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 sites rap
quarterfinals, AllHipHop.com decided to pick the brains of site founder
Lucas Mann and three of the contestants. Theres Tampa, Floridas
Verbal Science, New Yorks GeeQue, and Palmdale, Californias 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. Weve 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.
Weve 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: Weve recently signed a band from inside our contest. They
are known locally, but have had to scrap for every opportunity to this
point. Weve 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: Im a big fan of invention. I think that while its 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
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 werent sure what it was,
but once we saw the words Epic Records and Get signed, we couldnt
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
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: Its 2007- the Internet is extremely important. Everyones
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 isnt
handling business you better believe the whole world will hear about
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 its 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 werent 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 – weve got room to
grow as songwriters. We know that but I think the general public can
see were not playing or putting words together just because they
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 weve gotten is
priceless. Dont get us wrong were watching, eying that deal, its on
our minds all day, everyday but if we dont 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 didnt go our way. Regardless of if we win or lose, we
guarantee it wont be the last time you see [Muddy Trenchez].