8/16: 3rd Thursdays at The Monkey House

Anthill Collective will never front, nor will they fake the funk. Here's their recap of this month's edition of the venerable hip hop showcase 3rd Thursdays:

"It's summertime in VT. Every artist we know, be it graff writer, eMCee, DJ, breaker or anyone supporting any genre... we are all grinding right now. In the past month alone Anthill has rocked at Levitt AMP Trenton Music SeriesUnder Pressure - International Graffiti Convention2nd Annual Jam for the Land with Stowe Cider and painted a school bus and a silo. Things get crazy leading up to our 2nd Edition of Above The Radar, September 14-16!

That said, we had some scheduling snafus, a couple cancellations... hey it happens. But, the show must go on as always and without a doubt you can expect that the VT scene will come out in full effect to throw down. So, come see the spontaneity of hip-hop in it's purest form. Expect freestyles galore, surprise sets and maybe even some new shit. FREE show, come show yer love!"

Truesay. I have no idea how it's halfway through August, myself. Looks like Mavstar is going to be there running some new material from his upcoming album on Equal Eyes Records. (Release party is September 21st.)

Justin Boland
Sam. - "Collision"

Brand new project from the 99 Neighbors crew -- Sam. just dropped his solo debut, the Collision EP. It's creative-as-fuck future soul music, as expected. Dude can sing, dude can spit, and he's really stretching his wings on this one. Collision is packed full of ideas, a maze of shifting genres, feels and tempos.

99 Neighbors will be headlining Higher Ground on Sept. 1st, alongside Boston's Golden Boy Music Group. All Ages. $5 adv / $10 door. 8:30 pm.

Justin Boland
The "Will Rap For Art" Tour: Dillon, Eyenine, Jarv & Mister Burns

Mister Burns never stops working. Those five words are a formula as ironclad & consistent as the second law of thermodynamics. Everyone is hustling, everyone is grinding, but people like Mister Burns really put those casual rapper brags into perspective.

His latest project, through his VMB Productions, is the "Will Rap For Art" Tour, which kicks off August 9th at The Monkey House in Winooski. From there: a ten-day sprint across New England.

The bill is top notch. Jarv, you already know -- he's officially the best rapper in Vermont now, after all. Many readers might already know the speed-rap human muppet Eyenine, too, since he's played plenty of shows in BTV by now. He's a show-stopping talent who's impressed the RZA; not something you see on a lot of resumes lately.

Rounding the bill out is Dillon, a very talented producer/spitter from Atlanta. I first realized he existed last year, when he dropped the superb Black Tie Affair, which was produced by none other than Diamond D. (That might be an even bigger co-sign than the RZA, depending on your taste.)

So: this is an all-killer, no-filler evening of quality rap music and it's coming to a venue near you. Come on through. 

Justin Boland
PR DepARTment - "Outlook EP"

The crew at Equal Eyes Records have been keeping up a relentless pace. Their latest is a new project from PR DepARTment, the tag team of Cali transplant PreciseMC and label co-founder Rico James. The Outlook EP is their follow-up to last summer's Pilot EP, and it's considerably tighter piece of work. The production has gotten more ambitious, and it makes for a great headphone trip. 

The Outlook EP is also available on Apple Music and Spotify.

Justin Boland
Catching Up With Jibba "The Gent"

Jibba "The Gent" has been making a lot of moves lately, but "Suite Tooth" is my favorite since his LP, The Broccoli Tree. Produced by Rico James (Equal Eyes Records) and featuring New Jersey upstart Ren Thomas alongside NH mic slayer Raw Deff, this is one of the best 802 singles of the summer. 

It's also a hint of things to come. Jibba played the first annual 6ix5ive6ix Fest up in Maine and, in a surprise announcement, signed with their label -- fresh chain and everything. Hot off recent spots on Underground Hustlin' and Grind Mode Cypher, Jibba took a few minutes to talk shop...

VTHH: How did you link up with Ren Thomas -- and is there more work with Raw Deff coming? 

Jibba: The Ren Thomas collabo came about by being affiliated with Grind Mode Cypher. Thanks to them and Rico James fire production, I was able to secure a really solid verse from Ren. We are currently working on him headlining a Vermont show and shooting a video for Suite Tooth. Raw Deff and I will most definitely be working on more tunes in the future, big shouts to Hitmen for Hire and Full Circle!

VTHH: What's the history behind your 6ix5ive6ix connection? Was your signing in the works for awhile? 

Jibba: 6ix5ive6ix has been like family to me since 2015 when Causin Effect (Vazy and I) brought out Northern Lights Nation to open for Twista in Burlington, for a show we put on with Team Dilligaf. Since then we have worked on many shows together and extended invitations to perform in each others states. Most recently the Slaine and Term show in Stowe and 656 Fest this past weekend. NLN also did an exceptional remix to "Do It For My City" featuring that insanely catchy chorus from Yung Breeze. You can find the original version on The Broccoli Tree. Northern Lights Nation is the whole reason there is a 6ix5ive6ix Records and the owner of the label, Kartoon is 1/3 of that group. We've always stayed in touch and recently he approached me with the idea of signing with his label, which I immediately responded with a yes. Keeping David Phair of HLR on for management. The label feels like home to me with my brothers Dilyrium, HVZE, Brodie James, GA South and of course Northern Lights Nation. Fun fact, if you type in NLN on a phone you will use the numbers 6-5-6. 

VTHH: What can heads expect from you in the second half of 2018?

Jibba: The second half of 2018 is looking really exciting, I've been working on my 2nd solo album as well as singles and features for various local and not so local MC's. For as much traveling and shows I've done so far, I've been able to get a lot of content finished. Most of it is currently awaiting release or a recording sesh. It will all be leaking out soon though, once all of the music is properly registered. I'm really excited about a Sky Splitter Ink and Mickey Factz collabo as well as a record where my younger brother makes his debut into Vermont Hip-hop. I also have a huge surprise for Southern Vermont Hip-hop that I am not at liberty to speak about, but I can say it's pretty darn cool! 

Justin Boland
Seven Daysies 2018 Winners: Jarv and Loupo

Every year, the Seven Daysies Awards are a source of much grumbling in the Vermont hip hop scene. A lot of that is because it's a Burlington-centric, inherently imperfect, flat-out popularity contest. A lot of that is also because Lynguistic Civilians have been winning "Best hip-hop artist or group" for as long as that category has existed.

Still, it's the closest thing we've got to an 802 Grammy Awards. (And I pity the fools who take that project on -- and I may even be one of them.)

People are going to have a hard time finding much to legitimately complain about in 2018, though. Jarv is, without question, one of the best rappers the state of Vermont has ever seen. He also works damn hard at it, and has been for quite awhile. Barring some sort of throat injury or weird religious conversion, it's inevitable that he's about to get a lot bigger, too, with a new album on the way.

As for Loupo, what human being alive could hate on that dude? In the past two years he's branched out from woozy, beautiful hip hop beats to more festival-friendly electronica -- and still kept his distinctive style intact. He's got a huge catalog and effortless stage presence, too.

Props to both winners. 

Justin Boland
AUGUST 25th: A_Dog Day 2018

For the fifth annual A_Dog Day, the team at Friends for A_Dog are going huge. These celebrations have always been a four elements kinda party, but this year's edition has really stepped that up. That's more than a matter of spending & planning, though -- this year more than ever, A_Dog Day is building on the foundations of Burlington's booming hip hop scene.

Let's start with the headliners. DJ A_Dog was much more than a local hero, he was a real deal legend, with connections in the music industry around the world. Years past have seen some heavy names at the top of the bill -- Stretch Armstrong headlined in 2016, and last year The Beatnuts came through. 

This time, though, two generations of unimpeachable NYC hip hop will be in the building: Smif N' Wessun will be shaking up Metronome alongside upstart crew Loaf Muzik.  That is largely thanks to the tireless work ethic (and spooky talent) of Burlington producer Es-K, who has been doing incredible work with both groups.

Likewise, the Rhythm Riderz breakdancing crew has graduated from dance showcases & workshops to running a full-on, 1 vs. 1 break battle over at Foam Brewers. (There will also be open floors for all ages & skill levels.) Their regular class/clinic, The Break Room, has evolved into a real community, and their Building Blocks parties have been a huge success this year. 

Anthill Collective has been an integral part of A_Dog Day since the beginning. Last year, they put many tons of blood, sweat & tears into pulling off a graffiti festival right on the Burlington waterfront, Above The Radar. It was a smash, and it's happening again this year. (September 14-16th, which is coming sooner than any of us want to believe.) Expect them to be a heavy, eye-grabbing presence absolutely everywhere this August.

Every detail on the schedule is a celebration of the hard work local artists have been putting in. A2VT will be rocking a set with a live band. 99 Neighbors have absolutely earned a spot, and will be much bigger next year. Mister Burns will be performing with a new live band, The Hounds, and of course, Jarv will be everywhere, all day.

There are also some impressive comebacks on the bill: The Aztext will be playing, and MC B-Free returns with the latest incarnation of his Ice Coast band. Farmer / wizard / emcee Humble will be doing a solo set backed by DJ Transplante, and finally, BTV will get a taste of Wasted Talent, which features LC, Walshie, and Philly of Lynguistic Civilians.  

All this sounds like a lot, but I assure you, it's not even 33 and 1/3 of what's going down on Saturday, August 25th. Many of these events are completely free and all ages, and in the evening, the action moves downtown for the annual takeover of Nectars & Metronome. Passes for the evening shows are $20.

Be there, obviously. This is probably the best lineup they've ever had, and that's 100% because of Andy's legacy here in Vermont. It's a beautiful thing. 

Justin Boland
TONIGHT: 99 Neighbors Open House @ ArtsRiot

A guaranteed good time in Queen City this evening. After much preparation and hype, 99 Neighbors big unveiling is finally going down at ArtsRiot, one of the nicer venues in Vermont. This will be a celebration of art and music -- not to mention a free show with a bunch of top notch food trucks parked outside.

Justin Boland
802 Representing in Grind Mode's Upstate Underground Cypher Series

Back in May, Jarv and Mister Burns made an appearance on the Grind Mode Cypher series -- a first for our humble state, so far as I know. Not only that, Jarv was the featured artist for that installment, an acknowledgement that the young man has juice and is going places. Which is true.

Having Jibba the Gent and BL Spitz join the club so quickly is a damn good sign for the scene as a whole, then. It's also instructive that so many 802 success stories follow the same script in 2018: artists who are carving out their own lane, and working with a close-knit team to do it. 

First up was Jibba, representing the Hustle, Loyalty and Respect team with a flashy & charismatic turn alongside some heavy up and coming New England talent. Jibba's been playing a long game and we can expect to see more big moves from him this summer.

In the very next chapter, Heartless Ent founder BL Spitz is on second to deliver some hard bars. He's currently working on his solo debut, "Mr. Credible" and a mixtape, "HEARTLESS FOREVER Vol. 1.

Justin Boland
The Aztext - "Everyday Sun" ft. Xenia Dunford

Over the years, The Aztext have grown into masters of many styles. If there's one thing they've always excelled at, though, it's BBQ bangers -- catchy & relatable verses over perfect summer soundtrack beats. They have returned with exactly that: "Everyday Sun" is an anthem packed full of in-jokes and life lessons.

The hook comes courtesy of Xenia Dunford, a spooky talented 802 songwriter who just dropped a 2 EP project, Flesh and Bone (& Everything Within). It's very damn good, but I sure didn't expect her next move would "hip hop hook assassin for hire." 2018 is all about surprises, though. She really makes the song here and definitely has The Touch. (She will be at Light Club Lamp Shop on Friday the 13th and at Radio Bean on July 16th, too.)

The beat is another Rico James composition, and that young man is having a strong year. Formerly known mostly for his photography work and production for Self Portrait. Now, though? He is the co-founder of Equal Eyes Records, a new BTV label that's been on a prolific & consistent run since they started earlier this year. 

The AZT family has a lot more coming. First up, GOOD WTHR -- the team of Pro & Kin -- are featured on the latest Soulslicers album. This is a pretty tremendous cosign: Soulslicers are a production team with connections around the world. Their latest LP features Skyzoo, M-Dot, and Edo G. It also features GOOD WTHR on three different tracks. It's a good look on a big platform.

Justin Boland
Stuck in Vermont covers Building Blocks 3

"Stuck In Vermont" is a long-running video series that features New York transplant Eve Sollberger exploring the 802 -- with an emphasis on the arts scene & our many colorful characters. Emphasis on long-running series: she started in 2007. Since then, it's evolved into a weekly feature on WCAX news.

So it's a Pretty Big Deal to get covered on that platform, all in all. The latest installation covers Building Blocks 3, a celebration of hip hop & charity fundraiser at The Swan Dojo on Church Street. That evening was all about The Aztext, yet it's Boomslang who steal the show in this video, nabbing three song placements.

There's also a ton of dance highlights, featuring Rhythm Riderz and the SynRgy Dance Company. There are also a lot of young kids who will clearly be insanely good in five years, so you know ... fair warning, bud. 

Props to everyone involved. Building Blocks has evolved into one of the most important hip hop institutions we've got.

Justin Boland

Brand Nubian legend Sadat X will be rocking the Swan Dojo in Burlington tonight, and that's a fairly huge deal. He's not only one of the all-time greats, he's also been having a strong run of brand new material these past few years. This is gonna be a hot gig

VMB Productions has been having a strong 2018 -- this weekend's run with Sadat X comes on the heels of a spring tour throughout New England alongside another legendary lyricist, Masta Ace. Rapper / entrepreneur / machine Mister Burns has been instrumental in building a real tour circuit of opportunities for 802 artists. While that may be built on the foundation of the Lynguistic Civilians hustle, what he's done since is even more impressive. 

Tonight's celebration has a top notch supporting cast: the mighty Konflik will be in the building alongside S.I.N.siZZle, Es-K, Jarv and of course, Mister Burns himself. 

8:30 PM, $18 at the door, 21+.


Justin Boland
FRESH PRODUCE: The "Keenan and Karma" LP

If there's one thing Vermont has always excelled at, it's exporting talent. There are a lot of talented people up in the guts of the music industry right now who got their start in the 802. We also have a lot talent stashed up in the woods. One such specimen is Keenan Kilgore, a producer and artist who just released an LP of remixes with NYC art rap collective Karma Kids, Keenan and Karma

Karma Kids actually features a Vermonter, too: one of their members, Gruff Lion, hails from these mountains, although he's long since gone native in the city. Other members include Duncecap (Rapping is For Idiots), Lt. Headtrip (Comedy of the Filthbeast), and bulletproof spitter Googie ('Tis What 'Tis). Keenan and Karma is a deep dive into their huge catalog, and Mr. Kilgore does great justice to some real underground gems, here. 

Anyone who likes what they hear would be strongly advised to check out the rest of the Keenan Kilgore catalog. It's impressive as hell, and worthy headphone food. Kilgore manages to balance experimental & ambient elements against instrumental boom bap without doing a disservice to either ingredient. 


Justin Boland
B.O.M.B.S. Across the U.S. Tour Kicks Off Today

This evening at the VFW over in Morrisville, Shadow Spear Music Group is kicking off an ambitious, nearly month-long tour. Along the way, they'll be seeing the coast of California and the plains of Texas. 

For tonight's show, Khaosity, Corty Booth and Stormyweather will be opening up -- and representing their new label / collective, Anomaly Entertainment. Shadow Spear will be represented by Chyse, Boston emcee Zae The Godd, Ricocaine, and Flotilla 13. 

They're rolling down to Brattleboro tomorrow night to rock The Stone Church alongside Eyedos of JynxINC -- who have just released their new LP, Devil May Care Too. It's a serious slab of hardcore hip hop, with guest features including Slaine, C-Rayz Walz and Killah Priest. Copies will be on sale tomorrow night in Brattleboro.

Justin Boland
VIDEO: "Picture Me" - YungStar

YungStar is a Burlington rapper and part of the Bloodpressure Music Group. He's a standout talent, with an agile, crystal clear flow and a strong understanding of how to cut catchy lines. He's also going to be busy as hell this summer, on the run-up to his solo LP, Star Life, which drops on August 20th.

The video was shot by Quebeats, BPM's hardworking CEO. 

Justin Boland
VIDEO: "Sofia Grace" - Yung Breeze

Happy Fathers Day from Street Religion and Bar None The Best. "Sophia Marie" is both heartfelt and dope, a low-key autobiography track -- and the video, courtesy of the always-diversifying Bar None The Best team, is a perfect match. 

Justin Boland
Question The MC & ILLu - "Textbook"

The new BTV indie label Equal Eyes Records has been doing it right so far. They had a slate of projects ready to go after they announced themselves to the 802, and they've been dropping releases at a steady clip ever since. So far, those projects have been instrumental, but on July 6th, true school purist Question The MC will be teaming up with label co-founder ILLu for "Textbook."

So far, all we've got for a preview is the title track, a soul chop banger. The tracklist mentions some impressive features, though: Bless The Child lyricist Humble, HLR's yung phenom Drive, and ... Colby Stiltz. That's an unexpected flavor combination, but hot damn, I'm interested. 

Justin Boland