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Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Who's the hottest in the hood? Red Café wants to know

Rapper promotes album, scouts local talent

By Grouchy Greg Watkins • • April 3, 2009

Brooklyn rapper Red Café will appear in Wilmington tonight at the Union Tavern, where he will debut his new single "The Hottest in the Hood."


Red Café, born Jermaine Denny, is the newest artist signed to Konvict Muzik, the label started by pop prince Akon. He is a case study in perseverance, having had three major deals before landing his current one.

The rapper launched his career with a group named Da Frontline, which also featured Q Da Kid and future movie star Jamal "Gravy" Woolard, who recently played Christopher "Notorious B.I.G." Wallace in the biopic "Notorious."

"We had our own production team and we were running around doing open mikes," Red Café told "We did showcases, and different people started checking for us. The word started spreading and we had a bidding war going and it got crazy."

After a number of high-profile mix tapes with DJ Kay Slay and DJ Whoo Kid, Red Café inked a solo deal with Arista in 2003.

"It was bad timing for this situation with Arista. L.A. Reid [former CEO of Arista] left the label around that time. Once he got let go, they transferred me to Jive.

"I felt like L.A. understood the project. Once he wasn't part of the deal, I decided to leave the label. It was always my choice."

Neither label released his albums due to politics and changes within the turbulent music industry, which led him to a deal with Capitol in 2006.

He recorded a full album for the label, titled "I Got a Story to Tell," which featured cameos by Fabolous, Remy Ma and others, yet the album never saw the light of day due to the restructuring of Capitol around the time the LP was slated for release.

In 2007, Red Café landed a deal with his current recording home, Konvict Muzik, with major distribution handled by Universal Records.

His label mates include artists like T-Pain, Lady GaGa, Kardinal Offishall, Akon and others.

"I knew Akon for a while -- I met him through some friends that were away with him, people who dealt with his managers," Red Café said. "When he came home he said that he had some different things in mind."

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After almost six years of label turmoil, Red Café signed with Konvict Muzik and is preparing to release his album, "The Shakedown."


"I did a couple of years. The shakedown is something they do, a random day when they run in your cell. I figured I could use it and make it something positive. It means I am going to shakedown the industry and accomplish some of my goals. All of the artists on the label are special, and I think it's going to be special."

Red Café also landed a small part as a battle rapper in the movie "Notorious" alongside Woolard, a childhood friend.

Tonight, Red Café will treat fans to a performance during Fall Back Friday, a weekly event hosted and promoted by "The Party King" that will feature Power 99's Cosmic Kev.

Launched in January 2009, Fall Back Friday has brought in a consistent crowd to Union Tavern, where The Party King has brought in artists such as Meek Millz and Bump J.

"The fans can expect a lot of energy -- they can expect a performance from a great artist who has performed in front of thousands, including the biggest entertainers in hip-hop and R&B music," The Party King told

Red Café is looking forward to returning to Wilmington tonight, not only to perform but to check for local talent.

"I've done radio and floated through the hoods to try and get a feel for the city," Red Café said. "I have never partied or checked the nightlife. I can't wait to sponge it up and see the real folks when they come out. I have Hottestinthe, which keeps you up to date," he said. The venture is run by Red Café and partner Fabulous. "I am looking for new artists from any hood. I am running a contest on the site looking for the hottest rapper. I will do a song with them personally or put them on a track with some of the big-name artists I work with. I am looking forward to hearing the music. Let's get it."