STUDIO CAMPFIRE STORIES: ‘ManMade’ Edition – “New In Town (Happy)” (feat. 1-O.A.K. and Carlitta Durand)


The roots for one kinda goes all the way back to a previous working session Phonte and I had in June of 2010 for The Foreign Exchange’s Authenticity album. When the two of us sat down in my studio to produce the original draft for what was to become +FE’s “Fight For Love”. We first worked out the chord changes and I laid out some “dummy” drums… Or drums to hold the groove together at the time simply for writing/recording or demoing purposes to be thrown away later on. Well…. Fast forward more than two years later  to October of 2012. I called Phonte and told him… “Man, I’ve had these drums in my head for a few days now and I THINK they’re the same pattern as what I laid down for the DEMO version of “Fight For Love”.” This is why I always say that a higher power is with you while creating music simply because it was really unbelievable how that SAME particular pattern was just archived in my brain like that. Things like that don’t happen just because …there’s purpose and meaning behind it. Since the drums were something I did originally and were simply thrown away and never used for anything released…. Of course I had the green light to utilize my own drum pattern. ……..and I did.

Once I recorded the major portion of the drum pattern and got the correct feel of the drums that I was looking for, I then played the hi-hat live over top of it, which really seemed to add some character to the joint. The sixteenth notes every second bar pushed the pattern along a little bit while adding a bit of movement – I wanted that because of the way I already envisioned the album being played live. Now with the drums moving the way that they were, I wanted the chords to take time going through the progression…… BUT when the bassline was added, it moved right along with the drums thus connecting the two effectively.

Carlitta Durand

Interestingly enough, Phonte and I originally heard Jeanne Jolly on this joint ……..that is until I did the music for “Tell Me Something New”…. But I’ll get to that story a little later on. Phonte wrote they lyrics and recorded a reference, which sounded dope… THEN he hit up the studio version of Ms. Johnnie On-The-Spot, the one and only Carlitta Durand who always comes through in that clutch. She went into the studio and smashed her part. Hearing her “response” in the form of a pre-hook and her hook over the music really brought it to life… This was a helluva pleasant surprise to me, because I didn’t even know Carlitta was gonna be on it – Phonte just sent the joint on through to me with the credits. Talk about a vocal “cherry on top”.

Now we had a joint featuring Phonte and Carlitta almost reminiscent of our “Say How You Feel” days from 3-4 years ago, which was cool…. But we wanted a different look for this one – enter mah man from the Bay, 1-O.A.K. I have known this brotha for a few years now. Back in 2009 when I was on the road with PPP (Platinum Pied Pipers), he and one of my favorite producers out of the Bay Area, Trackademicks opened up for us in San Francisco and Los Angeles. As a matter of fact, we recently ran into each other again after the last San Francisco +FE show in October at Mezzanine. At that time, I had no idea that he would 1) Be contributing to my album, which was already in the works at the time, and 2) Have such a key contribution to the album. Hearing his newly laid vocals on the track was the PERFECT compliment to Carlitta’s already recorded parts. It was precisely the type of energy we were wanting to bring forth in this song as 1-O.A.K. brought almost a “youthful” sound to the music that fit the subject matter and duet perfectly…

“’cause I’m giving yooooou!! …Nothing but the very best part of meeee… Feels like I am finally freee-eee!!”

…Throughout the recording process of this one, I always thought that part was dope because he sang that shit like he MEANT it… Then to hear Carlitta follow those verses up with her unassuming yet very commanding tone where words and phrases leave her vocal chords with the same ease and effort as that of a regular conversation. The pairing made for excellent chemistry, in my humble opinion because their communication back and forth in the song sounded authentic and realistic. PLUS… I would LOVE to witness to the two of them performing this song live… Together.

Purchase ManMade HERE • Or on iTunes

Studio Campfire Stories: Platinum Pied Pipers “Stay With Me”

The Summer of 2004 was a pretty interesting time in my life to say the least. I had just released my first ‘pro pressed’ album, Passion & Definition in July, was playing some shows here and there, meeting kats in the Detroit scene who I had been a fan of for years. I had also been let go from the Medical Supplies Sales job I held for a year, and as a result I became a full-time musician (until I moved East in 2006). I had some die hard supporters, thinking I was doing something… But looking back on it, I was just beginning to pay my dues hadn’t even really begun to get my feet wet musically. Anyway, with all of the new kats I was either meeting, running into, or working with around The D, I had yet to meet Waajeed. I always had people telling me, “Man, you gotta work with Waajeed,” yet, I hadn’t even met the brotha yet. Of course, with the way everything else was just kinda ‘falling’ into place, I simply assumed we would run into each other at a venue one night (which actually happened at the Carbon Lounge in Hamtramck… and we said ‘what up’ in passing). Oddly enough, it was actually my homegirl introducing me to his girlfriend at the time after running into her at Buffalo Wild Wings that did it – If I remember correctly, the two of them went to high school together. Weird? Yes… But, I happened to have a copy of Passion & Definition on me (as I always did back then) so I passed it to her to give to him. The next thing I knew a few days later, I got a phone call from Waajeed and we agreed to get up one day at his spot in Downtown Detroit just to meet up. And now that I think about it, that instance was probably the first and only time that I have ever gotten a call back from passing material along to someone… in HOPES of a call back. OH, I take that back…. I actually met 14KT, Buff1 and the rest of the Athletic Mic League the same way back in 2002. They called me back to back after I hit them with a copy of Zo! Presents… A Canvas For The Adoration of Music at an Athletic Mic League/Subterraneous show in Ann Arbor. So, I guess passing music along comes through every now and then, huh? Maybe…

Anyway, I ended up taking a trip to Jeed’s spot in Downtown Detroit and we chopped it up for a good hour or two about music in general… Including the hustle, the passion behind it, and the bullshit. We hadn’t planned to work on anything that day but I guess higher power saw things a bit differently. During our entire conversation, I was sitting at a suitcase Fender Rhodes just messing around on the keys until finally Jeed was like, “Ayo, you know what? Let me see if you’ve got something for this joint real quick.” I was sitting there with the “oh damn” face on as I was partially put on the spot… I’m good, no pressure, right? So he played the joint he was talking about and all I hear is a stripped down track with nothing but these swinging ass drums with this seductive voice on top of it. That was IT….

Me: “Who is THAT?”

Waajeed: “Tiombe Lockhart, a singer I’m working with for the new album.”

He then proceeded to explain to me the meaning behind his newly formed group, Platinum Pied Pipers and even broke down some of the album’s concept…. but I was all into this track that I was hearing. After listening through the song, I told him to start it over so that I could feel my way around what she was singing. By the middle of the song, I knew I had something as Waajeed said, “Aw man… we’ve gotta record that!” Right then and there, he started the joint over and I proceeded to record the bass part via the Rhodes…. and recorded another pass with just the chords and it became the foundation for this new song. Jeed was so hyped up about it, he started talking about turning it in to Ubiquity (Records) (PPP’s label at the time) and knowing that they would love it, etc…. I was kind of excited, but the music “industry” had already warped me so, even by 2004 that I wanted to see proof of things happening.

Sure enough, he turned that joint in and Ubiquity really took to it. Waajeed hit me up one day telling me that they were considering it as the first single. Word?… Whatever man, I’ll believe it when I see it…….. Well, a couple months later, I was in Record Time in Ferndale, MI flipping through copies of “Stay With Me” 12″ vinyl singles.

Funny how things happen when creativity comes into play. Even now when I hear this song being played in a venue, I always think back on how everything seemed to line up just right in order for it to happen and come through the way it did.

(Not So) Fun Fact: The crazy thing about this song that no one really knows about is Waajeed gave me a “Co-producer” credit on it. So if you happen to own one of the first pressings of the 12″, you may notice that it reads:

“Produced by Waajeed, Co-produced and keys by Zo!”

But Ubiquity wasn’t having it and they pulled the “Co-produced by” recognition and gave me credit for playing keys only… Despite their silly shit, Jeed and I still joke about this story to this day

“Maaan, I met this dude…. two hours later we did ‘Stay With Me!'”


Most of the time the best stuff never happens in accordance to our script…

Me and Waajeed in D.C., August 2006

Damn Wishbone! b/w A Tribe Called PPP

Before our departure from Chicago, I set up a breakfast meeting with one of my old college teammates and my homegirl. I had my mouf all set for some CJ’s Eatery being as though they had come through so tough last month with the absolutely ridiculous catfish breakfast platter. BUT, we got word that they didn’t do brunch on Friday. No problem, let’s hit up Wishbone! I’ve been there a couple of times for breakfast, and they do their thing (my breakfast history @ Wishbone: Shrimp & Grits and the Banana Pancakes –LAWD). So we met up at about 10:45a and put the orders in at a little before 11a… of course if I’m listing times, you already know where I’m going with this. 11:30 came and went, 11:40…11:50?!!?!

Come on now… We had our drinks and no real explanation on why we had no food. The place was packed up, yes..BUT people around us were getting their food. I think the joint just got lost and they were covering it up – poorly. So in order for me to avoid missing my ride back to O’Hare, we had to leave and walk up the street to Starbucks so I could pick up a breakfast sammich. By this time, it was 12-something and I was HOWNGREE… I didn’t give a rat’s ass what I ate at that point. I thought that sammich and orange juice was the greatest meal of all-time… Wishbone FAILED miserably, almost an hour went by with no food, and no real explanation why. Damn, what happened? Then fast forward to the airport… It’s myself, Jeed, Train and Syd all checking in and going through security. The nasty-minded older female security folk were giving me an earfull basically saying they were gonna go through ALL of my stuff, frisk me, and make me play my bass guitar for them before they let me through. Wonderful…

We got through that madness and walked over to Johnny Rockets for a bite to eat before heading to our gates. Now mind you, I had on my Tribe Called Quest t-shirt as the four of us stepped up to order our food. The girl who took Coultrain’s order was just grinning… ear to damn ear. Then she kept saying, “I know I’m not crazy… I know I’m not crazy.” It was strange, but kats finished placing the orders, got our seats and waited for the food… 

We all looked at each other trying to figure out what the issue was and why ole girl was at the register having a moment. Train was like, “I’m pretty sure she thought I was somebody I’m not.” But the million dollar question still remained… WHO? So when Jeed went back up to get his food, he came back laughing. It turned out that because of my T-shirt, she thought we were A Tribe Called Quest HILARIOUS. So we spent about 5 minutes at the table tryna figure out which one of us was who… She had to have been real young, po’ child. At least she had A Tribe Called Quest in her mind as an option to choose from.. *shrugs*

With PPP In Chicago @ The Shrine – 07.02.09

Well… Hit the airport for our 45 minute flight to Chicago and got to O’Hare and found a limo pulling up for us. Oh word? We were in there taking pictures like we’ve never been anywhere before… Gotta enjoy yourself right? Hahahahaha.

Anyway, we pulled up to the hotel, checked in… got grub, and hit the soundcheck. The check was long as hell, but once they got the sound locked in, it was a wrap and it was sounding good. Toward the end, in walks Muhsinah and fellow ELs member SlimKat78 to set up and check as they were scheduled to go on before us.

We had a looong time of waiting around at the hotel before we were to return to the spot to perform, so I got a workout and a pre-show meal in before we had to jet up. Once we got to the Shrine, we were informed that the place was pretty much packed out, which is ALWAYS good news. Now, once the show started…it went smoothly, until the end when they cut our set a song short because the club was about to close in 10 minutes. Can you say horrible time management? Damn man, it didn’t feel good to leave the crowd hanging like that. On top of that, the after the show piece when I like to get out there, mingle, say ‘what up’ to everybody who came out was eliminated as security was wanting everybody to leave immediately. It was confusion… but a great show once again.

On the Road With PPP in Detroit @ CityFest – 07.01.09

Our West Coast trip in March wasn’t enough… Waajeed, Coultrain, Monica Blaire, Sydney Driver, and myself had to get back up again and roll through a couple more spots before it was all said and done. The first stop this time around was the spot where three of us call home, Detroit where we played at CityFest opening for De La Soul on the main stage.

Because of the early flight, I stayed up all night (surprise, surprise) and arrived at BWI Airport at about 4am. Delta was obviously having problems checking folks in, because despite the fact that I was there 2 hours prior to take off, by the time I got checked in, went through security, and got to the gate it was 5:50am …my flight left at 6am.

Once I landed in The D, Moms came to scoop from the airport and I got home and passed out on the couch. When I finally woke up, I checked outside and made sure I said a prayer for the bad weather to hold off until we played… Well, the weather held off during soundcheck, that was no problem. But soon after that, it started to POUR. We were scheduled to go on at 7pm and because of the downpour, the people got outta there for a minute. The rain held off for a little while once we did get on stage and the soundman had us sounding real good up there. The rain started to come back down in the middle of us playing “Stay With Me.” The thing that got me was, once the rain came back…the people stayed – how ’bout that?! I think that said a whole lot about the crowd and support group that we have back home, kats hung with us out there and I am very appreciative of that. Moms, Pops and my younger sister came out… popped open the umbrellas and enjoyed themselves – even took pictures for me. After the show, my family came back to the trailer and kicked it for a little while with the entire group, the brotha Maestro of Silent Riot stopped through, along with Mudd of 5 Ela. Everybody was just crackin’ jokes, talkin’ shiff and having a good time.

I ended up rolling to Champps with the family to get fat and have some drainks, in which I had two… We closed the night out by laughing at Shaq & Cedric the Entertainer’s Comedy special, which was HILARIOUS.

On to Chicago….!

BoltBus from D.C. to NYC

Traveling to rehearsal in NYC for the PPP shows earlier today was interesting as always via the BoltBus, which for those who don’t know is a cheap ticket and it advertises free wi-fi, and working power outlets for your cell, mp3 player, laptop, etc. This was actually my second trip to New York via BoltBus – my first was in March. That time I had no issues with the wi-fi connection or the power outlets…started off on the right foot.

This time I wasn’t so fortunate. I couldn’t get a wi-fi signal on my iPhone, why? Because the ‘log in’ page that the nigganet defaulted to wouldn’t scroll down far enough for me to reach the ‘I Accept’ option. Therefore, I was forced to accept AT&T’s 3G availability all the way up 1-95. Ok, no problem. I decided to keep folks up to the minute by Tweeting every now and then about the loud ass kids that I happened to be sitting behind and the lil five-foot-nothing lady in the seat across the isle from me who decided she would occupy and entire row on her own. Alright… kats were keeping me on my toes, but it was alright because I still had the trusty nigganet on me to keep me busy the duration of the trip. So about an hour and a half into the drive, I figured it was time to try and get some sleep. While I got sleep, I wanted to plug my phone up to make sure it was charged back up, right? Nope! The punk ass (lack of) power outlet in front of me refused to allow that to happen by not working. I looked around at others on the bus and I noticed that no one else had anything plugged into their outlets either…WACK. So I spent the last half of the trip attempting to save my battery by not answering calls or texts (of course that’s the time when everybody wants to call or text).

Despite my phone’s power troubles, entertainment on the bus itself was never an issue. There was a kat about 4 rows in front of me who looked like damn Antonio Fargas who was on his cell talking lous as hell… You know the type of loud where a kat is just excited to have a cell phone and wants to let the world about it in his volume? This type of thing may have been effective in 84/85 when there were only a few kats carrying those big gray brick lookin cell phones, but in 2009 when EVERYBODY has one?… Nah bruh. Just when I thought ole FlyGuy was finished, he proceeded to pull out a sammich bag full of a red liquid, cracked the bag open and drank from it. I was sitting in my seat with my jaw on the floor like, ‘I KNOW this kat isn’t drinking some damn red Kool-Aid from a sammich bag!!” After no believing what the hell I had just seen, I waited for him to drink from the bag again, just to confirm for my OWN sanity the fact that I wasn’t seeing things. Huggie Bear didn’t disappoint, he tipped his head back and took a swig from the sammich bag one more time just so I could sit there by myself and die laughing while looking crazy. I hopped on Twitter for a hot second and wrote something about it and kats didn’t even believe me. I will say this as many times as it takes… I can NOT make this stuff up y’all….


Oh yeah, rehersal went pretty well too. News 04.13.09

What’s the word y’all?

The past month has been exciting and busy to say the least. The top of March saw me out with The Foreign Exchange as we hit Baltimore’s Eden LoungeD.C.’s Black CatNYC’s Highline Ballroom, and Philly’s Johnny Brenda’s. And in between those dates, FE made a stop into the XM/Sirius Radio studio for an exclusive recorded performance that aired on March 22nd. For those who didn’t get to check it out… You’re in luck.

Download the XM Radio Performance HERE

At the end of March thanks to a kat I go back a little ways with, Waajeed, I had the privilege of traveling West with PPP (Platinum Pied Pipers) to San Francisco’s Mighty and LA’s Dakota Music Lounge that featured both my homegirl Monica Blair and my man Coultrain on vocals. We all had a BALL out there…Even got to kick it with 14KT and Buff1 while we were out in SF. Thank you to the West Coast for showing nothing but love. Look for more dates sooner than later. In the meantime, here are a couple of clips from the shows (yes, that’s me on the bass in the first two lol).

PPP – Angel in San Francisco

PPP – On A Cloud in San Francisco

PPP – 50 Ways To Leave Your Lover in L.A.

Meanwhile, here in D.C., The ELs have played shows opening up with Asheru for U.K.’s own, Omar. We also hit with the brotha Erik Rico last week at Busboys and Poets for his “In the Artist’s Studio” event thrown by Lil SoSo Productions. So as I said, it has been wonderful to say the least.

Album news…

…just visiting too will be out in July. SunStorm will be out at the tail end of the year. Finishing the former and working on the latter…

The feedback that Asylum 7 and I have received about Overdue Process has been a blessing. Thank you!! That album is available here.

Also, those of you on Twitter… Feel free to look me up!


Here are some confirmed show dates:

4.15.09 – The ELs with Asheru @ Hip-Hop Pilgrimage Concert

4.17.09 – The ELs with Foreign Exchange @ The Cat’s Cradle, Carrboro, NC

4.19.09 – The ELs with Foreign Exchange @ Double Door Inn, Charlotte, NC

4.25.09 – The ELs with Asheru

06.07.09 – The ELs with Foreign Exchange @ The Double Door, Chicago, IL

Thank you so very much for your continued support, I hope you enjoyed the Easter weekend. See you in North Carolina and Chicago! Stay safe y’all… Peace!!



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