Florida Entertainment Summit

So I woke up extra early
because I did not want to be the dude who walks in during the middle
of someone’s sentence during a panel and then have the entire room
proceed to stare. Well I didn’t have to worry about that because
like every good hip-hop event, it started late. So while sitting there
looking through my goodie bag of promo CD’s and flyers I realized
that Florida is still an untapped resource for hip-hop culture. But
in hopes to shine a light on the talent the state has to offer, many
of us gathered at the Florida Entertainment Summit, which was held on
December 18th in Downtown Miami. I soon realized that this was bigger
than the 305. Talent from all over the state, and even some out of state
cats came through to speak on the music industry, and showcase talent.

The event jumped off with a highly informative panel on how to create
a buzz for your record and that was merged with the film industry panel.
Panelists from all over the country came through to give their personal
experience and give information that would help the members of the audience
break into the industry the right way. I was interested to see what
these cats had to offer the group and they focused on giving the crowd
helpful tips on how to get the product out there and test it.

Teddy T from Power 96.5 spoke about how a support group is very important
to set up a buzz. He said, “Radio is designed to listen to your
favorite song, not to break records.” He also spoke on how “the
DJ is vital and that the record needs to get club spins.” Teddy
made it clear that it is very important to develop a name, your style,
and your sound. He also emphasized that while doing those things it
is important to learn the biz and learn your target audience. After
these brief words he had to leave the venue and I really felt that if
he had been able to stay, Teddy could have offered more to the audience.
I had heard him speak at DEMP Week in Tallahassee and he really dropped
knowledge.

Another main focus in the summit was the need to own your product. I
mean that is an obvious idea and a fairly easy concept to grasp, but
as I soon learned, the difficult part is trying to make that idea come
to fruition. Various panelists spoke about how important it was to develop
your own company. They also spoke on how vital relationships are. They
made it known that you should use every marketing angle available to
you but also stay connected with the people on a personal level, not
just through flyers. They all agreed that the worst thing to do is to
rely on other people to push your record. The panelists also emphasized
the need for a professional looking product. They let everyone know
that packaging the record is vital, telling the audience that their
CD is like a business card, packaging and image are very important in
order to be professional. They also added that having a website and
being able to be accessed online is very important in today’s industry.
And the electronic press kits are important because they show the person
you are shopping your product to that you took the time to show them
you care about you product and that you take pride in your art. All
these things may have come natural to some of the audience members but
I realized that the fact is that many artists out there really don’t
take pride in their work and that they should realize that packaging
and presentation allows for people to respect your music before they
even have to hear it.

The filmmakers made some interesting comments that set apart the film
making process from the music industry. I was particularly interested
in this part of the summit because I really knew nothing about how the
film making industry dealt with hip hop culture, other than the movies
or documentaries I watch. Jeff from RBG productions told the audience
that, “in film distribution, the companies buy the finished product,
no one will buy an idea or a story, the director must shop the actual
product.” “It is harder to shop a screenplay,” he added.
Larceny, an MC turned filmmaker preached about “always having more
than one hustle.” This seems obvious, especially after watching
a 5-minute clip of “The Ultimate Hustler ” but it seems to be something
that only the cats with real motivation to get ahead end up doing. I
realized that most of the people that claim they do “hip-hop ” think
that just because they rap or make beats that those skills will pay
the bills all by themselves, allow them to make the connections they
want, and get them that Bentley Continental. Larceny also added that
it is important to “put your product out and be proud of what you
do. Just complete a product and move on because there are many avenues
after the film is completed such as soundtracks, video games, commercials
etc.”

Brian, an independent filmmaker from Atlanta added that there are three
steps in the film making process, “pre production which deals with
the steps you take to create the film. Casting the people you want,
and having a creative vision for the film.” Then he spoke about
the actual production, and how properly promoting the film and taking
it to the
right distributors is vital in the postproduction stage. This shinned
a light on part of the film making process but it didn’t really tell
me anything that I didn’t know, so I was left wanting more from this
aspect of the panel.

Conscience, a book author who’s story will soon be told in a Showtime
series soon, told us all that “internships pay off because you
make other connections.” She said, “Everyone should use the
grind tactic with whatever their medium is.” She also added that
it was very important to stay attached to your own work, and have your
own rights to your product and make the money you deserve.”

Now here is a gem for all the ultimate hustlers reading this article
courtesy of the summit panelists: Books haven’t been bootlegged yet.
So if you are looking for a profitable hustle, think about what that
could mean. I was like word, that means haters can’t leak your book,
and sit at their laptops burning it for their friends. And man think
about it, if your publishing deal is on point, and your writing captivates
a core audience, man you can make some serious cheddar. So I’m saying
F CD’s.

Video producer Malcolm Jones said that “creating a buzz on the
song comes first. Then the video can be made because it won’t do the
artist any good to have a video out if there is no buzz for their song.”
He also told us that the average video costs $150,000. “So keep
it small and come up with a simple idea, ” he added.
During the producer’s workshop, the panelists spoke on the importance
of the relationships between the artist and the producer. All the producers
agreed that beat making needs a foundation; similar to how a house needs
a concept. They all talked about how record executives can be helpful
and hurtful, they may alter vision of a record, but can also save a
record because they can push a record further than the artist can sometimes.
Paying dues is important, but the producers also talked about how there
is a strong need to get paid for the work that is done. Then the producers
began to speak on their equipment and all the technical jargon started
flying through the room. And you could just see the lost expression
on the MC’s faces. But they all basically said that no matter what
equipment you use, make sure to remember to broaden your horizons, the
stressed that everything could be used as an instrument, and that it
was important to experiment with your surroundings for new sounds. I
totally feel that. Hip-Hop has become too one-dimensional. You can basically
predict what someone’s album will sound like 6 months before they
even step in the lab.

In short: I hate on new school dirty south hip-hop. There, I said it.
I mean really, I’m listening to KRS One right now. So being that the
summit was in Miami, I was preparing myself mentally for some crunk
juice to be poured on stage. And I wasn’t too far from the truth.
But even though it wasn’t my cup of energy drink, I give props where
props are due if the product is dope. And even though I was schooled
in the Dave Chappelle school of hate, I put the lessons from the hater’s
ball behind me and listened with an unbiased ear. Throughout the summit,
there were various performers that tried their best to overcome terrible
microphone conditions. Tavaria was one of the performers that even with
microphone difficulties, was still able to perform a catchy R&B
dance single.

The Reggae Hip-Hop group from Louiville Kentuky, Code Red, was a definite highlight. They had amazing crowd control and their unorthodox deliveries provided something fresh to the stage, as they mixed one members Rasta flow with the others hip hop lyrics.

Slick 23 & Gingabread had good stage presence and their beats were
well blended. They had some of the better production and a good marketing spin, not to mention they were crunk as hell. Their single “Scream ”
has a laid back screwed feel on the hook, but was packed with energy
on stage.

Mr. Zion came out for a quick one-song performance but captured the crowd with his stage presence and reggae vibe. He and his talented and lovely background singer had excellent chemistry and it really came through during their performance of “So So Fine.”

Two other standout groups were St. Louis’ Chop Shop, and Strictly Business Records. Chop Shop, traveled all the way from the Lou to perform one song. But by no means was it a wasted trip. The single,
“Don’t Trip “, had great beat and was very radio friendly. They also had some of the best charisma and came with CD’s and photos for the crowd.

Strictly Business Records were a local group and came 30 deep to the summit. Everywhere you turned they were represented. Their music could not be described as anything less than crunk street ish. Following the
trend of chopping and screwing hooks, they also introduced a screwed
feel to the Miami scene of dirty south hip-hop. DELA performed the stand
out track, “Kick in Da Door. ” Although the song did not reach its
full potential on stage, it really shines on CD. Strictly Business showed
another side to Miami’s glamour life and represented the rough streets
that often get overlooked when the cameras only capture South Beach.

So I didn’t hate that much
right? Overall the Florida Entertainment Summit was a success and it
really did allow a lot of up and coming artists to build with cats that
have been in the game and seen stable success. And more than anything
it showed that there is a hip-hop scene in Florida and that we can come
together as a people to support the culture and improve the industry.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I gotta go put water in Buck Nasty’s mama’s
dish.

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