Editorial

A Beginner’s Guide To Brockhampton

Here’s a great place to start for new listeners of the acclaimed group.

If you ask any given person to name the most prolific boyband of the twenty-first century, I’m willing to bet his or her answer would be One Direction. He or she would be incorrect. Now, don’t get me wrong; that mistake is common and understandable.

The U.K.-based quintet-turned-quartet did, after all, release five studio albums in four years. That’s impressive. Only one boyband, though, has ever released three studio albums over the course of six months. Only one boasts somewhere between fourteen and thirty-eight members who met on the Internet. That boyband is Brockhampton — and they exploded in the summer of 2017, delivering some of the most exciting hip-hop I have heard this decade.

Riding the momentum of their 2016 mixtape All-American Trash, and a Viceland program titled American Boyfriend, Brockhampton entered 2017 hungry. Over the course of the year, they wrote and recorded so much high-caliber material that they just could not settle for one album. In fact, the creativity flowing between the six spitters, two singers, three producers, and visual arts masterminds was (and continues to be) so intense that the group nicknamed their house in L.A. the Brockhampton factory. For the sake of brevity, I will resist the impulse to write extensively about each member. Here are the nine tracks from the Saturation trilogy you should check out if you want to get into Brockhampton.

Saturation I

“HEAT”

This track was my introduction to BH, and it quite literally blew my head straight off my neck. It was my most played song on Spotify in 2017; the first time I played it was in June. The heavy, industrial drums and muddy bassline have such primal energy that I feel like I’m discovering fire every time I listen. Oh, and it doesn’t hurt that Ameer Vann’s verse is one of the hardest I have ever heard kick off an album.

Talkin’ ‘bout release dates, I’m tryna make it to tomorrow.
—Dom McLennon

“STAR”

If I had to encapsulate the essence of this iconic single in one word, it would be bars. Bars on bars on bars on bars on bars on bars on bars. Rapping over a simple beat accented with eerie keys, Dom, Ameer, and Kevin deliver three airtight verses that are so dense with witty pop culture references that each one doesn’t sink in until the guys are three lines ahead. I like to think of this track as a mission statement of sorts for the group; it’s a perfect snapshot of the talent and personality that make BH so compelling.

Heath Ledger with some dreads/I just gave my nigga head.
—Kevin Abstract

“BANK”

One of the most underrated tracks in their discography. The pounding drums hypnotically mesh with a riff that’s played on either keys or a ukulele — I have no idea. The record is made all the more mesmerizing by an odd, ear worm sample of a woman’s voice that immediately locks me in. Kevin is the undisputed genius behind this song, teaming up with Dom to spit one of their best bridges and going solo on an electrifying, off-the-wall outro.

I’m addicted to writing shit that make niggas scared of us.
—Kevin Abstract and Dom McLennon

Saturation II

“GUMMY”

The lead single that got BH fans out-of-their-minds excited for their second LP of the summer. The beat is undeniably groovy and features a piercing synth lead that jars the ears at first but eventually gets under the skin in the best way possible. I have heard this song no fewer than 1,000 times, and Kevin’s opening verse continues to knock me on my ass. The bridge is perfectly tailored to Merlyn Wood’s wild vocal style. Ameer and Dom deliver landmark verses in their catalogues.

I could get shot in the back, and they’d tell the world that I fought em/We ain’t taught em nothing new but somehow they been getting smarter.
—Dom McLennon

“JUNKY”

Kevin’s verse, dude. Kevin’s VERSE. Those sixty-three seconds are enough to sell this single. Not since Danny Brown’s Atrocity Exhibition have, I heard a hip-hop instrumental this unsettling. Each rapper manages to go hard while delivering some of the group’s most vulnerable and revealing lyrical content to date. A perfect display of what makes Merlyn so unique.

Love is knowing you didn’t do it by your lonesome.
—Merlyn Wood

“SWEET”

I swear, there is a reason I’m focusing strictly on opening verses. This one encapsulates everything that makes Matt Champion so great; he brings a charismatic personality with a flow that’s just laidback enough to leave you wanting more. Kevin’s hook is guaranteed to get stuck in your skull after one spin and Dom flows more smoothly than he usually does — which is saying something. JOBA, primarily a vocalist and the group’s sound engineer, snaps on his verse with flow and pitch you won’t hear anywhere else.

Lap you in a UFO, I ain’t started yet/Still gotta figure exactly where to park it at.”
—Dom McLennon

Saturation III

“JOHNNY”

The best BH song to date. If you listen to one, make it this one. With jazzy drums and horns, summery guitar, and nostalgic record scratches, it features one of the prettiest and grooviest instrumentals the group has ever laid to track. Kevin spits a hook that is as unorthodox as it is catchy. JOBA scales back his demeanor and pours his heart out on the album’s best verse.

Anxious, impatient, and always wanting something different/I hate the way I’m feeling, I’m sick of chasing feelings.
—JOBA

“BLEACH”

Guest vocalist Ryan Beatty sings a heart-wrenching hook over a spacey, somber instrumental that features a moody trap beat and meandering guitar. Merlyn brings his best verse to date with an odd, high-pitched inflection that I love.

I wanna die during sex or religion/God, and pussy only know my intentions.
—Merlyn Wood

“RENTAL”

I love this instrumental: trap beat, overblown bass, and keys that alternate between subtle and commanding. The hook is simple, repetitive, and tight. Matt Champion shows off his falsetto; his preface to Kevin’s hook is my favorite vocal performance across the Saturation trilogy.

I got a lot on my mind, not enough hours to shed/Not enough trust to believe, not enough feeling to care.
—Dom McLennon

So, there you have it. If you’re trying to get into the Internet’s first boyband — something you should be trying to do — listen to these nine tracks. If this playlist doesn’t get you hooked, I don’t know what will. Make sure to watch their music videos, too. Whether he’s behind the mic or the camera, Mr. Abstract can do no wrong.

We’ve taken the liberty of assembling this playlist on Tidal for easy listening! Listen here.

I am an economics student at The University of Massachusetts Amherst. Beyond my studies, I work as a DJ at the university radio station: 91.1 FM WMUA Amherst. Back in July, a good friend of mine launched a political debate website called The Dialectic, where I currently work as a staff writer and the Editor-In-Chief. I love all genres of music - everything from hip-hop to post-rock to hardcore punk. Aspiring writer. Avid reader. Coffee addict.
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Check It Out: Rap Caviar Sent Money Phone Cases To Its Top Listeners

Writers like me, A&Rs, and label executives used to be the ultimate gatekeepers to this industry; that was then, this…

Writers like me, A&Rs, and label executives used to be the ultimate gatekeepers to this industry; that was then, this is now. In a new-age of Hip Hop dominated by (seemingly) independent labels, and artists creating massive fan bases outside of the industry system, Spotify has reigned as an ultimate measure of genuine engagement with new music—and the format that big dogs use to generate the most significant percentage of their streaming revenue.

In this new landscape, Spotify’s Tuma Basa and his world-renowned Rap Caviar playlist have emerged as the premier platform for breaking new acts and dictating the wave of music that will inevitably flood the game.

This year they took this platform a step further with the introduction of Rap Caviar live, which featured a series of concerts with incredible line-ups, such as the New York show which featured a Dipset reunion that was 13 years in the making.

As a thank you to their massive fan base, Rap Caviar teased a money phone, which it claimed it would be giving to its top listeners. They made good on the promise and late last month I received my very own money phone, complete with incredibly impressive packaging, and intricate RC emblazoned money.

Check It Out: Rap Caviar Sent Money Phone Cases To Its Top Listeners Check It Out: Rap Caviar Sent Money Phone Cases To Its Top Listeners Check It Out: Rap Caviar Sent Money Phone Cases To Its Top Listeners Check It Out: Rap Caviar Sent Money Phone Cases To Its Top Listeners Check It Out: Rap Caviar Sent Money Phone Cases To Its Top Listeners

A play on the egregiously opulent trend of holding up stacks of money to your ear—which was harshly criticized by Jay-Z via his latest project—the phone case (yes it’s functional) is a fun way to reward loyalty among listeners. Not that they genuinely need any more reasons to stay faithful to the number one music plug of 2017.

If you’re not subscribed to Rap Caviar, you’re slipping. Period.

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Director Myster DL Chats About His New Cypress Hill Documentary

Myster DL, rapper and trusted video director who has an excellent portfolio of over 250 videos with acts like Redman,…

Myster DL, rapper and trusted video director who has an excellent portfolio of over 250 videos with acts like Redman, Sean Price, Styles P, Chuck D, Cormega, and more, recently dropped a new documentary about Cypress Hill, a group he fondly credits for helping him to make Hip Hop himself.

The Haunted Hill Documentary was filmed in one night in Boston, Massachusetts, at the legendary House of Blues. “I worked on the edit for a few days and sent a few drafts over to the guys and management,” DL tells AAHH. “They do a three-day tour annually—and I usually catch a couple of those shows.”

“Earlier this year I had released a video for Cypress Hill’s Eric Bobo, and we are always planning our next project,” he continues. “We are in the process of possibly doing a few music videos for the band.”

As DL explains, he’s been aquatinted with the iconic group for over a decade. “I’ve known B-Real the longest; I met him in roughly 2004 while living—and DJing—in Miami. I made an edited version of his Gunslinger Mixtape and sent it to him via AOL instant messenger. He was grateful and said if I ever needed anything to contact him.”

At first, DL didn’t take the open invitation seriously. “I just thought this was something people say and took a chance and asked him for a verse,” he recalls. “Within two hours I had an email and acappella. I put the verse on my iPod Nano and walked around listening to it for three weeks. We did a song together in 2004, and that blossomed into a cool relationship with the whole crew.”

“I have a song with B Real, Sticky Fingaz, Rockness Monsta and Kool G Rap that will premier on the soundtrack of my next film,” DL says proudly. “Cypress Hill inspired me to make music which eventually turned into a successful film career, so its a trip to even know them.”

According to DL, this is his most significant project to date. “It’s my first documentary film; however I do have a series of short documentaries called “Rewind The Scenes” where I look back at the making of some of my biggest music videos,” he explains.

The Haunted Hill Documentary is a must-watch for any Cypress fan; check it out below.

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Mase Vs. Cam’ron: For The Culture

This past weekend gave 90s heads a reason to be excited; Harlem-legends Ma$e and Cam’ron went toe-to-toe is a full-on…

This past weekend gave 90s heads a reason to be excited; Harlem-legends Ma$e and Cam’ron went toe-to-toe is a full-on rap beef complete with vicious person jabs and insidious claims. But, was it all for the clicks? Their cordial agreeance to disagree and move forward via text (which Cam shared) seems to suggest it was all in good fun — or was it Ma$e being jabbed for far too long?

To appreciate the magnitude of the beef, it’s vital to understand the actual history these guys have; this wasn’t bullshit Twitter beef with a stranger.

Both Cam and [Murda] Ma$e were members of the often under-celebrated Harlem-based group Children Of The Corn, which included Herb McGruff, Cam’s cousin Bloodshed, and the late icon Big L. The group recorded roughly 30 tracks, but were largely derailed as a collective by the death of bloodshed and L. However, by the time that L was murdered in 1999, all the group’s members had signed solo-deals and ventured out on their own.

Ma$e was — without question — the most successful by the time 1998 rolled around. His debut, Harlem World, topped charts and to date has gone 4-times platinum. It was his label situation with Bad Boy that helped Cam link with Biggie Smalls, who consequently facilitated him inking a deal with  Lance “Un” Rivera “Un” Rivera. Ma$e also appeared on Cam’s first breakout single “Horse & Carriage,” and appeared in his visual for “357.”

Fast-forward to 1999, Ma$e retired from rapping to become a Christian pastor. The circumstances surrounding his departure from Harlem (and Hip Hop) were murky for years. The official story that we’ve come to accept is that Uptown-resident Baby Maine (cousin of incarcerated rapper Max B) ran Ma$e out of Harlem for having relations with his girl. It is captured in the song “Jealous Guy,” which Maine saw as extremely disrespectful. So whether or not he was fully committed, the “finding God” angle was a front of sorts.

Now, Cam and Ma$e go way back — even playing basketball together in High School, but Cam and the Dipset crew have openly talked about Ma$e for years. On wax, you can go back to Cam’s biggest album, Come With Me. He spits the following bars on “I Just Wanna” about Ma$e’s sudden departure: “I just want him to know/rock them jewels, flash that chrome/It’s all good, you can come back home if you want.”

That was the nicer acknowledgment. In fact, some of their public comments had been less than flattering; Cam was pretty loose on Instagram Live earlier this year, basically calling a spade a spade, eliciting a response from Ma$e.

Most recently, Cam dropped some pretty vicious bars on the opening verse of “It’s Killa” on The Program:

“Then I watched him play Pop Lotti against Baby Maine/ At this time I’m moving heroin in Maryland/ They both died, and this nigga turned reverand/ Had the hood hot, FBI and agents ’round/ We need a referee, shit, that shit a flagrant foul.”

That brings us to “The Omen,” and Cam’s (kind of disappointing) “Dinner Time.” The fans of us here at AAHH have concluded Ma$e was a clear winner, but — in all actuality — Hip Hop won.

In a week that also saw a new project from Fabolous and Jadakiss, NYC seems to be on a pretty nice run right now. Though neither of these artists is in any state that we could consider a prime, It had heads glued to the net in a fashion similar to the way heads were glued to Hot 97 awaiting a response record in the epic Nas and Jay-Z beef.

As a 30-something-year-old who got on to Children Of The Corn before these two dropped their other shit — I believe it was on a Stretch & Bobbito tape I copped as a kid — this battle was something special for me. I knew that the “dirt” they had on each other would be extremely deep, and as a whole, I wasn’t disappointed. I found myself saying “what a time to be alive” no less than 16 times in the past 48 hours.

While the preview for Cam’s response included mention of the fact The Program 2 is dropping January 1st (making this all seem like a commercial), I still loved it — for the culture. Ma$e is often written off as a corny rapper, but his shit when quadruple platinum. We all fucked with his music pretty heavy, is tbh Harlem World holds up 20 years later.

There is plenty of chatter centered on irrelevance, which is sad. These two came up in an era when shit was analog — no internet, no steams. Just straight up physical sales. Most newer (urban) artists will never know what it feels like sell four million full-length albums. Not singles, ALBUMS. I for one am happy that these cats are still out here. As for Ma$e, even if he fades back into obscurity, at least he can go out with his head a little higher than the last time he dipped.

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The Hoodies Are About To Be Two Of Hip Hop’s Brightest Stars

If we’re keeping it all the way 100, the schtick of rhyming in a car is beyond played out. Whatever…

If we’re keeping it all the way 100, the schtick of rhyming in a car is beyond played out. Whatever “cool” factor it did possess probably decimated after Carpool Karaoke became your mom’s fav thing to share on Facebook. At least that’s what I thought, until I stumbled onto E-Class (21-years-old) and his younger brother Young Poppa (11-years-old). Collectively known as The Hoodies, they’ve taken a stale concept and (with sheer quality bars) spun it into national viral fame.

To be frank, I haven’t been this excited about a new artist in quite a while—especially not a group. Especially not a group from New York.

Their chemistry is ridiculous. If their recent appearance on Flex didn’t have you Googling “who the fuck are The Hoodies and why have I been sleeping,” let me help you out with some of their must-watch episodes of In The Whip, their ongoing YouTube series.

First up, episode 5; these cats ran through a sneaker scheme, a math scheme, and a fucking cartoon theme so seamlessly I had to watch this shit multiple times to catch the blends.

Next up, episode 4, which featured a surprise cameo by (perhaps) the only other emcees in recent memory with a back and forth chemistry as thick as these two, Styles P and Jadakiss.

Lastly, Young Poppa flamed one of my fav instrumentals “Banned From TV” in episode 7.

After binge-watching their videos, I couldn’t help but wonder what these two had in store. It’s rare to be so acknowledged without any actual songs or traditional videos out. “Mixtape dropping sooner then you think,” E-Class revealed to me. “It’s going to change the whole face of Hip-Hop.”

The way they tell it, this is in their blood. “I been rapping for almost 12 years now,” says E-Class. “I’ll be 21 in February, and I started at nine on a serious level.”

“Poppa got into rapping at a really young age,” E-Class continued. “I’m talking diapers young. He just loves everything about the culture. He loves NWA, Pac, Nas, and 50 Cent … he’s an old soul and very intelligent, so he knows how to put words together. Plus, I was a heavy influence on him.”

Young Poppa doesn’t dispute that last point. “[I’ve] been rapping since I was 4-years-old,” he says. “I came up watching my brother and learning from him.”

They have an aura of excitement surrounding them; you can just tell this is the calm before the storm. Any doubt of that was washed away when Ellen’s team reached out to the duo—literally on the strength of their videos—and asked them to appear on the show.

“We were in complete shock when they reached out,” E-Class says. “Even though we are passionate and believe in ourselves, we never thought we would be on Ellen … especially off of our In The Whip series.“

Since their Ellen appearance and their much-lauded performance on Hot 97 industry heads seem to have the duo under their microscope. “Labels have reached out … we can’t disclose too much information, but they know we out here killing it.”

Whether or not a bidding war is on the horizon has yet to be seen, but one thing for sure, it’s Hoodie season in more ways than one.

https://youtu.be/eRrKDnXWC3A

“We have our mixtape Family Business coming out real soon, music videos, and our In The Whip series is still killing the streets. We ain’t going nowhere anytime soon, so get used to hearing The Hoodies.”

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Check It Out: Rap Caviar Sent Money Phone Cases To Its Top Listeners

Writers like me, A&Rs, and label executives used to be the ultimate gatekeepers to this industry; that was then, this...

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