#IndieSpotlight

The Journey: Jersey Rapper Maxi Maxx Stays On The Grind

Maxi chats Meek Mill, industry politics, and more.

If one were to ask “who is the most played artist in Jersey via SoundCloud,” there’s a good chance Maxi Maxx May not be the first name to pop in your head — even though he ranks second in the state only to Fetty Wap with 50 million plays. The Jersey rapper has been in the game for just over seven years, working with some incredible notable acts along the way, like the recently released Meek Mill. So why hasn’t the young upstart ascended to the next level? He’s on his way.

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Currently, he’s connected with Interscope — strictly as a host for distribution of his music — but Maxx is hopeful the relationship could blossom further as he preps his full 2018 LP. Today, though, he’s reveling in positive feedback from his latest mixtape, Everybody Raps, which features (aside from his crew) vocals from songstress Kehlani (“Cum Thru”).

“This tape was just to let everybody know who I am,” he tells AAHH. “The official album is [going to drop] when they get more comfortable … this tape was just to let them know that I’m still here.”

It’s an understandable motivation; though he’s had some incredible looks, he’s had some disheartening false-starts and setbacks. His first significant opportunity came after a chance meeting with Meek Mill, who was impressed by songs off of Maxx’s Lazy K hosted debut.

 
Meek was interested in remixing one of Maxx’s records, but due to clearance issues Maxx couldn’t facilitate it; that led to them working on the song “Weak People,” which to date has over 1.6 million plays. “He sent it back 48 hours, no charge,” he says. “[Meek] was like ‘this one is on me, the next one is on you.’ Ever since then, we kept in contact. We were in touch through the whole Nicki Minaj relationship; he kept calling me, putting me on game … kept motivating me like that. Like a big brother.”

The deal was on the table, however — much to his chagrin — it was a writing deal for lesser-known MMG artists. As well, during that period, Maxx saw a situation his cousin Choo Biggz went through during a video shoot for the song “Tonight” featuring Tank, Fetty Wap, and 50 Cent. Though he was paid, Fif was a no-show. The experience left a bad taste in his mouth and jaded him on the prospect of signing to other artists.

 
“That’s what made me not want to sign to other artists because other artists don’t want to see you grow,” he states.

He’s grown from the situation, and is more motivated than ever; with a catalog that includes the likes of Jeremih, Weeknd, and Yachty, he is ready to be more than just an artist you’ve heard here or there. Instead, he’s aiming for the spotlight — and a chance to share his whole truth on a larger scale.

“I will be the best rapper then come out of Jersey,” he says with a laugh. “Shout out to Redman.”

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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#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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#IndieSpotlight: Noah Wright Is Back With His Latest Visual “Cameras”

Noah Wright is on a run with his latest visual, “Cameras,” and we’re here for it!

27-year-old American Cedar Rapids MC Noah Wright is back with another super dope video treatment. First popping onto our radar back in March with his short film “Valley of the Sun” — and with his super dope LP Love, Noah. From opening for Rakim, Rick Ross, Futuristic and working with Young Money’s very own Cory Gunz, he’s definitely on a run, and we’re here for it.

Relevant: Check out our March 2018 Noah Wright feature

His latest video for his sure-shot single “Cameras” is next level creative. It begins with a plot reminiscent of the iconic episode of Fresh Prince of Bel Air when Will and Buddy were trying to be in the BBD video being shot while Phil and Viv were away. In this video, the cleaner keeps trying to be in the shot, interrupting the shoot to the point that Noah storms off. That’s the opening skit, though. As the actual video kicks off, we’re introduced to gorgeous models, a luxury car, and that same interrupting cleaner is playing out a virtual reality plotline that eventually intertwines with his performance shots.

It’s the type of creativity we’ve come to expect from Noah who’s been dropping some fire lately. The short and sweet “El Chapo,” which he dropped back in June, and the intensely powerful visual for “No Room” have been building his profile — his quality is next level.

Check out “Cameras” above, and be sure to follow Noah via Twitter.

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#IndieSpotlight, unsigned hype

Mr. P Chill Returns With “Funky Uncle Chill” — A Crate Digger’s Dream

Mr. P Chill is no stranger around these parts; he’s remained one of those fixtures who stays true to the…

Mr. P Chill is no stranger around these parts; he’s remained one of those fixtures who stays true to the grind/hustle without wavering. Flying under the radar, he’s continued on the road, bringing positive energy and a love of Hip Hop across the nation. His 13th solo album, Funky Uncle Chill, is a testament to his non-stop journey, a realization and acceptance of his OG status, and a simultaneous nod to loop diggers everywhere.

You can almost picture P in his studio surrounded by stacks of dusty vinyl while putting together this tracklist. From the onset of the super laid back breakbeat of “The Rhyme,” he laments that 25 years later in his career he’s far from finished. He also fondly reminisces about the early days (golden era) of the culture which birthed him.

The theme of keeping it moving is present in a few spots. He revisits it most notably on “More Time,” where he asks for “a little more time” to reach his dreams. “I Don’t Care,” dripping with a funky almost vintage Too $hort vibe he raps “till the day of my death and my very last breath, spread knowledge on tracks trying to do my best.” He does this of course, as the chorus suggests, whether you’re feeling him or not.

Some shining moments on the project see P take slightly different approaches to the album’s big-picture arc of riding out an innate need to reach goals within our lifetime. “Summertime” is a laid-back ride through Sacramento; top down, blunt rolled, sunshine beaming.

The production is noteworthy as hell. Handled by OmegaZ, Elephant Gerald, Joe Doose, and P himself, it has a meticulous aura about it; tracks like “4 AM,” the super poignant message to gun-happy police officers “Don’t Give Up The Fight,” and even the title track (which is an instrumental) are laden with funky samples worthy of a standalone Tidal playlist.

Overall, P stays true to himself. It’s something he contextualizes best on the last track “Reach You,” where P accepts that he continues down the same path with a throwback sound that may be hit or miss; however, he continues to craft songs packed with honesty, relatable truth, and an endearing dedication to the culture. All — as he notes — to reach you.

Give Funky Uncle Chill a spin!

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#IndieSpotlight, unsigned hype

#IndieSpotlight: ATL’s Primo Jab Keeps It Extra Grimey On ‘ The Book Of Jab’

There is a certain sonic element that we quite naturally — and unjustly — attribute to Atlanta artists, quite honestly….

There is a certain sonic element that we quite naturally — and unjustly — attribute to Atlanta artists, quite honestly. With a particular wave bubbling out of the cultural epicenter of the south, rapper Primo Jab is swimming against the current, delivering healthy doses of that Hip Hop that I try (and sometimes fail) to not hold unsigned rhymers up to. The man can spit, and his latest effort, the ten-song effort The Book Of Jab is an unexpectedly grimy 90s vibe with a timeless gloss. Plus, Ras Kass … so auto cop.

The project is his second of 2018, as he released a collaborative EP with Ice Lord earlier this year titled Pot Work. Officially his 5th solo-LP, TBOJ is a reaffirming slice of raw uncut that would be at home on the tape deck of any fans of shit that falls in the vein of 90s era underground college radio gems.

 
Stitched together with movie clips and production that keeps the vibe strictly backpacking through the metropolis with your polo on, it sometimes borders on dark. Not horrorcore dark, but like RA The Rugged Man dark … if that makes sense. Kicking off with the almost Wu Tang-ish vibe of “Natural Selection,” the project is all protein no filler.

The whole shit is a flame emoji, but I found myself revisiting the three-song run of “Hard to Kill” featuring El Camino and Flee Lord — with its drumline pattern — the wordplay of the a.flip and Blacksmith featured “Facts,” and the masterpiece that is “Pokey” featuring iconic west coast wordsmith Ras Kass. “Disrespectful, thinking they special being successful,” he spits on the track, holding his own alongside the well-respected MC.

In fact, none of the features overtake him; instead, they all serve to compliment the overall vibe of the project, which is wildly cohesive. His longtime producer godBLESSbeatz is the glue that sonically gives the project an incredible top-to-bottom playability.

His past release gave me immense Griselda Records vibe, and this project didn’t fail to live up to the hype that he’s set for himself. It feels like people are sleeping on the kid, but hopefully, you all start smelling the Folgers!

Early.

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