Zo!’s Top Five Moments of 2011 – #4 First Videos Placed in Rotation

Valentine’s Day 2011 – I had just returned home from the school (or “that PLACE” as I would call it) after a typical day of working as a student bodyguard (a/k/a a teacher) and proceeded to send texts to numerous people in my phone letting them know that If they were close to home, pull up in front of the TV real quick and turn on VH1 Soul at 6pm EST… My video for “This Could Be the Night” was set to make its second television appearance (It was run at 10am earlier in the day). I was very promptly informed by my mother who called that morning and left a super excited voicemail, “It came on! Your video was on this morning!!” (To this DAY, she either emails or sends me a text whenever she happens to catch my video) Her voicemail was then accompanied by several texts and tweets that said the same thing. To me, this was pretty exciting being as though prior to the release of SunStorm, I had no videos. We shot footage for “This Could Be the Night” in June of last year. At the time of the shoot, I was told that the final product would be included in the MTV Networks rotation a/k/a VH1 Soul at a later date… after several steps were completed, so I thought to myself, “Just be patient, it’ll show up.” Hell, most times I would pretty much just put it out of my mind for long periods of time so I wouldn’t have to think about it. This was a fairly important accomplishment for me because a producer is normally more behind the scenes and not necessarily looked at as a “frontman.”As a matter of fact, there have been people who I have run into who had been listening to my music for some years, but barely knew what I looked like. So even just for visual’s sake, I felt that a video would be a great look… After seeing the final cut of the video, I was extremely satisfied with the result and couldn’t wait until folks would be able to see me, the crew, and hear my music on a channel that they were familiar with. When the video finally DID air, I stood up so that I was basically positioned in the middle of the living room floor, grabbed the Verizon cable remote and mashed my thumb on the “Volume +” button, which resulted in the TV blaring throughout my house. From there, I was just kinda staring motionless at the screen as if it was the first time I had ever seen my own video… I know that YouTube and other video-based sites are now almost as relevant as television, but there’s still something about seeing and hearing your work of art being displayed on TV that is still rather fascinating to me (you can tell this is my first televised video, huh?). I got on the phone with my parents and spoke with them while one of my cousins called me and screamed into the phone as if she saw me performing at the Super Bowl during halftime. If I remember correctly, the video ran right after The Foreign Exchange’s video for “Maybe She’ll Dream Of Me” – Definitely a surreal moment.

During the space of time that in which I was waiting for “This Could Be the Night” to air, I was contacted by some of vocalist Conya Doss’ people to meet with them about possibly co-starring in a video of hers (“All In You”) that they were set to shoot in November, 2010… Wow, word? Now that was something different and completely unexpected… I’m definitely no actor, nor had I ever been specifically asked to appear in someone’s video before. Regardless, I set up a meeting with them and talked about the “good guy” role I would be playing in the video and I agreed to do it. I ended up shooting the scenes for my part in a day… The next thing I knew, I had “This Could Be the Night” in rotation… and was simultaneously co-starring in another video that was also being run on television. NOW, I get texts and emails from moms that look something like this… “Both videos were on today… Your video came on at 20-after and your acting video came on at 45 after…” (She passes along the times because she knows that the video shows run the videos in the same order each time they air that particular day). That’s her all DAY… Super informative #1 fan.

“Greater Than the Sun” was a video that Phonte and I discussed shooting early on in the planning process of the album, simply because we knew how easy and stress-free it would probably be. When we eventually shot the video back in February, it was the easiest for kats to shoot… we were in Atlanta for a hot second, shot, and rolled out – AND I had some Zaxby’s while on the set!! BUT on the other hand, it has been the most difficult to get into rotation due to editing issues… The most interesting piece to me and my sense of humor is reading the comments made via YouTube as some think that Phonte is the one driving the car, somebody else thinks that Kareem Johnson produced the song and not the video… It kinda had me thinking, “Well shit… What do folks think I do anyway?” haha …Phonte isn’t driving to go and pick himself up from his house in the video! lol Maaaaan, a brovah can’t get credit for shit! LOL But I love how the bright video directly reflects the mood and the content of the song… Perhaps one day soon we’ll be able to enjoy the second video from SunStorm on TV as well…… Two outta three ain’t bad… That’s two more I had on TV this time last year!

Playing the Talkbox on The Foreign Exchange’s “Don’t Wait” – 08.09.10

I thought it would be fun to record myself laying down the first layer of talkbox vocals for The Foreign Exchange’s “Don’t Wait” track from their album Authenticity. This didn’t end up being the final take, but it’s very close… Those of you who have played around on the talkbox before can truly understand the musicianship and craft of the late Roger Troutman. He did this for a LIVING. Wow… Huge respect, and enjoy!

Studio Campfire Stories: The "SunStorm" Edition – "This Could Be the Night" and "Flight of the Blackbyrd"

9. This Could Be the Night (feat. Eric Roberson, Darien Brockington & Rapper Big Pooh)
The funny thing about making music, or art for that matter is that you never know what you’re sitting on. I had been sitting on this drum pattern for about 2 or 3 years not knowing what to do with it… just the bare drums exactly how you hear them in the final song. It was something that I would listen to every quarter or so, mess around with it, get mad with what I recorded and scrap it altogether. I had even done a song where that drum pattern’s tempo was cut in HALF… It just still wasn’t there yet. FINALLY, one day during the recording of SunStorm, I finally came up with a chord progression that I was happy with and actually kept it! But the joint had been sitting for so long that even when I found the progression that worked, I was still skeptical. Even when I would include it on a CD with the rest of the album formulated around it as just an instrumental, I would think, “It will get life once vocals are recorded on it.” I ended up tracking it out and sending it through to Phonte so we could have the usual “who do you think would fit on this joint” talk. We talked about Erro (Eric Roberson) being a part of the album pretty much from the beginning… in fact, when I first met him back in December 2007 in Chicago, we spoke about working together, but it just never came together……

The first time I heard vocals on the joint, it was Phonte demoing the hook that he wrote for it. That is what changed my whole perspective… “WOW, this may become a JOINT!” The next version I heard was Darien’s verse and his re-singing of the hook…. Ok, now we’re getting somewhere. The NEXT version I heard was of Erro’s verse and hook. We then combined that with D. Brock’s and dammit we had a song!… It wasn’t done yet though… My two brothas FROM Little Brother decided to pull a ‘fast one’ on me… So after receiving the next draft of vocals, I heard the ‘announcer’ list the performers. Eric Roberson… check, Darien Brockington, check… The Rapper Big Pooh…. HOL’LUP, WORD?! I actually brought it back some so make sure I was hearing it correctly… NICE! At that point, I had know idea. So of course, once Big Pooh’s verse came on, I damn near started partying in the studio because the joint was RIGHT on time and was an excellent addition to the song. Eight bars of energy, where the music drops and it’s just he and the drums mainly… The change follows behind with D. Brock for four bars and right back into the closing hook and vamp… All of a sudden, this 2 to 3 year drum pattern had a promising pulse. Once again, you NEVER know what your music or art may become. I can never really explain it straight up… I can only continue to share these stories with you all and allow you to find out for yourselves.

Oh and make sure you read the story behind the making of the video for “This Could Be the Night” as well…


10. Flight Of the Blackbyrd (ft. Phonte)
The actual motivation behind this song is pretty interesting. Those who know me personally understand that I am pretty laid back for the most part, but that I am very competitive. It is part of my personality, it’s a motivator for me, and I guess it’s simply just the way I am wired. Hell, I played baseball through college so it was a NECESSARY trait if anything and I definitely have not “grown out of it”. The reason why I remember the exact date of my creating this song is because another one of my brothers and great friends in music, Nicolay released his excellent City Lights 2: Shibuya album. Where’s the connection? Well, I haven’t even told Nic this… But I remember sitting at the computer and logging on to Twitter and seeing everyone talking about the new City Lights 2 album. So I’m reading, retweeting the album link, checking out all the positive comments…. and it hit me. My competitive side began to talk shit to me…

“Uhhh… what the hell are YOU doing right now?! Your people are releasing dope albums and you’re sitting up on TWITTER. GET yo punk ass in the studio!!” © My Competitive Conscience

This is yet another advantage to working closely with kats who are so great at what they do, because it causes you to HAVE to be on point at all times. I put my computer to sleep and walked into the studio and a drum pattern just kinda came to me (higher power) that happened to be written in 3/4… Hmmmm, that’s kinda different already. The chord progression soon followed and not too long after that, a “B” part (a section where there is a change in the music – kind of a “part 2”). I laid the song out FULLY, the intro piece, main part, the piano solo, the percussion breakdown (where I used percussion instruments that I bought specifically for the “Perfect Angel” remake), and the B part. …I got Phonte on the phone and told him I would be sending a new one through. I sent him the instrumental and heard nothing back……………

…The next morning, I woke up to a text at about 6:55am……

Phonte: You at the crib?

Me:Yeah

P:
SENT.

M:Got it… putting it on the iPod and listening on the way to the craziness (a/k/a WORK)

P: Nigga, call/text/IM/two-way/smoke signal me as SOON as you finish that shit

Maaaan, look. There are some songs that you listen to the first minute or two of them and know you’re sitting on something special… THIS was that song. As soon as I heard Phonte’s vocals come in, I was like… “This is it, this shit is CRAZY.” I called him right back on the way to work and we were hyped up about this new joint… and the ideas started pouring. The next thing I know, here’s a final version of the song with trumpeter Stan Graham goin’ off on the joint with Phonte doing horn arrangements. DOPE. Overall, this joint took us the least amount of time to complete… Less than a day.

Musically, this was my “show off” joint all because my competitive side took over for a minute. Thanks to my FE family for pushing me to make music like this joint in particular and not even realizing it! lol

Studio Campfire Stories: The "SunStorm" Edition – "Be Your Man" and "Free Your Mind"


5. Be Your Man (feat Darien Brockington)
Musically, the instrumental for “Be Your Man” was one of those joints that just kinda came to me. I vividly remember arranging the drum track first because at the time my intention was to lay something slower and also very simple… So I laid a simple ‘one-two’ or ‘march’ pattern for the drums at first. But in playing around with the pattern a little more, I ended up bringing the rimshot in simply for the additional nod factor and purposely left the hi-hat out (I actually experimented with an eighth note hi-hat pattern but hated how it sounded, it didn’t work at all). The chord progression was something that I worked out through playing around on the keys, it wasn’t planned… It was definitely a feeling, and I liked how it moved – pretty, but contrastingly dark. Once the progression was found and practiced, I played the chord stabs and allowed them to act as the eighth-note hi-hat rhythm instead of using an actual hi-hat. The live bass served as the glue for the music and the spacey sounding pad was the additional ‘candy’ and it was to my liking… still simple and now more mysterious. Once I sent this piece to Phonte and we got on the phone about it, he already had in his head that D. Brock was the man for the job, which completely worked since at that point Brock didn’t have a feature on the album yet.

Now, I wasn’t there for the writing process and recording session that took place for “Be Your Man” but according to Phonte, he and Darien were able to return to their circa 2003-2004 writing form by locking themselves in the studio for a night and knocking out a masterpiece. I mean if you listen, the vocal arrangement and harmonies are vintage Darien and Phonte. When he told me that, my mind immediately went to their writing efforts for FE’s “Come Around.” Understanding how much I dig that song, it made me proud beyond words as a producer to have had a hand in bringing Phonte and Darien Brockington back to their co-writing comfort zone they had abandoned for a few years. Phonte sent the the joint attached to a message that simply read, “Hit me back when you check this.” Of course, once I got the song back with D’s vocals on it… I hit Phonte back with the ever-so-popular, “The-hell-were-y’all-DOING-in-the-studio?!-DAMN!!” phone call.


6. Free Your Mind (feat. Lady Alma)
Lady Alma and I have a history that dates back to the good ole MySpace days. We would correspond off and on as early as 2005, always saying that we should be getting together to work on something soon… Fast forward to September 2009, she happened to have a gig in D.C. and The ELs were the band that was set to back her up for it. We had a rehearsal scheduled up at Rock Creek Academy (the school where I teach music) and while we were getting set up and running through a couple of her joints, Alma happened to be running pretty late. Now, the primary reason why I knew we would get along so well was pretty simple. For the entire duration of our rehearsal, I was lacing her with direct and indirect jokes about being so late… Because in my slightly twisted opinion, if I can joke with you and on you at a rehearsal even when we first meet, then you’re alright with me – that is definitely a gauge that I utilize. And low and behold ever since that day of rehearsal, we’ve been good friends.

On top of being a great person… Lady Alma can SAING …YES… SAING, with an “I”. This was extremely evident once we hit that stage with her the following night at Station 9 in D.C. The band consisted of Biscuit on the drums, Omar Hunter on bass, myself on keys, and Lady A on vocals, jokes, ackkin a fool and entertainment. She was all over that space during her performance all while singing her ASS off. I remember calling Phonte sometime that week and telling him that I needed to get her to do something for the album. As a matter of fact, Alma and I talked that weekend and I told her that I would construct something especially for her that would be intended for SunStorm. Since I had a drum pattern in my head already at that time, it didn’t take too much longer to put the music together for her. After recording it, I sent it through to Phonte just to get another opinion on it, and sent it to Lady Alma – We actually started tweeting each other about my sending the song to her. I remember her calling me and saying that I was ADD because of all of the different changes contained in the piece. LOL Once she recorded the joint and sent is back to me, I was thoroughly satisfied and she was just as humble as anyone I’ve ever worked with. After sending the draft version of the song, she was texting me asking my opinion… almost nervously! I got her on the phone and assured her that she had absolutely NOTHING to worry about, I mean damn… vocally, she showed no mercy on that song. Another thing that I LOVE about her performance on the song is that the first time I heard it, I said to myself… “Welp, that’s Lady Alma.” Meaning, her personality is all spilling over in this joint… “Let me lay it back a lil bit…” <— THAT’S Alma. “Plus I know you wanna hear a little bit of this, Zo”…then she just starts scatting. Word? THAT’S Alma! I was able to vividly picture her performing this song live as I was listening to it – now that’s a great performance.

Once again, as a producer I felt accomplished because she stated that the track really made her work (hence the “Zo…. I’ma get you for this one” line in the song). It is an awesome feeling to be able to stretch artists’ abilities who are already experienced and extremely talented with my music…

Zo! – SunStorm (2010) FULL Album Credits

ZoSunStormCoverArt

Zo!
SunStorm

PURCHASE ALBUM
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01. Greater Than The Sun featuring Phonte
Produced by Zo! for Chapter 3hree, Verse 5ive Music (BMI)
Written by Phonte Coleman for Daddy’s New Bowtie (ASCAP)
Vocals recorded and mixed by Khrysis
All Instruments by Zo!
Mixed by Zo!
Recorded at East Wing Studios, Silver Spring, MD and the Chopp Shopp, Durham, NC

02. Greatest Weapon Of All Time featuring Sy Smith
Produced by Zo! for Chapter 3hree, Verse 5ive Music (BMI)
Written by Sy Smith for Sybersong Publishing (ASCAP)
Vocals Arranged and Produced by Sy Smith
Vocals Recorded and Mixed by Grant Nochols
All Instruments by Zo!
Mixed by Zo!
Recorded at East Wing Studios, Silver Spring, MD and Rumbo Studios, Winnetka, CA

03. Say How You Feel featuring Phonte & Carlitta Durand
Produced by Zo! for Chapter 3hree, Verse 5ive Music (BMI)
Written by Phonte Coleman for Daddy’s New Bowtie (ASCAP) and Carlitta Durand for Durand Music Group (ASCAP)
Vocals by Phonte & Carlitta Durand
All Instruments by Zo!
Recorded and Mixed by Zo! at East Wing Studios, Silver Spring, MD

04. For Leslie
Produced by Zo! for Chapter 3hree, Verse 5ive Music (BMI)
All Instruments by Zo!
Flute by Claudia Hayden
Recorded and Mixed by Zo! at East Wing Studios, Silver Spring, MD

05. Be Your Man featuring Darien Brockington
Produced by Zo! for Chapter 3hree, Verse 5ive Music (BMI)
Written by Darien Brockington for Neidar Music Group (ASCAP) and Phonte Coleman for Daddy’s New Bowtie (ASCAP)
Vocals by Darien Brockington
Background Vocals by Phonte
All Instruments by Zo!
Guitar Solo by Chris Boerner
Mixed by Zo!
Recorded at East Wing Studios, Silver Spring, MD and The Peanut Gallery, Raleigh, NC

06. Free Your Mind featuring Lady Alma
Produced by Zo! for Chapter 3hree, Verse 5ive Music (BMI)
Written by A-Drenaline for Sopo Publishing (ASCAP)
Vocals by Lady Alma
Background Vocals by The Lady Alma Choral Ensemble (Lady Alma & Preston Branch)
Vocals Recorded by Roscoe “Plug-In”Murphy
All Instruments by Zo!
Mixed by Focus…
Recorded at East Wing Studios, Silver Spring, MD and WHODUNIT Studios, Philadelphia, PA

07. SunStorm featuring YahZarah
Produced by Zo! for Chapter 3hree, Verse 5ive Music (BMI)
Written by Phonte Coleman for Daddy’s New Bowtie (ASCAP) and YahZarah for She’s A Ladybug (ASCAP)
Vocals by YahZarah
Additional Vocals by Phonte, Darien Brockington & Jesse Boykins III
Vocals Recorded and Mixed by Phonte
All Instruments by Zo!
Mixed by Zo!
Recorded at East Wing Studios, Silver Spring, MD and The Peanut Gallery, Raleigh, NC

08. If I Could Tell You No featuring Jesse Boykins III
Produced by Zo! and Phonte for Chapter 3hree, Verse 5ive Music/+FE Music LLC
Written by Phonte Coleman for Daddy’s New Bowtie (ASCAP)
Vocals by Jesse Boykins III
All Instruments by Zo!
Trumpet by Stan Graham
Mixed by Zo!
Recorded at East Wing Studios, Silver Spring, MD and The Peanut Gallery, Raleigh, NC

09. This Could Be The Night featuring Eric Roberson, Darien Brockington & Rapper Big Pooh
Produced by Zo! for Chapter 3hree, Verse 5ive Music (BMI)
Written by Eric Roberson for Blue Erro Soul/EMI Music Publishing (ASCAP), Darien Brockington for Neidar Music Group (ASCAP), Thomas Jones for Big Pooh Music (ASCAP) & Phonte Coleman for Daddy’s New Bowtie (ASCAP)
Vocals by Eric Roberson, Darien Brockington & Rapper Big Pooh
Jive Talk by Scorpeze of Windimoto
Vocals Recorded and Mixed by Phonte
All Instruments by Zo!
Mixed by Zo!
Recorded at East Wing Studios, Silver Spring, MD and The Peanut Gallery, Raleigh, NC

10. Flight Of The Blackbyrd featuring Phonte
Produced by Zo! and Phonte for Chapter 3hree, Verse 5ive Music/+FE Music LLC
Written by Phonte Coleman for Daddy’s New Bowtie (ASCAP)
Vocals by Phonte
Vocals Recorded and Mixed by Phonte
All Instruments by Zo!
Trumpet by Stan Graham
Mixed by Zo!
Recorded at East Wing Studios, Silver Spring, MD and The Peanut Gallery, Raleigh, NC

11. All Is Well With Love featuring Chantae Cann
Produced by Zo! and Phonte for Chapter 3hree, Verse 5ive Music/+FE Music LLC
Written by Phonte Coleman for Daddy’s New Bowtie (ASCAP)
Vocals by Chantae Cann
Keys, Bass Guitar, and Cabasa by Zo!
Flugelhorn by Al Strong IV
Flute by Tim Smith
Trombone by Andrew Kleindienst
Congas and Wind Chimes by Brevan Hampden
Maracas and Additional Percussion by El Tigallo
Acoustic Guitar by Omar Hunter-El
Wood and Skins by “Biscuit” Bynum
Vocals Recorded and Mixed by Phonte
Mixed by Zo!
Recorded at East Wing Studios, Silver Spring, MD and The Peanut Gallery, Raleigh, NC

12. MakeLuv2Me featuring Monica Blaire
Produced by Zo! for Chapter 3hree, Verse 5ive Music (BMI)
Written by B. White for Vera’s Daughter (ASCAP)
Vocals by Monica Blaire
Vocals Recorded and Mixed by Shaphan “Maestro” Williams
All Instruments by Zo!
Mixed by Zo!
Recorded at East Wing Studios, Silver Spring, MD and Silent Riot Studios, Oak Park, MI

Mastered by Soiree Records

© 2010 Chapter 3hree, Verse 5ive, LLC/+FE Music, LLC

‘SunStorm’ lead single – “This Could Be the Night” Video Shoot

Leading up to Wednesday, June 23rd’s events, I kept reminding myself, “Self… You know what? You’re about to shoot a damn video…. woooooow.” This wasn’t some “It’s So Cold In the D” lookin’ video where it looks like they shot the footage from their cell phone and all of the extras are family members attempting to outshine even the star performer by fighting for face time. More like a video shot with all intentions of pushing it to household entertainment networks with the possibility of me and close friends and family being able to check us out on TV. It was told to me that I needed only one outfit for the shoot…. Just ONE?! Sheeeeeeeit… I packed a suit with two different shirts, three tie options and a black fedora. THEN I had couple more button-down shirts with slacks and a gray fedora. Now, let’s get this straight, rarely do I EVER overpack when I travel, but if there was any one time that I felt I had the right and the obligation to do so, this was it (*humbled* I later found out that I actually did only need one outfit for the shoot… but dammit, you couldn’t tell me nothin’ during my preparation). Anyway, I had my $3 Megabus ticket to Philly and was ready to get things moving.

I arrived in Philly at about 5pm on Tuesday, the day before the video shoot was to take place. I was picked up from 30th St. Station and taken to the hotel only a few exits past the airport. I immediately changed clothes for the gym and realized my ‘overpackedness’ did not carry over into my workout regiment as I forgot the shoes that I workout in… Therefore, I was forced to run on the elliptical in my damn shelltoe Adidas. Let’s just say I broke that 30 minutes of cardio up into two 15 minute intervals as my feet began to scream for mercy… Ironically, I completely erased any future results of my workout by inhaling a strong Cadillac Margarita and chasing that with a well done cheeseburger… :-\ (Joint was GREAT too…).

Staying up late equated to me waking up later than I wanted to. I set the alarm for 8:30a and didn’t even end up crawling outta the bed until about 9:30a to texts and missed calls from those who I had personally invited to the shoot making sure that I had a few more familiar faces in the spot being as though I knew I wouldn’t know most of the extras. I knew that they were gonna be set to shoot Erro’s (Eric Roberson) part first at about 10:30a and being as though I have never even set FOOT onto a video set, I wanted to be around to take everything in. It wasn’t until I woke up fully that I realized…. “Shit, the NC crew a/k/a “my ride to the shoot” (Phonte, Big Pooh, Darien & Aimee) hasn’t hit me up yet!” So I hit Phonte up…… straight to voicemail. At that moment I thought that they must still be in the air. I hopped on Twitter and saw that Big Pooh was tweeting about their delayed flight from NC… Then I figured I could take my shower, grab some breakfast and actually enjoy it now …and that’s exactly what I did, and watching the clock in the process. 10:30a………………….11:00…………. finally at about 11:15, I hit up Phonte again and he said they were at the airport waiting on luggage. Perfect… now they can grab their luggage, come scoop me up real quick and we all roll out to the set…………….. 11:45………………… 12:30p………. Damn, they should have their luggage by now. I called Aimee.

Aimee: Tay, Pooh and Darien are headed up now.

Me: Ok, cool… they’re coming up to the room?

A: …….”No, we’re at the spot!
“UH oh” © Carl Lewis

M: Uhhhh…… I’m still at the room!

SHIT…. I grabbed my things and headed 6 floors down to the lobby and requested that they call me a cab because everyone was at my video shoot…. but ME. How hilarious, my first video shoot and I’m already two hours late to it. I got in the cab with the “late to your own funeral” analogy repeating in my head. The cab driver who picked me up from the hotel seemed real cool, but as soon as I got in and provided him with the address of where I needed to go I could tell he had a bit of a problem with that, uhhh…. literacy thing.

Me: I’m going to Center City…. St. James St.

Cab Driver: Uhh….Sss *blank stare at the GPS*

Me: Yeah, SAINT JAAAY-MMMESSSS STREET

CD: So that’s uhh, S…. uhh….

M: S….T…….. *waiting for him to complete the spelling*

CD: *looks back at me waiting for ME to complete the spelling*

M: ……..”SPACE”……… J……A

CD: I’m not too good with that spelling thing…

Uhhh… This I know.

Once the address was finally entered into the GPS, he was good…. Until it was time to turn right onto Locust St. We approached the Locust street sign, he slowed the cab down damn near to a stop and asked me, “Is that it?” Already understanding his issues with reading, I just blurted out quickly, “YES… THAT’S IT!” Lord have mercy, he had finally gotten me to my destination… It was funny because during the cab ride, I was reading a few tweets from people wondering where I was. I felt like I needed to walk into the spot with a t-shirt on that said “It wasn’t my fault!” or flyers to pass out explaining why I was showing up on set at 1:30p. Regardless, the “Superstar” jokes were automatically on deck upon my arrival… When I stepped into the club, I was thoroughly impressed visually. The still shots that were provided with the video treatment the night before did the spot limited justice. Big Pooh had just finished shooting his performance piece and folks told me how well Erro’s performance shots looked – that combined with a buffet of various PotBelly’s sammiches sitting over on the bar looking so delectable, I was already beginning to feel good about this video. But I was forced to be patient, so I did what came naturally… hell, I ATE. I also made sure to catch up and act a fool with everybody on set as I was informed that there were about three more shots to get before I was even needed… Soooooo, my being late was actually right on time! AND I showed up at lunch! *high fives my damn seff*

Finally, at about 3:00pm we were instructed to go ahead and start getting ready for the shot of myself, D. Brock, Erro, and Pooh walking into the club. I pulled my freshly dry-cleaned black suit out of the plastic and threw it on along with my silver shirt, black tie with silver stripes, and completed it with the black fedora. While waiting around about an hour or so, I was asked if I was an extra on the set of my own video twice, which I thought was great. For real, I probably could have made noise on someone else’s blog if I would have answered with, “Nigga… do I LOOK like an extra on this muhfucka?! I’m the damn star-rah!!” …now that I think about it, I actually would have thoroughly entertained myself with that one. But I didn’t, because the reality is…No one knows who the hell I am, much less what I look like. I could have had fun with the girl, gotten myself up and started to play an extra in the video, but we were short on time and things needed to keep rolling. Once our ‘entrance’ scene was set up, I felt like texting everyone I knew on some, “Ayo, we’re about to go on right NOW!” Once the actual recording process started, things felt pretty natural and I got the sense that it was finally my time. Once again, the director Matt Koza and his crew kept telling me how excited they were about the shots they were getting from us, which left me relaxed and more at ease. I had a few more quick scenes to shoot and it was a wrap for me… I left the set feeling pretty good and very accomplished. As a result I kept telling myself, “I have a video now.”

For the post-video shoot meal, we ventured over to Silk City and I conquered four rounds at the bar with Big Pooh and one of our homegirls. Once they seated all of us, we tore into some waings, quesadillas, fish sammiches, salad, and some of the best macaroni and cheese I’ve ever had out in a restaurant. Matter of fact, it was so good that I finished macaroni from two OTHER peoples’ plates outside of my own (greedy). It was a fitting end to such a productive day… So please, enjoy the results!! And a huge thank you to everyone who played an active role in making that day fairly easy for this video rookie…

FREE Download and Official First Single from ‘SunStorm’ – “This Could Be the Night” feat. Eric Roberson, Darien Brockington & Rapper Big Pooh

Here it is y’all… With just under four weeks remaining until the release of SunStorm, I am releasing the first official single from the album, “This Could Be the Night” featuring my brothas Eric Roberson, Darien Brockington, and Rapper Big Pooh of Little Brother. The joint has been made a free download, so do me a favor and add it to your playlist…!

‘SunStorm’ OFFICIAL Cover Art, Tracklisting, and Details!! – 07.27.10

Well people…. Here are the OFFICIAL cover art, tracklisting and details about the album. I. AM. EXCITED…..!!!!!!!!

“SunStorm” is the latest album from Detroit-area born, DC-area based producer/multi-instrumentalist Zo!

Best known for his 2008 collaboration with Phonte on the cult classic “Zo and Tigallo Love the 80’s” as well as his work on The Foreign Exchange’s Grammy-nominated LP, “Leave It All Behind,” ‘SunStorm” is an extensive 12-track set that shows the ever-expanding range and depth of Zo! and the entire Foreign Exchange Music family.

Indie soul siren and American Idol vocalist Sy Smith serves up a slice of 70’s soul on the breezy “Greatest Weapon Of All Time,” and Lady Alma, a Philly veteran and stalwart of the UK house scene, takes it to the dance floor on the frenetic “Free Your Mind.” The album’s lead single, “This Could Be The Night,” features Darien Brockington, Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter Eric Roberson, and Rapper Big Pooh of Little Brother over a thumping two-step groove specifically intended for the ‘steppers’ of Zo’s native Detroit. Another highlight is the Phonte-assisted “Flight Of The Blackbyrd,” Zo’s heartfelt homage to the 70’s jazz/funk fusion of The Mizell Bros. and George Duke.

Tracklisting
01. Greater Than The Sun feat. Phonte

02. Greatest Weapon Of All Time feat. Sy Smith

03. Say How You Feel feat. Carlitta Durand & Phonte

04. For Leslie

05. Be Your Man feat. Darien Brockington

06. Free Your Mind feat. Lady Alma

07. SunStorm feat. YahZarah

08. If I Could Tell You No feat. Jesse Boykins III

09. This Could Be The Night feat. Eric Roberson, Darien Brockington & Rapper Big Pooh

10. Flight Of The Blackbyrd feat. Phonte

11. All Is Well With Love feat. Chantae Cann

12. Make Luv 2 Me feat. Monica Blaire

New Album "SunStorm" …Arriving on July 27, 2010

I’m working hard y’all… A couple more mixes, tweaks, additions, and listens to go to make my new baby SunStorm complete. I have a completion deadline of next week and a release date of… July 27, 2010.

Even more exciting for me is the number of talented artists who took time out of their busy schedules and bring forth some top shelf performances to the album. I mean, these kats came through as if they were recording for their OWN albums… I can’t even begin to speak on how blessed I am – I just hope that I was able to inspire them with my creations as they do with their vocal abilities.

Now, exactly who are these artists you ask? ….Well, some of my favorite vocalists, including: Sy Smith, Eric Roberson, YahZarah, Darien Brockington, Lady Alma, Monica Blaire, Jesse Boykins III, Carlitta Durand, my brotha Phonte and a special appearance by Rapper Big Pooh. Hell, it’s a treat for me as a music fan to see all of this talent on one album, much less the fact that it is my own…. Be prepared… (I’m having to tell myself the same thing) July the 27th will be a huge day and I’m looking forward to sharing the music and celebrating with you all…

Zo! – SunStorm
07.27.10