Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Kai Roberts - The Sound (2010)

Kai Roberts is a dope young multi-talented artist who hails from Pittsburgh, PA. At 17 years of age, Kai has already earned national recognition for his production on Jasiri X's single "Dear Debra." He has also worked alongside Rhyme Calisthenics co-creator J. Armstead Brown. The Sound is Kai Roberts's debut album, showcasing his gift as both a producer and MC.

01 - Just Breath
02 - So Gone
03 - Too Late

04 - Close
05 - What People Do
06 - Last Night
07 - Bad Girl
08 - Who Stole the Car (feat. Sadik Roberts)
09 - The Bedroom
10 - Robot Love
11 - I Need U


Link with Kai Roberts on Twitter and MySpace

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Shade Cobain - Cassette Theory: Beat EP (2010)

01 - Intro/Fort Pitt Tunnel (RCA)
02 - It's Ours (Magna)
03 - Rock Drop (TDK)
04 - Door Kickin' (Akai)
05 - Party In Mecca (Sony)
06 - Heaven>Paradise (Fuji)
07 - Tape Playing Interlude/Memorex Flashback
08 - Dual Cassette Dub (Memorex)/Maxwell Flashback
09 - Gow Gow Crack (Maxwell)
10 - Private Enemies (Centron)

11 - BASF Flashback/Misunderstood (BASF)
12 - Evolution (Centron)
13 - The History (Phillips)


Follow Shade Cobain on Twitter and Bandcamp

Ensilence - Genesis Since '85 (2010)

DJ Teknik & Ensilence present...
Genesis Since '85

01 - Genesis '85 Intro
02 - Amerikan Hunger (Remix)

03 - They Ain't Ready (feat. Thorobred)
04 - The Makers
05 - Ready For War
06 - What's Real

07 - Trouble Woman
08 - For A While

09 - Uprising! (Remix)
10 - The Hardest Times
11 - Ain't Nothin Move
12 - Flowerz (feat. Roxx the King)
13 - Uprising! (Alt. Remix)


Follow Ensilence on Twitter and Facebook

Friday, June 25, 2010

Jon Quest - The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest (2010)

DJ Vex & Jon Quest present...
The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest

Jon Quest - 1-900-LYRICAL (Prod. by Armstead Brown)

Jon Quest - Last Word


Follow Jon Quest on Twitter and Facebook

ChaRon Don & DJ Huggy - Mental Combustion (2001)

Hands Down became recognized nationally in hip-hop circles with their 2007 release Art of Life. But for a decade prior to its release, the duo of ChaRon Don and DJ Huggy were active participants in the Pittsburgh hip-hop scene. Both members graduated from Schenley High School and have continued to build and develop as music artists since.

First of all, the album title, Mental Combustion. Who came up with it and why did you believe that it was fitting for the sound that you were creating at the time?

ChaRon Don: Mental Combustion was a title that I had chosen mainly for its sounding and visual association. The album was created while Huggy and I were both in high school, in an era where lyricism was at its height. Being fans of artists like Big L, Big Pun, Wu-Tang Clan, Biggie, Canibus, etc., bigger and more complex words and ideas were being used and therefore helped with the creation of the album title. Back in those days I was working at Carnegie Library in Oakland and I can remember coming across a book from a horror film, which was produced out of Carnegie Mellon University, and in one of the pages sat the visual of the backdrop to the album. What could grab your attention more than a picture of someone's whole head and face exploding? ... We had to use it!

DJ Huggy: During the album making process, I usually let Charon take care of all the little things like naming songs, picking the album art work, and ultimately choosing the album title. Of course I give my input, but I tend to let him work those things out. Even though I am a part of the group, I still prefer to approach the process as a producer, whose job is to create, shape, and mold any vision an artist has into music.

How did your decision to form a group with just the two of you allow for the freedom to experiment with different concepts and ideas?

DJ Huggy: Well, naturally the less heads you have at the table, the easier decision making should be. We all know and have heard of different groups in the hip-hop world who broke up due to "creative differences," which really means they couldn't agree on something, usually money! (Laughs...) However, the earlier and longer you begin to work with some one, a natural rhythm, if you will, begins to develop. You learn his strengths and weaknesses, he learns yours. You feed off of his energy and he feeds off of yours. And if your lucky, that magic that everyone is trying to create will be there!

ChaRon Don: Huggy and I have always enjoyed one another's opinions and talents, even before we were a group, so it really didn't change once we started to build on our group works and efforts. We have always represented, solo and together, so once two people know how one another gets down it becomes natural, easy, and fun to add on... I'll pick up where he left off, just in a lyrical way, and he does the same in a productive, producing way. (Laughs...) We've been in two to three other groups, both before and after Hands Down, so our history and experience made things very comfortable.

Can you explain the challenges and rewards that came with releasing the album independently in 2001?

ChaRon Don: To be honest, there were more rewards than challenges with the release. Because we were gaining more and more notoriety, mainly within the city, the love was the fuel that kept us doing more shows and recordings. Back then the hip-hop scene was a lot more close and active with more breakers, deejays, emcees, and writers. The culture was in full effect and everyone was supporting each other in some way. The love was sincere, and inspiring, and literally bred a sense of worth to what we represented musically. Through hard work and dedication to the music we created, many people would give their ear, constructive criticisms, and motivational words to us. People like Strict Flow, DJ Rampage, Lone Catalysts, Dashon, RXC, Adam Smith from Underground HipHop Magazine, etc. put us under their wings and watched us learn how to take the winds on our own.

DJ Huggy: This was our first project in which we had some experience, some resources, and representation. This was our true introduction into the world of hip-hop, for better or for worse. Releasing this album independently was a blessing. It gave us creative control and it provided us with some insight into what it would take to self release a project. Just like with anything in life, if you have someone do something for you all of the time, you'll never learn how to do it yourself. You'll never learn what's involved in the whole process, and honestly you probably won't appreciate the journey as well. In 2001, major labels played a bigger role in the music industry than they do now. To release an album independently, you were competing against an opponent who had unlimited resources. We had a $1,000 promotional budget. They had a $1,000,000 promotional budget. Do the math! Who do you think was gonna get more exposure? Which project do you think would be pushed more in the stores? As an independent artist, your best and sometimes only weapon was to have better music. And I think that's what we tried to do!

ChaRon Don: Moe, who was and remains one of the most influential promoters Pittsburgh has seen, financially fronted us the money and helped us get more shows in and outside the state. Others expressed their love through deed and action, like B-Bonics from Kiss FM. B-Bonics(now known as Bonics), while spinning a house party, put me down with a friend of his who was running an independent label in Philly, and from there I knew how much some people were looking out for us in and outside of the city. On a tour alongside two other national Pittsburgh acts, Strict Flow and Deadly Scribes, we met up with GoodHands Records and would soon ink a deal with them for the follow up album, Art of Life. Still, while the misconceptions of what we represented and stood for were present, it was miniscule to the rewards. Because I was battling and had that type of style, many emcees, younger and older, of the Pittsburgh scene adopted hateful opinions about me and the music. Although I heard much of who and what was being said, I truly was too focused and aware of what was more important to our goal to be discouraged and/or intimidated. Plus, I was ready to take peoples heads off lyrically, so I felt if it's a test of talents I could stand my own! I give thanks to the creator for the haters and lovers, they both have the exact same purpose, both are motivations.

When the album was released, what was your marketing plan and distribution strategy?

ChaRon Don: To perform and record more than we had been. Push harder, run faster. Observe change.

DJ Huggy: Stealing a little from my previous answer, our strategy was to work hard, spread the word, be everywhere all of the time, and hope that because we had the better music, we would shine through. I won't go into all the specifics but there are basic promotional guidelines that you should do when releasing any project. Interviews, radio, tours, in-stores, etc. Yeah, we did all of them and then some! For example, I remember getting up with Charon and like five other people around 3 a.m. the day of the release. We had about 1,000 posters and we planned on tagging up the whole city. We split into groups and we hit every neighborhood. We put them on store fronts, cars, telephone poles, buses, bus stations, houses, apartment buildings, restaurants, etc. Anywhere we could stick them, they were there!

How do you believe an artist can use their past work for progression in the present and future?

ChaRon Don: As a means of encouragement and point of reference. If you have examples of the past you can always know where not to go back, not that anything of the past is negative, but one must always mature into the next cycle. The act of reflection is powerful and that album is an expression of a lot of what I knew and didn't know, therefore its purpose is and always will be very much needed.

DJ Huggy: It gives you a foundation. It gives you a resume. It's something that you can use and say look at what I've already done. Look at my history. I didn't just jump off the porch, I'm rooted in this shit! I got experience, I got knowledge, I got respect! I live this! "Now please buy my new shit, it's only $6.99!" (Laughs...)

Art of Life can be found in stores and at Amazon. You can hear more music from the duo on the Chief Kamachi & JuJu Mob album.

The next evolution of Hands Down will be heard on the upcoming album, Thee Official. Check for the release on Good Hands Records, due out within the next couple months.

Mental Combustion
01. The Church Sermon (feat. Soul Dean)
02. Raw Passion
03. Streets is Watchin
04. Penny Candy
05. Brotha's & Sista's
06. Hype to Def (feat. Dashon)
07. Infinite Measures
08. Linguistic Terrorism (feat. Ron Noodles)
09. I Love You (feat. Renassaince)
10. Say Grace (feat. Rashad)
11. The Young & The Wreckless (feat. Nabri Savior & Sha-King)
12. U Count (feat. Don Juan & Ill Gill)
13. When Cries Lose Tears (feat. Zay-Zay)
14. Ms. Barbie (feat. Justuce & Soul Dean)
15. Street Journal (feat. Mr. Story)
16. Enough is Enough (feat. Caleesh & Will)
17. I Grabbed the Mic [And Asked the Crowd]
18. Mental Combustion (feat. T-Diddy)


-Stilltown * tHe WebdsLinGah

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Divine Seven - Listen!!! (2010)

Brand new release from Pittsburgh's own Divine Seven
Production handled in-full by Shade Cobain

Divine Seven feat. Apex & Tabu Mahogany - 4 the Love


Follow Divine Seven on Twitter and Facebook

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Ensilence - Rebel II America (2009)

One of my favorite MC's in the game right now, the music speaks for itself.


Follow Ensilence on Twitter

Friday, June 11, 2010

Just A Minstrel (Video)

New video from Jasiri X, Idasa Tariq, and Living Proofe (Prod. by Idasa Tariq)

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Smoked Fish - The Aqualab Sessions Vol. 1 (1998)

- Smoked Fish is GeeMan on production and vocals, Stretch on vocals, and Snook on vocals.
- The Aqualab Sessions Vol. 1 was released in 1998.

The Aqualab Sessions brought together these three dope Pittsburgh artists who were hungry to make noise. GeeMan aka The Grand Ear laced production that gave his fellow MC's the opportunity to unwind with a pen and a pad.

GeeMan handles the production in its entirety and exhibits his own dope rhyming skills on a few tracks, including "Production: MusicMusic." Still an active member of this Pittsburgh hip-hop scene, GeeMan works closely with aspiring Steel City soul-hop producers BusCrates and Vex.

Stretch is co-founder and host of Rhyme Calisthenics: The Official MC Competition, alongside producer and friend James Armstead Brown. Still one of the best freestylers the city has ever seen, Stretch gets props from anyone who is willing to listen.

Snook has also stayed relevant on the scene making appearances on Armstead Brown's 2007 album release Fieldwork and on the most recent Stilltown release, Stilltown Vol. III.

The Aqualab Sessions Vol. 1
01 - Production: MusicMusic
02 - Live Wire
03 - What U Need

04 - Smoke Break
05 - Crush My Vibe
06 - Plan Of Mine
07 - Mic Ministry

08 - Around the Way
09 - Mockem Yaw Radio Interlude
10 - Mind Bendin
11 - Ghetto Life



For more information on the Pittsburgh hip-hop scene of the past, present, and future, stay tuned to the Stilltown blog. And for more '90s era hip-hop rarities check out Philaflava!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Vex - Redux (A Black Gold Production) (2010)

Producer Vex clashes his soulful Pittsburgh sound with a variety recognizable hip-hop vocals on this Black Gold Production remix project.

01. Intro
02. Busta Rhymes ft. Q Tip & Marsha Ambrosious - Get U Some
03. Common - Dooinit
04. Royce da 5'9 - Hip Hop
05. Jadakiss - Kiss Of Death
06. Jay Z - Blue Magic
07. Phat Kat - Nasty
08. The Roots - Glitches
09. Little Dragon - Scribbled Paper
10. Slum Village - Get Dis Money


The first remix, and one of the best on the album, is that of Busta Rhymes' single "Get U Some." Marsha's vocals allow Vex to take advantage of his production strength, creating a boom-bap-soul heatrock.

Songs like Royce's "Hip-Hop" are tough to remix, because the DJ Premier produced original is a classic, but Vex does the song justice by giving it a funky yet rugged edge.

On "Blue Magic," Vex crafts the instrumental to Jay-Z's smooth, effortless delivery, outdoing the original Neptunes produced single.

As a sucker for female vocalists, Little Dragon's "Scribbled Paper" remix instantly sticks out as one of the better cuts on the album. Vex intertwines his signature sound into the relaxing vocals of Little Dragon singer Yukimi Nagano, giving a hunger for more work similar to this.

Here more from Vex on Bandcamp!