SOCIETY: The Weight Of Possibility–Defining Millennials

photo from a past PPR at one of Posse’s partner schools. [courtesy C. Moore Photography]

From Disney dreams to recession stained realities, this generation grew up on happy endings and heroes, and grew into a less rosy reality.
Conforming, civility and the Great Depression defined The Silent Generation, while war and activism defined The Baby Boomers. While, the civil rights movement and the growth of new opportunities defined Generation X. But the defining issues of the Millennials didn’t seem quite crystal clear as a few Millennials debated back and forth about whether their generation has struggled enough.
“Yes we’re struggling, but what are we doing about it? We’re sitting here.” Light applause and a lot of mumbling met that statement as 18-year-old freshman Sandy Tran, stood up amongst 170 DePauw students in a small meeting room in the middle of Bradford Woods in Martinsville Indiana.
The Millennials, defined as those born after 1980 [81-2000], fall within the age range of 11 to 30. The first crop of Millennials turned 30 this year and as a flurry of articles and studies begin to take form about this generation, this Spring a slice of the DePauw University community came together at the annual Posse Plus Retreat (PPR) to map out their own definition of their generation.

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VIDEO: Big Sean Talks School, Success & New Album


Check out the video of our interview where Sean speaks on a bit of everything from school, to relationships, and more, including the best advice he’s received about being a new artist.  Be sure to “read more” for a couple of clips from his performance.

After earning a 3.7 GPA at an elite high school in Michigan, Sean Michael Leonard Anderson, better known as Big Sean, turned down an almost full scholarship to attend Michigan state pursue a career in the music industry. He literally pressed pause on the education route and pushed play on the music and fast forward 4 years later he is signed to GOOD music/Def Jam and set to have his debut album Finally Famous released June 21st.
Looking back the MC realizes he probably could have gone to school but admits it would have been hard. But his friend Mike Posner, who graduated last year from Duke University, proved attending college and signing a record deal is indeed possible.
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Vanessa & Angela Simmons Talk Getting Things Done in Black Future Interview



Check out the latest interview in The BVX’s Black Future Series. In this piece I interviewed Angela & Vanessa Simmons. They reflect on the legacy of Black History and tell us about the launch of their OWN production company called SIMMONS TWO.

Identify your role in your field.
Vanessa: I’m learning and taking notes and trying my best today. I’m up and coming and I’m looking forward to breaking down some more barriers and hopefully creating more opportunities for people like myself.

Me and Angela we started our own production company, Simmons Two, so we plan on bringing you guys some good quality programming soon from film, to tv to web content. I’m completing my screen play with one of my best friends from college and just creating opportunities is what its all about. You have to get out there, you can’t wait for other people to get things done, sometimes you have to do it yourself. You might not know where the funding will come from or any of that stuff but you just have to create and do. Do some of the things you want to see done, be the change that you want to see in the world.

Do you think that the work you are doing now is leading to creating a legacy?

Angela: My sister and I we are working on an empire. I would hope to leave a legacy because there’s so much I want to do and so many people I want to help. I know that the work I want to do isn’t normal, and if I can impact a large group of people there’s definitely a legacy behind it and there’s something special there and something to teach and something to show. [I see a connection with ground breaking women like Madame CJ Walker] because she did exactly what my sister and I did. But she was the first to do it. She actually laid the road that made it possible for us today to make these choices.


Meet Kris Kasanova [Interview]

2 Meet Kris Kasanova from Rhonesha Byng on Vimeo.

I finally had a chance to catch up with Kris Kasanova.  He’s an unsigned artist from Brooklyn on the rise and showing signs of a promising artist.  His debut project The Long Way Home has struck a chord with both industry insiders and fans.  Check out my interview with him as he talks music, life, and future plans.  And, if you haven’t already you can download his EP HERE.

Unique Takes The Independent Route [interview]



From the projects of BedStuy, to school talent shows, to major arena tours and now a chart topping album in Japan, Unique’s journey is truly that–unique. Generating a buzz performing for major artists including Ciara and Chris Brown before inking a major deal, R&B recording artist Unique Zayas felt his hard work was solidified once he sealed a deal with Def Jam records. After signing with the label, as time went by without an official single or album in the works, Unique and his team decided to part ways with Def Jam and launch independently. Thus far, he’s encountered enormous success in Japan, and his single Maniac is building momentum in the U.S. On set with Unique Zayas [interview] from on Vimeo. stopped by Unique’s video set to chat with him about the highs and lows of his career and his future plans. Throughout it all, he’s an example of the many obstacles that come for those on the pursuit of a career in entertainment: “Its good that people see the grind so they know it’s hard work, everything is not a fairy tale.” Check out the video and the entire interview when you “read more.”

How do you feel now that your official first single is out?
Honestly, I am filled with so many emotions. I feel like a kid on the first day of school–excited to go but nervous to step out into your new class. For so long people have heard music from me via MySpace, YouTube and those random sites that leak your music, but now you can purchase my single “Maniac” on iTunes and I just shot my first official music video for it. It’s an accomplishment.

I know that you wrote the song, but who worked on the song with you?
Well, I worked on the song with a few dope people on the team. Ty-Deals produced the track, John John & Johnny Black brought the edge to it with the guitars and heavy drums. I wrote the song with writer August Rush.

Is it based on a semi true experience?
Um, yea but I’m not saying any names. (laughs). With all my music I try to incorporate some truth to it and of course I’ve dealt with a maniac or two in the past. I think everyone has.

You released an album in Japan before the U.S.– why Japan? Will this album also be released in the US or will your American album be completely different?
Why Japan? Why not Japan! It’s a city I’ve dreamed of visiting. I got the opportunity to do an album out there and I jumped on it! So far it’s been amazing. I have the #1 record on their iTunes R&B charts for 3 weeks running for my duet “Wherever You Are” featuring international artist Charis and got the chance to executive produce my whole album entitled “From Brooklyn To You.” The albums are going to be different in production but the flue to it is my heart. It’s in everything I do.


You’ve been singing since you were 5, and you’ve been pursuing a professional career since you were in high school. Was it difficult to go off the beaten path when you were first starting out as a professional singer?
Indeed. I wouldn’t say following your dream is the easiest path to take but I’ve always known from a young age what I wanted to do. I always tell people I’d rather struggle doing what I love than taking the safe path and living with regret.

Upon graduating from high school you were signed to Def Jam records, how did getting signed to a major label effect your career?
Well before getting signed I was out and about opening on tours for Ciara, Chris Brown and many other artists who had major record deals just building my fan base. Getting signed was a big deal for me–definitely a dream come true! It was like my grinding paid off and it was time to take it to the next level. I’d say being signed opened my eyes to this thing called “the music business.” It ain’t all about making music and going to fancy parties. There’s politics and a bunch of things the public doesn’t get to see or understand. Overall being signed forced me to grow up fast and take things into my own hands more than I had been doing before.

You’re now releasing your music on your own independent label, Star Power Media, and recently announced that you are no longer with Def Jam, can you explain what happened? Was it your choice to leave?
Yes, I am releasing music under my own label and it feels hella good. Def Jam just didn’t work out for me, but everything for a reason. I’m now able to have more creative control and present myself to the world as Unique. Leaving was sort of a mutual agreement. I could have stayed and been 40 years old waiting to be released or venture out on my own and continue to grind.

You have a legion of fans who have been following your career for years without even having released an album, how have you been able to build such a dedicated fan base?
It’s surreal to me. I’m a fan of many artist so to have my own is amazing. I think why my “dreamers” have been so loyal to me is because they’re ab;e to watch me, front row and center. Through my years of grinding, to getting signed and it not working out and continuing the journey. I try to make it all relatable to them by being honest and loyal to them. I’m so grateful for the love back.

How will you approach your career differently now that you are an independent artist?
I will continue to set the standard high for quality in my music and in building my brand and company. I wouldn’t necessarily do things different we’d just be taking it up some notches.

What projects do you have lined up for 2011?
Well, I should be visiting Japan soon. And of course, continuing to work on my U.D. release, performing and things of that nature. I’m giving everyday my all and letting God lead the way. I think it’ll be a good year.

For more on Unique and to follow his journey check him out on the following sites:

The video debuts in just a few days. But in the meantime check out the sneak peak:

Talib Kweli on The Music Industry, Kanye West, and New Album on NBCNewYork


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Check out this interview I did for  His album Gutter Rainbows is out now.  

From his favorite MC’s of the ‘new era’ to his thoughts on Kanye West to what we can expect from his new album, Talib Kweli offers his thoughts on all.

“Kanye just had this passion. He decided in his mind he was the best, and he manifested it and made it happen.”

On the heavy Kanye criticism he says “I think the same people who level so much criticism at an artist like Kanye West are going to be upset when he’s gone. I think he’s a very important cultural figure and musician. His presence helps me out, it helps Mos Def out, it helps Lupe Fiasco, and if it helps all these artists, it helps hip hop, so if you’re down for hip hop you’re down for Kanye West.”

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