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Conversations & Quotables

Conversations & Quotables: Q&A with Kevin Lavender aka VH of Truth Tone Records

Conversations & Quotables: Q&A with Kevin Lavender aka VH of Truth Tone Records

I recently had the opportunity to speak with Kevin Lavender Jr. aka VH, President and CEO of independent label Truth Tone Records. In addition to being a label executive and artist, his philanthropic work has positively impacted the community and reinforced the importance of artistic responsibility while exemplifying the true essence of hip hop culture. In this Q&A session, he shares his wisdom and experiences as well as gems that independent artist can use in the process of building their careers.

Conversations & Quotables: Q&A with Nigel One

Conversations & Quotables: Q&A with Nigel One

Nigel One Conversations & Quotables

I recently had the opportunity to chat with the multi-talented DJ, artist, producer and independent label owner known as Nigel One. I've had the pleasure of working with him and his label Intimate Venues and genuinely appreciate his love for the music and viewpoints on the business. In this brief Q&A he opens up and shares his experiences and the good, the bad & ugly truths about the independent artistry.

Achickwitbeatz: Who is Nigel One?

Nigel One: The name Nigel One came about when I first started dj'ing in clubs around 2000. I had another deejay name I was going by that I won't mention lol. My friend Jon Alterman who owned the club Emerald Lounge where I was djing a few times a month kept telling me how cheezy the name was, but I really couldn't come up with anything else. So when he did his events listing in the paper that time he named me "Ras Nigel One" kind of as a joke. At the time he was booking lots of reggae deejays and when I played that show the "Ras" in my name brought a lot of reggae heads out. I was spinning house music at the time but did have a good bit of dub reggae in my crates so that night I mostly spun reggae just to fit the crowd. After that I got rid of the Ras in the name but kept Nigel One. After that a lot of locals would call me Nigel One from the sun and my name basically became Nigel One permanently. 

Achickwitbeatz: When did you discover you needed music to be a part of your life?

Nigel One: Very young. I really don't remember ever not making and listening to music. My parents said I gravitated towards it when I was a toddler. I grew up dancing with my mom a lot. She played piano. Some of the older kids in my neighborhood played instruments and I looked up to that. It's been a lifelong thing. 

Achickwitbeatz: What would you say is the best thing about running an independent record label?

Nigel One: Presenting amazing music to the public.

Achickwitbeatz: What would you say is the most challenging thing about running an independent label?

Nigel One: Well for me lack of money created a challenge. Also the distributor I was under refused to pay like they were supposed to. I think right now labels are more or less useless except to band artists together and share fans. 

Achickwitbeatz: What are 5 attributes/skills that would place an artist on your top 10 list?

Nigel One: Originality, good personality, consistency, humility, good style. 

Achickwitbeatz: Conversely, what are 5 attributes that would place an artist at the very bottom of your list?

Nigel One: Blown out ego, lack of originality, bad personality, wack subject matter, dishonesty. 

Achickwitbeatz: What's next on the horizon for Nigel One and Intimate Venues?

Nigel One: As far as Nigel One I don't know. I kind of decided to put production and deejaying on the back burner to work on some other stuff. I'm in the process of starting a retail business in Kalamazoo and will hopefully open that in summer 2015. I've also been playing guitar a lot and writing lyrics. I'd like to make a rap EP. I've also got some video stuff in the works. Im always staying creative and doing stuff. I approach everything I do the same way as I approach making music, trying to do something personal and from the heart. I always hope it helps someone no matter what it is I'm doing. As far as Intimate Venues I have no idea right now. If the need presented itself the label is there. Same with Nigel One really. I may never use the moniker again or I may end up making a lot more stuff that fits its intention. At the end of the day I'm Nigel Geiger not Nigel One so I'm trying to focus on that a lot these days. I made a lot of mistakes as Nigel One and Nigel Geiger over the past decade. Just trying to be wiser with age and put my energy into things that are positive. I've been missing spinning for a crowd recently and even though my later projects weren't that well supported there is a small group of people (mostly other musicians) who want more music from me, so I'll probably have something for them sooner than later. I burnt myself out running the label, putting out tons of music, trying to maintain a performance schedule and managing all that on top of parenting and trying to make ends meet. If and when I come back with new stuff I'll approach it a lot more subtly. 

Achickwitbeatz: How can people connect with you and stay current with what you have in the works?

Nigel One: Original tracks and remixes-
                   DJ mixes-
                   Nigel One Facebook-

I got rid of my twitter and de-activate my facebook periodically so soundcloud is the best way to get in touch. You can also find me at 4th Coast in Kalamazoo drinking coffee, Satellite Records harassing the staff about records, Upjohn skatepark on sunny days skating or eating burritos at Chipotle on West Main some nights. I'm around. Get at me in person if you want to get to know me. The internet is not my fav place to be. 


Conversations & Quotables: Q&A with Curtis Metcalf

Conversations & Quotables: Q&A with Curtis Metcalf

I had the opportunity to chat with the multi-talented artist/producer Curtis Metcalf.  In this brief Q&A he shares his story, musical inspiration and good food for thought for artists.

Conversations & Quotables: Q&A with DeCarlos Stewart of Voo Vodka

Conversations & Quotables: Q&A with DeCarlos Stewart of Voo Vodka

In this brief Q&A, DeCarlos Stewart the Owner of Voo Vodka shares valuable gems from his business perspective and tips for artists seeking sponsorships.

Conversations & Quotables: Q&A with John Robinson aka Lil Sci of Scienz of Life

Conversations & Quotables: Q&A with John Robinson aka Lil Sci of Scienz of Life

Multi-talented and prolific emcee John Robinson aka Lil Sci of Scienz of Life drops some gems for independent artists regarding artistic authenticity, longevity, life philosophies and shares memories from the early days of his career.

Conversations & Quotables: Q&A with Philosophy Cole

Conversations & Quotables: Q&A with Philosophy Cole

I recently got the chance to catch up with the dynamic emcee Philosophy Cole aka Warpath. In this brief Q&A he shares his take on the independent music industry, his philosophies on artistry as well as food for thought beneficial to those who share love for the craft.

Conversations & Quotables: Q&A with Jay L

Conversations & Quotables: Q&A with Jay L

Jay L, Omni Epic Entertainment

I caught up with the owner of Omni Epic Entertainment, Jay L for a brief Q&A. He shares his insight regarding the promotion scene and tips for independent artists looking for shows.

Achickwitbeatz: Who is Jay L & what created the inspiration behind Omni Epic Entertainment?

Jay L: Well, Jay L is in introspective introvert. I am very quiet and reserved but I am always observant and aware. Must keep your third eye open.

I love to bring innovation and vision to any enterprise or project that I am involved in. The inspiration behind Omni Epic Entertainment started back in 2000 with myself and my partner and co-host at the time, J T Terry. We were the hosts of the number one radio show, The One Night Stand, Kalamazoo's Quiet Storm. The popularity of the show soared and it became much larger than we ever imagined or realized. With the show becoming so popular, it spawned a season on one of the most popular video shows on cable, The After Party. After six episodes hosting the after party and the radio show trending at number one, all of this created many opportunities to meet celebrities, such as 112, Silk, Twista, Do or Die, DL Hughley, and Rickey Smiley, just to name a few. By networking with industry professionals, JT and I both learned that the game is much bigger than radio and video and then the concept of Omni Epic Entertainment was born. Omni, meaning all or all being. Epic is something that is large or huge, major, something that is bigger than ourselves. Entertainment is what we do! The pleasure is ours, but the experience is yours.

Achickwitbeatz: When did you discover that you needed music to be a part of your life?

Jay L: I discovered my love for music at a very young age. I remember growing up always hearing bands like Maze f/ Frankie Beverly, The Whispers, Atlantic Starr, The Isley Brothers, George Duke, Al Jarreau, the list goes on and on. Then one day in 1984, my whole life changed. I discovered Hip Hop. Then, my focus turned to RUN DMC, Beastie Boys, The Treacherous Three, The Fat Boys, and Kurtis Blow. Even though I had a strong connection to Hip Hop, I never lost my love for good ol' fashioned Soul R&B music. 

Achickwitbeatz: What would you say is the best thing about being a promoter?

Jay L: The best thing about being a promoter is putting on good productions for the people. It feels good when people acknowledge your hard work by supporting your events. 

Achickwitbeatz: What would you say is the biggest obstacle promoters need to overcome?

Jay L: Competition. Promoters need to learn how to network and build partnerships. Let's support one another's productions and events. Show love when we come out to each other's events and not treat each other like we are enemies. It is enough bread on the table for everybody to eat!

Achickwitbeatz: What advice would you have to offer independent artists seeking to get booked for shows?

Jay L: Be humble and hungry. It is good to have confidence but always remember that the grind is a process. It is unnecessary and disrespectful to be arrogant. One time, I approached a local artist that I once featured on my radio to open up for a Jazz artist that I was bringing to town. This artist does not have any material in circulation but has talent. This would have been a great opportunity for him to not only begin to build a buzz for himself, but also audition for a international jazz artist that was coincidently looking for a male vocalist to feature on his new album. Well, this artist refused and said that he would never perform for free. Long story short, the jazz artists CD debut at no. 29 on Billboard's Jazz Top 40 albums and the local artist is well......still local.

Do some shows for free if it could benefit and further your career. Keep your name fresh by releasing music via the internet or live blogs. This is how you can develop a following and expand your listening audience. Network with industry professionals and promoters. Lastly, invest in yourself. No booking agent or club manager wants a CD sounding like you recorded it on your phone. 

Achickwitbeatz: What's next on the horizon for Jay L & Omni Epic Entertainment?

Jay L: We are continuing expansion. We are building our market in the Metropolitan Detroit area. We will continue to do shows and productions in the Kalamazoo area. Must show love to Kazoo! Without them, OEE would NOT be possible.

I am really excited about is OEE 2.0 (Omni Epic Entertainment 2.0). OEE 2.0 will showcase productions aimed at the 21-34 year old demographic. Omni Epic has historically been linked to bringing the "grown, sexy, and sophisticated events to our audience made up primarily of 30-55. This will be something very different and extremely innovative. The venture will be a partnership with a young, motivated, and dynamic new promoter, J Williams. He is my protégé'.
OEE 2.0 will re-invent the evening socialite scene!

More to come soon......

Achickwitbeatz: How can people connect with you and stay current with what you have in the works?

Jay L: People can reach me at on Twitter, Instagram, email, phone LOL. I'm old fashioned when it comes to communicating.

Twitter - @omniepicent
Instagram - @omniepicent
Email -

I want to thank ACHICKWITBEATZ for this opportunity to spotlight my company, Omni Epic Entertainment. We have proudly conducted business for 15 years and continue to set the standard for the markets that we serve.

Shout out to Meagan McNeal, Phil Denny, Ovaciir Randall, Yancyy, Orrick Ewing, The Fire Historical Arts and Collaborative, and all of the artists that have offered their time and shared their talents to help Omni Epic become what it is today. I am grateful for you 


Conversations & Quotables: Q&A with Dezert Eez

Conversations & Quotables: Q&A with Dezert Eez

In this Q&A, I had the opportunity to connect with 5-Star, Nivek & O'nill collectively known as Dezert Eez. The rap veterans proceeded to share their knowledge & insight regarding the industry and openly discuss their experiences and advice that aspiring artists can use to their benefit.  Take a moment to listen/download the audio and/or peep/share the transcript.

Conversations & Quotables: Q&A with Faze Blue le'goon

Conversations & Quotables: Q&A with Faze Blue le'goon

Faze Blue Le'goon

I recently got the chance to catch up with the talented emcee known as Faze Blue le'goon.  In this brief Q&A he shares his passion for the art and food for thought for those of us who love the craft as well.

Achickwitbeatz: Who is Faze Blue le'goon?

Faze Blue le'goon:  Well when I first starting rapping I went by simply "Faze" until the group I started "Blue le'goon" broke up, then I decided to keep the legacy alive and combine both for my own single moniker "Faze Blue le'goon". I grew up in Detroit and surrounding Downriver Detroit locations, and have resided here ever since, I move quite often but always stay close to home. I started off emceeing to Drum and Bass / Jungle Freestyle in Detroit's underground rave scene, then began writing to Hip Hop and it was amazing how natural it came to me. I then re-invented my style striving to be different than the rest, but even significantly different than another hip hop sound, I would often consider my music to be so different I would not label a genre to it. If there was any limitations or rule's I did not want to be part of it, only self expression and what I think is cool matters when it come's to music, and others seem to react to that.

Achickwitbeatz: When did you discover that you needed music to be a part of your life?

Faze Blue le'goon:  My father has been a musician sine the 1960's with influences such as The Beatles, The Who, Jimi Hendrix, Cream and countless others. He played many different instrument's including guitar, drum's & piano to name a few. He began turning my twin brother Phil and I onto music at a very early age and didn't waste time to begin teaching us how to play instrument's and create music. My brother and I, in no time started our first band "Wicked Paradice" playing Punk / Ska music at the tender age of 12 with Phil on guitar and vocals, and myself on drums and vocals. So at that point I knew music was my passion and ran through my blood pulsing through every heart beat.

Achickwitbeatz: What would you say is the best thing about being an independent artist?

Faze Blue le'goon:   Well currently I am on a label C-Rayz Walz's imprint "Sun Cycle Entertainment" but it is a independent label and we work together united as a single entity, we are a family. But the best part is no doubt, not being told how you have to sound, what subject matter to touch down on and selling your rights away to a corporate conglomerate, it's like selling the soul of your music, and what is music without soul? 

Achickwitbeatz: What's the most valuable thing you've learned since you began performing?

Faze Blue le'goon:  To stay real to yourself, and remain humble, people react to that. When rapper's get on stage and no one's really showing them no love, then they stop the music and demand the crowd to make noise and get into it before continuing, do they ever stop and think, mabey the crowd ain't feeling them? No, because their ego will not allow them to. You have to create a strong stage presence and really communicate with the audience with your music and your personality. I have performed crowd's ranging from 20-30 people to 2500 people and I get the same reaction everytime when I follow those guidelines. I like to know the crowd is feeling me instead of demanding them to.

Achickwitbeatz: What are 5 skills/attributes that would place an artist on your top 10 list?

Faze Blue le'goon:  Hmm for 5, I would say, the strength of their catalog, their contribution to the culture, their lyrical ability, the image / content of the music itself & their ability to rock a crowd.

Achickwitbeatz: Conversely, what are 5 attributes that would place an artist at the very bottom of your list?

Faze Blue le'goon:  Having the same sound throughout their catalog or being a one hit wonder, rapping 100% about content they do not live, having no cadence or lyrical skill, being about image instead the music & knowingly used ghost writers.

Achickwitbeatz: What's next on the horizon for Faze Blue le'goon?

Faze Blue le'goon: Well it's been some time for "Sun Cycle Entertainment" to assemble but the label is really just beginning to jump off. A single title "Sun Cycle Generals featuring myself C-Rayz Walz and L.I.F.E Long from the legendary group "Stronghold" also featuring members such as "Immortal Technique" will be dropping on the label. I am also working on the follow up LP to my 2009 drop "Robots and Sneakers" the record will be titled "Robots and Sneakers 2". I have leaked one joint so far from the record which is a remix of a previous track, it is titled "Grayscale Rmx and features myself, Leaf Erikson, C-Rayz Walz, B-Side, Mixo of the Stereo Boyz and Philosophy Cole produced by Nate OG. Also I am assembling a weekly event titled "Robots and Sneakers" in Detroit to continue the legacy of the legendary event "Robots and Sneakers" myself and Joanne Brzys threw in 2008 with R.A The Rugged Man at the Russel Industrial Center, the weekly will also be held there and will begin early 2015.

Achickwitbeatz: How can people connect with you to stay current with what you have in the works?

Faze Blue le'goon:  Well folks can connect with me through my facebook or my email Also my entire online catalog is available at as well as single's on soundcloud at, I have a facebook fanpage people can connect with me at also by simply looking up Faze Blue le'goon.

Conversations & Quotables: Q&A with Sean Summerlin

Conversations & Quotables: Q&A with Sean Summerlin

Conversations & Quotables: Q&A with Sean Summerlin

In this Q&A session I had with the multi-talented Las Vegas artist Sean Summerlin, he shares the passion behind his various endeavors and sheds some light on important factors for independent artists to focus on while on the path to pursuing their dreams.

Achickwitbeatz: Who is Sean Summerlin?

Sean Summerlin: I'm a artist, not just a music artist but a person who produces work in any of the arts that are primarily subject to aesthetic criteria. I engage in more than one broad spectrum of activities related to creating art. I rap and sing but I also show who I am with my song flyers I design to give my followers a vision about what I'm talking about. I'm a role model to big dreamers. I say that because like many who dream big I came from nothing and had little but still did things people never thought I could. At the age of 21, I was the owner of a magazine called "The Veg Mag"; the producer and host of my own show called, "LVX"; owner of a music studio and a clothing line called "Ego Death". Who Is Sean Summerlin? I'm a believer and a fighter.

Achickwitbeatz: When did you discover that you needed music to be a part of your life?

Sean Summerlin: I don't think I did, My mom worked with many of the big name artist back in the 90s behind the scenes. I always loved music from the first time I remember hearing it, I'll never forget the day I told my mom I wanted to be a singer, I was about 8 years old, singing all the songs on the radio that I can remember, from Michael Jackson, Dru Hill and New Edition, From rappers like 2 Pac, DMX, Nas and Jay Z. Music has always been apart of me, I love it because music is one of the only things on earth that can make you feel good when you're down, the only thing that can take you back to the good old days like a real life time machine. I didn't make the decision to do music, it's always been here in my life and never let me down, I just happen to love it and wanted to share what it did for me with others by making my own music people like myself can relate to.

Achickwitbeatz: What would you say is the best thing about being an independent artist?

Sean Summerlin: One word. "Freewill". I like being able to say and do what I want. Like I said before "I'm a artist". People like me have no limits on what we do and can't deal with being locked in a box or told how far we can take our minds. I like being a free soul.

Achickwitbeatz: What would you say is the biggest challenge for independent artists to overcome?

Sean Summerlin: Themselves! I think that's the biggest challenge for most independent artists, sometimes we can get in our own way with having doubt. Be you and love your art. Like minded people will follow what you do and support you.

Achickwitbeatz: What are 5 attributes/skills that would place an artist on your top 10 list?

Sean Summerlin: Uniqueness. There's nothing like a artist who has their own sound.

Creativity. I love when I hear something that I wish I thought of myself, like when R. Kelly came out with "Sex Weed" or how Mario came out with that song "Nikes Fresh Out the Box" it's dope when you take something and change the meaning up like that.

Persistence. I love it when the music never stops, when you can tell the artist loves what their doing by how much they're putting out.

Delivery. Its something about how you choose to say your words, I love metaphors and punch lines.

Staying real. This should of been the first thing I said, when a artist is keeping it real about whatever he or she is saying is the best. Most of the time it's very easy to see who's a honest artist. I respect that.

Achickwitbeatz: Conversely, what are 5 attributes that would place an artist at the very bottom of your list?

Sean Summerlin: Attitude- There's a difference between being confident in an art and being cocky. Staying humble in the industry carries a lot of weight and can carry an artist further

Failure to adapt- The industry is ever changing. Therefore, the artist has to be open to change with it.

Refusal to work with different producers- Every producer brings a different vibe and flavor to an artist. Every artist should at least "try" to work with different people to get a different vibe on what the public wants; different styles, different flavors.

Lack of Creativity/Originality- Even if an artist collaborates with others, they should make a reasonable attempt to create their own lyrics and vibe from their own experiences. No one can touch on life experiences and deliver it better than when the story is told by the artist.

Lack of Knowledge- Failure to learn the industry and how to correctly protect your work by copyrighting them correctly through the Library of Congress. Failure to be a member of a songwriting agency and registering an artist's works correctly.

Achickwitbeatz: What's next on the horizon for Sean Summerlin?

Sean Summerlin: Nothing at all.... Just playing, I'm working on my first all rap mixtape and also thinking about putting back together my LVX show. I have new music videos coming soon and planing on setting up my first fashion show for my line Ego Death.

Achickwitbeatz: How can people connect with you and stay current with what you have in the works?

Sean Summerlin: You can follow what I'm up to on Facebook. or my like Page Also I'm on Twitter @SeanSummerlin_ and on IG @SeanSummerlin
I'm also all over YouTube just look up my name "Sean Summerlin"