ROUNDUP: Late Pass Jukebox

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Two weeks back, I did the first ROUNDUP in months. Naturally, it fell far short of adequate. I’m already a dinosaur. So before we get back to covering that new new, here are four more quality local videos I missed. And one more that … well, let’s get to it when we get to it.

What follows is a testament to hard work.

First up, the latest visuals from Yungstar are on point, and his flow is sharp as ever. This cat is one of those natural born rapper types, and he’s going to keep turning heads as long as he keeps picking dope beats. Props to CEO and renaissance man Quebeats for directing another slick, low-budget masterpiece. This is a killer single with a big anthem feel, too.

Next up, we turn to Ciurleo, fresh off both an extended tour (August) and 656Fest (last weekend) and still dropping material faster than I can keep track. The THEN WHAt produced beat for “High School Shit” is gorgeous, just the right mix of washed-out keys and boom-bap drums. Despite the juvenile implications of that title, this track remains one of Ciurleo’s most personal, thoughtful songs to date. All in all, his recent output indicates that his upcoming Hunting Season project will be an interesting evolution.

Remember Vego Harris? He’s a creative director / hustler whose Youtube channel documents a relentless work ethic. He made the Ciurleo video you just saw, and he made this one, too: a perfectly down-home, straightforward visual for Omega Jade’s friendly, gently edgy stoner manifesto, “Let’s Chief.” This is every bit as fun and relaxed as the song it’s based on, and a solid business card for Omega Jade, one of 2019’s MVPs with huge plans for the year to come.

D.FRENCH’s video for “Soul Food” is a fast-moving throwback, 90’s as fuck. Which, of course, fits this particular song like a custom tuxedo. His recent project, Highest Lows, is full of tracks with heavy cinematic potential, so hopefully this is the first of many videos off that LP. You can catch D.FRENCH rocking at Nelly’s Pub & Grill in St. Albans this Saturday.

Finally, back when I covered the first two cyphers from ALL VERMONT EVERYTHING 2, I had completely forgotten there was a third installment on the way. That joint has finally arrived; another room full of hungry rappers, this time over a Rico James beat. I have some words.

Last time around, I said some stone cold brilliant shit about how “what was once a private ritual is now a very public template for reaching a bigger audience.” That template is very much “pay to play,” too, because these cyphers are a huge amount of time and labor to shoot and edit. I have no beef with that. To be clear, rappers should pay to play, to be on platforms like this.

But final product like ALL VERMONT EVERYTHING 2 PART 3 here is a cautionary tale about the risks of doing large, trust-based projects like these. As much as this website is all about supporting the scene, it’s also about being blunt. So.

D.FRENCH kicks things off with a well-paced opening verse — he starts simple and begins cutting into chopping schemes, and then really gets cooking. Then Fresh comes in. Fresh is an effortless rapper and his verse is a perfect counterpoint for what D.FRENCH just did, except: it sounds like it was recorded in the biggest bathroom in Las Vegas. Or maybe even Dubai. That reverb is turned up past 10, bud, outright slammed. Too wet, too hot.

But that distraction is nothing compared to Jay Blaze, who sounds like he recorded his 16 by rapping at a laptop mic. Or maybe the Voice Memo app on his phone? There are all kinds of ways to deliver sub-par final stems for a project, but all of them wind up the same way: you sound out of place. Like, “Max B recording hooks from prison” type out of place. It’s not a good look.

And as for why these two QC lapses happened? It doesn’t matter. That’s cold but that’s true. They happened and that’s it. My point here is about how once deposits are in, shoots are scheduled, and everyone is committed, The Show Must Go On.

But critiques don’t matter much, either. Fortunately. Everyone here had a blast doing the shoot and Mister Burns got some sniper punchlines off. There are more projects in the works for 2020 — and, more on that soon. Props to Unleash the Underground and Hustle & Loyalty Records for delivering another one for the record books.

Justin Boland