Vonte’s 1 TIME 4 DA WEST$IDE Brought Him Critical Acclaim…What’s Next For the Chicago Emcee? (Exclusive Interview)

Hey Vonte, how are you? We are so happy to be able to talk to you. Give us a background on who you are, where you’re from, and what you’re all about. 

I’m Vonte and I been around (lol) Im from the Westside of Chicago! I’m about the people. I am the voice of the ghetto. 

You put out your first track, The Cure freestyle, about 2 years ago. What made you release it? How do you feel you’ve grown since then?

The cure freestyle was just something I did to listen to my voice. JCole bodied that beat and it inspired me to write to it. Since then man I have grown as a person first. I have matured into a young man and I have slowly put away all the childish things I did when I was a little boy. I rarely listen to music I’ve already released but sometimes I just just to reminisce, you know listen to the growth. As a artist I’m more focused and understand I have a voice, and I must use my voice to inspire and spread love. 

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Once we got hip to your movement we noticed that you have VERY organic supporters. They are really down with your music. Was that something that came right away? How did you build up your fanbase?

As far as supporters go first off I thank everybody that has ever listened to anything I’ve ever done, even just to critique it. I’ve always been open to constructive criticism however I’mma still do me haha. And yea I think overtime the more and more projects and videos I put out it’s like people have noticed my work ethic. I still believe in face to face interactions as well. Every time I’m out of town, I’m networking. I’m always in the hood , getting on feet talking to the people, passing out stickers things like that. 

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Back in February you gave us a listen to your project 1 Time 4 Da West$ide. I vividly remember being blown away by it and wondering how I hadn’t heard your music before. What made you decide to reach out?

Thanks again for the dope writeup btw, you hit everything right on the nail. I just am a fan of music and I could tell that you appreciate real music. So I just decided to send it to you in confidence because of the work I put into the project. 

Soon after it dropped we wrote extensively on it, praising the production, lyrics, and overall direction. What type of response did you get outside of us? How do you feel about the project in general?

“1 Time 4 Da West$ide” was the launch pad. Its gotten me around to visit and perform at events and showcases all throughout the country. Its been on XXL, The Source 2DopeBoyz so a lot of big publications have wrote about it. I feel 1T4DW$ is just reminding everybody we got that shit Outwest too lol. Naw but fr, we got that shit!!!

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This is definitely your most ambitious offering yet. How long did it take to put together? What does it mean to you?

tI started working on the tape Halloween of 2015 and finished it November 21st of 2016. It means the world to me but I’m still growing. I don’t really listen to music I’ve already released. I want more from myself I expect more. I want to be mentioned with the greats of this rap shit. 

In your submission email you mentioned how the west side of Chicago doesn’t get the credit it deserves. Do you see that changing any time soon?

Slowly people have taken notice of our talent. S/O 2 SABA and his whole camp. Everybody thats working at Classick Studios as well. Just all my niggas doing their. And yes, Outwest is on the rise. 

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1T4DW speaks on personal struggle. Was this project a form of therapy for you?

Not necessarily, actually living through those things and learning from my mistakes and choices was therapy. I don’t believe in coincidence everything I mean everything happens for a reason. I understand that and it’r really beauty in the struggle. However being in the studio recording, mixing and just all the work I put into the project became therapeutic, took me out of my daily life and allowed me to show the world through my eyes. 

What can we expect for the rest of the year?

The rest of the year I’m going to put out a few singles to further showcase my versatility and put out videos for those singles. I’m already working on a new project but there is no release date for it. When its ready its ready. I’ve grown up listening to perfectionists and I’ve become one myself. 

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Shameless plug (lol) come check me out live June 15th at #CultureFest 1420 S. Michigan Ave DJ Nephews and DJ Keon spinning. Come out its a live fashion showcase and other dope artists will be performing. Doors open @5:30. Tickets are online hit me for them if necessary. 

Announcement from Wil Akogu + flowsfordays

Hey Wil! How are you?

What’s going on Julie! I’m doing well! I hope all is well with you. 

You just found out some big news. Tell us about it!

Yes I did! Well a couple days ago, I found out I’d be opening for Marsha Ambrosius & Eric Benet on May 14th (Mothers day) in Chicago as they kick off their tour. 

What was your reaction when you found out?

I’m definitely humbled by the opportunity. Most importantly for me, I’m excited to exercise my musical & performance abilities. It’s always a great time whenever you can get on stage, not to mention being able to bless the same stage as two artists of this stature. Especially because they chose me & not the other way around. They really enjoy my music. So to be hand picked is very humbling, and it definitely shows I’m doing the right things.

What is your mindset going into the performance? What type of effect do you want it to have on the people that come out and see you?

Well first this is a great opportunity to showcase my musical finesse. To show my skill & ability as well as precision. I’m very excited. This is right up my alley. Second, I’m just gonna be myself, put on the best show i can & hope everyone there can appreciate my light.

Will you be performing more that one song? What can we expect from the set?

Yes. My set is 20 minutes so expect a decent amount of music. I’ll be performing a lot of unreleased music so it should be a good time. I definitely wanna keep the crowd on their toes.

How do you think this will help your movement and music? What are you hoping to achieve?

I think being exposed to a different audience especially on such a big platform will be greatly beneficial to my movement. I’m hoping to capture as many eyes, ears & souls as possible.

How do you feel about the other artists on the bill?

To my knowledge, I am the only other artist on the bill outside of the headliners. But if any other artist are on the bill, I’m sure they are very talented & I wish them the best.

Where can we find more information about the performance/how to get in touch, etc?

I should have a ticket link available very soon as well as physical copies. Once I get those I’ll be sure to post the info on all my social medias.

We’re rocking with you and know you’ll kill it. Good luck to you!

Connect with Wil:

www.wilakogu.com

https://soundcloud.com/wilakogu

https://www.instagram.com/wilakogu/

https://twitter.com/WilAkogu

https://www.facebook.com/wilakog

 

The Trials + Tribulations of Breeze Has Never Stopped His Grind (Exclusive Interview)

flowsfordays is definitely a submission centric blog. When all of the emails are looked through, we post new music that we’ve enjoyed, or that we’ve researched. We received our first submission from underground Chicago artist Breeze in February, and it was an automatic write up. Since then he’s dropped a few tracks and videos, and each one is up on the site.

If Breeze didn’t put us on to his music – he still would have been on flowsfordays. His discography is flawless, and track record unfuckwithable.

He’s been buzzing in Chicago, but hasn’t gotten the spotlight he deserves. Our philosophy has always been to give the proper shine to dope artists who work their ass off to create amazing music. We had to interview the man, and learn more about his output. His story is touching, and perseverance admirable. The interview is below, and you can also peep his new visual is at the top of this text. Happy reading!

1. Hey Breeze, how are you?

I’m feeling quite legit on this Monday, how about you?

2. Give us a little introduction on you.

I’m Jared Pugh, most know me as “Breeze” or “Kid Breeze” (Because I’ll never really “grow up” haha)

3. In your Twitter bio you have a hashtag #QualityMusicForTheStreets. What does that mean to you?

#QualityMusicForTheStreets, plainly, is what me and my partner strive to provide for music fans across the universe. It stems from being really tired of the mediocrity, specifically in hip-hop, that is being promoted and accepted as a “change in the culture”, or “popcorn music” (as we like to describe it). We feel that while that type of music is most popular currently (for our own understood reasons) there is still a population that prefers quality music. So everything we provide, from our production compositions to my raps and visuals is nothing less than substantial work, as has been proven.

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4. When did you start your music career? Why did you decide to pursue a career in hip hop?

Well if were being real, I was in the youth choir when I was 4 lol but nah I didn’t SERIOUSLY decide to pursue a career in music until my senior yr. HS/ First year college. For as long as I can remember I have always wanted to entertain in general, act, rap, comedy, anything that would gain stardom from just being myself and other people liking it. For a long while I really wanted to pursue comedy, even doing standup sets and hosting events in college, but my heart lied in rap music so around 18/19, I felt that I had lived enough to write some substantial raps and from there it was pretty much a constant pursuance.

5. What’s your story?

My story is that of a young cat from Chicago, coming up in both Bellwood/Maywood (Murdawoods or “The Woods”) and the west side of the city (Near West Side & Lawndale Neighborhoods), and the trials and tribulations that have allowed me to be the man I am today and make the music I make. Due to my well-cultured upbringing, I consider myself “Seasoned” with life experience ranging from urban dealings, to women, to being a college graduate (Southern Illinois University Carbondale – 2013). I truly know both sides of life, from a maintaining a character in a professional realm, to maintaining the brains of a street hustler. Those closest to me can vouch for the validity of such balance. Though I’ve made strides educationally, became a member of a fraternity, and a service to many communities, etc., I’ve also done things that I’m not so proud of, but things that were a necessity in helping push my craft forward due to my tenacity. I use my music to not only go into detail about these things sometimes, but also to overtly tell listeners that life is legit all about the choices you make! Now in the words of Matcy P ” That’s all you get until the movie” Haha!

6. Since you submitted your Trillmatic Freestyle video we’ve been posting all of your new releases. You always deliver. How do you feel about your music?

Again, I honestly feel like my music is a showcase of balance in the black male my age. I could have taken the route of many graduates before me but because I didn’t, I feel that someone needs to hear that story. There is someone that loves music so much that they’re willing to do anything to see success. I want people to hear my joints and think “Organic” “heart filled”. I describe the music as “current”, as most of my subject matter is about me and my people, and the content is mostly recent situations. I can give you gritty, raw, bang bang gang gang slang slang, but I can also give you insightful, educational and even marital advice (Idk about that one lol) through my music. I’m a true representation of the western hemisphere in this world we call Chicago.

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7. You tend to put out music accompanied by a visual. What is your theory on that? Who has helped you make these quality videos?

Often, I just feel so strongly about a song that it absolutely NEEDS a visual, and this is just my observation, but with the lowered attention span of audiences, I just saw fit to sometimes, release them together, pushing the actual song a little bit further. Now I can push the individual song and given people like it so much, they do not have to wait for a video. It’s just my personal theory, not saying it’s right or wrong, but I’m just figuring out how to get with the times and how to incorporate what I like into what the times like and how they like it. Currently, my partner and me get together all of my releases and drop them on our own platforms but that may change soon. Everything I do is legit trial and error, I will have an idea and literally won’t say nothing, just do it. If it works, it works, if not, back to the drawing board u know? That’s that tenacity.

8. Your newest record is called Let Em Know which we proclaimed was “the best song you’ll hear all day.” Do you think that’s one of your strongest tracks?

Production wise? Most definitely; we’ve recently transformed over into a new software called “Studio One” and have added a few new hardware pieces to our production labs. So “let em know” is definitely a showcase of soul music at its finest, I kept the drums warm purposely to give it the more “vinyl-ish” aesthetic and the lush sounds we added on top just made it all the more “pimptastic”. As far as the rap, I’m never really surprised (as humble as I can be). I know once we get a flame beat together and I’m feeling the way I’m humming the cadence, I’m pretty much gone. That happened with this. I got the bouncy tempo I wanted to keep in my head, and wrote it like that, so I would say yea it’s definitely one of my stronger songs all in all.

9. You are 1/2 of the production duo Tha Shipmates. Who is the other member, why did you decide on that name, and when did you guys decide to link up?

“Tha Shipmates” consists my brother @MatcyP and I. We both met in college. I was younger and Matcy P had been producing for almost 10 years, so when I got to the campus in 2009, dude was pretty much “that guy” on the campus as far as beats were concerned. I would see him dropping compilation tapes with artists that were flame so I really just wanted to link with him, because I was just a young rapper that didn’t know anything about beats for real. I joined an organization P was a president of as a duty fulfilled join my fraternity (Alpha Phi Alpha). We soon found out we were both trying to join at the same time and ultimately ended up becoming line brothers or part of the same “Pledge class”. Over the next two years, he would hone my production skills so that I could make my own tracks and stop buying them, and in Nov 2013 I felt as If I was good enough at it to quit my job and pursue music full time, forming our then new duo, “Tha Shipmates” production team.

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10. Every EP and song you’ve put out is produced by Tha Shipmates. Why do you solely use your own production? Will that ever change?

Since I started taking rap seriously, there was only one person invested in actually giving me production, Matcy P. By learning these programs from bro, I developed a preference for the type of beats I like, and I know that he and I hit that sound on the head effortlessly. It’s also the quickest way to get things done, you’re not working on anyone else’s time or dime but your own so that certainly helps with the creative process. We strive to make Tha Shipmates as big of a name as possible, so isolating all of the production to just us helps solidify a trademark sound that everyone can recognize. I definitely work with other producers IF the track is flames, and me being a producer myself, I’m hard to please haha.

11. You’ve put out 2 projects in the last year that I’ve really enjoyed. Why did you decide to call them “2004: The Book” and “Are You Afraid Of The Dark?” How did these come together?

2004, as plainly as put was legit just the era I was in at the tie I was creating that joint, the samples, the recollection of situations from adolescence, all the way down to the art design (Bailey Ellis) were products of the emotions. It followed a Facebook theme, being that FB started in 2004. Around 2004, (7th Grade) was also the time I realized I really wanted to pursue music. Kanye, Lupe, Rhymefest, and a slew of other artists from this era were big influences on my creation to this day, so after a while of composition, it felt right to give it the title 2004. The Book part of the title was a suggestion from Bailey, with a double play on the Facebook theme, and me telling a piece of my story. Are You Afraid Of The Dark came from a more grim space in me, and basically was a synopsis of one being fearful of taking the leap of faith and going out and chasing your passion, whatever it is. Of course it’s a double play on the 90’s nick show, but moreover, it details certain aspects about me that I couldn’t give you in an interview as organically. ( as in Mitch Richmond). This project packaging process was a bit smoother as it was only 6 songs.

12. How are you approaching 2017? 

Just as “glass half filled” as I approach any year. I know the work required for success and I’m willing to do it until that’s the result. I am creating more original music and releasing more visuals so I think if any aspect of this year’s approach is contrary to others, it’s definitely my tenacity. Never taking no for an answer.

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13. Do you feel others are starting to take notice of your output? Does that matter to you?

Most definitely! I have felt I didn’t receive certain recognition I’ve deserved before, just as anyone else has, so it’s always good to be recognized for your art. It was never one of those things that stopped me from working though, I’ve probably received more no’s than yes’s at this point but who’s to say that makes you a failure? I am humbled with every new listener I get and I only hope to grow expeditiously!

14. What’s coming next?

A new project! But that’s a TBA type thing. I love releasing bodies of work super randomly, every new one I add to the catalog is just a new page in the book for me, but you can also expect some real fly ass videos, new music obviously and I’m DEFINITELY working to do the “Henny And The Homies” showcase again!

Virginia’s Gee$ Is Ready To Drop The Biggest Project Of His Career (Exclusive Interview)

Around the beginning of the 21st century, rap fans couldn’t escape the talent out of Virginia. We all know Clipse’s career defining hit Grindin‘, Missy Elliot and Timbaland’s lengendary collaborations, and Pharell’ contributions to countless radio hits.

Gee$ grew up on this music, and has drawn inspiration from it. Although you can hear some influence on his tracks, he’s always made his music HIS way. We’ve praised them on 3 separate occasions and don’t think the posts will stop.

His recent track (above) is another gem, with a more laid back approach. He’s gearing up to drop his newest LP sometime in the summer, and based off his track record, this will be one for the books. We’ve been noticing his grind for some time now, and decided to speak with the budding Virginia rapper.

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I’m so excited to do this interview as we’ve posted 3 of your tracks in just 5 months. Tell us about the support you’ve received for your music. Has it been going well?

I really appreciate the love I get from anyone who takes the time out of their day to listen to my music & of course I appreciate the support you’ve shown. So once again I gotta tell you thanks.

It’s hard to choose my favorite record from you – but I’ll tentatively say it’s Uptown. I was struck by your voice and compared it to Pusha T. Have you ever gotten that comparison, or a comment on it?

That’s a good pick, my man HNIC produced that joint right there. It gave me that vintage feel with that knock though you know what I mean ? But yea I’ve heard that a few times. I can’t help the way my voice sounds on tracks so I take it as a compliment I guess haha… Pusha is a legend in my eyes, he’s like the Jay Z of where I’m from to me.

What is the mission statement for your music? Do you have any approach to your tracks – or a certain mindset?

Before I even get into the writing process the hook is always first priority to me. So I’ll try to feel out the flow or melody of how the hook is gonna go then the bars will start to come together once the hook is situated. I really just make music for the real ones. My aim isn’t to be a superstar, I get satisfaction from people just telling me I’m one of their favorite artists.

You are from Virginia, home to legends like Pharrell, Missy Elliot, Pusha T, Timbaland, and more. Did you grow up listening to them? Do you enjoy their music?

Hell yeah. Imagine being in school in VA when “grindin” dropped haha… we all was hitting that beat on the lunch table. I was a neptune fanatic growing up and I used to love that old timbo & missy. Missy 1st 2 albums are certified classics to me.

Do you draw any inspiration from them? In general – who do you draw inspiration from in general? 

Of course. I get inspired by all the stuff I grew up listening to along with the current wave of music that I like nowadays. Jay Z is my favorite rapper of all time so when I get into my mood to where I wanna listen to Hov all the time that’s when I start getting in my creative mode with the rhymes. I’ll start coming up with lines then I’ll either remember them until I actually write the song or I’ll just put it in my notes real quick.

You collaborated with fellow Virginia rapper Nickelus F on Uptown. How did that come together? 

Well being a rapper from VA you CANT not know who Nickelus F is. That song was actually in the cut for about 3 yrs before I just recently dropped it. I knew I needed someone with a rough raspy approach to it to compliment my smooth approach & once he dropped his “Triflin” project I knew it had to be him. My verses was already on it when we sent it to him so it was nothing for him to knock that joint out. Much love to him for blessing that joint for me, that’s one of my favorite songs I’ve done.

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What do you think bout the Virginia hip hop scene. Is it growing? Do you have some emcees that you really mess with?

The music scene is kinda weird in VA. It’s a lot of dope artists but the people play the “popularity” card & play the “politic” games around here so that kinda gets in the way of everybody getting an opportunity to really get their fair share but that’s just my opinion. I don’t really focus on whether if my state is listening because it’s a whole world out there other than your state you know what I mean. It’s like a “gotta keep it moving” mentality you gotta have in Virginia cause you’ll definitely get discouraged waiting on support from hometown until you pop off.

Talk about your upbringing. When did you discover music – and when did you decide to pursue music?

When I was 6 I would always hear my mom listening to “Ain’t No Nigga” & “Who You Wit” by Jay Z in the car so I was real familiar with those beats. But when he dropped “Hard Knock Life” that’s when I got into him myself. I was 8 when “Vol. 2 Hard Knock Life” dropped & it was either get a wrestling toy or get my first cd that weekend for allowance. I used to see his videos on BET & MTV all day everyday so I grew up idolizing him. When I was in the 4th grade me & a couple guys performed in the school’s talent show as a rap group called “Flavor 4 U” but I was too shy to actually rap on stage in front of everyone. So I would continue to write in my notebooks and keep them to myself until about 7th grade, that’s when I knew i was gonna pursue this sometime down the road.

Do you have a particular song or verse that you hold above the rest? Or a record that you enjoy the most?

I have my days to be honest. I can say this though… My upcoming project “Thanks For Nothing” is my best work. From start to finish its a straight listen. Everything that I’ve been dropping the past couple of months have been “throwaways”.

I’ve spoken with your management for quite some time. He seems to work very hard to make sure you get press for your music. How do you know him?

That’s family right there.. I met Gusto over a decade ago through one of my closest friends which is his cousin so that’s how we met. We always used to talk about music & I remember when I told him I wanted to pursue the music on some serious shit. I didn’t think that he was gonna be with it foreal but he was & here we are years later still grinding it out. That’s my dog right there.

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What’s next for you? 

Like I said earlier I got the project dropping this summer. The first single “Real Gee$” will be out really soon. A lot of visuals will be released for the project then we might go back and do some visuals for one or two of the tracks I’ve previously released. I’m just working & trying to get ahead of the pack you know what I mean.

Any last thoughts or shout outs? 

Shoutout to you for taking the time to do this interview with me & much love to those who support my music. Be sure to follow me on Twitter & Instagram and be on the lookout for my project “Thanks For Nothing” dropping this summer !!!

Wellium – BEL1EVE (Exclusive Premiere + Interview)

Prior to this interview, I wasn’t familiar with Wellium or his music It was really too bad as he’s not only a unique artist – but a creative soul. He reached out to me in early March giving me a full synopsis of his upcoming project titled BEL1EVE. It wasn’t your typical email – with very organized information on the concept behind it, when it was going to be released, and even a narrative bio about his life.

Along with the email came some mp3 attachments containing the 3 songs of the EP. It matched with his attention to detail and obvious love of music. You’ll hear it above – but we wanted to do something special with this premiere as there is a lot more to it than you think.

An interview is below to introduce you to John, and for you to learn more about what went into BEL1EVE. Even further below is some insight on a few of the songs on the project. Remember – this is just Phase 1 of 3.

Hey John, thanks for sitting down with us! How are you?

Hey Julie – Thanks for having me! I’ve been doing well and staying busy so time has been flying for me these last few months. Just trying to keep growing every day.

So, you’ve just dropped your new EP BEL1EVE. First – tell us about the title. 

So, me and my two homies back in Philadelphia started our own collective called The Lucky 1’s aka L1. We were texting in our group chat one day and we came up with some words we thought represented my passion for music and their support throughout this journey that also incorporated L1. They’re a huge part of my success and we all got our own little niche within the group. Shout out to Evan & Rich. As for the project itself, BEL1EVE will be a collection of 9 songs with 3 phases that each consist of 3 songs. This is Phase I.

You sent over a few tracks before the drop. It sounded like a very personal project to me. Why did you approach it this way?

Phase I touches on a variety of topics but ultimately it is about overcoming adversity. I started some of these songs almost 2 years ago and have just been fine tuning each one along the way. Previously, I had released about 20 songs and I thought I needed to sit back and really start stocking up my catalogue of songs. So, I waited until I had enough songs done so I could choose which ones would be in BEL1EVE.

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You told me you are “re-branding your sound.” What did you mean by that, and do you think you have achieved this with the project?

 There were a couple of months where I was putting so much time and resources into my craft on top of my 7-5 job that I got burnt out which ended up giving me writers block for a little while. So, since I wasn’t writing that much anymore I dove into recording more melodies and harmonies on tracks. I try to always keep progressing and being more experimental every track I do. I think these first three tracks in BEL1EVE show my growth as an artist these last few years in Chicago.

Why have you decided to drop it now? Is there a specific reason?

Honestly, I didn’t pick a date until this month. I was trying to focus on the progression of the tracks and waited for it all to come together.

Talk about the producers that are on here. Did you reach out to them? How did it all come together? 

The first track was produced by Monte Booker. Met him thru some mutual friends and I saw him at the studio one day so I reached out to him. EP1DMC produced the second track and I met him at the studio as well. The third track was produced by my homie TyKnoxx. Shout out to all of them for blessing me with those instrumentals.

You have an interesting story about your stage name. Talk about how that came together. 

The name Wellium stemmed from my full name, Francis John Cantwell II. I stumbled upon an element called Francium on the periodic table which is very combustible with water. I thought it was ironic seeing that humans need water to survive so I started with Cantwellium. Then decided to remove the negative connotation with “cant” and have it be Wellium.

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The artwork is very important to you. Who painted it, and what does it mean to you? 

Yes, this is a huge part of the project! My buddy Michael Steinheiser aka Adventure Skull reached out to me one day seeing if I needed any help because he had some downtime. After he heard the songs we ended up thinking of dope concept that could be portrayed through a tryptic. He hand drew, painted and edited this piece for me which really made it come to life! You’ll definitely be seeing more of his artwork with the next phases to come.

You worked with Classick Studios on this. Was it a good experience? How long were you working on it? 

I record at Classick a pretty decent amount and it is always good vibes there. They have so much talent coming in and out every day so it’s made me more musically conscious and fueled me to get better. Plus…Bryan Schwaller makes my shit sound so fire, shout out to him!

What do you hope to achieve with BEL1EVE. What type of reception would you like? 

I just want all the listeners to vibe with it and be ready for new music the rest of 2017.

Any last thoughts?

Just wanted to say thanks again for having me on Flowsfordays. Find me @ www.whereswellium.com. Shout out to the Lucky 1’s.

Insight on the 3 songs: 

Farewell (prod by Monte Booker) — This track is about leaving the old you and old things behind and embarking on your journey, even if it may be alone.
Drinking Too Much (prod by EP1DMC) — This track is about how people can get caught up during the Journey in minuscule things that lead them down the wrong path.
OMW (prod by Ty Knoxx) — This track is about conquering the next chapter/phase and not worrying about everything that’s behind you because you see what is ahead of you.

Get To Know Jaro – The Hardest Working Producer Out Of Chicago (Exclusive Interview)

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I cannot even begin to tell you how geeked I was when Jaro was down to speak with me. As you’ll read in our interview below – he is my favorite producer in my native Chicago. He is extremely versatile not just in his instrumentals, but in the artists he chooses to work with.

Although I don’t have any plans to become a producer – I really look up to him for the way he puts on for the city and his penchant for organic collaborations. My readers out of the city man not be familiar with him, but you’ll find most of his work below. I am so excited to share this with you. Big shout out to Jaro, as he stayed humble and got back to me quickly.

Hey Jaro, thanks for speaking with us! For those who don’t know you, can you give us a brief introduction?

Thanks for having me! I’m Jaro, and I’m just a normal guy from Chicago, who likes to make music.

I’d first like to get my fandom out of the way. You are one of my favorite producers out of Chicago. Does anyone else tell you that?

Thank you so much, that’s actually really crazy to hear. I think one or two people have said that to me before, but I always figured that they were just trying to be nice.

I’d like to focus on your solo work, but I have 3 questions about the collective you are apart of, Beach Jesus. How did you become a member of the group? What is your role?

Beach Jesus just kind of came together naturally a few years ago. I was working with Chandler and Jesse each separately at the time, and figured it was time to all just work together. I produced and mixed the majority of the tracks that came out.

Your group’s debut, Two Weeks Vacation, stood as one of my favorite releases of 2015. What does that project mean to you?

Thank you! That project is definitely special. It was my first time really working on a cohesive project. Almost all of the songs on that project were recorded within two weeks. The chemistry and creative process throughout that project was incredible. To this day, you could ask anyone about the “Lovemore” session (Cae Jones, Elias Abid, Quinn Cochran of Iris Temple, Chandler, and Jommis), and they’ll tell you the energy in the studio that night was surreal.

And finally – you guys haven’t released new material in some time. What is the status on the group and new music?

Unfortunately, the group has gone on indefinite hiatus for now. There were some creative differences with our last EP, and since then everyone has gone to focus on their solo work. There’s no bad blood or anything, and I’ve got love for my doods, but that’s why we’ve just been cooling under the radar. Woodlands, released via 119chicago, might’ve been the last Beach Jesus track. There’s one super hot track in particular that makes me sad because it’ll never come out. Maybe I’ll just have to leak it sometime.

Lets start with the beginning of your solo work. Last year, you dropped two critically acclaimed projects; la rouge and la bleue. First off – why did you decide to put out solo work?

Putting out a solo project was important opportunity for me to experiment and find my sound. I’m still looking.

Why did you decide to work with featured artists such as Qari, Sean Deaux, Aura, and the others? I figure this was a pretty organic process.

They’re all just friends to me. Friends that happen to be incredible at what they do. And I’m really fortunate to be able to know good people like them. It really all did come together naturally. Each of those songs were actually made the first time I sat down with each of them to make music. Man, Aura might be the best rapper in Chicago, and he’s not even from around here.

What mind state where in you in la rouge vs. la bleue. Sonically they sound very different.

It was really a seasonal feeling for me. La rouge was mostly recorded during the deep winter months, while la bleue was done during the transition into spring. I think you could hear it in the production, but it’s really the lyrics that brings everything to life.

Getting into more recent work, you make two  amazing collaborate records last year. They are a part of a series called Weekdays with Ben + Jaro. Most Chicagoians know who Ben is, but for those that don’t know, who is he, and what is this series exactly?

Ben is a gentleman, a scholar, a librarian, a friend, and a roommate. He came up with this idea to curate large collaborative efforts within Chicago and those two songs were the product of that. It was awesome working with so many talented people (some for the first time).

Is there more coming? The last single was dropped 5 months ago. 

There are stems wondering around for a few sessions actually. I’m not sure when they’ll be finish but the project files definitely exist!

I want to make sure I cover the two instrumentals you’ve dropped in the last 2 months. Say ya (sleep) and for her are two very different pieces of work. I assume you have a lot in the vault – why did you decide to pick those two to release?

I have a lot in the vault, but I wouldn’t say any of it is good. There’s a reason why they’re in the vault haha. If you don’t finish a song within the first week, it just becomes another lost project and I’ll probably think it’s bad by then. Both of these records, however, were actually made for release, so they were pretty fresh ideas.

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The cover art for your singles and albums are very detailed. Is that an important part of your music?

Artwork for songs and projects is definitely important to me. It’s just another outlet to express yourself. We have 5 senses for perception, why should we only limit ourselves to audio? Ideally, my next project comes with a 5-course meal, specially catered to enhance the listening experience.

The titles of your songs are very unique. How do you approach naming them?

Coming up with a song title is pretty difficult sometimes. You want something that’s unique, but also something that will stay with someone after they hear the song. I try not to overthink it. Usually it’ll be related to a certain line that resonates with how the song makes me feel.

How do you approach your instrumentals? Is there a process that you go through for each one?

I’ll usually always start with chords. I can sit for hours, just trying to come up with the right series of chord progressions. From there, I’ll add drums, leads and bass lines. And finally, probably the hardest part for me is sound design.

You don’t just stick to one genre in your production. Is there a producer or artist that inspires you? Do you have a favorite genre of music?

Shout out to the GOATs medasin and josh pan. As far as producer/artists that are pushing the boundaries of production and sound, these two are my favorite right now. I really enjoy a wide range of genre, but usually I’m listening to a  youtube jazz pianist on a rhodes keyboard @jazzijazzful. He is so sick.

When did you decide to commit yourself to music? Did you always know you wanted to get into production?

I’ve played music most of my life. I took piano lessons when I was younger, and played in the church growing up. I didn’t really get into production until about 2013.

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When did you make your first beat?

I made my first beat in college on garageband. It was soooooo terrible hahaha. 

How did you get into the music culture of Chicago? You work with a lot of diverse artists out of the city.

I really just work with friends and people that I know. If you go to local shows or if you play shows, you’ll just naturally start meeting people within that realm.

Are there any collaborations you can speak on?

So much always gets made, but you’re never sure what’s actually going to come out. Either way, shout outs to my dawgs Banks the Genius, Iris Temple, Boathouse, Cory Grindberg, San Soma, Elias Abid, and Lasko. I got at least one with each of them.

Any last thoughts?

Thanks for having me!

FXXXXY Is Buzzing Off His Massive New EP…This Is Just The Beginning (Exclusive Interview)

Hey man! Thanks for talking with us! First off – congrats on the success of Cartel Shawty + your recent songs on SoundCloud! Pigeons + Planes premiered the EP, and your song Beep Beep premiered on Beats 1 Radio with Zan Lowe. You’ve also got Lip Service 6 at #23 In the US Viral charts on Spotify, and blogs are posting your stuff like crazy! Was this all organic? What do you attribute all this success to?

It’s crazy to hear you say that and those stats. I would attribute this success to just staying down and always keeping my heart intact through my expression and art. A lot of artists let go of their hearts and are not as thoughtful or in touch with themselves when they want to create. I’m fully engaged in myself, where I come from, who’s listening and what I’m trying to say whether it’s good, bad or ugly.

You just dropped your new project (February 28th.) How do you feel about this release compared to Cartel Shawty?

Cartel Shawty was me starting to figure out life and myself out and starting to bloom. I would call it the moment I came out of my cocoon and became bold enough to do and say things the way I wanted to. It was about my emotions and how I feel about the police, women that I loved and respected, women that I didn’t feel that same admiration for… It dealt with people close to me dying and how I cope with all that. Flawed Up Shawty is my championship ring. It’s me out of the cocoon and learning how to fly. It’s a lot harder and dirtier.

I’m not concerned with how people will take it. I just know my shit is hard and I’m shooting shots at everybody who’s been mad that I’m really out here influencing a generation. I’m talking about the relationships that this new recognition has brought to me and how I deal with it. Especially since I lost the love of my life during the making of this. Ima be talking about her, not really in a bad way, for a while probably… Because now I’m out in this industry with nobody to hold me down like she did and I see how this thing can drive you crazy. It hurts. I see how people cope with not having that person and it’s scary because I don’t want to be that but when she left me, that door slowly cracked open.

You are definitely a unique presence in the hip hop world. What was it like growing up, and how did you develop into the creative artist we see today?

I had good times and bad times growing up. My family and environment influenced me. Half my family is from Compton and the other half is from New York. I got mad family in Dallas and all over but those are the 2 main branches. That says a lot about my personality. These are the people I grew up wanting to be like. Even when we moved to the suburbs, these were the people that were around me. This is how my art can be so polarizing because parts of my life I was worrying about me and my brother getting murdered and other parts I was just another kid in a good school struggling to pass. My life is lowkey crazy. Sometimes I forget what I been through.

Who are some of your main inspirations? Who do you listen to often?

It’s funny because people probably think I’m listening to rap or some gangsta shit or whatever. I’m listening to mad 90s R&B. I put that on my life. I’m listening to Mary J Blige, Faith Evans, SWV, a little DJ Screw and old R Kelly. This is the type of music I’m listening to 99 percent of the time. That’s my era even though I’m young. That’s my soul. Then I might cut on J Dilla, A Tribe Called Quest, Ice Cube or some Drake or Future.

You do A LOT of your own production. Why do you stick to using your own beats?

I’m not against working with other producers but I want my shit to be pure. I want my people to feel my soul. My level of excellence is just different from everybody else. Every sound you hear is me and my style and my heart. A lot of producers just don’t have that same purity or “thing” I always need for my shit. Every word and sound has to make me scrunch my face or feel some sorta soul. A lot of beats are dope but very few make me want to give them to the world. Plus, I’m just better than a lot of producers out here with no disrespect. You can put me against any of them. Famous or underground and I’ll body their shit. Give me a week. I really love Timbaland and Missy though. I can’t wait to work with them. Especially Timbaland. I like Metro and Zaytoven too.

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Before we get into your current work – some people may not know about your BandCamp page, where you’ve released tons of projects. What do they mean to you?

That page is for all my day ones. People who’ve been on this journey with me since all the Scene projects and just are nostalgic to that. They were with me when my shit didn’t sound so good and I love them and am down with them forever because of that. That’s real love. I got their back and they’ve got mine. That page is literally strictly for them. I might delete it one day but for right now, it’s just for them. I love yall. If you’re one of my day ones reading this, I promise I mean it. Cartel.

Your Bandcamp page is https://cumm199sexx.bandcamp.com. With no surprise, sex is the theme for a lot of the EP’s. Was this a natural direction you went into?

Definitely. Look at my generation. Look where we come from. Look at who raised us and how the world neglected us. My generation is literally in a world that made us this way. Our world growing up was sex, violence and shootings, drugs, etc. What the fuck do our parents think is gonna happen? How the fuck we supposed to grow up and be normal human beings when our family members are gangbanging or in prison or we see the news talking about bombing other countries and the commercials on TV are sex filled.

We grew up off GTA and violence and the government didn’t give enough of a fuck to even take our teachers off welfare. My art is just a reflection of that. In the beginning I did have to make a decision though. I knew that making my art this way would turn off the mainstream and prohibit me from succeeding in a lot of ways but I didn’t give a fuck. I always had heart and kept it intact. I said fuck it. Let’s show the real. This who we are. Fuck who don’t like it.

ANKIEYENT: Scene X stands as my favorite project from you. Out of all of those EP’s, do you have a favorite, or one you are most proud of?

It sounds typical for an artist to say their latest project is their favorite but honestly it is. Flawed Up Shawty just hits me right emotionally and sonically. Im working on some even iller shit right now though secretly.

You have a long running EP series, Scene A, B, and C. How did that concept come together?

The scenes were a way for me to get my vision across right at that moment. Not waiting months or whatever to promote a project but let everybody know my mindstate right then and there. It would be just 2-3 songs of where I was. I was finding myself. If you notice, every Scene sounds different. I was trying to find my way of expression and myself creatively. I had to go through that period of doing that to get to this point. I got so much love for people who stood by me during that period of time though. I swear. Yall gang for life. I got so much cooler shit stored that were gonna do that will remind my day ones about those times. I keep those early tapes up just for them. So they can reminisce as we move forward.

Screen Shot 2017-03-03 at 10.57.59 AM.pngWhat is one thing you want your listeners to know about you that they may not know?

I want my listeners to know I got a plan for this shit. This money Ima make is gonna come back to them. I’m not like any other artist that this world has seen. Your kids will see the benefits of us starving together and you being generous enough to support me. I promise. I got a plan for this shit. It’s not overnight but in time, if I live long enough to pull it off, you’ll see what I’m talking about and remember what you just read. I really care. I really do. I just gotta murk the industry and takeover first and then you’ll see what I mean.

Is there anyone you are working with that you can speak on?

There’s a lot of people that’s down with the Cartel that I can’t say right now. I wish I could but there’s some real shit going on out here. All names will be left anonymous until I feel I can let all that out the bag.

I imagine the next while will be about promoting the project. Anything else we can look forward to?

Same as the last question… There’s so much I can’t say. It’ll ruin it. Just sit back and enjoy the highlights. The Cartel runs the world now. Whether they know it or not. They’ll know soon.

Chicago’s Matt Muse Is Just Getting Started… (Exclusive Interview)

Hey Matt! Thanks for talking with us! Can you give us a short intro on you?

Yooo I’m Matt Muse, rapper, producer and music lover from the South Side of Chicago.

You have a show coming up in March in conjunction with 3sixty5Chi. Are you looking forward to it? How did you guys link up?

Yes I’m definitely looking forward to it. Ryan from 3sixty5Chi reached out to me with the idea of doing a show to showcase the artists in Chicago who are on the rise. It sounded like a super dope idea so I told him I was beyond down to do it.

You are headlining, but a bunch of dope artists that I’ve worked with are performing as well. Have you worked with any of these guys before?

I haven’t made any music with the other artists on the bill (just yet) but I’m good homies with all of them and truly respect all of their crafts.

Screen Shot 2017-03-01 at 12.48.02 PM.pngHave you done many shows? Do you enjoy performing? 

Yes I’ve performed a whooooole lot since I started rapping seriously back in 2012. I absolutely love performing. It is by far my favorite part of being an artist. There’s nothing that compares to showing of these tunes that I’m so passionate about and moving a crowd with my words.

You’ll be dropping your new project the same week of the show. What is it called, and what can we expect sonically?

Yup, March 7th to be exact. Its called The SiKK Tape. Its a science fiction project set in a distopian Chicago. Its a story told through song that’s pieced together by skits between the songs. It’s got a lot of heavy bass, catchy hooks, and raw lyrics that tell my perspective on the city of Chicago through a cinematic lens.

How long have you been working on music? What are your earliest memories of hip hop?

I have been making music since I graduated 8th grade in 2006. That year my pops bought me drum machine as a graduation gift and I’ve been producing since. I started writing raps in high school and started to take emceeing seriously in 2012, my sophomore year of college. My earliest memories of hip-hop come from way back. My pops use to play all kinds of stuff, but I remember most vividly him playing Gimme Some More and Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Can See by Busta Rhymes. My siblings and I would sing those songs non-stop and I was in love hip-hop at that time without even fully knowing what it was.

You’ve worked on songs with two of my friends, Christian JaLon + Aced Spade. How long have you known them?

I met Aced Spade in 2013 during his freshman year at Northern Illinois University. I was a part of an organization called Ex’Pression up there and he joined that year and that’s how we met. I believe I met Christian a year later in the summer of 2014.

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I recently learned you’ve spoken at a TED conference. What did you talk about, and what was that experience like?

Man the TED Talk was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I spoke on how Hip-Hop literally saved my life and the strong impact it continues to have on people daily worldwide. I commissioned the audience to give Hip-Hop music a genuine try and that through doing so they’d learn the stories of so many people that they may have incorrect views on.

You are also a teaching artist at a great organization called Young Chicago Authors. Talk about YCA, your role, and how it has impacted your life.

I became a part of the Teaching Artist Core at YCA this past fall. YCA is a literary organization that aims to impact and change the lives of youth in Chicago through creative writing. As a teaching artist, i have teaching residencies in two Chicago high schools where I push students to express their authentic stories hip-hop and poetry writing workshops. I could type for days on YCA’s impact, but to keep it short, its given me the chance to finally work a job that is directly related to my craft and to impacting Chicago through my craft, which is a dream come true.

You’ve put out 2 impressive EP’s in the last 2 years. What makes this new release different? How do you feel about those tapes?

This new release is an ode to Chicago, something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. It’s different from those tapes in that its a story and that its just better. I love those other tapes, but this is a much more polished and calculated body of work that I am very proud of.

How long have you been recording and prepping for it?

Some of the songs are almost 3 years old. I’ve been slowly piecing together the idea for 3 years and have been recording for it throughout the last year.

You’ve worked with producer BmfnT quite a lot. He was even the instrumentalist on your latest drop, Nothing To It. What is your relationship to him, and why do you continue to work with him?

He is a brother through music. He’s another producer that I met up at Northern Illinois. He and my guy Teezy Too Dope were the first guys whose beats really complimented my style after I put the drum machine down and picked up the pen more. I continue to work with him because he’s extremely talented and he knows what type of music I’m trying to make. He has the same vision for his production that I have for my rhymes, and we try to fuse those visions together perfectly when we make tracks.

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What’s coming next for you? What can we look forward to?

The SiKK Tape, The SiKK Tape, The SiKK Tape, and all of the dope things that I have planned for it after it drops on March 7th .

Experimental R&B Sensation Ziyaad Luceō Speaks on ‘Broken Skies’ (Dissection Interview Series)

Experimental r&b artist Ziyaad Luceō has gained quite a bit of notoriety in his relatively short music career. The Toronto native’s first record on SoundCloud, For You (Patience), was a hit and has been streamed over 26K times in just 8 months. Not bad for a rookie. In just under a year he’s built a strong fanbase, (over 1K followers) with comments that crowd every song on SoundCloud.

While every track is great, it is Broken Skies that stood out to me the most. The song contains a warped beat, sultry vocals, and very serious subject matter. Learn more about the origins of the subject matter, working with producer Raava, and how everything came together, with our newest edition of our Dissection Series.

You recently submitted a song called Broken Skies that really hit home for me. First off – tell us why you gave it that title.

When people reach a point of bliss and content it is almost like they could fly without wings, their happiness sores. But since my character is suffering with depression and using drugs as a form of artificial happiness, the skies are broken.

The song has a very strong message. What story are you telling? Why is it important for you to tell it?

“Broken Skies” was created for a friend of mine who is battling with drug addiction. I won’t give too much detail so she can maintain her privacy, but she’s going through a lot of difficult issues currently and it’s hard to see her like this. Even though our friendship has become strained and distant, I still wanted to convey my support and love in the best way I knew how. I always like to create from real stories that I go through personally or connect with. It’s so rewarding and fulfilling to see people resonant with my stories through my music.

Raava produced this track. How do you know him?

I don’t know Raava personally, but I’ve admired his work for many years. This instrumental in particular was sent to me. My friend sent me this beat a long time ago and I really enjoyed but I couldn’t figure out a subject matter to fit it. It stayed in my “beat vault” for a even longer time until my shuffle button was accidentally on and it randomly started playing. From then, I just started creating.

What came first, the lyrics or the beat?

The instrumental came first actually, but originally the theme was going to be completely different. I was going to talk about something little more positive. Yet my writing process took me in a different direction. The lyrics were drawn from a storyline in my life that had me in a state of nostalgia.

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You actually mixed and mastered Broken Skies. How did you develop this skill?

I’ve been mixing and mastering songs for years, not only for myself but for other artists around my hometown. Back when I was in the 12th grade my close friend showed me the essentials and from there I just started to grow and expand on that knowledge. I really like engineering, it allows me to follow my creative process to the very end. I get to create a song from start to finish.

Tell us about the artwork. It’s definitely mysterious. How did it all come together? 

The cover art was taken randomly but after I created the song I knew it would fit perfectly. The girl in the picture is my girlfriend and the shot was taken while we were at the Scarborough Bluffs. Originally, I thought I ruined the picture because the stutter speed wasn’t set but it came out better than I thought. I loved the mysterious factor that the picture displayed.  The photo really represents the song perfectly by previewing the ultimate theme; a mysterious girl who is lost in the clouds.

How do you record the vocals? There is a lot of layering and some distortion.

I just went through my traditional recording process where I hit the studio and start creating based on the mood I’m in. When engineering, I felt that an atmospheric approach would fit the topic, emotion and instrumental perfectly.

The song has done really well on SoundCloud. Were you expecting that?

To be honest, it’s hard to expect certain results while in the underground. I’m really appreciative of everyone that is resonating my sound. It’s crazy to me. I remember when I was struggling to get 50 plays. It’s surreal.

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Included in the email was a bio about you. You said you have been experimenting with music for about 4 years. What was that process like? 

In the beginning, I started making neo-soul songs. I was really inspired and involved in the jazz genre. To the point where I created a neo soul/jazz mixtape called “The Tranquility EP-ish” (found on Datpiff). As an artist, I always want my music to be progressive and showcase improvement and different techniques with each release. So this transition has lead me into the contemporary R&B world where I feel like I’m hitting my groove.

Tell us about the indie label you are signed to. 

Outlier Entertainment isn’t really a label but more of a brand to market myself. Outlier is a theme, symbol and identity that people will associate with my vision, movement and music.

What’s coming next for Ziyaad?

More and more music. I’m definitely working on improving my sound and expanding my reach. I’m not scared to make risks with my craft so I’m trying to make more abstract artistry. My love and passion for music motivates me to be the best artist I can be day in and day out. I’m striving to be the best!

Any last thoughts?

I Hope You Love the Mystery. And thank you for giving me the space to share my thoughts and ideas. I really appreciate what you are doing for underground artists. Blogs like yours are essential to the development of artists like myself. You are the future!

JXHNSCXTT – WTRCLRS (Exclusive Premiere + Interview)

Before you listen to JXHNSCXTT’s new instrumental tape, take a long look at the cover art. Acknowledge the title. Before pressing play on my early listen to WTRCLRS, I did both, and it made the experience even more special.

JXHN has a number of EPs and albums under his belt, but before this release JXHN began to sample popular songs and gave them an ambient/electronic flip. He does this quiet often in WTRCLRS, but there is completely original production too. Listen to all 12 tracks at once, and you will take a journey into JXHN’s creative mind. He experimented on this one, and the result is a sonic wonderland, with pure and tranquil vibes. This is beautiful music, and I can’t wait to share it with you.

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Hey John. You just released your #WTRCLRS  via our site. How long have you been waiting for this moment?

Honestly I was nervous, still am kind of nervous because my last project WTCSS was one of my best in my opinion and I didn’t think I’d be able to top it. I’ve been working on it for about 3 months, not too long, but for a producer a lot of improvement comes in 3 months.

You’ve been promoting it via Twitter…what has the response been like to your tweets?

I can see the real supporters who have been with me since my first tape in 2013 always looking forward to my releases, it really helps keep me motivated! I’m not as big as I’d like to be but the people who have held me down the most have been from Chicago and Minnesota and  I love both places for that

You actually just dropped a highly successful single with Supa Bwe. SoundCloud’s Twitter account even tweeted the link along with a comment to him. They should have included you…How did that collab come together?

I didn’t think he would actually use the beats I sent compared to the other Producer’s he has access to in his city so when it happened me and my friends were really excited. I’ve been a fan since the first Hurt Everybody tape and even met him at SXSW 2 years ago so it was a really awesome achievement. ui think we have at least 2 more songs coming but i don’t want to say too much yet. 

We’ve had you up on the site often since we learned about your music, and spoke on your talent for flipping popular records. When did you decide you wanted to approach your instrumentals like this? What was the inspiration behind it?

My favorite Producer ever is Sango and he came to Austin right before I left for college in Minnesota 3 years ago and I saw him live. That moment was really critical because I wasn’t confident in my production and he showed me that with time you could be great. Since then I’ve been drawing inspiration from him and incorporating it into my own style and sound.

You gave me a listen to the project before the drop. The title and the cover art were a perfect of #WTRCLRS sound. Did you always know you wanted to incorporate this theme?

I saw some paintings from Satsuki Shibuya before I had any direction on the project that really inspired me to make music that looked like watercolor paintings, if that makes sense. Plus I felt like some of my older music was really dark so I tried to go for something a little more vibrant.

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When did you record these instrumentals? How did it all come together?

At first, it was just me making beats in my room every day like usual, I didn’t really have a concept I just knew I wanted to release a project for 2017 kind of early. Most of the songs were just ideas sitting on my desktop that i finally felt like I needed to finish, it just so happens they all really fit each other for a project.

You only have two featured artists on this. Why did you choose them?

I’ve been a fan of Kahrion since I heard “Nimbus’. he was his own artist and had a unique way of approaching beats and lyrics, I like artist who don’t just rap but help me visualize a scene in my head and provide imagery so I knew he’d be perfect for the tape. I learned about PLAY through a Wisconsin group called “3rd Dimension’ and I listened to a few songs and I see he has more potential than most and is basically the rapper every producer is looking for, I sent him some beats for an EP we have in the works and he fits really well over my production so both of them will never have to worry about running out of beats while I’m alive.

Any last thoughts?

Just a thank you to everyone who retweets, reposts, and shares my music, every little bit helps and I appreciate it all! be on the lookout for some stuff I have coming with Sunny Woodz, Supa Bwe, and Taylor Bennett! I

I’m also starting a production group with my friend called coming later this year so be on the lookout for that!

Zay Woodz – Idols (Exclusive Premiere + Interview)

Saint Louis native Zay Woodz has a crazy work ethic. When he’s not in school, (in Chicago) he’s working on beats or networking to further his budding career. The grind is always appreciated, and necessary in this artist centric city. We were interested in his music since he sent a submission a few weeks ago, and are now honored to premiere his debut project, Idols. He was so humble and appreciative of us in his email, that we decided to sit down with him and get to know him further.

As his first project, Idols is incredibly impressive. You’ll hear his concentration and dedication to each instrumental piece. Stream the project above and give our interview a read below.

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Hey Zay! Thanks for speaking with us. Give us a little intro on you!

My name is Zay Woodz and I’m a Hip-Hop based music producer. I’m from St. Louis, but I’m currently in Chicago for college. I’m real serious with my producing and I’m eager to make something big from it.

Your new project just dropped via our site. How does it feel?

It feels good. I’ve been busy reaching out to every blog I can find in order to get my name out there more. I’m glad I’m able to start my first project with you all.

You told me you hope this beat tape will help spread your name in Chicago. Why is that important to you?

As we all know, Chicago is its own music industry. There’s so many musicians solely based in Chicago that I had never even heard before moving here. Most of the musicians based here have been here for most of their lives, so I feel its easier for them to get a fundamental fan base just through connections and knowing who to talk to. But since I’m starting my career here, I’ve been trying to make it a priority to meet people and introduce who I am.

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What does Chicago mean to you – as a city and as a music hub?

Chicago’s always meant something to me cause I got family here, but since I’ve moved here experiencing the entire dynamic of the city has definitely changed my perspective a bit. Seeing how faithful and dedicated people from Chicago are to Chicago has definitely made me love it more. Seeing Chance throw a free public concert to encourage young adults to go vote and hosting a festival for the city inspires me to want to do the same stuff for mine. I want to be able to put St. Louis on the map like Chicago is. I want there to be an art scene and for people to not have to get out the city to get big. I feel that’s one of the biggest things about St. Louis. You see people like Smino or Metro Boomin who were born and raised in St. Louis, but are hardly even around anymore. Once I start to gain clout, I want to go back home and introduce art to StL and form a art dynamic like there is in Chicago.

Who are some of your favorite artists and producers out of the city?

I don’t have favorites. I listen to a lot of Saba, Monte Booker, and Lucki though.

Going into the music – what do you think sets you apart from other producers?

My friends tell me my work ethic is one of the best. Depending on how busy I am with school. I might crank 3 or 4 beats in a day. But for the most part I would say what sets me apart the most is that there is no specific sub-genre of hip-hop that I produce. My influences come from everywhere whether its gospel, Neo-soul, reggae, trap, edm, pop, or whatever. I think thats what’s best about music: the fact its so flexible. I want to be able to make a cold beat for anyone whether their an alternative hip-hop artists or a dirty south Atlanta rapper. Whatever you want I got it… and if I don’t, hit me up. I’ll make it.

What makes this project special?

Actually the theme of the project is that I have so many influences or Idols as the tape’s called and that all the beats are drawn from these influences. What makes it special is that I didn’t just center it around a main sub-genre of hip hop. I tried to open it to the trappers, Xan rappers, old heads, alternative artists, and even the sample freaks. No matter what, I wanted there to be a beat on the tape you could vibe and write to as an artist.

Do you have a favorite record off it?

Like I said, I don’t really do favorites. I like listening to Untold and Run Up/Morning though.

You’ve released a promo video to build your buzz. How has that done?

Ehh not bad. They’ll do better though. I’m about to shoot it to all forums and more blogs. My roommate Sean Delahunt did em. He’s good and has great potential; there will definitely be more in the future.

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What’s coming next for you? 

I’m in the work with a project with some homies back from home and I’m starting to work with some artists on the come up here from Chicago. Also I’m about to send all beats to some mid level mid-west artists I fuck with. Definitely big things though.

Is there any way artists can reach you if they’d like to work with you?

All social media @zaywoodz: Insta or twitter. Or hit my inbox zaywoodz@gmail.com. Anything business related or even critiques are all acceptable. I’ve been busy lately, but I try to make an effort to respond back to everyone that hits me up.

Thanks for your time!

Madison Jay Gives Us A V-Day Special in Everyday (That I Wake Up) (Dissection Interview Series)

Another day – another dissection. Once again we’ve got a Valentine’s day special, this time with North Carolina’s Madison Jay. He’s know for his bars – but takes a more romantic approach to his newest music video to Everyday (That I Wake Up). This is a conceptual video with Madison trying on his acting chops. It’s a message to a girl in real life that he’s madly in love with.

I wanted to ask him some questions on what the video means to him, to commemorate this special day. The conclusion of the visual is pretty sweet – so I recommend playing till the end. Read our convo below.

Hey Madison! Thanks for talking with us! How are you?

I’m feeling great as only a young God should.

Introduce yourself. Who are you, how old are you, where are you from?

You already know who it is it’s Madison Jay AKA Madison County. The young God is Ageless. I’m from Wake County Raleigh, North Carolina.

We are here to talk about your newest music video, Everyday (That I Wake Up). This is off your debut album Return of the Gap. It’s a great project with a lot of solid tracks. Why did you decide to turn this one into a visual?

I felt it was only right to give my female audience another visual. I love the ladies so it naturally made sense to me to shoot this.

Let’s talk a bit about the actual song. You are dropping it on Valentine’s day (today)…but what does this song mean to you? Does it come from real life experiences? 

it’s a personal song about the woman that I’m madly in love with. When she sees it should know exactly who I’m referring to.

Pooh Bear contributed an excellent chorus that tied everything together well. How do that come together?

I reached out the Pooh and we made something to happen. He cooked the hook and I took the look.

When you sent this to me you called it a conceptual video. After watching it I can definitely see that. Can you summarize the plot? Did you know you wanted to go this direction with this record?

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The video’s basically about a soldier who’s in a great relationship, ends up getting deployed for service and in the end makes a mixed decision. I came up with the plot 2 weeks before we shot. Light work.

You gave a great performance in the mini movie. Is acting something you are interested in?

I’m gonna act in the future cause I’m really handsome and Hollywood needs a Blackman like myself tryna take all lead roles.

You directed the video. Is that something you’ve done for awhile? Why did you decide to direct it?

I’ve directed all but maybe one of my videos so this wasn’t anything new it’s bringing the greatness to the Forefront.

The song was shot + edited by JK Media. How did you link up with them?

I saw JK media on YouTube and he was always persistent in getting his work shown by me so I reached out and we put it together.

Can we expect any other videos from Return Of The Gap? What’s coming next for Madison?

Expect the unexpected…more videos on the way!

Chicago’s Meech Doesn’t Need Saving (Exclusive Interview)

I’ve been following multi-faceted Chicago artist Meech since he dropped his excellent Saints EP. In our year end list I listed the first track off the project, Saved, as my favorite song of the year. My feelings never changed.

Since then he’s dropped two strong loosies: Tango, and No Doubt. No Doubt was released just about two weeks ago and has been streamed almost 23K times. He’s gaining a much deserved buzz throughout Chicago and now across the country.

We recently conducted an in depth interview with the versatile artist. He told us all about Saved, his frequent producer Mic Lee, and his favorite song in his ever growing discography. Peep below.

Hey Meech! Thanks for sitting down with us! Could you give us a little introduction on you? 

Well my name is Meech, I’m from the Eastside of Chicago. I write raps and sing songs for people to enjoy and I’m apart of a collective called Sober Gold. Thats just a quick lil overview.

So we’ve covered your Saints EP… even calling it one of the best mixtapes of last year. Have you gotten some good press for it?

Yeah it seems to have gotten a good reception, different blogs picked it up, blogs I had never been on before so that was cool. People seem to like it so that’s dope. You guys calling it the one of the best mixtape of last year is dope, I really appreciate that, I’m trying to release the best music I can possibly release.

I specifically wrote about the opener Saved which is still a song I have on heavy rotation. Tell us about the process of that one. Do you think it’s one of your stronger records?

Well its funny, Saved was kinda a rushed job. I had the whole EP done, but we (me and my Sober Gold compadres) thought it was missing something. Then it hit us and we were like “It needs a intro! but the thing is I had scheduled a studio session 3 weeks prior for a Sunday. All of this took place the Saturday before. Mic finishes this beat that he had been working on, he didn’t know what to “save” it as so he called it “Saved” cause he saved the beat. People think we put all this effort into Saved and we didn’t (laughs) it was made on a whim.

I also wanted to speak on the album art for Saints. It is incredible. Who worked on that and how did it all come together? 

Ok so you need to know 3 pieces of information. I’m really into anime, Japanese culture, and I produce music. So I was on YouTube doing some virtual crate digging. I stumble across this Japanese progressive-rock abound called Shingetsu from 1971. The had a self-titled album and the album art for their project was the inspiration for mines.Oh, and their album artwork was inspired by Alice and Wonderland. The universe aligned on that one (laughs.)

Following the project was a strong single titled Tango which has done huge numbers in a short period of time. It’s actually my second favorite song from you. Why did you decide to release that as your follow up to Saints? Was there another song you were considering?

I’m glad you enjoy Tango and their was a few song I had to choose from but Tango just gave me a energy I hadn’t felt before. Another funny story is that when Mic Lee sent that beat to me, he just wanted me to listen to it and give him feedback cause he was going to put up on Soundcloud, just something for the people. And I selfishly said “hellllllll no!” (laughs) he didn’t really picture a song being put on there, so the fact that it turned out as well as it did was dope.

You work with producer Mic Lee quiet a bit as he provided beats on 2 of the 5 songs off Saints and your next two singles Tango and No Doubt. How did that relationship develop? What makes you continue to work with him?

So back when twitter wasn’t weird as shit, and people would follow people just because they seemed cool, we followed each other over some basketball banter. Turned out we had a mutual friend in our homie Brandon, and he would tell me how good his friend “ Mic Lee” was at producing. My dumbass didn’t realize my twitter homie, was the Mic Lee I was told about (laughs) The rest is history. I continue to work with him cause he is stupid talented, you heard them beats? That and he’s my brother, what’s better than creating with family?

We posted No Doubt which dropped just over a week ago. It features an artist by the name of SL. What did he contribute and how do you know one another?

SL? That’s my brother Sterling. As far as No Doubt he wrote a fire verse and contributed ideas as far as song structure that made No Doubt as cool as it is. Sterling is brilliant songwriter, and contributes a lot to the records you hear form me. I’m receptive to different ideas and I hate to be linear in my creative process and he make sure to keep the ideas flowing. He actually taught me how to REALLY rap (laughs) and the same scenario with Mic Lee, we met through Brandon (laughs.)

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Photo Credit 📷: @aye_donnie_

Another favorite track off the Saints EP is the one with MFnMelo who is a prominent artist in the Chicago scene. How did you initially link?

Me and Melo actually met at a show we did 2 years ago back in 2014, a year and a half later we finally linked on a record. He’s a really good guy, and always shows support and he can always expect the same from me.

Is there a song in your discography that you like the most or feel the most proud of?

I have a favorite but its not out yet (laughs) but as far the one I’m most proud of would be Saved, it kick started my momentum. It made people wanna listen to what I do next and earned me some legit fans. Imagine going from 3k plays max to getting 50k on a song and 20k consistently. Its a step in the right direction and Saved made that happen so yeah.

Are you where you want to be in your music career?

Helllllllll naw (laughs)

Do you feel you’ve progressed since your first project #Violet which actually dropped about 2 years ago?

Hellllllll yes (laughs) but people always seem baffled as to how I’ve progressed so rapidly, and honestly you just gotta surround yourself with people that are better than you. That and be thirsty to learn. That’s it and I only want to get better and progress more.

You’ve garnered over 1K followers on SoundCloud. What do you attribute that to?

Luck. God. Some otherworldly force. Idk, thing about this music, is getting people to really engage with enough to wanna share it and love it so maybe I was able to do that. Maybe some blog posted it and got it to the right ears. I would like to think I touched some hearts with the music and they chose to stick around so lets go with that lol.

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Photo credit: @falynhuang

What made you decide to get into music? Did you have an artist that inspired you? 

Genetics maybe? My dad is a bass player. I picked up producing on a whim, where it came from I don’t know. Now, I went to the Glow in the Dark Tour in 2007 and that made me wanna rap. All it took was for me to see Ye live one time and it was a rap (laughs) I would say Kanye is my general inspiration, but I draw inspiration from good music in general. If I hear a artist DO something cool in they music, I try to take that and flip it and make something unique to me. Bryson Tiller might have a run that I like, Migos might have a flow I like, Cole might say something in a way, I wish I could. Those type of things are where I find my inspiration.

What can we expect from Meech in the coming months?

Things….nice things (laughs)

South Jersey Artist Kev Rodgers Is Making A Name For Himself (Exclusive Interview)

Kev Rodgers may be on the come up along with fellow New Jersey artists Mir Fontane and Ish Williams, but he’s making his career all his own. In 2015 he dropped a solid project, King Of The Wood, but it is this year’s EP that is turning heads. Bad Things is all over blog sites; most impressively premiered by The Source. It’s already garnered over 20K plays since it’s release just 2 weeks ago with unanimous praise.

Without exaggeration BT is my favorite “indie” tape of the year. Everything is put together flawlessly without a skippable track in the bunch. I had to sit down to talk with the south Jersey native to hear more about how the EP came together, his relationship with Ish and Mir, and how he got into hip hop. Read below and be sure to catch his performance tomorrow (flyer below)

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Hey Kev! Thanks for talking with us! Could you introduce yourself a bit?

Hey wassup I’m Kev Rodgers, an artist and producer from the Southside of Jersey. Collingswood to be exact.

Just to start off – you just told us you’re from New Jersey. Tell us about the hip hop culture there.

The culture is different… it’s home to Redman, Lauryn Hill, and many more. It’s music with a lot of  passion and “wear our hearts on our sleeves” type music.

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Are there any artists that you look up to or are inspired by in your state?

I’ll always look up to Lauryn Hill but as far as now it’s the people I work with Ish, Mir and Shaqeyah. 

You recently dropped an amazing project by the name of Bad Things which was premiered by The Source. Tell us about how that collaboration came together. 

Yeah, thanks it was dope shout out to Jonathan Wigfall for helping put it together. He reached out to me and let me know they were interesting in premiering it. They dropped records before I was apart of so it ultimately made sense.

I can honestly say this is my favorite “indie” hip hop project since the start of 2017. What has the response been like for the album?

I appreciate that so much, thanks! The response has been amazing as well. I think the biggest thing I’m proud of is that every record hit everyone differently.

One thing that stood out to me was the production. Who contributed and how did you choose those producers?

Yea myself, Kilconfirmed and Kenif Muse handled the bulk of it. They just knew my sound and we were already working before it came together nicely. I had two producers from SoundCloud I admired as well. Myself and Kenif Muse pretty much executive produced it. I had a lot of fun doing it

There is a bit of a narrative throughout the project. Explain what it was for the ones that haven’t listened…and why you decided to go that route. 

I wanted to focus on the good and bad in my life dealing with relationships with people and mentally preparing myself for what’s ahead. it started from January 2nd after my first solo show.

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On Bad Things you made a host of unique tracks. I felt like no matter what hip hop fan listened they would find at least one song enjoyable. Have you gotten that feedback before? Did you set out to do that?

Yes and yes lol.

If I had to pick, my favorite cut on the album is the intro, Bad Dream. Do you have a favorite song?

Interesting… it changes but right now it’s Way Up because of where I’m at right now as we speak in life.

You’ve got a good number of features here – most notably Ish William and Mir Fontane. I’ve been following their movement for some time and love what they are bringing to the table. What is your relationship like with them?

Fontane and Swish are my brothers we been at coming on year 4 now. Since August of 2013 it’s been a blessing to ride this music as well as a this life journey with them and I can vouch for it vice versa.

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Let’s go back a bit – tell us how you got into the hip hop scene.

I was always making music since I was 8. I’m the youngest outta 3 and my older brothers made music that influenced me. Then my cousin was more in around here and started to make a name for himself. I was already working with Ish in a group when I was 14 at the time. My cousin eventually caught me steal his beat CDs and pop the question “Yo you rap?” He gave me his blessing to keep going and I started making beats. The rest is history.

What did you listen to growing up and what do you listen to now?

Growing up I was and still am a Kanye West and 50 Cent fan. Lil Wayne, Jay Z, Eminem. Now it’s Kendrick Drake, J Cole, Travis Scott, Chance and mainly our music. I do listen to Michael Jackson and music from the 70s 80a a lot as well.

What’s next for Kev?

Working on multiple upcoming albums including Mir Fontane’s. My album concert, and a bunch of new visuals. You know there’s more music coming from Kev. So be ready to expect a lot more.

Chicago Streetwear Spotlight : DXSTRXCT 7

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I’m really excited about this interview with rising Chicago clothing brand DXSTRXCT 7. I’m especially excited because I know for a fact the team will grow in the coming months and will ultimately become a staple in the city. I caught them early and I couldn’t be happier!

They don’t know this, but I want to work with them to make some flowsfordays hats. Rashard…if you’re reading this; know I’ll hit you up soon 🙂

In all seriousness, Rashard is the founder of DXSTRXCT 7 and a true visionary. Throughout this interview you’ll read about his passion and history with design, details on the brand, and his desire to promote positivity throughout Chicago. I can’t wait for you guys to learn more about him, his business, and DXSTRXCT 7’s ultimate rise in the industry.

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Hey Rashard! Thanks for speaking with us. Can you introduce yourself?

Hey how’s it going? thank you for the opportunity it’s a blessing. My name is Rashard Feggins but I go by Leader Lockwood. I am an individual who appreciates everything thing art and that alone has me dabbling in a couple different art forms. I am recording artist, producer, designer, and entrepreneur that’s trying to change the world by simply living out dreams and inspiring others to do so as well.

This interview is a brand spotlight – so can you give us an introduction to your brand?

DXSTRXCT 7 is my streetwear brand that I started about a year ago, it is the traditional streetwear brand and we pride ourselves on dropping the dopest designs, giving back to the community, and providing accessibility to affordable clothing.

On Twitter you describe Dxstrxt 7 as a  “Chicago based clothing and accessories brand keeping the neighborhood cultivated through fashion, music, and art.” Can you elaborate on this mission statement? What do you hope to accomplish with the brand?

The mission statement is really meant to show our involvement in the streetwear culture and our efforts to give back. DXSTRXCT 7 is not only a brand, it’s a family. We value community involvement as it inspires others to get out and do great things, my neighborhood wasn’t the best so I’m using the brand to help build it and surrounding neighborhoods. Not only are we a family, but we are also a platform that helps artists develop no matter the art form is. If artists can’t go anywhere else in the city and gain spotlight they can look to us to help put them on.

How would you describe your clothing?

I knowing I’m saying streetwear a lot but that’s exactly what it is!

How long have you been active? When did you decide to start DXSTRXCT 7?

I’ve been active for about a year and I started DXSTRXCT 7 when I dropped out of college to pursue my dreams. My parents initially hated my decision but they came around and decided to invest in me and help get the ball rolling. I also was in a fashion program called PROjectus at YOUmedia in the Harold Washington Library, I won a thousand dollars to start and I put that into the business as well.

Why did you decide to call the company DXSTRXCT 7?

My favorite number is 7 and is the number of completion, I’ve always felt like whatever I put my mind to I can do and I have done some amazing things but I realize that my supporters helped me to do those things and I refer to those people as my as my district, hence came DXSTRXCT 7.  I changed the I’s to X’s cause it’s much cooler. DXSTRXCT 7 is just the representation of a group of people completing things and putting on for their neighborhood.

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Have you always been into fashion? What is your history with designing?

I’ve been into fashion for most of my life, I remember as a kid just always being fascinated with how clothes were made. In school when I was younger, my mom would dress me like my grandad in things like khaki pants, cardigans, and penny loafers. The other kids would talk about me and I would feel bad but around the time when Kanye West was really popping I didn’t feel bad anymore. I would wear my polos tucked in but Kanye wore his out with jeans and retro Jordan’s; so I would beg my mom to buy me clothes I had seen Kanye wear. In the eighth  grade, I was really into The Cool Kids and the way they dressed with all the vintage clothing and I started thrifting. I guess hip hop drove my love for fashion as I’ve gotten older I’ve been able to look to my fashion inspirations and put my own twist on it.

Have you always lived in Chicago? 

Yep! I grew up on the west side of Chicago on Adams and Lockwood and it’s where I got my alias Leader Lockwood from. I think my first meal was Uncle Remus!

Who is on your team?

A bunch of people! It’s family by blood and relation. My mom is my partner in the business my set that I do music with HUEY GANG, which by the way is the coldest music group ever, acts as brand ambassadors and sales reps. My dad runs the non for profit sector, I have an assistant and I’ve bought in a few designers this year, I oversee everything.

What products do you have available and is there more coming up? When will that be released?

I’ve officially sold out of season one drops but I am gearing up to release some new gear and it will be out ASAP! I have some merch being created as we speak.

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Do you have any inspirations when you design your products? 

Inspiration comes from everywhere for me. I could be eating a hotdog Maxwell street stand and come up with designs that are inspired by it. I also spent some time hitting up local boutiques in the city and watching them become staples in the city and put their twist on the fashion game always has inspired me and the reason I am now leaving my mark in the Chicago streetwear scene.

Your website is currently under construction. When can we expect it to be up and what can we expect on the actual site?

Yeah, I’m currently making changes to the site to make it easier to navigate and change up the design a bit but it should be up ASAP. You should expect some really cool interactions when you enter the site and also some really cool clothing.

Are you working with anyone at the moment?

I’ve been working closely with some dope music artists to drop exclusive collections. Individuals like Ali and Luke G of New Kingz, my collective HUEY Gang, Cassius Tae, Dj Mike P, and a list of other are who I’ve worked with or plan to work with. I’ve been trying to expand to other markets as well, my high school math teacher Dave Helem who is now a comedian, I got some dope ideas I’ve shared with him and it’s going to be crazy.

Do you feel any connection to the hip hop world with your products and collaborations? 

Hip Hop is why I have a brand! I remember reading complex magazines and seeing my favorite rappers in LRG and Roc-A-Wear ads, even their own brands and I thought that was so cool to see that. I want to my clothing line and the hottest music to be topics of conversation and a staples in the hip hop culture.

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What music do you listen to?

I listen to a lot of Hip Hop honestly but I’m very diverse. All the classic hip hop records I know or my uncles played it around me. I like some duties as well, Al Green is my dude! I love Fallout Boy, my brother put me on. I like a little country every now and then too!

What can we expect from DXSTRXCT 7 this year?

Expect pure dopeness! You can expect more exclusive gear, commercials, more collaborations, concerts, and community events. I’m dropping a physical magazine in the months to come. The magazine is going to be a combination of look books, artist spotlights, and ads from other brands; I’m bringing that nostalgic feel to life this year.

Any last thoughts?

It was amazing talking to you guys, I had so much fun. I just want to say thank you to the supporters and you guys have made everything possible! Be on the lookout for HUEY Gang, we got some crazy music dropping this year and also shoutout King Ron The Poet and Militia Entertainment, some really great things happening over there. Last but not least, I gotta thank God for al the blessings and opportunities.

Tom Moore Sheds Light On Addiction in New EP ‘Discontent’ (Exclusive Interview)

As I’m sure most of you know, this was a tough month for me. When Chicago artist Tom Moore hit my inbox just a few days ago, he gave me the courage to keep pushing on these last few days He recently dropped a new EP titled Discontent, speaking on a friend’s death and his personal trials and tribulations. Much of it is about mental illness and addiction.

He painted the picture of that time in his life beautifully. A few months ago when I posted my piece  about mental illness, I wrote about how I hoped the mini memoir helped others feel less alone. So many people reached out to me afterwards and when I announced my quick break from the site to work on my overall health.

It’s become clearer and clearer that I was put on this earth to help others that struggle with addiction, pain, and confusion. This interview with Tom meant a lot to me, and hopefully to him. I hope it helps others see the beauty of art and how it gets us through dark periods in life. Tom was very honest and I appreciate every question he answered.

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Hey Tom! Thanks for sitting down with us! 

Hey Julie! Absolutely, thank you for having me.

I want to get right into the music as there is a lot I’d like to dig into. You just dropped an EP titled Discontent and said it was “inspired by the death of a close friend of mine a few years back as well as just me facing my personal demons in general and trying to put them to rest for good.” Before I even listened I was completely mesmerized by that honesty. Is it easy for you to be honest in this project?

To be honest (no pun intended), I’ve gotten pretty comfortable over the years to just be forthright and open about my life when I’m writing. For me, that’s the whole point of it. I treat it like a therapy session almost. It’s a little weird knowing my friends and family are going to hear it and sometimes hear that I’m struggling or whatever, but I need to get certain thoughts and stories out to analyze them for the betterment of myself. Also if I’m open about what I’m going through, maybe someone else will hear a song of mine and relate to it and that’ll cheer them up to know they’re not alone.

The EP tells the story of what happened, but is there anything else you’d like to add or describe a little more?

It’s hard for me to summarize but overall, an extremely close friend of mine who I’d known since I was 8 years old overdosed from heroin a little over 7 years ago. I was with him when he finally got clean but eventually he relapsed and ultimately overdosed. I’ve written about it before and I honestly thought I was done writing about it, but it just came back up so I felt the need to address it. It’s just a vivid thing that happened and will probably always creep its way into whatever I’m working on.

But also, the EP is about where I’m at currently, as a rapper, person, etc. It’s called Discontent because I’m just not where I’d like to be mentally, artistically, financially, but I’m working on it daily and that’s all I can really do. Just doing the best I can with what I have.

You told me that you heard some beats by Banksthegenius and felt an immediate urge to tackle some personal issues as best as you possibly could. Set the scene on this event. Was there anything specifically about the instrumentals that spoke to you? Do you think you did a good job?

The first beat I heard was for the song “Discontent” and it was actually off an instrumental project that Banks put up on his Soundcloud. I listen to all of his music whenever he drops something so I heard that beat and started writing to it right away. After I finished writing to it, I sent him a text and asked if anybody was using it and he said it was open. After that, I went to his studio, recorded the song and we decided we should make a project out of it. From there on, I would come out to the studio, he’d start making a beat and I’d start writing to it and we would just build on each song, one at a time until we both felt they were finished. The environment was real organic and just comfortable all around. His beats are just kinda spacey, dark, and pretty at the same time. They brought me to a place where it felt right to talk about some heavy topics and I’m grateful that he let me vibe with him like that. Banks is really is just a good dude and it was great to finally work with him on a project.

And I think I did a good job? I mean, I’m happy with how it turned out. I put my all into every line and I think the beats are great and the mix is proper, so I’m definitely proud of it and happy we were able to do it.

How did you first link with Banks?

I’ve known Banks for about 5 years or so now. I met him through Nick Arcade. Nick produced a song for Banks right about the same time I started working with Nick. We’ve played a few shows together too. Just always kept in touch, mutual respect, that sort of thing. Like I said, good dude lol.

Let’s get into the meat of the project. You have a very unconventional flow – and I mean that as a compliment. Has anyone ever told you that?

Actually, I don’t think anyone has ever told me that before. I appreciate it though. I really just write to the beat that’s in front of me and try to tackle it as best as I can. I try not to think about it too much and just let the beat kind of dictate where I’m gonna go with the cadence and all that. I’m glad you said unconventional though instead of shitty, cause unconventional is way better than shitty, so thank you.

When did you first start making music; and did this rapping style come naturally?

I started making music about 10 years ago. And no, I was terrible for a solid 5 years. I was always decent with writing lyrics because I’ve been jotting down thoughts and rhymes and things like that for most of my life but when it came to recording, I was awful until about 5 years ago. It took a long time for it to click for me in that regard, but luckily it did. I think that’s just part of it though, you try something, you suck at it for a long time, and then eventually if you keep at it, you get at least decent at it. I’d like to think I’m at least decent these days. I don’t know, whether I suck or not, I love writing rap songs, so I’m gonna do this for as long as I possibly can and continue to try to get better at it.

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I find your bars to be more poetry than raps as you paint very vivid pictures and use abstract words to describe feelings and certain situations. Have you ever written poetry before?

Thank you so much for that. I really do appreciate it. I used to write poetry when I was in high school but didn’t really tell anybody about it or show it to anybody. I just did it to get my thoughts on paper. I still do from time to time but overall, I stopped writing poems when I started to take music and rapping more seriously. I spend all my extra time combing over lyrics for songs, so the poetry took a back seat to that. I’m sure I’ll get back into it again at some point.

You’ve dropped 2 albums and a short EP before Discontent. What’s different about this project?

The obvious difference is the production. Nick Arcade is one of my best friends and has been my go to collaborator for quite some time now so stepping out and working with Banks The Genius on this Discontent EP just brought another sound to the table for me. But as far as the writing goes, I tried to make the songs and lyrics a little less dense and little bit easier to understand.

The production on each album is very different from the last. Your debut Awake Now was full of ambient lo-fi cuts produced exclusively by Nick Arcade. Is there a reason you switch things up with each body of work?

No reason really, except just working with different producers will automatically bring about a different sound and style to the songs. I like making whole projects with one producer whether it be an album or an EP. I think doing that brings a cohesiveness to it all.

Did recording and putting out Discontent help you come to terms with the death of your friend and your own struggles? What did you feel throughout the process? 

I think it did, yeah. Like I said, it’ll always be there, but writing about it and putting it out there is helpful for me. It was just a cathartic experience overall to get those feelings out there.

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Did you learn anything?

I learned that being yourself on record is good and that Banks The Genius is extremely talented.

What can we expect in the coming year for Tom Moore?

My third album produced by Nick Arcade is basically done so that will come out for sure this year at some point. I’m definitely excited for that. I’m also gonna get more videos out there this year cause I’m slacking in that department. Other than that just gonna keep writing and putting out projects as we finish them. Honestly, can’t get enough.

Do you have any words of advice for anyone struggling with mental illness or addiction? 

I would say just try to focus on the good things in your life. Write rap songs, make music with your friends, watch comedies, go outside, take walks with your significant other. Just try to enjoy the time you have. And if you struggle with addiction, don’t be afraid to get help. Look around and count the people that care about you and would do anything to help you get better. Work the rehab programs and stay around people that actually care about you.

Any last thoughts?

Nothing really except thank you again for checking your inbox and clicking play on our project. I really appreciate you taking the time to listen the music and caring enough to ask a bunch of great questions about it. This has been awesome.

Wil Akogu Has A Story To Tell (Exclusive Interview)

Chicago’s Wil Akgou has a remarkable way of drawing you in. His music, his visuals, and his presence in general is thought out, compelling, and personal. Last year he dropped a hell of a project in the Language of The Soul EP (above) and some loosies that have garnered thousands of plays.

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After discovering this talented artist I set out to ask some specific questions about his career, which has been short but impressive. Read below in our in depth video with the 20 year old himself.

Introduce yourself a bit – in any way you’d like.

Whats up Julie! My name is Wil Akogu, I’m a 20 year old artist from the city of Chicago

Before we get into the music, when did you decide you wanted to take your career seriously? What made you make that decision?

I feel like I’ve always taken music as serious as I could given the information & resources I had access to growing up. I’ve been around music my entire life. I grew up in Nigeria & spent most of my adolescent years singing in the choir at church. But it wasn’t till I graduated high school at the age of 16 that I really felt the need to pursue music professionally. At that time, I just wanted more out of life & myself; and music was the outlet in which I would use to achieve that. 

When did you start recording music?

I recorded my very first song ever at the age of 14.

Getting to your work – on SoundCloud you call yourself the “most valuable poet,” which is also the title of one of your projects. Can you elaborate on that?

The “Most Valuable Poet” title came about my freshman semester (and my only semester) in college when I was stuck between pursuing my football career & my music career. I feel like very few words can describe the combination of my personality, art, vision, outlook on life etc.. accurately. The title expounds on my belief that we are all the most valuable versions of ourselves, and I just so happen to believe one of the many things I am is a poet. Thus the “Most Valuable Poet” had its beginning.

I was introduced to your music through the heavy coverage of last year’s EP Language of the Soul. In a nutshell how did the record come together? I’m sure there is a much larger story. 

Man! That project was created at such a crucial time in my life. So much was going on! I had just moved back from LA after things didn’t go as planned, leaving me broke, almost homeless & extremely mentally depleted. My grandpa (on my moms side) randomly sent me $150 a week before I moved back to Chicago. Although we had never previously communicated on a regular basis. Ever! It was that $150 I used to arrange a photoshoot to shoot the cover of my “MVP” project and get a haircut for the shoot lol. I found myself in a really good space though creatively & physically when time to create this project came around. I thank the extremely talented musicians & artist that were apart of the creation process. 

There’s a lot in those 5 tracks – did you think about making the project longer? Why 5?

Not really. We created exactly five(5) records & those are the exact five(5) records in the order they were created & listed in the track list. I just knew 5 was right

Did you pick out the producers yourself? They seem central to the flow of the project. 

I worked with a few producers on that project. Shout out my brothers MikeWavvs, Dougy & the big homie Jabari Rayford. All 3 of them played crucial parts to the creation of the project. But most of the project was music based. Meaning we played a lot of the music live. Shouts out to my multi-talented homie Wolfgang who played everything from the guitar to the mandolin on the project. It was a lot of fun creating those records in the studio especially “Exodus”! “Exodus” was pretty much a freestyle.

Let’s talk about the intro track Buried Alive. It’s an unconventional 9 minutes long. When did you record that, what was the process like, and did you set out to make a “longer” record?

Man, the creation of that record was a monumental moment in my career. I hadn’t written a single line music in almost 8 months when I came back from LA. I had no idea where I was creatively at that time. So in an effort to “see if I still had it” I was perusing through instrumentals on Soundcloud, when I stumbled across a Shlohmo track. It took one play of the instrumental & I literally blanked out for almost 3 hours only to awake & see 3 pages of lyrics in front of me. Somehow never rehearsed those pages worth of lyrics but knew every word by heart just by writing them down one time. Thats when I knew something bigger than life & music itself was at work in me.

Watching the music video to this song honestly took my breath away. The level of artistry in those 9 minutes is unbelievable. There is a lot to talk about – but first off who directed it?

I appreciate you! I’m glad you enjoyed it! Shouts out my brother Liam Trumble, he directed the video. He’s also my manager & visual director. Very dope individual. I wrote the treatment & he directed it.

How did you plan this out? Where was this shot? Are you happy with the outcome?

First of all, it was extremely cold when we shot haha. It was 15 degrees on both days we shot outside. If you look at 7:47 in the video you can see my lip quivering. But its all good I’m lion, I took it like a champ. It was actually shot at a few different locations though. We shot the woods scenes at a forest preserve in the Chicago burbs. A reverend at church in Oak Park granted us 3+ hours of full access to his beautiful church so we could capture the church scenes. Shouts to that reverend! And we shot at a few more locations as well. Overall I’m happy with it. But I’m a perfectionist, I always think we can do better. Keep on the lookout for my future visuals though, promise to blow your mind away.

Staying on that subject, a few months ago you put out a video titled “The Wil Akogu Experience” described as “getting a closer look at what makes Wil Akogu…. Wil Akogu.” It’s a great look into your life and recording process. Who came up with that idea? Will there be more episodes?

It was actually one of the many ideas I had in a effort to continually expand my visual content. And yes there will be plenty more episodes.

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The actual (private) listening party for the EP was held at Complex 2010 Studios. Media personalities and close friends came out to show their support. How did the connection happen between you and Complex? What was the event like?

My publicist at the time set that up. The event went very well! Had a good time, met a lot of new faces, and most importantly my music was received very well.

A few months ago I tweeted that the album cover is an uncanny representation of how I felt while listening to LOTS. Everything from the gloomy forest, reflective and depressed body language and the theme of darkness with the baseball bat. Talk a little about how the art came together. 

Like many of the great things I’ve been fortunate to be a part of, that photo kind of just happened. When you work with other talented artist & great minds, you set yourself up to be on the receiving end of a lot of great things.  

What music do you listen to? Which artists influence you? I hear a lot of rock/alternative influences throughout your music. 

I listen to a lot of RnB,Pop & even Alternative music. More because I enjoy the melodies & harmonies found in each genre. I also really enjoy the music of it all as well. I’m fascinated by instruments. I appreciate artists like Michael Jackson, Macy Gray, Daniel Caesar, Tory Lanez, J.Cole, Kendrick. The list goes on.

Your first project, The Most Valuable Poet, is in my opinion very underrated. Why did you put that out? Where were you mentally when recording?

That was a very important body of work. I felt it laid the foundation of who I am as an artist, person, brother, lover etc in regards to how the world perceived my art past, present & future. I was 17 when I recorded the whole project.

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You’re only 20 years old. What’s the plan moving forward?

The plan is as it has always been is to spill my soul on the world. I mentioned in the “Wil Akogu Experience 01” that I believed myself not to have a gift but rather to be a gift. And I plan to continue to share the gift that I am to & with the world.

Any last thoughts?

I appreciate you having me talk about my art. I look to seeing the site/blog grow & supporting in your future endeavors. Thank you for having me.

Chris Cassius on new music video “GFK” (Dissection Interview Series)

I got in tune with Chris Cassius a few months ago via my Baltimore plug The Demo Tape. Since then I’ve kept up with his output, which has been consistently great. Just a month ago he posted my favorite track of his to date in Worries. The song featuring Big Penny has gotten over 1 million views (as of this writing.) It’s not surprising as both rappers bring intense energy and a riveting flow.

Cassius has shared some upcoming releases with me…and let’s just say they’ll make some waves in the SoundCloud community. There’s a lot to be excited about for this East Baltimore artist.

His visual, GFK, dropped just a few days ago. Many influential music sites have posted the video such as Bluntiq, Musiconthedot, and of course The Demo Tape.  It’s been awhile since we’ve posted a dissection interview, so I thought it would be appropriate to start things off with one of my favorite new discoveries.

Kick back, watch the video, and read more about the process behind GFK. For previous Dissections click this link.

Hey Chris! How are you?

I’m doing well. Just gearing up for the release of my project and getting everything right for this year. I just released my “GFK” video to start things off for 2017.

You recently dropped a visual to GFK which I was thoroughly impressed with. It’s been getting so much coverage! How does it feel??

The fact that my video is receiving coverage just tells me that I’m doing all the right things, not only from a music standpoint but also from marketing myself which I’m learning more about as I progress with the help of my team. That’s just a testament to them though, as they allow for me to focus on the music itself.

First off – when did you actually record the song?

I recorded “GFK” in September of 2016 along with many other tracks in preparation of my forthcoming project, GOATFACEKILLA.  “GFK” is just grazing the surface of what my project is made up of.

Did you know off the bat that you wanted to shoot a video for it? 

No, it honestly was one of the songs I didn’t see myself doing a visual for at all. Not because it’s a bad song or anything, but because it was so simple and I was more focused on delivering a message with it versus it being one of my “hits.”

Ivaree did a great job directing it. I’m interested to know how you started that relationship as it looks like you’ve been working together for some time now. 

Ivarre and I were both part of a collective called “Set Sound” and that’s how we know each other. This past Thanksgiving, we actually discussed shooting together at a mutual friend’s gathering and we pulled off the vision we had. This was actually the first time we shot together, but with much of the feedback I’ve received people have commented on our chemistry, so this definitely won’t be the last time.

Most of GFK seems to be filmed in one location. Where is this and why did you decide to film there?

Ivarre and I agreed to shoot at the Copy Cat building located in Baltimore. Artists of all kinds live there and they rent apartments out. I believe the leases come with an agreement that you can pretty much do whatever you want with your space. I don’t know if that’s true or not, but I heard somebody has an entire boxing ring in their room. We shot there because we wanted an abandoned-warehouse-type of look and the basement of the building has just that.

Going off that question, did you and Ivaree collaborate on the overall vision of the video? 

We collaborated on the overall vision of the video, as we both described the kind of setting we wanted to go for. We agreed on a look for the space used in the video. The bullet proof vests came from me promising fans over the summer that I would wear one to a show;  teamed up with Baltimore-based clothing brand DAFT! to make a custom one. The dog is actually owned by a friend of mine, Paco, who is looking to get into breeding dogs.

You’ve put out a large number of music videos in your career. Why is it so important to you to keep putting out videos?

Regardless of the numbers my videos generate, I’ve always been dedicated to working hard and supplying visuals to my songs. So, one day when I’m big, people will be able to Google me and dig up things like my old videos and old mixtapes the same way I do with artists when I find out about them.

Any last thoughts? 

Just thanks again for taking the time out to watch the video and interview me, I appreciate it. Stay tuned for my forthcoming project, GOATFACEKILLA. I have a lot in store planned to rollout the release – it’s going to be special.

2017 Will Be UG Vavy’s Year…He Explains Why (Exclusive Interview)

Photo Credit (above): @zoerainphoto

Chicago artist UG Vavy has had my undivided attention since the announcement from Supa Bwe that he’d be joining him (along with Shepard Hues) as a group called Fight Me. As a group they’ve only dropped one song but you can hear the chemistry immediately. As a solo artist UG is just as dope. He creates experimental, yet easily accessible tracks that have garnered over 100K spins in a short period of time. It’s amazing to watch his rise and I was so happy to see that he is now a verified artist on Twitter.

I was ecstatic to talk to him a few days ago to get the down low on what’s going on with Fight Me, where his name came from, and much more. Peep the interview below and stream his newest track above.

Hey UG! Thanks so much for taking the time to talk with us. Can you give us a little background about you…answer in any way you’d like. 

Whats good g im UG Vavy the rapping/producing/songwriting/nurse. 

Where did the name UG Vavy come from?

The name UG Vavy came from this girl in HS. UG is a short for Eugene which is my middle name and Vavy came from Baby but with V’s because is sounded cooler (laughs.)

So you just dropped your new track Brand New Wave which has gotten almost 10.5K views in just 4 days (at the time of this writing.) You’ve always gotten a bunch of love whenever you release something, but did you think this one would be so well received?

Honestly I was shooting in the dark. I knew the music was good but I did fear it not getting any attention but thats in the past now. The city takes to my music well as well as other big cities. 

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Photo credit: @rachelpurry Styled by: @iknowaj

When I heard the song for the first time my initial thought was: “damn he’s bringing out his inner Travis Scott.” Do you like his music? Does he influence what you create?

I wouldn’t say inner Travis Scott, Brand New Wave was made around this time last year so its really old music that Ive waited to release. I like Travis Scott’s music though he’s dope but he doesn’t influence my music. When I create I’m in my own world. By doing the beats, writing my own lyrics, finding my own harmonies, I try to keep it all me and thats my style.

You’ve definitely built up a fan base since the start of your career. What do you attribute that to?

People relate and like the music. My perception of music is to just do me and have fun. I know people can hear me having fun. Not to mention Alex Wiley, Supa Bwe, and other rappers in the city co-signing me helped out a lot as well. 

So the first song you ever put out on SoundCloud was Sport It. From that track to more recent cuts like Brand New Wave and especially Back To Ballin’ it sounds like you’ve grown so much sonically. What head space were you in when you recorded Sport It and how do you think you’ve grown since then?

Sport It was the first song I created of its kind and thats the moment when I knew I found my sound after recording hella tracks. Sport It was me having fun and just letting whatever came to mind flow. Sport it was the Day 1 Chapter 1 for me when I was creating and from there Brand New Wave and Back to Ballin’ followed right after because I was moving off that energy. 

You’ve produced all of your songs…at least so far. Why do you stick with your beats? In the future are you open to reaching out to other producers?

I know my sound and what I like to hear within beats. I want people to fall in love with what I do not what another producer has done. On top of that I’m a real do it yourself type of guy, I don’t like asking for beats or playing games, rather jump on my own beats and make hits. I would be open to create with other producers but as far as just taking a beat I didn’t add anything to that’s weird for me but normal for other artist. 

You’ve also been producing for other cats this year. Some highlights are the FIGI Water Freestyle and VVS Shordy with Supa. Is more coming up for you? Do you like producing better than “rapping/singing”? 

I have more tracks coming with other rappers I just like to see the final product before I start speaking on it. I like producing just as much as rapping/singing. Some days I feel like just producing and some days I want to be a rapper, some days both. Making a hot beat does make me happy just like coming up with a cold hook and melodies make me happy to so I really don’t think about it too much. 

Your single artwork is always so dope and always has the “restricted” stamp on it. Who designs them and what is your philosophy in putting out high quality artwork?

The style was created by homie Trap. Basically its our own aesthetic and we want to keep running with it so that when people see those squares and that restricted sign they know its me. At this point it’s our trademark so we just running with it you know.

We featured your song Bussin’ on our 50 favorite songs out of Chicago this year. What was the process of creating that?

I made the beat to Bussin out of another track I had way back. It’s kind of like I knew the sample had potential but I didn’t attack it appropriately then so I had to re do it. I damn near freestyled that track plus I was a little drunk so I just let it flow. 

Another close favorite is Back To Ballin. What are your thoughts on that one? Do you have a favorite song that you’ve put out?

I made the beat to Back to Ballin and instantly I knew I had to rap on it. When I made the hook I was think about that old song “Back to light, back to reality” I thought to myself hmmm (laughs.) This song came about because I knew i was about to graduate nursing school so instead of being broke I was going back to balling. My favorite favorite isn’t out yet, but Gwap is most definitely one of my favorites but next year I might let go this super banger I got.

I do have to touch upon FIGHT ME. The announcement of the group hit this year. The group includes you, Supa Bwe and Shepard Hues. You dropped Annie back in late June…anything new coming out soon?

Yeah we’ve been working consistently were just stock piling a lot of music right now. Were also all working on our solo works as well but we make time to come together and create hot shit. We have tracks locked and loaded already when the time comes will release them. 

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Photo Credit: by @tristonhdesign

How did you meet Supa and Shepard? Why did you decide to group together?

I met Supa through Alex Wiley then Shepard through Supa. I was hanging out in the studio with them working and we thought to ourselves since we were all creatives who worked hard why not formulate a group to do some crazy shit together. 

Who are some of your favorite artists right now? Who do you bump the most?

I listen to everybody to be honest, underground, mainstream literally everybody. I don’t have any favorites at the moment which is odd to hear myself say but its nobody I prefer I just know what I don’t prefer. 

What is essential for you in the studio?

In the studio I like to have at least a bottle of something, a piano so I can get my beats off, and sometimes I like being in the studio solo. I like being alone in the studio so that way I can just flow without other energies blocking me. Too many people in the studio can be a distraction and throw off the creative process in my opinion.  

What’s coming up for you in 2017? What can we expect?

In 2017 I’m going to continue to drop music but we’re going to do it bigger. We’re shooting videos, launching the site, merch, bigger shows, a lot more thing are just falling in as they should. 

Any last thoughts?

None at all thanks for the interview g, you know I rock with you! 

Thanks for your time!

Na$im Williams Shines In His New EP ‘Sometimes God Has A Kid’s Face’ (Exclusive Interview)

Na$im Williams, the always working producer representing Chicago’s Treated Crew may have just released his new instrumental EP, but there is a deeper message being told. Sometimes God Has A Kid’s Face is one of the strongest instrumental projects I have heard all year and deserves to receive praise across the blogoszphere. I have no doubt this will happen throughout the weeks to come, but we’d like to aid in the process.

Many producers flip samples and favor old soul records to do so, but Na$im approaches in it an incredibly unique way. Don’t be fooled, a host of other genres are incorporated into the EP, but Na$im makes it all his own.

There is more to the project than you think, which he has described in our interview below. We also learned more about him and what he’s been up to outside of music (and what’s coming soon.) Read his insightful words below and stream SGHAKF above.

Hey Na$im. Thanks for talking with us. Can you give us an introduction on you?

I am a 25 year old music producer and DJ from the West Town neighborhood of Chicago. I represent Treated Crew.

So you just dropped Sometimes God Has A Kid’s Face which is my favorite solo project from you. I’m interested to know how you approached the EP. What were your thoughts going into it?

Thank you! The creative process for SGHAKF was simple. I decided to use all sampled based tracks with hard hitting drums for an epic, Godly sound. My twin daughter’s were my main inspiration for this project.

The intro “All Knowing” was certainly a great way to start it off. When did you create that record?

I composed “God’s Will” last month at the Grind House studio. One of musical mentors gave the idea to cook up the record.

After going through the EP a few times I noticed how each song sounded unique, but SGHAKF as a whole sounds very cohesive. What are your thoughts on that?

You know me, I favor diverse and vivid production. I’m evolving as a musician, so every time I create, the outcome will be greater than the last track.

Were all of these tracks recorded in the same time span? What was the recording process like?

These beats were made all through this year during depressing and inspiring times. I am ecstatic to release this EP. I think people are going to really enjoy it.

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Do you have a favorite song?

I don’t have a favorite track. Everything is fire!

How did you decide which songs would make the album?

I wound up choosing my favorite vacant beats of 2016 for this project. It wasn’t easy selecting my top 8 records.

The artwork is super dope. Who took the picture + what inspired it?

My content creators, Gabriel Canon and TXTBOOK, designed the promo art. Shake from Dinner Land made the final album art.

What is the significance behind the title of the project?

The title of this project is significant because over the past two years due to teaching and parenting, I better understand the importance of guiding children. They are the future and we need to nurture them all to become successful leaders of tomorrow.

You’ve worked with so many artists such as Nico Segal, Vic Spencer and many more Chicago mainstays. How did you build those relationships?

I build relationships in music by remaining authentic, consistent, and transparent. In order to receive help from someone, you must benefit them as well. Everyone I have worked with respects my craft and hustle. We inspire each other.

Who are some of your favorite producers out of Chicago?

Every producer representing Treated Crew are my favorite composers in Chicago.

You’ve been in the music scene for awhile and constantly grinding. What inspires you? What keeps you working?

I love to show and prove. My family, friends, and supporters inspire me to work hard.

You were recently on the Radio One show out of Chicago. What was that experience like? How did that come about?

Gabe Mendoza from Radio One has always shown love to my brand. We talk when we can and decided to just have me come in for an interview. I appreciate everything we discussed that day. It was very insightful.

What are your plans for 2017? What’s coming next for Na$im?

I recently signed a distribution deal with Cigar City Management/Kobalt Music. No more free music for the most part. My art will be displayed on a bigger platform thanks to the deal. New merchandise, shows, and website coming soon. I will be even more consistent this upcoming year.

Thanks again for talking with us…we’re rooting for you.

Photo Credit for all pictures: Gabriel Canon