Sunday, May 21, 2017

Jarv & Thief - "The Boiler Room"

As we approach the halfway point of 2017, this right here remains my personal pick for Best 802 Rap Album. Beats & rhymes are rock solid over the span of 21 tracks. It's also fun to listen to. Is there anything else you could really want from an album?

The chemistry really works and these two should have started on the sequel by now.

Jarv will be performing in Burlington at the Sidebar on Friday, May 26th. Sidebar is a small spot with superb beers and they've finally figured out their sound system - go check it out.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

VIDEO: S.I.N.siZZle - Never Scared

This is the first video off S.I.N.siZZle's latest album, Winters in Vermont. This was shot by Trezise Productions and holy shit, does it look good. Cinema grade product, bud. The beat is a cold, mournful banger and Mr. Instant Classic laces it up right - clearly laying out the theme for this project and his goals as an artist.

For mammals with fast internets, I'd recommend watching this on Vimeo.

You can catch Winters in Vermont streaming on Spotify or purchase that puppy on iTunes.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Humble - "Premonition"

Bless the Child emcee Humble dropped a solo album outta nowhere last month, and hot damn, it is a solid piece of work. Thanks to a cool half dozen local producers -- and the mastering expertise of Zach Crawford, aka SkySplitter -- it nails the feel and sound of 90's rap tapes.

The big surprises on this album? Old Gold's long arc of beat tape experiments has really paid off. A number of the most impressive, future primitive bangers on Premonition are his. Humble's writing game continues to improve, too: check out his bars on Matchbook and, most especially, his monumental concept cut "I am America."

Overall, this is a great damn release and a big win for the Bless the Child / Anthill orbit, a crew that grows stronger every year.

(Should you feel that you need to read about this release even more, check out Seven Days. Got you covered, bud.)

Monday, May 15, 2017

Es-K - 05.15.17

Brand new beat tape from Burlington's Finest, Es-K. The man simply never stops moving. This is a continuous 22 minute set of head-nodding perfection.

Es-K is currently working on a million projects at once - expect more releases in 2017, including a few big surprises. (Large.)

Meanwhile, tune in on soundcloud.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Loupo - "Good Company"

The tag team of Es-K and Loupo have been racking up some serious accomplishments in the past year. Where Es-K's Building Bridges project plugged him into NYC's rap scene, Loupo's latest album covers very different terrain: wobbly, psychedelic jazz-hop experiments with a talented group of co-producers and live musicians.

This is much more than a beat tape. This is a serious album that will occupy your headphones for weeks.

Good Company was released on Melody Soul, a Baton Rouge based label with a great roster and a global rep. Loupo is already cranking on the next step, a collaboration he's calling "Noise Ordinance" -- more on that soon.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Mick Jenkins, 4/23 @ Higher Ground

Chicago rapper Mick Jenkins is coming through Higher Ground, which is interesting. He's touring in support of his 2016 album, The Healing Component, which was tasty, low-key, serious hip hop.

Also interesting: tickets are $18 and there is nobody else listed on the bill. Tough sell for a Sunday night, but Jenkins is a hell of a rhyme writer and live performer. For those of you with Dealer Dot Com money and an interest in high quality rap music, this is a guaranteed good bet.

More info: Higher Ground Listing | Mick Jenkins Website

Monday, April 3, 2017

B.P.M. - A Tribute to Ryan Morin

There's going to be an absurd amount of talent packed into Club Metronome tonight to honor the life (and music!) of DJ BP, aka Ryan Morin. Barely an exaggeration to say that everyone is on the bill this evening. No exaggeration to say it will be one of the most memorable shows of the year.

If anyone reading this is unfamiliar, this Dan Bolles piece on his passing is excellent. And true.

To top it off, all proceeds go to charity. Be there.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

VIDEO: Jarv - One Take Contest

Journalism demands that I do some research on what this "One Take Contest" is, but all that matters is that this is dope, right? Whatever this is, Jarv should win: this concludes my nuanced, carefully considered opinion. An entertaining performance with a hell of a strong finish.

If you want to vote & participate in this contest, do so via this official link. Dude needs a minimum of 300 "shares" on Facebook to qualify. The future is stupid, but hey, we're all stuck here.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Viva La Hop, Cultural Chemistry, Fresh Patterns, 3/11 @ ArtsRiot

One of my favorite BTV venues - the food! the people! the beer list! - will be hosting a damn promising bill next Saturday. The headliner is Viva La Hop, a Boston-based, Berklee-heavy nine-piece (!!!) band. They're a throwback act to the glorious days of acid jazz: killer rhythm section, a polished top end with keys and horn section, and even the whole "conscious lyrics" / "educate your mind" routine on the mic. Perfect for Burlington, in other words.

For local support, ArtsRiot are bringing the biggest & best outfit in town, Cultural Chemistry, an "802 supergroup" with a deep catalog. (And breakdancing.) Current lineup appears to be Skysplitter Ink on the beats, DJ Kanga on the 1s and 2s, and Learic, Mister Burns and Tha Truth on the mic; they're a dynamic posse so that is subject to change. Also, expect special guests.

Earlier in the evening, there will be performances from live hip hop crew Fresh Patterns, who held down Rusty Nail last night solo when Sophistafunk couldn't make it, and Bless the Child, always a reliable source of good vibes.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Boomslang, Free The Optimus, Maiden Voyage, 3/4 @ Charlie-O's

Here's a no-brainer for anyone in Washington County: two of the most entertaining hip hop groups in the state will be playing at Vermont's Best Dive Bar™ with North Carolina crew Free The Optimus. Hard to beat a guaranteed Saturday Night like that, yeah?

Boomslang has become a fixture of the Montpelier rap scene -- and that's a good thing. As co-founding members of local label co-op State and Main, they built that scene by hand in recent years. (Shouts to Mr. Yee & Tank, too.) They know everyone, they're gracious hosts, and they love to bring good music to the capital city. Maiden Voyage are a perfect compliment: just some talented country boys who like to party. This will be a loud, fun evening. NO COVER.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Sophistafunk w/ Fresh Patterns, 3/3 @ Rusty Nail

The upstate NY Moog Demolition Unit known as Sophistafunk will be rolling through Stowe's Rusty Nail on Friday evening. Sharing the bill will be Fresh Patterns, an interesting outfit that gets tighter with every show. Show starts at 9 pm sharp. $10 bill.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Es-K Makes a Beat On The Spot

Dope: watch Es-K's creative process in-studio, thanks to On The Spot Sessions. Captured during the long preparation for his recent album Building Bridges, Es-K is posted up at Pro Era Studios and happy to talk shop, as ever.

Es-K has a deep catalog and it's all dope - get started here.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Tonight: Loaf Muzik @ Higher Ground

Loaf Muzik | Cultural Chemistry | Higher Ground | February 23

NYC rap revivalists Loaf Muzik will be coming through Higher Ground to headline a heavy bill tonight. California beatsmith Jansport J will be in the building alongside Cultural Chemistry, Almattic, Self Portrait and live hip hop outfit cworner store (no caps, bud) is on the bill now, too. To top it all off, Colby Stiltz is confirmed & certified back in the 802.

More details/ticket sales here.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Get Familiar: Self Portrait

Photography by Colette Kulig

Self Portrait are days away from dropping their second album, Primal Union. This is a classic rap lineup with a lead emcee, a rapper/producer and a real live DJ tearing it up onstage. The new album showcases features from some of the hardest working people in Vermont hip hop, like Anthill Collective maestro Eskae, who juggles a couple hundred hats any given month. He shares a cut with SkySplitter, a prolific producer and one hell of a recording engineer, too.

These lads are embedded, in other words, a central hub of the new hot shit, and a home team a lot of folks are rooting for.

Primal Union is a big step for the Self Portrait crew, but they've been on the rise for awhile because they stay busy. Last year they were featured on the latest A-Dog Day compilation, the kind of honor that doesn't come lightly. Ringtone rap might be making money now, but albums still matter, and Primal Union is a professional product.

I got to talk with two thirds of the team about their sordid past, their violent beefs, and the upcoming HBO documentary. Dig it.

Thirtyseven: How did your crew come together?

RICO JAMES: Me and Trono met in 2007 while living in Plattsburgh, NY. I had just graduated with an art degree and Trono was still attending the college at the time. We hit it off immediately and started designing a clothing company, and writing rhymes together. This was before I even started making beats. I ended up moving to the west coast for a few years, so we continued to create long distance. I started making beats while living out west, so it was only right that we jumped back into the music when I moved back east to Burlington.

I met DJ Kanga through a mutual friend here in town, and we clicked immediately through our shared love of hip hop. I was blown away when I saw him scratch the first time. Right after we hung out, I hit up Trono and told him we gotta link up with this dude and get to work. I was amazed that Kanga hadn't been snatched up yet by another group. Dude is an unbelievable DJ. I sent him some of our tunes, while simultaneously reaching out to some people trying to book a show. We booked our first show in Sept. of 2013, and have been rockin' together ever since.

Thirtyseven: Has your songwriting process changed over the years?

TRONO: The songwriting has changed as my style and Rico's style has changed. Rico has taken a lesser role in rhyming, but when he does, his flow is on point and his one liners are hilarious. He has come a long way building a confidence you can find in his verses.

I have tried to develop my skills by being more concise. My thoughts need to convey the point that I want while also becoming one with the beat. I allow - encourage - beats to take me over, to lead me down the path. Emotions and what the instrumental pulls out of you are what need to be put into words. I need to explore that however possible with pin point exactness when translated onto paper. Its a ever growing process, forcing me to learn myself and to learn from others.

RICO JAMES: The process for the group as a whole is pretty simple. My main focus is the beats. I make the beats for the crew, so we start by sending a batch of beats to Trono. He picks and chooses the ones he likes and can get into and starts writing. I give Trono complete freedom to write whatever he feels. He usually comes up with the concepts and I just step in lyrically wherever it is needed. Trono is the lyricist of the crew. He is the true writer. I like writing rhymes for fun, but he is the true talent with the pen. After we get our songs all layed out, we send rough mixes to Kanga to add his magic.

Thirtyseven: How did you wind up with such an awesome cover?

TRONO: We discovered the artist, Evan Book, through another VT hip hopper that goes by Mycelium MC. He put us on to his work and I knew it would be a perfect fit for our album art. We had the album name, Primal Union, picked out for about a year and knew that was going to be the next album name. We had the concept that we wanted, with the cavemen in a cave listening to records by a fire, have Trono eating another emcee, etc... We through it out to Evan Book, told him the basic idea, and he absolutely killed it. His style works perfectly with what we wanted and had imagined for the album. He is a super talented artist, and everybody should hit him up on FB and check out his work.

Thirtyseven: Approximately how rich and famous do you plan on becoming on Feb. 24th?

TRONO: As rich and famous as I was the day before.

RICO JAMES: I'm hoping for a crispy $20. Will hit those dollar bins hard.

Photography by Colette Kulig

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Loaf Muzik w/ Jansport J, Cultural Chemistry, 2/23 @ Higher Ground

Loaf Muzik | Cultural Chemistry | Higher Ground | February 23

Higher Ground will be hosting one hell of a hip hop show next week as young NYC crew Loaf Muzik touch down in BTV for the first time. If you're into that raw, hungry, high-energy live show type rap, this is your ticket.

Also on the bill: Jansport J, who is touring in support of his excellent instrumental album p h a r a o h.

The local support end of the operation is on point, too. 802 supergroup Cultural Chemistry will be representing along side Almattic, Self Portrait, and ... Stiltz Gang. I'm hoping that means Colby Stiltz is making a return appearance. All Ages.

More details/ticket sales here.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

General Steele & Es-K - "Persistence"

Last year, Vermont producer Es-K released a world-class album called Building Bridges in collaboration with NYC rap legend General Steele of the Boot Camp Klik. Since then, their project has been racking up spins around the planet - actual radio spins of actual 180g vinyl, too.

Like any independent artist with quality product should, they've been pushing it hard ever since. This Cisco directed video for "Persistence" features VVS Verbal & Louie Skaggs and a whole lot of Green Mountain panoramic beauty.

The team at Bucktown USA have just released a followup bonus, the Building Bridges Cypha, which features 17 emcees going in on a theme. Maiden Voyage madman Jarv is included in the roster, fresh off tour with RA the Rugged man and joining the Royal Rumble here at lucky number eleven.

Rounding out the 802's contribution is Crusty Cuts on the scratches. All power to the DJs; the world needs more scratch breaks.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Milo w/ Elucid, 2/20 @ ArtsRiot

Created in Chicago, Milo started in Maine, wound up in Wisconsin, looped through LA for awhile with the Hellfyre Club and did one hell of a lot of touring in between. His shows are enjoyably weird, his beats often superb, and he will be at ArtsRiot on a Monday night.

Elucid is a god level rap writer. "Save Yourself" was one of 2016's best albums, and he took a hard left on his equally excellent followup, "Valley of Grace." Having him come through Burlington is very rare, very based.

Back in 2015, billy woods came through Nectars with Curly Castro and PremRock on a Monday night. There were not a lot of people there, but the music was fucking outstanding and the drinks were both delicious and affordable. Don't pass up the opportunity for that kind of luxury.

To sweeten the deal further, Adeem's new band/project Adam and the Flood will be opening up the evening. Getting Elucid on an off night is a big win for a small city, and that crew has been on a long tour. ArtsRiot is one of the best venues in the state, too. Go celebrate longer days.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Loupo - "Letters" ft Stephanie & Max Bronstein

Loupo has already given us two tasty albums of jazz-heavy instrumental hip hop - 2014's Transitions and his 2015 followup Enigma. Late last year, though, he released Moods, an experimental & expansive EP that was heavy on heady remixes. Clearly, he's been doing some growth as an artist, and it sounds like his next album will be a big statement.

On February 25th, he will be releasing Good Company through soundcloud collective MelodySoul. He's kicking off the countdown with "Letters," a single featuring Stephanie on the vocals & Max Bronstein on some slick & meticulous guitar. It's pretty clear Loupo isn't content with just banging out beats, he's aiming to become a full-on, real-deal, Quincy Jones ass producer of dope music. "Letters" is a carefully calibrated, lush track. This album should be pure flames if this here is any indication.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Jarv - "Slack-Jaw"

Jarv has had a busy 2017, leading off with his album The Boiler Room -- (reviewed here, TL;DR it is quite damn good.) You can listen to and purchase that puppy right here, right now.

This video was shot in Windsor, Vermont by Ben Kennedy. The Boiler Room has no shortage of singles, but this one definitely captures the vibe. The album is heavy on funky, and nothing about that is bad.

Back from a tour with R.A. the Rugged Man, Jarv has recently been featured on Bucktown USA project, the Building Bridges Cypha. (More on that soon.)

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Hip Hop At Monkey House 1/19

3rd Thursday presented by Anthill Collective is going down Thursday January 19th at The Monkey House in Winooski, VT featuring Self Portrait, Forest Gray, Mycelium MC, Loki and DJ Kanga. Music starts at 9PM with a cover of $3 for those 21+ and $8 for those 18+. A great night of Hip Hop in the Onion City!