Emerging artist Michael Stokes‘ new single, “Lay Back Down,” from his debut EP combines a sultry, soulful sound with riffs and hip hop undercurrents making it a seamless fit for today’s musical landscape.
Michael grew up in Benton Harbor, Michigan where he and his brother were first exposed to the music of their father, a talented saxophonist. Listening to and writing music was a part of the family routine.
Over the last several years, Mstokes — as he calls himself — spent countless hours working with both established and up-and-coming artist.
He was featured on Flo-Rida’s “American Superstar” and Gucci Mane‘s “Money Machine” featuring Rick Ross.
“We work, that’s what we here to do,” Michael says, reflecting on his extensive collection – over 2000 recordings. He is currently working on completing his new project to be released this fall.
Produced by Vandal & Luccie Fontane for Honorable Court.
Yunel Cruz is a singer and songwriter from New York City who burst onto the scene with his Billboard charting bachata hit “Mi Dominicanita,” in 2010. Born Jofre Cruz, he went on to sign to Universal Music Latin Entertainment‘s Machete Music imprint home to Don Omar and other notable latin artists.
After the release of his Something Different EP in 2010, Cruz went on to land four more records on the Billboard tropical songs chart including two No. 1’s with “Ay Amiga” and “No Vuelve.” Most recently he released his first bilingual record featuring R&B star Ne-Yo and reggaeton artist J. Alvarez;garnering millions of Spotify streams and views along the way.
Back in his hometown of NYC while prepping for his performance at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center for Soulfrito Fest 2017 alongside some of the hottest names in urban and latin music; SFPL‘s own Arlene Danna chatted with the rising bilingual crooner about his career, love for music, working with Ne-Yo and much more.
Audiences first became acquainted with you back in 2010 with the release of your bachata hit “Mi Dominicanita.” Since you’ve landed on the Billboard charts several times including snagging two No.1’s. How has your life changed since you released your first EP Something Different?
Wow, it’s changed a lot. I think that, you know it’s been a journey that you embark on and you don’t really truly know what to expect. When we released that first single, at least for me I didn’t know what to expect and I didn’t know the acceptance was going to be so huge. It started off in New York, then the Dominican Republic and then it just went crazy. With that first single I got to travel to places I would have never imagined. I went to Ecuador and other parts of South America. Here in the United States we went to Utah, San Diego, L.A.. So it’s crazy. My life has changed a ton. I got to move from the Northeast in Boston and now I reside in Miami. It’s been a long journey and one that I’ve enjoyed a lot but my life has definitely changed in every way.
Your latest single “Sin Miedo” features reggaetonero J. Alvarez and R&B singer Ne-Yo. How did that collaboration come about?
The collaboration came about because I had the record. I was working with my producer Lenny Medina. He’s worked with Romeo Santos and Enrique Iglesias. We had the record and the minute I heard “Sin Miedo” I loved it. The beat is crazy, and I went you know what let’s reach out and get this fire. We reached out to Ne-Yo and he sent me his verse and it was amazing. When Ne-Yo recorded his part it was beautiful, but it made the song kind of long. So I was trying to figure out what we were going to do with the record. Afterwards I was like you know what let’s put a reggaetonero on it since it would be my first record that’s both english and spanish. Before all the singles that we released were bachata singles. People don’t know that I do R&B, that I do Hip-Hop, that I do all kinds of music. You know I grew up in New York but it’s like a lot of people don’t know that I have all those other genres in me. So I was like you know what let’s reach out to J. Alvarez. We’re good friends and he’s an amazing artist who I respect a lot. He works independently and I respect that. When I started I was an independent artist as well. Now I’m actually signed to Universal. Been with them for a few years but I respect him very much. We we’re going to reach out to Maluma, but at the time he just finished doing a record with Shakira and Ricky Martin so he couldn’t jump on a third single at the time because the release time wasn’t going to work. So J. Alvarez said I’m on it, he recorded the verse it was fire and there it was, that was the record.
So you immediately had Ne-Yo in mind when you heard the record?
Yes, it just sounded like Ne-Yo to me as soon as I heard it. He’s one of the artists that I grew up admiring a ton. R&B artists are Ne-Yo and Usher for me but he’s one of my top favorite artists that I grew up emulating. For me it was an honor to grow up and actually work with him. You know it’s kind of crazy because when you start making music you don’t know where you’re going to be tomorrow. You just make music with love and from the heart. I never in my wildest dreams would have imagined that I one day I would be recording and working with one of my idols. So that to me was incredible and what made it even more special was how humble and great of a person he is. It’s unreal. We sat down and spent time together. He’s just a unbelieveable soul, so it’s cool.
You guys shot the video in L.A. how was that experience?
I thought it was cool. I wanted L.A. because I wanted a different feel. I had shot “Ay Amiga” in Miami and I wanted a different look and feel to it. It was off the chain. I love the vibe in L.A. I wanted to bring that to the video. It’s kind of crazy because we had a different theme in mind. We kind of wanted to do like a racing thing and then when I read the script I was like okay this is like Fast and Furious no we’re not going to do that. So we went with the party scene and it was dope. Everything worked out.
“Sin Miedo” manages to fuse together multiple genres. It isn’t just bachata, or reggaeton, or pop. How would you describe it?
I would describe “Sin Miedo” as a bilingual latin american song. It’s a dope fusion. If you speak spanish you can vibe to it, if you like english music you can vibe to it. It’s a big fusion of different flavors and that’s what makes it dope. I love the record and people have been responding well to it. If you see the streaming numbers 1.7 million so far, and people on YouTube supporting it; it’s beautiful.
Is this the sound audiences should be expecting on your forthcoming debut Divina Voluntad?
For sure. That’s definitely the sound. I’m working very hard to change the sound of what people are accustomed to hearing from me, you know that romantic side. People are going to be shocked with the new records. I have a couple of other special collaborations that people are going to really dig and enjoy.
Are you able to give us any hints on who you’ve been collaborating with?
We have a couple really big collabs that I can’t say now, but I will make sure I get it to you first. It’s going to be cool. I think people are going to dig the new Yunel and the direction that we’re going. I’m looking forward to you guys hearing the new music.
You wrote your first song at age 9 so it’s safe to say that music has always been your passion. Are there any influences in your life that have pushed you in that direction?
Yes, I’ve been writing my whole life. I think so. When I was younger I started writing because of my Mom. She told me that if I wanted something fun to do that opens your mind just write your emotions. That’s where it came from to write music. I’ve worked with really big artists and songwriters as well and for me I just find I have a passion for writing my own stuff and what I feel. Then to get to perform those songs and to get the support from people it’s pretty cool. You create something from your heart and people vibe with it, it’s one of the coolest feelings ever.
Besides singing do you have any other musical talents?
I play a little guitar, I used to play the trombone when I was younger. I haven’t played it in a long time. Music is my thing so I try to touch different instruments and enjoy the time when I’m in the studio and just play around with them too.
You’ll be performing at Soulfrito Fest 2017 alongside some of the biggest in urban and latin music like Rick Ross and Zion y Lennox. How have you been preparing for your performance?
I’ve been just getting myself ready by figuring out the show. On my end it’s a little more complex because it’s not a show that’s set like this is the set that we’re doing. It’s a change and it’s going to be the first time people are going to see me doing my bilingual thing. Singing in both english and spanish on stage it’s going to be pretty cool for me and I’m just really excited. New York is home so it’s going to be a good time.
You can catch Yunel performing Friday June 9th atSoulfrito Fest 2017 at the Barclays Center alongside Rick Ross, Zion y Lennox, Ivy Queen, Young M.A., Fetty Wap, Cardi B, and more!
Mother’s Day is always a special day here in the country as millions celebrate that one special person who has given them life. The day is a powerful one, so powerful in fact that it makes the most bitter of situations go away for a day of civility (see Future and Ciara). We are sure you took care of mom this weekend by giving her the day off and celebrating her and showering her with appreciation.
See how your favorite celebs such as Kevin Hart, Future,Trey Songz, Diddy, Kim Kardashian, Mariah Carey and more took to the gram and celebrated the moms in their lives and being a mom themselves.
Lupe Fiasco links up with Rick Ross and Big K.R.I.T. on his DROGAS Light single “Tranquillo.” Lupe’s forthcoming album is set to drop on Feb. 10. The project will feature artist like Victoria Monet, Gizzle, Jake Torrey, Rondo and more.
On the song, the trio touches on respect, serenity, tranquility, improvement, peace, and understanding.
Take a listen above.
In other news, K.R.I.T. recently made an appearance on Jermaine Dupri‘s reality show The Rap Game Season 3.
Rick Ross has a new single/video out featuring Ty Dolla $ign titled “I Think She Like Me.” He also appears on a song with artist Tracy T called “Choices” along with Pusha T in tow. As Ross continues to take over the Wingstop, Checkers franchise chain and pushing his new brand Rich Hair Care, the Miami native plans to release his upcoming album Rather You Than Me set to drop soon.
“See what hustling gets you? Her hustle got her here. It’s called ambition!” – @RichForever
In December 2016, Rick Ross expressed these exact words to Atlanta’s emerging lyricist Akbar V after showing up at his northside mansion along with a bag of Checkers as a humble offering in exchange for spitting a tantalizing verse for the boss himself.
“Sometimes in this world ambition is worth more than money” the Cleveland Ave. emcee rhymes in her new street single “3$ No Tax.” The MMG-produced track was given to her by Maybach Music Group’s camp earlier in the year and came full circle after her unique encounter. Directed by famed visual creator Cricket, the video was shot on Cleveland Ave. in the heart of South Atlanta’s roughest neighborhood where the native is from and currently still resides.
After the first failed attempt to link with the boss at his residence, her #Akbartian fans took to social media to assure her next shot hit the target. Only moments went by before the boss responded in her IG comments, which is also the cover art for the single, and the rest is history.
After Ross said she was the hottest in these Atlanta streets, her ambition took flight and now she’s soaring to the next level.
See Akbar V’s passion explode as she meets the boss, freestyles for him in the full visual above.
Catch her new visual to her forthcoming single “Pray For My City” this Friday right here on SFPL.
Last year, Tru Life returned home to much fanfare after being sentenced to eight years in prison. Upon his return, he got right back into the swing of things, collaborating with some of Hip Hop’s biggest stars which led to the release of his smash single “Bag For It,” featuring Rick Ross and Velous. Now with 2017 in full swing, Tru Life recruits fellow New York City native and rhyme slinger Axel Leon for “Bang Bang 2k17,” a redux version of Capone-N-Noreaga’s classic.
It has been a year of successful turnovers for Grammy nominated recording artist and expanding entrepreneur, Rick Ross. The Maybach Music Group CEO and Universal Music Group won a Motion for Summary Judgment in the United States District Court for the Central District of California in a trademark suit brought against them by a hip-hop artist that owned the trademark “Mastermind.” The Plaintiff sought millions of dollars in damages claiming Ross and Universal had infringed on his trademark by using the Mastermind name in Ross’ sixth studio album released in 2014 entitled “Mastermind,” the ensuing “Mastermind” tour as well as Ross’ taking on the persona of “Mastermind.”
When asked for a statement, Rick Ross’ attorney Leron E. Rogers states:
“When claims are made against our clients, we litigate them very aggressively. We are happy that the court not only ruled in Ross and Universal’s favor, but also took the extra step to cancel Plaintiff’s trademark.”
Broadening his ever-expanding portfolio of business ventures, Ross has also just announced two very special new partnerships. The boss is partnering with his sister Tawanda to join the Checkers & Rally’s restaurant “Flavorhood,” by purchasing his favorite hometown hangout in Miami Gardens, FL.
Most recently, Rick has announced what is perhaps his most unforeseen business venture – a close partnership with luxury hair care line RICH Hair Care. Known to have coined the “Rich” term as the title of one of his most successful mixtapes Rich Forever, Rick Ross will now use the word association to help further develop the RICH Hair Care brand. For more information please visit www.richhaircare.com.
The news comes on the heels of Ross’ just-released music video for his new single “Buy Back The Block,” featuring Gucci Mane & 2 Chainz, as well as the recent announcement at the AMA’s about his debut studio album under Epic Records, titled Rather You Than Me.
Music mogul and expanding entrepreneur Rick Ross has announced another new and exciting business partnership. His most recent business venture and perhaps the most unforeseen one is a close partnership with luxury hair care line RICH Hair Care. Rick Ross, also known as “The Boss,” has coined the “Rich” term as the title of one of his most successful mixtapes Rich Forever, his Instagram handle (@richforever) and will now use the word association to help further develop the RICH Hair Care brand. The news comes shortly after Ross announced his debut studio album under Epic Records, titled Rather You Than Me and his investment in the burger industry with Checkers/Rally’s restaurants. For more information, visit www.us.RichHairCare.com Recently, Ross held an intimate event titled “Beauty & Belaire” in Atlanta, Georgia to officially make the special announcement. The event was presented by Maybach Music Group and took place at Ross’ massive 235-acre home. The night was hosted by Tahira Joy, co-founder of The Cut Life with cocktails courtesy of none other than Ross’ signature champagne, Belaire Rosé. The room was filled with Atlanta’s top beauty influencers, press, and bloggers. “We are extremely excited to partner up with such an icon as Rick Ross. He’s a master of blurring the lines between commercial and entertainment worlds, not to mention his ability to generate a brand halo,” said, Indrek Lohmus, CEO of RICH Hair Care.
“This is an amazing new venture for me, and one that I am most excited about. Beauty and Hair care are both huge markets,” says Rick Ross. “I appreciate and understand quality products, especially when those products are used to enhance your overall personal health and appearance. Being a supporter of men’s grooming and healthy facial hair in specific, I was more than pleasantly surprised with RICH Hair Care products and had personally used them before this partnership. I’ve always been asked about my beard, hair care and what I use to take care of myself. It was something that I always overlooked until I sat down and really thought about the benefits and the message that could be created by partnering with the great guys at RICH Hair Care. I am excited to build a global network around this new RICH Hair Care venture, continue the entrepreneurial conversations and offer additional exposure to an incredible brand.” Ross has previously invested in Belaire champagne, Wingstop, Checkers/Rally’s, and now RICH Hair Care. Please see more photos of the intimate cocktail event “Beauty & Belaire” below:
Rick Ross seems to be quite moved by Solange‘s hit single that is completely making major waves entitled “Cranes In The Sky” from the album A Seat At The Table. The song is so hot that the 305 rapper had to lace the track with a few of his own signature bars.
In a span of three years, emerging Atlanta artist, Supakali, has accomplished a lot, independently. He has released two projects, opened up for Rick Ross in Washington DC, performed in venues and festival stages across the US, and is always winning over new listeners, while expanding his fan base. Over the Summer, the Georgia native took on the Big Apple as he made a temporary move to focus on his music career.
During his stay, Supakali recorded new music, shot a music video, performed a couple shows, and linked up with Harlem’s own, Jay Pres – who has worked with artists such as Dave East and Tray Pizzy. Together, the two emcees are a dynamic duo in the studio and it’s evident on their first ever collaboration. With Kev Cairo on the beat, “1000” will have you cranking up your speakers and singing along to the hook.
Forget “keeping it 100,” Supakali and Jay Pres keep it all the way 1000!
Supakali’s The 5th Quarter drops soon and will serve as the precursor to his long-awaited Soon You’ll Understand album.