ProbCause: Drifters

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Photo courtesy of Audible Treats

Photo courtesy of Audible Treats

Being a Chicagoan there are certain things you can count on happening every year – a miserable winter coupled with a beautiful summer, a disappointing season from one or all of the city’s sports teams, and a project from rapper ProbCause.

Each year Prob releases music that doesn’t fit into any of the boxes that Windy City rap artists are normally tossed in. His music blends various styles, sounds, and genres together into one complete package – ProbCause’s new project is no different. The latest offering from ProbCause is a 12-track album titled “Drifters” released on electronic artist/producer Gramatik’s Lowetemp Music label.

Drifters features appearances by Twista, Saba, CYN, Gibbz, Angel Davanport, and The O’My’s. The album is produced by Gramatik, Drew Mantia, The Geek x Vrv, D.R.O., Wes P, Exmag, COFRESI, GRiZ, Break Science & Mike Irish, and ProbCause himself.

The Real Hip-Hop spoke to ProbCause about his upcoming performance at Chicago’s North Coast Music Festival, joining forces with Gramatik’s Lowtemp record label, the division within the Chicago Hip-Hop scene, and his new album, Drifters.

TRHH: Explain the title of the new album, “Drifters”.

ProbCause: Shit man, it was a combination of things. Partially because I’ve been on the road traveling a lot, playing a lot of shows out of town, and living out of a backpack. I just kind of felt like I was drifting. The other part of it was the music is kind of dreamy, airy, and in this weird kind of space. A lot of it I was drifting off and in a daze. It’s taken from that kind of weird headspace. It’s just kind of a fitting word to describe the sound of the album, but also a lot of the concepts behind the music.

TRHH: Tell me about the first single, “I Feel U”.

ProbCause: Basically I started seeing a lot of people around me acting a little bit weird. People who I used to fuck with were asking for favors and acting weird. I was in a weird headspace when I wrote it – kind of pissed off, kind of depressed, and annoyed with people. It’s kind of an angry aggressive song. In certain moments I’m talking about specific people and specific situations, but I’m generally talking about people who turn their back on you and show true colors when things hit the fan. When you start getting a little bit of buzz you start seeing how people really are and how they act. It was just my reaction to people around me starting to act a little goofball.

TRHH: [Laughs] Between people acting funny with you and you living out of a suitcase, it sounds like your life is hectic. Are you in a good place?

ProbCause: [Laughs] Yeah, yeah, yeah! You know it sounds crazy. While I was writing this album I was in a really transitional place – transitional state of mind, transitional musically, and literally on the move. I wrote a lot of this album while I was on tour, in the car, or just in motion. I think with all of that combined I was in a weird place, but now I’m kinda good. I was definitely going through some phases with it like dealing with the stresses of trying to make it as an artist and a musician. I think a lot of the music on this album is me reassuring myself like, “Shit’s gonna be okay,” and “This is a worthwhile endeavor.” I say it as if I’m giving the advice to somebody else but I’m really talking to myself and the audience at the same time. I’m definitely in a good headspace now, but while making it I was going through a lot of different phases. I went from a good space, to a bad space, to breaking up with a girl, to getting back together with her, and all that type of shit that goes along with being a traveling artist and a traveling musician.

TRHH: How is Drifters different from your last solo project Waves?

ProbCause: I think I’m a lot more involved with this album than Waves or any other project. I produced a few tracks on it, I’m singing on it, and I did all the artwork for it – which I guess I did on Waves, too. It’s a lot more musical so I was bringing in musicians, but I was dictating what I wanted them to play. I was writing the music for them to play. I was just really involved. I didn’t have a specific idea for the entire album, but song by song I kind of knew what I was going for with each piece. I think it’s a lot more musical and the production is a lot bigger. Not to take away from it, but I feel like Waves was tracks. It was one track, two tracks, three tracks, this is an album – these are songs. These are compositions more than they are tracks. It’s not just me rapping over beats. I really took the time to try to write songs with it, but it’s a little more musical and well thought out.

TRHH: Earlier this year you released your project with Psalm One, “ZRO Fox”. What was that experience like working with her?

ProbCause: It was cool, man. It was pretty natural, pretty organic. We’ve known each other for a long time. It was just us being in the lab together which was something that wasn’t abnormal. It was fun. I think we could make a full album that’s even better than the project that we put out. We kept a few of the tracks that we had made just because we wanted to give people a taste of it. We wanted to sit back, work, and take our time with something bigger. It was kind of a little teaser of what we’re capable of. It’s fun to work with her. We worked on songs together before so we knew we could hit a lot of things we wanted to hit on. It was a fun experience. Being in the lab with her was a cool thing.

TRHH: You guys kind of bridged the gap of Chicago rap when you brought in Sasha Go Hard on “Might Not“….

ProbCause: [Laughs] Yeah, right?

TRHH: Do you feel like the unity, for lack of a better word, in the Chicago rap scene is growing?

ProbCause: It’s growing and it’s distancing itself. I think it changes and it breathes. I think there are groups of cats that fuck with each other and there are groups of cats that don’t fuck with each other. I think the city is more open to collaborations than it was 5-6 years ago. The nature of Hip-Hop is so competitive that it’ll never be like, “We’re all friends, family, and cool.” Greg, who is Chance’s drummer Stix has this thing called “Jam Night” that he does every month. It’s basically like all my favorite rappers in the city, musicians, and people that are involved in the music scene all in one place. I think there are certain communities that come together in certain instances, but then there are other instances where people don’t know one another exists or they don’t fuck with each other. That’s just the nature of being in a city as segregated as Chicago.

TRHH: Gramatik produced “Back to the Future” on the new EP. How did you end up working with Gramatik and becoming part of the Lowtemp label?

ProbCause: It’s actually kind of a crazy story. We played a festival in Costa Rica together last summer. He was working with this group called Exmag who I work with too now. They saw my set and said, “That was really cool, man. We should do some shit.” I didn’t know who any of them were. They invited us back to this spot that they were staying at. Gramatik was the headliner of the tour and they were all staying in this crazy, beautiful, house on the beach. We ended up crashing at their spot and all becoming homies over the course of the weekend in Costa Rica. We just listened to music and vibed out and shit.

After that we just all stayed in touch and started sending shit back and forth. We made a couple tracks and then Gramatik reached out to me to do this song “Monster Stomp” which we put out like six months ago and that shit went over really well. I ended up doing some tour dates with him and one thing basically led to another. We have three or four unreleased tracks, too. That was just the first one that we put out. It just made sense to put it out on his label. He had been tossing me beats, giving me feedback on new songs, and fuckin’ with my vibe. So it just made sense to have him distribute the album, help me put it out, and give me a different platform to get it out to the world.

TRHH: You’re performing at North Coast Music Festival again this weekend and they’re billing you as an “Artist at Large”. What exactly does that mean…..

ProbCause: [Laughs] Yes. I don’t even fuckin’ know, bro.

TRHH: [Laughs].

ProbCause: I think it just basically means that I will be sitting in with a bunch of different artists. I will be sitting in with Exmag, Manic Focus, and The O’My’s probably. It means that I’m going to be popping up on stage every day, once or twice a day during different people’s sets and whatnot.

TRHH: What can fans expect to hear on Drifters?

ProbCause: Man, a whole new barrage of styles from me. From content, to flows, to everything. I think on “I Feel U” people saw a different side of me that was a little more aggravated and aggressive and attacking the song from a different angle. You can expect a lot of that on the album. It’s a lot more experimenting with different flows, using my voice in a lot of different ways, and singing a little bit. The beat styles and production choices are definitely much different than Waves was. It’s kind of in a different area of the game so it’s kind of electronic, jazzy, trappy, and touches on all these different genres and finds a way to weave them in to each other. It’s an album that I’m really proud of. I think it’s the best music that I’ve ever made.

Purchase: ProbCause – Drifters

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Enter to win tickets to the 2015 North Coast Music Festival

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Win one pair of passes to the North Coast Music Festival

Win one pair of passes to the North Coast Music Festival

The Real Hip-Hop.com is giving you the chance to win one pair of 3-day passes to the 2015 North Coast Music Festival.

The event takes place September 4-6 in Chicago, Illinois and will feature performances by D’Angelo & The Vanguard, Widespread Panic, The Chemical Brothers, Chromeo, Portugal. The Man, Steve Aoki, Knife Party, and The Glitch Mob.

Hip-Hop acts slated to perform at North Coast are The Roots, Wale, Atmosphere, Lyrics Born, Skizzy Mars, Leikeli47, Stefan Ponce, Leather Corduroys, ProbCause, and Wax Tailor.

*** THE CONTEST HAS ENDED ***

For more information, visit http://www.northcoastfestival.com/

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Michael Cardigan: Cloud Club Over Everything

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Photo courtesy of Tone

Photo courtesy of Tone

Michael Cardigan, Tommie Chase, and Elete Wright are St. Joe Louis. The trio united in 2010 to create the critically acclaimed De La Soul-inspired album, “30,000 ft. High & Rising”. The group continued to work as soloists and as a crew over the years while preparing for the release of their follow-up album. Their sophomore album “Cloud Club Over Everything” was released for free on July 26 and finds the trio taking their art to a “higher” level.

Cloud Club Over Everything features appearances from OGM of The Ho99o9, Elle Pierre, Moruf, Nameliss, Steeve Sam, Ezrakh, Jahnia Holterhoff, Fresh Daily, Bad Pegasus, Peter Hadar and Nemo Achida. The album is produced by Dolla, Ezrakh, and Elete Wright.

One-third of St. Joe Louis, Michael Cardigan, spoke to The Real Hip-Hop about the evolution of St. Joe Louis, the passing of the group’s mentor Pumpkinhead, and their new album, Cloud Club Over Everything.

TRHH: Explain the title of the new album, “Cloud Club Over Everything”.

Michael Cardigan: We started out with the thought of doing open sessions. We wanted to capture that live feeling that you get when you’re in the studio creating. We invited any and everybody that we knew to come by the studio and those turned into the craziest kind of parties. We didn’t even capture everything – of course no video. We started calling it “The Cloud Club” because of course there was a lot of smoke and everything you can imagine that’s on the record. That became the cloud club. It first started out as that idea and then it slowly morphed into a bigger idea about chasing your dreams, putting yourself out there, kind of like how clouds are there but not really there. It became deeper as it went on.

TRHH: Tell me about the single, ‘I Rise’.

Michael Cardigan: The “I Rise” record came about when Nemo [Achida] was in town and we ended up doing a show together and hanging out a bit. It was organic. We actually cut two records with him, but that was the one that fit the sound of this project. We’ve got another great one that we’re going to come out with a little bit later on, on another project to follow this one up. It was a while ago actually that we were hanging out, decided to go in the studio, the clouds got into action and we just decided that we wanted to capture that feeling. We thought it was timely too, considering everything that’s going on with police brutality and violence. It put everyone in that really great mindset to be able to rise above things.

TRHH: How is this album different from 30,000 ft. High & Rising?

Michael Cardigan: I would say sonically it’s way more evolved. I feel like certain sounds on 30,000 ft. High & Rising were very boom bap-ish. This one has elements of boom bap but it’s not dominated by it. It’s not dominated by any one thing other than us. The first one was really deeply entrenched in that back-to-basics raw kind of sounds ‘cause we were big De La Soul fans, of course. It was an homage to that, but this one feels more like us realized.

TRHH: Why was there five years in between albums?

Michael Cardigan: We put out EP’s in between there. We did tons of shows, lots of connects, lots of building relationships, and behind the scenes sorts of stuff. Elete is now based out of L.A. so a lot changed in between that time frame. He’s working with a label, Family Artist. he’s working on a project with The Ho99o9 and great artists like Azul. There’s just a lot of different things floating out there. A lot of transitional stuff occurred in between there. Then there was a lot of little things that we dropped. A couple of EP’s the St. Joe Lotus, the St. Joe Lotus: Reloaded, and there was another EP that came out with JR and PH7. That was a larger EP called My Favorite Demons that came in addition to, working with Pro Keds. We’re super-excited about that. Now we’re going to be swinging this back around and you’ll be hearing this early, but we got a full-length LP with JR & PH7 called Coral Cadavers. We’re just trying to get the business straight.

TRHH: Where’d the name St. Joe Louis come from?

Michael Cardigan: There is a Basquiat painting called, “St. Joe Louis Surrounded by Snake”. That crab in the bucket mentality, for lack of a better term, “the haters”, isn’t really what it’s about. When you look at that picture it’s about having tons of voices in your ear and not focusing in on you. St. Joe Louis is really about focusing in on what makes you as much you as possible and putting that out into the universe. Don’t deprive the world of what you have to offer because you’re here for a reason.

TRHH: How’d the “Gold Slippers” joint come about?

Michael Cardigan: Me and Chase decided to work on a project, reaching out for production, and it was just random. We’re super excited about how it came out and there is a bunch more coming. Me and Chase are gonna follow it up with an entire project. We’ve been reaching out to some folks and pulling together production. So we’re hoping to follow that up with a whole entire project or at least an EP. We’re about three songs in, but we just love that record so much we couldn’t hold it. Our core is always going to be straight boom bap-ish because that’s what we love, that’s what we started with – beats and lyrics. We wanted to introduce people to the new sound slowly so we didn’t start with the I Rise record. We started with a record from a completely different project to say, “That’s still in there,” just in case you didn’t think that we were still capable of that.

TRHH: When will that EP come out?

Michael Cardigan: That should be hopefully ready in the next month and a half. We’re specking out titles and all that sort of stuff. Like I said we’re three real records in. We’ll probably end up cutting 7 altogether. We just pulled down some production from this New Jersey based beat collective called FreQ. This guy by the name of Arcade Noise sent us a bunch of stuff that we’re gonna start working on. We’re excited.

TRHH: You guys were close with Pumpkinhead. Talk about your relationship and how his loss affected you.

Michael Cardigan: PH was like our brother. He was the big homie who wasn’t afraid to be vulnerable to help teach you something, whether it was about music, manhood, or fatherhood. He was always willing to be there and be supportive. We worked on a really big project with him called Fabulous Freebird. There is an intro record and the drive crashed so we wanted to put that out so folks could hear where his head was at. He was just such a supreme talent. Everything from the direction that he gave on the battle circuit, to jumping back out there and battling again, to pulling away from the CEO aspect to show them how it was really supposed to be done. That’s the kind of guy he was, really entrenched in the culture, a super-huge spirit, and of course he loved his Jameson [laughs]. He was just an amazing guy. My heart goes out to his family, his children, and anyone who was ever touched by the work that he’s done. We’re proud to have known him. This is the first full-length project that we’ve put out without him. Every project, if he wasn’t on it, he had something to do with it. Whether if we sent it to him ahead of time or he decided to jump on a remix for us. This is the first thing we’re doing with no net.

TRHH: Who is Cloud Club Over Everything for?

Michael Cardigan: I think it’s really to initiate people into a world. When you hear what’s dominating the culture now we wanted to kind of say that we did that, right? A part of what happened with Cloud Club was we started partying and started making records, but the party didn’t stop. The “Party After Party” song isn’t a joke. It was party after party until the wheels fell off. They would last into the wee hours of the morning. There was every bit of everything you could imagine occurring behind those closed doors. The Cloud Club idea is to be able to come out of that. To be able to not let that predominate your life, because that’s not real. That’s the cloud part of it that’s not real. We want to introduce people to that concept that even us, we got into it and got lost but we made our way through it. This is the project to show you how you can transition. That’s why you get records like “Black Cotton” toward the end of the project or “Attention Deficit Drum Disorder” with Fresh Daily where it’s taking elements of where we started and taking it a bit further. And you’ve got stuff that’s real nuanced to now like the Dolla stuff from Brick Bandits that really kind of trap chord sound – moving into that Jersey, beat-club vibe. It’s really about taking all of those elements that make the culture where we come from and expressing it in a brand new way.

Download: St. Joe Louis – Cloud Club Over Everything

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A Conversation with Masta Ace of eMC

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Photo courtesy of Zoe Fotographie

Photo courtesy of Zoe Fotographie

Masta Ace is one of the most respected emcees in Hip-Hop. The respect from his peers and from fans stems from not only Ace simply being dope, but because of his sustained originality and creativity. With each project he pushes the boundaries of what Hip-Hop is “supposed” to sound like and continues to build on to his already rich legacy.

Ace’s latest project is the third release and second full-length album of super-group eMC called “The Tonite Show”. Masta Ace alongside Wordsworth and Stricklin created a concept album that finds the trio preparing for an appearance on The Tonite Show with Jimmy Falcon, played by comedian Russell Peters.

The Tonite Show features appearances by Xzibit, B-Real, Sadat X, Tonedeff, Pearl Gates, Dion, Powermalu, Marlon Saunders, Strickie Love, Tu Kora, and Signif. The album is produced by Diamond D, Koolade, Pav Bundy, KIC Beats, Mananz, Deborah’s Son, DJ Scienz, Flip the Soul Fisher, The ARE, and Skeematics.

Masta Ace recently  spoke to The Real Hip-Hop about his longevity in Hip-Hop, his battle with Multiple Sclerosis, his future in the world of rap, and his new album with eMC, The Tonite Show.

TRHH: Who came up with the concept for The Tonite Show?

Masta Ace: I came up with the concept but we as a group came up with the title. We said we wanted to have “show” in the title. We had about 6-or-7 different titles for the album with the word “show” in it and “Tonite Show” was one of them. Once we looked at all the titles “The Tonite Show” lent itself to a really cool storyline, better than the other ones. I had a rough idea of where I wanted to go with the storyline and once I told them they were all in and ready to go.

TRHH: Talk a little about the single ‘Signtology’.

Masta Ace: That was produced by KIC Beats, a really talented producer from the west coast. He also produced our other single “Fly Thoughts“. He’s also in the studio with me producing my whole entire next record. He gave that beat to Wordsworth and Words brought the beat to our attention without a concept initially. I looked into it and when I started writing the rhyme the whole zodiac sign thing came to me. I did my verse first and played it for them then everybody decided to split up the verses and mention every single zodiac sign. It’s a nice cool love story flirting with the ladies or whatever.

TRHH: You have a long history of having creative concepts from ‘Me and the Biz’ ‘till now. Do you ever hit a creative wall and struggle to find new concepts?

Masta Ace: I’ve never hit a creative wall but you’ve gotta remember something, there is long periods of time in between projects. If I was trying to crank out 2 or 3 records, mixtapes, or albums a year where I had to come up with concepts for each record then I might hit that wall, but my projects are spread out pretty good. Disposable Arts was 2001, Long Hot Summer came out three years later, MA Doom came out several years later, A&E was mixed in there, and eMC’s first album was mixed in there. The projects are spread out enough so that by the time it comes around to new music getting ready to come out I’ve already started to think about new ideas, new concepts, and a new way to entertain people, so I haven’t hit that wall because of that reason.

TRHH: You’ve been around for over 25 years. To what do you attribute your longevity in Hip-Hop?

Masta Ace: I attribute it to being a fan of this music. When we’re on the road as a crew Stricklin’s always playing new music, Words is always playing new music, and we listen to all the new stuff that’s out there. I get the chance as a creative emcee and a writer to feed off how cats are spittin’ now. I don’t try to copy what they’re doing but it keeps my mind current in terms of flow, delivery, in terms of stuff that I don’t wanna do, and in terms of stuff that I do wanna do. What I’ve prided myself in is not shutting out the new music that comes out. A lot of cats from my era are so annoyed with the overall sound of Hip-Hop right now that they don’t even take time to sort through the madness and try to find the good music that’s in there. If you’re in that type of a mode and not listening to new music there is a possibility that your stuff is gonna sound dated because you’re not aware of how things are flowing and how beats feel now. For that reason I feel like I’ve been able to be current.

TRHH: The song ‘Moopies’ is incredibly funny. What’s the funniest situation you’ve encountered with a male groupie?

Masta Ace: Ah man, there’s several. One that jumps out at me is I was in Poland one time at an after party and there was a fan there who was super-drunk. He wanted to take a picture with me so I took a picture with him and after I took the photo he wanted to spend the next twenty minutes talking about my music and his music. He was very touchy-feely. He was a big strong dude that didn’t know his own strength so he was grabbing my shoulder going, “Yo, I love you! I love you!” I had to move his arm like, “Yo, relax — chill.” It got to the point I was running around the after party hiding from this guy. I was hiding behind poles, people, ducking, and going to the other side of the room because he was walking around this party trying to find me. His English was not very good and he was super-drunk. I didn’t get to enjoy the after party because I had to spend the whole night being on guard and avoiding this guy.

TRHH: ‘The Monologue’ is produced by Diamond D, how’d that song come together?

Masta Ace: I featured on Diamond D’s album The Diam Piece. It was a song called “Ace of Diamond” and in exchange for that feature he blessed me with this Monologue track. I could have used it any way I wanted to. I decided I wanted to put it on the eMC album because I thought it would be a great energy record for it. We recorded the song, Diamond mixed the song, and while we were out in Brazil for a tour we decided to shoot a video. We met some guys and they had a couple nice cameras. I had a rough concept of what the video could be – one entire shot. We talked about it, mashed it out, and shot it. I don’t know if Wordsworth in particular was a big fan of that song when it was done, but after the video came out and after performing the song live now it’s one of his favorite joints.

TRHH: A couple of years ago you revealed that you’ve been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. How has your health impacted your career?

Masta Ace: What it’s done is really refocused me as an artist. I realize I’m going to have a shelf life in this game. There’s going to be a point where I’m not going to be able to perform the way I want to or travel the way I want to because of the illness. What I really did was refocus myself and I said the next ten years of music that I put out is going to be exactly what I want it to be and it’s going to make the statement I want to make in terms of who I am as an artist. I was diagnosed in 2000 and after 2000 I feel like I put my best music out. I put out Disposable Arts, Long Hot Summer, the eMC album, the A&E album with Edo.G, then I put out MA Doom: Son of Yvonne. Now I have a brand new album coming out this year with KIC Beats. I’m just trying to get this music out there, get my energy out there, and get my words out there so the people can kind of know where I stand in this game. If I reach a point physically where I can’t do it anymore, at least I feel like in the last ten years I made my statement in terms of what type of artist I am and what kind of music I make.

TRHH: How has working with Wordsworth and Stricklin improved you as an emcee?

Masta Ace: I mean Words and Strick are lyrical dudes, talented dudes. If I didn’t think they were talented I would have never asked them to be on my Disposable Arts album or my Long Hot Summer album. Those guys definitely push me to be a better emcee hearing the verses that they lay down. It gives me energy and motivation to make sure that my verses are tight, up to par, and up to snuff with what they’re doing. To me they’re like the young energy and young blood that I need around me to keep me focused and keep me on point.

TRHH: Will there be an eMC tour?

Masta Ace: We’re going to Europe in November for an extensive tour. When we get back from Europe a couple days later we’re going to Australia for another extensive tour. Those will be the two tours to finish out the year for eMC. At the top of the year we’re looking at Canada maybe in March or April when the snow starts to melt. By then the solo records will be out and crackin’. It’s going to be nice and we’ll have some nice momentum by then — stay tuned. The group Twitter is @eMCCrew. The group Instagram is @TheeMCCrew. We have a website called eMCDateWithJimmy.com. Date with Jimmy because we have a campaign now in the works where we’re actually trying to get fans to help us get on the actual real Tonight Show as musical guests. People can go to eMCDateWithJimmy.com and read the mission statement, leave a message, send some words of encouragement, and let us know that they’re down with us and they’re rooting for us.

Purchase: eMC – The Tonite Show

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Win tickets to the 2015 Summer Set Music & Camping Festival

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Win one pair of passes to the Summer Set Music & Camping Festival

Win one pair of passes to the Summer Set Music & Camping Festival

The Real Hip-Hop.com along with SFX Entertainment is giving you the opportunity to win one pair of 3-day passes to the 2015 Summer Set Music & Camping Festival.

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.

*** THE CONTEST HAS ENDED ***

For more information, visit http://summersetfestival.com/2015/

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Kahlee: Blessed

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Photo courtesy of Curtis Sekulich

Photo courtesy of Curtis Sekulich

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.

TRHH: Tell me about PlatformCollection.com.

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.

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050 Boyz: Everything 050

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Photo courtesy of Urban Elite PR

Photo courtesy of Urban Elite PR

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!

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B. Dolan: Kill the Wolf

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Photo courtesy of Ballin PR

Photo courtesy of Ballin PR

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.

TRHH: What does “Kill the Wolf” mean?

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.

TRHH: How is this project different from “Fallen House, Sunken City“?

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.

TRHH: Tell me about the single ‘Alright’.

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.

TRHH: Does House of Bees bleed over into a B. Dolan 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: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

TRHH: Who is Kill the Wolf for?

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.

Purchase: B. Dolan – Kill the Wolf

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Myke Bogan: Casino Carpet

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Photo courtesy of Lola Sims PR

Photo courtesy of Lola Sims PR

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.

TRHH: How is it performing on the Royal Tour?

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.

TRHH: What’s next up for Myke Bogan?

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.

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A Conversation with Esoteric of CZARFACE

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Photo courtesy of Brick Records

Photo courtesy of Brick Records

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.

TRHH: Explain the title of the album, Every Hero Needs a Villain.

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].

TRHH: Will there be a CZARFACE tour?

Esoteric: Working on it now!

Purchase: CZARFACE – Every Hero Needs a Villain

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