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Fly From The 518: Abs01ute and Shyste Pack Style and Substance Into Debut Concept Album

Travel 150 miles north of the Big Apple on I-87 and you’ll hit New York’s Capital City, Albany. Amongst the…

Travel 150 miles north of the Big Apple on I-87 and you’ll hit New York’s Capital City, Albany. Amongst the city’s blue collar herds of hard workers and packs of drunk, stumbling college kids, you’ll find Abs01ute and Shyste, a producer and MC whose hard-nosed sound is the lovechild of the hustle and grit the city is known for. It’s easy to get lost between Albany’s bars, but it’s those same dark alleys where Abs01te and Shyste’s Lord of the Flys had time to incubate.

Like the boys from the 1954 novel by William Golding, Shyste and Abs01ute were left to govern themselves over the past four years, crafting and fine tuning a project that mirrors the social and political shit storm we’re currently living in. The result is a standout project featuring Abs01ute’s carefully complex production and Shyste’s menacing bars.

The duo took a few minutes to discuss the project’s origins, life in Albany, and what it would be like to smash Bea Arthur.

How did you two link up and craft the idea for Lord of the Flys?

Abs01ute: We have known each other for years prior to collaborating. After talking at a few shows here and there, I sent Shyste some beats. Recording a few songs was all we were aiming to do at first, but after recording them we agreed we should move forward with a full length. Shyste came up with the idea for the title, and I went ahead and dug into the sample stash to craft a sound I thought would reflect the vision. The 1990 Lord of the Flies film provided the backdrop, and I sprinkled in movie clips to add a cinematic angle. We would send each other verses and beats until we piled up 17 tracks. The collaborative process was seamless. We both let each other tackle our respective roles, and the final product is something we are both very proud of.

Explain the hip hop dynamic in the 518. Does art imitate life in the capital city?

Shyste: Albany is a blue collar city.  I think that reflects in the art on many levels.  From the process of creating and performing the music, to marketing yourself and trying to stay in everyone’s focus, it’s a grind.  It’s time, energy, money, stress.  A little less time, a little less energy, a little more money, a little more stress. It’s a serious grind, like grinding down stone into sand for others to walk on (laughs). And it’s not just Albany, it’s the entire 518.  There are a lot of people putting in work out here.  If you want to make some noise, you have to be consistent; you have to be your own union, your own promoter, and so on.  Hip hop, and music in general in the 518, is definitely a blue collar grind. 

 
The record samples from Japanese pop records from the 60s. Where does an idea like that grow roots?

Abs01ute: The Japanese pop stuff came to me randomly. I tend to search anywhere to find samples. Over the years it has changed. I sample literally anything I hear and think I can flip. I found the bulk of the samples used on LOTF online. One source led me to another and before I knew it I was deep into obscure records from overseas. LOTF is about half sampled from those records, I also added other beats I thought fit nice. Without indulging too much about the samples, it was a mix of records from movie soundtracks, video games, and even Game of Thrones.

The album mirrors the themes of William Golding’s original book. Explain those ties.

Shyste: The album loosely mirrors Golding’s themes from the book.  There’s a variety of concepts like chaos, abandonment, ego, and the power struggle.  These are all presented from different perspectives.  The story line of the book is a solid reflection of what’s going on in society right now.  There are many different personality archetypes struggling for some kind of power, freedom, war or peace.  This is how factions are created and people begin to choose sides.  All these different concepts are presented in a hip hop format. All off the cuff.

There’s plenty of people out there who love full length releases; people who devour entire projects from end to end. What can we expect from Lord of the Flys?

Shyste: In an industry of cookie cutter artists and artists who rely on gimmicks, we are giving the listening audience an actual experience.  It’s best to listen to the album from beginning to end.  The movie clips are placed in a way that gives the project a linear feel. The album definitely has its own particular sound and vibe in order to give it a more dramatic or theatrical feel. The lyrics, the production, the mixing and mastering, are clean and professional.  It’s not just music, it’s an experience.

 
Speaking of an experience… Fuck, Kill, Marry: Hillary Clinton, Bea Arthur, and Mariah Carey?

Shyste: Fuck Mariah Carey, because I’m assuming that’s a given and everybody else has (laughs). Kill Hillary Clinton because she’s awful; one of the worst. And marry Bea Arthur because she’ll kick the bucket way before me and then I gets me some of that “Golden Girls” money.

Upcoming shows? Where can people buy or stream the album?

Abs01ute: Our release party is at Lost & Found in Albany, New York on December 16th at 9:30 pm. You can find our album on all digital outlets including Spotify, iTunes, Tidal, Amazon, and YouTube. Or you can check out https://lordoftheflys.bandcamp.com/ for hard copies that will ship with a signed poster and two artist stickers.


Big thanks for to Shyste and Abs01ute for talking with us. Be sure to check out Lord of the Flys, available now on all streaming platforms.

My name is J.D, the music fanatic, writer, blogger, and educator. I've been in love with hip hop since Bishop got too close to the ledge. If it moves me, I'll cover it. I've written an unpublished novel, created Shiny Glass Houses, and had my work featured on the Bloglin for Mishka NYC. I'm lurking in the shadows on twitter @ThexGlassxHouse. Read. Comment. Get money.
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Pressure Dommer Teases His New EP With ”Dopeman” Single/Video

The big record is a brilliant look into the crystal ball of what to expect going forward.

Orlando, Florida, rapper Pressure Dommer is currently in the studio putting the finishing touches on his upcoming EP, 8. Set to be his biggest release to date since signing on with No Convo Entertainment — headed by acclaimed record producer Fye Jones — and to wet our appetites, has dropped off a new single and video, Dopeman.

Directed by Brill Adium, the shadowy visual is a cinematic experience, with Pressure on the late night grind; the at times frantic camera motion plays up the almost paranoia-ridden state of being experienced by a trafficker in the trap amid a sea of potential downfalls. The big record is a brilliant look into the crystal ball of what to expect going forward.

“I would describe my sound as reality music,” he tells AAHH, “very influential and soulful … full of jewels.” As he describes it, his grandad and grandma influenced him the most; “seeing them work hard to provide for multiple people — and do it from the bare minimum — [pushes me to strive for the best].

He also tells us that signing with No Convo rests among his most significant achievements. “It’s an opportunity for me to do what I love and be supported by a company that believes in me,” he says.

With his eye on the prize, and the goal of creating a lasting legacy in the music industry, Pressure is one of the hungriest rappers we’ve come across in a minute. “We’re getting this project ready for the masses,” he confidently, pointing toward the near future. It’s about to be a hot summer!

Check out the visual, below. 

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Tee Grizzley’s Highly-Anticipated Debut, ‘Activated’ Has Arrived

After months of anticipation, Detroit’s breakout star Tee Grizzley has released his much-hyped debut album, properly-titled, Activated. Since coming on…

After months of anticipation, Detroit’s breakout star Tee Grizzley has released his much-hyped debut album, properly-titled, Activated.

Since coming on the scene in 2017, he’s been building up to this moment with songs like the platinum hit single, “First Day Out” and critically acclaimed debut mixtape, My Moment. Tee Grizzley tells his story of trials, tribulations, and triumph growing up in the Motor City. The 24-year-old seizes his moment with his signature street mentality and aggressive attitude.

Activated features all-star cast of guest appearances including Jeezy, Chris Brown, Lil Pump, Lil Yachty, YFN Lucci, and many more. Tee Grizzley’s debut album features 18 brand new songs, including hit singles, “2 Vaults”, “Jettski Grizzley”, and “Colors”. Activated is available everywhere exclusively through 300 Entertainment.

Courtesy of Spotify, Stream Tee Grizzley’s debut album, Activated below.

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Q&A With Rapper Minty Burns

Toronto-rapper Minty Burns has been around for a while now; in fact, if you live in or have been to…

Toronto-rapper Minty Burns has been around for a while now; in fact, if you live in or have been to Toronto, you’ve likely seen his stickers — or his tag on a white cube van. In 2014 he made waves, collaborating with the likes of Zoey Dollaz, Lil Duke, and Big Lean. With his ever-growing, loyal fan base in tow, he’s been rolling [pun intended] out his latest effort The Dispensary, which shares the name of his niche cannabis clothing line. To top it off, he’s making a move to LA to embed himself in the west coast stoner culture.

Fresh on the heels of Coachella and the release of his “Green Man” visual, featuring legendary dancehall artist Louie Rankin — of Belly fame — he sat with AAHH for a quick Q&A. Check it out, below.

 
How did you get into the game?
 
I started out freestyling with my friends in high school which led to me doing battle rap for a few years. I won some big battles in Toronto and then started putting out music independently.
 
Who were some of your influences coming up?
 
I use to listen to a lot of Big Pun, Tupac, and Eminem.  Rappers like Fabolous and Jadakiss also inspired my style a lot. Before rap, I listened to a bit of rock too.
 
I hear you’re headed to LA; what are your plans out there?
 

I can’t wait to get back to the lab and work with producers I met while working out there. I also plan on shooting a bunch of new videos and stopping by some radio stations. Check out my last interview and freestyle on dash radio.
 
Let’s chat about your latest video; how did you connect with Louie Rankin?
 
Louie is an OG, and he’s always in Toronto. We got to link up one day, and I played him the song. He started spazzing so when I thought of the concept I knew he would be dope to kick it off.
 
Is there a project in the works?
 
My mixtape is coming out this summer. It got a lot of different sounds and collabs on there. I’m super excited for my fans to hear what I have been cooking up in the past year.
 
Tell me more about The Dispensary.
 
The tape features Zoey Dollaz, Lil Duke, Big Lean, 808 Mafia, Arrabmuzuk and more. I also have a clothing line called the Dispensary which im pushing alongside the tape. Look out for an official release date and release parties in a city near you.
 
Canada is about to legalize weed: thoughts?
 
I think it’s about goddamn time. The movement has been stable for ten plus years now, and I’m happy to see people not having to face charges and worry about going to jail for weed. Hopefully, the government here in Canada can figure out a good system to distribute it and still offer good quality at a reasonable price to the consumer.
 
Any last words?
 
Follow my social @MintyBurns and subscribe to my youtube channel @planetminty. My Official video for Green Man video is out now! Go check that out and burn one. Much Love!
 

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Cole Delivers On Record-Breaking KOD

The real is back, the Ville is back. Legendary North Carolina rapper J. Cole burst back onto the scene last…

The real is back, the Ville is back. Legendary North Carolina rapper J. Cole burst back onto the scene last week after a relatively quiet year, releasing his 4th full-length studio LP titled KOD. After an action packed three days, which included two international pop-up shows and a series of exciting tweets, the album was finally released on all major streaming platforms on Friday, April 20th (international stoner day, hint hint). Buckle up, my friends, because there’s a lot to unpack here.

The three alternate album titles, Kids on Drugs, King Overdosed, and Kill Our Demons, along with the artwork – which features children snorting cocaine, sipping lean, and smoking weed – pointed to the album being a critique of todays youth drug culture. While addiction and substance abuse are major themes of the album, KOD lacks specific direction and is not solely based on these issues. The project is more so general social commentary, with Cole flittering back and forth between a litany of deep and timely topics. The combination of the cover artwork, the 4/20 release-date, and title themes are misleading. There’s far too much going on in KOD for a concrete storyline to come to light.

While online theories are entertaining and partially correct, they still don’t account for the many conflicting portions of the album. Take kiLL edward, for example, who is listed as the album’s lone feature but is actually Cole’s drug abusing alter-ego (when edward speaks, it’s a heavily filtered version of Cole’s voice). It would be all well and good if, as theorized online, edward is the evil king of the rap game attempting to lure Cole to the dark side and join the youth in their reckless and hedonistic behavior. Throughout the album, Cole fights off edward with all of his might and eventually kills him (so they say online). But edward only has a minimal presence on the album; he’s only featured on two songs. The entertaining back and forth that could have been never comes to fruition and ultimately, the theme falls short of its full potential.

 
To complicate matters further, it’s nearly impossible to tell when Cole is speaking from his own perspective or that of someone else. Take the track “KOD,” for example, which, flow-wise and production-wise, is a slapper. Cole starts the track with lyrics that are undoubtedly from his own perspective, as he’s known for going platinum twice before without any features: “How much you worth? How big is your home? How come you won’t get a few features? I think you should? How ’bout I don’t?” Later on the track, however, Cole, who doesn’t even smoke weed, brags about sipping lean: “Yeah, at this shit daily, sipped so much Actavis I convinced Actavis that they should pay me.” Is this kiLL edward speaking? Is this Cole speaking from the perspective of another rapper? It’s impossible to tell. All of this is rapped in Cole’s normal voice, implying that it’s not coming from kiLL edward’s perspective.

Only a few bars later, Cole spits a line that is again inarguably personal: “Platinum disc and I own masters, bitch, pay me.” If Cole wanted to make a themed album, he should have either rapped any lyrics that didn’t apply to himself using edward’s distorted voice, or, he could have simply listed edward as a feature on any track that contains lines from Cole’s alter-ego perspective and let the fans decipher which lines apply to whom. Cole reached in his attempt to make a themed album and convoluted an otherwise great body of work. Based on the twelve tracks that make up this project, he should have given the album a more general title and a piece of artwork.

Album theme aside, KOD is a moving and highly educational body of work. To piggyback off of Charlemagne Tha God’s joke, The ROC should be changed to the T.E.D. because the amount of knowledge Jay-Z and Cole consistently give to the people is astounding. On the closer, “1985,” Cole responds to criticism he’s received from Lil Pump with some informatory, simultaneously scorching, bars:

One day, them kids that’s listening gon’ grow up
And get too old for that shit that made you blow up/Now your show’s lookin’ light cause they don’t show up/Which unfortunately means the money slow up/Now you scramblin’ and hopin’ to get hot again/But you forgot you only popped ’cause you was ridin’ trends/Now you old news and you goin’ through regrets/‘Cause you never bought that house, but you got a Benz.

Like “1985,” the album is full of must-listens. On the “Once an Addict” interlude, Cole describes the anguish and guilt he felt as a teen watching his mother struggle with substance abuse. On “The Cut Off,” he explores toxic, one-way relationships that he’s been forced to end. On “Friends,” he pleads with other companions of his struggling with addiction, promising that there are healthier ways to overcome systematic-oppression-induced anxiety and depression. The stories and messages on KOD are far more important than its production, which is percussion heavy and melodically muted – this is in stark contrast to some of Cole’s older, glossier, sample-laden projects such as The Warm Up and Friday Night Lights.

 
Cole did what he does best on KOD, summing up complex and poignant topics with conciseness and clarity. While some argue that his work is overly simplistic, it’s important to keep in mind when listening to a Cole album that it’s just that, an album, and not a graduate school thesis. To convey his thoughts in such an articulate manner over just 42 minutes, as he does on KOD, highlights his underrated talent as a wordsmith. More importantly, Cole again achieved his primary goal: to educate, inspire, and lead as many people as possible through his selfless works of art. It’s officially a Cole spring, and the official closing track title, “1985 (Intro to The Fall Off”),” hints that it may indeed be a Cole summer too.

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