Editorial, Main, Reviews

Rising In The East: A Conversation With New Hampshire’s JZAC

Social media has become our inevitable life line. From fashion, to media arts, and of course music, the Internet truly…

Social media has become our inevitable life line. From fashion, to media arts, and of course music, the Internet truly is the wave for discovering and breaking the best trends and talent in the world.

Whether on Twitter, Facebook, or IG, the social media platforms we check on the daily are our new MTV, they’re the Video Music Box (look it up) for this generation. And that’s dope since I’m constantly in search of new music.

Enter JZAC, a New Hampshire spitter brought to doorstep via Instagram. He and his crew remade the “smoking cypher” from That 70’s Show, and absolutely killed it. I dug deeper, and was moved by his ability to flow effortlessly over any beat. Fluent cool is something you have or you don’t, you be the judge.

JZAC gave us a few minutes to discuss his influences, Soundcloud’s dominance, and what’s next for the bubbling MC.

You’re from NH, right outside Boston, right? Has the Boston Hip Hop scene influenced your choices?

I am from New Hampshire, I was actually born in Boston but I spent the majority of my life in New Hampshire. To be honest the Boston hip hop scene hasn’t really influenced my choices, I grew up on the internet so I listened to music from all over the place. They do have a new wave of artists really coming up and making some noise in the music industry right now though, which is always dope to see.

It seems that you’re a student of the culture. It feel like your verses are puzzles, and it all fits well. How important are bars nowadays? It seems like energy has sort of taken over for craftsmanship.

I still think the bars are really important. The way I look at it is the majority of the music that will last and have true longevity always comes from artists with bars. I think it goes a lot deeper than that too, but I think if you really bring quality music to the table it will get appreciated. With that being said I also do like the “energy” wave of a lot of the young guys coming out. It may not always be as deep or lyrical, but it’s fun and it makes you feel good. I love partying to that type of stuff. I think balance is key.

What are your thoughts on SoundCloud potentially going away, or on Chance “saving” it?

I think SoundCloud will stick around for a while. Regardless, it’s already lost a lot of popularity due to people switching over to streaming services. It definitely has a special place in my heart, and helped my music reach millions of people but I like streaming services a lot. It helps independent artists like me get paid and make a living off of music. I like Chance trying to help the situation; you can tell he’s a genuine dude.

Your phone is at 1%, and you can only download 3 songs. Who/what’s getting picked?

Oh man that’s a tough question. It all depends on what mood I’m in, so that question can vary heavily. 3 songs that pop in my head right now though would be Jay Z “Lost Ones”, Drake “Do Not Disturb”, and Billy Joel “Big Shot”.

How important is a label in 2017?

They’re important for certain artists. Some artists can really thrive off of having a label while other artists have horror stories. It’s important to learn how to maneuver on your own and create some buzz independently. That’s what labels want to see in 2017, they don’t want to spend the money and do the work. I love that the artist has the choice in 2017. You can be an extremely successful independent artist if you have the right team of people around you, which wasn’t a thing 10-15 years ago. You don’t have to rely on anyone anymore.

What’s the future look like for you? Plans to record, or tour?

There’s a lot of stuff in the works. I’ll be releasing a new body of work before the end of the year, but I don’t want to give too much info about that just yet. No tours yet, but I’m working on hitting different major cities and performing for fans who have been waiting to see me. I’m really excited for what the future has in store!


Huge shoutout to JZAC for taking the time to speak with us. His unique take on Hip Hop is a breath of fresh air. It feels like we’re taking a slow turn back towards lyricism, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Support JZAC by hitting up his social media feeds. Salute!

http://www.facebook.com/JZACMUSIC
http://www.instagram.com/jzacmusic
Snapchat: jzacmusic

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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#FireFriday, Editorial, interview

Famous Dex Talks New Album & Dual Identities In Exclusive Interview

“I didn’t [really] just discover them, it’s always been like that.”

Coated in Diamonds, with a Gucci bag draped at his hip, Chicago rapper Famous Dex took the stage in a black werewolf T-shirt at New York’s Gold Bar on March 27 to premiere his new album Dex Vs. Dexter, and to receive a gold certification plaque for his bouncy track “Pick It Up” with A$AP Rocky. The album, while still flux in braggadocio lyrics, demonstrates creative growth for the rapper. Released on April 6th, the date was personally chosen by Dex to coincide with the three year anniversary of his mother’s passing from breast cancer. “It’s influenced my hustle. Everything I do now has a greater purpose because of her,” Dex told Above Average Hip-Hop. “The decisions I make with my family and my career, I always consider what she would tell me.”

The project’s theme of separate entities, while not a foreign concept in Hip-Hop, paints the audacious artist as someone more than how he appears to fans. “I didn’t [really] just discover them, it’s always been like that,” the artist said of his two identities. “Dex is the romantic guy,” he said with a laugh, “Dex is single, well both Dex and Dexter are single, but Dex loves women, chilling, vibing, [and] not doing too much. Sometimes people see me on a video, and I’m really laid back, that’s Dex.” In contrast, ‘Dexter’ is the artist everyone is familiar with. “He’s a clown, wild, crazy with ad-libs and everything. Dexter is who most people know in my music.” The two characters are fully realized on the albums cover art, with “Dex” sprawled on a green leather couch with a girl on his lap, while “Dexter” zooms around the couch in an animated form.

 
In contrast to Dex’s previous work, the rapper’s official debut is heavy on pop influences. The hook on “Prove It,” is layered in a pop-rock guitar riff and steady 808 drums. “Take this ride with me, sip this Hennessy, I got bands on me…Ooh girl you so sweet,” Dex sings in the third verse. Another drastic musical departure for the mumble rapper comes in the form of “LIGHT,” a radio-ready single featuring pop-rock quartet Drax Project. “Aw man, Drax! I love those guys,” Dex said of working with the band. “It just happened, I don’t know exactly how it happened, but I’m not going to question God because it’s dope! I’ve never made a song like that before.” Dex sings on the track alongside the group, his gooey auto-tuned vocals harmonizing with Drax.

However, Dex still makes room on his debut to tackle familiar territory. “LIGHT” is followed by “Celine,” a barely-two-minute bouncy interlude that finds the rapper reassuring his fans not everything has changed. “My favorite track to get hype to is ‘Celine.’ That song is fire,” Dex said. “It’s so natural to me, and I love to perform it.” Other tracks like the lead single “Japan,” “Take Her” with Wiz Khalifa and the album’s intro “DMD” find Dex in his comfort zone as he tackles beats by Pi’erre Bourne and J Gramm, among others. “This whole album is a celebration,” Dex said. Even with a new album just released, Dex is already planning his next steps. “I’m already working on my next album, Rich Forever got something fire coming out soon, so be on the lookout for that.”

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Must Read, New Music, Reviews

2nd Annual Milk and Cookies Music + Food Festival Re-Cap

This past weekend was definitely one for the books! The highly anticipated 2nd Annual Milk and Cookies Music + Food…

This past weekend was definitely one for the books! The highly anticipated 2nd Annual Milk and Cookies Music + Food Festival kicked off on April 7th at 787 Windsor in Atlanta. The event highlighted well-known locals along with some big names from the music industry. There were also tasty food and dessert trucks that served ticket holders all evening long.

The event started with ATL native, Dj Decoteau of Bae Worldwide; following Tim Gunter who both ripped the turntables as the venue began to fill up. Later, Summer Walker, the first female artist of LVRN, took to the stage to perform for her very first time. Energetic local talent Bosco, came out jumping as the crowd went wild. After her epic performance, I was able to steal a quick question from her. I asked how she’s feeling at this point in her music career. Bosco stated she’s feeling super inspired and excited for her career. She also talked to me about who in the music game influences her. It wasn’t a surprise when she dropped names such as Erykah Badu and Lauren Hill and of course loves her indie artists.

Sahbabii followed, tearing the stage down with their mega hit “Pull Up With Ah Stick” and “Purple Ape.” Their hype man brought out a life-size blunt that filled the sky with a purple haze that surely set the tone for the rest of the evening. When ATL native Xavier Omar hit the stage next, he started with a rendition of the infamous “Pokémon Go” track. He then brought out some major R&B vibes when he performed his hit “Blind Man” and his band was definitely one of a kind.

Around 7pm, the sun disappeared and chilling temperatures and rainfalls came as a surprise. However, none of that stopped the amazing Singer, Songwriter Alina Baraz when it was her time to shine. Her album The Color of You that debut just one day prior to the Milk and Cookies Music Festival was in perfect timing. She performed two songs from her album and some good throwbacks.

“I want my fans to know I love and thank them very much for all the support they have shown.”
—Alina Baraz

Hours before she took the stage, she held a private meet and greet with her fans that were in VIP. Right before her team shuffled her back to her trailer, I was able to grab a quick interview. I was curious where her inspiration came from for her new album; Baraz mentioned how she didn’t necessarily have a plan for the album, stating she would go into the studio and let her vibes do the writing. Her album is based off things that have happened from her past. I asked Baraz what is one thing she wants her fans to know; she said “I want my fans to know I love and thank them very much for all the support they have shown.”

The last to perform was none other than Tory Lanez. After just playing one song, his humble spirit wouldn’t allow him to continue performing on stage while the crowd stood in the rain. Lanez continued his set while jumping into the hands of his screaming fans and standing on speakers. He shut the stage down with songs from his 2nd album Memories Don’t Die which released March 2nd. He also reminisced with the crowd while performing hits “Luv” and “Say It.”

To go along with the great music vibes, there were mouth-watering treats and culture filled food trucks. The menus consisted of everything from funnel cakes and hibachi grills on wheels, to curry chicken and of course cookies and ice cream. There were also local graffiti artists in attendance that added their touch to the former steam-boiler manufacturing facility turned industrial art space which is now called 787 Windsor.

It’s safe to say that the 2nd Annual Milk and Cookies Music + Food Festival was a total hit! Despite the weather, everyone, including the artist truly enjoyed the entire event. I’m sure we’ll all be anticipating the 3rd year, as well.

Below, catch some shots of some of the artist who performed!

2nd Annual Milk and Cookies Music + Food Festival Re-Cap

2nd Annual Milk and Cookies Music + Food Festival Re-Cap

2nd Annual Milk and Cookies Music + Food Festival Re-Cap

2nd Annual Milk and Cookies Music + Food Festival Re-Cap

2nd Annual Milk and Cookies Music + Food Festival Re-Cap

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“My Dear Melancholy” is Bone-Chillingly Beautiful

Judging from the dark subject matter that has typified Abel “The Weeknd” Tesfaye’s catalogue to date–which includes rampant drug abuse,…

Judging from the dark subject matter that has typified Abel “The Weeknd” Tesfaye’s catalogue to date–which includes rampant drug abuse, his struggles as a homeless young-adult, and suicidal thoughts–few could have guessed that it would be his short stint with a former Disney Channel star that would leave him at his lowest. The Starboy crooner leaves little to speculation on his latest commercial release, My Dear Melancholy, a succinct six-song EP inarguably based on the fallout after his recent fling with pop star Selena Gomez. 

While The Weeknd’s anguish seems genuine and makes you feel for the guy, it’s impossible to ignore the glaring irony in his recent complaints, one, given Gomez’ goody-two-shoes persona, and even more so given the overtly misogynistic lyrics that Tesfaye is so well known for. Here are a few in case you need a reminder (no pun intended):

From the track “Party Monster” off of Starboy: “Woke up by a girl I don’t even know her name.”

From the smash hit “The Hills” off of the 2015 release Beauty Behind the Madness: “I only call you when it’s half past five, the only time I’d ever call you mine.”

Later on the same track, “I just fucked two bitches ‘fore I saw you.” 

Lastly, on the track “Reminder,” also off of Starboy: “When I travel ’round the globe, make a couple mil’ a show, and I come back to my city, I fuck every girl I know.” 

With that being said, musically, My Dear Melancholy is bone-chillingly beautiful. The Weeknd returns to his dark and cavernous House of Balloons roots on the project while still maintaining his newfound pop sensibilities. Rattling bass, slow, driving percussion, and subtle, haunting synths and keys cproductions. The production on most of My Dear Melancholy leaves room for Tesfaye’s vocals to take the driver’s seat, unlike that of the brighter and grandiose Starboy. From a lyrical standpoint, the EP is peppered with moving, weighty bars:

Off of “Wasted Times:” “I don’t wanna wake up if you ain’t laying next to me.”

Off of “Call Out My Name,” the opener: “I almost cut a piece of myself for your life,” a reference to Gomez’ recent search for a kidney donor

Tesfaye saves the best for last, providing the most melodically beautiful and lyrically clever portion of the EP on the closing track “Privilege,” as he repeats in a despondent, Vocoder-enhanced tone: “I got two red pills, to take the blues away.”

It is hard to deny the allure of much of The Weeknd’s work, regardless of lyrical content, due to the singer’s angelic voice and cutting-edge production. On My Dear Melancholy, Tesfaye achieves success from both a melodic and lyrical standpoint, substituting (for the most part) tales of apathetic sexual encounters for raw, vulnerable descriptions of his recent struggle with heartbreak. The Weeknd has finally found the middle ground between his groundbreaking, alt-R&B House of Balloons project and the poppy, Funk-infused Starboy. Lastly, to those Weeknd Stans worried about the Toronto star returning to normalcy, the singer explains on “Privilege:” 

“And I’ma fuck the pain away, and I know I’ll be okay…But I’ma drink the pain away, I’ll be back to my old ways.” 

Not to worry people; the Abel we’ve come to know, and love isn’t going anywhere.

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Cardi B’s Debut Album “Invasion of Privacy” Is Out Now

It’s almost a week since Cardi B’s debut album, Invasion of Privacy dropped. Her fans, the Bardi Gang, are more than…

It’s almost a week since Cardi B’s debut album, Invasion of Privacy dropped. Her fans, the Bardi Gang, are more than pleased with the LP, which has aldo managed to make those who weren’t fans, into new ones..

“I like proving niggas wrong, I do what they say I can’t,” raps Cardi B on “I Like It”

I can’t think of an artist that has had as bomb a breakout year as Cardi B has. She gave us the summer 2017 hit, “Bodak Yellow,” and since then, she’s been on the Billboard charts back to back (to back). The last ten months have been especially great to her, let alone this week. After releasing Invasion of Privacy, Cardi revealed her pregnancy with rapper Offset on “Saturday Night Live”; also, she was the first person ever to co-host The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.

Invasion of Privacy is an upfront look into Cardi’s everyday life. She’s confident, vulnerable and full of witty remarks. Laced into 13 tracks, the newly minted Quality Control management signee made anthems for the rest of the year. “Get Up 10” sets the bar for what’s to come on the project. Inspired by Meek Mill’s “Dreams and Nightmares” intro, Cardi’s version is also broken into two parts about her ascension to the riches from the rags.

As well, the album includes “Bartier Cardi” with 21 savage, which recently earned platinum certification, and is still doing numbers.

 

Cardi B money moves on this album show her versatility. She dabbles into the trap sound with “Drip” featuring the Migos, shows her confidence and positive vibes on “Best Life” featuring Chance the Rapper, and gets very personal with “Be Careful,” a track addressing an unfaithful partner/boyfriend. Cardi is not the one to mess with!

Social media pundit-turned reality TV star-turned rapper is a way of saying that this girl from the Bronx, is made of grind and determination. You don’t have to like her music, the way she talks, or her persona, but you have to respect her hustle. She came from the bottom and executed her way to the top.

Listen to Cardi B’s debut album below.

<iframe src=”https://tools.applemusic.com/embed/v1/album/1368105671?country=ca&at=11l4Qg&ct=invasionofprivacy” height=”500px” width=”100%” frameborder=”0″></iframe>

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