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Professional Demo Review - Jun 28, 2010

- “I love the risks the producers took without fear!“

- “As it makes up 60% of the track the beat a vital component and here it’s lacking a bite.”

- “This track came in hard and caught my attention, but then lost me somewhere in the middle.”

picture Hip-hop takes its turn on the mic as the Professional Demo Review tunes into three cuts by three unsigned rapping artists. Ready to assess whether songs by Dominique Young Unique, Th3 Saint and T-Mane offer hope or concern for hip-hop’s future are producer and Mughal, manager Mike Brinkley, and producer and songwriter Yann Rouiller.

To reach their conclusions our reviewers weigh up factors such as vocals, production, composition and visual presentation, while also providing tips on improving the tracks, and evaluating their overall potential to get a record deal and achieve chart success …

The Artists

HitQuarters ArtistDominique Young Unique

“Cocksure teenaged rapstress Dominique Young Unique couples innocently wide-eyed flows with beats from YM’s Brit production team Hardfeelingsuk. Expect a similar scale break out rather soon …" - Hip Hop Connection

Dominique Young Unique is from the Robles Park neighbourhood of Tampa Bay, Florida. She is 18 years old and this, her first release on Art Jam Records, is produced by Hard Feelings UK (Yo! Majesty). She is available for record and publishing deals.

HitQuarters ArtistTh3 Saint

Th3 Saint has always been around music, but it wasn't until he moved to Las Vegas that things really took a decisive turn. While working at a club in Vegas, one of his co-workers started to freestyle. Th3 Saint can't freestyle, but decided to recite a verse he wrote instead. "My friend was blown away," says Th3 Saint. "He told me I should really try to pursue rapping. It was that point in life when things took a huge turn.”

Now certain of his enormous potential Th3 Saint is not afraid to shout about it, "Expect greatness, controversy, and inspiration, cuz that's what I bring to the table." Expectations are certainly high for this young artist who is available for record, management and publishing deals.

HitQuarters ArtistT-Mane

Emerging out of the snows of Minneapolis is the 17-year-old rapper T-Mane who amply demonstrates his gift for lightning-fast rhymes in 'Get Cha Swag Up'. The young wordy rappingsmith is available for record, management and publishing deals.

The Industry Professional Review Panel

Mughal – USA – Production

Known to many as the industry’s best kept secret having done several ghost production projects globally, Mughal has just signed a new production/management deal with major production house Medinah Entertainment out of NYC (Rihaana, Darkchild, Brandy, Joe, Diddy). He is no longer taking non-credited projects and has a new agenda this year to finally take on credited placements only. Previous management was through Brian walker of Murder Inc Records, and Clear Vision Management C/O Andre Aarons. Mughal is also heavily involved within the telecom industry designing ringtones and new formats of content worldwide.

Mike Brinkley - USA – Management

Based in Atlanta, GA, On The Brink Music is a full service management and consulting company which provides representation to: recording artists, producers and DJs. Out management and consulting services include: A&R consulting, artist development, management, music licensing, marketing and promotion and contract negotiation. Past clients include Nas’ Ill Will Records, Sony Music and Island Def Jam, and current clients include B.E.T., Big Sean/Island Def Jam Recording Artist, Estelle/Atlantic Records Recording Artist.

Yann Rouiller – Switzerland – Production/Songwriting

Yann Rouiller is a producer at Strong Reaction Music, an international artist development company based in Maur, Switzerland. SRM write and produce for established artists as well as promote exciting new talents, singers, bands and songwriters, using their experience in contemporary music production and career management.

One of the busiest production teams in Switzerland, their work includes a wide array of artists in a variety of styles from urban to pop to alternative. Credits include works with Katia Cadet, Nubya, Manana, Robbie Buchanan, Dean Parks, Armand Volker and many more, as well as some No.1 hits for Lasso, Baschi and Musicstar.

SRM is looking for new talents as well as partners to team up on songwriting and production. For more information visit the SRM website.

* * *

Song 1:
Dominique Young Unique - Hot Girl

Mughal – 7

“Dominique is bringing something new to the game. I love the delivery and vocal tone she brings.

I also love the risks the producers took without fear! If we had more producers like HardfeelingUK then my job would be more exciting because it would create a greater demand for unique productions. The only thing I would have suggested would be more kick and lows, and also greater variation in the vocal production.

The image looks perfectly aligned but that promo picture needs to go - it looks like a movie cover from the late 80s.

With a little bit of tweaking, I think Dominique would have a great total package to take to market. I see a lot of potential as an artist and potential following globally. I think this could get a lot of spins on commercial radio, after a good successful club and online campaign of the single. Push it through social network groups as much as you can and just get the buzz factor going right now.”

Mike Brinkley – 7

“It may not be something that hasn’t been done before but ‘Hot Girl’ is still a cool and catchy song that fits in with the current music scene. With her distinctive voice and good delivery, I would say Young Unique should definitely grab the attention of her target demographic.

However, although the production is solid, for a song like this I think it should have been simpler. The music has a few additional elements and breakdowns that I don’t think were necessary and even took away from the overall feel of the song. I would suggest sequencing the music differently. This is one of those cases where less could be more.“

Yann Rouiller – 5

“Straight away the snare and the "I’m a hot girl" hook get right on your nerves, but in a good way - they immediately grab the attention. But as soon as the guitars kick in, the song decomposes pretty quickly.

The main problem lies with the production, which is much too complicated and inconsistent without really being spot on at any point. You’ve got the seed of a hook there but the art of producing a hit is capturing the essence of the track in its simplest manner. Their style of allowing a track to evolve over 3 minutes does keep it fresh but at the same time it doesn’t give the ‘stupids’ amongst us anything to hold on to, and so has no chance of breaking into a larger audience. It’s cool to have ten different beat vibes within one song, but best to just get one absolutely right.

Rap-wise Dominique is certainly recognisable and she also looks great and definitely has a vibe and presence to her. It’s all good, but just needs the music style and production to be on the same level of clarity, and then you might have something here.”

Song 2:
Th3 Saint - Me 4

Mughal - 1

“When I played this track out loud at the crib a friend of mine started laughing really hard. That’s not the kind of first reaction you want.

Production sounds like whoever produced it was too lazy to do anything extraordinaire. I did like the drum sounds, but that’s about it, the drum pattern itself is just so played out.

The flow ‘Saint comes with is good enough to keep up with the tempo, but far from going pro. If this record made it on the top charts and got a lot of spins on commercial radio then I would quit the music biz right away.

With regards to the promo photo, why is he telling me to “Shhhh”?! It just makes no sense. The overall image Saint is coming with is not at all relevant to today’s market. Sorry dude this whole thing is a fail, but a good enough attempt. For a hobby its great and you should keep doing your thing, but for a career …”

Mike Brinkley - 6

“Th3 Saint comes across as a creative rapper with some clever lines but ‘Me 4’ is no single, it’s just a good album track. The production is strong and Th3 Saint complements the track nicely, although his vocals need to be raised slightly in the mix.

Th3 Saint should keep writing and developing his craft as he shows a lot of potential. I would be interested to see how he develops.“

Yann Rouiller - 5

“As it makes up 60% of the track the beat a vital component and here it’s lacking a bite.

The beat construction is not bad - it grooves okay but misses a real badass grinding feeling. The drum sounds are a bit dusty old skool - not even fresh old school. Whether by experimenting with new sounds or finding that classic tone, he needs to push it to a point where people will say yes or no and not just “cool …”

The vocals in the hook need to be sung by a singer – they sound too thin. Only Eminem brings enough bite to rap a hook with the voice of a 12-year-old. You should sing the hook in a way that fits your voice and range and in this case, a lower voice would fit the part best. The general track vocals also suffer from being too thin in the mix. This is vital because vocals are the most important element in hip-hop.

The raps sound good, but still need developing as groove-wise I don’t sense a very unique feel. The theme of the song could also be more original, coz this one has been heard so many times. You’ve got to use your skills to project new ideas and concepts because that will always be more successful.”

Song 3:
T-Mane - Get Cha Swag Up

Mughal - 6.5

“Right at the beginning this track came in hard and caught my attention, but then lost me somewhere in the middle.

I like T-Mane’s flow but the hook needs to be better defined. If it had a hot unique hook, with vocals doubled and some effects, then T-Mane would have a pretty nice track.

The production was good, but the producer needed to carry T-Mane once that hook hit. Production wise the hook is too simple. If T-Mane isn’t vocally up to delivering the hook then it’s up to the producer to make sure he steps things up once that hook drops.

With hip-hop in particular, times are tough these days if you’re just pushing out the same old crap - you’ve got to step up your game and create a signature no one has, create your own style. T-Mane has an okay vocal tone and flow but he needs a more creative element.

Would this track have hit potential? Possibly, if it’s tweaked a bit, but even then it’s more of a domestic track. I can’t see worldwide appeal for it, and these days the labels only want hits that can appeal globally.

With regards to image, all I can see is a close up of T-Mane’s face. You need to show me who you are as an artist - fans don’t just want the music, they want a star with an image they can gravitate towards and follow. Give your fans more of a reason than just the music to follow you.”

Mike Brinkley – 6

“’Get Cha Swag Up’ has a good club feel and sounds like it has the potential to be one of those records that the DJ keeps throwing on in the clubs.

It is comparable to some of the music that is out right now, but to the extent where it’s very far from being original. T-Mane may have captured the sound of the moment but I’m not sure if this song will have the same relevance a few months from now.

To make a long lasting name for yourself in the music industry you have to give people a reason to recognise you amongst everyone else that is trying to get in the industry.”

Yann Rouiller - 5

“The beat is okay but nothing exciting either, but that’s not the problem – with a better mix it could sound like a proper hip-hop record – what it needs is more charisma.

To bring more life to it, he should focus on the individual sounds of the beat - are they exciting on their own? - and how all the elements groove together. With the instruments, does it have to be a piano and if so then how do you want it to sound? Same with the vocals, can you improve the flow, the groove etc … ? What’s more the whole concept of the track is not so clear, and it seems to get lost in the middle a little bit.

It's all a bit too straight and standard for me. As a rapper you’re up against thousands of others where the competition is about who has the most interesting and charismatic music and themes.

Think of the themes for yourself make it strong and personal, think of the packaging (the music) for the public out there. For me this is not at its best level right now, so you have to step up your game … one step at a time.”

Remember, demos on review are chosen from the ones uploaded to the A&R Panel. To get your music assessed by our expert panel upload your tracks here.

Alternatively, if you are a music industry professional who would like to join the panel for future demo reviews then please contact us here.

Next week: Sonicbids CEO Panos Panay on using the web to cultivate your own music career

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