tortuga, more than music

Most successful musicians are given a lot of grief for making it big and getting paid absurd amounts of money for doing it. The insane difference in salary between entertainers and most teachers/police officers/or whatever else you might think of is a continuous discussion. But if you take a closer look, a lot of the more successful rappers and singers don’t just reap the rewards of album sales and tours, but from investing in a business that gives back to the community.

The idea of this blog post came after a plea I posted on Facebook, asking for topics. A friend commented that he heard Lil Wayne had recently purchased the Skate Park of Tampa, right over the bridge from where I live. First off, I was excited because I’m a Weezy fan to the core. Second, I internally, subconsciously blew off this information and didn’t even bother to look it up. Not because I thought it was useless, but because as a true fan I understand that Lil Wayne is not a great skateboarder and so any major move by him in that direction is going to be something of a laughing stock. Anyway, so it turned out that little tidbit was an April Fool’s joke. (Haha?). But it made me think about all the other artists who have a stake in a business or company, or even own one.

By business or company, I mean a tangible piece of property with an address. Legit real estate. I’m not including fashion lines, lingerie lines, shoes, perfume or beauty products. I realize these are all worthy investments and those successful in the fields have helped create billion-dollar industries, but one, they’re all over the place, everyone and their grandma owns one, and second, I’m a bigger fan of sports and food than I am of fashion and beauty.

So, here’s a list of 18 musician-celebrities and the business(es) they own:

  1. 50 cent – His Formula 50 brand of Vitamin Water he created with Glaceau was recently bought out by Coca Cola. He also co-founded a film company in 2009 called Cheetah Visionvitamin water formula 50
  2. Alice Cooper – The rock star owns a sports bar in Phoenix, AZ called Alice Cooperstown, which opened in 1998. alice cooperstown
  3. Bono – The Irish singer owns a hotel in, where else but his birthplace, Dublin. The Clarence Hotel was transformed from a two-star, 70-bedroom to a five-star, 49-bedroom hotel by Bono and his U2 bandmate, The Edge. clarence hotel
  4. Dave Matthews – The DMB front-runner purchased Blenheim Vineyards, an historic Virginian farm that dates back to the 1700s and housed historic figures like Thomas Jefferson, in 1999. Blenheim Vineyards
  5. Fergie – In October 2009, the lead singer of Black-Eyed Peas became a part owner of the Miami DolphinsFergie Miami Dolphins
  6. Gavin DeGraw – The singer opened a restaurant in 2007 with his brother on Manhattan’s Lower East Side called The National UndergroundThe National Underground
  7. Gladys Knight – Technically owned by her son, the self-explained restaurant called Gladys Knight & Ron Winans’ Chicken & Waffles currently has three locations in the Atlanta area. Chicken and Waffles
  8. Jay-Z – The new father is co-owner of an upscale sports bar in New York, Chicago and Atlantic City called the 40/40 Club. He is also part owner of the New Jersey Nets, soon to be called the Brooklyn Nets. 40/40 club
  9. Justin Timberlake – The former-N SYNC member doesn’t stop. He’s opened three restaurants: Chi in West Hollywood and Destino and Southern Hospitalty in New York. He also has his own brand of tequila called 901 and reopened and renamed a golf course in Tennessee, Mirimichi Golf CourseMirimichi Golf Course
  10. Kanye West – His company, KW Foods LLC, bought the rights to the Fatburger chain in Chicago. (Pharell and E-40 have also owned franchises of the restaurant). fatburger
  11. Lenny Kravitz – The rock star and recent Hunger Games actor founded Kravitz Design Inc., a company focused on interior and furniture design (designed a chandelier for Swarovski called “Casino Royale”). kravitz design
  12. Ludacris – The southern rapper is co-owner of Conjure Cognac liquor and Soul headphones. Ludacris Conjure
  13. Marilyn Manson – He developed Mansinthe, an Absinthe label that boasts 66.6% alcohol in a standard bottle. Mansinthe
  14. Olivia Newton-John – The Grease star co-founded Koala Blue Wines and established the Gaia Retreat & Spa, both located in Australia. gaia retreat and spa
  15. P. Diddy – The seasoned rapper opened an upscale restaurant chain called Justin’s in Atlanta, named after his son. Diddy also signed a multi-year deal with Ciroc to help develop the brand by doing more than just endorsing. justin's
  16. Pete Wentz – In 2007, the Fall Out Boy bassist and ex-husband of Ashlee Simpson opened a nightclub in New York, Angels & Kings. The business is also owned by Jamison Ernest of Yellow Fever and members of the bands Gym Class Heroes, The Academy Is… and Cobra Starshipangels and kings
  17. Toby Keith – Of course this country singer’s Oklahoma restaurant is called I Love This Bar & Grill, fittingly named after his 2003 hit single “I Love This Bar.” i love this bar and grill
  18. Usher – At 26, the R&B singer became part-owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers. Seven years later, it’s still true. cavaliers

After discovering and researching some of these little facts, I have to wonder a few things. First, does it matter whether someone owns, co-owns or has a share in a company? Does co-owning something make it less of an accomplishment? And second, are these businesses and companies good? Are they necessary? Do people go to them and use the services provided out of necessity or are they just a tourist stop? What difference does it really make that a celebrity is part of the decision-making process of a business?

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tortuga, covered

My favorite thing to do, second only to downloading new music, is to download cover songs. There’s a lot of debate and out there about how a cover song is defined. Dictionary.com says it’s “a recording that was first recorded or made popular by somebody else.” I don’t think the song has to initially have been popular to reach cover status, but I do agree with the first part of the definition. Cover songs are created from originals previously recorded.

I think the artists who create good cover songs take an original tune and twist it to make it their own. Maybe it was sung acoustically, changed genres or the lyrics were sung in a different tone which changed the emotion of the song. The musician takes a song and makes it their own, while keeping an essence of the original.

If a musician is going to cover a song, whether it’s on YouTube or at a show or concert or whatever, the tell-tale sign that it’s a genuine cover is whether the artist is showcasing his or her own talents. If the song is obviously being done in a silly manner, like a parody, it doesn’t count. It also doesn’t count if just a clip of a song is used. Cover songs do not include mash ups or remixes and the lyrics have to be pretty close to the original version. As a side note, there are also many songs out there that have girl and boy versions (such as “Marvin’s Room,” the original by Drake and the reply by JoJo). I do not count these kinds of songs as covers.

There are several bands, groups and individuals known for their cover songs. The married couple that make up Karmin was made famous with their covers of “Super Bass” by Nicki Minaj, “Look At Me Now” by Chris Brown and “Party Rock Anthem” by LMFAO. Mike Tompkins has several YouTube videos of his a cappella versions of Top 40s hits such as “Paradise” by Coldplay and “Teenage Dream” by Katy Perry. Cover band Richard Cheese and Lounge Against the Machine is known for its Disturbed cover, “Down With the Sickness,” which debuted in the 2004 movie, Dawn of the Dead.

I started noticing cover songs with the Punk Goes Crunk and Punk Goes Pop albums. Soon after, I discovered a band called Boyce Avenue. These sources became the basis for my iTunes Covers playlist.

I know there are several great songs out there that have been covered or that are covers and someone’s going to freak out because I didn’t mention them. However, as is, the playlist consists of 321 songs and would take 19 hours, 17 minutes and 51 seconds to listen to all the way through. The majority of these songs come from the 2000s and are Top 40s hits. I’ve complied a list of my favorite covers or at least ones I felt it is my duty to pass on. (The original artist of each song is in parentheses). And feel free to suggest your own covers you’ve come across.

The top 20 cover songs in my library:

  1. “Creep” – Afghan Whigs (TLC)
  2. “Whatever You Like” – Anya Marina (T.I.)*
  3. “Love In This Club” – Boyce Avenue (Usher)
  4. “Black and Yellow” – Cris Cab (Wiz Khalifa)*
  5. “Baby” – Drew Ryniewicz (Justin Bieber)*
  6. “Only Girl (In the World)” – Ellie Goulding (Rihanna)
  7. “Take Me Home Tonight” – Every Avenue (Eddie Money)*
  8. “Ride With Me” – I Call Shotgun (Nelly)
  9. “Gangsta’s Paradise” – In Fear and Faith (Coolio)
  10. “Pursuit of Happiness” – Lissie (Kid Cudi)
  11. “I Need Love” – Luka Bloom (LL Cool J)
  12. “Hold It Against Me” – Miquel (Britney Spears)
  13. “Fireflies” – Mike Tompkins (Owl City)
  14. “Lovefool” – The Morning Benders (The Cardigans)
  15. “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You” – Muse (Frankie Valli)*
  16. “My Body is a Cage” – Peter Gabriel (Arcade Fire)
  17. “Baby, I Got Your Money” – Say Anything (Ol’ Dirty Bastard)
  18. “Mrs. Jackson” – TV OFF (Outkast)
  19. “D.D. (Dirty Diana)” – The Weeknd (Michael Jackson)*
  20. “The Scientist” – Willie Nelson (Coldplay)

*Recommended or introduced to me by a friend, given credit on Facebook.