Introducing Mr. Bailey

One thing a recording artist must become used to is talking with the media about themselves.  Press junkets are just as important to the process of getting an album to consumers as being in the booth.  On April 21, R&B artist Antwon Bailey sat down with members of the media to talk about the upcoming release of his mixtape Mr. Bailey.  When Antwon spoke with the press at Selfish Music Group Studios in Brooklyn, this 19-year-old Queens native was realizing a dream.  A dream that was conceived when he was boy, entertaining family and participating in school talent shows.  That dream began to come to fruition when Bailey was signed to famed Power 105.1 FM radio personality DJ Self’s Selfish Music Group.  Now an internet sensation, Antwon’s videos received multiple hits on YouTube and has him being compared to young, sexy R&B crooner Trey Songz. 

Antwon Bailey is ready for the world, literally, and got acclimated to speaking with the press by sharing with F.A.M.E NYC his thoughts about the media, being compared to Trey Songz and the new millennium way of breaking new artists into the mainstream.

April 21, 2011 was your media day.  What did you enjoy most about talking to the press?

I liked the fact that most of the media/press was really down to earth and knew what my music was about and really express their appreciation for my music.

What is the craziest question you have received?

Someone asked if I would sleep with Lisa Raye.

In your bio it stated that as a child you were called upon to entertain your family.  When did you realize that music was something you wanted to pursue as a career?

 Once I started doing talent shows at school and performing for the All Stars, that’s when I knew that I wanted to pursue music as a career.

Describe your feelings when you were first signed to Selfish Music Group.

I was excited that I was starting a new venture with all those affiliated with the record label and waiting to see what the next step was. I was happy to be working with one of the hottest DJ’s in NYC.

How would you describe your sound?

I would describe my sound as unique, fun and geared towards the youth, but you can still feel the late 80s, early 90s sound. Overall, it’s definitely for the people. I like to incorporate punch lines that the ladies can relate to.

I have been viewing your videos on YouTube.  Some viewers have compared you to Trey Songz.  Do you feel that is a fair comparison?  Also, how do you feel about artist comparisons in general?

 I think it’s an ok comparison.  I can see how they would see that being that I’m young and he was young when he started and had braids and I have braids now;  I think I just have a little more of an angle geared toward the youth right now.   It’s not all grown and sexy.  

 I don’t really think about being compared to other artists as I’m focusing on my own music currently, but people always compare new artists to known artist so I expect it.

Tell me about the process of recording, “Mr. Bailey.”  How have you grown from the experience?

 It was a fun experience. I felt like my career is actually growing and I got to see the results of my product, my voice, my music.   I must say, that with me being my toughest critic, I was actually satisfied.

“Mr. Bailey” is a mixtape.  While the mixtape game is widely known for being a launching pad for hip hop artists, do you think the mixtape game has also benefited the world of R&B?

I feel that the mixtape circuit is just a way to promote your music to those [who] haven’t necessarily heard your music whether it be hip hop or R&B. I think it allows people to see my creative side as I prepare for my album.

The music industry has changed drastically in the way new artists break to the public, do you believe that has served to help or hinder a new artist like yourself?  Why or Why not?

 I think that it helps new artists like me because the ways artists are brought to the public now are by way of the internet and online media.  People from all over the world can see who you are and what you do.  It allows artists to communicate with our fans in a way that we wouldn’t have been able to back in the days.

Which track on the mixtape is the most personal for you and why?

“Hotta Hotta” which is number two on the mixtape, is the most personal track on the mixtape for me because it explains my grind in the music industry.   It is also a song [about] me explaining to other artists that although they’re hot now, I’m going to come out being even hotter. My quote for “Hotta Hotta” is, “You can stand out, but I’m outstanding.”

Photo courtesy of  McQueen Media

Triangle Offers Homage to a Centennial NYC Tragedy

March 25, 2011 marked the 100th anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire.  The inferno was the most deleterious industrial catastrophe in NYC history and ranked the fourth highest in casualties from an industrial accident in US history.  It was also the most mortiferous tragedy in Manhattan until 9/11.  The sweatshop blaze, located in the Asch Building on 23-29 Washington Place, resulted in the deaths of 146 workers, most of whom were Jewish and Italian immigrants.  Because of locked doors, people jumped to their deaths and created outrage with the community and politicians alike. But the fire’s lasting legacies were not just the deaths, it was the legislation passed to improve factory safety standards and the creation of the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union. 

Currently, the Americas Off-Broadway series offers a production that exhumes the ghosts of that tragedy and the lives it affected with TriangleTriangle is a 120 minute drama that recounts the adulterous liaison between “Big” Tim Sullivan and actress Margaret Holland against the backdrop of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire and the events that followed.   When young, beautiful Margaret goes to audition for Big Tim at his headquarters, he is already known as “The Boss of the Bowery.”  Along with being a one of the prominent politicos of Tammany Hall, he was also the kingfish of various criminal enterprises which included prostitution, gambling and extortion.  Margaret, a highbrow, progressive woman, becomes seduced by Tim’s immoral, yet captivating demeanor.  Tim immediately recognizes Margaret’s beauty and casts her in his productions out of state.  While Margaret continues to tour on the acting circuit, she and Tim fall in love and have an illegitimate daughter named Mary Catherine.  But the Triangle Factory fire forever changes Margaret, Tim and Mary Catherine.  Margaret tirelessly works as a reformist, causing a strain on her relationship with her growing daughter, and blames Tim for taking kickbacks.  Guilt spurs Tim into using his political muscle to aide the reformers and sponsors legislation limiting the maximum number of hours women were forced to work despite his failing health from syphilis. 

One aspect I find with Off-Broadway productions is that they are generally hit or miss.  This production teeters somewhere in the middle.  At best Triangle is a nondescript tribute to the legacies of the women and men who perished in Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, focusing more on the love affair between Tim and Margaret instead of the immigrant men and women who toiled and died in the fire.  It reminded me of Spike Lee’s Summer of Sam, a think piece that provided a glimpse into the lives of people placed in a stressful situation.  The acting in Triangle impressed me more than the story itself, and when the play did focus on the fire specifically, it showed flashes of brilliance.  Ruba Audeh is superb, playing dual roles as a young Jewish girl and a former Triangle Shirtwaist worker turned hooker – her scenes are some of the most telling, emotional moments of the play and will painfully stick with you like burnt clothing on skin.  Donna Davis and Dennis Wit are very engaging as Cathleen Murphy and Izzy Weissman, a common law couple on Big Tim’s payroll.  Their banter and narration throughout the production not only offered comic relief, but prevented the show from dragging.  They, along with Audeh, are without a doubt the most memorable characters and performances.  Joe Gately, Ashley C. Williams and Michaela McPherson round out the cast giving fine performances as Tim Sullivan, Margaret Holland and Mary Catherine. 

Triangle’s final performance at 59E59 Theatre is May 1.  It is my conclusion that parts of this show were greater than its sum.  Overall, Triangle is a satisfactory play that produced solid performances, but the jury is still out on whether this drama did or did not deliver on its commitment to honor the victims of the fire.

Photos:  Carol Rosegg