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Shotguns In Hell: An Interview With Fredro Starr Of Onyx

“Nobody is writing, niggas getting they beats off Youtube. I was just raised differently.” — Fredro Rappers are interesting people….

“Nobody is writing, niggas getting they beats off Youtube. I was just raised differently.” — Fredro

Rappers are interesting people. When I was first asked to interview Fredro Starr of Onyx, I was excited… but a little nervous. From their music, they have a rep for being super aggressive.

That was only intensified by Fredro’s now infamous interview with The Breakfast Club, where he appeared to almost go to blows with Charlemagne. Hell, even my editor told me to make sure I was well versed since Fredro was prone to spazz. When we did finally sit down to do the interview, I was pleasantly surprised. I didn’t see the man I was warned about. Naw, the person I interacted with was balanced. An OG who knew his place in the game, and knew how to play the game. Our interview was about Shotgunz In Hell, Onyx’s new collaborative project with Dope D.O.D. What I got was serious insight on Hip-Hop’s global state, trends, and longevity. Emcees take notes.

Onyx, you guys are obviously legends in the game. With that status comes the luxury of not keeping up with hyper-consuming Internet age of music. What made you decide now was the time to release new music? What, if anything about today’s music scene influenced, or inspired you creatively?

See the whole thing about it is these youngs cats, they are doing what we did already. We came in the game in ‘93, so as far as keeping up with the young kids, we not young. It’s like, we on our schedule. We from the Def Jam cloth, so it’s kinda instilled in us to do quality music. Like you said, cats putting out two mixtapes a month, but it sounds like two mixtapes. Nobody is writing, niggas getting they beats off Youtube. I was just raised differently. I come from the Run DMC cloth, the Jam Master Jay cloth. When we go into a project, we go into a project. Like, we don’t get beats off the internet. We get real producers, real studios, real concepts… and we knock the album out. If the album takes four, five, six months, that’s how long it takes. We overseas in Europe. In Europe, there’s a niche for 90’s Hip-Hop, well, for Hip-Hop in general, but they love the 90s over there, so you don’t have to alter what you do.

This isn’t your first collab with Dope D.O.D… tell me about how you guys linked. What drew you to them? Or did they reach out to you?

It happened like this; I was overseas doing a show by myself. It’s crazy cuz Sticky was doing a movie, but I was like “Yo, Ima rep for Onyx.” They (promoters) was like “naw, but Sticky’s not with you, ” and I was like “Fuck that, I’ma still rep,” so I went out and killed it. Killed the shit. The promoters were like “yo; I’ve never seen anything like that. You singlehandedly bodied that shit…” But we got hits. But, there were these kids coming on before me. I’m in my dressing room, like “who the fuck are these niggas?” I never heard of them before. They music all crazy, niggas is wylin’. So I leave my dressing room to see them perform, which I don’t normally do. I hear niggas open up for us all the time, but you know, I’m prepping my show. But them niggas was crazy, so I had to check them out.

After they had got off stage and shit, they were all “Yo, Fredro. You a legend…” we put one in the air and vibed out. Once we vibed out, we just had that connection. They just reminded me of a young Onyx… the way they had their energy. Young dudes are bodying shit. I’m talking festivals. These niggas are rocking 10-20 thousand people. Not just no little 100 people at the club, but I ain’t ever heard of em. But once we connected, we just kept in contact, and they were coming out with an album, and they wanted us to get on a song called “Panic Room.” I told Sticky about them, and we did the joint. After that, we had our album coming out, so we were like “Let’s get them, kids, them Dope D.O.D. niggas for this shit.”

So they got on the “Wakedafucup” song, which is the single for the album. The album was “Wakedafucup,” and so was the single. After that, we saw the fans was loving it. Every time we did it at a show, it was a classic already. Niggas know that shit like the “Slam” lyrics. I’m like “damn, this is crazy. I mean, the song just came out. We did Hip-Hop camp. 50 thousand people and everybody saying the shit. We did Out for Fame in Germany, everybody saying it… 20,00 people and everybody is saying it. Dope D.O.D is dope for what we dope for, which is bodying shit on stage. We were like “yo, let’s do a whole album” so we started it and finished it. It was just a mutual respect between us.

Before the initial collaboration, were you familiar with Grime? If so, what were some of the things that attracted you to the sound? Was it always something you wanted to incorporate into your music?

Yo, them niggas told me it’s Grime music, but it sounds like some trap shit to me. I mean, it got the trap snare. They were saying Onyx was Grime. I have been out to London before, and I heard the grime shit, but it ain’t sound like that when I heard it. When I heard Grime, it was like the drums were sped up or something. So when I heard they shit, I was like “Y’all shit is crazy. Imma call it death trap.” I named their music death trap cuz it has that trap bounce, but the shit is dark… like somebody died. But yea, I heard of Grim when I first went to London. Rest in Peace to all those who died in that tragedy that just happened over there. But when I first heard it, I was like “yeah, this shit is wild.” Boom-bap got that kick and the snare. But ya know, the grime, how they produce it — it got that 808 and that snare that everybody’s used to. For this album, I was like “Ima let Y’all (Dope D.O.D) pick the beats. We are gon’ ride y’all wave with the beats.” So, they sent us a bunch of beats, we picked em out, and we just rocked. We rocked on their wave.

Now, I will admit that this question comes from a limited perspective since I’ve never been out of the United States. However, it seems that there is a greater appreciation ambitiously creative music. Do you care to speak on that as artists that defy the mainstream standards set by American music?

I mean I feel it’s vice versa. BMW and Benz are made in Germany, but everybody in America ant them. “I wanna ride foreign; I wanna ride foreign.” It’s the same thing over there. When you overseas, they want things from America. From fashion to music, to live shows… they wanna feel like they’re from America. They wanna be a part of it, cuz it’s not accessible to them. They want the foreign.That’s American music will always translate overseas and vice versa. You got a lot of overseas artists over here. You got guys from Russia, Germany over here. You just gotta know where to find the music. We have been rocking overseas for the last ten years and it’s all love. Everytime we get there it’s love. Everytime we get there; it’s like we back in the 90s.

I mean, you got people in the United States who appreciate good Hip-Hop. We performed in Vegas at the “Art of Rap” on the 17th with Ice-T, Ghostface, Raekwon, and a couple of other people. The appreciation is there, but America is just spoiled. In a sense, they listen to the radio like that’s what’s popping. Like, every artist I just named is not on the radio. In the 90s we were. You still got people who wanna see the show, but it’s saturated on the radio. It is brainwashing people. It is songs that I can’t even stand… I listen to the radio like “hey, I kinda like this song” cuz that’s what the radio does. But that’s any situation. We came out “Slam” was brainwashing to muthafuckas. People probably didn’t like it, but we got so much play on the radio and MTV, you get forced to like it. That’s what people don’t understand it; we get brainwashed by everything we see and hear. Hip-Hop right now starts on the street, and it starts at a young age.

Ain’t no 30, 40-year-olds setting the culture. It’s getting set off by young niggas 17, 18 years old. When we came in the game, we were 19-20. We established the tone for what was gonna happen for the next five years. So it’s always been young Hip-Hop, always been a young game. So, you gotta respect it: how they dress, how they talk. It’s all keeping Hip-hop afloat from a young perspective. But we always stay true to our roots because we got a fanbase that appreciates that, so we always know that. I know some people… it’s some rappers, 40 years old… who came up with me that never really popped off. They tryna do the trap shit; they tryna sound like Drake because they don’t know what’s over there across the pond. They don’t know. They don’t know it’s a scene for that, so they tryna keep up with the young niggas. Y’all niggas are 30, 40 years old, man … chill the fuck out.

Why ShotGunz In Hell? How did you decide the title?

Tell you the truth, I came up with the title, and I don’t even know (laughs). I remember he Nas line “shotguns in hell” he was talking about the weed perspective of it when you give somebody a shotgun or whatever. But.. I don’t know, it kinda just stuck in my head. I was like “let’s name our album that.” We tried coming up with titles afterward, but Shotgunz in Hell was just too ill.
At first, it was like” Oh, let’s try to get something without guns in the title, something radio friendly…” but it was like fuck that, we going with Shotgunz in Hell as the title. That was the whole vibe from the start.

There’s a stigma that emcee and fans that came up during the 90’s golden era tend to be a bit too nostalgic and stuck in their ways to enjoy music currently. Onyx, once again as legends, you could have just followed a formula for previous success. What made you want to expand your horizons are helping create a more experimental sound?

I mean, it wasn’t experimental cuz Dope D.O.D. been rocking. It’s proven. It isn’t an experiment when it’s proven. Them niggas on tour right now, shit… they do more shows than us. So, it wasn’t really an experiment, I knew that whatever beats we were rocking… we were gonna be able to rock the shows. That’s the basis for when I create music. I make music for stadiums and shit. I make music for a lot of people to listen to. So it wasn’t really an experiment cuz we let them rock with the production side of it. But they beats were already rocking shit. If they didn’t, and we were rocking with somebody who wasn’t already out there, a newcomer… then that would be an experiment. We knew these niggas already rocked shows, so it wasn’t really hard to let them grab the steering wheel as far as the sound

There is a balance between a more traditional Hip-Hop sound and experimental side. Is that something that you’re actively conscious of while creating the music? Were there ever any moments when you thought “hey, we may be going a little too left the field with this?” If so, how did you settle that uncertainty?

Yea, there was always moments of “I don’t like this, let’s redo that” it’s four heads rocking. Four emcees on one album and everybody got their perspectives. But we listened to them, and they listened to us. It was easy working with them. A couple of studio sessions were organic, where we all were there when it first started, so we got a feel for each other for a week. After that is was like “send your vocals, I’ll see you on tour or pop up at a show…” It took like a year to get it done cuz we were far apart. We let them mix it; we let them do what they do cuz we just wanted to run. We just wanted it to pop off cuz Sticky (Fingers) is a perfectionist. He got so much music stored on his computer, but nobody hears it. So, I was like “let’s let them do the mixing, ” and it was a good decision.

You guys have been around throughout the various trade-offs in Hip-Hop. From gangsta, to glitzy and back again, multiple times. There has been a serious absence of aggressive Hip-Hop in the mainstream as of late. Do you care to speak on why you feel that is? How do you, as a legendarily aggressive Hip-Hop group, adapt to the times? What do you think will need to happen before aggressive Hip-Hop regains the dominance it once had?

I mean, everything changes and everything evolves… it is what it is. There’s been some aggressive Hip-Hop. These niggas in the trap are talking about shooting shit up and selling crack in every record, but the delivery is not aggressive the way Busta Rhymes did it, or MOP, Onyx, Wu-Tang … naw it’s not a lot of that no more. Everybody got soft as far as the delivery, man. It’s not too many people that’s screaming… getting that anger and aggression out. It’s a few… I ain’t gon say no names, but it’s a few, and I like that shit. It gotta start from the youngsters; There’s this kid named TJ, I don’t his last name. I think he’s on a show, too. He got a video called “New Kids on The Block.” I reached out to the kid on Facebook, we never solidified anything, but I respect what he does cuz it reminds me of a young Onyx. The kid Astro from Brooklyn, there are some youngsters with the flow that got the 90s shit poppin. They just gotta keep going. Joey Bada$$, that’s another kid repping for the nostalgic era, you just gotta know where to find it.

What’s next for Onyx and Dope D.O.D.?

We doing a tour, we’re going to Russia. We’re going to do the whole album in its entirety. We’re going to record a live version of it that will be ready for Christmas. As far as Onyx, we’re finishing the script for the first Biopic. It revolves around the first album, Backdafuccup era. We are shooting a documentary because next year is the 25th anniversary of the Backdafuccup album. We’re gearing up for next year. We are doing the Hundred Mad which is the umbrella for all my brothers, my family. It should be ready in a few months, we working on it now, so be on the lookout for that as well.

Malachi Jones hails from your deep subconscious fear of an educated Black man... and Mobile, Alabama. I love hip-hop, hence why I write about it.
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#Interview Mark Spratley AKA @SpratFool Is Proving You Don’t Need Clout Tokens To Solidify A Musical Empire

Mark Spratley is a name in the industry you certainly should get acquainted with. A master of many, creating an…

Mark Spratley is a name in the industry you certainly should get acquainted with. A master of many, creating an entity in so many different lanes within the industry from management, PR, writing, events, curation and much more. Within 5 years of the industry, Sprat has accomplished what takes many 20-30 years. The young 27 year old mogul is creating an empire before our eyes and it only seems to be getting more and more impressive. Why wouldn’t it?! From helping to bring artists such as Lud Foe, DDG, DaBaby, Smooky Margielaa, Albee Al, Sicko Mobb, Nikko Lafre and many more to the limelight, his resume is vast.

Take a look at our most recent interview with the Starting Five CEO as we discuss music, how to get in the industry, his journey and much more.

Make sure to follow Sprat on Twitter and IG @SpratFool

You’ve been in the music industry for only 5 years and have already created something massive. How did you do it and what is planned for the future?

Countless hours, grind, plotting and studying. I’ve learned and LVL’d UP. That’s it. I knew if I put in the work I would find a way. I go 3000% for what ever I do or whoever I work with. Some people make the same moves and expect things to change. Some people aren’t willing to starve in order to binge forever. I’m out here mastering and succeeding at whatever I do. I make sure of it. I’ve got an insane ear for music, that’s been known. That’s why some of your favorite A&R’s would be asking me to pull up to their office on the regular.

I’m here to takeover though. I’m going to continue to put people into position and continue my brand. The empire is forming, the foundation has been laid and built.

We recently saw in another interview that you have a new platform on the way? Whats the details on that? (If you can give us any)

NEW DAY, NEW WAVE (LITERALLY). Zias (Popular youtube star &influencer) and myself are partnering up on a new media outlet x platform for something special. We’re about to surpass the field quick. Two powerful influencers, we already got the traffic between the both of us, both widely connected. Run it up!

Bunch of content on the way from the both of us

If you could tell someone looking to get into the industry one piece of advice, what would it be?

GRIND SMART. Bring something to the table. Your passion and time can go a long way. Learn. Be willing to do what the next man is not.

You know how much free time and work I gave out to get to where I am now?! Now my time costs. Money isn’t everything in the beginning, work for your opportunity. People worried about $20-$5000 (Short term money) when sometimes you just need to see the bigger picture.

You wouldn’t want everyone to bring ketchup to the BBQ, you need someone to bring the bun, the burger, the juice, the drink and everything else. You feel me?! Same goes for the industry or any job you do in life. Bring something different to the table and create a demand for it. That’s when you create stock for yourself (You create worth).

What were you doing before becoming a music mogul?

I was doing the school thing before I decided to leave for music full time. I was making money however I needed to.

What new artists do you have your eye on?

NEW SIGNINGS on the way. I’m getting back in my artist bag 3000%. Look out for all of that. I got to hold my list down for the time being.

How did you get into PR?

Fresh Moss and Neako had me on a lot of PR type of moves early. I always studied and noticed was was going on in the game. Got tired of hitting up a lot of these foolish and corny “Bloggers” and people that were out and around at the time that felt entitled. A lot of them aren’t even around anymore haha. Many didn’t want to see someone else moving faster or really making something out of all this. I decided to take everything into my own hands. From then on I turned this PR wave into something masterful. Countless artists have popped off since through my PR, their ability and me connecting these dots on the daily.

Top 5 modern artists most likely in your daily music mix?

It all depends on the day and mood

Lately… DaBaby, pre kai ro, Lil Baby, YNW Melly, Stunna 4 Vegas & DaiDough. I’ve been bumping FBG Duck heavily as of late, bro got energy.

A few artists are rising up out of New Jersey that you’ve been alerting us about for over a year or 2. From Daidough to Coi Leray and many more. New Jersey has some talent for sure, how do you think your state will hold up in 2019?

New Jersey is UP right now and it’s only going to get crazier. A lot of artists doing their thing. Daidough got home and been going stupid. Coi Leray has been spazzin since G.A.N.

Albee Al doing him as always, Tsu Surf home and just dropped a fire project, Arsonal on damn TV, Fatboy SSE is outta here and in his own lane, Mir Fontane been putting in work. Jersey got a wide variety of sounds, every city/town is different, North and South Jersey completely different.

Beyond the artists there are so many talented people coming up out of NJ and doing their thing in this music industry or elsewhere. It’s great to see people winning from your home state.

We remember you going crazy at SXSW with Smooky Margielaa a few years back when he was only an artist with a 10k following, how did you all meet?

Shitt my man Mike had told me I had to bump something while we was in LA. The track happened to be ‘Layed up’, heard it and it was a wrap for me. His mans was GRAPE, we was all in LA, so we all linked up at the apartment, vibed and got to work immediately. Started putting in that push, went to SXSW and went full force after SXSW. Glad to see Smooky up right now.

We dove into your Twitter and did a little google search on you while doing some more research. We saw you got into it a little with Akademiks online last year? LOL, tell us more?

LMAO! If you did some research like you said I’m sure you know what was said. Jersey people certainly don’t tolerate bullshit. I called BS on something he spoke on. Jersey got behind it. That’s it.

What ever happened to Nikko Lafre?

Man I can’t speak on another man that’s not with me. We definitely had something crazy growing, that’s where I’m going to leave it.

Drew Love out here winning though with THEY, Lee Beats out here winning, Johnny Rain out here still doing his thing up.

#Interview Mark Spratley AKA @SpratFool Is Proving You Don't Need Clout Tokens To Solidify A Musical Empire

Thoughts on R Kelly latest situation and documentary?

SHEESH! I don’t want to believe it but it’s their right before our eyes. It’s a shame because his music and voice is absolutely legendary. I feel as though 60 Minutes would have been a more credible platform to present this problem to the world instead of a Lifetime documentary. I’d like to hear R Kelly voice his defense for sure but regardless his actions are sickening. We’ll see how it taints his legacy, it is 2019 so who knows.

2019 plans?


#Interview Mark Spratley AKA @SpratFool Is Proving You Don't Need Clout Tokens To Solidify A Musical Empire #Interview Mark Spratley AKA @SpratFool Is Proving You Don't Need Clout Tokens To Solidify A Musical Empire

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James Seville’s Jamesville Is An Honest Slice Of Alt-Hip-Hop Vibes

Having first got onto New Orleans-born artist James Seville after he dropped his first release via streaming networks, Beta, he’s…

Having first got onto New Orleans-born artist James Seville after he dropped his first release via streaming networks, Beta, he’s been an exciting artist to watch grow. The initial taste of his sound provided a diverse base of alternative Hip Hop potential, and as he’s grown, the music has only become more personal, and — whether intentional or not — refined. His first official release, which comes after a string of one-off singles (which we were here for), Jamesville is an exciting blend of vibes that perfectly encapsulate the new waves blurred lines between bar-centric traditionalism and melody-driven bops.

“I open up a lot and talk about things that have helped me grow throughout the years…losing my dad, dropping out of school, falling in love, falling out of love, drinking, drugs [etc.],” James told N.O.-based Off Beat Magazine this past summer. “I like to make music that is genuinely good, and that people of all ages can enjoy. Rap music that you and your mom can bump together.”

It’s this universality and approachability that makes this latest body of work so enjoyable. With his late father being a blues musician, and having grown up engulphed in the iconically jazzy sound of “N’Awlins,” James music has this unique approach. It’s a melting pot of vibes, brimming with emotion — yet acutely aware of its contemporary appeal. This can be seen by contrasting the infectious groove of “The Kids Will Be Fine” with the sure-shot hit-appeal of “Send2Me” — which will be seeing a visual treatment this month — and “Margarita” featuring Shvkiel.
The project kicks off with a playful vibe, with “Career Day” — complete with a skit that put us in mind (spiritually) of Kanye’s critically acclaimed debut, College Dropout. The tongue-n-cheek- theme of fuck school take your own path isn’t religiously adhered to (at least in a straight forward sense), but does carry over in the second song, “School Spirit,” which features Ayomari (an artist we’ve had on our radar for a while now).

“I am inspired by a lot of older New Orleans musicians,” he told DNO magazine in an interview. “My mom always took me out of school and brought me to Jazz Fest ever since I can remember … I met Allen Toussaint when I was nine-years-old.”

This impending sense of making his dreams a priority is felt on the album, as is this gloss of smokey grooves that make it immediately likable. With James recently revealing that he is becoming a father this August, there is feeling that things go in full-circle. Jamesville is an encapsulation of his road up to this point; an excellent opportunity to orient yourself for what he has coming next. “I haven’t stopped smiling since Jamesville came out,” James admitted via Instagram. “I hope y’all are enjoying it.”

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Madwiz Chats Career Goals & Creative Inspirations: ”One Of My Fave Rappers Is Kool Keith”

When artists say their inspirations include names like Eminem, Biggie, Tupac, or “all the greats,” but their music doesn’t represent…

When artists say their inspirations include names like Eminem, Biggie, Tupac, or “all the greats,” but their music doesn’t represent it at all, it simply comes off as pandering — to us anyways. It’s natural to be a fan of the greats, but we often find ourselves drawn to artists who not only like to explore a bevy of genres but timelessly seek out and draw inspiration from artists that other rappers may not. That’s one thing that drew us to Brooklyn MC Madwiz.

We’re admittedly late to the party, but his latest LP 718-MAD-WIZ is an absolute masterpiece that we’ve been bumping since discovery, and it’s not getting old. It’s this cool eclectic patchwork of samples and vibes; we decided to reach out and learn a little more about his sound — and career trajectory.

“I’ll put it plain and simple for you: I want to be the greatest rapper that ever lived,” he tells AAHH bluntly. The self proclaimed “new sound of Brooklyn” hails the Ohio Players and his favorite band, and Prince as his favorite artist. His biggest inspiration (as far as career direction)? Marvin Gaye.

One time I got in trouble with my pops and he took away my ‘new music privileges’ and I had to start listening to hip hop from scratch,” he explained (low-key making his father sound like the coolest guy ever. “[I listened] from the beginning: Cold Crush, Egyptian Lover, Soul Sonic Force, Newcleus … ’Jam On It’ is still my shit. I had to study until I caught up!”

With such an eclectic array of sounds molding his own, the final layer can be attributed to one of Hip Hop’s most unique figures, the ”Ultramagnetic MC” himself, Kool Keith.

“One of my favorite rappers is Kool Keith. Whoever knows him recognizes he can say the most outlandish shit at times, but I’ll be damned if he ain’t telling the truth when he does,” he notes. “I took pages out of that book and added it to my style … and boom — Madwiz.

“It’s raunchy, it’s sexy, it’s poetic, it’s gangsta, it’s love.”

Having opened for names like Kendrick Lamar and A$AP Ferg, he has more than a few milestones under his belt, but says his biggest career moments are often the result of leveling up. “My biggest accomplishments are whenever I level up creatively… it shows in the reaction when I put shit out.”

This latest album, though, is something he considers to reside amongst his brightest accomplishments. “I evolved significantly from my last joint and the ones before it,” he says proudly. “I thought I was better than lots of these ”MCs” before, but once I saw that come together the way it did … I don’t even doubt. I’m humble though, I’ll talk more shit when I get through the door. Job not done [*Kobe voice.*]”

As he continues the rollout for the project, telling AAHH he has videos planned for every track (we’re looking forward to a visual for “2” featuring Radamiz, btw), Madwiz hopes this music will ultimately resonate amongst the majority of listeners.

“I want the world to agree on something for once … I’m making it so that one thing is the Madwiz discography and whatever it brings,”
he says. “I’m just creating as I go through shit, but above all, I want what everybody else wants. Peace of mind. Let’s find that.”

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#Interview: Kaash Paige Talks New Video “Love Songs”

“This song could potentially change my life,” she says.

18-year-old Texas singer Kaash Paige has been popping up on our feed — and playlists — as of late with her infectiously mellow vibes that we, quite frankly, can’t get enough of. After teasing a visual for her new single titled “Love Songs” for the last month or so, she finally releases it yesterday (February 14), with a trippy treatment sure to get you hooked.

“It’s about being infatuated with someone who wants nothing to do with you,” she tells AAHH of the single. “It’s like being stuck on stupid that four letter word, love. “I feel like the catchy hook caught everyone’s ears [thus far] and this song can potentially change my life.

“The visual is the icing on the cake; my friend Matthew and I directed it,” she continues. Basically, it’s me reminiscing on every little thing I used to do with my significant other.”

As Kaash explains, she doesn’t plan on slowing the momentum at all, and if you’re a fan of the vibe, she’s about to get even more mellow.

“I’ve gotten more into acoustics and neo-soul,” she notes, ”so keep rocking with me for the groove.”

Check out Kaash Paige’s “Love Songs,” below.

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RIP Prodigy

Another one! [*Dj Khaled voice] Today Hip Hop lost a real soldier of the game, Albert Johnson -- better known...