Kenyetta ‘Native’ McKinney | Founder & CEO G.M.M., LLC/DopeMusicHub.com
Kenyetta began rhyming in Chicago at the age of ten. Sending her first ‘poor man’s’ copyright off to herself, then finally getting a collection of lyrics published by age eleven with the U.S. Copyright Office (with the help of her grandmother mailing the forms off). She was given the name ‘Kiki Queen of Kuts’ by her male cousins and making her way around the Chicago hip-hop scene. She even appeared in a showcase at the Regal Theater and accredits a radio personality & ‘hip-hop-ologist,’ the late PinkHouse of WKKC for being the reason she and a lot of Chicago rappers even knew about rap. “I’m not sure why a lot of rappers from Chicago & that era don’t mention him. I did one interview where PinkHouse was mentioned, and that was with Common. I was always at a PinkHouse event – LOL. I was like eleven catching the bus with my childhood best friend, so I could rap for PinkHouse and whoever would listen (really!). PinkHouse played all the NY/East Coast joints that we otherwise would have never heard. I was a tomboy, and a HUGE LL Cool J & MC Lyte fan when I was younger, so I would say their rhymes always kept me energized to keep writing. Plus, I had a mother (have to love my mama!) that would make sure everyone knew her ‘baby’ rapped. She would have me rapping for everyone and everywhere — even at family BBQs while they passed around the hat for money (smh),” stated McKinney.
Kenyetta later left the Midwest to move to the East Coast (Philadelphia, PA) with her mother & military recruiter stepfather during her high school years. It was in Philly that she continued her love for rhyming – formulating a group with a dude or ‘young bull’ (as they say in Philly!) out of West Philadelphia by the name of Justin ‘Just’ Dorsey. They’d then joined forces with other hip-hop heads out of West Philly (Sha’ron & Shabang the Stick-Up Kid — and their whole squad), and that was all ‘she’ wrote. The fellas in the group (she was the only female) ‘voted’ to change her moniker to ‘Native,’ because Kiki Queen of Kuts had become ‘dated’ (according to them!).
They started hitting up the Philly rap circuit. To keep the lyrical skills’ fresh,’ she would rap at her ‘West Philly’ high school’s lunch tables and became a permanent ‘fixture’ at Power 99 FM rapping on-air (the top urban station in Philadelphia). This was during the era of Stanley T., Colby Colb, DJ Ran (who played a role in making her early Power 99 stints happen), & Golden Boy, thanks to her high school best friend, Marquette Frierson giving her rides up there. Her mother said she stayed up many nights praying for her, because she stayed on the corners of 56th Street with a crew of guys (in West Philly, when she lived on the Naval Base in South Philly), rapping with her group – who was always like family to her.
The meeting of Kwame (when he was on top of his game) when she was younger while at the radio station with her air personality cousin, Rocky in Minnesota, was a turning point for her as far as career paths.
What Some People Don’t Know About Her:
She met and vibed with Tupac before he passed when she and her partner-in-crime at the time ‘snuck’ out of their University of Penn college-bound program to the below-mentioned rap convention (shouts to DJ Ted for making it possible!). Coincidentally, her childhood best friend’s father was Tupac’s bodyguard (the one who was with him the night he was killed), Frank Alexander’s daughter. “It’s pretty dope that I can say I ‘hung’ with Tupac when a lot of people just heard of him. It was a great moment in time — that whole time in my life,” Kenyetta stated.
She knows & grew up in the same church with the reverend that married R. Kelly & Aaliyah. Every time she would go back to Chicago, and he would tell her the story, she did not take him seriously — because she thought it was ‘creepy.’ Until she saw his name on the marriage license on YouTube years later when someone ran a Vibe piece. Maybe she missed her first big exclusive & did not realize it.
Also, she got the opportunity to hang in cyphers with some of hip-hop’s elite in the ’90s (Busta, Q-Tip, Phife Dawg, Tupac, Treach, Leaders of the New School, Poor Righteous Teachers, Arrested Development & more) at the Jack the Rapper Convention in Atlanta alongside her road dog, Jaleel B.
Her first in-person hip-hop celebrity interview was for a Philadelphia newspaper as a teen backstage at a major event in Philly (long before Grind Mode came about), was with Fat Joe & that didn’t go too well. Still, it taught her how to hone her interviewing skills. “LOL. Fat Joe was not an easy one to crack (Big Pun was on stage, and we were on the sidelines). When I was done with that interview, I wanted to cry in a corner, but I gathered myself. I ended up backstage talking with Funkmaster Flex [Funk Flex], Charli Baltimore, & Charlie Mack — Will Smith’s long-time friend/bodyguard before I took a shot at another interview. While Fat Joe wasn’t the ‘friendliest’ — maybe that was just a bad night for him to have patience with an up-&-coming journalist, he had a team of solid cats around him that took to me, so they cheered me up (which was dope, because they didn’t do it on some try to take advantage of you ish),” McKinney recalls.
She is known for always ‘preaching,’ has won several humanitarian awards (including one from the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers), and is often called a super tech geek by people who know her. She has been front-end building websites since 2000, blogging since ’03, and a social media strategist since ’07. She often jokes that she has been a Stamps.com customer about just as long — LOL. No, for real. Probably the least star-struck person you will ever meet, McKinney believes that the only stars there are – belong in the sky.
Later in Life …
Kenyetta AKA Native, ‘hung up the mic’ to attend college, where she obtained a degree in Speech Communications/Journalism from Penn State University. McKinney went on to become a print journalist and publicist. She started writing for newspapers throughout Philadelphia (including the Philadelphia Daily News/Philadelphia Metro), worked/interned at (Clear Channel/iHeartCommunications) Power 99 FM as a PR assistant for Loraine Morrill, & producer/production assistant for the station’s gospel show with Don Juan Banks (R.I.P.) — who was the director of the production at the station, too. She was there at the time Wendy Williams was on the air and helped produce a few of her commercial segments. Her first internship was at Fox Television as a Freshman in college. After college, she went on to get her master’s degree in organizational management (which she ‘swears’ she never uses!).
She started the whole Grind Mode Movement (Grind Mode Magazine, Grind Mode Radio, GrindModeConnect) because she and her group had been screwed over by a lot of people in the music ‘business’ who promised them a lot of opportunities that they could not deliver. So, her passion was always to help artists not have to go through what her group went through. Because of this, she understands the betrayal of being in a music business that does not/did not love you back.
Overall Favorite Rappers: Big L, AZ, Scarface, Royce Da 5’9″, Big Pun, Skillz, Remy, Common, Raekwon, LLCool J & MC Lyte (for their earlier work/inspiration)
Some Current Faves: Joyner Lucas, Nick Grant, Dave East, Jay Electronica, J. Cole, Nipsey Hussle (R.I.P.), Mysonne, Dreezy, Joey Bada$$, Big K.R.I.T., Curren$y, Logic, Lexii Alijay (R.I.P.)
Favorite Producer: J Dilla (Rest in Peace)
Illest Underrated Freestylers: Papoose, Black Thought
Funniest/Realest Faves: Uncle Murda AKA Lenny Grant, Bun B
Favorite Celebs In ‘The Game’ She’s Encountered: Ice Cube & Will Smith
Down South 4Life Faves: Three Six Mafia/Project Pat
Tom ‘Slim’ Clover | Chief Editor
Growing up in the UK, Tom ‘Slim’ Clover formerly ‘DJ Slim’ has always been an avid music fan. Growing up, he quickly became enthralled by the soul and funk music that was played around the home by his parents, but it was when hip-hop culture hit Britain that everything changed for him. The blend of well-known soul samples and up-to-the-minute rhymes touched a nerve, and many of his earliest memories coincide with the earliest days of recorded hip-hop music.
Keen to get involved in the scene, Tom has at various times been a b-boy, graffiti artist, and DJ, but it was this last discipline that worked for him. Spending hours at a time with friends who had DJ equipment, he taught himself how to mix and scratch based on what he heard on record (this was before online how-to’s and DJing DVDs) until, eventually, he was able to get his pair of Technics 1200s.
Purchasing the turntables with his student loan, they were not part of the plan for DJ fame, but rather as a past-time that he could enjoy while home looking after his newborn daughter. However, as his skills improved, tapes began to circulate among friends and acquaintances, and soon Tom could be found DJing in local record shops and was asked to play at clubs and parties around the UK.
With an eclectic taste and style that took in music ranging from hip-hop to jungle, and soul to ska and beyond, Tom’s plan was always to make sure the audience had a good time. However, a competitive spirit made sure that he outshone other DJs on the bill – often emptying the main room of a club and bringing the party to the smoky backrooms where he was at first called to play.
Before long, Tom had moved from the back-rooms and was playing DJ support for live acts around the UK – pairing with MCs and other musicians as well as performing across whole nights by himself. However, politics in the club scene caused him to slow down in this aspect. Still, as a prolific mixtape DJ, he continued to record hundreds of mixes over the years, on cassette, CD, and digitally, eventually becoming an official DJ for Snoop Dogg and the Dogg Pound over in the UK.
Meanwhile, Tom’s love of music took a new turn when he decided to start writing. As a media and history graduate, he was often surprised at the low quality of writing and fact-checking in the music press. Submitting articles to various print and online outlets, saw Tom’s stock rise quickly as he made connections across the music industry on both sides of the Atlantic and further afield too. Interviewing household names and newcomers alike, Tom also turned his hand to creating original editorials, news, and reviews to round out his portfolio.
Now, with decades of music industry experience behind him, including being long-time Editor-In-Chief at Grind Mode Magazine, Tom continues to champion new music. He also continues to pay homage to classics from across a variety of genres, and you can still catch his DJing on regular mixtape releases.
E Melyuan | New-Age Music Editor /Curator
While her bio is currently being written (as she is making her way through life), E Melyuan is a new-age hip-hop and music fanatic/critic. She was also a social media strategist at LitViral.com, and is a micro-influencer. E Melyuan prides herself on staying up on all the latest songs currently out. Credits music for helping her get through college – she is a psychology/science major at Penn State University (Go Nittany Lions!). So, she reps being a woman in STEM proudly.
She is a huge Chris Brown fan, rides hard with Meek Mill, and loves vibing out to A Boogie, Future, & Lil Baby. She keeps her ear to the streets and the online music scene today (her Spotify playlist is bananas!). Just as any young woman her age, beyond music, she enjoys fashion, hair, and staying up on the latest trends.
Michael’ DJ Lord Ron’ Stringer | DJ/Music Consultant
When it comes to hip-hop and R&B, Cali DJ phenomenon, Michael ‘Lord Ron’ Stringer is the culture. As a well-respected DJ and producer, Stringer has been in the music business for over twenty years. Understanding evolution, he has stayed relevant in every era by reinventing himself, while still staying true to the years of the culture that birthed his passion for the rap genre.
DJ Lord Ron – as he is known to by many, started his music career as a member of the Universal Zulu Nation (which was one of hip-hop’s most respected grassroots hip-hop organizations). He has prided himself in breaking down the barriers which the West and East Coast were known for putting up as it pertained to hip-hop — finding a formula to it all, by merely playing good music from all sectors of the globe. “I was born and raised in L.A., but I’ve often traveled to New York for shows and connections, so N.Y. has always been like a second home to me. I have never gotten caught up in the divide.” Said, DJ Lord Ron.
Later, he would go on to produce for Guru of Gang Starr (R.I.P.), Group Home, Lil Dap, Krumbsnatcha, Big Shug, C Rayz Walz, Akil The MC, Lord Jamar, John Robinson, Wildelux, Avrex, Derek Strong, Ace Boogie, Yeski + more. This who’s who roster of dope M.C.s solidified DJ Lord Ron’s name in hip-hop, as one of the go-to guys for top-notch production. He is also a friend of one of hip-hop’s greatest DJ’s/producers, the legendary DJ Premier – where he is on Premier’s DJ Digital Pool of Mp3s. A pool he shares with an exclusive list of D.J.s.
Adding to his passport in 2017, he went on the road with ’90’s rap veteran’s the Group Home as their resident DJ for one of the biggest festivals in Europe -‘The Royal Arena Festival’ in Switzerland. While also going to Germany on the ‘Out 4 Fame Festival.’
Presently, he is known for breaking new music while still preserving the culture with the 90s boom-bap. “While I am known and regarded on the boom-bap scene, I still am a DJ at the end of the day, so I listen to and rock out to all types of hip-hop & music without limiting myself or my skill-set and music collection.” D.J. Lord Ron explains.
He is an honorable member of the respected Graf Crew, Rock The Nation, as well, DJ Lord Ron continually does community work throughout the L.A./Compton area and is a DJ and Stage Manager alongside Badru (Freestyle Fellowship former manager).
He is often topping the charts on MixCloud, with over 130 mixtapes on the digital mix platform, to date. When he isn’t on DopeMusicHub.com (formerly LitViralMusic.com), you can find him on beatminerzradio.com which was started by DJ Evil Dee of Black Moon, & his brother Mr. Walt (Faye Forty Six) where he also breaks new hip-hop, DJ classic hip-hop, and spotlights other genres to showcase his vast knowledge of music.
DJ Lord Ron will remain ‘THE CULTURE.’ He has put in the work, stays busy evolving beyond the hip-hop golden years he came up in, and will always be respected by his peers for his hustle, loyalty, and ability to stand out in any room he spins in. Because he is a crafted DJ, If his computer broke tomorrow, as long as he has two-turntables and microphone, Lord Ron will always stand out at any show or party he rocks.
Amy ‘Red Dawn’ Jones | Artist Development Liaison and Social Media Consultant
Founder and CEO of Red Dawn Promotions, Amy ‘Red Dawn’ Jones is a legend in the music industry and has been an intricate force on the music scene in Florida and beyond for over 20+years. This is long before DJ Khaled and Rick Ross became synonymous with Florida in the music game. Jones – a Queens, New York native, holds a degree in television and radio broadcast. Her degree and skillset led to her becoming an on-air radio personality in 1996 (where she put on some of the most prominent air personalities in the game now – giving them their start). It was her time in radio where she developed lasting business relationships with many music industry movers/shakers and record label executives. Being an industry insider allowed her to get an inside track to finding out what it was that many industry higher-ups looked for when scouting out talent. It also helped Jones service her clients better, as she was able to delve into what it was that consumers wanted, through her day-to-day interaction with her radio listeners. Her position in radio also made her a viable asset to record labels because of her knack for collecting insight that would help them to better serve markets in the Florida and surrounding areas (including Atlanta).
Red Dawn has proven to many that she knows her business when it comes to promotions, social media, and traditional guerrilla marketing. Whether Jones is promoting for an artist, a brand, or a premium spirit company, she knows that being from a rare breed of female promoters, she had to work extra hard for her respect. Especially, being in a male-dominated industry where they had no choice but to respect her because of the way she handled her business and her stellar reputation. This has allowed clients to trust her ability to get them exposure and obtain potential clients through referrals based on a resume that one in the music business can only dream about. She earned her legendary status from sheer grit, passion, and grind. Jones is self-made – working her way up from the trenches (nothing was handed to her). Her years of experience put her in an elite league of her own.
Promotions, social media, and traditional marketing have been the vein of her existence for so long, that it has gained her an impressive clientele both past and present of heavy hitters. Think of a young Andre 3000 being interviewed by Jones or a young T.I. looking to connect with her before his rise to stardom. Promoting at a time when Big Pun was around, or a young and hungry Curtis ‘50 Cent’ Jackson was looking to break into the music industry many years before his ‘Power’ and ‘Get The Strap’ days. She also played a significant role in the Grind Mode movement, serving as the Philadelphia-based company’s lead promoter in the early to mid-2000s. Staying closely involved with the company ever since.
Red Dawn Promotions was one of the first female-owned record pools which distributed to a variety of well-known DJs, locally and globally. Fast forward to today, some of Jones’ specialties include but are not limited to; shopping packages for independent artists to major labels through new-age methods (including prepping them on how to maneuver in the music business culture). Promotions for major premium spirit companies, street (yes, she still believes that you must put in street work to be great. Something that great artists such as Nipsey Hussle knew even after he became known). And viral online marketing and promotions for major and independent record labels/and unsigned artists. She has been an advocate of helping aspiring artists (because she knows this music business has a tendency sometimes not to love you back). Therefore, assisting artists in understanding that this is a business first and foremost. It has always been what Jones has specialized in alongside promotions.
There is not one person who has crossed paths with Red Dawn, who cannot attest to the fact that she knows her business well and that she operates in honesty, integrity, and professional ethics on a day-to-day basis. Any job that she agrees to take on, be it big or small, gets the same 100% effort and results that only a genuinely seasoned legend could garner.