April 24, 2020

Interview: D Tha Don

AirdriftSignals: Hi D Tha Don, what’s good?!

D Tha Don: Just working on the music man. I gotta single coming tomorrow and another video shoot next week.

AirSig: That's awesome to hear! I see you are based out of Pittsburgh. Has the city presented a lot of opportunities artistically?

D Tha Don: Yes, and I would have to say the city did not provide many opportunities early on, however, I live in a city and country where if you work hard to put GOD first, you can create your own opportunities! As time went on support started to come from different sources.

AirSig: And the labels you manage, can you tell us all a little more about that?

D Tha Don: I currently manage 3 labels. I’m the president of Banditfide, manage Queenie Moët, and also a manager for her label QME. I also currently have my own company Phenomenally Dope Ent.

AirSig: In the social media age, what do you think it takes to market and take your team to the next level?

D Tha Don: Consistency and marketing.

AirSig: Is there anything that you’d like to share with us about your recent mixtape from November?

D Tha Don: Yes I dropped a joint project with Ruzee Ru called Banditfide Sh*t, one of the hottest albums to come out the city in a while.

AirSig: I see you’ve also recently released a new music video, America, along with several others. This one honors Black History Month and features socially conscious lyrics. How do you feel about using your voice and your talent as a platform for socially conscious messages and change?

D Tha Don: If GOD gives me the power to reach somebody through music or if He lets my music change life for the better of the people socially or historically then that would be one of my greatest accomplishments in life.

AirSig: And your other videos, Murder That, and In This World, is there anything you'd like to share about the messages you're trying to put forward? 

D Tha Don: Yes, in the Murda That video, I’m simply conveying if you love woman, been in love with before, or currently, you know what I’m saying if you listen to the song, I’m basically saying make love to your woman wholeheartedly in my own way! lol

And In this World I created because of my kids I have a teenager and she is very smart and talented she be teaching me stuff, I tell her and her brother “you can be anything in this world” every day because they can! With GOD anything is possible!

AirSig: Speaking of In This World, your video shows you wearing a face mask, and our interview and your music's timing is now reflecting a new post-COVID-19 world. How do you think it's going to change the business in the months and years to come?

D Tha Don: Yes in the In this World video I wore a mask because of what’s going on with COVID-19 in poor minority communities throughout the world. Like everyone else in the world I’m concerned about the virus I don’t think things will be the same, but rather they will be or not I don't fear about things that kill can the body, I fear who can kill the body and soul! I keep my faith in GOD and try to strive to be a better person I come from a rough past but now I see a brighter future!

AirSig: Could you name some artists who have specifically inspired you growing up?

D Tha Don: Nas, Tupac, Biggie, etc.

AirSig: Have you got anything else from you or your team coming out in the near future that you would like to share with us?

D Tha Don: Yes another album, Banditfide 2. Then I'm dropping an EP this year called Struggles. Be on the lookout for the EP and video coming soon!

AirSig: What would you give for advice to those who are looking to make a rewarding career in the music business?

D Tha Don: Make sure your paperwork is right, only work with people working hard like you, stay consistent, and lastly don’t give up!

D Tha Don can be heard on all music streaming platforms. Check out his latest stream of singles and check out his last LP Banditfide Sh*t with his group Banditfide as well! You can read our full review of his latest LP here.

Banditfide - Banditfide Album Review

Tryna Get It Entertainment presents Banditfide Sh*t, the latest LP from Pittsburgh hip-hop group, Banditfide, which stars D Tha Don, Ruzee Ru Sbz, and Queenie Moët.

The debut album is a promise of greatness and unending drive that doesn't pull any punches, and while each member has their own careers ahead of them, Banditfide Sh*t displays strength and prominence of the Pittsburgh trio as they come together.

Banditfide On Me Tee is the opening track, and it enters with dreamy nursery-rhyme style chimes that are quickly joined by trap hi-hats, bass, and a snare while the group chants their brand they represent. Their way of life is to rep Banditfide on their chests and trample over anyone who doesn't sport their mark with loyalty and strength. It's a powerful intro to an album that tells their respective stories of life in the city and the struggles they've overcome. Hores, featuring Ray Rocka takes a swerve into a dirty and trap-infused track about "hores", which is as tongue-in-cheek as it is bangin'. The wordplay is amusing, shocking, and humorous, but it nevertheless still pulls the listener in and elicits a curiosity at what they've got in store for this album.

Walk-Ins breaks up the tempo of the previous track and D Tha Don leads with his signature style of dark, tremolo-vocals with a front-facing message of how it's not about the tools you're given, but how you put them to use. The 808s, snare, and trap hats all make an atmosphere and headspace that is addicting as D The Don flows effortlessly with the knowledge he's gained. Camo continues this slow and dangerous drawl that crawls through the urban jungle while the militant gangster rap by Ruzee Ru Sbz forms an aggressive mantra that is chest-thumping and dangerous in vibe and lyrics. D The Don also takes a stab with a murderous verse.

Everything Banditifide creates an eerie whistle of a beat while D Tha Don focuses the track and raps about everything that Banditfide identifies with. It's a statement of life and death and the neverending promise to stay true and stay Banditfide. They Talk About Me is another angle to Banditfide's dynamic aura and while the trio addresses the talkers and naysayers, they set themselves up as the go-getters of the industry. They acknowledge that they've experienced the resistance of some through the years, their goals and passion remain unchanged. Different is the song that pulls the focus back and turns it toward the women. It's one of a couple of tracks that feature love interests, and this one gets an addicting club vibe rolling as it easily applies to their significant others while they make their promise to take care of and treat their women right.

Funeral, featuring Wave Prophet, gives D The Don the mic again with his observations about death being one of the only times people care and show their love, a sad truth for some who are in the crosshairs of those who hate. Its production mixes with Eastern flute melodies, which makes it a slow and unfurling beauty to behold. This beautiful mix of gangsterfied zen that D The Don fluidly builds is one of the many facets of Banditfide. Strap On Me feels like the next logical progression from Funeral, as it is the group's way to avoid a premature obituary. Rock & Roll, featuring Mil, is a play on the words, while D Tha Don repeats, "you know how we rock, you know how we roll." It's another bout of thug-life storytelling that D and Ruzee take turns to lay down hard truths that crush weak minds and break brittle bones. It's dark and a reality check for those who don't live in their city.

Really features Jaii Locc for more hardcore blasting the nonstop sh*t-talking that haters tend to do. Glo is a self-proclamation that these members will continue to shine despite the obstacles, while Wat It Do unveils a beautifully coated beat for Banditfide to roll to that proves both sultry and catchy. Live Life features another day in the life of Banditfide Sh*t. Break You Off strums with a creative and fluttering beat. Taboo Friday and Infrared grind the final moments of Banditfide Sh*t hard and doesn't stop for any weak-minded fools.

Banditfide Sh*t is the new testament this Pittsburgh hip-hop group lives by. Any hip-hop head who's into that deeper, hardcore vibe will dig Banditfide's flood of 808s, addictive synths, and real-world swagger. At the end of the day, it's a promising debut that shows that Banditfide has a lot of passion and stories to share with the world, and it's a chapter that will lead to even greater things in the future. You can read our exclusive interview with member D Tha Don here.

Recommended Tracks: Camo, Funeral, Rock & Roll

April 14, 2020

Nine Inch Nails - Ghosts V: Together & Ghosts VI: Locusts Album Reviews

Just over 12 years since the debut of the instrumental, ambient, and cinematic soundscape series Ghosts I-IV, seasoned film and television composer duo, Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, aka Nine Inch Nails, release their surprise twin albums Ghosts V: Together and Ghosts VI: Locusts, to help aid an ailing world in the midst of a global pandemic crisis.

As opposed to their earlier 4-LP project, which was released as a singular 36-track drop, these two LPs feel more fully developed and focused, while I-IV consisted of a 36-day project that was a reactive experience to various environmental and urban visuals (which are a part of any purchase of the release). It is important to note that Ghosts I-IV preceded a lengthy string of soundtracks composed by Reznor and Ross for various films and television shows, most notably The Social Network, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, Gone Girl, Patriot's Day, Bird Box, and Watchmen.

It is then easy to see, along with the cinematic aesthetic of some of the tracks on their Bad Witch EP, how much Reznor and Ross's musical landscape from soundtracks to Nine Inch Nails blend into an ominous, sonic, purgatory or no man's land, where hope and danger lurk around every corner. In 2020, however, Nine Inch Nails surprised a world sheltering-in-place with a pair of companion albums that both offer hope of togetherness and also shadows of doubt.

Ghosts V: Together

Together, as the name suggests, is the more ambient and hopeful release. Beautiful piano melodies, swelling voices, and cautious synths encapsulate a mood that Reznor and Ross have been known to highlight in the quiet spaces of previous Nine Inch Nails albums. Letting Go While Holding On is a perfect example of a meditative, transportive track that is meant to be experienced rather than listened to; its length borders on the 10-minute mark. Other tracks follow the same trajectory, such as Together, With Faith, Apart, and Still Right Here, which all meet or exceed this runtime.

While some of these songs could have easily been purposed for a film or television score, the message of togetherness over loneliness is instead conveyed through their popular industrial, electronic, ambient, rock moniker, a vehicle which by default will get more attention from a suffering world. Hope We Can Again serves up this message just right, as an expectancy of normalcy after the fallout is performed by a slow and innocent piano as droning echoes slowly fill the space and eventually overpower the track with an ear-splitting hiss. It all breaks away though and relieves the tension with a sweet and melancholy piano coda.

Your Touch opens with an almost religious-like atmosphere as if being performed on an organ in a cathedral, with angelic choirs and a free-floating synth that is playful and contrasts with the somber walking piano. Still Right Here, the album's closing track, is easily the most Nine Inch Nails-y of the eight. After a few minutes of quiet introspection, a repeated and distant guitar riff starts to enter from the haze, and it builds into a crescendo and flurry of electronic syncopation and drum beats, reminiscent of their Add Violence EP released a couple of years prior. Its presence is short-lived though as it quickly dissipates into radio static and unsettling atmospheres, a fitting transition into the darker and more dangerous backdrop of Locusts. 

Ghosts VI: Locusts

If Together could put aside all the concern and despair, then Locusts fully leans into it, with more chilling textures and foreboding atmospheres to match. Its opening track, The Cursed Clock, turns the piano melody over and over, as if hoping that things will change, all the while doom slowly rolls in. The dissonance from extra sounds and tones that enter the space work to disorient and almost sicken with its engineered physiological aura. Obviously, Reznor and Ross have become masters at capturing and encapsulating a mood into music, and the remainder of Locusts drives this point even further.

Around Every Corner is a stylistic departure from the signature NIN sound in the sense that it pulls from a dusty and deserted alleyway with its muted trumpet that wails through the darkness. It still has the piano walk and armada of drones at the ready, but the inclusion of a trumpet gives Locusts a slightly dusty and jazzy vibe, which is a welcome addition to the pair's overall sound. Run Like Hell, like the rest of the tracks, puts forward a feeling and sound that perfectly matches up with its title, as acoustic percussion beats to the rhythm of running before taking off into a manic race for survival, complete with several woodwinds, unnerving static, and instrumentation that puts the horror right in front of the listener. It eventually crashes right into its following track, When It Happens (Don't Mind Me), which is a dizzying house of cymbals and chimes that sounds as if an alarm is going off.

The feeling of this album as a soundtrack to the movie of our lives is a hard notion to shake, as several more tracks continue this suite of overwhelming despair and anxiety. Another Crashed Car comes off minimal and effectively eerie, which ushers in the horrorscapes of Temp Fix, and eventually the more straight-forward, piano-driven, but nevertheless reinvigorating Trust Fades. Your New Normal is a track that almost introduces a hint of hope amid all the chaos and downward spirals present in Locusts. Overall, the album is a triumph for the instrumental Ghosts album series. 

The timing of a new pair of Ghosts albums from Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross couldn't have been more perfect, with the world staying inside and the growing concerns over a spreading virus. While Together seems just right for the quiet moments that we are all living in, Locusts feels like a more active, interesting, and signature Nine Inch Nails approach. The ghostly visitations through these melodies of cautious hope and existential dread reveal that these two artists are just as human as the rest of us, and remind us that we are not alone. 

Ghosts V: Together - 8/10
Ghosts VI: Locusts - 8.5/10
Ghosts V-VI Average: 8.25/10

Recommended Tracks: With Faith, Your Touch, Still Right Here, Around Every Corner, Run Like Hell, Trust Fades

March 4, 2020

Tricknotic Debuts Make A Move EP During The Beast To Blessed Tour

Rhode Island-based producer/emcee, Tricknotic releases his highly anticipated debut project titled Make A Move. The 8-track EP is now available for streaming, with a selection of tracks to be performed during The Beast To Blessed Tour (which kicked off in Brooklyn, NY last night and hits Valley Stream, NY tonight).

Tricknotic comes from the school of self-teachings and mastering, which is evident throughout this project. He displays a polished niche for putting words together over distinct arrangements of cadences brimming with knocking bass, piano keys, clapping drums, and kaleidoscopes of pulsating tones. He also entices listeners by delivering diverse hip-hop tracks that exude a classic vibe mixed with modern twists that will take head-nodding to another level.

Spaceship sets the EP off and paints a vivid picture of Tricknotic’s takeoff from the basement to the spaceship. He shares about his progress as an artist and his mental debate of not knowing if fans will press play or side snare with raised noses. However, that debate slowly comes to rest as Tricknotic is determined to take off without putting a price on his soul.

Tricknotic switches up the rhythm in My Time. Over suspenseful sounds of piano keys and thumping bass, he declares his confidence to make it in the industry. The slightly hypnotic catchy hook, suggests Tricknotic will be one of the top ten’s illest!  Game Changer intensifies the vibe with blends of eerie, trappy beats that heighten Tricknotic’s intricate wordplay. His intangible and animalistic being spews bars that will either have crowds applauding or pushing Tricknotic off the stage. Either way, he’s an undeniable force. 

The intense bass in Feeling It is the heart of the track that Tricknotic uses to drop fierce bars about his confidence as an artist and living out his fantasies in a survival of the fittest industry.  Make A Move piggybacks on that theme with Tricknotic claiming his stance and reign with no turning back. He’s pushing through sideline rappers and naysayers making it known that you can either be part of his breakthrough or become thoroughly broken.

Now It’s Over takes listeners into a period of Tricknotic’s life when he lost his brother. His captivating storytelling is reminiscent of childhood vacations, playful army jousts, and grown-up nightmares and wishes to converse just one last time. Once again, Tricknotic speeds up the tempo in One Day and flows about re-writing history. Honest about his hesitation but firm in the climb and path to becoming a musical boss.

Tricknotic concludes his debut project with Dream and depicts the true definitions of motivation, achievements, and the drive to face the man in the mirror to believe. Like the other tracks, Tricknotic provides production that embodies gripping bass and drums, chilling tones, and trippy vibrations that is sure to have hip-hop heads across the globe listening on repeat.  Stream Make A Move and connect with @Tricknotic on Instagram. 

March 3, 2020

BeanieDon - Not The Usual Album Review and Upcoming Tour

Our other headlining act for the Beast To Blessed Tour (which kicks off TONIGHT in Brooklyn, NY!) is the multi-faceted and soulful hip-hop artist, BeanieDon!

Hailing from Stratford, Connecticut, BeanieDon is currently on tour in support of his few upcoming singles as well as his last LP, Not The Usual, which was released in May of 2019. For any listeners who are just getting to know him, it's important to understand just how deep, spiritual, and forward-thinking Beanie is. Available on all streaming platforms, Not The Usual is an example of passion and art coalesced and manifested into one singular vision.

Opening with an inspirational song that uses an elevator music mood and a robotic female guide who advises listeners to turn their devices to the highest volume, BeanieDon's Dream Reality rises to an awakening of fluttering flutes and clarity, as he opens his album. "It took sleepless nights, trying to make this right, people wonder how I came up, I was right beside em," he raps, and later "those sleepless nights turned my dreams to real life." His humble beginnings are documented here and serve as an inspiration to all those who have dreams they want to turn into reality. "Nobody gonna do this for me, gotta do it for me!" Beanie repeats with bravado and sets the stage for a hip-hop LP that truly lives up to its name.

Ain't Got Much, the second track off the album, swerves into familiar and darker hip-hop and trap undertones, and his strength and conviction are on display when he raps about how he "ain't got much to lose" and how he will "forever go so hard" for his family who is deserving of it. It's a tough reality that is relatable to most and goes to show why BeanieDon won't ever give up. Blessingz, the follow-up track, takes the reality of life and looks at it from a different perspective, as Beanie pulls out the praise for his blessings. It's another strategic swerve within its own style and with its spiritual message, it carries an addicting, almost Kendrick Lamar-like flow and sound to it. BeanieDon is humbled by where his journey has taken him thus far and takes this moment to give his thanks.

Max-Beanie is a short detour where Beanie reminisces over a girl who wronged him. It's a track that pulls from his pain, and with his saxophone, its heart and soul is on his sleeve. Kanye, an obvious Kanye reference, is Beanie's tribute to a man who no doubt has made a huge impact on the genre and the lifestyle of hip-hop. Get A Check! is the energizing anthem that Beanie gets in the album, as he raps about the neverending grind to make money and get paid. It's a song where while he raps that he goes super hard to get a check, he acknowledges that his energy is endless and he knows his worth.

Brown Boy Bluez is a super chill, laid-back and semi-philosophical mediation as Beanie reflects on his life and the notion of freedom in this country. Reality 2 Dreamz opens with a chilling telling of a police shooting of an innocent citizen, while Beanie raps over smooth piano melodies about how his life is worth living despite the hard reality that can sometimes be discouraging for him. It closes with another disturbing tale of a police officer's abuse of power using a chokehold on a citizen who was suffocated to death. E Z Fienin' gets a little darker once again while Beanie shows his strength and powers up his wordplay.

Shake! begins the final trio of songs on Not The Usual, which speeds up the verses for a quick minute and a half runtime, while On The Move softens the blow as it illuminates Beanie's passion for making art and music. Finally, Love Talk-Soul Talk focuses on the only thing that matters to all people at the end of the day, and BeanieDon's message reaches for that soul connection in the listener with an electrifying set of loops and carefully regarded lyrics that show his true purpose and unfaltering greatness.

Not The Usual possesses a bit of something for everyone. Its harder and nitty-gritty songs, such as Ain't Got Much and E Z Fienin', showcase Beanie's tough realness, while songs like Blessingz and On The Move contain a bright and burning flame that burns in Beanie's soul. The manifestation of his many blessings in Not The Usual makes it a widely appealing tour of expression and a necessary lesson in beats, lyrics, and heart.

Not The Usual is also available in a special deluxe edition, which comes with a fully conceptualized digital album booklet that dives deeper into each song, an exclusive t-shirt, and four additional bonus tracks.

Not The Usual can be heard on all major streaming platforms! If you like what you hear, please consider supporting with a purchase of his Not The Usual Deluxe Edition! Check out BeanieDon on the Beast To Blessed Tour with Full Blast Booking kicking off TONIGHT in Brooklyn, NY and proceeding with the specific East and West coast dates on the official tour poster.

Not The Usual

Recommended Tracks: Ain't Got Much, E Z Fienin', On The Move

February 28, 2020

Beyond Top Secret Interview & Last Train To Hollywood Review

Allll aboard!!! 

New England hip-hop group Beyond Top Secret release their latest full-length album, Last Train To Hollywood, in concert with their East and West coast headlining tour!!

Dropping March 6 and currently up for preorder, New England hip-hop group Beyond Top Secret are in their prime with their third full-length release, Last Train To Hollywood, a super mix of multi-genre beats and strong-as-steel lyrics that will put a chokehold on any haters who get in the way.

Opening with horror movie vibes, alien buzzing, and a chest-knocking 808, Famous sets the tone and the style of the LP, as the trio rap about the ungrateful and the rich and the real-life struggles that plague the remainder of humanity. It's only fitting that DJ Docta Damnage, Freeze Martian, and DNaz rather be not of this world. Depths takes another stab at showing those who have not been introduced yet to their raw abilities, and altogether, with their intro All Aboard, listeners can get a very strong sense of what Beyond Top Secret is all about.

Another sign of Beyond Top Secret's greatness is the level of eclecticism in their proceeding tracks, such as Non Compliant, which features a racing rock synth to solidify their sci-fi influence, or America, which pulls out a heavy rock riff for the martians to rap over. The horror-cinema theremin that stands out brings a classic dread to this already intense track. Feed The Machine has another very cool guitar loop that Damnage crafts into an unforgettable hip-hop beat. Omerda, featuring Bukshot, is one of just a couple of songs that have guest emcees. The other, 333, has previous Beyond Top Secret member Xplizt on the verse.

We R takes a cathedral-like choral singer and mixes her into a deadly trap and 808 beat as they chant their own mantra, "I'm a-I'm a-I'm a martian," and then "we are-we are-we are martians." Chop A Body, the first single to get the music video treatment in the coming months, is a dark and menacing tune that executes their horrorcore vibe with razor-sharp precision, while 333, as mentioned earlier, brings the original member Xplizt back for a celestial and cosmic rap exercise; its a treat to hear the original members firing on all cylinders as they trade verses back and forth here.

Modern Angels dives into heavy metal riffs and mixes the nu-metal style with Beyond Top Secret's flow, complete with DJ Docta Damnage's cuts and scratches. The final track, Baddest In The Room, fills the air once more with the venom that Beyond Top Secret is known to spit, for a lurid, ominous, and strong finish.

Last Train To Hollywood is full of tracks that can completely wreck weak-minded emcees, but we also have the opportunity to hear it from the group themselves in our exclusive interview!

Let's hear a bit of what the Martians have to say...

AirdriftSignals: Hey guys, how's it going?

DNaz: Awsome man Things have never been looking better for Beyond Top Secret than right now.

AirSig: 2020 is a new year, a new decade, and you guys seem to be hitting it off right with a new tour this Spring, is that right? 

Freeze Martian: Yes sir. We kicked off our string of shows on February 22nd in Jewett City, CT with Apathy of (AOTP) & (Demi Godz). Then we pick back up the following week on The Beast To Blessed Tour.

DNaz: Maaan I can't tell you how exciting it is to be starting off the new year with a tour through the East coast. It sets the tone for the mission were on. We are more than ready to come full force.

AirSig: That's awesome! And from what I understand, you also have a new lineup change as well. Who’s in this time around, and could you give us an introduction for the uninitiated?

Freeze Martian: We released 2 full-length albums in 2014 & 2019 with Xplizt, a female emcee from Connecticut, as well. Now we are back and re-vamped the group into a much more solid force and cohesive unit. That's no disrespect to Xplizt at all. The fact is, if all members of a group don't share the same passion & drive as the others then the whole ship fails. It was a mutual decision and we decided the best direction for the group would be to continue on with DNaz alongside me for future releases and performances. We wish her the best of luck in everything she does in her life and career.

AirSig: Your drop on New Year's Eve, the introductory song “From The Depths”, is off a brand new album coming out that you’re touring for in support of. Can you guys tell us a little bit about your marketing philosophy for taking your group to a higher level?

Freeze Martian: I released my first 2 solo albums of my career with Detroit based Hip-Hop label Long Range Distribution. Since then, I've released multiple albums and group projects on my own independent label Mercy Counts Records. As a national touring artist, it's a little easier for me as opposed to a local artist, but the struggles are all the same. We push music videos and market our music to an underground audience. I feel the music we are making has potential to reach millions and that's something we continue to strive towards daily. Our merchandise does very well, to the point where people purchase our shirts and hoodies even if they are not familiar with the group. They just love the Martian logo. But, in all honesty, the strategies and business tools we are implementing for this release are more thorough than ever before. That I can say as fact!

DNaz: During the making of Last Train To Hollywood, we have come across many new ideas and potential ways of promoting music. There is nothing but opportunity in the future. The only thing we need to make an impact is hunger, and that's exactly what we are, hungry. We are crawling "From The Depths" to prove a point in this business. There is a lot of magic brewing in the cauldron after the release of this album.

AirSig: Nice! And your new album Last Train To Hollywood... How is this release different from your last, Destroy and Rebuild, besides the obvious?

Freeze Martian: All of our albums are concept albums. So each album represents a different perspective of life or theme. Our first release "Cut The Power" was about abuse of power. Obviously being related to world issues, corruption and also the abusiveness and injustices of the music business. The last album "Destroy & Rebuild" was like a double edge sword. It was about the after effects of the themes represented on the first release. A system becomes corrupt... Now it must be destroyed in order to build something better. The songs dive into the occult and had a very dark theme a lot of the time. The whole momentum of the album as a whole is very slow. It has it's strong points and I love it for what it is completely. But, coming into this next album, I can say that not only has the story in this Beyond Top Secret universe evolved, its story is becoming more interesting. Almost naturally lol. This is the ultimate journey on the path to what everybody strives for in their own lives... Personal success. Last Train To Hollywood says it all. It's the last dance, last chance... Last Hoorah! For us music will never die. But this is where this particular story comes to an end. So I guess we'll have to wait to see what's next in the book of life for Beyond Top Secret.

AirSig: As for DJ Docta Damnage and Freeze, is there anything new that you two took to the table when was time to produce the music of this LP?

Freeze Martian: We always try to be better than we were before and I think we do that very well. Every record we do sounds completely different than the one before it and they always evolve. We tapped into so many different influences and genres while making this latest record. There's a lot of rock influence on some of the songs we brought to the table on this and I don't think our approach was unauthentic or corny at all lol. But we also upped our game when it comes to the delivery on some of the more hip-hop tracks. There's something for everyone here for sure!

AirSig: Yeah, I heard the rock influences. Very well-done! As a hip-hop group, you will all get that larger combined following, talent, and opportunities. What’s it like pulling off these feats as a team?

Freeze Martian: It's actually easier to operate as a group when everyone is on the same page. 2 minds are always better than one.

DNaz: There is so much motivation in the group. There's no room for slack at Mercy Counts. With all the talent and determination at hand, it feels there is nothing that can stand in our way.

AirSig: Are there any hip-hop groups or artists that specifically come to mind that have influenced you through your formation and evolution?

Freeze Martian: Good songwriting as a whole inspires me. But, I've been making music so long that I can't really say any specific artist had inspired me more than any other. I use real life experiences and feelings to express myself in my music. It's not really something I can achieve trying to imitate anybody else specifically.

DNaz: We all make music coming from the experiences that make us. We have a chemistry that influences each other and that will keep us growing as a group.

AirSig: Stylistically, you have a hardcore rap vibe going for you, but are there any other stylistic hip-hop elements or choices that you made for this release as opposed to previous releases?

Freeze Martian: Like I said before, we definitely blended a lot of styles on this album. There's rock, obviously a strong hip-hop influence, but we also tapped into certain punk rock elements and even new age alternative. It's definitely the most diverse album I have ever been a part of.

DNaz: This album brings a lot of genres of music into play, with our own twist of course. There's a new sound coming that cannot be generalized with other music, and we can't wait to bring it.

AirSig: Besides the Beast to Blessed Tour, are there any other shows, music videos, or projects you have planned for 2020? 

Freeze Martian: We will be releasing a music video for the song Chop A Body off the new release. Anybody that has watched one of my videos in the past knows that we always aim to please visually lol. A lot are horror themed or science fiction related and that always makes for a fun watch. We're bringing our A-Game on this next one coming out in April.

Check out Beyond Top Secret on the Beast to Blessed Tour with Full Blast Booking this March! Listen to Last Train To Hollywood by preordering or streaming on March 6!

Last Train To Hollywood

Recommended Tracks: Non Compliant, We R, 333

February 22, 2020

Interview: DJ Nihilist

Our artist spotlight interview series this time takes a deep dive with talented, Connecticut dubstep artist, DJ Nihilist!

AirdriftSignals: Hi DJ Nihilist? How are you doing today?

DJ Nihilist: I’m alright, just chilling... it’s been a long weekend haha.

AirSig: It’s a new year but more notably a new decade. How do you envision this turn of time for yourself creatively, or do you have any resolutions or goals in mind?

Nihilist: Musically the only real goal I have this year is to write my second EP, but I’m sure there will be other singles and what not that pop up. Personally my goal this year is to be more focused on my health, both physical and mental. I find that if I’m in a good space it’s easier to write more music too so it’s a win-win situation.

AirSig: Those are great resolutions! Just balancing the body and mind healthily could lead to more creative clarity. How do you feel your area of Newtown and more broadly Connecticut has contributed to the music scene and your overall molding as an artist?

Nihilist: I love the Connecticut music scene more than words can express; I’ve been in it for close to a decade now, which kind of bends my mind sometimes haha. There has and continues to be so much amazing talent coming out of the state that inspires me every day, and the tight knit nature of the scene we have creates some of the best energy at shows I’ve ever had the pleasure of experiencing . There have been a lot of shifts and changes over the 8 years, and keeping the scene alive can sometimes be a challenge... but I’d say it’s in a really good place right now and only getting stronger.

AirSig: Could you tell us what the inciting incident was that gave you the electronic music bug?

Nihilist: Really just going to my first show at the Dome at Oakdale in Wallingford. It was Kill the Noise and Figure with a bunch of other killer acts in 2012, and it was honestly one of the most freeing experiences of my life. I had been messing around with loops and such in garage band for years, but learning how these producers I admired made their stuff inspired me to get Ableton and start going in that direction.

AirSig: Who are some of your biggest influences in electronic music or just music in general?

Nihilist: As far as major artists go I’d say my longest running influences would be Liquid Stranger, Psymbionic, and Dirt Monkey. I’m also incredibly influenced just by music in general, like traditional music is beautiful and anything that makes you feel something can be learned from. But more than anything in the last few years I’ve been influenced by all the amazing producers in my community who inspire me to go my absolute hardest. Honestly too many to list but Tsimba, Second Nature, Ickis, Abomnabl, and Shiver Me Timbers would be just a few I could mention.

AirSig: I can tell from your recent singles and previous releases that you are a specialist in dubstep music. Dubstep is an interesting genre in that it originated from a much more mellow genre of dub, which in turn came from reggae. It has since morphed into an amalgam of side genres such as brostep and EDM. Where do you see your sound falling on the spectrum and where would you like to go with it?

Nihilist: Yeah, dubstep has definitely gone through a lot of changes since I got into the genre. I think that more melodic and wonky sound is coming back around though, and that’s definitely where I’d place my music these days. I’m not against harder stuff though, once my sound design gets super rough you can definitely expect bangers haha. I wouldn’t say I really specialize in dubstep though. In fact, I don’t think I specialize in anything. I have influences all over the place, and I find music for me is just very much about how I’m feeling at the time. But as a DJ I like to play around in all the BPM ranges, so I want to make music for every tempo.

AirSig: What equipment do you use when you produce? And mix?

Nihilist: I use Ableton Live with the Serum VST primarily (just like everyone else haha). I use Splice and a few other things sometimes, but I think you can do a lot with a little in Ableton. As far as mixing goes I’ve been trying to find gigs where I can use CDJs to get more comfortable with that. I really like the accessibility of just being able to have a flash drive with tunes on it for gigs, but at home I practice on a Pioneer DDJ-SR.

AirSig: Do you find it necessary to add any additional hardware or software in the future?

Nihilist: Not really, I mean like I said you can do a lot with just ableton and a flash drive haha. I mean I don’t know where I’d be without my midi keyboard cause I hate using the piano roll, but the only thing I’d really like in the somewhat distant future would be a nice MPC or other pad trigger controller.

AirSig: Tell us about your experiences playing live. You have a number of tracks that would do amazingly on a dance floor. What is it like to DJ a set with others and your own tunes?
At Christy's Irish Pub, New Haven, CT

Nihilist: I actually don’t play out as much as I’d like, but DJing is one of the most fun things I’ve ever done in my life. And getting my tracks to a level of quality where they sound good being played out has been incredibly rewarding. But honestly my favorite thing about DJing is playing songs from my friends and finding cool ways to fit my own stuff in there.

AirSig: Are there any recent shows or mixes that you’re especially proud of or upcoming ones you’d like to talk about?

Nihilist: Last night (2/9) at Christy’s Irish Pub in New Haven was one of the most fun sets I’ve played because they had reinforced sound in that place, and it was knockinnnn. The promoters like it enough they wanted me back on February 25th for a house and bass night. I also had a lot of fun recently doing a set on Bridgeport’s radio WPKN, which I used to play on occasionally a few years ago. I forgot I wasn’t supposed to swear on air though, so I have to work on that for next time haha.

AirSig: In a genre that’s already full of so many players, what do you think it takes to rise above the sea of producers and DJs?

Nihilist: Honestly just individuality, long term dedication, and work ethic I think (I hope). And also a well founded and honest relationship with your fans and community. I will say as I approach 25 years old I’m starting to grow out of a desire to “rise above” other producers or “make it big”. I just want to be happy and healthy and able to make the music that speaks to me. And if that music connects with anyone then I’m just appreciative.

A very humble viewpoint indeed. 

DJ Nihilist's latest single, Outer World Bounce, can be heard on most major streaming platforms now! His previous singles can also be heard on most platforms. You can also read our full-length article of his production work here!

February 21, 2020

DJ Nihilist - Outer World Bounce and Dubstep Singles Galore

From our interview with DJ Nihilist, it's no question that he is going to have great things lying in wait for him. The first and most notable of those is his most recent release, Outer World Bounce! 

Outer World Bounce is the first of DJ Nihilist's 2020 arsenal, and it's a worthy successor to his previous electronic and dubstep jams. Opening with an alien buzz, spaceship synth, and old sci-fi sample of a scientist on an unprecedented journey, Nihilist's grime-y beat kicks in and breathes and reverberates; its purpose to transport listeners into the deep recesses of our imaginations. Its vocal sample is heady, and the sound design boggles the mind when the bass makes waves and crawls and feels very much alive. Pulling out from this fuzzy and wobbly drawl and into a spontaneous groove, it makes its final syncopated motion playful before its pulse cuts out. The journey ends as it plays up the psychedelic sample that speaks alongside a buzzing machine that ultimately fades. 

Voyager Lost, the second most recent single, follows close by for its August 2019 release. Opening with a spine-tingling set of computer bleeps and vocalized memories that echo from a dark and mysterious void, this track pulls listeners into a slow unfurling of electronic dance music that has become popularized in the EDM scene with its atmosphere of sensual waves and a steady approaching bass that washes over the listener. It doesn't take long for Nihilist's primal bass to wake up and flutter its grime-y form, sounding almost like a monstrous beast that is waking and stretching its limbs.

After the unforgettable bass creeps through this first movement, Nihilist morphs its shape on the spot as radio signals beep and bloop, on a long and distant voyage to anyone who can hear them. The automation at play here swings like a pendulum and displays Nihilist's adept ability at crisp production and sound design. It's amalgam of almost-living bass effects, nostalgic piano chords, echoing synths and moaning female vocalizations make Voyager Lost the linchpin of modern dubstep.

Finally, Existential is a ground-pounding and head-banging piece of music. If there was only one way to describe its killer mixture of aggression and sonic assault, it would be full-blown, but we have an opportunity to dive deep into this track that poses a very existential threat to every DJ who spins it and listener who thrashes to it. Opening with just the right amount of eerie synths and horror atmosphere, its opening is short and sweet, as the man in the track delivers a warning to the wary, "better watch out!" The track pulls out from there into a lane all its own and full horrorcore dubstep burns up the track, littered with all the dark and foreboding effects that any fan would expect or want to hear. There's sinister laughs, reminders that you "cannot outrun death," and that if not careful you'll be taken out. Its a single that is the makings a producer on the search for perfection in song composition and design.

Nihilist's final preceding releases pull from other diverse backgrounds of music. Night Terrors takes a melodic horror spin that almost verges into the style of hip or trip-hop before the super imposing bass tears the track up. His Space Highway EP show off his humble beginnings and yet more styles that Nihilist is willing to explore in his musical career, including that of reggae and danceable electronic goodness (Space Highway), a mix-up of big band/reggae/dubstep styles (Good Vibrations), and mind altering and reverb-soaked dub (Time).

From each of these releases even dating back to his debut Space Highway EP, DJ Nihilist shows a magnitude of promise and focus, both in his willingness to veer into multiple grooves within a single track and to show his song structures and designs as they evolve over time. His upcoming DJ set at New Haven's Christ'y Pub on Tuesday, February 25 is a house set, which will be another avenue Nihilist is intent on exploring. Check out his singles, support local music, and check out his night this Tuesday!

February 10, 2020

Interview: B. Dvine

Our artist spotlight interview series this time takes a closer look at B. Dvine, who is promoting his brand new, self-produced EP, Times Have Changed!

AirdriftSignals: How long have you been producing/emceeing?

B. Dvine: I have been producing for 16 years and emceeing for the past 9.

AirSig: You are a Long Island native. How has location informed you musically, either in influence or output?

B. Dvine: Long Island is very diverse so you get to see both sides of the fence in almost every sense of that term, and I've seen the ups, downs, lefts, and rights so when I go in two different lanes it comes natural.

AirSig: Is there a specific set of equipment that you prefer to use when producing hip-hop beats?

B. Dvine: Right now I've been heavy on the maschine and you can use keyboards and live instrumentation. I've been using Sony Acid Pro since the beginning but lately it's been about elevation and growth.

AirSig: Speaking of live instruments, are there any that you’ve been interested in learning to incorporate more into your sound?

I want to pick up whatever possible. Violins, trumpets, guitar, bass. Why not learn everything?

AirSig: You have been granted the opportunity to work with a number of prominent artists, such as Tragedy Khadafi, Kinetic 9, Solomon Childs, Young Dirty Bastard, and now Erick Sermon. What has this experience been like?

B. Dvine: It has been both lessons and blessings. I've learned a lot from being around some of these people and it helped me get a better understanding of the business and how to move in this industry so for that I'm grateful.

AirSig: Does the Times Have Changed EP mark the beginning of a new chapter in your artistic career?

B. Dvine: Of course, I'll always stick to my true style but growth is necessary and so is change.

AirSig: The new EP has been a distinct departure in style from your familiar boom bap hip-hop beats. Were you comfortable venturing into this new region of electronic hip-hop styled music?

B. Dvine: I'm a say yes or no. I had to learn to adapt to certain styles but I had fun doing it so that's what's important.

AirSig: Not only does the release stylistically diverge from previous efforts, but the lyrical content of your songs, specifically the opener and closer, have a deeply personal way about them. Did your life’s events and also time working in this genre inform your overall message of Times Have Changed?

B. Dvine: I would say so. Because I see the growth in myself but I also understand that we're in a new age and you don't have to hate on that and still be true to you.

AirSig: Your final track, Mr. Dreams, features a female singer by the name of Xavia. What was it like to add this new type of collaboration to your music? Do you plan on doing more of it in the future?

B. Dvine: I wouldn't say it's a new type of collaboration because I've worked with singers in the past but yeah I like working with singers so I plan on working with more.

AirSig: I hear you have even more exciting developments in your upcoming releases. Do you have anything about your future projects you would like to share?

B. Dvine: Not yet. Let the people soak this in now and when it's time to talk about the future it'll be presented by then.

AirSig: What advice would you like to give newcomer artists who look up to you?

B. Dvine: Stay focused, stay motivated, stay blessed. You're in control of your life path at the end of the day so go your hardest to make it count.

Times Have Changed can be heard on multiple streaming services now! Our full review can also be read here.

B. Dvine - Times Have Changed EP Review

As our interview with B. Dvine makes light of a lot of things going on in this Long Island producer/emcee's life, so too does his latest release, the self-produced, ever-changing, and forever-growing Times Have Changed EP.

Contained herein are five original tracks that are both different from one other, and also different from the rest of B. Dvine's expansive catalogue of rhymes and beats. As a prolific producer and emcee, B. Dvine has already been featured with a number of prominent artists, and found himself on a wide array of releases. It's no wonder the first track of this release, Selfless Pride, opens up with a mental note of gratitude and an essence like Dvine's been to the other side and back, with his struggles and losses over the past few years. He raps, "it's a new age, a new dawn, a new B. Dvine, grow with me" and "like the smiling Robin Williams, for years masking pain, watching my family dismantle made me feel insane, but my sister's health inspired me to diet and train." It's a tough pill to swallow for Dvine, but overall his empowered state of mind, winning attitude, and invitation to grow with him sets the stage for the themes and lessons of Times Have Changed.

Hush Now, the first single of the five, is the only song to feature guest rappers, and it's a first for B. Dvine to invite celebrated artist, EPMD's Erick Sermon, to the stage, while Cuban Pete and D-Rage make the necessary rounds on hook and verse. Sermon raps, "unbelievable, we not equal, E and Dvine, we do it for the people, Cuban Pete and D-Rage, we on stage, every time we step out, we front page." Cuban Pete follows up, "closed mouths get nothing inside 'em, so you know how my people ridin', hush now!" Don't Mean Nuttin' is a necessary follow-up, with its wavy synth beat and Dvine's cutting lyrics as he breaks it down "to the core". The realness of B. Dvine's message pulls the facade off of fake hardcore, gangster rappers in this one, as he raps, "actions louder than words, that's why it's not serious when it comes to you birds, talkin' all like gang gang, nothing ever occurs."

Come Alive thumps with 808s and a club vibe, as Dvine hollers "keep your hands in the sky, make the dance come alive!" It's an easily head-bobbing beat, while Dvine takes his music into a more adventurous and fun detour. His vox fx, 808s and beat syncopation all come together nicely and are signs of more stylized hybrid hip-hop tracks in the future. Chocolate Syrup combines trap hi-hats and women's vocals for a sensual and hypnotic flow. It's another logical follow-up to Come Alive and it's a full-on love song that Dvine executes with lyrical bliss. Mr. Dreams, featuring singer Xavia, brings Times Have Changed back to the beginning of what started it all. What did B. Dvine do with a dream that awoke in him at a young age? He not only chases that dream, he gets it, as he raps, "around that time school couldn't get me to focus, all of my teachers thought I was just hopeless, daydreaming over music they took notice, enrolled me in trade school so I could grow this, dream to reality then I hit the streets, got tired of waiting started rhyming on my beats, sharpened my sword by doing a bunch of feats, then dreams turned reality rocking with elites." As a closer, Mr. Dreams is hard-hitting and inspiring and it ignites the fire that burns in the hearts and minds of those who have also nurtured big dreams.

What B. Dvine shows us with Times Have Changed is a hip-hop release that honors living life to its fullest potential. It does everyone involved, whether it's artist or listener, a favor in its celebration of a life worth living, and stands out amongst a genre saturated with hardcore rappers who honor just the opposite. B. Dvine's got some major stories to tell and lessons to teach within the walls of this EP, and it's all a part of a journey he wants us all to take with him, to grow and evolve together.

Times Have Changed - 9/10

Recommended Tracks: Selfless Pride, Hush Now, Mr. Dreams

January 20, 2020

The Professionals - The Professionals Review

As far as collaborations go, it was only a matter of time before the world heard of The Professionals, the new duo formulated by prolific and eclectic hip-hop producer Madlib and his brother, producer/emcee Oh No.

Released on short notice, The Professionals is a funky and swaggering swerve through hip-hop, which is less aggressive and more chill than the Eminem album Music To Be Murdered By released the same day. Keeping Madlib in this project ensures that it will maintain a cult following. Brother Oh No, rather, has maintained a lower profile, working with The Alchemist in their collaborative duo, Gangrene, and releasing sparse instrumental and lyrical hip-hop albums when compared to his brother Madlib. As Oh No has achieved relative success with hip-hop label Stones Throw, Madlib has become a legend in his own right, collaborating with the likes of MF DOOM (forming Madvillain) on their classic comic-book inspired album Madvillainy, releasing his own cartoon-y hip-hop swine character, Quasimoto, for several albums, produced with late hip-hop producer legend J Dilla, and releasing albums as a producer and even DJ with many more other artists. This album is the latest from the family and it feels great to hear the two of them come together.

The first thing to note about The Professionals debut album is the inclusion of multiple vocal snippets and the wild and busy production work that is signature to Madlib's many styles and influences. In the intro track My House, for example, there is no actual songwriting; instead it is a reggae-styled horn section and a brief and vulgar monologue to get listeners into the world of black music. It gets loud and intense and morphs into the high-synth church-like opening The Pros. Oh No makes his entrance and sounds confident with his brother on the beat. By the second half toward the end, Madlib treats listeners to other sounds and producer table scraps that are always a treat to hear. His overwhelming output creates this finesse, with multiple sounds in just a single track. Payday has a fascinating drumbeat and a choir of voices as Oh No raps about the hustle. The funky and soulful stabs that come in and out are just an example of how much Madlib's own productions are their own character in any given album.

Give N Take is a super feel-good cut with beautiful keys and a female pop group that are sampled throughout. Oh No knows how to take care of business, as he raps in the chorus, "If you can take it, I'll give it as soon as I make it girl!" Superhumans features several other rappers as well (Elzhi and Chino XL) and it has wicked DJ scratches by Madlib. Buggin is a spaced-out cut, and CDP Smackdown and Timeless Treasure bring the intensity before it slows way down for I Jus Wanna, which works as a much-needed break from the busy production and loud rapping. It feels almost like a Flying Lotus vibe, as Oh No just goes through everything he wants to do to unwind from a crazy day. Away Too Long takes the soulful route and features a beat that was previously featured on Madlib's own Beat Konducta Vol. 5 & 6, which was an instrumental hip-hop album dedicated to J Dilla (James Yancey), who died in 2006 at the young age of 32 from a long and rare illness. This one feels nostalgic personally for me, as I felt brought back to my years of playing Beat Konducta's and J Dilla's Donuts album over and over again, and for that reason, it gets extra points for feeling so special. The final trio of tracks all feature the usual melodic, soulful, and jazz-fused production that Madlib is known for while Oh No does all the beats plenty of justice.

As a full experience, The Professionals is eponymously named for obvious reasons. Production-wise, it is stellar and exemplary and it shows Madlib is at the top of his game and probably still climbing, even if it might sound a little too busy at times. Oh No takes this collaboration opportunity with his brother to the next level, and it makes it exciting to see how much further they will go with everything they've accomplished here. Casual hip-hop heads might feel a little turned off, but for any Madlib or Oh No fan, it is a must-listen.

The Professionals - 7.75/10

Recommended Tracks: Payday, Give N Take, Buggin

January 18, 2020

Eminem - Music To Be Murdered By Review

Marshall Mathers is in the unique position of reaching legendary status at a young age over 20 years ago. Since then, he has faced a tougher uphill battle to stay relevant and top himself more than any other artist today, and subsequently, receives more criticism for any release that is anything less than brilliant or extraordinary. His anger hasn't changed, and his subject matter might feel stale, but his fire wit, lyrical spit, and storytelling remain as jaw-dropping, and arguably, sharper than ever before with his second surprise album in two years, Music To Be Murdered By.

As a title (borrowed directly from a previous 1958 album), Eminem does not leave anything free from double meanings, as this relentless diss record is a satisfying listen as it murders all the Nick Cannons of the world. Slim's traumas from his childhood (in Stepdad) come back to haunt him, and his current troubles are still on the surface as he testifies his rage for the critics who want to bring him down. According to Mathers, that struggle is real, and is documented in his opening track, Premonition, "They said I'm lyrically amazing but I have nothing to say, But then when I put out Revival and I had something to say, They said that they hated the awake me, I lose the rage, I'm too tame, I get it back, they say I'm too angry," as he pulls the curtains back on the critics who can't be pleased by his two preceding offerings, Revival and Kamikaze. As an artist, his latest output has been pretty incredible, releasing the former in 2017, and the latter as a direct response to Revival's criticism, as a surprise album only a year later. The hook in Premonition burns and the heavy and dark beat rides out, but it hardly is the hardest track of the album. Unaccommodating, featuring Young M.A., is the first track to hit home Em's unapologetic wordplay, and it is displayed at a hyper-speed that only rewards with multiple spins. You Gon' Learn, featuring Royce da 5'9" and White Gold, has a fazed-out R&B soaked hook, and its glitchy staccato production is standout here.

By the time we get to the first of only a couple of interludes, we are introduced to the overarching idea that ties this album together, in concept, title, and artwork, in Alfred (Interlude). Citing the 1958 album of the same name (Alfred Hitchcock Presents: Music To Be Murdered By), this direct successor comments on the violence that persists in our culture and our nation. Before we get to Darkness though, we have the party track Those Kinda Nights and the unrequited love song In Too Deep. Godzilla works as another speed-running lyrical feat; it feels like Shady has never sounded faster at the mic than in this one, even by Kamikaze standards. Darkness now, is the most thought-provoking work Eminem has released in a while. Still interweaving-in thoughts of violence and anger, this track wasn't meant to make you feel safe. Some might get shocked, some might get triggered, but no matter whether you fall on the left or the right or somewhere in between, everyone should agree that the persistence of mass shootings in our world must come to an end. Eminem does this track from inside the mind of the Las Vegas massacre shooter. While this effort essentially immortalizes the suspect, its case is one of the most disturbing, as a man with no prior convictions and no history of mental illness just didn't want to "feel alone in the darkness anymore,” which makes this crisis even more difficult to address. In a sense, this song is about reconnecting with loved ones, and the need to feel more together and connected, but it is executed in horrific fashion as one of the consequences of the crushing loneliness in this world. Ultimately, Eminem's conviction for these acts of violence to end is a standout moment and commendable if listeners can get past the shock value, something he has ingrained throughout his entire career.

Beyond this single there are a number of other sharp, brutal, and tongue-in-cheek songs that you would expect, such as Stepdad, about Marshall’s experience growing up with an abusive father figure, Marsh, an amusing moment of feeling not of this world, and Never Love Again, a double meaning of a past love and getting clean off of prescription pills. Little Engine brings in Mr. Hitchcock once again as he reminds us that we should enjoy the music while we’re being “done in” by Shady’s lyrical lacerations. It’s a spiffy, classical horror sounding track, and Shady shows off as a speed demon who refuses to slow down. Lock It Up, Farewell, No Regrets, and I Will construct the album’s coda, and it’s a give-or-take acceptable ending in an album full of great moments interspersed throughout familiar territory.

Music To Be Murdered By is full of double meanings, interesting wordplay, and familiar, but well-executed themes. Eminem, Shady, or Marshall, either alter ego or persona delivers, and this latest rendition should probably go down as the best of the trio of LPs that have been released thus far. Eminem is ultimately right, as he states in his opening track, "Instead of us being credited for longevity, And being able to keep it up for this long at this level, we, Get told we'll never be what we were, B*tch, if I was as half as good as I was, I'm still twice as good as you'll ever be." Whether Eminem decides to take up tougher subjects in this new decade remains to be seen, but until then, he’s released a worthy follow-up that should go down as a pin in the cultural zeitgeist of where we are today.

Music To Be Murdered By - 8.5/10

Recommended Tracks: You Gon' Learn, Darkness, Lock It Up

January 7, 2020

Cuban Pete - 5 Pointz EP Review

Cuban Pete, our resident U.K. emcee, is back with Wu affiliated producer, Falling Down, with the graffiti-themed 5 Pointz EP! 

As we've come to know Cuban Pete from our interview last year, his passions include graffiti art, since he is also a visual artist with his company C75 Live. It's no wonder that 5 Pointz (named after the now torn down New York mural space) would feature 5 specifically designed tracks tailored and named after 5 different legends in the world of graffiti art.

The street artist INSA, who specializes in trippy and almost optical pieces (can you say painted, animated street GIFs??) that could make any passersby's eyes pop out of their skull, takes the first track of the EP. Falling Down's
‘c’est la vie’
opening sample of a female vocalist singing "never, never die" works as a note on the legacy of artists, while INSA himself opens with a comment on how the big idea of street art is making it outside as opposed to making art on a computer, making its creation an entirely human (not digital) effort. His life is mostly private since he wants his art to speak for itself, and Cuban Pete pulls out the big guns with Falling Down to commemorate the work that this man has done thus far. Pete raps "blessing them with pieces created from my fingertips, I'm Hanz On like Method Man affiliates, perfectionism is a schism in my psyche, admirable at times, but can turn around and bite me, the latter most likely" and then "everything on hold until I throw it out my system, a gift and a curse, my work greatly received, but at times it suffocates, I'm barely able to breathe." The track is then processed with cuts and scratches by the talented DJ Erex, aimed to put more fuel in the tank, with such cuts like "never give up" and "perfecting the craft." In the second verse, Pete questions it all, his life's purpose, and what all this art is worth, but admits it's his relentless drive to take his craft ever higher.

DONDI, the second graffiti legend to grace the 5 Pointz EP, is also the first single of the EP.

Tellin About Anno Domini (trad.2) - 1986
His rise to prominence resulted in many of the graffiti styles we see today, and his techniques still inspire generations of younger artists. His signature style included readable lettering and even some more stylistic and abstract pieces, and he was known to hit up train cars, as featured in Pete's single artwork. Sadly, he passed away in 1998 from AIDS. The track opens with DONDI's own words as he comments on his search for a safe space to work without having his work erased and how he settled on the subway yard to paint his pieces. He states that his work naturally evolved from this need, and that he never had to compromise his artistic vision. Falling Down's triumphant beat kicks it into high gear as DONDI finishes his thought, and Pete gets it in with his perspective in life ("smile, you got it, flaunt it") and his observance of others who got it wrong ("too worried about their likes and their cash flow"). Cuban Pete's lyrical hammer comes down on social media fakes and phonies in this one.

Crazy Legs & Mr. Freeze at Common Ground, Manhattan
Henry Chalfont is the iconic photographer and videographer who rose to fame from his documentation of graffiti, breakdance, and hip-hop that took the world by storm. Starting out as a sculptor in the 1970s, Chalfont soon switched to the camera as a storytelling device and began his decades-long study of the hip-hop and graffiti culture. His track opens with his own learned wisdom of the movement, "it was only years later when I actually started to meet graffiti writers, and after I have taken a lot of pictures of it, did I understand from their point of view, that it was a voice, and more than just fun." The beat then steps into the fold, as a murderous track about the camera and surveillance system as it's being turned against us nowadays. Graveyard Shifter and Cuban Pete remind listeners that we are on the cusp of humanity's greatest fight, for our privacy and for our lives. Pete's chilling verse is all too real today as he raps "watch, people stop and stare, film the victim," and "Alexa the snitch can't save you, f*ck that b*tch!" Graveyard Shifter gets down and dirty with his verse as well, as he raps about end-times, war, secret bunkers, and what the elite have planned for the masses.

Futura, the fourth track on this record, got his start in the '70s tagging the New York City subways. Through the years, he has shown his work in galleries, and even collaborated painting live backdrops on stage for European punk-rock band The Clash, and even ventured into graphic design and album artwork. His signature graffiti style is abstract works, as can be seen here with him, and sometimes even futuristic looking art, which is fitting for his name. He states in his track his feeling of the world wide web and how after being well-received in Japan, the Internet made the world start to feel smaller and tighter knit with international communications. This track is the final Cuban Pete solo cut, and the beat is blessed yet again by Falling Down with an Eastern musical vibe baked into the synths. "Catch me mixing paintbrush with the pixels," Pete raps as he comments on his passions. "Me and the day job in showdown, guns drawn, never-ending battle, from dusk till dawn." Pete's resilience and perseverance shine brightest on Futura, and his end product is inspiring to say the least. DJ Erex takes Pete's vox and spins and scratches them to a satisfying conclusion.

The final song on 5 Pointz features the "Godfather of Graffiti", as SEEN is known. His fame is credited to his use of bright lettering, cartoon characters, and bringing the movement to the doors of commercial art galleries. He has since opened a wildly successful tattoo studio in New York, and still to this day creates brilliant mixed media (paintings, sculptures, etc.). He describes the adrenaline rush of painting and the therapeutic effect of creating art, something that we covered in our Essay #3 last week. We get a trio of hip-hop legends in this one: Karnage Ca$hman and B. Dvine join Cuban Pete in this final number, and they rap about what they've seen in their years in the hip-hop game. Pete reminds that there's No Wannabeez Allowed. DJ Erex makes some final scratches, "I seen the gimmicks, the wack lyrics." Karnage delivers a verse about the disgusting wack emcees who should quit before it's too late or else receive the 5 Pointz in the form of his fist. B. Dvine repeatedly hits hard with all the weak rappers and the life's struggles he's seen.

Cuban Pete's latest release works on multiple levels, and the sum of its parts takes it onto a higher plain than most hip-hop releases today. Together, with Falling Down, DJ Erex, and his guest emcees, Cuban Pete crafts the ultimate love letter to graffiti artists everywhere and successfully combines his two life's passions.

5 Pointz EP - 9/10

Recommended Tracks: Henry Chalfont, Futura, Seen