Thursday, May 31, 2018

ALASKA & Lang Vo's WORDS HURT Return with Punk/Hardcore-minded THE ATTITUDE EP Inspired By Circle Jerks & Sun Kil Moon (Bandcamp)

THE ATTITUDE EP is the latest release from ALASKA & Lang Vo's group, WORDS HURT. Although, it consists of 9 tracks, the EP only clocks in at just under 11:30 with the longest track lasting a frantic minute and 55 seconds. As many of you may remember, Lang Vo, actually, mentioned WORDS HURT's then-unnamed EP within The Witzard's December 2017 interview with both ALASKA & Lang: "I think, this time around, we were mostly dealing with fresh-ish material, on both ends. We actually made a whole EP and were going to release it for fun, but scrapped it and started over and made SOUL MUSIC FOR THE SOULLESS. We are still going to release that EP for free soon..." As Lang Vo mentioned, WORDS HURT in fact, recorded THE ATTITUDE EP prior to their 2017 full-length, SOUL MUSIC FOR THE SOULLESS, and initially, intended to release it before or in place of the album. While you may not hear it right off the bat, THE ATTITUDE EP was interestingly enough, created with hopes of employing an oft-used Punk/Hardcore approach throughout a Hip-Hop/Rap album. Shout-out to ALASKA & Lang Vo for including actor Robert Romanus AKA Mike Damone's "ugly mug" on the cover of their Fast Times at Ridgemont High-referencing THE ATTITUDE EP.

"THE ATTITUDE is our attempt to experiment with the form. I was inspired by two vastly different works, when writing the album. The first was the Punk Rock classic, Group Sex by Circle Jerks; a 14-song, 15-minute masterpiece," ALASKA wrote within a recent fan club email blast. "I wanted to take the same approach: short songs, hook-heavy, short verses. The second was Sun Kil Moon's "Ben's My Friend," which was this perfect glimpse into middle age life and the mundane beauty of [it's] routine and everyday life," ALASKA continued. What Lang & ALASKA ended up creating, in the end, is really an interesting take on Hip-Hop and Punk/Hardcore, as well as a stark contrast to WORDS HURT's SOUL MUSIC FOR THE SOULLESS. It's honestly, great to hear two admittedly aging late 1990's-early 2000's Indie Rap vets, offer up their take on modern Hip-Hop mixed with classic Punk/Hardcore ethos. ALASKA & Lang Vo's "Odd Rap album," THE ATTITUDE EP, along with SOUL MUSIC FOR THE SOULLESS, is currently available to stream or download on WORDS HURT's Bandcamp page. ALASKA & PJ Katz's long-gestated collaborative effort, He's The PJ, I'm ALASKA is currently available to purchase on cassette from Pig Food Records, as well as nearly every digital retailer and streaming platform.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

The Witzard Premiere: Sulu & Excelsior's "The News Today" from The Tiny Desk Sessions/Eddie Romero (Slow Jam King Productions)

Although, they haven't released any additional material—aside from holiday single, "THE OVER UNDER"—since their 2016 debut, Eddie Romero, Sulu & Excelsior are still emphatically pushing the album, nearly two years later. I'm not exactly gonna get into it again within this space, but The Witzard & Steve "Sulu" Mallorca have worked extensively together on a wide array of unique content since Eddie Romero's 2016 release, including exclusive premieres, comprehensive interviews, Funk-tastic features, and much, much more. For those unaware, Sulu & Excelsior's sound has rather perfectly been described as something to the effect of "Johnny Mathis meets Mos Def meets Stevie Wonder meets Nat King Cole" or most recently, "a Hip-Hop version of Duke Ellington."

Listen If You Like: BadBadNotGood (BBNG) Beastie Boys, Durand Jones & The Indications, El Michels Affair, Jon Batiste & Stay Human, Mayer Hawthorne & The County/Tuxedo, OutKast, P.I.C. & The Roots. Sulu & Excelsior will be a playing a live set this Saturday, June 2nd at The Bitter End; Sulu and a slightly expanded Excelsior will go on at 8:00pm and the event is 18+ with a $10 cover. For those interested in attending, The Bitter End is located on 147 Bleecker St. NYC, NY 10012.

"When we decided to enter the 2018 NPR Music Tiny Desk Contest, we had so much fun that we actually, ended up filming a bunch of songs.... even though, we could only submit one," Steve "Sulu" Mallorca wrote within an emailed press statement. Sulu & Excelsior recorded a bunch of Eddie Romero tracks and ended up sending in a "miniature" version of "Up to You" as their 2018 NPR Tiny Desk Contest submission. "My initial gut reaction was to enter this song, "The News Today"—I just love that there are so many changes in the song and they vary from me rhyming to doing some Soul crooning to a big falsetto bridge and a piano solo," Sulu continued. However, Steve "Sulu" Mallorca took it like a champ, stating: "hard not to second-guess myself, since we didn't win the Tiny Desk Contest, but I think, the whole experience was great and the community they built is really supportive and filled with talent."

We, here at The Witzard, are ecstatic to be premiering Sulu & Excelsior's "The News Today" from what they've fittingly dubbed The Tiny Desk Sessions. For The Tiny Desk Sessions rendition of "The News Today," Sulu & Excelsior give it a bit more dimension and slightly different instrumentation than the original version. Eddie Romero is currently available to stream or purchase on Sulu & Excelsior's Bandcamp page in a number of assorted formats including: limited edition CD, "Up to You" B/W "Misery Luv" 7-inch single, and standard high-quality digital download. Shout-out to Sulu & Excelsior for shouting out both myself and The Witzard within the "Thank-You's" sections of the 7-inch and CD versions of Eddie Romero!

"The News Today" - The Players:

Steve "Sulu" Mallorca - Lead Vox/Keys
DJ Mas - Turntables, Back-up Vox, Melodica
Bernard O'Reilly - Bass
Twig Charity - Guitar
Hotel Podell - Tenor Sax
Moat Caitlin - Alto Sax
Cybernetiko - Percussion

Video/Audio Crew:

Camera Operators: Colin Rivera, Jaclyn Amor & Jean-Baptiste "J.B." Sankara
Editor: Steven E. Mallorca
Audio: Adam Charity, Masaki Yamagata & Hiroaki Nishijima

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Brownout's Guitarist Adrian Quesada Speaks On Public Enemy Instrumental Covers Album FEAR OF A BROWN PLANET (The Witzard Interview)

Not only is guitarist, keyboard player, multi-instrumentalist, and producer Adrian Quesada one half of newly-minted Karma Chief/Colemine Records Deep Soul signees Black Pumas, he's also, one of the founding members of Brownout. An 8-piece Latin Funk group hailing from Austin, Texas, Brownout has Soul/Funk/Breaks ties to like-minded ensembles such as GRAMMY-winning Grupo Fantasma, Blue Noise Band, and The Blimp. Brownout lists drummer/percussionist John Speice, percussionist Alex Marrero, bassist Greg Gonzalez, guitarist/keyboard player Adrian Quesada, percussionist Matthew "Sweet Lou" Holmes, guitarist Beto Martinez, trombonist Mark "Speedy" Gonzales, trumpeter Gilbert Elorreaga, and baritone sax player Josh Levy amongst its current members. I, like many music fans, I would assume, first heard about Brownout on an episode of Ozzy & Jack's World Detour last year entitled Texas Bloody Texas. Ozzy's son, Jack Osbourne, managed to track down the band, simply referred to here as "Brown Sabbath," at an Austin drive bar on weekly "Chicken Sh*t Bingo" night, which is exactly what it sounds.

After releasing two EP's-worth of material as Brown Sabbath, Brownout has temporarily hung up their Prince of Darkness-referencing moniker in an exchange for a simple proposition from Fat Beats label owner/founder Joseph Abajian AKA DJ Jab. "I thought their sound would work covering Public Enemy songs. It was good to know they were P.E. fans... we came up with a tracklisting and they went to work," Abajian further detailed within a recent press release. A few years later, Fat Beats is proud to present Brownout's FEAR OF A BROWN PLANET—a cascading, 12-track instrumental Public Enemy (PE) covers album delivered in a similar manner as El Michels Affair's 2009 full-album Wu-Tang Clan tribute, Enter: The 37th Chamber. Following a bit of digital sleuthing and Journalistic 'detective' work, I was lucky enough to get in direct contact with Mohammad at Fat Beats, Ryan at Press Junkie PR, and eventually, Brownout guitarist Adrian Quesada himself. I'm ecstatic to be presenting to you, a comprehensive interview with Quesada, largely focusing on FEAR OF A BROWN PLANET, as well as an album's-worth of original Brownout material slated to be released next.


Matt "The Witzard" Horowitz
Mash-up/Covers Connoisseur

I. So, Fat Beats' founder Joseph Abajian (@FBdjjab) initially approached Brownout with the idea to create and record FEAR OF A BROWN PLANET, correct? Now, would you mind telling us a bit about the album's origin story?

Fat Beats approached us at a show in Los Angeles. We had been coming off the Brown Sabbath thing, which went on for a few years and were working on an album of original music. We were, also, about to release an EP with a sort of tongue-in-cheek title: "Over The Covers." Fat Beats had the idea, we were set on continuing with our original music, but the idea was too good to pass up.

II. How did you guys approach re-recording the tracks to be included on this album? I would image it was tough to make them sounds close enough to the Public Enemy originals to be recognizable, but different enough to sound distinct and original!

It was extremely daunting to start the album. The original songs are such masterpieces, technically and emotionally, that there was no point in trying to just make carbon copies; they also, aren't just based off one sample, a Soul tune or whatever, they are dense soundscapes that are harmonically and melodically all over the place. That's also, not easy to do with live instruments. We thought we'd strip it down to the core and build from there. I imagined what it would be like for The Bomb Squad [PE's production team] to have bands from their source material—i.e. Kool & The Gang or The J.B.'s—in the studio and what that would sound like.

III. What was the extent of Brownout's involvement in the creation of DJ Eclipse's "Fear of a Brown Planet Mix?" How did you feel about hearing Brownout's re-creations paired with Public Enemy's original vocals?

Eclipse ran with it on his own! We had very little to do with it. He absolutely KILLED IT! You can tell how much time he put into it, very detailed and all killer. It completely blew our mind to hear what he did. Gave me goose bumps to hear [it] with the vocals.

IV.How did FEAR OF A BROWN PLANET's recording sessions differ from Brownout/Brown Sabbath's previous Black Sabbath covers albums?

Brown Sabbath was more about rehearsing the music ahead of time and arranging it before we went into the studio with FEAR OF A BROWN PLANET, we stripped it down to the core sample, laid down some grooves to tape as a rhythm section, and then, built it back up. Some were meant to be horn features as instrumentals, some keyboard freak-outs, and some soundscape.

V. What was your typical recording/composing process like and how many time did you (honestly) listen back to Public Enemy's Fear of a Black Planet and other relevant albums, while recording FEAR OF A BROWN PLANET?

Typical recording process was listening to the originals, then, putting them away and studying the samples. We jammed for hours on simple grooves, sometimes, adding changes, but sometimes, piecing an arrangement together, after the fact. Then, I would listen to PE over and over again to pick out the nuance of the samples and how they played off each other, the accidental artifacts and sounds that happened.

VI. What, in your personal opinion, was the most challenging part of recording FEAR OF A BROWN PLANET?

Making something people would recognize, but making it our own.

VII. Who else, in addition to Brownout's stand members, worked on FEAR OF A BROWN PLANET? According to the album's press release, Run The Jewels' long-time touring DJ, DJ Trackstar contributed "turntable scratches," correct? I'm guessing, he's featured on "Trackstar The DJ (Terminator X) to The Edge of Panic," right?

Yes, Trackstar made an appearance on the record. We had a slew of guests: Kelly Finnigan from Monophonics, The Soul Supporters, Shawn Lee, keyboard player Peter Stopschinski, and many more.

VIII. Brownout has already released full-album re-creations consisting of material from both Black Sabbath and Public Enemy; however, who else might you fellas like to re-interpret on similarly-minded albums in the near future?

To be honest, at this point, that's not really anything we've discussed. We're having fun with the PE stuff right now and how to perform it live, but also, starting to plan for our full-length of originals.

IX. Do you currently have any immediate plans to perform studio or live versions of any of the album tracks with emcees or singers?

We are embarking on a West Coast tour this Summer and will have a few guest emcees live.

X. What's next for Brownout/Brown Sabbath and any of your assorted side-projects? I've recently heard rumblings of an album consisting of original Brownout material slated for 2019... is there nay truth behind these rumors?

Brownout is mixing an album of original music right now. It's a little more epic and Psychedelic. Heavy on the vocal tunes with singer Alex Marrero being featured more as lead singer than our previous group vocal-heavy approach.

Friday, May 25, 2018

"Rolled Gold's Healthy A$$ Breakfast" Beat Tape Features Emcees O.H.M. Visto, Uncle Crimson, Reef The Lost Cauze & KAANG (self-released)

Rolled Gold's Healthy A$$ Breakfast is the latest release from Philly's finest producer, multi-instrumentalist, and beat-maker Harry Metz AKA Rolled Gold. It's equal parts salty and sweet and although, it's a concise one-track beat tape with "a quick 8-minutes of #flysh*t," Metz delivers an everything pretzel-esque blend of Old School Hip-Hop, Boom-Bap, Trap, 808 drum fills, and Soulful R&B. Stylistically, falling somewhere in-between an instrumental EP and a re-mixtape/blends album, Rolled Gold's Healthy A$$ Breakfast consists of 100% original material made up of assorted song scraps, unfinished takes, left-over, acapellas, remix snippets, etc; "each beat is made from live recordings of instruments played by Rolled Gold's friends, family, and himself, of course, and they all run into the next in a cohesive, somewhat "day in the life" [field recordings] manner," an emailed press release further specifies. Rolled Gold's Healthy A$$ Breakfast includes features from—in order of appearance—O.H.M. (@rapperOHM,) Visto (@MrVisto,) Uncle Crimson (@UncleCrim,) Reef The Lost Cauze (@LostCauze) & KAANG (@KaangGrooviin,) as well as The Nite Owls, his own Soul, Jazz & Soundtrack Music duo.

Rolled Gold and friends, essentially, created original Soul/Funk/Jazz/Hip-Hop instrumentals with the intent to sample themselves. Harry Metz, then, took unused acapellas from the aforementioned emcees and singers, Chopped & Screwed their acapellas, flipped his own instrumentalist samples, and meticulously sequenced said samples into one continuous 8-minute beat tape/original mix. For the remainder of 2018, Rolled Gold plans to serve up a few more scrumptious beat tapes, including lunch, dinner, and (maybe even?) dessert-themed EP's. For fans of Madlib, The Alchemist, Adrian Younge & Venice Dawn, J Dilla, and noname & Smino-affiliated producer Cam O'bi, Rolled Gold's Healthy A$$ Breakfast is now available to stream or purchase from Rolled Gold's treat-laden Bandcamp page. Rolled Gold's next release will likely, be his Career Crooks "Clock's Ticking" Remix created along with fellow Philadelphian Wino Willy, to be featured on Zilla Rocca & Small Professor's Thieving As Long As I'm Breathing remix album coming to Toronto-based imprint URBNET this upcoming June 13-14th.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

All-around Breakdown: Harvey Cliff MC Breaks Down Critically-acclaimed Strangers On A Train EP with Steel Tipped Dove (Cassettes Now Available!)

Harvey Cliff MC is a rapper, producer, singer, stand-up comedian, graphic artist/designer, and self-described "poetic polymath of vibrations, stimulations, and alternate universes," seemingly hailing from Kentucky. He's been recording and releasing his own unique band of Nerdcore Rap/Psychedelic Hip-Hop since 2015 on V-Neck Records and at some point, made his way to New York. There, he met eccentric Brooklyn-based music producer and recording engineer, Steel Tipped Dove. Harvey Cliff MC & Steel Tipped Dove first met at the now-defunct Bar4 in Brooklyn "back in the late aughts," as Cliff puts it. "He's one of the nicest and humblest dudes I know. I've been wanting to release something with him forever, so glad that it finally happened," he enthusiastically continued. Harvey Cliff is, of course, referring to his April 2018 released 8-track collaborative EP with Steel Tipped Dove, dubbed Strangers On A Train (SOAT.) Not unlike Cliff's past V-Neck solo releases—HELLO AGAIN/COME ON IN double-EP and A Midsummer Night's Siamese Dream—the SOAT EP was recorded, engineered, mixed, and mastered by Steel Tipped Dove at Quarter Two Nine Studios in Brooklyn, which sits directly above the once-legendary dance and night club, Southpaw.

Harvey Cliff told The Witzard over email that he keeps a sketch book full of people he regularly draws on the train, while en route to Quarter Two Nine, which ultimately, ended up directly inspiring the concept behind Strangers On A Train. Steel Tipped Dove has previously worked with Hip-Hop heavy-weights, like Armand Hammer (billy woods & ELUCID,) Astronautalis, Kemba FKA YC The Cynic, Lakutis, mc paul barman, PremRock, Quelle Chris, scallops hotel AKA milo, and Third Man Records emcee SHIRT. Harvey Cliff MC, on the other hand, runs his own label imprint, V-Neck Records—which includes other group projects he's involved in, like Pretty Goslings with DJ Tommy Mizzla', Art Theevz, and Hoju Magic Band—and was recently featured within a Bandcamp Daily column entitled The Best New Hip-Hop on Bandcamp: April 2018. Harvey Cliff was kind enough to provide The Witzard with an exclusive track-by-track breakdown of Strangers On A Train, which you can read in all of it's unedited glory down below. Strangers On A Train is now available to purchase or stream on both Bandcamp and Soundcloud, as well as limited edition laser-etched Mystery White cassette tapes. Harvey Cliff MC & Steel Tipped Doves' Strangers On A Train tapes will become available at 12 midnight Thursday, May 24, 2018, along with complimentary SOAT Instrumentals."


Matt "The Witzard" Horowitz
Hip-Hop & Train Enthusiast 🚂

1. "Legacy"

"[Steel Tipped] Dove is not stingy with his beats because he makes hundreds a month. Regardless, I'm sure he had Pusha T in mind, when he sculpted this banger, but as soon as I heard it, I cried like a baby. "Why don't you give me beats like this!!!?" I screamed. I assumed SHIRT or Lakutis had already laid claim to it. Instead, he just looked at me, laughed and said, "OK, I just made this beat two minutes ago, you want it, it's yours." At which point, I got super-nervous 'cuz I had no idea what I was going to do with it. However, the lyrics bubbled up the longer I marinated on it and the track came together in one take. I'm happy for Pusha to hop on the remix, [though]! Holla!"

2. "Proper Contest"

"This track was one of the first I ever made with Dove around four years ago, when we first met. I think, I have at least 10 versions of it; I loved the lyrics, but hated my delivery. Ultimately, I settled on a quiet growl, since my straight voice clashed with the murky cosmic slop that's swirling within. This is the closest I'll ever come to dropping something that sounds like an MC 900 Ft. Jesus track—for those that don't know, peep "The City Sleeps" and you'll hear what I'm talking about."

3. "Ghost Drums"

"Once [Steel Tipped] Dove and I had agreed to work on an exclusive album together, he sent me this beat and said, "I can imagine you over this one" and the pressure was on. If someone hears you before you hear yourself, it can be very intimidating, but once I had the chorus, everything else fell like dominoes. The second part of this track was a separate track we'd been working on, but when I suggested to Dove that they might gel together, he worked his usual wizardy and merged it, like magic."

4. "You Should Learn How"

"I was a struggling, snotty-nosed kid from Kentucky spending one of his first sweaty studio sessions at Quarter Two Nine Studios. Dove had loaned me some beats to write rhymes over and I had just wasted 30 minutes of his time working on a track that was just awful stuff. It was Experimental, I'll leave it at that. Had Dove ever let on what hot crap I'd just dropped on his mic, I probably, would've packed up my notepad and never returned. Instead, he said, "is that all?" and I meekly said, "I wrote rhymes for one other track." As soon as he pressed Record, I was so nervous, I jumbled all the words and it came out sounding ridiculous, which is why you hear me laughing, at the beginning. That's Dove looping the track back, like nothing ever happened and laughing along in the background. Then, that studio magic happened; always indescribable and I nailed it in one take. Dove said, "I'd f**k with this." We never spoke about that first song ever again lol."

5. "Hydro" [-feat. Fletch Allday]

"This track is amazing!!! Total lightning in a bottle-type sh*t!! One of my old school homeboys that sat in the back of class with me in high school talking YO! MTV RAPS everyday had come up from TX to NYC and hit me up. We met over by Barclays Center and were getting our drank on, when he said, "let's go hit up your boy [Steel Tipped] Dove at his studio" and luckily, Dove was home chilling. He made this beat right in front of us and we were wildin' like, "daaaaaaaamn" and then, asked if Fletch wanted to hop on the mic. He started telling a story I had totally forgotten about—in my mind, it wasn't McDonald's. I remember it being Steak 'n Shake, [by the way]—and while the beat was rocking, I found rhymes that matched the energy of the track perfectly. His country flow needed to be on this album and it's the perfect "Side B" fire-starter for the cassette."

6. "Buzzcut" [-feat. Zran]

"I guess, every rapper gets nostalgic, when they write rhymes. The song lyrics I'm singing at the beginning were from a buddy of mine's Punk band he formed in the 90's. I always had one of their rehearsal demo tapes and I loved the track, "Buzzcut." Naturally, it reminded me of my experimental days searching for surreal life experiences. The story about me and my buddy streaking a bowling alley is 100% truth. Sh*t happened in slow motion; one moment on top of the world and exhilarated, then, just at the moment we were to bust through the other doors to escape... instead, we slapped them like a bird hitting a window. Everyone was laughing. We could see the car-full of our friends dying laughing and my buddy was already halfway back running the other way, so I really got it bad. Fairly certain someone has a blurry pic of my white a$$ running back thru the bowling alley to escape."

7. "Crossing Streams"

"This was a beat I heard on one of Joe [Steel Tipped Dove]'s beat tapes and I wrote rhymes over it and brought it to the studio. He was like, "haven't I already released this?" So, I was a little nervous that he'd nix it, but he seemed happy with the layers I provided and it made the final cut. I kept replacing a lot of the original samples I'd used and eventually, realized I'd essentially, used all Ghostbuster samples for the track lol. I don't really think that's a bad thing, [though]. It fits the feel and aesthetic of the rest of the album."

8. "Quarter Two Nine"

"We needed on more track to finish the album and I felt it only appropriate to pull out a really old beat Dove had given me, when we first started working together so many years ago. I was heading over to the studio and thinking about what great memories I'd made and couldn't imagine my life in Brooklyn, if I didn't have access to such a cool and relaxed studio. When we were about to begin, I realized I had left my lyrics for the track at home. Joe said, "you've been doing this long enough. Let's just cut a demo and go from there." Needless to say, everything that we laid down that day remained. The only extra samples were from my [Kentucky] homeboy Ron Ron. He had gone to see Big K.R.I.T. that night in Louisville and had been drinking triple-pours of Jack. I think, we've all received blackout drunk voicemail message from our friends, but how many of us get the chance to put them to such good use? I don't think he will ever be leaving me another voicemail the rest of his days LOL."

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

The Witzard Premiere: MANIKINETER's Carl Kavorkian-directed "Rockatansky Memoirs (The Big Nothing)" Video [Cult Member Music]

As many of you may well know by now, MANIKINETER is the Noise-Rap side-project of Philly's very own emcee, producer, graphic/web designer, Noise-maker, and frantic one-man band Carl Kavorkian. We here at The Witzard quite honestly, can't get enough of MANIKINETER's beautifully aggressive Punk/Hardcore/Hip-Hop-melding output and luckily for us, Not As They Do EP is Kavorkian's third MANIKINETER release in just two short years. While we're ecstatic to be premiering the music video for "Rockatansky Memoirs (The Big Nothing)" here at The Witzard; however, a few especially tech-savvy fans might have already been able to piece together the clip's URL from a series of cryptic Instagram posts shared by MANIK|NETER (@manikineter) just this past weekend:
"new 4ideo soon.... -," "n3w video soon... hidden," "new v1deo soon.," "new video 5oon..... corridor," "new video 2oon.. /," and lastly, "new vid6o soon...... .html." "Rockatansky Memoirs (The Big Nothing)" is the second Dance-inflected Noise-Rap single lifted from MANIKINETER's recent Not As They Do EP, following quasi-precursory 'title' track, "Do As They Say." MANIKINETER's Not As They Do EP is now available to purchase or stream on Apple Music, Bandcamp, Soundcloud, Spotify, and like-minded digital retailers, along with 2017's Mannequin Eater and Missing EP's.

Not entirely unlike Carl Kavorkian's self-directed, written, produced, shot, and edited video for "Do As They Say," "Rockatansky Memoirs" is a rather stark, black-and-white clip arranged and animated together by the seasoned graphic/web designer himself. "Rockatansky Memoirs (The Big Nothing)" appears to be a reference to Max Rockatansky, the title character from the Mad Max series; Rockatansky was notoriously played by Mel Gibson in Mad Max, Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior, and Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome from 1977-85 and mostly recently, by Tom Hardy in 2015's six-time Academy Award-winning Mad Max: Fury Road. "Imagine Max Rokatansky AKA Mad Max with foot mashed on the gas, back pinned to the driver's seat, nearly floating over the dusty, wide open plains in his infamous Interceptor. After staring over the thinly dirt-coated hood and off into the distance for hours, his concentration starts to drift," Kavorkian explained to The Witzard, via email. "For 10 seconds, he loses all awareness of his surroundings—even, forgetting he's driving—and falls deep into thought about the nothingness that is his reality. Now, picture those 10 secs. stretched to 3 minutes and 28 seconds, set to music and paired with an animated collage-style video directed, filmed, and edited by Carl Kavorkian and you have "Rockatansky Memoirs (The Big Nothing)," he enthusiastically continued.

Conway The Machine & SONNYJIM Join Forces for Scrumptious Death By Misadventure EP (Daupe! Media/Shady Records/EatGood Records)

Conway is a Buffalo-bred emcee, Wrestle-Rap enthusiast, and one half of Hall N' Nash with his rapping brother Westside Gunn. Last year, both Conway FKA Conway The Machine & Westside Gunn and their Griselda Records (GxFR) imprint/roster signed an exclusive deal with Eminem's Shady Records/Universal Music Group. Following a string of critically-acclaimed releases and Wrestle/Rap-inflected guest appearances, Westside Gunn & Conway have temporarily "split" to issue a number of solo and collaborative releases: most recently, Westside Gunn's March-released, Mr. Green-produced FLYGOD Is God... All The Time EP and Conway's just-released, SONNYJIM-helmed Death By Misadventure EP. SONNYJIM is, of course, a UK-based emcee and producer whose name you may very well recognize from his recent collaborative outing with Chicago sharp-spitter Vic Spencer, Spencer FOR HIGHER. "Death By Misadventure sees Conway firing on all cylinders, bringing his hard-edged street cinema to perfectly compliment a platter of super-grimy soundscapes served up by SONNYJIM," Daupe! Media boasted within a recent press release.

Premiered late last week over at Passion of The Weiss, Conway The Machine & SONNYJIM's Death By Misadventure EP went on sale to the general public just this past Monday morning, but unfortunately, for most, as expected, Daupe!'s array of multi-formatted limited edition records and tapes SOLD OUT in a matter of minutes. However, Daupe! forewarned eager collectors and crate-diggers: "As usual, we can expect Bandcamp to crash, when the vinyl goes on sale; be at the ready to hit 'Refresh' over and over and over." I, much like countless fans world-wide, didn't get to score one of Daupe!'s blood-splattered plate-shaped vinyls... but they have conveniently uploaded Death By Misadventure in its entirety on Bandcamp on a unique Name-Your-Price basis. Conway & SONNYJIM's Death By Misadventure EP is, actually, a rather sparse, yet extremely satisfying affair: 4 tracks, 1 intro, 1 remix courtesy of Budgie, and 2 features from none other than Roc Marciano and SONNYJIM himself. Entirely produced by SONNYJIM—aside from Budgie's "Cristal & Cereal" RemixDeath By Misadventure was Mixed & Mastered By: Taharka (@taharkamusic) and Executive Produced By: The Purist (@ThePurist) with a characteristically gory, blood-stained Cover Illustration Designed By: The Obscurist (@obscuristworks) and Design & Layout from Mr. Krum (@mr_krum).

Monday, May 21, 2018

Career Crooks Return with "Crook with a Deal" Single & Zilla Rocca Pens Beat-maker Bedrock #16 (URBNET/Three Dollar Pistol Music)

"I'm Zilla Rocca. I rap, produce, and write articles. I have my own Indie label, Three Dollar Pistol Music and put out music with my friends Curly Castro, Small Professor, and PremRock as our posse, Wrecking Crew. Me and Small Pro put out a group album as Career Crooks [last] year called Good Luck with That, where he did all of the beats, but I've been a producer, as well for 15 years. So, here's some of the most important albums to me, when I'm "behind the boards.'"

I. Handsome Boy Modeling School - So... How's Your Girl? (1999)

"I remember buying this album in 1999 and having no clue how any of these songs were made. I didn't start making beats for another three years or so, but this album never left my conciousness. [Dan The] Automator is one of my all-time favorite producers because he bounces between genres effortlessly, from Serge Gainsbourg stuff with Lovage, to Sci-Fi Fantasy Robot sh*t with Deltron [3030], to the first Gorillaz album, to Dr. Octagon stuff, which is really bizarre and brilliant. He made me want to wear 20 different hats and aliases. In my entire Rap life, I've been in at least 10 different "groups," which I say loosely because most of them were just funny names me and someone else came up with to do something specifically bizarre; but Handsome Boy had Trip-Hop, hard lyrical sh*t, funny skits, and Experimental Proggy stuff. My dream is to, one day, make an album like this because you have to empty out every single trick in your arsenal, call in every favor, and have huge balls to attempt to make an album like So... How's Your Girl?"

II. J Dilla - Donuts (2006)

"I went through a heavy Soul/Funk/R&B phase all in the name of chopping up samples from like 2005-08. This was the dawn of music blogs, so I'd visit the same 5-10 sites, which were posting rare 45's. I'd also, go digging at the library or hit up the homies and we'd trade files of samples on our hard drives or I'd buy stuff on a whim, hoping there'd be gems on there. I started noticing how much meat was on the bone with Soul and R&B records—like, I would find a sample someone, like Kanye or Pete Rock flipped, then, another section of the same record that Jake One flipped. It made me realize the cheat code embedded in those kinds of sounds and why most of the best Rap beats ever made are built off those genres. Dilla mastered that on Donuts, obviously, and it's the best beat album ever 'cause most of the samples are Soul records. Plus, he made it okay to make chops that didn't line up, like pieces of a song that didn't fit together; he made that still feel right, even though, it was "wrong," if that makes sense."

III. The Clipse - Hell Hath No Fury (2006)

"This album made me fully realize how simple great beats are. I ended up catching a video of Marley Marl years later, where he re-created all of his biggest hits and how they had like, five sounds total: kick, snare, hi-hat, sample, and 808 bass. Maybe, he would add in a shaker or a separate drum break for extra thickness, but it helped me realize that less was more. And Hell Hath No Fury is that idea, but for the Cocaine Rap boom of the mid-2000's. Pharrell was definitely channeling Marley, [Boogie Down Productions], and Ultramagnetic [MC's] with those sparse arrangements. "Ride Around Shining" is perfect. "Hello New World." "Wamp Wamp." "Mr. Me Too." It's like the anti-Neptunes or N*E*R*D album—it's gritty, but modern 'cause they were still using keyboards and software. There's probably one or two samples total on that album, but it has a very haunted vibe to it—a hard trick to pull off with all live instruments."

IV. Wu-Tang Clan - The W (2000)

"A few years ago, when we made Wu-Tang Pulp, we patterned it after this album. It's the last true masterpiece of RZA production. When I flipped "Careful Click Click" as "The Boxcutter Went," I had to re-make that beat and construct it as "RZA," which gave me a chance to be in his headspace. It made me realize how he mastered unorthodox beats—like he and Prince Paul's M.O. is, "I'm going to take the weirdest, most outlandish sound or record and turn it into something great." The W is full of that: the drum fills on "Redbull," the beat switch on "The Jump Off," them rhyming straight over Isaac Hayes on "I Can't Go to Sleep." "Hollow Bones" is one of the best songs with no drums. "Jah World" sounds like it was recorded on VHS or something. It's such an impeccable example of RZA, before he became a full-fledged musician/director."

V. No I.D. (Cocaine 80s) - NO ALBUM

"I always forget that No I.D. is a Top 5 producer for me and I'm reminded every time I re-play the homie Trackstar The DJ's Primetime: A Rap Fan's Guide to No I.D. From his forgotten solo album from the late 90's, Accept Your Own & Be Yourself (The Black Album) through JAY-Z's 4:44, he manages to somehow, be a classic type of producer, who flips samples with hard drums, but then, does Cocaine 80s and Vince Staples albums. He's like water. "Success" is the best JAY & Nas song. "Ghetto Dreams" is the last real Common BANGER. "Loco-Motive" is the last real Nas BANGER. "Metal Lungies" for Ghostface [Killah] with Sheek [Louch] & Styles P is pretty much, the birth of Wu-Block. And that's the same guy who did "Find Your Love" for Drake and "No Love Allowed" for Rihanna without completely switching up to being a Pop producer. He made an entire JAY-Z album with no club songs on purpose—the amount of respect and work you have to have put in to make JAY-Z agree to create like that is no joke. I love No I.D. because he doesn't have a defined sound; he's completely in service to the artist and the song. I feel like that's been my approach as a producer, too."

"I robbed DOOM for his motherf***in' Green Card.
I robbed Blueprint for his damn keytar.
I'm a crook with a deal.
Ayo, the bottom line is I'm a crook with a deal.
Nobody buys records, so I rob and steal.

I caught B. Dolan, his pockets were swollen.
I stuck Mega Ran for his Nintendo controllers.
I had Karma Kids takin' off their sh*t.
I need a new suit, so I robbed Warren Britt."

- Zilla Rocca on "Crook with a Deal" (Career Crooks)

Last year, South Philly emcee, producer, occasional music writer, and Noir-Hop/"Cheesesteak Rap" originator Zilla Rocca (@ZillaRocca) joined forces with long-time friend, frequent collaborator, and Wrecking Crew producer Small Professor (@smallpro) to release Good Luck with That as Career Crooks; undoubtedly, one of the strongest rapper-producer albums I've had the pleasure to hear in recent years. Career Crooks have since released an exclusive Bandcamp-only companion EP entitled Take What's Coming. Zilla has since released a lyrical armory of solo stand-alone singles and non-album tracks, a few of which, were premiered right here at The Witzard. Just this year, Zilla Rocca has let loose a hard-hitting remix of DJ Manipulator & Conway The Machine's 2016 single "2 Drums," "98 Avirex Flow," and "99 Triple 5 Soul Flow" on Three Dollar Pistol Music.

Not only those, but Zilla Rocca recently unleashed his inaugural GRIFT COMPANY EP alongside long-time friend and collaborator Curly Castro. However, Zilla isn't exactly done just yet... he and Smalls are currently prepping a 12-track Career Crooks remix album dubbed Thieving As Long As I'm Breathing coming to URBNET this upcoming Thursday, June 14th. Said Career Crooks remix album will feature brand new mixes from both Zilla Rocca & Small Professor, as well as John Morrison, Fresh Kils, Wino Willy & Rolled Gold, Shane Great, and DJ Manipulator. Zilla additionally, plans to release a 90's Boom-Bap-inflected mixtape called '96 Mentality, as well as a long-overdue solo album he's calling Future Former Rapper.

Friday, May 18, 2018

TT5BR Releases Limited Edition "SYR R" B/W "HL R" 12-inch from 2017 BB PB/Beastie Boys Paul's Boutique Remix EP (The Witzard Interview)

"Paul's Boutique was and continues to be a mysterious object, definitely, more than a just record. By now, everyone knows that when it came out in 1989, it wasn't the follow-up people expected, after Licensed to Ill; an opportunity for the Beastie Boys to weed out the real fans from the rest. To this day, Paul's Boutique is the Beasties' album we know [the least] about. At the time, they did only a handful of interviews, between television and magazines. Even the photographs from that period—mostly, shot by Ricky Powell—are not that many. Still, the record was light-years ahead of it's time and even if the whole sampling approach is similar to De La Soul's contemporary 3 Feet High & Rising., it's success and reputation has only gown over time. Now, it is (rightly so) considered a unique masterpiece that could not be made today or probably, ever again. Maybe, it's because of the whole concept the Beasties put into the record—the cover, the tons of Pop culture references and samples, the lyrics on the sleeve that don't match the lyrics on the record, etc.—that it has become a "legendary" output and hasn't lost [any] of it's mysterious aura."

"On the contrary, it probably, continues to grow year after year. And it has inspired a bunch of people to go deeper, beyond the few known facts and even, get creative with it. There are not one, but two books by Dan LeRoy dedicated to everything about the record. There has been a limited comic book, ASK FOR JANICE, by Jim Mahfood (Tank Girl, Web of Spider-Man,) and even, a Paul's Boutique - A Visual Companion to go along with the whole record. Turntable wizards DJ Cheeba, DJ Food & DJ Moneyshot created the "Caught In The Middle of a 3-Way" Mix, an amazing tribute to the record and it's samples. That's the same playground where this new, brilliant BB PB EP has been created. Who, how, why, and everything else you can read in the following interview..." TT5BR's BB PB EP (or Beastie Boys Paul's Boutique Extended Play) is a concise, yet extremely expansive EP full of 5 remixed, re-imagined, and alternate versions of The Dust Brothers & Matt Dike's multi-layered productions. It was pain-stakingly produced, composed, and arranged by TT5BR in a similar manner as the original 1989 recording, in an effort to sound period correct within the Beasties' ever-evolving catalog.

- Foreword Penned By: Paolo Gilli (@PaulsBoutiqueVC)
of Beastie Boys: Paul's Boutique - A Visual Companion

I. Aside from the quite obvious sources, what were your greatest sources of inspiration and influence while creating and recording your BB PB EP?

Most of my musical ideas, I get when cycling, being out in nature, or right before sleep. For this project, I think, all sources of inspiration were kind of obvious... like most Hip-Hop producers, diggin' for samples and listening to a lot of different albumss from all kinds of genres gave me a lot of ideas... live [Beastie Boys YouTube] videos would, usually, get me pumped to fire up Pro Tools and actually, work on the project.

II. What might you deem your earliest or most fond memory of hearing either Beastie Boys or Paul's Boutique?

Most fond: seeing them perform live for the first time during the CYH [Check Your Head] Tour at The Amsterdam Paradiso. It [was] freaking hot that day, venue totally packed. They came out with "Slow & Low" and the crowd went nuts—instant mosh pit!

III. What you classify as your overall concept and self-imposed perameters behind your BB PB EP (Beastie Boys Paul's Boutique Extended Play)?

The idea was to come up with remixes/alternate versions that stayed close to what they were doing on the album/original versions. From selecting samples to how to process, layer, and arrange them. For instance—with a few exceptions—they were using entire loops; there was no intricate chopping, extreme pitching, or filtering going on yet. So, that became an important restriction throughout the project. I "cheated" on a couple of loops, which I chopped up and re-constructed differently to make them fit better, but I don’t think you'd be able to hear... unless, you'd recognize the samples.

IV. What was the most difficult or challenging part you encountered while creating your BB PB EP?

Sticking to the earlier mentioned restrictions was a bit difficult, at times, because I would have all sorts of crazy ideas popping up that might have sounded nice, but wouldn't fit the concept. So, besides loops, I also, trashed a lot of ideas. The biggest challenge, though, was deciding when a song was finished.

V. Drawing from Paul's Boutique's staggering 15 tracks (plus, "B-Boy Bouillabaisse" Suites a-i. how did you decide on ultimately, re-imagining "SYR," "HL," "LDTBOAG," "CT," and "STT?"

I would've loved to do the entire album, but these were the only vocals I had access to, unfortunately.

VI. What did your primary sample-flipping, beat-making, and recording processes generally entail?

The tracks are all built from scratch around the vocals, so that was my starting point for all of the songs. Most [of my] time was spent going through downloads, trying to find suitable loops. I would have digging/listening sessions first. Usually, going through "heaps" of downloads, collecting loops and pieces that might fit one of the songs. Once in Pro Tools, I would try them against the vocals and as the tracks progressed, against all elements/layers already in there. For every loop you hear in the final versions, I trashed maybe up to 30 other loops for some of the songs. Once the main loops would be in place, I would keep adding and adding and arranging stuff. I re-created parts of the original versions, using the same sample sources as on the album, for some of the tracks. Most of the scratches were done later during the process, I think, right before mixing. I kept replacing, deleting, and/or adding and re-arranging samples during mixing, as well. Mastering, I didn't do myself.

VII. What types of reactions have you received from either Ad-Rock & Mike D or die-hard Beasties fans concerning your BB PB EP?

None lol. I don't think they are aware and I don't think they would really care? But who knows. From BB connoisseurs—mostly, on the BB Forum—so far, feedback has been really positive, which, I think, is a huge compliment. Yours and a couple of similar reactions: not being sure about the origins of the remixes, had me laughin'!

VIII. What do you plan to start recording and eventually, release next? I know we've spoken about a number of potential projects?

I hope to, one day, finish TT5BR, the project I initially, started working on: To The 5 Boroughs remixed in a mid to late 80's type of sound (think LTI [Licensed to Ill] and Run-DMC's Raising Hell sparseness.) But up next, will most likely, be BB CYH [Check Your Head] EP. I started working on "SWW" ["So What'cha Want"] and "PTM" ["Pass The Mic"]. Not sure what else the EP will include yet. Oh, maybe, some highly limited dub plates in-between. I heard today from my partner/friend, who, actually, came up with the idea of vinyl releases. And online... maybe, drop some of the out-takes.

IX. What can you potentially tell The Witzard's readership about your freshly-pressed and just-released limited edition BB SYR HL 12-inch?

Besides they need to order ASAP? Well... it truly will be limited to this small run of 300 copies. And if you're into Hip-Hop karaoke... it has the instrumentals, as well.

X. How did you come up with the cover design for your BB PB EP and how exactly does it relate to the Beastie Boys or Paul's Boutique?

Reading about The Grasshoff's house and watching the "HL" ["Hey Ladies"] video inspired me to use a swimming pool for the cover art. In line with how the EP was made... I "sampled" a lithographic print by world-renowned artist, David Hockney. He painted/drew quite some LA swimming pools. This one, I liked, in particular; with the transparent vinyl, we tried to reinforce the whole pool/clear water idea.

Thursday, May 17, 2018


"Cold Rhymes [Records] has long been my own label for my own solo albums. I started releasing other people's music under the Cold Rhymes banner last Spring. Recently, my pals Mister & ialive have joined me in working behind-the-scenes to make this label a reality. This is a compilation of songs from all our recent/forthcoming releases.

The title comes from Kate Ferencz's opening track. In engaging with all these hard-working people over the last year, I'm constantly reminded how we're all engaged in a race against time. We all have to draw up our own battle plans and wage our own wars against the clock to bring this music and art into existence. I think, it's true that there isn't very much time and I'm amazed at the resolve my compatriots have to fight this fight."

- Height Keech (Cold Rhymes Records)

1. Kate Ferencz - "Who Do You Really Love?"

"If you're not careful the ideas and opinions of others—through numbers, volume, or repetition over time—can infiltrate your mind and come to override what you actually, know in your heart. Despite what the title suggests, "Who Do You Really Love?" isn't really a love song; it’s about knowing what you think and what you want and having the confidence to act accordingly, instead of letting other people decide for you."

2. Vans_Westly - "Love Machine"

"This is a song I wrote a little bit ago. It should give a hint at the direction I'm going with this album. Some people say it's Post-Rap and I guess, I kinda agree with that. Anyway, this is my song "Love Machine.'"

3. Trauma Lavern - "Ex Nihilo"

P.T. Burnem: "This was the first song that Erik and I wrote as Trauma Lavern. Sonically, we were looking to forge a large sound with a sort of brutal repetition. We [were] practicing at the spot called Garbers, a bare-bones warehouse in the middle of Richmond that was as hot as it was dusty. That environment definitely, helped give rise to the kind of sonic characteristics that you see on the track.

Erik and I met and forged our friendship during our participation in a band called D R O N E S, which was a very gentle sort of Rap-Folk project—but probably, a lot more interesting than that label would have you believe—and we were looking to delve into seriously aggressive and crunchy sonic territory.

Aside from the repetitiveness of the main baseline and drum combo, we were also, looking to embellish that with some atmospheric noise to make things more strange and as we sat down in the studio, Erik ended up pulling out his guitar and started doing some harmonics and swells that turned out to be the basis for that aspect of the track."

"Lyrically, I wanted to celebrate the fact that I had been touring on my motorbike and was just generally, excited by all things involving two wheels and combustion engines. Something unique about the way I tackled it, however, arose from the fact that I really don't like the extremely macho aspects of motorcycle culture. In fact, the thing that strikes me the most about riding a motorcycle on the highway is how small you feel and also, how graceful you feel. Riding a motorcycle is nothing like riding a car because you basically, steer by tilting your body and it gives you a physical connection to the machine that I have never found in a 4-wheeled vehicle. So, I really wanted to express how small and in place that riding made me feel. I also, threw in the usual commentary on the social scenario in The United States with The Wall Street section because I can't resist that sort of thing.

There are a few points, sonically, where the song gets very weird because, although, we wanted to establish this brutal repetition we also, are big fans of the change-up and also, the aesthetics of Noise music and the sword of surprising static and drop-outs and noises in that genre. We tried to incorporate those in a way that made sense for the track and I think, we succeeded.

One final note I'd make about the lyrics is that the part about my grandmother was put in because she used to ride motorcycles, as well and was probably, the first adult to sit down and tell me that the sort of nice calm life that I was living was not really the average way things worked. She grew up an orphan had a pretty tough life and was passing on some of that knowledge to me; it was the first time that I really understood how horrible the world could be."

4. Shark Tank - "Guest Spot" ["-feat." Mickey Free]

Height: "The plan for this song was to bring our former Shark Tank group member, ["John"] Mickey Free back into the fold for 8 bars. As you can hear in the rhymes, we're all highly anticipating 8 bars from Mickey Free. Alas, Mick Free never got his bars done, so I chopped this audio from a YouTube video he made in 2009 and let that function as his "guest spot." I wouldn't have it any other way."

5. Mister & Curt Cataract - "I'm Not The One"

Mister: "Sweet was turning sour and as it was, I wrote "I'm Not The One."'

6. Param Anand Singh - "Psychic Arpeggiator" (Height Keech Remix)

"This was a song I wrote for Nuclear Power Pants in the Fall of 2010, just as we were starting to slow down. I think, outside of a couple stray one-offs, the only time we would have played it would have been this 4 or 5-date tour we did in August 2011. The same one that The Shea Stadium recording of "I'm a Man" was from.

Futurism and this whole thing, where humans have this destiny to become super-intelligent beams of light was thick in the air around that time. And I just really, reacted strongly against it. You know, everyone was reading Ray Kurzweill's The Singularity Is Near and I picked up this weird transhuman self-help paperback from FM-2030. And it was this full-on Apocalyptic desperate hope type thing and at the same time, it was really sad. FM-2030 was hoping to make it to the year 2010, figuring that from there, he could prolong his life to 2030, by which time, he was sure we would have the means to live forever... but he died in 2000. I heard they froze his brain, but I'm sure that was a small consolation, for him.

Anyway, the lyrics are a response to Kurzweill and FM-2030. The music is me doing my best to re-create David Bowie's "Station to Station." The words are included in my poetry book, Yr Skull a Cathedral, coming out in July on Publishing Genius."

7. Darko The Super - "Talking Heads"

"I once heard the worst person to ask about the meaning of a piece of art is the artist. Maybe, that's not true. But I certainly don't feel the need to explain my music these days. I'd rather the listener interpret it and find a meaning for themselves. Someone told me Billy Joel's "Captain Jack" is about heroin, but I like my interpretation better; singing that song in my head calmed my nerves, as a younger Darko. That being said, let any of my songs mean whatever the Hell you want them to, 'cos I'm obviously, making it up as I go along, like everyone else. My favorite book is Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut. In fact, I only read Kurt Vonnegut books. An influential person told me she could get me in the studio with David Byrne—it still hasn't happened. Maybe, that's what this song is about. This isn't "my beautiful life," but I accept it for what it is. I hope this answers all of your questions."

8. Speak N' Eye - "In The Hills"

Emceein Eye: "So, basically, this song is about me and my brother just walking/riding around I'm the foothills of North Carolina at night. My verse is talking about walking in the woods at night and leads into Josh [Unspeakable] talking about making bootleg wine and liquor. Where we live in NC, it's the home of NASCAR/moonshine lore, legend, and history. Josh's verse is referring to people in our family, who used to run white liquor with Junior Johnson and sh*t back in the day.

My favorite line from this song is: "trippin' over sh*t in the forest, give me a light, Unspeak can't do it, blind with no sight." It's sort of a funny personal double-meaning. Joshua can not see at all and is completely blind without his glasses. But I'm also saying we are walking in the dark and I can't see, so I need HIM to give me a light, but also, I'm saying he can't do it without me either.

Hopefully, I explained that right, but basically, I'm saying as brothers, we can't do it without each other. Hopefully, this makes sense. It's just a fun, adventurous song. A lot of our songs are about NC or relate [to it] in some way. I feel like we have a unique style and have certain phrases and things that are only specific to where we live and that type of language sort of sets us apart."

9. Goldzilla & Eddie Logix - "Stay Limber" *

Goldzilla: "I was hanging out with James Linck on a Friday night at The Old Miami. We were talking about the usual nonsense: girls, music, etc. James was at a point in his career, where he wasn't giving a f**k. He didn't care what people thought of his music or his shows; he was just going to do whatever he wanted (a state of mind I later adopted.) In the midst of the conversation, James dropped a drunken non-sequitur, "stay limber." Not in a sentence, no context, just the two words, "stay limber." That phrase sparked something for me. Especially, because when do you ever hear the word "limber?" I told James right there, "I'm going to make a song called "Stay Limber" and dedicate it to him. He probably, doesn't remember that. Eddie sent me the beat that Monday. The original version I wrote was very similar to [Large Professor &] Nas' "Stay Chisel," but I decided to take it a different route. I took James' words as a mantra for being true to yourself and staying original. Eddie and I recorded it that Saturday. I remember it taking a few takes to get it down, but I think the end result came out dope."

* EDITOR'S NOTE: "Stay Limber" is, actually, lifted from Goldzilla & Eddie Logix's self-released album, Immaculate Misconception (NOT A COLD RHYMES RELEASE!)

10. Jack Topht - "Come On Nike"

"recorded in like, 2008 by mr. ski-mask on 1-inch analog tape at the electric pumpkin patch studio on the east side of buffalo. lindsey did guitar, i did drums, and me and ski-mask did synths. i wrote the song, before i had a band, in 2000. nypirg was calling nike headquarters in the lobby of [university of buffalo] and encouraging students to complain about their sweatshop labor practices. my comedian mentor, velvet al, came up with the punchline that their sh*t should be cheaper, since they don't pay their workers much. i worked that into a song. eventually, i had a band i could do the song with—always a staple of lindsey and my band's from 2005-2010."

11. Height Keech - "Computer Rocker"

"When I dig back through the history of Rock "N" Roll, my heart goes wild with passion. Everything from the The Midnighters to The Amboy Dukes feels as alive and real as it must have felt to people back then. I feel close to it all, like it's right at my fingertips. I want to know it all and I want to know how to react to it now. I feel that people making non-Rock music are the keepers of the Rock "N" Roll flame. Modern Rock now feels like a regimented activity for Average Joes, but there's all these underground realms of music, where the spirit of reckless abandon is being born anew. "The Rocker" by Thin Lizzy has always been a favorite of mine. I wanted to make a song like that, but for me and the people in my world."

12. ialive - "Trash Heap"

"Around February of 2017, Height contacted me with an idea to get on a track for a compilation he was planning on Cold Rhymes Records. He sent me two beats. One, which I wrote and recorded to, almost immediately became "These Days" and the other, was a wild loop with such a unique sound that would become "Trash Heap." I connected with both tracks very fast and felt the need to bring a different approach for each beat. Not sure what would come of the songs, I felt Height could choose to include one or both on the compilation. When I sent the tracks off, Height responded with an idea to pursue a full project and we dove head first into TIMEWAVE ZERO.

The song "These Days" is less what I would consider to be a traditional Rap song: a structured chorus pinning nostalgic narratives together along a woozy loop. With that song existing, I wanted to come with a more braggadocio approach and flex some fly sh*t over the "Trash Heap" beat. Thinking about our respective cities, I wanted to use some immediate reference points alluding to Philadelphia and Baltimore, without getting too specific or bogged down in the process. If you look for them, it’s not too hard to find them."

13. Off The Meat Rack - "Another Day"

ZIPRHED: "I talk to myself a lot, when I'm depressed. So, [pretty] much all the time... it's 90% talking myself out of suicide and 10% hopes and dreams."

14. ialive, Speak N' Eye, Darko The Super, P.T. Burnem & Height Keech - "Work Boots Laced"

Height: "I'm hoping, posse cuts, like these, can become a staple of the Cold Rhymes world. I used to love how every Triple Six Mafia [Three 6 Mafia] album would end with a posse cut featuring a short rhyme from everyone on the label. I hope this is just the beginning of us banging out these squad songs!"

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

The Witzard's Cowboys & Frechmen "COMPANION PLAN" Remix Challenge: Mantis The Miasma Remix Premiere & "Drowning" Video (NeSCIENCE)

As many of you may remember, a few months ago, we here at The Witzard hosted, assembled, and compiled a 7-track remix contest/compilation dubbed The Witzard's Andy Cooper "COMPANION PLAN" Remix Comp. playlist. It included a selection of original genre-eschewing submissions from Places & Spaces' Naturetone, Djar One, Broken Machine Films Presents... (Illuminated Paths) Australian beat-maker Dros, Mike East, UncleRussie, and Three Tree Posse AKA 3TP's Getro. After receiving a moderate amount of praise from The Witzard's trusty readership, the participating producers, and Andy Cooper and his label, Rocafort Records, I decided to start planning for The Witzard's second remix contest. I soon reached out to my friend, frequent collaborator, and Baltimore-based producer John "Jumbled" Bachman.

Together, we collectively agreed to field an instrumental composition to be flipped, sampled, re-constructed, etc. for this second remix "challenge," as Jumbled cleverly dubbed it. It took a little while to get an artist to fully understand and agree to our remix challenge concept, but we soon settled on New York-based Blues/Jazz quartet Cowboys & Frenchman to supply our "source material." Unfortunately, after more than a month, our deadline came and went, and we only received one full "COMPANION PLAN" remix submission from Mantis The Miasma, which we're now liberating on these very pages. Cowboys & Frenchmen's original composition, "Companion Plan," from their 2017 album, Bluer Than You Think can be heard or purchased at their label, Outside In Music's Bandcamp page.

Mantis The Miasma is a 19-year-old rapper, producer, and lyricist hailing from LA. He's one of the founders of a Hip-Hop crew entitled NeSCIENCE, along with fellow emcee Azure The Paradox and producers Zaki AKA Chillzaki & FITH. Although, he only started recording and releasing his own music as recently as 2016, Mantis The Miasma has already been championed by fellow emcees Lt Headtrip, Short Fuze, and Warren Britt, as well as Twitter personality and Hip-Hop critic Elmattic (@thisiselmattic). Mantis' discography includes his MIASMA EP, singles "Caged," "Drowning," and "Wrath," and his most recent release, a proper full-length entitled Worth of My Birth AKA W.O.M.B. "On this album, Mantis The Miasma performs over many eerie, dark beats, while delivering wordplay-dense and rhyme-heavy verses filled with the pain of his youth," Mantis wrote within an emotionally-raw emailed press statement.

Mantis The Miasma self-produced 6 of the 11 tracks contained within W.O.M.B. while the remaining 5 were produced by IsaiahD, Penacho, Musikal, Prophet, and FITH. Just this past weekend, Mantis The Miasma released his first music video for "Drowning" from Worth of My Birth. Filmed by JD and edited BY S Dreadnoug & Mantis The Miasma, "Drowning" is a metaphor-heavy treatment filmed in the middle of the desert, which emphasizes the album's recurring themes of depression, isolation, emptiness, water, and much, much more. Worth of My Birth is now available to stream or download on Mantis The Miasma's Bandcamp page, as well as multiple digital streaming platforms.

Monday, May 14, 2018

EQUIPTO & Brycon Present: The Watershed with Old Soul Kollective (Star Bakery/Solidarity/I Had An Accident Records & Gurp City Digital)

The Watershed are a San Francisco-based Hip-Hop crew consisting of emcees Equipto and Old Soul Kollective members MC Pauze & Professor Gabel, as well as producers Brycon, Old Soul Kollective beat-makers Baghead & Mcstravick, and emcee/producer Monk HTS. However, Monk HTS only contributed his emcees skills to Equipto & Brycon Present: The Watershed. The Watershed describes itself as a "multi-generational group" with a line-up consisting of both "vets and up-and-coming Frisco-bred talents (with one exception.)" I personally, heard about The Watershed just this past weekend from I Had An Accident Records (IHAA) label owner Damien Miller of Luke Sick & Damien fame; we were discussing one of IHAA's upcoming releases—Rabbi Max's TRANSATLANTIC tape—as well as The Watershed, along with Luke Sick & Damien's Strike The Clutch EP and Bonzo Speechless & Damien's Aberration. Prior to the release of Equipto & Brycon Present: The Watershed, just last week, Tuesday May 8th, The Watershed issued a number of pre-album singles, including "Real Dope," "The Sco," and "Swamp," as well as Clean Versions of 6 tracks from their full-length debut.

In addition to its seven core members, Equipto & Brycon Present: The Watershed features appearance from The Watershed friends and affiliates DJ Lotek1200, G-PEK (Gurp City,) LightBulb of Diamond Lung, Maitre'D, and Micah Aza. While Equipto & Brycon Present: The Watershed has a very early 2000's Bay Area Hip-Hop sound, which I would, personally, liken it to something similar to records from Talib Kweli & Mos Def AKA Black Star, Das Racist/Kool A.D. Homeboy Sandman, The Pack's "Vans," and Jurassic 5. The Watershed's debut Equipto & Brycon Present: The Watershed is currently available in a multitude of formats from Star Bakery Records, Solidarity Records, I Had An Accident Records & Gurp City Digital with limited edition cassettes (only 100!) still in stock at IHAA Records' Bandcamp page. Coming soon to I Had An Accident: 50 limited edition cassettes of Rabbi Max's TRANSATLANTIC mastered by Odd Nostam (6/1/18) and 25 super-limited edition cassette copies of Tenshun & Bonzo Speechless' collaborative effort, ODIOUS.