Editorial, Features, Main, Reviews

Special’s Top 5 of 2014: #3 J.Cole

J.Cole is kind of a polarizing artist – and for what reason I don’t know. You love him or you…

J.Cole is kind of a polarizing artist – and for what reason I don’t know. You love him or you don’t listen to him (I refuse to categorize that as hate). I admit, I slept on him for a while before delving in (pause). For those who are a fan of the young king – his latest 2014 Forest Hill Drive is a personal, poignent example of good hip-hop. Over 13 tracks, Cole eloquently rocks his heart on his sleeve and struts over subject matter that ranges from first (and various) sexual experiences to issues of race and self-worth.

The album is largely produced by Cole himself, with some exceptions – ’03 Adolesence, Tale of 2 Cities and Love Truly were produced by Willie B., Vinylz and !llmind/Cardiak respectively. The other exceptions have Cole “co-producing”, so he is extremely hands on (and it shows). From blasting white rappers on the banging Fire Squad, chasing dreams on the Mobb Deep sampled St. Tropez or flexing hindsight and regret on Apparently, Cole shows a lot of himself on this record – and his honesty is paying off.

The album has thus far been extremely well received by fans around the world, and with good reason. Cole is just a good dude. Whether he’s buying his mother’s foreclosed home (his childhood home), or visiting fans to personally play them his new record, Cole just seems like a good person – and it isn’t unnoticed by his core audience, who are propelling this latest project up the charts.

It’s available everywhere now – A MUST LISTEN!


Note: This top 5 is solely that of Riley “Special” Wallace and doesn’t explicitly reflect the view of all aboveaveragehiphop.com’s staff and writers.

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
#IndieSpotlight, interview, Interviews, Main

#IndieSpotlight: Reíne Imoan Sets The Tone With Her Soulful Debut “Soul Sista”

Long Island, New York, singer Reíne Imoan is about to make a splash in 2019 with her debut VWR. Her…

Long Island, New York, singer Reíne Imoan is about to make a splash in 2019 with her debut VWR. Her first official single “Soul Sista” produced by Shepard X is out now — and as Imoan recounts to AAHH, the track was fun to create. “It was made off of groove and straight vibes … brings me back to the late 90’s early 2000’s, which was one of my fave eras of music.

“I remember Shepard X introducing the beat to me with the concept and instantly I started bopping and knew I had to have it,” she continues.

She has always been involved in music — and it all started with her father, who used to play his vast music collection constantly. “From Roots Reggae to R&B soul every Sunday dinner,” she recalls with a smile.

“I remember singing the first verse I ever wrote to my friends and they hyped me so much,” she says. That push made me want to keep going and see what else I can do. I searched on youtube for beats and just kept writing. I felt it in my heart that this is what I’d be doing for sure.”

All roads have led to her upcoming project, but she’s not rushing anything. “I want to take my time with this one and give people something they can relate and bump to,” she says adding that the collaborations lined up are worth waiting for. I used to rush things because I saw other people putting stuff out … I was just so eager to get out there. But I had to center myself and say Fuck that, take your time and don’t let others make you feel like you have to rush anything. Quality over quantity, always.”

Ultimately, she’s crafting a first impression that she hopes will be great. “I’m working every day and practicing my craft to be one of the best entertainers in the industry. I plan on writing songs for other singers and artist in the industry, along with working with them on projects,” she says, describing her long-term objectives.

“After I drop my EP, I’m going to keep creating and see where the universe lands me. I plan on doing lots of performances this year and putting myself out there. Later in my career, I plan on dabbling into acting — another art that I’ve always enjoyed. When God gives you a talent, I believe you have to share it with the world.”

Check out her debut single, “Soul Sista,” below.

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Reviews, unsigned hype

“Play To Win” Is A Celebration Of Getting Over And Going For The W

A new EP that landed on our desk this week is Play To Win by Dre Steelo. Hailing from Michigan,…

A new EP that landed on our desk this week is Play To Win by Dre Steelo. Hailing from Michigan, Dre dives head first into a sea of familiar soundscapes but manages to distinguish himself sticking to not only a decree of keeping it real with those that matter most but also an endearing level motivation to rise above, layered over a humble base of blessings that he is more than aware of.

Sitting at 6 tracks, the album’s production is tightly curated, keeping the vibe consistent — but varied enough so that there isn’t time to get bored at all. The project starts off strong with the salute to his team “Don’t Matter” produced by Aham — who produced “I Can Tell” from his 2018 effort Over Tha Top. Here he drops introspective gems like he doesn’t have friends — but rather brothers — and a reminder that he’s from the (bottom) bottom. He follows up with the determination anthem, “Win.”

“I Know,” with its hard drums and dope muffled looped up sample has a more reflective aesthetic about it, as he gives everything he overcame before putting it all into the bars. “Let em knwo you human,” he says on the chorus, referencing the track’s slightly more personal touch.

The album project ends off with the massive “Miracles,” which caps off what stands as a strong collection of tracks to add to his already impressive catalog. Winning by adding personality and unique perspective to an already surfable wave, he manages to command attention without fading into the baseline. He has come a long way, and in many ways, Play To Win is a reflection of that, as he sorts out trust issues, comes to terms with truths, and does his best to get where he wants to ultimately be.

Check out Dre Steelo’s Play To Win, below.

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Featured, Main

Last ‘On The Cusp’ Playlist Of 2018

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 EverythigOShaun.

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#IndieSpotlight, Main

#IndieSpotlight: Dylan 333 Is Breaking The Mold

Some follow the obvious that optically appears to be the most comfortable; North Carolina native Dylan 333 is breaking the…

Some follow the obvious that optically appears to be the most comfortable; North Carolina native Dylan 333 is breaking the mould. With only a month having elapsed since he first decided to try his hand at a career in music, he managed to amass some admirable number and gain the attention of one of the SoundCloud generation’s most notorious influencers, Adam22.

“The first week of my second song release — ‘Drum Talk’ — I caught the attention of Adam22 [nojumper] and was posted on his live stream,” he tells AAHH. “He reposted my song on Soundcloud and that instantly gave me the boost I needed.”

https://www.instagram.com/p/BryY1HZDPqc/?utm_source=ig_web_button_share_sheet

The attention earned him an invite to freestyle on the famed Most Wanted Radio on North Carolina’s 72.9. “[That appearance] gave me a local/regional platform in my city to build on,” he says. His first 30 days in the game saw him earn 50,000+ (organic) plays, 5,000+ likes and features on Funkmaster Flex’s Facebook and Tokyo Tonis Instagram — and even a like by JuiceWrld which is akin to proof of attention.

“I also have struck a distribution deal with AWAL where I can get my music out to performance centers and all major platforms,” he adds proudly. All quite impressive for a young upstart with four songs to his credit — all of which he produced and recorded independently in his bedroom. There is also a lot of foresight on his part, as he’s launched his own imprint, 333 Records, which is the primary owner/publisher of his music.

Born on the island of Jamaica, and later relocating to North Carolina, Dylan describes his sound as a mixture of dancehall and American rap. “[That blend] makes me sound extremely different from other artists,” he says proudly. “I started off as a producer so when it came to the point of me creating (my own) music I could produce myself without any help.

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With the recent success energizing his grind, he reveals to AAHH that he is currently working on his debut album, which he plans to release in 2019 — though he has no set date.

“My goal is to come into the game and actually change it,” he says humbly. “I want to inspire people to try out different things instead of investing all their money into education.”

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Special’s Top 5 of 2014: #4 Ghostface Killah

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