KXNG Crooked (Crooked I)- Winning Through Hard Work and Creativity

KXNG Crooked (AKA Crooked I) is one of Hip-Hop’s all-time most respected lyricists. Suge Knight once hailed him as the next Tupac Shakur, and years later Eminem signed his group Slaughterhouse (with Joe Budden, Royce da 5’9″, Joell Ortiz) to Shady Records. But that doesn’t even begin to explain Crooked’s foresight and brilliance. Crooked built one of Hip-Hop’s first online followings with the release of his Hip-Hop Weekly Series in 2007, releasing a new track every week for a year, and creating a trend that was later implemented by a number of successful artists. He has also continued to stay relevant by remaining innovative and taking frequent chances.

This is definitely one of the best episodes yet, as Crooked shares invaluable knowledge, and he even provides a blueprint for up and coming artists to follow when releasing an album. In addition to being an incredible MC, Crooked is a born leader, social activist, TV producer, and an overall great person. I guarantee you will get some real value from this interview or I’ll give you a full refund. Check it out!

Show Notes:
6:25 Traveling expands your mind
10:50 Being inspired by the success of Snoop Dogg and Warren G in his younger years
13:01 Crooked took advantage of his first big opportunity
16:29 Being too smart for his own good
19:50 Why Crooked chose Death Row over Aftermath
21:44 Crooked ponders whether his friend who sells incense or Dr. Dre is the most successful person he knows
24:05 Suge Knight always led by example and was accessible at any time
27:16 Crooked has always tried to match 2Pac’s work ethic
28:49 Being an early adopter of technology and building an online fan base
32:05 Why so many artists stole Crooked’s formula
36:37 On aging well
39:06 The making of Slaughterhouse
43:10 The positioning used to get Slaughterhouse on Shady Records
50:00 Eminem’s work ethic is infectious
52:38 Why being creative will always have value
54:27 How a rock bottom moment solidified Crooked’s sobriety
58:51 Surround yourself with positive people
1:04:21 Never let ideas escape
1:05:13 Crooked details a great plan on how to spend $10K on your album release
1:14:17 Learn from your mistakes

Check out this episode!

Film Producer Gary Ousdahl- The Making of Warren G’s “G-Funk” Documentary

Gary Ousdahl is the Owner and Manager of Advanced Management. He recently produced the upcoming Warren G documentary “G-Funk”, which premiered at SXSW this past March and will be released in early 2018.  Gary is a master networker and dot connector, and he shares some of the methods that have helped him succeed as a film producer, manager, and business owner. He also walks us through the process of meeting Warren G and making the “G-Funk” documentary in just a matter of months.

About Gary:

Gary Ousdahl has spent the past 17 years working as an agent, manager, executive and producer. With over nine years experience working at some of the most prestigious talent agencies in Hollywood (William Morris Agency, CAA), Gary has an extensive list of close relationships with many top agents, managers and executives. He also spent three years working in physical production and development with actor/writer/director/producer, Tyler Perry. Gary is currently owner and manager at Advanced Management, repping actors, writers and directors. He has also produced the indie features Austin Found, Street Level and G-Funk and as well as serving as an Executive Producer on The Ninth Passenger, Pimp, Fury of the Fist, Bachelor Lions, Prey No More and his latest feature which recently wrapped in Australia, In Like Flynn.  Gary is also a Executive Producer on In The Company Of Lies, which is currently set up at Rat Pac Entertainment/Voltage Films as well as serving as an Executive Producer on the Lionsgate/TNT series 40 Elephants.  He is repped by CAA and attorney Eric Feig.

Show Notes:

7:50 How Warren G brought Snoop Dogg to Dr. Dre
11:07 Finding the right investors for the “G-Funk” documentary
21:46 How to involve the right people who will be excited about your project
27:24 How to become a person of value and connect good people with each other
28:34 How to raise money from investors
30:20 A few lessons Gary learned while working with Tyler Perry
32:45 Why Craig Robinson is Gary’s favorite person to work with
35:45 The importance of surrounding yourself with friends who inspire you
39:00 Always be in the outgoing call business
40:10 Struggling makes you stronger
42:53 Setting and accomplishing goals
46:38 Life is pointless if you’re not following your passion


Check out this episode!

A&R Michael Chehadé- Realizing the Value in Yourself

Michael Chehadé is currently the Director of A&R and Creative Director with the Adler Music Group. Previously, he managed radio/ TV personality DJ Skee as well as Dash Radio.  Chehadé was also a producer at Skee TV, which aired on Mark Cuban’s AXS.TV and Fuse.

Additionally, Michael is a known tastemaker, championing and promoting many of your favorite artists before the general public becomes aware of their music.  Life has brought him a number of ups and downs, but his faith has been his driving force is navigating the bumpy roads.  Mike’s an extremely passionate person, and it shines through in every conversation, including this interview.

Check out this episode!

Musician Adam Hamilton- From L.A. Guns to Vanilla Ice to William Shatner

Adam Hamilton is an accomplished, well-rounded musician who was discovered by C.C. Deville from Poison, and was the former bass guitarist for L.A. Guns.  He’s worked with everyone from Angie Stone to Vanilla Ice to William Shatner, who he continues to work with on a regular basis.  Hamilton also owns and operates Palm Ranch Studios in LA.

Additionally, Adam has an endless list of film and TV credits, as his music has appeared everywhere from The Bourne Identity to Saturday Night Live to The Simpsons. We delve deep into publishing and Adam breaks down the pay structure and benefits of placing your music in film, TV, commercials, and more.  This is a great episode for any aspiring musicians or artists, and especially anyone interested in publishing (which should be all musicians and artists).

Show Notes:

1:53 Having to fight for your credits
8:36 The only musician to work with William Shatner and Vanilla Ice
9:26 The importance of moving to LA
12:53 C.C. DeVille from Poison gave Adam his first big shot
13:34 Taking advantage of opportunities immediately
19:49 The positive effects of getting sober
22:48 Breaking down the business of publishing and TV/ Film placements
32:53 Don’t ever sign a contract without having a lawyer reviewing it
35:02 Being kind pays
36:58 William Shatner’s motto is “say yes to everything”
42:53 You are the company you keep
43:29 Adam never had a backup plan
45:00 You can turn a number of tools into multiple income streams
48:00 Putting stressful situations into perspective and solving them one step at a time

Check out this episode!

Music Entrepreneur Dame Ritter- Always Focus on Your Fans

Dame Ritter is best known as the co-founder of the successful Indie Hip-Hop label Funk Volume (Hopsin, Dizzy Wright, Jerren Benton).  After the dissolution of the label, Dame founded the Music Entrepreneur Club, a music business educational platform. Dame also continues to work with a select group of artists, including Dizzy Wright and their Still Movin’ Movement.

After all of his accomplishments, Dame continues to keep striving for more success, and both his persistence and business acumen are on display throughout the interview. This is a great episode for anyone interested in building their own label, brand, or business.  Take notes.

Show Notes:
5:07 Funk Volume focused on the fans
5:51 You don’t have to take huge risks
7:15 Put out content and tell your story before you waste money putting out an album
8:50 Focus on visuals
10:01 You might have to become your own team until you can attract a team
17:52 The transition from Funk Volume to the Music Entrepreneur Club
22:00 How Dame got into music education
23:45 Dame’s side hustles while building Funk Volume included substitute teaching
26:27 How to be a true leader
28:14 Dame finds out about the dopest artists from the fans, not directly from the artist
30:32 Early conversations with Russ
33:05 Sometimes artists overlook the uniqueness of their own talent when they give advice to others
34:22 Your branding has to be consistent
35:06 Giving back to your community
40:52 Starting the day with small wins
43:32 Building the Music Entrepreneur Club
48:56  At some point you’ve got to jump!
53:49 Figure out what your passion is before you can follow it
58:35 Donald Passman’s book All You Need to Know About the Music Business is only relevant for artists who have achieved at least limited success


Check out this episode!







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Tastemaker Jen Deleon- Sacrificing Money for Your Own Happiness

Jen Deleon is a perfect example of the Indie Playbook lifestyle. She has proven her willingness to sacrifice money for her happiness in order to follow her dreams.  She inspires a number of people daily through video content that allows her fans honest access into her personal and professional life. Jen has also accomplished a great deal in the music industry, as an interviewer, personality, publicist, consultant, agent, and tastemaker, and it’s obvious that she is only beginning.

When Jen says she will have her own TV show one day, you know it’s going to happen.  Her self-awareness and growth mindset are exemplary, and I hope her confidence and willingness to sacrifice for her vision inspires everyone who takes the time to listen to her story.

Show Notes:
The importance of speaking things into existence
13:29 Jen had to fall back from her professional goals to do work on herself
15:40 Jen’s biggest lesson learned from Oprah
21:33 You don’t always need to respond to everything immediately
24:41 Jen’s parents gave her the freedom to figure out her own path
29:57 God makes things happen for you when they’re supposed to
35:30 Jen doesn’t ask artists things that can be googled in her interviews
40:50 Jen is open about all of her mistakes in order to inspire others 
43:41 Jen tricks people in order to inspire them
49:44 It can be a lonely world when you’re working to accomplish your goals
53:15 Follow your own path instead of trying to do things the traditional way
57:10 How to connect with brands
57:36 How Jen created her own campaign for Postmates while driving for the company
1:01:58 Going from driving for Lyft to partnering with Lyft
1:06:39 The challenges of being a booking agent
1:14:05 Utilizing a planner and goal setting
1:16:58 Why Jen would turn down a $5 Million salary if it meant working a corporate job
1:23:23 Embracing failure and learning from it
1:28:38 Be yourself
1:37:26 Why the move to LA was crucial


Check out this episode!

Agent Jamie Adler- The Importance of Taking Risks and Helping Others

Jamie Adler has become a powerful force in the Hip-Hop world, but it wasn’t always that way. Born into a rock n’ roll family as the younger brother of Guns n’ Roses co-founder and original drummer Steven Adler, Jamie initially utilized his family connections to secure a position as a rock agent. Jamie went onto work with rockers Flock of Seagulls, Wang Chung, Motorhead, and Danzig, and eventually R&B and Hip-Hop artists Tyrese, Bobby Brown, Ol Dirty Bastard, and Guru from Gangstarr. Adler is perhaps best known for his long running position as agent/manager for the legendary Bone Thugs-n-Harmony and DJ Quik, and agent for Dennis Quaid & The Sharks.

In this episode, Jamie balances unbelievable stories with the expert advice of an agent who has been around the music business since he can remember. We discuss everything from working with stars to career advancement to drug addiction to taking risks to being the person your friends can rely on. Jamie has a great heart and it really shines through in this episode. He’s helped me tremendously in my career, and he offers advice that is invaluable to anyone searching for happiness, success, and life balance. I HIGHLY recommend this one!

Show Notes:

2:09 The time Jamie was kidnapped by a man he thought was the manager of The Rolling Stones
16:09 Adler always told his friends growing up that he was going to manager Bone Thugs-n-Harmony (which he ended up doing)
23:33 Motorhead’s manager concocted a brilliant plan to get Jamie a job at the Agency Group
29:33 How to find that perfect balance between being persistent and not annoying
37:49 If you’re the smartest person in the room, run!
38:38 How Jamie recovered from a rock bottom moment
44:53 The moment Jamie stopped relying on friends and became the person his friends could rely on
47:36 How soliciting Bone Thugs-n-Harmony without permission led to our great working relationship
50:43 Agents should be working together instead of being selfish
Health is wealth
56:53 Jamie prides himself on telling people what they need to hear instead of what they want to hear
59:18 The importance of taking risks
1:00:28 Some of the richest people are the most miserable
1:01:47 Build your own identity and find your own success
1:02:01 Don’t judge yourself against others

Check out this episode!

Artist/ DJ Hanif Wondir- Have Faith in Your Own Perspective

Hanif Wondir is a multi-talented artist, DJ, and graphic designer. He was voted “Best Club DJ” by readers of the Monterey County Weekly six times out of the last seven years. He is also the official DJ of the prestigious Pebble Beach Food & Wine Festival. Hanif has toured the country and regularly performs up and down the west coast.

Because Hanif has made a living solely from his art for over ten years, he has great advice for all of you artists aspiring to support yourselves doing what you love.

Show Notes:

7:20 Competing for people’s attention online
12:48 Going down a rabbit hole to discover new music
21:13 Don’t try to be overly cool when you meet your idol
22:57 Have faith in your own perspective
27:45 Hanif’s brother always put him in dork check growing up
30:22 Have patience when taking in art and music
34:08 Capitalizing on every opportunity at the beginning of your career
39:55 Networking in a new market
43:25 Relate with people on a human level instead of asking what they can do for you
45:30 Build a following locally and then expand
54:25 Believe in your ability
1:04:23 Cut loose your loser homies
1:06:56 Sometimes putting yourself in an uncomfortable situation leads to your best work

Check out this episode!


Stance Socks’s Albie Rosario – Just Be Good to People

Albie Rosario is the Men’s Lifestyle Marketing Director at Stance Socks, which is currently one of the most cutting edge, forward thinking clothing brands in the game. You’ve probably seen a number of their incredible artist collaborations, including Tupac, A Tribe Called Quest, Michael Jackson’s Thriller, and many more.

In this episode, Albie takes us through his journey from DJing parties to his beginnings at LRG to his time at The Hundreds to his current role at Stance. We wanted to speak with Albie because of the importance of brand partnerships and apparel in an artist’s career, and because he has years of experience working with artists and marrying fashion with music.

In celebration of our 8th episode, we’re giving away Stance’s “Praise” Collection to a lucky listener, featuring three pairs of socks with Notorious B.I.G., Eazy-E, and Aaliyah.

In order to win, just email your favorite Biggie, Eazy, or Aaliyah track to podcast@focusednoise.com.

The 8th person to email us will win. We’ll reach out and get your address and mail you the socks. Very simple.

Show Notes:
4:57 The first Stance/ Anthem collaboration was with TDE
9:20 How the NBA collaboration blew up the Stance brand
18:44 It’s important to keep the ego in check
22:55 Success is doing a job you enjoy
24:25 Why the Tupac sock could end up Stance’s #1 selling sock of all time
31:55 Albie makes sure to travel in order to keep his finger on the pulse
32:22 Spend time with people who inspire you to improve your own skill set
34:09 How being good to people helps build long term business relationships
41:18 The value of Instagram in the fashion world
45:22 Time is the most valuable thing on Earth

Check out this episode!