The Music Nation Quarterfinalists

Legions

of rap fans love to scan websites for forgotten gems of the video era

while others comb MP3 databases looking for the next talent to tell

their friends about. These worlds collide at Music Nation, where

hopefuls enter their videos for the chance to win some cash and a

contract with Epic Records. Amidst the site’s rap

quarterfinals, AllHipHop.com decided to pick the brains of site founder

Lucas Mann and three of the contestants. There’s Tampa, Florida’s

Verbal Science, New York’s GeeQue, and Palmdale, California’s Muddy

Trenchez. These three acts weigh on in on their chances of not just

winning the contest, but winning over your hard earned Hip-Hop dollar. If you like what you read, check them out at MusicNation.com.

AllHipHop.com: Tell us about Music Nation, why it was founded, when, and on what grounds?

Lucas Mann: We founded Music Nation with the intention of creating

success stories for unsigned artists. We want to give independent acts

the ability to empower themselves, to create a buzz and find an

audience. The idea was conceived about a year ago and we are now

nearing the end of our first contest. We’ve brought together a great

group of people from all over the business that wanted to change the

opportunity that they were creating for artists. Going forward, we are

really looking forward to finding new ways to give artists the tools

they need to advance their career, whether their goals are to be

discovered by a label or to put out music directly.

The label side of Music Nation, called Original Signal, is giving

certain artists the opportunity to participate in a new breed of deal.

We believe in creating an environment of equality. We believe the

artist and their label should share in both the risk and the reward.

We’ve done a deal with a band that we found during the course of the

contest and are in discussions with a few others that we are fans of.

AllHipHop.com: What’s the greatest success story you’ve seen?

Lucas Mann: We’ve recently signed a band from inside our contest. They

are known locally, but have had to scrap for every opportunity to this

point. We’ve helped them find the right manager and done a deal with

them that will fulfill their needs from recorded music, publishing,

merchandising and touring perspectives. Soon, they will be known on a

national stage, with a full team dedicated to making their career

dreams a reality.

AllHipHop.com: With record sales down, an abundance of artists, and a

whole industry machine… do you think that for the sake of the music,

it’s appropriate for (in some cases) arm-chair rappers believe that

they can be the next 50 Cent, using a tool like the Internet?

Lucas Mann: I’m a big fan of invention. I think that while it’s getting

easier for artists to create music and establish an audience, true

talent always rises to the top. We need to pass this message of hope

down to artists across the country. As an artist, if you believe in

what you are doing and have true talent, I believe that the path will

present itself.

AllHipHop.com: How did you align with/discover Music Nation?

Verbal Science: My manager and label owner, DJ Short-e discovered the

online Music Nation competition. We felt as though our music video had

the potential to go far in this competition due to the quality of the

production, the professional editing, the cameos, and especially the

song as a whole, with its catchy hook and head-bobbing lyrical flows.

GeeQue: Being that I have my own TV show in New York City, I’ve been

able to network with a lot of artists, both well-known and

up-and-coming. A few people I know had entered the MusicNation contest

and told me to vote for them. Once I found out it was a music video

competition, I entered right away since I already had my video for

“Dumb It Down” done.

Verb Kent of Muddy Trenchez: We found out about Music Nation through an

advertisement we saw on MySpace. At first, we weren’t sure what it was,

but once we saw the words “Epic Records” and “Get signed,” we couldn’t

let it pass.

AllHipHop.com: For as much time as people spend looking at videos or

listening to music on the Internet, do you believe that your viewers

are actually consumers, in the sense that they’ll purchase future

material? Hip-Hop in whole, is in a state of sales drought…

Verbal Science: I believe that our viewers enjoy the entertaining video

that we put together, but at the same time, looking at the other tracks

posted on the Music Nation artist bio page, our viewers will also learn

that I am not a one-dimensional MC and I have a lot more to say to the

world than just what our video shows. I feel in this sense, viewers can

become potential future consumers when they see what I have to offer as

a whole package.

GeeQue: There’s alot of a factors to why Hip-Hip isn’t selling too

well. It’s very easy to blame the problem on bootlegging, but that’s

just a scapegoat. The music, on a whole, has lost a lot of its edge and

creativity. We live in a day where everyone and their moms rap, yet

everyone is telling the same story. Why would a consumer buy five

albums that all have the same content? It doesn’t make sense. I’m

confident in the music I do and I’m especially proud of the “Dumb It

Down” video that I know people who watch it can definitely be potential

consumers. Just like the actual music, the Hip-Hop videos have been

stale as well. I came up in a time where it was easy to name the top 10

albums or videos of the year. Now, you struggle just to name a top

five. It’s time for a change and hopefully, I can provide that.

Verb Kent: I think it all depends on how they feel about the material.

Some viewers are consumers, some are downloaders. Many viewers will

bootleg an album in a minute. Some people refuse to put out the 13 plus

dollars for an album that the general public considers lightweight. The

good thing about the Music Nation contest is it gives the viewers a

chance to watch a career grow from the ground up. The viewers can watch

us mature as artists, which I personally think will up the chances of

them actually purchasing our future releases.

AllHipHop.com: Coming from your respective markets, how effective or

mandatory is a tool like the Internet to giving merit to the prospects

of a career?

Verbal Science: I think the Internet can be a great marketing and

promotional tool for any artist, if executed correctly. “The more

exposure, the better,” has always been my motto. The Internet allows

you to reach thousands more people on a daily basis, and overall, the

more people who hear and actually listen to your music, the better the

chance of getting responsive feedback, creating a bigger fan base, and

of being noticed and standing out from others who are attempting the

same thing.

GeeQue: The Internet is a blessing to any artist, whether you’re

established on a major label or rhyming out of your basement. There are

so many avenues to use online, the possibilities are endless. For the

past eight years or so, I’ve been using the Internet to promote my

music. It enables me to be more national as opposed to just local. In

New York City, sure, there are tons of opportunities, especially since

most of the major labels have offices here.

Verb Kent: It’s 2007- the Internet is extremely important. Everyone’s

plugged in, ready to give their opinion on whether or not an artist

will flop. Gossip travels fast on the web, so if an artist isn’t

handling business you better believe the whole world will hear about

it.

AllHipHop.com: With the videos available on Music Nation, what do they say about your character, your life or your abilities?

Verbal Science: [My videos] show a lot about my positive attributes

that I have to offer. Whether it’s talking about life experiences that

I had to struggle with when I was younger, or making people feel good

while dancing in a club, my true character and my true life shines

vividly throughout each track and each video.

GeeQue: My video definitely sums up who I am as an artist. With “Dumb

It Down,” you can see the originality, creativity and humor that a lot

of my music contains. The second song in the video, “Gimme That Crown,”

is more of a statement song which showcases what I can do lyrically.

I’m a versatile dude and I wanted to make sure I wasn’t going to

pigeonhole myself by just putting out a funny song.

Verb Kent: I think the videos show the viewers we’re hungry and ready

to take on this rap game. Just look at the video comment sections – the

critics were harsh and if they weren’t feeling your ability they let it

be known real quick. Through it all, I never once doubted why I make

music. We stayed humble knowing that we applied for a reason and that

we should never be scared or ashamed of what we do. Yeah, the Music

Nation viewers came with strong opinions that at the time were a little

direct and straight-forward. We never folded under pressure; we knew

why we entered the contest. None of us are perfect – we’ve got room to

grow as songwriters. We know that but I think the general public can

see we’re not playing or putting words together just because they

rhyme.

AllHipHop.com: After this is over, what do you hope to gain?

Verbal Science: I have already gained a lot just making it this far to

the quarterfinals and I am thankful. When this is all over, I hope to

gain more exposure, more respect as a true lyrical artist, and most of

all, I hope to gain added momentum to further accelerate my Hip-Hop

career so I can continue to strive to the top.

GeeQue: Anything that is beneficial to my music career is a plus.

Although I’ve been doing TV for well over a decade, my love and passion

is my music. It’s not about the fame and the fortune; it’s about my

message and my life story reaching as many people as possible. Through

this contest, I was able to go on Power 105.1 on the Ed Lover show with

Egypt and Ashy Larry. That was a crazy good look for me to be on the

radio, especially in New York City. Being on AllHipHop.com, one of my

favorite sites online, is a blessing. I’m thankful for all these

opportunities and hopefully, many more will arise.

Verb Kent: First off, this whole experience has been a blessing, it

would be crazy to win and get signed and if not signed then someone

would notice are movement and put us under their wing. In a way, we

kind of won already. The publicity and exposure that we’ve gotten is

priceless. Don’t get us wrong… we’re watching, eying that deal, it’s on

our minds all day, everyday but if we don’t get it, what else can we do

but re-up and get back on track. Losing is a part of life why fold

because things didn’t go our way. Regardless of if we win or lose, we

guarantee it won’t be the last time you see [Muddy Trenchez].

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