris — as well as his signature braids. "Take them fucking beads out your fucking hair, kid," he said.

Up next for Collipark was Atlanta youngster V.I.C. and his Soulja Boy–coproduced title shot [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SG4xnTnFnJw|"Get Silly."]

''My chain too silly/ My wrist too silly''

''The girls throw me dish 'cause my rims big billin'''

''My ride too silly/ I ride too silly ...''

''I be wilin' on a island somewhere just like Gilligan''

It was an example of the increasingly common "fooling around with the Casio presets" aesthetic but even more grating, and the song was a hit.

In early 2010 Collipark took on a pair of Dallas newcomers called Treal Lee and Prince Rick, who had a local smash called [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZDGg-x8NHh8|"Mr. Hit Dat Hoe."] It had its own dance, naturally, performed by a furiously gyrating Urkel look-alike. Collipark says he knew immediately, just from the song's name, that it might be something for him, and after getting wind from his brother Derrick that the song was a phenomenon in Texas, he flew to Dallas to check it out.

Taken to a "hood sports bar" where the song was in rotation, he witnessed pandemonium. At one point a fight broke out, resulting in a girl's weave being thrown across the dance floor. "That's the kind of thing you've got to see to know something is legit," Collipark says. He released the single on his label, but not before changing its title to the somewhat-less-domestic-violence-y, "Mr. Hit Dat."

Collipark, now finishing his second vodka and cranberry, smiles at the memory. To him, finding an underexposed southern music scene (like the one in Dallas) is like a baseball card fanatic discovering a box of old Topps packs in his grandmother's attic.

But whether he has ushered in hip-hop's apocalypse or simply created an ultraefficient way to give fans what they want is up for debate. What is not, however, is his unparalleled ability to predict what a devotee of the Wu-Tang Clan is going to hate — and what is going to drive an eleven-year-old girl wild.

{img src="https://media2.fdncms.com/atlanta/imager/what-a-carpetbagger-knows-about-the-dir/u/story/3160000/1304520639-music_feature1-2_52.jpg"}''Excerpted from'' Dirty South: OutKast, Lil Wayne, Soulja Boy, and the Southern Rappers Who Reinvented Hip-Hop ''with permission from Chicago Review Press.''




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  string(10104) "    An excerpt from Ben Westhoff's new book, Dirty South: OutKast, Lil Wayne, Soulja Boy, and the Southern Rappers Who Reinvented Hip-Hop   2011-04-25T08:00:00+00:00 The most hated man in Southern rap   Ben Westhoff 1306409 2011-04-25T08:00:00+00:00  I'm at the corner of Peachtree and Eighth Street when a long BMW pulls up next to me. Driving is Michael Crooms, the producer known as Mr. Collipark. We've scheduled an interview at a restaurant here in midtown, but after surveying the situation he isn't having it. "Hop in," he says, turning the wheel and steering us north.

Apparently, I'd picked a bad spot. There's a gay bar nearby, and he doesn't want people to get the wrong idea. You see, a few years back the rapper Ma$e was stopped on a traffic violation around here, and before long gossip websites reported that he'd come to pick up a transsexual prostitute.

His paranoia feels a bit strange, considering that Collipark isn't normally a tabloid target. In fact, he keeps a low profile. Clad in a preppy gray sweater with a collared shirt underneath, he's inconspicuous and not wearing much jewelry. When we arrive at a quiet sushi restaurant about a mile or so north, he orders a Grey Goose and cranberry and notes that he doesn't do many promotional photo shoots. "I only pop bottles, maybe, three times a year," he adds. This helps explain why he's not a household name, despite having launched some of southern rap's most popular (and maligned) artists, including Ying Yang Twins and Soulja Boy.

But he's been tremendously influential. In fact, Collipark could be called an anthropologist of talent. His specialty is finding rappers who are popular in their hometowns — particularly those behind dance crazes — unearthing them, and bringing them to the mainstream. "I want to take that group that's dope as fuck, but can't nobody see it but me," he says.

His brand is everything elitist rap fans detest. It is the epitome of what people complain about when they complain about southern rap, and the kind of thing that inspired Nas to title his 2006 album Hip Hop Is Dead.

But Collipark makes no apologies. Kids like what they like, he says, and they are rap's most important constituents. "The youth is what always made hip-hop go."


Collipark was raised in College Park and earned his first nickname, DJ Smurf, for his diminutive size. He went off to college at Alabama A&M, where he studied telecommunications and then business. But academics didn't captivate him. Instead, he saved money from DJ gigs and as a rapper self-released a single called "2 Tha Walls" in 1992. The song's chorus may sound familiar:

To the windows!

To the walls!

Till the sweat drip down my balls!

When that chant landed in Lil Jon's hands a decade later, it would become crunk's siren call. In the nineties it could be commonly heard at black fraternity parties, so Collipark hadn't invented it, but he was the first to get it on wax.

He dropped out of college to team back up with Atlanta's first rap star, MC Shy-D. In 1993 Shy-D released a trunk-rattling work called The Comeback on Atlanta imprint Ichiban Records, with Collipark helping out on production.

Collipark proceeded to hook up with Ichiban himself, releasing 1995's Versastyle and 1998's Dead Crunk. But it was time for him to face facts: his career as an artist had stalled. Still, during Dead Crunk's recording he'd stumbled onto a second career as a talent scout. For a track called "One on One" he enlisted a rapper called Kaine and his friend D-Roc, the latter of whom had appeared on hit Atlanta record "Bankhead Bounce" when he was fifteen.

Their pairing on Collipark's track proved to be a memorable one. "It sent chills, hearing them back and forth," Collipark recalls. "I was sitting in the studio like, 'Oh shit.' I said, 'Y'all might want to stay fuckin' with each other.'" They did, and, despite being unrelated, were christened Ying Yang Twins to emphasize the polarities in their styles.

Collipark signed them to a production deal, and their 2000 debut single "Whistle While You Twurk" roughly splits the difference between bass and crunk. Two years later Ying Yang brought the "2 Tha Walls" chorus to Lil Jon, and "Get Low" helped propel crunk into the stratosphere.



Though Lil Jon got most of the credit for that movement, Collipark was quietly fashioning one of his own. These days his specialty is finding unknown talent and putting them on a national stage. His methods differ from those of Jermaine Dupri, who signed and crafted the images of rappers like Kris Kross, Da Brat, and Bow Wow, and also wrote and produced their songs. The slumping music industry now prefers to take on performers who already have big local fan bases and proven sales track records, sparing the companies from investing time or energy in artist development.

Collipark doesn't mold his artists, dress them, or write their songs. Instead, he simply seeks out already-established independents with hometown followings. "I believe in organic," he told the Dallas Observer. "It's the records and the acts that are truly on the tips of people's tongues, and that are truly hot in that market. ... What's in their cars when they're driving down the street? Or what's playing in the store when you're buying your liquor?"

page
It's not always so easy, however. In fact, Collipark wasn't initially impressed in early 2007 when he first caught wind of a skinny, charismatic rapper called Soulja Boy Tell'em. Only sixteen, he reportedly had a massive MySpace following, but Collipark didn't believe his millions of hits were the real deal.

And so he set out to determine if this kid had any living, breathing fans outside of cyberspace. At his sons' T-ball game he asked random children if they were familiar with Soulja Boy, and almost all of them said yes. Astounded, he consulted with influential Atlanta radio DJ Greg Street.

"He said he'd been getting requests for the song [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8UFIYGkROII|'Crank That']] but he didn't know what they were talking about," Collipark says. Having bypassed the industry machinery altogether, Soulja Boy had somehow built a massive fan base.



If Jermaine Dupri had signed Soulja Boy, he may well have revamped his image and changed his songs, but Collipark did no such thing. "I allowed him to be who he is," he says. "His first album was literally just us going in and rerecording songs he had on MySpace."

We all know what came next — Soulja Boy became the first megastar rapper of the Internet age, racking up some half billion YouTube views and selling millions of MP3s and ringtones. In fact, Soulja Boy epitomizes the disparaging term, "Ringtone rapper," which refers to those deemed simplistic enough to get their point across in the few moments it takes for a cell phone to chime.

Almost all of Collipark' future artists would fall under this category. When rap elitists were looking to blame someone for the downfall of hip-hop as they knew it, they picked the wrong target. Instead of Soulja Boy, it should have been Collipark.


"I love watching peoples' reaction to my new groups for the first time," Collipark wrote in a Twitter message not long ago. "It's this confusing look that I can't explain but it's priceless!"

Shortly after Soulja Boy's arrival came the debut of another Collipark discovery, Shreveport teenager Hurricane Chris. Unlike Soulja Boy, Chris could actually spit, but you wouldn't know it from his hits like "A Bay Bay," a simple sing-along with an irresistible ear worm. ("It's so hot up in da club/That I ain't got no shoes on," he raps.) In the famous 2008 mixtape track where Ice-T famously accused Soulja Boy of having "single-handedly killed hip-hop," he also took time to insult Hurricane Chris — as well as his signature braids. "Take them fucking beads out your fucking hair, kid," he said.

Up next for Collipark was Atlanta youngster V.I.C. and his Soulja Boy–coproduced title shot "Get Silly."

My chain too silly/ My wrist too silly

The girls throw me dish 'cause my rims big billin'

My ride too silly/ I ride too silly ...

I be wilin' on a island somewhere just like Gilligan

It was an example of the increasingly common "fooling around with the Casio presets" aesthetic but even more grating, and the song was a hit.

In early 2010 Collipark took on a pair of Dallas newcomers called Treal Lee and Prince Rick, who had a local smash called "Mr. Hit Dat Hoe." It had its own dance, naturally, performed by a furiously gyrating Urkel look-alike. Collipark says he knew immediately, just from the song's name, that it might be something for him, and after getting wind from his brother Derrick that the song was a phenomenon in Texas, he flew to Dallas to check it out.

Taken to a "hood sports bar" where the song was in rotation, he witnessed pandemonium. At one point a fight broke out, resulting in a girl's weave being thrown across the dance floor. "That's the kind of thing you've got to see to know something is legit," Collipark says. He released the single on his label, but not before changing its title to the somewhat-less-domestic-violence-y, "Mr. Hit Dat."

Collipark, now finishing his second vodka and cranberry, smiles at the memory. To him, finding an underexposed southern music scene (like the one in Dallas) is like a baseball card fanatic discovering a box of old Topps packs in his grandmother's attic.

But whether he has ushered in hip-hop's apocalypse or simply created an ultraefficient way to give fans what they want is up for debate. What is not, however, is his unparalleled ability to predict what a devotee of the Wu-Tang Clan is going to hate — and what is going to drive an eleven-year-old girl wild.

Excerpted from Dirty South: OutKast, Lil Wayne, Soulja Boy, and the Southern Rappers Who Reinvented Hip-Hop with permission from Chicago Review Press.




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Article

Monday April 25, 2011 04:00 am EDT
An excerpt from Ben Westhoff's new book, Dirty South: OutKast, Lil Wayne, Soulja Boy, and the Southern Rappers Who Reinvented Hip-Hop | more...
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  string(81) "Co-starring Antoine Dodson, Charlie Sheen, and that great democratizer, Auto-Tune"
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  string(4309) "Since starting out as just another band from Brooklyn in 2007, the Gregory Brothers have morphed into the viral-video mad scientists behind "Auto-Tune the News" and "Double Rainbow." Their most popular clip — "Bedroom Intruder," starring Huntsville, Ala.'s Antoine Dodson, the brother of an alleged attempted rape victim — was the No. 1 most viewed YouTube video of 2010 (excluding major label music videos). So you can run and tell that, homeboy.

The Gregory Brothers include three actual brothers — Michael, Andrew and Evan, natives of Radford, Va. — as well as Evan's wife, Sarah Fullen Gregory. They've got music school training and their soulful Meet the Gregory Brothers! 2009 debut EP is quite good, but they didn't break out until "Auto-Tune the News." The series, which began in 2009, applies the pitch correction software T-Pain made famous to television pundits and gives them a backing beat, making "unintentional singers" out of folks like Katie Couric and Joe Biden. The series has drawn millions of views, but the group went into the stratosphere last year with the online explosion of "Bedroom Intruder." The song was culled from an actual local news report, combining taunts from the impassioned, charismatic Dodson — "You don't have to come and confess, we looking for you" — with an inarguably catchy tune. To date, the song has sold more than 400,000 copies (profits are split 50/50 with Dodson) and even charted on the Billboard Hot 100. "It was immediately clear to us that he had the potential to be one of the best unintentional singers of all time, and our goal was to help him realize that," explains Evan of the track's genesis.

"Bedroom Intruder" has fueled a strange sort of Internet celebrity for the group, and earlier this year they were invited to contribute to the Oscars telecast. That vignette with Harry Potter's Ron Weasley singing a seductive ballad, and the Twilight guy with his shirt off? Theirs. "It was such a wild and frantic ride, but because it was live TV, we were dubious it would run," says Andrew, "especially the longer and longer Kirk Douglas rambled on."

Now, they're playing shows around the country as part of the YouTube-sponsored "Digitour," which features artists famous for viral videos, including one-man-band/beatboxer DeStorm, and Dave Days, who is known for his songs of devotion to a Miley Cyrus cardboard cutout. For the tour, the Gregory Brothers will musically accompany their hit videos, which will be projected onto a screen behind them. Expect them to perform their hits, including "Bedroom Intruder" and "Winning" (starring everyone's favorite former "Two and a Half Men" star), with a full band. "We'll be playing the red keytar," promises Sarah.

The shows could be some serious, modern, zeitgeist-y fun, or — considering they're based on a format that hasn't really been tested outside of cyberspace — they could crash and burn. "What's interesting is that we're going after an audience that's based primarily online," notes Evan, adding that, in collaboration with the tech wizards at Google, they will periodically broadcast live feeds from backstage, their concerts and their tour bus on the group's YouTube channel.

The Gregory Brothers have other projects in the works as well, including a development deal with Comedy Central to write a pilot. Though the program is a long way from airing, they have a script, which they describe as a musically inclined half-hour sitcom, featuring versions of themselves inhabiting both the real and online worlds. "Imagine 'The Monkees' in the year 2011," explains Andrew.

Dodson, meanwhile, is looking to create some showbiz magic of his own. He's shooting a pilot for a reality show chronicling his recent move to Los Angeles. (Media company Entertainment One is reportedly behind it.) The Gregorys say he nonetheless gets back to Huntsville fairly often, however, so who knows? A drop-in for the Atlanta show is perhaps not entirely out of the question.

It's clear for the group that what could have been a passing fad has legs, and they are nowadays dedicating themselves full-time to their acoustic and digital jams. "We have no day jobs other than baby-sitting each other," notes Evan. In that case, expect more giddy, hummable cultural snapshots to be the result. "
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The shows could be some serious, modern, zeitgeist-y fun, or — considering they're based on a format that hasn't really been tested outside of cyberspace — they could crash and burn. "What's interesting is that [we're] going after an audience that's based primarily online," notes Evan, adding that, in collaboration with the tech wizards at Google, they will periodically broadcast live feeds from backstage, their concerts and their tour bus on the group's YouTube channel.

The Gregory Brothers have other projects in the works as well, including a development deal with Comedy Central to write a pilot. Though the program is a long way from airing, they have a script, which they describe as a musically inclined half-hour sitcom, featuring versions of themselves inhabiting both the real and online worlds. "Imagine 'The Monkees' in the year 2011," explains Andrew.

Dodson, meanwhile, is looking to create some showbiz magic of his own. He's shooting a pilot for a reality show chronicling his recent move to Los Angeles. (Media company Entertainment One is reportedly behind it.) The Gregorys say he nonetheless gets back to Huntsville fairly often, however, so who knows? A drop-in for the Atlanta show is perhaps not entirely out of the question.

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  string(4773) "    Co-starring Antoine Dodson, Charlie Sheen, and that great democratizer, Auto-Tune   2011-04-19T08:00:00+00:00 Hide ya kids, hide ya wife! The Gregory Bros. are here   Ben Westhoff 1306409 2011-04-19T08:00:00+00:00  Since starting out as just another band from Brooklyn in 2007, the Gregory Brothers have morphed into the viral-video mad scientists behind "Auto-Tune the News" and "Double Rainbow." Their most popular clip — "Bedroom Intruder," starring Huntsville, Ala.'s Antoine Dodson, the brother of an alleged attempted rape victim — was the No. 1 most viewed YouTube video of 2010 (excluding major label music videos). So you can run and tell that, homeboy.

The Gregory Brothers include three actual brothers — Michael, Andrew and Evan, natives of Radford, Va. — as well as Evan's wife, Sarah Fullen Gregory. They've got music school training and their soulful Meet the Gregory Brothers! 2009 debut EP is quite good, but they didn't break out until "Auto-Tune the News." The series, which began in 2009, applies the pitch correction software T-Pain made famous to television pundits and gives them a backing beat, making "unintentional singers" out of folks like Katie Couric and Joe Biden. The series has drawn millions of views, but the group went into the stratosphere last year with the online explosion of "Bedroom Intruder." The song was culled from an actual local news report, combining taunts from the impassioned, charismatic Dodson — "You don't have to come and confess, we looking for you" — with an inarguably catchy tune. To date, the song has sold more than 400,000 copies (profits are split 50/50 with Dodson) and even charted on the Billboard Hot 100. "It was immediately clear to us that he had the potential to be one of the best unintentional singers of all time, and our goal was to help him realize that," explains Evan of the track's genesis.

"Bedroom Intruder" has fueled a strange sort of Internet celebrity for the group, and earlier this year they were invited to contribute to the Oscars telecast. That vignette with Harry Potter's Ron Weasley singing a seductive ballad, and the Twilight guy with his shirt off? Theirs. "It was such a wild and frantic ride, but because it was live TV, we were dubious it would run," says Andrew, "especially the longer and longer Kirk Douglas rambled on."

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The shows could be some serious, modern, zeitgeist-y fun, or — considering they're based on a format that hasn't really been tested outside of cyberspace — they could crash and burn. "What's interesting is that we're going after an audience that's based primarily online," notes Evan, adding that, in collaboration with the tech wizards at Google, they will periodically broadcast live feeds from backstage, their concerts and their tour bus on the group's YouTube channel.

The Gregory Brothers have other projects in the works as well, including a development deal with Comedy Central to write a pilot. Though the program is a long way from airing, they have a script, which they describe as a musically inclined half-hour sitcom, featuring versions of themselves inhabiting both the real and online worlds. "Imagine 'The Monkees' in the year 2011," explains Andrew.

Dodson, meanwhile, is looking to create some showbiz magic of his own. He's shooting a pilot for a reality show chronicling his recent move to Los Angeles. (Media company Entertainment One is reportedly behind it.) The Gregorys say he nonetheless gets back to Huntsville fairly often, however, so who knows? A drop-in for the Atlanta show is perhaps not entirely out of the question.

It's clear for the group that what could have been a passing fad has legs, and they are nowadays dedicating themselves full-time to their acoustic and digital jams. "We have no day jobs other than baby-sitting each other," notes Evan. In that case, expect more giddy, hummable cultural snapshots to be the result.              13059808 3090666        /mediaserver/atlanta/2015-17/music_feature1-1_51t.jpg   /mediaserver/atlanta/2015-17/music_feature1-1_51w.jpg COURTESY THE GREGORY BROTHERS              Hide ya kids, hide ya wife! The Gregory Bros. are here "
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Article

Tuesday April 19, 2011 04:00 am EDT
Co-starring Antoine Dodson, Charlie Sheen, and that great democratizer, Auto-Tune | more...
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