Artist Spotlight

#MondayMotivation: Watch J.Cole's HBO Documentary 'Forest Hill's Drive Homecoming' by Lainney Dizon

"They told me.. that I'm the first artist to go platinum in 25 years with no features." J. Cole announced to an arena full of cheers in his hometown of Forestville, North Carolina. HBO followed the Roc Nation rhymer in a 90-minute documentary highlighting J. Cole's journey from small-town hero to global icon. With over 7 million followers, a platinum album, sold out Madison Square Garden and no added attention, J. Cole is a true artist committed to his mission: impacting people with the words through his songs.

The massive homecoming event featured on HBO features appearances from Drake, Big Sean, and Jay-Z. Watch the documentary here

Artist Spotlight: F.Y.I. on trusting your artistic sound & the new EP 'A/S/L' by Lainney Dizon

From rocking the mic with Top Dawg Entertainment's Ab-Soul to embracing his mission as a creative artist through his latest album ‘Age/ Sex/ Location’, Los Angeles-based F.Y.I. is committed to his artist mission: To show others through actions that God is real. Dizon Dreams recently talked with the rising emcee on how LA shaped his sound, the importance of building with the right people for ‘Age/Sex/Location’ and staying true to your artistic vision:

Dizon Dreams: How would you describe your artist mission?

F.Y.I.: My artist mission is to show others through my actions that God is real and He lives in me and I live in Him.  I'm just a vessel and I'm learning day by day that any wonderful or beautiful things that come from me are from Him and I'm just the messenger from which He brought it out of.

You describe yourself as "hueman" - and on a mission to color the world. What other 'huemans' inspire you in your work?  

God. Family. Friends. Foes.  Any one of these entities inspires me to create and move forward in this journey I'm on.

You're from mid-city LA. How did your environment and the artists you grew up listening to help shape your sound as an artist?

Yes. I represent Mid-City LA.  It's all walks of life around my section of the city.  It's raw, it's fast, it's dark, it's light, it's street, it's hippy-dippy and it's niggerish all at the same time. My parents were soul babies so I grew up listening to everything from Rick James to Earth, Wind, and Fire, but when my ears tuned into the hip-hop frequency I never changed the dial, real spittery.  It became my DNA. For me, it's way too many artists to name a select few that shaped me into the artist I am today.  I studied hip-hop growing up and was part of the culture since day one coming up so whether it's heavy underground or that bubble gum radio rap, I've paid attention to it all to a certain extent.  But personally, I've always gravitated towards emcees that had something profound to say along with dope wordplay and other techniques (as a skillful emcee) that sometimes can overshadow the actual subject matter if the listener has not trained themselves to really hear what an emcee is saying.  But off top, I'd say Nas, Common, Mos Def, Black Thought, Chuck D, 2Pac, Ice Cube circa '89-93, Q-Tip from A Tribe Called Quest, OutKast, and Cee-Lo Green of Goodie Mob and Gnarls Barkley.

What did you enjoy the most about creating/ recording your latest project 'Age/Sex/Location'?

Getting my co-production popping in the sense of orchestrating the mixes of the vocals, the tracks, and getting some live instrumentation on the record.  That was a new experience for me.  All the singing and melodies were written by me and I pride myself in pushing them lines so lyrically I wanted to smack n*ggas in the face with pillowcases full of bar soap just to let'em know I'm not playing with the bars (haha).  The entire process of creating an idea or concept in my head and then having it develop into a recorded piece of work never gets old and with time through God's grace I'm just learning more and more how to play with it and sculpt it into this living breathing thing that grows bigger and bigger in the hearts and minds of people minute by minute.

What advice can you give to other artists creating a unique sound for themselves in this day and age?

In order to create a unique sound, the key word is unique.  IMO, if an artist is too fond of or inspired by someone else's story or creative truth then the world will never get know their story or creative truth.  The hardest part is for someone to transition from fan to artist.  The goal is to a be an artist not a skillful fan that can mimic what people are aleady familiar with sonically.  The world does not need another [insert artist name], it needs the next you.  If that's not what a person is creating the music for then it won't last or stand the test of time IMO.

What are you looking forward to the most in 2016? (Touring, new projects, etc.)

Seeing God move.  He's working everyday.  I'm just here to make sure to clock-in and jump on board with His next move because He stays with a dope playbook.  With that being said, I'm sure He cooking up more things for me to do as an artist like more high profile gigs, touring, getting crazy merch sales popping, new music, signing a solid deal, all that and more than I can imagine.

To hear more of F.Y.I.’s music, listen now on:

And continue the conversation via social:
Twitter: @fyipsalms
instagram: @fyipsalms


Erykah Badu Decoded: A Conversation with Ms. BADU by Lainney Dizon

Self-described as a ‘mother first’, Badu is a touring DJ, producer, director, activist, holistic healer, doula, bgirl, observer and evolving artist. Most recently, Erykah had the world beaming with the release of her new self-composed mixtape of “carefully and lovingly-selected” vintage jazz and funk. A project she dedicated to a world in need of healing. Including a special encryption on the cover of her mixtape, Ms. Badu encouraged her fans to reach her on her 'hotline'.

Dizon Dreams cracked the code of Badu's hotline and touched on topics from her favorite album and thoughts of hip-hop’s current state. Check out the conversation with Ms. Badu below:

You’re a true light in the industry and always honest. How do you inspire your creativity on a daily basis?

Peace and light, thank you. I just let it happen and if I’m not being or feeling creative I just let that flow as well, because  that means it’s downloading period and that means it’s a time where I’m not supposed to be creating, I’m supposed to be learning and you know, creating inside. When it’s ready to come out, it will.

That’s real. What music are you digging now, any favorite albums on rotation?

That’s a mean question to ask. That’s mean because there’s so much great stuff, but the album I’m listening to currently right now is Pink Floyd - Dark Side of the Moon because I really like it a lot.

Any suggestions for those looking to develop and holistic mindset?

Let’s break down ‘holistic’ and what that means. Holistic is ‘mind, body, and spirit.’ If you’re looking to develop that holistic mindset you gotta pay attention to the company you keep. Pick your friends like you pick your food. you want to eat the best thing for your body, start there and see what happens.

What direction do you think hip-hop is headed to?

Hip-hop is not some big monster, it’s the people. I believe hip-hop will take the direction of the people. that’s where hip-hop is gonna go, it’s our politics, and don’t get it twisted, rap is something you do. hip-hop is something you live.