top of page

111 items found for ""

  • True Story by Mac J

    Although Sacramento’s Mac J is speaking about his personal experiences throughout True Story, the album still served as a not so subtle universal reminder of the several deaths that continue to escalate among young artists within the Hip Hop realm. If you personally have grieved anyone or anything then you’re aware of the array of emotions and thoughts that can become plaguing or catalyzing. True Story represents what it means to express those grievances and more closely how to mourn those losses when they are your blood and/or chosen family. Despite the pain and confusion Mac J exemplifies what it simply looks like to keep going. How do we keep going? How do we celebrate and honor lives lost? While many have various ways of how they do or do not keep going — Mac J not only expresses his sentiments through lyrics and production but firstly through album art. Noticeably, there is Mac J in the middle of a cut out heart, red flag on head. Within the heart there are yellow flowers (often signifying friendship) and two people inside the heart with Mac J; on the left there is Bris, Mr. Tricky Dance Moves and on the right the late Young Slo-Be. Both, two very important figures in the new wave/era of rap coming out of Northern California, more specifically Sacramento and Stockton. Mac J's perceived perseverance through True Story and his 2021 release, Trickymode are inspirational while simultaneously recognizing the difficulty of “inspiration” when the basis of it is coming from loss and grieving. It takes a lot of courage and heart to be able to put out a vulnerable body of work that still allows space for play and high energy invoking songs. It’s a beacon of light in a time that may seem grim or ill-lit. When they took my lil bro they took the breath of me I had a meeting with my Soul to see what’s left of me The same ones that never listen want to lecture me Once I cut you off — don’t give a fuck about you texting me - Mac J, Angels “Angels” is one of those tracks where Mac J does really well at painting his current predicament. He keeps sayin’ he’s not feelin’ anything and that he’s trying to fix his heart. It doesn’t seem like it needs fixing but more so understanding the process of grieving, the phases and time that takes the acknowledge and know where to go from there. I’m still thuggin’ around this bitch because I got angels with me. He’s sittin’ you down to tell a story on this one with clever and personal lyrics. I can tell that they don’t want me to focus / even if I’m last picked, bitch I’m chosen. “Alicia Bleys” featuring Philthy Rich & AO Meally — alliances, not shaking hands with no enemies. This is one that could’ve been made for the radio that highlights the vicious side of emotions and also how to handle self moving forward with his alliances. “Gawd Did” — personal stand out track due to the soulful/gospel influenced production but the flow and lyrics represent a revival within Mac J. Where he’s got the bear off his back, came above water and here to deliver the fire of the narratives that tried to drown him and take him down. I can tell you what I know, play with fire and got burnt - it’s a blessing and a curse Bitch, I had to step it up I wasn’t hard enough I had to take my backbone and go and charge it up You know I took my own plate because they was starvin’ us I can’t meet you at no finish line because you didn’t start with us - Mac J, Gawd Did “Her Son Stoopin” featuring EBK Young Joc is largely about creating his own money and business… but also battling with emotions and how to feel; fuck what niggas sayin’, fuck what they heard / I’m havin’ trouble, bitch, I’m tryna get my heart to work / I don’t have no feelings, bitch I’m numb to it / buy a glock I’m tryna find a drum to it / ayy, tell ‘em pay attention, this that thug music / tell your mom you beefin’ with the gang like her son stupid. It’s an airing out of thoughts and questioning of emotion that come with circumstances while talkin’ his shit. Braggadocio raps from the Soul. “Inside” is catchy from jump because of the use of “Through The Wire” by Rod Wave alone delivers the energy of the song; so much pain built up deep inside, I try to control it / but the anger built up deep inside, leave me to exploding. Speaks on the deceptions of said “friends” or those that try to get a little too close… callin’ you “bro,” “fam,” “sis” when they have ulterior motives. “Feisty” featuring Bris is about the comradery of those within his circle. Their morals and what they live by when pressure is applied in any avenue. Get the money and protect the brotherhood over chasing women. Catchy hook and a verse on demon time delivered by Bris — this is very much about the street life and the lives lost that go with it whether the deaths are coming from your circle or you’re squeezing the trigger. “Love/Hate” addressing the balancing of loving the street, hating the street, how people love him then hate him — all around encompassing the fickleness of people and how things can change from minute to minute. How do you stay focused? They love you when you down bad but hate you when you on your feet. True Story in entirety tells one story by recounting many smaller moments and because of this every song holds importance to the narrative. On the track, “Loafa Bread” Mac J is conveying even deeper how he feels about his little brother’s death. Ayy, I think these niggas scared / I think they killed my bro over a piece of bread. There’s a lot of questions he’s askin’ and at moments it seems like survivor’s guilt. Eventually, some of the lyrical content makes it clear who and what he's addressing. How you drop the rock? How you let them niggas score — you could’ve blocked the shot How you seen the whole play from the parking lot? You got envy in your eyes, you want my brother’s spot -Mac J, Loafa Bread The final track track that really added to the narrative while also allowing a deeper glimpse into Mac J’s mind is, “Mirror Match,” in full the track shows the intuitiveness of the artist, where my feelings at? / it’s like I’m fighting with myself, this a mirror match. That's a historical battle in terms of chosen ones who are carrying the torch for their various lineages and missions; a mental and physical battle. True Story is a thoroughly impressive album from Mac J considering circumstances and content used to make it. And don’t get it twisted either — while many of these songs have topics of grieving and emotions the production is still gonna make you move your feet, shake your shoulders and try to figure out how the hell the producers sampled that and disguised it so well. This is a real timestamp in Mac J’s catalogue. The talent, energy and perseverance is all there… very much looking forward to what else he decides to do and use his artistry for. RELEASED: September 16, 2022

  • RUFFS by Kenny Mason

    RUFFS is the latest project from frequent J.I.D. collaborator and genre-bending artist Kenny Mason. In just under an hour Kenny gives us a tour through his mind across acoustic guitar, trap drums, post punk screaming, gigantic buzzsaw synths and more. He co-produces almost every record on the tracklist and it feels extremely personal as a consequence. In a sea of artists finding their sound by finding the producer that their stylistic contemporaries use, this feels like an original and fresh body of work. There's some soundcloud era chill here as well, Kenny as an MC is confident, technically gifted and witty. But more than that, he can craft a multitude of varied and interesting hooks full of distorted and layered vocals. Not quite JPEGMAFIA levels of experimentalism on display but much more listenable for people not ready for that level of challenging content as a consequence. In the words of the man himself: I don't give a fuck if this shit ain't lyrical I don't give a fuck if this shit ain't radio I don't give a fuck, nigga, it's spiritual - Kenny Mason, ZOOMIES words by Xlo Released: September 28, 2022

  • STUNNA by P-Lo

    The Bay Area's yellow Golden Child is back on scene with his latest release STUNNA! P-Lo has been a staple in the California music scene since his start with the legendary HBK Gang! From producing to rapping he’s carved a unique lane for himself and became a pseudo ambassador for the Filipino community. Tapping into hometown inspiration P-Lo’s recent project takes history and repeats it, beautifully. Let’s say you took the Hyphy movement and gave it the latest iOS update, when it powered off and came back on you’d have STUNNA. The album is full of samples, interview clips, and soundbites from Bay Area pioneers like E-40, Keak Da Sneak, Mac Dre, and even DB The General. The art lies in the way he flips and molds them into songs that fit the modern soundscape. He keeps the theme consistent throughout the project sometimes subtly in an if you know you know type way. With features from today's Bay all-stars like Larry June, 22nd Jim, Kamaiyah, and LaRussell only helps to bridge the gap between classic and current. Further confirming that hyphy never died, it just evolved! STUNNA is full of downright anthems, my favorites being songs like "Lightwitch" and "Viral." America’s Favorite Pinoy delivers again and further solidifies himself as a living legend. After a successful release party at the Chase Center, (home of the Golden State Warriors) it seems like P-Lo’s elevator only knows one direction, up! RELEASED: SEPTEMBER 2ND, 2022

  • New Money by Baby Money

    Since signing with QC, one of Detroit street rap's rising stars, Baby Money has been featured in Billboard and across the nation making rounds as one of the chosen new stars in the industry. His latest project, New Money is largely produced by one of the most iconic architects of the “Detroit sound'' being imitated in today's hip-hop landscape; Helluva alongside Antt Beatz and others creating the signature “horror movie minor-keyed melody but make it bounce” sound that has been a staple here for decades. The keys are frightening, the bass is heavy and Baby Money sounds like a grizzled and hungry vet over the project's 16 tracks. There’s the expected shit-talk and baller raps but Baby Money brings a brash wittiness and humor that doesn't overstay its welcome (unlike some of his more viral peers) to the tracks. If we playing cops and robbers, imma be the robber If we playing pharmacy imma be the doctor Put a bird on your head, you won't see the chopper I keep my 9 in each state, Andre Iguodala Standout records are the Antt Beatz Produced and Jeezy assisted “All Hustle," No Mask” produced by OG Dynasty, and the Ojay’s-sampled “Double Cross” produced by Helluva. If you’re already a fan of the sound, you know what to expect but the polish and charisma here really makes this project shine if you're looking for those familiar tempos and street rap content. words by Xlo Released: September 23, 2022

  • Results Take Time by Symba x DJ Drama

    From Sway In The Morning, to L.A. Leakers, all the way to Funkmaster Flex we haven’t seen an artist blazing studios with freestyles this consistently since the mixtape era in the early 2000’s. That golden era feeling is in the air and one of the few artists we have to thank for that is the Bay Area’s own…. Symba! After years on the grind locally, doors closing left and right, deals that didn’t materialize, he’s now in the national spotlight with all intentions on showing the world that Results Take Time. You know the saying, you only get one chance at a first impression? Well, that’s even more true when it comes to a debut album. The project that can finish you before you start or put you on the path to GOAT status. Symba has done the latter. Results Take Time plays like a biopic, sharing stories from the very beginning and the journey that landed him in the position he’s in today. “Overnight,” “Never Change,” “Sacrifices,” “Find A Way,” the tracklist reads like chapters in an autobiography. Symba left nothing for the imagination as he told his story in his own words over production that adds to the overall cinematic feel. With assistance from the likes of Roddy Ricch, Pusha T, and 2 Chainz the project feels like a major label debut. Blood, sweat, tears, and time are the only ingredients that can result in an album like this. Witty lines about being turned down by radio program directors, label A&Rs, all to stick to his guns and end up where they’d never thought he’d be. All this from rapping his real life without a gimmick! Results Take Time is the perfect middle-ground between hardcore lyric lovers and club anthem bottle poppers. An album everybody can enjoy that comes from an authentic place and an extremely talented individual. RELEASED: SEPTEMBER 16, 2022

  • Fair Exchange No Robbery by Boldy James x Nicholas Craven

    Only the real remember the ToothPick Clique, the semi official collective of Midwest and West Coast musicians which included: The Cool Kids, Pac Div, and some at the time lesser known but now massive talents including Cardo, the legend Sheefy MC Fly, and Boldy James. Way back in the blog era (2010 or so) when all the parties in and around Wayne State were the place to be when you weren’t taking a trip to East Lansing that weekend, TAUT(The Air Up There,) Iron Street, the Untitled Bottega days and Red Cup Sessions… Boldy James was already a local hero and became an internet blog sensation from his collabs. Shortly after his ascension with T.P.C. he signed with Nas, and had a debut album produced entirely by The Alchemist. A decade later Boldy is one of the most prolific artists in America, standing on par with other members of Griselda in terms of both skill and output. He’s held his own with some of the best of this generation from Freddie Gibbs to Big Sean, over everything from Alchemist, to Exile and Don Cannon has been over some of the best. His latest effort with the seemingly unstoppable Nicholas Craven is proof that quality equals longevity in the art of Hip-hop. Fair Exchange No Robbery is a concise and effective 35 minute addition to one of the most acclaimed catalogs in rap at this point. With only one feature, Boldly and Craven completed the recording of this album in just a matter of days, some of which was recorded with the now infamous paper towel mic stand. Sample chops and drum breaks rule the minimalist production, Craven is becoming one of the artists in conversation with Alchemist and Madlib when it comes to finding obscure forgotten records and using them to create a mood with just 4 bars. I'm glad to say I could not immediately identify ANY of the samples used on this album on my first 3 listens. But one cannot survive on loops alone. I hope to hear more interesting song structures and arrangements from Craven in the future, especially with Boldy who historically shines over challenging and varied production, as evident on his Manger on McNichols project with Sterling Toles (although that album had a CONSIDERABLY much longer incubation period.) A gritty and unpolished display of lyricism is what we have come to expect from Boldy, and he delivers as usual. What separates him from his peers like Roc Marciano, Mayhem Lauren and the like is the pervasive grittiness and bitter emotive moments in the tales he casually weaves. Having grown up in one of the most wild hoods of the west side of Detroit, losing friends and family to the life, no matter how fly or luxurious it sounds, there is always a solemn/sobering element especially on tracks like “Straight & Tall" and "Power Nap.” Grim and stark lyrics like: Catching pops at the Valero, I was selling dope Big can, barrel look like the back of a telescope Weather the storm, had the shivers, damaging my liver Had to plow through the snowstorm, now my neck a blizzard - Boldy James, Straight & Tall His baritone, (some might say monotone) and laid-back delivery meshes well with the sparse sample-driven soundscapes Craven crafts. Neither Boldy nor Craven misses a beat or overstays their welcome. Though each track is 3 plus minutes, it is broken up with conversations and instrumental changes interspersed. This album is for the fans and is a welcome addition to the library of a legend. words by Xlo RELEASED: SEPTEMBER 30, 2022

  • Tenured by C Plus

    Hands down one of the best lyricists you’ll hear coming out of California, (and I wouldn’t be far out to say America,) is Sacramento’s very own C Plus. His new album Tenured is sure to convince any new listener of his God given skillset and remind anyone that might have forgotten. Hailing from the rarely mentioned Natomas area of the city, this hometown staple is ready to expand his range in every sense of the word. 16 tracks, 47 minutes, and infinite bars combine to make one of the region's best rap albums to date. You ain’t got the Will to be Legend like I am, he spits on "C Where U @?," a reference to Will Smith's, I Am Legend (2007). Bars like these are embedded all throughout the project making it hard to choose which line to quote. After over a decade in the game, hinted in the song title "Tenured (tenyear’d)," C Plus has not become complacent one bit. As he toys with beat selections, flow patterns, and concepts he comes through as rejuvenated on this release. As if he’s found a new motivation and that spirit shines through track after track. With minimal features (5 out of the 16 songs,) he really uses Tenured to showcase himself, his thought process, as well as update us on things he’s been through over the years. Hitting all the expected checkpoints of a great album, flow, lyrics, story, emotion, beats, etc. Tenured is an album with an extremely valuable replay value! With the current Renaissance in Northern California lyricism headed by Symba, LaRussell, Rexx Life Raj, Grand Nationxl and others, this couldn’t have come at a better time. The climate is ripe for rap and if C Plus can’t do anything he can rap! He can also cook apparently so make sure you book him to cater and enjoy his album catered to the most sophisticated of palates! RELEASED: SEPTEMBER 16, 2022

  • CROWN VIEWS 001: A Visual Playlist

    As with everything this idea will evolve and do what it do. As an avid music video viewer I wanted to shine some light on music videos from the 1st & 2nd Q. Some of these videos are fun, give further context to the artists work or artist themselves, conceptually intriguing, purely abstract thought, a favorite song from a project or an intro to an artist, etc. Various reasons, various views. CROWN VIEWS 001. 80 videos. From Seattle to Portland to The Bay down to LA over to Arizona across to Texas, Mississippi, Georgia, Florida, Tennessee, New York, Jersey, DMV & other places in the tuck. It's a playlist for now but 1 day this will be a channel. Shout out to the independent, the underground and the crews that helped bring these music videos to life. Below are the 12 videos and artists featured in the graphic. “Ruby // Sinclair” by LOS My Love Is Crack, (2020) Produced by Terron Clark Directed & shot by: QNTM “Soufside” by Klassic Kell The Klassic Tape, Vol. 1, (2021) Song produced by: Micah Weston Directed by Jacob Rink & YFP “Fake Hustle” by Westside Webb Caught In The Webb, (2022) Produced by: Westside Webb & Cypress Moreno Directed by: Lucero “Soufflé” by Coach Tev Talk To Him Nicely, (2022) Directed & edited by Nicely Done 2nd AC Song prod. Kilo / mixed. Donny Domino / mastered by OZ / & more credits in link. “Sucio” by MuddyManTony The Muddprint 4, (2022) Produced by: Studio 448 “Forever Oakland” ft. BruhFromLastNight, G Maly & by Bryce Savoy King Diamond, (2021) Shot By: @mooneymedia Prod. By: @feezydisabangah “Bodega" by Cheeno Ghee To Whomever It Concerns, (2020) Directed by Cheeno Ghee, Halv, and Ify Driver Produced by GCE Tha Label, Season Film, & An Ify Production Music Produced by Jayson & engineered by Chris West “Can’t Stop Shit” by Chelsea Pastel Pastelevision, (2021) Filmed by: Just Chaz Produced by Chelsea Pastel & Boca Beats Mixed by: Chelsea Pastel “Lemon Water” by Yani Mo single, (2022) Written & performed by Yani Mo Directed by Tengo Song produced by: Dijon Stylez & Slimm Leary Mixed/mastered by: H3nry “VILLELIKEMOOKIE” by Ron Obasi single, (2022) Directed, produced, and edited by HALV Song produced by: Reaux Marquez Mixed by: MixedByCole “Stagnant” (ft. Lukah) by PreauXX Malcom 2XX’s Presents: God Don’t Like Ugly, (2022) Directed, shot & edited by: 35Miles Produced C maJor Starring PreauXX & Lukah “Defrost” by ihateyouALX single, (2022) Directed by: Gage Garza Animations: Cj Conde & Malik Marble Produced by: Shawn Mclurkin / Song produced by: Buckley & Kwamé FULL TRACKLIST: “Bananas” by DaBoii “Table For 3” ft. Ransom & 38 Spesh by Che Noir from Food For Thought “Coke Numbers” by Jay Fade “Function” by Swooty Mac from Sunday Morning “Carry On” by Jody Joe from Jody Ca$h “Who Do You Call?” ft. Pell by Kr3wcial from Less Than Three “Thoughts become paintings” by Rahiem Supreme from Dogon Sirius “Money” by UFO Fev x DJ J Hart from E Pluribus Unum “Red Clay” by Rosebudd x STN from Parables of the Soil “Play Ball” by Sham1016 “Backyard Parties In The Ville” by O Dawg from Luka Vandross “H-Town (Remix)” ft. Z-Ro & Sauce Walka by Propain “Focus” by Jynx716 from Careful What You Wish For “Flashy” by Thuderous Knight from No Call No Show “Never Left” by N01SES from Count Your Blessings “Dead Poets Society” by Jxylen from PROJECT MAYHEM “W.L. NFT (D.O.C.’s Gospel)” by Mani Draper from Communion “Bodega” by Cheeno Ghee from To Whomever It Concerns “Intro” by Osbe Chill from Soul Rap 2 “Figure It Out” ft. Bub Styles by Def Soulja from Militant Minded “Act Like That” ft. Amirahle by Kay Anthony from Color Therapy “No Recognition” by Aaron May from No Recognition “Adapt” by Laxx P “Factually Spoken” by Young Jr. from Born Again “Sanotori” by 3WaySlim from Golden Child “Off Top Freestyle” by 7xvethegenius “No Exposing” by Asian Doll from Let’s Do A Drill “To Be Grateful” ft. Zacchae’us Paul by donSMITH from In Loving Memory “Ginface” by Len-E from Say No More “Ghetto Diva” by Chyna Streetz from The Hour Glass EP “G-Wagon”ft. Bando. & P$O Kwama by Jahn Dough from The Garden Project “Big Le$ter” ft. Bo Bundy by Le$ from E30 “Him” ft. Dom Kennedy by Jayson Cash from Read The Room “What It’s Like” by Joose “watugondo?” by Jameel Na’im X from Caravaggio Is Alive “Deep” by Elcamino from Let There Be Light “Spook By The Door” by Deniro Farrar from Spook By The Door “Flamingos” by Pricy from 9:19pm “A 3 G” ft. Partier Ca$h & Mr. Hendrixxx by Skatey P “Nah FR” ft. Tae 10k by Jaywop "Don't You See" by KIIIA “Palm Trees” by Cilo “Counting Paper” by Banco “Play Too Much” ft. Cash Kidd by Kamaiyah from Divine Timing “Chez Vous” ft. Chase N Cashe & Hil Holla by Avenue from BROWNSTONES 2 "Billynar" by Sincere Hunte from SO FAR SO GOOD “Play My Song” by Da$h x SONNYJIM from BETWEEN THE LINES “Pesos” ft. Peso Peso by Big Jade “Ride” by Namir Blade “Slow Me Down” by Dudadamthang from Sharon Son “Dopamine” by Roy Rutto “40 ACRES” by ANKLEJOHN “Save Yourself” by Rexx Life Raj from The Blue Hour “’83 El Camino” by AJ Snow & Jansport J from NO AWARDS FOR THE REAL “In Flight” by CRIMEAPPLE x DJ Skizz from Breakfast in Hradec “living off the land” by Huey Briss “2 Seater” ft. Aphiniti by Nuke Franklin “RULEZRMNT2BREAK [S.D.E.]” by KAMEO “Tuesday Even Tho It’s Not Tuesday” by Donta Thomas x Bocha from Neck of the Woods “Fiyuh Starter” by Trav Hen from INTUITIVE NIGGUH “WORLDWIDE” by Abe Lix x Tully C. from The World Famous La Familia Forever “What If?” ft. RJmrLA by Rucci from El Perro 2 “Got Off (1 Shot Performance)” by Simeroni from Sucka Free “On Gawd” by Nezi Momodu from The Pound “I Can’t Lose” by RIPXL from LUXURY Peace, love & Hip Hop.

  • Diamonds in My Cartiers. by Oba Rowland

    Oba’s back rapping y’all. Fresh off the heels of his March ‘22 release I Need My B*tch Back, Detroit’s own Westside Legend OBA ROWLAND dropped a new project this month. Diamonds in My Cartiers. gets back to Rowland’s basics: melodic hooks, blink-and-you’ll-miss-it bars and competitive guest appearances. We got a sneak peak to a few tracks and let’s just say, if you were a fan of Northland, then you will not be disappointed. Tracks like the very soulful “Avenue of Fashion” (possibly just the working title, but fitting nonetheless.) is an ode to the historic Detroit Livernois Ave, particularly between 8 Mile to 6 Mile. It feels like a Saturday afternoon with Rowland singing the hook along with a unison of ladies: “fast cars/ fly clothes/ bad h*es”. Previously released single, “Big Tymer” samples 40 Water’s “Sprinkle Me”. He gives a call back to his infamous “my b*tch got double D’s” bar, with his laxed yet hard hitting cadence. And it wouldn’t be a true Oba project without a spiritually inclined track, “Word of Faith” where he humbly belts out “pray for me /pray for me / pray for me.” Diamonds in My Cartiers. is sure to become another one of Oba’s hood classics. With timeless street ballads, features riddled throughout (Boldy James, Skilla Baby, Cash Kidd, Drego and others,) and memorable catchphrase bars the wait was definitely not wasted.

  • INNER VIEW 017: 'WHYSOSIRIUS?' w/ Ron Obasi

    WHYSOSIRIUS? Is a personal testament for every test that was sent to Ron Obasi. The mixtape reverberates as a compilation of epiphanies and manifestations expressed through a philosophical poetry with a free jazz frequency. Although his sentiments and expressions derived from present-day experiences and reflections it’s fair to say that those same expressions and sentiments have been endured as rights to ancient traditions. The interview below is an inner view of Ron Obasi’s craft, artistic process and paradigms that aided in the creation of his latest work, WHYSOSIRIUS? As the conversation has many thoughtful, knowledgeable and fun moments the overall theme seems to rely heavily upon elevation and alignment. To take heed of your mission at hand and the energy and guidance the Universe grants you each day. To be grateful for your cards and the gifts bestowed in them. This one is for the spiritually minded and guided. Jameka: Do you feel like being out in Dallas has changed your creative process or anything like that? Ron Obasi: Mane, yes. That’s really the crazy part. It’s changed really how I channel a bunch of things. Creative processes, inspiration, like all of it. It didn’t come with just movin’ here. As a grown ass man this is like the first home. This is the first thing I’ve been a part of that’s like my family unit, you know. My daughter, my lady, you know what I mean. That’s beautiful shit. Man, crazy right. So, naturally all that shit came with parts of yourself dying and parts of yourself growin’ and shit. Naturally, that affected the creative process. And it’s crazy because I sent you the album and you heard it and everything and once I was gettin’ situated in Dallas I didn’t feel connected to the album no more. And that’s really where it really started. I thought that would be my next thing to build around and all type of shit. I didn’t feel connected to nothing as far as writing or anything like that. It was like two and half months of shit like that bro and it was because I was just transforming my whole perspective on what it really was. It wasn’t just a momentary thing it was the whole thing. Enabling the whole, being a scribe, letting the music be what it is. I was just really caught up in the opportunities I had gotten. The music had brought me to the opportunities. A lot of new shit was goin’ on, partnerships and all that shit or whatever. Kind of got caught up in what that race was. It wasn’t fulfilling. I was just really thinking about switching it, you know what I mean. Just letting it all be what it is. You know, when you sent me WHYSOSIRIUS? at first I thought you were sending the mastered version of CASHVILLE ALIEN B.C. So, I listened to it and I’m thinkin’ to myself, “I don’t think any of the tracks are the same on here.” I thought you just changed the name and shit. And then, I was like, “ahh nah, this is a completely different project.” It feels like a precursor to CASHVILLE ALIEN B.C. Like I said before over text you can feel your freedom in it. That’s why I had to ask if it changed your creative process out there because it’s like - I don’t know, tell me if I’m wrong tho. Many people can perceive you as like this very serious person just because intention is important to you. So, you’re making sure everything is intentional which can be perceived as serious or stoic. It’s interesting you have that play on it (SIRIUS/SERIOUS) and the play towards the star but it’s also like you letting go of that and breaking through those perceptions... and really just allowing yourself create. It sets it right up to go into CASHVILLE ALIEN B.C. There’s different kind of grooves on there. It’s you but it’s still a little more different. More expansive. And I don’t know, you said the Creator done moved shit around for you and it only makes sense that They did. You know, this is why I’m glad that we really really havin’ this conversation. I tried to make that as transparent as possible. You know, that I’m really blessed and the Creator gave me that and to have that right of passage myself. Those were moments of realization of coming into myself. Why I grasped so much onto what my message is and what my intention was or what my mission is. Or even what I perceive of myself. At first it kind of just started as just observant about how it could come off but even where it comes from. I was really diggin’. This uncomfortableness or whatever that I was kinda goin’ through was definitely internal for the most part. Before the parts died, you know, had to identify where they came from and where you have to develop. Like I said, the music was kinda just givin’ it all up. Once I started writing the songs or whatever it wasn’t all easiness like you can hear the depths in there in some of the songs. You know, I feel like I haven’t been diggin’ deep enough. I had lost the connection to CASHVILLE ALIEN and everything else creative. I don’t know if “personal” is the word because I don’t know how much of that is really a representation of the growth or how important it is to grow. What’s really important? What’s my values? It just felt like a crossroad. WHYSOSIRIUS? I can see why you feel like it was a precursor because it felt like that for me. That’s why I’m glad we’re talkin’ about it. The music is one thing man but just havin’ a conversation all out but being able to say it, you know, was kinda where a nigga was gettin’ stuck at. So, what was your consumption, your intake while creating this? You know, what were you reading, watching, hearing? A little bit of a lot of stuff. I’ve always been a stargazer, you know what I mean. Like, I’ve always been someone that likes to look up. More so recently, I’ve kinda just had an inclination of like rather than just lookin’ up I wanted to know what I was lookin’ at. So, that kinda led me to the history of how we’ve always been attached to them. I mean we because our people - for as long as writtens have been written they have always been talkin’ bout the stars. They’ve always been talkin’ bout the sky. And then just knowing what Sirius is and how our Sirius is the center of our Sun. A lot of the time people don’t know that. But also, there’s a spiritual aspect once you know it and you dive in deep to it. What’s my connectivity to it? Why do I keep findin’ this information? Why does it keep poppin’ up in my face? As that was happenin’ I wasn’t really readin’ a lot I’m not gonna hold ya. I was listenin’ to a lot of Roy Ayers. I was listenin’ to a lot of Jazzgroupiez. Oh, something that was very very inspirational through it - you seen the Summer of Soul documentary? Nah, but you’re the second person recently that told me to watch that. Man… man, and it’s so crazy because it came out last summer and me and my lady sat down and watched it. It was very much inspiration, you know, they were very intentional with what they did that summer and the people that watched it they definitely get what was goin’ on. A lot of those songs I had just kept spinnin’. I was listenin’ to The 5th Dimension, Nina Simone. I was listenin’ to Sly & The Family Stone after watchin’, you feel me. Just really seein’ where these people head was and that was another thing that kinda dawned on me about what my intention or what my art is and this whole journey of embracing what a scribe is. Because again, like you said, people can listen to my shit and they can hear me speak and they know I’m intentional. But it was also embracing and letting go that like and havin’ to remember nothin’ is new under the Sun. I didn’t create these messages, I didn’t create these energies. In this lifetime I’m a channel just like they were. Embrace it but also, you know, have fun with it and really lettin’ it flow like in my veins or whatever. That’s really what I was doin’ I had watched Summer of Soul and was listenin’ to a lot of older older older cats. There’s obviously music you can find in it’s purest form nowadays or whatever there wasn’t so much to compare to what I was listenin’ to and it was really helpin’ for sure. You know, I had re-read a couple stuff too. I had re-read Warrior of The Light by Paulo Coelho, that really really helped. Just was kinda flowin’ through the process man. Even without all those things man I feel like this writing process came more so from once I was less resistant to what created it, you know what I mean, my Gods and then it really started flowin’ and it started pourin’ out. [Laughs,] man me and Coleman were in there for two 8 hour days once I came back. Two 8 hour days. What?! Y’all, always on some wild shit. [Laughs shared] There was a moment like this the last time we spoke too. [Laughs,] that’s what we were talkin’ about too. We had a cool ass laugh about it because this process that’s goin’ on, this breakthrough isn’t new for us. SUN Tapes happened the same way. Like I said, just making WHYSOSIRIUS? Even Notes on a Scale II happened like that too - it was a whole big ass 12 hour recording and mixing/mastering session. And that’s literally what we did and again, shoutout to Coleman. At first I was just tellin’ him, ‘bro, this is on my heart, this is what I wanna do,’ and I was like no ties to it because at this point I’m very very aware of what my situation is. I am in a situation where I have a partner and we’re good partners and with Virgin Music my shit can get on Vevo and all of this stuff or whatever. And that shit is great but it’s so crazy because I’m really realizing that that shit don’t matter. It was affecting all the other creative processes. So, once we had a break I was just like, ‘Coleman, I’mma do a mixtape man and I just wanna be able to drop this on SoundCloud, Audiomack and the people that really wanna hear what I got to say they’ll go find it, they’ll go look for it. They will have no problem with clickin’ on these free apps and goin’ to go hear this shit. Then once Coleman started mixing that shit and I’m like, ‘bro, you don’t have to go crazy on them,’ [laughs,] bro he fell in love with it as if it was his own songs. He just started goin’ crazy so that’s how that shit came out. That shit wild. It’s wild every time. That’s what I was gonna ask - why you made it a mixtape but that makes sense. You did a similar thing with FREE THINKERS and WARRIOR SPIRITS - does it feel better to you when you release them like that? You know, it’s crazy - it does. And I try not to make it a compare and contrast situation from when I’m droppin’ a single and video or whatever but it has. I think it’s only because it’s served as a mirror for me. Like, why has it felt so different? It’s been internal battles. Through this whole process it’s been reassessing the value, the intention and what this gift is really for. It should be less about, (it’s not to talk crazy about artist process or what our culture is now) ...instead of sittin’ down to think about a rollout, sittin’ down and thinkin’ bout a video to shoot or so much other shit that kinda goes through an artist’s or creative mind once they have the resources to do all that shit. Pen it, voice it and be a scribe, you know what I mean. Let the stories tell itself. Let the energies carry itself. I said very very loosely that I was inspired by how we grew up on Wayne and all them droppin’ the mixtapes but I can’t say that that was the intention was but then at the same time not everybody has access and that’s the shit that was goin’ through my mind. Every time I’ve done that like you said droppin’ the shit over SoundCloud or Audiomack it’s always felt better because I always felt like the people that are goin’ to listen to that there’s no promotional dollars behind. I said the rollout to the music of WHYSOSIRIUS? was the music. Just like, ‘hey, I’m droppin’ a mixtape today,’ you know, if you fuck with me then this shit is definitely for you. It’s self fulfilling and that’s what I mean by feeling better. There’s been other times where music has dropped and it felt good but fulfilling is just a different thing. All those moments fosho felt fulfilling. And just being able to have freedom to drop shit whenever you want to. Yeah, man, and it’s crazy because there are ways I tried to explain it to myself but I really can’t because it’s like the way that algorithms and then having to submit music 4 weeks before it actually comes out, pick a date and all that shit. All that shit has really served as a mirror to me because that is okay but it wasn’t okay because for a brief moment I felt that my values and my intention had really taken a backseat to that. I just started havin’ a whole aversion from all this and started feeling like all of it was fucked. I just had to take a step back. You know, I had started the top of the year droppin’ like that. I was just like I didn’t feel like I wanted to submit or ask nobody to speak to the people. To speak to my people. You know what I mean? That shit is silly to me. So, gettin’ off that way and even droppin’ the mixtape now - no matter what people say you always learn that people silently still go by the structures of everything. No matter what people tell you. They can tell you about freedom, they can tell you all type of things but people silently go by structures and a lot of us don’t want to acknowledge it or we can’t see. Even with WHYSOSIRIUS? was my way of sayin’ again, FUCK THE STRUCTURE. FUCK ALL THE STRUCTURES. I don’t have to continuously do it the way anybody expects me, you know. I don’t want nobody or myself to get used to abiding by anything except for spiritual insight, inspiration, letting the gift do what it do and keep goin’ - that’s what I have trust in. That’s what I’m supposed to develop trust in. Rather than everything else. That’s what I’ve learned through this whole process. That’s where a lot of the inspiration is coming from bruh. Really just allowing the transformation to happen again. You know, once again. At this point, whatever the representation is or perspective is, I’m okay with it. That was another thing too. I’m okay with the stoic, the seriousness or whatever and it was like I don’t even wanna battle that or change that. But what I did want to change was that you can’t be like that with yourself ‘cause then the gift don’t flow. And I mean the gift don’t come naturally, the message don’t come naturally, the feeling don’t come naturally. That type shit and it’s so crazy bro because the title of the mixtape came 2 days before it came out. How did you come up with it? I was sitting on the couch with my lady and I was readin’ more of the excerpts from this guy… like an elderly African brother his name is Credo. Someone can correct me on that but there’s probably an accent or whatever. It’s kinda crazy because a lot of other artists kinda stuck him inside their music or whatever more so a lot of African artists from African roots - but, the brother has a lot of powerful messages. Anyway, I was listenin’ to him talk and [at this point I’m already aware of what the Sirius star is and that we have a whole tribe of people called Dog Star people who found the star in the sky way before any Western civilization… scientists say they found it and named it Sirius. You know, they were already aware of a 2nd Sun out there that affects this planet.] It all just bridged right there on the couch with my lady. I was gonna name the mixtape, Only On Earth for a Sec. And that was inspiration from the UFO track on CASHVILLE ALIEN B.C. Again, like you said - that’s why it’s crazy that you said it felt like a precursor… because the intention of it was. It wasn’t like I wasn’t trying not to connect the two or make a bridge. That’s what the title, Only On Earth for a Sec would say - but - WHYSOSIRIUS? popped in my mind and I asked my lady and she was like, “yeah, WHYSOSIRIUS?” [Laughs.] I love the play on words even like you said, the title and an expression of having fun for sure. Yeah, and it’s like - it’s so interesting because through your titles you tellin’ a narrative thru them alone. I had to map it back out. We can even just go to S.U.N. Tapes and what that project was about and then movin’ back into FREE THINKERS and WARRIOR SPIRITS and what that was about, you know. Now, WHYSOSIRIUS? - we literally went from the Sun, to Sirius and then when CASHVILLE ALIEN B.C. come out that’s really tellin’ the story. Yo, we here but we part of somethin’ else out there too. Our Source, you know what I’m sayin’? Just thru those titles and then people listen to the music and hear the themes from project to project. The synchronicity is cool and alluring (to me,) I’m an intellectual tho. That type of shit is interesting. [Laughs.] Just embracing that part because I was ready to take a step back from that because I started havin’ questions within myself. Am I forcing the synchronicity or is it really there for me to channel? You know what I mean. I can stand on what I say and what I put in the music. Obviously, there’s versions of my own interpretation but standin’ on exactly what I’m sayin’ and what I’m connected to… why it goes so deep, why we go so deep and why you can’t have no fear to speak on that kind of shit. But it’s like I had my questions; am I forcin’ the timeline to be what it is? I had that moment of like tracin’ back to where I began to be open to the story being told. Or when the synchronicity began - even down to Notes on a Scale or even down to those titles. You know, I’m not just sayin’ shit in that title. The title itself was where I was and where I was comin’ into the realization and where my epiphany was comin’ from. It just really feel like your ancestors tellin’ you to trace some shit, for real. And the process of you havin’ to trace that shit to just understand if you are forcing it or I don’t feel like that’s what it is at all. I feel like that’s an honest question to ask yourself but I don’t know I’m not you. It’s like you said, you’ve acknowledged that you’re a scribe for all these different energies and people that are tryin’ to talk thru you. It only seems right that your light would attract somethin’ that would propel your journey like this. And it’s like, man, the most beautiful part of it like you said of what my Ancestors and Guides have given me is the reassurance that is not just my voice or my ego. All of those things are important. This conversation itself is important. So, in Dallas - I had an oracle readin’ here. It was not planned you know what I mean. Shit, so crazy. I’m with my lady or whatever and it’s so funny because I had on this Ne-Yo shirt that day [laughs.] And you know it’s someone who is very near and dear to her and they’re a very respected oracle here in Dallas. 100s, 1000s of people have seen her for her oracle reading for guidance. That day it just happened to be in the path and at this point I’m relishing in the whole journey aspect and I do need direction. I’ve prayed for it at this point. I was havin’ like hectic ass dreams and the whole reading was about helpin’ me with that. In the reading, in the pullings and in all the confirmation all of it doubled down on me bein’ a scribe. All of it doubled down on me tryin’ to achieve balance in this life. All of it doubled down on havin’ to answer the call from my Ancestors, bro. Just speak their stories. To speak my stories and to connect it all back. You know, I said that on, “U, ME & EARTH,” the oracle told me I was a scribe. You know, ever since then it’s been like, okay, now that you’ve had that confirmation you really can’t play with it. It’s like that once you know somethin’; once you aware you can’t play dumb to it anymore. For the cause and effect come back tenfold. Whether it’s a fruit you for workin’ it or it’s a crazy karma from misusing the gift. All of that happened in the same big ass moment, all of it. All of it happened where there was clarity and what I had to say at this point, what it is I had to connect back to. I just feel blessed to be one of those many people who get to link it all back. I feel like a lot of people or a lot of us if they haven’t gained awareness then we’re workin’ towards what this prophesied time really is. What types of times we’re really standin’ in right now and how important it is - to tell these stories, to tell our stories and link those back past the mundane shit. Take the falsehoods that is really here and really really break them into pieces. It’s crazy because SUN Tapes can happen and all music in between ‘n all of shit but still in my mind and my heart knew I lacked the confidence to bare that torch. No matter what an outsider perspective is, you know what I mean. But now, now the freedom comes ‘cause it’s like now you’ve ran the lap, now it’s experience, now you really are open to the channel. And it’s not just lettin’ it come to me. I had to really really change a lot of my own internal, mental and physical behaviors to tap into it more frequently. To really act on it more frequently. I was well supported around. I was gettin’ all the love that I really needed and understandin’ and shit and all that. And it just came how it came. WHYSOSIRIUS?, I can really say on wax - it’s the most fulfilling moment of it all because it’s not just a representation it’s a man really turnin’ a corner in his life. In his personal life, in his eternal life at 28 years old and turnin’ 29 this year, whatever. Elders, men elders, woman elders they’ll tell you this is a prime turnin’ point, this is a crazy turnin’ point. Whether you’re into other teachings, astrology - all of it - say this is a major turnin’ point. It’s all learnin’ and encapsulating all that that is. I can feel it. Like I said, you let loose. You even got a track on there, “HOMESICK” where you singing lightly. [Laughs,] yeah. That shit was cool tho. That’s what put me in the mind state of when I first told you it sounded like a free jazz. It was really you using your instruments however you wanted and doin’ it in ways that was unsuspecting at moments too and “HOMESICK” was definitely one of those. Yeah, “HOMESICK” is, I really really love that song. You know, when you write it - I’m at home I’m singin’ and all of that shit and then goin’ to record it, it worked. It was an affirmation of the creative process, [laughs,] it’s a beautiful tune man. Wrote that shit 3AM just lookin’ up at the stars, like homesick. We here and I love it especially once you embrace Earth, it’s cool. The experience can be beautiful. But just lookin’ up out there as long as I’ve been lookin’ up since I was a kid I always had a homesick feelin’. You know, connected to somethin’ out there. You know, you don’t always want to speak for everyone so I’ll say - I know I’m connected. I know somethin’ has always spoke to me from out there. You know, even down to the CASHVILLE ALIEN titles. Yeah, some type of ultimate belonging out there. Our ancestors called them primordial waters. It’s crazy, it’s crazy man. But yeah, “HOMESICK” is a tight tune and I’m glad I did that shit. Once it flowed thru it also let me know that the freeness is the confidence. The fun is the confidence, you know, tryin’ somethin’ new. I gotta say too it’s beautiful hearin’ you’re in love man. I loved hearin’ that you had a couple moments in CASHVILLE ALIEN B.C. where you’re mentioning her and y’alls connection. You know, there’s a couple moments in WHYSOSIRIUS? It’s a beautiful thing to hear and to hear that your love is flourishing. It is man, it really is. Honestly, it’s so crazy because everybody says nothin’ is a coincidence and all that shit and not even to be cliché. But, the relationship in itself really really has been so much a part of this spiritual growth and for both of us. Being able to take it and bring it to the music is somethin’ totally different. It’s so crazy because - I wouldn’t say it was easy but I got used to tellin’ the underdog story. I got used to the overcomin’ story. Playin’ with the wordplay and braggadocious and all that. And all the relationships and relationship experiences up to this point served what they served but this is really ordained. To even talk about it out loud. When I talk about the love I share with this woman I’m not talkin’ bout somethin’ that - it’s really from a understanding of my higher self to understand what it is we really share. There really is an energy between us that’s beautiful and I’m grateful that I can translate it into music. I can put it in the tunes and again it’s an affirmation that it is different. People can talk about a lot of the things that they share but you know, turnin’ it into art or translation or being transparent with it is something totally different. Completely. Yeah, completely different. You know, just bein’ able to do that and get her blessing. I am talkin’ about us. I’m talkin about her. But yeah, just bein’ able to really have that there. I probably said enough words to really say what I was sayin’ but the love in itself is also a part of the opening, a part of the journey and help me with less resistance and all that other shit. The love doesn’t keep flourishing or not even just with her but the love for my daughter and the love that they share with each other. It’s been really enlightening and an epiphany in itself. The art itself is a feeling because I’m not tellin’ the story that I had to or forced to. Right. And I never had to. I don’t think I’ve ever been that with my art. I always gotta be completely honest. WHYSOSIRIUS? doesn’t feel like a prophecy of some sort. It was really a reflection of what the hell I got goin’ on. Right now. Yeah, it very much felt present. [Laughs,] that’s the word for it. It was very very present. Literally for both meanings. You also had some new features on this one. New artists I haven’t heard of like - SHOWMESTATE, he a DJ? Yeah, that’s the homie. He’s a couple other people DJ but he’s a part of the $upreme Radicalz team. He’s my DJ for sure. Okay, and then was it Nise, the Nymph? Nise, the Nymph, shoutout to her. Hey man, I’m very high on her as a person and an artist - she got a crazy aura. She knows what it is she wants outta this shit. She’s 19, from Kentucky and she just tryin’ to find her way in everything or whatever. Is it cool to get a backstory on that? Hell yeah. So, we put together the very first Supreme Radicalz show and we booked our first show and she had to come all the way from Kentucky. The show didn't happen because right before there was a crazy storm that we had been watchin' all day. Ohhh, it was that day. It was that day. The show was outside and it just ruined everything. It was an L, it was really an L. It was hard, you know, because niggas move with intention and it was like that happened and it was like it was back to the drawin’ board. Anyway, she had came from Kentucky and I was like damn we don’t wanna just let the night go to waste. I called Coleman or whatever and asked Coleman because he was gonna come to the show. Change of plans, pivot or whatever. Just tryna get to studio and record somethin’ and Nise is here. Shoutout to bro because he was like, “yeah.” We get to the studio and SHOWMESTATE started playin’ beats. Well, Coleman was playin’ beats and SHOWMESTATE also make beats - he produced that beat. He made the beat man and me and Nise just went crazy on that. I love that song and I’m glad that song was one of the songs that made WHYSOSIRIUS? You know, because from my own backstory I know that that was somethin’ that was channeled from an L. You know, took a moment of disparity and ended up turnin’ out really really cool. Even just to talk about more of the features man, DEMO. He goin’ crazy, I’m really really high on those 2 artists, you know. They move diligently in what they do. Their confidence is very very inspiring to me and they younger than me. DEMO is 24 years old, type shit. I’m glad it was those 2 that were features fosho. And then you had Jack. Yeah, Jack was the vocals that was on “555.” Ohhh, okay, that make more sense now. He made that beat and he just sampled his own vocals. He just looped his own vocals. Ohh man… Yeah, Jack is crazy because he made, “MIDAS TOUCH” too. What? Yeah bruh, he’s crazy. Mannn... you got these wild ass white boys on these beats. [Laughs,] bro, it’s so crazy because comin’ into it really really knowin’ them it has broken even a lot of my preconceived conceptions - the Soul don’t got no face man. That’s beautiful and nah it don’t. Those 2 brothers specifically and even talkin’ about this transparently it ain’t like niggas ain’t ever met nice white people. Nah, they for sure out there. Nah, for real. Facts, but those 2 brothers are really different. They’re really selfless and they thank me for opportunities. But I’m like, bro, there is no opportunity for me if y’all don’t do what y’all do. There is none of it bro. Man, Jack made “MIDAS TOUCH” and I watched him make that from scratch. This nigga did the drums, he did the bass, he’s ridiculous - there’s no sample flip in that. That is him. That’s all him. That’s why it sounds so funky because it’s all him. [Laughs,] and then he took “555,” he had laid some vocals (I didn’t get to see him make that beat.) He can sing too, he writes his own music and he laid the vocals and flipped that shit. I really wrote “555” in the passenger seat drivin’ thru Dallas. That’s pretty beautiful though that Hip Hop and music are able to change our perceptions of shit sometimes. Nah, for real. That’s another thing to double down on with any frequency that we put out. Any frequency that we’ve created. Music has always had the ability to heal, spread the message, reflective of times and share our story. Niggas can’t tip toe around that anymore and we also gotta be open to the other people we come in contact with throughout this whole shit or whatever. I mean our people, our tribe. Really learnin’ that that has no face. It’s just been a beautiful thing to really create more with those 2. They just really get the shit on a Soul level so there are no barriers on the other shit that surrounds what’s goin’ on. We don’t duck and dodge the shit that goes on in the world. Everything we do that’s on the Soul level and everything we do with the music… it’s really tight. That’s so beautiful. Shoutout to them dudes. I don’t know, sometimes that feels like the reason we do what we do. The soul connection, genuine soul connections and the lessons that come with that shit. You can really miss ‘em bro, you can really miss ‘em if you’re wrapped up in your own shit, like I was. I said that the day I dropped the mixtape that I really had been wrapped up in my own fucking world and battling my own ego of what I think the world should be. Or what I think my world should be like. It’s an everyday thing. With creating WHYSOSIRIUS? what was your favorite moment of the mixtape? You know, the best moment I had with recording it of anything of any song - of the whole project was, “OHHHOWLOVELY.” I love that one. If I could have that on video, if I could’ve kept that moment and how exciting it was for me to hear it back. Or even writing that track. Coleman made the beat and him flippin’ that sample or whatever and to just what the sample is saying. About the stars and God watchin’ us - all of it. Really, what I said on that record really stated a lot of shit of where I was. It was so self reflective. You know, we talked about it at the beginning of the conversation and what the “perception” was or what one of the perceptions. Vibes make up for shit that I couldn’t say / time make up for shit that I shouldn’t say. You know, I let people know that whatever your perception of me is, enjoy that. For real, because I really feel like if it was the other way around I don’t think you’d be able to handle. I’m not sayin’ that nobody doesn’t have their weight. The channeling, the scribe, the tellin’ stories that are a million years old - I think it would break a lot of people mentally. It would break a lot of people spiritually. I think a lot of people they (I don’t want to say awarded,) but I like to say they have baby souls here. Like, they’re new to Earth’s truths and a lot of the truths that are here they still haven’t tapped into it. Like, everything is still mundane to them. It’s still structure to them. You know, and in the songs me really really expressing I’ve never had that luxury like even from a fuckin’ kid. I never got the smoke in mirror - I’ve always seen straight thru. I’ve always had premonitions. I’ve always had these deep dreams. I’ve always had the weight of havin’ to be the shaman in my community, in my family. Takin’ negative energies and then breakin’ them, you know, I’ve always had that. Anybody’s perception is fine to have but you can’t really amount to or know just how much has been to me and for me. I say all that to say, “OHHHOWLOVELY” and “U, ME & EARTH” are my favorites. They are so personal to me and so out-pouring. No matter what the vibe is no matter what the Sun gives they are sayin’ very fuckin’ clearly what I have realized. “U, ME & EARTH” is just me usin’ my weapon to turn around; I used to want the houses on the hill, realizing all my desires and shit was all rooted in bullshit, for real for real. None of that shit is real and I know what’s real now. Yeah, you did a hell of a job on this project Ron. Music is always so interesting to me because clearly this mixtape is a pivotal moment. It serves as a pivotal moment as it represents the present for you right now. As a listener and as a supporter of your artistry a lot of those things that you were grappling with about ego but the mixtape felt like being able to find gratefulness as well. Being grateful for you cards. Absolutely. And you know, I was goin’ thru some things, some growth for real and this project really got me like, “oh shit, I’m not the only one goin’ thru these things.” I’m not the only one carrying all these different types of weights and lights from all my different types of lineages. It’s a beautiful moment when it’s personal but findin’ the universal in the personal as well. Everytime bro, everytime. I wanna thank you for putting it out. I really appreciate it man. The listener aspect, the supportive aspect but more so I’m always knowin’ that like if you hear what I’m sayin’ and you hear what I’m talkin’ about and relate to that - it’s always a reverence. Shit, is not easy. It’s not, and it’s not meant to be but I do feel like we should find more of the gratefulness. And we should find more of us relating in that aspect. When we think it’s just us wrapped up in our own world and then we do put it out there and we find out there’s someone on that same frequency. Somebody with those same realizations. That part is priceless. I was researching the Sirius star after you put this out, you know - they were sayin’ that that star is the reason there be mid-summer droughts. Yeah, its aligned with the Sun right now. Yeaaah, I thought that shit was real fuckin’ interesting. We just got some rain today. It’s crazy because this alignment is part of a prophecy. A lot of people are talkin’ about it at a very cliché and surface level but this summer is not a 1of1. This summer solstice is a pivotal turning point; for weather, for our frequencies, mental levels. It’s alignment in all aspects. In ALL aspects bro. Really really in all aspects. The Universe and it’s creation and the Creator and it’s creation. Alignment and synchronicity it was always there. It’s so crazy, because even in the understanding of what we’re talking about with the Sirius star. I don’t want people to... even what we do when we speak on these things - it’s not to tell people to give more or less of a reverence to what they do have their beliefs in. It’s really a reverence, we give so much reverence that’s based off the lack of knowing, that’s the thing. Or that we think that the Sun is the only Sun that’s heating us and giving energy. Or that it’s the only star in the sky. We should have a basic understanding on the Solar level of what the science of it really really is. There’s no way that you think that you think that Sun is the only thing giving us light or feeding us or feeding this planet. There’s a million stars up and out there everyday - so, if our star is operating like that then every star out there is operating. Every star out there. That was also the intention. Like what you said somethings are meant to be channeled thru the frequency. That shit say more. Obviously, I’m rappin’ on the shit or whatever, I’m sayin’ shit but the frequency is comin’ thru different. It’s hittin’ the cells different. I want people to be like, what is Sirius? What is that? Yeah, not just some Harry Potter shit or some Batman [laughs.] [Laughs,] Nah, for real because that’s what they take and that’s what they do… they play with it. They make it cliché. Exactly, man - I remember some years back Joey Bada$$ done said some shit like, “the internet is the new history” or somethin’ like that. That shit be annoying because I’ll go to Google some shit. For example, when I went to research Sirius star the shit that popped up was Batman and Harry Potter. I had to go thru like 2 pages - whereas, that should be the #1 thing that pops up. Facts. Like you said, they play with important shit and make it surface level. They play with it. But once you, you know, that’s where you take accountability and responsibility of discovery and goin’ deeper. Meeting the knowledge with the desire to want know it. Meeting the power with the desire to want to know it. As far as translation and putin’ this shit in basic english and to be talkin’ to people that shit ain’t always clear, cut and dry like that. I feel like we all, (whatever our instrument is and how we tell our stories,) I feel like it’s imperative… well, I can’t speak for everybody but it’s been imperative for me to put it in there. It’s not everyday that I get to sit down and tell somebody, “hey man, the Sirius star is out there aligned with the Sun. It’s very important that you get out there and get some Sun right now - if you’re us. It’s an evolution goin’ on. There’s DNA evolution goin’ on right now… so you need that.” You know, muthafuckas look at you not like you’re crazy…but that. I don’t understand why a majority of the masses has a lack of understanding in that. No matter how much the masses like to portray like they know what’s goin’ on right now. It’s so crazy though - to me, if somebody comes up to me with a real serious tone that’s on an ancestral/indigenous type plane of language, you know… I’mma stop and listen to that shit. That’s a Divine message whether I wanna hear the shit or not. Absolutely, [laughs,] that’s where the pricelessness or the ancestral or presence of the warrior reveals itself because not everyone is supposed to hear it. It ain’t supposed to be for everybody. I had to come into that realization with my heart as well. How do you even know you’re tellin’ the story for the people right now? Sometimes that realization - that shit can make you feel lonely. For real, because I’m not separated from, “bro, I want as many people in the world to hear this shit. Right. Now,” because my intention is to help, tell my story and have fun and all that shit. As I’m goin’ around this summer listenin’ to Roy Ayres, Roy Ayres is not aware of me at least personally. He didn’t know Ron was goin’ to be drivin’ thru Dallas at some of his lowest points playin’ Roy Ayres, you know what I mean, gettin’ the medicine that he needs. So, just havin’ that realization with the art, with the message and with things that I want - just be a channel bro. It really is okay, there’s force and there’s flow. You know, just flow with it. Force and flow… and sometimes finesse. [Laughs,] that’s cold, I need that on a t-shirt. Force, flow and sometimes finesse - that’s true though. Like I said, I appreciate, you know, more than the outline or what the conversation is, where we goin’ or what we doin’ - I distinctly remember from the S.U.N. Tapes conversation you’re really 1 of them 1’s in a rare fashion that understands what I’m sayin’. People interpret it and I hear any words that people put on it but this is different because it’s conversational. Even in the conversation there’s an understanding in real time… like work being put in that’s goin’ to serve for the now and the forever. There’s and individual understanding like you said as an example of somebody that would come up to you and be like, “yo” or start putin’ some game on you and not bein’ closed off to that. And that in itself makes a difference between the shit that I say and how somebody interprets it. It’s easy to say this shit is good, my nigga. You know, thank you, it’s easy to say that. It’s easy to say, “you can rap nigga.” But did you feel the shit tho? Did you hear where I was at? Did it make you figure out what the fuck I was talkin’ about? ALL PHOTOS COURTESY OF RON OBASI

  • "Black Vladimir" by Meyhem Lauren & Daringer

    Black Vladimir is the latest project from Mayhem Lauren. Lately the Queens native's projects have been collaborations which feature a single producer like DJ Muggs, Buckwild, or Harry Fraud handling the entire project. In 2017, he was ahead of the curve in recognizing the rising talent coming outta Buffalo, NY and featured Benny The Butcher and Conway The Machine on his DJ Muggs produced Gems From The Equinox album. A few more years, and a few features later, it only makes sense, and feels organic to have Griselda's own Daringer construct Black Vladimir. This is a perfect match and the chemistry is apparent immediately as Meyhem Lauren does his thing over a diverse wall of sound provided by Daringer. The beats knock and touch on moods and tones we haven't heard yet in Daringer's other works, he's got tricks up his sleeve. The imagination behind some of these rhythms is amazing. Meanwhile Meyhem Lauren might be doing some of his career's best rhyming on Black Vladimir. His style is direct, boastful, vivid with imagery, and witty. On "Nigerian Vegetables" he raps: "Your lighting fixtures ain't fly enough It ain't your fault your fucking ceilings ain't high enough You gotta step up, try and play catch up Black v neck with some jewels, (I) won't even dress up" Yup I did look up at my ceiling, which is actually high but my chandelier that came with the place is trash, and had like 8 seconds of existential crisis. There's an Only Built for Cuban Linx level of flyness and drive in Meyhem Lauren's style. He raps about the hustle, the dangers of the streets, and enjoys the finer things. What I've always found interesting is that he doesn't come across as a bully, he's more like a classy, seasoned street gentleman, giving you tough love, while trying to motivate you by example. Meyhem Lauren brings a few friends along, and it's a true treat to listen to him trade bars with Action Bronson, Elcamino, Flee Lord, Westside Gunn, Conway The Machine, and Hologram. I'm not sure what the meaning is behind the title Black Vladimir, but you might need one of them big Russian hats when you listen, because this album is one of Meyhem Lauren's coldest!

  • Five On It: 5 Bay Area Projects From August '22

    In a region known for it’s independent hustle August served to be a fruitful month for The Bay Area Hip Hop/Rap scene. The independent realm had numerous releases and celebrations for ground-breaking work. Flynt Nixon allows us a glimpse into the diverse soundscape from Vallejo, Sacramento, Richmond and San Francisco with brief reviews of: Champagne Gummies by LaRussel + Tope, Playing With Fire by Shootergang Kony, Free P The EP by Bez19, Kourtney Kardashian by The Dakota Wytefoxx and Spaceships on the Blade by Larry June. Champagne Gummies by LaRussell x TOPE Like 2 Hydrogen and 1 Oxygen atom, sometimes the formula is perfect! That’s exactly what LaRussell & Tope have with their musical chemistry, the perfect formula. Champagne Gummies, their latest collective release just reinforces that sentiment. Tope creates the music, then no look passes to LaRussell for the finish. Reminds you of a prime John Stockton and Karl Malone (no pun.) At 9 tracks and just under 25 minutes of playtime, Champagne Gummies is a lot like a gummy, short, sweet, and to the point. LaRussell's addictive sing-a-long flow shines through on this project and makes the jewels he drops stick in your mind with ease. No wonder his shows are a lesson in crowd participation and retention (If you haven’t seen him live I highly suggest one of his backyard concerts in Vallejo, CA). Tope does his usual thing and provides the perfect canvas for LaRussell to paint on. A style that keeps your head nodding while simultaneously allowing you to catch every gem. Champagne Gummies is yet another mile in a legendary run that LaRussell and Tope are on. With no signs of stopping, from Portland, Oregon to Vallejo, California the whole coast is in good hands. Playing With Fire by Shootergang Kony Over the last couple of years Shootergang Kony has been establishing himself as a household name in the Northern California music scene. From his breakout single "Location On The Flyer" he’s shown that he has the skill and the consistency to keep the ball rolling. But the one thing that all artists need is that premier album which serves as the highlight in the overall discography... that brings us to his latest offering, Playing With Fire. The growth and maturity Kony shows on this project is something to marvel at. The last year or two has been controversial and eventful for Kony, a lot of rumors, internal misunderstandings, friends lost to death or jail, etc. Instead of the all too common social media rant, he took things back to the heart of artistry and addressed everything in his music. In a real 'waiting to exhale' moment Kony gave the world his most personal and introspective album to date. Songs like "Miss My Dawgz," "Preaching," and "Write My Wrongs" capture internal feelings and expresses them in a way that only art can. Staying true to his sound the album still boasts songs with real hit potential, my favorite being "Bounce Out." No wasted verses, wasted features, or throwaway beats were involved in the making of Playing With Fire. If someone has never heard of Shootergang Kony and wanted to get familiar, this is easily the album I’d suggest. It’s the perfect culmination of his sound, his story, and his lyrical ability. His growth shows that he isn’t taking his craft for granted. Instead, he’s working hard to solidify himself as a legend, and he’s on the right path to get there. Free P The EP by Bez19 Richmond, CA's Bez19 dropped his highly anticipated debut project Free P The EP and exceeded all expectations. As the flagship artist on Lil Pete’s 4ES label he had a lot of pressure on his shoulders being the 1st one out of the gate. One of the few artists to be on multiple tours without ever releasing an album, it was time to step out on his own. And he stood tall! Free P The EP is dedicated to his little brother who is currently incarcerated if the title wasn’t self explanatory enough. The album is full of real life tales of pain, struggle, sorrow, success, triumph, and everything else that comes with life and the streets. Full spectrum! “My cousin killed my cousin, I pray hard cause I love him that’s how it go down Cutting, these streets don’t love nothing” he raps on "No Pop Shots." Giving you detailed accounts of a world a lot of us might not be familiar with. The standout track and single is the Rexx Life Raj assisted "Crazy," that combines a soulful beat with hard lyrics and a melodic hook (a proven recipe for a successful song.) Other standouts like "Dusty Feet" and "Rich Rollin" capture that Bay Area street sound that leaves no question where Bez19 was forged. With features from Lil Pete, Rexx Life Raj, WantmoreN8, and Gleeko, Free P The EP is one hell of an initial offering. If he can stay consistent, Bez19 can establish himself as a force to be reckoned with. Catch him live on a couple upcoming West Coast dates alongside San Francisco star Lil Pete. Kourtney Kardashian by The Dakota Wytefoxx When I first heard the artist name and album title I didn’t know what to expect, The Dakota Wytefoxx - Kourtney Kardashian? When I took the time out to listen, the album cover only added to the confusion. The Dakota Wytefoxx with a blowout, laying on the lawn, posing like Teddy Pendergrass. Next step was to look over the tracklist, seeing song titles like "I Woulda Shot Goldi Locks," "I’m Not Scared To Lose My Life N***a," and "We’re Gonna Tattoo Your Orange Lamb Truck" made me clear out all assumptions and jump in blind. Little did I know the Rexx Life artist had delivered one of the hardest Bay Area rap albums in the last 20 years. As a product of the Hyphy Movement, not the digestible one served to the masses, but the raw and uncut one happening on Bay Area streets. I’m a sucker for hard beats and energy. Now add outlandish bars and olympic level wordplay and what else can you ask for? That’s exactly what The Dakota Wytefoxx gave us with Kourtney Kardashian. “You n****s really p***y need a iced out nuva ring” and “Shout out Jesus but I got other n****s that died for us” are just 2 of the infinite lines all over the album. What stands out most is the originality, a real breath of fresh air in a time where the majority of music is follow the leader. From the beats, lyrics, samples, movie clips, etc. Kourtney Kardashian delivers at every level. I wouldn’t be surprised if this album ushers in a new take on a classic sound and inspires a wave of music that reshapes the region. Spaceships on the Blade by Larry June Uncle Larry is back! It’s hard to find a California artist on a longer, more consistent, or more productive run than San Francisco’s own Larry June. He only widens the gap with his latest album Spaceships On The Blade. With production from legends like Cardo and The Alchemist his signature sound can only be classified as luxurious hood. Imagine champagne flutes, sheepskin rugs, and original art pieces on the walls of a trap house, that’s Spaceships On The Blade. At a playtime of 53 minutes and a track number of 20 Larry didn’t hold back at all. A lot of times longer projects have some filler but this album was carefully curated. Every song fits in place and nothing sounds like a throwaway. In Larry June tradition the album opens up with a legendary spoken word piece provided by Uncle Herm. That transitions right into one of the standout tracks Private Valet, a perfect example of the “Larry June” sound. Smooth flows delivered over an orchestra of instrumentation full of 70’s-esque horns and modern day bass lines. With features from Curren$y, SYD, 2 Chainz, Babyface Ray and others he was able to pull the featured artists into his world and still make it work. Larry June personifies another side of Bay Area hip-hop, the smooth player side that rarely gets shown to the national audience but has been there from the start. That changes now as Larry’s star grows brighter and brighter, merging audiences from trap stars and P’s, to stock brokers and avocado toast eaters. It’s only up from here, keep going Larry, NUMBERS!

  • Camino Season: An Appreciation for B$F's Newest Signee

    PHOTOS BY ABRANISAACC There's a war going on outside, no man is safe from. You can run but you can't hide forever. In these streets that we done took. - Prodigy, Survival Of The Fittest Over the past several years, underground hip-hop's cultural stage has been hijacked by a new brand of emcees and producers reminiscent of the sounds of Mobb Deep's mid to late nineties run. Concentrated within up-state New York, in large part thanks to Buffalo's Griselda roster, this new rap renaissance has not only transformed the underground scene but has made a significant dent in the mainstream hip-hop circuits as well. Of the many hundreds of emcees who have stepped inside this stylistic endeavour, I argue that Griselda-affiliate Elcamino is not only the purest manifestation of the renaissance in question but is arguably one of the greatest rappers of all time. 'Me and my brother man? We like that street shit. We come from that Mobb Deep shit.' - King Ralph [brother of Elcamino.] Word choice is perhaps the most undervalued asset to a rapper’s arsenal. Unlike speed, charisma, subject matter, rhyme scheme, or flow, all of which introduce themselves as visible and tangible components - capable of measuring a rapper's skillset, word choice is often a less flashy - often invisible power that an emcee can draw from. Prodigy and Havoc, the duo that comprised Mobb Deep, are certainly not known for their technical prowess, their speed in delivery, or even subject matter that spoke to contemporary issues of the day. Despite this, emcees like Prodigy are still labelled as some of the greatest rappers of all time, and to those whom the emcee resonated with most, Prodigy is often considered the perfect rapper. I think many people who consider themselves fans of Mobb Deep, would be hard pressed to codify what exactly made them great. My argument is word choice. Word choice is not synonymous with a large vocabulary. Quite the opposite. Sometimes less is more. Furthermore, the ability to be direct and communicate meaning with one swipe, is often more appreciated than communication which requires work deciphering the text on behalf of the audience. Great screenwriters are often very good at this skill. Martin Scorsese and Nicholas Pileggi who wrote Goodfellas together, had the ability to paint a vivid and believable picture of New York City crime life with simple, yet punching word choice. When a gangster spoke, the words that came out of their mouth, despite how menacing they may be on paper, were delivered as a veiled threat. The audience understood that the reality was far grimmer and bleaker than what the screen had told them. Film critic Roger Ebert wrote for the Chicago Sun-Times the following after seeing Goodfellas for the first time: 'The screenplay by Pileggi and Scorsese distills those memories into a fiction that sometimes plays like a documentary, that contains so much information and feeling about the Mafia that finally it creates the same claustrophobic feeling Hill's wife talks about: The feeling that the mob world is the real world.' This is the power of word choice. It's the power of good writing. Not in flashy writing, but in powerful writing. When Mobb Deep released The Infamous in 1995 on Loud Records, the feeling was the same. You believed their existence. The apocalyptic landscape that the two emcees painted for Queensbridge New York, felt like a movie. There was a war going on outside, and you were knee deep in the trenches for 66 minutes. When Prodigy spits 'you can put your whole army, against my team and... I guarantee you it will be your very last time breathing.' You not only believe him, but part of you understands that the severity of his message is veiled by a particular humility that comes from respect and confidence. Elcamino is cut from this same cloth. Though he has shown he is capable of flaunting more technically savvy ideas, the emcee has willingly sacrificed these elements to deliver on word choice, potency and above all, mood. As when word choice is at its best, mood becomes the by-product. On the song, "Camino Season," the emcee describes expanding his turf by claiming nonchalantly, "I kidnapped your earth." On the song "Field Trips," he raps "these ni**as brought a knife to a gun fight." A simple reflection on a common refrain that tells you all you need to know about the circumstance being detailed. These hard and poetic descriptions are common-place among Camino's writing. The words he uses matter. His word choice is where he excels, much like Mobb Deep before him. Labeled as some 'laid back, don't fuck with me rap,' by Dead End Hip-Hop's Kinge, Camino carries forward the styles of Mobb Deep to tell an ever-so-slightly different story. Unlike Prodigy and Havoc who told the story of Queensbridge crime life, Camino speaks on Buffalo's crime life to much the same effect. However, although stylistic similarities exist, the differences are important. From an outsider, Buffalo feels less apocalyptic and more desolate. Empty, broken promises, far removed, yet still experiencing the same struggles that New York City in the 1990s felt. In an interview with Toronto's Daniel Son, he recollected experiencing up-state New York in the 2010s, and how it resembled the stories he had heard of New York City in the 1990s. 'When you go do shows up there? It's a whole different type of new energy. When you go to those shows you're gonna see more guns than you ever seen in your life. I guarantee it. Just inside the little club or the little bar that you're in. Shit is grimy out there. Shit is not lovely out there. When I hear OGs talk about the stories from the 90s and how the shows were in the 90s? How it was grimy? Early 2000s? And how shit got soft? And now shit is getting back to that grimy shit. When I go to Buffalo, when I go to Rochester, I come back and tell these stories; like 'Yo, this guy was holding me down in the bathroom. I thought he was going to rob me. Next thing I know he's a big fan but he got those big fucking guns sticking out. Shit is real out there. That's the real proving grounds.' Street rap in Buffalo is therefore capable of tapping into the same mood, the same energy, and the same power that 90s New York street rap had. And although the city communicates these experiences through a number of different (and well-varied) perspectives, Elcamino, with his commitment and focus, is perhaps the closest hip-hop has gotten to Mobb Deep's iconic and signature aesthetic. Although the Mobb Deep comparisons are truthfully appropriate, it's unfair to Camino to solely rely on these comparisons when attempting to communicate his greatness. What Camino has done, is far more unique than other adopters of the style have managed to pull off. Unlike Mobb Deep, Camino has the ability to harmonize his mean-mugged thuggish persona seamlessly into songs and deliver a more soulful interpretation of street life than Mobb Deep was ever able to do. His ability to sing, and sing well, is an underappreciated element of the rapper's toolkit, but has largely made Camino into what he is today. Some of Camino's best work, songs like "Goon Ballad," "James Brown" and "Soul Brother" come to mind as particular exercises in this craft - that stand out as some of my favourites among his catalog. Most of the time, however, Camino blends his verses with these more melodic and harmonized hooks within one song. A track like "Hustle Like Me" produced by 38 Spesh, is an exemplary track; lasting just two minutes and twenty-seven seconds, where Camino ties the knot on his verse by singing lines like: I break it down fast and I'm back on the ave. You ain't fucking with me ni**a. You got a little trap but it don't get no cash. I'm always out first and I take it in last. You don't hustle like me ni**a.' I never go back, so I keep me a bag. Cause I ain't ever have all the shit that I have. You ain't struggle like me ni**a.' There was a certain feeling the listener got when they heard Nate Dogg harmonize and sing lines that felt like they had no business coming out of a soul singers’ mouth. Unlike singers before him, Nate Dogg would sing with the vocabulary of a gangster rapper and make the sentences sound even harder than they could have in verse. Camino, in many ways, is an extension of this same train of thought. Yet instead of occupying the persona of a west-coast, low-riding, gang banger, Camino authentically portrays that of an east coast street hustler - who has seen the glory, as well as the destruction that the lifestyle causes and is here to report back on his life's findings. The mix between the Prodigy-esque rap verses, and the east coast thuggish Nate Dogg-like hooks, makes Camino one of the most interesting and promising rappers to date. The last aspect to appreciate, is something that the new renaissance movement has capitalized on increasingly well. Unlike rappers of the past, who would drop an album once every year, maybe once every two years, today's modern underground rapper seemingly lives in the studio. Elcamino, since 2017, has dropped over twenty projects to his name. This does not include previous work with his group "Local Residents" or solo work put out under the name "Meechy Elcamino" before his style was truly defined. These twenty-plus projects are near perfect. Camino's production choices are absolutely stellar, with full albums produced from greats such as 38 Spesh, Camoflauge Monk, DJ Shay, Bozack Morris, TrickyTrippz, Oh Jay and more. Due to his ability to sing and craft fitting hooks, his feature discography is also outstanding, often contributing hooks to hip-hop giants such as Benny the Butcher, Conway the Machine, Grafh, Flee Lord, 38 Spesh, and plenty others. Camino not only stands amongst the best in terms of style and musical excellence, but his production choice, his consistency, and the sheer magnitude of his catalog must be recognized and appreciated. Unlike Mobb Deep who performed at their peak for three full albums in the 1990s, Camino has delivered that quality for over twenty projects; all of which have been released on vinyl, and have been given the proper album treatment. These are not throwaways, and these are not loosies left to be forgotten. Although Elcamino has released projects under a myriad of labels in the past, including Air Vinyl, GoodFelons, Duape!, Tuff Kong Records, GGBR, Griselda and De Rap Winkel, the emcee is continuing to elevate his status in the game. In August of 2022, Elcamino was handed his chains from Benny the Butcher on stage as he was inducted into Benny's Black Soprano Family. Although he has held close ties and affiliation with Griselda in the past, and his debut Elcamino 1 was released on Griselda Records, this will be the first time that Camino finds himself at home in a group / roster like setting. The upcoming Black Soprano Family album, Long Live DJ Shay will feature verses from Camino throughout and is expected to be released September 9 of 2022. Don't let Camino fool you. He's one of the smartest people - young people - I know. He knows how to play the drums. He can sing. Like he can SING! He could be an R&B singer. He's just talented. Do not sleep on Elcamino. He's going to be a star. A huge star. That's my ni**a. - Lucky Seven [Drumwork] In light of the new project from Black Soprano Family, and as a companion to this piece, I have included below a curated selection of songs from Elcamino's discography. Although his library is vast and well worth a full deep dive, this will hopefully prove to be a catching gateway into the emcee's music. CREDITS Photos by abranisaacc Prodigy. "Survival of the Fittest." Off of Mobb Deep's The Infamous. Loud Records. 1995 King Ralph. 'The Renaissance Show.' Season 1, Episode 1. Interview by Alex Kuchma. Roger Ebert. Review of Goodfellas. September 2 1990. Camino has showcased technical ability on several songs. 'Buffalo's Finest' and 'On Fire' are two good examples. Elcamino. "Camino Season." From Sacred Psalms by Elcamino and 38 Spesh. 2020. Elcamino. "Field Trips." From Stashbox Chronicles by DJ Nugz. 2019. Kenneth B Kinge, 'Elcamino & 38 Spesh - Martyr's Prayer' on the Dead End Hip-Hop Podcast Network. Released May 2021. Daniel Son, interview with Alex Kuchma for The Underground Vault. 2019. Lucky Seven. 'The Renaissance Show: Season 1, Episode 4.' Interview with Alex Kuchma. Released October 16 2021.

  • Coast2Coast: Sweet Sixteen Review & Interview with Charlie Wayy

    It's been more than a few months since March Madness but somehow Charlie Wayy's Sweet Sixteen is right on time. With The Bronx being the birthplace of Hip Hop and Wayy also hailing from there commands a certain level of pedigree and expectations for an artist. Fortunately, Charlie Wayy more than rises to the occasion on his first full project since 2019's Sidewalk Chalk. “Vancourtland” produced by Swedish Prodigy sets the tone. If they were making modern day film noire based in NYC, this is what I would imagine it would feel like. Over the sinister backdrop Charlie Wayy unleashes a flurry of observations and affirmations. "We clean up nice, even though we got it out the mud Shit, we never confuse love for daps and hugs" It's a potent 16 bars which reminds me to mention the interesting choice of format for this album. Charlie Wayy made it a point to only bless these songs with 16 bars each, no hooks, and even set the same limitation for his featured collaborators. As a result the listener is treated to something I feel is rather unique. The curation of the beats and the sequencing is done with great care and effort. Even though 12 producers lent their skills here, it feels like one person produced the whole thing. There is a drawback to such brief song structures because you'll definitely want to spend more time with some of the offerings but that quickly fades because the next one is just as good, and it's a lot of next ones. It can feel like a sampler, but if you were in the Sweet Sixteen restaurant all of the bites could be main courses. It's an interesting strategy in an era of short attention spans, and Charlie Wayy just may be ahead of the curve. Charlie Wayy's style is a confident combination of streets, stream of consciousness, bravado, with a dusting of sports and pop culture references that add some fun to offset the intensity of his delivery. On the Ethan Stoutt produced track, “Armageddon 2000” Charlie Wayy and Yon Cash trade WWE inspired bars that mention Bobby "The Brain'' Heenan, and wrestler finishers like the Diamond Cutter and Razor's Edge. On the Erra produced track, “Capital Grille,” Charlie Wayy calls in an assist from one of Portland's finest rappers, Milc. It's a match made as their styles compliment each other, it feels like they've done this together before. The Alesandro Barbosa produced track, “God's Work” brings Sweet Sixteen to its conclusion, it's one of my favorites. Over a simple, dusty sounding loop Charlie Wayy proclaims, "this style is an acquired taste, 10,000 hours and a hundred thousand takes". The way the horns drop on the tail end of the song is magical, it's also my cue that it's time to run the whole thing back! I definitely give Sweet Sixteen a recommendation. I know we're all tired of the heat but summer is just gonna drag out a little bit longer with fire projects like this coming out. Charlie Wayy has worked hard to get to this point, he's disciplined, poised, polished and this album feels like an indication of great things to come. I'll definitely be keeping my ears open for what's next. Check out the interview below for more insight. The interview below has been edited for quality and coherence. Hip Hop as of late is going through a robust DIY phase. All over the nation talented, resourceful and determined individuals are getting things done in their own way, on their own time. In this interview we talk with The Bronx's own Charlie Way about his process, motivations and influences. We also get an inside view of the creation of his latest project Sweet Sixteen. Monk: First of all man introduce yourself to the people. Charlie Wayy: I go by the name Charlie Wayy, I'm from The Bronx, New York by way of Charlotte now. Oh you in Charlotte, North Carolina? That's crazy, I got people down there! Yeah Charlotte is cool but I lived in The Bronx all my life, so October 31st makes a year I've been down here. That's what's up man, let's get into this music. Why rapping, it's interesting having The Bronx influence all around you but what else made you wanna pursue the craft of rapping? I've always been into music, and I just wanted to be around music any way possible. Initially, I started engineering. My brother was always into music, he was rapping. You know, you always freestyle with your friends, I really wasn't worried about it, I tried to make beats and help my brother make beats, I was enjoying it. At one point in time I was helping him with lines every now and then it was like I just felt like I could do this myself. I wasn't too fond of the way my voice sounded, so that's one reason why I wasn't doing it. And then you get over that a bit, and then you start spitting your raps for people. You say it to somebody and they'll be like "yo who that?". I would say it was lines from somebody else and they'd be like "yo that's fire!". When you say it's yours it's like "awww I don't know, I ain't really messing with it." But at one point in time I felt like "yo, I can do this." That is one of the biggest hurdles when you enter these spaces. Even when I started doing my podcast, I had issues with my voice. You get used to it the more you do it. It's funny, I felt like that before I even recorded my voice. And then I started to record my voice and other people liked the way my voice sounded cool, I guess. The shit I was so hard on myself about, nobody ever cared about. So sometimes it'll be funny how you stand in your own way with these things. Long story short, I always had an affinity for music and how music was created. I was always one of those people that read the credits and track listing. I have an extensive vinyl collection that was passed down to me. One of my favorite artists is Rick James. I'm very much into music. If I wasn't rapping I think I'd probably be managing music, or helping others write music like I do now, or just any way I could be around it. So how long would you say you've been doing music seriously? I've been at it with music for maybe 12 years. But seriously like putting things together properly, making sure everything has that proper sound, I would say six years. I've really been driving properly, putting things on Apple Music, Spotify, making sure it sounds right, contacting producers, making sure my BMI is proper. So what are some of your influences from the past that you draw from, artists that inspire you? Rick James, Prodigy, Ghost and Rae, Meth, Jadakiss, Styles P, Jay Z of course, Nas, Eastsiderz, Snoop. I'ma bring that back around, what about people now that are putting out stuff now? Kendrick, Jay Cole, Freddie Gibbs, I like Gibbs a lot despite how people feel about him. Even though he does a lotta lame duck stuff, The Game, he's very talented with the music. Game can really rap and put projects together. He's a really strong artist, it's sad that his antics really overshadow how good of an artist he really is. I like Griselda. Sometimes I draw from producers themselves, Alchemist, Madlib, 9th Wonder. So do you also do production as well? I would love to produce a little more, that's something I would want to get into in the next stages of my music obviously, engineering and other stuff like that. I can sit down with a producer and get what I want. If we sat down and they opened up their DAW, I could tell them to play this sound, quarter step this, half time that, aight lemme get an 808 here, a synth here, tweak this a lil bit, maybe reverse this sound. But doing it by myself, I don't think I have that confidence yet, or that patience yet. If I'm with somebody who has the awareness of what's going on, I can get a beat out of them. My man said "you're producing right there, you may not be producing but you're doing it". Sounds like you're really hands on, more so than I think most people are during the process. They just contribute their bars and hand it off. I like to be hands on, I feel like it's my art and you can't really claim art unless you're wholly in it. Even down to the engineering, I try to sequence my stuff, I record myself, I got my equipment here. Then I'd send it to my engineer, with as many notes as possible. We were working up close but I knew I was gonna move, so I started prepping, I started recording myself. Even though we were a ten minute drive away from each other, I wanted to get in the habit of doing everything myself. I can say the last year and a half of my releases are all things that I recorded and sequenced myself. My engineer Blessed By Saint John, I send him the files and he does what he gotta do. But I leave him with enough notes, I drop out the beats when I need to, I tell him I might need a filter here, or a lowpass there, and I let him do what he gotta do. So it seems like you were developing a shorthand form of communication with your engineer before you left. So how has doing things remotely impacted you? Have things been more difficult or have they gotten easier? Things got easier, I feel like it's almost machine-like now. If I'm in a good space I knock out features the same day, or 48 hours. Sometimes I write them and they'll be done, and I'll sit with 'em and then record them the next day to make sure it has the same feel as when I wrote it down. But it's so good to be able to do these things myself, because now you don't feel handicapped, you don't feel locked in or bound to a particular way to create. I can take this anywhere I wanna go, If I'm on vacation with my lady or family I can take this with me and do what I need to do. I got my MacBook, my rogue, my interface, I pay for my Pro Tools, and I record. If I feel something I can just fire this up. Getting this project together, I completed it while I was moving. I started part of it in New York, obviously out of my house, in my bedroom, while I was moving to North Carolina. Shout out to my guy Ricky Mapes, he's the executive producer on the project, he hit me up and said he wanted to EP my project. He sent me 40 beats and we narrowed it down to 24, came back and narrowed it down to 16. I sent out my verse first on everything. The only one I didn't send out my verse first for was Neako, the track called "Penn Station." We were talking back and forth, I got some production from him and he said, "I like you a lot and I wanna give you a feature". He gave me the beat and it fit what we were trying to do so it's the only feature on the project that I didn't send out my verse first for. What's behind the name Sweet Sixteen? I saw the cover art, and it's interesting looking at your bio, you got the sports podcast, there's a lotta sports commentary on your twitter feed, how did that play into it? I'm a former athlete, I watch sports everyday, doesn't matter what it is. I golfed in high school, in the offseason from football. Sweet Sixteen is obviously from the NCAA, it's always one and done. In college with basketball now a lotta players don't stay around for a long time so they're one and done. So that's kinda what we thought about, project wise, like Sweet Sixteen, these are all one and done tracks. Every track is sixteen bars, and the feature gives 16, there's no hooks, no bridges no nothing. That's why we named it 16, and there's only 16 tracks so it's a lotta 16s in there that we were working with. That's interesting because one of the trends I'm seeing lately is just shorter songs, people are not even bothering with a 3rd verse anymore. Was that a factor in creating this? That's kinda the thought process to a lot of short form content. That's what people are liking with their attention spans. If I'm rapping at the highest level possible and I'm condensing it down you'll be more likely to replay that and it's gonna be shit I say that makes you wanna replay it along with it being so short. Some people hit me like, "yo, I like this why'd you cut this record short?". When I do drop my projects that are full length, it's gonna make you wanna tune in. If I did this with sixteen, what would I do with a hook, and a bridge attached to it, a second verse or a third verse? So that's kinda where I came from with it, and we just wanted to adapt to short form content. Let them know you can still be lyrical as hell, and you can still paint pictures in small spaces of time. We're just adapting to the times, trying something different. The cats outta the bag, I'ma make this a yearly thing, and i'm looking to have the best artist from around the country on this. I have my man Def Soulja, he's from The Bronx, my boy Ricky Mapes, he's executive producer, he's on there as well on "Kumite." I got LOS on there, he's from Mississippi, Milc from Portland. My man J NICS is from Miami, so we moving all around, we had a lotta different people, all dope spitters, all doing their own thing, all in the culture, all moving properly. We're gonna do Sweet Sixteen '23 for 2023, and we're gonna try to get that out there by March Madness. How were you able to the project to have a cohesive sound with so many different producers? Shout out to Ricky Mapes, he did a hell of a job executive producing, and getting the beats. I just had to do what I had to do and make sure I brought it on every record. Every record sounds different but it's all still cohesive. None of the flows are really the same and none of the tracks sound the same but they fit well together. You spoke about working with some of the homies but how did the Milc collaboration happen? How is The Bronx connecting all the way out to Portland. Again shout out to my brother Ricky Mapes, he had a relationship with them. A lot of them were on a tape due to him and then they heard my music and were like "Oh I'm really, really in, this ain't even a favor no more, he's like that!". That was cool and we've established lines of communication, now creating a bigger web and network of artists to work with. It's so cool that everybody is doing their own thing and they're really great artist. That's what makes it better, great artists find great artists and make magic. What can we look forward to in the future after Sweet Sixteen releases? I'm working with every artist possible, If you get a chance to see this contact me. I'm not Hollywood, I'm ready to work at all times, let's rap, let's make music. I feel like a lotta times there's too much Hollywood stuff going on. Let's just rap, let's do that, make dope records, and get 'em out to the people. Ok man I don't really have anything else for you right now, so tell the people when they can expect Sweet Sixteen to drop for them and how they can connect with you on social media. Sweet Sixteen is dropping August 31st. The first video off the project will be "Webside Weber," that will drop the same day the project drops. You can find me on all social medias @ CharlieWayy_, It's also my gamertag. Also check out CharlieWayy.Com. I'm easy to reach, tap in with me!

  • Hibachi III by Panama Jane

    Panama Jane, Otaku It-girl? No. Goth Tsundere Trap rapper? No. Gangsta Boo and La Chat’s sinister love child with Alucard from Hellsing? No. Let's dig deeper. Straight from the frostbit mouth off the source. Jane has her quirks, she unapologetically wears her bright and sarcastic personality even silently when she is completely obscured by a motorcycle helmet and spiked high heel boots and barely anything else. A woman of culture if you will. She and her team at Out da Trunk Studios have crafted an album some might call (it's me, I’m some) the best mashup of classic Southern Rap and raunchy modern pop culture fueled raps one can make. “When you let a young Georgia raised Panamanian girl get her hands on a Three Six Mafia album, Akira VHS, and a bottle of Jack Daniels who knows what may fly out of her mouth! You brought this on yourself America! cover your children's ears! -sincerely senorita petty! Deep in the depths of Wicked City they scheme, scam, sex and soliloquy to roaring 808’s and top-notch sample choices, this imaginary world created in the fabric of Jane’s entire body of work. But today we are here to talk about her latest release, the third and final? Hibachi; Hibachi III. 26 minutes of trunk rattling, new age 8-ball & MJG, Gangsta Boo, and UGK influenced pimping, hustling and shit-talk. Yes, the tall leather and spike-clad woman on the cover is giving it up like that, and it SOUNDS even crazier than it…sounds, to you, reading this. Jane opens the album with a distorted voice recalling his time in school, he mentions a singular girl, weaving a tale of how she wanted to be a spice girl, and was into “anime and shit like that”. She dressed in all black and it was weird, but the moral of that story is an important one, one of the most important in American culture across the ages: “She had some big ass titties.” From there we take a ride with Jane into Wicked City, where the main event is an effortless free associative flow over 808s and flawless chops of Father’s Children’s, "Dirt and Grime." Up next is what some (its me again) may call the HARDEST song released this summer, "Pimps Don't Cry" is an unbeatable pitched up Cee-lo sample over her long-time collaborator Bad Klad, (formerly Skantily Klad…seeing a pattern here?) Holding absolutely nothing back on the drums, bass and percussion. Jane’s delivery and sense of humor carry her through a myriad of brag lines and shit-talk that would fit right in with the early 2000’s dirty south emergence into the mainstream. If you see a P.I.M.P. then you probably seeing Jane If a nigga L.O.V.E. then i disappear, David Blaine I was born overseas so my mama she drove the boat and my daddy was a navy nigga i was born to float Coast to coast, like Toonami, take your space and then go ghost - Panama Jane, Pimps Don't Cry 90s kids, do you feel seen yet? No more sample snitching, "How Long" is the same formula but much more focused, telling a story of Jane breaking hearts and collecting checks in the game of love/lust/lies. How long has this been going on, is in fact a good question to ask by the time we arrive at the end of the second verse’s rather unfortunate reveal for the male suitor who is one of the subjects of the record . "4giveme" is more flexing over another iconic sample and continued amazing production with all manner of vocal stabs and distorted adlibs, dark and chaotic are words that come to mind. Jane is proudly owning both her sexuality and outward sex appeal on this track while paying subtle homage to the forebearers of her sound. "Innie Minnie" brings in the first feature, Jacob Waddy over a bouncing synth as they take their pick of their options to recruit into their cartoonishly humorous but dark brand of Wicked City pimping. Waddy brings charisma and a welcomed energy shift to the track getting off lines that only work in his distinctive lispy southern drawl. 2,4,6,8 make yo bitch appreciate, I invest in ASSests in case that ass depreciate Ghostface comes to mind for being the best example of a rapper who uses their voice and charisma to bring lines to life that anyone more serious or monotonous sounding just simply CAN’T. "SZA" goes back to the sample formula to Jane to relish in more hedonistic desires and bars about getting hers by any means. The hook complete with what sounds like some (hi again) would say is a comedic impression of auto-tuned talk-sing impression of singer SZA. but some could be completely wrong. Moving on, "Telephone (remastered)" is a record filled with dirty talk and moaned adlibs befitting a fantastically absurd alternate world’s sex talk hotline, we are in Wicked City after all, this is world building. "Bitches Aint Us" a 2 minute banger just begging for a million Tik Toks and dance floors. She continues the Harlequin-esque whirlwind romance with sex, schemes and money making. The repetitive hook is simple, and straight-forward laid out perfectly for groups of young women in the club to yell with their drinks up. "Sha'Carri" is more of the same energy but full of metaphors about running track, an intentionally ironic metaphor for, you guessed it, pimping. Hibachi III closes out with what might be the most impressive flows on the album as she brings this insane trip to a close with more of the “hard on hoes and their perpetually inept tricks” attitude she has carried from track 2, "Welcome 2 Wicked City." This album works off the strength of some of the last words on the album: “Jane is a one of one”. Though there may be limited subject matter on this album, the production choices, the charisma on display, the humor, the references and off the wall energy carry it from top to bottom. Artists like Jane, Doechii, and Rico Nasty through a combination of distinctive aesthetic choices, personality, and atypical production and flows make their projects stand out and offer originality in the growing realm of sex-positive rap projects from women. Released July 15, 2022 words by Xlo

bottom of page