Saturday, December 22, 2007

Crown City ROCKERS!

Whatch'all know about this crew?

Formerly known as Mission, this quintet is one of the West Coast's finest Hip-Hop bands. There's really nothing to say...just watch the video.

Since the video two things have changed.

One, there used to be two MC's--Raashan Ahmad and Moe Pope. Moe had left the group in order to stay in Bos
ton (where the group originated from) and raise his daughter. However since his stay in Boston, he's joined two groups: Electric and Project Move (an offshoot group from how Souls of Mischief is to Hieroglyphics) and they are both dope hip-hop groups in their own right.

Two, Kitundu is no longer their DJ.

Crown City's upcoming album for 2008 is entitled "5 Gold Stars," and they've been hard at work crafting a gem. This 2008 offering is different in that they are no longer midi sequencing their work.

What does that mean? Traditionally, the staple of hip-hop production is an Akai Midi Production Center or MPC (note: the MPC will not make you a dope beat maker). With the MPC, one is able to trigger samples through midi enabled pads and allow you to put together (or "sequence") sounds. Basically, with the MPC you're trying to create a musical collage of sounds you've discovered.--the MPC is the glue while your samples (in layman's terms known as sound snippets) are the paper.

Since Crown City is no longer creating their music off of rhythm based machines, this new album will have a total organic feel ala The Roots with "Phrenology." So for you, the listener, you get to experience something not many hip-hop groups are doing these days...playing music. So be sure to look out for "5 Gold Stars" in 2008!

Raashan Ahmad - The Push
The Mighty Underdogs - Dropping Science Fiction
Crown City Rockers - 5 Gold Stars

Out now from the Crown City Rockers:

Mission - One
Mission - Everything But The Album
Headnodic - Headnodic Beats v. 1
Crown City Rockers - Weekend Soul EP
Crown City Rockers - Earthtones
Plate Fork Knife Spoon (Headnodic, Kat, Max, Eric Krasno of Soulive, Charlie Roberts and David Boyce) - Plate Fork Knife Spoon
Raashan Ahmad - B-Sides, Bootlegs & Rarities: The Official Mix Tape
Kat 010 - Natural Phenomenon

Other releases you'll find them on:
OM Records - Deep Concentration 4
HVW8 Presents: Music Is My Art
Kajmere Sound Recordings Presents - Impeach The Precedent
J-Boogie - J-Boogie's Dubtronic Science
Descry - Experiences In Full Duplex
The Mighty Underdogs - The Prelude EP
Moe Pope & Headnodic - Megaphone

Kat 010 - Natural Phenomenon Snippets

Crown City Rockers - Sidestep ft. Destani Wolf

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

What they're listening to v.1

Today I asked some of the homies for their top5's. Check it out.

1. Ghostface Killah - The Big Doe Rehab
2. Choice37 - Diligence
3. Dela - Atmosphere Airlines
4. Johnson & Jonson - Powders & Oils
5. The Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band - Together


1. Joe Cocker - Mad Dogs & Englishmen
2. Miles Davis - The Cellar Door Sessions 1970
3. Public Enemy - Apocalypse 91...The Enemy Strikes Back
4. Freeway - Free At Last
5. Bilal - Love For Sale

1. CunninLynguists - Dirty Acres
2. Freeway - Free At Last
3. Blu & Exile - Below The Heavens In Hell Happy With Your New Imaginary Friend
4. Saigon - The Moral Of The Story
5. Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings - 100 Days, 100 Nights


1. CunninLynguists - Dirty Acres
2. Jay-Z - American Gangster
3. Brother Ali - The Undisputed Truth
4. John Legend - Once Again
5. Melee - Devils & Angels

Flying Lotus:
1. Burial - Untrue
2. Radiohead - In Rainbows
3. Daedelus - Live At Low End Theory
4. Broadcast - Ha Ha Sound
5. Flying Lotus - Los Angeles

John Robinson:
1. Ghostface Killah - The Big Doe Rehab
2. Jill Scott - The Real Thing
3. Herbie Hancock - Fat Albert Rotunda
4. Archie Schepp - Attica Blues
5. Dwight Trible - Living Water

1. Radiohead - In Rainbows
2. Daft Punk - Alive 2007
3. Mylo - Destroy Rock & Roll
4. Kraftwerk - Autobahn
5. Pat Metheny - Bright Size Life

DJ Benzi:
1. Kid Sister - Switchboard (off of the Kid Sister's "Pro Nails" single)
2. Kid Cui - Day 'n' Nite (Joker's On The Scene Remix)
3. Estelle - Wait A Minute (Sinden Remix)
4. Kid Sister - Pro Nails (Benzi Remix)
5. Freeway and Rick Ross - Criminal Opera (off of Freeway's "Free At Last" album)

Mr. Rath:
1. Ice Cube - AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted
2. Curtis Mayfield - People Get Ready (Live)
3. Isley Brothers- Harvest For The World
4. Diamond D - Stunts, Blunts and Hip-Hop
5. Ghostface Killah - Ironman

Monday, December 10, 2007


Inverse--two emcees (Tunji & Toby) straight from the westside. CA...ALL DAY! They're related to the QN5 family (Cunninlynguists, Extended Famm, etc.), but these dudes make GREAT music in a style all their own.

"Honest music.Soulful production. Straightforward lyrics. Hip hop...that pushes forward. Something new."

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing these two fine gentlemen.

Descry: What's up guys? Introduce yourselves to the world.

Tunji: I'm Tunji, representing Inverse, from Cali. I grew up in the bay, but I live in LA now...I've lived all over, though - Oakland, Nigeria, Massachusetts for high school, then I went to Pomona College in southern Cali and moved out to LA afterwards.

Toby: I'm Toby...I grew up in LA pretty much my entire life...except for about half a year when I lived in Ecuador. Pretty simple answer.

Descry: When did you guys figure out music was something you wanted to do professionally?

Tunji: When I was about 17, and really maturing as a writer, I knew I either wanted to be a rapper or work in the music industry. I'm doing both now.

Toby: Well, I loved music from the time I was little. I was always singing and dancing, albeit poorly.

Descry: Word, word. How did you both get together to form Inverse?

Tunji: We actually met on a hip hop messageboard in like 2000...We were both just starting to write songs and get better as MCs, so we just would show each other verses and what not, and we just kept in touch...then when I came to southern Cali for college, we eventually met up at a show - Atmosphere I believe. We made a song the very same day over a Soul Supreme beat, and then came up with the name a few weeks later.

Toby: We liked a lot of the same music and I had some beats that I was working with at the time from a producer named Soul we ended up writing our first song together the day we met.

Descry: Do you guys have certain themes carried out in your songs? Have you developed the Inverse sound since that early beginning?

Tunji: Umm...I think, first and foremost, we're both songwriters and really focused on you're always gonna get some well written and thought out words from us...But overall, we just try to make really honest music with a soulful vibe. The songs are usually pretty personal too, but we try to keep the hooks real catchy and memorable as well.

Toby: I would say that I don't think we particularly try to carry any specific themes in our sound....there's some combination of the music mixed with our life experience that leads us in one direction or that can carry us in a lot of different long as we're being honest and it's done well...then I think we're doing what needs to be done.

Tunji: Our songs are about life...and we try to make soulful, honest hip hop.

Descry: Honest hip-hop...hmm. What artists inspires the "Inverse sound" as a group?

Tunji: Waaaaaay too many to name....I mean, all the people you would expect...OutKast, Jay-Z, Nas, Common, etc. But also, all the really dope artists around us who we are friends with and learning from like Brother Ali, CunninLynguists, OneBeLo and whatnot. I'm also inspired by great songwriters like the Beatles, Bob Marley...all the Motown era soul groups, Sly Stone, Stevie, I could go on forever. Music is like oxygen to me, I'm listening 24/7.

Toby: I loved Michael Jackson! My dad listened to country and blues while my mom listened to more classic rock, Beatles, etc. I listened to radio rap growing up, until i was about 12--some kid from my school (he was 17 so i looked up to him) made a copy for me of Resurrection by Common and Illmatic by Nas...and man that shit blew my mind. I was always a fan of words and writing stories and poems and shit like that...but it wasn't until I heard that stuff then it all came together. Those two albums opened the door to a LOT of dope stuff...94 was a great year for discovering hip hop....Nas, Common, Outkast, Wu-Tang, Dr. Dre, Goodie Mob, etc. All kinds of stuff came out that year and I was obsessed. You know, I actually started trying to write like Common.

Descry: Haha, I bet those early tapes are dope. Your inspirations have taken you both a long way. Now, you're a part of the new reformed LA Hip-Hop scene--how do you feel about all the new talent emerging out of LA?

Tunji: It's amazing, man. I feel lucky, because there is so much talent here...I feel like we're in the middle of something huge. The world is gonna see in the next few years, and it's already starting to happen. I feel like a lot of the people around us are really going to be a part of hip hop's future. You've got artists like Blu, Exile, Aloe Blacc, Pacific Division, TiRon, U-N-I, J Davey, Noah King...all young, hungry and creative. All making honest music, and unafraid to have fun with it. Also, there are lots of transplants from Detroit [Ta'raach...House Shoes...etc.] who are really putting some life into the local scene as well. Then you've got the new generation of Project Blowed cats who are ridiculous [Nocando...Dumbfoundead...etc.]. LA is too dope right now.

Toby: It's a beautiful thing feels like everyone is fairly conscious and respectful of what everyone else is doing....there's a whole lot of really dope music being made that's been absent from the LA scene for a long time.....everyone Tunj said...Blu, Pacific Division, Tiron, Noah King, and i'm sure some others i'm unaware of or forgetting right now....most of us are friends or at least acquintances...and we work together....out of respect for each other's talent..and with the understanding that we can all come up together.

Being musicians, did either of you play any instruments growing up?

Tunji: I played the clarinet and the trumpet a little bit...but I was fucking terrible at it. I gave it up by the 7th grade. But I always loved music and I've been writing lyrics as long as I can remember. I definitely wish I knew more music theory...I had a chance to take a class in college, but I think I took an art class instead.

Toby: I did play the guitar for about 3 years when I was younger...probably around age 7-10 or so.. I really loved it. My parents would force me to practice for an hour every night. Sometimes I would want to play for 3 hours, but sometimes I wouldn't want to play more than a half hour if anything at all. I would tinker around and come up with my own melodies. I doubt any of them were good, but I thought they were dopest shit in the world at the time. I had a lot of activities going on when I was younger, so I was just stubborn and being told what to do sort of took away from my passion for it..and eventually I just said screw it. I regret doing it now, but ah well..c'est la vie. I'm thinking of learning how to play the piano now...if I could only afford to buy a keyboard or something.

Descry: Tunji, you seem to emphasize your education. With mainstream artists like Kanye West proudly admitting that he was a college dropout, do you feel as if your college education has inspired you musically?

Tunji: Well, I was making music all through college, and it was great because it was always easy to get people to come see us perform, or spread new music around. Plus, I met a lot of folks in college who are helping out when it comes to my music these days. I was a Media Studies major, so that helped me get a music industry job when I graduated and make most of the connections I have today. I'm glad I went, although paying back these loans is a bitch. As far as what I learned in the classroom making me a better artist, I wouldn't really say that's the case. The other great thing about college was it was my first time with high speed internet. My freshman year was the year Napster blew up and I learned how to find music online, and I learned so much about hip hop and other music that way...I never would have heard a lot of my favorite music if I hadn't had that high speed connection, haha.

Descry: On that note, do you advocate piracy as an artist? Do you see it becoming this virus the RIAA claims it to be?

Tunji: At this stage in our career, it's a huge benefit. Most people who hear our music are going to find out about it on the internet or download it randomly. I think if you make great music, it's not going to matter in the end whether people download it or not. I hope that people support artists in other ways if they really love them. If you're gonna download an album and you end up loving it, go see the show when the artist comes through town, or buy a t-shirt, or at least tell a bunch of people about the great music you heard.

Descry: Speaking of which, that's actually how I heard your music the first time. I downloaded the Cunninlynguists' "Sloppy Seconds 2 mixtape, and was impressed by the lyricism you guys brought to the table. How were you guys able to hook up with the QN5 team?

Tunji: I think Kno used to steal music from me when I was in college...And we started talking around the time the first CunninLynguists album dropped in '01. Then in '03 I got a bunch of money from my college and threw a show with CunninLynguists, Little Brother and Cee-Lo, so we all became better friends after that. That show lead to them getting Cee-Lo on A Piece of Strange, and as they started to get bigger and come do more shows in LA, we were always there and helping out behind the scenes. Everytime QN5 is in LA, we're there.

Toby: Well...I got some beats from Kno over 7 years ago actually. They never ended up anything, but we stayed talking from time to time. When Tunji put together the hip hop for charity show at the school... Cee-Lo, Little Brother, and Cunninlynguists came through and slept on my floor. We helped transport them around....Tunji being the show promoter and me just trying to help. We just sort of built with them from there. We gave them a place to stay when they were out here, and help them get around when we could. We just built a real friendship from there, and after doing lots of shows with them (and them having heard some of the stuff we were working on)....Kno allowed us to be on Sloppy Seconds 2. That seemed to be well received so we did a song for Asterisk 4 as well.

Tunji: Those guys are really our hip hop big brothers, and they really looked out by letting us appear on Sloppy Seconds 2 and Asterisk 4 - a lot of people know of us off those two songs alone. Not to mention they're making some of the best hip hop around. Plus, they give us good advice and are helping us out with our music and decisions we make. Deacon and Kno are executive producing the Inverse album, actually.

Descry: Wow, speaking of the Inverse album...when are you going to introduce the world to a proper full length?

Tunji: We're putting out a project called So Far on January 1st...It's not quite an album, but it's not a mixtape either. It's all original songs and beats, and collaborations, some older stuff and a little bit of new stuff. Kind of like a sample of what we've done and where we're at now, just to let people catch up and give them a glimpse of who we are before we drop the album Long Day's Journey later in '08. But yeah, So Far...we're definitely proud of it. We put it together like an album. Some of our close friends are on it and we've got production from Kno, M-Phazes, Styalz Fuego and our boys Oren Yoel and Cook Classics.

Toby: Yeah, So Far is a project that consists of a few songs that had been released, a few songs that we had made in the process of working on Long Day's Journey and we felt didn't fit in musically with the flow of that album, and then most of it is new songs that we made specifically for this project. Though it will have, I believe, 14's not the real album. It's basically a way for us to introduce ourselves to the audience, and letting them see what we're about and what we're capable of doing. Basically, something tangible for people to take home from shows so that people are ready and excited for Long Day's Journey when it comes out.

Descry: Dope! Besides music what else do you guys do?

Tunji: Even when I'm not making music, most of my social activity revolves around music...most of my friends are rappers, DJs and producers, or involved in music somehow. So I'm usually doing something music related. I spend a lot of time going to shows, chillin with the homeys and writing non-music stuff. We just started a blog that I'm kind of obssessed with too. Oh, and I puff mad trees.

Toby: I work...I teach kids free time is pretty minimal these days.....if i'm not recording music...and i'm not occupied by work or exercise....I'm usually thinking about music....or writing it in my head.....I guess my only nerdy hobby is that I love languages....and I'm always trying to learn new languages or get better at the ones I speak. I got crazy respect for people that can speak like 5, 6,7, 8, + languages fluently...shit is awesome and I'm jealous. I speak 2 fluently...and 2 more conversationally, and then just a bunch of random words in a whole bunch more.

Descry: Fresh, my pops is like that. He knows almost 7 languages, it trips me out. Asides from all that, any last plugs, shouts or things we should be on the look out for?

Tunji: Ummm....look out for the Spitkicker mixtape that I'm helping put together with my boy Fizz and DJ Lowkey from Colorado. Look out for the new DJ Hyphen mixtape that I'm featured on. Look out for the new album from DJ Incise that we're working on. Look out for the new CunninLynguists album Dirty Acres, and Substantial's new album Sacrifice. Look out for the next generation of cats from LA. Definitely look out for Inverse, and check the blog to see what we're up to. Good lookin out.

Toby: I did a verse on a song on the Mudluscious album that came out last year. I think I'll be doing some guest spots on some of our friend's projects when those come out, but other than that it's just Inverse. Trying to get stuff done is time consuming when you have to get everyone together at the same time when myself, Tunji, and the studio engineer all have full time jobs. I would love to do more song writing for singers. That's something I really enjoy, but for no getting this Inverse stuff done is numero uno.

Descry: Thanks alot guys, we'll for sure be on the look out for ya'll in the near future!

Tunji: Fasho!

Toby: Yeah, no problem.

Inverse - Constellation feat. A-Dub & Nieve (produced by M-Phazes) [Download here!]

Inverse - 'Til The End (C.A.L.I.) ft. Trek Life and Deacon the Villain