There is a revolution rising beneath the surface of commercialized hip hop and Birthplace Magazine is going to help bring it to the conscious frontline of its e-pages. We are introducing a new section to our site called Follow The Grind, where BirthplaceMag.com will profile a budding new artist (or group) on their journey to hip hop success, checking in and reporting on them over the course of their travels.
Birthplace will chronicle the metamorphosis of an artist with the potential to make their mark on the hip hop scene. You will get a firsthand account of what it takes to make it in today’s music industry. You will be a witness to the process, the work, the frustration, the disappointment, and the never ending passion of an artist who lives and breathes a dream deeply embedded within them.
To kick off the series, BirthplaceMag.com will take a look at hip hop veteran NYOIL and the formation of his group, PEMG (Petroleum Empire Media Group). A modern day hip hop maverick with remnants of an old school soul, NYOIL (fka Kool Kim, of pioneering group UMCs) is working to create a new path to success, with a mission to restore the legitimacy of hip hop using its own roots. Based in Staten Island, New York, he is purposely a world away from the blinged out glamour side of commercial hip hop. He exudes an appearance of aloofness, a bit removed from the rest of the world, but in doing so, creates his perfect incubator for creativity.
The first encounter with him conjures up an iconic, animated Black Panther-esqe figure, with the dark glasses and blaxploitation film era as a backdrop. He’s intense, with a no nonsense, take no prisoners, vintage-hair-pick-with-the-black-power-fist-sticking up-from-his-afro persona that pegs him as a deeply focused man. He appears to be a bit rough around the edges but you quickly learn he is not to be underestimated or toyed with, indeed he is a gentleman with a teddy bear quality.
The first time BirthplaceMag.com interviewed NYOIL, it was a bit renegade in nature, as a live video interview with him and PEMG that helped illustrate an early hunger to make a strong impact. Despite its impromptu nature, NYOIL was prepared with every available resource within his means. Unapologetic for the modest surroundings, NYOIL resourcefully makes use of his creativity in its simplest form. Entering his apartment, you see an unquestionably sophisticated media center which could rival many studio establishments. Angled to the right is a tall, old fashioned shadeless lamp, placed in front of a floor sized mirror to double the amount of light we needed for a live stream broadcast.
In plain sight was a platoon of teenagers standing ready at attention to show the world something unexpected – PEMG (PEMG currently consists of NYOIL, Big Nay, Smoov The Great, B-Fam (SITH, 1228 DaGreat & Lyrics), Ladi Bree & B-Marvel). PEMG is the personification of NYOIL’s plan to extend hip hop’s future by using its original blueprint – youth with something important to say who haven’t been tainted by commercialism. They are young and determined; challenged with changing a world that repeats itself. They are canonized into holding each other accountable while striving for excellence. They stand uniformly silent, focused, disciplined and ready as NYOIL charges them to take responsibility for every choice they make and every word they speak. Although all adopt a soldier’s stance, the young men are trained as gentlemen, while the young ladies exemplify fortitude and innocence.
All this right in NYOIL’s home. It is a safe place where all these young budding musicians seem to be drawn like a magnet. NYOIL, holding his position as fearless leader, can beckon their immediate attention with a simple look or call. To command such respect in a world of reckless, often hopeless youth, NYOIL uses his own skills, talent, and ingenuity to give them what want; a key to making it in the music business.
PEMG are his students and NYOIL runs a tight ship in his home which extends to all of them. He requires them to do well in school, has a zero-tolerance for profanity in their lyrics, enforces punctuality, insists on no involvement with drugs or alcohol and they must work hard. These are not only students of hip hop, but leaders in training.
NYOIL doesn’t set a blueprint for excellence without it first being in practice amongst his own children. It is a true “mom and pop” operation as even Mrs. NYOIL runs a special program to celebrate young girls as they emerge into womanhood. The PEMG teens are trained not only on performance and recording, but the business side of music. Under the watchful eye of their strict, but caring mentor, one works as the business manager, another handles marketing, another handles the recordings and video editing, and NYOIL’s youngest son almost always does the camera work.
They are self-produced, self-managed, and self-made with NYOIL as their visionary. Their first video The Intro gives a groundbreaking preview of the raw talent these kids possess, as they express themselves like outlaws campaigning for justice.
And so were their live stream introductions, articulated with purpose that later rips into a burst of musical energy. As they all gathered around a single mic, they lurked playfully but stood alert for the cue of the music. Then a poet, a prodigy, a 1228, the lyric, and the host of other young MC personae exploded on the live stream video and blew our minds.
Now BirthplaceMag.com will follow this group as they continue to grow and develop, learning how to be artists in an ever-changing hip hop world. Check back to see the video premieres, the music samples, and the interactive videos that they will invite you to join in, to create with them. Check back on NYOIL and PEMG and find out who they are and how they’re going to impact hip hop. Follow us. Follow them. Follow the Grind.
Hadasah Ingrid Interviews NYOIL and PEMG (4/23/10)
PEMG – Pledge of Allegience