Exclusive in-depth interview with Jhene Aiko. In part 2 Jhene talks to Nick Huff Barili about the cathartic release of recording and performing her new album Souled Out, which deals with such personal matters as heartbreak and the passing of her brother from cancer. Jhene states that connecting with people is what makes things bearable stating: “It just makes for an easier existence. I’ve never been afraid to just talk about what I’m going through and be honest…When I complete the song that means that I have an understanding of whatever it is I’m talking about in that that song whether it be about heartbreak or a life lesson or whatever. The fact that I was able to turn it into a song for me, that’s when I’m over it or I feel good about it.” Jhene states that reading books by Vietnamese Zen Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh and getting lost in movies like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind help her deal with heartbreak. As the interview continues Jhene lets us into her writing process, inspirations and working in the studio with her daughter Namiko for her new album. In particular Jhene walks us through the making of two stand out tracks from Souled Out: Promises and W.A.Y.S.. Jhene gives us insight as to how a tweet from her brother Miyagi, which stated “Why Aren’t You Smiling?” inspired the song. Part 2 of our interview with Jhene ends with her describing how everyone’s favorite mentor No ID helped shape the sound of Souled Out. Continue reading

Exclusive in-depth interview with Jhene Aiko. In part 1 Jhene talks to Nick Huff Barili about growing up in a Mixed-Race household in LA, first music memories, performing 702’s Steelo at talent show and being influenced by Tupac Shakur. As the conversation continues Jhene explains why she chose not to sign with TDE and opted for signing with NO ID and Def Jam instead. Part 1 of our interview ends with Jhene sharing a story about how a meeting with a record label inspired the concept for the titles of her last three projects. We are just getting started. Stay tuned next week for more with Jhene Aiko. Continue reading

Alex Da Kid Helps Assemble Epic ‘Busker Band’ and Made In America Performance

DAY4_1065(From left to right: Alex Da Kid; X Ambassadors Lead Singer, Sam Harris; Philidelphia Busker, Marcus Love)

More so than any previous era, today’s musical landscape is seeing an overflow of collaborative and genre-overlapping projects. Whether the people responsible for making today’s eclectic songs simply got bored with staying in their respective lanes, or similarly, fans began to yawn at the sound of yet another traditional “genre track,” you can’t deny that the following struggle is so real: “I don’t even know how to label this song; it’s a mix of everything!” Continue reading

New Interview: Lil Bibby meets with Russell Simmons, advises Chicago’s youth, releases Free Crack 2 + More


As I enter the lobby of the Hollywood agency, BIRD, Chicago’s rising rap star and 2014 XXL Freshman, Lil Bibby, looks focused and ready to talk to me about what’s next for him. Since his mixtape, “Free Crack” released, Lil Bibby has not stopped working. And while fans anticipated Free Crack II for a while, he continued to put out music, like being featured on Juicy J’s new hit single, “Low”, joining Nicki Minaj and Young Thug. On the single, Lil Bibby’s verse is reminiscent of the flow of his own song, “For the Low”, where he boasts his title as Mr. Everything For The Low. And although rapping about his hustle is his current style, he hints towards Continue reading

Big Krit and Others Respond To Events in Ferguson

030912-shows-106-park-big-krit-3There is no sugar coating what occurred in Ferguson, MO on August 9. Michael Brown’s death is nothing short of a tragedy, and quite frankly, it’s hard to say anything about this heartbreaking event–and those which followed–that hasn’t already been said.

However, it is important to keep the conversation going, to consistently spread conscious and accurate information, and to promote strong, influential voices during a time when so many feel voiceless. Continue reading

Ludacris Reacts to Winning the BMI President’s Award

2014 BMI R&B/Hip-Hop Awards - Red Carpet

On Friday, August 22, BMI congratulated Ludacris with the 2014 BMI President’s Award at the BMI R&B/Hip-Hop Awards ceremony.

The red carpet rolled out on Hollywood Boulevard for a star-studded guest list, which included the likes of Mike Will, Chris Brown, DJ Mustard, Big Krit, Eric Bellinger, Faith Evans, Future, and many more. And while the awards honored many songwriters, producers and publishers of the most-performed R&B/hip-hop songs of the past year, this night belonged to Luda. Continue reading

One Down, Nine to Go: DJ Mustard Talks 10 Summers, Building His Sound, and Taking Over Everything

It’s about 12:45 a.m. on a warm summer night in Los Angeles, and the writer of this article has just jumped into an Uber after leaving a listening event for DJ Mustard’s latest release, 10 Summers. No less than 5 minutes go by during the commute when Trey Songz “Na Na,” produced by the same DJ Mustard, invades the airspace. Reaffirming a topic of discussion held only a few hours prior, the same writer says quietly to himself, “Wow…DJ Mustard really is everywhere.” His companion in the back seat emphatically replies, “Yup.”, as they both casually bounce their shoulders throughout the ride home. Continue reading

Get the behind the scenes as Nick talks to Common about Chicago and hangs backstage with Save Money’s Vic Mensa and Chance The Rapper, Z-Trip, Run The Jewels (Killer Mike, EL-P and Trackstar), Fitz and The Tantrums ‘ Noelle Scaggs, and Chromeo. Video also Chicago rapper ADD-2 giving us insight into Chicago and performances from Vic Mensa and Chance The Rapper. Cant forget the Chicago deep dish! After hearing all the hype we had to try it out for ourselves! Thanks to the good folks at Canon for making Nick and Hard Knock TV part of their #BRINGIT campaign! All footage from festival was filmed with VIXIA Mini X and Canon 5D Mark III.

Take a journey with Hard Knock TV’s Nick Huff Barili as he visits Chicago to experience Lollapalooza for the first time. Along the way Nick hangs backstage with Save Money’s Vic Mensa and Chance The Rapper, Z-Trip, Run The Jewels (Killer Mike, EL-P and Trackstar), Fitz and The Tantrums ‘ Noelle Scaggs, and Chromeo. Video also includes performances from Vic Mensa, Chance The Rapper and Run The Jewels with guest appearance by Z-Trip. Make sure you check out the Behind The Scenes video for more! Thanks to the good folks at Canon for making Nick and Hard Knock TV part of their #BRINGIT campaign! All footage from festival was filmed with VIXIA Mini X and Canon 5D Mark III.

Chris Brown, Game, and More Play at Hard Knock Hoops 3X3 Tournament


On Saturday August 9th, Hard Knock suited up with the homies for our annual Hard Knock Hoops 3×3 celebrity basketball tournament which took place at LA Live this year. The star-studded event saw the likes of Chris BrownGameTaco (of Odd Future)QuincySteelo BrimPac DivThurzDJ Khalil, DJ Bizzy and Ben Lyons among other industry influencers, all going head to head for the chance to take home that prized number one slot. As it turns out, your boy, Chef Dubble, knows how to do a little more than just flambé some lamb chops. The celebrity chef and his squad came out on top, proudly walking away with the Hard Knock Hoops division trophy and some seriously well-deserved bragging rights.

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