TEECE LUVV - SUNDAY FLOW PRACTICE #3
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Teece Luvv is a singer, a producer, and one of the finest rappers in the state, too. His flow is energetic, effortless, and most important of all, funky. This video marks the third in his ongoing SUNDAY FLOW PRACTICE series, which has been uniformly dope. And it keeps improving, too. Here’s hoping it continues for quite some time.

You can catch Teece Luvv at The Monkey House in Winooski on Thursday, Feb. 28th — currently known as “tomorrow.” He’ll be rocking alongside Mister Burns, Ape The Grim, Sed One of Boomslang, and headlined C. Shreve, a dedicated hip hop head from North Carolina.

From there, he’ll be joining his Maiden Voyage crew for two more dates: Friday, Mar. 1st at Windsor Station, and Saturday, Mar. 3rd at Charlie O’s World Famous, perhaps the greatest dive bar in United States. Go see some great shows.

Justin Boland
The You Don't Look Like Rappers Tour - Jarv x C. Shreve
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VMB Productions has unveiled a short tour to wrap up February & kick off March, featuring breakout 802 emcee Jarv and North Carolina rapper / teacher C. Shreve. Along the way, they’ll be working with a roll call of tasty New England talent including Gambit, Ape The Grim and of course, Mister Burns. They’ll also be paying respects to Rap Night Manchester and Maine’s long-running Monday of the Minds event.

It’s great to see a more unified New England scene emerging. Props to everyone making it happen, week after week, month after month.

Justin Boland
Catching up with Rico James: "The Ant Sir" & Beyond
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Earlier this week, Rico James dropped a new instrumental LP, The Ant Sir, on the Equal Eyes Records imprint he co-founded. (Co-founded around this time last year, as a matter of fact.) It’s another slab of boom bap purism, but it sees the producer playing with a lot more rhythmic and melodic ideas than his previous solo outing, Saturday Morning Car Tunes.

Rico James has had a furiously busy 2018 and grown a lot in the process. We met up at Al’s Frieswhere else, right? — for a conversation about healthy scenes, lessons learned, and the shape of things to come.

VTHH: "The Ant Sir" is world away from the sound you had circa 2016. What do you think has been the biggest factor in your growth as a producer since then?

Rico James: Persistence.  You learn by doing.  I've continued to just keep making beats, keep gaining experience.  My ears are more experienced, my gear & workflow is more dialed in.  I just like to stay at it, and it feels really good to see progress start happening over time.  You work with what is around you, and how it works with your daily life.  Once you find a workflow that works for you, you can run with it.  I still get excited with each beat I make, so I figure I must be headed in the right direction.  

VTHH: Who are the artists who keep you excited about music these days? What do you keep in rotation lately?

Rico James: I follow a few labels pretty closely.  My comfort zone consists of the following : Mello Music Group, Stones Throw, QN5 Music, Daptone, and Rhymesayers.  Anything coming out of those camps, I'm going to check it out.  I get excited about a lot of music, and get super inspired by a lot of beatmakers.  Biggest ones for me, for the past few years, would be Kno (of Cunninlynguists), Madlib, Apollo Brown, Marco Polo, L'Orange to name a few.  Those are the beatmakers that get me super amped up, constantly. 

VTHH: Do you feel like you're in a very different local hip hop scene today than you were in 2014, when Self Portrait was first getting going?

Rico James: For me personally, it has been a very welcoming scene from the start, and that has not changed.  I've seen a lot of growth, and I've seen a lot of maturity, at least with the people I surround myself with.  It's an amazing feeling watching creative people around you get inspired and push each other to keep creating and advancing. 

I feel like the scene is at a great point right now.  Very little conflict happening, and people are just making music and having fun with it.  For me, there doesn't seem to be this 'competition' of sorts with crews or artists.  Everybody has their lane and they ride in it and make what they want to make.  That kind of environment can be very rewarding because there is room for everybody.  There is a time and a place for every type of music.  If we keep inspiring each other on the daily, the scene will just keep progressing.  

VTHH: You and ILLu are about to be one whole year into running the show at Equal Eyes Records. What are the biggest lessons you've learned since the launch?

Rico James: We have learned a lot since launching Equal Eyes last year.  Luckily, we both view this as an ongoing learning experience, and an ever evolving thing.  We've learned and practiced to just stay flexible.  We don't overthink the process and have specific things we want to achieve.  We just want to create, help others around us create, and do it in an organized/cohesive manner.  We run on passion and if it feels right, we ride with it.  It's been a great time so far, and we are picking up all kinds of knowledge along the way. 

The other thing that is important is communication, and being as transparent as possible with the people you work with.  Also, PATIENCE!  That's a big one.  It is very hard to have insight on a really exciting project that might be in the works, but you are not at liberty to talk about it.  All in all, the biggest lesson I've learned since the creation of Equal Eyes, is to surround yourself with people that inspire you.  Do that, good things will happen.

VTHH: What else do you have coming in 2019 that you can talk about?

Rico James: Alright, let's see....I have some new PR DepARTment material in the works (PreciseMC & myself),  I have an LP with Humble in the works, I have new music with Omega Jade in the works, and I'm about halfway done with my next beat tape.  Those are the things I can tell you about right now.  The things I cannot reveal quite yet will be worth the wait, trust me.  Lots of stuff on the horizon for team Equal Eyes. 

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Justin Boland
GET FAMILIAR: Ciurleo
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Self-described “hick town” rapper Ciurleo had a busy 2018 marked by a sharp learning curves. He asks smart questions, and I’ve been impressed so far by his approach to the business of music. He’s been booking shows, moving merch, and learning from multi-talented collaborators like Big Homie Wes and, especially, THEN WHAt. Along the way, he also landed spots in an episode of the legendary Grind Mode Cypher as well as the second volume of the local production, the Extra Mile Cypher.

Between the recent release of his debut project, Better Late Than Never, and his upcoming tour, it was past time to catch up this with this young rap entrepreneur.

VTHH: You've always distinguished yourself as an artist who wants to learn, and stranger still, wants to get feedback. Does that humility come naturally to you or do you have some sort of system?

Ciurleo: I’ve always had that “I want more” attitude so I think in terms of trying to learn and grow, it’s something we will always be doing as life goes on. Four years ago, I had no idea there even was a scene ... so with that being said, even though I’ve been rapping since 2010 ... I feel like the new kid on the scene. With so many talented artists and people in the scene, it’s hard to not wanna pick their brains. Lately though, I’ve just been making sure to surround myself with people who I think are better than me. That raises the bar right away.

VTHH: What do you think has been the key to your success in the past year? 

Ciurleo: A lot of it has just been showing up. I’ve gotten a lot of opportunities by being in the right room with the right people. I was always taught “it’s not what you know, but who you know.” So I have always tried to keep that in mind when meeting people and conducting myself from a business aspect.

VTHH: You're about to embark on your first tour. How have you been preparing for something you've never done?

Ciurleo: Obviously never having done this before has been challenging, but even more challenging is doing it alone. From the start, I’ve always been involved with working and traveling with other people ... as a person I typically always have someone riding with me, or am doing something with someone. So I think that will be my biggest challenge but I’m excited to let that be a good learning and growing experience.

VTHH: You’ve definitely done a lot of gigs already, here and beyond. As you've expanded your reach and gotten more experience, what has surprised you the most along the way?

Ciurleo: The reactions from the people at the shows. Whether it’s an artist that performed that night as well, or someone who came to support the art. I shouldn’t say it surprises me, I want them to enjoy my music but … at the end of the day, the respect and a firm dap is really what I’m after.

VTHH: Based on what you've seen, are there jobs in the music industry you'd be interested in aside from rap star?

Ciurleo: I’ve put on a handful of small shows at the small town bar Room 111 in Woodsville, NH along with help from Chris Farina (Modest). Just being able to bring something fun and different near my hometown (Bradford, VT across the river) was a really gratifying experience. Even though it’s a small “hick town,” I know from growing up and hanging out with a lot of these people that they do like hip hop. The reception at each show has been enough to make us want to keep doing more. I’d love to expand that into bigger venues as I build relationships with the owners and managers; get some really solid headliners, and bring some of the scenes you’re seeing in Burlington, VT or Manchester, NH to central VT.

VTHH: What where the early influences shaping your style when you started rapping?

Ciurleo: I listened to a lot of Kanye West, Eminem, OutKast, Lil Wayne, Ludacris in my early years when I first started rapping. When Chris Webby and Mac Miller first burst on the scene, I think that was the first time I heard rap in a way that I really, really could relate and thought “hey I could write stuff that’s relatable to a lot of people if I just be myself.” Brother Ali, Classified, Grieves, Atmosphere are also some artists that I really listened to HEAVY when I finally got out of the mainstream world for the most part. I think ultimately though, Kanye West has been one of my biggest influences.

VTHH: What does ‘success’ mean for you at this point? What are your long-term goals for this rap life?

Ciurleo: At this point I’m just really having a good time. This past year has been such a rollercoaster. Learning so much on the business end with the help from “Jibba The Gent.” As long as I’m doing shows and able to create them, I feel like I’m being successful. 

My long term goals are to really carve out my own place in VT Hip Hop. The scene is really strong up in Burlington, and I want to spread that energy across the state. There hasn’t really been any consistent hip hop shows in the central or southern part of the state. (Other than the Maiden Voyage crew. They been throwing down at Windsor Station for a while now!) So I would really like to have a hand in making those moves to keep the culture growing. With Venues like The Engine Room in White River, and smaller spots like Sheri’s Place in Springfield or the Windsor Station, there’s a lot of opportunity down this way. At the end of the day it’s all about the music, and I know people are itching for hip hop in these areas, it just needs to be delivered to them the right way.

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Justin Boland
THE FIVE SPOT: Teece Luvv
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Special thanks to guest writer Teece Luvv.

I realize this is shared on Vermont Hip Hop News, but I need you to realize I listen to multiple genres.

-Luvvs

Coquette - Rabbit Season

First off, this is one of my favorite bands period. They are all insanely talented to say the least. I don’t think I’ve ever gotten as wild in my life as I do when hearing them live. The harmonies, sheer skills on their respective instruments, and capability to play time signatures you’d never think were possible, are all top notch. Notable, is “Copernicus The Capricorn’s” breakdown at about 3:27 on the same EP. Check them out.

The Pilgrims - Fav New Kid

This video is killer. The line about smoking “rectum ass bud” is totally relatable, although I don’t smoke anymore. I had the opportunity to be in another one of their videos, and have been a fan for a while now. When I mean fan, I don’t just mean, “Ah, yes. Another local band, of course I’m down with them.” These dudes are all great musicians and great people. Their music is along the lines of something I’d like to do. Hell, maybe I envy that a little bit. PLUS, the high harmonies at 2:04. Boo Yeah.

Michael Jordan Touchdown Pass - didn’t i know

First off, the drums in this are fantastic. The mix is raw, and everything about MJTP is authentic. The horn section is perfection. The whole Baby Steps album is something great front to back. It’s something I can listen to at any time, of any season, and it fits whatever mood I’m in. The words mean something, and that means a lot to me. This album and many other songs by MJTP stay in steady rotation, and will continue to do so. If you are down with folk tunes, I highly recommend.

Jarv Ft. Nahte Renmus - This is It

My list wouldn’t be complete without the bois. And this happens to be one of my favorite tracks of 2018 in general. They do this song during our Maiden Voyage set, and it’s one of the high points for me. Dudes always kill it with the back and forth. My favorite lines are Jarv’s, “I will be the leader of a super human centipede.” As well as Nahte’s, “I’m the reason Liam Neeson don’t know where his daughter is.” Nobody in the state has bars like that, ha. “Okalie Dokalie Bokalie.”

Teece Luvv - Deep Colors

This is my personal favorite track of mine that’s been released thus far. I have some new stuff on the way that you wouldn’t expect, which I personally think is better. Still, this is one of my favorite songs I’ve made. Teeba is behind the production on the whole “Young Luvv EP.” His production is tight, and lets me push boundaries. I enjoyed making this whole EP with him, but this song always stuck out. I also enjoy doing this live now, it allows me to get all sensual on the crowd.

Teece Luvv will be dropping new jams for the Sunday Flow Practice series every week, indefinitely, or at least until he grows weary of such pursuits. His most recent LP, !PLEH, is available on BTV label Equal Eyes Records.

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Justin Boland
DJ Kanga: Live from The Radiator

A Saturday Special for the folks at home: last week’s Equal Eyes Radio session on 105.9 FM The Radiator featured DJ Kanga(nade) selecting and cutting for an impressive two hour set. Fortunately, that performance got recorded and now you can enjoy this on your own schedule, courtesy of Rico James. Dig it.

If you missed last year’s interview with Kanga, it’s a great read and it still gets a lot of traffic in 2019. The man loves what he does.

The Radiator is a local BTV institution run by Big Heavy World, the non-profit guardian angels of the 802 music scene. (Really, tho.) They’ve got a broad selection of flavors on tap and a lot of opportunities for local hip hop artists, too. Also check out Heavy Hittas on Friday nights from 10 pm to 1 am, with DJ Flame selecting deep cuts and reggae flavors, and producer / DJ / superhuman Fattie B’s show Bangers and Mash, which starts at 10 pm every first and third Wednesday.

The next episode of Equal Eyes Radio will be Sunday, Feb. 17th, 10 am to High Noon.

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Justin Boland
VIDEO: Gringo Montega - "I'm Not a Rapper"

Start your Friday off with a short, blistering and nicely produced video from Gringo Montega, one of the masterminds from the So.802 crew. “I’m Not a Rapper” is a quick statement of purpose from an artist who is quite busy toiling in other fields these days. Gringo Montega is a recent name change for the multi-faceted emcee / producer formerly known as Vazy. In addition to some standout solo work (check out “The Field”) he is/was also half of the duo Causin’ Effect alongside Jibba “The Gent.” It would be no exaggeration to call them both underground legends at this point.

The video was shot and edited by THEN WHAt, another multi-faceted veteran from the So.802 crew. This marks his first music video, but he’s been killing it lately with the Bad Cool-Aid series, as well as a recent run of artist interviews. (No Sleep coming soon.)

Now, I’m not here to blow up anyone’s day jobs, but I will repeat: true success is often completely invisible. There are a lot of artists doing big things in these woods, and because they’re doing real projects for real money — in the middle of real adulthood — they’re not putting every moment of that on Facebook and Instagram. After a certain point, there’s just nothing to prove to a bunch of anonymous strangers anymore.

So far in 2019, I’ve had two dozen artists tell me, earnestly, that this is their year, and when they blow up, they’re going to put Vermont on the map for all time. I appreciate the thought, bud, no joke. Just the same, there are far more realistic goals for you to aspire to in the meantime.

Consider: I have nothing else to tell you about Gringo Montega to finish this little post up. He doesn’t have a press kit ready to go for me and he doesn’t even care if I cover this or not. He isn’t hyping up any future projects — those surely exist, but he’s not in any rush. He doesn’t have to be. He’s got an actual fan base that’s going to wait patiently, because he’s been focused for years on making quality music and being himself on every track. Now it’s 2019 and nobody can bite his style. And he doesn’t need rap to save him.

Food for thought. That long road might be worth it.

Justin Boland
SATURDAY: Mikey D of Main Source @ The Monkey House
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This Saturday is going to be another VMB Productions blowout in Winooski, featuring a distinctly old school roster of talent. The headliner is Mikey D, formerly of the groundbreaking New York / Toronto crew, Main Source. Although he is most famous for his 90’s work, his legacy has only grown since — he’s been called “The Best Rapper You Never Heard Of” as recently as 2016. He’ll be joined by DJ Mercury, who will be setting the tone and selecting deep cuts all night.

For anyone tuning in late, VMB is run by Mister Burns, a gentleman who has quietly paved many of the roads we currently take for granted in the 802 “scene.” Since his days with the state champion Lynguistic Civilians, he’s been elevating his game on every front. His shows always feature carefully chosen lineups, and this Saturday is no exception.

First up is Peso131, a rap entertainer from across the Lake in Plattsburgh, NY. The man is a reliable party; born to work the crowd. He’ll be joined by sets from Konflik and Learic, surely two of our best rappers, period, in addition to 2018 breakout success stories Asah Mack and Mavstar. And, of course, Mister Burns will be rocking, too … why wouldn’t you play at your own party?

To top it all off, BTV hip hop legend Melo Grant will be hosting the whole affair.

The Monkey House will be absolutely hopping and the vibe will be quality all night. Somehow, all this fun is only $5 at the door. 18+. 9 pm.

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Justin Boland
ROUNDUP: Some Blizzard Music For The 802
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Welcome back to another selection of some of 2019’s best new tunes. It’s a mix of familiar names and brand new talent. So far, the new year has confirmed my suspicions that some of this year’s biggest stories will be surprises, flying into the ring with a steel chair outta nowhere. I’m also betting it will be both harder and easier than ever to put these roundups together, thanks to continually improving quality control.

In other words, everyone is getting real good at sounding real dope. Props to the creators and props to the engineers.

THEN WHAt — a/k/a Selfish Presley — and Yung Breeze have a lot in common, including the fact they’re both artists and engineers. And it shows. They’ve been on a prolific run for months now, but “Sinbad” was a serious standout. The vibe is impeccable through the first verse, and it’s clear that Selfish Presley’s upcoming project, No Sleep, will be a monster. What really sends this cut into the stratosphere, though, is that second verse from Yung Breeze, who absolutely snaps.

Bourbon Legends is a new group featuring some of the foremost unsung spitters in the state: Hoarsehed, Eyedos and Eugenyks. Their debut single features brutal & funny verses over some whumping hardcore boom bap, pretty much exactly like it should. It also features a dope chorus by NYC grime lord Ruste Juxx. You can tell there’s a lot of mutual respect in this trio because all three emcees bring their A+ game to the booth here. Whatever comes next … damn.

Rapper TAZE is a new artist on the scene, and “Venom” is a damn impressive debut. She can spit, bud. (She will also be doing so live on Feb. 21st at the next round of 3rd Thursdays at The Monkey House.) This is a straightforward rap workout, flexing some flows to show & prove. It’s also a new front on an emerging Lamoille County wave — those backwoods are buzzing right now.

This new single from Fresh and Flex 45 is a perfect rap demo: sure, the quality is a little rough here, but the performances shine. The hook is genuinely good, and both of these verses are rock solid work from confident emcees. My bet is that 2019 is going to make it clear they’re also songwriters with some real depth to offer. Keep an eye out for these names.

Up next, a new soundscape from producer SkySplitterInk. “Epiphany” was the winner of the second round of the VTHH Sample Challenge, a regular contest that’s being run by Flip Physics. Calling it a big success would understate what’s going on. The contributions so far have been extremely impressive, testifying to a much deeper beat scene than scientists had previously estimated. Here, the maestro kicks off with a groove that hovers between DJ Spinna and Aphex Twin, then brings in one of his trademark, gorgeous guitar lines to ride it all out.

Omega Jade is back with a strong new cut which demonstrates a lot of growth — she sounds more comfortable, and dynamic, in the booth on “The Power Of My Mantra.” Her pen game is getting sharper, too, but that’s always been a strong point for this introspective, poetic emcee. Another constant has been the soulful production of Rico James. In his collaborations with Omega Jade, he’s side-stepped his usual sound to provide lush, left-field beats that create a huge space for her performances. This is not an official group, but it’s still one of the most interesting and consistent duos going right now.

Justin Boland
Feb 14th: Cellar Cypher Series @ Drink
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Everyone in the state respects 3rd Thursdays at The Monkey House, a concert series & community hub created, and cultivated, by the Anthill Collective. That especially includes the #STILTZgang team behind the Cellar Cypher Series, a rap weekly which was evolved into a vital workshop with a rotating cast of old and new BTV rap talent. Their event is on Thursdays, too, but they’ve always taken that third one off.

The next installment marks something new: in addition to the usual open mic space, there will be a one song, “best track” competition where the prize is a slot to perform at the next edition of 3rd Thursdays on Feb. 21st. This will be decided by good old fashioned crowd response. This is both good synergy and a just plain cool idea.

Vermont may be undergoing an overall population decline, but we’re also in an era where there is more unheard talent than ever. Getting them into the ecosystem early means they’ll learn more and mature faster, right? It’s a theory, at least.

As ever, props to Colby Stiltz and Big Homie Wes for putting in the elbow grease to keep this new platform not only going, but growing. 9 pm. 18+ $5, 21+ $3.

Justin Boland
VIDEO: Jun Fargo - "Wish Upon A Star"

Some fresh, crisp new visuals for Jun Fargo’s recent single “Wish Upon A Star,” courtesy of Miles Goad at DVP Cinematography. This track has grown some legs — 10k plays on Soundcloud so far — and this video treatment definitely kicks it up a few levels. Along with producer THEN WHAt, the team made the absolute most of a crisp winter day in Burlington, delivering a colorful, vivid final cut. Dig it.

Justin Boland
Feb. 19th - Blackalicious @ Arts Riot
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There’s a real hot ticket coming through BTV on a Tuesday night: west coast legends Blackalicious will be swinging through to crush a headline set at Arts Riot. Now, I had assumed that Chief Xcel and Gift of Gab were mostly famous to … well, a certain older demographic, including dinosaurs like myself. It turns out, though, that Harry Potter recently made these cats famous again, which is proof we’re living through profoundly strange times.

So this was going to sell out anyway, but props to Arts Riot for sweetening the deal with some top notch local talent. Loupo & Crusty Cuts will be getting things started, and that is a powerful tag team. They’re both ace DJs and dope producers, so expect anything. Up next, Jarv is probably the single most appropriate possible choice to compliment a rapper as precise & agile as Gift of Gab. He’s been having a strong year and he’s about to hit some east coast dates with The Palmer Squares, too.

All in all, this looks like a guaranteed good time, and on a weeknight, too.

8:30 pm show. $18 adv / $20 door. ALL AGES.

Justin Boland
Es-K - "Continuance"
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As the Buffalo, NY philosopher Conway always reminds us, “there are levels to this shit.” To attain the level that Es-K is on right now requires a lot of time and a lot of thought — this is a young man who carefully studies not only the artform, but his own process. Due to the improvements and corrections he’s been making over the years, he’s pulled off something rare: balancing a prolific output with demanding quality control.

With Continuance, we find Es-K developing several threads of his recent career at once. The first is his ongoing collaborations, with producers and musicians alike. His work has always featured a few choice cuts, but here, those experiments get bumped up to center stage. There are a lot of guests, yet it’s still a seamless ride. Everyone gets the vibe & everyone nails it, too, including some 802 guests like keyboard funk virtuoso Danny Whitney, producer Flip Physics, lo-fi laureate David Chief, and of course, longtime collaborator Loupo.

The other thread getting continued on this LP is Es-K’s explorations into … well, back in the 90’s, biologists called it Acid Jazz. The low end is fat but never slamming, the mixes are deep and lush, and every track develops like a song instead of looping like a beat. This is carefully produced headphone food, and it sounds even better on a big system.

So while Es-K’s DNA is still infused with boom bap, it’s a wild contrast to hold his recent work up against, say, the jazzy dust of Here and Now or his epic Spontaneous Grooves series. It’s been a huge evolution to witness. Wherever this cat is headed in the next five years, it’s going to be dope.

If you’d like to get Continuance on vinyl, head over to Qcrates to learn how.

Justin Boland
OUTSIDE INFLUENCE: Everett Gibbons
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New Hampshire’s Everett Gibbons has been a patient, positive force in his local scene for years now. He organizes, manages, books, promotes, networks and hustles — all the dance moves any indie artist needs to know. During that time, he’s also honed himself into a damn fine rapper, as his recent Pomagranite Music project will attest.

That title is no typo: it’s a play on the granite state, New Hampshire, and the MA of Massachusetts. It’s also the name of the team he’s assembled for the next phase of his career. For the first installment of the Outside Influence series, I reached out to Gibbons to talk shop about work and about goals. Enjoy.

VTHH: Your life and career seems to have straddled the border between NH and MA -- is there a lot of bleed between those scenes?

Everett Gibbons: My hometown, Pelham, NH doesn’t have a highway access. It’s right on the state line and is stuck in the middle of Nashua, Hudson, Salem NH, and Dracut, Lowell, Methuen, and Lawrence MA. New Hampshire has Rap-Night, shout out IBI, DJ Myth and Shup. They have weekly shows on Sunday nights bringing in dope national, and local acts to Manchester. On the southern side of the line, I feel most MA artists gravitate towards the Boston, Cambridge and Worcester areas. There’s a lot of dope artists right now in Lowell, MA, too.  I’ve tried to be the common denominator with my music and shows, and have definitely brought more awareness to the dope artists from both scenes. 

VTHH: What advice do you have for New England artists trying to build a scene where they're at?

Everett Gibbons: Just be authentic. Know your influences. Pay artists for their time. Don’t get ripped off by venues. Understand mostly nothing is free. You have to be social. Don't expect people to care. and never listen to the h8rs, bruh. If you build it, they will come. 

VTHH: When you were getting started, who were the regional acts you looked up to? 

Everett Gibbons: Keeping it in New England; I'd say Decap, World Around Records (Hump Jones, Louis Mackey, Dr. Quandary), Guru from Gangstarr, Brady Watt, Della Kinetic & others I'm surely forgetting. Those people had a pretty crazy impact on me creatively, especially when i was just starting out. 

VTHH: As someone who's run a lot of shows and seen a lot of sets, what are the most common mistakes you see artists making with their live shows?

Everett Gibbons: Not knowing how to hold or enunciate into a performance mic properly. Rapping over full volume lyric tracks. Forgetting their flash drive so they play soundcloud off their phone. When an artist leaves after their set, instead of taking time to interact with people. I could go all day. Just when you think you’ve seen it all, another artist comes along to remind you how far you've come. 

VTHH: With most of the artists I interview, I'm basically doing original research. You've gotten a ton of press by comparison. Are you actively your own publicist or does that happen organically for you?

Everett Gibbons: I'm pretty active on Instagram, Soundcloud and other social media, but honestly I'm lucky to have the people i do behind me.  Both of my sisters, Emylee and Alyson have gotten me great press as well as my buddy Aidan. The organic side of press is pretty amazing, though. When random people reach out saying they're interested in what I’m doing, it gives me a little feeling of affirmation, which is a nice reminder of why I do what I do. I wouldn’t be anywhere without the whole Pomagranite team, so shoutout to Della, BryllCharlie Mixwelh, Joey Roxitt, Aidan, West, my family, and everybody else who fucks with us. 

VTHH: What are you working on for 2019?

Everett Gibbons: 2019 is gonna be dedicated to building with the the team, and really trying to raise the bar for ourselves. We all have solo hustles but we're trying to reach the point where we can tour and spread our music out of the direct region. You can expect The Treatment to be released on February 14th. It’s a group project that we made down in Florida. We made like 9 songs in 4 full days and trimmed the fat to 6 tracks that we all really mess with. We're trying to incorporate travel into our music, grabbing vibes from places we visit, and letting the music be influenced by the location. You can expect new music/visuals from Pomagranite practically every month in 2019. 

Justin Boland
GET FAMILIAR: Juni of Hella Fader
L to R: Juni and KISH4WN

L to R: Juni and KISH4WN

We first covered young emcee Juni back in October, and he’s been on an impressive run of singles ever since. He’s got a fresh, playful rapping style, paired with intricate bars. He’s also got a real appreciation for quality control: his catalog bumps in high-fidelity stereo panorama. Now that he’s begun work with a new group — make that a familyHella Fader, featuring Moose and KISH4WN, it was time to catch up with this humble & hilarious “rapping dad.”

VTHH: From where I'm sitting, it seems like you really found your sound. Do you think last year was a turning point for you? 

Juni: I definitely feel like 2018 was a huge turnaround for me. I received more support than I ever had to pursue my dream in making music from my family and friends, so I decided to fully immerse myself into polishing my style and releasing something for the public to hear. I personally think I still have a ways to go before I really have tightened up my sound, but I know that I’m learning fast and making strides.

VTHH: What was your introduction to hip hop? Did you want to be a rapper from the beginning?

Juni: Growing up in the Boston area in the late 90s, early 2000’s, hip hop was always prominent in my life, but I remember my mom always playing all types of stuff when I was a kid like Biggie, Tribe Called Quest, and a lot more, that was my first real taste of hip hop. I actually didn’t want to be a rapper until way later. I can recall the exact moment I decided I wanted to be a rapper and that’s when I heard the Capital Steez song Doggybag about 7 years ago. The lyricism and wordplay in that song really hit me for some reason and made me fall in love with art that is hip hop! Since then I’ve been working on getting better with every track I write.

VTHH: You've got a unique, complex style -- what other artists would you consider influences, at this point?

Juni: I have definitely taken a lot of notes from multiple different artists to try and come up with my own unique sounds. Huge influences for me would be like Mac Miller - R.I.P., Logic, Method Man, Tobe Nwigwe, and most of the Pro Era/Beast Coast crew.

VTHH: How did you connect with the rest of the Hella Fader crew?

Juni: I actually met the family through my good friend Warren. He knew that I loved rapping, and he knew both Moose and Kish4wn were dope lyricists, so he brought them to my job one day and we all cyphered and from there, we stayed homies. After a while we all started chilling more and one day the idea just came up that we should create not just a group, but a family. Honestly, if it wasn’t for Warren introducing us I don’t know if we would've ever met and started this awesome movement. 

VTHH: What are you cooking up for 2019?

Juni: 2019 is definitely gonna bring some craziness! Kish4wn and I have our first EP coming out in Spring called The Astral Project. We were supposed to release it on New Years, but unfortunately we ran into a couple snags. We’ve managed to work out what we needed to, and are now working on finishing production. Also, we have a few music videos that we plan to release later in the year as well as multiple singles. I will also be featured in the upcoming Unleash the Underground cypher, which I’m super excited about. Any other info on new projects and drop dates can always be found in my Instagram and Facebook posts.

Justin Boland
Feb. 7th: Dilla Day 2019 @ Sidebar
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The team at Sidebar is celebrating Dilla Day once again, and that is good news for your earholes. Their Dilly Day event last year was a big success, and the lineup for 2019 is crispy as heck: Crusty Cuts, Loupo, Moochie and of course, DJ SVPPLY, who did an (awesome) interview with VTHH late last year. As for Loupo, he’s been quiet since October’s Throwaway EP but promises there’s some new heat on the horizon.

The festivities will start at 10 pm sharp, and there is no cover at all. Dig it.

Justin Boland
March 9th: ALL VERMONT EVERYTHING
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March is shaping up to be a crazy month. On Friday the 8th, ATL breakout star J.I.D will be rocking Higher Ground — that party is already sold out. The next night, something huge is happening at Babes Bar in Bethel: ALL VERMONT EVERYTHING, a cypher video shoot and live show, the first of its kind and kind of a big deal.

Naturally, anything this ambitious is a collaboration. “HLR” is Hustle & Loyalty Records — recently rebranded for the new year — and “UTU” is Unleash The Underground, an impressive new platform based out of Connecticut. It’s run by rapper / entrepreneur Jynx, a hard worker and a downright humble guy, quick to credit his collaborators and partners.

So far, his cypher series videos have racked up just over 50,000 views for the artists he’s featured. That’s juice, and that’s also a recipe for long term growth. He’ll be working with the Kings Series Music Group video team to film the 13th and 14th installments in Bethel, which feature a parade of 802 talent. (Seriously, props to whoever put that lineup together — Vermont is very well represented here.)

In addition, DJ Mike “Philly” Fulton will be holding down the decks, and there will be solo sets from some of the performers, along with some CT artists who are making the trek up north to network & build. This is going to be a wild night, and $5 is a bargain.

Justin Boland
TONIGHT: Hip Hop at The Lamp Shop #3
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Quite an interesting lineup convening this evening at Light Club Lamp Shop, a dope venue that’s been hosting a lot of hip hop in recent months. This latest venture is organized by the Root Radio team from 105.9 The Radiator. They’re on every Friday night, occupying the rather prime real estate of 8 pm to 10 pm, and their focus — much like this website — is promoting local music. (You can also stream their show & hundreds of others on Big Heavy World.)

First up, the show will feature a new artist, TAZE. Not only is she new to me, she’s new enough to not have anything recorded yet, so this set will actually be a world exclusive. That alone should be enough, but there’s also going to be a set from Big Homie Wes, whose smart, strong hustle in 2018 has made him one of the most visible artists in the scene. He has also released a couple real bangers.

Rounding out the bill is Mavstar, whose Gangsta Trail Mix LP was one of last years biggest surprises, and Hella Fader, a group featuring Juni, Moose, and KISH4WN. All three of them share chopping, melodic flows and a taste for banging, futuristic beats — I’m definitely looking forward to whatever they’re cooking up in the lab.

All in all, this is a great opportunity to get a sneak peek at what 2019 has to bring. It’s also a great excuse to hang out with your neighbors instead of spending another night staring at a screen. Doors @ 9:30, Music @ 10, $5 cover. This will be an All Ages show.

Justin Boland