INTERVIEW with Mackenzie Nicole

Mackenzie Nicole photo courtesy of Strange Music, Inc.

Mackenzie Nicole photo courtesy of Strange Music, Inc.

Mackenzie Nicole defies the pop standards with her classically trained chops and urban rock influence. Her musical experimentation led to her debut single, “Actin Like You Know” which caught the attention of Travis O’Guin, the co-founder and C.E.O of juggernaut Strange Music, Inc. Her recording history predates the single as she made her debut on platinum certified rap icon Tech N9ne’s K.O.D.

We chat about life as a pop artist on a rap label, her musical influences, and being a young woman in the music industry.


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SONG REVIEW: Rob Drabkin - "It's A Beautiful Day"

By Wanda Whitley

Rob Drabkin.

Rob Drabkin.

Without even one glance out of a window, this latest single from artist Rob Drabkin lets you know what the weather is. 

“It’s a Beautiful Day” is so positive and uplifting, you may not even need that morning Cup of Joe to get you going. The guitar is very pretty, and Rob’s lyrics are just so smooth and soothing. As the song pleasantly soars you into the chorus, you want to get up and take that deep breath – breathe in all of the joy of this beautiful day. And you can just feel the sun on your face as you listen and take in this day that Rob has created and shares with you, feeling more than okay as you sing along with this anthem of celebrating today.

Although his musical talents make it easy to believe he’s always been a full-time musician, Rob attended Trinity University in San Antonio, TX, where he graduated with a degree in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology with the intention of becoming a doctor. His focus quickly changed after a family trip to New York to reconnect with his father’s old musician friends. After that moment, Rob knew he wanted to pursue a career in the music industry. His song, “Someday” has already a spot on major Spotify playlists and in just one month, the single accumulated over two million plays from listeners around the world. I think we can agree that Rob made a great choice in a career change.

Clap your hands, move to the beat, and enjoy the vibrant horn arrangement - just drink in the fun of this celebration of life!  And like a day that is as truly beautiful as this musical creation, as Rob tells us in his song - “whatever you do, don’t let it go, don’t let it get away!”  No worries, Mr. Drabkin, we promise we will hit replay on this one! 

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SONG REVIEW: Jake Aldridge - "The Underdog"

By Wanda Whitley

Jake Aldridge - The Underdog - Cover Art.jpg

Listening to Jake Aldridge’s latest single, "The Underdog," I was pleasantly haunted and inspired. The music is incredible. It’s melodic and ethereal beat puts me in mind of emerging out of the mists of a moor. Which is fitting, as his song about an underdog is all about coming from the bottom and rising to the top, and not giving up. 

Like a swirling mist that may obscure those in our lives (or even our own selves), that we might say never have a chance, "The Underdog" breaks through the clouds and comes into the light on the winning side. Jake’s moving lyrics convey in every way the struggle of the underdog, and how hard the battle is, and how lonely it can be. 

Listeners can relate to feeling like they never fit in, and having to “fight demons for your freedom," as Jake raps smoothly and sincerely the plight of the underdog. Yet in this plight, what encouragement! Jake tells us we “gotta get up” and “stop wasting our potential," and even though at the bottom, with a long way to go, we can “live in hope for tomorrow."  What an inspiration this song is, as Jake reiterates to the listener in his lyrics that the underdog  doesn’t need a mirror to know who he is, and he offers to “let me show you," opening himself up to reveal who he is to us, keeping it real. 

Jake is showing us his heart and sharing his soul to us in this song. A very moving part of this song is his tribute to his father, who he reveals he “lost at an early age, but his love remains."  He also refers to being the son of a king. And my favorite line in the song is “a gift from God, the underdog with no collar” – how humble the underdog is to recognize where his gift comes from, and what imagery that there is nothing holding this underdog back! 

I will conclude this review with the beginning of this song, which is a montage of introductions of Jake Aldridge.  One of the announcers introduces Jake with the underdog’s proclamation: “Don’t get discouraged, no matter what is going on in your life." This is the key to "The Underdog" coming out on the winning side – never give up.  Bravo, Jake, for this brilliant song – you are definitely on the winning side with this work.

Kendrick Lamar's DAMN Collector's Edition

Written by Brody Duggson


When Kendrick Lamar confirmed that DAMN can be played in reverse, I immediately threw “Blood” into Audacity and reversed the soundwave. What came out of my wireless headphones made no sense.

Then I realized Lamar meant “reverse order” not backwards.

In early December of 2017, Lamar released a collector’s edition of his seminal opus, and hopefully soon-to-be winner of the Grammy award for Album of the Year, DAMN.  The edition contains all the songs from DAMN, with no new production, in an order opposite of the original.

Instead of starting with “Blood” and ending with “Duckworth,” the collector’s edition begins with “Duckworth” and concludes with “Blood.”

It may sound like a distinction without a difference, but before it dropped in mid-April, conspiracies swirled that Lamar/DAMN had more to offer.

DAMN was introduced to the world on Good Friday.  One theory said Lamar will release another great album on Easter Sunday.  

A second conspiracy, this one piggybacking on a tweet by TDE producer Soundwav—“But what if I told you... that's not the official version…”—claimed more new material was forthcoming.

A tinfoil-hat-wearing fan theorized that Lamar’s next album would be titled "NATION." This appellation was inspired by acrostics made from some of the last letters of DAMN’s tracks. 

By the way, those phrases were “Earth Led 2 Death” and “Death 4 Leader.”

Many “KenFolk” immediately recognized that the last line of DAMN’s finale, “Duckworth,” is the first line of DAMN’s opener, “Blood.”  Some concluded that those songs were connected, and the tracks in between, are Lamar struggling with a slew of contradictory ideas.

Releasing his masterpiece with a reverse track order may seem a bit underwhelming, but it does satisfy those who believed there was always more to DAMN than originally assumed.

Our cynical side says the collector’s edition is nothing more than a money grab.  After all, the power to listen to DAMN in reverse order is inside of all us.  Well, inside our media players.

There’s reason to applaud Lamar’s efforts.  By releasing his album with a different track order, he forces listeners to accept DAMN as a single work of art and not a collection of interchangeable singles.

There was a time when listening to an album out of its original order meant putting on side B before side A.

Nowadays, it’s a piece of cake to listen to albums out of order.  It’s just as easy to listen to them randomly, as part of a playlist with a bazillion other songs, or piecemeal—just download the songs you like.