For Those Who Can't Sleep On Hip Hop

WORDS BY KHALID STRICKLAND a.k.a. BLACK PACINO

PHOTOS BY E-PILLS

Who the hell does Troy “MixByMail” Hightower think he is?

Sure, he’s one of the sharpest studio engineers to ever work a mixing board. Indeed, he has mixed a slew of gold and platinum records for Onyx, Redman, Big Pun, Erick Sermon, Common and many others. Admittedly, Hightower’s engineering resume is untouched; there’s not enough room here to list his credentials. Many of the classic Hip-Hop records that dropped in the 90′s were glazed with the Hightower polish.

But to quote Janet Jackson, “What have you done for me lately?” Moreso than any musical genre, Hip-Hop is about the moment and Hightower can’t rest on his precious-metal plaques forever. Besides, is a good engineer really necessary to the hit-making process? He just turns a few knobs after the artist and producer do the all heavy lifting. Anyone can do that, right?

Wrong. An engineer can make or break a record and grandmasters like Troy Hightower do not come a dime-a-dozen. A poor mixdown can sap the potency of even the dopest track. Hightower is a reputable, seasoned vet with a keen ear; a sought-after component for great-sounding records. Recently he’s mixed albums for deejay/producer Presto, Boss A.C. from Portugal and De La Soul, to name a few. At an event called “Future of Music,” Hightower shared his expertise on a panel with Bumpy Knuckles and the legendary DMC, moderated by Harry Allen. In addition, Hightower has put his knowledge of television audio to use by working at networks such as FOX News, CNBC, Court/Tru TV and currently ESPN.

Hightower also established a company called MixByMail, hence his nickname. Clients from around the globe send him their unmixed songs in a variety of formats and Hightower returns them professionally enhanced. The finished, improved songs are available for download upon completion. From rank amateur to platinum superstar, no one has to have their records sound like crap with Hightower as an option.

In the comfort of his home studio, adorned with gold & platinum plaques, I interviewed Troy “MixByMail” Hightower and it was very enlightening. Head to the basement and get in the mix.

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WORDS BY KHALID STRICKLAND a.k.a. BLACK PACINO

PHOTOS BY SUNDIATA ACREE a.k.a. THA SNYPER

Jay-Z’s departure from Def Jam left Roc-A-Fella up for grabs, so Damon Dash commandeered the label and nominated Curren$y its flagship artist. Recently at the cavernous DD172 Studios, a multi-purpose Tribeca loft building owned by Dash, the once-and-future head of Roc-A-Fella held a listening party for Curren$y’s upcoming debut album, Pilot Talk.

The Snyper & I attended this exclusive event for the scoop.

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The Future of Television is just about here. A couple of years ago I attended the NATPE (National Association of Television Producers and Executives) conference. This is the industry convention where production companies go to pitch their programs to networks and distributors globally. I was intrigued by the overall theme of the event, which was in many ways set into play by NBC Universal president and CEO Jeff Zucker’s keynote. The theme, which was revisited on various discussions was direct, how do we avoid the TV industry from becoming the recorded music business? One interesting item was to do away with pilots that never make it to broadcast. By following this premise, plenty of dollars are saved by actually airing created content, regardless of whether it gets picked up for an actual series.

Here’s the most important takeaway:

The industry makes money from advertising, so make the website the network. This means actually offering as much content as possible there. Ultimately, if it’s not available in a convenient platform, people are going to upload the content and fans will watch it. Instead, the television business learned from the missteps of the music industry. They’ve learned to monetize content with ads on Internet streams or through subscription models. A clear glance at TV’s future is the success realized by Netflix. The company has been making significant waves once for their $10 subscription model, which allows viewers to access all of their on-demand programming for such an appealing price point. Apple TV and Amazon’s Video On Demand provide programming à la carte, however, it would take a true fan of a program to pay per show.

It’s clear now that the television industry has followed their plan of action. Between the networks’ sites, programming on Netflix, Hulu, and accessibility via Internet ready television sets and game consoles, viewers now have the freedom to watch countless hours of traditional television programming on various screens TVs on a whim. -Israel Vasquetelle

Related Posts: Howard Stern’s TV producer discusses on-demand television.

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During the last segment of the interview with the founder of veteran metal band Anvil, Lips expresses how the documentary about his band inspired artists of all walks. It’s clear from listening to him, that his passion and dedication to music is the most significant force behind the group’s survival for 30 years in the incredibly competitive music industry. Regardless of genre, he provides clear lessons for artists: follow your passion, hone your craft, and be true to yourself. Ultimately, that will resonate with fans to make all difference. Interview by Israel Vasquetelle

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Metaform brings solid electronic sizzle with brash Hip Hop edginess that will make some want to breakout a 1985 sized boombox in these ipod times. Check out this independent Hip Hop artist.

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