Masked Wolf, the Rapper Behind One of the Most Viral Hits of the Year

Masked Wolf has one of the biggest songs of the year with “Astronaut in the Ocean,” and if you think you haven’t heard it yet, you have. Despite being released in 2019, the song became a massive sleeper-hit earlier this year thanks to TikTok and internet virality as a whole. With a popping remix of the track, featuring G-Eazy and DDG, out now and a project on the way, the 30-year-old Australian native is going nowhere but up from here.

With so little known about him, it feels like he came out of thin air with one of the hottest songs of the year, but Masked Wolf is no overnight success story. In fact, he’s been grinding for over a decade. On the latest episode of the Rockstar Experience podcast, we asked how he’s been with all his newfound success and the changes “Astronaut in the Ocean” has brought to his life.

“[Doing] good man. I’m still a bit overwhelmed by it all. Because I was that artist that grinded for over a decade. Trying to make it in the scene in Australia, and then all of the sudden one song changes your life, you know? It’s just crazy,” he explained.

With such a well-crafted and well-received hit under his belt, we found it important to explore Masked Wolf’s start as a rapper.

“So what made you want to start rapping? Can you tell us about your beginnings?” we asked.

“I never said that ‘I want to be a rapper,’ like that’s not how it started. It was more like I just wrote poems. I was into poetry and ballads and stuff like that and it just eventuated to me finding hip-hop. Or American hip-hop found me. I got like slapped in the face with Eminem, Kanye, G-Unit. I was a massive G-Unit fan when I was young,” he said.

Masked Wolf didn’t always have the distinct sound you hear on “Astronaut in the Ocean” or even the stage name Masked Wolf. During our convo, he told us more about how his sound changed over the years and even the way he wanted to push himself as an artist.

“When I started writing songs and stuff, I actually started religious rapping when I was like 15-16 and then, I wouldn’t say I grew out of it, but it was like, if I want to be known by multiple countries or just a broader area, I’m gonna have to like to try and make songs that will relate to everyone,” he explained.

“So I’m still religious here and there but it’s like, obviously what I make has meaning to it, and there’s a message. And yeah, that’s how it all started.”

One of the most unique and unusual things about Masked Wolf and his breakout song is that he released it 2 years ago and it didn’t get to its massive level of popularity or even blow up until earlier this year. “So, how does that feel? The delayed gratification of that,” we inquired.

“I mean, It is what it is. I think COVID was a small catalyst for it because it put people in shittier states mentally, being in lockdown. No one’s used to being trapped in the house for a long time and you start getting depressed or down. And like, ‘Is this for real? Is this life?’ And then you find that song [Astronaut in the Ocean] and you’re like ‘What the hell?’” He elaborated.

“And then you find out what it’s about and you’re like, ‘Holy shit, that’s how I’m feeling.’ The two-year thing, I’ve always said, ‘it is what it is.’ Like, the song doesn’t have to blow up straight away.”

With a song blowing up so quickly as it did, one can only imagine just how fast the breakout artist’s life can change in just a matter of months. After over a decade of grinding at his craft, this kind of success is something few artists ever achieve.

“How has your life changed? How does it feel?” he was asked.

“It’s just good to not work to be honest. Like, as in a 9-to-5. I worked full-time for 11 years. So, that took a toll on me. It’s just a point where I was completely over that because I wanted to do music so bad,” he said.

During our talk with Masked Wolf, he spoke to us about some upcoming music he has and the artists he still wants to work with.

Although we focused heavily on his monumental hit, we were not remiss in asking what other musical aspirations Wolf holds. He informed us about his newest record “Gravity Glidin” and how it came about.

“It’s basically just my ode to Astro[naut in the ocean]. A lot of people have said it’s ‘Astro 2.0’, but it’s more hip-hop, it’s more Joyner Lucas. It’s more like ‘Rap Caviar’ in your face, hardcore rap,” he explained. “It’s just basically about, I mean, Gravity Glidin. It’s like me saying, ‘I’ve now made it to space.’ I’m chilling and gliding through. I’m where I’m supposed to be and it’s kind of like the thanks to ‘Astro.’ Like ‘Astro’ put me there.”   ❖

Be sure to stream Masked Wolf’s new single, “Gravity Glidin,” on all streaming services and to follow him on all social media to keep up with him and his latest releases. Check out our entire convo with Masked Wolf on the newest episode of The Rockstar Experience, out now on all platforms!


From Dramas to Drops, Hit-Maker Robert Palmer Watkins is a Man of Many Talents

Robert Palmer Watkins is a man of many talents. An established actor in TV and film, he’s recently branched out to music, working with acclaimed producer B Martin.

Watkins is a busy guy, but took time out of his schedule for a lively chat with host Brian Calle on the L.A. Weekly weekly podcast to talk about what it’s like to straddle two artistic worlds, and how he’s been able to achieve the dream of so many Angelenos.

“I grew up with three sisters that were always throwing me on stage or into their dance numbers or into their skits… whether I wanted to be thrown into them or not,” laughs Watkins. “I liked filming sketches and stuff around the neighborhood with my friends… I just was always an artistic kid.”

An artist at heart, Watkins found his calling in high school theatre.

“I loved it – the energy from the audience and just being on stage, being a part of something that’s almost like a sport,” explains Watkins. “You’ve got a group of people that have to put on a show, and they all have to rely on each other ’cause if the ship sinks, everybody’s going down together. You’re only as strong as your weakest man… I just loved that camaraderie in that feeling.”

He had been making movies and short films with his friends ever since he could get his hands on a video camera, so his teenage transition to stage acting was a welcome adaptation of his skill.

His advice for young artists?

“Go for it now, like what are you waiting for?” asks Watkins. “If it’s a career or dream that totally seems crazy with your given circumstances… pull [yourself] aside and go… ‘it is crazy but like it’s what you’ve got to do.’ You know, you feel it [when it’s right].”

It was this steadfast certainty of his potential that enabled him to overcome worried family members who were concerned he was following an unrealistic path.

“They were just a little concerned about me getting a degree and they really wanted me to at least go to college first. They didn’t want me to become like a child star on drugs and, you know, go off the rails,” confides Watkins.

They encouraged him to go to college before pursuing his dream, something the star is thankful for today.

“I got this agency casting thing when I was like 14 and had like 10 different agents from L.A. saying ‘we need him here now! We need him here now, he’s perfect for Disney or Nickelodeon.’ And my parents said no, and I’m glad they did, to be honest. I think everything worked out the way it was supposed to.”

It did indeed, with Watkins starring in iconic shows like General Hospital and the upcoming The Walking Dead: World Beyond.

“[Working on General Hospital] opened a ton of doors for me, got me out there and working and got my name floating around,” says Watkins. “I booked a four-year contract to play Dillon Quartermaine who’s also a legacy character from the show.”

The soap world is different from any other type of television show, requiring serious dedication and commitment to your character.

“That first week I was given the amount of scripts that they wanted me to [memorize] and I had a panic attack,” remembers Watkins. “How am I going to remember all these lines? Somehow I did it.”

“I’ve had like eight episodes I needed to learn in two days, so I booked a shitty motel room and locked myself in there until I started filming, just rehearsing my lines,” he continues. “I got through it but the pacing was insane. It did kind of teach me that you just gotta go with it. You might fail but you gotta get out of your way, get out of your head.”

He’s now been creating music, with his first single “Waiting” dropping today. He collaborated with B Martin and Ronin on the piece, working with his label Purpose Driven Artists and KMG, powered by Orchard Music.

“I’ve always loved music,” explains Watkins. “I’ve always been into singing.”

And he does it well.

Tune into the L.A. Weekly weekly podcast to learn more about this drop, as well as intimate details of how a young kid made it in Hollywood, pursuing both of his dreams to fruition.     ❖

Listen to the L.A. Weekly weekly podcast on SpotifyCumulus Los Angeles or wherever you get your podcasts.


Vanessa Hudgens and Oliver Trevena Leverage Their Platforms to Encourage a Healthy and Eco-Conscious Lifestyle

“Don’t be afraid to be different,” she continues. “I think that it’s really easy to conform – and less scary [to do so] – but we’re all made differently, our interests are all different, the way we approach life is different, and I think the more that you can embrace your individuality and your weirdness and the things that make you you, the easier it is for you to succeed in life in general.”

Her close friend and business partner, Oliver (Oli) Trevena, has been more than willing to help her achieve just that. Oliver, who has 152K followers on Instagram, is a connector. The man knows everyone, and is able to bring people together to encourage social activism and make plans happen. The successful entrepreneur/investor is also an actor – his movie Rising Hawk is streaming now.

How did the two meet? Where all great friendships are made: Lance Bass’ house.

“One day we met at Lance Bass’ house,” explains Oliver. “That’s it really. And yeah, we connected there and then you know, a couple of times after that [the friendship] just clicked. [We] got closer because life happens … with the struggles. I think real friendships grow stronger [through struggles] and that was it for me. She’s seen me through everything.”

“Boyfriends come and go but Oli’s been there,” chimes in Vanessa.

From their friendship and their shared love of earth-friendly activism, their venture Caliwater was born.

“I think those best moments in life happen [when there is no] kind of game plan or you know, thinking about it. It just happened and then we worked our asses off,” says Oliver.

It all started with a prickly pear margarita.

“I was in New Mexico and I was on a road trip and I am such a margarita aficionado,” Vanessa laughs. “This prickly pear margarita came out and I remember just seeing the color and being like, ‘Oh my gosh, it’s beautiful (A) and then it tastes phenomenal (B).’ Then I was like, ‘I gotta do some research on this.’ I looked it up and realized they’ve been using prickly pear for centuries for all of its health benefits.”

“I’m a sucker for a good life hack… and I also don’t drink water. My friends are always like, ‘Vanessa, you gotta drink water’ and I’m like, ‘I don’t like it though.’ I’m so happy because now I have something that I actually love and is hydrating for me which is the most important thing,” she continues.

Cactus-made Caliwater is good for more than just hydration.

“Immunity, antioxidants, it’s obviously great for hydration, low sugar, low calories,” lists Oliver.

“Antiviral properties, lowering blood sugar levels, it’s just kind of a miracle worker,” follows Vanessa.

“Yeah, it’s kind of one of those things that the world is aware of, but it hasn’t gone mainstream. Kind of like coconut, you know the same way coconut water had this massive resurgence,” says Oliver. “When you talk to people in Latin America and [other warm climate countries], they [use it frequently], like you know: ‘Someone’s got a tummy ache, give him some prickly pear.’ I think just the mainstream hasn’t clicked, so that’s where I feel like there’s a real gap in the market for this.”

The health benefits are many, but it’s not just a tasty drought-friendly drink that’s great for staying hydrated. It’s also a perfect mixer, and a healthy alternative beverage to water for those that are picky.

“It’s a great mixer,” affirms Oliver. “I mean, that’s the idea behind this drink. But we’ve found [out from] investor friends, [that] their kids have been drinking this and they love it. We’ve got everyone from a 5-year-old that loves it to a 60-year-old that loves it and then people that don’t drink or do drink. The idea of this company was providing something that really can be drunk by everyone.”

A labor of love, Caliwater isn’t just a sustainable company influencing better health, it’s also actively involved in bettering the lives of children. Five cents of every can of Caliwater sold goes to No Kid Hungry, a charity working to help feed hungry kids. With millions of children experiencing food insecurity due to the effects of the pandemic, Caliwater’s support of ending childhood hunger is more important now than ever.

“They make sure that kids are fed. At school, they will make sure they get breakfast, lunch and send them home with dinner if they need it. Kids shouldn’t have to worry about how to get through the next meal, so they just make it happen,” explains Vanessa. “I love that.”

Vanessa and Oliver recently hosted the Caliwater launch party at Mojave Moon Ranch in Joshua Tree, the #CaliwaterEscape. Following all COVID restrictions and safety regulations, the launch brought together some of the biggest media influencers to not only spread awareness about the health benefits of cactus and Caliwater, but to raise awareness about No Kid Hungry’s mission.

The event combined Vanessa’s classic Coachella style and major influence with Oliver’s innate ability to connect people and make dreams happen. For Vanessa, Oliver introducing her to Caliwater and letting her take the reins has been a dream.

“I think the fact is, at the end of the day, if you’re passionate about something you figure out how to manage your time and Caliwater is something that I’ve been so invested in and so excited about,” she shares. “You know for me it’s fun, like I love being crafty, I love trying new things. If I’m into it, I’m going to make it happen.”

“And it’s authentic,” Oliver agrees. “I mean, we both genuinely like it. Even if this was another company, and I tried this drink, I can genuinely say that I’d be buying it and drinking it.”

For these influencers, health is a top priority: their own health, the health of their followers, the health of their communities, and the health of the planet.

“I see Vanessa influencing everyone to be a good person,” ends Oliver. “She inspires me all the time, she always shows up for people, always there for people.”    ❖

Learn more about Caliwater’s cactus water with a conscious mission, where it is available, its founders and their upcoming ventures by listening to the L.A. Weekly weekly podcast on SpotifyCumulus Los Angeles or wherever you get your podcasts and visit Follow on Instagram @caliwater


Chris Sullivan Tells His Story and Talks About the Series Finale of ‘This Is Us’

Chris Sullivan is an actor’s actor. Widely known as Toby Damon on NBC’s wildly successful drama This Is Us, he’s a master of his craft, from Broadway to television.

Chris took time off from his family vacation (a family on TV and real-life) to sit down with Brian Calle and chat about his past, how he’s made it in Hollywood, and the upcoming series finale of This Is Us.

“The journey started in L.A. back in 1998. I went to Loyola Marymount University to study theater and graduated from LMU in 2002,” begins Chris. “I hung around Los Angeles for a couple of years, trying to make it happen, and ended up doing a lot of theater, actually. I ended up getting cast in a Broadway one-man show called Defending The Caveman that was a touring show.”

After being on the road for a few years, he landed in Chicago where he lived for half a decade. It was there that he continued to hone his artistic craft, and also met his wife. From there, the two moved to NYC to pursue Chris’s Broadway career. His talents got him recognized, and the opportunity to audition for the show This Is Us presented itself. He now finds himself settled in Los Angeles with his family, as the show brought him back to the West.

This Is Us has become a cultural phenomenon, one of the most beloved shows to hit the airways in modern day. He is now a very recognizable face (and arguably even more so a recognizable voice) thanks to his work portraying the lovable Toby.

Getting to where he is today hasn’t been easy. From constantly moving around for work to endlessly auditioning, his accolades are well-deserved.

“Ninety-five percent of all the things I have auditioned for I have not gotten,” he admits. “It was a slow build.”

“That Broadway touring show was a break in the sense that I did somewhere between 500-600 performances of that show,” he continues. “Over the course of the years, as my theatre mentor says, I got my Ph.D. in stage time.”

That time gave him the confidence he needed to push his craft over the edge. At what point did he realize he wanted to be an actor? What lured him into following this dream?

“I had a lot of energy growing up that needed direction, that needed funneling into something productive, and so theatre became a really interesting emotional activity for me,” answers Chris. “The emotional expertise of theatre, the creative collaboration, the sense of family that comes with a theatrical production … was always very romantic to me and I just loved it. I loved the process.”

Being an actor is one thing, being a theatre actor is another. The ability to successfully tackle both is incredible. To be a working actor in Hollywood, let alone Chicago and New York is a huge feat.

“Television in a lot of ways is rehearsing in front of the audience. You get several takes to try several different things, so it’s almost like every take is a rehearsal, and in post [production], the editor and the director get to decide which performance fits the overall piece,” says Chris of the transition from theatre acting to television acting. “Making that transition is difficult, it’s different styles of acting.”

Little jobs turned into bigger jobs, and now here he is. Through the little jobs he was able to figure out how it all works in television, including knowing he had to make the hard choice to pause theatre in order to make room to grow in his career and get in front of the camera.

It was the right choice, as it brought him to the set of This Is Us, the number one show on television in its time. From its inception, the show has been a groundbreaking hit, being renewed for large sums of seasons in an industry where the promise of even a single season following a pilot is rare.

It was recently announced that This Is Us is coming to its natural conclusion. Too popular to be canceled, the story is simply reaching its final arc.

“Dan Fogelman has had the ending of this series set up and planned out since the beginning. In fact, he’s already shot scenes from the final episode. We are going to go out in the exact way our creator wants us to, and we are going to go out strong and tell the exact story that we want to tell,” confides Chris.

“Now that the end is near it is just going to be soaking up each moment [for me] and really arriving and appreciating the work that everyone — the cast, the crew, post-production, our production staff — the number of people who work so hard to make this show happen is staggering. This will be a season of gratitude and appreciation.”    ❖

To hear more about Chris’ work, including the upcoming series finale of  This Is Us, tune into the weekly podcast here: SpotifyCumulus Los Angeles, or wherever you get your podcasts.


X-Factor The Band UK Judge and Chart-Topping Singer-Songwriter Lil Eddie Serrano Shares His Story as a Former Homeless Youth

If there is one lesson to be learned from Edwin Serrano’s story, it’s that talent and a drive to succeed can get you anywhere.

On this week’s episode of the L.A. Weekly weekly podcast, the singer, songwriter, and producer sits down for a conversation about his journey from growing up homeless in New York to producing for some of the biggest names in the business.

“It’s a blessing,” says Edwin, who goes by Lil Eddie professionally, of his career. “It’s definitely been a long journey to [this] kind of success.”

Lil Eddie has worked with Usher, Janet Jackson, Pink, Nelly Furtado and Paula Abdul to name a few. He also developed and helped form Fifth Harmony and Latin music’s biggest boy band CNCO which earned him a Senior A&R position for Syco/Sony Music in 2019.

“I’m just scratching the surface of what the ultimate goal is for me,” he shares.

While he has achieved incredible heights in his professional life and continues to climb, he had to overcome significant challenges and lows to get to where he is today.

Born in Brooklyn, he experienced a traumatic fire at an early age that left him and his family homeless for five years. Without other family to turn to – his father was a “New York gangster” and his mother was shunned for staying with him – they had to fight to survive on the city’s streets.

“I was actually homeless. Living in shelters, living in cars, living on the streets. I remember eating off the streets, waiting until 12 o’clock till restaurants close and eating out of garbage bags … yeah it was a hard life,” confides the resilient artist. “Then we moved to Spanish Harlem, and then there was this audition to join this choir called the New York Boys Choir.”

His brother joined, and that opened up a whole new world of possibilities for Lil Eddie. He followed his older brother into the group and realized that singing, performing, was his passion.

“In that choir, I got to do amazing things, like sing for the Pope and sing for the Billboard Awards … all these amazing things,” he says. “Being in the choir was like opening Pandora’s Box … no matter how much I came back to nothing it gave me that desire to want to want more. I started to see the world and realize there was more than the four walls that I felt trapped in.”

That desire to want more, and his prestigious position in the choir, is what ultimately led him to his career in music today. Ambitious to the core, Lil Eddie graduated high school at 15, started college that same year, and got signed at a young age. His professional work took him to Japan, where he had a #1 album, and on a tour through Germany. Traveling for work helped put things in perspective for the young star.

“It helped me realize there’s so much more than just America in itself and releasing music in America, there’s a whole world of currency and livelihood, and ways that you can make your livelihood doing music,” he says. “We are architects, more than just singers and songwriters, we are creators and we can do way more than just write a song or sing a song.”

He had some help along the way, as his talent got him noticed by industry big wigs like Sean Combs (Diddy) himself, who would go on to mentor Lil Eddie.

“Diddy was very very instrumental in my career, because when I was young, he really put me to the test and on the spot,” says Lil Eddie. “He was so profound.” Always giving advice, the artist credits the famed producer for keeping his head in the game.

For Lil Eddie, music is more than just a game, it’s his life’s blood.

“I always tell people I feel like music found me,” he shares. “My music is heart music. It’s music from the heart … what I feel, what I’ve experienced.”

From overcoming homelessness to working alongside Simon Cowell, tune in to this week’s episode to be inspired. Listen to the podcast on SpotifyCumulus Los Angeles or wherever you get your podcasts.   ❖


Goody Grace Is Genuinely A Rockstar

In the age of viral fame and meme music, Goody Grace stands out as a rockstar in the truest sense of the term. He unapologetically makes the music he wants to make, stays true to his roots, is stylish as hell, and comes across as a genuine person while doing it. In line with his air of authenticity, believe it or not, Goody Grace is not a stage name.

“I love the name. Can we just talk about that?” asked Brian Calle, host of the Rockstar Experience podcast.

“I mean, Goody Grace, is that your birth name or a stage name? Because that name is fire,” he continued.

“It’s not a stage name, it’s my real name, man,” Goody humbly replied with a chuckle, CBD joint in hand. Goody is the latest artist to sit down with the Rockstar Experience podcast and at only 23 years old, he is already in tune with his own rockstar experience.

Although Goody Grace is a real-life rockstar these days, having collaborated with some of the biggest names in the industry like Juicy J, G-Eazy, and Blink-182, he honed his craft in the woods of Manitoba, Canada before relocating to L.A.

“Yup, I’m from the sticks. I love it back home. Where I came from is a very particular and special place that really made me who I am,” he began.

“Culturally it’s so diverse there, because it’s really country, but there is also a lot of crime there. Half of my friends drove Cadillacs and sold weed and half of my friends drove trucks and listened to country music.”

Goody holds this balance of influences in high regard, and they are reflected in his music and style.

“I think the dichotomy of that creates a special and weird type of culture and I like country music as much as I like punk music as much as I like hip hop music.”

His sound, although well cultivated, is as indescribable as it is varied. Goody considers himself genreless.

“I’ve always been kind of all over the place, but that’s not out of confusion or indecisiveness, it’s just out of versatility. I just like music and I always want there to be something for everyone in my music,” he explained.

“How would you describe your music to people who haven’t heard it?” the Rockstar Experience hosts asked.

“It’s always been a struggle to put into words for me. But, I like my music to be, first off, emotional, second, cinematic, and I think the most important is nostalgic. I think it’s more about the themes and the feelings than the sound. Whether it’s an acoustic song or something with 808s and trap hats that I might be rapping on or it’s a punk song; it’s still the same energy.”

Goody has always been quite the musical workhorse; he began recording himself and producing music at the age of 9. We can assume he is always working on something creative, whether alone or with his friends.

“Since like December I probably made like 135 songs,” he professed.

“It’s crazy when you make music, just living life is making the music. Because if I just sat alone all day what would I make music about? My friends mean a lot to me so I like to keep really good people around me. I’m really thankful for my friends. If I’m not making music I’m with like 1 of 10 people who mean the world to me and we’re probably working on something creative too. I think that no matter what I’m doing I’m always thinking of what’s next… but also living in the moment, in a good way, not a bad way.”   ❖

Although his debut album, Don’t Forget Where You Came From, is out now, we can obviously expect more innovative music from Goody in the future. Until then, stream Goody Grace on all music platforms and follow him on his socials. You can check out the full Rockstar Experience Podcast interview on Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts.


Coi Leray Is Just Getting Started

Coi Leray has taken the music industry by storm this year. Following the release of multiple hit records and multiple viral moments on social media, she’s become one of the hottest artists on the scene. Even though she is nonstop working right now, she stopped by for a conversation with the Rockstar Experience podcast – straight off of a 15-hour workday.

“I got in late, like at 5 a.m. last night,” she began. “I was on a 15 hour shoot with Mooski for the ‘Track Star’ video shoot.”

“You are just going!” exclaimed Brian Calle, host of the Rockstar Experience podcast. “What aren’t you doing?”

“What I’m not doing these days is thinking negative, for real for real. I’m just thinking positive thoughts and just doing whatever to be where I need to be. I’m just getting my feet wet,” she replied.

While Coi has been going viral on social media and the charts alike this year, she is still relatively new to the music scene. She recalled finding the inspiration to begin her musical career in 2016 from fellow east coast artist, A Boogie wit da Hoodie.

“I was on my own since I was 16, living in my own crib. I was working in sales and dropped out of high school early like 10th grade,” Coi explained. “Boogie had dropped that song, ‘Trust Issues.’ He was the only male artist that would talk crazy about females but speak facts and make it sound so good. I wanted to be the girl that talked back to the boys, so I made my first song called G.A.N. and it blew up from there and I was like, ‘Yo, I’m an artist.’”

Coi’s foray into the music industry has paid off immensely and she’s confident to keep on paving her own path to stardom.

“Everyone wants to be at level 10 or level 100,” Brian started. “Everyone wants to be a millionaire or a billionaire or on tour and the hardest step to take, but the step that matters the most, is from 0 to 1.”

“You gotta trust the process. With me, I feel like this is the year I’m really gonna break into a superstar status artist. People are really gonna start knowing me for my music and see my full potential. You just gotta trust the process for real for real, count your blessings,” Coi replied.

Arguably, one of Coi’s biggest blessings is her record, “No Parties” with Lil Durk, which is her biggest song to date. Coi explained that she knew she wanted a Lil Durk verse on No More Parties, so when the time came, she quickly reached out.

“I had been listening to Durk so much it just reminded me, ‘Durk would sound crazy on this,’ so I hit him up. I was like ‘Yo I need you on this’ and he was like ‘Alright bet, it’s fire.’ I had tweeted ‘Durk hoppin on it [No More Parties]’ just to solidify it. Man, I got the verse in two days. He loved the song, he believed in the record and shout out to him because now we’re like, what, #37 on Billboard charts right now with 10 million views in a week on YouTube?”

At the time this article is being written, the song is still charting, peaking at #11, and has collected over 40 million views on YouTube. Apart from the sheer energy and catchiness of the record, a key factor in the song’s viral rise, and Coi’s rise as well, is her presence on TikTok.

“How much do you think TikTok helped the record? Because you go crazy on TikTok,” we asked.

“It’s crazy because all of my content and everything I do is never forced, it’s something that I do organically. TikTok is something I actually need to be MORE present on,” Coi said. “I try to be on there as much as I can but whatever feels organic, it just goes. So when I made ‘BIG PURR’ I just leaked the snippet. That shit’s almost got 300k TikTok videos and it ain’t even drop yet! It’s just dope to have this world of young, youthful, fun, kids that just wanna dance. I don’t know, I just love it, it’s so viral.”

“A lot of artists like me, it’s a lot of diamonds and designer that people can’t relate to. Some people just know how to put the camera on and dance in some Levi’s,” she continued.

Coi was fun and exceedingly charming on the Rockstar Experience podcast, but she also has another side to her. One that takes her life and career very seriously and with confident poise. She sees her path as definite.

“You’re all about being an original. It’s so funny because people always say ‘I wanna be the next this person or I wanna be the next that person,’ but being able to be like, ‘Nah I’m gonna be the first Coi Leray and I’m good with that’… that’s maturity,” Brian commented.

“I wouldn’t be me if I wasn’t me,” she replied.

“At such a young age, how did you become so centered?” Brian asked.

“I’m the only girl in my family, I grew up with five brothers. I got a lot of tough love growing up. I also learned good customer service skills and realized that a lot of stuff is based off of relationships and being a good person. I’ll be 24 on May 12, but I’m a big ass kid. I’m still learning every day, more and more, and I feel like I’m the chosen one. God favors people for real and I feel like I’m God’s gift.”

Check out Coi Leray’s music on all platforms and be on the lookout for her debut album, which she revealed to us will be dropping in May. Keep up with her on her socials as well, tap in with her cooking show “Cooking With Coi” on YouTube, and tune into her Rockstar Experience episode for more thoughtful gems and hearty laughs from Coi and the guys.

You can check out the full Rockstar Experience Podcast interview on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and iHeart Radio


James Fauntleroy And Larrance “Rance” Dopson Spread Their Success

The guests on this week’s episode of the More Hustle podcast emulate the entire reason the podcast was created.

James Fauntleroy and Larrance “Rance” Dopson are the ultimate hustlers. They really make it happen, are constantly showing up, and are always making other people’s dreams come true.

From Snoop Dogg, Beyoncé, Britney Spears, Jay-Z, Travi$ Scott, and Kendrick Lamar, the two have worked with some of the top artists in the world.

Not ones to be selfish with their success, they’ve hosted seminars in the past to share their experience and knowledge and co-founded the 1500 Sound Academy for aspiring artists/musicians/producers/writers/and music executives to help students become the next biggest thing in the business.

Where did it all start? Well, in a church, where the men first met.

Rance was playing for Bobby Valentino (now known as Bobby V) in the church band and trying to get James in the band for Valentino’s Def Jam showcase. He was successful in doing so but … James was quickly fired the same day he was hired. Why?

“He was taking all the girls away!” Rance says as he cracks up into his microphone.

“I got fired for being awesome,” James confirms.

Thankfully, the firing would only be a funny story to tell in the future. The duo was only at the precipice of their success story.

“[Terrace Martin] needed a ride to a show, and he told me that the keyboard player might not show up and I might be on the gig. I was his driver, so I took him to Palmdale so he could do the show with Snoop Dogg, and the guy didn’t show up,” says Rance. “So I knew the chords anyway, and from there he asked me to go on the world tour with him. So then I did six world tours right after, and that literally changed my life.”

To make that clear, Rance went from being a driver to a member of Snoop’s band traveling the world in less than a few hours. His story is the come-up story to end all come-up stories.

What about James? When did he tap into his genius and know he had a gift?

“I always felt like that,” he smiles. “I felt like that for as long as I can remember.”

“Not only because of whatever personal gifts or whatever I am blessed with, but also because when I was a kid and everybody is really unsure of themselves and worried about how people see them – and not that I don’t have those feelings – but I remember I had a teacher that pointed out that everyone thinks that everyone is looking at them and everyone is also so nervous but everybody’s so busy looking at themselves that nobody’s [actually] looking at you,” James laughs. “And that just really made me think about so many things in life, like why do I care if somebody thinks this, or ‘this is whatever.’ So that’s what propelled me from being fired to also fumbling my way into being a songwriter and all these other things because I was just like, ‘why not?’”

The More Hustle podcast is all about exploring the grit behind the glitz and glamor. Hosts Brian and Nef are on a mission to uncover the hard work and relatable struggle behind every success story, not only to inspire listeners, but to show how attainable wild success is no matter your background or challenges.

The duo has had many times where they were ready to quit the music business.

“I remember when James literally quit the music business, he told me, because it was literally just too much. And then he came back,” shares Rance.

“In the business they have a term ‘falling off’ when people are off. Now I know more than ever that being off is a state of mind, it’s stopping. So yeah, I have quit,” James laughs.

No matter how dreamy your job is, it’s okay to feel overwhelmed and “done.” You can always come back, or you can walk away.

“Every time you get to a goal, there’s going to be a new goal, every single time,” James tells us. “Goals are mountain peaks, and the valleys are everything else. So I really spent a lot of time appreciating the journey part because that’s the main part. If you’re living for those other things, it’s an infinite loop.”

To hear about Rance and James’ success story, as well as to get more information about their school 1500 Sound Academy, listen to the More Hustle podcast here: SpotifyApple PodcastsiHeart Radio or wherever you consume your podcasts.   ❖


Valeria Hinojosa Is Rebranding Sustainability To Ensure Purposeful Change

On this episode of the Weekly podcast, host Brian Calle has an in-depth discussion with blogger, mental health advocate and environmentalist Valeria Hinojosa about how she got on her path to change the world, and ways others can do the same.

“It’s actually a funny story … I used to be a private banker. I think that career awoke something in me – I’ve always had this connection with nature, coming from Bolivia where we are pretty much surrounded by nature – when I came to the U.S. I graduated and immediately got accepted as an intern at a bank and that transitioned into a full-time position and I didn’t even have an opportunity to process what I had chosen as a career. It wasn’t until my third or fourth year as a private banker that I realized that I was disconnecting from this passion I had with nature. I was losing myself, I was losing my essence.”

“I was dealing with depression without realizing what depression was,” she continues. “I wasn’t focusing on my spirit, and my spirit was screaming nature, and that’s how my blog came to life.”

The platform initially came to life as a way of venting her frustrations and hopes, but eventually turned into something much more: a way to connect with a  like-minded community also passionate about nature. In the process of building her blog, she came to know about sustainability and climate change.

“The more I learned the more I wanted to share it with the world, and that’s pretty much how WaterThruSkin came to life,” explains Hinojosa.

“I created WaterThruSkin because I wanted it to be more than a platform, I wanted it to be a movement. I wanted to be transparent and reenergizing like water, but I also wanted it to have the power to penetrate skin and reach souls, soul deep,” she elaborates.

From there, she transformed her life into one of environmentally conscious sustainable living. She used her platform to help others do the same, one step at a time.

Photo Credit: @mariafornieles IG (Maria Fornieles)

For her though, it was a bit more than a step. More so, a leap.

Transitioning from a steady paycheck and a rising career in the world of banking to building a website and brand from the ground up was a gargantuan, and mostly unheard of, task.

“That was my first step, just taking the risk, taking the leap of faith,” shares Hinojosa.

From there it was a lot of writing, a lot of pitching, and even more researching. Hinojosa maintains the integrity of her brand by rigorously researching sponsors and partners, to ensure they meet the earth-friendly criteria she has set.

From her work as an environmentalist and eco-activist she was led to discover another passion of hers: conscious entrepreneurship. What is conscious entrepreneurship? It’s creating companies that are solving everyday problems that have nature and people in mind.

How does one follow in her footsteps, resetting their life to actively living sustainably?

“I think the biggest first step is just understanding that there is no perfection when it comes to being a better human, and the second one would be the power we have as a consumer and as a human, we are setting the demands,” she answers. “So once we start reshaping those demands we can start reshaping industries.”

Separating true eco-friendly companies from those just trying to profit off of sustainability marketing can be difficult, so the activist suggests a litmus test for how you make environmentally-friendly changes: Staying true to yourself.

The intersection of capitalism and sustainability has given more power to the everyday consumer. But Hinojosa cautions against uninformed acceptance of “eco” brands.

“I think our biggest mistake as consumers is the fact that we gave too much power to the companies. We never questioned them. We just started buying their products, we believed in their marketing campaigns, and that’s where our society kind of got lost. We started trusting way too much. Now it’s our time to take that power back,” asserts Hinojosa. “Start educating ourselves, start reading labels, start reading the mission statement of the companies. Are they paying their employees a fair wage, where are their companies and their warehouses, where are they working, what materials are they using – those are things that we never even consider.”

It’s time for that to change. To learn more about Hinojosa and WaterThruSkin, visit them on Instagram @waterthruskin. Get tips on how to live life suitably, as well as advice on how to build your own platform, listen to the podcast here: Spotify, Apple Podcasts or at Cumulus Los Angeles.

CULTURE ARCHIVES FILM 2021 From The Archives News 2021 PODCASTS

Sam Pollard’s “MLK/FBI” Reveals J. Edgar Hoover Plot To Discredit Civil Rights Leader Martin Luther King, Jr.

Director Sam Pollard has been telling stories about the Black experience for over 30 years and in his new film “MLK/FBI”, he gives a candid look into the role the Federal Bureau of Investigations played in a plot to suppress the civil rights movement. Pollard opened up about his approach to telling the tenuous story between Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and FBI director J. Edgar Hoover in a recent episode of the AAFCA Podcast.

The story told solely through the use of archival footage paints portraits of two cultural pillars and their tenuous relationship as polarized ideals for America collide. For Pollard, it was important to show all sides of the two characters.

“First of all, I just want to look at King as a man who had feet of clay,” says Pollard. “One of the things that I have found both engaging, invigorating, and important to do with filmmaking was to create stories of people who I grew up with and admired but also now taking opportunity to look at them and 180 perspective.”

The film is based on the book, “The FBI and Martin Luther King, Jr” by historian David Gallow that documents how the FBI surveilled the civil rights leader – including bugs and phone taps to gather intelligence to discredit Martin Luther King, Jr. Pollard has been compiling stories about race and the Black experience starting in 1990 with the groundbreaking PBS series, “Eyes on the Prize.” Over the next three decades, Pollard has directed, edited, and produced award-winning projects including Spike Lee’s “If God Is Willing and da Creek don’t Rise,” and “Atlanta’s Missing and Murdered: The Lost Children.”

Pollard believes his films add the Black experience and Black contributions to the American Story and his latest film will make people think and question the news and history we’ve been taught.

“Most of us African Americans, we love being American,” he explains. “We love America but we understand the hypocrisy of America.

“We understand the racism of America, [we] understand the economic disparity in America, you know – and I always hope that these films which people who don’t normally think like me but can watch this film and say, ‘Let me think.’ I think the problem with most people in America is that they don’t learn to challenge anything that’s put in front of you […] they just buy into it and just sort of suck it up. I mean you gotta be able to challenge and question – you just can’t accept the status quo.”   ❖

Listen to the full interview on the AAFCA Podcast