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Fighter Spirit: Steph Dash Nash Battles Terminal Illness While Crafting A Classic

I’ve spoken about this in the past, but as a recognized journalist, I get lots of email and attention from…

I’ve spoken about this in the past, but as a recognized journalist, I get lots of email and attention from artists looking to have some pen game dedicated to their craft. In this daily wave things don’t always stick out to me; It’s impossible for me to listen to everything and respond to everyone, respectfully.

Sometimes, though, you just get a feeling.

That’s what happened when I got a message on Twitter from Steph Dash Nash, a mother, Hip Hop journalist, clothing designer and producer who happened live in my city. She politely asked if she could send me her project, True Grit, which she produced alongside Big Sproxx, a Toronto producer who I knew from his work with the Toronto collective Freedom Writers.

She sent it over, and I was floored by the guest list that included verses from the likes of Masta Ace, Planet Asia, M.O.P., D.I.T.C. Alumnus O.C., Havoc from Mobb Deep, Ras Kass, and even the late Sean Price among a host of others. In fact, there are two verses from Sean on here, so fans should hop all over it.

I was immediately intrigued as to how she was able to amass such a respectable list of artists and decided to sit and chat with Steph. Her story, though, was much more profound than I could have imagined and gives a whole new dimension to the project, which I’m comfortable referring to as a pretty timeless collection of fantastic music from some of the artists I grew up idolizing.

“I’ve always been a lover of music—particularly hip-hop,” Steph tells AAHH. “I grew up in the projects in Toronto after my biological father was killed in a car accident. My family lost everything and had to start over again. And that’s where I grew up like I found the community embraced me … I would just listen to hip-hop all the time.”

Her relationship with producer Big Sproxx began to show her the ropes in the studio, and her production chops began to develop organically. “It just snowballed from there,” she says.
She got heavily involved in the podcasting game after various guest appearances. “People were surprised; people were like ‘wow, this girl knows they’re a hip-hop.’ From there I started,” she says. She began doing interviews on her platform, Supreme Ultra Radio.

“I just wanted to keep the culture alive.” —Steph Dash Nash

“My first interview was with Pete Rock,” she says, “I was nervous as hell, but it came out well. Then I did one with Diamond D; I did one with General Steele, Ken Starr … a lot of underground artists. I made a lot of the connections—it’s (largely) how I was able to be able to bring the artists together for this album.”

 
Three years ago, she was awarded an Ontario Arts Council grant to help complete album, which she had begun working on it back in 2014, with the hope of releasing it in 2015. However, that timeline didn’t pan out as But that didn’t pan out as she was diagnosed with Glioblastoma, which is the most aggressive form of cancer that affects the brain initially.

“It’s the same cancer that Gord Downie just passed away from,” she says. “It’s also the same cancer that Senator Edward Kennedy passed away from — and the one that Senator John McCain is battling right now as well.”

“I had to hold back a little bit, but I was determined,” she continues. “I was more than halfway complete the album before I was diagnosed. So I had to put it on hold … they only gave me anywhere from six to nine months. But I’m going into my eighteen months now. I’m quite the fighter.”

In recent months, Steph has become an outspoken advocate for Glioblastoma, which is not only the most aggressive, but most underfunded form of cancer. From speaking live to writing multiple letters to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, she’s highlighting the need for allocated funds for research that could save lives of others — like herself — receiving the grim diagnosis.

“It’s [almost] like they feel because the mortality rate is so grim — that you’re going to pass anyway — that they don’t need to expand the necessary resources,” she explains.

“I was [recently] invited out to San Francisco; there are two surgeons that I befriended over the last couple years,” she says. “They’re husband and wife team … they’ve been working on a cure since they were nineteen. They’re not the only ones. There are very brilliant doctors working on this cure.”

“They’re trying to get me into a trial out there,” she continues, “because out here there is no funding.”

With every reason to feel broken, Steph remains a beacon of hope and courage. Though difficult, she pushed to complete True Grit, which served as a motivational factor to help her move forward — as Hip Hop had often done throughout her life.

“I just pushed it out and I mean I wanted to do more,” she says, “I wanted to have some more songs on it, but I had to be wise as well because I don’t know how much time I have — even though I’m very positive. I have to be realistic too, right?”

One of True Grits’ songs was a catalyst for Steph’s fighting spirit, “Strange Fruit” by O.C. — a one-time fav rapper who became a close friend. “Genetics passed down had that domino effect, but I refuse to accept…push to break the cycle even if it takes my life — or a lifetime to rewrite the rules,” he raps over the head nodding boom-bap sample.

“This song has assisted me with fighting this monster that invaded my brain. I guess you could call it my ‘Rocky Anthem’ to continue fighting,” she told writer Mike Cook of Hype Fresh Mag back in September.

Listen to True Grit here, and be sure to follow Steph’s journey on Twitter and Medium.

 

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
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Sol Patches’ Album Serves As A ‘Love Letter’ To The Trans Community

Last year on Giving Tuesday (November 27),  New York-based, Chicago-born-and-raised multi-disciplined artist Sol Patches launched GoFundMe campaign to assist with…

Last year on Giving Tuesday (November 27),  New York-based, Chicago-born-and-raised multi-disciplined artist Sol Patches launched GoFundMe campaign to assist with the costs of gender-affirming medical processes.

“Bearing markers of both gender non-conformance and black racialization, my being is constantly under scrutiny,” she wrote about about the campaign. “With increasing anti-trans policy pressure from the state, not to mention the mind-boggling violence endured by black trans women daily, urgency is ingrained into my survival.”

Sol Patches is seeking $10,000 for medical costs, of which she’s raised more than $8,800 in the first two months of the campaign.

“I am endlessly thankful for my chosen family of siblings, mentors and loved ones for supporting me in my transition up until now, and I’m deeply grateful for every contribution,” she wrote.

In early 2018, she released her second full length project, titled Garden City, which she described as “a love letter written in music for trans people, we who dream and live to unlearn-creating in a field that denies our very existence.”

Garden City could call to mind The Garden State, New Jersey, but Sol explained the album title refers to many different things.

“One of those is the idea of a garden city first made its way to the books, in Europe when folks were trying to create utopias – the Utopian Movement,” she said. “One of the cities was supposed to be about gardens and having a city. So like, having the intersections of farming and plants and all that stuff with a city aspect. But eventually it was corrupted. A lot of rich people saw value and profit to be made, and it ultimately crumbled. So it’s definitely inspired in that tradition.”

 

Sol Patches also said the Garden City title has a Chicago connection, as the city’s seal includes the Latin phrase “Urbs in Horto,” or “City in a Garden.”

“I was also working with this brilliant poet and singer and creator (Chaski), and we were talking about the abandoned lots in Chicago and talking about how those deeply have affected us,” Sol explained. “It’s always been so inspiring when I think about growing up on the South Side and the West Side, and there not being many well-put-together playgrounds… And how folks made these lots a place of many happenings. And so that at its core is what inspired the LP.”

Garden City was released in early 2018, nearly two years after Sol Patches’ previous full-length As 2 Water Hurricanes, which boosted her profile in the Chicago music scene – particularly within the DIY community – landing her features in the Chicago Reader and South Side Weekly.

“As 2 Water Hurricanes was first ever project that I released, and I wrote it at a time where there were so many protests and calls-to-action in Chicago,” she said. “I was also involved in those actions and organizing those. And at the same time I was young as hell – I’m still young as hell – and it was written from the perspective of a genderqueer kid, who doesn’t know if they’re gonna make it past 18. And Garden City is more so like the aftermath. And how do I not die for my people, how do I live for the various people, who’ve given all they can to help support me. Like, how do I live for them? So that’s the tone I think, that shows the difference.”

 

Sol said during the time leading up to Garden City, she improved on their technical abilities as a producer and sound engineer. She produced most of the record, with additional production from her sibling Eiigo Groove, as well as Chaski (who also executive produced the album), Eve Carlstrom and Little Bear. The record also features collaborations with artists such as Rich Jones, Plus Sign, Ano Ba, Sasha No Disco and Mykele Deville.

Garden City wasn’t the only release Patches delivered in 2018. In late May, she quietly put out a more experimental project, titled Blue Transitions.

Blue Transitions, even more so than her previous work, is a freeform expression of art and identity. Sol Patches is working on re-releasing that project, which is expected to be released on most streaming platforms, including Spotify and Apple Music.

Lead photo by: Chaski

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#IndieSpotlight: Tre Cartel’s Collaborative EP With CashMoney AP Is A Moment For The ATL MC

ATL MC Tre Cartel is someone who we’ve championed quite a bit in the past, which it’s exciting to finally…

ATL MC Tre Cartel is someone who we’ve championed quite a bit in the past, which it’s exciting to finally get his three-song EP Obtain This Grain — as it feels like a moment for him. Produced entirely by CashMoney AP — a platinum-selling beatsmith whose crafted hits for the likes of Lil Wayne, YoungBoy Never Broke Again, Ski Mask The Slump God, Tory Lanez, Dave East, Jay Critch, and MANY more — the offering is concise but poignant.

 
It kicks off with “That Guy,” which is a dollar-sign tinged profession of why he’s that catch that “she” has been looking for — featuring a guest verse from YFA King, who smashes the melodic flow. “Knock Your Hustle” is another song aimed at a female, quite cohesively playing off the thematic elements of the first track.

The special sauce though is the absolute banger “Formula,” in which he notes “I think I found out the formula,” adding that he’s just warming up. His evolved Migo-esque flow with his cadence and the gorgeous flute in the bridge of the record make this song almost ironic in it’s prophetic in its overall message.

At three songs, it’s an appetizer at best; yet Tre Cartel appears to have hit his stride over this batch of insanely fire beats supplied by CashMoney. While we may see him open up a little more below the surface when we’re blessed with a larger body of work to digest, Obtain This Grain has a hearty helping of replay value worth adding to your playlist if you’re in search of the next-big-thing to pop from the hotbed that is Atlanta.

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Jeff Kush – “Whiplash”

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Combat Jack: A Legacy Of Journalistic Excellence

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