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Professional Demo Review - Mar 13, 2006

- “This has hit written all over it!”

- “The bio is a story I’ve heard over and over and over again, same old blah, blah, blah…

I’m just sick of rappers thinking they need to put out how bad they were, or how much dirt they did, or how many times they’ve been shot, etc.”

- “He's a nice looking guy, so the ladies would like to buy a magazine that features him, or a nice poster, so he shouldn't have a problem there. He's definitely marketable.”

picture Three unsigned HitQuarters Artists Of The Week have been reviewed by three successful music industry professionals.

You can read reviews of their vocals, production, composition, visual presentation and overall potential to get a record deal and achieve chart success, as well as advice on how to approach the music industry and improve their tracks.

The three artists are:

HitQuarters ArtistGang Of Roses – US – Urban

Three piece girl band Gang Of Roses from Atlanta has opened for 8 Ball, Master P and Dem Franchize Boys. They are available for record and publishing deals.

Listen to Gang Of Roses – Rock Star

HitQuarters ArtistGio – US – Hip Hop

20 year old rapper Gio has already worked with John Legend, Kanye West, Jadakiss and producer Ced Solo (Ginuwine, Beyonce). He is available for record and publishing deals.

Listen to Gio - Birdies

HitQuarters Artist Ken Fluid – US – Hip Hop

21 year old Ken Fluid has been writing for Jive Records artist Jarvis and has teamed up with producer DJ Toomp (Ludacris, T.I., Lil Jon). He has sold over 10,000 independent albums and is available for record, management and publishing deals.

Listen to Ken Fluid – Mean So Much

The industry professionals doing the reviews are:

Jermaine Russ p.k.a. Mac G – Producer – US

Mac G is an inspiring producer/songwriter from Philadelphia who has worked with Flipmode Squad's Rampage, Eve, Kurupt, Young Gunz, Mya, Omillio Sparks (State Property), Actress and Singer Monica Calhoun (Best Man, Player's Club) etc.

In 2000 he signed a production contract with Earl Simmons a.k.a. DMX, under his Def Jam imprint Bloodline Records. He produced a track off the “Exit Wounds Soundtrack” titled "Dog 4 Life" performed by Iceberg, as well as Kashmir, the First Lady of the Bloodline Kennel.

But Mac had to put in the work to really impress the Dog himself in order to make the LP that would retire the Dog for good (so he says), "Grand Champ". And with hard work and hustle he managed to land the bonus track "On Top" featuring Big Stan.

Now Mac G is back on the grind in the studio with Lil J, the former Hollywood Records artist who released his debut album in 2001 titled "All About J" and then followed up with "Back 2 J". &

Spike Leroy – Producer – US

Spike Leroy is producer and co-producer of Monica, P. Diddy, Faith Evans, 8-Ball & MJG, Beanie Sigel & Jay-Z, Diplomats, Benzino and more.

Mughal – Producer – Canada

Nadeem Mughal a.k.a. Mughal has remixed Mary J Blige’s lead single “Be Without You” for Mughal Entertainment Group Inc., based in Toronto. All current producer related affairs for Mughal are handled by Brian Walker at The Inc Records (Ashanti, Ja Rule). The new deal came about recently as Mughal issued a release from previous management Clear Vision Management

Mughal Entertainment Group has just secured a deal with one of the most talked about up and coming new gaming companies worldwide, Electric Spin Corporation. Mughal Entertainment will be producing an original music score for all promo DVD and VHS Videos distributed worldwide for the Electric Spin product line, the “Golf Launchpad”.

Reviews on Gang Of Roses:

Mac G – Grade: 8 (1-10)

This is TLC meets Outkast and has hit written all over it. I can hear this on the radio as well as in the clubs. And you have a lot of people that love the drink so that's the catch right there! It's one of those songs that you will hear all over the world in clubs, bars, amusement parks, movies, TV and sports venues.

The vocals are very clean, but they could have added more vocal tracks on the hook to make it thicker - just one or two more vocals. The verses could also get more volume, but it’s good for a demo.

The music is hot! But it needs that edge to it… a rock guitar would have been hot, not so loud but tucked into the mix. Also it could have used some more thump, some low tom drums with little cymbal crashes on the ends of the last bars leading up to the hook just to add dynamics. But for now, the idea is there and it works.

The composition is well written, the verses are catchy, the hook is catchy and it's a great song. The image is cool, and it's a different approach from the norm. It may not work throughout their entire career but it works for now.

The overview is that Gang of Roses will be signed before you know it, if they keep making songs in the format that they are following, I feel that they really have what it takes to be huge because they seem to know how to structure songs and that is a major plus in this game.

Spike Leroy – Grade: 8.5

Wow. I’m really hard on female emcees. But these ladies obviously know what they’re doing and how they want to be perceived. It wasn’t skanky rhymes with half-ass lyrics, or rhymes and voice so hard that you forget they’re females. It was just a group of females keeping it real about how any female may feel on any given club night. I ain’t mad at that.

Lots of rhythm and style and fun, and I’d like to hear more. This particular song is a definite hit for a few reasons. The track was hot and produced right. The girls obviously ain’t new to the booth. And it sounds just like Outkast’s huge mega hit “Hey Ya”. Now that can be bad and good. It’s for sure a fun-ass song that I can hear females all across the club scene singing when driving home from the club, pumpin’ it in their rides. Plus it reminds you of a song that was already a hit. Labels love a no brainer. The less work they have to do the better. But the question is - can the ladies carve their own niche and make a career out of it?

Mughal – Grade: 9

Hot! Not only can I hear this group on the radio, but if an A&R is not getting these girls, they’re crazy, ‘cause with the right exposure, Gang Of Roses can top the charts. The sound is different, catchy, can cross borders, commercial, and all together fits their image. The production goes well with the group’s style and concept. The image is nice, the fact that each member has their own style, concept and delivery is right on point.

The song structure is perfect and the song build up is good. The only thing I’d advise is to blend in the R&B vocals a bit more. Right now, the group sounds exactly like a girl version of Andre 3000 (Outkast). Some industry people might say that’s a good thing since you’re an all female group, however some might look at that aspect and get turned off by it.

So change it up a tad bit, add more of that R&B element you’ve already got, even try to change up the production at times to cross between south, east & west. Keep the overall sound and look the same, just tweak a few minor things to appeal to more of the masses and Gang of Roses should be on its way.

Reviews on Gio:

Mac G – Grade: 5

This cut didn't move me that much at all. I think the only way this song would be big is if Gio went and did a hot video with a good treatment. I like the fact that you can hear what he is saying but Gio needs more personality and character to his vocal presence, and he definitely needs to apply a catchier approach to his flow, cause it sounds like he's talking or reading his words from the paper. The hook was tight, but a club type track would have set the hook off better, cause this track is not for this song.

The production was clean, but it didn't fit to Gio. This track sounds like Xzibit, like some West Coast rapper would be better for this sound. Gio needs something of a more bouncy ATL style for this song ‘cause he’s using down-south lingo. and these days we’re using a kick drum and a clap and that 808 thump, and this track lacked that. A better sound all together for the melody would have given the song that edge it needed.

I feel that the composition was well written, but when you’re writing a song, the key factor is to give the consumer something to remember in the chorus as well as the verses. He had some nice lines but he doesn't have character, so it just sounds plain. And that's not gonna cut it.

He's a nice looking guy, so the ladies would like to buy a magazine that features him, or a nice poster, so he shouldn't have a problem there. He's definitely marketable. All in all Gio has potential to have a hit and score some big sells if he steps up and adds character and presence to his flow, ‘cause he has his own style, he doesn't sound like anyone, which is a plus. But he has to make songs that speak out more, up in your face, if he is going to win the attention of the consumers and the A&Rs of the business that have the power to sign him.

Spike Leroy – Grade: 7

When listening to “Birdies” I definitely heard radio potential. It sounded up to date and ready to be played before and after anything rotating on the radio today. I hear lots of energy and can imagine a very lively stage show whenever this song is performed, which is highly important. When you make a song it’s an expression of yourself in the purest form and I feel the hype energy all through the song, which usually means the lyrics fall short, but here Gio kept it interesting with a nice flow and metaphors.

I’d like to hear what he does with his less commercial attempts. A song like this can send the listener to the club without stepping out the ride. The beat was simple and to the point. A head-nodder and nothing else. Simplicity is definitely a popular production style nowadays, from Dr. Dre to Neptunes to Dem Franchise Boys to D4L. Get my point? It’s either hit or miss. It leaves the emcees out there. He has to know how to make a song not just rap. He either does the job or collects a pink slip.

From what I hear Giovanni has collected the first of many cheques. In summary, I think Gio has the formula and knows how to make songs and maybe even make a career. But can he be versatile and show more of his skills and make a hit album and not just a cool song? There is much potential, and I’d like to hear more.

Mughal – Grade: 7

The production isn’t bad and in fact pretty good, but nothing I haven’t heard before. I like the song structure but it tends to get boring after a while. Gio isn’t bad though, the hook is nice and very catchy but nothing unique or not done before. I can see him doing things within publishing, but not on top of charts, and this is only cause his sound doesn’t stand out.

I think I’ve herd a million other rappers with the same vibe, same vocal style, etc. etc. My advice would be to keep trying to change your sound cause he has the right direction and the flow is good, but try to bring something new to what you’re already doing! The hook was strong which I liked, but try to find an angle to your overall flow and voice that will bring more edge to it. The bio needs work as well.

Reviews on Ken Fluid:

Mac G – Grade: 6

This track has a nice message and it feels good. Radio will love this record, since it has that old school hip-hop feel. It has the potential to be a radio hit, but not an international success. The vocals are good, nicely layered for a full vocal sound. Some of his sentences were a little rushed, but Ken has a nice light southern vibe and I thought he was average, but still dope.

The production is good, it has a nice soul vibe to it - The Kanye West signature style of tracks with the hook. I'm glad the producer kept it simple, no clutter. The drums match the sample and overall it sounds hot!

I love the fact that Ken brought it back to the essence of what hip-hop is all about, keeping it short and brief. That style of writing always works, and he’s definitely on his A game with song structure.

There is nothing that's exciting about Ken's image, I think he just wants to be himself, which is great, but when it comes to selling records you need something that makes you stand out. I thought Ken Fluid was dope but average. It's evident that he's a hip-hop head and I believe that he could get signed sometime in the future when that old school flavor is back in demand.

Spike Leroy – Grade: 5

Ok, just to be fair let me say this - if I never ever hear another reminiscent homage to “hip-hop” personified as a relationship between man and woman I’ll be just fine. Trust me. Thanks, but no need for seconds, I’m straight. Now on to Ken Fluid - he can write. Story telling is the most valued skill in emcee-ing. The most honored emcees are the best story tellers. He really sent me back with the “three stripes in the eyebrow” line… damn, I felt old! But if he’s 21 how the hell is he reminiscing about that?

Moving on, the song was just too underground café. That concept has been done to death. I also think it’s the production. Too “anybody with a used MPC can do that style” style. Too third-rate wannabe Kanye Southside Chicago style. If he did the song on a track more upbeat and lively and less boring then it would have done a lot better.

He’s got a great voice and skills. But it’s just an ok song. The kind of song that if you did like it you’d probably be bored after the third time you heard it. I’m sure in an underground café performance he’ll rock, as long as it’s not the first song and the only one. Please make more songs on better tracks with better concepts and don’t submit this song anymore.

Mughal – Grade: 4

The background ghost double vocals go off from your lead. The hook is weak and almost put me to sleep. The rapper Common has already done the same song concept with regards to your current track. They even made a movie on the same concept - Brown Sugar, remember?

The worst thing you can do as an emcee is to copy the same concept someone else already has done, unless it is intentional or doing a biggie record over again. However, if you’re trying to play it off as your own concept, then it’s the worst mistake you can do as an emcee. Your flow is OK, you just need to tighten up your sound, concentrate on the hook and you might be in the right direction. Also, don’t depend on the production to make a strong hook or presence.

The new wave of production is allowing the artist to take more control and have more say within the track. With this track, I can tell you’re trying hard for the beat to do the work for you with the hook and some other parts such as the bridge. Don’t forget, you’re the artist; you’re the one who brings the track alive.

The Bio is a story I’ve heard over and over and over again, same old blah, blah, blah… I’m just sick of rappers thinking they need to put out how bad they were, or how much dirt they did, or how many times they’ve been shot, etc, etc. Come at it more intelligently, like my man Jay –Z does. After the intro, down to how you were known on the streets for your “street activities”, you got into it a bit better, outlining where you want to go with the music and how much work you’re putting into it. That’s the stuff that’s going to attract industry reps. I can’t say that I think I’d hear this track submitted on radio, but would ask you to keep perfecting your craft and keep at it ‘cause these are all things that can be fixed, which is the good thing.

Demos on review are chosen from the ones uploaded to the A&R Panel. To upload your songs, click here.

If you are a music industry professional that would like to participate in the demo reviews, please send us a message.

Previous Demo Reviews:

Professional Demo Review - Jan 16, 2006

Artists: No Silence (Pop/UK – Junk TV (Pop/UK) – Lesley Roy (Pop/Ireland)

Professionals: Gary Cooper (Manager/A&R Consultant/Germany) – David Coulommiers (Producer/France) – Stani Djukanovic (Producer/Germany)

- “She can offer any label a first class artist!”

- “I don’t think the heavier guitars help the song, and they’re certainly too dominant for her vocals.”

- “From the spine-tingling introduction to the huge chorus drop, ‘There’ll Be Angels’ begs the listener to reach for the volume, and is a flawless example of savvy production quality and awesome songwriting.”

Professional Demo Review - Sep 19, 2005

Artists: Melange Edinburgh (Rap/USA) – Kareem (R&B/USA) – Bristh (R&B/USA)

Professionals: Yann Rouiller (Producer/Switzerland) – Prince Valium (Producer/Denmark) – Andrew Lane (Producer/USA)

- “In her case the visual presentation is what can decide whether she gets signed or not.”

- “Kareem has real potential. The fact that he is (almost) self-contained will make his path a lot easier.”

- “The brass parts are really bad and should be played for real instead of the awful sounding programming, and the pitch instrumental parts are a mess and should be deleted or not pitched at all.”

Professional Demo Review - Aug 8, 2005

Artists: Anne Judith (Pop/Norway) – Mooli (Pop/UK) – TonDalaya (R&B/USA)

Professionals: Michael Puskas (A&R/Australia) – Robert Uhlmann (Producer/Sweden) – O-Jay (Producer/Germany)

- “The track has a great commercial hook that drives it straight to the radio.”

- “This song came across as a cliché on top of a cliché.”

- “I love this track - the lo-fi drums, nice string arrangements and bubbling sounds give it a very nice atmosphere.”

Professional Demo Review – Jul 4, 2005

Artists: Exkzile (Rap/USA) – Hazel (Rap/USA) – T.U. Savant (Rap/USA)

Professionals: Steve “Blast” Wills (Producer/USA) – Gabo (TV proeducer/USA) – Mughal (Producer/Canada)

- “She has good potential to be signed by a record label!”

- “He needs a photographer to frame him for industry appreciation.”

- “Please quit while you’re ahead. This ain’t going anywhere!”

Professional Demo Review – Apr 18, 2005

Artists: Mis Marie (Rap/Denmark) – Vladimir Vasileski Cetkar (Pop/USA) – Penny Foster (Pop/UK)

Professionals: Lotte Aagaard (Publisher/Denmark) – Leo Chantzaras (Producer/Germany) – Robert Waterman (A&R/UK)

- “A very catchy song with potential! I like it!”

- “He is a good singer but should try losing the accent.”

- “I would suggest she looked closely at herself and ask, ‘why me? What's special about me?”