Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Dreams Worth More Than Money (2015) Album by Meek Mill

Meek Mill’s "Dreams Worth More Than Money" Album

Release Date: Monday, June 29th, 2015

Meek Mill's highly-anticipated new album, "Dreams Worth More Than Money" has joined the growing list of surprise releases — joining the ranks of Drake, Kendrick Lamar & ASAP Rocky; as artists are droppin' their albums with little or no prior warning.

The DWMTM album from the Philly-native features 14 heavily-assisted tracks (nine of them w/ guest appearances from his wifey Nicki Minaj, Future, Drake, Diddy, Rick Ross, Jeremih, Swizz Beatz & The Weeknd) along w/ potent production from Boi-1da, Metro Boomin, Cardo, Vinylz, Bangladesh, Danny Boy Styles, Ben Billion$ & many more.

Will the modern day 'sneak attack' marketing tactic and lack of promotion hurt overall album sales? Regardless, it does seem 
Meek Mill has supplied another quality product — making him of Hip-Hop's top dog and self-sustaining rappers. — KONG | theKONGBLOG

Monday, June 29, 2015

SOAKED IN BLEACH (2015) - Kurt Cobain's Death A Murder Or Suicide?

SOAKED IN BLEACH reveals the events behind Kurt Cobain's death as seen through the eyes of Tom Grant, the private investigator that was hired by Courtney Love in 1994 to track down her missing husband (Kurt Cobain) only days before his deceased body was found at their Seattle home. Cobain's death was ruled a suicide by the police (a reported self-inflicted gunshot wound), but doubts have circulated for twenty years as to the legitimacy of this ruling, especially due to the work of Mr. Grant, a former L.A.

Soaked In Bleach (2015) - 89 mins.

County Sheriff's detective, who did his own investigation and determined there was significant empirical and circumstantial evidence to conclude that foul play could very well have occurred. The film develops as a narrative mystery with cinematic re-creations, interviews with key experts and witnesses and the examination of official artifacts from the 1994 case.

Director: Benjamin Statler
Producers: Benjamin Statler, Richard Middelton, Donnie Eichar
Writers: Benjamin Statler, Richard Middelton, Donnie Eichar

The Weeknd & Alicia Keys Performance | 2015 BET Awards

2015 BET Awards
The Weeknd feat. Alicia Keys
"The Hills" & "Earned It"

Harlem's own — Alicia Keys w/ Ontario's own — The Weeknd


The Wolfpack Brothers — Story Of Isolation, Salvation & Survival

'Wolfpack' Brothers Grew Up Locked in NYC Apartment for Years

Part 1: Almost no one, including neighbors, knew the six Angulo brothers existed.

Teen Locked in Apartment for Years Makes First Trip Outside Alone

Part 2: "I just thought: 'I've got to do it today. It's now or never,'" Mukunda Angulo said.

Six bright teenage brothers have spent their entire lives locked away from society in a Manhattan housing project. all they know of the outside is gleaned from the movies they watch obsessively (and recreate meticulously). yet as adolescence looms, they dream of escape, ever more urgently, into the beckoning world.

The Wolfpack (2015)

Winner of Grand Jury Prize at Sundance, this critically acclaimed documentary follows the Angulo brothers who were locked away from society in an apartment on the Lower East Side of Manhattan and discovered about the outside world through the films that they watch.

Nicknamed the Wolfpack, the brothers spend their childhood re-enacting their favorite films using elaborate homemade props and costumes. With no friends and living on welfare, they feed their curiosity, creativity, and imagination with film, which allows them to escape from their feelings of isolation and loneliness.

Everything changes when one of the brothers escapes, and the power dynamics in the house are transformed. The Wolfpack must learn how to integrate into society without disbanding the brotherhood.

Sunday, June 28, 2015


600,000+ — THANK YOU!

"Me — Kong! Me — thank you!!"

100% Authentic — New, Used & Vintage Goods

Power Couple: Sydney Leroux & Dom Dwyer Are A Striking Pair — Literally

USWNT Sydney Leroux and Sporting Kansas City Dom Dwyer are a Striking Pair

U.S. Women's National Team forward Sydney Leroux and Sporting Kansas City forward Dom Dwyer have formed an American soccer power couple. See how they juggle living in different cities and living in the limelight. 

The Power Couple: Sydney Leroux and Dom Dwyer


Sydney Leroux & Dom Dwyer: The Pictures You Need to SeeHeavy

Sydney Leroux and Dom Dwyer become American soccer's power couple USA Today

Soccer Power Couple – Who Wear Jersey Nos. 2 and 14 – Pick Valentine's Day to Reveal They're Married!People


MLS Insider: How Sporting KC's Dom Dwyer, USWNT's Sydney Leroux found love through soccerMLS Soccer

The Problem w/ The Music Industry

The Problem With Music

Whenever I talk to a band who are about to sign with a major label, I always end up thinking of them in a particular context. I imagine a trench, about four feet wide and five feet deep, maybe sixty yards long, filled with runny, decaying shit. I imagine these people, some of them good friends, some of them barely acquaintances, at one end of this trench. I also imagine a faceless industry lackey at the other end, holding a fountain pen and a contract waiting to be signed.

Nobody can see what’s printed on the contract. It’s too far away, and besides, the shit stench is making everybody’s eyes water. The lackey shouts to everybody that the first one to swim the trench gets to sign the contract. Everybody dives in the trench and they struggle furiously to get to the other end. Two people arrive simultaneously and begin wrestling furiously, clawing each other and dunking each other under the shit. Eventually, one of them capitulates, and there’s only one contestant left. He reaches for the pen, but the Lackey says, “Actually, I think you need a little more development. Swim it again, please. Backstroke.”

And he does, of course.

I. A&R Scouts

Every major label involved in the hunt for new bands now has on staff a high-profile point man, an “A&R” rep who can present a comfortable face to any prospective band. The initials stand for “Artist and Repertoire,” because historically, the A&R staff would select artists to record music that they had also selected, out of an available pool of each. This is still the case, though not openly.

These guys are universally young (about the same age as the bands being wooed), and nowadays they always have some obvious underground rock credibility flag they can wave. Lyle Preslar, former guitarist for Minor Threat, is one of them. Terry Tolkin, former NY independent booking agent and assistant manager at Touch and Go is one of them. Al Smith, former soundman at CBGB is one of them. Mike Gitter, former editor of XXX fanzine and contributor to Rip, Kerrang and other lowbrow rags is one of them. Many of the annoying turds who used to staff college radio stations are in their ranks as well.

There are several reasons A&R scouts are always young. The explanation usually copped-to is that the scout will be “hip” to the current musical “scene.” A more important reason is that the bands will intuitively trust someone they think is a peer, and who speaks fondly of the same formative rock and roll experiences.

The A&R person is the first person to make contact with the band, and as such is the first person to promise them the moon. Who better to promise them the moon than an idealistic young turk who expects to be calling the shots in a few years, and who has had no previous experience with a big record company. Hell, he’s as naive as the band he’s duping. When he tells them no one will interfere in their creative process, he probably even believes it.

When he sits down with the band for the first time, over a plate of angel hair pasta, he can tell them with all sincerity that when they sign with company X, they’re really signing with him, and he’s on their side. Remember that great gig I saw you at in ’85? Didn’t we have a blast.

By now all rock bands are wise enough to be suspicious of music industry scum. There is a pervasive caricature in popular culture of a portly, middle aged ex-hipster talking a mile-a-minute, using outdated jargon and calling everybody “baby.” After meeting “their” A&R guy, the band will say to themselves and everyone else, “He’s not like a record company guy at all! He’s like one of us.” And they will be right. That’s one of the reasons he was hired.

These A&R guys are not allowed to write contracts. What they do is present the band with a letter of intent, or “deal memo,” which loosely states some terms, and affirms that the band will sign with the label once a contract has been agreed on.

The spookiest thing about this harmless sounding little “memo,” is that it is, for all legal purposes, a binding document. That is, once the band sign it, they are under obligation to conclude a deal with the label. If the label presents them with a contract that the band doesn’t want to sign, all the label has to do is wait. There are a hundred other bands willing to sign the exact same contract, so the label is in a position of strength.

These letters never have any term of expiry, so the band remain bound by the deal memo until a contract is signed, no matter how long that takes. The band cannot sign to another label or even put out its own material unless they are released from their agreement, which never happens. Make no mistake about it: once a band has signed a letter of intent, they will either eventually sign a contract that suits the label or they will be destroyed.

One of my favorite bands was held hostage for the better part of two years by a slick young “He’s not like a label guy at all,” A&R rep, on the basis of such a deal memo. He had failed to come through on any of his promises (something he did with similar effect to another well-known band), and so the band wanted out. Another label expressed interest, but when the A&R man was asked to release the band, he said he would need money or points, or possibly both, before he would consider it.

The new label was afraid the price would be too dear, and they said no thanks. On the cusp of making their signature album, an excellent band, humiliated, broke up from the stress and the many months of inactivity.

II. What I hate about recording

1. Producers and engineers who use meaningless words to make their clients think they know what’s going on. Words like “Punchy,” “Warm,” “Groove,” “Vibe,” “Feel.” Especially “Punchy” and “Warm.” Every time I hear those words, I want to throttle somebody.

2: Producers who aren’t also engineers, and as such, don’t have the slightest fucking idea what they’re doing in a studio, besides talking all the time. Historically, the progression of effort required to become a producer went like this: Go to college, get an EE degree. Get a job as an assistant at a studio. Eventually become a second engineer. Learn the job and become an engineer. Do that for a few years, then you can try your hand at producing. Now, all that’s required to be a full-fledged “producer” is the gall it takes to claim to be one.

Calling people like Don Fleming, Al Jourgensen, Lee Ranaldo or Jerry Harrison “producers” in the traditional sense is akin to calling Bernie a “shortstop” because he watched the whole playoffs this year.

The term has taken on perjorative qualities in some circles. Engineers tell jokes about producers the way people back in Montana tell jokes about North Dakotans. (How many producers does it take to change a light bulb? —Hmmm. I don’t know. What do you think? Why did the producer cross the road? —Because that’s the way the Beatles did it, man.) That’s why few self-respecting engineers will allow themselves to be called “producers.”

The minimum skills required to do an adequate job recording an album are:

- Working knowledge of all the microphones at hand and their properties and uses. I mean something beyond knowing that you can drop an SM57 without breaking it.

- Experience with every piece of equipment which might be of use and every function it may provide. This means more than knowing what echo sounds like. Which equalizer has the least phase shift in neighbor bands? Which console has more headroom? Which mastering deck has the cleanest output electronics?

- Experience with the style of music at hand, to know when obvious blunders are occurring.

- Ability to tune and maintain all the required instruments and electronics, so as to insure that everything is in proper working order. This means more than plugging a guitar into a tuner. How should the drums be tuned to simulate a rising note on the decay? A falling note? A consonant note? Can a bassoon play a concert E-flat in key with a piano tuned to a reference A of 440 Hz? What percentage of varispeed is necessary to make a whole-tone pitch change? What degree of overbias gives you the most headroom at lOKhz? What reference fluxivity gives you the lowest self-noise from biased, unrecorded tape? Which tape manufacturer closes every year in July, causing shortages of tape globally? What can be done for a shedding master tape? A sticky one?

- Knowledge of electronic circuits to an extent that will allow selection of appropriate signal paths. This means more than knowing the difference between a delay line and an equalizer. Which has more headroom, a discrete class A microphone preamp with a transformer output or a differential circuit built with monolithics? Where is the best place in an unbalanced line to attenuate the signal? If you short the cold leg of a differential input to ground, what happens to the signal level? Which gain control device has the least distortion, a VCA, a printed plastic pot, a photoresistor or a wire-wound stepped attenuator? Will putting an unbalanced line on a half-normalled jack unbalance the normal signal path? Will a transformer splitter load the input to a device parallel to it? Which will have less RF noise, a shielded unbalanced line or a balanced line with a floated shield?

- An aesthetic that is well-rooted and compatible with the music, and

- The good taste to know when to exercise it.

3. Trendy electronics and other flashy shit that nobody really needs. Five years ago, everything everywhere was being done with discrete samples. No actual drumming allowed on most records. Samples only. The next trend was Pultec Equalizers. Everything had to be run through Pultec EQs.

Then vintage microphones were all the rage (but only Neumanns, the most annoyingly whiny microphone line ever made). The current trendy thing is compression. Compression by the ton, especially if it comes from a tube limiter. Wow. It doesn’t matter how awful the recording is, as long as it goes through a tube limiter, somebody will claim it sounds “warm,” or maybe even “punchy.” They might even compare it to the Beatles. I want to find the guy that invented compression and tear his liver out. I hate it. It makes everything sound like a beer commercial.

4. DAT machines. They sound like shit and every crappy studio has one now because they’re so cheap. Because the crappy engineers that inhabit crappy studios are too thick to learn how to align and maintain analog mastering decks, they’re all using DAT machines exclusively. DAT tapes deteriorate over time, and when they do, the information on them is lost forever. I have personally seen tapes go irretrievably bad in less than a month. Using them for final masters is almost fraudulently irresponsible.

Tape machines ought to be big and cumbersome and difficult to use, if only to keep the riff-raff out. DAT machines make it possible for morons to make a living, and do damage to the music we all have to listen to.

5. Trying to sound like the Beatles. Every record I hear these days has incredibly loud, compressed vocals, and a quiet little murmur of a rock band in the background. The excuse given by producers for inflicting such an imbalance on a rock band is that it makes the record sound more like the Beatles. Yeah, right. Fuck’s sake, Thurston Moore is not Paul McCartney, and nobody on earth, not with unlimited time and resources, could make the Smashing Pumpkins sound like the Beatles. Trying just makes them seem even dumber. Why can’t people try to sound like the Smashchords or Metal Urbain or Third World War for a change?

III. There’s This Band

There’s this band. They’re pretty ordinary, but they’re also pretty good, so they’ve attracted some attention. They’re signed to a moderate-sized “independent” label owned by a distribution company, and they have another two albums owed to the label.

They’re a little ambitious. They’d like to get signed by a major label so they can have some security —you know, get some good equipment, tour in a proper tour bus —nothing fancy, just a little reward for all the hard work.

To that end, they got a manager. He knows some of the label guys, and he can shop their next project to all the right people. He takes his cut, sure, but it’s only 15%, and if he can get them signed then it’s money well spent. Anyway, it doesn’t cost them anything if it doesn’t work. 15% of nothing isn’t much!

One day an A&R scout calls them, says he’s “been following them for a while now,” and when their manager mentioned them to him, it just “clicked.” Would they like to meet with him about the possibility of working out a deal with his label? Wow. Big Break time.

They meet the guy, and y’know what —he’s not what they expected from a label guy. He’s young and dresses pretty much like the band does. He knows all their favorite bands. He’s like one of them. He tells them he wants to go to bat for them, to try to get them everything they want. He says anything is possible with the right attitude. They conclude the evening by taking home a copy of a deal memo they wrote out and signed on the spot.

The A&R guy was full of great ideas, even talked about using a name producer. Butch Vig is out of the question —he wants 100 g’s and three points, but they can get Don Fleming for $30,000 plus three points. Even that’s a little steep, so maybe they’ll go with that guy who used to be in David Letterman’s band. He only wants three points. Or they can have just anybody record it (like Warton Tiers, maybe —cost you 5 or 10 grand) and have Andy Wallace remix it for 4 grand a track plus 2 points. It was a lot to think about.

Well, they like this guy and they trust him. Besides, they already signed the deal memo. He must have been serious about wanting them to sign. They break the news to their current label, and the label manager says he wants them to succeed, so they have his blessing. He will need to be compensated, of course, for the remaining albums left on their contract, but he’ll work it out with the label himself. Sub Pop made millions from selling off Nirvana, and Twin Tone hasn’t done bad either: 50 grand for the Babes and 60 grand for the Poster Children —without having to sell a single additional record. It’ll be something modest. The new label doesn’t mind, so long as it’s recoupable out of royalties.

Well, they get the final contract, and it’s not quite what they expected. They figure it’s better to be safe than sorry and they turn it over to a lawyer —one who says he’s experienced in entertainment law —and he hammers out a few bugs. They’re still not sure about it, but the lawyer says he’s seen a lot of contracts, and theirs is pretty good. They’ll be getting a great royalty: 13% (less a 10% packaging deduction). Wasn’t it Buffalo Tom that were only getting 12% less 10? Whatever.

The old label only wants 50 grand, and no points. Hell, Sub Pop got 3 points when they let Nirvana go. They’re signed for four years, with options on each year, for a total of over a million dollars! That’s a lot of money in any man’s english. The first year’s advance alone is $250,000. Just think about it, a quarter-million, just for being in a rock band!

Their manager thinks it’s a great deal, especially the large advance. Besides, he knows a publishing company that will take the band on if they get signed, and even give them an advance of 20 grand, so they’ll be making that money too. The manager says publishing is pretty mysterious, and nobody really knows where all the money comes from, but the lawyer can look that contract over too. Hell, it’s free money.

Their booking agent is excited about the band signing to a major. He says they can maybe average $1,000 or $2,000 a night from now on. That’s enough to justify a five week tour, and with tour support, they can use a proper crew, buy some good equipment and even get a tour bus! Buses are pretty expensive, but if you figure in the price of a hotel room for everybody in the band and crew, they’re actually about the same cost. Some bands (like Therapy? and Sloan and Stereolab) use buses on their tours even when they’re getting paid only a couple hundred bucks a night, and this tour should earn at least a grand or two every night. It’ll be worth it. The band will be more comfortable and will play better.

The agent says a band on a major label can get a merchandising company to pay them an advance on t-shirt sales! Ridiculous! There’s a gold mine here! The lawyer should look over the merchandising contract, just to be safe.

They get drunk at the signing party. Polaroids are taken and everybody looks thrilled. The label picked them up in a limo.

They decided to go with the producer who used to be in Letterman’s band. He had these technicians come in and tune the drums for them and tweak their amps and guitars. He had a guy bring in a slew of expensive old “vintage” microphones. Boy, were they “warm.” He even had a guy come in and check the phase of all the equipment in the control room! Boy, was he professional. He used a bunch of equipment on them and by the end of it, they all agreed that it sounded very “punchy,” yet “warm.”

All that hard work paid off. With the help of a video, the album went like hotcakes! They sold a quarter million copies!

Here is the math that will explain just how fucked they are:

These figures are representative of amounts that appear in record contracts daily. There’s no need to skew the figures to make the scenario look bad, since real-life examples more than abound. Income is underlined, expenses are not.

Advance: $250,000
Manager’s cut: $37,500
Legal fees: $10,000

Recording Budget: $150,000
Producer’s advance: $50,000
Studio fee: $52,500
Drum, Amp, Mic and Phase “Doctors”: $3,000
Recording tape: $8,000
Equipment rental: $5,000
Cartage and Transportation: $5,000
Lodgings while in studio: $10,000
Catering: $3,000
Mastering: $10,000
Tape copies, reference CD’s, shipping tapes, misc expenses: $2,000

Video budget: $30,000
Cameras: $8,000
Crew: $5,000
Processing and transfers: $3,000
Offline: $2,000
Online editing: $3,000
Catering: $1,000
Stage and construction: $3,000
Copies, couriers, transportation: $2,000
Director’s fee: $3,000

Album Artwork: $5,000
Promotional photo shoot and duplication: $2,000

Band fund: $15,000
New fancy professional drum kit: $5,000
New fancy professional guitars (2): $3,000
New fancy professional guitar amp rigs (2): $4,000
New fancy potato-shaped bass guitar: $1,000
New fancy rack of lights bass amp: $1,000
Rehearsal space rental: $500
Big blowout party for their friends: $500

Tour expense (5 weeks): $50,875
Bus: $25,000
Crew (3): $7,500
Food and per diems: $7,875
Fuel: $3,000
Consumable supplies: $3,500
Wardrobe: $1,000
Promotion: $3,000

Tour gross income: $50,000
Agent’s cut: $7,500
Manager’s cut: $7,500

Merchandising advance: $20,000
Manager’s cut: $3,000
Lawyer’s fee: $1,000
Publishing advance: $20,000
Manager’s cut: $3,000
Lawyer’s fee: $1,000

Record sales: 250,000 @ $12 = $3,000,000 gross retail revenue Royalty (13% of 90% of retail): $351,000
less advance: $250,000
Producer’s points: (3% less $50,000 advance) $40,000
Promotional budget: $25,000
Recoupable buyout from previous label: $50,000
Net royalty: (-$14,000)

Record company income:
Record wholesale price $6.50 x 250,000 = $1,625,000 gross income Artist Royalties: $351,000
Deficit from royalties: $14,000
Manufacturing, packaging and distribution @ $2.20 per record: $550,000
Gross profit: $710,000


This is how much each player got paid at the end of the game.
Record company: $710,000
Producer: $90,000
Manager: $51,000
Studio: $52,500
Previous label: $50,000
Agent: $7,500
Lawyer: $12,000

Band member net income each: $4,031.25

The band is now 1/4 of the way through its contract, has made the music industry more than 3 million dollars richer, but is in the hole $14,000 on royalties. The band members have each earned about 1/3 as much as they would working at a 7-11, but they got to ride in a tour bus for a month.

The next album will be about the same, except that the record company will insist they spend more time and money on it. Since the previous one never “recouped,” the band will have no leverage, and will oblige.

The next tour will be about the same, except the merchandising advance will have already been paid, and the band, strangely enough, won’t have earned any royalties from their t-shirts yet. Maybe the t-shirt guys have figured out how to count money like record company guys.

Some of your friends are probably already this fucked. — Steve Albini | The Baffler

Just Blaze's Industry Story

How a Producer for Hip-Hop’s Biggest Names Hacked His Way Into the Industry

You wouldn’t know it by looking at him, what with his rare Ralph Lauren Polo jackets and vintage Nikes, but Just Blaze is a hacker. Yes, that Just Blaze. Sure, the term has in the past decade or so been transmogrified into a catchall that includes anyone who can code in Javascript or jailbreak an iPhone, but Just Blaze is a hacker in the classic sense. He makes electronics do things they weren’t intended to do. “I was very much a tinkerer as a kid,” he says by phone between studio sessions in New York. “I was doing things like hacking or splicing extra battery packs into my mother’s cordless phone to try to get the battery to last longer.”

Justin Smith, better known as Just Blaze, shops for records at Good Records in Manhattan's East Village. The shop is one of the last standing record stores in the city where Smith can still go to find samples for his music. Alex Welsh/WIRED

Still not sold on his hacker cred? How about this: Before anyone had songs produced by Just Blaze on their phones or MP3 players, he infiltrated the industry via Motorola’s famed P900 two-way pager.

“I got my first bit of industry-wide notoriety programming ringtones for those things,” says Just. “Back then, there wasn’t such a thing as ringtones for your phone, at all. But Motorola included an app that allowed you to make customizable tones. The way you had to enter the music into the pager wasn’t really a musical approach. It was more a mathematical thing. It was all numbers, letters, and punctuation. Kind of like a language of its own.”

Smith works in the car on the way from his apartment to Good Records in Manhattan’s East Village.
Alex Welsh/WIRED

Just Blaze became fluent in that arcane language. He got so good at programming musical ringtones that he was able to create special effects like reverb and delay. He discovered that he could tinker with the key clicks effects to create drum sounds. Soon, he was composing lo-fi recreations of late ‘90s hits like the Notorious BIG’s “Who Shot Ya?” and Busta Rhymes’ “Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Could See.” Word of his service spread, and his client base rapidly grew.

“It was funny, people I had never met would hear my name and go, ‘Dude, I have all your ringtones on my phone!’” he says. “There was a rumor floating around that I learned to make music by using the two-way, which was insane.”

These days, the man born Justin Smith, 35, is best known for one thing: producing hit records. Since 1999, Just Blaze has become a go-to producer for an army of pop stars, including Jay-Z, Drake, Mariah Carey, and Eminem. Able to switch effortlessly between live-sounding orchestral creations to electronic synth bounces, he’s also one of the most versatile producers working today. Very few people in the music industry could go from producing gritty soul tracks for the likes of Rick Ross and Kendrick Lamar to a creating chart-topping club hit with Baauer. But that’s all in a day’s work for Just Blaze. Let him tell it, however, and he’ll say all of this nearly didn’t happen. He was almost a programmer.

Photographer Ben Grieme has a brief photo shoot with Smith in Midtown Manhattan.
Alex Welsh/WIRED

Though enamored with music from a young age, Just Blaze, not thinking he could actually become one of the producers he admired like Rza, Q-Tip, and Marley Marl, decided to attend Rutgers to study computer science. As a kid he taught himself how to program using Basic, and felt a degree in CS would be right up his alley. Not so. Programming grew boring. Around the same time, he began meeting people in the industry who were doing things that he, as a former DJ, felt he could do too. That, combined with what Just called a “bad streak in school with professors who I could not understand at all,” made him reconsider the path he was on.

Fortunately, during his third year at Rutgers, Just Blaze got a chance to intern at the Cutting Room, the storied studio in New York that’s been used by the likes of Run DMC, Jon Bon Jovi, and SWV. Right before the spring semester of his junior year was set to begin, the studio’s night manager quit. Just Blaze was offered the position.

I’m the guy who’s always an early adopter, which I pay for sometimes because sometimes there are problems, but I never understood the backlash that it received for so long. Eventually, I realized people don’t like change.
Smith works at his recording studio in Harlem, where he is fine-tuning a DJ set for the HARD
Summer Music Festival in Los Angeles, coming up in early August. Alex Welsh/WIRED
“I had to tell my mother, who was a high school principal, that I wanted to take time off from school to pursue a career in music,” says Just. “She was actually very cool about it and I went for it. Getting that shot at the internship and being in a professional recording environment was really the next step in laying the foundation for everything that ended up happening.”

What ended up happening was Just Blaze landing beats on some of the biggest rap albums of the late 90s and early 2000s, including Jay-Z’s The Dynasty: Roc La Familia and The Blueprint. But his success didn’t dampen his love of all things technological. The vocation of hip-hop producer requires some technical knowhow, as much of of the art and craft has been, and still is, done on drum machines and samplers. Just Blaze was no different. His first sampler, he says, was an ASR 10 that he begged his aunt to buy for him because it was the same one Wu-Tang founder and producer Rza used. But years later when he started at the Cutting Room, he noticed all the big names were using Akai’s MPC line of samplers which, despite lacking all the effects, was more versatile. It offered more opportunities for expansion than a MIDI keyboard and featured pressure sensitive rubber pads which made tapping out drum patterns a breeze. So he followed suit with a MPC 60. Only his was a bit more special than everyone else’s.

“I sold it, and I regret that I sold it, because I found out way later that it was the MPC used to program the drums on Slick Rick’s second album.”

Smith, photographed in Manhattan’s East Village.
Alex Welsh/WIRED
From there, he picked up a MPC 3000, and when he made a bit of money he got a MPC 2000 and then a MPC 2000 XL. Just Blaze rocked that until Akai released the vastly different MPC 4000. It was the top-of-the-line rig, decked with a bevy of new features including an internal 80GB hard drive, an onboard CDR-W drive instead of a 3.5” floppy, and upgraded sampling and sound-manipulation capabilities. It was in every way a better machine, but it had a steep learning curve, one that many people simply couldn’t handle. It was just too radical.

“It was nothing like any other MPCs,” remembers Just. “The 4000 was a completely different unit. I loved it. I’m the guy who’s always an early adopter, which I pay for sometimes because sometimes there are problems, but I never understood the backlash that it received for so long. Eventually, I realized people don’t like change.”

Just Blaze embraces change. One of his favorite stories is about the time he built a custom laptop-based Pro Tools rig. These days, it’s common to see producers and engineers running Pro Tools on their laptops. That wasn’t the case in 1997. When Just Blaze called Digidesign, the company that created the software and owned it before Avid took over, he was told the company was working on a solution but it’s “not something that’s possible right now.” Just Blaze took that as a challenge.

“It took a lot of time, a lot of trial and error, and quite a bit of money, but I was able to fashion my own Pro Tools rig that ran off an old Powerbook and had three 888 interfaces, the whole deal,” he recalls. “It was about as portable a studio that you could get back then. I used to roll it into sessions and engineers would look at me like I was from another planet because nobody had anything like this in New York, or in the business, at all.”

Smith meets up with Schott Free, a former A & R for Loud Records outside of the East Village Radio headquarters in Manhattan. Alex Welsh/WIRED
These days, Just Blaze’s setup is much simpler. He primarily works on his 15-inch Apple MacBook Pro with Retina Display, which replaced his 17-inch MacBook Pro, Apple’s Logic software, and a midi keyboard. Will he continue to minimize his workstation? Some producers have proven that professional songs can be created on nothing more than an iPad. Is that what’s next for one of hip-hop’s biggest names? Probably not.

“There are music apps that I use on the iPad, but they’re mostly synths and whatnot. I’m not making music on the iPad right now; I just use it as a sound module,” he says. “I need tactile feedback, which sounds weird coming from an iPhone user, but when I make music, I need to feel it. — Damien Scott | WIRED

New York Islanders Draft Andong Song — First Chinese NHL Player

Andong Song | 6' 0" 170 lbs | Defenseman - L | Beijing, China

Andong Song Becomes First Chinese Player Ever Taken In NHL DraftThe Huffington Post

Andong Song becomes the first Chinese-born player to be drafted in the NHL Draft.

New York Islanders draft first Chinese player into NHLWashington Post

Song, a native of Beijing, China, moved to North America at age nine, but captained the Chinese team at the 2015 U-18 World Jr. Championships (D-II).

First Chinese player to be drafted chosen by Islanders NHL

 The Islanders selected Song from Lawrenceville School in New Jersey,
where he captained the team in his senior season.

 Isles' Andong Song becomes first Chinese player to be taken in NHL draft — ESPN

Recap Of The 2015 NHL Draft

The first round of the 2015 NHL Draft was held at BB&T Center on Friday, June 26th, 2015.

Here is a pick-by-pick look at the first round:

1) Edmonton Oilers
Connor McDavid, Center
NHL Central Scouting final ranking: 1
2014-15: Erie Otters (OHL); Stats: 47 games, 44-76-120

Summary: An exceptional skater capable of making split-second decisions on the fly. The projected generational-type player is effective on every shift in whatever role given. Named the Canadian Hockey League Sportsnet player of the year, McDavid had 97 goals, 285 points in 166 career regular season games (1.71 points-per game) in three seasons in the Ontario Hockey League.

2) Buffalo Sabres
Jack Eichel, Center
NHL Central Scouting final ranking: 2
2014-15: Boston University (H-East); 40 games, 26-45-71

Summary: The 2015 Hobey Baker Award winner scored the most points by a college freshman since Paul Kariya had 100 points at the University of Maine in 1992-93. Eichel (6-foot-2, 196 pounds) also led the NCAA with 45 assists, a plus-51 rating, 23 power-play points, a 1.12 assists-per-game average and a 1.77 points-per-game average. Eichel set a Hockey East tournament record with 11 points and also helped the Terriers reach the Frozen Four championship game. He finished in the top 10 in seven categories during fitness testing at the NHL Scouting Combine.

3) Arizona Coyotes
Dylan Strome, Center
NHL Central Scouting final ranking: 4
2014-15: Erie Otters (OHL); 68 games, 45-84-129

Summary: Strome (6-foot-3, 185 pounds) led the Ontario Hockey League in assists and points and was third in goals. The brother of New York Islanders forward Ryan Strome, he was awarded the William Hanley Trophy as the most sportsmanlike player in the OHL. He had 14 goals and 29 points in 20 games when Connor McDavid was out because of a hand injury, and he scored 10 goals and had 22 points in 20 playoff games.

4) Toronto Maple Leafs
Mitchell Marner, Center
NHL Central Scouting final ranking: 6
2014-15: London Knights (OHL); 63 games, 44-82-126

Summary: Marner (5-foot-11, 160 pounds) was second in the Ontario Hockey League in assists and points. He has 128 assists and 185 points in 127 career OHL games. Prior to sustaining an upper-body injury April 9, the right-hander had nine goals and 16 points in seven OHL playoff games. He's often compared to former Knights player and current Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane.

5) Carolina Hurricanes
Noah Hanifin, Defenseman
NHL Central Scouting final ranking: 3
2014-15: Boston College (H-East); 37 games, 5-18-23

Summary: He possesses fantastic acceleration out of his own zone and can confidently lead the transition. Hanifin (6-foot-3, 203 pounds) is the most dynamic offensive defenseman of this draft class. The left-handed shot is rarely out of position and is a great distributor. He had 52 blocked shots in 37 games as a freshman with the Eagles, and he represented the United States at the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship.

6) New Jersey Devils
Pavel Zacha, Center
NHL Central Scouting final ranking: 8
2014-15: Sarnia Sting (OHL); 37 games, 16-18-34

Summary: The Czech Republic native is relentless on the puck and creates scoring chances for teammates with his strength and smart decisions. The 6-foot-3, 210-pound left-hander exhibits good puck control, a strong work ethic and a great shot. He represented the Czech Republic at the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship.

7) Philadelphia Flyers
Ivan Provorov, Defenseman
NHL Central Scouting final ranking: 7
2014-15: Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL); 60 games, 15-46-61

Summary: The 6-foot, 201-pound left-hander logs a lot of minutes, is good on specialty teams, and likes to play the body. He manned the blue line for silver medalist Russia at the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship and as a rookie ranked fourth in points among Western Hockey League defensemen. He is regarded as one of the best passers in the Canadian Hockey League.

8) Columbus Blue Jackets
Zachary Werenski, Defenseman
NHL Central Scouting final ranking: 9
2014-15: University of Michigan (BIG10); 35 games, 9-16-25

Summary: The left-handed shot was the youngest player in NCAA hockey in 2014-15 but showed the poise of a four-year letter winner. He easily reads situations as they come and can assess on the fly, has a big shot, and exhibits confidence on the power play. He led Michigan defenders in points and tied for the lead with 59 blocked shots, and had 12 power-play points and a plus-9 rating.

9) San Jose Sharks
Timo Meier, Right wing
NHL Central Scouting final ranking: 10
2014-15: Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL); 61 games, 44-46-90

Summary: The versatile Meier (6-foot-1, 209 pounds) is strong with or without the puck. His 44 goals and 23 power-play goals led the Mooseheads in the regular season. He ranked in the top 10 in goals (10) and points (21) in 14 games in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League playoffs. Meier also has experience skating with top players; with Switzerland at the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship, his linemate was Nashville Predators forward Kevin Fiala, in Halifax his linemate was Winnipeg Jets top prospect Nikolaj Ehlers, and at the 2015 CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game he played on a line with Connor McDavid.

10) Colorado Avalanche
Mikko Rantanen, Right wing
NHL Central Scouting final ranking (European): 1
2014-15: TPS (FIN); 56 games, 9-19-28

Summary: Rantanen (6-foot-3, 211 pounds) played regular even-strength shifts and on the power play with TPS, averaging 16:14 of ice time per game. His four goals at the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship were half of Finland's total for the tournament. Regarded as a big, strong, mature, mobile two-way power forward who protects the puck well, he has a great reach and is very strong in battles along the boards and in the corners. He is considered by many to be the best prospect from Europe this season.

11) Florida Panthers
Lawson Crouse, Left wing
NHL Central Scouting final ranking: 5
2014-15: Kingston Frontenacs (OHL); 56 games, 29-22-51

Summary: Crouse (6-foot-4, 215 pounds) has a physically intimidating presence and is capable of fighting through checks and playing a power game. He has a very hard shot but may not have the skill set that some of the other top-rated forwards possess, perhaps because he prefers a north-south style to quickly get from point A to point B. He won a gold medal representing Canada at the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship.

12) Dallas Stars
Denis Gurianov, Right wing
NHL Central Scouting final ranking (European): 7
2014-15: Togliatti 2 (RUS-JR.); 23 games, 15-10-25

Summary: The 6-foot-2, 183-pound left-handed shooter is the complete package. He's a big power forward who likes to use his physical strength and is gritty in all areas of the ice. Many scouts believe he has the hardest shot of this year's draft class. Gurianov succeeded on his off wing much of the season and has been compared to Valeri Nichushkin, the Dallas Stars' 2013 first-round pick (No. 10).

13) Boston Bruins
Jakub Zboril, Defenseman
NHL Central Scouting final ranking: 12
2014-15: Saint John Sea Dogs (QMJHL); 44 games, 13-20-33

Summary: Named to the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League's rookie all-star team this season, the 6-foot-1, 184-pound Czech Republic native played on the power play and penalty kill. Regarded as a physical defenseman, Zboril can start a break out of the defensive zone and join the attack. He's a good skater, has a good shot from the point, and shows good mobility.

14) Boston Bruins
Jake DeBrusk, Left wing
NHL Central Scouting final ranking: 19
2014-15: Swift Current Broncos (WHL); 72 games, 42-39-81

Summary: The son of former NHL enforcer Louie DeBrusk, he is a relentless worker. DeBrusk's 42 goals, 81 points and 13 power-play goals led the Broncos. A 40-goal scorer in junior, he is capable of doing the dirty work in front of the net on the power play. DeBrusk (5-foot-11, 171 pounds) has good speed through the neutral zone and can create chances on the fly.

15) Boston Bruins
Zachary Senyshyn, Right wing
NHL Central Scouting final ranking: 38
2014-15: Sault Marie Greyhounds (OHL); 66 games, 26-19-45

Summary: The 6-foot-1, 192-pound forward is regarded for his speed and hockey sense. He creates time and space with the puck on his stick and can use his ability to beat defenders wide and drive to the net for scoring opportunities. When he gets the puck off the transition, he can explode down wing while commanding the attention of defenders. He had 26 goals this season but Sault Ste. Marie had a deep offense with seven 20-goal scorers. 

16) New York Islanders
Mathew Barzal, Center

NHL Central Scouting final ranking: 11
2014-15: Seattle Thunderbirds (WHL); 44 games, 12-45-57

Summary: The right-hander missed nearly three months because of a fractured kneecap but returned and scored four goals in six Western Hockey League playoff games. In two seasons with the Thunderbirds, Barzal (5-foot-11, 175 pounds) had 85 assists and 111 points in 103 regular-season games. He offers great puck-handling skills and plays a solid two-way game.

17) Winnipeg Jets
Kyle Connor, Left wing
NHL Central Scouting final ranking: 13
2014-15: Youngstown Phantoms (USHL); 56 games, 34-46-80

Summary: The University of Michigan recruit was named the United States Hockey League Player of the Year and Forward of the Year after leading the league in 80 points, breaking his own record for the most points in a season by a Youngstown player. His greatest assets are his speed and relentless 200-foot game. His playmaking skills make players around him better, and he produces offensively. Connor (6-foot-1, 177 pounds) had 82 goals and 195 points in 174 games in the USHL.

18) Ottawa Senators
Thomas Chabot, Defenseman
NHL Central Scouting final ranking: 16
2014-15: Saint John Sea Dogs (QMJHL); 66 games, 12-29-41

Summary: Chabot led all Sea Dogs defenders in points in his second season with the team. The 6-foot-1, 180-pound left-shot defenseman has high-end skill and great mobility. He is a strong skater with good speed and mobility. He's always looking to advance the puck under pressure and can lead the rush into the offensive zone.

19) Detroit Red Wings
Evgeny Svechnikov, Left wing
NHL Central Scouting final ranking: 17
2014-15: Cape Breton Screaming Eagles (QMJHL); 55 games, 32-46-78

Summary: The 6-foot-2, 199-pound left-hander from Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, Russia, was second among rookie scorers in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League this season in points. He enjoys a physical game, doesn't back away, and is aggressive on the forecheck. He has high-end puck skills, especially in traffic, and puts himself in proper position to receive a pass and make a play.

20) Minnesota Wild
Joel Eriksson Ek, Center
NHL Central Scouting final ranking (European): 4
2014-15: Farjestad (SWE); 34 games, 4-2-6

Summary: The 6-foot-2, 180-pound left-handed sniper began the season with Farjestad's junior team but did surprisingly well when given an opportunity with Farjestad's team in the Swedish Hockey League. NHL Director of European Scouting Goran Stubb called Eriksson one of the biggest surprises in Sweden this season. He's considered a real competitive, mobile center who knows his defensive responsibilities.

21) Ottawa Senators
Colin White, Center
NHL Central Scouting final ranking: 29
2014-15: USA U-18 (USHL); 54 games, 23-32-55

Summary: The Boston College-bound right-hand shot has been compared to Patrice Bergeron for his preparedness and detail to every shift. White (6-foot, 183 pounds) is deceptive and hard to play against because of his smarts, speed and strength. He's the type of player who will wear an opponent down over the course of a game.

22) Washington Capitals
Ilya Samsonov, Goaltender
NHL Central Scouting final ranking (European): 1
2014-15: Magnitogorsk 2 (RUS-JR.); 18 games, 2.66 goals-against average, .918 save percentage

Summary: Samsonov (6-foot-3, 200 pounds) played one game in the Kontinental Hockey League with Mettalurg Magnitogorsk under coach Mike Keenan. His size enables him to cover plenty of the net, and he has shown consistency. He is signed with Magnitogorsk through the 2016-17 season. He has a good glove, quick feet and a very mature game.

23) Vancouver Canucks
Brock Boeser, Right wing
NHL Central Scouting final ranking: 27
2014-15: Waterloo Black Hawks (USHL); 57 games, 35-33-68

Summary: His 35 goals and 32 power-play points tied for first in the United States Hockey League; he was third in total points. Boeser (6-foot, 191 pounds), who was named to the USHL's first all-star and all-rookie teams, is a product of Burnsville High School in Minnesota. He's committed to the University of North Dakota in 2015-16. He compares his two-way style of play to New York Islanders forward Kyle Okposo.

24) Philadelphia Flyers
Travis Konecny, Center
NHL Central Scouting final ranking: 14
2014-15: Ottawa 67's (OHL); 60 games, 29-39-68

Summary: The right-hander, who can also play right wing, jumped 12 spots from the midterm rankings to No. 14 on Central Scouting's final ranking of the top North American skaters. Konecny (5-foot-10, 175 pounds), the 2014 Ontario Hockey League Rookie of the Year, had 29 goals and 68 points in 60 regular-season games in 2014-15. "He's a skilled forward who plays bigger than his size and is not afraid to get involved in traffic and puck battles," NHL Director of Central Scouting Dan Marr said.

25) Winnipeg Jets
Jack Roslovic, Center
NHL Central Scouting final ranking: 39
2014-15: USA U-18 (USHL); 57 games, 21-46-67

Summary: The Miami University recruit has unbelievable hockey sense and takes great pride in making the safe play. He's able to find open teammates and get the play moving, no matter the pressure he faces from the opposition. He's not afraid to use his body and has a deceptive, quick shots. The 6-foot, 182-pound right-hander could one day be the first player born in Columbus, Ohio, to play in the NHL. 

26) Montreal Canadiens
Noah Juulsen, Defenseman
NHL Central Scouting final ranking: 22
2014-15: Everett Silvertips (WHL); 68 games, 9-43-52

Summary: The right-shot defender went from a projected second-round pick on Central Scouting's midterm ranking (No. 38) to a first-round projection. Juulsen (6-foot-1, 174 pounds), who had a plus-22 rating in 68 regular-season games, is a smart, two-way defender with good speed and mobility. He can create offense on the power play or off the rush. He is responsible and reliable in his own end.

27) Anaheim Ducks
Jacob Larsson, Defenseman
NHL Central Scouting final ranking (European): 3
2014-15: Frolunda Jr. (SWE-JR.); 30 games, 8-11-19

Summary: Larsson (6-foot-2, 191 pounds), a two-way defenseman, is a good, mobile skater who reads the game well and is effective with the puck. He is smart on the transition and has the ability to lead the offensive attack. He models his game after Arizona Coyotes defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson.

28) New York Islanders
Anthony Beauvillier, Left Wing
NHL Central Scouting final ranking: 33
2014-15: Shawinigan Cataractes (QMJHL); 67 games, 42-52-94

Summary: A strong two-way skater, the 5-foot-10, 173-pound forward plays with plenty of energy and emotion. Beauvillier ranked eighth in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League in points and led Shawinigan in goals. He also led the team with a 58.7 percent faceoff efficiency and tied for the lead with 16 power-play goals. He was captain for Team Cherry at the 2015 CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game.

29) Columbus Blue Jackets
Gabriel Carlsson, Defenseman
NHL Central Scouting final ranking (European): 2
2014-15: Linkoping Jr. (SWE-JR.); 39 games, 0-7-7

Summary: The 6-foot-4, 183-pound shut-down defender moved up five spots from NHL Central Scouting's midterm ranking to No. 2 on the final ranking of European skaters. He is known to play a safe game, is very reliable, and can use his size, strength and excellent reach in a smart way.

30) Arizona Coyotes
Nicholas Merkley, Right wing
NHL Central Scouting final ranking: 23
2014-15: Kelowna Rockets (WHL); 72 games, 20-70-90

Summary: Merkley (5-foot-10, 191 pounds) led the Rockets and finished sixth in the Western Hockey League in points and ranked first on the team in assists. He finished third in scoring in the WHL playoffs with 27 points (five goals, 22 assists), and added three goals and five points in five games at the Memorial Cup. He's more of a playmaker, known for being tenacious on the puck, but he has the ability to score big goals at the most opportune times. He plays with an edge.

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