Connecting the underground one referral at a time.
Moe Green x Vallejo x #thereferral
After linking with Josie, I tripped down to Vallejo to meet up with Moe Green. I had been referred to Moe by a few people and was excited to see what the buzz was about. After scooping him from his apartment complex, we headed to the best soul food spot in Vallejo. After picking up a to-go box of chicken, mac&cheeze, and greens, we headed for the spot. At his boy’s crib, we kicked it, talked about his career, and watched music videos. Moe is a real humble dude and I have much respect for his potential (23 yrs old). Check the interview.
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Josie Stingray x Honor Roll Crew x Bay Area Hip-Hop x #thereferral
When I headed out to New York, there were a few emcees that I was hoping I would catch up with. I met up with almost all of them, except for Fresh Daily. After I had left the Apple, I saw a tweet that he posted about an emcee from the Bay named Josie Stingray. I checked out a couple videos while sitting in the airport and was sold.
As soon as I landed in San Jose, I tweeted Josie and told her that we should link up. She hit me back right away and the next day we were sitting together at a coffee shop in the heart of San Fran. This is what manifested from our meeting, an interview for your viewing pleasure.
LA x Nikko Gray x Bay Area x Josie Stingray x Moe Green x San Jose
Ahh shit here we go again, I cussed out loud. I had jumped on a last minute flight in order to make the Friday morning video shoot and didn’t land in LAX until midnight. As soon as we landed, I texted YC (the Cynic) to tell him I had just landed and needed a ride. Ring ring ring, ring ring ring. You know the drill, no answer.
You can say all you want about social networking takeovers but in times like these, Facebook is the bigboobedBaywatcher saving me from drowning. Sure enough, I flip on my mobile FB and see my friend Josh had commented “I just moved to LA, hit me up!” When he posted that, he probably thought I would just call him one night to meet up for a drink. Well, I asked for more. Thirty minutes later, Josh was at LAX to pick me up. And an hour later, Josh was setting up a “hobo pad” for me on the hardwood floor of his apartment.
For the next five days, the Josh Wolf den was my crash quarters and Hollywood my stomping ground. I met with Nikko Gray, filmed a music video, ate Roscoes Chicken & Waffles, hiked up Runyon Canyon, and kicked it.
Then I curved up the coast. Spent some time in San Fran to meet with the female phenom MC, Josie Stingray. Josie was a real insightful chica making it an interesting interaction for me. She explained her view of the industry, Sneakers 101, and a type of new music coming out of the bay called “schmop” (stay tuned for the interview).
After our time, I split for Vallejo to link with Moe Green. We got some nom noms (chickenmacncheesegreenshotsaucesprite) and kicked it at his boys house for a bit. Vallejo is the home of E-40 so is no stranger to the rappin’ folk. Unfortunately, the city of Vallejo recently went bankrupt and had to cut a lot of the police force. When you eliminate police, crime rises (obviously). Never the less, I had a good time kickin’ it with Moe and have great faith that he will get out of the neighborhood soon and be touring the US of A.
I then headed back to Grandma’s house for a couple days in Sunnyvale (Northern CA). We ate peaches, painted her fence, and kicked it grandson/g-ma style. I was glad to take a couple days off from the trip to just chill. It is good to always keep a balance between work and family. It’s all about that balance…
The California scene was enjoyable and I was able to meet a lot of good contacts. At the same time, I was able to take an outsider view and realize that all these scenes are kind of the same. LA on the other hand, was a bit different. I couldn’t walk somewhere without meeting someone who knew someone, or someone worth knowing. If you want to completely indulge yourself in the music business, head for LA.
Side note: The interviews with Josie Stingray and Moe Green will be up soon. I have been a bit busy but no worries, they will be here soon. I am excited for you to meet them, I think ya’ll are gonna get along very nicely.
Next stop Portland.
"Press Play" Nikko Gray feat. Chris Young
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#thereferral x Nikko Gray x Los Angeles, CA
Never have I met an artist with such refreshing intentions. Nikko Gray stands behind a very simple mission, love. Seriously, that’s it. I have met other artists who swear that they are all about peace, love, and good vibes. But rarely do I meet someone who radiates those things without even opening her mouth to explain them.
I was lucky enough to chill with this soulful sister for a bit and this interview is what came out of it. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed hearing it.
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Chicago x whysowhite x #thereferral
When I was in Chicago, I got illy with the homie Pwelbs and the group that he manages, whysowhite. Whysowhite is a young, full band hip hop group based in the Windy City. Their energy is astounding and their intentions are pure. Basically, these guys are just trying to get funky. Like f’real, this is the type of group that will go far because they are doing it for the love of music. Their give love, spread love mentality was very refreshing and I enjoyed hearing their insights on live performances among many other things. Read the interview here:
For the interview I was able to chill with Davis, the singer/mc/conga player from whysowhite. Davis was a great dude and real fun to kick it with. Unfortunately, the next day I was informed that after our interview he was involved in a bike accident in which he was hit by a truck. The rest of the information I will keep private but please keep him in your prayers. He is a cat full of good energy and I hope his recovery is swift. He and his family will appreciate your support, even if you do not know him personally.
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Today started off early because we had to go out and re-shoot for the YC video. After the shoot I had YC’s manager, Alex, dropped me off at Space 15Twenty where I would be meeting up with Nikko Gray (a female vocalist that I would be interviewing).
After talking with Nikko for a while, she introduced me to one of her friends Ken Bts. We got to talking and I asked him if he knew any artists in San Francisco that he could refer me to. He asked if I had ever heard of Zion I and Grouch. Well duh, you know them? He told me he had just got back from tour with Blu (who I am SUPPOSED to be linking up with but he is a humble mystery) and Zion & the Grouch.
I then told him about how Blu had been dodging me a little bit and he explained that Blu was just like that. He told me that earlier that year, they had been billed to play a show in New York. Right before the show started, Blu had given a box of new t-shirts to the merch guy that said “No York” on them. He then told the dude to give them free to anyone who asked. In the midst of soundcheck, Blu looked at Ken and told him he was going to get something to eat… and never came back for the show.
Guess who turned out to be the promoter for that show? Alex, YC’s manager, the guy who had dropped me off to meet with Nikko. Not only was he the promoter, but Ken had also slept on his couch the night before the show. Little world…
Video Shoot @ The Key Club x YC The Cynic x #thereferral
YC The Cynic x “The Harder” x Fall FWD x Video Shoot
#thereferral x Chicago x Milwaukee x Toots & The Maytals
Last week, I made a stop in Chicago. On Sunday, I had the opportunity to meet up with a funky, hip-hop group called Why So White*. The name isn’t a joke, these white boys are used to being questioned for their intentions with entering the world of hip-hop. When asked, they laugh and simply reply with good energy. It was refreshing to catch the vibes they were offering and I was able to gather a lot of good material in the interview (which I will be posting later).
On a last second decision, I decided to hop on the Amtrak to Milwaukee immeadiately following my interview with Why So White. That night, Toots & The Maytals would be performing at Summerfest and I couldn’t miss the chance to get MAH RASTA ON BRUDDA! So I went… and I danced… and it was just right. Sometimes being on the road all the time can get draining, but having the chance to groove out in an open field on the edge of Lake Michigan filled me right back up with energy sauce.
*During the interview, we were also joined by their manager Patrick Welby (Pwelbs). Patricio is a big component of the music world in Chicago and was able to share with me all of the projects he has been working on. Those will also be included in the interview.
YC The Cynic outside hip-hop community center (Bronx)
One of my best experiences in New York was meeting up with Homeboy Sandman. This down-to-earth cat spared a couple hours of his time for an interview. After we had finished, he asked me what I was doing later that night and invited me to a loft party (mentioned more in depth below).
Here is the interview:
Kingston Mines x Live Blues x #thereferral
I have come to the conclusion that the energy of the crowd is the biggest deciding factor between a rockin’ rage fest and a whack “show”. To be honest, I didn’t know what I was getting into with a night at Kingston Mines. Earlier in the day I had asked around for live music spots and my guy Pwelbs dropped knowledge on the Mines.
The venue was split into two, large rooms with stages in each. The first show was in the smaller room and featured a group called Eric and The Troublemakers. The front man, Eric Guitar Davis, looked JUST like Bokeem Woodbine (Can’t Get Right from the movie, Life). I rocked with them for a while and geeked as many of the pale skinned Northsiders clapped off rhythm.
The picture attached was one that I took on the other side of the bar. The group playing on that side was Big James and The Chicago Playboys. Big James, the vocalist/trombonist, came in like fifteen minutes late like he ran tings. And he did. He even had a tattoo on his neck to prove it, that said “Big Chief”.
But the biggest difference were the two different crowds. One side were the off-beat rich folk and on the other? Well, in my view I could see a wasted, whirling dervish of a birthday girl, an ol’ black dude groovin’ with a cane, a younger cat in a three-piece suit and top hat, and a party of middle-aged moms who were bound to forget soccer practice the next morning. Drinks poured, swingers swingin’, ribs cookin’… top notch night, indeed.
Jottings from New York (Photo from Pride Parade)
The day before I left for New York, my friend Dustin hit me up and said, “If you go to New York you will never want to come back. It’s feels like the center of the universe.” After a week spent, I can now say I feel what he is preachin’.
My first day there I spent at the Fort Green Festival in Brooklyn. Hosted by Rosie Perez and headlined by Mos Def, the festival feature many other musicians. One of my favorite acts turned out to be one called Navegante. A drummer and a guitarist/singer/keyboardist, Navegante is a duo that sounds much different from anything I had heard in the Midwest. Their set was cut short and the crowd cried for an encore, which was not allowed by the stage manager.
After the show, I went back to my computer and hit up Jean (front man of Navegante). He invited me to come kick it in his studio and check out some of his music. After leaving there I got some of the best pizza of my life… stanky dank pepperoni swag.
I was really excited to also link up with one of my favorite emcees out of the East Coast, Homeboy Sandman. We chilled in a library/park for a while and he gave me the shakedown on his life to this point. Afterwards he told me that if I wasn’t busy that night, I should come with him and his boys to a pre-party for the Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival. Sandman would be performing, along with QTip (Tribe Called Quest), M.O.P., Kendrick Lamar, Camp Lo, and many more.
The pre-party turned out to be the best night of my New York trip. After walking up a few floors, we walked into a room full of emcees and reporters/photographers. I also have to note that there was a table full of chips, candy, blunt raps, and honey buns… which was pretty shweet. I ended up on the back roof patio, drinking beer and enjoying the view of the Manhattan Bridge stretched over the moonlit river. A couple people sat down next to me, we got to conversating, and they turned out to be part of the Brooklyn-based clothing company, Rocksmith.
The two other artists I linked up with were Nyle and YC The Cynic (look below for my interview with Nyle). YC, a 20-year old emcee, invited me to meet him at his spot in the Bronx. The place he brought me was an abandoned building that they had taken over. Previously an office for The Source Magazine, the rooms were stacked to the ceiling with abandoned magazines. The first room he brought me into was full of faded photographs that encompassed the roots of the NY hip-hop culture (my favorite picture was one taken of Mase playing high school basketball).
The building had been found by YC and his friends, the Rebel Diaz Arts Collective, and fixed up into a hip-hop community center of sorts. There was an area for screen printing (t-shirts), a stage for practicing sets, an outdoor porch, and a large recording studio. I felt like I had walked into the Never-Neverland of hip-hop, and the collective were the Lost Boys. RUFIO RUFIO RUFIO!… nevermind.
After meeting with these various artists and soaking up the scene, I have come to realize a few things about New York. One of the most important was that the hip-hop scene is constantly evolving. Previously riddled with gangster-rap, New York is now run with hipster and backpack rappers. But after meeting with the emcees I did, I have no doubt that the scene holds a promising future.
Nearing the end of my interview with YC, he told me that he would be going to LA on the 14th to play a show with Pac Div and shoot a couple music videos. When he invited me to come along, I jumped at the opportunity. So in the next YC the Cynic video, look for the guy in the banana suit. I think thats what I’m gonna wear and just dance in the background while he raps. I’ll see if he goes for it.
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