interview, Interviews, Main, rileysbest

Vice Souletric: The New Ohio [Interview]

“We’re trying to put Ohio back on the map musically…hip-hop wise.” –Vice Souletric It was an evening early last month…

“We’re trying to put Ohio back on the map musically…hip-hop wise.”
–Vice Souletric

It was an evening early last month when I received a cold-call — if you will — from an Ohio-based rapper named Vice Souletric. A quick peruse of his SoundCloud revealed an impressive amount of quality material and features, which I directly correlate with cosigns. Ones that immediately jumped out at me were “Respect The Legends,” produced by the iconic 9th Wonder, “Stayin’ Out The Way,” featuring the BK rapper Skyzoo, and “Return Of The Blackman,” featuring Talib Kweli. Alongside his partner in rhyme, G.Huff, the two have formed an on-wax chemistry similar to Cuban Linx-era Ghostface and Raekwon. With premieres on platforms like Okayplayer, and most recently Revolt, the two seem to be making a tonne of moves at an accelerated rate.

Aside from rap, Vice is also an accomplished [visual] artist and producer. The latter he attributes to sheer necessity; “I couldn’t find anybody who made the type of beats that I like, so I learned how to make beats myself. Being from Ohio, it’s crazy because a lot of cats around here aren’t necessarily on that East Coast boom bap type of feel, but that’s what I like, so I had to teach myself how to make type of beats.” His cover artwork also led to him forming a relationship with producer Pete Rock, whom he’s considered a mentor over the past 3-4 years. With their biggest release yet, Vice and Huff [finally] released a song produced by Chocolate Boy Wonder, “Bills,” with a visual expected to follow shortly.

With two knocking mixtapes under his belt, and tonnes of exciting things in the pipeline, I decided to take some time to sit with Vice and learn more about his process, his music, and more. Check out the new song, “Bills,” and the interview below.


One thing that stuck out when I went through your stuff is that you had some pretty heavy features. Give me a sense of how you got involved with some of these people?

Over the last two years, I dropped two projects. One was an EP called Vice for President. On there, I was able to work with Guilty Simpson and Reks from Boston. Then this last project, Vice for President 2, was a full-length EP. I was able to work with Kweli, Skyzoo, 9th Wonder, and Rapper Big Pooh. A lot of times people do ask me a lot, like “Wow, how did you get to work with these cats?” It’s nothing more than stepping to these cats in a business manner — keeping it completely professional. Handling my business the way that they want to handle it. To be honest with you, I’m not personally friends with any of these cats; I had to hit up their management. I had to hit them up directly to see what they were talking about and just had to network. If I had to break off some bread, I did that; in some cases, I didn’t have to do that. But, at the end of the day, it’s just about building the best mutual respect, and I think all those cats have respect for me. I’ve got respect for them.

Did they give you feedback on the joints?

Oh yeah, definitely. All the cats that I worked with gave me feedback. One of the cats that I collaborated with that I didn’t have direct contact with was 9th Wonder, though. I collaborated with King Magnetic on that track, and he has a direct relationship with 9th. So as far as that beat, he pretty much worked with 9th on that, but as far as everybody else, I heard back from them, and they gave me good feedback. They liked the tracks; and you know, a lot of times with these cats, it doesn’t matter what the terms are, they’re not going to be a part of something that they’re not feeling.

Your latest joint on Vevo with Hi-Tek — how did that come together?

With that situation, that track is part of G.Huff’s album, and I’m featured on the song. We had to go [hard] for the longest, with us being from Ohio, to be able to reach out to Hi-Tek, and it was just something where we reached out to him on Facebook. We presented our music to him; we told him who we are, what we were trying to do, and it took a while — because Hi-Tek isn’t a cat that just works with anybody. So it took a while to crack that nut, but he eventually responded back to us like, “Yeah, let’s work,” and he sent us a few beats. It was very hard to pick the one beat that we wanted to use, but you know, we’re happy with it, and he liked the song. Like after the video came out and everything, he hit us up; he gave us our blessing, like “Yeah, that’s dope.” We intend on doing some more work with Hi-Tek in the future.

Alright, so you guys are indie right now, yeah?

We’re indie, man. Everything. It’s like I’m a producer, I naturally write my music, I’m a graphic designer, I do all my covers, websites, all of that stuff, man. Like, we’re pretty much a one stop shop. We take care of all of our business because, one, you need to be able to do that, just to cut costs, because it’s very expensive trying to do music. Two, it gives you more leverage when you’re trying to network and work with other people — being able to wear more hats. So yeah, we’re completely indie. We would like to get signed, that would be ideal, but right now we’re indie, and we’re happy with our position.

Have you had any interest from labels? Have you talked to labels?

We’re just in the beginning stages. To be honest with you, we’ve been doing it for a while, but just over like the last year and a half, people have been starting to take notice of what we’ve been doing. We buckled down and started releasing these projects that we put a lot of time, a lot of effort, a lot of resources into. But we are getting more interest by the day from different A&Rs, we’re connecting with a lot of different people in the industry, and they’re looking at us. As of right now, we haven’t had a contract pushed in our face yet, but with the moves that we’ve made, and a couple of things we have in the works, we’re expecting something to pop by the end of 2016, for sure.

Who are some of the artists that maybe you haven’t worked with yet, or that you wanted to get on this project, that you’re going to try to get in the future?

Well, one is Pete Rock. Like I have a joint on Vice President 2 called ‘Irap’, and like I know him personally — and I want him to rap on the song. Like I didn’t even want a beat, I just wanted him to rap, because the song is all about being a producer and an MC, so I thought it would be great to have him on it. It wasn’t able to go down because he was really busy working on this project he has coming out with Smoke Dza. But actually, Huff and I were just down there this past weekend, and we hooked up with him, and we got a beat from him. We’re going to be releasing a joint with Pete Rock real soon. It’s gonna be crazy; it’s gonna be nuts, man. [Editor’s Note: The song has since been released, it’s called “Bills.”]

You’ve been friends with him for quite a while, and you consider him sort of a mentor. Maybe talk a little bit about that relationship.

I would say maybe for like the last four or five years; he’s a real cool cat. Like, he’s a cat that interacts with people via social media, so we’ve always interacted online, and actually like I said, I do graphic design, so I did a cover for him. If you remember the project that he did with Camp Lo
maybe about two or three years ago, he had like this cartoon type cover – I did that. I’m the one that did that joint, so that’s sort of how we linked. It was real crazy. He hit me up in the middle of the night, dude. He hit me up, because he got my number from Huff, and he hit me up in the middle of the night with like 20 text messages. I wake up to all these messages from Pete Rock, talking about, “Yo, I need a cover.” So I did the cover man, and ever since then we kept in contact. You know we talk sports, we talk hoops; we talk music every once in a while. He has a mutual respect for us, but we never try to be too thirsty with him, and like beg him for beats, this that and the other. Everything has to happen in its own time, and you know, now it’s time, so we about to get it cracking.

So what’s next? What’s the next project we can look out for?

What I’m working on now is an instrumental album. Because I put out the two projects that I was rapping on, and I just want to showcase like the beats, and let people know like how serious I am, and how into the production I am, and how detailed I am with it. So that’s the next thing coming out, that’s probably going to be dropping within the next two months, and it’s not going to be throwaway beats either. Like I already told my boys in my crew, “Y’all gonna be pissed when y’all hear some of the beats I put on this because I’m putting out heat.” Because, no matter what you release, you’ve always got to put your best foot forward, and I want people to take me seriously as a producer as well, so that’s the next thing that’s coming out.

Any last words, or anything else you’d like to leave on the blog?

Pretty much, man, just check out Vice for President 2, and check me out on vicesworld.com — that’s my website. You can find all my social media up there. We are just trying to represent Ohio, man. Like this is a big year for Ohio, but we’re trying to put Ohio back on the map musically, hip-hop wise, so by the end of 2016 man, we’re just gonna try to be in the position that we want to be in.

 

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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Kaiju Returns With A Dope New Anime Crossover “Glasscase”

He’s back at it!

Kaiju The Unconquerable is back; one of the best-kept secrets on AAHH continues with his string of high-quality visuals with his latest Anime crossover concept, “Ep.9: Glasscase.” This time around, he plays the role of Sie — a transporter finds himself in a tight situation when he runs into a kidnapping of a gorgeous girl by the name of
Tomi.

Relevant: Check Out Previous Kaiju Coverage

After rescuing the gorgeous woman — whom two crooked police officers were paid by the mafia to steal the organs from — their escape becomes a low-key hilarious attempt at getting the digits. As always, the quality is high, and while interspersed with cartoonish overlays to give it a comic feel, there are actual quick cuts to fully animated Anime sequences, adding to the overall visual complexity of the treatment.

I’ve brought this up pretty much every time I share this guys shit, but the songs are always standalone even without the visual treatment. Subtract the video, and the track itself is fun as hell, filled with his usual brand of nerdery, intertwined with a plethora of penis punchlines and puns, like how she calls his D “ridiculous,” or how he’s not British but has a “BBC.”

The tone itself, aside from the more humorous tone, is more in line with a joint like “Ultraman,”
In contrast to the more aggressive aura of his last installment, “Got II.” There has yet to be a collective body of work, but it’s definitely going to be an absolute banger.

All in all, this guy remains a gem secret worth discovering. In the words of Pusha T, “If you know, you know.”

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Vast Aire & COSMIQ Tease Upcoming EP With New Single

The free EP drops on Thanksgiving Day

Vast Aire (Cannibal Ox) and producer COSMIQ dropped a brand new single called “Shadow Dancer” on Halloween day — in advance of the Thanksgiving release of their long-awaited EP Live From The Aireport FreEP. Sponsored by UndergroundHipHopBlog, the critically acclaimed MC is dropping a handful of additional singles leading up to the release. “Blessings to my true fans,” Vast wrote via the new single’s YouTube.

RELEVANT: Check Out Our Interview With The Duo Here

In an interview earlier this year, Vast and COSMIQ told AAHH about the upcoming EP. “I would look at it as Live From The Aireport FreEP is just a series of dope new records from [my crew] IGC, and all the people connected to IGC,” COSMIQ said. “Just giving fans a window into what we’ve been working on.”

Vast added “The EP is on a similar wavelength [as the upcoming album], but it’s not all COSMIQ … [he] will be on it, and he’ll be helping to guide it, but it’s not gonna be all him. I’m gonna have guest producers, and there’s gonna be more interaction with different MCs.”

The duo promise the impending album, Aireplane, will be cinematic in nature, with multiple layers of complex rhyming sure to make real heads — and longtime fans — swoon. That is set to dro this winter (though no exact date is confirmed). For now, we can look forward to Live From The Aireport FreEP this Thanksgiving.

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interview, Interviews

El Da Sensei Talks Longevity & “XL” LP With Sadat X

He also reveals four albums on deck.

When it comes to career longevity without selling out the original vision — and ultimately the core integrity — of your brand, no OG rappers have managed to continue rocking shit the way that way Sadat X (a third of Brand Nubian) and El Da Sensei of The Artifacts have. Longtime fixtures on the European scene, the two have been peers for years, but it wasn’t until three years ago that the two decided to bless longtime fans and deep-rooted Hip Hop heads with a joint LP titled XL.

 
“I’ve known X since the 90s and been a fan since day one,” El Da Sensei tells AAHH. “We have mutual friends as well … they all said ‘hey why don’t Y’all do an LP together that would be crazy.’ We agreed.“

With well over two decades in the game, El explains it’s his love of the sport of Hip Hop that keeps him dedicated to his craft. “I think we show longevity working with new producers and keeping a fresh sound; we’re not compromising to fit in,” he says of this collaboration. “We try to set trends rather than follow,” he adds.

“That keeps the fans inspired. We still love it and its also a job….gotta love what you do right?”

Their love is evident. A peruse of either of the rappers Instagram illustrates them living their best lives; from wine to merch, they’ve been able to endure through countless eras and trends since first rising to prominence with their respective crews.

 
“You have to love the craft and be a participant cant sit on the sidelines warming the bench,” he explains. “We have merch out there, continuous releases … you have to be working even more than before. There are so many outlets to use now. We can sell ourselves more than ever.”

“You have to be yourself … nobody can be me and X. So we push that still!”

When it came the delayed (but worth the wait) LP, El notes that every verse they laid made the cut. “Every song made it except for the one we leaked, ‘We Must Stand’ prod by 9th Wonder. We have a song on deck ready for the next single as a bonus, but everything made the final version,” he says.

Fans who have come expect feverish release schedules from the duo (individually) have lots to look forward to — in addition to a tour of the USA and one in Europe kicking off March 2019. “We definitely working on the next XL project immediately,” El says with a laugh. “I have about 4 albums ready to go on deck for the next 2 years … I’ve been busy.”

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interview

Rising Malaysian Star Zamaera Is Poised For Greatness

Z chats Malaysian Hip Hop culture, her new project, and much more.

Photo credit: Kanya Iwana

23-year-old Malaysian MC Zamaera has been slowly bubbling onto many radars as of late. After appearing on a viral installment of Yo! MTV Rap Asia’s Rap Cypher, knocking out her first festival appearance, and dropping a buzzing new single titled “Z vs Z” ahead of the upcoming EP of the same name, she is primed and ready to take things to the next level.

Hip Hop in Malaysia has grown exponentially throughout 30 plus years,” she explains to AAHH, indulging our ignorance of the regional scene. “I didn’t live through the early stages of this groundbreaking period in the Malaysian music industry, but one characteristic of Hip Hop is its continuous evolution in sound, style, and swagger.

“It doesn’t matter if you jump on the Hip Hop bandwagon in the 80s or 2000s; if you have something to say — visually, lyrically or sonically — you’re a part of the culture,” she adds.

 
As Z explains, Malaysian society’s reaction towards Hip Hop has been somewhat of a gradual appreciation. She fell in love with the culture in her late teens. “Love, heartbreak and all the sweet sins of adolescence brought me to Hip Hop; and now I’m in it for life.”

https://www.instagram.com/p/BkMzNXzALI-/

She’s accomplished a lot — considering her debut video dropped just over a year and a half ago. This year, she was blessed with the opportunity to journey to the US to develop and focus her craft, and her career. It was here that Z vs. Z was born.

“It was a very reflective period for me,” she notes of the experience. “I did all of the creative work while I was there. I worked with the amazing producer Floyd “Timeless” Thomas, writing the lyrics. I also teamed up with the ever so talented creative director — Kanya Iwana — and the most brilliant ALL FEMALE TEAM, Savannah Chonis, Francesca Martin, Nawel Abdelaziz, and Shaina Santos for the album artwork.

 
“The experience was humbling, overwhelming and stimulating,” she adds. I was given a chance by Lakefront Records, which resulted in the recording of this EP in the United States [specifically, Chicago]. It was overwhelming because I was in a foreign place, where EVERYONE is trying to make it. Stimulating, because of the work ethic that I managed to experience. The entertainment industry is no joke, and that motivated me to do more for myself as an artist.”

The new EP, as she explains, is the essence of her as an artist, stemming from reflection and acceptance — two things she describes as dominant themes in her writing. “It took about two months for the idea to be translated into the entire project,” she reveals.

During her recent appearance at the Good Vibes Festival in Selangor, Malaysia, she had a chance to debut her two-month labor of love in front of a receptive audience — an experience she doesn’t take for granted.

“That was a day of many firsts. The first time I performed at a festival, first time I used in-ear monitors, first time performing with dancers, first time I played the entire EP LIVE,” she exclaims proudly. “I’ve learned to let go of the things I don’t have control over — but all in all, it was an adventure of a lifetime.”

https://www.instagram.com/p/Blj5L7lgxJD/

With a dizzying 2018 thus far — and an even more jarring 2019 ahead — Zamaera’s current mood is focusing on her mind, body, and soul. With an endorsement deal with Nike Malaysia, her project, and (if it all pans out the right way) a tour, you can hardly blame her for cherishing a little downtime.

“Follow me on my social media,” she says as our interview draws to a close, “because I will be announcing something extremely exciting very soon.”

https://www.instagram.com/p/Bn9ChNxg2Sq/

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