Tag Archives: michigan

Pushing the Tracks: “Bill Cosby Sweater” by Cam Minor

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Cam Minor is a promising young artist coming out of Southwest Detroit. We first met him during a trip down to the Urban Arts Academy in 2013, and during a quick post-interview cypher he laid down some electrifying bars.

On “Bill Cosby Sweater,” Cam takes those bars and puts them into studio form. Over a quick-cutting beat that gives room for his lyrics, Cam admittedly declares on the hook: “I’m yelling out, ain’t nobody better/ I’m overconfident in a Bill Cosby sweater.”

Maybe it’s overconfidence, but here it simply looks like confidence. From start to finish, Cam’s delivery is strong and clear, and mirroring a slight similarity to Earl Sweatshirt’s vocal tone, there’s intrigue all over. What’s especially exciting is a mix between Cam’s confidence behind the mic and his ability to easily weave lines together. During his first verse he spits, “Hello, hello, goodbye/ Hit the party looking fly in some two-year-old Levi’s.” Later on he answers his critics: “I’m getting lucky like rubbing on a Buddha head.”

It’s this forthcoming style that makes Cam Minor someone to watch. As an artist with confidence, clear flow, clever rhymes and good production to back his songs, there’s nothing stopping Cam from releasing more worthy songs.

Peep the song below and enjoy!

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A Bonus Cut Feature: An Interview With Ozay Moore

 

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By: Gus Navarro 

On May 26th, Ozay Moore dropped Taking L’s, his first record in more than five years. Released via Mello Orange Music and produced entirely by 14KT, L’s has that classic hip-hop feel but also achieves a whole new level of depth and honesty. The record is driven by the idea that not every “L” or loss you take in life is negative. As Ozay explains, “Not every L is a bad L to take. For instance, you might take a loss and come to find out that it ended up being the best thing for your situation at the time.” As that concept propels the album forward, the genius of Ozay is in the way he combines the hard-hitting elements of hip-hop with reflections on his life and how the world has changed since he first became a rapper.

There is the B-boy joint, “Bang,” that hits hard with the assistance of KT’s thumping kick drums and on point hand claps. “The Fix” is about substance abuse and the twisted web that a dependence on drugs can create. The seventh track, “Pillow Thoughts,” finds Ozay at a level of reflection and vulnerability that can be rare for the often braggadocious mentality of hip-hop. The power of “Pillow Thoughts” is the feeling that Ozay and KT are able to create. In one well soft-spoken and insightful verse, Ozay talks about his family, being there for his kids and the grind of working a 9-5 job. “Record Store Day” pays homage to physically purchasing music from a store after a solid day of crate digging and touches on how the digital age has impacted music consumption and the changing business of independently owned record stores. As he lays it down, “Am I the last in the world without an Ipod?/ I guess I gotta get with it but the times change quicker than the pace I’m used to keepin’/ Man, I still enjoy diggin’/ Sparkin’ conversations at the mom and pop shops about releases.”

What becomes clear is that Taking L’s is a reflection on the complexities of life. There are times of elation and warmth that have to be balanced with the inevitable moments of pain and sorrow. Ozay reminds us of the power of vulnerability and that when one door closes, another opens somewhere else. With all of the self-absorbed music being made these days, Taking L’s removes the glitz and glam that is often exaggerated in popular music. Instead he shares insights and tells stories about love, family, supporting local music and the how society has changed in a way that is as relatable as it is insightful. There is no doubt that Taking L’s is a welcome and long-awaited addition to the musical archives of hip-hop culture.

 

Taking L's Pic

“Taking L’s” cover art

 

 

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A Track-By-Track Look Into Ozay Moore’s “Taking L’s”

Taking L's Pic

On May 26th, the incredibly honest and personal MC Ozay Moore (fka Othello) released the album Taking L’s. Produced entirely by 14KT, Taking L’s is an in-depth look into life, where Ozay explains that not all L’s are bad, and that sometimes they’re the best thing that can happen to you given the circumstance. With songs about introspection, love, heartache, growing up, substance abuse, wins and losses, Taking L’s is a ride through hip-hop with depth that keeps on unraveling and truth that seeps through the speakers.

Here, Gus and Dan break down the album track-by-track.

Be sure to peep and buy the album either digitally or June 9th during the official label release. Click here to purchase the album!

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Pushing the Tracks: “528Hz (solfeggio & fibonacci)” featuring Knockzarelli & Row & Nora Yvelle

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Right on the heels of Sacramento Knoxx’s new track “May 14th Transformations,”–a uniquely bound ride into production prominence–comes “528HZ (solfeggio & fibonacci),” an ear-opening cut featuring Knockzarelli, Row and Nora Yvelle, with production by XXYYXX.

“528HZ…” is an attention-grabbing song that ensnares you at numerous points. From XXYYXX’s low-buzzing melodies that swirl into beautiful waves of artistic vibes to Row’s dominating presence behind the mic to Yvelle’s free-flowing singing, “528HZ…” is a wonderful work of music on all sides that truly represents the strength behind Southwest Detroit’s culture. “Fuck the system I see these Donald Sterling’s lurking,” Row spits. “Searching every way to keep our voices from merging.”

On the song’s mystifying vocal coda, Yvelle beautifully backs Row’s inspiring bars: “Just always know, you’re not alone… Together we can make it known.”

instagram: @Knockzarelli
Knockzarelli is an emcee from Southwest Detroit, with a multidisciplinary artistic vision, this hybrid culture creator spreads messages of love, resistance, and knowledge that promote creation & healing. And with this piece he inspires us to dodge the lies and wanted to remind us of our true divine beauty we all have within ourselves. Catch him at www.sKnoxx.com #RAIZup
Row Mendez
Row is an up and coming artist, emcee, & culture creator from Southwest Detroit. His artistic imprint to the universe leaves strong leadership for the youth, and assures that our ambition will carry us through our struggles. follow up: www.rowmendez.bandcamp.com

Nora Yvelle
Nora is a vocal artist, community activist, and culture creator she plans on singing your ears into a trance, a place of peace, and understanding. “This track personifies the visions of youth in the community bringing awareness and striving for change and showing a beautiful way. Music is a way of healing through the ears.” Nora is from Hitsville, Detroit, Michigan.
contact: Norasingz@Yahoo.com

produced by XXYYXX
recorded at The Urban Arts Academy, Detroit, MI

 

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Bonus Cut Films Presents: An Interview With Jahshua Smith

jahshua

via blatpack.com

When Jahshua Smith (FKA JYoung The General) is on stage, he commands it. He makes you listen to his words and what he has to say. When he’s in front of an audience, he doesn’t hold back and you can tell that he’s doing something that he loves. As an audience member, it becomes impossible not to move your feet, throw your hands up in the air and nod to the beat. After seeing how polarizing and energetic he is on stage, you might assume he would be the same way off it. However, when you sit down and talk with Jahshua, he is one of the more quiet and retrospective artists we have spoken with. As one of the founding members of the BLAT! Pack, Jahshua Smith uses hip-hop as a worldview and applies it to the work he does within African-American history, teaching literacy skills to youth and the music he makes.

We held the interview at the Record Lounge, an independently owned record store on Division Street in East Lansing, Michigan. The store is exactly how you want a record store to be: there are crates of vinyl everywhere, and hidden gems lurk within the stacks as posters, stickers and flyers are plastered on every corner of the space. It’s the kind of place that you could spend hours on end. Having grown up in Detroit, Jahshua eventually left for the Lansing area to attend Michigan State University. He chose the Record lounge for the interview because as a student, it was a place he went to discover new sounds and hangout with friends.

We cannot thank Jahshua enough for his interest in sitting down with us and we look forward to our next encounter.

Many thanks to Heather Frarey, the owner of the Record Lounge, for allowing us to do the interview in her place of business.

Directed by: Gus Navarro
Production: Daniel Hodgman, Gus Navarro and Phillip McGuigan
Camera:  Phillip McGuigan and Julian Stall
Editing: Phillip McGuigan and Gus Navarro
Songs: “Obvious” and “Censored” by StewRat

 

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Hip-Hop, Feminism and Community Engagement: The Women of the Foundation

via 5egallery.org

via 5egallery.org

By: Nicole DiMichele, Philip Mcguigan and Gus Navarro

Based in Detroit, Michigan, the Foundation is a women’s hip-hop collective that operates out of the 5e Gallery in Corktown. The 5e Gallery is a space where artists teach, celebrate and expand on hip-hop culture and how it can be used as a means of liberation for youth and adults alike. The 5e prides itself on being a safe space for everyone to come and learn about and hone their craft, whether it be learning how to MC, produce a beat or break dance. Despite the heavy emphasis on masculinity within much of hip-hop, the members of the Foundation work tirelessly as a unit to continually create avenues for women to make their voice heard and engage in community within the Detroit hip-hop scene.

We were fortunate enough to sit down with four members of the Foundation, Miz Korona, Nique Love Rhodes, Insite The Riot and Jaci Caprice. These incredible women could not have been more welcoming to us and gracious with their time. When you talk with them, it is so clear that they care for each other on a level of friendship that is grounded in warmth and love. It was an honor to be around that and to hear what they had to say about the various issues related to the art they produce and community projects they are a part of. In the interview we discussed various issues such as community engagement, education, gentrification, feminism and hip-hop, feminism and the ways in which these things related to their experiences within the Detroit hip-hop community. Based on this interview and our own visit to the 5e Gallery, it became clear that the Foundation is one of the only safe spaces for hip-hop artists that exists outside of normalized heterosexual and binary gender identities.

Given the continual drive towards gentrification in Detroit, the Foundation and The 5e Gallery are a vital piece of a community that was in existence long before the supposed rebirth of the city. Taking that into consideration, we feel that it is important to highlight the grassroots movements in Detroit that are doing important work, while at the same time lying in tension with the corporations and young professionals that are flocking to the city, ultimately perpetuating the marginalization of people, predominantly those of color, who have been living there for generations. Given our interview, we strongly believe that the corporate world and the grassroots world could work together to achieve a more sustainable movement to bring the city back. By combining the monetary resources that corporations have access to and the knowledge and experiences of the established grassroots movements, Detroit could be an example of a type of gentrification that is not oppressive or destructive, but rather inclusive and ultimately equitable.

 

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The Celebration of the Hip-Hop Commune: Rockin’ With All of the Above

via All of the Above

via All of the Above

By: Justin Cook

On the evening of April 25th 2014, I witnessed hip-hop in the rawest form: DJing, MCing, B-Boying and graffiti along the dome of my mental. It was unlike any show I’d ever been to. The sense of community vision and celebration was all around. It all started as I walked into the Loft, a local venue in Lansing, Michigan, and met up with fellow Bonus Cut member Gus Navarro. DJ Ruckus spun classics as people slowly filled the dance floor. I began to recognize a lot of familiar faces: the great people of All of the Above, friends, classmates and co-opers of East Lansing.

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