Every week, Daniel and Gus pick five songs to share called The Starting Five. This week, they’re personally sharing these tracks as a feature.
By: Daniel Hodgman
Jamal Dewar, known by his stage name Capital STEEZ, was one of the founding members and architectural mastermind behind Brooklyn’s Pro Era. He rapped with focus and precision, often times making intricate allusions to his life while at the same time throwing around rhymes about the soul, inner-perception and the new “underground mainstream.” STEEZ was a genius; he was an established MC who poured the pulsating realities of his world into songs that could persuade even the tightest of critics to engage in a Pro Era yap fest. Ultimately, what STEEZ reflected in his music was that of an enigma-wrapped soul either lost in the mysterious cavities of life or a soul that simply punctured the surface of life’s very realm. On December 23, 2012, Jamal tweeted “The end.” The next day he took his own life. He was only 19.
Pro Era’s “Like Water” and their Dedication to Capital STEEZ
Over a solemn Statik Selektah produced track that features ringing piano swells, New York hip-hop group Pro Era drops the video to “Like Water,” a moving ode to their fallen member Capital STEEZ and the everyday oppression that hides behind life’s never-ending facade. The first verse is actually Capital STEEZ himself and as his verse runs over the somber sounds of a bereaved cut, the video transitions between stunning shots of Brooklyn under the spell of kerosene contained sprawl. The third verse comes from CJ Fly and at this point the video focuses on a touching mural of STEEZ on a Brooklyn building wall. Between STEEZ and Fly’s verse, Joey Bada$$ delivers the usual–a commanding cadence mixed with intricate wordplay and detail.
“Like Water” is refreshing and heartfelt, and the video not only stands behind these feelings, it fully embraces them. You can check out the video below.
Geno Smith Signs With Jay-Z’s Roc Nation Sports
A couple of months ago, Bonus Cut co-creator Gus Navarro wrote a piece on Jay-Z and his impact on the community. In it Gus mentioned Jay-Z’s new Roc Nation Sports management agency, a sub-let from the entertainment company Roc Nation. This past week it’s been reported that football quarterback Geno Smith, recent West Virginia standout turned New York Jet, has signed with Roc Nation Sports, joining the likes of New York Yankee Robinson Canoe, New York Giant Victor Cruz and WNBA star Skylar Diggins.
Now of course this wouldn’t be worthy news if there wasn’t some controversy tied into it, and that’s exactly the baggage that comes with this small story.
According to NFLPA, it seems as if Jay-Z and his staff illegally recruited Smith and broke the “runner rule,” which states that only registered agents within the confines of the NFLPA can recruit players. Smith on the other hand says that Jay-Z didn’t recruit him and that he chose the agency for himself after deliberation with his family and friends.
No matter what way this seemingly unimportant story goes, this event does bring into question that of Jay-Z’s influence. Has it come to the point where he feels he can break small yet unequivocal rules and get away with it? Are these rules that he might have broken too hollow? Does anyone even care about the New York Jets anymore?
Onto the Next Step: Mid-Michigan Hip-Hop’s The Specktators and Their Last Show in the Mitten
On June 1st at the Loft in Lansing, The Specktators threw a goodbye party. Along with hip-hop electronic duo Green Skeem, The Specktators celebrated with fans, friends and family as they hosted their last show in Michigan before moving out to California to further pursue their career in hip-hop.
Earlier this year The Specktators signed with MTV/Sony ATV’s “Extreme Music” label.
Although Bonus Cut wasn’t able to attend the show due to prior events, we feel it’s our duty to honor local hip-hop and hip-hop that we grew up with. (Daniel: “I remember getting a Specktators mixtape from my friend in high school and was astonished that this was happening 5 miles down the road. They’ll always be one of those hip-hop names I’ll stand by.”)
The Specktators are made up of Moe-T and Packi and hail from Lansing, Michigan. Check out “REFS” below.