The event takes place August 14-16 in Somerset, Wisconsin and will feature performances by Bassnectar, Big Gigantic, Deadmau5, Zeds Dead, Purity Ring, Odesza, and The Weeknd among others.
Hip-Hop acts slated to perform are Ghostface Killah & BADBADNOTGOOD, Action Bronson, Earl Sweatshirt, G-Eazy, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, Rae Sremmurd, Lizzo, F.Stokes, Keys N Krates, Lil Dicky, Mike Floss, WebsterX, ishDARR, and Saba.
Enter to win ONE pair of general admission passes for you and a friend to attend the Summer Set Music & Camping Festival on August 14, 15, 16 in Somerset, Wisconsin.
Winners will be selected randomly using the www.random.org website. The contest begins on Monday July 27, 2015 and concludes on Monday August 3, 2015 at noon eastern standard time. The winner will be notified via e-mail on August 3, 2015. Tickets will be left at will call under the winners name. SFX Entertainment is solely responsible for providing the winner and a guest (1) pair of three-day passes to the festival valued at $189.50.
SSMF passes DO NOT include camping passes.
The Real Hip-Hop.com is not liable for the terms and conditions or any legal ramifications in hosting, gathering or distributing collateral involved with the contest.
A year ago San Diego based rapper Kahlee released his introspective album, “Blessed”. The album is a glimpse into the life of Kahlee, a family man who is grateful for his position in life. Throughout the 13-track release you hear a man lamenting the loss of a loved one, catechizing religion while celebrating the creator, and reveling in his role as new a father.
Fast-forward to 2015 and the Blessed album will be remixed and re-released in late July for free for Kahlee fans. Bay area production team Digital Martyrs handle the music on the project titled, “Blessed: Remixed by Digital Martyrs”.
Kahlee spoke to The Real Hip-Hop about “baring his soul” in his music, his foray into podcasting, and his new project, Blessed: Remixed by Digital Martyrs.
TRHH: Why’d you decide to remix the Blessed album?
Kahlee: From the beginning I knew I wanted to remix it. The reggae group Rebelution had two remixes on their Peace of Mind album. It was like three different versions of the same album. I wanted to do something like that from the beginning. I had different ideas as far as how to have them remixed. I started doing more work with different artists and we decided, “Yo, let’s do this.” Off-Balance was in a position where he was really knockin’ beats out. He had a lot of different styles so he ended up being somebody I thought I could rely on to do the whole album. Originally I thought of getting multiple producers.
TRHH: “Baring My Soul” deals with some real heavy personal issues. Talk about the inspiration behind that song.
Kahlee: A lot of times people think that song might be about my terrible childhood – it’s about some terrible parts of my childhood. My upbringing was great. I was very blessed – I still am. The album ‘Blessed’ is very personal and 90% off it is probably about me. At the same time it’s a conceptual album because I felt like it’s a lot of people out there that’s living the same life as me. I think a lot of younger cats are making music that kid’s right out of high school can relate to. I’m not trying to cut them out but it’s not me. I was more focused on people like myself that are young with families. It’s a concept album about a middle-aged dude with a family, kid, and work. The idea is that I’m blessed even though I don’t have that million-dollar lifestyle that some people think they have to have in order to be blessed.
TRHH: Your music has a message more often than not. Why is it important to you to say something of substance when you rhyme?
Kahlee: It’s not always. Sometimes I just wanna get out there and bar out. This isn’t my first album but I feel like this is what I should have did on my first album, if that makes any sense. I wanted to get real personal. This is not the best example but I’ve seen a movie or heard a podcast with an artist or whoever and I got to know them a lot better and it helped me to appreciate their music more, even if it’s not the style that I would normally be into. I guess you can say it was kind of like that where I wanted people to really know me. I wanted people to associate with me, especially the ones who have similar lives. I always compare things to comedy. I feel like the best comedians are the ones that you can relate to. They talk about things that you know firsthand about. I guess this was my way of doing that. I plan on doing a bunch of different styles of music, a bunch of different concept albums, working with different producers, and artists in a group thing. I wanted people to understand me and know me a lot better so when I do something different they’re more likely to feel it.
TRHH: Who inspired you to want to be an emcee?
Kahlee: I don’t know if it was any one person, but I would say it was more wack emcees than dope ones [laughs]. First of all I don’t think you have to be an emcee or any kind of rapper to tell somebody else that they suck. Me being able to tell you in your own way is a lot better. It’s one thing to say, “Troy Polamalu doesn’t hit that hard,” but if I throw the ball at him and run his ass over it’s a lot better. That’s kind of one of the things that got me to want to emcee and just freestyling at parties and things like that. There’s a lot of people that influenced my style at the beginning because I was listening to them. I can’t think of any one or two people that made me wanna start rhyming. It was just going to parties and seeing freestyle cyphers poppin’ off and things like that.
Kahlee: Platform Collection is a web network. Right now we have four podcasts. We have Culture Sessions with Chamber Records, it’s a label out of the 626 area. We’ve got 2Mex Hologram Podcast, and I have a show on there with my man from my crew The Fresh State, [Kill] cRey, called Proof of Life. It’s like half mix show, half podcast. With our show every episode has a topic and we play music that fits the topic. A lot of times a song may not literally fit the topic, but maybe it’s a song I used to play the first time I was shrooming and that’s why it would fit the topic “Under the Influence” or whatever. The main podcast is Crappy Awesome. They were the first podcast that started the network with KillcRey and (mr) Arash. Then we have the blog side of things where we post videos, music, and we have a few web shows. We have a few new web shows that will be coming as well as some podcasts from artists who have been really doing their thing on the west coast and beyond. We’re only about a year and a half in, but in that year and a half we’ve made some headway. I think the next year and a half will be really big. It’s going to be nice. I have my hands more into it now so I have a little more control of what’s going on and I can help out the guys that are involved. It’s dope. It’s another angle to attack the game from.
TRHH: When can we expect your next album?
Kahlee: I don’t have a definite answer for that. As far as the Blessed remix album that was definitely something that kind of helped me shine some light on the past album as well. Because unfortunately I didn’t get to promote it the way I would have preferred to, even then. I don’t have the budget or the time to push it having my current situation with family and work. I’m working on something with two of my teammates. My dude Uptown Swuite and I have a group called “The Seed”. Another homie from the Fresh State crew named Creed Chameleon, we have a few songs we’re working on and possibly dropping an EP at the end of the year. Uptown has like 100 records that are ready to be released and Creed has a record called “Christopher Clark” so I’m trying to work it out to where it’s kind of like pushing that nitro button in a race and helping the three of us go.
We don’t even have a name for the album or a name for the group for that matter. We’ll be dropping a couple of the songs on a compilation type thumb drive from a clothing company Farmer’s Market Hawaii. We all have some solo tracks on there as well as some tracks with the three of us. We’ll probably have a 6-7 song EP dropping at the end of the year if everything works out. I have a couple of concept albums I’m working on. Some things I’m keeping close to my hip, but hopefully by next year I’ll be able to drop two EP’s aside from what me, Uptown Swuite, and Creed will be dropping this year. I’ve been focusing on collaborations and jumping on other people’s records. We have a few posse cuts that we’ll be dropping throughout the summer to help push the album. Hopefully the Blessed remix album will drop at the end of July.
Straight out of Jersey comes something you rarely see today in rap music – a rap group. What’s even more rare about this group is they’re original, they refuse to follow trends, and they are blessing fans with that classic Hip-Hop sound.
Riq da Kid, Tru Trilla, and Prince AK are the 050 Boyz. Groomed by DoItAll from Lords of the Underground, Fam of Rottin Razkals, and Treach of Naughty by Nature, the 050 Boyz are entrenched in Jersey rap royalty.
The trio is slated to release their official debut album “Everything 050” on August 4 on 050 Entertainment. The album is produced entirely by Clinton Place and features appearances by DoItAll, Tha Advocate, Dunn D, Big Stomp, Double O, Fly Kwa, Famiil, lb the Druid, Lakim Shabazz, Drift, WiseRap, Quil, NJ Walker, B Wells, Trilly Trills, Young Fresh, and Treach.
The Real Hip-Hop spoke to the 050 Boyz about the origins of their group name, coming up under New Jersey Hip-Hop pioneers, and their new album, Everything 050.
TRHH: What’s the meaning behind the name of the group, 050 Boyz?
Riq da Kid: Every state has a numerical code. You can find this number used on certificates and even used by the federal government to identify the state, so basically in this case 050 stands for New Jersey, or “Jersey Boyz”.
TRHH: The first single from the album ‘Get Back’ is real grimy. How’d that song come together?
Riq da Kid: Well the producer Clinton Place set the platform with the beat, and Tru Trilla came up with the hook and then we built the track up from there.
Tru Trilla: Get Back came from a concept I put together to combat and bring back the hard Hip-Hop, plus everything now is too jolly and clubby.
TRHH: What impact has Treach, DoItAll, and Fam had on your career?
Riq da Kid: Just from their guidance and being inspirational. To watch these guys come from where I’m from and be successful was motivational! But to have them personally as big brothers is a blessing. And shout out to the whole of Lords of the Underground, Rottin Razkals, Naughty by Nature and super producer Kay Gee for helping me with the second mixtape I ever made. I will never forget that!
Tru Trilla: You know the brothers are always bring their A-game, but when they let you know that your energy increases theirs, it’s a true blessing.
Prince AK: The impact is that they all done this before, so being around those guys we get all the guidance we need on making the right decisions.
TRHH: What’s the best advice you’ve received from those guys?
Tru Trilla: Wow, I’m gonna have to say grind, grind, grind, and grind some more.
Prince AK: [Laughs] Treach told me to beat the internet up and I did in 2012. I got placed into the Top 50 Indies in the country by allhiphop.com.
Riq da Kid: In today’s music industry you have to beat the streets up and internet both at 100%! But also in terms of having a focus on quality of performance, I learned a lot, especially from watching Treach and Fam. There was also a lot learned in terms of how to construct and make a song.
TRHH: How do you approach recording? Are you competitive with each other when writing verses?
Tru Trilla: No, we look at it as one big rhyme, although we write different hooks to compare and see what’s better to go with.
Riq da Kid: I love to get in a zone where I feel no one can touch me and it’s just me and the beat. I’m an emcee inspired to one day be mentioned in that list of greats, so my mindset is that the artists I’m competing with are the artists who have a spot on that list already, because I want mine!
Prince AK: Well I hear the track and the hook then I go for mine. These are my brothers so being competitive with them is useless.
TRHH: Who came up with the concept for the ‘Hot Damn’ video?
Riq da Kid: I came up with the concept and story and then DuB M brought it to life.
TRHH: What’s the overall goal for the group?
Prince AK: The overall goal is to open the doors for our town, Brick City and put us back on the Hip-Hop scene.
Tru Trilla: To build our company and brand, to keep growing, and open doors for Jersey.
Riq da Kid: To put ourselves in a position where we can help upcoming artists from Jersey, and to be mentioned as one of the biggest music groups in Hip-Hop.
TRHH: Who is ‘Everything 050’ for?
Prince AK: Everything 050 is for the world to hear, not just Jersey. So don’t get it twisted, we want our music out there worldwide.
Tru Trilla: It’s for everybody who triumphed through struggle, to win, understand why, then do it again. 050 dat!
Riq da Kid: It’s for the world, for the streets, for the struggle, for anyone with dreams and goals, and for Hip-Hop!
It’s been five years since underground emcee B. Dolan released his sophomore album, Fallen House, Sunken City. The Providence, Rhode Island native spent the last half-decade crafting his most ambitious effort to date, a full-length album titled “Kill the Wolf”.
Produced by Dolan himself, the album will be released on July 10. Kill the Wolf features contributions from Aesop Rock, Buck 65, Cecil Otter, Kathleen Stubelek, Alias, DS3K, Aupheus, Buddy Peace, and the late David Lamb.
The Real Hip-Hop spoke to B. Dolan about his new method of creating music, his affinity for late Wu-Tang Clan rapper Ol’ Dirty Bastard, and his new album, Kill the Wolf.
B. Dolan: It’s an Italian expression. It’s like a way of saying “good luck”. The way they say it is, “In the mouth of the wolf.” It’s something you say to a performer. It’s the equivalent of “break a leg”. To performers they say, “May you see the mouth of the wolf,” and the response is, “Kill the wolf.” It came from something that people say to hunters. That’s how you wish a hunter good luck. It was something I heard midway through creating the album. I saw the image that we used for the cover art about halfway through creating the album too. It felt like it really expressed what we’ve been doing the last five years making this album – a struggle. It was weird trying to create something new. At times it felt like a real fight trying to make this one.
TRHH: Why would you say it was a fight or a struggle?
B. Dolan: Because when we made this album we kind of set out to reinvent what a B. Dolan album could sound like. We wanted to up the production value and the sound of everything. In the midst of that we built a brand new studio. I got really attached to recording my own vocals at my project studio where I live. I’ve done that for every album prior to this album. I started working with this engineer DS3K and he convinced me to bring all that stuff to a real deal studio with some nice pre amps and some nice compression. We physically constructed a studio in the middle of making this album, which is one of the reasons it took so long. We were just after something new and that was the struggle – to bring all the stuff from the past that we like into the future. Sometimes that was easy, but a lot of times that required some figuring out, experimentation, scrapping stuff, and going back to stuff. We didn’t take anything for granted with this one.
B. Dolan: The main way it’s different is I was responsible for the production of it. The Fallen House album was produced by Alias. I was purely the rapper on that one. I had some input on production but for the most part he did half the music work there. With this one I for the first time felt confident enough in my own production skills to give it a shot and see what we could do. I oversaw the production of 95% of these songs, with the exception of the last song that came to me finished. For everything else the production was mine or I had a very strong hand in it. There were situations were producers sent me a beat that was great, but we stripped it down and re-worked it to make it work with the sonics of the rest of the album. There are a lot of live instruments, and a lot of analog synths on this for sure. The other difference is I’ve gotten better as a songwriter since then. I think doing this and thinking about production has changed the way I rap. You don’t have to say everything with words you can just let a guitar solo happen [laughs]. Sometimes I can talk through the beat.
TRHH: What beat-making equipment did you use for this album?
B. Dolan: Man we used a lot of equipment. Most of the beats would start where I live at my project studio. I’ve got a pretty simple set up. I’ve got a turntable, a BOSS Dr. Sample – it’s an old beat box sampler that has really a nice sound that makes things kind of dusty, and a shit ton of records that I got on tour over the years. From there we would take it into the bigger studio where DS3K has a ton of Moog equipment. We used the Moog Voyager a lot on this record, also the Moog Slim Phatty, and a lot of Moog pedals, actually. I say overall production wise there is a lot of Moog on it. Then there is just live stuff. We worked with a guitarist, Adam Schneider. We worked with an upright bassists named Mike Brown. Aside from the analog synths there’s also a lot of live musicians.
B. Dolan: [Laughs] Yeah that was the first single. That song came about late in the album. It’s a really spastic drum loop. It’s one of my favorite beats for sure. Scroobius Pip, who is releasing an album in Europe took a liking to that song, I think because the BPM is so fast. It’s a really fast BPM and it reminded the UK side of Grime. I like beats with really dynamic changes like that and I felt it was a really cool representation of what was in-store on the album. The drums are a break beat, but a weird kind of break beat. I don’t think you can find another song that samples what I sampled there. Actually no one has successfully guessed what I sampled there. There is analog bass and guitars in there. That was part of the freedom and the fun of this album, because we were working with live musicians we can do all this stuff. We weren’t restricted by a sample. We can have a breakdown as drastic as what happens in the fourth verse of that song, and it goes somewhere else and all of a sudden it sounds like some Led Zeppelin shit but with synthesizers. I liked how adventurous and aggressive that track was. I felt like it was a good lead-off for the album.
B. Dolan: Yeah. While we were making this album I actually released two House of Bees tapes. In general I just kind of make songs. Especially in this last period of time I wasn’t really making stuff saying, “This is for the album,” and “This is for the mixtape.” I just kind of sit in the studio make a beat, and when I listen to the beat I write a song. When the song is a little further down the road you can make an evaluation about where it fits best. The mixtape is cool because it provides the looseness. There are less rules with a mixtape. If I have a big obvious sample I want to use that would be hard to clear for the official album I don’t have to worry about it, I can put it on the mixtape.
On the other end if we’re working on a song for the mixtape that starts to sound incredible and really special it’s like, “Well shit, maybe this should go on the album.” Each makes the other easier. The mixtape is a looser format and it taught me how to have more fun. Making an official album is a very heavy intense process that involves a lot of people. Making a mixtape is you making something and you give it to fans, and fans receive it in a different head space. I can hear the difference from Fallen House to this album because of those mixtapes in between. It’s cool when you’re having fun and as a result I’m having fun on official albums now. It taught me how to make different songs and change the way I approach songs.
TRHH: You have a great song on the album called ‘Who Killed Russell Jones?’ It’s obviously about ODB, but what exactly inspired that song?
B. Dolan: I’m just a huge fan of Ol’ Dirty Bastard. From a very young age he was one of my favorite emcees. My appreciation for who he was and what he did only has grown as I got further into rap music and become a part of it and a performer. During different periods of time you have different favorites in Wu-Tang, but who has the most lasting impact is that dude. There will never be another Ol’ Dirty Bastard in rap. I am the biggest fan that you can be of that dude. His loss is really tragic. There was a magazine, GQ or Esquire that went to talk to him when he was in jail and it made me think of his humanity. That was a very real person. We were all very entertained by who he was, but at the end of the day that was a real dude that probably needed some care, some attention, and some help that he didn’t get. It’s tragic to me that we lost that dude that young.
There is a Bob Dylan song called “Who Killed Davey Moore?” and it’s about the death of a prizefighter. My song borrows the format of the Bob Dylan song. The chorus is the question of who killed him, and every verse is another person who probably had something to do with it but they’re pleading their innocence. In pleading their innocence they’re demonstrating why they’re guilty. It’s a cool format.
TRHH: I’m glad you did that, man, because I’m a huge Dirty fan. You talked about his humanity and I think the same week that he bum rushed the Grammys he saved a little girl who had been hit and was trapped underneath a car in Brooklyn.
B. Dolan: Oh yeah? I didn’t even know that story.
TRHH: Yeah, look it up. Nobody ever talks about that stuff. He was a unique guy for sure.
B. Dolan: Man, I think it’s for me [laughs]. I’m not going to say that I didn’t take into consideration the fans and the people that follow my music. Ultimately that’s what I’ve had to do up until this point. This is my third official album and if you count the mixtapes it’s like my sixth record. It would be easy for me to fall into a rut. I know how to make a song that sounds like Fallen House. I know how to make a B. Dolan song. To me that is how you get lazy and how you fall off. I’m trying not to do that. The way I’ve avoided that through the years is to keep doing shit that challenges me and keep putting myself in situations where I’m like, “Ah shit, I don’t know if this is gonna work!” or I feel like I’m right at the brink of my capabilities. When I felt like I had firm grasp on how to make a rap song, I think that’s a dangerous zone to get into. I gotta keep pushing and try to make it hard.
We tried to do the production, we fell down, we failed, and we fucked up. It took us five fuckin’ years to deliver the album, but at the end of it I’m confident that the work on there is me really fighting for it to happen and for it to work. It starts out as being about me but for the next two years I’m touring for this album. I’m going to bring these songs out and they’re going to take on a life of their own because people are going to hear them and certain parts they’re going to respond to. Certain songs are going to change because of the live show and how things are presented. It will be for everyone else in 2-or-3 years. It will become a different thing like songs do. As of right now I made it to challenge myself and see how good we can make it sound.
Originally from Southern California, Myke Bogan is now a fixture in the Portland Hip-Hop scene. After dropping three critically acclaimed solo projects Bogan released his best work to date, 2014’s “Silk Jockstrap”. The 7 track EP debuted at number 16 on the iTunes charts just hours after its release.
Myke Bogan kicked off 2015 with the release of the single “Metal Explosions” to hold fans over until the release of his next project, a mixtape called “Casino Carpet” to be released on his Soundlapse label. Myke Bogan’s continued success recently earned him a spot on King Chip’s “Royal Tour” along with fellow Portland rapper Tre Redeau.
The Real Hip-Hop spoke to Myke Bogan about the Portland Hip-Hop scene, touring with King Chip, and his upcoming mixtape, Casino Carpet.
Myke Bogan: It’s been an amazing experience. When I first started rapping “The Cleveland Show” was one of my favorite mixtapes. To be on tour with Chip Tha Ripper now is crazy.
TRHH: What’s been the livest city so far?
Myke Bogan: Hands down, Madison, Wisconsin. Madison went crazy! I had no idea the love for Hip-Hop there. It was crazy — the crowd participation, the energy, it was packed, it was awesome.
TRHH: A lot of people say that. Every time I interview someone on tour they say Madison is the best city. It’s a college town…
Myke Bogan: Right! And it’s crazy because when I walked in I asked the promoter if he was worried about the show because school just let out and he was like, “No, bro. Madison is nonstop, 365.”
TRHH: The new single ‘Metal Explosions’ is dope. Tell me how that song came together.
Myke Bogan: Thank you, man. Basically one of my friends that produces my beats was like, “I haven’t heard you really snap lately. You’ve been on your smoker vibe and making smooth tracks and it’s been amazing, but I wanna hear you snap again.” He made that gritty, grimy beat for ‘Metal Explosions’. It came about because rappers are always rapping about money, cars, and clothes – the cliché rapper stuff. What I did with the chorus was I’m basically talking about everything I don’t have. The whole, “Money, money, money on my mind,” and “I been gettin’ money all my life,” that’s a lie. I go into the hook and I’m like, “Trying to keep it cool, never snooze, and I never sleep hardly/Couch surfing through a pool party…” and it’s basically all these things that you can’t do. You can’t couch surf through a pool party. All the stuff that is so cliché and contradictory I just wanted to put that into a chorus and say, “That’s not what I’m about.” I guess just going against the grain is pretty much how it came about.
TRHH: Silk Jockstrap is one of the illest titles ever [Laughs]. How’d you come up with that name for the EP?
Myke Bogan: [Laughs] I was doing songs and wanted to put something out. The songs are pretty smooth and I wanted to put a tape out so I wanted something smooth and free. Me and my boy were smoking one night and he said I should call it “Silk Panties”. I said, “I can’t call it that. We gotta make it something smooth but free.” I’m like, “Jock strap. A silk jockstrap, how comfortable would that be?” So we ended up calling it “Silk Jockstrap” and it worked out. People loved it.
TRHH: Portland is not a place you hear about when you talk about Hip-Hop. What’s the Portland Hip-Hop scene like?
Myke Bogan: We don’t get the recognition we deserve. I believe because one, we need to band together more as a Hip-Hop community. Two, artists need to get better at getting their selves out there. Artists need to get on the road, artists need to drop more, more projects, and do it right. I feel like people in Portland are dropping a lot of music but the game is so watered down now. If you don’t drop correctly it’s not going to get the recognition it deserves and it’s just gonna be a project wasted. We as Portland artists do have to band together and do a better job but the scene is amazing.
Tre Redeau, Vinnie Dewayne, Illmaculate, Glenn Waco, Mic Capes, they’re all great artists. It’s surprisingly a brutal place, man. Traveling on the Royal Tour and seeing other people’s live performances, it gives me a new respect for Portland. Performing in Portland is very hard. It’s very Hip-Hop, it’s very gritty, they’re waiting to boo you, and kick you off the stage. I was telling Chip’s DJ, DJ Fade, “Portland’s one of the few places where people aren’t just going to show up and go crazy ‘cause it’s live music. You have to earn the trust and respect of the Portland fan base.” The northwest is still very Hip-Hop when it comes to that and I appreciate that. I wish it got more recognition, but hopefully here in the near future we can get that going.
TRHH: “SGDB” is a dope song from the EP. Your music is pro-marijuana and Oregon is one of the few states to legalize it for recreational use. What impact has that had on you personally?
Myke Bogan: I think it’s pretty cool that people are starting to come around and legalize it but it really didn’t affect me that much, besides getting it from a dispensary instead of somewhere else. I was gonna smoke regardless, but having it legalized is really cool.
Myke Bogan: At the end of July/early August Casino Carpet my next mixtape, it is ten tracks that are all produced by Lefty out of Los Angeles. It’s super smooth, man. It will be an amazing tape for the summer. It’s something to chill to, something to smoke to, and something to vibe to. It’s summer-esque. It’s built to light one up and chill. Light one up and play FIFA [laughs]. That’s what it’s made for and that’s how it was composed as well – doing just that.
In 2013 7L & Esoteric joined forces with Inspectah Deck from the Wu-Tang Clan under the banner of a comic book character named “CZARFACE”. Their self-titled album seemingly came out of nowhere and became one of the best Hip-Hop releases of that year. The band is back together and recently released their follow-up album to CZARFACE, “Every Hero Needs a Villain”.
Every Hero Needs a Villain is produced by 7L and Spada4 and features appearances by Method Man, GZA, Large Professor, Meyhem Lauren, R.A. the Rugged Man, JuJu of the Beatnuts, and MF Doom.
One-third of CZARFACE, Esoteric spoke to The Real Hip-Hop about reuniting with 7L and Inspectah Deck for a second go round, his memories of late wrestling legend Dusty Rhodes, and his new album, CZARFACE.
Esoteric: This speaks to the unpredictable nature of CZARFACE. Is he a hero? A villain? Can he be both? Does it depend on who is rhyming? Is he a villain to the city but a hero to the people? Tune in next episode!
TRHH: What made you guys decide to come back for another CZARFACE album?
Esoteric: Mainly because the first one was a lot of fun to make and we can just attack the canvas with no rules. It’s a no DQ match every time out the gate with CZARFACE that’s why it sounds how it does. The rhymes, ideas, and inspiration never stop coming and the CZARFACE character himself had some growing to do so we took it there for round 2. In some senses the positive feedback from the first album reinvigorated all three of us, so we were motivated to give them a second issue.
TRHH: One of the singles on the album ‘Nightcrawler’ features Method Man. How’d that song come together?
Esoteric: The beat came first from 7L. I told him we wanted some up tempo stuff since tracks like “Savagely Attack” and “Word War 4″ off the first album were around or over 100 beats per minute, and we wanted to get some of that vibe on here. I played it for Deck, he said “I think Mef would sound good on here,” and I said “No doubt, can you make that happen?” Sure enough, he swooped in and made it happen. I acted cool and laid back about it, but when he suggested getting Method Man on the joint I was hype.
TRHH: The wrestling influence is heavy on this album. Was that premeditated or did it just turn out that way?
Esoteric: A lot of the sound bytes I search for to sprinkle between the verses are from that arena so to speak, and it’s just something that I always like digging for because there are so many interviews and promos where wrestlers are essentially saying the same things an emcee would say, just angrier and with far less finesse. There was a lot of that on the first CZARFACE album too, and it has always been in my repertoire, even going back to 2004 when we kicked off our 7L & Esoteric Bars of Death album with a Dusty Rhodes monologue, Rest in peace.
TRHH: What’s your favorite Dusty memory?
Esoteric: I used to watch him all the time at my grandmother’s in Dorchester in the 80’s. I used to like going there every weekend because I knew I could watch wrestling uninterrupted. But no wrestling memory ever tops the time my father brought me to Baltimore, Maryland in 1987 to see the Crockett Cup. Dusty Rhodes tagged with Nikita Koloff as “The Superpowers” and defeated Lex Luger and Tully Blanchard for the Crockett Cup. They wrestled a few times that night because it was a tournament, and it was cool to see them live, along with the Road Warriors. My dad was never into wrestling, in fact he hated it, but he brought me all the way to Baltimore to see these guys wrestle because I loved it. The NWA/WCW promotions never really made it up to Boston, so we had to travel down there. I will never forget sitting in the crowd and I pointed at this little man with a denim jacket, earring, beard, glasses, a pony-tail, and a bunch of wrestling buttons on his collar. I said to my dad, “I’m gonna be like him when I grow up,” and my dad shot me this stern look and said “No, you’re not!!!” so I did this Hip-Hop thing instead [laughs].
TRHH: The song ‘Ka-Bang!’ features MF Doom. He’s a bit of a recluse. How on earth did you track him down to do this?
Esoteric: Our boy Egon from Now Again, and formerly Stones Throw. He booked us in the late 90’s to rock with Madlib and Peanut Butter Wolf. We established a friendship then and stayed in touch for years. He put us down with Doom and made sure he was familiar with CZARFACE and what we were doing. Our relationship with Egon back in the 90’s actually came from our relationship with Matt Slywka, who interned at Loud Records, and connected us with Deck in 1999 to do “Speaking Real Words” while managing me and 7L. It may sound confusing, but the history with Egon and Slywka led to collaborating with Deck in ’99 which eventually led to CZARFACE many years later, and that ancient history with Egon led to getting MF Doom on this album, kinda [laughs].
Miami emcee Soarse Spoken is prepared to take Hip-Hop to the heart. Soarse’s 4-track EP titled “Pretty Dark Summer” tackles the rarely touched on emotion of heartbreak. The EP’s first single “Her (v2)” takes on the topic of heartbreak head on. The project’s lead-off single is an extension of the entire EP.
“I always wear my heart on my sleeve, and this project is no different,” said Spoken.
Pretty Dark Summer is produced by T. Hemingway, Aches, and Mike Deuce and features guest vocals from Afrobeta.
The Real Hip-Hop spoke to Soarse Spoken about the importance of emotion in his music, his new single Her (v2), and his upcoming EP, Pretty Dark Summer.
TRHH: Explain the title of the new EP, Pretty Dark Summer.
Soarse Spoken: The title for the EP, Pretty Dark Summer, is meant to evoke the feeling of a somber mood, but during summer time which is generally supposed to be a happy time in people’s lives. I guess a better title would’ve been “I feel like winter”, but that wouldn’t have the same dramatic effect and, also, summertime plays a big role in the inspiration for this project.
TRHH: Who or what inspired this project?
Soarse Spoken: This EP was inspired by a couple rough cases of heartbreak which took place over the span of about 3 summers for me.
Soarse Spoken: “Her (v2)” originally started off as a song I was using on a jacking for beats mixtape series I was doing called #FuckItTuesday, where I would just grab a beat I was feeling from the internet that week and would spit some bars over it then throw it on SoundCloud. I started working on Pretty Dark Summer with my friend and producer Mike Deuceat the same time, and the song fit well with Pretty Dark Summer so we put it on there as one of the four songs on the EP. It fit so well, in fact, that we made it the single.
TRHH: Do you find that heightened emotions inspire you more to write?
Soarse Spoken: I do. At this point in my life, I always write better when I’m feeling down or angry or in some sort of somber mood. That doesn’t necessarily mean that I’m a mean or sad dude, I just think my writing flows better when I’m in those moods. I remember a point in my life where being happy made me write more clearly. What a naive, young man I must’ve been [laughs].
Soarse Spoken: All of my projects are different in some way. I grow as an artist as time passes and with every project I do. Starve the Hunger was an original mixtape I put together to re-introduce my sound to the world, so to speak, after I hadn’t released anything in the four years prior. It is a more boom-bap and braggadocios project full of guest features and head nodding beats courtesy of DJ Sharpsound. Pretty Dark Summer has a focus. It’s a conceptual EP dealing with heartbreak and loss and pain. The prior is also a mixtape style project with like 16 tracks and the latter is a 4 song EP on one topic. Creative and production wise, the two projects are different in almost every sense.
TRHH: On Starve the Hunger you had a song called ‘Pu$$y and Art’ which seems completely opposite from your new music. What was the inspiration behind that song?
Soarse Spoken: Yeah, those are completely different in every way. The song ‘Pu$$y & Art’ and Pretty Dark Summer are just two different mind sets of the same artist. I consider myself a conscious dude, but at the same time I’m from Miami and women and artistic expression is something we hold very near and dear to our hearts here. I was in two different moods when I wrote each one respectively. And, again, ‘Pu$$y & Art’ is on Starve the Hunger which, as I mentioned earlier, is more of a boom-bap, I brag about shit, type project. Pretty Dark Summer has a deeper sentiment. If an artist doesn’t have a wide range of emotions, then I don’t know how much of an artist he or she should consider themselves.
TRHH: Who is Pretty Dark Summer for?
Soarse Spoken: Pretty Dark Summer is for anyone who’s ever had to deal with a really tough break up or loss in their lives. I’ve always found that when I’m in a bad mood and I listen to really somber, moody music, I start feeling better about myself, shout out to Julio Jaramillo and Radiohead. This is my version of that for everybody who’s going through some sad times. Things will always get better and those dark summers you’re going through will start to feel pretty again.
Entrepreneur and emcee Cab Cabernet is selling more than lyrics, he’s selling a lifestyle. His Krushed Grapes Lifestyle sells cigars, wine, footwear, hats, and custom-made leather accessories among other things. In early July the man formerly known as Hanif Jamiyl of Maspyke will be selling music.
Cab Cabernet is set to release his second solo album, an ode to Harlem, New York called “Krushed Grapes: Harlem Vintage” on his very own Bukarance Record label. Krushed Grapes: Harlem Vintage is produced by Roddy Rod, RTNC, J. Bless, Declat, Tigga-Bounce, Frank Lotz and White Indian. The album features appearances by VonQwest, Noni Kai, Kat Starr Johnson and Priciliya Marie.
Cab Cabernet chatted with The Real Hip-Hop about the Krushed Grapes Lifestyle, his time as a male escort, and his upcoming album, Krushed Grapes: Harlem Vintage.
TRHH: Explain the title of the new album, Krushed Grapes: Harlem Vintage.
Cab Cabernet: Krushed Grapes: Harlem Vintage is the second installment of the Krushed Grapes series of albums that I’m putting out. The first was called “Krushed Graped” and that dropped in 2008. It was the first solo album that I did after my involvement with Maspkye, which is one of the most slept-on underground Hip-Hop groups in many, many years. That’s basically the first solo joint that I did, it was released worldwide. It got rave reviews but very few sales due to a lot of different reasons. This is a totally different project. This is going back to another era. A lot of cats go back to the 90s, 80s, and even the 70s like Camp Lo and shit like that, but I’m going way back to the 30s, 40s, and 50s. I’m revisiting music, style and culture from that era and ways of presenting images, sounds, and ideas from that era. It’s a celebration of that time and where I think we need to be right now. I think we need to take a lot of that influence from that time because it represents positive black images, positive black things, and positive black people. Also, the way we used to dress, deal with each other, approach art, a lot of different things. That’s what Krushed Grapes: Harlem Vintage is, it’s a celebration of a lost era of respect, refinement, class, and style that is old Harlem.
Cab Cabernet: My last album with Maspyke on ABB Records was 2005. I took a year off because I was burned out. We toured the world. I was on Elektra records from 94-96, I was a ghost writer for a long time, I just got burned out. I didn’t wanna make music but didn’t know what I was gonna do since I’ve been doing music so long. A situation fell in my lap and I got the opportunity to start an all-male escort service, of all things. It’s something I never thought I’d be interested in but that happened. The service provided various service for women only. I made some good money doing that and it opened up other worlds. I started missing making music and wanted to do some more. So I made an album based on the actual service.
The album was very sexual, sensual, and about the business of pleasure. It was also a love letter to my favorite artists from the 70s, 80s, and 90s. Maspkye is known for concepts and that’s where I come from. I recorded my first demo in the late 80s in the golden era. I’m influenced by that time where you made concept albums and everything means something. I’m sure you’re from that era as well where cats made albums, not just one record. The third album I’m working on now and it’s totally different from the first two. Krushed Grapes Lifestyle is the brand and the music is all about selling the lifestyle rather than selling music. I’m not really interested in selling music, I’m interested in selling the lifestyle. The music is a product of the brand, just like the leather goods, the footwear, the cigars, and the wine.
TRHH: I’m intrigued by the escort service [laughs]. I thought this was just something in the movies. What kind of women were your clients? What were their backgrounds?
Cab Cabernet: That’s a great question. I haven’t talked much about this yet so this is good that cats are starting to ask me about it. When the album dropped I didn’t even mention the fact that the album was based on the service. I just wanted to keep that on the low. My marketing cat was like, “You should have told me that! That was juicy! We could have ran with that!” There are many different lifestyles out there that we know nothing about if we aren’t introduced to it. There are women in a certain time of life, with a certain amount of money that are at a certain point in their life where they want certain things and they aren’t afraid to ask for it or pay for it. Not like these young girls that play a lot of games they’re like, “This is what I want, this is how I want it, and I’m willing to pay for it.”
They want to pay for a quality service from a quality man that’s not going to give them any problems, emotional issues, static, or arguments. They can pay for that and use it when they wanna use it. That’s who these women are. They’re widows, some of them have husbands, some of them own businesses, some of them have male problems where they can’t keep a man so they’d rather be in control of the situation and pay for the service. It’s a lot of different types of situations. Honestly my most loyal customer never even wanted sex. Not all these women want sex. That’s the difference between men and women. Men that pay for escorts want sex, women are different creatures. This woman wanted to be held for like 4 hours a night, three nights a week. That’s what her husband did before he died and that’s what she missed. She was in her late 40s and that’s what she wanted.
TRHH: How much does it pay to hold a woman for 4 hours a night [laughs]? My mind is blown by this, man.
Cab Cabernet: [Laughs] I’m not sure, man. Regular price for a high end escort service is somewhere between $500-and-$1000 an hour. Mine was very low key and referral only. There is no website. My clients were people in the business of finance, people in music, and entertainment. They were people in the background, not celebrities. I made more money doing that in those 2 years than I did in the music business. It’s very lucrative. What a lot of cats don’t understand is women are not going to talk about this kind of thing except to maybe one person, like a girlfriend, someone that they confide in. Men will come to work after they pay for an escort and talk about it to everybody like it’s all good [laughs]. Women are who you think they are. They’re concerned about what women are saying about them, “Oh she’s paying for this? What’s wrong with her?” Men don’t give a fuck about any of that, “Yeah, I paid for it, what?” That’s why it’s a closeted industry and people don’t think it’s real or it’s not going on but it is. Women keep this very quiet because they don’t want people to know that they’re paying for these kinds of services. That’s what makes it real cool because it’s discrete.
Cab Cabernet: Harlem is where I reside and I always had a deep attachment and love affair with Harlem. I study Harlem. Harlem is a beautiful place and I wanted to capture the people, the culture, and the essence of the beauty of Harlem — just walking through Harlem showing streets and people enjoying the day –predominantly black Harlem. Nowadays there’s a lot of gentrification. It’s not old Harlem and that’s one of the reasons I called this Harlem Vintage. I wanted to revisit an old Harlem and show the images and style. I also wanted to show how Harlem is similar to how it used to me, too. There is a new renaissance going on here. Back in the old renaissance white folks used to go uptown and party in Harlem. Harlem was the post for everybody. The song “Putting on the Ritz” is about Harlem, “Have you seen the well to do on Lennox Avenue,” they changed the words “Lennox Avenue” to “Park Avenue” later. That’s what’s going on now, white folks are moving in and they’re partying with us. This is the place to be for the nightlife and the culture and it always was. It’s kind of like a trip back there and to mix it with what’s going on now. The video was dealing with the culture of Harlem and the album is as well. That video itself is Harlem Week. Every year we have Harlem Week and it’s a week of Harlem vendors, Harlem people, and a Harlem celebration.
Cab Cabernet: The Krushed Grapes Lifestyle is the lifestyle of enjoying life. This was created out of me researching industries and lifestyles of the women that were in the service. What else are they going to consume besides men on a daily basis? What products and services are they into? What kind of men are they into? The ultimate goal is to grow the brand. Cab Cabernet and Krushed Grapes Lifestyle is like a mix of Ralph Lauren, Hugh Heffner, James Bond, and Billy Dee Williams. I really dig Ralph Lauren and what he’s done branding wise and that’s kind of what I wanna do is take that approach for my brand. I want to provide quality products and services with a huge Hip-Hop following and create something quality for my people. Ralph Lauren started making ties in the 70s now he has clothing lines, dishes, paint, and bed spreads. He’s no longer selling clothing or one product, he’s selling a lifestyle. The whole concept of that is if you buy into the lifestyle then you’ll buy everything he sells under that umbrella. That’s kind of the concept that I’m developing and working with. I don’t want you to buy the music, I want you to buy the lifestyle. If you buy into the lifestyle you’re going to buy everything that I produce.
TRHH: Who is the Krushed Grapes: Harlem Vintage album for?
Cab Cabernet: The Harlem Vintage album is for everyone that appreciates quality, classic music, not just Hip-Hop, classic style, classic culture, and that stands for something, understands what refinement is and desires to be refined. Aspires to respect, integrity, and a lot of things that we stood for back then and is gone now. The brand is usually for 21 and over because it includes wine but honestly it’s also for the youth. I have children and my son is a young teenager and I’m up on what’s going on with these kids. I’m really concerned with what’s going on with the young black male youth in Hip-Hop and the images that they’re running with and the things that they say and try to portray because they think it’s going to get them famous and rich. I just want young cats to look at what I’m doing and how I’m dressed and say, “This cat is something I want to aspire to. I want to aspire to talk about this, and to look like that.”
I think there is a feminization of the young black youth that’s going on. It’s not about the gay shit that’s going, if you’re gay, you’re gay. There were gay cats back in the 30s too but they weren’t wearing dresses, skirts and nail polish [laughs]. That shit is just crazy. That is the image of 9 out of 10 new rappers that have major record deals. They either have to sound funny, look like a girl, or be ultra-gangster. It’s just crazy what’s going on to me. I want to offer another perspective of the gentleman and the neighborhood dude that cares about his people and represents a classic image. There is nothing soft about it, it’s also nothing gangster about it. It’s just a classic cat that stands for certain things – classic morals. Hopefully cats will understand it and dig it. If cats don’t dig it, it’s not for them. I’m not doing this to grab certain people that don’t belong in this lifestyle. It’s not for everybody.
Adrian Younge is a conventional musician in an unconventional time, which makes him, well, unconventional. Eschewing digital recording in favor of a warmer analog sound has made Younge a beloved figure in modern Hip-Hop. His music has been sampled by the likes of Jay-Z, Common, Ab-Soul, and Royce da 5’9” & DJ Premier, also known as, PRhyme.
Younge started his own record label, Linear Labs, to continue the tradition of making music that’s meant to be sampled. To give fans a taste of what’s to come on the Linear Labs label Younge released a compilation album titled “Linear Labs: Los Angeles”. The album features appearances by Souls of Mischief, Ali Shaheed Muhammad, Laetitia Sadler, Karolina, Loren Oden, The Delfonics, William Hart, Toni Scruggs, Raekwon, RZA, and Ghostface Killah.
The Real Hip-Hop spoke to Adrian Younge about the future of the Linear Labs record label, the impact of PRhyme, and the Linear Labs: Los Angeles compilation.
TRHH: What’s the motivation behind releasing a compilation album now?
Adrian Younge: The motivation being releasing a compilation album now is I get to showcase some new songs from 4 albums I have releasing this year. Also, I get to introduce people to forgotten tracks within my catalog. For me I thought that was important because as an artist I like to keep my music together. I like people to hear my music together because I feel like my music is a story. I like to tag team my music and have it all be taken as homogenized experience – something that’s not made up of a bunch of different things. I like people to listen to it as if it’s one continuous track. Those are the reasons why the compilation is important to me.
TRHH: I don’t know if you’ve ever produced a single for anybody but it seems like it wouldn’t be your thing to produce one track on somebody’s album. Is that correct?
Adrian Younge: Yes, that is correct. I do some production here and there but generally speaking I like to do albums because if you make a song with somebody that’s just where you start. Your best songs are while you’re working with people so I like people to hear my music as if it’s a collective of work, especially when it’s dealing with an artist that I’d really like to work with. I want them to listen to a bunch of music that I have with that artist opposed to just one song.
TRHH: What does an artist need to possess to be on the Linear Labs label?
Adrian Younge: I mean, a lot. Basically the Linear Labs label is based on the notion that we are backing handcrafted music. It’s an artisan approach to the making of music. It’s something that I feel has been lost in the art. People that would be chosen to be on the label has to be someone that I feel has that approach — that refined approach to the manufacturing of music. It takes a lot, for example everything I do does not require computers to produce. I would like stuff to be recorded on tape, I’d like people to use hardware to record with, not just plug-ins. It’s a lot to it. It’s a lifestyle behind the artists that are on the brand.
TRHH: One of the songs on the album is ‘Return of the Savage’ with Ghostface, RZA, and Rae. Give me some background on how that song came together.
Adrian Younge: Basically that song is the first single off the 12 Reasons to Die part II album. That song encapsulates the theme of the second album, which is just a continuation of 12 Reasons to Die part I with Raekwon being a new lead character. That song helps to tell the story of this new transition. I know Raekwon, RZA is one of my really good friends, and obviously Ghost, so it was something that I said I wanted these people on it and when I spoke to them they were all down — so it was that easy.
TRHH: What’s your creative process like? What do you begin with when creating a song?
Adrian Younge: It all depends on what kind of song I’m making. It all depends on what’s inspiring. Because I play many instruments sometimes I’ll start out a song on a flute. Sometimes I’ll start out on drums, or bass, or keys, it all depends on what my mood is. What I intentionally do is create the foundation for a song and when that foundation is created, whether its drums and keys and/or bass and drums, thereafter I bring in the vocalist to help to paint the picture by placing a lead on top of the song and then what I do is come in and paint the background. Meaning tie the track together to make a complete song. That’s essentially how it works.
TRHH: Royce & Premier did a stellar job with your work as PRhyme. Did that project bring more ears to the music of Adrian Younge?
Adrian Younge: Yes. Absolutely, because Primo is a living legend – he has heritage in the game. Royce is one of the best emcees in the world. Whenever they’re doing anything if you’re connected to that you’re obviously gonna get peripheral looks. Because I’m connected to this it definitely put new eyes on my catalog, especially since my catalog is based upon the compositional perspective of people like Primo. People got it, they understood what we’re trying to do.
TRHH: You’ve worked with Souls of Mischief, Ghostface, and others. Is there another artist you’d like to do a complete album with?
Adrian Younge: I was actually just thinking about that the other day. If Aretha Franklin still has chops I’d probably like to do something with Aretha Franklin.
TRHH: What’s next up for Linear Labs?
Adrian Younge: We have 12 Reasons to Die part II, we have Something About April part II, and we have an album called “The Midnight Hour” with Ali Shaheed Muhammad. It’s our production with different featured guests. All of that stuff is coming out by fall of this year.
After the passing of The Notorious B.I.G., the defection of The Lox, and the retirement of Ma$e, Bad Boy Records was left without any true rap stars. Seemingly out of nowhere Harlem emcee Black Rob emerged as the chosen one to carry the Bad Boy baton with his debut album Life Story, and its hit single, “Whoa!”.
What followed was a sophomore album (The Black Rob Report) that didn’t match the sales of his debut, the subsequent separation from Bad Boy Records, and a 4-year prison stint. In 2010 Rob returned home to begin work on his third release (Game Tested, Streets Approved) on Duck Down Records, only to be plagued by health issues after its release.
Black Rob is back with his fourth solo album titled “Genuine Article” released on SlimStyle Records. Guest starring on Genuine Article are Sean Price, Tek of Smif-N-Wessun, Quas Amill, Kali Ranks, Quan, Ron Browz, Q. Parker, Harley, and Murda Mook. The album is produced by Bishop, Big French, The BPM Boyz, Numonics, Coptic, Money L, and Easy Mo Bee.
Black Rob spoke to The Real Hip-Hop about his recent health issues, his upcoming reality show, and his new album, Genuine Article.
Black Rob: I wanted to give the people what they have been asking for so Wave of New York is one of those joints. That raw New York flow!
TRHH:Do you feel like lyrics are coming back to New York?
Black Rob: I wouldn’t just say New York, but it’s definitely coming back to being more about lyrics.
TRHH:Talk a little about the reality show you’re involved with, Comeback Kings.
Black Rob: Hilarious and real at the same time! It’s not other reality shows that people may be used to. It’s about cats that have been on top of the game at some point in our career and still doing it. Showing some of the things we have to go through as an artist.
TRHH:On the song ‘Welcome to My Life’ it seemed like you were sending a message. What were you feeling when you wrote that song?
Black Rob: I was just allowing my fans to know more about me that they didn’t already know. I’m already known for telling stories, so that is just another story of my life.
TRHH:Recently you disclosed that you have high blood pressure that led to a stroke. How has your life changed since your health issues came to the surface?
Black Rob: Wow, man my life has changed drastically. I can’t do things that I used to do, I don’t eat things that I may have liked to eat before. I had to stop all the salty foods, because that sodium is dangerous. I take it very serious, because I still have so much more to do in life and I have to be here for my kids.