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Feature Friday- Victor Bunn for ViBu designs

October 12, 2012 Feature FridayPhilly Support PhillyRespect  No comments

Feature Friday is among us again, folks! This week is a special week for me because I have the honor of featuring my older brother, Victor. In my PSYCH class on Wednesday, my professor stated that it is quite possible for a parent to have a favorite child. Well, I have a favorite sibling. I love all of my siblings equally, but it was always something about Victor that made me take to him more.
We grew up in Blumberg Projects, and I can remember so many days where my brother would sit on our porch under the yellow awning and draw. I remember watching him and saying "I wanna do that, too". I remember Saturday mornings he would wake me up early and bring me into his room. He had posters of almost every cartoon and video game you could imagine: Mega Man, Metroid, Mario Brothers, Transformers, Sonic, ThunderCats. And he had this old air hockey table that he converted into his space to draw on. He would sit me down, give me some of his sketch pad paper, point to something on his wall and say "Draw that." When I started out, I was heavey handed; dark lines in my sketches that left a residue behind no matter how hard I erased. He would say, "What are you doing? Man..." and then throw the paper in the trash and hold my hand to show me how to sketch lightly so the dark residue wouldn't be left behind whenever I needed to erase. I used to get frustrated because my work didn't look like his. But he would still tell me that my drawings were good and encourage me to keep going. I remember the first AWESOME sketch I did was of Mario jumping in the air with the mushroom power up in his hand and it looked JUST LIKE HIS POSTER!! (It was a little slanted lol but my talent had advanced far beyond that of a typical 8 year old) From then on, I kept drawing. If he drew something, I would sneak a look into his sketch pad when he wasn't around and try to draw it too. Not recognizing my talent, I stopped drawing because my work didn't look like his. It was almost as good as his, but not quite, so I stopped, not realizing my brother had been drawing longer than I had been alive, so of course his work would be better than mine. I didn't get it then. But I get it now.
To me, this blog post is the most inspirational and informative that I've done so far. I only wish that my brother and I could have spoken so the conversation could be recorded like my previous posts, because I know without a shadow of a doubt that the conversation would have been what a lot of people need to hear. Though my brother is very busy, he was kind enough to do the Q&A via email, as well as send me links to the music that he's done and samples of his art work.

Yani: How old were you when you knew for certain that drawing was something you wanted to indulge in?
Victor: I started when I was 7 or 8 years old. My father was teaching my brother how to illustrate and I was watching from a few feet away. Unfortunately, our household was typically dysfunctional and the times when my father wasn't there I'd look at his old sketchbooks. My father inspired me to learn to draw even though he never taught me anything first hand.
Yani: Where would you say your creativity comes from?
Victor: My creativity comes from the world around me and sometimes, it comes from what the world could be as opposed to what it is. It also comes from the desire to master one's craft. Many artists are struggling to find their own immortality. They want to be commended for their work while they're still alive and praised for it long after they're dead. My focus on these ideas were heavy in past, to a lesser extent, they still apply. But these days, my creativity is definitely fueled more by the desire to master the craft. The more I learn, the more I want to learn.
Yani: What inspired you to pursue animation in college?
Victor: I used to love Japanese Animation. That was a definite inspiration. I always believed that Animation was the next logical step after comic book illustration and video games design. But Animation wasn't mainstream during those times as it is today. It was a niche field of study and only a few schools offered courses for it. Fortunately, University of the Arts (UArts), here in Philadelphia, offers a four year degree in Animation so I jumped on the opportunity. By comparison, I also had the option to attend The Art Institute for Animation, but UArts offered so much more; not just in terms of the course study, but in terms of the university as a whole. So my choice was clear. The negative of pursuing Animation in college is I almost completely lost my love for Japanese Animation. Understand, Animation students are making their own animated shorts in class. Creating the characters, the concepts, the motion...the whole process, using some of the same tools that are standard in industry. Once you learn how to do this and learn it well, it becomes very easy to see the lack of quality in many anime. It was an eye opening experience.
Yani: What are some of your favorite software programs to use for graphic design and why?
Victor: I use many industry standards that one would expect; Adobe CS series of creative applications, Photoshop, Illustrator, Indesign etc, are the tools that many firms use by default. There's not too much a person can't do using these tools. But the applications are cost prohibitive for the average artist/designer to own independently. So, for less extensive work, I use Sketchbook Pro, Photoshop Touch, Google Docs and Polaris on Android tablets. I also use Pixlr Editor, Sumo Paint, Google Docs and Harmony on Chrome OS. There's also a level of convenience of being able to work directly from my tablet as opposed to carrying a cumbersome laptop and extra power supplies. I've learned that sometimes it's better to not reveal which tools were used to create a piece. A high quality product that was created using software that's not industry standard will sometimes be viewed negatively. I've met those that believe that the technology is the end all-be all of a person's talent as opposed to understanding true talent being used in combination with the technology. A horrible product doesn't suddenly become excellent because it was made using a $3,000 creative suite. Skilled designers can still create great work without the $3,000 creative suite.
Yani: When did you begin to develop your musical talents?
Victor: I was very lucky growing up. My family lived in a bad part of Philadelphia. But it was during a time when there were many opportunities for kids to participate in after school activities. In the mid 80's, Ms. Virginia Lam was a teacher at my elementary school, John F. Reynolds in North Philadelphia. She produced musical productions and plays starring local kids. These productions taught kids many of the fundamentals of music production. It caused the spark so to speak, as the productions became big media covered affairs after a time. As with most things, these productions ultimately came to an end. But the spark was still there.
Growing up, I listened to the radio like everyone else. Hip hop, Pop and R&B were the standards. But I grew tired of most of it because it all started to sound the same, so I branched out and started listening to Rock, New Age, Jungle. I was looking for compositions that were different, sounded different, but still well thought out. I joined the school band while attending Robert Vaux Jr. High. There I learned to read music and I learned to perform on stage as second clarinet under Mr. Dubin. This helped strengthen my foundation. When I arrived in high school, I hit a wall. I still listened to music but I no longer played. Coming from a poor family, there was no money for instruments and there was no mental encouragement for the pursuit of music or art outside of school. Even though my father has a great love of music, he wasn't around. My mother didn't really understand the point of pursuing any of it, so I was on my own.In 1992 or 93, I heard Echoes Radio for the first time and I was awe-struck. Its exactly what I was looking for in terms of feel and library of sounds used to create. Echoes played alternative music that one would never hear on mainstream stations... Ambient, New Age, hard to describe music. Shortly thereafter, I was given an Amiga 500 computer for my birthday. Ahead of its time in terms of music production and graphics, I used it to explore digital sound in a way that wasn't possible on any other platform at the time and listened to Echoes in conjunction. This kept me going until I arrived at University of the Arts where the real fun began. In my freshman year, I met a student named John Bowles. We shared a lot of the same love for graphics, animation, computer technology, and gaming. We spent the next four years piecing together digital music equipment and sharing ideas. It was fantastic times. We came up with some excellent songs even though our gear was extremely limited. My first major purchase was a Boss DR-5 drum machine from 8th Street Music that I later used with a Korg - 05RW sound module through MIDI. I've been producing my own music ever since.
Yani: What music groups or bands influenced your own musical style?
Victor: I still have an appreciation for older Jazz, Blues, Rock, Funk, Soul from the 60's, 70's and 80's, but these days, my main influences would be Solar Fields, Vincent Diamante, Vince Dicola, Austin Wintory, Hans Zimmer, Graeme Revell, Clint Mansell, Yoko Kanno, Meshell Ndegeocello, Prince, Marcomé, Lisa Gerard, Dead Can Dance, Recoil, Future Sound of London, Themroc, Gein, Tripnotix and many others.
Yani: What are some of your favorite music instruments that you like to use when making music (ie: keyboards, drum machines etc)?
Victor: Currently, I'm having a love affair with the Roland Fantom G6. I bought it a little over a year ago and it is a truly amazing keyboard. My prior favorite was the Roland XP-50, which I still own. The XP series of keyboards have very steep learning curves but they were some of the best during their time. Using the Fantom G6 after using the XP can be a bit overwhelming at times because of the increased power and flexibility the board gives when playing parts, mixing, remixing and just from general use. It's so robust that I don't feel the need to use anything else really. It's not perfect of course, but if a person is struggling to get results with a Fantom, then they're just not trying.
Yani: Do you think creativity is lacking in todays music such as hip-hop and R&B?
Victor: Yes. Without a doubt. As I mentioned before, I stopped listening to Hip Hop and R&B on a regular basis many years ago because it just all started to sound the same; or worse, when producers would sample someone else's music while still claiming their song is original. I've never been a fan of sampling the way it's used in Hip-Hop and R&B. There's no skill in it. Sample weird sounds, unique sounds to be played later, but wholesale rip offs of other songs are pathetic. Even when it comes to remixes, the only exception to the rule is if a person's remix is better than the original. If a remix can't do the original justice, then what's the point? Rhymes aren't creatively written anymore on average. Hip-Hop used to be a creative outlet that featured well written verses and urban poetry that carried a message in a powerful way. Today, more often than not, it's a man or woman rambling about nonsense on the mic for an hour with a featured list that's as long as movie credits. In some cases, Hip-Hop doesn't even rhyme anymore, which is just sad.
Yani: Could you see yourself doing music for films, plays or cartoons?
Victor: Of course. If you look at some of my favorite artists, many of them have produced albums and soundtracks for films, animation and games. It allows for more creativity and freedom than doing the usual mainstream genre releases. Soundtracks have inspired me for many years.
Yani: For a young boy who is heavy into drawing, graphic design, music and animation but lacks resources and support, what advice would you give him?
Victor: Keep practicing and try to surround themselves with people of similar interest. They have to become strong enough to defend their craft against the "crabs in a barrel" scenario. Meaning, some people would rather destroy a person with talent than see them realize their potential and succeed. The saddest part about a lot of kids interested in these creative fields are, their parents/families have no interest or understanding of them. They refuse to take the time to learn enough to be supportive of their kids and simply leave them to their own devices. There's no nurturing or support, so a lot of kids will ultimately just give up. The logic being, "my own family doesn't care, so why should I?" Just as in the "crabs in a barrel" situation I mentioned, some families will even revel in a talented kid's failure. To see a young family member strive to excel is believed as making the other members of the family look bad because their parents gave up on their dreams or never had similar talent. Maybe the siblings aren't as talented or they just hate the attention the dedicated sibling receives. Whatever the reasoning, the result is the same, no support. The laws of comparison can be damning and the concept of families being more destructive and vile than enemies on the street still holds true in some cases.So a young boy or girl that has a strong interest in creative fields but has no support, has to develop the tenacity to continue to practice and learn despite the lack of support. Learn to do more with less. Find people of similar interest and be willing to learn as much as possible about their craft. When the support isn't there, these kids have to understand the importance of being self sufficient in gathering their own knowledge and inspiration. Depending on family or people that aren't supportive will only lead to disappointment and failure. Through it all, they have to practice. It's the only way to get better. There's no shortcut for this.I want to thank my brother Victor for allowing me to feature him on my blog, Philly Support Philly. To check out his music as well as his art work, click the links on the right side of the widget.This has been another Feature Friday brought to you by Anitbeet Productions and Philly Support Philly. Let's continue to support each other, uplift one another and keep Philly in a positive light. Thanks for reading! Have a safe, positive and productive weekend! PEACE!!

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Feature Friday: Uptown Crown- Prime City

October 5, 2012 Feature FridayPhilly Support Philly  No comments

Feature Friday is among us again folks! I get so excited when it's time for me to post these. I was asked by someone why I do the Feature Friday each week. The answer is simple. There are a lot of positive and creative things going on in Philly, and the talent is remarkable. We're always hearing about the shootings, killings, rapings, police brutality and injustices that occur in what is supposed to be the City of Brotherly Love. It's on the news, it's in the paper, it's on the internet and radio. I would like to shine the light on people who aren't letting the negativity over-rule our city and they continue to strive for better. I also do this because it's fun for me and my own personal way of making up for ignoring my calling for being a journalist.
This week, I have the pleasure of featuring Prime City, who in my opinion is a lyrical genius. I watch most of my twitter followers from a distance. But I pay close attention to those who I can tell have straight up talent and I can honestly say Prime City has some raw, lyrical talent. I'm not as heavy into hip-hop as I was when I was a teenager. I feel as though Hip-Hop has turned disastrous and has been flooded with garbage mascarading as good music. The sampling of beats mixed with the jibberish played on the radio in my opinion is NOT Hip-Hop. But when I first started listening to Prime City's songs I said "Hey, I think we have something here." I'm not B.S'ing when I tell you that I literally was in my house HOLLERING as I listened to "DC 2 Intro" and watched the video on Youtube. If someone were to ask "What is Hip-Hop missing?", my honest answer would be: "Prime City. So if y'all asses are sleeping on him, wake the hell up, do your ears a favor and let his music flow through your speakers." His talent is undeniable and it is clearly shown on his latest CD release "King of Pressure" which you can find in Black in Noble on Broad & Erie (Cop up!!!). One of my favorite tracks on there is "My Moment" as I feel as though he touched on a lot of things that some people (not just rappers) just don't have the heart to speak on and I truly dig that. He is apart of the fast growing, popular Entertainment group- Elite Klass along with Kotta Man, (who I am trying to track down so I can feature him as well so if you read this, get with me ASAP. Don't make me shout you out by your government LOL) Bryant Jennings, who was my Friday Feature two weeks back, Relly Rostein and a few others.

I had the pleasure of speaking with Prime City yesterday and he was kind enough to allow me to do a Q&A with him. To listen to our conversation fully, you can either click here, or check it out in the widget on the right side of this blog entry. This was one of the most interesting conversations I've had in a while when it comes to Hip-Hop and I may have to snatch him up again for what I believe may be an interesting debate on what Tupac's views on Barack Obama would be if he were still alive.

Yani: I want to thank UpTown Crown for allowing me to feature him on my blog Philly Support Philly

Prime City: I want to thank you for having me and for reaching out.

Yani: Your stage name "Uptown Crown Prime City" is interesting. Where did the name come from

Prime City: Prime City comes from when I was in high school it was "Prime Time" then I just got a little too old to be called Prime Time so I just changed it up to Prime City. Uptown Crown is a series of mix 1st CD is called "Uptown Crown" too which is a continuation of a mixtape so the mixtape was an advertisement for the I figure why not promo the CD name on my twitter name instead of my regular name so that's how that came out

Yani: What inspired you to become a rapper

Prime City: Just everything around me. I just became a rapper from writing down stuff that was going on around me. Ramsquad was one of my biggest influences. One of my early influences were Tribe and Wu...I just wanted to be that voice for people who don't have it so yeah that's the reason.

Yani: How would you describe your rapping style

Prime City: Aggressive but not street aggressive...a lot of times the most aggressive people have the least to say. I've got the street edge but kinda more complex lyrics than, you know, the typical street rapper...I would describe my style as like a '98 street rapper with a rare flare of consciousness

Yani: What do you think of the latest rappers in the industry and how do you feel hip-hop has changed in the last decade

Prime City: From 2002 'til used to be that you couldn't steal somebody's style, you can't steal somebody's swag, you can't take that and run with it. Now it's just like all you have to do is copy somebody else. I would say that originality is at an all time low right now. Even people who say they are original are not original. I don't see too many individuals in hip-hop from then to now. In 2002 we had Blue Print 2, the beef with Jay-Z and Nas was just getting over...that's the biggest thing for me, it's way less originality now than from 10 years ago

Yani: Tell me a little bit about your new CD King of Pressure. Which tracks are your favorite

Prime City: Wow, my favorite tracks on King of Pressure...definitely "My Moment" free style... "uptown finest"...that kinda described my style context...I was going in on it and definitely the Meek Mill intro I wanted to get a street's like 30 hip-hop street sites where I can get a lot of numbers so that was cool. Those were my favorite 3

Yani: On your Instagram, I noticed you post a lot of pictures of people who purchased your CD. Where would you say most of your support has come from with your release of King of Pressure

Prime City: It's been all throughout Philly but I gotta say my neighborhood is backing me 100%  25th Street 25th and Master, Blumberg Projects they all support me 100%. Shout out to 58th street too.

Yani: If you could collaborate with anyone in the industry at this time, who would it be

Prime City: I honestly never thought of this question but it would have to be Pusha T. Even though I'm not as big of a drug dealer on a track as Pusha T, Our styles...our voices...he's probably the most similar to me. If I had a track with him on my album, it would definitely be my favorite one. I haven't even heard it yet but it's dope in my head.

Yani: How has hip-hop impacted your life

Prime City: It's kept me from doing a lot of dumb stuff. I knda always knew this is what I wanted to do. Just having a goal and a purpose just kept me out of stuff that my friends around me were getting into. Of course I've done stuff that everyone else has done but for the most part I just stayed in my hip-hop lane. It's definitely kept me away from the BS. That's like the most important thing...Even if someone doesn't become a hip-hop super star, they're staying out of the way. So that's what it did for me.

Yani: I listened to "Lean with it" freestyle and "DC 2 intro" & loved those 2 tracks as well as the videos. Is it easier for you to free style without a beat or do the rhymes come easier with a beat

Prime City: It depends on the setting. If I'm in the studio, then (it's) the beat but if I'm on a street corner then I don't need a beat. I don't want anything I just feed off of the raw energy. What we talked about what's missing, (from hip-hop) that element is missing. I don't think too many of these dudes can sit on a street corner and give you 40 odd bars out of no-where.

Yani: I have to ask this question because it never gets old and I personally like hearing other views on this topic. Tupac Vs Biggie, in your opinion who was better than who

Prime City: With them it's like playing with fire because you can't say too much about either one of them but you know, I'm just honest. Growing up, it was no comparison because I was more into the lyrics so there's was no comparison, Biggie was hands down better. It used to be to the point where I just didn't get it. I remember stopping a whole classroom. I used to live in L.A... it was my 11th grade year and I stopped the whole classroom by saying Tupac wasn't that dope. Even the teacher just started breaking it down. I mean, I changed the whole thing from Math to Tupac just saying Tupac wasn't that dope. So you know how it is on the West Coast but, as I got older, I just loved a lot of stuff that 'Pac stood for and that really transitioned into his music too, I'm like- he was dope all this time. My favorite is still Biggie but I definitely got love and respect for Tupac

Yani: Do you feel as though hip-hop is part of the reason for the dysfunction in this upcoming generation or is it a part of the ongoing violence and sexual promiscuity

Prime City: Maybe the mainstream hip-hop...I mean of course the hip-hop culture has a heavy influence on whatever it touches and it's all over the world. But how can I say that when...hip-hop is in the suburban neighborhoods but nobody is being killed there. They love Gucci Mane and Rick Ross just as much as they love them in the 'hood. I think it just comes down to your circumstances. People look at stuff and don't break it down like it should can say it's been 300 murders but they're not looking at the cause...when somebody gets killed for something, that's an individual thing, not that it doesn't group into a big thing as a whole but...still I'm not looking at it like hip-Hop can hypnotize people into being a bad person... the biggest thing that hip-hop has is over seas and they're not having any of those problems...So no...I can't say that

Yani: How has your talent as a rapper, producer progressed since you first began

Prime City: I've just been getting progressively better...knowing that I don't know everything is probably what makes me what I am. I never ever settled for anything so if I'm in the studio and I hear something...say I use a new plugin that I just got off of the internet as Im engineering a track, I'll go back and make all of my other ones like that...just improving everyday and then looking back saying "I'm way better than last year." It's just a day by day, (process) getting better each day

Yani: What advice would you give to a younger male hoping to get his foot in the door to hip-hop

Prime City: Know somebody. I don't like selling that "work hard" dream to people. Like "work hard and you'll get there". Yeah, work hard because it's hard work involved. But you've got to network. I remember I was looking at this thing and it was about money...the guy on there, it was like this brainwashing thing about how you can get it but he said something that makes sense. He said "where does your paycheck come from?" your paycheck comes from a person and their paycheck comes from a person so network. Get out there and know's hard work but you gotta get out and mess with the people. Around the time I had the CD coming out, I had to go and hit the streets and mess with the people. Get in the right circles, that positive energy and you will track the right thing.

SHOUT out to "Reek, Charles LV, Lady Lyric, n Leel Mamba from Elite Klass Sports! For more information on Prime City, you can follow him on his Twitter. Check out some of his awesome videos as well as his music on his Youtube Channel. As I mentioned, he is apart of the Entertainement venue,

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