Street Roc: Exciting, versatile entertainers who thrill fans, showcase talents

The Street Roc Label has a cadre of diverse, talented musicians who bring individualism to the label.

The Street Roc Label has a cadre of diverse, talented musicians who bring individualism to the label.

By Carmen Glover

An enterprising group of youthful entertainers who cemented a strong bond of friendship while growing up in the Bronx, New York, the birthplace of hip hop, is poised to storm the music scene from their dual base of operations in Atlanta, Georgia and New York City with a plethora of musical offerings under their music umbrella, The Street Roc Label LLC.

Inspired by genres that span reggae, hip hop, R&B and Rock & Roll, the ambitious musicians are passionate about their craft and determined to make an indelible mark in the music industry. Despite having their own unique styles, they are also following in the footsteps of other memorable groups such as Ruff Ryders, which was helmed by DMX and the Fugees, which paved the way for explosive careers for its members Lauryn Hill, Wyclef Jean and Pras Michel.

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With NWA’s biographical film, “Straight Outta Compton,” dominating the movie theaters this past summer and industry buzz building about upcoming releases chronicling the career of Snopp Dogg, sometimes known as Snoop Lion, the Street Roc roster mates see a viable path to carving out a competitive niche for themselves in the industry and solidifying their reputations as serious, conscious, hard-working, savvy musicians and budding entrepreneurs.

But, just like the 1985 blockbuster movie “Krush Groove” told the story of hip hop trendsetters Russell Simmons, Run-DMC and LL Cool J, and enigmatic musician Prince set the stage for independent producing when he left Warner Brothers after a public spat, the Street Roc team members are determined to have ownership of their work and shape the trajectory of their careers, a lesson many musicians fail to learn until they have lost all their earnings to extravagance and flash.

Kristoph Francis developed the name for the record label and takes great interest in the success of all the artists.

Kristoph Francis developed the name for the record label and takes great interest in the success of all the artists. His demo, “Critique Me,” was released in 2014.

Kristoph Francis, 23, one of the label’s co-founders, created the name for the company based on reactions to his childhood musical performances and because the name, Street Roc,”has a nice ring to it.”

“I came up with the name when I was in high school because everywhere we went we had the streets rocking,” he recalled. Francis, who played the Congo drums in church at age 11, describes the drums as instruments that infuse all of his musical repertoire. “When I’m making my beats, I think of the drums because they give me my music sense,” he said, explaining that his cousin plays the bass drums for reggae singer Capleton, who is known for introducing the element of fire to his extraordinarily spectacular shows.

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The Street Roc Label is poised for takeoff after releasing mixed tapes “Divine Adolescence,” in 2012 and “Too Geek’d For The Streets,” in 2013.

Francis said he was influenced to pursue a career in music by Michael Jackson, Jay-Z, his stepfather and a host of artists, including reggae crooner Sanchez, who came around the family often during Francis’ childhood. Meeting Young Jeezy and M.E.M.P.H.I.S. Bleek, who signed Francis’ book of raps, piqued his interest and fueled his drive to hone his musical skills.

As he puts the finishing touches on a mixed tape, which features singles such as “Back Home” and “It’s All Yours,” Francis reminisces about the day he showed his grandmother his homework, which posed the question: What do you want to be when you grow up? Francis wrote “a rapper,” which elicited much consternation and the response: “You can’t be a rapper,” which caused him to internalize his dreams until his adult mind was capable of developing a plan of action to aggressively respond to the tugging of his heart-strings and live his musical truth.

Kristoph Francis is focused on creating beats and taking the label to the fans.

Kristoph Francis is focused on creating beats and taking the label to the fans.

While also having an interest in music, the experience has been somewhat different for Francis’ brother, Malcolm ‘Dolo Pierre’ Jackson, 25, a co-founder of The Street Roc Label. Jackson combines his experience as an actor, songwriter, producer and musical artist to create a career path that is boundless in scope and richly textured with layers of possibilities.

“A lot of my musical and acting experiences come from the church because my mom was heavy in the church and I used to try to join her on the choir and they would let me sing,” he said, a thespian in his own right.

Malcolm "Dolo Pierre" Jackson delivers range as a multi-talented songwriter, producer, actor, musician and performer.

Malcolm “Dolo Pierre” Jackson delivers range as a multi-talented songwriter, producer, actor, musician and performer.

Citing reggae legend Robert Nesta “Bob” Marley and iconic entertainer Michael Jackson as his two greatest influences musically, Jackson strives for range in his music.

“I’ve done reggae, hip-hop, R&B,” he said, while explaining that all of the artists represented by the label “take pride in writing our own lyrics.”

Malcolm "Dolo Pierre" is looking forward to releasing a full album early in 2016.

Malcolm “Dolo Pierre” is looking forward to releasing a full album early in 2016.

Jackson, whose musical talents gained an audience when he participated in the chorus in elementary school and the band in middle school, said that being raised in a household with ‘musically inclined’ parents made a huge impact on his sensibilities.

“Music developed naturally and soon I wanted to record,” he said.  As he continues to follow his heart, Jackson said that he plans to release an EP of “all original music early in 2016,” and strives to achieve the taste of success, which, for him, is “the look on everybody’s faces telling me that nobody has any question about my talents.”

Kristine "Phresh" Walker is the lone female on the label and she cherishes her role as a deep thinker.

Kristene “Phresh” Walker is the lone female on the label and she cherishes her role as a deep thinker.

Kristene “Phresh” Walker, 26, spent the first seven years of her life in the Bronx before relocating to Atlanta, Georgia, where the other members of the label gradually transitioned.

“Once we all came down to Atlanta, it solidified what we were trying to do,” Walker said, describing herself as a thinker.  “I think a lot and I want to bring a lot of thought back into music because back in the day it was more about lyrics and I’m trying to bring it back to that and integrate the message back into music and the rhythm,” she said.

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Walker, whose musical interest was awakened at age 13, also performed in church as a child. A solid artist, who sees her role as akin to Lauryn Hill with the Fugees, is striving to awaken “a more conscious and cultured element to the current crop of music, like Erykah Badu and Missy Elliott.”  For her, being a member of the Street Roc family is comforting.

“The team plays a big part because us being together pushes me to create something that never existed before,” she said. As she continues to promote her mixed tape, “Loud Silence,” which debuted in April 2015, she is also busy working on new music. “Being able to influence others and have a say, gives me a high and pushes me forward,” she said.

Lavar "Stiff Tha Godz" Stiff, is creative and entrepreneurial, a solid combination for success.

Lavar “Stiff Tha Godz” Stiff, is creative and entrepreneurial, a solid combination for success. As he promotes his mixed tape “High Times,” he utilizes concepts he learned while completing all but one semester in undergraduate studies in Business Administration. He hopes to complete his studies soon.

Lavar “Stiff Tha Godz” Stiff, 28, another of the label’s co-founders, was enthralled when he first saw Tupac Shakur having a merry time on MTV in his classic Dr Dre-produced hit “California Love,” followed by a video by the Red Hot Chilli Peppers.

“When I saw Tupac in ‘California Love’ I knew I wanted to be a rapper. He inspired me and MTV opened up a new gateway for me,” said Stiff, who was 8 years old at the time. “I started acting like I was on stage, like I was performing.”

Once the music bug hit, Stiff began to formulate a plan to make his dream become a reality. But he realized that he was also interested in the business side of the music industry so he enrolled in college and completed three and a half years of a degree in business administration.

"High Time" is an ode to marijuana and its impact on society.

“High Times” is an ode to marijuana and its impact on society.

“As far as entrepreneurship, I was influenced by Master P because he came from nothing to become one of the first Black millionaires just from doing rap. I’m an artist. I write music, I rap and I helped put the label together by forming the foundation,” Stiff said, while explaining that he has a lot of different things that he would like to accomplish, including learning to play the guitar. “For the future, I’m interested in film, movies and incorporating them into the musical aspect, like Michael Jackson and his long-form videos,” he said.

For a fledgling musical entrepreneur who did not grow up around much musical influence, Stiff nonetheless developed an eclectic taste for music and an admiration for genres including reggae, hip-hop, old school R&B, Rock & Roll and Blues by the incomparable B.B. King and Muddy Waters. Yet, Stiff celebrates marijuana each chance he gets and lauds the herb on his recent EP, “High Times,” which was released on September 23 2015, at https://soundcloud.com/stiff-tha-godz/sets/high-times.

Devon "D.O.C" Riley, the youngest member of the label, is eager to make his mark in the industry.

Devon “D.O.C” Riley, the youngest member of the label, is eager to make his mark in the industry.

The youngest member of the group, Devon “D.O.C” Riley, 21, looked no further than two hip hop legends as a template for inspiration.

“Nas and Jay-Z influenced me because they are able to express themselves and the way they deliver their lyrics, they have something to say,” he explained. Riley developed an ear for music from his father, who is a DJ. “I was exposed to music at a young age. I felt the music. I used to be more on the reggae side but as I grew I dabbled into different types of music because I don’t want to be put in a box. My focus is to get people to understand both types of music—-reggae and hip hop,” he said, pondering the musical landscape.

 

Gotham City is DOC's take on the nuances and mysteries of New York City lifestyles.

“Gotham City” is D.O.C’s take on the nuances and mysteries of New York City lifestyles.

Riley, who is very interested in scary movies and hopes to find ways to integrate that interest into his music, is currently savoring success with his new song “Gotham City,” which is available on iTunes.

“People have different views looking out on the world. Music is the way people express themselves and I’m working on a project on duality, to use music to explain everything,” he said.

Alexander “Spazz’ Momon, 26, rounds out the crop of label mates, who function like family by nurturing each other’s independent projects while collectively investing in the success of the label as an entity.

Alexander "Spazz" Momon, is refining his compilations so that he can release his full album on November 1, 2015.

Alexander “Spazz” Momon, is refining his compilations so that he can release his full album on November 1, 2015. His single, “Bon Jour Mary” appears on the “High Times” EP.

“We all went to high school together and we have different styles. My musical style is more energetic and technical, like Busta Rhymes, Eminem and DMX,” he said. After careful thought, Momon, who also holds down a job so that he can pay his bills while building his musical career strategically, explained that he has “been influenced by pioneering rappers such as Kool Moe Dee and LL Cool J.”

“My dad put me on to them and Wu-Tang Clan and my mother used to work in the music industry,” he said, revealing that when he first heard Rhymes’ “Dangerous,” at age 11, he was so captivated by the animation and high-octane flow that he would sneak home early from school to listen to the song over and over. Like his label mates, Momon is hard at work compiling an EP.

“My mixed tape will be ready on November 1 but I recently released the single “Bon Jour Mary” on the “High Times” EP,” he said. As he charges full speed ahead with his musical career, Momon has one objective: “I want people to understand the struggle, the triumph and the love for music,” he said.

As the multi-talented entertainers on the Street Roc Label LLC pour their efforts into a distinctive musical repertoire, they create individual projects and bring new artists along the journey to prominence. While they contemplate organizing a Street Roc tour, the label mates expect to soon hear the sweet sounds of success reverberating from coast to coast and across the globe, as they finally get their career recognition and financial rewards.

Learn more about this prolific, dynamic group of musicians and what’s next in their careers at StreetRocMusic.comOnPointPress.net

Atlanta male, missing since 8/15, inspires funding page

@3-year-old African-American male, Elijah Shuler, has been missing since 8/15/2015 when he left for work at a local pizza store in Lithonia, Georgia.

@3-year-old African-American male, Elijah Shuler, has been missing since 8/15/2015 when he left for work at a local pizza store in Lithonia, Georgia.

By Carmen Glover

On Tuesday, August 25, respected journalist Roland Martin, who hosts News One Now on TVOne, briefly interviewed T.W. Addison, the Dallas, Texas, based older brother of Elijah Shuler, 23, who has been missing since August 15, when he left for work in Lithonia, which is near to Atlanta, Georgia.

“The last time we physically saw him was August 15. He went to work and then went to get a hair cut,” said Addison, saying he believes his brother was last seen wearing his Pizza Hut uniform from his job.

“He showed up for work and went to the barber shop and he was last seen dropping off a co-worker,” said Addison, expressing hope that tips will come in about the whereabouts of his missing brother. “He’s not answering his telephone and his GPS on his car is off. It’s sad and it’s different when it hits home,” Addison said.

A GoFundme page has been set up with the hashtag #HelpFindElijah to raise money for the effort. If anyone has seen Shuler and has information about his whereabouts, call the DeKalb County Police Department at 770-224-7600 or 678-406-7929.–OnPointPress.net.

States invest in lavish sports arenas but cut education budget

The owners of the Cleveland sports teams, (l - r) Indians owner Paul Dolan, Browns owner Jimmy Haslem, and Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert, were successful in securing state taxpayer funds to bolster profits.

The owners of the Cleveland sports teams, (l – r) Indians owner Paul Dolan, Browns owner Jimmy Haslem, and Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert, were successful in securing state taxpayer funds to bolster profits.

By Charles Glover, Jr.

According to a longstanding trend, sports ranks higher on states’ priority list than education in many places throughout this country, with Georgia, Ohio and Minnesota becoming the latest additions. While owners of sports teams are making record profits, citizens continue to complain about the inferior quality and rising costs associated with education. But, oddly, the issue has not been given much attention as politicians take their dog and pony show around the country, currying favor for more donations in their  presidential bids.

The cycle of low-income students and inferior education on students' future earning potential.

The cycle of low-income students and inferior education on students’ future earning potential.

Cleveland, for instance, in deciding to fund a new stadium at huge costs to the residents, is a microcosm of the juxtaposition of the values between the highest and lowest class citizens of a city. With unemployment and wages as the backdrop this July, Cleveland officials  decided taxpayers should absorb the cost of building the new, extravagant stadium. City officials argued that the construction project would help generate more jobs.

New York Times writer Michael Powell explained the situation pointing out, “[Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan] Gilbert and his fellow sports billionaires — Larry Dolan, who owns the Indians, and Jimmy Haslam, who owns the Browns — worked together to push through a referendum that extended a countywide “sin tax” on cigarettes, beer and liquor.” The outcome of this decision means that for the next 20 years, taxpayers in Cleveland and Cuyahoga County will contribute roughly $260 million into improvements for the city’s sports arenas and stadiums.

(l-r) Dolan, Haslem, and Gilbert find nothing wrong with asking taxpayers to help them make more money.

(l-r) Dolan, Haslem, and Gilbert find nothing wrong with asking taxpayers to help them make more money.

Meanwhile, this past March, the Cleveland school district proposed a budget that would cut costs by $3.4 million, much to the dismay of the Cleveland Teachers Union and parents in the city. Cleveland Teachers Union President David Quolke asked some searing questions in his consternation over the budget including, “Why are all of these struggling students being denied the resources and teachers they need to become successful? and, How are their academic needs being met?”

The answers to those questions remain unclear, but Cleveland Plain Dealer’s reporter Patrick O’Donnell discerns, “District officials said the cuts are just a prudent way to manage the district’s budget while they keep losing students. Though enrollment declines are still far less than in previous years, the district predicts it will lose 375 students for next school year.”

Cleveland Teachers Union members protest budget cuts for schools with red signs at the school board meeting while staff from the district's central office counter with their own green ones. (Photo courtesy of Patrick O'Donnell/The Plain Dealer)

Cleveland Teachers Union members protest budget cuts for schools with red signs at the school board meeting while staff from the district’s central office counter with their own green ones. (Photo courtesy of Patrick O’Donnell/The Plain Dealer)

The issue of state funds being misappropriated to benefit billionaires at the expense of poor, largely minority, inner-city children has raised alarm in some quarters but so far has not become the major issue that it should in the presidential campaign.

Numerous cities are facing a similar dynamic— inadequate funding for education and other public services but obscene amounts allocated to invest in lavish arenas and stadiums. As Deadspin’s Kevin Draper reports this July, “The Wisconsin Senate voted 21-10 to approve $250 million in public financing for a new arena for the Milwaukee Bucks.” While just a few days earlier in July, “Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker signed a state budget that includes cuts of $250 million to the University of Wisconsin system, among other cuts to public education funding.”

Other reports have stated that one of the owners of the Bucks has bought up property near to the projected site of the new stadium in anticipation of making a windfall on that prime real estate once the stadium is built. Meanwhile, classrooms are over-crowded and children in Wisconsin lack the educational investment that they need to succeed.

Madison District Public Schools will be among those affected by Gov. Walker's budget proposal of $250 million in cuts.

Madison District Public Schools will be among those affected by Gov. Walker’s budget proposal of $250 million in cuts.

These recent examples are following a pattern seen in other cities like Atlanta, Minneapolis, Los Angeles, Cincinnati and countless other towns which have professional teams that see the owners receive money that would be better served supporting the local citizens. The theory behind the support for these arenas and stadiums is they will help grow the economy by providing jobs and tourist attractions.

However, economist George Zeller cites studies that show that “The theory that all of these sports teams are producing a gigantic boom is completely false.” The school year has already started in some parts of this country and will resume shortly in other areas. The NFL regular season will also start in a few weeks. Which is a priority for you?.–OnPointPress.net–

Charles Glover, Jr. is a senior writer and a licensed insurance professional partnered with HealthMarkets. Follow me @GloverIsGood on Twitter.com. Check out www.HealthMarkets.com/cglover for your free health insurance and life insurance quotes.

In historic win, Jamaica’s Reggae Boyz thrashes the US men’s team, 2-1

Giles Barnes, striker for Jamaica's Reggae Boyz, scored the second goal for Jamaica against the USA.

Giles Barnes, striker for Jamaica’s Reggae Boyz, scored the second goal for Jamaica against the USA.

By  Ephieum Allen

In an historic display of football dominance, Jamaica’s exciting team, the Reggae Boyz, delivered a resounding beating to the USMNT in Atlanta, Georgia this evening, July 22, to qualify for the semi-final of the CONCACAF Gold Cup. With the victory, the Reggae Boyz are automatic qualifiers for the FIFA Confederations Cup.

Ryan Thompson, the Reggae Boyz' goalkeeper, delivered for the team against the US men's team.

Ryan Thompson, the Reggae Boyz’ goalkeeper, delivered for the team against the US men’s team.

The match began with the Reggae Boyz vigorously attacking the US team for the first 15 minutes then the US responded by attacking the Reggae Boyz for a few minutes.

Jamaica’s first goal was scored by Darren Mattocks in the thirty-first minute. Mattocks headed the ball, which hit the left side post and went across to the other side, connecting on a beautiful goal.

Darren Mattocks of Jamaica's Reggae Boyz started the game by delivery a blistery goal against the USA team.

Darren Mattocks of Jamaica’s Reggae Boyz started the game by delivery a blistery goal against the USA team.

Moments later, in the thirty- sixth minute, Giles Barnes scored the second goal with a free kick inside the 18-yard box which rocketed to the roof of the net, leaving US goal keeper, dazed and confused, with no chance of recovery.

Jamaica bullied the US for the final 15 minutes, leaving the USMNT defenseless, overmatched, outclassed and outplayed in every domain possible. Within the first five minutes of the second half, the US countered with a shot from inside the 18-yard box, which was too hot for Jamaican goalkeeper Ryan Thompson to handle, so he blocked the shot and it went directly into the path of US midfielder Michael Bradley who scored the sole goal for the US.

US goalkeeper Brad Guzan is stunned out of his mind by the Reggae Boys' brilliance and dominance.

US goalkeeper Brad Guzan is stunned out of his mind by the Reggae Boyz’ brilliance and dominance.

The Jamaican victory is in contrast to the Reggae Boyz’ performance in the recently concluded Copa America.  On route to playing the decisive game against the US for the Gold Cup, Jamaica lost to Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay in the Copa America tournament. Nonetheless, the Reggae Boyz were considered a formidable force to reckon with, which the US team discovered, much too late.

 USA Head Coach Jurgen Klinsmann

A dejected USA Head Coach Jurgen Klinsmann, watches helplessly as his team is soundly defeated by the Reggae Boyz of Jamaica in the Gold Cup semi-final match in Atlanta, Ga on July 22, 2015.

Jurgen Klinsmann, the coach for the USMNT, said, prior to the match, that the game against the Reggae Boyz was the “most important tournament for the US this year.”

The second semi-final game is now underway with Mexico going up against Panama. The winner of that match will face the Reggae Boyz in Philadelphia on Sunday, July 26–OnPointPress.net.

Former NBA player Javaris Crittenton pleads guilty to manslaughter, gets 23 years in prison

Javaris Crittenton accepted responsibility for killing a young woman in 2011 by pleading guilty to manslaughter charges in court on Wednesday.

Javaris Crittenton accepted responsibility for killing a young woman in 2011 by pleading guilty to manslaughter charges in court on Wednesday.

By Charles Glover, Jr.

On Wednesday April 29, former Los Angeles Lakers and Washington Wizards guard Javaris Crittenton pled guilty to manslaughter in the 2011 shooting death of Julian Jones, a then 22-year old mother of four. Murder trial proceedings were just under way this week when Crittenton surprisingly changed his plea to guilty and accepted the sentencing of 23 years for manslaughter instead of taking his chances at trial for murder.

Crittenton and his cousin, Douglas Gamble, have both been sentenced for death Jones.’ Gamble was the driver while Crittenton was the trigger man in a drive-by shooting targeting a rival gang member who supposedly stole from Crittenton, days before the shooting. Crittenton gave a tearful apology during his allocution to the court expressing remorse for his actions.

Crittenton's (r) NBA stint may be most remembered for his dispute with Wizards guard Gilbert Arenas (l) that led to guns being drawn in the locker room and the ultimate dismissal from the team for both players.

Crittenton’s (r) NBA stint may be most remembered for his dispute with Wizards guard Gilbert Arenas (l) that led to guns being drawn in the locker room and the ultimate dismissal from the team for both players.

The details that emerged from this case are alarming. Crittenton reportedly joined the West Los Angeles street gang known as the Mansfield Gangster Crips for protection when he joined the Lakers in 2007. Crittenton’s association with gang members will draw comparisons to another athlete recently imprisoned for killing someone, Aaron Hernandez. Crittenton for his part, has acknowledged his gang affiliations though that does not diminish his continuous poor choices.

Crittenton may be infamously recognized for being dismissed from the Washington Wizards along with the team’s star player at the time, Gilbert Arenas, because of having guns in the locker room following a personal dispute between the two. Crittenton, an Atlanta native, played high school basketball with Dwight Howard and was teammates with current NBA players Thaddeus Young (Brooklyn Nets) and Anthony Morrow (Oklahoma City Thunder) in his one season at Georgia Tech.

Julian Jones was 22 at the time of her death and was a mother of four young children.

Julian Jones was 22 at the time of her death and was a mother of four young children.

Hopefully today’s court proceedings bring some closure to the family of Julian Jones, who by all accounts was merely an innocent bystander while this senseless shooting was taking place.–OnPointPress.net–

Charles Glover, Jr. is a sports aficionado and a training/benefits consultant. Follow me @GloverIsGood on Twitter.com.

Financial summit set for Atlanta, Georgia, with focus on empowerment

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Atlanta, GA: Urban Financial Services Coalition (UFSC) will host its 41st Annual Summit  in Atlanta, GA, from June 4 to 6.  The event will be hosted by the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta and promises to be one of organization’s most strategic and powerful events of the year. The summit will provide attendees with information and tools that will allow them to be more strategic and profitable with their businesses, employers and communities.

The event will include information sessions and workshops that will focus on topics such as business development; career planning and management; information technology, cybersecurity, regulatory and economic updates; servant leadership; and wealth management. Additionally, the Mark 1 Emerging Leaders Program and Oratorical Competition will be offered to youth desiring to be future members of the financial services industry and a Community Empowerment Day will be offered free of charge to the Atlanta community. The Summit will culminate with an awards reception at which the UFSC will recognize its corporate sponsors and outstanding chapters, members and youth program participants. It goes without being said that Atlanta will be a wonderful location to have fun and build lasting personal and professional relationships.

Call (404) 443-1234 for hotel registrations and use the code UFSC or visit www.ufscnet.org for additional information about the Summit and check back often for updates regarding events and speakers. —OnPointPress.net.