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

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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
Big Homie Wes - "Presidential"

STILTZgang affiliate Big Homie Wes "The Best" came through with a strong new project this month, Presidential. His style is sparse, somewhere between Milo and Mach-Hommy, with a preference for low-key beats. On his prior releases, that minimalism sometimes just sounded unfinished, but on Presidential, Wes is sounding more confident both on the mic and as executive producer. This is quality smoking music just in time for summer. 

You can grab a physical copy over on Bandcamp.

Justin Boland
VIDEO: "Complex" - Somba ft. Sam

New visual from the team at 99 Neighbors, this time for a laid-back jam from the team of Somba & Sam., whose South Cove EP kicked this whole wave off about a year back. Like "GHOUL," this is a clever and distinctive video, making the most of a low budget and warping the hell out of found footage.

The young crew will be in full effect for the upcoming Open House event at Arts Riot on Friday, July 27th. Expect a lot more new material on the way there. 

Justin Boland
June 10th - Rhyme & Unreason at Light Club Lamp Shop

First off, this is a truly bad-ass flyer, right here:

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With functional art like this, I don't really have to write much. Rhyme & Unreason is a comedy x hip hop showcase with a challenging format twist: the lyricists will tasked with a freestyle "interpretation" of a short set from the comedian on right before them.

Props to Omega Jade for bringing something new to BTV. 8 pm. $3 donation.

Justin Boland
VIDEO: "4ck With Me" - Obi the Voicegod

New video from a new name: say hello to Obi the Voicegod. "4ck With Me" is the closing cut on his Recognition Avenue EP, and features Benji Balla, Ken Lee and Sean Don. The video is quite damn professional, complete with swooping drone shots of the Green Mountain College campus. 

Per Obi's EPK, he specializes in "bare simple lyrics," which is a pretty honest assessment. Fortunately for Obi, bare simple is pretty much the wave right now, and kids can't enough of that shit. Expect to hear more from Obi the Voicegod this summer. 

Justin Boland
EXCLUSIVE: Elder Orange - "All My Friends Believe In Ghosts"

We don't get a lot of exclusives here at Vermont Hip Hop Dot Com, but when we do, it's gonna be a caps-lock affair every time. For the benefit of our brilliant & good-looking readership, we've got the entirety of Elder Orange's debut LP streaming a day early. You can cop this tomorrow -- or, of course, pre-order it today.

Justin Boland
Hitmen For Hire Strike Back
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When the Hitmen For Hire LP dropped last year, it was the day after Thanksgiving. I think I bumped it about five times in a row. The recipe is unbeatable: get a bunch of talented & competitive emcees together to try and impress each other. In this case, that's Raw Deff, Yung Breeze and Judge Da Beast -- certified spitters whose styles are complimentary but not similar. That's important.

Since then they've been continuing to make noise as a unit, most recently with a triumphant set at the Waking Windows festival in Winooski. (That whole Hip Hop Showcase was an achievement; huge props to Mister Burns / VMB Productions.) 

We've also started getting new solo material from this crew, too. First up was Raw Deff, who dropped his Uninvited Guest LP back on May 11th. He's a standout talent in any room, and mercilessly consistent. The album is also packed with 802 guests -- Learic, XP and Jibba "The Gent" show up in addition to Judge Da Beast and Yung Breeze.

This joint was rolled in a number of different studios but it hangs together beautifully. Raw Deff has dropped some strong projects before, but this is his best business card to date. Also, that cover art is motherfucking hilarious. 

Next up is Yung Breeze, who hit us off with a sneak attack EP for Memorial Day weekend, Sleep Deprivation. It's a tight six song set, mostly freestyle / remix material, and functions as a reminder he's one of the best doing it. It's also a reminder that this dude is hard at work cooking up something serious, and there's a lot more Street Religion material to come this Summer. (Keep an eye out for Jun Fargo, especially.)

...and as for Judge Da Beast? Nobody who loves rap that much is gonna stay quiet for long. Sure enough, he's been hustling behind the scenes to wrap up his next mixtape, Pre Trial. He's been going through a lot of artistic growth since his 2016 project, Arraignment, and his bars get sharper every week. Expect flames. 

 

Justin Boland
June 1st: Elder Orange - "All My Friends Believe in Ghosts"
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It's been a damn strong year for 802 hip hop across the board -- but the instrumental front has been especially hot. We've seen the launch of a new BTV label, Equal Eyes Records, who have dropped two excellent beat tapes: the ILLu & Rico James collaboration "Tired of Waiting for Rappers" and Teece Luvv's low-key manifesto "Semantics." On top of that, Loupo blessed us with his "Vacations EP," a dazzling dive into EDM territory, and the grandmaster Es-K just released his latest LP, "Koan."

Elder Orange is a new name on the scene, an NEK native now operating out of Southern Vermont. "All My Friends Believe In Ghosts" is his debut, and, as he puts it, a "musical declaration of independence." Elder Orange is a multi-instrumentalist with a decade of experience as a (real, actual) studio engineer, and boy howdy, it shows. It's the result of hundreds of hours of recordings, sessions with guest musicians, and a stunning array of gear, vintage and new. It's dropping on June 1st, but there's a preview track up for now -- check out "Homebody" -- and we'll be doing an exclusive stream next week. Stay tuned.

 

Justin Boland
Es-K - "Koan"

A brand new headtrip of an LP from Es-K, surely one of the most accomplished producers our humble state has ever seen. "Koan" finds the blapmaster in rare form, coming off a string of triumphant rap albums (check out "Building Bridges,"  "Urban Couture" and "Rebirth of the Slickest" if you haven't already) -- and now he's looking for new sounds. 

He's also rocking with a new label, NINETOFIVE RECORDS which is ... a pretty appropriate name for a workaholic like Es-K, really. He's also dropped a bonus track, reworking a beat off Urban Couture into an instrumental expedition with John Culbreth on the trumpet and BTV wunderkind Danny Whitney on the keys. The world could use a whole album of this.

Justin Boland
Mister Burns & Jarv on Grind Mode Cypher

From the Kind Of A Big Deal Department: two of the 802's foremost emcees have been featured on the latest Grind Mode Cypher video. For the few folks unfamiliar with GMC, it's a series that showcases top independent talent -- and a serious co-sign / career landmark. 

Jarv also dropped a new track last week on the Leedz compilation album, Eastern Standard. His song is named "Scream" and it's a standout cut on an LP full of big names. This is just the beginning of a big summer blitz, too. 

Justin Boland
May 24th - 4th Thursday Benefit for Johnny Morris
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This Thursday, Winooski's Monkey House will be hosting a massive benefit show for Boomslang producer / DJ / occasional emcee JL, aka Johnny Morris. He's a generous mammal who has been essential to building a scene in central VT, and an enthusiastic supporter of 802 talent.

He's also going through a serious medical crisis right now, so for this month's edition of 3rd Thursday, Anthill Collective is teaming up with the Hustle, Loyalty & Respect team to throw a proper barn-burner of a show. The poster ain't kidding -- the lineup is simply insane. 

On top of that, since Anthill is out here for the culture and Johnny wouldn't have it any other way, there's also going to be the usual Open Cypher at 9 pm sharp. ILLu will be providing the beats. This is a free show, but also -- obviously -- a fund-raiser, bud, so expect to find a lot of uses for spare currency that night. There will even be a bake sale. 

Be there. When Anthill and HLR combine forces, you know it's going to be a hell of a night.

Justin Boland
Saturday - Waking Windows Hip Hop Showcase
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Waking Windows is a Winooski music festival that ... well, it basically grew out of the front door of The Monkey House and turned into something of a phenomenon. 2013 was their breakout year and it's hard to imagine the 802 scene without it now.

It's great to see Vermont hip hop getting represented so strongly this year, too.  Hell, Saturday's showcase is practically a mini-festival unto itself, with a lineup like that. Running from 10 pm until closing, this is a big stage guided tour hosted by Mister Burns. He's had a lot of career high notes in the past year, and this celebration is surely one of 'em. 

DJ for the evening is Mike Fulton, Rhythm Riderz and Anthill Collective will both be in the building representing their respective elements, and you'll be treated to performances by Loupo, 99 Neighbors, Hitmen For Hire, Boomslang, HLR's yung phenom Drive -- and a special performance from Learic and Es-K, debuting new material. Also expect new material from PR DepARTment and Teece Luv.

Justin Boland
VIDEO: "GHOUL" - Sam.

A brand new video from Sam Paulino, and it's definitely one of the best produced we've seen so far this year. This is, in fact, slick as hell. It's also a sign of things to come -- there's a big extended crew at work behind the scenes here, prepping for summer. 

In related news, Sam. x HANKNATIVE have rolled out a new name for that collective: 99 Neighbors, along with a proper new website, too. Expect a lot of new music and more heavyweight visuals. 

Justin Boland
"ILLiterature" - Mind's Eye Tribe
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There were a few delays prior to the release of this latest project from Mind's Eye Tribe, but it's easy to see why: this "EP" grew into a whole damn album. MET is a mostly 802 crew of spitters, in the vein of Demigodz or Army of the Pharaohs, mostly orchestrated by JynxINC emcee / prouducer Eyedos. The other core members are Stresselbee of Epidemiks, Trono of Self PortraitAdemus, iMHi, J-Zila, RuffNek and Trips. Finally, Brattleboro artist Capa 3 rounds out the lineup in a big way -- in addition to spitting, he produced the opening and closing cuts (as DJ Hakal) and even did the cover art (as Zeke Parker. Nice work, Zeke.)  ILLiterature is their second project, hot on the heels of their 2017 debut. 

Just like their first album, ILLiterature makes it clear that MET is way more than "that crew Eyedos has." Sure, he's both prolific and gifted, but he's also playing a supporting role here. Almost everyone in the posse is a multi-talented operator with experience in the game, and it shows. 

Everything kicks off like it should: with an atmospheric intro cut setting the tone, a banging crew anthem laying out the manifesto, and then a monster of a posse cut -- "MET Cypher" is a serious piece of work. It kicks off with a burner of a sixteen from Sa-Roc, one of the best recent additions to the Rhymesayers roster. The track is a 1:1 map of the whole MET business plan -- they're aiming squarely for underground legitimacy, for the recognition of the rappers they respect.

With a crew as big and diverse as Mind's Eye Tribe, that pantheon spans pretty damn far, obviously. But the aesthetic is always raw skills over industry "success." The other big feature on this LP is Swollen Members legend Madchild, one of Canada's most truly unhinged exports in recent decades. He's also a shrewd artist-capitalist who understood how to build a movement since the start of his career. Madchild has a global network, Battle Axe Warriors, which often gets written about as a "fan club" -- but any artist reading this should take a half hour to get familiar. "It does't matter if you guys don't get it," he says on track six, "what matters is that I do, and where this is headed."

Throughout the LP, the MET crew spits a lot of (hilarious) venom about The Industry -- the fake stars, the shitty music, the hidden agendas -- but this is also a pragmatic stance. "Blowing up" is like winning the lottery, a one-time achievement that's not sustainable. What MET is looking to do is build a real fanbase and own that shit. That might be small business, compared to whatever DJ Khaled and G-Eazy are hustling this fiscal quarter, but it's also a business that lasts. They will never have to chase trends, get sponsors, or answer to anyone but themselves.

...which is good, since they're hardcore boom bap purists who do eight minute tracks. ILLiterature is an utterly uncompromising album. Whether that's too much or fucking awesome will depend on your taste as a listener, but there is definitely a huge, devoted and global audience out there for this kind of rap. Quite a few of them are right here in Vermont. This is a soundtrack for backwoods burn turns, bonfires populated by heavy drinkers, house parties that end in fights. Or, you know, getting pumped at the gym or something.

MET have left fans and new listeners with a lot to unpack here, but for those who can't get enough, there is new solo material on the way this year from Ademus, Stresselbee, and Eyedos. Meanwhile, keep ILLiterature in rotation.

 

Justin Boland