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Showing posts from November, 2018

Raz Simone - "Isn't Love" [Shot/Edited by Jacob Hill] (Video)

It doesn't matter what project you're hitting play on, the musical offerings of Raz Simone have always consisted of deep, emotional content. However, with his latest project, Still Love, it appears as though Simone is tapping into and channeling a new wave of emotions previously untouched - at least on wax - by the Black Umbrella artist.

Barely a week after the release of "Dancing With My Heart", the first single off Still Love, Raz returns with "Isn't Love". The latest drop, which comes in the form of a visual experience courtesy of Jacob Hill, continues the exploration and lyrical exposé on our most sacred emotion and the Universe's most powerful force - love.

Featuring a performance from Raz his listeners have not yet experienced, "Isn't Love" is highlighted by Simone taking a risky leap into the laying of raw, uncut and unfiltered vocals. The raspy voiced Simone bares his soul throughout the record, showing a characteristic lack o…

Raz Simone - "Dancing With My Heart" [prod. Antwon Vinson] (Video)

It'd be foolish to think Raz Simone was sitting around twiddling his thumbs for two years in between album releases. While there may have been a gap in music, it's safe to presume Simone was continuing to live, learn, grow and thrive through his experiences. And, fortunately for his listeners, we all get to reap the results of his living in audio form.

After a hiatus from dropping new music, Simone returned with not one but two new projects in 2018 - Closer and Drive Theory. Having anticipated new sounds from Raz since 2016's Trap Spirituals, one might think two full-length projects would be enough to satisfy his fans. And you'd probably be right, as both albums are worthy of numerous spins and they both contain content that needs to be properly digested to fully appreciate.

But, again fortunately for his fans, Raz Simone has never been someone who plays by a conventional, boxed-in methodology. So, having already released two new tapes this year, Simone is preparing t…

ROY G. BV - "Lime Green" (Video)

With the official premier having gone down earlier this month, and the soundtrack out now, Rudy and Joey Batts return with a new twist on the "G" in ROY G. BV.

After releasing two films that featured a more serious foundation, "Lime Green" follows the path set by "Pomp and Power", showcasing Batts and Rudy having what appears to be the most ridiculously fun time they could have filming the visual. Going all out Bling Kings, the ROY G. BV crew shot "Lime Green" at a local Dave & Buster's, letting their audience know what "lime green" would sound like.

Sonically, "Lime Green" is a wavy treat that belongs on your daily playlists. It'll lift your spirits and leave you feeling a little reckless, in the most sensible way. Such a delicate balance of ignorance and artistic expression on full display throughout the record.

And visually, "Lime Green" is highlighted by the pure, wholesome fun being had by the CT-b…

Locksmith - "Clouds" [prod. Kato On The Track & Gummy Beatz]

Over the years, I've found there's something of a process that goes along with experiencing each new release from Locksmith.

Step one is the initial listen. This usually includes a handful of "phew" moments, where I'm simply getting lost in Lock's flow. I'll catch myself and try to regain focus until I'm inevitably once again awestruck at the way the Richmond-native is manhandling the alphabet to cook up his content. For the most part, "phase 1" looks like this:

I'd love to say after one listen through I'm able to get past the impressive nature of what I've just heard. But it generally takes me two or three plays through the latest release to finally find a foundation upon which I can be mindful enough to really take in what Locksmith is expressing. To be as articulate as Locksmith is while still flowing with such energy and passion is a feat that should not be slept on - this guy is a top-shelf emcee and has proven time and ti…

Joey Batts - "John Candy" [prod. blckwndr]

And just like that, the elder statesman is back with another one.

After releasing his "Chris Farley" visuals the other week, Joey Batts comes through with "John Candy". On the latest release, Batts once again grabs some production from blckwndr, who provides a simple backdrop for Joey to flow over. The instrumental acts as a vibey metronome, cradling Joey's words and accenting the bars when necessary.

Batts flows so smoothly throughout "John Candy", the delivery almost masking the substance behind Joey's content. It sounds as though the Hartford-based artist is just saying words that rhyme but upon closer inspection, one is able to catch just how intricate Joey's wordplay is. Finding motivation from those who have claimed the gawd is washed, Batts steps up and delivers a sharp, in-depth record with apparent ease.

When you know somebody loves and gives so deeply - as Joey Batts does - the IDGAF attitude and delivery becomes much more powerful.…

Myles Cameron - "Picket Fences" [prod. Frankis]

"Picket Fences" takes listeners along for the ride as Myles Cameron journeys through the confusion and suppression of coming of age as a young black man in a predominately white suburban environment. And, man, what a beautiful, sonically enchanting job he does doing so.

The heartfelt, emotional vibe present throughout paints with vivid imagery the hopes, fears, dreams, aspirations and pains experienced by Cameron as he discovers and grows into the true essence of himself in a world that has a long, sorrowful history saturated with social and racial hatred and violence - perhaps, thanks to the uprising of social networking, apparent on a wider scale now more than ever. 

With "Picket Fences", we are able to gain first hand perspective of Cameron's growing self-awareness and confidence. While the track is not overly complicated, it comes forth with a powerful and moving message that is able to emanate from the music in a clear and concise fashion. As Myles attem…

CrissB.amazing - "RLD" [prod. Anu El Bey]

With Ty HookZ dropping a solo joint last month and AQMNI coming through with "365", it only makes sense that CrissB.amazing would let loose something of his own to keep the wolves' momentum going strong. 
"RLD" features Bawrs' always on-point wordplay, as he laces Anu El Bey's boom bap-inspired production with a fierce delivery. The infectious chorus is reminiscent of Digable Planets, coupling well with the overall throwback vibe brought forth throughout the record. 
The music knocks as the balance of a simplistic, captivating vibe rocks nicely with CrissB's lyrical onslaught. "RLD" will leave your head bobbing to the instrumental while your mind will be locked on the depth of the AQMNI artist's content. 
Hit play below. 

Stream: ROY G. BV II (Soundtrack)

Just take a moment to put this into perspective real quick...

Rudy, a young man who has a job/career and a life, created not one but two soundtracks in only about one year's time. Two totally unique experiences, that manage to capture such a wide spectrum of emotions and vibes. This would be impressive enough on it's own but then factor in how the ROY G. BV projects came in addition to his own debut solo albumand a collab tape with Detelj.

Dedication. Passion. Hunger. Talent. And a need to create, to free himself of life's natural stresses and weights through the use of instruments, sounds and other sonic vibrations.

And then you add in the addition of Joey Batts, whose poetic prose fills Rudy's ambient and experimental instrumentation with the perfect dose of lyrical context.

The result is beyond a simple soundtrack. It's an experience; a trip that fills listeners up and then strips them bare. As powerful as the film is, the ROY G. BV IIsoundtrack is more than ca…

OnCue - "2.0" [prod. Alex Lustig]

As has been apparent with the two loosies ("Side Effects" / "Out of Town") that dropped in October, OnCue is back on the scene with a refreshed attitude and an energy that seems to signal a reinvigorated artist ready to let his music flourish. The music puts on full display a young man who has paid attention to life's lessons, learning and maturing through the trials and tribulations. And now, OnCue is focused.

"2.0" is the sonic manifestation of Cuey's upgrade. In his own words, the first single off his upcoming I Hate Me Too album is about:

"hope. and believing in yourself. fuck the past."
The Alex Lustig-produced record comes after a throwback of a roll-out, one that featured an AIMesque online chat with a bot who offered lucky users the opportunity to snag some new music from OnCue. Adding to the uniqueness of this manner of announcing his new project, Cuey mailed hard copies of CDs to fans, featuring the old-school AOL installation…

Granata - "It's Hard To Say No (In New York City)" [prod. Thanks Joey] (Video)

Few things in life fill me with as much joy as checking out an artist for the first time and discovering a joint that is the textbook definition of a vibe.

And that's exactly what happened when I hit play on Granata's "It's Hard To Say No (In New York City)".

Upon a little bit of research, I discovered the record originally found life on Granata's 9-track project of the same name. But it was more recently on the receiving end of the visual treatment, which amplifies the song's energy and gives it a whole new type of life.

Backed by production from Thanks Joey that showcases the producer's ability to cook up something that dances in space while remaining chilled out and down to Earth, "It's Hard To Say No" is a vibey tune that'll have you floating into nothingness as a smile creeps across your face...and man, that smile will remain plastered in place as the song carries on. It's fun piece of music, balancing the serious and raspy…

Wrex Mason - 'Aquarius Sun' (Stream)

Although 9000+ has become something of a Jay Electronica-eque elusive rap fable in these parts of CT, don't doubt that Wrex Mason has been working.

On life. On himself. And on music.

Case in point is this instrumental project the NY-based / CT-raised released back in March of this year. When Wrex announced the beat tape, I wasn't sure what to expect but I was pleasantly surprised with the ample vibes supplied throughout the 8-track Aquarius Sun.

The sonic landscape is composed of a finely balanced blend of airy sounds that manage to flow like water. It's a smooth project that has the full potential to house some chilled out, thought-provoking lyrical content - although I'm doubtful Wrex is looking for just anyone to hop on the instrumentals.

According to Mason, there's a collection of new music locked in his vault. Whether it's via live shows or streaming platforms, when the moment is right, I'm sure Wrex will liberate those sounds.

Stream Aquarius Sun bel…

Detelj - "Proverbs"

Although his latest project, Drastic, is barely 3 months old, Detelj is already back with a new loosie in the form of the self-produced "Proverbs".

The new record is highlighted by the simultaneously sad and uplifting energy present throughout the song, as if Detelj is finding solace in the aloneness he's experiencing while gaining a deeper understanding of the separation between being alone and feeling lonely. There's confusion and depression but also a self-awareness that is continuing to blossom within Detelj.

As this sense of self continues to grow, as Mike travels further into his own psyche and consciousness, he will only gain a deeper rooted perspective on his own truths. From here, his artistry will continue to evolve and flourish, just as it has been doing so prominently over the last year. While he's never been "fake", the Detelj listeners have experienced in 2018 sounds more like Michael Detelj and less like an attempt to live up to an elusi…

Janine - "Vacation"

The soulful and sultry voice of Janine has been a favorite of mine since her "and the Mixtape" days and it's always a welcome treat when she blesses the airwaves with something new. Since liberating her debut full-length in May of this year, Janine has been putting in work on various projects outside of her vocal-based music but she returns with "Vacation" this week.

"Vacation", which flips the "Zeze" instrumental into a whole new energetic field, features a solid blend of both blatant lines and innuendos, the alluring combination resulting in a vibey and sexy R&B bop. It's a smooth and airy record that has the potential to resonate deep in the essence of Janine's listeners and will undoubtedly be a fine tune to snug up to this winter with your favorite person.

With the snow hitting hard tonight, this new record from Janine was exactly the vibe I needed to take my mind off the weather and warm up the soul a little bit.


Jobo - "Warning Bite" [prod. Jack Bonneau] (Video)

It's been nearly three years since Jobo released solo content, having spent the better part of 2016 and 2017 working amongst the many faces that made up UZOO and then taking 2018 to step back from the public spotlight.

But, just like that, the Maharaja is back.

With his latest release, the CT-based artist offers a glimpse of "Warning Bite", which will be found in full upon the release of his forthcoming Bear God EP II. In the preview, Jobo utilizes a dark visual - shot by Joey Batts - to give a sense that while the Bear God has been hibernating, he has awoken from his slumber.

Featuring flashy lights and a Triple H-inspired sledgehammer, the short clip is highlighted by Jobo's quick witted and apathetically arrogant bars. As listeners have come to expect and appreciate, there is an entertaining aura of ego and an overwhelming self-love that is easy to get behind and support. It's almost as if one can't help but buy into every claim made by Jobo because he se…

Joey Batts - "Chris Farley" [prod. blckwndr] (Video)

I was first introduced to Joey Batts a handful of years ago and I enjoyed his music - clearly the dude knew how to string words together and cook up some entertaining tunes. At the time, however, Batts was running heavy with the now defunct Joey Batts & Them, an ensemble that featured a live band backing Joey's lyrics.

The band always presented a fun live show but the music was predominately tailored for a more family friendly, light hearted experience. Having gotten to know Batts more personally during the post-& Them era, I can reflect on that music and, while appreciating it for what it was, recognize it was never fully allowing Batts to embrace the full version of who he is. And, as a result, the music lacked the authentic rawness that has so clearly surfaced over the last couple of years.

When Batts called upon the top-shelf talent that came together to form UZOO in the winter of 2016, it felt like - from this blogger's perspective - that a transformation was tak…

Vee Skeeno - "A Feeling" [prod. KingNamedTutt]

Vee Skeeno is a rare form of artist and it's difficult to capture exactly what factors allow for him to stand out so uniquely.

His content is personal, but a lot of artists come through with true-to-life stories and revelations in their music. Listeners get a range of emotions from Skeeno, but how many artists don't present different emotions throughout their tracks? He's a talented lyricist who can run the gauntlet as far as flipping his delivery based on the vibe of the record...but, again, that isn't a "unique-to-Skeeno" trait.

All that being said, when I listen to Vee Skeeno recite his prose, there is a certain energy and aura about the music that puts it in a league of it's own. And that's not even saying it's "better" or "worse" when compared to his contemporaries. It's just different and - speaking only from my perspective - it captures my attention in a truly idiosyncratic fashion.

The music Skeeno creates radiates…

Lan Amore - "Dreamcast" [prod. RUDY] (Video)

Gotta be honest - I hit play on this one because of the production credit but I have replayed and ran the record back a few times because of the overall wave of the complete package. 
Lan Amore's "Dreamcast" is a vibe, presented in a simultaneously simple yet complex product. The track, in it's entirety, is a wonderful workshop on duality - it's dark and uplifting, humble and self-assured, self-aware and lost in self-discovery. And Amore is hardly "rapping" in a fashion one may have come to expect a hip-hop artist to deliver their prose. "Dreamcast" flows like a casual stroll, more like a poet reading a poem than a rapper spitting a verse.
The light atmosphere created through the production serves as a form-fitting backdrop for Amore's content and delivery. Amore floats over RUDY's instrumentation with grace, picking up and slowing down his pace and flow to the beat pristinely. The low-budget, DIY energy of the visual only heightens t…

Review: ROY G. BV II

Exactly one year after the release of their first short film, the ROY G. BV crew returned to the Wadsworth Anthanum Museum of Art in Hartford, CT to reveal ROY G. BV II. A stark contrast to the original documentary, this time around the film had a much more personal feel to it, offering the audience an intimate look at the lives and minds of Joey Batts, Rudy and Bklyn Lo as they traveled to Nova Scotia.

Surrounded by both friends and strangers, Batts, Rudy and Bklyn sat amongst those in attendance as the film played, before taking the stage to thank everyone for coming out. Having amassed supportive circles and fan bases in their own right through music, videography and other endeavors, ROY G. BV II served as a means of telling the creators' personal stories while also providing onlookers with some deeper revelations on society, conditioning, fear, the process of creating art, and more.

While the original ROY G. BV was crafted in a very linear fashion, transitioning through the c…

Nate DAE - "Panther" [prod. Sandro]

Back in the days of #SFDotNet, Nate DAE was an artist I was covering pretty extensively. We had the pleasure of premiering some of his records on the site and shared a friendly relationship with the Jacksonville-based artist.

During my hiatus from the blogosphere, I lost a great number of my correspondence with different artists but there were a couple handfuls whose music I still kept close tabs on despite not actively writing about. Nate was one of those artists - and it's wild to see where his personal and artistic evolution has taken him over the short number of years since I was first put on to his music.

In 2017, Nate released his first full-length project, the well-recieved CALIFORNIA PSA. And today, Nate DAE is preparing for the release of his sophomore effort, Death By A Woman. Originally scheduled for an October release, the liberation of the project has been delayed but Nate made sure to hold his fans over with the recent release of "Panther", which serves as…

GRiZ - "It Gets Better" (feat. DRAM) / "Can't Get Enough"

Welp, it's about time you go into your closet and dust off those dancing shoes because GRiZ has returned from his self-imposed disappearing act and the tidal waves of vibes have crashed down upon us all.

Mmm...let's bask in it, baby.

After roughly a year taking necessary and well-deserved time to be with himself, the wildly talented artist surprised fans with the greatest of treats on Halloween in the form of two new records, both of which will unquestionably be on the receiving end of countless playbacks as listeners wait for whatever is coming next.

"It Gets Better" comes at a time when the world needs to be reminded of the power of love and acceptance perhaps more than ever. And the DRAM-assisted joint serves as a perfect anthem for anyone in need of some feel-good vibes and reassurance. True story: I woke up to "It Gets Better" this morning and I've been riding the waves of this ultralight beam since rolling out of bed. Between GRiZ's funky ins…

Aaron Cohen - "24" [prod. Kemal] (Video)

Since, like, forever it's been common place for hip-hop artists to call upon models to fill their music videos with an abundance of scantly clad sex appeal.

For his Maxime Ellies-directed "24", Aaron Cohen takes a different route. In a somewhat poetic fashion that is symbolic of his career path, Cohen is flipping the script on the common rap video trope, featuring a diverse collection of models who certainly don't look like those we've come to expect.

And Cohen's use of Wanted Models works so well on many levels, not the least of which is how captivating their appearance is without causing the viewer to focus solely on the curves or "assets". The models don't feed into some hip-hop stereotype nor do they detract from the artist's presentation. Instead, they add a new layer to the Kemal-produced "24", serving to accentuate the artistic atmosphere of Cohen's latest video - it's "artsy", but in a raw and authentic w…

Raz Simone - "Family Films" [prod. Antwon Vinson]

With "Family Films", Raz Simone and his Black Umbrella family tap into all the Halloween tropes while liberating a far deeper underlying revelation about the real haunting shit that exists in our lives outside of the fun we have on Halloween.

Brought to life through a truly cinematic experience, the Jacob Hill-shot "Family Films" features Raz Simone walking through a house saturated with a plethora of horror-based characters and scenery. Throughout the entirety of the video, Simone is immune to the various activity that would cause most people to, at the very least, flinch - if not run for their lives. What a wonderful means of portraying and representing the, one can only presume, wide spectrum of real-life horrors Simone has experienced.

Those real haunting experiences, many of which have been addressed on previous releases, have made him numb to the illusions of fear we call upon so readily in the Halloween season. Regardless of his apparent lack of fear, Simon…