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Constant Deviants: Avant Garde

A career in the music industry can go one of two ways: easy or hard. Either you have a Drake…

A career in the music industry can go one of two ways: easy or hard. Either you have a Drake “struggle” or you really live that life – and that means every sense of the word. Enter Constant Deviants, the Baltimore duo of M.I. and DJ/Producer CUTT, who have definitely seen ups and downs on the path to their latest release, Avant Garde, currently available on their own imprint SIX2SIX. Back in 2000, M.I. signed a solo deal with Arista Records, with Cutt aiding in production while solidifying his career as a DJ and engineer. Unfortunately a few snags led the duo to return to the drawing board and ultimately return to their roots.

Constant Deviants: Avant GardeI had the pleasure of getting an advance copy of their 2nd full length LP, Avant Garde, and it was pleasure to listen to. Right from the title cut, the album sets the tone. It’s organic, rough, gritty, polished and reeks of experience. With CUTT handling all of the production himself, the album is coherent sonically, and really brings out the best in M.I., who’s bars shine over my fave joints on the project: M’s for Millennium, which is a clever spin on alphabet raps, I’m Still Up, which is my new late night anthem and It’s Like That, which features the album’s sole guest, Aye Wun. Another stand out was the track Breathing’ – a track that put me in the mindset of mid-nineties Beatnuts (production-wise). The album effortlessly carries the 90’s hip-hop aesthetic – right down to the record pops.

We recently had a chance to talk to the guys about their project, their new movie and more. Check the interview below:


Can you start by telling me how guys got involved in music?

M.I. – My whole family are musicians, so I grew up around music. My pops was a jazz musician. He played the trumpet , so I guess the apple didn’t fall far from the tree

CUTT – Same here. My father plays piano and guitar. We always had a piano in the house and a decent record collection. I started DJing when I was 11. I always wanted to be involved with music somehow.

How did Constant Deviants come together?

M.I.- We met at a mutual friend’s college. CUTT was djing a party and I got on the mic. By the end of the night we were in the studio working on a demo

Avant Garde is your fourth studio album, what’s different this time around?

M.I. – I would say that every album is different in essence, because the moment is different, but it’s still your classic Constant Deviants music. We did try to bridge the gap from old to new on this one

CUTT – With Avant Garde we had a specific direction we wanted to go in. Bringing the classic era sound into the present.

You guys have been busy lately – tell me about Swiss Banks.

M.I.- That’s an album I did wth our Swiss cousins SWC Records. Video director JPowell and I felt it would be a dope project to do a movie for, so it just kind of evolved. We’re actually working on our second movie this summer entitled Six to Six. Gotta be versatile.

How was that experience – are you planning any more films?

M.I. – I’m falling in love with making films – like I am with music at this point. I’m living a double life [laughs].

What are your thoughts on the current hip-hop scene?

M.I. – Hip hop is what it has always been. You have mainstream and underground. Me personally, I have respect for both and think it’s great for the culture. That’s what makes it “hip hop”.

CUTT – I have no problem with the current scene. Everything is not for everybody. I’m just glad there still is a scene. It gives us an opportunity to do what we do. 

What do you guys have coming up?

M.I. – We have another LP in the works entitled L&L. We’ll keep that a secret for now! I also have 2 solo projects in the works.

CUTT – Already started working on our new project. Also just wrapped up producing an album titled Groceries for extended Six2Six crew member Aye Wun – a dope MC from Queens, NY. He’s featured on the Avant Garde album track called It’s Like That.

Any last words or shout outs?

M.I. – Shouts to John at UrbanElite, shouts to Shareef Hakim at Black Fist Promotions, shouts to Set Rule at Six2Six Records and everyone involved thus far in helping us move forward. Shouts to people like yourself for the outlet and the opportunity for exposure. 

CUTT – Peace to all who support us.

Riley here — father, artist, videographer, professional writer and SERIOUS hip-hop head. I'm a member of the Universal Zulu Nation, and I think everything is better on vinyl. Add me on Twitter! @specialdesigns
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Sol Patches’ Album Serves As A ‘Love Letter’ To The Trans Community

Last year on Giving Tuesday (November 27),  New York-based, Chicago-born-and-raised multi-disciplined artist Sol Patches launched GoFundMe campaign to assist with…

Last year on Giving Tuesday (November 27),  New York-based, Chicago-born-and-raised multi-disciplined artist Sol Patches launched GoFundMe campaign to assist with the costs of gender-affirming medical processes.

“Bearing markers of both gender non-conformance and black racialization, my being is constantly under scrutiny,” she wrote about about the campaign. “With increasing anti-trans policy pressure from the state, not to mention the mind-boggling violence endured by black trans women daily, urgency is ingrained into my survival.”

Sol Patches is seeking $10,000 for medical costs, of which she’s raised more than $8,800 in the first two months of the campaign.

“I am endlessly thankful for my chosen family of siblings, mentors and loved ones for supporting me in my transition up until now, and I’m deeply grateful for every contribution,” she wrote.

In early 2018, she released her second full length project, titled Garden City, which she described as “a love letter written in music for trans people, we who dream and live to unlearn-creating in a field that denies our very existence.”

Garden City could call to mind The Garden State, New Jersey, but Sol explained the album title refers to many different things.

“One of those is the idea of a garden city first made its way to the books, in Europe when folks were trying to create utopias – the Utopian Movement,” she said. “One of the cities was supposed to be about gardens and having a city. So like, having the intersections of farming and plants and all that stuff with a city aspect. But eventually it was corrupted. A lot of rich people saw value and profit to be made, and it ultimately crumbled. So it’s definitely inspired in that tradition.”

 

Sol Patches also said the Garden City title has a Chicago connection, as the city’s seal includes the Latin phrase “Urbs in Horto,” or “City in a Garden.”

“I was also working with this brilliant poet and singer and creator (Chaski), and we were talking about the abandoned lots in Chicago and talking about how those deeply have affected us,” Sol explained. “It’s always been so inspiring when I think about growing up on the South Side and the West Side, and there not being many well-put-together playgrounds… And how folks made these lots a place of many happenings. And so that at its core is what inspired the LP.”

Garden City was released in early 2018, nearly two years after Sol Patches’ previous full-length As 2 Water Hurricanes, which boosted her profile in the Chicago music scene – particularly within the DIY community – landing her features in the Chicago Reader and South Side Weekly.

“As 2 Water Hurricanes was first ever project that I released, and I wrote it at a time where there were so many protests and calls-to-action in Chicago,” she said. “I was also involved in those actions and organizing those. And at the same time I was young as hell – I’m still young as hell – and it was written from the perspective of a genderqueer kid, who doesn’t know if they’re gonna make it past 18. And Garden City is more so like the aftermath. And how do I not die for my people, how do I live for the various people, who’ve given all they can to help support me. Like, how do I live for them? So that’s the tone I think, that shows the difference.”

 

Sol said during the time leading up to Garden City, she improved on their technical abilities as a producer and sound engineer. She produced most of the record, with additional production from her sibling Eiigo Groove, as well as Chaski (who also executive produced the album), Eve Carlstrom and Little Bear. The record also features collaborations with artists such as Rich Jones, Plus Sign, Ano Ba, Sasha No Disco and Mykele Deville.

Garden City wasn’t the only release Patches delivered in 2018. In late May, she quietly put out a more experimental project, titled Blue Transitions.

Blue Transitions, even more so than her previous work, is a freeform expression of art and identity. Sol Patches is working on re-releasing that project, which is expected to be released on most streaming platforms, including Spotify and Apple Music.

Lead photo by: Chaski

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#IndieSpotlight: Tre Cartel’s Collaborative EP With CashMoney AP Is A Moment For The ATL MC

ATL MC Tre Cartel is someone who we’ve championed quite a bit in the past, which it’s exciting to finally…

ATL MC Tre Cartel is someone who we’ve championed quite a bit in the past, which it’s exciting to finally get his three-song EP Obtain This Grain — as it feels like a moment for him. Produced entirely by CashMoney AP — a platinum-selling beatsmith whose crafted hits for the likes of Lil Wayne, YoungBoy Never Broke Again, Ski Mask The Slump God, Tory Lanez, Dave East, Jay Critch, and MANY more — the offering is concise but poignant.

 
It kicks off with “That Guy,” which is a dollar-sign tinged profession of why he’s that catch that “she” has been looking for — featuring a guest verse from YFA King, who smashes the melodic flow. “Knock Your Hustle” is another song aimed at a female, quite cohesively playing off the thematic elements of the first track.

The special sauce though is the absolute banger “Formula,” in which he notes “I think I found out the formula,” adding that he’s just warming up. His evolved Migo-esque flow with his cadence and the gorgeous flute in the bridge of the record make this song almost ironic in it’s prophetic in its overall message.

At three songs, it’s an appetizer at best; yet Tre Cartel appears to have hit his stride over this batch of insanely fire beats supplied by CashMoney. While we may see him open up a little more below the surface when we’re blessed with a larger body of work to digest, Obtain This Grain has a hearty helping of replay value worth adding to your playlist if you’re in search of the next-big-thing to pop from the hotbed that is Atlanta.

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#IndieSpotlight: Reíne Imoan Sets The Tone With Her Soulful Debut “Soul Sista”

Long Island, New York, singer Reíne Imoan is about to make a splash in 2019 with her debut VWR. Her…

Long Island, New York, singer Reíne Imoan is about to make a splash in 2019 with her debut VWR. Her first official single “Soul Sista” produced by Shepard X is out now — and as Imoan recounts to AAHH, the track was fun to create. “It was made off of groove and straight vibes … brings me back to the late 90’s early 2000’s, which was one of my fave eras of music.

“I remember Shepard X introducing the beat to me with the concept and instantly I started bopping and knew I had to have it,” she continues.

She has always been involved in music — and it all started with her father, who used to play his vast music collection constantly. “From Roots Reggae to R&B soul every Sunday dinner,” she recalls with a smile.

“I remember singing the first verse I ever wrote to my friends and they hyped me so much,” she says. That push made me want to keep going and see what else I can do. I searched on youtube for beats and just kept writing. I felt it in my heart that this is what I’d be doing for sure.”

All roads have led to her upcoming project, but she’s not rushing anything. “I want to take my time with this one and give people something they can relate and bump to,” she says adding that the collaborations lined up are worth waiting for. I used to rush things because I saw other people putting stuff out … I was just so eager to get out there. But I had to center myself and say Fuck that, take your time and don’t let others make you feel like you have to rush anything. Quality over quantity, always.”

Ultimately, she’s crafting a first impression that she hopes will be great. “I’m working every day and practicing my craft to be one of the best entertainers in the industry. I plan on writing songs for other singers and artist in the industry, along with working with them on projects,” she says, describing her long-term objectives.

“After I drop my EP, I’m going to keep creating and see where the universe lands me. I plan on doing lots of performances this year and putting myself out there. Later in my career, I plan on dabbling into acting — another art that I’ve always enjoyed. When God gives you a talent, I believe you have to share it with the world.”

Check out her debut single, “Soul Sista,” below.

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Last ‘On The Cusp’ Playlist Of 2018

On The Cusp is a living playlist dedicated to showcasing the buzzing new music on our radar — as curated…

On The Cusp is a living playlist dedicated to showcasing the buzzing new music on our radar — as curated by our writer Riley Wallace. For all inquiries and submissions, hit up the playlist’s official Twitter feed.

This week’s cover artist is EverythigOShaun.

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Rapper Chinx Dies At Age 31

Lionel Pickens, aka Chinx Drugz, was an up and coming rapper with a bright future. For those who didn’t know,...

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