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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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This Week’s ‘On The Cusp’ Playlist

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 Chris Allen.

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Mark Steele “It’s Been A Minute” Album Is Almost Here

Preparing for his It’s Been a Minute album, Mark Steele, in great spirits, opened up in our interview about change…

Preparing for his It’s Been a Minute album, Mark Steele, in great spirits, opened up in our interview about change leading to new beginnings in his life. “I’m at a crossroad right now. I feel this energy of something manifesting,” Steele tells Above Average Hip-Hop. “I’ve never felt this close. It’s such a dynamic too, I still go through everyday struggles just like the next person.” With change appearing in the MC’s life, he is more in tuned with who he is, where he is headed without forgetting where it all started. Durham, North Carolina.

Steele was born and raised in Durham where he grew up fast witnessing a lot. “We’re kind of like a melting pot. We get influenced by everybody because a lot of people come down here for an easier way of living,” Steele notes. “I think I’m a great representation of what Durham is: multilayered.” Steele embraces sounds from New York, Philly, Atlanta, and DMV area. With hip-hop adapting to each new generation, it’s a blessing to hear real lyrics every chance you get. Steele also influenced by hip-hop’s “golden age,” the 90s rap era, where “everything lyrical” is major to him. “I’m fearless with creating records and not really caring what’s popular a lot. I’m bringing lyrics,” notes Steele. “I’m one of those rare people, a trendsetter.”

The MC started rapping in a duo group called Mic & Rep with his friend in high school. During his college years at North Carolina Central University, he met record producer and executive, 9th wonder, who later on becomes his mentor. From that point, his solo career began.

“My music has substance, it’s conceptual.” Whether it’s good or bad I can create some type of art from it, I know that I’m good.”

Best known for his ESPN Sports Center anthem “Greatness,” Steele has been working none stop to become a leader of hip-hop’s new generation. Coming off his Before A Minute mixtape hosted by DJ Wade Banner serves as a prelude to Steele’s forthcoming album It’s Been A Minute. “This is the best thing I ever done in life, I can’t wait to give it to the people,” notes Steele. The rapper doesn’t have to wait much longer, this Friday (Oct.12) we’ll be able to hear his anticipated project where he shows vulnerability and honesty. “A lot of hidden messages in the album. You’re going to have to dissect it a couple of times. It’ll be from how the record was structure, topics, lyrics, and transitions,” he says.

With limited features on the new album, Steele managed to get No Malice. Steele tells me they share mutual producers and it was “the grace of God” to get No Malice on his album. With everything leading up, he’s happy where he is and excited for what’s to come. He shows the definition of hard work and where it can lead you, but importantly how he takes one step at of time.

“Have you ever been so stressed and so blessed in the same breath? That’s exactly where I’m at right now. It’s an interesting period and I’m just enjoying the moment.”

Towards the end of our conversation, Steele shares his last words. “For anyone that’s trying to pursue anything. Doctor, lawyer, artist, etc. The biggest keys: keeping god first, putting in the work, and lastly, don’t give up.”

Mark Steele is also co-headlining his It’s Been a Minute album release concert at Drom in New York City alongside No Malice on Friday, October 12th. Purchase your tickets here: https://goo.gl/BgnXD2

Get familiar with Mark Steele. Check out his latest music video for “Grace of God” featuring No Malice.

 

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Diplomats Announce “Diplomatic Ties” Album Dropping Thanksgiving Day

Fans of the Diplomats have had dreams both built up and destroyed over the years as squabbles and disagreements (most…

Fans of the Diplomats have had dreams both built up and destroyed over the years as squabbles and disagreements (most notably between Jim Jones and Cam’ron) have prevented a proper reunion (outside of a few showsand follow up to 2004’s Diplomatic Immunity 2 LP. After teasing a long-awaited project back in September, it appears the project now has a title and official release date.

As the group’s set at A3C in Atlanta drew to a close, Jim Jones made the announcement fans had been waiting for.

“On Thanksgiving, there will be a Diplomat album dropping,” exclaimed Jim Jones with his arm draped over Freeky Zeeky’s shoulder. “It’s called Diplomatic Ties, and the documentary will be out a week after that.”

“We havin’ some fun,” he added. “We been in the studio … we appreciate all the love.”

Jones first shared the new project three weeks ago, posting a photo an Instagram of the tracklist — which is a strictly Dipset affair, except for a lone feature from XO spitter Belly. A final tracklist and official artwork have yet to be revealed.

https://www.instagram.com/p/Bnkxig9Ao7S/?utm_source=ig_web_button_share_sheet

Tentative tracklist for Diplomatic Ties, is below.

1. “Intro” featuring Juelz Santana
2. “Live Forever” featuring Jim Jones and Cam’ron
3. “Sauce Boss” featuring Jim Jones and Juelz Santana
4. “On God” featuring Juelz Santana, Jim Jones and Belly
5. “Big Deal” featuring Cam’ron and Jim Jones
6. “Oh Lord” featuring Cam’ron and Jim Jones
7. “Celebrating Life” featuring Juelz Santana and Jim Jones
8. “By Any Means” featuring Juelz Santana and Jim Jones
9. “Sets Back” featuring Cam’ron and Jim Jones

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Diplomats Announce “Diplomatic Ties” Album Dropping Thanksgiving Day

Fans of the Diplomats have had dreams both built up and destroyed over the years as squabbles and disagreements (most…

Fans of the Diplomats have had dreams both built up and destroyed over the years as squabbles and disagreements (most notably between Jim Jones and Cam’ron) have prevented a proper reunion (outside of a few showsand follow up to 2004’s Diplomatic Immunity 2 LP. After teasing a long-awaited project back in September, it appears the project now has a title and official release date.

As the group’s set at A3C in Atlanta drew to a close, Jim Jones made the announcement fans had been waiting for.

“On Thanksgiving, there will be a Diplomat album dropping,” exclaimed Jim Jones with his arm draped over Freeky Zeeky’s shoulder. “It’s called Diplomatic Ties, and the documentary will be out a week after that.”

“We havin’ some fun,” he added. “We been in the studio … we appreciate all the love.”

Jones first shared the new project three weeks ago, posting a photo an Instagram of the tracklist — which is a strictly Dipset affair, except for a lone feature from XO spitter Belly. A final tracklist and official artwork have yet to be revealed.

https://www.instagram.com/p/Bnkxig9Ao7S/?utm_source=ig_web_button_share_sheet

Tentative tracklist for Diplomatic Ties, is below.

1. “Intro” featuring Juelz Santana
2. “Live Forever” featuring Jim Jones and Cam’ron
3. “Sauce Boss” featuring Jim Jones and Juelz Santana
4. “On God” featuring Juelz Santana, Jim Jones and Belly
5. “Big Deal” featuring Cam’ron and Jim Jones
6. “Oh Lord” featuring Cam’ron and Jim Jones
7. “Celebrating Life” featuring Juelz Santana and Jim Jones
8. “By Any Means” featuring Juelz Santana and Jim Jones
9. “Sets Back” featuring Cam’ron and Jim Jones

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Rapper Chinx Dies At Age 31

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