Friday, March 23, 2018

Curly Castro & Zilla Rocca Are GRIFT COMPANY, Release Mafioso Rap Single "Billy Batts" & Announce Collaborative EP (Wrecking Crew)

"Zilla Rocca" is, at this point in time, a name even casual readers of the pages here at The Witzard should almost instantly recognize and readily associate with dope output. I think it's safe to say, I've covered nearly every Zilla/Zilla-related release since 2016's Anything I Touch, I Bruise Vol. 2: The Superior Foes of Zilla Rocca, as well as a gaggle of Bandcamp loosies and Soundcloud stand-alone singles. To my knowledge, Zilla Rocca has at least three (announced) projects currently planned to be released throughout 2018: Thieving As Long As I'm Breathing - a Career Crooks Remix EP with Small Professor, his '90's Hip-Hop-flavored mixtape/"street album" '96 Mentality, and a proper solo album quite cleverly entitled Future Former Rapper; all of these, featuring a who's-who of friends, affiliates, and fellow Underground Hip-Hop rappers and producers, largely included within Zilla's on-going Spotify playlist series, Otherground Vol. 1-3. Last night, to my surprise and gleeful bewilderment, I received a Bandcamp Notification email regarding Curly Castro & Zilla Rocca Are GRIFT COMPANY's "Billy Batts." Lest we forget, Zilla & Curly are, in fact, effectively, one half of long-standing East Coast Hip-Hop collective Wrecking Crew along with PremRock & Small Professor.

"Curly Castro & Zilla Rocca have talked on the phone everyday since 2010 and have played countless venues across America. When not in WRECKING CREW with Small Professor & PremRock, together, they are GRIFT COMPANY," reads GRIFT COMPANY's mission statement included along with "Billy Batts" on Bandcamp. "Billy Batts," of course, being a Noir-Hop lyrical reference to William "Billy Batts" Bentvena AKA William Devino, a New York mobster with family ties to John Gotti, as portrayed in Henry Hill, Jr.'s book Gangsters and Goodfellas: The Mob, Witness Protection, and Life On The Run, as well as Martin Scorsese's iconic 1990 Crime film, GoodFellas. Zilla Rocca told The Witzard, via email: "It's a quick EP we're dropping really quickly. Probably 6-7 songs max. Mostly produced by me," in regards to GRIFT COMPANY's upcoming collaborative EP. "Castro has his long-awaited sophomore LP TOSH coming this year and I have a gang of records on deck, too, but I wanted people to know [Wrecking Crew's] still a unit, since I've been doing more work lately with Small Pro and [Curly's] been working more with the New York guys, like Armand Hammer, Willie Green, and PremRock," Zilla further detailed. GRIFT COMPANY's debut EP should be released within about two weeks, while PremRock & Fresh Kils' new EP Poet's Payday is currently available online and Career Crooks' Thieving As Long As I'm Breathing Remix EP will soon be released on URBNET.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Zowiso Frontman John Hollander Talks Dutch/ Wormerpunk Scene, Digital Discography Re-issue & 3/4/18 "Reunion" Gig (The Witzard Interview)

Noordhollands Dagblad:
Festive reunion of Wormerpunk
By: Rob Hendriks (Mar 4 2018)

"In the early 80's a number of Wormerpunk bands put the village on the music map. The music scene had become sluggish and commercial record companies dictated the market. "Do it yourself" became the motto. Back to the original form of pop. Start a band, make your own record, and party with your audience. Two old Wormerpunk groups—Zowiso and The Sox Pistels 3.0—made Sunday afternoon into a nostalgic punk party in a packed room of De Groote Weiver in Wormerveer.

They had come from near and far, the fans and volunteers of the first hour with gray hair and grooved heads, but with the indestructible punk vigor of solidarity, creativity and disobedience. At that time, 'The White Villa' in Wormer was the beating heart. There are the roots of The Ex, Svatsox, De Kift, and many other bands. 30 years later, The Ex is still busy there.

Musicians of long-gone Wormerpunk bands have found each other in The Sox Pistels 3.0. "A fine mess," says singer Marcel Meijer (former NV Le Anderen.) Together with second singer Peter Verdam (former De Groeten) and bandmembers dressed in neat jackets, the "Pistels" produced a delicious set of old punk classics: "Search and Destroy," "Captain Kirk," "Revenge," "Guilty," and a hypnotic "Psyche." Songs not longer than one and a half minutes. In front of the stage dancing ladies with daughters and nodding heads beyond in the room.

The band Zowiso stopped in 1986 after four records and 150 gigs at home and abroad. The group was praised for its distinctive style and charismatic singer, John Hollander. In 2006, there was a one-off performance in Switzerland, where drummer Aad Hollander still lives. The group was going to play one more time at a private party in Wormer, but the interest was so overwhelming that this extra performance was added.

"Really crazy that they are here! I was a big fan of this band and they are all friends of mine," says visitor Frank Kelvinator enthusiastically. "We joined the bus to Switzerland as fans. That was when I also met my current wife."

This will be the last performance anyway. Apart from Wormer Rick Veken, the other three bandmates live in Switzerland, Limburg, and Leiden. The men have always been friends and have rehearsed only once. But here the advantage of the experience in the primeval line-up counts. The music is still in every fiber and the performance is solid like a rock. The band plays powerfully and with a lot of passion. Singer John Hollander sings and declaims from deep within. Again, the dancing ladies. The room is completely going wild. A successful Womerpunk reunion," via Noordhollands Dagblad.

I. How did Zowiso initially form any why did the band break up back in 1986? You stepped in as frontman around 1981 when your brother and one-time singer Aad recruited you, "as singing became more important," correct?

John Hollander: You're correct. The other members, especially Aad, knew that singing always had and has been my second nature, so it was obvious that they asked me to fulfill [the] role as [the] singer in their band. From it's formation in 1980 until it's breakup in 1986, there hasn't been any conflict or friction between any of the band's members at all. Rick only pulled the plug, first, due to a lack of musical inspiration; soon, the other members followed.

Because we started as friends, there was no reason to replace any of the members; so, finally, we ended up in the same formation and no reason to continue. Soon afterwards, we seized other opportunities in life. Only Aad was determined to pursue his musical road single-mindedly across the Swiss borders.

II. What prompted Zowiso to reunite for a "one-off" show in 2006 followed by a house show soon after and again, just a few weekends ago, Sunday, March 4th, 2018?

JH: The "one-off show," as you name it, was actually, Aad celebrating his 40th birthday party to express his love for his former beloved bands. So, he was just harking back to the days when he played with his befriended band members in all different bands, until 2006.

The reason for us to join twice this year was also for birthday reasons. Alda, Aad's Swiss partner, asked us to play for an inner-circle gig in a café in Wormer together with friends from Switzerland and Holland. We couldnt refuse this birthday present.

As many excluded people found out about this exclusive gig, we soon became aware of the fact that so many fans would be very disappointed, when they could not join us. So, Aad organised a second, more "official," gig in a cultural centre called De Groote Weiver in Wormerveer [North Holland]. It finally became an unforgettable reunion together.

III. How would you best describe Zowiso's overall sound for fans just now being exposed to your music upon the re-release of At a Jogrot to Death, Sloop De Stopera, Beat Per Minute, and The Lust on Spotify and like-minded digital retailers?

JH: It's very hard to describe our sound. We made all different kinds of sounds within a few years of evolutionary time. We never played Punk music, as a so-called "Hardcore" Punk band does. We always tried to sound different from all the other local and international Punk bands; although, we were certainly influenced by bands, like Gang of Four, The Zounds, The Clash, and even closer influenced by early songs of our befriended band, The Ex. Eventually, (as we sound on the album The Lust) we created a more unique Zowiso sound.

IV. How exactly is Zowiso's name pronounced (phonetically?) Your own website even goes as far as to describe Zowiso as "a band with a name too hard to translate and even harder to give a sound explanation."

JH: Phonetically spoken, it is "zo·wee·so." It means "anyway," although, it's not written precisely this way in our Dutch language. It is etymologically derived from the German language, but in fact, it has the same meaning. Because we needed a name for our band, anyway, we named our band "Zowiso."

V. Since Zowiso's 1986 disbandment, what have yourself and fellow band mates Aad Hollander, Eric Bakker, and Rick Veken been up to, both professionally and personally?

JH: Every band member proceeded according his plans, wishes, and possibilities. Aad moved to Switzerland and is still very active with different musicians and bands. Eric moved from the Amsterdam area to an area around Maastricht [Limburg, Netherlands] and is still settled in Maastricht. Eric is working for a printing company and hes also working as a visual artist. The dominant theme of his artistic works is basically, the impermanence of everything.

There was no artistic follow-up in the lives of Rick or myself. Rick's doing property management for his job and I'm working as a claims manager for an international operating construction company in the legal, insurance, and contract management department. Besides [that], I travel around the world as much as possible. Until now, I visited more than 120 countries for cultural and wild life reasons and still, have a lot of travel wishes left. I [often] remark that I do not travel for business reasons at all, only in Holland.

VI. What were some of your greatest sources of inspiration and influence (aside from Jimi Hendrix's "Hey Joe") while writing and recording At a Jogrot to Death, Sloop De Stopera, Beat Per Minute, and The Lust?

JH: It's not very easy to indicate, precisely, [where] our inspirations came from because we all had our own favourite bands and singers, at that time. Except for Aad [and I], we [all] grew up with different parents with their favourite music. We had some contemporary favourite bands, like The Zounds, Wire, Stiff Little Fingers, The Clash, and Gang of Four. Beside [those], there were some local Dutch Punk bands we liked.

VII. What might you site as one of your personal favorite, most enjoyable, or most memorable gigs from Zowiso's initial run of 150+ gigs? Why?

JH: Although, it's not very easy to name some the most memorable gigs, our tours in Switzerland and our Miners Tour could hardly [have been] bettered. During these tours, we played and traveled with members of The Ex and some other local bands. The cohesion of the people between these bands was incredibly good. It's even one of the best group atmospheres I have experienced in [my] lifetime. We had great fun together and everyone could rely on a contagious sort of energy. I [would] also like to mention the surprising energetic responsiveness of the audience, during these tours. In retrospect, it’s still very heartening to experience such kind of [responsiveness]. Our fine cooperation with the befriended bands as subscribed, together with the fact there was an audience for our values and convictions, felt like a creation out of necessity.

VIII. Which Zowiso songs/release do you personally, think have aged best and why?

JH: Although, most of our subjects in our songs are really out-of-date now, probably our song "Mailbox," about losing your privacy is still a topical issue. It may also be [accountable] for the song "Testtube Treat," about genetic engineering.

IX. From your perspective, how has the Dutch/Wormerpunk scene grown, digressed, or simply, changed since Zowiso's initail 1980-86 reign?

JH: It is not very easy to explain why, especially, [because] the village Wormerpunk scene just developed so rapidly and finally, digressed. It certainly, has not one only demonstrable cause. For sure, the presence of a distinctive squatted White Villa (Villa Zuid)—inhabited by some members of The Ex and Svätsox—played a particularly important role in the rise of Wormerpunk history.

Although, all successes have many fathers, the presence of an eager, young, and politically and musically interested do-it-yourself (DIY) scene in Wormer contributed in various ways. I am confident that easy access for musical start-ups for youth with less musical experience, also, gave a significant boost to this growth. Besides a great Dutch network of youth centres, the presence of an unofficial alliance with the "squatting movement" also helped bands to reach some musical goals; especially, the benefit concerts were great resources for experience. As it was also easy to launch an independent record label, press some records, and organise our own record distribution, we managed to create many invitations to play on several stages in Holland and eventually, also abroad.

In 1986, we lost interest, as well and much of our creativity. Besides [that], the attitude of the movements we cooperated with changed a lot. By then, many other bands in Wormer already split up, except for the band The Ex, who succeeded to re-invent themselves time after time. Some other musicians continued and became professional musicians and are still nowadays. Most of the others found a job or started a study. The "squatting movement" collapsed, due lack of support from the Dutch society, especially, and a more violence approach to reach their goals.

X. Not unlike your 2006 reunion show, Live In Helsinki Klub - Zurich, was your Sunday, March 4th show recorded "to tape?" Also, is there any new Zowiso material currently in-the-works?

JH: I'm sure our gig in De Groote Weiver is recorded in some ways. A lot of people made videos and I already received one recorded song placed on YouTube. Probably, more songs will follow, when they're edited. Rick collects all the releases, so you best ask Rick for further details about these recordings.

* EDITOR'S NOTE: When I recently reached back out to former Zowiso bassist Rick Veker for further comment, he replied, "So far, I didn't receive any other tapes or videos."

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

The Mobbs' Joe B. Humbled & Cheadle Re-emerge As "2-piece Maraca-driven Rhythm "N" Roll" Band GoGo Loco (The GoGo Loco Twist EP)

As you may well remember, The Witzard published a comprehensive 2016 interview with The Mobbs' extremely well-groomed frontman Joe B. Humbled to coincide with their fourth album, PIFFLE! on Dirty Water Records. Back in 2016, The Mobbs released PIFFLE! as well as a companion beer brewed by Hart Family Brewers fittingly deemed Pale & Interesting. I hadn't heard much from The Mobbs' drummer and general manager/press contact/booking agent Cheadle since late 2016, but still, assumed The Mobbs were together and actively working on their fifth studio album; however, this past weekend, I got an email from Cheadle, which read, in part: "Hey Matt! How are you doing? I'm sure you already know, but The Mobbs are no more... but before you get too upset, check out GoGo Loco, our new project!" The Mobbs quietly announced they were "gone" at the beginning of March with bassist The Bishop having announced his departure from the band for personal reasons. Effectively re-branding themselves as Cheadle GoGo & Joe Loco, The Mobbs' Cheadle & Joe B. Humbled have almost immediately returned to form as GoGo Loco.

Self-described as a "2-man maraca-driven Rhythm & Roll band," GoGo Loco have adopted a new sound that's a little more shaken, than stirred, as opposed to The Mobbs' more refined and gentlemanly brand of Garage Punk/Rock "N" Roll. Northamptonshire-based online magazine New Boots, who very recently interviewed Joe Loco, have deemed GoGo Loco's unique brand of groove-inducing music as Trash-Rock and readily compared their debut EP, The GoGo Loco Twist, to that of The Cramps' storied catalog. I would personally liken Joe Loco & Chadle GoGo's sound to Garage Punk/Surf Rock/Rockabilly—or as their Bandcamp puts it, "Trash Blues Rock "N" Roll"—with sonic benchmarks comparable to Iggy & The Stooges, New York Dolls, or even Elvis Costello & The Attractions. GoGo Loco's frantic 4-song debut EP, The GoGo Loco Twist EP, is currently available to stream or download on their newly-launched Bandcamp page. Joe Loco recently told New Boots, "if the battering down of doors happens, we hope to do a pressing in the form of a 7-inch vinyl EP" later in the year. Joe was "humble" enough to provide some additional commentary on GoGo Loco's The GoGo Loco Twist EP, exclusively for The Witzard.

"It was time to put to bed the monster that was The Mobbs. We'd had our fun and had quite a long run at it (nearly 10 years, to be precise.) GoGo Loco has been simmering in the pot for a little while now. Brendan AKA "The Bishop" handed in his notice in late 2017, which gave Cheadle & I the kick up the bottom we both needed. There is only so far one can go writing in a certain style, parading around in cravat and waistcoat and pretending to be a member of the Punk Rock gentry.

GoGo Loco is all about the rhythm, the beat, and the groove. Suddenly, we have the freedom to really get back to the primal routes of [Rock "N" Roll] with semi-abandon to technique and structure. Cheadle picked up the maracas in one of our early sessions, so we decided to stick with this, as it just works so well, in conjunction with the trashy/groovy feel—pealing from the strings of my 1960's Hofner guitar. We're huge Bo Diddley fans, so with this element and other similar influences that have been effervescing for so long, we're very happy and excited to be able to present to the world our 2-man rhythm and dance machine!"

- Joe Loco (GoGo Loco)

Monday, March 19, 2018

DJ Ragz & Oddisee's Good Company DJ Unown Join Forces for Scrumptious Pasta & Wings Beat Tape (Common Good Records)

Last we heard from Los Angeles-based Common Good Records, they were gearing up to release Drtysoap's festive beat tape, MERRY CHRITHMITH and if you'll remember correctly, co-founder The Ologist AKA J.D. actually, sequenced and arranged Mitchell Kezin's Mitchell's 'SOUL SISTA' Holiday Mix for The Witzard. Following the releases of Te'Amir Sweeney's Tiger Breaks 7-inch and brother Tutu Sweeney's "Party In The Ghetto" B/W "Walking Forward" J.D.'s When Crates Create imprint folded and quickly joined forces with Jason McGuiness' LA-based Analog Burners to collectively, form Common Good Records. Now, Common Good Records are back with their first proper release of 2018: Unown & DJ Ragz's Pasta & Wings, described as "a concept project with a 90's era Hip-Hop instrumental vibe that finds Unown handling the beat duties on the MPC and DJ Ragz cutting up on the turntables." Pasta & Wings is currently available on cassette in get this... either Marinara Sauce Red, Alfredo Sauce White, or Two-Cassette Pack (Colors: Alfredo & Marinara) although, there are limited copies available—but have at it because I already got my Marinara Red tape! Pasta & Wings is currently available for pre-order from Common Good Records. However, tomorrow, Tuesday, March 20th, Pasta & Wings will become available on Amazon Music, Apple Music, Bandcamp, Spotify, and like-minded digital retailers. 🍝 🍗

DJ Ragz is a world-class DJ and producer, who has issued a number of beat tapes, battle records, and solo releases, dating as far back as far back as the early 90's, with his most recent being his Inside The Crates mixtape on now-defunct When Crates Create. Unown, on the other hand, is a DC-based DJ, engineer, and producer "currently traveling the world and rocking stages on the MPC as part of Oddissee's band, Good Company." Both men are long-time members of DC-rooted Hip-Hop crew Jazz Addixx, along with MC MUDD, who have worked with K-Murdock, Oddisee, Primo The Cinematic, and stmic. Prior to Pasta & Wings, Unown (then, 'The Unown') & DJ Ragz released a 2009 album together entitled DC Airways. For Pasta & Wings, DJ Ragz recently told me, via Instagram Messenger, he and Unown adopted an entirely new recording style, wherein he "recorded doing passes over the whole track, cutting, repeating samples, adding effects live in layers, [etc.] Then, Unown would keep the parts he wanted in and Delete the rest." Essentially, DJ Ragz didn't know what the final mix of Pasta & Wings would sound like, until Unown finished his parts, as well. "We're excited to let everyone know, we're gonna make a lot of these things," DJ Ragz exclaimed, making reference to their similarly-minded food-themed endeavors to be released on Common Good Records.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

DJ Muggs Recruits Everlast, Damian Marley & 'Special Guest' Meyhem Lauren for Re-recorded House of Pain "Jump Around" (25-Year Remix)

"I did this beat in my aunt's garage... before I gave the beat to Everlast... I tried to give it to Ice Cube, B-Real, and Special Ed an' they all passed on it," DJ Muggs told Genius concerning his beat, which would ultimately, end up being House of Pain's 1992 break-out hit, "Jump Around." House of Pain's initial incarnation was active between 1991-96 and has re-formed a number of times over the past 26 years, both as part of 2004 est. Hip-Hop super-group La Coka Nostra and Cypress Hill-helmed music and graphic arts collective, Soul Assassins. As legend has it, DJ Muggs approached his Cypress Hill bandmates, who passed on his Bob & Earl's "Harlem Shuffle"-flipping instrumental, but suggested he pitch it to their "brother band," House of Pain. "We were like, 'give it to the white boys,'" Cypress Hill emcee Sen Dog recounted to Mike "DJ" Pizzo during a 2016 interview for cuepoint. Said "white boys" being Everlast, Danny Boy, and DJ Lethal, who would, of course, go on to become Rap-Rockers Limp Bizkit's long-time DJ. Like many white suburban youth, I can honestly say, I'm almost 99.9% sure, my first exposure to Hip-Hop was House of Pain's "Jump Around," as prominently featured within the couch-jumping "party scene" in 1993 blockbuster Mrs. Doubtfire.

Now, to celebrate the 25th anniversary of "Jump Around," as well as St. Patty's Day Weekend, complex has premiered a 25-Year Remix of "Jump Around." Meticulously re-recorded from scratch for the occasion, DJ Muggs flipped the same four notorious samples: Jr. Walker & The All Stars' "Shoot Your Shot"—sampled a whopping 66 times throughout!—Chubby Checker's "Popeye (The Hitchhiker)" Josten's Military Publications' "Sounds of Basic Training," and how could we forget that squalling intro horn sample lifted from Bob & Earl's "Harlem Shake." DJ Muggs invited House of Pain emcee Everlast back for the occasion, as well as Damian Marley, and 'Special Guest' Meyhem Lauren for his commemorative "Jump Around" (25-Year Remix.) "I had a blast re-making "Jump Around" with Muggs 25 years later," Everlast recently told Complex. "And the fact that Damian Marley and Meyhem Lauren are part of the the new record is icing on the cake!"

Lest we forget, "Jump Around" previously yielded remixes from Hip-Hop heavyweights Pete Rock and DJ Bizznizz, as well as a 12-inch "Master Mix" from Grandmixer Muggs himself. "I had to celebrate one of the biggest songs in Hip-Hop history with a re-record to commemorate this classic," DJ Muggs ecstatically explained. "And to have the legend Damian Marley, a new verse from Everlast, and Queens' finest Meyhem Lauren, just made it a classic all over again." DJ Muggs' "Jump Around" (25-Year Remix) is currently available on streaming services, as well as Soul Assassins' online store in a number of different formats: Deluxe 12-inch - Irish Flag, Deluxe 12-inch - Rasta Flag, and Deluxe Digital Single with main, instrumental, and acapella versions, as well as commemorative "JUMP AROUND" 25 YEAR REMIX T-shirts and hoodies.

Friday, March 16, 2018

3 Feet High & Rising: Brett F. & ZIPRHED of Off The Meat Rack Talk Cold Rhymes Records Debut It's Not Okay (The Witzard Interview)

Lord Finesse braggadociously rhymes: "as long as the beat phat, my sh*t'll be off the meat rack" on Handsome Boy Modelling School's "Rock and Roll (Could Never Hip Hop Like This) Part 2 / Knockers" from Dan The Automator & Prince Paul's 2004 album, White People. Unbeknownst to Lord Finnesse, that very line would go on to inspire Mike "ZIPRHED" Mattox and Brett "Brett F." Fullerton to form their own genre-eschewing Hip-Hop group, fittingly called "Off The Meat Rack." While It's Not Okay is Off The Meat Rack's proper full-length debut, it's far from ZIPRHED & Brett F.'s first time working together... but I'll let them get into that. Lyrically, ZIPRHED's delivery personally, reminds me of a stylistic mix between Atmosphere, Darko The Super, and "Clint Eastwood"-era Del The Funky Homosapien; while beat-maker and producer Brett F. honestly, has a style unlike anyone else's beat-chopping style I've ever heard before, effortlessly sampling "House of The Rising Sun," Mazzy Star, Placebo, and PJ Harvey. Off The Meat Rack's It's Not Okay is currently available to stream, download, or purchase on cassette from Cold Rhymes Records. If you would like to learn more about the formation of the group, making-of the album, and much, much more, scroll down to read a comprehensive 12-question interview with Brett F. & ZIPRHED.


Matt "The Witzard" Horowitz
Hip-Hop/Cry Rap Enthuiast

I. Would you both mind briefly getting into you separate musical backgrounds?

Brett F: When I was young, my parents put me in piano lessons. I wasn't really into it. I stuck with it for a while. I wish I would've stuck with it. I really got into Underground Hip-Hop in the mid 90's; early middle school through high school. My senior year is when I really started wanting to get into making music, but never really [jumped] the gun and did anything about it. Fast-forward to the early 2000's: I met Mike [ZIPRHED] through my younger brother. One day, he hit me up and asked if I wanted to play keyboard in a Hip-Hop group he was starting [called] Oral Punishment. I was definitely down. We played some shows recorded a couple songs and then, the group broke up. Half the group moved to Cincinnati and the other part stayed in Michigan. From there, I started teaching myself how to use DAW's and how to use different types of beat machines and continued making music ever since!

ZIPRHED: I've been playing cello since age four. Also, picked up piano in high school and college, but never really mastered. I can play, though. I started rapping in high school but just freestyling at parties and sh*t never actually writing songs. My homie, Ian AKA Nameless Face got me into Underground Hip-Hop, when I was 18 and he was the best emcee I had ever heard. He really inspired me to start trying to writing raps. So, I wrote my first Rap song in 2004 when I was 20. Didn't have a beat, nor any knowledge about bar structure. I started Oral Punishment in Kalamazoo, MI with Choreboy AKA 20mg; I went by Cerrated C-SECTION (yeah, I know it's spelled wrong, but Google wasn't prevalent in '04 and by the time I found out, it was too late.) At that time, he played bass and piano. We added our homie, Dennis on drums and Thomas Gray on coronet and guitar.

We recorded four songs on a 1-track tape recorder. We hung a microphone from the ceiling of Choreboy's basement and all stood in a circle around it and played live. It was pretty inaudible, but we didn't know any better. In 2005, I followed the love of my life to Ann Arbor, MI and shortly after, Choreboy moved in with me in Ann Arbor. We reformed Oral Punishment. Choreboy was using live drum programming, playing synth, and piano. We got booked for a Basement Punk show with The Manginas and needed another piano player. I knew Brett played piano from seeing a piano at his house, so I taught him the parts an hour before showtime and he was officially in Oral Punishment. Afterwards, we added Brett's brother, Nameless Face as the other emcee and DJ Frate-One on the 1's and 2's. in 2008 Choreboy and I moved to Cincinnati, Ohio. We decided to change our group name to 20ccs. Around 2012, me, Choreboy, and Grill Cheese started Unholy Trinity. Brett provided a lot of co-production on later 20ccs tracks and Unholy Trinity. When Unholy Trinity broke up in 2015, I was ready for something new.

II. How did your musical paths co-align to form Off The Meat Rack?

BF: Mike and myself have always made music together. Once he moved to Ohio, I would send him random beats. We put out a couple tracks together here and there. Then, a couple years ago, I went to Cincinnati for a music festival! While I was there, I brought some gear and we made "Self Medicated." From there, I would email Mike beats, he would pick ones out he liked, and write to them!

ZH: Brett came to Cincy for a music festival and we decided that we were going to finally take music seriously and start a group together... and Off The Meat Rack (OTMR) was born. We sat in my living room for an entire day and wrote "Self Medicated." I had wanted to sample "Meds" by Placebo for a long time because not only is it one of my favorite songs of all time, it truly is a really beautiful song with amazing lyrics. That's why I decided not to change the original lyrics that I sang in the chorus. The chemistry was so good that Brett just started banging out beat after beat and I started writing and we got our initial five songs done and started playing shows. That was the beginning of OTMR.

III. Would you mind briefly describing your "Cry Rap" sub-genre? How exactly did you go about coining and effectively, implementing it into your sound?

BF: I'll let Mike explain the whole "Cry Rap" thing. Cry Rap's his thing!

ZH: I started describing our music as "Cry Rap" because of the very sad content of all the songs; my struggles with addiction, teenage fatherhood, depression, and a very traumatic break-up with my girlfriend of seven years. A lot of the songs made me cry writing them and that didn't change when I performed them [live]. The bluntness of the term is for comedic effect because with every feeling, every situation being real it can be a lot for people to watch live. It's really nerve-racking crying in front of people, so I needed to cut the tension with roasting myself for crying. For the longest time, I did the whole "Bragging Rap" thing, which is cool, but definitely no longer where I was at mentally.

IV. What might you likely, list as your primary sources of inspiration and influence, while recording It's Not Okay?

BF: Biggest influences, I'd say for me, was Mike. Once we got some songs done, he started booking tons of shows. This really motivated me to keep making music. Plus, seeing the response we were getting from this material was awesome! I'd say, Mike was my biggest influence for this project.

ZH: First and foremost, my beautiful daughter, Annette, has been my inspiration my entire Rap career. Personally, Nameless Face and PTheEmcee inspired me to not give up on making music. While recording this album, I was listening to Lil Peep and Cage almost non-stop. Anytime a girl is referenced on It's Not Okay, it's referring to my ex-girlfriend. And of course, Brett's music has always inspired me because of his really sad synth style. He doesn't always bring that style, but he is the best that I know at it.

V. Now, what exactly do your artist names, Zipperhead/ZIPRHED, Brett F. and Off The Meat Rack mean or signify?

BF: My stage name stems from my actual name. Mike used to call everyone their name, but would always say their last initial. It just kinda stuck! I put out an instrumental project under "Pusha Breaks." I had someone I really look up to in the Detroit music scene tell me to stick with my real name. I went back to Brett F. We got the name Off The Meat Rack from a Lord Finesse line.

ZH: I'm glad that Brett acknowledged me for coming up with his artist name (lol). Me, Choreboy, and Nameless Face called him Brett F. because it was funny and we love nothing more than to roast Brett. "Zipperhead" is my response, as a second generation Korean American, to the casual and generally accepted use of racial slurs against Asians in popular culture; from that S&M shop in Philly to the main character in the video game Bio Freaks, "Zipperhead" was used and no one batted an eye. I'm not mad, I'm just taking it back. "ZIPRHED" is my homage to "Trap Star" by Young Jeezy.

VI. How did you come about the about choosing the album's title, It's Not Okay, as well as the primary cover image?

BF: I'll let Mike explain. The first imagine that he wanted to use, I said no.

ZH: I came up with It's Not Okay because after shows people would always ask me, if everything was okay... and I'd be like, "nah." It kinda became the re-occurring theme of all the songs. The cover image was the spawn of a selfie project I started when we released our first run of T-shirts. My good friend, Eleanor (@ElliePB48) took an amazing selfie that I wanted to use, but the image was too small, so she re-created her original selfie with a hand tie-dyed Off The Meat Rack T-shirt. It was a perfect image and sincerely explained our entire album.

VII. What do you currently have planned for Off The Meat Rack's It's Not Okay roll-out? Are there any particular plans for a tour, singles, a vinyl version, music videos, etc?

BF: Plans for the album: we definitely plan on doing a couple short tours this year! Tapes and digital downloads. Video is in-the-works and will be shot in the next couple weeks.

ZH: The cassette release of It's Not Okay is available now through the Cold Rhymes Records Bandcamp and in-store, if you live in Cincinnati or Detroit. We will be doing album release shows in Cincy and Detroit next month. We also, have a tour with our friends, LIQUIDx420 in the Fall. Also, planning on doing a short run in the Summer, as well.

VIII. What exactly was the It's Not Okay writing/recording/producing/mixing/mastering process like? Did you two record everything in the studio together or was it done via email, Jaylib Champion Sound-style?

BF: A lot of the album was written by me sending beats to Mike. Some of it was beats I had just sent to him, others were songs he sent me to sample. The recording was all done in Cincinnati. We had some issues with the first recording and mastering. Mike re-recorded the whole album and then, Height mixed and mastered the project.

ZH: The recording process was a very long one. We started recording last year. Height Keech hit me up six months ago, after hearing our tour demo and was all-in on releasing the album through Cold Rhymes Records. That lit a fire under my a$$ to stop casually recording and really get the album done. Many technical issues later, we are here, today and my first album EVER is complete!

IX. How did you end up linking up with Height and his imprint, Cold Rhymes Records to release It's Not Okay?

BF: I think Mike had booked a tour date for Mister and Mister linked Mike up with Height! I still have not met Height, only talked to him, via email. I can't thank him enough, [though] for helping us put this [out] properly. Mike can explain more on the subject!

ZH: I met Height Keech through our mutual friend and Cold Rhymes Records label mate, Mister. Height was doing a "Round Robin" tour, where he brought three acts and each city brought three acts and we set up three stages in a circle and went song-for-song non-stop. It was a pretty amazing experience. Height came through Cincy again, on tour last year, and I gave him a copy of our demo and the rest is history.

X. Are you able to talk about the samples used and re-purposed throughout the album or is that off-limits? I know I personally, recognized a few particular sample sources on "So, How Have You Been?" and "Another Day."

BF: I like to sample Classic Rock and overseas Psychedelic Rock! I won't get into most of the samples. Some are very popular Classic Rock songs, there's one or two that people will guess, but probably never get. Some of the songs I sampled, Mike wanted me to sample, others were songs I sampled and Mike just happened to like. The Mazzy Star sample, Mike picked. It was one I really didn't want to sample. We were in Mike's living room and I started to sample it. [Yung] Debbie was there, when we started writing it and asked Debbie, if she wanted to be on it. When I'm sampling, sometimes, I purposely pick songs that everyone will know what it is. Other times, I grab stuff off records that an average person would never know what the Hell it is.

ZH: I wanted to used "Meds" by Placebo, "Happy & Bleeding" by PJ Harvey, and "Fade Into You" by Mazzy Star because they are some of my favorite songs by my favorite song-writers. I don't know about the rest. That's all Brett.

XI. How did you fellas and the good people at Cold Rhymes Records go about deciding which tracks to release as singles, prior to the album's wide release?

BF: With the singles we dropped, we knew "Happily Bleeding" was gonna be the first release. It's are most popular song, when we play live. We really can get the crowd to participate on the chorus. The second song that we released, I think had to do more with Dan [Height] and Mike. I really didn't care what was released first. I just wanted to get this material out for everyone to hear!

ZH: "Happily Bleeding" was the obvious lead single choice because that's the hype song when we play live. The dedicated Off The Meat Rack fans in Cincy all know the deal and sing along, so we had to do it. It's also known as "The Off The Meat Rack Song." "Broke(n)" is the most personal song that I wrote on the album. It was the first song that I was unable to play without crying. So, naturally, it was the second single because it embodies the aesthetic of "Cry Rap."

XII. Would you mind introducing The Witzard's readership to Eugenius & Yung Debbie, featured on "It's Not Okay" and "Faded Out," respectively?

BF: Mike can explain more on the features. I know this, [though]: Eugenius is one of the dopest emcees I know, personally. I met him through Mike and had saw him perform a few times in Cincinnati and once in Detroit. He KILLED it here. I was extremely happy Mike got him on the record. Debbie, Mike had talked about getting her on a song and I was totally down. She's the frontwoman for a band named SlutBomb and she's also the lead singer in another Punk band called The Waterheads! There's a little bit more of an explanation on Debbie in Question #10.

ZH: Eugenius is an amazing musician, singer, song-writer, and rapper. I met him through my homie, Ploughshare when I first started booking my own shows in Cincy. He's been in some pretty big bands his whole life, but was just starting to rap. So, I booked him and was blown away by the highly-emotional lyrical content and insane energy of his live show. Eugenius is, hands down, the best rapper in Cincy! We've been talking about doing a track together for a few years and one day, Brett made the perfect beat and we wrote the title track, "It's Not Okay." Eugenius also did co-production of four of the songs on the album. Forever grateful for him! Yung Debbie is the singer of SlutBomb and The Waterheads, two of the best Punk Rock bands in Cincinnati. Debra was my roommate, so while Brett and I were writing "Faded Out" at my house, I wanted to use specific lines from [Mazzy Star's] "Fade Into You" without sampling Hope Sandoval singing, so I asked Debra, if she could do it and she KILLED it.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

UllNevaNo & Norfolk-based Producer MANHE Return with Third #SHAMMGODWEDS Single "FIGHT KLUB POOL TABLE" (Week 3/8)

Baltimore emcee UllNevaNo has returned with his first quasi-"release" of 2018, an 8-week project unofficially titled the #SHAMMGODWEDS series produced by Norfolk, VA-based MGNTK. affiliate MANHE. Following last year's Jumbled-produced The Ghost of Len Bias EP on Harford & Reckord Tapes/MGNTK. RSRCH, #SHAMMGODWEDS will be Neva's first proper "full-length" release of 2018. Not unlike The Ghost of Len Bias EP and Ohbliv-produced "WRK." this weeks' #SHAMMGODWEDS release, "FIGHT KLUB POOL TABLE" keeps right in line with UllNevaNo's on-going series of basketball-themed rhymes. "On this particular record, Neva pays homage to a culture that made him who he is as [an] artist today and that's battle rap. Even though he hasn't battled since 2010, UllNevaNo still loves the sport and tuning into leagues, such as King of The Dot Ent. (KOTD) and Ultimate Rap League (URL)" UllNevaNo wrote within a recent press statement.

@ullnevanohiphop promises: "5 more weeks, it's only gonna get better," referring to the remainder of his 8-week #SHAMMGODWEDS series on Twitter. His fourth MANHE-produced single will drop this upcoming Wednesday, March 21st with Week 8 to be released April 18th. #SHAMMGODWEDS Weeks 1-2, "DARRYL DAWKINS" and "CHECK ME OUT," are both currently available to stream on MGNTK.'s Soundcloud. MGNTK.'s recent and upcoming releases can either be streamed or downloaded at their label-encompassing Bandcamp page, as well. Last year, MANHE joined forces with MGNTK. sharp spitter Yung D' The Pilot for their fittingly named collaborative PILOT x MANHE EP, which is currently available on Apple Music, Bandcamp, Spotify, TIDAL, and like-minded digital retailers.