While he's toned down his interactions with the law in recent years, no rapper with such a violent and illicit past has made as much of himself as Snoop Dogg. Snoop became one of the idols of West Coast rap in the early 90s, mixing a sultry smooth voice with hard and cutthroat lyrics. Since his debut in 1993, Snoop has been steadily recording albums every couple of years and performs on tour dates that are still attended by huge crowds. His latest album, Doggumentary, is a sequel to his first album, Doggystyle, and a prime example of how Snoop hasn't forgotten his roots after all these years. To promote the album, Snoop Dogg is currently playing sold-out concert dates, with plenty of tour dates in 2011 left to go.
During his youth, Calvin Cordozar Broadus, Jr., began singing in the choir at the local baptist church, eventually starting to rap in the sixth grade. Snoop attended Long Beach Polytechnic High School and was a member of the Rollin' 20 Crips. In his free time, Snoop began recording freestyle sessions with his friend Warren G and his cousin Nate Dogg. Snoop Dogg's freestyle over En Vogue's "Hold On" was heard by Dr. Dre at a party and Snoop was invited to the studio for an audition. Snoop began his commercial career with appearances on Dr. Dre's debut solo album, The Chronic, and on the single "Nuthin' but a 'G' Thang". Hype for Snoop's debut 1993 album was increased by the success of Dr. Dre's solo album and Snoop Dogg's own murder charges; Doggystyle ended up going four times platinum after just a year and sold more copies than The Chronic.
Snoog Dogg's newfound status as a rap star led to a series of tour dates and further spread the word about the LBC rapper. Snoop Dogg's follow-up album, The Doggfather, was released in 1996, shortly after Dr. Dre left Death Row Records. The album was produced largely by DJ Pooh and Daz Dillinger, and featured a slower, softer sound than Snoop's previous G-funk sound. Growing tired of Suge Knight and Death Row, Snoop opted to sign with Master P's label, No Limit Records, in 1998 and released his next three albums with the label. Snoop's music radically evolved in 2002 with Paid tha Cost to Be da Boss, which showed the dissolution of his gangsta image and sound and the birth of his pimp image and smoother sound. This era also saw Snoop Dogg playing concert dates to stadiums full of people, further cementing his status as a mainstream icon.
On May 21st 2005 Black Violin, two classically trained musicians from South Florida took home the title "2005 Apollo Legends" which catapulted them to international fame. These two gentlemen, Kev Marcus and Wil-B along with their DJ TK have created the ultimate synergy between classical and Hip-Hop music, and with it an incredible opportunity to reach young children. Since their triumph at the Apollo, Black Violin has toured with Linkin Park's lead singer Mike Shinoda and his group Fort Minor across the globe, performed at the NFL Kick off party with P. Diddy, and performed at the Billboard Awards with Alicia Keys just to name a few notable performances. Black Violin has performed with music heavyweights such as Aerosmith, The Eagles, Stevie Nicks, Linkin Park, 50 Cent, Nas, Ludacris, The Roots, and Kanye West. They have also worked with producers Scott Storch, Jim Jonsin, and P Diddy.
Wil-B aka "Simply Sick", attended Dillard High School of Performing Arts, and joined the school band where he played the saxophone. At the age of 13 he was mistakenly put in the strings section of the band. But as luck would have it he mastered and grew to love it. He has participated with local pop orchestras such as the Young Artist Contemporary Orchestra in Palm Beach, Florida. Not only is this young man talented on the violin but he also can sing, play the piano, drums, trumpet and several other instruments. His influences include some well - known musical artists such as Curtis Mayfield, Donny Hathaway, Stevie Wonder, Chaka Khan, Common, Jill Scott, Bilal, and the Fugees.
The second master, Kev Marcus, also attended Dillard High School of Performing Arts. He was encouraged by his mother and teachers at the age of nine to begin playing the violin. From there he grew so intrigued by it that he couldn't let it go. He also began to participate with the local pop orchestras, the Miami Symphony and was also a semi-finalist in the Sphinx National Competition for Blacks and Latino's in 2000. His musical artist influences are past great pioneers of the music world, such as Herbie Hancock, George Benson, Mozart, Bach, Beethoven, and Nat King Cole. Kev Marcus also has been influenced by some of today's artists such as Mos Def, Notorious BIG, and Tupac Shakur.
After high school the two enrolled at the Florida International University. There they met their manager Sam G and co-founded the production DKNEX which stands for Di-Versatile Music. Their group name, Black Violin is derived from the influence of a famous Jazz violinist, Stuff Smith, who changed the art and way of music played on a violin, and whose last album before he died was entitled Black Violin. As the group began to tour across the nation, DJ TK joined the team, and helped take the group to another level.
Known by many as the “Lethal Weapon” for his involvement with a popular sound system called Lethal Weapon Sound, DJ TK was introduced to Kev Marcus and Wil-B through a mutual friend in 2004. As soon as TK, Kev, and Wil-B got the opportunity to rehearse in the studio, the 3 instantly connected on both a musical and personal level. Kev, Wil-B, and Sam G instantly made TK the official DJ of Black Violin, thus completing the group. TK gives Black Violin a more edgy live performance, as well as a keen ear when it comes to production. Being heavily influenced by The Mighty Sparrow, Lord Kitchener, Bob Marley, Garnett Silk, Tenor Saw, Super Cat, Bounty Killer, Beenie Man, and other notable Calypso and Reggae greats, TK brings a heavy Caribbean influence that makes Black Violin’s sound even more unique.
On May 3, 2007, Black Violin was awarded by the Brooklyn Center for Performing Arts for their Outstanding Contributions to Middle & High School Performing Arts Students. In 2006, Black Violin started a mission called "Black Violin's Mission to Save the Performing Arts". Since many schools have cut down on offering performing arts classes within their curriculum, Black Violin has helped to promote the performing arts to kids and adults alike who have not been given music as an option. Aside from college tours and concerts, Black Violin always performs at elementary, middle, and high schools on a regular basis. Kev Marcus, and Wil-B, both graduates of Dillard Performing Arts High School, used their musical talents to earn full scholarships to college. Now Black Violin wants to make sure that America's young people get the same exposure to the arts, and therefore the same opportunity that they did.
Black Violin's show consists of a unique fusion of violins with Hip-Hop, R&B and Jazz among other genres of music. Kev and Wil-B show their classical skills of violin playing over the beats provided by DJ TK. Although the violin is the focus of every show, Wil-B also sings and Kev Marcus raps while TK keeps the crowd hype. Black Violin's showcase is definitely one of the most unique live performances any audience will ever witness. Black Violin's audiences usually consist of kids to senior citizens and everything in between. There is no age, race, or creed that Black Violin cannot perform for. Black Violin is the perfect act for all colleges and universities that either want to promote the performing arts to their students, that are afraid to book Hip-Hop acts due to the explicit lyrics involved, or that just want to book a great live performance no matter what the occasion may be.
Miguel Jontel Pimentel was born in the San Pedro neighborhood of Los Angeles, California. He is one of two sons born to a Mexican father and an African american mother. Miguel's parents divorced when he was eight years old. At a young age, Miguel listened to classic rock, hip hop, funk and rhythm and blues. At age 13, he began pursuing a career in music.
Miguel cites musicians Prince, David Bowie, Jimi Hendrix, Freddie Mercury, Phil Collins, Donny Hathaway, The Notorious B.I.G. and Kanye West, as well as the band Queen as his influences, in addition to expressing his admiration for Stevie Wonder, John Lennon and Diane Warren. Miguel revealed his desire to have worked with James Brown, whom he considers the "last innovator for me when it comes to soul". In addition to singing, Miguel also plays the guitar. He incorporates R&B, funk, hip hop, rock and electronic into his music. Miguel described his sound as "nostalgic in a sense that it's familiar... it's shocking, edgy, energizing". In an interview with Paper magazine, he regarded his music as "fly, funkadelic" and "intergalactic-hip-hop-meets-sexy-orgasmic crazy."
After making his contribution to Usher's Raymond v. Raymond in 2010, Miguel released his debut single titled "All I Want Is You", which features J. Cole and was produced by Salaam Remi. It is the lead single from his debut album of the same title.