The Side By Side mixtape of Virgil van Dijk with JBL & Winne is out. This is how the listening session went

Last November, Winne and Virgil Van Dijk started their search in collaboration with JBL for new talents for the project “Virgil’s Mixtape.” The mixtape was started to give new talents a chance to make themselves heard. Not only new artists can increase their name on the mixtape, but talented producers were also sought. It is now four months later, the talents have entered the studio and Winne and Van Dijk have put together the tape. The project is now finished and we were at the listening session that preceded the release.

The listening session was presented by Defano Holwijn and Winne sat next to him on stage. The session started with a video from JBL about the entire project. Winne says that he has taken on the creative leadership within the project. With the help of Virgil, Winne made a selection of 15 talents from 400 registrations. The Rotterdam rapper has directed the artists and provided feedback. In this way he showed the talents how to get the best out of themselves. This was not exactly new for Winne, he says that he has been teaching at the Herman Brood Academy for ten years, which is completely devoted to music. Before we have heard anything at all, Winne lets you know that the talents have not disappointed him.

After the conversation with Winne we moved on to the music. Defano announced the first track featuring the artist Lee Aron. The song was deliberately chosen as the opening track because of the matching name of the song “Good Morning”. The opener was followed by a striking track by Yxng Ice, Easthunt and Kneauk, called Attraction, which took a completely different path, namely Afro. Producer Kneauk explains after the track that he had no experience with this and that this was a trip for him.

After hearing the first two tracks we arrive at the next two hard tracks. The first is by the Tilburg artist GIL with the song “Rendez-Vous” produced by BeatSmith. The song is about not wanting to get involved too much in all social problems and walking his own path. The track that followed is by Denzel Neville called “Euro 95”, also produced by BeatSmith. This track focuses on the bars and is the favorite track from the mixtape for many in the room. Neville talks about his difficult foray into the music world and explains that he came here by means of intermediate steps.

By now we had reached a point where Winne decided to address the audience and the artists present. He mentioned that the hip-hop scene is now very diverse and it is important to distinguish yourself from the rest. He adds that not only should you and your friends find it hard, but you should also look at what your audience wants to hear.

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After Winne’s wise words, we continued with the listening session. The session continued with Tiziana’s track Manifesting, again produced by BeatSmith. After the song, Defano spoke to BeatSmith. He mentioned that he produced five tracks on the tape and that they call him ‘the factory’. Defano can only praise that and adds that as a hard worker you achieve more than if you sit back.

Virgil van Dijk walked in halfway through the session and took a seat on the bench on the podium. A few tracks later Virgil says that he normally never goes into the studio himself, but that he enjoys experiencing a whole different world now. He also emphasizes that the talents should be proud of themselves. He let it be known that this was his first time working as an A&R, but that he certainly liked it. Defano asks if he wants to work more often as A&R and Virgil replies with: “Maybe more projects will follow.”

Arriving at the end of the project, Defano, Winne and Virgil close the listening session. At the end they play the track ‘Euro 95’ Denzel Neville again at Virgil’s request. The mixtape has 11 songs in different genres, including R&B, HipHop, Afro and Pop. The 11 songs are provided by the 15 talents, including 2 women. Winne says about this that he would have liked to see more diversity, but that few women had signed up. Winne also indicates that you should not look too much at a future perspective and that you should stay with yourself. Virgil finally closes by saying that he thinks it has turned out to be a great mixtape. The tape has been available for everyone to listen to since last Friday.

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