Behind The Music Blog | Power to the People

We went behind the scenes to speak to the two main Producers behind our exceptional new album ‘Power To The People’, launched to coincide with Black History Month. Find out more about the talented musicians who made it happen, why community and the influence of Black History are so important to this project, and who helped our amazing Producers achieve the success they have in their careers so far.

Can you tell us a bit about the tracks you created for this album, your influences and what makes this album special?

It’s a mixture of Hip Hop and R&B; contemporary style songs with anthemic & positive messages. I didn’t have any specific influences, but I’m always inspired by some of the great artists today such as Beyonce, Kendrick Lamar, Jay Z, Kanye West, Future & more.

I worked with a number of artists & musicians on this project. Newland, PRKR, Amber Dion, N.E.P.H.E.W & Blckatom. I think it’s important to showcase black artists and black music. Black Culture drives American culture, and a big part of that is the music. We created the type of music that we like to listen to.

Are there any standout tracks you’d like to highlight and why?

I love all of the music. My personal favorites are the hip hop songs “Chosen One” by PRKR & “Comeback” by N.E.P.H.E.W. From the tone and style of the rappers voice to the production, as soon as I hear those tracks I feel like getting up & ready to go accomplish whatever goal I’ve set for the day.

Finally, this month is Black History Month. Why is Black History important for everyone to educate themselves on?

Black history is American history. You can’t say you know the history of America without learning Black history & how the history of America continues to affect Black Americans today.

Can you tell us about a Black leader, creator or person from your own life who inspired you and why?

Master P. I was a fan of him and No Limit Records as a kid growing up. His story of how he started in music and became an entrepreneur continues to inspire me. He preaches self empowerment and black ownership. He’s embodied that since he started No Limit records to the multifaceted businesses he’s created since then.

Can you tell us a bit about the tracks you created for this album?

Yeah, it was such a great time collaborating with artists that I’ve worked with before as well as an artist that I hadn’t worked with yet. Our aim was to create songs that reflected pride, courage and confidence that comes with being black in America. Obviously so much is made of the challenges, but we wanted to illuminate the joy and beauty and history. Each track tells a different story. From “Black Magic” which tells the story of how black innovation and perseverance manifests itself in modern day spirit, to “Dirt On My Name” which illustrates unshakable confidence in the face of doubters and detractors.

We tapped into both Hip-Hop & R&B. Those are the two dominant genres generally represented within and by the black culture. Pulling from soulful hip hop, to HBCU band, to trap music, we enjoyed traversing through the spectrum of black music history.   

Can you tell us about any of the musicians or performers you worked with?

I worked with vocalists Mayila Jones, Shardé Bivans and rapper Brandon Lowe. All three are immensely talented and pure fun to work with. I can’t overstate how valuable it is to work with people you enjoy, because the quality of the music is highly impacted by the relationships behind it. 

Did you have any specific influences or artists that inspired you while you were working on these tracks?

As I mentioned previously, we had fun tapping into soul, rap, R&B and marching band sounds. Each with a distinct flavor in the fabric of black music, we wanted to create records that stand with the contemporary sonics of today while also giving a nod to the nostalgia of the 90s. You can hear the influences scanning Kanye and Dilla to Beyonce and Summer Walker.

Can you tell us what makes this album stand out?

What’s special to us as the creators and collaborators is that it’s a chance to celebrate being Black. 2020 was a tough year for the country and uniquely tough for those who are Black in America. It’s good to remind and be reminded of the privilege, benefits and beauty of being Black. Sure, there’s still a fight to be had for justice, mercy and equality, but the fuel to forge ahead in these fights includes affirmations, remembrance and shouting the famous words of the late James Brown, “Say it loud! I’m Black and I’m proud!” 

Are there any standout tracks you’d like to highlight and why?

They’re like my (future) children. I love all of them the same, but each in different ways ha! I think the track that may resonate the most with people is “Black Magic” featuring Brandon Lowe. It pays homage to the forefathers and mothers who paved the way for today’s access and innovation. From technology to politics, black history has forged the future that we live in now and will grow into. The lyrics, I’m goin hard for ancestors that’s up above, The ones who fought for us when our people was shackled up.” are an example of how the “Black Magic” we’ve been endowed to gives us a responsibility to carry the mantle forward.

Why is Black History important for everyone to educate themselves on?

Black history is important because it is our history, as a country. The fabric of this country has black and brown threads woven all throughout; from pre-slavery African culture, to the horrors of captivity and subjugation all the way to and through rising from bondage to transcendent accomplishments. It’s important to learn about both so that we can move towards healing, restoration & continued pride and growth. If we skip the history part and try to move straight to unity and reconciliation, we won’t know what needs to be healed and restored. We’ve got to tell the whole story! 

Can you tell us about a Black leader, creator or person from your own life who inspired you and why?

I like to look at this in 3 parts. Those I admire from afar and have never met, those who I have been inspired by through a moment or two, and lastly, those who have been consistent staples in my life. In the first group, I’d put someone like Dr. Martin Luther King, for his faith, humility and perseverance, Barack Obama for his conviction, composure and communicative skills, and Kanye West for his relentless innovation, confidence and courage. I could list countless others, but I’d adapted parts of those three in my approach to life and art.

More proximate influences include my father and mother who model hard work, emphasize the value of family and esteem consistency. I’ll also include LeBron James who’s from Northeast Ohio, as I am, and someone who I’ve been able to create music for in the past. His work in the community with schooling and charity has fostered an environment that will breed success for many kids who might not have had an opportunity otherwise. Very proud and inspired by him both on and off the court. Lastly, I would be remiss if I didn’t include my great-great grandfather. William Sudduth Sr. was born into slavery in Alabama, the son of slave-master Elbert Sudduth and an unnamed slave and worked to purchase his freedom. He eventually was given the right to vote in 1867 after the Civil War, married Lucy Mickens and started my mother’s family line. His son was my great grandfather George Sudduth, who eventually moved to Akron, Ohio and started a church. Faith was their power and purpose, which serves and one of the greatest inspirations for me today.  

Meet The Artists

Amber Dion

Amber Dión, an emerging songwriter and vocal arranger describes her musical approach as eclectic and soulful. Amber combines her passion for classical technique with the groove of R&B and Pop music to provide listeners a thought provoking musical experience. Not just music that is audibly appealing but resonates with the heart of a person. Her influences range from Kathleen Battle and Audra McDonald to Brandy and Tank. Amber seeks to inspire creatives and music lovers to go after all life has for them by living big and creating even bigger.

Brandon Lowe

Brandon Terrill Lowe, also known as B Lowe, is an American hip hop artist and songwriter from Canton, Ohio. His versatility ranges from hip hop to R&B and pop. Lowe’s work has been featured on major networks such as NFL Network, Fox and ESPN.

Mayila Jones

Billboard charting songwriter and artist Mayila, has been marking her territory in the music industry one step at a time. Originally from Columbus Ohio, she began her journey training in dance but eventually found her voice in writing her own songs. 

Her sultry and seductive voice has appeared on Apple Music’s Brown Sugar playlist, iHeart Radio, and as the theme song for Tyler Perry’s TV Show “Sistas”. She has captivated audiences at the hundreds with live performances across the country.

Her voice and pen has also landed writing credits with Chris Brown, Kelly Rowland, Ty Dolla Sign, and Jeremih to name a few. Mayila is a burgeoning star well on her way to become a household name.

N.E.P.H.E.W

Chicago’s own N.E.P.H.E.W is a thought provoking, streetsmart wordsmith whose hip hop stanza’s are packed
with passion and lack nothing. N.E.P.H.E.W isn’t just a name, it’s a philosophy, an outlook, an approach; a way of life for the well balanced Chicago Artist. Besides his riveting live shows, he has over 500 placements between Movies, TV and Video games. His latest album release and groundbreaking visuals including “All Black” have solidified N.E.P.H.E.W’s pure artistry.

NEWLAND

Christopher Newland (NEWLAND) is an American singer, songwriter, actor and businessman. He was born and raised in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Newland was influenced by music at a early age. He grew up inspired by artist such as Michael Jackson, Prince, and Usher. After high school Newland moved to the Detroit Metro Area where he developed a friendship and worked with Artist, Big Sean and many Grammy Award Winning Producers. Newland’s smooth melodies and catchy hooks landed him with a local management team that helped him debut his first single release, “Pillow”. The song was under an Indie Label in collaboration with Universal Music Group Distribution. Newland began touring his hit single across the country, opening up for Neyo, T-pain, Lloyd just to name a few. Later Newland moved to Atlanta where he currently resides writing songs for legendary artist like Keith Sweat, Slim of 112, and Bobby V. Newland recently received his first number 1 Billboard plaque for a Korean group by the name of NCT-127 for the song, “Mad Dog” that he co-wrote. Newland believes life is a song, and love is the music. He plans to take the world by storm like a breath of fresh air. Stay tuned for the name “NEWLAND” because the best is yet to come.

PRKR

PRKR (pronounced ‘parker’) is an artist, songwriter, and music producer hailing from Tampa, Florida by way of Mount Vernon, New York. Over the past decade, he’s spent countless hours making and releasing his own music, and also producing and engineering for other artists. Starting from his local Florida scene, he now resides in Los Angeles, California writing and producing for major industry artists on a global scale, such as Colombian-based electronic DJ Argüello, Coventry, United Kingdom rappers Skatta, and Vision, and French-Algerian star Rilès. The versatility he developed from writing for so many genres helped him to grow as an artist and form his eclectic sound. Years of emulation and creativity lead to the familiar, yet unique and fresh style you get from PRKR’s music now.

Shardé

Hailing from the city of angels, singer, rapper and songwriter Shardé has a special west coast flavor that is the force behind her artistry. A familiar face to FirstCom Music after appearing on The Future is Female and Soul Revived, Shardé is a vocal powerhouse and her ability to blend her vocal power over a smooth hip hop beat is her signature. In one song she is able to deliver soulful vocals and a head-bobbing rap verse creating her unique sound. As a well-rounded artist, she believes that hard work and determination is the key to any pursuit. Her great attitude, professionalism and positive disposition makes her easy to create with. Keep and eye out for this rising star. She is on her way to greatness.

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‘Behind The Music’ gives the composers and musicians behind our exceptional range of production music the spotlight through interviews, behind the scenes videos and artist showcases. To learn more about some of our top new albums and the creators who produced them, visit ‘Behind The Music’ and follow us on Instagram.

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