Beats by Block

Last weekend (October 12th) we had the chance to stop by Block Enterprises and get a behind the scenes look of the goings-on in the studio. For those that don’t know, Block runs Diddy’s Bad Boy South label and is responsible for a myriad of artists in Hip-Hop and R&B. After his success with Boyz in the Hood  he took a bit of a hiatus. But now he’s back and has a new lineup and a fresh cast to rebuild Hip-Hop “block by block”.

“The whole state of music right now, it’s like… we need help right now. Like ‘Houston 911’. So we need to rebuild Hip-Hop block by block… and that’s what I’m doing right now. That’s the new Block House motto.”

Before I spoke with Block, I had the opportunity to speak with his new lineup: Kris Kelli, Lil Flo Malcom, Courtni Renei’, Reek Manikan, and 48 Slim. I mentioned to him that he had a humble young group of artists and I was impressed with their drive and focus. This is what he had to say:

“I love history, and what really fascinated me is how we were back then, how we fed our families, how we ate, how we spent months at a time to try to feed our families. That first blood man, when you’d go hunting and get that first Lion that first Bison? And we pull that b**** home and we chop it up and put it in whatever we put it in and bring it back home, that’s where I am with my music business right now. I mean with my lineup, it’s like fresh blood. You know some people get relaxed and get real cool once they get the money. But with every new artist you gotta start back over, but I’m starting to see the same big eyes, the same heart beat, the same fresh… you know the gallop is different, just the way they MOVE is even different! Compared to artists I’ve had before from the Young Jocs and the Rick Rosses and the Young Jeezy’s and the Gorilla Zoes, Boyz in tha Hood, and so on. That’s not saying they aren’t refreshing every year too, I’m just saying me as a company, me as a producer, actually coming in here with the ideas and other stuff, and even when the artists come up in here with they’re own ideas and what not, I’m really supporting them you know? I like to feel it.”

Big Block
Big Block

His passion for success and creating good music can be seen in the way he nurtures his artists. Even when speaking on their matriculation and the similes he used prior; comparing and contrasting prehistoric hunting practices to drive home the point of hunger and desire. After you get your first blood, you want more, you can visualize yourself getting and having more. That same vision and planning goes into weaning a new artist off the ground. But what I like the most is that he respects their ideas and what they have to bring to the table as artists. I mean he must know what he’s doing if he’s throwing hunting metaphors into a conversation about music right?

(From L to R) Lil Flo Malcom, Kris Kelli, Reek Manikan, Courtni Renei'
(From L to R) Lil Flo Malcom, Kris Kelli, Reek Manikan, Courtni Renei’

Kris Kelli, originally from Kingston, Jamaica, leads the way for the new draft picks and some are comparing her to the likes of Rihanna: “I’m from Jamaica, people naturally start comparing me to Rihanna because there’s no other comparison. She’s from Barbados (which is not Jamaica lol) but when you have a new artist they always try to compare you to somebody already established. So that’s the first name I always get. People ask me “what do you think about Rihanna?” Pssh I love Rihanna! She paved the way for even somebody like me. I mean we’re from 2 different islands but we’re from the Caribbean. But I do respect her, especially in a dog-eat-dog business like this, she’s a female, AND she’s from the Caribbean. So until I create that sound, that real distinct sound, that ‘I am Kris Kelli’ (mixtape) is going to give people a more in-depth look at who I am.”


It’s good to see how everyone builds-up the next person and even how Kris paid homage to Rihanna for paving the way for Caribbean artists like herself. The humble feeling was flowing around the studio and continued with Lil Flo Malcom and Courtni Renei’ when I asked them about who they wanted to work with. They simply stated “I’ll work with anybody that wants to work with me.”  While Courtni Renei’ is busy working on new material, she’ll be featured on the “Beats by Block” mixtape when it’s released. When asked about new projects LFM had this to say “Other than the one working with Block, I be trying to drop mixtapes everyday if I can. That’s all I do. I dropped 4 mixtapes last month.” 4 mixtapes in a month? “Yeah, like 3 days apart from each other. I be trying to record 3 mixtapes a day if I can. You gotta outwork yourself.”

Lil Flo Malcom and Courtni Renei'
Lil Flo Malcom and Courtni Renei’

The hustle and dedication can be felt by all members of the label. The unified aspect was supplemented by Reek:

“I’m bringing a new delivery, a new sound, and dudes ain’t ready for what I’m bout to bring. Then I got introduced to Flo, Courtni Renei’, Kris Kelli, so we about to make magic so I’m just trying to win. At the end of the day I’m trying to win but at the end of the day it’s all about good music. If you don’t know me by nothin’ you gonna love my music.”

Reek Manikan and 48 Slim
Reek Manikan and 48 Slim

The leadership and support are very apparent with Block, the focus can be seen from miles away in the new talent he’s recruited, and a more humbling moment came from rapper 48 Slim:

“My Grandma used to tell me when I was little ‘being at the wrong place at the wrong time you gonna get caught up in something and only one person gonna get you out of it and that’s God’ (and that happened). At first I was on some hood s*** but I know in my heart I wanted to do music. So if I turn my negative into a positive… I mean I look at it like God gave me a second chance, so I’m gonna focus my energy on this music.”

There’s so much more to the Block Ent. family that you’ll have to wait for the feature in the next issue to see. Hanging out with the gang is just a prime example of how even in an aggressive industry such as theirs, you can still work together and avoid the crabs-in-a-barrel stigma. To see what the team are up to you can follow them on their respective social outlets below:







Photography: Hakim Wright

Leave a Reply