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Work Fi Mi: An Interview With Yellow Cloud

“We make music. Of course, with a Hip-Hop base but also sprinkled with Jazz, Funk, Dancehall, Rock, Folk, Salsa, etc….

“We make music. Of course, with a Hip-Hop base but also sprinkled with Jazz, Funk, Dancehall, Rock, Folk, Salsa, etc. man. I mean, for real, the list goes on and on and on—and on! We love art…but we hate labels!”
—Yellow Cloud

[dropcap]W[/dropcap]ashington, DC, duo Yellow Cloud have a cool vibe about them. Former bandmates—and longtime friends—TreeLag and Nick Wood have a 90s hip-hop aesthetic, infused with live jazz instrumentation and contemporary rhyme schemes to great their unique new wave. Their latest record, “Work Fa Mi,” is not that unfamiliar thematically, but the jazzy saxophone kissed instrumental vibe give it an unusually vintage feel; as does the video, which reminds us of classic 90s house party videos, like Notorious B.I.G’s “One More Chance,” for example.

Taking time out from creating, the duo sat with AAHH to discuss their music, their influences, and what they have coming up on the horizon. Check out the video—and their interview—below.

Tell me about yourself — what got you involved in music?

Nick Wood: I couldn’t even tell you. I mean, it must be my family. I’ve been involved in music as long as I can remember.

TreeLag: I think music got me involved in life! I don’t know what got me involved in music because I’ve always been involved in music. I mean, I was born with a song I still jam to today – it was played by my uncle. Music has just always been a part of me and my life.

Coming into this game, who did you look up to?

N: When I first started rapping, I was all about Lil Wayne and Dipset. They made music fun, and my friends and I knew all their lyrics. But my first real personal inspiration to make this music came from seeing A Tribe Called Quest live. They motivated me in a way I didn’t know possible. Q-Tip became my father.

T: [Laughs], for real. I looked up to people like Queen, Journey, Michael
Jackson, The Temptations, Bob Marley and Peter Tosh. The way these musicians performed and impacted the world is something so powerful to me. Talking about the rap game specifically, though, I was looking up to Dipset, Big Pun, Hot Boyz, TRU, Bone Thugs, the old Terror Squad, and Fugees! I grew up in the 90s with mad older role models who were bumping that fire! I—for real—always looked up to Bone Thugs and especially Bizzy Bone! Then, when we got to go on tour with him, it was like a dream come true! He was even like “Damn, that dude got flow,” talking about ya boy right here after he seeing us perform with technical difficulties and still keeping the place live and bumpin! 

Tell me about your music; what have you released thus far?

N: The releases have just begun. We debuted our single, “Straight Out the Dungeon” back in July, followed by this video for “Work Fa Mi.” Now that we’ve established a groove we can start to release the dozens of singles we have in store. Those are coming up as soon as y’all watch “Work Fa Mi” enough.

T: Oooooooooh baby! Yeah, like Nasty said, the releases have just begun! We got projects with our famo in DC at FHTMG and Les Autres, our international fam in Cuba, Malcolm Beybe, and so many singles, visuals, merch and full-on films for y’all! Get at our Facebook and IG pages to stay updated.

What are you working on right now?

N: Finishing the project, Treezus vs. the Magnificent. I also have a solo EP that should be done in a couple of months; and one of our associates, Brandon Moulden, has a project coming up that I’m producing for. Very excited about that. There’s [also] further collaborations with Alpha Diallo of Les Autres, as well as Pacman Slim of FHTMG. We got mad projects with FHTMG.

T: TREEZUS vs. THE MAGNIFICENT!!! Haha, it’s gonna be amazing! Also, got some more projects on the way, like I said, with our DC famo as well as our international familia! I got a few classics, accompanied by visuals, done with Malcolm Beybe’s Escobar and Saez! (two amazing rappers out of Parraga in La Habana, Cuba). Also got a solo project in stores, with some very different and fun vibes fi y’all! Finally, a project with OJALA. Yellow Cloud will be entirely official and taking over the scene within the next year, baby!

Let’s talk about this video — where was it filmed? Why are you excited about it?

N: It was filmed in Philly, where I just moved away from. I’m just so excited about finally putting it out! It’s our highest quality video to date. That’s why I only mentioned two songs before because this new stuff is really on a whole different level as far as professional quality. I also love the team we worked with, Unchained Media, and their director Dan Foster. I love their style that they brought to the video; it’s very cinematic. And retro. It reminds me a bit of how Goodfellas was filmed.

T: WATCH THAT SHIT! [Laughs], for real! Nasty explained most of it, shoutout Unchained Media! This is our very first single released off our upcoming album and comes with a visual… I’m just excited as shit it all happened! Can’t wait for y’all to see all the rest!

What have been your biggest accomplishments to date?

N: Staying alive [laughs]. Nah, but I’m always proud to be putting out music that’s constantly improving. Every project I put out is better than the last. I teach music as well, so I’m happy to be able to have that balance. I practice what I preach. As a team we’re building a very solid footing, so to speak. We have so much in store we’re just focused on how we present it right now.

T: [Laughs] I don’t like to talk personal. What I will say, is that I feel my biggest accomplishment has been getting to where I am right now! I’m alive, healthy, in love, and making music with all the homies. Yellow Cloud is coming along, and I can’t complain. I feel pretty accomplished; so much more work to be done, but I’m psyched that I’m here!

What do you want people to ultimately take away from you as an artist?

N: Authenticity. I mean that’s what’s always important in art. That and the effort. Both are evident in this video. That’s why it’s a good starting point for y’all to get to know us. Yellow Cloud is real; we represent the people.

T: JUST MY ART, Leave me alone! [Laughs]. I ultimately want people to
get any feeling at all. I make my music when I’m happy, sad, mad, feeling fun,
groovin’, etc., and I just want to keep making more for people to explore themselves and possibly gain some sense of understanding; and if they
don’t, at least just bop their heads playing one of our jams over and over again. Then I can die a happy artist!

What’s next for you professionally?

N: See question number 4. We have projects; we’re working on putting them out. And we’re still working on new projects. I have a growing base of
people I’m mixing for and producing for so that all leads to more collaboration.
It’s all just getting started.

T: I explained a lot of the work in progress and shit that I/we got in store, but y’all ain’t hip to my eyes baby! Once the money gets up and I can get my hands on a decent camera, y’all ain’t even gonna be ready! YELLOW CLOUD PRODUCTIONS IN FULL EFFECT! The shit I see, and how I see it, ain’t something you see on the daily. Even without a cam of my own, I still manage, though, and we’ll be releasing some Treezus produced material soon. I also have a lot of design work I’m working on, so keep a look out for Yellow Cloud and Treezus gear!

Speaking of, Yellow Cloud tees will be available no later than Nov. 10th, and pics will be posted on our FB and IG pages. If you are interested in any merch or have any questions about booking, featuring, etc., please feel free to contact us.
email us at yellowcloudproductions@gmail.com.

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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Filip Filipi (@FilipFilipi) – “Kosovka/Nine Roses”

Recently Canadian rapper Filip Filipi dropped his mixtape hosted by Gucci Mane titled, Nine Roses. The project coincides with the…

Recently Canadian rapper Filip Filipi dropped his mixtape hosted by Gucci Mane titled, Nine Roses. The project coincides with the unveiling of his elaborate plans to build a high tech basketball court in Akron, Ohio, the home of LeBron James. The futuristic backtop is dedicated to Filipi’s former manager Kiza, their shared heritage, love for music and basketball.

“I grew up on basketball culture, I’m obsessed with basketball. If you ask me, ‘Who was the 12th man on the Celtics in 2004?’ I can tell you – I love basketball trivia. So the court was inspired by my former manager who passed away two years ago at the age of 33. It was very important for me to do something with a humanitarian aspect of my music and we decided on the proceeds of the music, the merch and with some donations, we were going to make the most high tech basketball court. It has Wifi, it has eco-friendly paint, it has solar-powered benches that have wi-fi and everything you would want. But it has an important political message that speaks on the media manipulation using motifs of Serbian art that show the area where we are from. I can’t wait to get started on it. I don’t care if I get 10 billion streams or 10 million or 10 hundred. The fact that people would come play here and contribute to the court in any way – I’m proud. It’s something for the community.”

While Filip Filipi is still building his buzz, he has been working on the craft of Hip-Hop for over a decade and has had his music placed on major nationwide television shows after his Sizzerb mixtape garnered widespread attention.

“In middle school around 10th grade, me and my friend were freestyling in class and we started recording on his computer mic at his parents’ house when we were like 15,” Filip Filipi said. “Back then, my thing was basketball, by the time I got to college I played a little bit of ball, and then I began to focus on rap. People were saying I could spit, so a few months after I started, DJ Vlad hosted my tape, and it sold like 11k physical copies. For me it was a really big deal because I’m from a small town in Canada and people were buying it in New York.”

Following up with a few more mixtapes, Filip Filipi found commercial success with his single “Boom” on the show So You Think You Can Dance. Stepping away from his more conceptual 90’s style, Filip Filipi was estranged from the rap he knew and he felt his story was becoming distorted.

“When I was coming up the sound was Dipset and that soul sample style on the beat, and every beat had the set of samples. We used to sample old Balkan and Serbian samples and really kind of made that the trademark of our production. There was a time when I started to not like the direction that Hip-Hop was taking toward Techno and EDM. To this day I listen to Tupac, Biggie, Nas, Lauren Hill, Bob Marley, The Fugees and that’s my gold standard of Hip-Hop and music. Like all the tracks remixed with the Backstreet Boys and other boy bands, that’s not Hip-Hop to me.”

Choosing to step away to focus on humanitarian work, Filip Filipi, recalls going on a hiatus from music after he felt local artists were attacking Drake on a chat group.

“I just had to step away and focus on humanitarian work. I’m from Canada, and I turned away from rap music in Canada at the worst time. Toronto was a black hole for music for a time and then Drake hit. He had been coming up with his Degrassi following but he just blew up and at that point it wasn’t really cool to blend Degrassi and rap. At one point, I remember on MSN messenger when everyone was dissing Drake and they started picking on him like a cybergang for like 30 minutes. At that time, my home country was going through a really rough time, so I was already thinking about trying to use my music to do something there. I guess that convo was the straw, because it made me focus completely on the humanitarian stuff, the organization, UN, all that. So I just exited that MSN convo and then The Weeknd, Drake and a whole bunch of other rappers broke big a month later.”

Now back for more Filip Filipi is merging the worlds of basketball and Hip-Hop in memory of his former manager. He hopes music, art and basketball will come together on the court in Akron to provide refuge for other young kids, like they had for him.

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DJ Ryan Wolf – “F.I.U.”

This week DJ Ryan Wolf released “F.I.U.,” the latest single off of his upcoming project.The single features Cleveland native, Fly…

This week DJ Ryan Wolf released “F.I.U.,” the latest single off of his upcoming project.The single features Cleveland native, Fly Tye and is produced by Matt Light the Flame with help from DJ Ryan Wolf.

This is another track that will be featured on his upcoming project Dreams 2 Reality scheduled to release in 2020 under, Capital Structure Ent.The video will be coming soon and was directed by Bolo, an upcoming videographer from Cleveland.

Ryan Gullatt, professionally known as DJ Ryan Wolf, is an American hip hop Disc jockey and mixtape producer. After having been laid off from various administrative positions, Wolf picked up DJing as a hobby to fill time but quickly learned that he was naturally gifted in the art of scratching.

Wolf shot to prominence after he was named the official DJ for the Cleveland Browns. With nearly 40 mixtapes over the course of his music career, he has worked with notable acts including DJ Scream, Machine Gun Kelly and OG Ron C among others.

He is a Heavy Hitter DJ, member of The world famous Chopstars, a coalition of American DJs and turntablists who perform chopped and screwed remixes of popular songs, and also a DJ and radio personality on Z107.9 (Cleveland, OH), 101.1 (Cincinnati, OH), and 107.5 (Columbus, OH).

“F.I.U.” is now available on all streaming platforms.

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Luh Dino (@LuhDino) – Up4Life 2.0

Recently Atlanta bred rapper Luh Dino released his highly anticipated project Up4Life 2.0.  The young upstart, who is an alumnus of Atlanta’s renowned Westlake…

Recently Atlanta bred rapper Luh Dino released his highly anticipated project Up4Life 2.0.  The young upstart, who is an alumnus of Atlanta’s renowned Westlake High School, has quickly developed a viral following in Atlanta and the surrounding areas while remaining independent. 

With COVID-19 taking over, Luh Dino hasn’t been on tour lately, but that hasn’t stopped him connecting with the fans via music videos and social media to keep them entertained.

The step back from touring is a change of pace for Luh Dino, who prior to COVID-19 performed at the Streetz 94.5 show, joined a college tour with Toosii, Jackboy and Bankroll Freddy and opened up at spot dates for Megan thee Stallion, Yo Gotti, YFN Lucci, 2Chainz, Moneybagg Yo, Skooly, Trouble, Boosie and LightSkinKeisha. All of that in just a short two year career, but Luh Dino knows he can’t stop now.

“I’m rocking out the rest of the Summer, I’m just dropping music. July 3rd I’m dropping my album called, Up4Life 2.0.. Then I’m gonna just keep shooting videos for the project and make sure I keep the fans entertained. When this album drops I’m gonna go hard. The fans know that it’s coming, I warmed them up with it a few weeks ago on IG,” Luh Dino said. “The first single was called Ratchet Named Mimi that dropped in February, then I dropped My Heart, then Trapstar, then Dolce and True Colors. So I’m staying busy with COVID and everything going on,” Luh Dino said. 

Releasing music video after music video, Luh Dino hits fans with well thought out visuals that bring the listener into his world. 

“With my music videos I try to paint a picture of the song’s story. I want people to watch the video a few times and take something from it. Like with Tru Story, it’s telling a story of a guy in poverty and his big homie got killed and years later he runs into the guys that killed his big homie. He questions whether or not he should kill them and he’s got the guilty and innocent conscience.  Sometimes I just shoot the video on the fly and we don’t plan anything but we’ve gotten a great response from the videos and I feel blessed to get that kind of response.”

Continuing to work on his craft after picking up the ability to rhyme with some friends in the studio, Luh Dino is a self-sufficient artist who has the ability to record, engineer, mix and master his own music without any one’s help. 

“I started making music like two years ago in 2018 with this song called “Movin”. My friend had been inviting me to the studio, and the way he was saying something, I didn’t like the way he was saying so I rapped it and everyone that was in the studio liked it and thought I had a good voice. That night I got home, I wrote a song and was just singing the melody and recorded it later that week. I was so anxious to release the music and I just dropped it with my friends and it did like 20k in a week on Soundcloud. I made the song in March and released it around Spring Break.

From there Luh Dino began recording more music and while taking a trip to New York, the Mecca of Hip-Hop, where he spent several weeks in the studio recording over a dozen songs. 

“I was in New York for like two weeks, visiting my dad and after we met a guy that ran a studio at a party, I kept recording and I made like 24 songs. I was locked in the studio. I never wanted to be a rapper, I never decided I was a rapper. I made a logo for the brand but that was just for me, it wasn’t for music.  Then I just started sending music out to people and when I went back to school in August the whole school knew the song at a Pep Rally. From there I just started releasing more and more music and it’s been going up from there.”

Spending the past few years in the studio Luh Dino prides himself on being self-sufficient outside of help from his Aunt, Lady B, who already has guided the development of several artists that eventually signed major deals. 

“I make my own music, when I tell executives that they understand I can do it all. I can mix, master, record and engineer myself without help. I like going to the studios, but after my auntie started spending a lot of money on me for studio time and all that, we realized we were spending way too much time and money in the studio at Patchwork. So we had to build our own studio, she bought the equipment and I learned everything on my own. I’ve never had a coach, the only one I had help from was from Lady B. My aunt, we don’t even tell people that much but she’s my blood auntie, my manager and she helps me with everything. That’s my momma’s twin sister so I know her intentions are good,” Luh Dino said.   “It’s my job to make sure we outta here. I ain’t even really rapping for myself. I’m rapping for my momma, my auntie, I’m rapping to open up doors for my whole family, my sister with her hair company. I’m rapping for everybody but myself.”

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@MenaMahone__ – “Keep It Moving”

Recently female Detroit rapper, Mena Mahone, released the audio to her new song, “Keep It Moving” ft JRich and produced by Killa Smuv. Putting on for…

Recently female Detroit rapper, Mena Mahone, released the audio to her new song, “Keep It Moving” ft JRich and produced by Killa Smuv. Putting on for the 313 like few female emcees ever have, her song is a domestic violence awareness song and looks to spread truth about domestic abuse in America, while providing hope for those that are trapped in an abusive relationship.

While the song is a domestic violence awareness song, don’t sleep on the bars that Mena Mahone has on this song or any of her other recent singles like “Workin.”

“This video is about domestic violence and as a survivor of domestic violence, I want you to know that you too can overcome domestic violence. We are bringing awareness to this issue, whether they grew up with it or they are in a relationship of domestic violence. We are letting people know that this is a problem and that it is a problem that nobody is talking about.  Thankfully Hot 107.5, a Detroit Hip-Hop radio station, stepped up and they are supporting the Keeping It Moving record. We want to help domestic violence victims overcome anything that are going through trying to get out of that bad relationship” Mena Mahone said.

While many people are rightfully raising awareness to police brutality, Black Lives Matter and COVID-19, Mena Mahone doesn’t want people to forget about how domestic violence is also plaguing our communities as well. 

“Its saying whether you are in a domestic violence relationship or you have  a friend, family or whatever that is trapped in one, this is not what defines you as a person – Keep it Moving. You are better than that, you are a survivor, just because we make mistakes doesn’t mean we have to live through those mistakes for the rest of our life,” Mena Mahone explained. 

Mena Mahone also spoke about her crew the Bully Boys and her friendship with the widely popular and rising rapper Boldy James who recently collaborated with Alchemist for what some people have been calling the album of the year. As the “First Lady of The Bully Boys,” Mena Mahone takes her role seriously and can keep up with the guys, bar for bar. 

“The Bully Boys is my crew, you feel me. You got me you got me, you got Boldy James, Fast Lane, Reddi Rock, JFox the Breadman, and of course me”,  Mena Mahone explained. “Boldy James is the homie – I’m down with him til the wheels fall off. He’s been on the road, he’s one of the hottest rappers out right now. He had just dropped his album with Alchemist so he’s making a lot of noise right now.”

Expanding on her sound and how it fits into the Detroit scene, Mena Mahone explained her sound and the purpose of her music. 

“Not a lot of people have the same sound as me and I don’t mean that in a bad way, but my sound is different, and there’s not a lot of people that sound like me.” Mena Mahone explained. “I got into music because it was an outlet to me to express my emotions. As far as making music I wanted to start making a positive impact in my community, so if someone is going through something in life hopefully people can put on my music and take something from it and learn and grow.”

That seems to be a theme throughout Mena Mahone’s music as she hopes to inspire her listeners whether they are homeless, domestic violence survivors or just the hard working Detroiters who wake up every day and punch the clock.

“The type of music I am making is inspirational. If you are homeless, suicidal or whatever, I want you to know you can put on my music and it’s going to inspire you. When you hear my music like the single Workin, the number one thing you gonna take from that is – let me get up and start Workin. This is about bars and all that, but we want to make a difference in people’s lives. If I can’t inspire anyone, then what am I doing? It’s never been about money, fame and clout. To me when someone comes up to me and tells me that I motivated them out of a situation or to go get a job, thats the kind of stuff that makes me happy about my music.”

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