In the last few years there has been a surge of popularity in hip hop collectives. It’s well deserved and great to see. There are blurred lines (The Social Experiment) and more concrete examples (Pro Era, A$AP Mob.) Throughout my blogging career I’ve noticed many “underground” collectives not getting the spotlight they deserve. Some are coming out of the woodwork; but more attention is needed.
Here is the backstory on this piece:
Through my own research I discovered artist named Moses Mosima. He came to my attention when he dropped his Babies EP. It was featured on some of my favorite hip hop sites such as The Source, Hip Hop DX and MTV UK. I was so interested in the EP that we hosted an exclusive interview with him. I learned he was a part of a Philly group called Highest Basement Collective. I reached out to their manager, Riley, and we continued to stay in contact (he’s an awesome guy by the way.) He told me how deep the collective was; sent me links, and I was amazed at each member’s talent.
I wanted to learn more about each member’s role, story, and humble beginnings so I decided to ask them some questions. As you’ll see below, these guys are a family. They are loyal to one another and are each other’s biggest critics AND supporters. I’m so excited to share their story with you. Links to their music and pictures are directly above the artist’s answer in the interview.
Can you introduce yourself? What’s your name, how old are you, and where are you from?
IHATEYOUSHEED: My name is IHATEYOUSHEED, I’m 21 years old and I’m from Philly.
B. Clarke: I’m Brandon Clarke, you can call me B. I just turned 23 this past summer, I was born in Maryland and raised in Philadelphia.
Lord Trippy: I go by Lord Trippy, Quise Trill, Ratchet Ass Quise etc. I’m 21 and I’m from Philly.
Moses: I’m Moses Mosima; I’m 21 and from Philadelphia.
Tawobi: I’m Tawobi I’m 21 and I’m from Mt.Airy which is like uptown North West Philly I was born around DC, I got family there but I’ve stayed in Philly my whole life, thats home.
Riley: I’m Riley, 21, and I’m from PA right outside of Philadelphia.
Jeff: Jeff, 22, from Flourtown, PA.
Ray: I’m Ray, I’m 20, and i’m from Newark, New Jersey.
G: Im Anthony Gomez, but everyone just calls me G or Glomez.
What’s your role in the Highest Basement Collective?
IHATEYOUSHEED: I’m an artist and producer for HBC.
B. Clarke: My current role in the collective is mainly production, but hopefully that’ll expand soon.
Lord Trippy: Artist/ Visionary.
Moses: I’m a solo artist as well as a collaborator. A producer or songwriter other times. I wear a few different hats.
Tawobi: I’m the fuckin’ weirdo, the writer (thats what I do the most) and one of the founders of the group.
Riley: Jack of all trades haha. Manager, booking agent, videographer, graphic design, photographer, and attempting to be a publicist.
Jeff: I like to do a little of everything, but I play guitar.
Ray: I take pictures, talk shit, and DJ on occasion.
G: Currently i am trying to finish some merch that i have in the works, clothes are my thing, but i try to bring energy to the team as well. We all do.
What are your humble beginnings with the group? How did you initially link up with them?
IHATEYOUSHEED: We started the group back when me Riley Moses and Tawobi all thought of it in high school. We all just linked up around our Sophomore year and just started making music I know Moses and Taylor wanted to start a collective and so did me Riley so fate just had it we all came together and made this HBC shit.
B. Clarke: So, I was basically on my own, learning production and defining a sound up until about a year or so ago when I bumped into Riley around our neighborhood. If I can remember correctly, he had just gotten back from Cali and invited me to the studio the collective had setup downtown. That was the first time I met Tawobi. Riley, Sheed, and I also went to the same high school, so, with them it was more so about catching up. Before that there was one instance where Sheed reached out about an instrumental I posted on SoundCloud but otherwise, I was dropped into the mix roughly two summers ago.
Lord Trippy: When I came into HBC they were already on an upswing of momentum and I just added another sound to that movement and with that I also help in the finesses we make as a collective and as artists.
Moses: We all linked in high school and discovered something bigger than us worth pursuing. I met everyone else through Tawobi and we all just tapped into some great energy creating together.
Tawobi: I met Moses Mosima back in Jr. high and we worked on music and recorded together. We were always trying to form a collective but whenever we did find possible members they would flake out. That was until I changed schools durring my junior year of high school and met Riley Sheed and Gomez at Springfield Township High. Riley and Sheed were trying to set up a studio and collective when I arrived at the school and things kind of fell into place. I remember the 2nd time I ever met Sheed, we shared a math class and on the first day I walk in and bull looks at me and just says off rip “yo you rap? You look like you rap” the rest is history.
Riley: It was the summer going into 11th grade, 2011, and Watch the Throne had just come out. Sheed and myself were inspired to try and make something incredible for our future. We set out to set up a home recording studio and I would make beats and he would rap. I was terrible and didn’t enjoy production so I took on the behind the scenes work. And right as we began the process Tawobi transferred from another school to ours and he instantly became a part of the group. He brought Moses and over the years the rest of them members jumped on board.
Jeff: I met them in middle school and high-school.
Ray: Quise is the one who brought me in, we were cool in high school and once i graduated and started getting into photography we just started linking up for shoots more and more and eventually all the other guys got jealous of how good i was making him look and they cornered me and begged me to join. it was pretty desperate to be honest.
G: We met through friends, Riley is my best friend, and he introduced me to Taylor, then i met mo, and so on. The majority of us all went to the same high school, and just clicked, The kind of people you meet and feel like you have always known them. And we really did start out in a basement.
What do you think is unique about your collective? Why do you think people should take notice or continue to support the movement?
IHATEYOUSHEED: We’re just bringing a fresh sound and a fresh energy to music. Everybody that sees us perform or hear us perform have said they never heard or experienced something like it and we take that to heart and really appreciate that. We enjoy being original.
B. Clarke: I think the most unique thing about the collective at the moment is how many places we can appeal to audiences musically. I still play Moses’ EP ‘Babies’ and I heard it almost a year before it was released; Tawobi’s sound is unlike anything I’ve ever heard and every time I put a beat on his flow comes automatically and it’s hypnotic; Sheed can switch it up from a song like GWDY to a hard hitting trap song and he’s constantly developing what he can bring to the table; Quise is brand new to the collective but he’s got an immense amount of energy, so the moment I play him some of my catalogue or I’m working on something new, he’s instantly ready to record, so I like having that around. All of the artists can thrive individually and together we just make each other better.
Lord Trippy: We aren’t just a rap group, we are musicians, photographers, producers, engineers, DJs, management. We are an actual collective of art and talent. #HBC
Moses: We’re presenting quality music with an unmatched aesthetic to match.
Tawobi: I think everybody has a unique and diverse point of view which always makes the music original. No one is here to sound like anybody else we’re all figuring out how to completely put ourselves on record as individuals. That individuality and personal story that everybody puts out there can connect to somebody, maybe because we talk about things they’ve been through as well, maybe they’re from the same place, they live a similar lifestyle or maybe they don’t in which case we provide a window into our personal lives, our psyche and into this part of the world, one they’ve never experienced.
Riley: I think it is unique that even though we are a “group” everybody functions as an individual. We are probably the most critical people you could ever meet and over analyze everything to ensure perfection. We all play off of each other to help push each other and the overall brand. Everybody keeps each other in line, if somebody even tweets something unprofessional you’re going to get calls from everybody. I think people should take notice because we really do care about the craft. We take months/years to craft material before we let it out into the world. At the end of the day we are all fans of music and as fans want to present the best way to experience our music possible. We really do care.
Jeff: Our collective makes everything from rock music to r&b. I feel like there is a lot about us that people can relate to.
Ray: these are some of the most talented kids i’ve ever worked with, everyone’s different, and no one sounds like anything i’ve ever heard before and it’s great. we’re all in love with our craft and we all gonna make it so you might as well jump on the wave before it takes off.
G: the sounds coming from us is not your “typical” Philly sound. Don’t get me started on these guys work ethics, its work work work with them. No days off.
What drew you to the collective? Why do you continue to ride for them?
IHATEYOUSHEED: These are my brothers, we make each other better, and we just all want the same goal. I don’t know where I’d be without them.
B. Clarke: I think what initially drew me to the collective was not having any artists to work with and a bunch of beats that I wasn’t going to write to. There was also this instrumental Moses put on SoundCloud one summer that I listened to literally everyday and I wanted to work with him and Sheed to see where it could go. I continue to ride for them because I believe in what we can accomplish when we’re all focused, and we can still have fun.
Lord Trippy: Sheed is my mans like my right hand and I would chill with him and the crew and we just grew tight. Once I joined up it was like we was all family. We create this art together but more than that we all helping each other get further in the journey.
Moses: Fate drew me to the collective. Love keeps me here.
Tawobi: They’re all honest, talented and outsiders. Really they’re my best friends. They’re some of the only people in my life not related to me by blood that have stuck with me this far and vice versa. I’ve lost a good amount of friends but this is family.
Riley: These are my brothers. I helped create HBC and I will be on board until it totally dissipates. This is all I/we have. This is my family.
Jeff: These dudes have been around for my high moments and my low moments. Everyone shares a similar passion for the arts.
Ray: again, everyone here is original. everyone is their own person. and everyone is as dedicated to the crew as they are to their individual craft. It’s inspiring to be around. This is a family and if/when it comes to it I’m riding for each and every one of them.
What’s coming up with you specifically with the group?
G: It’s hard to find genuine people who want to not only succeed but have their friends succeed with them. They would ride for me, so I would ride for them.
What’s coming up with you specifically with the group?
IHATEYOUSHEED: Me myself I got an album I’m trying to get finished and out. And then get cracking on the second one just to keep the music flowing and coming steadily.
B. Clarke: I just produced a track for Quise that has a lot of energy to it and in addition to all the beats I cooked over the past year, I’m writing ideas for film and looking to get into film scoring. An album might come out next year, we’ll see.
Lord Trippy: I have a single dropping soon called FnF produced by Bclarke and it’s going to really show my sound and what type of crowd I’m going to be bringing. B has some amazing sounds in the production and Jeff engineered a lot of it and heaven in stereo mastered the record so a lot of work goes into all our record as you can see.
Moses: I have a song called Dark Shades that just dropped and a few more surprises to come soon.
Tawobi: I’ve been writing, producing and recording an album over the past year and some change as well as a solid amount of loosies along with some features here and there. I’ve been pretty quite if not silent sense April so I’m excited for people to hear this new material, its not like any of the shit I got out right now.
Riley: A lot of behind the scenes work and marketing.
Jeff: I’m dropping a couple metal songs soon as well as some production for our artists.
Ray: I just dropped my first mix ‘metro boomin mix’ on SoundCloud and my next mix ‘cxffing szn’ will be available soon. as far as photography i’m always working and always looking for new people and brands to collab with.
G: right now things are in the works for me, but within the next month or so I should have merch and a look book coming soon. I feel as though timing is everything.
If you could describe Highest Basement in one sentence, what would it be?
IHATEYOUSHEED: I don’t know about a sentence but… A word I would use… Is legendary.
B. Clarke: You can sleep on us if you want but soon we’ll flip your head upside down.
Lord Trippy: The niggas who knew they were gonna make it.
Moses: One word? Legendary.
Tawobi: High, I’m boutta spark a backwood right now.
Riley: A dysfunctional family.
Jeff: We were a bunch of kids that didn’t know our place, we found solace in art.
Ray: Young legends.
G: WE ARE A FAMILY.
Any last thoughts?
IHATEYOUSHEED: Go listen to Babies by Moses Mosima, be on the look out for Tawobi’s Album, BClarke’s album, Jefe’s album and Trippy Szn by Lord Trippy.
Lord Trippy: Go get babies on Apple Music and SoundCloud right now check out #HBCSUMMER on YouTube and peep highestbasement.com Thanks.
Tawobi: Peace and love from you’re Friendly Neighborhood Struggle Rapper, I appreciate you.
Riley: Than you for having us.
Ray: Stay tuned and pay very close attention. whether you’ve been riding with me or my team for a year or a day i appreciate you beyond belief.
G: I just wanna say that you to everyone who has supported, it means the work.. your gunna see our names.
Check out the collectives summer recap below:
Follow each member on Twitter (in order of answers in interview):