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Getting Kinda Hectic


Every artist needs an editor. For some, the editor is the voice in their head telling them they don’t need 10 different parts in a song. For others, it’s a producer refining their material in the studio. But some people don’t have either, and when that happens, things get complicated. New Jersey singer/rapper Sheki is young, so she’s still learning the art of refinement. It’s hard to catch the hook through the dozens of layers and parts in the Caribbean club groove “Perfect Boy” or the disco-flecked “Go Outside,” but that may not stop anyone from dancing. The problem here isn’t with her singing or rapping ability, both are obvious. It’s the lack of focus of her arrangements that hurt the material. Synths, drum machines and ubiquitous back up choruses (on almost every line of every song) create a sort of unchained melody instead of the anthemic hooks that power most club bangers. Despite all that, Sheki’s energy, ambition and posi attitude go a long way in making her likeable. We expect good things from this lady, once she can harness her hooks.

Q&A with Jermaine Hall

This past summer VIBE Lifestyles Network acquired a defunct VIBE magazine with full intentions of returning the hip hop and R&B magazine to it’s former glory. Jermaine Hall was, decidedly, the man for the job. Hall began his publishing career at VIBE  as the webmaster in the late ’90s and later served as the Music Editor of The Source and Editor-In-Chief of KING Magazine. Drawing from his experience, Hall proved to be instrumental in the successful re-launch of the new and improved VIBE and this past November. Recently, he took some time to speak with OurStage about how VIBE has changed, what they’re looking for in new artists and what to expect in the coming months.

OS: About 7 months ago you were selected to lead the resurrection of VIBE and as the new Editor-In-Chief. What were your initial ideas and goals for reinventing the brand?

JH: The goal was to make a destination site on the web. The magazine had 16 years of rich history so I knew that the physical publication would pick up right where it left off. But the same urgency and loyalty that people felt towards the publication needed to be translated online. I also knew that depending on mass traffic to come through wasn’t a good strategy so figuring ways to get sideways traffic was crucial whether it was through social media or strategic partnerships. That’s why this partnership with makes sense.

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Introducing…HIP HOP HABIT

Rhythm, flow, verse, rhyme. Beats, bass, culture, time. Such elements have fueled the evolution of hip hop over the last 40 years, and continue to feed the genre today, right here on OurStage. Hip Hop Habit is a posting dedicated to bringing you, the true hip hop enthusiasts, your much needed weekly fix. Be it through diverse playlists of the freshest sonic concoctions our site has to offer, all encompassing reviews of an artist’s newest release, features or Q&A sessions with the hottest rappers in competition, you can rest easy knowing that your unrelenting addiction to this art form’s enchanting pulse will be adequately appeased. Below is a collection of all-star jams here on the site. Enjoy it for now, and prepare for next week’s column!

Needle in the Haystack: Blacklisted Individuals Follow Up

After a week of promotion on OurStage and MTV Music we caught up with Blacklisted Individuals. Check out their free download and MTV Music interview!

Watch the video below to see part of their SXSW performance as well as a few words from Da’Shade.

Download of the Week: Blacklisted Individuals

The Austin-based dynamic duo Blacklisted Individuals are back at it again with their trademark “everyday hip hop.”  Snyp and Da’Shade may be wowing the crowd in their hometown during this year’s SXSW but there also they’ve been keeping busy recording their upcoming EP, Working Title. Earlier this month Da’Shade spoke with Spinner and explained that the band’s driving force isn’t politics, but social commentary:

Around 2002 we decided that we were going to try to create our own lane and do music that was relevant to us, as well as the people that were around us going through the struggle. It didn’t seem like there was a lot of music out there representing the common class, the working class. Hip hop, with its competitive nature and the need to display the triumph, it was too flashy at the time. So we decided we were going to make music for people, period, end of discussion.

Blacklisted Individuals have earned several notable achievements on OurStage including a multiple Top 10 rankings, an Alternative Hip Hop Channel prize and a feature on Winamp. This week’s freebie, “Dance Sucka! (Street Mix),” shows off Snyp and Da’Shade’s ability to command the dance floor while encouraging community action at the same time. Not a bad combination at all for this week’s MTV Music “Needle in the Haystack” pick.

Liner Notes: Jahi – “The Realness”

One of hip hop’s unsung heroes is OurStage‘s own Alternative Hip Hop Channel stand out, Jahi. The Cleveland MC shrugs off the flash and cash that dominate the mainstream scene, using his music as a way to give back to the community. Not surprisingly, Jahi’s incredible, down-to-earth mentality comes as a breath of fresh air.  With 10 albums under his belt since 2000, Jahi’s hard work and soulful, old school hip hop style has not gone unnoticed he’s shared the stage with hip hop all stars such as Jay-Z, Outkast and Missy Elliott. “The Realness” is a track that best illustrates Jahi’s dedication to his roots. On this week’s Liner Notes, he explains the story behind the song.

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50 States In 50 Weeks…Week 39: Delaware

Fun Facts: State Flower: Peach Blossom, State Song: “Our Delaware,” State Colors: Colonial Blue and Buff

Home of: Boysetsfire, The Spinto Band, Valerie Bertinelli

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VIBE Picks Dujeous for Editorial Feature and Returns to OurStage for March

Last month over 700 artists competed for a shot at being featured on in the “Your Music on” Channel. Holding the Number 2 spot on the charts was an action-packed NYC hip hop band by the name of Dujueos with their track “Spectacular.” The group has a solid record on OurStage’s Alternative Hip Hop Channel with two Number 1 monthly titles and a Number 1 hip hop video. It’s no surprise that this band, who’s opened for the likes of Kanye West, Busta Rhymes, Funkadelic and John Legend, would catch the eyes (and ears) of the editorial staff at VIBE. After finding out about their big win Taylor, the band’s guitarist, was bursting with excitement: “OurStage is a great place for indie artists to get discovered.  We are really happy about winning the upcoming feature and are glad that people are hearing and feeling our music.” Keep checking for more on Dujueous.

Wait, there’s more! VIBE is returning to OurStage again this month to scout for more new rising superstars in the urban music scene. Hip hop and R&B artists should enter their original songs the “Your Music on” Channel for a chance to be featured in one of the urban music scene’s most popular online destinations. One artist will be selected from the Top 10 by staff at VIBE to receive a Q&A and streaming music premiere on in addition to a music critique from the president of G-Unit Records, Sha Money XL, and the all-star producer Hi-Tek (Talib Kweli, Common, 50 Cent)

For more information visit

Beat Kangz Independent Artist Challenge Returns to OurStage for March

Last month Beat Kangz launched the “Beat Kangz Independent Artist Challenge” for urban, pop and electronic artists to celebrate the introduction of Beat Thang and Beat Thang Virtual — revolutionary beat making solutions. Over 700 OurStage artists competed for the grand prize, a music critique by the GRAMMY award-winning producer Rockwilder (50 cent, Jay-Z, Eminem) along with Beat Thang and a copy of Beat Thang Virtual from Beat Kangz Electronics. Congrats to the Number 1 ranking artist in the channel, Jarell Perry, who was named the grand prize winner for his song “My Life.” Other members of the channel’s Top 5 will  receive a copy of Beat Thang Virtual — preloaded with a library of over 3,000 sounds recorded by Beat Kangz — as well as a free year of and over 50 royalty-free beats made by super producer Rockwilder.

If you didn’t get to compete in last’s month competition, don’t worry. Beat Kangz are giving artists another chance to win this groundbreaking gear! The Top 5 ranked artists in this month’s “Beat Kangz Independent Artist Challenge” will be eligible to win Beat Thang with Beat Thang Virtual in addition to a music critique by Rockwilder. Urban, pop and electronic artists are invited to submit their best original songs before March 23rd. For more information on rules and entering visit

Be sure to check out music from last month’s winners.


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