Changes to the monthly competitions

Hi and welcome back to Amazing OurStage. We want to let you know that there will be changes to the prizes we are offering. Every month will be different.
This month we are awarding prizes of $100 to winners of the competition finals. In the future there will be prizes to help your musical career. Check back to find out.

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Soundcheck: Tito Lopez–Raising The Bar

Every now and then, an artist emerges who reminds us that hip hop isn’t dead—an artist who revives the lyricism, storytelling, and passion that once made the art of rap so powerful; an artist who epitomizes the hunger, the drive, and the inspiration it takes to write songs that turn to classics and make hits that speak to generations.

Tito Lopez is that artist. And he knows it.

The 24-year-old Gulfport, Miss. native has been a quiet storm of talent for years, making his debut with Impatiently Waiting in 2008. He’s been gaining momentum after the release of his 15th mix tape, The Lost Files of Tito Lopez: Reloaded, heated up the streets with a stellar single and video, “Mama Proud”. He’s been heating up even more since a slew of successful appearances, one pretty heavy co-signer, and his latest mix tape, Hunger Games dropped Thursday.

“Kids that fight to the death, is a fucked up premise behind the movie, but that’s what hip-hop does,” he says.  “I want to bring back that competitive spirit in hip-hop.  There’s no distinct sound like back in the day. That’s really my mind state.”

Continue reading ‘Soundcheck: Tito Lopez–Raising The Bar’

Soundcheck: Who Is Mac Miller?

You may have heard one of his mixtapes, or perhaps you’ve stumbled upon his uber-popular YouTube channel, but chances are, if you don’t know Mac Miller already, you soon will.

Malcolm McCormick—better known as Mac Miller and before that, EZ Mac—is the nineteen-year-old leader of Pittsburgh’s fastest-growing, grass-smoking, grass-roots rap uprising since, well, Wiz Khalifa. He followed the footsteps of his hometown hero to launch an independent career that rivals that of rappers’ twice age with ten times his budget.  Miller joined Khalifa on Rukkus Records in 2010, and has since enjoyed a quick rise to the top of the charts—first with his mixtape K.I.D.S., inspired by the 1995 movie of the same name then with another mix tape released in March, Best Day Ever, which included the current buzz-worthy single “Donald Trump” and featured production from Just Blaze, 9th Wonder and Chuck Inglish.

His debut album, Blue Slide Park sold 144,000 units in its first week, staking a claim at the No. 1 spot on the Billboard 200. It marked the first time an independent artistdebuted at No. 1 since Tha Dogg Pound did it in 1995. While some were quick to cast him off as another pot-smking white kid who makes silly songs, something tells me he’s smarter than the average stoner.

Quickly courted by major labels, Miller chose to stick to the independent route. ”I never really got far enough to see an offer for real,” Mac said in November. “I got no hatred towards major labels or anything. I never got a chance to hear what they had to say. We just really wanted to stick with our home team and keep it in the family.”

Continue reading ‘Soundcheck: Who Is Mac Miller?’

Soundcheck: ‘Rolling Papers’ Gets High Marks

Fans rarely realize that while some new artists seem to shoot to the top overnight, most of them have been at it for years. Hip hop’s current “it” boy, Wiz Khalifa is no exception. Last week, he released Rolling Papers, giving Britney a run for her money by landing in second place with a respectable 197,000 sold in its first week.  While Rolling Papers is Khalifa’s first major-label debut, it’s far from his first time around the block. At 23, the Pittsburgh native—born Cameron Jibril Thomaz—has nine mixtapes and two albums under his belt, and a grass-roots fan base that’s been loyal from the start, helping to launch this homegrown hero into mainstream super-stardom.

After his first mixtape, Prince of the City: Welcome to Pistolvania hit the streets in 2005, he released his debut album, Show and Prove in 2006, making Rolling Stone’s coveted “Artist To Watch” list. He signed with Warner Bros. the following year and released two more mixtapes Grow Season and Prince Of The City 2 under Rostrum Records. The label released his single, “Oh Yeah”, which made the Hot Rap charts, but failed to get his slated debut release, First Flight off the ground.  After the release of two more mixtapes, Star Power and Flight School, he left the label in 2009 andreleased his second album, Deal or No Deal the same year. That summer, he teamed up with Curren$y for their mixtape, How Fly and followed up with another solo mixtape, Burn After Rolling.

By this time, the underground hip hop circuit predicted Wiz would go big, and mainstream critics were starting to catch on as well.  He made XXL’s annual Freshman Class cover alongside J. Cole, and was named “Rookie Of The Year” by The Source. Wiz wowed the crowd when he performed at SXSW and headlined a 50-city tour with Shady records newbie, Yelawolf. He offered up his ninth mixtape, Kush and Orange Juice for free download and sent labels clamoring to sign him.  He ultimately chose to ink a deal with Atlantic Records, who released his Steelers anthem, “Black and Yellow” at Number 1 on the Hot 100 chart, eventually going triple platinum.

Khalifa has proved his authenticity time and again, staying true to his grass-loving, grass roots style.  His arrest last year (for possessing over two ounces of marijuana on his tour bus) proved the image is more than smoke and mirrors.  His swagger was even enough to spark the attention of rumored fiancée, Amber Rose. Kanye’s ex admitted she never knew of Wiz’s music until she met him, but now calls him a “genius”.  Rose has become a hip-hop icon of sorts in her own right, carving a career out of, well—nothing.  At the very least, she’s a bona fide contender for hottest hip hop girlfriend, so in that regard—Wiz is winning on all counts.

Finally, the Taylor Gang, (his loyal fan base) and the rest of the world have their hands on Rolling Papers, and it seems the goods couldn’t come soon enough.  The album’s lead single, “I’ll Roll Up” is in heavy rotation and his follow up, “No Sleep” is right on its heels.  Khalifa is currently featured on “The Weed Iz Mine” alongside fellow ganja lover and constant collaborator, Snoop Dogg. The song is already a smash among the stoner circle with the video in heavy rotation, and appears on Snoop’s latest LP, The Doggumentary. The two plan to bridge the generation gap between old school and new school hip hop, offering themselves up as the Cheech & Chong of our generation in their upcoming film, High School. The movie starts shooting next month and will be accompanied by a full-length soundtrack.  Until then, Wiz will be riding high…

NEW OURSTAGE TALENT PLAYLIST

Each month, thousands of artists in every genre of music upload their music to OurStage. And even though variety is the spice of life, the most avid music fan would be daunted by the task of listening to all of this music in order to discover the next big thing.  So, to help you find your new favorite band, we put together a playlist highlighting some of the talented new additions to the OurStage family. This playlist will take you all over the world — from America to Argentina, Scotland to Indonesia and Australia to Sweden (twice!) — so pack your bags, put on your headphones and get going!
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[playlist artist_name="The Bamboos" artist_url="http://www.ourstage.com/fanclub/thebamboos" song_name="Step It Up feat. Alice Russell" song_url="http://www.ourstage.com/play/track/TTTBQLGLPKUT-step-it-up-feat-alice"]
Stay by: Oh My!
[playlist artist_name="El Grito Ska" artist_url="http://www.ourstage.com/fanclub/elgritoska" song_name="Malditos Cobran" song_url="http://www.ourstage.com/play/track/EYDEUISKQGIV-malditos-cobran"]
We Come From The Same by: The Duke
[playlist artist_name="You Say France & I Whistle" song_name="Cats" artist_url="http://www.ourstage.com/fanclub/yousayfrance" song_url="http://www.ourstage.com/play/track/VHGAAPYFACWN-cats"]
Prince Louis by: The Japanese Mafia
[playlist artist_name="My Dear Disco" artist_url="http://www.ourstage.com/fanclub/mydeardisco" song_name="White Lies" song_url="http://www.ourstage.com/play/track/RKFQIFYHXRTT-white-lies"]
Love and Life by: OhNina!
[playlist artist_name="Chasing Canadia" artist_url=http://www.ourstage.com/fanclub/chasingcanadia" song_name="Tides" song_url="http://www.ourstage.com/play/track/FIAGNLWEPWYZ-tides"]

Melodious Melody Gardot

I had no idea what to expect when I moseyed my way over the the Waterside Stage on Saturday afternoon to see Melody Gardot. At the age of 19, Melody was disabled after being hit by a car while riding her bike. Her doctor encouraged her to explore music and songwriting to aid in her cognitive and memory repair. On Wikipedia her bio said she walked with a cane, used a special chair while playing to help alleviate pain from numerous pelvic fractures, wore dark sunglasses to combat a sensitivity to light and also endured a hypersensitivity to noise and sound. Imagine my astonishment when I walked into the (completely packed) tent and saw this ….

It wasn’t even that she looked like an average musician so much as something out of a fashion magazine! And not only was she jarringly poised and gorgeous – but she was funny. When she moved from her piano to play a piece on the guitar she asked an audience member to hold her a giant crystal ring that had been on her finger. She tossed the ring into the front row and it landed at the feet of an older woman who scurried to pick it up. “Now we’ll have to get married” she said – and went on to joke about how that would be possible if they moved to California together.

It is amazing to think that this talented young woman is only in her mid 20’s and already host to an eclectic and mature body of work that manages to be self aware without leaning on her disability as a crutch. Supported by a band of incredibly talented musicians Melody Gardot’s set was sensual, clean and worldly. It was hard not to think of Billie Holiday as Melody swept the audience into her tune, “Love Me Like a River Does.” Labeled as the ‘next Norah Jones’ it is clear that Melody’s melodies will continue to make soulful waves in the music scene for many years to come.

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