Friday, December 14, 2018

Uncle Russie Returns with Dragon Ball Z/Super-themed Bulma3 & TrunksEP2 Co-produced By Baltimore's Graffititech (self-released)

Over the course of the past year, Timothy "Tim" Chester AKA Baltimore-based producer and beat-maker UncleRussie (no spaces!) has become something of a staple here at The Witzard. Thanks to a recommendation from Jumbled, we featured his January-released Trunks EP. and soon after, Russie submitted not one, but two remixes for The Witzard's Andy Cooper "THE PERFECT DEFINITION" Remix Comp. and most recently, Bulma3 & TrunksEP2 [Album Preview]. Now, UncleRussie has returned to properly release both projects simultaneously: 16-track Bulma3 AND 20-track TrunksEP2. I'll be the first to admit, I'm far from a Dragon Ball Z/Super expert, but I do know that the bulk of Russie's work, especially, these two most recent projects are largely influenced by the beloved manga. Bulma3 is the third and final album in UncleRussie's ongoing Bulma Tape series, preceded by 2016's The Bulma Tape and its 2017 counterpart/follow-up, The Bulma Tape: Side B.

While TrunksEP2 is the sequel to the aforementioned Trunks EP. which, this time around, was co-produced by fellow Baltimore DJ and producer, Graffititech. Not entirely unlike Trunks EP. UncleRussie recruited an extremely talented who's-who of primarily Baltimore and East Coast-based artists including Benjamin Banger, Dot-Com Intelligence, Malcolm Maximillion, Swellthy, Maitro, Die$el Mac, eu-IV, Action Bastard, MGNTK.'s own logic marselis, and of course, TrunksEP2 co-producer Graffititech. Now, while these collections are without a doubt, definitely required listening for your weekend, I'm not gonna sit here and pretend like I know anything about Dragon Ball Z/Super... so, I'll let UncleRussie himself explain a little bit more about DBZ and its deeply-rooted connection to his vision heard throughout Bulma3 & TrunksEP2 down below "the break." However, in the meantime, both Bulma3 & TrunksEP2 are now available to stream on UncleRussie's Soundcloud page.

"Bulma3 is The third and final installment to The Bulma Tape series that began in 2016. What started out as just a idea to make an instrumental project dedicated to Dragon Ball Z character, Bulma Briefs, turned into another idea to expand and interpret the series itself into a "Hip-Hop/Electronic musical;" one [wherein] the backdrop would enhance—or even, bring light to—different parts of the series, as well as modernize it prior to 2017's revival of the TV series, Dragon Ball Super. The songs and sounds were inspired by the show's long-time theme of hero vs. villain, teamwork, technology, various relationships, and random mishaps. Bulma3, however, was not, actually, supposed to happen. After the tragic death of Japanese voice actor and original voice of Bulma, Hiromi Tsuru, I felt inspired to make a sort of tribute.

This was coming on the heels of finishing the project, Trunks EP. a project based on Bulma's son, Trunks. The Trunks EP. was created as a snapshot of storyline or "saga," in which Trunks travels back in time to warn Bulma, the show's hero and main protagonists, Goku, as well as The Z-Fighters of an eminent danger coming three years in the present day. The album starts off with "Future" Trunks as a kid recovering from an attack, in an attempt to fight alongside his long-time mentor and son of Goku, Gohan. The seeds for this album start on ["Capsule Corp. (Reprise​)​*" from] The Bulma Tape, in which he mentions the aforementioned danger ahead and the thread continues throughout The Bulma Series until TrunksEP2.

TrunksEP2 is based on the saga created in the Dragon Ball Super series. Years after the threat he warned about has been thwarted, a new threat emerges, but to his surprise, comes in the form of a previous ally. This album was, initially, going to be a one-off of random DBZ/Super-themed beats and instrumentals, but shortly developed into a continuation of the Trunks saga that was reignited in the recently-revived series. Both TrunksEP2 & Bulma3 tie together, though Bulma3 is less linear and more of a light-hearted send-off, while Trunks is more of a darker, serial tone, which tells a story of a struggle to win for the fate of not only the future, but the entire universe. Overall, both projects represent a fan's appreciation of a long-running series that has inspired and made a cultural impact across the world."

- UncleRussie (@PeaceRussie)

Thursday, December 13, 2018

J57's Unveils Limited-release Album LP2 Featuring Slipknot's DJ Starscream, The Audible Doctor, Jamo Gang & More (Only Available 12/8-15)

It's honestly, not often we, here at The Witzard, feature music that you (the listener) can't hear for yourself... but we figured we would give it a-go, before the year's up! I actually, first heard about Brooklyn-based emcee and producer James "J57" Victor Heinz's latest effort, LP2 through this very Tweet from @HomeboySandman: "New sh*t from Tha God available for one week only better peep that stat." It Re-Tweeted a previous statement from @j57 himself, which read, "J57 LP2 is out now, for 1 week. You can only get [a copy] via, before it's gone. Enjoy!" Acting fast, as it would only be available from December 8-15th, I reached out to J57 directly and was soon able to procure a copy of LP2, sub-titled WE CAN BE KINGS. from the man himself. Whether you've been fortunate enough to hear LP2 or not, I'm just gonna jump right into it now... LP2 is the follow-up to J57's 2016 limited-release album, I'm The J57, which was only released on streaming sites with 100% of the proceeds from his I'm The J57 Deluxe Edition CD's (2017) donated to The Flint Water Crisis. However, LP2 was released in an even more limited fashion and will only be available from for the next few days, although, it sounds like J57 plans to properly re-release the album at some point during 2019-20. LP2 is J57's second limited-release, his fourth overall as a solo emcee, and first project he's fully produced in its entirety.

"It's a journey inside my mind and it really showcases my eclectic ear, which will make more sense to everyone in 2019 & 2020 when more of the non-Hip-Hop stuff I'm creating comes out," J57 exclusively told The Witzard within a string of Twitter-sent messages. LP2: WE CAN BE KINGS. features, as J57 puts it, his "friends and family," which includes Katian, The Audible Doctor, Jamo Gang (Ras Kass & El Gant,) Devin Malek, DeeJay Element, Tenacity, Choosey, Akie Bermiss of Lake Street Dive, Sid "#0" Wilson AKA DJ Starscream of Slipknot, Jay Jennings of Snarky Puppy, Aerika Monique, Jordan Quin, Matt Stamm of MAK3RS, Tiffany Topol of Goldie Haunt, and Eliot Glazer. As J57 previously alluded, LP2 is a full-on Hip-Hop/Boom-Bap record with sonic allusions to a wide range of eclectic styles and largely, genre-eschewing sounds. A handful of LP2's tracks—namely, "Track 1" AKA "Live Your Life/I-75," "Track 2" AKA "Skywalk/Geminarius," "Track 4" AKA "Peter Venkman/Silhouettes," and "Track 5" AKA "Doc Brown/Glory"—are, actually, split up into two "separate" tracks, so for $11.57, you're really getting 15 tracks for the price of 11! J57 has, also, intricately woven a number of vocal samples and lyrical allusions to Rick Flair, The Goonies, Back to The Future, Seinfeld, and more throughout LP2. Again, J57's LP2: WE CAN BE KINGS. is only available for download directly from for TWO MORE days, until Saturday, December 15th and it's definitely worth $11.57!

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Defcee Unveils A Mixtape As God Intended, Vol. 1 with Beats from The Alchemist, Drake, Goodie Mob, Group Home, Nas & Rick Ross (Machine Wash Music)

"J.I.D. Saba, and Defcee have been the best rappers of 2018. It's not even close," Chicago emcee Lamon Manuel (@LamonManuelFCLA) recently proclaimed on Twitter. Defcee is a fellow Chicago-based emcee, also, known as Adam Levin, who has been ferociously rapping and actively releasing music since 2007; at the tender age of 17, Defcee self-released his debut album, One Eye Open. It was soon followed by 2011's The Panama Sessions and Out from Under EP's, as well as a full-length entitled Selves fully produced and mixed by Moses. Then, four years later, Defcee released his next project, 2015's Damn Near Grown, which featured appearances from Saba, Noname, Sev Seveer, goldenbeets, and Otis Brown Jones III, as well as artwork by Dewey Saunders. Defcee's most recent guest verse was on GrownUpRap-premiered "Babel" from Curly Castro's forthcoming Backwoodz Studioz album, TOSH, alongside Collosoul Structure & ELUCID, as produced by Wrecking Crew head honcho, Zilla Rocca. Now, nearly four more years later, Defcee has returned with his next neck-snapping sonic offering: A Mixtape As God Intended, Vol. 1 on Machine Wash Music.

"With A Mixtape As God Intended, he makes his mark with a display of lyricism that's miles above most of what's out there now. Creating music that instantly makes a connection with the listener is something he's incredibly good at and he delivers that with food for thought in spades," Machine Wash Music writes within a mixtape-announcing email. "This mixtape both serves as a preview of what's to come and an early warning for The New Year. Defcee is here," it continues. A Mixtape As God Intended, Vol. 1 is structured similarly to an old school hand-made with a variety of original and widely-recognizable beats from Modern Rap Radio; with "The Basic Caveman Foundation," "Twenty-Four AM In Chicago," "Three Sixteens," Rivals' "Forty, Jr." "Sixteen In The Dungeon," and "Thirty-Six Months" on "SIDE A" and "Vigil," "Sixteen In The Dungeon," and "Five Courses" appearing on "SIDE B" (you can see the full tracklist below.) Defcee's A Mixtape As God Intended, Vol. 1 is now available from Machine Wash Music digitally, as well as on super-limited edition cassette tape. Defcee is currently working on a two separate projects with CRASHprez & knowsthename as defprez, as well as as 2019 full-length entitled Unlegendary entirely produced by goldenbeets.

@defcee's A Mixtape As God Intended, Vol. 1

0:00 - "The Basic Caveman Foundation" (Produced By: goldenbeets) / includes an excerpt from Sean Price, Buckshot & 9th Wonder's Sway In The Morning interview with Sway & Heather B. released on November 27th, 2012

1:35 - "Twenty-Four AM In Chicago" (uses the instrumental for Drake's "4PM In Calabasas" Produced By: Allen Ritter, Frank Dukes & Vinylz)

3:00 - "Three Sixteens" (uses the instrumentals for Rick Ross' "Santorini Greece" Produced By: Bink!, Nipsey Hussle's "Clarity" Produced By: Lamar "Mars" Edwards & MIKE & KEYS, and 6LACK's "PRBLMS" Produced By: NOVA)

6:01 - "Forty, Jr." - Performed By: Rivals (uses the instrumental for "Hold You Down" Produced & Performed By: The Alchemist)

9:06 - "Sixteen In The Dungeon" (uses the instrumental for Goodie Mob's "Goodie Bag" Produced By: Organized Noize)

10:02 - "Thirty-Six Months" (uses the instrumentals for Group Home's "Interlude," "Outro" & "Up Against Tha Wall" (Getaway Car Mix) Produced By: DJ Premier)

12:12 - "Vigil" (Produced By: WHOLESQUAD)

13:32 - "Sixteen for Our World" (uses the instrumental for Nas' "The World Is Yours" (Remix) Produced By: Q-Tip)

14:46 - "Five Courses" (Produced By: knowsthetime)

Monday, December 10, 2018

ialive Returns with "Little By Little" from Upcoming Self-produced Full-length DON'T DO NOTHING Mastered By C$ BURNS (Cold Rhymes Records)

Donovan "ialive" Phillips is a self-described "Rap-singer-songwriter/beat aficionado/musical collector" hailing from The City of Brotherly Love, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. ialive has released numerous collaborative and solo projects over the years, but hasn't released a tried and true "solo" album since 2015's Awake In The Snake Hole. However, in recent years, he's released collaborative projects with both Darko The Super as The Hell Hole Store and TIMEWAVE ZERO with Height Keech, as well as Four to The Floor 1-2 EP's with Cody Cody Jones... just this past week, ialive announced his long-awaited third solo album, DON'T DO NOTHING, which will be dropping on Height's Cold Rhymes Records Friday, January 11, 2019. DON'T DO NOTHING was fully produced, recorded, and mixed by ialive himself at The Green Gem in Philly with mastering done by Vinyl Cape's own C$ BURNS. On the most recent episode of THIS COLD RHYMES PODCAST, Mister spoke with ialive and premiered the first single, "Little By Little," from DON'T DO NOTHING.

Just a few days later, its companion music video was quietly debuted on Cold Rhymes' Facebook page. It was directed by frequent Zilla Rocca/Career Crooks collaborator Bob Sweeney, who, amazingly, shot the whole music video backwards. "The hardest part of working on this video was figuring out how to do everything backwards. Not only was @ialive moving backwards, but all of the camera moves had to be shot in reverse, as well," @sweeneybob wrote on his Instagram page last week. "Little By Little" is about as inexplicably Philly as it gets with on-screen allusions to Rocky, Wawa Hoagies & Chocolate Milk, those classic Philly Pretzels AKA "One-twisted Jawns," and much, much more. C$ BURNS boasts: "My dude @ialive is combining Indie Rap with some cool organic Psychedelic sounds, sung hooks, and a super-solid flow. This new record (mastered by me!) is definitely doing something new with Rap," which makes it seem like DON'T DO NOTHING will sound similar to last year's Height Keech-produced TIME WAVE ZERO. ialive's DON'T DO NOTHING is currently available to pre-order from Cold Rhymes Records with The Hell Hole Store III, supposedly, coming fairly soon, as well.

"We shot backwards so we could flip the motions of everything else. I wanted the world around me to be moving backwards with me moving against it to metaphorically represent the feeling of struggle and banality. I often feel the strain of existing, as an artist in our society can seem like an uphill climb or as if you're moving backwards in the world. Aesthetically, I think it adds a surreal and uneasy feeling; a feeling that things are slightly off and in turn giving it a unique look that can't be achieved any other way."

- ialive on "Little By Little" (@ialive_)

Friday, December 7, 2018

James Mercer & Danger Mouse Return with First Proper Broken Bells Single "Shelter" Since 2015's "It's That Talk Again" (30th Century Records)

Broken Bells (@broken_bells) have been teasing something since about August with cryptic black-and-white in-studio Polaroid-esque photos, some dated as far back as 7/26/18. Broken Bells is, of course, the collaborative duo of James Mercer & Brian Burton. Mercer is the long-time frontman of The Shins/Flake Music and Burton is also, known as super-producer Danger Mouse; who has worked with everyone from MF DOOM (DANGERDOOM) to The Black Keys, A$AP Rocky to Parquet Courts, and likely, most famously, as Gnarls Barkley with Cee-Lo. Since initially forming in 2008-09, Broken Bells have released two full-lengths, 2010's Broken Bells and 2014's After The Disco, as well as a 2011 EP dubbed Meyrin Fields and a number of non-album singles. Honestly, we, here at The Witzard, personally, favor Broken Bells' self-titled 2010 debut, but their entire cannon of music is phenomenal! Lest we forget, Broken Bells courted a then-relatively unknown Christina Hendricks (Good Girls, Mad Men) to star within their 2010 Broken Bells LP stand-out "The Ghost Inside"'s phenomenal space-themed music video/short film.

It's a near-perfect amalgamation of both James Mercer & Brian Burton's separate "solo" endeavors: a bit of Indie Rock/Pop from The Shins, some Hip-Hop from Danger Mouse's Grey Album era, and of course, a bit of melody and Experimental tendencies, and a dash of Prog/Space Rock, for good measure. Now, after a few weeks-worth of mysterious build-up, Broken Bells have officially returned with this first single in nearly three years, "Shelter." While there has been no proper announcement in regards to Broken Bells LP3 (yet!) one has to wonder if "Shelter" and 2015's post-After The Disco non-album single "It's That Talk Again" will, eventually, end up appearing on Brian Burton & Danger Mouse's third as-yet-to-be-announced collaborative full-length. Danger Mouse is currently working on yet another mysterious project, apparently titled LUX PRIMA, with Yeah Yeah Yeahs frontwoman Karen O and acclaimed multi-instrumentalist and frequent Broken Bells collaborator Jay "J-Zone" Mumford. For now, however, Broken Bells' latest single, "Shelter" is currently available on their assorted channels, as well as digital streaming platforms through Brian Burton's own 30th Century Records imprint.

South London Beat-maker Charles Edison Unleashes "Electrifying" 9-track Filaments - Season 1 EP (Remix Challenge Announcement)

Aside from being an extremely talented beat-maker, emcee, and producer, South London's Charles Edison is simply, a phenomenal human being. He, like all of us, has his vices and admittedly, had a substance abuse problem, but seeked help through treatment and is now celebrating over two years clean and sober. Earlier this year, The Witzard partnered up with Charles Edison on the one-year anniversary of his Waking Up EP/sobriety. Together, we cooked up a comprehensive track-by-track breakdown of Charles' Waking Up EP, paired with the moving story of his journey to a completely clean and sober lifestyle. It's a truly inspiring story and we've already received a plethora of phenomenal and equally inspiring feedback since initially publishing. Just throughout the course of 2018 alone, Charles Edison has self-released his Everything Is Fine EP and long-rumored Beats from The Seventh Floor beat album, as well as a special Beats from The Seventh Floor EP with John Memorex from Beat Tape Co-Op. Now, out of nowhere, Charles has returned with one final release for 2018: a 9-track EP entitled Filaments - Season 1.

It's a thematic sequel, of sorts, to his 2014 electricity-charged releases, Bitstorm EP—including "Light Up The Night"—and Lightbulbs full-length. Not entirely unlike his previous string of releases, Charles Edison's Filaments - Season 1 EP features a wide array of beats reminiscent of J Dilla, Kanye, Madlib, Gorillaz, The Streets, and DOOM. Fully produced, mixed, and mastered by Charles Edison himself on The Seventh Floor, Filaments - Season 1 is fittingly described as "warm, hazy, and familiar; like a drunken hug from an ex." Aside from Charles' electrified hand-crafted beats, Filaments - Season 1 features one lone guest, DJ Jabba The Kut, on the Ones & Twos throughout "What We Do." Charles Edison's Filaments - Season 1 EP is currently available on Bandcamp and like-minded digital streaming platforms. Honestly, we, here at The Witzard would really like to hear some sharp-tongued emcees or even producers, multi-instrumentalists, singers, etc. do their thing on some of Charlie's complexly layered beats. If you're interested in doing so, please, send your completed submissions to The Witzard at or @Charles_Edison himself on Twitter. Happy Holidays to all and best of luck to our potential remixers!!!

Thursday, December 6, 2018

The Witzard Presents: John Morrison's 93-song BEASTIE BOYS BOOK (Influences, Samples & Rarities) Playlist & Exclusive Mini-breakdown

"I'm a huge Beasties fan and have been since I was a kid. Coming out of Hip-Hop and crate-digging culture, I'd always find records like The Moog Machine's Switched-On Rock (1969) and Led Zeppelin IV (1971) that The Beasties had sampled. As I was going through the BEASTIE BOYS BOOK, I noticed in a few chapters, they'd talk about the mixtapes that they'd make and trade with samples, skits, weird Jazz records, and stuff. I remember a great interview that Wax Poetics did with The Beasties years ago that mentioned these tapes, as well. I figured I could make a playlist equivalent.

The early chapters of the book are fascinating to me, as well. They really capture this culturally-rich time in New York in the late 70's/early 80's when you had early Hip-Hop like DJ Jazzy Jay and The Zulu Nation playing at The Mudd Club, as well as No Wave/Post-Punk bands, like Sonic Youth and Arto Lindsay's DNA playing Punk clubs and art galleries. The mixtape aspect of their history is really fascinating to me because it seems as though, they'd make tapes that corresponded with the albums they were working on. Kind of a way of pulling together whatever was influencing them, at the time. I have a similar process when making music, which I may have stolen from them."

- John Morrison (@John_Liberator)

I. Treacherous Three - "The Body Rock" (1980)

"Throughout the BEASTIE BOYS BOOK, Mike D & Ad-Rock speak highly of this song and for good reason, it's perfect! Besides being an incredible group, The Treacherous Three are significant because stylistically, they represent a bridge between the original "routine"-based MC'ing style of groups, like Cold Crush and the more "lyrical" styles that would come later. They were a big influence on The Beasties and pretty much everyone else who came out in the 80's and early 90's. Its also, worth noting that "Body Rock" was produced by Erol "Pumpkin" Bedward, a drummer/multi-instrumentalist who is considered by many to be Hip-Hop's first super-producer."'

II. Bad Brains - "I" (1982)

"In high school, I used to review records for Punk 'zines, so I have a little bit of knowledge about Punk's development as a culture and musical style. That being said, Bad Brains is a mystery to me. Like, I know where they came from, but I don't know how they came about, you know? This sh*t is still so next level, 40 years after the fact.

I heard H.R. lives in my neighborhood now, but I don't know if that's true. A couple years ago, I went to BBQ/Punk show and the host announced that H.R. would be joining the band to play a few songs and people got hyped and starting chanting "H.R...... H.R..... H.R...." but when the guy grabbed the mic, he turned out to be some other dude and not H.R. at all!"

III. Memphis Minnie & Kansas Joe - "When The Levee Breaks" (1929)

"Everybody knows the famous Led Zeppelin song that The Beasties sampled those massive drums for their song "Rhymin' & Stealin'" but not a lot of people know the original "When The Levee Breaks," which is credited to a Louisiana-born guitar virtuous named Memphis Minnie. The song was recorded in 1929 and just goes to show how many deep and old connections come alive within Hip-Hop through sampling."

IV. Luscious Jackson - "City Song" (Supernatural Mix) - 1994

"I've been a huge Luscious Jackson fan and this song was my introduction to them. I remember being at my cousin's house and seeing the video for "City Song" on MTV. There were these beautiful, hip grown-up ladies playing this Funky music and it blew me away. Back in the mid-90's, anything that was abstract or alternative sounding with samples or breakbeats on it was bound to be at least someone cool (Beck, Forest for The Trees, Whitetown, Land of Loops, etc.) I included the Todd "T-Ray" Ray remix because he's kind of an unsung figure in 90's Hip-Hop. He produced a lot of dope, grimy tunes for Artifacts, Kool G. Rap, Cypress Hill, and more."

V. Beastie Boys - "And Me" (1998)

"This is, arguably, my favorite Beastie Boys song. I remember hearing it when it came out and being struck with the feeling that I had been transported into a deep emotional space. It's an incredibly complex production for it's time, the synths sound like farfisa's and the drums sound like chopped and pitched up Amen breaks. It's quirky and futuristic and stylistically, it fits in perfectly with all of the music The Beasties were releasing on Grand Royale, at the time. Ultimately, "And Me" is some B-Boy sh*t, but it's more than that kinda like The Beasties and Hip-Hop itself."

John Morrison is a Philadelphia-based DJ, producer, and writer (Red Bull Music Academy, Jazz Right Now, Bandcamp Daily, etc.) His debut Instrumental Hip-Hop album, Southwest Psychedelphia, is a cosmic, psychedelic trip through a day in the life in his Southwest Philadelphia neighborhood available now on Deadverse Recordings. John is currently working on his follow-up, Memorabilia, a remix album centered around childhood and nostalgia.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

"Favors Are Bad News:" A Comprehensive All-around Breakdown for Zilla Rocca's Future Former Rapper (Producers, Emcees, Etc. Edition)

"I first met Zilla, barely out of college, downing bottles of malt liquor and idiotically, drunkenly throwing them into darkened stairwells at his old Catholic high school in South Philly. He was aligned his former crew then, one half of a Rap group called Clean Guns, attempting to start a fledgling label in an underground climate that seemed inhospitable and rebarbative to anyone trying to figure out what Boom-Bap would sound like 20 years in the future. Zilla could always rap and produce, but he hadn't found a voice or character that allowed him to channel what eventually reached its (27-inch) zenith on Future Former Rapper—believe it!

Starting with the 5 O'Clock Shadowboxers project, he's refined an aesthetic akin to Raymond Chandler raised on Raekwon, splitting the difference between James Ellroy and Guru sneering at rivals that they're paranoid because they're sons like Elroy. One of the reasons why I started POW was to offer a wayward station for the weird and original artists who didn't necessarily fit into prevailing trends or gimmicks. Zilla was too young for the Def Jux era, but arrived before Griselda, closer to the lost generation that emerged with Ka and Roc Marci, who offered righteous paths that illuminated the wrong routes that people long had been running. Future Former Rapper is as South Philly as a cannoli; it's skeptical and caustic, obsessed with creative mortality, poignantly written and filled with the perfect amount of poison. It understands that the future is always informed by the past and the desire to correct those irrevocable mistakes therein."

- Jeff Weiss (POW Recordings)

001. "Detroit Diamonds" (Prod. By Messiah Musik)

Messiah Musik: "I believe, Zilla originally reached out to me about this effort back around 2014, after Armand Hammer's Furtive Movements dropped. I was glad to hear we were mutual fans of one another and happy to help with the soundscape for this. I can only take so much credit for this one... but I found it extremely fitting that Zilla chose it, since it's a running track in the tradition of a lot of great Ghostface Killah joints; "Big Girl" from the album Fishscale, being a personal favorite. Goes without saying that Zilla laced this one and I was impressed/honored that it was used to kick off Future Former Rapper."

002. "Microwaved Vendettas" (Prod. By Small Professor)

Small Professor: "This beat was originally slated for [Wrecking Crew's] Wu-Tang Pulp (2012) however, Zilla told me at the last second that it wasn't going to make the cut, but I'm glad that it found a home here."

003. "Now You Can't Leave" (Prod. By steel tipped dove)

steel tipped dove: '"Now You Can't Leave" is a beat I sent as [part of] a beat pack to Zilla. He told me it kinda centered the album and he built out from there. That sh*t BANGS! I really love that song! Zilla killed it and the whole album!! I hope tons and tons of people hear it!!!"

004. "Gunshot Jazz" (Prod. By Zilla Rocca)

Zilla Rocca: "With "Gunshot Jazz," I had both the beat and song done previously for projects that either never dropped or were rejected. As I was arranging the album, I didn't feel the need to inject a lot of my own beats into the album, but whatever beat I chose, it had to be a BANGER. I was going back through my beats and felt like this joint would be strong enough to hang with the other producers. And it reminded me of the first 5 O'Clock Shadowboxers album, The Slow Twilight, we did in 2009, sonically. So, I wanted to touch on that style on Future Former Rapper just to cover all of my bases with styles I've flipped over the years. I found the rhymes and hook in the stash and they fit perfectly. Plus, the title, "Gunshot Jazz," was a line I said on the first song on the last Shadowboxers album that I always wanted to use again. So, it all fit together perfectly."

005. "Make The Sickness, Sell The Cure" Feat. Curly Castro (Prod. By William J. Sullivan)

William J. Sullivan: "I met Zilla at Temple University in Philadelphia, PA, where we both attended college. At the time, he was in a group with my best friends, Noah and Starkey ("Name on the Buckle.") This was probably around 15 years ago. After that, we just clicked as friends under music, not just Hip-Hop. I was heavily involved in the Philly Metal & Hardcore scene, at that point, and Zilla was a walking Rap encyclopedia, so it was very interesting to make music together.

I believe, I started the beat, while I still lived in Brooklyn and I could never find the right vocal to fit, so I shelved it for a while. Later, I was working on a project of my own and sent him a bunch of the ideas I had, one of which was "Make The Sickness..." He liked it, so I said that him and Castro could do whatever they wanted on it. After a few e-mails back-and-forth, they were done the vocals, I switched up the arrangement a little bit and that was that.

Production-wise, I wrote and tracked everything in Logic Pro. NI Battery, BFD3, Heavyocity Damage, and EastWest RA handled drums and percussion, all kinds of weird Virtual Studio Technologies for keys, NI Massive on bass, and I played/tracked most of the string parts at my current space in California. I used Kontakt for the cello and bass parts because pitch shifting my violin sounded awful. Looking back, I wish I tried to use a bow on an electric bass... next time, I guess. Lastly, I believe, this version of the song was mixed in Pro Tools.

It wasn't until the album was almost done that Zilla told me "Make The Sickness..." was on it. He then, told me Starkey had a song on it, which got me really excited. It's rare to go this long in the music industry and work with people you are personally so close to. At least, it's a rare opportunity for me. I always dream about the day me and all of my old friends get together and freely make some sh*t like we did when we were younger."

Curly Castro: "This was a Hell of a blade to sharpen. Bill being a long-time friend/collaborator of Zilla's, the work was a long time coming and way overdue. Bill deals with original compositions and self-made instrumentation, which leads to BOOM-bastic results. I remember Zilla wasn't feeling my Caribbean-styled hook at first, lol, but I said, "TRUST MI, NUH-man!!!!" And he did lol and now, we have an immortal banga."

006. "Three Romans" Feat. Curly Castro (Prod. By steel tipped dove)

steel tipped dove: '"Three Romans," I sent as part of a beat pack and was so stoked to hear he made a joint with Curly Castro over one of my joints 'cause I'm such a fan of both of them and I love the way the song tells a unique and true story. [It's] so awesome and tells a story in a really cool way."

Curly Castro: "Zilla went to Roman Catholic high school and that school has a star-eyed lineage in terms of players it produced. Zilla took on the fates of three particular Romans: Eddie Griffin, Rasual Butler, and Marvin Harrison. I took the title in an idyllic sense and talked about three "Romans" I followed coming up: Charles Oakley, Anthony Mason, and Charles Smith. I detailed the tragedy that was [The] Knicks vs. Bulls in the 90's."

007. "Favors Are Bad News" Feat. Armand Hammer (Prod. By Disco Vietnam)

Disco Vietnam: "I'm just trying to get busy and Zilla Rocca is just like me: he's not doing this for any other reason, but to do it. I've been sending him beats for years and years and we have threatened to collaborate a number of times, but anyone who has recorded anything knows: all finished songs are miracles. When you make a beat you're happy with, you want the whole world to hear it as soon as possible. I made this beat 10 years ago. I don't remember how I made it or why, but I sent it to Zilla and he planted it deep within The Earth, where it drank the acid rain. Zilla is my favorite type of artist: self-sufficient. He's been doing this a long time and even though the album is called Future Former Rapper, I don't think he's going to stop. What did I sample? That's none of your damn business and I'll thank you to stay out of my personal affairs."

ELUCID of Armand Hammer: "Wow, I've known of Zilla, via The Internet, through music for 10+ years. Haven't ever thought about that. Long time, G! There isn't a real story behind the ask for us to get on the song, but we agreed. I've made a few other songs with him, as well. Just a real mutual respect for each other's craft."

008. "All of My Day Ones Got Day Jobs" (Prod. By Messiah Musik)

Messiah Musik: "This is something that has been in the vault for a while. It was the first joint we collaborated on that Zilla sent back to me. Believe it was pretty soon after we started sharing tracks back-and-forth. I've been eager for him to share this—think it came out so dope! Just a really original concept that I recall him saying he wrote during his honeymoon. To me, it really compliments the overarching themes of the record. The little intro piece was a late addition that was another beat I shared way back. Hope everyone digs this as much as I do."

009. "Drunk History" (Prod. By Ray West)

Ray West: "I can't really recall when I, actually, met Zilla. I think, it just came from both of us on the grind and recognizing each other's music. We have been going back-and-forth about things, I been sending him some tracks here and there. When he told me there was one he wanted for his record I was all in. The beat was made on an E-mu SP-12 Turbo. Very minimal approach... lo-fi filtered sample and percussion."

010. "Enemy/Stranger/Friend" Feat. Sid Sutra & Serengeti (Prod. By steel tipped dove)

steel tipped dove: '"Enemy/Stranger/Friend," I sent as part of a beat pack and it's the first time I've ever gotten to work with Serengeti, who I've been a fan of for so so long and the way Zilla hits the damn beat on this one is crazy. I've been a fan of Geti's for yearrssssssss and this is the first chance my music crossed over with his."

Zilla Rocca: "On "Enemy/Stranger/Friend," I had that title in my notepad for a while after hearing how Buddha said that's why all people are to each other until we practice compassion. And then, everyone is our friend, even someone who hates us. Likewise, my other spirit animal, Dame Dash, did an infamous interview with The Breakfast Club, where he said something similar about how you're an enemy to someone who has no integrity and tries to do harm to you, but you're a friend to the people that you're protecting. In my own life, I never wanted to be an enemy to someone else, but that's just how things have gone the last 8-10 years with people I was either really close with or artists that don't even know me, but wanted to attack me based on something former friends would intimate about me.

So, that song is directly about those people—it's pretty emotional and aggressive, in retrospect. I was holding onto a lot of that stuff and keeping receipts in my head, knowing I would unload on all of those people within a song. Adding Sid Sutra was key to that because he's one of my favorite cats from Philly that can do so many styles and he was struggling at that time with the education system that constantly tells teachers they need to do more with less. Getting Serengeti was pretty late in the process—he's been a peer and a favorite of everyone I hang with for a long time. He added some levity and comic relief with his verse at the end kicking some classic Kenny Dennis sh*t over the beat from steel tipped dove."

011. "Name On The Buckle" Feat. Curly Castro (Prod. By Starkey)

Starkey: "I met Zilla back in college. We were both at Temple. I think that I was, actually, the teaching assistant for one of his production classes, when I first met him. He was working on a project called Crooked Soul and I was asked to be involved to produce some tracks, mix, etc. At some point, I along with another friend of ours, Noah Goldstein (who went on to work with Kanye West for years and is now, SVP of A&R at Columbia) became members of the "group" and the sole producers. I also, ran laptop duties at shows while Noah DJ'ed/scratched. We all kind of went our separate ways then, with Noah moving out of Philly. I was focusing on doing Starkey productions, as well as running Seclusiasis and Slit Jockey.

"Name On The Buckle" came together in a pretty weird way. Zilla hit me up and said he was working on a new album and was interested in me providing a track. I sent him a track which I thought would work nicely for them. However, in the time between when I sent it and when they had a chance to write and record it, that track ended up being snatched up for another project. If you check out the 18+ track "Agents" from their album, Collect (2016) you'll be able to hear the original beat that Zilla & Curly recorded the track to. So, I basically, imported the vocals into the session, muted all the production parts, and built the song from scratch... like you might start a remix. I actually, really like working this way. I've done it a bunch over the years. Usually, I'll re-build parts of the track, but this was the rare instance where I re-built the entire production around the vocals. I think the track turned out cool."

Curly Castro: "This is Zilla and I at our serrated oblivion best. Soundtracked by the intergalatic-famous Starkey, this was another long-time comer. Zilla & Starkey were in their first Rap group together, once upon a time. Interestingly enough, this was not the original beat, but it was the one The Rap Gods intended. Zilla & I went strait Morlock Massacre on this beat. We always want to show our versatility, when it comes to Wrecking Crew and I believe, we did with this Starkey sonic artillery. Also, anybody familiar with a family of Atoms, might recognize the hook. Salute, Mega!"

012. "Stop Biting Zilla Rocca, Part II" Feat. Curly Castro (Prod. By Small Professor)

Small Professor: "This was a song I made originally for a Bandcamp release that Zilla fleshed out into a full song. More Wu-Tang influence, unintentionally."

Curly Castro: "This was a necessary mantra for Zilla and for the entire Wrecking Crew as a whole. We noticed folks deliberately biting some styles we spent years refining and developing. So, basically, we are saying "we see you" and "we raise you," pun all the way intended. Salute to the pre-cocoa brovas. In closing, this was one of Zilla Rocca's most important projects to date. It's some of his best work ever crafted. And it's his most revolutionary effort, as well. This coming from your friendly neighborhood re.Bel himself."

013. "The Best Part of Every Day" (Prod. By Small Professor)

Small Professor: "One of the best things about Zilla's music is how much he puts his family in there. It was cool and an honor to open and close this album; Zilla Rocca, what a great guy!"

"Peace, world. I've known Zilla for going on 10 years now? Whenever he released Bring Me The Head of Zilla Rocca (2008) that's when our symbiosis started. I was applying for membership within his imprint, Beat Garden Ent. and he was not only The President of BG, he was a d*ck lol, but we navigated those murky waters and now he is the best friend I have on this planet. He is my A-Alike in this Rap sh*t, my parallel. I trust him with my life. We combined forces and left all other allegiances to form Wrecking Crew with Small Professor & PremRock and we are better men for it. Friends first, Hip-Hop third, NBA fandom second. Zilla told me early on about Future Former Rapper and his initial plans for the record.

I was very hesitant to participate and taken aback, at first. Future FORMER Rapper, means eventually, your boy is going to leave you in this game for more responsible pastures. Don't get me wrong, I was happy for my friend, but being the elder of The Crew, I knew what his "retirement" could ultimately mean. Zilla, THANK GOD lol, evolved his idea into an aesthetic purely for this album and a good touchstone for his Hip-Hop life moving forward. And so, we got to Wreck. Zilla informed me that he wanted an "art-imitates-life" vibe for the record and me, being his best friend and best man at his wedding, I would have multiple appearances. I would be Ghost to his Rae rocking Cuban Linx & Bulletproof Wallets, The Truth Enola to his Posdnous, while the Stakes stay High..."

- Curly Castro (Wrecking Crew/GRIFT COMPANY)

*BONUS* Kyle Tierce for Memetic Supply Co. - Art Direction:

"I've done a number of covers for Zilla, since we first linked up in 2011. His projects are always a lot of fun to work on because he really trusts my visual instincts and his whole Noir-Hop aesthetic has a bunch of in-built imagery to play with. For Future Former Rapper, he had an initial concept he wanted to work from, where we've got this image of a kid sort of trying to flee from a physical embodiment or manifestation of the city. I put the cover and a back panel together using my usual combination of vector art with analog and digital collage. When it came time to do the pre-release singles: "Favors Are Bad News," "Enemy/Stranger/Friend" & "Name On The Buckle" he just told me to let loose on the artwork and do something dope... so, I used the original album cover to kind of inform a base aesthetic, then, worked on expanding it with some different motifs.

My goal was to keep each of the covers distinct, while making it clear that they were all part of the same overarching project or collection. Finally, I even got to bring the whole process full-circle, taking some of the gestures from the singles—like the muted black-and-white collage elements, brown and cream backgrounds, torn edges, abstract geometric figures—and bringing them back to the original album cover to create an alternate version for the upcoming cassette release. In the end, I was really proud of part I got to play; it was a pleasure (as always) to work with Zilla on such an excellent album, especially, one with this kind of personal significance for him and I'm honored he trusted in my abilities enough to put the Art Direction in my hands."

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

MENORAH MASHUPS: crazy chanukah mixes & mashups (a dj BC compilation) Featuring dj BC, DJ Flack, FAROFF, ATOM & Voicedude

dj BC is a notorious Atlanta-based/Boston-bred mash-up artist, DJ, and producer known "on the streets" as Bob Cronin. He's the resident DJ for fellow Bostonians Big D & The Kids Table and is likely, best-known for his three Beastles (The Beatles & Beastie Boys) mash-up albums: 2004's The Beastles, 2006's Let It Beast, and most recently, 2013's ILL SUBMARINE. In fact, the latter was most recently re-issued for the very first time on super-limited edition tape for Cassette Store Day 2018. Sunday evening, for the first night of Hanukkah, "dj BC's super-group" TheBeastles @letitbeast's Instagram page posted a seasonally appropriate Yellow Submarine menorah with the tantalizing caption: "#HappyHanukkah from The Beastles! @mcaday #beatles #beastieboys @realdjbc check out dj BC's Chanukah album - link in bio!" Soon after, dj BC himself messaged me with a link to his 2015 compilation, MENORAH MIXES: crazy chanukah mixes & mashups. Keeping in line with The Beatles/Beastie Boys & Hanukkah theme, below, you'll hear "So What'cha Want" (Israeli Radio Promo) a hidden track from The Beasties' 1995 Root Down EP credited to then-Israeli radio DJ and emcee "Eyal (Deep) Friedman" AKA Quami De-La Fox.

Although, I had, somehow, never heard of MENORAH MIXES, it appears as though it's just one of Bob Cronin's many festive-themed releases; past stocking stuffers include SANTASTIC I-IX, a very Re:Composition CHRISTMAS By dj BC, and Big D & The Kids Table's Wicked Hardcore Christmas, which are currently all available to stream or download on MENORAH MASHUPS' Soundcloud page readily lists its unleavened ingredients, AKA samples, as: "Frank Yankovic & His Yanks, Gwen Stefani, House of Pain, Frank Zappa, Amsterdam Klezmer Band, Pa Brapad, several iterations of "The Dreidel Song," several iterations of "Hava Nagila," South Park, a dash of Chingy, Three Weissmen, Craig & Co. Alan Sherman, Pudie Tadow, and two seconds of Black Eyed Peas." In addition to not one, but TWO versions of dj BC's 2011 smash-hit, "Challahback Girl," MENORAH MASHUPS features Hanukkah re-works from like-minded mash-up artists DJ Flack, FAROFF, ATOM, and Voicedude. A seemingly newly re-upped version of MENORAH MASHUPS features 8 tracks—one for each night of Hanukkah!—as well as an extra track, for good measure, dj BC's Gwen Stefani-flipping "Challahback Girl" - Original Instrumental (A Hava Nagila Remix.) Happy Hanukkah from The Witzard, B-boys & B-girls!!!

Monday, December 3, 2018

Leonard Charles Joins Forces with The King of The Boogie Leroy Burgess for "NINE LIVES" (Wonderful Noise/From The Crate Records)

Jeremy Toy is an extremely talented singer, song-writer, multi-instrumentalist, and producer hailing from Auckland, New Zealand. Toy has an Indie-Pop/Shoegaze band called She's So Rad with his wife, Anji and also, moonlights as "Basement" Funk originator Leonard Charles. Although, he's been recording and self-releasing music as Leonard Charles for quite a few years now, his 2016 Basement Donuts album is what really first pinged on our radar; an expansive 31-track album, Basement Donuts is a stylistic re-imagining of J Dilla's magnum opus and final record, Donuts, on its 10th anniversary. Charles has since released an unofficial cover of Madlib, M.E.D. & Blu's "The Turn Up" and ALL NIGHT LONG EP with Reggie Blunt & Jellphonic, as well as one-off collaborations with fellow Kiwis, Team Dynamite and long-time Dilla affiliate, Guilty Simpson. Leonard & Guilty first teamed up for "BREAKING OVER YOU," which was premiered right here at The Witzard last year and they are currently wrapping up a proper 2019 full-length attributed to The Leonard-Simpson Duo AKA LSD. Somehow, amidst all these genre-eschewing collaborations, as well as a year-long recovery back to good health following a hit-and-run accident, has returned with "Nine Lives" alongside The King of The Boogie himself, Leroy Burgess.

An esteemed singer, song-writer, keyboard player, and producer, Leroy Burgess has spent nearly half a century meticulously "crafting and performing hits, deep cuts, and cult classics with unmatched energy, emotional fervor, and commitment to sincerity in song-craft and expression." Burgess has either performed alongside or recorded music with the likes of Black Ivory, Larry Joseph & Science, Aleem, Phreek, LOGG, The P.A. System, Universal Robot Band, Cassius, High Frequency, Bumblebee Unlimited, and countless others. "Inspired by a video of a Red Bull Music Academy (RBMA) workshop with [Leroy] Burgess, [Jeremy] Toy took a chance and contacted him with a view to co-writing and recording a song together," states part of a RBMA press release. It appears as though Leroy Burgess instantly connected with a particular Leonard Charles instrumental entitled "Basement Funk Mix," which quickly morphed into "Nine Lives." Digitally released on Jeremy Toy's own From The Crate Records in conjunction with Red Bull Music Academy, Leonard Charles & Leroy Burgess' "Nine Lives" will soon be issued on 12-inch vinyl through Japanese imprint, WONDERFUL NOISE PRODUCTIONS. "Nine Lives"' Main Mix is backed by an Instrumental Mix, as well as Charles' aforementioned "Basement Funk Mix" and a cascading dance floor-ready remix provided by Frank Booker & Julien Dyne.