PlanetRAWK, The One with The Sure Shot

Trying to find a median between genres such as hiphop and rock, soul and pop, electronic and jazz can be difficult - oh, don't be fooled by those rappers who throw in a guitar here and there just to call themselves genre-blending. You can't just be a great vocalist and merge yourself into pop culture either.

While there are a growing number of musicians attempting to truly melt the musical pot, PlanetRAWK is an example of those who get it right, at least as far as hiphop and rock is concerned. You check him out live with Tragedy Called Truth, another rock band, at Atlanta's Drunken Unicorn November 9th!
How and why did you come up with the name PlanetRAWK? Was it influenced by Afrika Bambaataa?

Yes, it was influenced by the song Planet Rock, I thought their songwriting was very interesting and became a fan very quickly.

Who are your musical influences, aside from Bam of course?

In junior high I was a fan of Jay Z, Playa Fly, UGK, Master P and 3-6 Mafia. Currently, I am really into Dance Gavin Dance, Emarosa, Johnny Craig, 30 Seconds To Mars, Panic at The Disco.

So, do you listen to mainstream hiphop artists now?

Not really. Lupe Fiasco is a good one, I think he is amazing. But this so-called trap music played on radio and TV sounds like garbage and gives a negative site on black people. I mean, kids listen to this and grow up thinking this is cool or this is the way to make it, it's nonsense and has no creativity or originality whatsoever.

What got you into doing rock although you have strong hiphop influences, artistically?

I woke up and came downstairs, made a beat and wrote the lyrics to it, and said to myself "this is way too easy." Decided from then on to challenge myself musically, got a band and went on from there learning musical theory.

How would you describe your sound?

Well we involve different genres, but to keep it simple I say alternative hiphop with rock and electronic fusion.

On "Hush," your new single, you have some elements of scream rock in there. How much of that element will be on your projects to come?

A lot. I am a big fan of post hardcore music. Beautiful melodies with screams I think are awesome.

I see you have heavy rock influences, and I agree about the beauty behind hardcore melodies, but how did you get into rock music and ultimately do rock music?

I promise you at the age of 7 or 8 I was getting dress in the morning to Nirvana and Pearl Jam going to school. Rock has always been my first love, when I first saw Kurt Cobain on MTV Music Awards, I knew I wanted to be a rock star but as a black kid in an all-Black school I didn't want to get picked on or those weird stares because I was different, so I hid my passion. But now I embrace it.

How'd you hook up with Tragedy Called Truth? The energy they have is crazy!

I met them through my bass player JT Thomas and we have been friends ever since. We tour together, they are my studio and live band, couldn't ask for better friends.

What has the Atlanta indie scene been like for you?

I love it, there are some amazing bands in Atlanta, some dicky venues but we will keep our mouths shut about them haha!

What's been the biggest obstacle as an indie artist? I ask because I spoke with quite a few other Atlanta musicians and they tend to lean towards generating a fanbase outside of other musicians. Is that a problem for you, or are there other things you have to focus on?

When I look at my fanbase on facebook, I have fans in Austria, Zambia and United Kingdom, so if your music reaches then people all over will love it. My biggest issue is funding because we want to tour, but that costs money. We want to be in a nice studio, but that costs money. We want to be packaged nice and pretty, but it costs money. Everything costs money and we don't have a label, so we fund everything ourselves - so we are taking applications for investors haha!

Complete this sentence: when you come to a PlanetRAWK show, look out for flying monkeys because they always happens to find themselves on stage.

How can people keep up with you, social media-wise?

Download a copy of my new single at and donate what you can to help us fund touring cost. Also, and Twitter at @planetrawk

A Justin Bieber Movement We All Can Agree On!

Congress is at their anti-music freedom antics again. Does the corrupted ever sleep?! Plus, this is looking like it could sweep anyone off of YouTube cover fame, including Justin Bieber.

It's S. 978, the bill that can lock up folks for up to five years for using copyrighted material on the Web. OpenCongress summarizes it like this:
The Commercial Felony Streaming Act (S. 978) makes unauthorized web streaming of copyrighted content a felony with a possible penalty of up to 5 years in prison. Illegal streaming of copyrighted content is defined in the bill as an offense that "consists of 10 or more public performances by electronic means, during any 180-day period, of 1 or more copyrighted works" and has a total economic value, either to the copyright holder or the infringer, of at least $2,500.
While I feel like Justin Bieber should not be as popular as he actually is - in fact I would give him Jeff Cohen's fame over Sean Astin's fame (or as much as I could relate his musical content to Sloth from The Goonies as possible) - he should not be locked up for covering his favorite songs. Neither should Karmin, Greyson Chance or Melanie Fiona.

Thanks to the open-ended language of this bill, three hots and a cot for five years can go to not only YouTubers but to Tweeters, Facebook(ers), MySpace(rs), Google+ers, Pandora(ers), AmazonCloud(ers), GrooveShark(ers), SoundCloud(ers), folks who own iPhones, Androids and email accounts because it's the sharing of streaming media that could be illegal.

Thinking about it, and maybe stretching it a little, bumping the stream of the Danny Brown and Black Milk album on speaker phones and then someone joins in on the tunes could come with a five-year sentence. How awesome is that?!

Here's another slightly-stretched scenario: those who want to make their own variation of The Wobble, The Wu-Tang, The Artichoke, or whatever the hot new dance craze can get the silver bracelets too. Oh, and that cute video of the eight-year-old singing Nicki Minaj's "Super Bass?" Illegal.

While the pressure to protect artists from other people making money off of streaming music without the artist's permission is understandable, the impulsive extremity of this act is foolish. If someone were to steal anything I've written off this blog and post it on their sites as their words, I would be pissed. However, to do it with an adoration for my voice (and attribution), or to do it on the grounds of some editing of some sort, I would understand.

Here's what's being done. Fight for the Future has launched a Free Bieber campaign and a petition people can sign to stop the bill from going forth. Once you visit, the petition will pop up asking for your email address. The petition is spread throughout the website as well.

The idea of penalizing folks like Karmin, Beiber, etc for the same reasons (and then some) is radical. Given most musicians feel like they are as good as - if not better - than the next man, most folks who cover other artists do not look to profit off of their adoration. More than likely, they want to place themselves in their favorite artist's shoes in their covers. Show me a band that wants to purely profit off of covering another artist, and I'll show you the Wiz Khalifa costume Billy Gardell (Mike from Mike & Molly) plans on wearing this Halloween weekend.

Balkans Set to Bomb Awesomeness at CMJ 2011

Atlanta is running things at CMJ this year!

From hiphop like Senor Kaos to the rock n' roll ATL has grown to love, like the Balkans, this city is heading to NY with a strong Southern force.

Yesterday, much buzz surrounded Balkans with their set last night at the Lefse showcase. Folks can check out their next set Friday at the Kanine Records showcase. From what I hear, this could get as wild as some Ohio exotic farm owners (ok, maybe the Zanesville sheriffs?) as these guys are as much sensibly punk as they are charmingly pop as they are amusingly fun.

Speaking of wild times, I remember covering the Balkans when they released one of my favorite ATL-made songs this year "Edita V." We talked about how they got together (*slash* the high school story) and where did their name come from (which means "absolutely nothing whatsoever"), though this band means everything to ATL!

Click the link below to read on!

Balkans celebrate long-awaited 7" single release at Star Bar - Atlanta Local Music |

Going Mobile...

Well this isn't weird at all, is it?

The internet has went out (bad router), so the blog is now in the hands of an Android-powered device and Blogger app. This is a test to see how the posts are laid out via mobile blogging.

By the way, that's a picture of my scooter. Ain't he purrty?!

The show has to go on, ya know?

2011 A3C Festival Photos and Recap

I had the pleasure of doing double duty for A3C this year - holding it down for A3C (of course) and Frank151 Atlanta Backwoods. From many trips to Subway for an Anytober footlong to wacky odes to Trail Mix, I was pretty exhausted by the 3rd day of A3C-ing. Maybe I should save these anecdotes for the actual recap...

From meeting the female emcee of 9th Wonder's Jamla crew to witnessing Big Daddy Kane and Skoob Lover do their trademark dance, the twinkles in my eye never really left throughout all of A3C. Just about every performance I saw at A3C reminded me to never sleep on a hiphop festival merely because it is indeed a hiphop festival.

Not everyone (at least in Atlanta) got that memo. Although the headlining acts get bigger and bigger (mind you, this year's included Freeway, Random Axe, Big KRIT, Dead Prez, Big Daddy Kane), the city's consumption of A3C seems to stay the same, if not grow weaker. It felt like there was less enthusiasm and appreciation of the hiphop fuel A3C had, not to mention the other events tending to the needs of Atlanta's socialites conflicting with A3C's impact. Yeah, the Atlanta City Council awarded A3C with a proclamation for their hard work and diverse cultural programming, but the city itself seemed to yawn it off. 7 years later, and a proclamation by the Atlanta City Council, and they still have to compete with other people in bringing the biggest hiphop names to Atlanta on the first weekend of October? Come on, son!

Aside from all that, A3C continued to accomplished what most big events in Atlanta don't do - break wall(s). Usually people go to an event indirectly masked as certain people: press/media, up-and-coming artist, complete and total fan, socialite (can be V.I.P or groupie, but that's another blog post) and the performing act. Whereas most events, especially "Black Hollywood" events, keep things neatly organized to the point where everything seems fenced to machine-like actions and interactions, A3C doesn't do that at all. Instead, A3C will have you forget that you, the performing act, shouldn't act hysterical over another performing act. Or you, the press guy, shouldn't be so star-struck when a headliner is ready for pictures and questions in the media room. However, when hiphop is being hiphop - familial in all its cultural ways - wear as many masks as you can without being the festival creep.

The biggest highlights of A3C this year came from the most respected names in the entire hiphop community, as many of those cats were there. From Jarobi making a surprise appearance for Eternia's tribute to ATCQ's "Excursions" to a massive amount of white people obligingly yell "I'm down for running up on them crackers in they city hall" to MURS finally unleashing emotionally-deep material unto his fans to 9th Wonder and Dee-1 sit outside of downtown Atlanta's New Era store trade knowledge back and forth like the teachers they are, I don't know what else to actually say about A3C except the twinkle in my eye - you know, that twinkle that's similar to a life-opening experience, that twinkle - never left.

The twinkle didn't even leave when I did this ridiculous interview with the Ying Yang Twins!!! Check out Where My 40 Acres while you're at it too because those cats stayed on it.

I cannot escape without proper props to these blogs too! You must check out:

Write and Groove
Miss L's
Rhythmic Images
Natasha Williams Photography
Trill Talk Radio
iAm Classic Hip Hop

Artists you must check out because they killed it at A3C:

Jon Connor
Marz Lovejoy
Nikki Lynette (crazy how underrated she really is)
Boog Brown (read Nikki Lynette)
Phil Ade
The 5IVE
XV (again, read Nikki Lynette)
and really, go to A3C's website and look up all the other artist profiles because there're too many to name!

Check out my Frank151/A3C blog team coverage of A3C, including interviews with MURS, tabi Bonney, The ReMINDers, Eternia, Nikki Lynette, Ultrabeast, The 5IVE, Boog Brown, and more!

Also, my YouTube page has some great concert footage, including MURS' new joint "Remember to Forget" and Freeway's classic "What We Do"

And since you made it this far down the blog, and hopefully read all these words I've typed, check out this video I got of Ski Beatz with his band The Sensei's and Phil Ade getting it on the spot!


I often tussle with the belonging and the arrangement of different generations in hiphop. Where do I fit in? Is there even a post-hiphop generation? Did I really need to be alive to be part of the hiphop generation, or is there a nonchronological presence in hiphop that overrides the whole "we started it"/"we, the old heads" mantra? How much does age really matter?

After A3C, not even through the exploration of technological advances in the culture's preservation, I've found out that age is nothing but a number - as long as the community elders (the old heads) continue to build with the youngsters, and vice-versa. Face it, while vinyl will never die in hiphop, the younger generation will forever need to teach veteran DJs how to work the vinyl-to-USB transformation to the max. An old head will always have to teach young breakers proper and well-respected freezes.

A3C was a perfect example of all of that! From seeing breakers of all ages battle to hearing 9th Wonder and Dee-1 give advice to aspiring artists to watching a group like Dead Prez shout out a group like The ReMINDers as "family," the opportunity to dead my on-the-fence grappling of the Hiphop/Post-Hiphop generation(s) was there and ended it.

Big K.R.I.T is Performing at A3C 2011 (Retro Interview)

I am super excited for this year's A3C Festival in Atlanta! From Big Daddy Kane to Big K.R.I.T, it seems like all kinds of hiphop is coming down for the three-day festival.

In light of this year's coverage, here's an interview with Big K.R.I.T for AOL back in the "sometimes free doesn't mean you won't get paid" freelance days with their City's Best site. We went on and on about what he does when he's in town, but in this excerpt we talk about the day he got signed to Def Jam:
In such a short amount of time, we've heard your music go across the board. What's your ultimate goal as a musician?

Make music that people can relate to, something for all walks of life. I feel like as an artist, I'm supposed to paint all these pictures. So, I stay true to myself and do the right music and be original.

What was it like meeting Sha Money XL and the day you signed to Def Jam?

It was dope! Sha Money is a down-to-earth person. He has a respect for where I come from -- from nothing to a million-dollar signing -- it's like a homie kind of aspect. I ended up calling my father in the elevator like, "Pops, this is real!" It's Def Jam, the mecca of Hip-Hop, and to be from the Dirty South it was like we did it!
 Check out the rest of the interview on AOL City's Best.

Speaking of "best," best of luck to Big K.R.I.T on winning his first BET Hip Hop Award this year. Although not many people credit BET for serious award ceremonies, there's nothing like having a physical symbol of appreciation (because YouTube and Bandcamp hits can only mean so much). In other words, you can't really place Internet buzz on your mantle or trophy case. Good luck Big K.R.I.T!

This Examiner Interview with Lucy Dreams: Life for Young Musicians!

Music is indeed getting younger and younger, in age, not necessarily in style and technique. Communication between older and younger generations - and older and younger techniques - generally goes from old to young and hardly ever vice-versa. The cycle will continue for pop culture, and generally the same for hiphop and punk within mainstream realms.
Interviewing Lucy Dreams for Examiner reminds me that not all fresh meat musicians have complete sponges for minds because of how eloquently they speak and how hard they work on their music. Not that they don't need to listen to their elders - I'm sure they do - but they seem like they haven't arrived to the sea of music as dry sponges ready to soak up whatever they can. In this excerpt I talk to Lucy Dreams, who came together while they were still in high school, about their textured sound and how they form their music:
Does your sound come about organically? Do you try to form the right music and notes?

When we’re practicing we do play around until something comes out right, we rarely ever bring something prepared to practice. The songwriting process is very organic compared to our sound because of how we jam. What isn’t really organic is the actual sonic sound of our music. That’s a little more conscious on our part. We have this idea, not really exact, but a vague idea of what we want our sound to be. Being a band that’s so focused on the textures and wash of everything, it can be kind of tough for our shows too. Getting something like that to sound just right, especially with all the pedals, that’s a lot of work.

I noticed that throughout your performance you guys were going back and forth with the pedals and the knobs. You guys worked the hell out of tweaking your sound onstage!

Yeah, we kinda were. Whenever there’s nothing to do though, I’m like “eh, I bet this will sound better,” and start messing with the sound.

It was really interesting watching that, and watching your sound unfold. Can you guys describe what your sound or where it’s going?

It’s textured. It’s atmospheric. I think the idea of it is to not be simply chords and notes, but invoke something more than that. The noises that you’re hearing set different kinds of moods. It’s more than just the backing of our vocals. In fact, it’s the other way around – the vocals are the backing of our noises.

You speak so well about music. Are you guys still in school? You look so young!

No, well, we’re in Georgia State. Except Dani’s still in high school, she’s a junior.
 Continue reading on Get to know: Lucy Dreams - Atlanta Local Music |