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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#IndieSpotlight: MusicbyKO “Life In Element” Is The Soundtrack For Pre-Fall Blues

A new LP floated across my desk by an Oakland, California, singer/rapper named MusicbyKO. A warm blend of jazzy 90s…

A new LP floated across my desk by an Oakland, California, singer/rapper named MusicbyKO. A warm blend of jazzy 90s Hip Hop and a cadence reminiscent of acts like Isaiah Rashad. Having shared stages with names like J.I.D. and Earthgang, he appears focused and composed — as evidenced by Life In Element, his new LP.


 
With a very consistent sound, KO slowly unravels a series of tracks that let you into his world just enough — without blatant TMI, or inducing a “yeah right” effect. What listeners get are the tales of a low-level drug dealer (this is both referenced and downplayed at different points), who is taking a chance on a dream, as he slowly but surely uncovers that everything the glimmers isn’t gold, and just because someone calls you brother, it doesn’t mean they have your back — or at the very least even your best interests at heart.

It’s an almost paranoid sense that snakes are roaming the grass that is revisited numerous times throughout the project, like on the song “La La Land,” “Empathy,” and “Let Me Talk With Ya/While I’m Here,” where he notes “I Know niggas right now that want to see me fall.”

He also paints a picture of himself as someone who overextends himself — such as on “Too Much Falls Short,” where he preaches that failing to leave your comfort zone is a fail before even leaving the running block.

That’s just the first few layers of this project; touching on socio-economic issues facing the black community nationwide, and even relationships (see the super dope “Spirit Rise”), he creates a lot of depth. Though the vibe is consistent — almost bordering on redundant — it manages to remain engaging. Also, that instrumental on “A Devil’s Advocate Corner” is a bucket of flame emojis doused in gasoline.

 
Like a bride on her wedding day, Life In Element is something old and something new; all that Hip Hop is dead shit goes out teh window when you hear younger cats with cohesive projects like this. With enough amazing quotables to create a success Instagram daily quote account (“I couldn’t heal in eth place I got sicker”) and an admirable ear for production, MusicbyKO NEEDS to be on your radar. It’s just good for the soul.

Early.

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Main

Video Spotlight: Mean Joe Scheme & Optiks

In this video spotlight, Joe and Optiks discuss the new project, the state of east coast hip-hop, and what to expect from BEAMS. Be sure to check out both singles below, and follow @meanjoescheme and @thisisoptiks on your socials.

NYC artists Mean Joe Scheme and Optiks are putting the finishing touches on BEAMS, their new collaborative project. If “Cannonball” and “Hands Down” are any indication, we’re in for a viscous slice of hybrid hip-hop- a fusion of beats, rhymes, and anxious 2018 energy.

In this video spotlight, Joe and Optiks discuss the new project, the state of east coast hip-hop, and what to expect from BEAMS. Be sure to check out both singles below, and follow @meanjoescheme and @thisisoptiks on your socials.

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Main, Reviews

Eminem: Kamikaze- A Relapse of Epic Proportion

Poor Eminem. He’s damned if he do and damned if he don’t. His last album, 2017’s pop-heavy Revival, flopped by…

Poor Eminem. He’s damned if he do and damned if he don’t. His last album, 2017’s pop-heavy Revival, flopped by way of social media yet wasn’t a total disaster. It moved units and afforded him headlining spots on the summer festival circuit- but it didn’t give the fans what they needed. Or did it?

This conundrum surrounds Eminem’s career. When he’s on there’s only a handful of rappers alive who can compete with his pen and his fury. But when he bogs down projects with introspection- giving us a break from his hyper-aggro screaming at the mic- it feels like we’ve been cheated. Stans can’t deal with the sappy pop-crossovers, and today’s charts simply do not have space for good old-fashioned rap acrobatics. So what’s an aging top-five-dead-or-alive rapper to do?

Marshall Mathers unleashed Kamikaze as his response to the Twitter army (and critics) who condemned him- an unexpected and venomous (although carefully measured) surprise album packed with more syllables than a semester’s worth of English-as-a-second language classes. As we all secretly hoped for, rappers ain’t safe from Em’s verbal barrage of double and triple time bars on Kamikaze, and if you have time to unpack these 13 tracks you’ll find some genuine heat.

Unfortunately, if you really unpack these ferocious bars you’ll find a grumpy old man rapping for the simple sake of reminding us how technically skilled he truly is. The problem is we’ve known that for ages. Reverting back to early 2000’s Eminem complete with the use of “faggot”- his favorite homophobic slur on the otherwise bulletproof “Fall”- does little to contribute to his relevance in 2018.

There are a few maniac standouts on Kamikaze, songs that young rappers should study for the intricate art of word play and cadence (check “The Ringer”, and “Not Alike” featuring Royce Da 5’9). Yet, those lessons are harder to learn when it’s impossible for the listener to catch their breath. For most of the record, Em is in such rapid-fire mode that you absolutely have to run back verses and entire songs to truly digest his messages. Rap nerds and old heads will revel in the task, but is that what the game needs these days? I’d argue no

Kamikaze is a rare full-on barrage of supernatural MC’ing; but it comes and goes without much meaning when the target becomes Machine Gun Kelly-who tweeted about Eminem’s attractive daughter back in 2012. Is there really a hip-hop fan alive willing to side with MGK on this one? And if you’re looking for the most lukewarm, mediocre diss track (possibly ever recorded) check out MGK’s response, “Rap Devil”, a headscratcher that splits its time attempting to discredit Em while simultaneously praising his longevity and abilities. You either want the smoke or you don’t? Like it or not, the whole thing feels like a charade.

Eminem has always carried a chip on his shoulder. When the critics go low, he goes lower. While Kamikaze is far from a low point in what will be viewed someday as a catalog of studio hits and misses, it’s far from the return to form that it was intended to be. He might not be afraid to take a stand, but it’s become tiring trying to figure out exactly who Eminem is standing against.

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Reviews, unsigned hype

Soo Casa Drops His Self-Titled Debut Project

Hailing from — of all places, Burlington (Ontario) — rapper Soo Casa, so has appeared on the site in the…

Hailing from — of all places, Burlington (Ontario) — rapper Soo Casa, so has appeared on the site in the past, has finally gifted his growing fan base with a self-titled body of work. At a hefty 15 songs, which includes a few songs weève already worn out (but are revisiting), he manages to craft a complete picture of his artistic vision that loosies hinted at, but failed to encapsulate fully.

“Cldhnky,” a stylized form for cold honky, “Top Ramen,” and “Ksubi Slushie” had already been floating around and found their way into our listening sessions — as early as late last year. What we found interesting was how versatile of a picture it painted of the MC. While the latter two songs have these interwoven melodies and auto-tuned vocals, “Cldhnky” had this early 2000s vibe to it, that above everything, illustrate his ability to drop rhyme patterns.

“One Take” is another spot that sees him dropping fire rapid-fire flows without missing any pockets. There is also a whole ounce of self-aware humor injected, with over-the-top bars like: “I also rock Balenciagas, put my dick in your girl’s mouth and make her Lady Gaga.”

Songs like “Perc” and “Iactuallylikelilpump” are sonically sound, and reflective of his cohort, but do little to further his artistic vision. To be candid, we’re not 100% sure what his grand idea is, and the breadth of the songs are more or less focused regarding thematic direction, but it’s song structure and delivery that helps draw out his most potent moments.

“Guacamole” comes across as one the standouts on the tracklist, with a flame emoji instrumental and that Soo rides like a dirtbike down a Philly block. “Twice That” with Kid Frankie was another moment that suited him, with this bouncy West Coast vibe that needed to be MUCH longer than a minute and forty seconds. As well, “juicehouse” produced by Platinum producer CashMoneyAP (Migos, Young Boy Never Broke Again, SahBabii, etc.) is another moment worth a few spins.

 

It was also refreshing to see him step out of the lane a few times and try new things. “$wang” with its heavy R&B hook, and bouncy “grinding a shorty at a summer bashment” aura was a pleasant surprise. Would also be remiss not to bring up that sample flip on “Tokyo Plugin,” which was another example of his readjusting his style slightly with pleasant results.

 

Overall, the Slushie God managed to give a little more definition to his range and potential. With summer coming to a close, and as the fall sets in, it’ll be interesting to see what his next moves are and if he chooses to fully marry one of the many faces he’s shown on this LP.

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