ROUNDUP: All Hallows Eve

Happy Halloween, folks. Remember, there are hot shows popping off tonight - 99 Neighbors Graveyard Smash at Club Metronome in Burlington, Jarv and Sed One rocking Charlie-O’s in Montpelier, and the Carnival of Sins at the Essex VFW. Today’s post is all about the new releases, though. Things have been moving fast, plus we’ve got actual Halloween projects to share. Let us commence.

First up is Humble Among’s Halloween Tape, obviously. It is a densely packed, horrorcore themed EP and very clearly a labor of love. It’s also the prelude to a busy month for the rapper / producer: he’ll be playing November 10th at Spanky’s Dive Bar (really, yes) in Springfield, VT for a BYOB hip hop night alongside Jibba “The Gent,” Yung Breeze, HATEPH34R and the exquisitely named Sheet Eater. After that, he’ll be joining Stresselbee, Jarv, Eyedos and more on November 21st for a show at The Stone Church in Brattleboro, VT — an awesome venue.

Up next on the Samhain Train, Equal Eyes Records artist Agent Elsewhere drops a seasonal single for Cabbage Night, “Film This..” It’s creepy and claustrophobic, and also points to some interesting new directions for his EDM-infused style. This cut is a Jason Vorhees slice off an upcoming album that should drop by the end of the year — name and date still up in the air at this time.

Music from a brand new name: meet KPK, making his debut today with a spooky single and one hell of a guest feature from 802 heavyweight Jibba “The Gent.” How did that happen? Well, Jibba is also known, in some circles, as KPK’s older brother. It’s a story as old as time: skills run in the family. While KPK inevitably sounds young, he also definitely sounds like someone who has been doing his homework — and has a lot of potential. Props & welcome.

Finally, another new name: Moose’s single “Livin It Up” is the warning shot for both an upcoming video and a solo project. He’s part of the Hella Fader family, alongside Juni, an artist we’ve been covering a lot lately. They’re definitely on a mutual wave — smoked out, laid back, and very nicely produced. Dig it.

Justin Boland
ROUNDUP: The Listening Station

Happy Samhain. We’re back with another roundup of quality cuts from the Vermont scene, where standards and output are at an all-time high. Seriously, this year has been insane. The music, the shows, the albums, the art, the community … well, dang. There’s a lot to celebrate — today, we’ve got four choice slices from a mix of old vets and new voices. Dig in.

First up, a serious banger from down south. The Coalition is Yung Breeze, Selfish Presley, Raw Deff and Gringo Montega — aka Vazy of So.802 Studios. That whole extended crew has been on a serious run lately, and there’s clearly a lot more to come. Especially with Jibba “The Gent” freshly signed to Maine’s 656 Records and gearing up for a very creative private show / video shoot for his “Suite Tooth” single.

After the fever dream blast of his TRIP EP, the one and only Zesty Boi is back with a new album, TINY ALLIGATORS. His early work was a lil’ rough but he’s evolved fearsomely fast since then - a cat worth keeping an eye on. Then again, as his own bio puts it, “up and coming rapper means nothing.” That’s what I’d call an educated opinion. The lad has wisdom beyond his years and energy for days. Go see him live.

Here’s another new artist with great bio copy. As Juni puts it, he’s “a simple rapping dad whose just tryna get paid doing what he loves...but i mostly need a swimming pool.” Clear, realistic goals are the key to a happy life. More importantly, though, this cat can really spit, and “Rum Drunk” is an impressive single that showcases his catchy, carefully calibrated flow. I’m expecting great things from this dude in 2019.

Finally, one from the Late Pass Department: “Too Long” features Teece Luvv over some warm, funky SkySplitterInk production. This is an outstanding piece of work with some sharp bars on deck, too. Mr. Luvv is having a great year and our world is a better place for it. As for SkySplitterInk, not only is he one of the 802’s most accomplished producers, he’s also one of the best engineers you could work with. Peace to the Skylab, and props to both of these upstanding young gentlemen.

As ever, if you’ve got recommendations, suggestions or hot mixtapes on deck, get in touch.

Justin Boland
VIDEO: Jarv - "Fine"

Given the chance, always start your music video with a slow-mo shot of a television getting smashed. This is advice that will never fail you.

In related news, Jarv is back with a brand new video for “Fine,” a single off his superb rap album, Jarvage Vol. 2. It’s tight work, like every other aspect of his album campaign so far.

Jarv will be rocking shows all weekend, too: tonight, he’s with Maiden Voyage at Windsor Station — tomorrow, opening for RJD2 at Hawks & Reed in Greenfield, MA — and returning on Sunday night to rock an opening set for Prof at Higher Ground.

Justin Boland
Shows, From Here to Halloween

It’s time to monetize cuffing season. Despite dropping temperatures, the final stretch of October is always busy — and lucrative. That all culminates in Halloween, the biggest prestige gig this side of New Years Eve. Predictably enough, there’s plenty of competition for your money on the 31st.

First, though, we’ve gotta get there.

On Friday, Oct. 26th, the Church Street DJs team will be taking over the Blue Room at Red Square for PHASES, a series of shows they’re curating around Burlington this Fall. Friday’s edition will feature producer / DJ David Chief and DJ KermiTT. It all starts at midnight.

Further south, Maiden Voyage will be throwing a celebration that night at Windsor Station, their home turf and ol’ stomping ground. From there, Jarv has a busy weekend — first, he’s opening for legendary producer/performer RJD2 at Hawks & Reed in Greenfield, MA on Saturday night. After that, he swoops back to BTV to open for Prof at Higher Ground, alongside Mister Burns.

Awkwardly enough, Halloween itself falls on a Wednesday night. Downtown Burlington will be past capacity anyway, and the 99 Neighbors Graveyard Smash at Club Metronome will capture a lot of that human tide. They’ve got Loupo and Chyse on the bill and they’ve been preparing something special for weeks now. Expect a great time and minimal elbow room. 9 pm show. 18+ $15 adv / $20 door. 21+ $10 adv / $15 door.

Montpelier has dope options, too: Charlie O’s World Famous will be hosting Jarv, Sed One of Boomslang, and the surf-rock shred of The Tsunamibots. They’re calling it Robots vs. Hip Hop. 9 pm show. 21+. FREE SHOW.

Finally, there’s a party in Essex Junction, Carnival of Sins. As the press release puts it: “Khaosity will be bringing the rage to the Essex VFW on Halloween night.” Kosha Dillz will also be appearing, along with performances by Colby Stiltz and rising talent Corty Booth. There will be prizes and there will be tacos. 6 pm show. $5. ALL AGES.

Justin Boland
SUNDAY: Prof w/ Mister Burns and Jarv @ Higher Ground

On Sunday, Oct. 28th Rhymesayers clown prince Prof will be rocking at Higher Ground with some top notch local support. Comedy rap will only get you so far in this cold, cruel world — what keeps Prof eating is his high-energy live shows. Well, that and his bar game.

Opening up for the evening is the one-two punch of Lynguistic Civilians alumni and VT rap godfather Mister Burns, followed by Jarv, juvenile delinquent, miscreant, and allegedly “on the verge of a breakout.” See for yourself this Sunday.

$15 adv / $17 door. 8 pm show. ALL AGES.

Justin Boland
ROUNDUP: Fresh Local Produce

One of the best things about Autumn is the horror of realizing another year of your life is gone, gone and gone. It’s the best, isn’t it? 2018 was an incredibly prolific run for rappers and producers in the state of Vermont. There’s just never been this much volume before — or this much quality, really. And it looks like we’re going to get even more new albums before the year is out. Let’s dig in.

As promised in our recent interview with THEN WHAt, there is new music coming from The Others, his project with NH spitter Raw Deff, who dropped one of 2018’s best local rap albums, Uninvited Guest. No word on a title or release date yet, but "Flip The Script” makes it clear this next album will be worth the wait.

Up next is Teece Luvv of Maiden Voyage, breaking us off with some bars. “A lot of trash-talking going on, I wish you the best, my mission is to flex on these Loony Toon flakes who wanna buy my beats but you ain’t got cake.” It would be dope to get an EP of breezy rap cuts like this, but it’s safe to bet that Mr. Luvv is cooking up something more soulful for his next meal.

Up next, BL SPITZ with a new single off the Heartless Forever mixtape, which has been downloaded almost thirty times since it dropped on Friday. “KULTURE VULTURE” may only be a minute long, but it marks the first time that Vermont Hip Hop News has gotten a shout-out on a track! Big ups and thanks for the exposure.

Finally, a new single from the team of Omega Jade (get familiar!) and Rico James. “United States of Dope Men” is a hard-hitting cut about growing up in a society run by drug dealers. As ever, this is clean writing, autobiographical rap over a dope throwback beat. Whatever these two are cooking up, it’s going to hit hard.

Justin Boland
ROUNDUP: New Names, New Sounds

Last week on The Facebooks, I put out a call for new names…artists that have been slept on. That happens, and that happens a lot. More than half of that is sheer felony negligence on my part, of course. But it’s also true that many local artists make themselves easy to sleep on. The promo grind is a shitty, thankless part-time job — it’s also non-negotiable. The 802 is not a huge scene, but it is competitive.

So: a quick roundup of artists, old and new, who deserve more shine than they’ve gotten here.

Madscatta is an old school spitter from Southern VT, all tongue twisters and internal rhymes. He had a standout appearance on the debut Jibba “The Gent” LP, The Broccoli Tree, and he’s released a few solo projects on The Soundclouds, too. Some of his recent work shows him stretching out into new flow pockets and feels over THEN WHAt production, but it’d be great to see him come back with a straight-up boom-bap throwback album of just wall-to-wall bars. Not that anyone asked me.

M. Rich is one half of the Bar None The Best team, a hardcore rap crew from Barre who’ve been on a successful underground run for awhile now. They’re not exactly slept on — not many 802 acts are debuting their singles on The Source’s website — but M. Rich’s next move is a solo project, Malcolm, with “Lord Forgive Me” serving as the lead single. This is some sharp writing and great delivery. An LP of cuts this nice would be monumental.

Juni is a new name for the emcee formerly known as Trips, who did some show-stealing work on recent Minds Eye Tribe projects. His cadence and content have always been more Bone Thugs’n’Harmony than Jedi Mind Tricks, though, so I’m looking forward to hearing what comes from this second wave of solo material. Also check out “Hecka Faded", his new single from an upcoming project with Kishawn.

Jay Jerz was a new name to me, but he’s currently in the SkyLab cooking up new material…and his demos from last year are pretty flames. Check out “ADRENALINE” — the mic quality might be iffy, but that flow shines through: dude is a natural. Looking forward to whatever comes next.

Finally, we’ve got RyCoon, with “Turn It All Around,” a big-ass, dynamic single about staying motivated. His craft is still rough around the edges, sure, but this ain’t a demo — it’s a well-paced song with a real-deal hook. It sounds like this cat has a great deal of potential to grow into, and he’s definitely working with a good team. Props.

Justin Boland
Jarv - Jarvage Vol. 2

After an inspired promo campaign, Jarv has finally dropped the second volume of his Jarvage mixtape series. It’s a serious LP. Dude was impressive enough already, but this latest project represents some heavy growth — especially as a producer.

Jarvage Vol. 2 feels like a classic 90’s project and that’s no accident. Vol. 1 was born of necessity, a collection of tracks to sell at shows — Vol. 2 is a carefully crafted homage to his influences, overstuffed with references and samples. That’s a compliment. “Too much” is the only acceptable aesthetic for a De La Soul tribute, for example, and that’s just one of 17 cuts here.

The beats are whumping and nicely pruned, tighter than ever, but Jarv is also mastering the role of engineer. Most of these cuts have lush, layered hooks and all of his verses pop, thanks to intricate sequencing…and, you know, flawless fast-rap takes. There’s no room to fake it when you spit like this.

Thematically, sonically, everything here is on point and suitably trashy. This is 10/10 stuff. Props.

Justin Boland

Rapper / producer Iame has been in the game for awhile now. For instance, his first solo LP dropped in 2005 — and I know that because the man has his very own Wikipedia page. A member of two legendary underground crews — Sandpeople and Oldominion — in recent years, his main project has been the “one man band” Wool See. His range is vast, veering from 90’s bangers to EDM symphonies to experimental, uh … post-hop indie ballads? Folk industrial performance art? You’ll have to listen to decide for yourself.

After getting back from a West Coast tour — and dropping a new project, Ewe Gross — he took a minute to talk turkey about his old haunts, his new process, and living in one great big small town.

VTHH: HOW WAS TOUR, MAN? Was it weird going from NEK splendor back into living gig to gig, or was it natural as could be?

IAME: It was definitely a little weird because I’ve been somewhat isolated out here in the NEK for about a year and a half, away from all my Northwest homies and with much quieter surroundings compared to how it was living in Portland. So to go back to all of that kind of felt like being reintroduced into the wild.

But I was kind of surprised at how naturally I slipped back into tour mode…you’re just on autopilot after a few days. Really, it was just a great opportunity to see some familiar faces and places. I’ve put in a lot of work and have been touring the West Coast for over a decade, so it’s always cool to see some of that lasting impact. 

VTHH: How has your process been evolving since the Wool See experiment began? Do you make albums approximately the same way Iame does/did?

IAME: On my earlier albums, I was just rapping and relying on others to make it sound good in terms of hooks, beats, and mixing…now, I do it all, for better or worse. But rapping was my first love. I didn’t start making beats until after I had put out a few albums and then it was just something I did in the background for a long time. I was working with Sandpeople and Oldominion and there was no shortage of great producers around so I left that to the professionals.

The Wool See experiment began during a weird phase of my career where I sort of hit a wall. I had put out what I felt was some of my best music to date but a lot of my previous listeners weren’t feeling it and I was constantly running into roadblocks. Plus I was becoming more interested in learning music and production than I was with writing rhymes. So I went all in with beat-making for a while with absolutely no expectations or plans other than to hoard it and see what happens... This led to me forming a band with no other members.

For a while now, the Wool See process has been to produce all the time and only write lyrics when I’m inspired. What usually inspires me the most is coming up with a theme or title for a full project. Once I can kind of see where I want to take it, I reach into the beat stash and start crafting full songs. The words just sort of pour out naturally from there. With Ewe Gross, the difference was that I didn’t want to write or say as much. My previous album ended up being very personal and the things that I had to say ended up driving the process. So I needed a change of pace this time and I thought a beat-tape type of thing mixed with some full songs could be cool.

VTHH: Do you feel like you're integrating with a Vermont "scene" or do you feel like a hermit in the woods, yelling at kids?

IAME: I’m definitely a hermit in the woods but I’m not yelling at the kids quite yet... I don’t know. I’m not super concerned with integrating into any scene at this point but I still like to pay attention to what’s happening around me. Vermont has some dope artists and this site has put me on to a handful of them….I appreciate the work you do.

Skysplitter was the first dude I met out here that was part of the scene…I only knew him because he mixed a project I was featured on, but he spread my name to Mister Burns & Anthill Collective and they’ve been very welcoming. I’ve done some shows and built with Jarv, Jibba, Boomslang to name a few. I guess I’m integrating exceptionally well for a hermit in the woods.  

Wool See will be appearing at The Monkey House in Winooski on Thursday, Oct. 18th for the latest edition of Anthill Collective’s legendary 3rd Thursday series. The bill is absolutely packed and the show, as ever, is free.

Justin Boland
Jazzy The Kid - Stay Pushing

Since his breakout beat tape, Cold Waves, St. Albans producer Dokowala has been more or less on fire. He followed that up with Loops 4 The Soul, a split instrumental LP with Instinct, and now, we’ve got a proper rap album.

His latest drop is another collaboration, this time with Jazzy The Kid, who is blessed with both a great voice for rappin’ and a natural, conversational flow. In fact, it’s a conversational EP, period — a slice of life, a moment in time.

The project feels so organic because it emerged from a single vacation session. As he puts it on “Those Were The Days,” one of the best cuts here: “just have a seat, we talk about how we livin’, writing a couple thoughts and spitting whatever’s written, just sounds fitting.” Amen.

Sonically, it’s as blunted as anything Quasimoto gave us, timelessly spaced-out boom bap. Dokowala did a damn fine job on the production and the engineering, here, the dude is evolving into a real threat.

There’s a whole St. Albans Wave incoming, really, between Dokowala’s projects, the upcoming mixtape from D.FRENCH, and whatever the Joint Manipulation crew are cooking up these days. It’s a beautiful thing. St. A won’t be slept on much longer.

Justin Boland
ROUNDUP: Fresh Local Produce

Lazy Sunday afternoons are such a blessing. Welcome back. I’ve been catching up on new releases and prepping material for next week. Expect coverage on the new Wool See project, Dokowala’s collaboration with Jazzy The Kid, more shows and more interviews. Meanwhile, enjoy another collection of fresh singles — heavy on the raps this time — from Vermont artists.

First up, we’ve got Asah Mack, a strong young talent who has been dropping dope singles. The latest is “Air,” another lean banger with heavy 90’s flavor. Energy, charisma and bars. That’s about all you need, right? Props to David Chief and Notation for the production, grimy & detailed.

BL Spitz makes his case as Vermont’s greatest rapper on the latest single off the “Heartless Forever” mixtape — which drops October 19th. There’s going to be a release party at The Cellar that night featuring live performances from the roster and DJ Ron Stoppable holding it down.

Up next, Dolla Day is about to release a flood of new material — including a track with Fred Da Godson, one of the sharpest NYC writers alive. "Keep Calling” is a vivid, tight slice of trap lyricism. His flow is effortless as always, and every line is crystal clear. Expect to hear a lot more from him before the year is out.

Finally, another jam from Es-K is his new series - this time “Inspired By” a classic Pete Rock production. As ever, this is a re-flip from the ground-up, with Es-K on the bass. A master at work.

Justin Boland
Wikipedia Famous, Finally. Well, Sort Of.

Every couple months I sit down with a pot of coffee and patrol the perimeter. Vermont is a small state — damn, is it ever small — but our hip hop scene is still a machine with hundreds of moving parts. I do not even pretend to keep track of them all, but I do try on occasion.

This time around, I was surprised to find out that “Rappers from Vermont” is now a category on Wikipedia — all thanks to exactly one artist: Nothing,Nowhere. How this came to pass is most instructive.

For starters, this is the first time his name has ever appeared on this website. Nothing,Nowhere is a rapper and producer. He has never done local shows, never networked with important artists in BTV, never been mentioned in Seven Days. He has broken a million plays on Soundcloud multiple times, and he’s currently off on his second, or maybe fourth, European tour.

Yet those accomplishments — which are huge — are not the reason that this young man is on Wikipedia. That would be a music critic named Jon Caramanica. He writes for a paper called The New York Times, and he’s been making people famous overnight for decades. Almost a year ago, he did exactly that for Nothing,Nowhere, dropping a detailed profile complete with a photo shoot in a State Park.

Coverage moves in cycles because writers have deadlines. The opening salvo was a short, press-release style blurb in Billboard magazine in August 2017 — then in October, Nothing,Nowhere got mentioned in both NYT and, even more importantly, Rolling Stone. He had a great hook — a new music video featuring the lead singer of superstar emo band Dashboard Confessional. That in turn promoted his next project, Reaper.

Vermont has proven to be a great hook for him, too. When Billboard first covered him, he was a “New England artist” — but after NYT’s re-branding, all of his recent coverage places him squarely in Vermont; the adopted home of a Massachusetts transplant who came here for college.

So: hopefully one of your takeaways, here, is how little your local music scene matters, outside of your local music scene. This is true in Boston and this is especially true in Burlington, which is barely even a “city” in the first place. In a state with less than one million people, what are you really going to conquer? The entire potential audience for your rap music is probably less than ten thousand Vermonters. Far less.

I won’t speculate about who will be the next breakout artist from Vermont to warrant a Wikipedia article — and in fact, I’d wager that won’t happen for another year. Here’s why: take a gander at Wikipedia’s notability guidelines. Stakes is high. The reason that Nothing,Nowhere got placement in Billboard is because Nothing,Nowhere was already on a record label owned by Pete Wentz of Fall Out Boy. Nobody actually gets famous overnight. There is a system, here.

So, there are ways I could be wrong, but none of them involve how hard you work this year, or how dope your next album is. Jarv could get a write up in SPIN magazine. 99 Neighbors could get signed to a (real, actual) record label — hell, so could a cool two dozen other 802 acts. But it’s wild how, despite all the promise of the internet destroying the gatekeepers, it’s still a bunch of assholes in New York and Los Angeles who truly make you famous.

Conduct yourselves accordingly. If you really want to “make it,” you’re going to have to do what Jamell NYT did: leave. If you really want to put in work for the Vermont Hip Hop scene, I have to assume that’s because, like Nothing,Nowhere, you love the mountains and you love the view. Cheers.

Justin Boland
Ciurleo - "On My Job" ft. Big Homie Wes

A fresh track from HLR artist Ciurleo, who has been pushing hard this year — and improving a great deal in the process. “On My Job” is a collaboration with Big Homie Wes, one of Vermont’s most distinctive new artists, and the contrast of styles and vocals really works here.

He also nabbed a spot on a recent Grind Mode Cypher — this one shot at the 3rd Eye Open festival in New Bedford, MA, who were celebrating their 20th year. My math may be off, but I believe that makes Ciurleo the fifth 802 emcee to score a spot on this platform…props.

Like anyone on the HLR roster, Ciurleo appreciates the importance of hard work behind the scenes — and staying true to your local fans. He’ll be rocking a Halloween house party in his hometown of Bradford, VT on Oct. 27th. After that, there’s a very interesting concert coming up November 10th at Room 111 in Woodsville, NH: Modest is curating a Mac Miller Tribute Show. More on that soon.

Ciurleo is also putting the finishing touches on his next project, an EP titled Better Late Than Never, which is currently scheduled for November.

Justin Boland
TONIGHT: Jay Critch at Higher Ground

Being an “online superstar” used to be a joke, an insult. That was back before the entire American Universe existed online, all day, every day. Jay Critch was born at the right time, in other words — his success on Youtube and Soundcloud has translated into tours, more connections, bigger opportunities. Like “getting signed to Interscope,” for instance.

Jay Critch has clearly got a following here in the 802, considering Higher Ground moved this gig from the showcase lounge to the ballroom. DJ SVPPLY was also added to the ticket, along with King Lah, Cloud 3, Beny Bermuda.

9 pm show. ALL AGES. $35 at the door. It’s going to be a crazy night.

Justin Boland
GET FAMILIAR: THEN WHAt aka Selfish Presley

Michael “Logik” Levesque is a hard working man. He produces as THEN WHAt and raps as Selfish Presley, and in the past year, he’s stepped up his game considerably. Both in terms of his output — a steady stream of strong singles and collaborations — and especially in terms of the sheer quality. His beats, his bars and his engineering are all impressively clean. While it’s been a great run so far, he assures me: this is only the beginning.

VTHH: You've got a lot of projects and a lot of creative outlets -- how do you juggle all that? Is there a system, or does infinite hustle just come naturally for you?

THEN WHAt: I’ve just never been the type to only have one thing going on at a time. So I guess it never seems like a lot to me. All the people I look up to always have multiple things going on, so I definitely draw from that. Why limit yourself?

VTHH: Your production game is on point - when and where did you hone your style and get the practical experience?

THEN WHAt: Well, I started producing when I was 15. Everyone I knew wanted to rap, but there were no beat makers around that I knew. So I never had anyone to learn from. I would just kind of draw from the music I was listening to at the time. Fast forward to the past few years. I sent Jibba “The Gent” that beat for Maple Syrup and soon after was recruited to the SO.802 team as an in house producer. Been working really close with Brad Vazy ever since, and he’s really helped me expand on what I already do very well.

VTHH: Are you part of the Street Religion team? Those cats really need a Wu-style poster breaking the roster down.

THEN WHAt: Yo, me and Breeze were talking about this the other day. I feel like Redman. Like the unofficial member. It’s never been discussed, honestly. Right now the roster is small. It’s Yung Breeze, Raw Deff and Jun Fargo. We family regardless though, and we’re all under the same umbrella anyway with So.802. A team poster would be dope though! 

VTHH: What was it like working on The Others with Raw Deff? Is there going to be a followup?

THEN WHAt: Man! That was a trippy experience. Me and Deff started building that project before we had even met in person. I sent him like 3 beats I thought he might like and he had full songs back to me within a day or two. At that time I was used to waiting months to get a song back. So it just became clear we had a chemistry and we should make a whole album. We ARE working on a follow up project, and I’m stoked because I’ve been waiting to get back up in the studio with Deff for 2 years. This one is gonna be special.

VTHH: You've been on a hot streak with the singles lately. Are you clearing out some archives, or prepping for a new project?

THEN WHAt: Yeah that’s actually all new stuff. I’ve been lucky recently to have full access to my friends studio space and I’ve been in a good creative zone. But I’m definitely putting a project together! I don’t think it will include any of my singles. Just wanted some material out there so I’m not forever known as just the beats guy

VTHH: What other projects are you working on now? Is there going to be a Selfish Presley album at some point? 

THEN WHAt: I’m working with a handful of artists. Got a lot of people coming to me for beats right now. Honestly the list of new songs and projects coming is too long, but we work fast and I can’t wait for it all to be heard and show people how diverse I am as a producer.

I’m definitely working on an album. It’s going to be called No Sleep. I’m taking my time on that though. I want it to be done right.

Justin Boland

On Sunday, October 14th, the Light Club Lamp Shop will be hosting the latest edition of Rhyme & Unreason, one of the most interesting shows in the Queen City. The brainchild of writer / rapper / comedian Omega Jade, the format blends standup comedy sets with freestyle rap improv. The result is generally a wild, unpredictable evening.

Sunday’s ceremony will feature comedians Liz Scharnetzki, Nicole Sisk, Dave Anderson and Joe Gringas. After each of their sets, a rapper gets to step up and deliver a freestyle build around the same themes — those rappers being Jarv, Mister Burns, Rajnii and Sed One of Boomslang. That’s a top notch lineup, and it’s a testament to the hard work of Omega Jade that it came together.

Here, we’re talking shop about the BTV scene, her burgeoning rap career, and the teamwork that makes it all happen.

VTHH: The "Rhyme and Unreason" format is such a dope idea. How did you hammer that out? Was there some experimenting, or did it come to you in a flash?

Omega Jade: It first came to me when I put a line from my cockeyed joke in a verse I was writing. Then I remembered the Hip Hop documentary Rhyme and Reason, and adjusted the title to fit my vision. I believe I've been experimenting with it since then, to be honest. But at the same time, the people that have been a part of this really didn't have a hard time helping my dream become a reality. I think it was organized chaos that just worked itself out.

VTHH: It's a lot of stoned white dudes around here. Do you feel like the BTV scene has been welcoming?

Omega Jade: With a few exceptions, I'm actually surprised by how welcoming the Hip Hop community has been. And I look forward to collaborating with more people because of that alone. I met my producer the first time I went to a 3rd Thursday cypher and show. It took me longer to be in my first comedy show.

VTHH: You're one of the most bluntly honest rap writers in Vermont. Has hip hop always been an outlet for you to process your life? 

Omega Jade: Poetry/Spoken word has always been an outlet for me. It wasn't until I started doing comedy that I considered being an MC. But all of my poetry and even some of my comedy has been influenced by Hip Hop.

VTHH: "I Rediscovered Me" does such an excellent job blending confessional with comedy -- how much do you think your standup experience informs your bar game?

Omega Jade: Let's be honest. It's about my kids father. I think at this point in my life I use laughter and the fact that I learned a lot about from this situation as a type of motivation to keep going. But I realized that my rhymes and jokes can be merged when I wrote my joke on mental illness. Lots of word play. I think hip hop has played a large role in my stage presence in all aspects of performing. Because let's face it, I'm a jack ass of all trades.

VTHH: What are you working on for future projects?

Omega Jade: Finishing my EP that I am currently working on with Rico James. And expanding my Rhyme and Unreason show to multiple locations. And I have the help to execute that mission now that I have brought more people into the production of it. Specifically Rajnii Alexander Gibbons Eddins, King-Sha-Mecca-Blaze, and Ron Stoppable. Thanks guys!

Justin Boland
ROUNDUP: Fresh Local Produce

Fall 2018 has been packed so far. It’s hard to notice gradual changes — has it really been crazier than Summer 2018 was? — but compared to, say, five years ago, the difference is astonishing. One consequence of all that glorious noise is the fact I can do one of these “Fresh Local Produce” song roundups pretty much every damn week now.

First up, a short, sweet jam from David Chief, cooked up in collaboration with Es-K and Notation. All three are distinguished producers and the world could use more of this, ASAP.

Up next, Loupo’s got a new single that’s being featured on the Chillhop Fall Essentials 2018 mixtape, which is a good look on a huge platform. “1993” is a gorgeous track that’s about to break 3,000 plays. It’s also just the beginning of a tsunami of new Loupo material (and shows) on the way this fall. More on that soon.

Zesty Boi is a beautiful weirdo working at the forefront of the BadArt movement — largely because he started it, true, but he’s been putting in work. A prolific organizer of underground shows in the BTV demilitarized zone, he’s also been releasing increasingly good rap music, the latest of which is a three track teaser EP for his next project, “TINY ALLIGATORS.”

D.FRENCH has been stacking tracks for his upcoming mixtape, The Highest Lows, and broke us off a sample this week - “Like Stockton” is a catchy banger over some heat by Dok Sterling (aka Dokowala). This man sounds hungry as hell and I’m looking forward to that tape dropping later this year.

Justin Boland
VIDEO: Mavstar - What's Been Going On

Brand new visuals for the lead track off Mavstar’s latest release on Equal Eyes Records. ILLu produced both the beat and the video, and the track features cuts from DJ Kanganade. It’s simple and sparse, but that’s all this track really needs. Rap hands? Check. Shots of equipment in the lab? Double check. Rap squats in the woods? You know it, bud.

You can catch Mavstar & ILLu rocking live at the next installment of 3rd Thursdays, October 18th at The Monkey House in Winooski. That’s going to be an especially impressive lineup, too — Philly-based journeyman Kuf Knotz will be headlining alongside NY up-and-comer Deuce Ellis. Somehow, 3rd Thursdays is still free. Be there.

Justin Boland