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  • The Rapture by Bbyafricka

    Bbyafricka has been steadily building her sound since 2018 (and quite possibly before then too.) Her early releases like Brain Damage (2018,) laid the foundation, while projects like BIGAFRICKA (2021) showcased her unique style. In 2021, she also dropped Freak of the Nile featuring a star-studded lineup with Lil Yachty, Hook, Quadie Diesel, ZelooperZ and others. She continued to experiment in 2022 with The Art of Geekin and most recently impressed with The Rapture. Bbyafricka first caught my ear in 2021 with her project BIGAFRICKA. Tracks like “POP IT” and “FREDDY KRUGER” showcased a unique style that rewards close listening. Bbyafricka’s flow is infectious, her delivery captivating and the production on her tracks is dissimilar to anything else out there. It’s a sound that’s both challenging and strangely beautiful, setting her apart from a deluge of derivatives. The Rapture feels like the next step in her artistic journey, and I can only imagine her fanbase and reputation continuing to grow. The Rapture offers a pleasant surprise and a deeper dive into her artistry. It’s always exciting to hear women enter genres/subgenres where men have historically dominated, adding their own unique flavor – not by imitation, but by creating music steeped in their own experiences, shaped by their land, culture, and the people around them. The Rapture is a strong testament to that. Notable tracks: “Baton Rouge” “Ain’t No Hoe” “Rx” Released: January 1, 2024 Region/City: Inglewood, CA WWW.CROWNTHEMENT.COM WORDS 'N DESIGN BY JAMEKA


    WEEKLY RECOMMENDED RELEASE RADAR FOR HIP HOP / RAP MUSIC. Send an email to to inquire access to 100s of releases cataloged each week (not featured on this page.) Connect on other platforms with CROWNTHEM ENT. MAY RECOMMEND RELEASES | NEW MUSIC | NEW ALBUMS | 2024


    WEEKLY RECOMMENDED RELEASE RADAR FOR HIP HOP / RAP MUSIC. Send an email to to inquire access to 100s of releases cataloged each week (not featured on this page.) Connect on other platforms with CROWNTHEM ENT. APRIL RECOMMEND RELEASES | NEW MUSIC | NEW ALBUMS | 2024


    WEEKLY RECOMMENDED RELEASE RADAR FOR HIP HOP / RAP MUSIC. Send an email to to inquire access to 100s of releases cataloged each week (not featured on this page.) Connect on other platforms with CROWNTHEM ENT.

  • 2023 - A Year In Hip Hop Film & TV

    2023 marked a special year for Hip Hop. Universally recognized as the 50th anniversary of this multifaceted culture, it encompassed not just a unique style of visual arts, fashion, and dance, but also one of the world's most popular music genres. It's no surprise, then, that a wide range of film and television offering were released to celebrate and capitalize on the occasion. Perhaps the strongest representation of this came in the form of documentaries, aiming to shed light on some of the culture's most influential creators. Additionally, we saw the return of one of televisions best shows, along with several compelling podcasts that explored niche corners of Hip Hop History. Here, we’ll take some time to highlight some of the best Hip Hop-based film and TV projects of 2023. FIGHT THE POWER: HOW HIP HOP CHANGED THE WORLD Chuck D of Public Enemy explores Hip Hop’s political awakening over the last 50 years. With a host of rap stars and cultural commentators, he tracks Hip Hop’s socially conscious roots. From "The Message" to "Fight The Power," examining how Hip Hop has become "the Black CNN." Chuck D kicked off 2023 with a powerful four-part documentary series aiming to provide a political history and analysis of Hip Hop’s beginnings and future trajectory. What's particularly interesting is Chuck D's focus on Hip Hop's political leanings and consciousness, present since its start in the 1970s and continuing to be a voice of protest for the marginalized during turbulent times. The series also delves into the challenges the genre faced as it became a larger cultural and commercial force. Joining Chuck D is a who’s who of Hip Hop personalities including the likes of Eminem, Ice T, Fat Joe, Sway, MC Lyte, Monie Love, Melle Mel, LL Cool J and more. DIRECTOR: Yemi Bamiro WHERE TO WATCH: PBS MAY THE LORD WATCH: THE LITTLE BROTHER STORY May the Lord Watch is the definitive story of Little Brother, the North Carolina rap group comprised of rappers Phonte, Big Pooh, and (formerly) producer 9th Wonder. The film follows the rise, breakup, and reunion of the preeminent 2000s rap group. However, the heart of the documentary lies in the evolving relationship between members Phonte and Big Pooh. This bond began at Durham's HBCU, North Carolina Central University, strained during their parallel growth in the music industry, and ultimately resolved with an enduring friendship as the two reunited to create their 2019 album, May the Lord Watch. Using archival and interview footage, Little Brother (comprising Big Pooh and Phonte, with 9th Wonder formerly a member) has assembled a work that relays the definitive version of the group’s story. Viewers gain unique insights from their humble beginnings to their rise as one of the most acclaimed and beloved groups of the early 2000s. While founding member and original producer 9th Wonder is absent from the documentary for undisclosed reasons, the true cause of the rift remains unclear. Big Pooh and Phonte suggest some factors, including inflated egos and emotional immaturity, but ultimately acknowledge that it might be a private matter. Perhaps it’s just none of our business. Despite the ambiguity, May The Lord Watch: The Little Brother Story remains an inspirational and invigorating presentation. Its release directly on the Little Brother YouTube channel perfectly aligns with these artists' self-made spirit. DIRECTOR: Holland Randolph Gallagher WHERE TO WATCH: YouTube DEAR MAMA: THE SAGA OF AFENI & TUPAC SHAKUR A deeply personal five-part series, Dear Mama, defies the conventions of traditional documentary storytelling. It shares an illuminating saga of mother and son, Afeni and Tupac Shakur. The series takes an unique approach in handling its subjects. Throughout the five parts, Allen Hughes of the Hughes Brothers tells the stories of Tupac and his mother Afeni Shakur thorugh the interviews with them, their closest friends, and family. Tupac’s story has been told so many times, it’s hard to imagine myself watching yet another thing on Tupac and learning something new. However, Dear Mama more than makes a case for itself. The best idea is to tell their stories side by side. For me, the Afeni Shakur side was incredibly powerful. It informs us about her life and provides a reference point for Tupac's character and motivations. As for the Tupac we know as a pro-Black revolutionary, that was largely influenced by his mama and the Black Power movement that surrounded them. Sadly, both Afeni and Tupac are no longer here to speak for themselves. However, we gain valuable accounts and analysis from friends, family, politicians, and artists like Shock G, Mike Tyson and Jasmine Guy. The result is a poignant and powerful series that sheds light on the lives of two people who directly and indirectly impacted so many lives to this day. This one is a must watch! DIRECTOR: Allen Hughes WHERE TO WATCH: FX Networks LADIES FIRST: A HISTORY OF WOMEN IN HIP HOP Ladies First: A Story of Women in Hip Hop is a Netflix documentary that highlights the often-overlooked contributions and challenges faced by women artist in Hip Hop. Through insightful interviews with the women themselves and incisive social commentary from industry insiders, the film provides a powerful exploration of the role and impact of women in this influential genre. Netflix delivered one of the most well-made documentary series on Hip Hop in 2023 with Ladies First: A Story Of Women In Hip Hop. This series takes us on a journey, starting with Sha-Rock, the first woman MC, and continuing all the way through to present-day stars like Rapsody, Kash Doll, and Tierra Wack. The structure is commendable, taking the time to highlight significant moments from different eras such as MC Lyte's debut as the first woman to release a full length Hip Hop album and Sista Souljah’s battle with Bill Clinton in the early 90s. While men still greatly outnumber women artists in Hip Hop, this documentary does an excellent job of reminding viewers that women have been there from the beginning, offering significant contributions to both the music and the culture that continue to this day. DIRECTORS: Hannah Beachler, Dream Hampton, Raeshem Nijhon, Giselle Bailey, Carri Twigg WHERE TO WATCH: Netflix ALL UP IN THE BIZ Celebrity interviews and rare archival footage provide valuable insight into the life and legacy of hip-hop icon Biz Markie. All Up In The Biz, the latest film from documentary specialist Sacha Jenkins (Wu Tang Clan: Of Mics And Men, Fresh Dressed,) chronicles the life and times of hip-hop legend Biz Markie, who tragically passed away in 2021 from complications related to diabetes. Through a combination of past and present interviews, photos, and his music, the film meticulously details how important Biz Markie was to the world. Rap icons like Rakim, and Big Daddy Kane appear in the film, highlighting his pivotal role in their discovery and careers. Firsthand accounts from Dapper Dan, Doug E. Fresh, DMC, and Fat Joe further paint a full picture of Biz Markie's influence and the love he inspired. The film features wraparound reenactments featuring a Crank Yankers-styles puppet of Biz Markie in a hospital during his final months. While jarring at first, these scenes eventually resonate as Sacha Jenkins brilliantly captures Biz's warmth and spirit thought this unconventional medium. These reenactments provide a few more precious moments with a remarkable man who lived a beautiful life. DIRECTORS: Sacha Jenkins WHERE TO WATCH: Showtime | Paramount+ | Amazon THE CHOICE IS YOURS A story of rapper and artist Dres, part of the iconic 90's hip hop duo Black Sheep, chronicles his amazing journey from the top of the game to facing the challenges of civilian life and pursing his last chance at creative success. This documentary traces the rise of Hip Hop duo Dres and Mista Lawnge, collectively known as Black Sheep. What makes it interesting is its focus on Dres in the present day. Despite his enduring love and respect within the industry, his creative spirit years for more. He grapples with anormal life while harboring the urge to take one last artistic shot, especially as Black Sheep has faded from the limelight. Additionally, the film explores his years-long estrangement from Mista Lawnge after a failed attempt at a third Black Sheep album. Another compelling layer comes in Dres' personal quest to seek approval from the late J Dilla's mother to utilize some of his unreleased compositions for a new album. The film's deliberate pacing, bordering on a Dres' reality show at times, allows viewers to connect with him on a more personal level. This approach makes it understandable why peers like Posdnous, Jarobi and Mareen Yancey readily share stories and shower praise on him and Black Sheep. Ultimately, The Choice Is Yours offers a heartfelt exploration of history, legacy, longevity, purpose, and aging within the world of Hip Hop. DIRECTOR: Clark Slater WHERE TO WATCH: Paramount+ CYPHER Tierra Whack rose to fame rapping on a Pennsylvania street for a YouTube channel. Years later, while documenting her astronomical rise, questions arise about who is filming whom and whether being seen is a desirable and unavoidable part of fame. Cypher is a mockumentary-style film that aims to chronicle Tierra Whack's rise while casting a cautious lens on the entertainment industry and fame itself. It’s a unique blend of traditional serious documentary and fictional, found-footage horror/suspense narrative, aiming to satirize entertainment conspiracy theorist and their claims. This experimental approach mostly works, successfully showcasing the talented Tierra Whack while creating a spooky and voyeuristic atmosphere. DIRECTOR: Chris Moukarble WHERE TO WATCH: Hulu WU-TANG: AN AMERICAN SAGA SEASON 3 Following six months after the season two finale, we find RZA and the Wu-Tang Clan settled in a New Jersey mansion, far from the streets of Staten Island. Despite their recent album's massive success, Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers), they're nowhere near finished. Season 3 of Wu-Tang: An American Saga sees the clan at its peak. Their debut album is a commercial and critical triumph, and most members have secured lucrative solo deals. As a viewer, the season was bittersweet. Watching the series come to life and showcase the potential of Hip Hop-based TV was exhilarating, but knowing it's over with so much more to tell about the Wu-Tang Clan was saddening. It wasn't a perfect ending, with some allegorical episodes about solo projects being more successful than others. Ultimately, though, I believe most appreciated the creative risk regardless of the outcome. Wu-Tang: An American Saga stands as a milestone for Hip Hop in other mediums, opening the door for similar shows based on real-life Hip Hop history. A biographical series about A Tribe Called Quest or Queen Latifah would be incredible. The door is open, and I don't see it closing anytime soon. DIRECTORS: Mario Van Peebles, Nefertite Nguvu, RZA, Matthew Ross, Janice Cooke, Eif Rivera WHERE TO WATCH: Hulu RAP SH!T SEASON 2 In the second season of Rap Sh!t, Shawna, Mia, and Chastity, continue their journey toward Hip Hop success as a group. However, their rising success is threatened when situations in their personal lives, and industry pressures threaten to derail them. Rap Sh!t returned for a second season, retaining the fun, drama, and exceptional production value that captivated audiences in its first outing. Our main trio embarks on a tour, navigating industry politics, financial hardships, and personal difficulties. This season builds upon the show's foundation, deepening our connection to the characters. The series' social media-infused presentation effectively creates a setting that mirrors our own time. It offers insightful commentary on social media, mental health, relationships, business, para social relationships with celebrities, morality, and crime, making it some of the best writing currently on television. despite packing impressive depth int its 30-mnute episodes, the show never feels overwhelming. Unfortunately, HBO Max canceled the series, leaving its cliffhanger ending unresolved. While some attribute this to the SAG-AFTRA strike and lack of promotion, viewership might not have been strong enough even prior to those factors. Perhaps it didn't spark the same level of discourse as Issa Rae's other project, Insecure. Regardless of the reasons, I highly recommend watching the series despite the lack of closure, as HBO Max can still choose to the remove the episodes at any time. Overall, Rap Sh!t remains a highlight of 2023 television and represents a significant contribution to the world of Hip Hop / Rap. DIRECTORS: Ava Berkofsky, Lawrence Lamont, Ami Aniobi, Calmatic WHERE TO WATCH: Max | HBO HIP HOP TREASURES Hip Hop Treasures, a captivating documentary series hosted by LL Cool J and Ice-T, delves into the cultural phenomenon of Hip Hop. The show follows a team of field collectors and museum curators on a nationwide quest to gather artifacts for the upcoming Universal Hip Hop Museum (UHHM) in the Bronx, New York, slated to open in 2024. Limited to a single season, this series explores Hip Hop history with the goal of curating the UHHM located in its birthplace, the Bronx. Throughout the season, field curators like DJ Cipha Sounds travel the country, acquiring artifacts that will eventually be displayed in the museum. The "magic" truly happens when the curators meet the artifact owners, not only securing the items but also learning and sharing their rich histories. Witnessing Biz Markie's wife, Tara Hall, discussing her husband and revealing the rhyme book containing the iconic "Just a Friend" is heartwarming. Similarly, watching Yo Yo's charismatic persuasion in acquiring Coolio's prized lowrider bike for the museum brings a smile. The A&E-style presentation, complete with engaging editing and music between segments, evokes a feeling akin to a Hip Hop version of Pawn Stars. Overall, Hip Hop Treasures represents a valuable expansion of the types of TV content exploring Hip Hop culture. DIRECTORS: Pulse Films, Rock The Bells WHERE TO WATCH: A&E In conclusion, 2023 was a solid year but it could have been better considering it was the year where the “Hip Hop 50” branding was everywhere. Ultimately it’s up to the culture to tell it’s own stories via film and TV. Looking for corporations and media conglomerates to do it just doesn’t work because you can’t rely on consistent support unless it’s something in it for them. As far as what we can expect in 2024 it’s mostly up in the air, but there are some Hip Hop offerings to watch immediately out the gate such as Peacock’s Kings From Queens: The Run DMC Story, and Netflix’s Champion. Stay on the look out for reviews of these and any upcoming Hip Hop films and series we think are worth watching. WORDS BY MONK |


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    WEEKLY RECOMMENDED RELEASE RADAR FOR HIP HOP / RAP MUSIC. Subscribe to the website or send an email to to sift through 100s of releases cataloged each week (not featured on this page.) RESEARCH CURATION 'N DESIGN BY JAMEKA

  • RUNITBACK '23: Q!

    Below you’ll find a selection of hip-hop projects from the first quarter of 2023 that sparked my personal engagement with the genre on various levels. These works transcended mere enjoyment, prompting me to re-evaluate my own artistic interpretations and grapple with broader social and cultural themes. The featured projects hail from diverse geographical perspectives, encompassing the lyrical prowess of New York artists like donSMITH, Leeky Bandz, and Malz Monday, the soulful inflections of New Orleans through Ferris Blusa, Hxndrx, and Lil Iceberg, the sun-drenched realities of Californian artists Mani Draper and ICECOLDBISHOP, the smooth rhymes of Georgia's Silky Southern, and the introspective lyricism of North Carolina's Sincere Hunte. This exploration is grounded in appreciation rather than critical analysis. It acknowledges the multifaceted nature of artistic appreciation, which extends beyond the confines of verbal discourse. The projects' potency manifests not only through lyrical articulation but also through their capacity to evoke movement, inspire creative expression, and stimulate self-reflection. Ultimately, these works contribute to the ongoing cultural discourse surrounding Hip Hop / Rap, challenging the superficiality of "perceived timelines" and the rapid churn of media trends. They invite us to engage with music as a dynamic force, asking not how many "good" songs a project contains but rather how it makes us move, think, and feel. Does it trigger introspective inquiries into our own artistic practices? Does it resonate with broader societal currents? By fostering such contemplation, these projects propel us beyond the limitations of fleeting trends and engage us in a meaningful dialog with the genre itself. While the projects highlighted below represent a curated selection, the accompanying playlists, Q! - ‘23 and CROWN VIEWS 002, offer an additional comprehensive panorama of Q1's rich tapestry of Hip Hop / Rap sounds. I encourage you to delve into these playlists and discover your own sonic treasures within this ever-evolving art form. Q! - ‘23 - Spotify playlist with 140 songs highlighted from the first quarter of 2023. CROWN VIEWS 002 - consists of about 100 music videos from the first quarter of 2023. The visual playlist is compiled of an array of videos from various artists, directors, producers, etc in different regions, sub-genres of Hip Hop / Rap. FULL EDITORIAL: 33 Mani Draper x Steven King Mani Draper's music is a constant ascent, each release building on the last while hinting at new artistic peaks. This is especially true for 33; here his mastery of wordplay seamlessly blends poetry and Hip Hop, creating a soundscape that's both introspective and infectious. 33, is a guidebook for finding balance and embracing personal growth. Motivational snippets weave through tracks, with themes of self-alignment, evolution, and appreciating one's blessings. 33 radiates positive energy and gratitude, a testament to Mani's own journey and source or inspiration for listeners. Fellow Bay Area artists C Plus and Iamsu! add their own verses to the mix, their styles effortlessly complementing Mani's flow. Track's like "WWND" and others shimmer with luxurious soul and carefully chosen lyrics. It's a celebration of hustle and independence, urging listener to chase their dreams on their own terms. 33 is a rich tapestry of love, confidence, vulnerability, and raw Hip Hop / Rap. An audio experience where introspection meets celebration, and where self-discovery guides the way. City/State: Richmond, CA Released: March 3rd, 2023 See Also: Every Blue Moon by Mani Draper x Kevin Allen, Communion: Book 2 by Mani Draper, Coordinates (Deluxe) by Brookfield Duece + Flowers by Passwurdz No More Free Game donSMITH x Leeky Bandz donSMITH and Leeky Bandz latest project, No More Free Game, is an immersive experience that transcends mere music. It's woven from lyrics, hooks, melodies, and a soundscape that makes you feel like you're privy to some of the flyest contemporary Hip Hop / Rap being made. The album's title hangs heavy in the air, prompting introspection as it intersects with the content. Interwoven clips of Meta World Peace add another layer of intrigue, his words briefly touching on various topics, creating the illusion that donSMITH and Leeky Bandz are in direct conversation with him - this metaphorical connection adds depth and complexity. Throughout, a delicate balance of energies reigns. Gratitude and bravado dance, generosity and boundaries coexist. donSMITH and Leeky Bandz' distinct vocal textures and deliveries complement each other, each adding their unique perspective to the album's overarching themes, even when their stories differ. No More Free Game is more than a collection of tracks; it's an allegorical journey, a sonic exploration of identity, growth, and intricacies of navigating the world. An album that rewards repeated listens, unveiling new layers of meaning with each spin. City/State: Harlem, NY Released: March 10th, 2023 See Also: In Loving Memory by donSMITH (2022,) The Album Of JOB (Deluxe) by Leeky Bandz + LET ME SPEAK by Leeky Bandz Keys Open Doors Keaze x World Be Free There's something special about Keaze and World Be Free's collaboration, Keys Open Doors. It's an album that lingers, drawing you back even months after your first listen. It's a conscious journey, packed with thought-provoking content and beautiful production. The intro itself, "Reintroductions" throws down the gauntlet with a powerful KRS-One clip - reminding us that knowledge comes from lived experience, not just textbooks. It's a call to action for both the artists and listeners, urging us to walk the walk before we talk to the talk. Similar gems are scattered throughout the album. On "Numbers Man," Nipsey Hussle speaks wisdom about investing and building something lasting - echoing the album's message of responsible action over fleeting materialism. Beyond these impactful interludes, Keaze and World Be Free create a rich variety of sounds and themes. Authentic lyrics tackle vital topics like community building, guiding youth, and celebrating the beauty in Blackness. Keys Open Doors resonates on multiple levels - it's a hopeful vision of unlocking possibilities with acknowledgement of the complexities of true freedom. City/State: NY Released: January 5th, 2023 See Also: From Niggas To Gods, Pt. 2 by World Be Free Look Both Ways  Malz Monday Malz Monday's music walks a familiar path - one shadowed by a melancholic haze. Not a crashing darkness rather a gentle mist born from weathered experiences. This introspective energy infuses, Look Both Ways, where Malz masterfully paints the universal struggles of the human condition. Beneath the surface of this pensive soundscape, flickers of light emerge. His lyrics visit valleys of hardship, ultimately reaching plateaus of peace and acceptance. Additionally, released January '23, the album resonated with the mood of the winter season. Look Both Ways meets listeners in the midst of reflection, amidst memories, anxieties, and desires for change. The music embraces this solemn atmosphere, while the lyrics offer solace and strength, finding the lessons and gratitude simultaneously. Look Both Ways serves as a poignant message; a call to awareness, a reminder to navigate life's challenges with caution and purpose - ultimately - to keep moving forward and embrace whatever lies ahead and beyond. City/State: Ossining, NY Released: February 20th, 2023 See Also: Where There's Smoke by Malz Monday GENERATIONAL CURSE ICECOLDBISHOP ICECOLDBISHOP's debut album, GENERATIONAL CURSE, doesn't shy away from the rawness that once defined "gangsta rap." It channels the spirit of those who laid the tracks; unapologetically presenting real-life struggles and contradictions with an aim to spark change or thought. GENERATIONAL CURSE is not a throwback; it's a contemporary evolution that infuses classic West Coast Hip Hop / Rap with ICECOLDBISHOP's own creative fire. The album pulsates with the energy of Los Angeles, both it's beauty and harsh realities. The soundscapes, lyrics, and vernacular all pay homage to the legends who came before, yet reshaped with a modern edge. Each track evokes questions and stirs emotions. Who else crafts music with such raw texture and potent velocity? GENERATIONAL CURSE is a statement, a challenge, and an example of the enduring power of West Coast Hip Hop / Rap. City/State: South Central L.A., CA Released: March 24th, 2023 City Blues Lil Iceberg City Blues grabs attention instantly with it's vibrant artwork. The colored pencil and marker scene of bustling New Orleans - two-stories, balconies, palms against the sky, gators and diamonds - is a stunning prelude to the music within... although, the true marvel of City Blues lies in Lil Iceberg's unmistakable artistic identity. His influences, namely No Limit Records, Hot Boys and New Orleans bounce, are evident but not simply mimicked. Lil Iceberg channels their energy and spirit, crafting a sound distinctly his own. He's not just influenced; he's a descendant, carrying their legacy forward with a present-day twist. The infectious beats urge you to move and get lost in the moment. And while not everyone enjoys some of the realities in raps, Lil Iceberg delivers his stories and reality in ways that are almost impossible to resist. The production plays a key role, driving the energy even higher. City Blues is a captivating journey with an infectious soundscape, distinct voice and clear connection to his musical heritage make Lil Iceberg an artist to keep your eyes - and ears - on. City/State: New Orleans, LA Released: March 24th, 2023 ROADMAN Sincere Hunte “I have found both freedom and safety in my madness; the freedom of loneliness and the safety from being understood, for those who understand us enslave something in us.” - Kahlil Gibran, The Madman Sincere Hunte reads / recites at the end of “ROCHAMBEAU” It’s an interesting album that caught my attention because there are so many aspects of it that were like charting uncharted waters. It was illuminating in the sense that it goes from an underground/punk feel that meets Hip Hop in the South to moments of dance like, “CARRIED AWAY (4U).” It works well for Sincere Hunte because the various fusion of sounds absolves any soundscape expectations. Even with, “DJ GIRL” it starts off sounding like a song that is almost a modern Beach Boys track with a feature from $avy. There’s a lot sonically to keep the listener entertained and wanting to know more about the artistry and the mind that created this body of work. FULL REVIEW City/State: NC / TN Released: February 17th, 2023 The Son's Shine Silky Southern Caught my attention initially off the album art; a young, brace-faced, 3rd eye beamin’, elated eyes, tendrils of hair falling into face and distorted trees in the background. Embodiment of a Sun ray, a son from the Sun + this is how he shines. The Son’s Shine, a somewhat alteration of Black Boy Joy. Part of the brigade of Southern acts that are highlighting / paying homage to traditional Hip Hop with sometimes an acquired evolution of seasoning. Playful delivery and production that often still align with a traditional Hip Hop influence. Feels like a sunny spring day. Pollen, bird, worms, mosquitos, humidity, tall trees. Down to Earth, vulnerable and real while still fun. It’s a good balance of content, sounds ‘n flows. Could’ve been created in some dark moments — there are places within The Son’s Shine that feel more like manifestations in order to motivate oneself to continue on their path. At the heart of it, The Son's Shine is a celebration of life that also acknowledges life's complexities. City/State: GA Released: January 9th, 2023 See Also: Strange Places by Wulf Morpheus, JOINTS by MARCO PLUS x The Smokers Club, Mr. Smo by SMO 2nd Kings Hxndrx We been blessed another day so what you conquerin’ ? / I’m out here rockin’ that’s for real, so what you rockin’ with / I’m really stylin’ in the field / Out here movin’ spiritual and confident - I wrote this for the conquerin” 2nd Kings serves as a reminder of the expression of one’s Soul and Spiritual nature that represents light and can still grab Hip Hop / Rap by the reigns. Every word is a nutrient and every song is nourishment. There’s not any bragging or making the listener feel as though they’re less than because they don’t quite have the same life, amenities and resources as the artist they’re listening to. This is for the people, the spiritually minded and guided or those who seek to be in alignment with those frequencies and vulnerabilities. FULL REVIEW City/State: New Orleans, LA Released: March 2nd, 2023 See Also: An Appointed Time by Hxndrx I Hope This Finds You Well Ferris Blusa This album found me in a time where a good group of underground and independent Hip Hop just wasn't hittin' for me like I wanted it to. Everyone was talkin' about similar things, supposedly living similar lives, having the same artwork and very similar production/soundscape. I Hope This Finds You Well, shines bright, proving that exceptional Hip Hop thrives in the South. Gone are the tired stereotypes; this album delivers raw talent and lyrical artistry without subscribing to the typical tropes of modern rap. While grounded in his New Orleans roots, I Hope This Finds You Well transcends regional boundaries. The album's strength lies is Blusa' artistry; his deliberate pace, thoughtful bar setup, and disregard for fleeting trends paint a picture of a confident artist in his own lane. Each track feels intentional, avoiding overhyped aesthetics and lyrical cliches. Raw emotion, clever wordplay and genuine storytelling are sure to resonate with those who find value in those aspects of Hip Hop / Rap. City/State: New Orleans, LA Released: March 24th, 2023 See Also: Forever Is Not For Everybody by Ferris Blusa ADDITIONAL RECS I Wish You Well by WayneFowler DOGZTON TO HOOTYORK by BoriRock Church Ain’t Safe by Shootergang Kony Flowers Before The Grave by Huey Briss x Walt Mansa Bride of Bucky by D’Barbie x E MOZZY FEAR by Swooty Mac Last Night in Houston by Wes Denzel Moonrock & Mimosas by Goldie Rebel Pain In Full by Gaine$ DIMENSIONS N DEMOS by Ron Obasi GONE 4 THE WINTER by DXPE Madden by Dan Nicholson Experienced by Regular Repty Born in it (Really) by Chippass FIVE FINGER DISCOUNT EP by Mackbo Dead Poets by Eto x Futurewave F.I.R.E. by Starz Coleman x godBLESSbeatz Tag Team Championships by Ryan Milla Family Business by Organized Krime MEDIA by LOKIHASDIED 21 Gun Salute by Lil 2 Dow In The Meantime by Will Hill WHO I AM by Wu Me Against Them by Young Drummer Boy As It Is In Heaven by FUNERAL Ant Bell x DeevoDaGenius Thug Child by Young Jr Back on Dexter: A Gangsta Grillz Mixtape by Kash Doll x DJ Drama Mourning Due by Nappy Nina LET’S DO A DRILL 2 by Asian Doll DIY by Bocha x Corey G The Price Jus Went Up by 2 Eleven FOD Presents J Money: Baby Money by J Money Even God Has A Sense Of Humor by Maxo Flygirl Era by Kemarilyn Chanel DNT TALE by DNTWATCHTV Abolished Uncertainties by Jae Skeese Ways of Knowing by Navy Blue x Budgie FREE FOOD PROGRAM by AJ McQueen Evolution Of Existence: Love & Power by Brandon Isaac Bear Vs Pitbulls by Starz Coleman FOR ACCESS TO ALL RELEASES FROM QUARTER 1 - 2023 email: WORDS CURATION 'N DESIGN BY JAMEKA S/O ALL THE ARTISTS WHO MADE THE LIST, DIDN'T MAKE THE LIST, ETC, THANK YOU FOR BEING COURAGEIOUS WITH YOUR HE(ART.)

  • INNERVIEW 019: One Year Anniversary of Houston Artist OQ's Album '94

    INNERVIEW 019 was conducted by Jameka in August 2022 following the release of OQ’s recent project ‘94. The interview is truly an inner view of the artist, his creations, processes and community that helped create a soulful ode to the Northside Houston community of Acres Homes. After a year in the tuck INNERVIEW 019 has surfaced right in time for the one year anniversary of ‘94. | CROWNTHEM ENT. x SDE. I really enjoyed ‘94 and wanted to learn more about it and about your artistic process. Yeah, for sure. It definitely was a process for me, and definitely was something that I had to dig deep to correlate. I could feel that because it's a very soulful project - from every aspect, from your production to the skits that you chose, the little clips and your hooks and your verses, it's so soulful. Yeah, that's the feeling I definitely want to give. What was your process? What I was mainly trying to do was kind of really reiterate my last project, which was Do or Die. It was kind of like, I guess you can kind of say my debut album. It was my first big album, a long project that I did, and I just felt like it was a lot of dated songs that I had that were great songs, but it didn't feel new to me when I dropped it, so I kind of wanted to do something fresh. I want to do something with a storyline or more of a perspective all the way through. Each song kind of, like, takes you to a different corner of my life. And that's kind of how I tried to write the songs and produce the beats and just really paint a picture. That’s the reason I chose my album art. It was me painting a picture with my words, and you see that with the album art as well. Yeah, that's one of my favorite aspects; how it all syncs up like that. I saw the album art, I was like, okay, cool. This is some cool art, you know what I'm saying? And then you go through the song titles and you go through the different stories that you're telling in each song, and it all aligns with that album art. Like the “O-Lan O” and the “Acres Homes” and all that. It's all there. I thought that was really creative on your end. Yeah, and I'm really big on my community. I'm really big on, like I said, storytelling and where I come from, because I think your influences help you get to whatever point in life that you're trying to get. So the things that I was able to experience, good and bad, had a lot to do with my community. I try to kind of bring that side to the light. I try to bring it with me. And a lot of rappers do it. They talk about where they're from and whatever, but that's one of the biggest things I want to do with me getting bigger and getting on a bigger platform. I want to shed more light on my community because when it comes to music in Houston, it's never a big thing for the Northside of Houston to be a picture of music. Everything is more so the Southside. You see a lot of the bigger artists like Megan Thee Stallion, Travis Scott and even the Geto Boys, everybody's from the Southside. So it's never been, I guess, a national superstar from the Northside of Houston. I just kind of keep that in my mind as I continue my journey. I see where you're going with it - that's important. What was it like for you growing up in Acres Homes? It's pretty much a typical low income community/neighborhood or project, you know what I'm saying? A lot of poverty and lower class families. But from my day to day, like I said on a lot of songs, like “O-Lan O,” is kind of like a staple in my community, which is like a meat market, a grocery store, and even like a fast food spot. I also have a song called “Will-Be-Force” and that’s like a play on the street name Wilburforce, which is right across from O-Lan O. Those things remind me of what it was like growing up as a kid and my early childhood stages being with my uncle and he let us run free. We started off on one street and by the end of the night, we done hit six streets. We was just running around Acres Home and taking in the community. We would start at one of my cousin's house then we'll leave and go to another cousin's house and then we'll end up being at somebody else’s. It's really just being all over Acres Homes and being in every place we could. Because in every hood or in every city, a certain part of a neighborhood could be a clique. You have certain parts of Acres Homes where other parts of Acres Homes don't like that side. I've been in all those territories and all those places to where I'm more of a neutral person, a lot of people know me and vice versa. I still play ball with a lot of them to this day. I've never really been a gang member or anything, but it was, and is, always just the ultimate love and respect between myself and a lot of them. When you're a kid, obviously you don't really understand hood politics and all of that stuff. But as I grew older, I kind of started to understand the culture of that “clique lifestyle.” I guess you could say there's nothing about lifestyle that I was really into or was able to get drawn into. I guess you could say everything that I did, I was just around the right people at the right time. It's so easy to get influenced and do the wrong thing, I understood that we walked a very thin line and one slip left could’ve changed my life completely. But yeah, I could say really just hanging out, whether it was playing sports or being at the park with my family, that’s what influenced and guided me. I know that was a big thing in Acres Home in the 90s and I was also born in 1994, hence the project being called ‘94. So I'm just playing off of those 90s vibes at the park. Everybody, all the cousins at the park and playing chase and football, that's the vibe that the project gives me and that's how I try to kind of reiterate it without having to go back to the actual sound. But I'm giving you that feeling at the same time. How did your community receive the project? I think for my inner circle, I think it definitely was received well. A lot of people, even in my family, were astounded to hear themselves in my songs or me dropping their name in a line or something. It's almost like they're famous or something. But as far as outside of my circle, people that I wouldn't even expect to were liking it. Because my sound is so Hip Hop, I'll be honest, a lot of people in my community really wouldn’t gravitate or run to that sound. A lot of people tell me I sound like Cassidy when I rap. That's an interesting comparison. And I feel that I was in high school, even when I was freestyling on the bus on the way to the basketball games, people would say, you sound like Cassidy. And I never just really took it as a slight because I've always known Cassidy as a rapper you know what I'm saying? Real MC. Right? But it's not the sound that's popular in my city or in my community. But you have to respect what I'm saying. When I play a song for somebody like “Fire” off of my project, it's like it might not be a song that you can turn up and party to, but when you turn it on you can see that I really write, you know what I'm saying? So they can kind of tell the difference between what I'm doing and I guess what they listen to on a daily basis. But I guess that's just how it is, everybody listening to it. A lot of people always say that, like the people in your city not going to mess with your music until somebody else in another city or other places give you that stamp. But, I mean, I think it's working this way around. Like people still hit me up to this day and be like, “yeah, I checked out that one song, or I checked out the album and I liked it.” I mean, it does pretty well. It does well. But, you know it's still a sound that's unfamiliar to the people in the culture because everything that's from Houston is slowed down. That’s the popular sound down here. But of course, you have other people that listen to the trap music and the turn up and all that. And even that is something that I dabbled in, I can't lie. I have a project called 25 Summers that's more so in that area. Hip Hop is my core. That's what I want to be noticed for. And I also make beats, so whatever sound that I'm making is kind of what I'm going with at the time. It just happens to come out that way. Yeah, that was another aspect of the project that I really enjoyed - hearing the clips of different people from [I'm assuming] they're like, dear family and friends. And there was one, I think it was on, like, “Riles Corner (Interlude by Kay.)” I thought that was a really cool interlude that served as a reflection or an ode to Acres Homes, geography wise, content wise, story wise – and so for her, she's breaking down, like, how to get somewhere these directions over by and it just gave the project so much more authenticity and played into the theme even more. I'm curious - how did you gather those clips? Were they random[?], planned? Well, that’s something that I always wanted to know, and Kay is my mom and whenever you ask a question that's like back in the day or historic question she knows everything about it. I dedicated a song to her on the project too called “December 8th.” So at that time, when I actually knew I could kind of get something for ‘94, I really wanted her to kind of narrate the project without narrating the project. I started getting clips of her talking and rambling about these facts about Acres Homes. I asked her about our family and the neighborhood and that’s when she started talking about [Riles Corner], which was a corner in Acres Homes that her dad's brother, her uncle, owned. So we had a corner in Acres Homes that our family owned. It had all of the stores and she was just telling me about the history of it and I was like, man, that's amazing. I actually drive by that place often, [Riles Corner,] to go get my haircut. She was telling me about it and how it's abandoned or whatever, and I was telling her how it was a goal of mine, [that once I made it] I wanted to buy that piece of land back, start some kind of business or something along those lines. She was just giving me the inside scoop on it, and was telling me what family member was running it and who was running the shop and how it came about. It was just like a piece of my history and a piece of Acres Homes history as well, so it made sense. And then right after that, of course, you got the song “The Corner.” So I kind of try to do those things like that to kind of, like you said, give it more an authentic feel, you know what I'm saying? Taking the music in a different view. To hear you say that, I really felt like I did what I was trying to do. You know, got the job done on that. Yeah, you did an amazing job. And I like it even more [after this interview,] I know for sure I'm going to go run it back again because talking to you about it, it's lifting some layers for me to be able to see it in a different light as well. I know that you produced and wrote the whole thing. What is your process with being the producer and the writer? Do your beats come first / does your hook come first? Tell me more about that. It’s definitely an interesting process, but I kind of let it flow naturally. What I would do is I would sit down with an idea of what I'm trying to do and start there. A lot of people would say, okay, I want a song called this or that. The name of my tracks probably come after the verse is written or the hook is written. And as far as beats, it's just whatever feels right at that moment. A lot of times when I'm making beats, I never try to force it. If I like it, I would loop it up enough so I could write to it and not fully make the beat. I just make a partial version of the beat and then I'll put that beat on my phone, and as I'm going out throughout my week, like when I'm going to work, coming from work or on the weekends, wherever I'm riding to, that's when I normally finish my verses. My writing process reminds me of something I said on one of my songs. I'm running through these lines, trying to write this song. I kind of use that to get everything out. I might experience something on the drive. I might be driving through Acres Home. The process is always different for every song and that's the unique thing about it. Because listening to every song, I can think back on the process. I was at this place or I was going through this light or I stopped hard at this red light when I was writing this song. It’s very unique and it's very different. But I find that's where I get better verses and my best songs. When it comes to things like that, I can't just sit down and write a verse. It’s very rare when I do that, I have to just be stuck in that mode. But most of the time I have to take the song with me. I have to really get out. I have to ride around. I have to see things, experience things. And then that's how it all comes together. I hear the process is different for everybody. I guess it's my unique process and how I do it. Do you ever battle or have challenges with your process? You mean as far as writer's block? Yeah. Or just like, thinking or assuming that maybe it would come to you in a different way than it did? Yeah, definitely. I think “Power of Prayer” was like that. When I'm doing what I just told you, the process I have, and it’s just flowing out, it’s all good. Then sometimes I have to adjust that process. I know what I want this song to be about. I know I need to rap to this, I just have to figure out how to get it out. And sometimes when I write a verse, it's not the IT verse. Sometimes I have to be like, I'm going to record that and then I'm probably going to change it, because I need to see where to take this. Every song that I put on ‘94, I wouldn't go back and change a thing. I felt like I said everything I needed to say and didn’t waste any bars. I don't want to be like, I should have said this or that after the fact. Everything was a permanent feeling. So that's kind of how, like you said, if it's not giving me that feeling, I can’t be satisfied with that... I have to make sure that it's the right word, right flow, right cadence, right pocket, things like that. So sometimes it calls for adjustments, but like I said, it's just I might have to do one or two things differently and then I'll get the final result that I expect from myself. It's always so interesting hearing how different artists persevere and make it happen. If someone comes up to you and asks you [like they ain't heard your music before,] and they ask you, how would you describe your sound? Hip Hop. I would ask, do they like Hip Hop. There’s music connoisseurs, one of my closest friends, my business partner, Vo, and he's a music connoisseur. He probably has a sound that he keeps in his pocket permanently, but he listens to everything so I respect his opinion.. If I can make a song or project or whatever and it moves him in a certain way, then I know it's something special because he takes in music in a different way than the average person. So that’s what I would ask somebody, you know, what's the sound you prefer? You know what I'm saying? Cause I'm more of a backpack/boom bap Hip Hop type of person. Like, I listen to Young Thug and Future and other big name artists, but that's just not traditional Hip Hop in my opinion, even though it’s hard. When it comes down to the sound that I produce, that's what you're going to get. A lot of people compare me to like Kendrick Lamar or J. Cole and they call it conscious or whatever, but that's what I'm going to make the best out of. I can make a song that you’d want to hear in a club or party, hard 808s and high hats, but you're not going to get a better song than me making a song on a real Hip Hop beat. So that's just what I tried to tell myself. Like, yeah, that's the popular sound right now and everybody wants to listen to that, but you can make that song and be considered somebody riding a wave or you can do this sound that not everyone gravitates to, which also happens to be what you're great at. That's probably how I have to explain it to them. I have that unpopular Hip Hop sound right now. So, if you want something that you can, you know what I'm saying, just vibe out to, then I have songs that's more up-tempo and it's not just all in your head music. But then I also have things that you got to really listen to and it stands the test of time. Art always caught me, Lil Wayne Jay-Z, people that use a lot of metaphors in their songs and like triple or double entendres. That's something that always caught my attention, because in order to understand it, you had to really listen. That’s one of the biggest things that really got me into rapping, to being able to do that. Because my favorite subject in school was always reading and writing. So it was always something that I was able to correlate with the music I love. That kind of leads me to my next question. I love to ask - when you were creating this, what was your intake? What were you watching, reading, listening to? That's a good question. What I try to do whenever I'm in that mode of writing something, I think of a project, or rather I try to listen to my biggest influences a lot. Before I made ‘94 I listened to like 444 - for me that was the last project where Jay-Z was going through something in his relationship and being honest and vulnerable in his music. He was able to basically do what I'm trying to do; paint a picture for you and tell you what happened without telling you what happened. You have to listen to the songs. I might tell you a couple of things in this song and then go to the next song and I might say a couple of things in that song. I go back and listen to a lot of old Drake songs and how he put certain things together. J. Cole, Kendrick Lamar, and then really listening to my old songs. A lot of times I'll go back, listen to my old songs to see where I was at, think about how much better I've gotten and how far I've come. That kind of motivates me too. Then I'm able to use bars and different subject matters to kind of use for the newer music or the newer project because I'm able to see the difference now. As far as what I was watching, I'm not sure, but I know a lot of times, I'm watching something like a documentary. I think around that time the Kanye documentary had just came out, (he's like one of my top five producers of all time) so that might inspire me to make one or two of those types of beats. Things like that would be what triggers me to get on the computer or pick my phone up and hit my notes and try to figure something out because it'll get my juices flowing. There are little things I pick up on like that sometimes. But certain situations, other situations, it might be a feeling of complacency in my life or I’m tired of working a 9-5 grind. I might just be like, okay, when I get off work, I'm going to make a beat and I'm going to make a song and it's going to take me out of here and that might be a song that I might use. So, certain situations come from those scenarios too. Let it flow. That's a difficult thing to do for a lot of artists is to naturally let it flow. Because depending on what kind of artist you are, you very much like to control the way your stuff comes out or not, you know what I'm saying? It feels like magic. The magic of it all is really just being like water and letting everything just really, like, influence you and pull you in the way that you're supposed to go. That's what you're givin’ every time you're saying something, and it's just like it just feels so natural. Yeah, it honestly did. I try not to force anything. A lot of times, like Jugg, Nadarian, he knows it could be days I haven't talked to him, and then all of a sudden, I would just text him a song. All he'll get is a song. He'll know how I'm feeling, or he'll know what mood I'm in and a lot of times, that's just how it happens. Like, I tell them, you can be at home eating a bowl of cereal, and then I have 5 songs done out of nowhere. You just don't even know what happened. But that's just how our process has always been since we started doing this. It's just always been a burst of whatever. And my first project came like that in a day. It was 5 songs. I made 5 songs in one day. And it was just like a burst of creative juice and creative energy and that's just how I like it to happen. I don't like sitting at the computer every day searching for a radio hit. And I know it's a different lifestyle you live in once you in the lifestyle, you're pretty much living in the studio, but when you're not already there, I feel like you said the experiences and things happened to kind of ignite that fire, because other than that, you'll just be just making things that are bad. I try to, like you said, let it flow and let it come to me. In that way I can get the best out of it whenever I'm doing it. You can’t rush the process. That's what I say. You can't. You can't at all. You can't slow it down either. No, for sure. You definitely got to put in the work. I've never been the type of person to try to just work for the sake of working, you know what I'm saying. It's not in me. I'm the type of person when I know I got something in the palms of my hands, I get active. I have always been like that. So if I'm not getting that feeling and if I'm not in that mode, then I know it's not nothing. I think I've done well with my process. I was just telling myself on my way home like, man, this year has been some of the best work, I've probably rapped the best I ever have in my life. And I've been in higher places in my life, like, I've been in higher planes and modes. Sometimes I don't even know how I just rapped the way I have and I'm just taken aback by it because I don't know where it comes from. That's why I think when it happens like that, people write every day. People always say you got to write every day. But for me to make ‘94 and as good as I was rapping, I wasn't rapping every day, it wasn’t an everyday process, it just came out of me and it flowed naturally. So. that's what I mean by just let it flow. The words that come to you, the ideas that come to you, you just got to open your mind and just let it come. Yeah, I think that's a good point though, because, you know, as being a writer too. I always heard that too. You have to write every day and that shit would stress me out. I don't want to write every day. I want to write when it feels right and when I feel like I'm actually going somewhere with it. And I think that just points to what you were saying. Everybody's process is so different. Yeah, it was like that for me at first. I was stressed out and it just became a moment to me where social media wasn't helping me because I would see people on social media and they might seem further in a rap career than I am. Somebody's on, somebody's thinking like they are higher than they really are. And it became so much to me and I know I really wanted to drop a project. I really wanted to drop ‘94. I cut myself off of social media for like six months, seven months, and that's how I was able to really get majority of ‘94 done. Once I had the skeleton already built, I kind of poked my head back on social media and I was able to get a few more vibes from social media. A few of my beats came from different song ideas from social media. Some ads that came across my Instagram where I was able to find some drum loops and some samples. I'm not saying it was fully, you know what I'm saying, beneficial, but it was definitely useful as far as the writing process. I was really able to just really just hone in on my craft and really get it done. Like block it all out. Because I feel like when we are on social media, we're hearing/reading everybody's thoughts and they’re going thru out mind. And it's not even like when we're getting a lot of time to sit with our own sometimes, you know what I'm saying? Like, what is really my thought and what is really what I'm trying to say, you know? Yeah, see, that's a big one. What is really my thought? Am I writing this song or somebody else's writing it? You know what I'm saying? Yeah, I think that's cool that you were able to take that much time off - that shows a commitment to the craft. Off of ‘94, do you have any favorite songs or moments right now? I think my favorite moment or my favorite song, [and that's only because I enjoyed both processes the most] was “Left The Nest.” That beat was one of my best. I do a lot of chops and samples in my beats and you see that on display in that song. I love sampling and a lot of people may say it's cheating or it's not original, but to me if you're able to take something and scramble it and make it into something brand new, that’s original. It’s like pulling a rabbit out of a hat. It's a magic trick. You're taking something that's good and you're potentially making it great. Some of the best songs that we ever heard in life were samples. I just really enjoyed the process of making that song. Then I was able to write such a good verse. I was done with the first verse. And then the second verse came the day before I went to the studio the first time and I literally wrote it on the limb. Like I was writing it on my way to the barber shop. And then I came home. And I had an hour until I was going into the studio. So I'm just sitting in the car. My girl was calling me on the phone. I'm just sitting in the car writing the song because it was flowing like crazy at that moment. That process was pretty much the whole reason, well not the whole reason, for why I love that moment. That one scenario is basically the whole project. I think I enjoyed that process the most, and it's one of the processes that I remember the most. Like, every time I listen to that song, I remember what it took to make that song. So that song was very unique to me. I think “Fire” definitely had a similar concept to it, where I kind of wrote the song in increments. I would write, like, I probably say, 16 bars, and then I send it to Jugg and I'll be like, what do you think about this? And he's like, man, that's hard. And then I'll be like, I feel like it needs some more. Then I write a little bit more. Like, what do you think about this? That's even better. And then I keep going. That's what I remember about “Fire.” It was just kind of like a three step process where it just needed more and then I finally got to the conclusion, and it came out pretty dope. I agree that's one of my favorite ones when I first listened through that was the one that really I felt in my soul. I mean, all of them after a while, you know what I'm saying? But our first listen, “Left The Nest” - I was just like, yeah, this is the one. Yeah. And that's kind of how I wanted it to be. That and “Fire” was one of those songs where I named dropped a lot, you know. I said my mom's name, I said my aunt's name for her business and everything. When I sent that song in the family group chat, it went crazy. Everybody was like, “oh my God, you heard what you said.” When I sent it to my cousin, that's when she sent me the voice memo and was like,” oh, my God, you really go hard.” It's like, yeah, I have been for like three or four years now. You all just thought I wasn’t there yet. But people don't know ‘til they know. Right, You know what I'm saying? You don't know until you ride in the car and you got the radio on. Oh, my God, that's my cousin on the radio. I've been doing this for a while, but, I mean, it's not unique to me. It's a process that almost every rapper goes through. Your family not going to just fully believe until you're making some money from it or you're on TV. I don't hold it against them. But I still use those unique situations that I've encountered in my life, and I kind of try to highlight moments in my life, like the second verse of “Left the Nest.” That was pretty much about me and my other three cousins. That’s also why I like “Left the Nest,” too, it's so unique to me that I can remember exactly what I'm saying and how I put those words together. It's amazing to me. That's all I listen to. I only listen to my music and that’s no slight to anybody, I just know what I can do and what I’ve done. Like those songs I definitely hold dear to me and everything else. All the other songs, like you said, are really good songs. I think that was definitely just chips that were puzzle pieces that were put together to kind of make the picture of ‘94. So, yeah, I think I did pretty well with it. I think it's going to be like that music that gets better over time, so I'm excited. I'm excited for you, as well. So I just got a couple more questions for you. What is SDE? SDE stands for Still Dreamin’ Entertainment. It's something we came up with when we were in high school. It was primarily me, Jugg and Vo. It initially started out as us just having fun and making songs together, then we all got home from college, everybody came back from wherever they were, and we started to take it a little bit more seriously. Then everything started to elevate a little bit, different from what we could imagine. We haven’t gotten there yet, but we can definitely see the bigger picture more now than we did back then. We started at Nadarians, Jugg’s, house in the closet, just rapping. We were using a first responders mic, his dad used to work for the 9-1-1 call center so we had one of those headphones set up with the aux card. It was very bad quality, but it was something that was ours and that made it special and dear to us. That blossomed into what we’re doing now. How long ago was that? This was probably in 2011. We were either in the 10th or 11th grade when we actually started rapping. We were friends way before then, but we got comfortable as friends to the point where we started spending the night at each other's house and getting close with each other’s families. And that's when I started figuring out, oh, this person knows how to rap. Oh, this person is funny. We kind of started learning from each other more and then obviously I was the one that was always rapping and beating on the tables. That was kind of more so my character, what I brought to the friend group. Yeah, it came out the way it came out. That's really cool. What do you hope people get from listening to your music? I really hope that they just really understand that I can really rap. Because like I said, it's Hip Hop and when people think of Hip Hop, they think of East Coast boom bap. So, I think it's a good lane to be in, as far as my position, because nobody's really doing it here in Houston. I have a sound that derives from [that era] of Hip Hop, but I’m from the South and you can hear those influences in my music. Where I'm at when they listen to ‘94 or any of my music, I want people to understand that it's a different sound here. I'm from Houston, I say it in my music, I don't hide from it. I don't try to sound like I'm from New York. I say I'm from Houston, I'm from Acres Home, so you know where I'm at. I just want you to understand that and take the music and understand that I'm making these beats I'm rapping on it. I'm writing these songs, like 90% of the songs that you ever would hear from me, I made the beat. I have a hard time buying beats from other people because I'm like, I can make a beat that's similar or the same beat or whatever, but I have bought a few beats that I was proud to rap on. When someone listens to my song, I really want them to understand that I really can rap. So that's kind of like everything in a nutshell. I can really rap and not just know ABCDEFG, nursery rhyme rap. I really put thought into my raps, and like you said, time into constructing my projects and skits and all. I really just wanted to take it in and just live with it. That's the biggest thing. I imagine and hope that’s what people would think when given the opportunity to listen to your music. I think they will hear you. I sure hope so. But hopefully through this interview we'll get a few more ears on it, for sure. When I was writing down notes, when I was listening to the project, I didn't even put, like, rapper. You know, I can only really refer to you as an artist because you do so much of it. You're a storyteller. And I felt like the more that I listened to this project, I almost felt like I could draw a map of what you were speaking on. The music creates a map of where you're from. I just think that that's very unique in itself as well, because like you just said, there's not many people coming out of the South at large that are doing just strictly Hip Hop music [although there is a growing number,], but especially out of Houston. You're not only able to give a different sound, but also provide that production and give a different type of storyline than what we're used to, I feel like this is a very catalyzing project if and when the right ears get on it, if it's not already catalyzing for yourself. But you know what I mean? Catalyzing outside of just you. Yeah, that's my goal, too. Like you said, shed that light on it and make sure it's perceived as that, because I think it's a sound right now that's going around. - and you can see that it's not trap, but it's that middle wave of, I guess you could say hip hop or pop or whatever. But I think what I'm doing is very 90ish - like the songs that I'm making are very similar, in that sound front. But I mean, it's just how I feel. It's just, you know, like you say, it's the feeling. And that's all I want for the project, is for you to kind of, like, get a grasp of what I'm saying with all 12, 13 songs. I know I said that was my last question, but are you planning on putting out some more videos? Yeah. Right now we're in the process of doing that, which is very big for me because I think that'll be the next step of really putting the painting to the music and actually being able to see it because people can hear it if they see it a lot of times. So that's the process that we're in right now. Like I told Jugg, I really want to map it out because the videos can't just be a video of me in front of a car, it really has to capture the sound. If I'm going to do it, then I want to do it to the best of the ability of the song. I don't want to waste the opportunity. I don't want to pay no money, and I don't really get it because I critique my stuff hard, so I don't put out any visuals and it's not the visual of the song. So we're in the process of mapping some things out. I got a photo shoot, a photo spread that I want to do. It kind of brings light around the project as well. Going back to the old staples - other staples in the Acres Home community that I grew up in and kind of capturing those moments. I got a whole plan for the second half of the project that I want to do right now that's probably going to get ready to hit the social media sites in a little bit. '94 AVAILABLE ON ALL DSPs. ALL PHOTOS ON EDITORIAL [WEB / GRAPHICS] BY CORY HILL + NADARIAN. INNERVIEW, LAYOUT + DESIGN BY JAMEKA. OQ: + Still Dreamin' Ent.: + +


    CROWN VIEWS 002 is a visual playlist of 100+ music videos from Q! that were found notable or worth sharing for various reasons; illuminated a song off a project, color palette, textures, unique frames/POV, aesthetics, editing, etc. While making CROWN VIEWS 002 a few questions arose: In the social media era – 1) what is the significance of the music video? + 2) what does the future hold for the music video? When I posed/posted the latter question on CROWNTHEM’s socials a few different replies were given. Some think that it will inevitably look like tiny snippets/chops of full music videos and reaction videos to said videos. Fragmentation due to decentralization platforms for artists. Immersive videos, 3D experiences noted by a few others. Glass Protocol was mentioned. One artist in particular stated that impactful videos will take more creativity and time while also figuring out new ways to roll out the video – but, will the snippets receive more views than the actual video itself? What will make the audience follow-up on YouTube, Vimeo, etc. and watch the full video? In the social media era the music video will and is undergoing a significant transition. A lot of transformations we will be able to predict but a vast majority of the transformations that will take place for the music video will venture into the unknown of innovation and vision. Additionally, there has been chatter trivializing the impact of the video for an independent/underground artist; some say they aren't as important as they seem and that artists should spend their resources and time on other aspects of their art. On the other hand, some view music videos as an undeniable and pivotal aspect of an artists' trajectory. There is an equilibrium to be met - realize the truths on all sides - but, essentially, it all comes down to how creative, out of the box / forging of news paths an artist is, coupled with execution of those visions. To engage with the conversation noted above view here or comment below. Without further ado – The words came out differently this time. The poetic blurbs may not fully analyze the music video in a traditional sense - but, if you watch the videos you might catch the moments of intertextuality, imagination and where the words and visuals coalesce. “BIG DEBO” by Shady Blu | directed by madebyJAMES Already there - already where she placed her intention, where she puts her attention. Maybe they ain’t listen; maybe they’ll wait ‘til they see the star glisten. Burns blue, luminous hue, massive talent comin’ thru. “ALLAT” by Mark Lux | directed by Dhyaan Patel ALLAT, al-Lat, personification of the Sun out the slums. Gods, Goddesses and androgyny is worth sumn. Radiance of the L.A. gradient; creativity is Heaven Sent, Heaven’s Scent. All that. “Close” by Bocha x Corey G | directed by Zach Olson Close, close enuf. To run up - to throw the stone 'n hide the hand. To go to war or forfeit your land. Endeavors + bands. You must understand, close the door, open the window to be grand. “Free!” by Maxo | directed by Vincent Haycock Free! What does it mean to Be? Some openings close yet still need entry. Conversations of adversity with Me ‘n Me. In healing, to bring warmth and burn out disease. Creative energy flows with ease. R.I.P. Uncle Jerry. “Broken Glass” by Passport Rav | directed by Future Industry A big tooth broke all the ceilings in the room. Swinging on cut outs of creation formed w/ strings + glue. I've inherited the Spirit of Buddha - found a way to laugh as my unorthodox passport is stamped. “D.A.R.E” by ICECOLDBISHOP | directed by Erik Rojas Dare to be different + dare to have life feed into you instead of what you consume. They put it in our face, crippled to their various ways OR jump to another page - still with rage. Destruction only means the beckoning of a new age. "for your EYES” by theOGM x Elete | directed by EYEDRESS FOR - YOUR - EYES, no I’s. Time works for you when you find your pace, inside. Living by Truths ‘n crossing out lies. Hills in the hoopty, on my life. CROWN VIEWS OO2: (no particular order except the first 7.) ARTISTS FT'D: KAMEO, FUNERAL Ant Bell, Bryce Savoy, Radamiz, Yoshi Vintage, SONNY, Monday Night, 3WaySlim, Asun Eastwood, Kamaiyah, Sada Baby, Donnie Waters, Da Gilly, Apollo Brown, Aj Snow, Jansport J, P1, ALLBLACK, MeechBOLD, Trent The Hooligann, BoriRock, CRIMEAPPLE, Starz Coleman, GodBlessBeatz, Maze Overlay, SadhuGold, JNX, Shun Gawd, Alex Bond, YOH, CARRTOONS, FrankieOG, MacArthur Maze, RTC Profit, Jyou, Isai Morales, ihateyouALX, Smoke DZA, Sleepy Loco, Jonathan UniteUs, Reuben Vincent, Rapsody, Hugh Augustine, Walt Mansa, Shloob, B. Cool-Aid, Devin Morrison, Pher Turner, MoRuf, Pink Siifu, UFO Fev, Spanish Ran, Los Kemet, Times Change, Mike Shabb, Nicholas Craven, Payroll Giovanni, 2 Eleven, Problem, League, Donavan Ransom, Larry June, The Alchemist, G Perico, DJ Drama, Lord Sko, Andy Savoie, Jesse Desean, Ahmir, Malz Monday, O Dawg, Thunderous Caption, RIPXL, Bucky Malone, Innanet James, Big Jade, Che Noir, 7xvethegenius, SZN, Kash Doll, Icewear Vezzo, Swooty Mac, Devy Stonez, Freddie Gibbs, Rucci, Bankroll Got It, Deniro Farrar, Huey Briss, KeMarilyn Chanel, Archibald SLIM, Lola Brooke, Hit-Boy, Rim, FINN, Shootergang Kony, Jireh, DaBoii, C Plus, Heno, Elujay, J.Robb, Lord Apex, Slumlord Trill, Nym Lo, Statik Selektah, Curren$y, AvenueBLVD, Chase N. Cashe, Mello Buckzz, Latto, Jae Skeese, Da$H, Silky Southern, Sincere Hunte, Recognize Ali, Sibbs Roc, Will Hill, Slim Guerilla, Genshin, YeloHill, Airplane James, Young Nudy, Isaac Castor, Ricky Mapes, Jim Jones, Hitmaka, Don Quez, Rahiem Supreme, Nappy Nina, Tafia, Ferris Blusa, Jah Monte Ogbon, Young Drummer Boy, Bizarre, Charlie Smarts, DJ Ill Digitz + Toosii. WORDS / CURATION / DESIGN BY: JAMEK

  • 2nd Kings by HXNDRX

    2nd Kings is the follow-up to HXNDRX’s first release of 2022, 1st Kings. Different from the first one as there are no features and HXNDRX is going purely off his own energy and thoughts. 2nd Kings is a highly spiritual project meant to connect with the listener in intimate and vulnerable ways that aren't always present in today's artistry. This is a genuine spiritual offering from the New Orleans’ artist. There’s history, mantras, motivation and light — it’s an honest and transparent reflection of Soul, intent and the energy he’s using to make his visions and dreams tangible (while also being aware of the fact that Spiritual blessings aren’t always bestowed in physical materialism.) The project begins with, “Sovereign Business,” and the intro of the track starts with an audio clip from Al Green. The esteemed pastor and musician gives a few words about not fusing too many genres (especially if they're in opposition) at once because it may, confuse the Lord and the devil, and therefore speaking on the hypocrisy that’s often found in music. The clip highlights that an artist can be preaching about something relating to the Higher Self but in actuality living through their Lower Self. It’s a sovereign business, in the sense that it’s your business but is it a business that gets you free and allows for a sovereign lifestyle — are you really the one in control? And if not, how do you gain control of your Being? Lowkey profound way to lay out your intent as an artist before getting into your art. We been blessed another day so what you conquerin’ ? / I’m out here rockin’ that’s for real, so what you rockin’ with / I’m really stylin’ in the field / Out here movin’ spiritual and confident - I wrote this for the conquerin” 2nd Kings serves as a reminder of the expression of one’s Soul and Spiritual nature that represents light and can still grab Hip Hop / Rap by the reigns. Every word is a nutrient and every song is nourishment. There’s not any bragging or making the listener feel as though they’re less than because they don’t quite have the same life, amenities and resources as the artist they’re listening to. This is for the people, the spiritually minded and guided or those who seek to be in alignment with those frequencies and vulnerabilities. After “Conquer” the project moves into one of the first songs that received video treatment, “Forgiveness,” which is exactly what the title states. Another personal song that finds it way into the universal — he’s speaking to a past or present lover and their ups and downs, support of one another, the worth they recognize in each other and possibly how to forgive and move on or forgive and move forward together in strength and faith. The wanting to find new ground with someone that makes their way back into your life. “My Realm,” is a track where HXNDRX expresses a bit more about some situations that his energy had to repel in order to evolve spiritually. Personal accountability coupled with knowing what not to accept and work with. Some references are abstract and without context but still allows for the listener to fill in what might be referenced or the listener's own personal relation. “Let me bring you in my realm where Soul not for sale and we acknowledge what’s real. There’s an immense amount of great lyrical content, ideas and experiences that can sit with your Soul and mind from this project. 2nd Kings is essentially a guidebook or journal of how to maintain, sustain and cultivate a truly healthy life — mind, body, spirit. This is another significant project along the journey of greatness by HXNDRX. Times are changing and its imperative to really live the life you’re meant to lead. I’m only speakin’ on the business, that’s the mission / I can’t be rockin’ with no goofy, they be senseless / I rub shoulders with the Royals, they be listenin’ / tribal blood in the vein, how you miss this ? / tribal blood in the vein, we the remnant / tribal blood, I got mixed thru the mud / crossed that boat in the ocean thru the flood / doesn’t matter about blood we related just because. He then also goes into the lack of true and transparent education for the youth and communities at large. To finish the project out, “David’s Outro,” begins with the importance of allowing the testimonies of others (whether you’re involved or not — good or bad,) to be an inspiration for you to give your testimony with utmost truth and accuracy. Listen for yourself. This is neither a project to miss nor an artist to ignore. Words by Jameka Released: March 2, 2023 Region / City: New Orleans, LA

  • Malice At The Palace by Ty Farris x Machacha

    Malice At The Palace Ty Farris x Machacha ”These rappers cornballs, shame on the engineer that’s recordin’ it/ That sh*t’s trash, when you post it, I’m reporting it” - Dope Sales To Vinyl Deals Ty Farris releases his 3rd release of 2023! Part of me is like what is going on, how is this humanly possible, and the other part is welcoming the pace and quality of these drops. Malice At the Palace (completely produced by Machacha) isn't as chaotic as the real life event but it does hit as hard as Ron Artest did on that infamous night. “Flagrant Fouling” is a standout track with it’s haunting Darringer style production and gutter verses from Ty Farris and Mickey Diamond. The project also hosts DJ Grazzhoppa (Scratches), Marv Won, Guilty Simpson, Dango Forlaine, WateRR, Ty Farris makes sure he lets the homies join in on the fun, Detroit what! Favorite tracks: Flagrant Fouling, 4 Point Play, Strong Arm Aggression Words by Monk Released: March 17, 2023 Region / City: Detroit, MI

  • Bears Vs Pitbulls by Starz Coleman x Ched

    Bears Vs Pitbulls Starz Coleman x Ched “I’d rather rap or culinary baby this is what I do/ I’m dodging taxes and prison, naw I can’t live by the rules” - Sir Sarzalot Colemanson The 3rd Hip Hop's favorite music video auteur is back with another dope musical offering. He teams up with frequent collaborator Ched on Bears Vs Pitbulls and the results are as impressive as they've always been. Starz Coleman is as witty and funny as ever, while displaying the skill and dexterity of a spitter's spitter. This is mostly a solo affair until we get to the song “Paid In Full” which features Alma Ave Writtens who delivers some potent bars about wisening up and living to one’s potential. Put on your helmet get in line for this ride with one of New Jersey's finest! Favorite Tracks: Bears Vs Pitbulls, Paid In full, Himmel Musik Words by Monk Released: March 3, 2023 Region / City: Newark, NJ

  • Hot Shot: Gangsta Grillz by G Perico x DJ Drama

    Hot Shot: Gangsta Grillz G Perico x DJ Drama “The mo’ that I make, the crazier I feel/ I thank God everyday, I can believe this sh*t is real/ Gotta get a bigger bag cuz my ni**as need appeals/ I got 700k from my negotiating skills” - Everything G Perico teams up with DJ Drama for a ride through the LA streets on Hot Shot: Gangsta Grillz. Full of street action, and LA vibes, this project is a testament to G Perico's work ethic and independent spirit. I also like that the production isn't riding any waves, it's modern but it keeps the classic Cali Hip Hop elements that let you know what the coast is! G Perico rolls mostly solo on this lick but Steelz, and RJMrLA show up to lend some assistance. Everything combines to make this is one shot you don't wanna miss! Favorite Tracks: Ask G4, Action, No Do Overs Words by Monk Released: March 10, 2023 Region / City: South Central, CA

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