Almost Famous

The Avenues to Success

YouTube’s Undiscovered Gems

lwamShe sits impatiently, staring at her computer screen, looking at the latest comments on her YouTube.com page. Her fan base develops not through record sales and concert attendance, but through fans listening to her on her MySpace.com music page and watching her oftentimes comical yet always entertaining videos on YouTube.

She wakes up early, goes to one of her part-time jobs and spends the rest of the day at the studio with her producer, creating another crowd-pleasing track that will stir the internet audience, once again prompting viewers to respond with a flood of positive comments.

These positive comments are attributed not only to an angelic voice, but the rising skills of an amateur producer. He bears the title “amateur” because his equipment consists of a MacBook Pro and music editing software called “Garage Band.”

Struggling to keep up with the ever-demanding music industry, he spends hours at a time producing mind-blowing tracks and posting them on MySpace and YouTube.

Who are these people being fueled by their passion for music? Their names are Lwam Tecle, 20, and Ryan Tedder, 19, both from Cleveland and part of the music industry’s new era of young, technologically advanced talent.

Before Tecle and Tedder made the decision to become artists, the duo lived normal, post-high school teenage lives. Tedder grew up in Pittsburgh, learning to play piano at age eight and owning his first drum set at the tender age of three.

“It only lasted a week before I busted the heads, [my parents] put me in drum lessons when I was four years old,” he said.

His musical gift was most evident in his ability to listen to a song and play it back instantly. During his senior year of high school, Tedder was accepted into the Berkley College of Music but due to financial issues, decided to attend Tri-C, a local community college in Cleveland where he studied jazz.

Lwam Tecle became intrigued with music not by recognizing her own talent, but by humbly appreciating music in its purest art form.

“… I became obsessed with singing. It was like my own lil’ secret,” she said. “I was always nervous performing – I guess I am still learning how to do that.”

In order for Tecle to conquer her fear of the stage, she decided to bring her talent to the masses through the power of the Internet. Specifically through the popular social network MySpace and the video-sharing Web site YouTube.

“YouTube is so unbelievably powerful. The fact that you can get to know someone through a video is almost unreal,” Tecle said.

The dynamic partnership between Tecle and Tedder formed as if fate sustained the bond. While checking out some videos on YouTube of upcoming R&B singer and producer Ryan Leslie, Tedder said he was immediately intrigued by a response left by an attractive young female, Lwam Tecle.

“She impressed me … I decided to reach out to her and network. I didn’t think anything of it,” Tedder said.

After learning Tecle lived only 15 minutes away from Tedder’s home, the two agreed to meet up. The chemistry, evident by Tecle and Tedder’s videos on YouTube, was an instant hit. Tecle’s YouTube channel, “LTMUSICTV,” has almost 2,000 subscribers and almost 22,000 views and Tedder’s channel, “RyanTedder412,” has almost 4,000 subscribers and over 50,000 views.

“Word of mouth is the most convincing way to sell yourself,” Tecle said.

To date, Tecle and Tedder’s buzz has extended well beyond the regions of the Midwest. The two were recently featured on B94, a popular radio station in Pittsburgh, Pa. Their buzz is also sparking the interest of several major industry producers. Tecle requested their names not to mentioned.

Based on the incredible fan base they already have developed, the talented duo know fame is evident. Their determination is clear through their goals and ever-improving sound as collaborating artists.

Tecle relies on the producing techniques of Tedder, but with her goal to be “well-rounded as an artist,” Tecle plans on trying her hand on producing as well.

“I really want to get into producing so I can have a hand on the technical part of my projects,” she said.

Along with sharing their music with the world, both Tecle and Tedder have a desire to give back and help others.

“I am motivated by the idea of helping others with funds made doing something I love to do,” Tecle said.

Giving back, in Tedder’s definition, is creating a new music scene.

“After I land a few major placements, I plan to launch my own label, ‘Upscale Music Group,'” he said. “It is going to be a label run by myself and others who share my vision as producers, songwriters and artists who work collectively to create great music – people who share the same goal and creative minds to put out real music again.”

Producing, marketing, promoting, writing their own music and possessing the ultimate goal of helping others achieve their dreams, Tecle and Tedder represent the ultimate success story.

“What I will say is that I am not foolish for believing in something,” Tecle said. “It’s not like I forced a passion in my heart, it was naturally just there. I know what I want, and I know I have to work hard for it.”

Although the road to stardom is never an easy one, Lwam Tecle and Ryan Tedder welcome the bumps and detours along the way.

“That’s the beauty of the long road to getting into the industry; when you get to the end of it, it’s going to be well worth it, and you will appreciate it so much more,” Tecle said. “If I fail at this, I want to crash and burn, because if it doesn’t hurt falling, that means that I wasn’t trying as hard as I thought I was. We only have one life; don’t limit yourself to anything.”

Courtesy of The Independent Collegian (http://independentcollegian.com/2.10032/1.1322412-1.1322412)

Real talk.

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February 22, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mr. Ryan Leslie

ryan-leslie“They try to put me in a box, it’s impossible!” Ryan Leslie says in the beginning of “Diamond Girl” off of his much anticipated, self-titled, debut album. The question still remains, “who is Ryan Leslie?” for much of the crowd, but during the midnight release of his debut album on February 10th Leslie sold out the Times Square Virgin Super Store and during the 1st week was over 190% in projected album sales. Leslie’s album also topped out on iTunes top 10 albums just during the first day. So who is Ryan Leslie? A producer, song writer, singer, entrepreneur, performer, YouTube blogger, and a Harvard graduate at 19 years old with a degree in government and economics. RyanLeslieTV, his official YouTube channel, boasts over 50,000 subscribers and centralizes Leslie’s talent and passion in the studio which probably contributed to his first week’s outrageous album sales. While must underground artists look at YouTube as a median to distribute and showcase themselves, Leslie, on a mainstream level used it as distribution as well, but more importantly documented his entire life in and out of the studio to relate to his fans on a more personal basis. From creating a new hit track for his 2006 project Bad Boy-signed Cassie to catching lunch in Harlem, Ryan Leslie puts a camera on his star-studded lifestyle. Leslie even updates his facebook and twitter statues to where exactly he will be and fans have reported actually seeing and meeting up with him at those places. Studio sessions for Leslie are truly where his debut album shines, too bad they don’t come included on the album as extra content.

Leslie’s polished tracks on his debut are hardly the thin air they were created from. Walking into a studio with Ryan Leslie through the eyes of YouTube is like a fantasy of hundreds of different instruments coming together in perfect chemistry and Leslie is the mad scientist. At one point on his YouTube adventures Leslie rush orders a “pocket trumpet” from the internet and has it rush delivered to his door that same day just to sample a few notes from it. His adoration on YouTube creates an additional fan base that admires his pure music creation, not really his affiliation with any other artists or his probably unknown producing he did for artists such as Britney Spears, New Edition, or JoJo. The long overdue self-titled album, some fans who’ve waited years for, will be very much a repeat for many avid fans. A good portion of the tracks are the studio creations he documented on YouTube months before, but Leslie throws in some re-worked versions of old favorites and a good handful of newer tracks. With the exception of “Addiction” featuring Cassie and Fabulous, Leslie rides solo. The five-piece studio orchestra is found throughout the album which sets Ryan Leslie apart from the rest of the producing legends because the only thing he’s sampling is himself and so far the only thing he’s producing is the definition of passion.

Real talk.

February 22, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment

Quality Hip-Hop, Quality Journalism

pen-factory The year is 2009 and I am just a blink away from completing my undergraduate career in a hope to become a journalist. I won’t sit here and tell you I’ve wanted to be a journalist my entire life, in fact, the last thing I ever wanted to pick up was a newspaper until my freshman year in college. I was a satisfied, uncurious American who paid little or no attention to the rest of the world, until I discovered writing. My story doesn’t start with a love for CNN, it starts with a love for hip-hop. I was an extremely, white, suburban (and I still am) hip-hop fan who became obsessed with hip-hop probably all throughout high school and continued into college.

After hours upon hours of nodding my head to the music, memorizing the lyrics, and have them ringing through my head the rest of the day at school, I was captivated by how much emotion an artist could put into a single hip-hop song. Now I’m not talking about that radio-stuff, I’m talking about the rest of hip-hop that goes relatively unnoticed. I felt as though something inside of these artists gave them a talent and skill to reach a mass number of people through captivating, sometimes unbelievable lyrics. There was a socially conscious aspect to many of these artists and I was determined to find out what made them tick. They were the voice for the voiceless, even role models for my generation.

I started to go back in time, before my generation, and look at how hip-hop evolved. What I discovered was hip-hop so much more than music, it was an entire culture. Hip-hop was personal expression in its purest and probably most attractive form. In response, I began to create my own hip-hop, scribbling in notepads, in and out of school, sometimes instrumentals blaring in the background. I never recorded any of it, I mean I would have probably sounded horrible, but people began to take notice. What happened without my knowing was I became much more conscious of the world around me. I began to operate in a worldly state of mind and that meant paying more attention to the news. My poetry and hip-hop became a zone where I could create the world around me from my point of view and people would pay attention because it was in an art form people were already accustomed to.

This is quality journalism and this is where I’m at today. Should they start spinning records on CNN? Why not, but think of hip-hop, in some respects, as a gateway to personal expression and in that expression hip-hop artists are able to educate and inform people. This is where I felt a calling and this is where I am today. My duty as a journalist is to educate my audience in the most pure, unbiased form possible. We utilize our five senses to give you the most accurate story and bring the world home to you. Before every journalistic piece I write, out of habit and perhaps nostalgia, I turn on my favorite hip-hop song and it inspires me. Even though I retired my hip-hop career, that same mindset still adds to my journalistic vision, and more importantly, I might actually make some money because Eminem and Vanilla Ice already came and left. Quality journalism is forever and as we proceed to give you what you need, we won’t stop, because we can’t stop.

Real talk.

February 12, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment

India.Arie – Testimony: Vol. 2, Love and Politics

vol2The beautiful, soulful India.Arie once again delivers positive, encouraging vibes through her passion for life and the music she creates in response. India.Arie’s newest LP, “Testimony Vol. 2: Love and Politics,” examines herself, her relationships, the world, and the love that radiates through it all. Although ‘love’ and ‘politics’ is an odd combination of words, India mentions both without sounding like a carbon-copy of the rest of the music industry who tend to emulate the Obama-craze. India brings a much-appreciated crowd as guest appearances, such as the ever-soulful Musiq and to satisfy the nostalgic hip-hop enthusiasts, MC Lyte. Otherwise, India holds her own, opening with “Therapy,” a reminiscent of “Voyage to India,” and to get her politics on, “Ghetto,” a Carlos Santana-like track exposing the hardships shared by humanity. Musiq makes his appearance on “Chocolate High,” a fun-track comparing love to a sweet-tooth’s favorite treat. Every several tracks India inserts short, 50-second prayer-like devotions to God which ultimately sets the tone for the whole album and keeps the listener focused on the message.

“He Heals Me,” a beautiful track about a lover and a best friend is definitely a stand-out track. The more political side of the album continues on several tracks for the rest of the album and the poetic compositions about love continue to impress. India tends to reach the deepest emotions in the darkest, sometimes forgotten, corners of our hearts and it’s interesting to see her experiencing with more worldly-related subjects such as politics. The worldview India creates in most evident in “Pearls,” a heartfelt track about the everyday struggles of the lower-class around the world and in reality how we are all connected, “the sun shows her no mercy, the same sky we lay under.” Another worldview track, “The Cure,” this takes love and substitutes it for the cure for everything in the world and the power it invokes, even in the political sense. Here we get a feel for the meaning of the album title and it works. Some favorites will probably consist of, “Yellow,” a Stevie Wonder snapping track and “Psalms 23,” a hip-hop/jazz composition featuring a verse by the much-missed MC Lyte, and the most refreshing, motivational track of Volume 2 comes as a surprising bonus-track, “Beautiful Day.” The heaviest political track on the album, “Better Way,” is slightly cliché, but the guitar riffs and India’s soulful chant makes up for content. India.Arie continues to stay consistent and creates another memorable album, challenging our minds and our hearts.

Real talk.

February 11, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

Arlene’s Grocery

More music from the big apple.  Interestingly enough, most of these bands attracted a large crowd for a Tuesday night.  The set included The Populists, Lizzy Grant, Band of Theives, Clinton Curtis, and Manhattan’s infamous cover band, Just the Tip.

Lizzy Grant

Lizzy Grant

Band of Theives

Band of Thieves

Clinton Curtis

Band of Thieves

February 7, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | Leave a comment