Tag Archives: celebrities

DJ June Club Chart – September 17, 2013

 drake-hold-on

1          Hold On We’re Going Home – Drake

AUDIO

R&BではRobin ThickeのBlurred Lineがまだ根強く大人気ですが、このDrakeのちゃんとしたR&Bもダンスやヒップホップ、トラップのガンガンの嵐の後、パーティーの終盤戦でかけるとガラッと雰囲気が変わってとっても良いです。みんなカップルになって手を取り合って2ステップ、急に微笑ましいほんわかな雰囲気になります。R&Bはやっぱりこういう曲がかけてて楽しいです。

Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Line” is still going strong on an R&B tip and it’s nice to see Drake come back to R&B. “Hold On We’re Going Home” is a perfect smooth track after hearing so many hip-hop, trap and dance songs booming from the speakers on the dance floor.  I love to play this song just to see couples dance 2 steps……

2          Love More – Chris Brown & Nicki Minaj

前にも紹介しましたが、今だいぶんリクエストが増えて来ました。特にヒップホップ好きの客層、黒人のお兄ちゃんからもリクエストが来ます。お兄ちゃん達はこう言うのも結構好きなんだ、へぇーと言う感じでいつもリクエスト受けてます。

This song is not the first time featured on my chart and recently more people ask me to play this. Even hard-core looking hip hop brothers loving Chris & Nicki duet makes me wonder…….

3          “23” – Mike Will Made It feat.  Miley Cyrus, Wiz Khalifa & Juicy J

miley-cyrus-films-23-music-video

AUDIO

Mileyがフックを歌っているトラップヒップホップ。Juicy JとWiz Khalifaのラップがさえていてこれから流行りそう。

Miley is singing hook for this new trap hip-hop song “23” which features rappers Juicy J and Wiz Khalifa. This surely will blow up!

DJ June

DJ June

DJ June This Week’s Events

Tue., Sept. 17                        Toca Tuesday @ Sutra Lounge with Tony Touch

Thur., Sept. 19                       10pm @ Bob – 235 Eldridge Street, NYC

Fri., Sept. 20                         Providence @ Tropicana Hotel, Atlantic City

Sat., Sept. 21                         Providence @ Tropicana Hotel, Atlantic City

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Miss Hitoe of SPEED – Exclusive Interview Part 2!

Hitoe 2012

Hitoe 2012

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Nippon Hip Hop Nation – 3 Miss Hitoe from SPEED

Four-member group SPEED’s HITOE (Arakaki Hitoe) announced on her blog, “On April 8th, I registered my marriage with a person I met in New York, and dated for 13 years!”

Exclusive Interview!
Miss Hitoe from SPEED – Interview Part 2

Go to Interview part 1
Go to Hitoe’s profile

Moving To New York

After SPEED disbanded, Miss Hitoe moved to New York in the year of 2000 to find herself.

H2N:  When you decided to move to New York, what did you expect, and what goals did you set for your new life?

Hitoe:  I was telling myself, “The end is a new beginning. Let’s do the things I always wanted to do.” I started to take a series of classes like art, English, dance, and singing. Basically I just wanted to become a better “Me.”

I was really into Black culture so I went to Harlem. I enjoyed live concerts, dancing at clubs, getting my braids done uptown……..lived a normal life. That was my dream, living like an average person. I started from zero when I got to New York and I stayed there for two years. At that time, I was not a member of the idol group SPEED. I was Hitoe Arakaki, an average girl. I was wondering what would happen to me and what should I do. I was struggling trying to find who I was.

I had a few life changing experiences. The dance is one of them. I never took a regular dance class and I took one just like everybody else. That was my dream come true as I was so used to taking personal lessons before I came to New York. My favorite teacher was a B-girl and hip-hop dancer/choreographer named Anita “Rokafella” Garcia. She sings too. I believe her husband was also a hip-hop dancer and a teacher. To me, it was so precious to have a B-girl friend that I could talk to. That was a first hand real hip-hop experience for me. I had to go through some hardships and I had fun too. I was young and everything that happened to me that time was all meant to be. New York was good to me. I was positive that the choice I made was the right one for me.

Hitoe

Hitoe

H2N:  What was your most memorable experience about the hip-hop dance scene back then?

Hitoe:  Back then, the interesting thing about hip-hop dance was that it reflected the trend that was new and hot that time. Hip-hop was not recognized in Okinawa back then and wasn’t even ready to be embraced anytime soon. At the time when you said dance that meant JAZZ dance. I fell in love with hip-hop dance when I first saw it and wanted to introduce this new style of dance to the people in Japan.  I didn’t know much about dancing theory or technique per se but I loved dancing so much that I just wanted to try to create my own style.

My favorite quote is, “Hip-hop is the way of life. That’s what’s my life is all about,” by a hip-hop dancer named Marquest. When I made my debut in a mainstream pop music scene without much experience then, the lack of experience started haunting me for a while. Then I became interested in black music and hip-hop culture and eventually I incorporated these elements into my performance. To me that was a big accopmplishment which I’m proud of.

If you look at the dance craze in Japan today, you will be really amazed by the level of kids’ dance performance ability. Hip-hop is taking over! That makes me very happy. I will definitely keep loving hip-hop and dancing ’til the day I die! History repeats by itself. Learning old-school/classic hip-hop dance styles can be your foundation or the roots. You can’t have the present without the past.

H2N:  You are also a self-taught painter and had an exhibition in the past. Who are your favorite painters? (You mentioned in your blog that you loved American Modern Art and you went to see a Keith Haring Exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum.)

Hitoe:  I have no formal training in art. I do not like any particular painters but I like Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring, and Andy Warhol and people in that time. I love the way they expressed the color they used and messages they were trying to send across. Basquiat’s approach is totally different from mine, almost opposite, so that makes me so intrigued by his style. I love color. I do portraits, and painting is like a dream come true. Everytime I completed a painting I felt like I was rewarded a great prize. Your expression could make people happy and that is the power! Unlike performing, the creative process of painting is something totally new and separate from your own self. I think music and art are unseparable. I need to get inspired so I listen to music when I paint. Music, I mean Black Music.

Hitoe Arakaki

H2N:  What’s going on with you now?

Hitoe:  We released our first SPEED Re-Union album, “4 Colors” on November 14 last year, and now we are going to launch a special music video DVD, “SPEED Sonic Groove Clips,” featuring unreleased footage. It’s available on Blu-ray. It’s funny that fans know us from our teenage days so they get shocked to learn that I’m already in my 30’s. Thanks to my young looking self. I’m looking forward to expanding my creative force now that I have more time to focus on my solo projects.

Yoga is another means to search for my inner soul. I teach yoga as well. I also want to teach how to dance and hand it down to the next generation. I want to grow as a woman and be happy. Having experiences can be one of the most enduring components of well-being.

As I grow older, I am more open to new challenges such as having an exhibition in Harlem, home of the Harlem Reinessance, and publishing a book. I just keep moving because I strongly believe that anything is possible if you put your mind to it!!

One of my dreams since SPEED days came true last year when Chili and T-Boz of TLC came to Japan for a concert. I don’t know if it was because I was there in the first row, or it was because I wore my hair in blaids, but I was summoned to the stage by them and had a chance to dance with them. I was so overwhelmed that my knees started shaking but I guess I made it. That was the greatest moment of my life!

I’m in love with New York, the city I love most. It’s like my sweetheart. I enjoy the rhythm and the beat. I get inspired whenever I come to New York ‘cause the city has a really positive vibe. It’s the melting pot as they say. Makes me realize you can do anything you want as long as you know what you are doing. I cherish all the people I met in this city and learned more about myself and became a better me.

(Hitoe Arakaki)

H2N:  Thank you!

Go to Interview part 1
Go to Hitoe’s profile

Emily “Cissy” Houston, Valerie Simpson and Dionne Warwick Attend “Mama, I Want To Sing” 30th Anniversary Gala

MAMA30_3stars

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The 30th Anniversary Celebration of
Mama, I Want To Sing
America’s Longest Running Black Musical
Saturday, March 23, 2013

Among many celebrity guest, Emily “Cissy” Houston, Valerie Simpson and Dionne Warwick attend “Mama, I Want To Sing” 30th Anniversary Gala Celebration at The Dempsey Theater in Harlem Saturday night.

After welcoming all the board members and the benefit committee at Red Carpet, the gala began with a very special performance that includes musical highlights from “Mama, I Want To Sing” and “Sing, Harlem Sing!, ”as well as a performance from the Gospel for Teens Choir.

MAMA30_CISSY_VY

Cissy Houston, Vy Higginson

The Background Story

By Vy Higginsen

I was the youngest of four children growing up on Harlem. My father was a minister and my mother was very involved in his church. My oldest sister, Doris, sang in the choir. She was eventually discovered by James Brown at The Apollo, and went on to a successful career in popular music. Kind and generous, Doris was a big influence on me. I was inspired to tell her story, and so I wrote Mama, I want To Sing with my husband, Ken Wydro.

As we wrote the story, we became aware that is wasn’t just ours. It was the combined stories of numerous African-Americans who grew up on the church, stepped out of the church choir and then made their way into the recording industry and on stage. They created a new sound that was uniquely African-American – Something at once uniquely personal and wholly universal.

Initially the script was rejected by every major producer in New York – none believed that the story was worth telling or that an audience could be found for a Gospel-based production.

With nowhere else to turn, we devoted our entire life savings to opening Mama, I Want to Sing in East Harlem at the Heckscher Theatre which had housed Joe Papp’s New York Shakespeare Festival 15 years earlier. As the doors’ chain was lifted, puffs of dust and dirt greeted us in the abandoned 632-seat theater.

Standing on that dusky, silent stage, dimly lit with coated work lights; I saw the theater filled with senior citizens, church groups, school children, and hard-working black mothers and fathers who had spiritual values and loved soul-stirring music.

Mama, I wan To Sing opened March 25, 1983 with a minuscule advertising, promotional, and publicity budget. Word-of-mouth spread quickly through the black community and the theatrical and traditional musical circles. Mama, I Want To Sing positively the power, spontaneity and emotional uplift of the black church experience.

For thirty years now, Mama, I wan To Sing has been performed all over the world. It has not only entertained, but it has helped introduce gospel music to other cultures, and it has taught audiences everywhere about our community and our people.

Inspired by the show’s worldwide success, I created Mama Foundation for the Arts in 1998 as a cultural space in Harlem where both youth and adults have access to quality training and employment in the performing arts. With a mission to present, preserve, and promote the history and fundamentals of gospel, jazz, and rhythm and blues music, the Gospel for teens program began at the foundation in 2006. Open to the public at no cost, so that all interested could benefit from it, Gospel for Teens provides support to our musically gifted children by replacing the arts programs taken out of many inner city schools. In the past seven years, we have served hundreds of teens. These fine young men and women have now become Ambassadors of the Music, making sure that the music lives on for generations to come.

It is a thrill to have seen these young people evolve through the arts – I’ve witnessed them change mentally, physically, spiritually, and emotionally.

All of us are part of a community that is rich and full of history, conversation, food, music, and art and culture. To explore all that; to present that on stage – whether through our musicals, performances by the Gospel for Teens Choir, or other events – is a privilege.

During the initial run of Mama, I Want To Sing, Doris Troy played the role of our mother; and my brother, Randy, played the role of our father. Now, my daughter, Knoelle, is playing the role of her Auntie. Doris passed away nine years ago, but her life lives on stage to this very day. For that, I am jumbled, and so grateful.

Thank you for your support.

Blessings,

Vy Higginsen

Ne-Yo Interview

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Ne-Yo Interview by Ken Simmons (Loop21)

Three-time Grammy Award winner Ne-Yo is a strong supporter of President Barack Obama, and he is releasing his fifth CD, “R.E.D.” (Realizing Every Dream), on Election Day as Obama vies for re-election. Since making his recording debut in 2005, Ne-Yo has recorded three consecutive No. 1 platinum albums and five platinum singles. Ne-Yo also is one of the most in-demand composers, writing songs for numerous stars including Beyoncé, Jay-Z, Rihanna, Mary J. Blige and Jennifer Hudson. In addition to his impressive musical accomplishments, he also is enjoying a successful acting career with appearances in four films including George Lucas’ story of the Tuskegee Airmen, “Red Tails.”

Ne-Yo recently sat down with Loop 21 to discuss working with Michael Jackson, being “terrified” by his executive position at Motown, and the possibility of recording with Obama.

Loop 21: You named your new CD, “R.E.D.,” which is an acronym for Realizing Every Dream. What dreams have you realized?

Ne-Yo: I have realized so many dreams that we don’t have enough time to talk about all of them. They include winning three Grammys, traveling and performing all around the world, and being able to provide for myself and my family. I have worked with some amazing artists. I have realized all the dreams I’ve had since I knew at the age of 9 that I wanted to pursue music, and that is why I named the album “Realizing Every Dream.” I have realized many dreams but there is so much more I want to accomplish. I have won three Grammys, but Stevie Wonder has double-digit Grammys so I have more to do. My albums have sold platinum, but other artists have sold more so I have higher goals and dreams. I want my music to inspire people to realize their own dreams.

Loop 21: You have enjoyed a very successful career. Your first three CDs, “In My Own Words,” “Because of You,” and “Year of the Gentleman,” all debuted at No. 1 and were certified platinum. However, your fourth CD, “Libra Scale,” was not as popular. How did its lack of success affect you?

Ne-Yo: It was a learning experience for me. I try to learn from everything I do whether it is good or bad. I learned to know more about something I am tackling for the first time before I dive into it. “Libra Scale” was conceived as the soundtrack to a 30-minute science fiction movie I wrote. I had never written a screenplay before. I learned that each page of a script is equivalent to one minute. I went to my label, Island Def Jam, and submitted a 146-page script. The songs were inspired by the script. They told me it was much too long and I had to cut it. So I had to cut it down and sacrifice certain elements which affected the album. We never produced the short movie as I intended so the project was not what I envisioned. It was definitely a learning situation.

Loop 21: How did that lack of success affect creating “R.E.D.”?

Ne-Yo: For “R.E.D., I decided to make it less complicated. Just concentrate on producing quality music. Make sure that I had enough songs for my R&B fans and also my pop fans. One problem with my “Year of the Gentleman” CD was that for people who were new to Ne-Yo and liked the song “Closer,” there was nothing else on that CD similar to that song so those fans did not have other songs that they liked. So I wanted to make sure on “R.E.D.” I had enough songs for my R&B fans, my pop fans, and the fans who like a mixture of those styles.

Loop 21: You pride yourself on being a gentleman and your website is called Ne-Yo The Gentleman. How do you feel you’ve influenced people with this style when so much of urban and pop culture is going in a different direction?

Ne-Yo: I want to be a leader and not a follower. I never want to follow a trend. When you follow a trend you are putting a time limit on yourself because a trend will fade away. I want to have longevity and last for years. I have a responsibility as an artist to project a positive image. I take that responsibility very seriously. I know kids are watching. Hopefully kids will see me and like my style. The fact that various companies have approached me to represent their products shows me that my style has a broad mass appeal. I feel my music appeals to a 4 year old and a 14 year old as well as a 40 year old. I am very careful about how I present my appearance, my music and my lyrics. I choose my words very carefully. I know the power and the importance of words. Everything I do is as a gentleman. That is who I am.

Loop 21: You were appointed a senior vice president of A&R for Motown Records responsible for signing and developing artists. You’ve said that you are “honored, excited and also terrified” by this appointment. What does this position mean to you?

Ne-Yo: I am honored because Motown is more than a record label. Motown has a rich legacy. Smokey Robinson held the same position and I am following in his footsteps. I feel that Motown’s energies have been in the wrong place. There was too much attention on imaging and marketing and not enough attention on the music. That is why I believe the label has suffered. Motown has always been known for quality music as well as the imaging and the marketing. It is important to start with the music and create quality music. I talked to (Motown Records founder) Berry Gordy and I expressed to him my fears about holding this position. It was scary to me that I would be so responsible for artists’ careers. I went to his house and he played me a tape of the quality control meeting he had for The Temptations’ (1964) song ”My Girl.” Everyone in the room was asked the question, “If you had only one dollar, would you buy ‘My Girl’ or would you buy a sandwich?” The rule was if the majority voted to buy a sandwich, the song would not be released and they would go back to the drawing board. Seven of the eight people voted to buy a sandwich. Berry was the only person to vote for buying the song. He told me that was one of the few times he overruled the vote and decided to release a song. Obviously “My Girl” became a No. 1 hit and a classic. He told me that showed that you have to trust your instincts and trust your opinion. You take into account what other people feel but know that your opinion matters. He told me to value other people’s opinions but also value my own opinion. I have to struggle with the fact that I am a Motown artist and I am also a Motown executive. There are similarities but there are also great and distinct differences. As an artist I live on my vibe, my emotion, and my spirit. As an executive I have to be more practical. I have to be concerned with elements I don’t think about as an artist, such as what radio stations will play the song, the marketing, and will teenage girls like the music.

Loop 21: In addition to music, you’ve enjoyed a successful acting career. Your roles have ranged from playing a professional hit man on TV in “CSI:NY” to a Tuskegee airman in “Red Tails.” What have been the highlights of your acting career?

Ne-Yo: Those two roles are special because they are so different. For “CSI:NY,” I told them I wanted to portray a character different from myself. I wanted to be a bad guy. I wanted to step away from what people knew. The scene begins and you see me in a familiar way wearing the hat in an elegant setting with a lady, and then there is a twist and I kill three people. “Red Tails” was the highlight of my acting career. The Tuskegee airmen overcame tremendous adversity. They excelled against all odds. They were presumed to fail. They were not considered citizens. Their achievements give me strength. Nothing I encounter will ever be as difficult as what they faced. So whenever I feel there is something I can’t overcome, or a task I can’t complete, a goal I can’t achieve, I am inspired by the Tuskegee airmen. I realize that they overcame obstacles greater than anything I will ever face so I have confidence that I can succeed.

Loop 21: You were the headline performer at the Michael Jackson birthday concert in August in New York City. You idolized Michael and had the chance to work with him. What happened the first time he called you?

Ne-Yo: I hung up on him because I thought it was somebody playing a practical joke on me. He called my cell phone and I have no idea how he got the number. Nobody will confess that they gave him the number. But he did call back and I was ecstatic that he called. He wanted me to work on his new album and of course I was honored. I learned more in a few weeks working with him than I did in my entire career. I gained so much knowledge about music and songwriting from him critiquing my songs. It was an incredible experience. I wrote several songs for him and we planned to record them after his “This Is It” concerts in London. But he died before we were able to start recording. Michael was the epitome of the possibility of greatness. There will never be another Michael Jackson because no one has that same hunger to succeed. He lived, breathed, ate and slept music. No one worked as hard around the clock, had so much dedication and attention to detail in perfecting his craft. I am happy to have spent time with him and talk with him and learn from him. He would tell me what he thought about the music business, what was right with it and what was wrong with it. I still have the songs I wrote for him and I am trying to decide what to do with them. Perhaps I will record them for a tribute album and donate the proceeds to charity.

Loop 21: You mentioned charity. You created your own charity, the Compound Foundation, in 2007 to assist children in foster care and group homes. What do you feel you’ve accomplished with the foundation?

Ne-Yo: My focus has been to show the kids that there is a difference between where you come from and where you can go. We have had some small successes with our entrepreneurship training courses, education programs, scholarship programs, providing music studios, and funding to agencies that secure adoption and adult guardians. We try to prepare children for the next steps following foster care and help them successfully function in society. We also work with the adults in properly guiding the children. Unfortunately one problem with the foster care system is that it believes the solution to undesirable behavior is often overmedicating the children. The idea is to pacify the kids with drugs. I talk to kids and it’s disturbing that they know so much about these drugs and are so dependent on them. They say they want the red pills or the blue pills. I don’t feel that is the right solution. If a kid needs discipline then the adult needs to learn how to discipline the kids instead of constantly sedating them with a drug. Foster parents complain about kids having behavioral problems but they would also have issues if they were constantly shuttled from foster home to foster home and having to deal with different adults and different personalities while carrying their clothes in garbage bags. If anyone is interested in learning more about our foundation or making a donation, please visit www.compoundfoundation.org.

Loop 21: Your new CD, “R.E.D.,” is being released on Election Day. You are featured in the pro-Obama “Forward” video executive produced by will.i.am who also produced the “Yes We Can” Obama campaign song in 2008. Why it is so important for you to express your support for Obama?

Ne-Yo: I support Obama 100 percent and it would take too long to explain all the reasons. The short answer is simple. It took eight years to break it and it takes eight years to fix it. The previous administration created such problems that Obama needs two terms to correct the problems he inherited. Many people are unrealistic about their expectations and their need for quick solutions. The problems can’t be solved overnight. He needs more time. He has had progress but some people are impatient and feel he has not done enough. Reversing the process, reversing and correcting the ills of our country requires more time and that’s why he has to be re-elected to continue and finish what he started.

Loop 21: We heard Obama sing Al Green’s “Let Stay Together.” Would you record a song with him?

Ne-Yo: If Obama called me and asked me to record a song with him, I would jump at the chance. I would be a fool to turn down that opportunity. He has a pretty good singing voice. I would make sure he did not sing about politics. Maybe I would put Kanye West on the track. That would make a very politically incorrect song. (laughs)

(Interviewed by Ken Simmons for Loop21)