A self-procalimed nomad, Yumi was born in Brooklyn, raised in Dallas, and is now walking the streets of New York once again. As an apprentice of early hip-hop, Yumi was swayed to its rhythm and quickly found her love for it. She has the tenacity, ability, and drive to bring women's hip-hop back to the most sought after award in music - The Grammy. "I'm going to be what we [women] haven't been in a very long while - leaders." Derived from African-American, Japanese, and Native American descent, Yumi has a distinctive sound and look that cannot be replicated. Her credentials in the music industry include a plethora of artists and producers - some of which include Easy Mo B (legendary producer for Notorious BIG, Tupac and Miles Davis) and the RZA (producer and member of Wu-Tang Clan). Yumi can currently be heard at various open mics around New York and is working on her next album.
Kenneth "K.J." Anand represents the true meaning of ambition. Not only is K.J. one of New York's hottest up and coming hip hop producers, when he's not banging out tracks in the studio he juggles a demanding career as a lawyer at one of the most prominent law firms in the country. To K.J., no obstacle is big enough to overcome and his work ethic and dedication to whatever he does puts him a step above the rest.
K.J. started making beats in high school. Inspired by one of the most famous producers, D.J. Premier, K.J. taught himself how to make beats on his computer by chopping samples and laying down simple drum patterns. Later in college, K.J. experimented with classic drum machines and sequencers like the ASR-10, K-2000 and MPC-3000. While in college, K.J. also managed to get a degree in sound engineering, which enabled him to make his beats sound even more professional. In 1999, K.J. moved to a tiny apartment in Brooklyn, New York. Confined by space, K.J. returned to his roots of making beats on a laptop computer, only this time the technology had drastically improved. He picked up an copy of Fruity Loops and from there it was history.
Now, in 2006, K.J. combines both computer-based sampling and sequencing with melodic instrumentation to give his beats a current sound that stays true to his east coast and New York roots, yet at the same time has global appeal. K.J. has had his beats and remixes featured on several mixtapes, and most recently has had his songs played on D.J. Kay Slay's show on Hot 97 in New York City. In addition, K.J. managed to produce an entire soundtrack to an independent film that won at the Sundance Film Festival, called "Asbury Park." Today, K.J. continues to shop his beats to major recording companies and is also expanding his horizons overseas to Japan and Europe. Whether it's making hot beats or writing legal briefs, there is nothing this kid cannot accomplish.
Akil Dasan doesn't just perform hip-hop, he embodies everything that hip-hop is, was and aspires to be. An African-Judaic blend of multiple ethnicities and cultures, Akil stands out from any crowd for an entirely different reason-he provides a blend of multiple talents: rapper, singer, guitarist, DJ, writer, beat-boxer and break-dancer.
Influenced heavily by Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, The Roots, D'Angelo, Mos Def and Lauryn Hill, Akil combines jazz, blues, funk and classic soul with the neo-soul sound of today. And like Stevie Wonder, Akil plays all the instruments himself.
On stage, he sits alone with a guitar, a sight that might make one expect the music of a subway performer. He first strums his guitar, using it to reminisce on funky blues.and then the beat hits. There are no drums. As whispers and wows fill the atmosphere, listeners realize that every sound is coming from the kid on stage. He's a human beat box as precise as a drum machine. Finally he lends his voice, smooth as Kimono silk. The beat keeps going. The guitar keeps harmony. The energy is undeniable.
Akil Dasan's first album is a funk jam session with intricate flows and sweet vocals. Everything heard, from the bass to the singing, is Akil. This musical jack-of-all-trades began at age six when he learned to play the drums. That led to the piano, which led to the guitar, and finally the bass. At twelve, Akil joined the Philadelphia Boys Choir, where he traveled the world and developed his voice. His personal musical explorations led him from the Blues to Funk and Hip-Hop. At fourteen, Akil, Black, Native American and Jewish, joined, of all things, an Islamic rap group called the G-had Platoon. Soon after, he formed a group called L.M.ental, and Akil paid his rap dues free styling every day with a group of kids that included rap star Cassidy.
Akil's positive, peaceful demeanor doesn't quite fit that associated with battle rappers, but as he says in The Jawn, "I'm just an ordinary person with a story/ Never wanted to battle but it came with the territory." His flow on The Jawn would wow any accomplished musician or Hip-Hop head, as he seamlessly oscillates from on beat to double-time, nimble as a young Charlie Parker.
You could find Akil Dasan walking the streets of Morningside Heights, with a guitar slung over his shoulder, face hidden by a hoody. Akil is a reminder of Mississippi bluesmen like Robert Johnson, wandering the south with a guitar and an arsenal of stories. A thin, five foot eight slice of raw talent, Akil embodies virtually every significant musical movement from the early 1920's until now. Combined with a freestyle ability honed everyday since high school, Akil legitimately bridges the gap between musician and MC.
Akil Dasan studied music and creative writing at Columbia University and has performed everywhere from New York City to London, including tapings for MTV and BET. He's been featured in magazines such as Marie Claire, worked with top producers like Mark Ronson, and shared the stage with major acts including Blackalicious, The Roots and Black Eyed Peas.
If you want to find out what Akil's music is all about, you'll just have to hear it for yourself...
Jason Sheldon, a.k.a. Rusty J, hails from Oswego, New York and has developed a smooth, upbeat mixture of R & B and Hip-Hop by singing and rapping. In 2004, Rusty J was invited to perform at the New York International Music Festival where, out of 200 performers, he was awarded "Best Hip-Hop Performer". After graduating from Oswego State University with a Bachelors Degree in Business Administration, Jason began organizing performances in the Upstate New York region.
In 2005, Rusty relocated to Nashville, TN in order to surround himself with more musical opportunities. Shortly after moving to Nashville, Jason was hired to contribute to promotional efforts on behalf of Davis Jonethis' Artist Development Group.
Rusty says, "When people hear my music they usually get a mental picture that is different than what I actually look like. Then when they see me it's that much better because I'm not what they expected." He also says, "I'm not trying to be something that I'm not, and when you stick to that principle, people love and respect you for it. So I'm just making good music and being myself." The ambitious musician says, "The only way that I can give my fans what they deserve and pay for; is if I continue to push myself musically. So, as a songwriter I'm consistently trying to grow. As a vocalist I'm always trying to better myself. As a performer I'm constantly trying to inspire and entertain."