• Major Lazer’s Walshy Fire Talks All Things Dancehall

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    Walshy Fire
    Walshy Fire in the mix at Tuxedo Junction in Danbury, Connecticut. (Photo credit: Dan Nilsen)

    Leighton Paul Walsh, a.k.a. Walshy Fire, is best known for being a member of Major Lazer. The Jamaican-born MC, selector (DJ), and producer has had a successful career outside of the group, though. In 2004, Walshy joined the Miami Black Chiney sound system. He toured with it for 8 years and also hosted a popular radio show in the city. It wasn’t until 2012 that Walshy joined Major Lazer. Yet, despite the group’s success and busy schedule, he has still found time to continue his solo career. On Wednesday, Walshy dropped a new riddim album called “Chicken and Dumplin” with soca producer Kubiyashi. The project includes songs from heavyweights Beenie Man, Sean Paul, Shaggy, among others. On Friday, Walshy will headline Mad Decent’s takeover of Avalon’s Control party in Los Angeles.

    We caught up with Walshy before the show to discuss all things dancehall.

    As someone who was born in Jamaica and has been involved with dancehall for their entire career, how do you feel about its current popularity in the mainstream?

    It’s great. Dancehall is for everyone, for the masses. Hearing it world wide is a great feeling.

    Some pop artists have been criticized for appropriating dancehall culture and not giving credit where credit is due. Do you agree with that criticism?

    Credit is really all anyone wants in life. Every genre of music, every artist, every musician. So credit should always be given. Allow people to know where you sampled from.

    You once said in an interview that your sole purpose with Major Lazer is to “bring back some glory and international exposure [for] reggae and dancehall.” Do you think you’ve achieved that aim?

    I wouldn’t say, but I have a lot more work to do.

    Walshy Fire and Kubiyashi’s “Chicken and Dumplin” riddim album. Download select songs on DJcity.

    You’ve been credited with coining the term, “future dancehall.” What’s your definition of it?

    Future dancehall is dancehall mixed with EDM influences. It stays at the same dancehall tempo (94 to 100 BPM) but has rises and drops. And I don’t want the credit for making that name up. A lot of folks were calling it that before me. I might just be the one who made it popular.

    What is your favorite dancehall riddim of all time?

    The Answer Riddim.

    In your eyes, what are the similarities and differences between Jamaican selectors and American DJs?

    For Jamaican DJs, it’s not about the music as it is about the personality of the DJ. You can play an obscure song no one’s heard and with your personality make it big. You can make people laugh and do things they didn’t plan on doing, etc. Also, Jamaican DJs mix very quick. For American DJs, it’s more about shutting the club down with the big songs, scratching, blending, etc.

    Your role in Major Lazer is an MC and producer, but you also have a solo career as a DJ and producer. Is your approach different?

    Yeah, I bring the Jamaican and Miami style of DJing.

    A recap of Major Lazer’s historic concert in Havana, Cuba on March 6, 2016.

    How did your experience as a radio host in Miami influence you as an artist?

    I miss it a lot. It allowed me to be able to be humble and relate to the average person who just wants to have a good time. It’s not about trying to be this untouchable celebrity DJ. That will never be me.

    In 2016, Major Lazer became the first major American artist to perform in Cuba since diplomatic ties were restored. What was that like?

    It was the Highlight of my DJ life. Check out the documentary we did on it called Give Me Future.

    Are you or Major Lazer working with any Cuban artists?

    I work with Yotuel [from Orishas]. He’s a dope dude. I also work with Ari Lopez who now lives in Jamaica.

    Who are some newer artists that you’re feeling right now?

    Meleku [Sizzla’s son], Jah9, Masicka, and Ricardo Drue.

    Walshy Fire and Sillva’s back-to-back set at the 2017 Rum Set Boat Party in Miami.

    Follow Walshy Fire on Facebook, Instagram, SoundCloud, and Twitter.

    Related: Wax Motif Remixes Major Lazer’s ‘Run Up’

  • Emmis to Sell Power 106 to Meruelo Group

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    Power 106

    Emmis Communications has announced an agreement to sell Los Angeles’ hip-hop radio station Power 106 to an affiliate of the Meruelo Group for $82.75 million. The transaction, which is subject to closing adjustments and prorations, pending FCC and other regulatory approvals, is expected to close later this year.

    Chairman and CEO of Emmis Communications Jeff Smulyan said in the press release:

    “Power 106 has been part of the Emmis family for more than 32 years, so this day is bittersweet, but I am confident that the station and our team are in good hands … The Meruelo Group will be great owners of this historic brand, and take it to even greater heights.”

    A Local Marketing Agreement (LMA) will begin promptly following the expiration or early termination of the waiting period under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act.

    Meruelo Group’s Chairman and CEO Alex Meruelo also issued a statement:

    “The acquisition of Power 106 is a game changer for our group and our media division. As a fan and someone who has had a business relationship with this station for more than 30 years, I understand the importance of Power 106 to this community. We are committed to bringing the resources, talent and passion necessary to make this legendary brand the #1 radio station in Los Angeles.”

    The Meruelo Group, whose Meruelo Media affiliate acquired Los Angeles TV station KWHY-22 in 2011 and radio station KDAY-FM in 2014, is the largest minority-owned media group in California.

    Related: Ex-Power 106 Host Big Boy Given Green Light to Work at Rival Real 92.3

    Posted in Music Industry
  • Stretch and Bobbito Announce New Podcast on NPR

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    Stretch and Bobbito
    Stretch and Bobbito (Photo credit: Gio Reda)

    Hip-hop radio icons Stretch Armstrong and Bobbito have announced their return after a 19-year hiatus. Starting in summer, the pair will host an interview-based podcast on NPR that will cover an array of topics, including music, film, sports, and politics.

    The duo rose to fame in the ‘90s with their groundbreaking program, The Stretch Armstrong and Bobbito Show. The program, which aired on New York’s WKCR, helped introduce the world to some of hip-hop’s biggest artists, including The Notorious B.I.G., Jay Z, Nas, and Eminem. It later became a proving ground for rappers, who would freestyle live on air.

    “You weren’t [sh#t] until [you were featured on the show],” legendary rapper and producer El-P says in the trailer for the podcast.

    Stretch and Bobbito add, “As you and I have evolved as men, our interests have grown out way beyond the confines of hip-hop, and so it’s a blessing that NPR has invited us to return.”

    The podcast won’t be the duo’s first collaboration with network. In 2015, NPR screened a documentary about them called Stretch and Bobbito: Radio That Changed Lives.

    Watch the trailer below and stay tuned for the debut episode.

    Related: Watch the Trailer for the Stretch and Bobbito Documentary

  • Cash Money Sued Over Missing Drake Profits

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    Photo source: Instagram

    Aspire Music Group has sued Cash Money Records over alleged missing profits and copyright royalties from Drake‘s first six solo albums, according to court documents reviewed by Billboard. The earnings could end up totaling in the tens of millions.

    The suit cites Cash Money co-owners Bryan “Birdman” Williams and Ronald “Slim” Williams, and Young Money Entertainment, as defendants.

    Billboard writes: “In the filing, Aspire claims that in 2008, it signed an exclusive recording agreement with Drake, then entered into an agreement in June 2009 with Cash Money Records that would allow Drake to record for the label in exchange for one-third of the net profits of his first six albums and one third of the copyrights of his master recordings for those same albums, as well as monthly accounting and payments.”

    However, Aspire alleges that Cash Money never paid out any profits outside of “a few modest advances” and that Aspire was never registered with a one-third ownership stake on any recordings.

    The court documents specify the albums as 2009’s So Far Gone, 2010’s Thank Me Later, 2011’s Take Care, 2013’s Nothing Was the Same, 2015’s If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late, and 2016’s Views.

    The court documents also reveal Cash Money’s alleged fraudulent accounting.

    According to Billboard, “Cash Money sent copies of its payments from distributor Universal and included deductions for recording, marketing and production costs, as well as artist royalties and advances, that had already been deducted from Universal’s payments — effectively making them double deductions. The result was accounting that showed no payments due to Aspire.”

    Aspire is not suing for a specific amount of money. Instead, the company is asking the court to supervise an audit of Cash Money’s books to determine the amount due.

    Related: Ed Sheeran Sued For Allegedly Copying Marvin Gaye’s ‘Let’s Get It On’

    Posted in Music Industry
  • Ed Sheeran Gives TLC’s ‘No Scrubs’ Writers Credit on ‘Shape of You’

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    Ed Sheeran
    Ed Sheeran in his “Shape of You” video. (photo source: Instagram)

    The writing credits on ASCAP’s website for Ed Sheeran‘s “Shape of You” now include the writers of TLC‘s 1999 hit, “No Scrubs,” BBC News has pointed out.

    The credits for “Shape of You” originally included Sheeran, producer Steve Mac, and Snow Patrol’s Johnny McDaid. However, the credits now include the writers of “No Scrubs”: Kandi Burruss, Tameka “Tiny” Harris (T.I.’s wife), and producer Kevin Briggs.

    Sheeran might have credited the writers to avoid another trial, though that hasn’t been confirmed. The English singer-songwriter is currently being sued by the family of the co-writer of Marvin Gaye’s 1973 hit, “Let’s Get It On.” They claim Sheeran’s 2014 single “Thinking Out Loud” infringes on it. He’s also being sued by the writers of Matt Cardle’s 2011 song, “Amazing,” which they allege shares similarities with Sheeran’s 2015 single, “Photograph.”

    Compare “Shape of You” and “No Scrubs” below.

    Related: Watch Ed Sheeran Perform ‘Shape of You’ on BBC Radio 1

    Posted in Music Industry
  • DJs and Producers Can Now Earn Revenue From SoundCloud

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    Photo source: SoundCloud

    SoundCloud has announced that it has expanded its revenue sharing program to include to DJs and producers.

    The SoundCloud Premier program, as it’s called, enables content creators to earn revenue generated from subscriptions and advertising on the platform.

    According to the company’s blog:

    “Beginning today, DJs and producers who create sets, remixes and other forms of creative works will now be invited to join our SoundCloud Premier program, and earn revenue for the tracks they share on SoundCloud.”

    There’s one catch, though: the program is currently invite-only. However, SoundCloud says that it’s increasing the number of people invited every day.

    Content creators can sign up here.

    Related: DJ Mixes Are Now Legal on SoundCloud, Says Founder

  • Watch DJ Premier’s Interview With The Breakfast Club

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    After years in the making, DJ Premier finally paid a visit to Power 105.1’s The Breakfast Club. The legendary DJ and producer covered his entire career, from growing up in Texas and joining Gang Starr to working with The Notorious B.I.G., Jay Z, and Nas. The hour-long conversation is a must-watch for fans of classic hip-hop, production, and DJ culture.

    Watch it above and grab his new single with Miguel, “2 Lovin U,” on DJcity.

    Related: DJ Premier Discusses Scoring VH1’s ‘The Breaks’

  • Prolific Hitmaker Max Martin Tells His Story

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    Max Martin
    Max Martin (photo credit: Axel Öberg)

    Martin Sandberg, a.k.a. Max Martin, recently sat down for a rare and exclusive interview with the Swedish magazine, Di Weekend.

    A native of Sweden, Martin made a name for himself in the ’90s by writing and producing hits for the Backstreet Boys, NSYNC, and Britney Spears (his mentor was the producer behind Ace of Base’s “All That She Wants” and “The Sign”). The 45-year-old has since crafted hits for Taylor Swift, Katy Perry, The Weeknd, Maroon 5, Ariana Grande, Ellie Goulding, among many others. His most recent number one single is Justin Timberlake’s “Can’t Stop the Feeling!

    According to Di Weekend, “Max Martin has seen 58 of his songs place among Billboard’s Top 10. 21 of them have made it to the #1 spot. Only Paul McCartney and John Lennon have had more. As a producer, Max Martin has had 19 number one Billboard hits. Only Sir George Martin can boast of more.”

    The extensive conversation, Martin’s first since 2001, provides an in-depth look at one of the most successful songwriters and producers of all time. It also offers valuable songwriting and production insights.

    Below are some of the things we learned from the interview, which we recommend reading in its entirety.

    He believes the greatest pop songs are multi-dimensional.

    “You must be able to have more than one favorite part in the same composition. First out, you might like the chorus. Then, once you’ve grown a little tired of that, you should long for the bridge…”

    However, as a producer, his main concern is the vocals.

    “I’m very present whenever we record the vocal track. Some producers let technicians handle that part, while they themselves chill out on the couch. But I like to be there myself, handling everything on the computer myself. I want to know exactly what went on and I need to be able to recall it all. Singing involves a great deal of psychology. If the artist isn’t having a great day or finds it all boring. My role becomes that of a coach. Getting the very best out of the artist. Helping them perform at their very best when it’s game time. One way to get them there is to bring them out of their comfort zones. To coach them a little, get them to try new stuff.”

    He credits being a singer as his greatest asset.

    “From day one, the one thing that I’ve had the most use of in this profession is my background as a singer. To be able to sing and demonstrate your vision when you record a demo has been crucial.”

    He pays attention to the body language of his listeners.

    “People who lose their concentration give themselves away very quickly. If they start fiddling with their phones as the second verse kicks in, there may be something about the tune that wasn’t good enough. Something also happens when I listen as if with other people’s ears. I get nervous and think to myself, ‘Shit, this part is a bit too slow.'”

    He believes that collaborations have kept him relevant over the years.

    “It’s my collaborations with others that have made me able to stay on beyond the average lifespan of a songwriter. I’ve been blessed to work with so many young people. How do they do it? They make me work hard to keep up. I feel so humbled by this fact.”

    He keeps his ego in check by staying grounded.

    “My wife has been the greatest help. In making sure I stay grounded. My wife and some of my friends. But it’s hard. I can certainly understand artists who suffer because of their egos. This is also why I’ve chosen to stay away from what we’re doing now (the interview context). If nobody recognizes you, if nobody cares, it’s easier to avoid getting carried away. That’s way harder if you’re a famous artist. I’ve seen many examples of when things have gone really wrong.”

    He doesn’t understand jazz, but he loves it.

    “I’ve also started listening to jazz. A lot. I don’t understand jazz, and I find that liberating. The music stays just music. I just listen instead of listening to what kind of bass drum they’re using, you know? I’m simply not musically equipped for jazz, but I love listening to it. I love Chet Baker. It’s driving my daughter crazy. ‘Oh no, not Chet Baker again.’ She’s heard me play his music so much that by now she knows all his songs.”

    Related: A-Trak Discusses the Business of Remixing

  • Drake Talks Meek Mill, Kanye, and Dr. Dre in Interview With DJ Semtex

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    DJ Semtex and Drake
    DJ Semtex and Drake (photo source: Instagram)

    Drake recently sat down for a rare and extensive interview with DJ Semtex on Apple Music’s OVO Radio show.

    The conversation covered a wide range of topics, including working with Dr. Dre on Detox, his experience as a biracial artist, and allegations against him of ghostwriting and style jacking.

    Semtex is a veteran DJ and radio host from England. He was one of Drake’s early supporters in the UK, so the interview was a special occasion.

    Listen to the hour-long convo below.

    Here’s a breakdown of the topics:

    – Lil Wayne’s early support of him (2:30)
    – How he went from being on Degrassi to working with Dr. Dre (4:50)
    Views (9:20)
    – “One Dance” (12:30)
    – Why Jay Z and Kanye’s verses on “Pop Style” are short (16:15)
    – Kanye’s negative comments about him and DJ Khaled (18:10)
    – The meaning behind his line “Say I’m actin’ light skin” on “Childs Play” (20:00)
    – His experience as a biracial artist (21:10)
    – Not being recognized as a pop artist (23:34)
    – Missing the Grammy Awards (26:27)
    – Quentin Miller and Meek Mill’s allegations that Drake doesn’t write his own lyrics (28:48)
    – Beef with Meek Mill (34:48)
    – Working with Skepta and other UK artists (44:05)
    – Being accused of stealing other people’s styles (52:20)
    – Being “on top of the game” (54:20)
    – Why his upcoming “More Life” project (55:40)
    – Working with Giggs, a UK rapper who’s featured on “More Life” (57:00)
    – The impact of OVO Radio (1:00:10)

    Related: Watch Drake’s ‘Sneakin” Video Ft. 21 Savage

  • Facebook Steps Up Efforts to Reach Deal With Music Industry

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    Facebook is stepping up efforts to reach a licensing agreement with the music industry, according to sources who spoke with Bloomberg.

    A deal would allow music to be added to user-generated videos without getting flagged for copyright infringement. It would also potentially open the door for Facebook to obtain more videos from the labels themselves.

    With nearly two billion users, Facebook provides a massive opportunity for the industry. It could mean billions of dollars in revenue. Licensed videos would also benefit Facebook, which wants to dethrone YouTube as the leader in online video.

    Last month, Facebook hired Tamara Hrivnak, a former key music executive at YouTube. Hrivnak now leads Facebook’s global music strategy and business development.

    However, Bloomberg says the talks with Facebook are “complex” and that “a deal could be a couple months away or more.”

    “Facebook must also finish a system to police copyright-infringing material akin to Content ID, the system used by YouTube,” Bloomberg writes. “Videos on the site already feature a lot of music for which artists don’t receive royalties — a major source of tension.”

    The Financial Times reported in January that Facebook is developing a content ID system, but did not say when it would be completed.

    Watch Bloomberg’s report below:

    Related: Facebook Developing Content ID System to Fight Copyright Infringement