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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Soarse Spoken: Pretty Dark Summer

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Photo courtesy Public Wizard Inc.

Photo courtesy Public Wizard Inc.

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.

TRHH: Tell me about the single “Her (v2)”.

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 Deuce at 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].

TRHH: How is this project different from your last one, Starve the Hunger?

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.

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Cab Cabernet: Krushed Grapes: Harlem Vintage

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Photo courtesy of Dunn Deal PR

Photo courtesy of Dunn Deal PR

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.

TRHH: How is this album different from Krushed Grapes?

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.

TRHH: Tell me about the single “Maiden Harlem”.

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.

TRHH: What’s your ultimate goal for the Krushed Grapes Lifestyle?

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.

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A Conversation with Adrian Younge

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Photo courtesy of The Artform Studio

Photo courtesy of The Artform Studio

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.

Purchase: Linear Labs: Los Angeles

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Black Rob: Genuine Article

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Photo courtesy of Off The Block Entertainment

Photo courtesy of Off The Block Entertainment

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.

TRHH: Why’d you title the new album ‘Genuine Article’?

Black Rob: It is me, I’m Genuine. I’m the Genuine Article. The real thing! You can’t get no realer than myself.

TRHH: Tell me about the single ‘Wave of New York’.

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.

TRHH: What do you hope to achieve with Genuine Article?

Black Rob: Satisfied fans. I’ve been hearing so much that people want real music again — Hip-Hop/boom bap sound. Well this is what I’m giving them and I feel good about this project, too.

Purchase: Black Rob – Genuine Article

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Sincerely Yours: Good Intentions

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Photo courtesy of Jerry Hernandez for Dirty Looks Photography

Photo courtesy of Jerry Hernandez

Chicago area emcee Sincerely Yours has proven himself to be a versatile artist in his young career. His music ranges from club bangers to back pack rap while maintaining a high level of lyricism. Sincerely is preparing to release his latest project, a full-length album titled “Good Intentions”.

Sincerely Yours will celebrate the release of his new album with a performance on Friday, May 22, 2015 at The Wire in Berwyn, just west of Chicago. The show is free before 10 PM if fans RSVP to Also scheduled to perform are Tripp Heavy, 5th-King, and Slot-A.

Sincerely Yours spoke to The Real Hip-Hop about his growth as an artist, his new album, Good Intentions, and his album release party at The Wire on May 22.

TRHH: Why’d you title the new project “Good Intentions”?

Sincerely Yours: Basically because I feel that’s something that a lot of people can relate to. A lot of music that I write is based off my own personal experiences and thoughts. Going into a lot of things and having good intentions, a lot of times people don’t see the intention behind the things that you’re doing. For example, something as simple as me having to do an interview right now and somebody else wanting my time. They’re not understanding what I have to do and the intention of everything I do is for the betterment of everybody around me.

TRHH: How is Good Intentions different from the “One Night Only” EP?

Sincerely Yours: Aw man, One Night Only was really songs I was making in the process of making the Good Intentions project. It’s more concrete, more direct, and to the point as far as getting in depth about getting to know Sincerely Yours. One Night Only was a bunch of loosie joints. There were some nice records, but it wasn’t telling the story that I was trying to tell.

TRHH: How have you grown as an artist since ‘Self-Titled’?

Sincerely Yours: I’m a little bit more into what my listeners want from Sincerely Yours. I’m finding a common ground between doing what I wanna do and at the same time catering to my fans. I think sometimes as artists we get caught up in doing what we wanna do and everybody ain’t gonna wanna ride your wave. You always gotta do what you do but at the same time it’s a balance you gotta have. I’m finding more balance in my music.

TRHH: The single “Hold Me Back” is dope. What’s the inspiration behind that song?

Sincerely Yours: Aw man, shoot, to keep it 100, Chicago is the city of hatred and all of the above. That track is pretty old but at the time I was feeling frustrated about where I was as an emcee and seeing a lot of other people reap certain benefits so I was flexing my muscle as an artist. I was getting some things off my chest. That’s what this thing is all about – expression and creativity. I was just letting go of some steam. Shout out to my dude RD.

TRHH: How’d you get the name Sincerely Yours?

Sincerely Yours: I came up with that name a long time ago. It’s a way of keeping it real with myself. Any time I sit down to write anything I make sure it’s sincerely from me first and foremost before I sit down and write anything from another person’s perspective. It’s gotta be 100% from me and I have to stand by it. It’s a way I stay focused and keep it real with me when I’m writing. It’s a thing for rappers, they like to hit the pages and become somebody else [laughs].

TRHH: Who inspired you to want to be an emcee?

Sincerely Yours: A lot of people. I’d probably say first and foremost moms because that’s where my musical background stems from watching her while I was growing up. As far as emcees, Common, Nas, Jay-Z, Royce da 5’9”, a lot of different cats. Not a lot of the cats that you necessarily see at the forefront. I like to find qualities in different artists. The list is too long, man [laughs].

TRHH: You mentioned your mother; does she have a music background?

Sincerely Yours: Yeah. My mother used to sing R&B for a while but then she changed her life over to God so now she sings for the lord. She sang with Danny Boy, who worked with 2pac.

TRHH: What does she think of you pursuing music?

Sincerely Yours: Aw, she’s 100% for it. I grew up watching her literally take the same steps. When she saw I wanted to do it, was serious about it, and had some talent with it she had no choice but to be with it [laughs]. She’s always been 100% supportive. That’s been the biggest blessing, man.

TRHH: You’re having the big album release party on May 22 at The Wire. What do you have in-store for fans that night?

Sincerely Yours: I got a bunch of new material from Sincerely Yours. It’s been a minute since I released some new music, especially with my homeboy Slot-A. We got some great music for y’all, man. It’s going to be a great show. It’s been a while since I’ve done a show of this magnitude.

TRHH: What can fans expect to hear on Good Intentions?

Sincerely Yours: Fans can expect to hear some music for them to ride to for their summer. It’s music for all year round, but I wanted the project to have a feel-good vibe to it. It’s only 9 tracks long. It’s one of those joints you can put on track 1 and let it ride. You can listen to it at a barbecue, while you’re cleaning up the crib, anywhere. The music is all-purpose.

See Sincerely Yours live at The Wire in Berwyn, IL on Friday, May 22, 2015

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Mr. Green: Live From The Streets

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Photo courtesy of Sen Floyd

Photo courtesy of Sen Floyd

Producer Mr. Green has had a hell of a 2015 so far. He released a stellar joint album with former member of The Roots, Malik B, titled “Unpredictable” and followed that up with the release of his very own solo album, “Live From the Streets”.

Live From the Streets is a collection of music that originated from Green’s web series of the same name. Mr. Green travels the world sampling street musicians and re-working their art into something unequivocally Hip-Hop.

Live From the Streets features appearances by artists like Freddie Gibbs, KRS-One, Bodega Bamz, Jus Allah, Raz Fresco, Pacewon, Matisyahu, and Malik B to name a few.

The Real Hip-Hop recently spoke to Mr. Green about working with Malik B, his unique production techniques, and his new album, Live From the Streets.

TRHH: How did the Live From the Streets idea originally come about?

Mr. Green: It was me and my boy Sam [Lipman-Stern], he’s a filmmaker and graffiti writer. We wanted to do a project together of some kind. He showed me this crazy mic that he had and played me some music he had recorded from a street musician. I was like, “Oh, that’s bangin!” It sounded so good that I had to sample it. From there we just kind of turned it into a show. It’s a half-documentary, half-music tutorial show. Boom [laughs]!

TRHH: How long did it take you to put this album together?

Mr. Green: It took a couple years just because we started out on our own on my Youtube channel, greenhiphop. Then we started working with VICE/Noisey about a year in. We were going to put the album out under their label but they just wanted to do it as a free mixtape. I wanted to put it out as a physical thing – something that people could hold in their hand and buy. So we ended up doing it on our own. The album took a little while. We mainly focus on the show. The main goal is to get the show going and the album just kind of came with the show.

TRHH: What’s the most unique situation that you got a sample from?

Mr. Green: Ah man they’re all so unique, it’s really tough. One of my favorites was Country in Camden, New Jersey. He lives in a tent. He had been singing for 20 years but he never actually had a chance to sing on a track. When we met him and started recording he was like, “I can’t wait to hear myself on a song because I always wanted to and I never got to do this.” I took his voice and turned into a real song. When I played it for him he started crying. That was probably one of the best moments. It’s hard to say what the most unique moment was because we have so much crazy stuff on that album.

TRHH: In your Youtube videos I noticed you use Maschine. How long have you been using it and why is it your workstation of choice?

Mr. Green: Oh yeah, I love Maschine. I started using it right about when we started doing the Live From the Streets show. I like it because it’s a mix of hands-on physical equipment with mouse clicking production, which is actually how I started. I started as a DJ and then a couple years later I started making beats on Fruity Loops. That was my thing for a while but I wanted to get out of that mouse clicking style of beat-making because it was getting a little boring. So I tried Maschine and it’s the best of both worlds. If you’re a hardware person and you like touching things with your hands, not just computers, then it’s good. It’s also good for people that just like computers. It’s a hybrid type of thing. I like Maschine and I actually just started working with them. They brought me to their studio a couple of times and we’re trying to figure out what type of project we can do together. Shout out to Native Instruments/Maschine – good people over there.

TRHH: You also released an album earlier this year with Malik B called ‘Unpredictable’. He’s somewhat of a recluse, how’d you hook up with Malik to record this album?

Mr. Green: I was doing my Live From the Streets show at the time. I went to the Roots Picnic with a beat machine, a speaker, a microphone, and a keyboard. I was just going to set up outside in the line and perform for the Roots fans as they went in. Five or ten minutes after I started playing beats Malik came up kind of crazy and excited like, “Yo, you made that beat?!?! I wanna rap! Gimme the mic!” I was taken aback, he was real aggressive. He asked, “Why aren’t you guys inside?” and he gave me and my boys backstage passes. From there we recorded an album off of having met outside in the street, which is pretty cool. It happened organically. It wasn’t an e-mail, a meeting, no agency, or manager – not even a friend. We literally bumped into each other and just started rockin’.

TRHH: The song ‘We Gonna Make It’ has an upbeat feel to it. How’d that song come together?

Mr. Green: Ah man, that’s an excellent story. I wouldn’t speak about this if Malik wasn’t cool with it, but he got locked up for 2 months. When he got out he was staying in a transitional house, kind of like a halfway house, run by this good dude named Nate Green. He’s not related to me or anything, he just happens to be a good dude with the same last name as me. Nate Green let me and Malik record at the halfway house that he owned. I brought the little studio setup and we started recording. Nate popped in, heard what we were doing and he started humming. I was like, “Yo, that sounds good, we gotta use that.” Malik and I came up with the lyrics and had Nate sing it. It was just some weird chance encounter by his mentor/owner of his halfway house who I like a lot. I like Nate Green, he does a lot for the Philly community. He’s been through the struggle himself and he got out of it. Now it’s his goal to help other people get out of it. I got a lot of respect for that dude. It was cool to get him on the album.

TRHH: That’s dope, man. The one thing I like the most about your beats is the drums…

Mr. Green: Oh yeah?

TRHH: Yeah, man. I love your drums. Is it giving away a secret if I ask you how you get your drums?

Mr. Green: Thank you. Nah, man I’ll say it. I get drums from absolutely anywhere. I may have someone play it for me, I may hear it in an old record and chop it up in a production kit, or I might record it myself. I’m always on the lookout for good drums. I don’t say, “Oh I don’t get drums from the internet. I don’t get drums from records,” I do everything. I get drums from wherever drums can be gotten. I like to sample from everything. Everything is fair game for me. I don’t want to give up specific sources. I might actually put out my own drum pack. Like a “Mr. Green’s Drums” in the future. I know some producers have been doing that. We’ll see, that might happen and if it goes down I’ll send you a copy.

TRHH: Dope! That would be amazing! If you could pick one artist that you’d like to produce for who would it be?

Mr. Green: I always aim extremely big these days because I want to work with the biggest rappers. The one dude who is like extremely big right now but also very Hip-Hop and I feel like he would work well over my beats would be Jay Electronica. He’s a straight lyricist. You can tell he has rhyme books, studies rap, and is a real Hip-Hop dude. He’s also down with Jay-Z and signed to Roc Nation so he has the best of both worlds. He’s in the mainstream that a lot of people want to be a part of but he’s not really doing shit that the core level of Hip-Hop can’t listen to. I respect that dude. I’d like to work with Jay Electronica. He follows me on Twitter and I just DM’d him the other day. I haven’t’ heard back yet, so if anyone sees this Tweet to Jay Electronica and tell him to rock on my beats and do a Live From the Streets episode [laughs]. Shit like that is actually possible. If he got like 12 tweets in one day he might be like, “Let me check out Mr. Green.”

TRHH: He might. I’ve DM’d him too and he’s never responded to me [laughs].

Mr. Green: I don’t blame him though. He has a half million followers, he can’t answer every one of us. We actually have a mutual friend, Hex Murda, and he tried to connect us too at one point. Hex was tweeting both of us at the same time like, “Yo Jay, I hate you. I hate you just like I hate Mr. Green.” That’s a big compliment coming from him. If he says he hates you that means he likes you. Shout out to Hex Murda, he tried to hook that shit up.

TRHH: What can we expect in the future from Mr. Green?

Mr. Green: I got a new album that’s just about done. I’m going to be announcing it in the next few days. We got some shit popping up on MTV Jams to announce it also. It’s kind of a surprise. I don’t want to say exactly what it is. It’s not exactly a Hip-Hop album. It’s slightly different but still very, very bangin’. It’ll be a bit of a surprise but I don’t think anyone will be disappointed. They’re gonna be like, “Yo, I didn’t know I was looking for that, but that’s what I was looking for.”

Purchase: Mr. Green – Live From the Streets & Malik B and Mr. Green – Unpredictable

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Maja 7th: Get Familiar

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Photo courtesy of Dub MD

Photo courtesy of Dub MD

Producer Maja 7th has crafted tracks for various artists with varying styles, including GLC, Add-2, Dominique Larue, and Killah Priest to name a few. The Indianapolis, Indiana native’s music is tailor-made for the artists he works with, but with his own stamp on each track. Maja is set to release a compilation album called “Get Familiar” to allow those who aren’t to do just that – get familiar.

Dropping in May, Get Familiar is a collection of classic and new tracks produced by Maja 7th. The album features guest appearances by artists like Freddie Gibbs, Mikkey Halsted, Mic Terror, L.E.P. Bogus Boys, and Pill among others.

The Real Hip-Hop spoke to Maja 7th about becoming recommitted to record producing, why RZA and the Wu-Tang Clan inspired him to venture into Hip-Hop, and his new album, Get Familiar.

TRHH: Why’d you title the new album ‘Get Familiar’?

Maja 7th: A lot of new people and new supporters, I don’t like to use the word ‘fans’ because I don’t feel like I’m to that level, ask me, “What have you done before I heard this?” I started getting asked that question a lot so I got some of the records that were my favorites, some of the joints I did that got me to this point, and mixed those in with new records that I’m working on just to get people familiar, no pun intended, with me all the way around. That was the whole concept of the album to get some of the new supporters familiar with my older work and also give ‘em some new heat.

TRHH: In the video teaser for the album you said you had to get recommitted. What does being recommitted entail?

Maja 7th: For me there was some life instances that happened. I put out a couple of projects, The Breakout was good for me, and I worked with a couple of artists then I lost my father. My father passed away and it set me back mentally and everything. I had to kind of regroup and sit down and look at myself. Somebody actually asked me, “Yo, are you still working on music?” That bothered me because close friends and family know that’s what I do. When somebody asked me that I had to really look at myself and say, “Hey, you gotta get back out there and get back on your grind. There is so much more material and product to put out. You gotta use your gift.” I got recommitted. I started making beats, contacting artists, and using the relationships that I’d developed. I knocked the dust off, knocked the rust off and just went back in hard. It was a couple things that put me down for a little bit but I had to get back into it. I started putting forth the effort and working on the craft.

TRHH: I lost my father too about six years ago. Unfortunately I can relate to you. How difficult was it for you to get back to normalcy and the everyday grind after losing your father?

Maja 7th: There was a stretch where it was really, really tough. Like you said, that’s a small club that you’re in. Everybody can’t relate to that. You’d have to have lost a parent to understand what that does. It set me back for a little bit because my father was one of my biggest fans. He got to see me on MTV with Freddie Gibbs and Mikkey Halsted when we dropped ‘On My Own’ and the video came on. He got to see me on TV and that was huge to him because he’d always been a supporter. When he passed it was like taking a piece of me away. I had to go through my grieving process. I know it’s different for people, people grieve in different ways and I understand that. I had to sit down and really go through the grieving process because my pops was one of my biggest fans. He used to always tell me, “You’re going to be alright. I know you’re gonna make it.” When he was taken away from me I had to take care of the acceptance portion and accept it, number one. I also had to think about what he would have said. He would have said, “You gotta get back on your grind and go chase your dream. The fact that I’m gone, don’t let that stop you from chasing your dream.” Once I realized that it lit a fire under me. I got refocused, got back on my grind, and now we got Get Familiar.

TRHH: I read that Wu-Tang’s ‘C.R.E.A.M.’ inspired you to become a producer. What is it about Wu that grabbed your attention?

Maja 7th: Man, I’ll be honest with you ‘C.R.E.A.M.’ pretty much changed everything for me. RZA is my all-time favorite producer, period, no questions asked. When I heard C.R.E.A.M. come on the sample was so gritty, grimy, and dusty. These dudes are out here dropping bars in the midst of the grimiest grit. It caught me off guard to how dope they were lyrically. If you listen to the first album the production was so consistent. It sounded like they recorded it in a basement but it had that grit, grime, and soul to it. That’s what caught my attention, how nice they were lyrically. Chef was creative, Ghost was creative, Method Man was creative — they all were their own characters. They really got me hyped about Hip-Hop and RZA with the production, it was a wrap.

TRHH: That’s interesting. I’m a Hip-Hop fan from the cradle but there was a time when I stopped listening to Hip-Hop. When the Gangsta stuff took over I listened to Alternative music. When I heard Wu-Tang I was like, “Oh my God!” It reminded me of the stuff that I loved and grew up on like Rakim and Big Daddy Kane. Wu-Tang got me back into Hip-Hop. Do you have a favorite RZA production?

Maja 7th: [Laughs]. You know what man, I’ll be honest with you, probably my favorite joint from RZA is ‘Triumph’. It’s hard because he got some heat, but the beat on Triumph is ridiculous. If you actually listen to how that beat is put together with the strings in the background, the bass line how it just thumps all the way through the changes, that beat is incredible. That’s a beat that you can put up against anything.

TRHH: What beat-making equipment are you currently using?

Maja 7th: I’m dabbling into Ableton Live. I’m old school so a lot of my guys laugh and are in awe that I still use Sony ACID Music. That’s what I taught myself to make beats on so there is a version of that, that I still use – I chop samples in that. Ableton Live has become my favorite and I mix that in with Reason. I also use Fruity Loops as well with sequencing in terms of drums and whatnot. Hardware wise, I’ve never really been a hardware guy. My guy Slot-A and my dude Mike Schpitz are always telling me about getting hardware. I got a Korg padKONTROL that I’m messing with, trying to manipulate it and use it like an MPC machine. That’s pretty much it, just a MIDI controller for the keyboard, that’s it.

TRHH: Do you play any instruments?

Maja 7th: I do. When I was in high school I played two or three different instruments. I studied brass, I had a Jazz Studies minor when I was in college so I can play trumpet, french horn, and piano. Yeah, I can play instruments and read music as well.

TRHH: How do you incorporate that into sample based production?

Maja 7th: Well the sample is the foundation once you find it. Anybody that makes beats knows once you get it and the foundation is laid, even if the drum pattern is not what you’re going to finish with, it’s just the foundation. The fun part for me is the melody — the part for the hook, the part for the bridge, the part for the intro, any transition that you put it in, that’s what excites me. That’s the part where I have to use my ear and try to sync it up with whatever key the sample is in. Whenever you hear my production anything that you hear, whether its horns or synthesizers, that’s me that’s playing that. I also make beats that are sample free. There are 2-3 joints on Get Familiar that have an R&B feel. The goal is to expand and show people that I’m not just a sample based producer, I’m not just boom bap, I’m not just this, you can’t box me in.

TRHH: I recently saw Talib Kweli on his tour with Immortal Technique and he said the Midwest has the best producers. He mentioned guys he’d worked with — Kanye, J Dilla, and Hi-Tek. What is it about the Midwest that we bring the soul out in our sound?

Maja 7th: Honestly I think in the Midwest, whether it’s Indianapolis where I’m from or the Chi, a lot of our family members are from the South. I grew up listening to Al Green, B.B. King, and James Brown. My mom used to play those records and they were from the South, so Soul music came with it. I think a lot of people in the Midwest have someone in their family that has Southern roots. You can look at the food in the Chi, a lot of it is Southern-influenced. It’s also a melting pot. We’re in the middle of everything. People come to a huge city like Chicago and they might be from Memphis, Mississippi, or out West – you never know. We’re exposed to so many different people and so many different types of music, it’s just a melting pot by default. Whether it be through your family or people that you meet it’s just soulful. I think people in the Midwest are in the right area where people pass through and you get the chance to get put on to a lot of different types of music.

TRHH: What can we expect to hear on Get Familiar?

Maja 7th: I got my guy Neak from the Chi. I got Real Talk from Chicago as well. He did an incredible record called ‘Get Ready’. The dude is a genius lyrically, he’s insane. You’ll hear versatility like I was talking about earlier. There are going to be a couple of records that will surprise people because I have a joint with an incredible songwriter that I started working with in Indianapolis by the name of Bubby B. You’ll see when you hear the records that we did that it’s a complete R&B song. It’s not what you would expect from me. You’ll hear a lot of different things. I did some experimenting as far as R&B, I put more singers on hooks, and I’m also going to dig back in the crates and get 4 or 5 joints that I feel helped put me over the top and we’re going to mix those together. It’ll be a melting pot. It’s not going to be your traditional album that’s sequenced a certain way or has a cohesive sound. It’s going to be all over the place in terms of the production but you’ll be able to see the versatility and people that have followed me will be able to see some growth. That’s what you can expect, I’m really excited.

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G.C.: Don’t Sleep On Me

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Photo courtesy of Dunn Deal PR

Photo courtesy of Dunn Deal PR

Based in the birthplace of Hip-Hop, the Bronx, rapper G.C. has a simple request, don’t sleep on him. Confident in his abilities and eager to make a name for himself G.C., AKA “Godz Chyld”, recently released a free EP with a title that echoes his current sentiment, “Don’t Sleep On Me”.

Don’t Sleep On Me features an appearance by Snyder Scribez and production by Jordan River Banks, Pre, St. Peter, C-rius Touch, and Bronze Nazareth.

G.C. explained to The Real Hip-Hop why he’s “Godz Chyld”, why Tupac Shakur inspired him to pick up the mic, and why people need to stop sleeping on him.

TRHH: Explain the title of your new EP, ‘Don’t Sleep On Me’.

G.C.: I already came out with two projects before this one so I feel like people been sleeping on my music. I got this beat from Jordan River Banks, got on it right away, and that was just how I was feeling that day. I was feeling like I’m putting out this music, people not noticing it, so Im’ma make sure people not sleeping on me no more. This was the song to do it. Once I did that song it made sense to name the whole project that because that’s the mind state I was in when I was making it – making sure nobody is sleeping on me.

TRHH: Why do you feel like people are sleeping on you?

G.C.: I think the biggest thing is promotion. I know I got the talent and the music but the one thing I don’t got is the right promotion. I’m not reaching the people the way I feel like I should be. That’s really what’s holding me back – the exposure and the promotion. The music is there and once people hear my music I usually get a good response. The biggest problem is getting people to press play but once they press play they never regret it.

TRHH: Jordan River Banks produced the title track and another song on the EP, but this isn’t your first time working together. How’d you hook up with Jordan?

G.C.: We hooked up through Sound Cloud. Like I told you, I had projects before and the first project I put out was in 2011 called ‘Book of a Scribe’. I was on God Sendant Music, an independent label. He heard the music that was on there and I already knew him because I’m a big fan of artists like Killah Priest and Hell Razah. They use a lot of his beats on their music so I already knew who he was. I hit him up on Sound Cloud and said, “I love your beats.” He heard my songs and was feeling ‘em. We decided to come up with one or two songs. He sent me two beats and in a week I had it done already and sent it back. He was feeling the song so much that he was like, “Yo, you wanna work on a project?” and I was like, “Hell yeah!” He sent me a couple beats, I worked on it mad fast, and boom, you have the Forever EP. That’s a great project.

TRHH: Who inspired you to want to be an emcee?

G.C.: The first person that made me want to rap period was 2Pac. That was the first rapper that I listened to. Growing up in my house there was only three things that got played, Bob Marley, 2Pac, and Wu-Tang. I grew up on all of that, so all of that made me wanna start rapping. 2Pac’s All Eyez on Me and Me Against the World album’s, once I heard that I wanted to do the same thing. It made me wanna rap and get people to see what I was thinking about. I was real quiet when I was young so I used rap as a way to show people where I was it. I didn’t talk a lot, but as soon as you start rapping people start listening. That’s your opportunity to capture them in that moment so that’s what made me wanna do it.

TRHH: What is it about 2Pac that grabbed you?

G.C.: I think more than anything it was probably his energy. I was probably like 12-years old when I started listening to him so he was talking about a lot of stuff that I wasn’t going through. I wasn’t an adult and going through those situations, so I think it was his energy and his personality. That was around the same time that Tupac: Resurrection came out so I was watching all of that. He was a deep dude and it inspired me to wanna do that.

TRHH: You’re from the Bronx, right?

G.C.: I live in the Bronx, but I’m really from Washington Heights. It’s real close together because Washington Heights is like the top of Manhattan going into the Bronx. I’ve lived all over – Maryland, PA, Queens, but I’m in the Bronx now.

TRHH: What differentiates a Bronx emcee from an emcee from the other boroughs?

G.C.: We all pretty much the same. It’s not really that different. Living in New York I guess people find little differences between the boroughs, but really we’re similar, yo. It’s not really that much of a difference.

TRHH: Your name G.C. is short for “Godz Chyld”, but I read that you’re not religious. Where does the name come from and why’d you make the change from Wize One?

G.C.: I had so many names, yo. I used to go by “Young Prince” and “Young God” but in 2011 I was on God Sendant and they were telling me I was going to have a problem with those names because people already had them. I just came up with something quick, which was “Wize One” just to get the deal to go through. It wasn’t really a name I was feeling like that, that’s why I ended up changing it anyways. I changed it to Godz Chyld because that’s something I feel like I naturally am. It’s not saying it’s an image I’m trying to put off to people. I literally walk through life feeling like I’m god’s child. To me that doesn’t mean that I’m the most righteous person, everybody and everything is god’s child. The sun and the universe is god’s child because it exists. Everything that exists was created, I was created too, so I’m god’s child. That’s all I am and I don’t gotta be nothing to be that. All I gotta be is myself. I’m pretty much saying I’m being myself but when a lot of people hear that name they expect a certain thing. I didn’t expect people to see it that way because I’m not even thinking the way that they’re thinking. I have to put myself in their place so when they hear that name they’re expecting something and I’m not bringing that so I abbreviated it to “G.C.” so people can wonder what it means and it gives me a way to explain what it means. That way there is no confusion.

TRHH: What’s next up for G.C.?

G.C.: I’m working on something right now, but what I’m really focusing on is promoting the three projects that I already put out – mainly the one that I just put out ‘cause I feel like that’s a real good project. I feel like it’s a lot of real good songs on there so that’s what I’m focusing on the most. I could work on something new but I already got three projects that people could listen to. If you were to become a new fan right now I got three projects for you to listen to and that’s a lot of music in itself. I’m trying to focus on getting people to hear those. I’m working on something else but I’m just getting started with it right now. I just love making music, but I’m focusing on getting people to stop sleeping on me.

Download: G.C. – Don’t Sleep On Me

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