Posted by Todd Hamm
The infamous young rap pusher/gutter life documentarian Avatar Young Blaze released Baptized In Vodka today, the follow up to his sinister debut LP Warm Blooded Cold Heart; a disk he says got love everywhere from his current home city of Seattle to his native Russia, and even featured a verse from star of rap stars Lil' Wayne.
Though heavily steeped in expectation, BIV actually turns out more streamline than the gaudy follow-ups so typical of the genre. With more focused production and cohesive songwriting, the tracks are musically and thematically relative, as Avatar's ice cold tenor crackles through the bulky instrumentals and carries the tracks with ease. There are features on the album, but none close to as noteworthy as Weezy, and of little consequence regardless. It's when Av is given space to breath on his own, as on the latin guitar laced "I Am King", the future-gloss opener "Put Me Under", or the mafioso tinged "Shootouts", that he sounds most in his element, and when the mood is pulled back a bit, as on the finale "Goin' Insane", his delivery works most to his advantage as the smoothed out instrumental plays sharp contrast to his gruff style, more so than ultra-hyped tracks like "Turbo Mode" and "I'm A Gangsta", although they do have definite club appeal.
Aside from the tiring shout-overs from the project's mixmaster DJ Folk, BIV is a solid hardcore record through and through, and a full step forward for the MC. To accent our take, we caught up with Sir Blaze to gain a little insight into the creative process, and find out why he wants you to know that death only scares you. Listen in...
NWmainstage: How would you describe the overall sound of Baptized In Vodka?
International. Unorthodox. Gutter. Emotional. Classy. Fly. Social. Honest.
NWM: Where did the concept for the album come from? Are there any religious undertones (since baptism is mentioned in the title)?
It evolved naturally from my previous projects, with the whole Russian theme. The baptism is the cleansing, the immersing. Vodka represents fire, passion, my Russian/ Ukrainian heritage. Baptized in Vodka is basically a metaphor for a couple different things. First, being people are baptized in holy water, not vodka. With me, and everything I been through, I feel like I've been baptized in vodka. I'm more extreme then the rest. As far as religious undertones, I believe in God. Im Russian Orthodox. This is the oldest version of Christianity, where the most important thing is humility.
NWM: Who did you work with on the album? How do you feel they affected the music?
As far as production, The Alchemist, Araab Muzik, Ty Fyffe, The Olympicks... My up & coming producer homie from New York V-Don got a couple joints on there aswell, look out for him he's a problem. Shout out to Apoulo as well, he's from Seattle he definitely got it in. As far as features, Ackrite Da Butcha from Compton, Matt Blaque from the Bay, Carey Stacks, SkiMask Spec, Eighty4Fly all from Seattle.
NWM: How would you respond to people saying your rhymes are too violent?
Everyone perceives life differently, this is an aspect of life I've been exposed to, seeing as to when I rap, I rap about my life, not somebody else's.
I guess I've seen too much death up close. Death scars you.
NWM: Do you have any plans for a tour or any upcoming projects?
I got a mixtape Im doing with Ackrite Da Butcha "From Geattle to Bompton". Im also working' with Dj Nik-One from Moscow and some artists from Russia. Also look out for BIV II which I already started working on. As far as tours, I definitely got some things under wraps, especially overseas.
NWM: What do you want your fans to know about you?
I want my fans to know that I'm for real. I also want them to know that I love them and am extremely grateful for their attention. I get amazing feedback from all over the world: Russia, Ukraine, Czech Republic, Columbia, Australia, Seattle, NYC, LA, ext. I don't take it all for granted. I want to continue to put myself and my emotions out for my fans. Theres alot of shenanigans going on in the game right now where rappers are just not credible on what they speak on. This is really my life, Im not trying to glorify negativity, Im a positive person. Im just speaking on what I been through, and where Im going.<NWM>
Baptized In Vodka is available for zero $s for a LIMITED TIME HERE, so get it before it hits iTunes.
Here's the new two part video from Avatar for the tracks "Cry" and "Everybody Get Low"--both off of Baptized In Vodka:
Posted by Todd Hamm
It's been some time since musicians--rap artists in particular--have pushed themselves to produce the kind of multi-disciplinary artistry that Dark Time Sunshine has begun to create (well okay, here's one noteworthy exception). The music is futuristic dream-rap from the minds of Grayskul's Onry Ozzborn (under the pen name Cape Cowen) and Chicago's Alex Zavala. The duo has contracted videographer Christian Hansen to bring their vision to the visual medium, and he has done so beautifully on mash-up videos for "Doom"/"Go Team"/"Wrong Kids" (from last fall's free DTS album Believeyoume), and now "Sleestack Payback"/"All Aboard". The latter was released just days before the group's more formal debut Vessel, which features both songs, hit stores on April 20th. Hansen's glossy finish and fuzzy slow motion pans capture the surreality of the tracks perfectly, and the playful astronaut scenes were apparently shot in Japan, which is pretty rad.
Check out both videos below, and also download their free nine track album Believeyoume on Fake Four records HERE. If it tickles your fancy, you can pick up their new release Vessel on iTunes as well as at your favorite local record store.
Posted by Justin Hoyt
Ballard's finest has dropped a new video to support the single "My Volvo" off of the incredibly solid Chemistry Ep available for free at getgrynch.com. The video is well shot, matching the songs message of dealing with a beloved beater perfectly; and on top of that, I'm pretty much bound to support whole-heartedly anything that takes place in my home neighborhood. Grynch is a hard working type of dude and has the material to back it up. "My Volvo" isn't the best song off of Chemistry but it's accessible and catchy, and is a well concieved showcase of Grynch's ever improving lyrical talent. The video features cameo's by local mainstays such as Macklemore, Sol, DJ Nphared and El Mizell of Mash Hall fame.
Posted by Todd Hamm
Without ever releasing an album, Seattle's Spaceman has built enough momentum to work with some of the northwest's biggest names, and help shape one of the most promising young record labels in town. If you are yet unfamiliar with "Sportn' Life's sex symbol", allow him to take a moment and introduce himself:
The Greetings Earthlings mixtape is the first ever offering from Space, and fans will be happy to know that it's packed with all the exuberant punch line raps they've grown to love from his energetic live performances. His style on the 'tape jumps from his roaring Ludacris delivery that fuels pump-up tracks like "Fly Dena Muf*ka" and the Jake One produced "This is That Fire," to his sensitive side on "Lust 4 Life" and a reprise of Drake's "Fear Me." All in all there is good variety on GE and quality songwriting that I can't wait to be focused into a formal LP, so my formal recommendation is that you get on board early in the game and check out this mixtape...did I mention it's free?
Posted by Todd Hamm
Seattle's Grynch begins many of his sets by announcing his standing as "a nice guy" to the crowd; a comforting sentiment for many of today's more pensive show-goers, and as a personal friend of the artist, one I happen subscribe to. In fact, in the 10+ years that I've had the privilege of knowing the gentleman, his 'nice guy' demeanor has rarely wavered, even during such trying instances as being stuffed into the overhead compartment of a Grayhound bus on a middle school jazz band trip (which I have since apologized for), or taking jabs from the local press about the primarily rap-centric nature of his rhymes (which I have seemed to avoid to this point). Hence, The Rapping About Rapping Mixtape, a light-hearted response to such criticisms by title, and a serious collection of his recent rap adventures by nature.
Writing about Rapping About Rapping
Grynch spreads a mix of intentionally ironic rap-raps and unreleased rarities across fourteen of the RAR 'tape's twenty tracks, the remainder being jocular interludes and audio drops from the likes of Prometheus Brown (Geologic of Blue Scholars), JakeOne, Macklemore, Kyle Lucas and west coast legend Warren G. The MC plays to his strengths on tracks like "The Life I Chose", a chorus-less intro (produced by Sabzi of Blue Scholars) where he lets the listener into the world he exists in: "I'm just scratchin' the surface/just givin' you a peek behind the tracks that you purchased." An extended version of "You're On" from P Smoov's Face Scrunchers EP is another definite highlight, and the "Showtime" remix with Illa J is Grynch at his storytelling best (the J Dilla beat doesn't hurt the track's cause either). The bottom line is: while there may be a few filler songs or verses to be found on the mixtape, it serves well to close this obligatory chapter in his career in light-hearted fashion, and provides more than a couple of gems along the way.
Posted by Todd Hamm
The artwork's amateur, the production is lacking. The man behind the microphone, however, can rap. Gazmo, a name that brings to mind either Hunter S. Thompson's style of journalism or Trey Parker's 1997 box office flop, belongs to a recently transplanted Tacoma MC who's delivery sounds effortless, his skill natural.
Although he's recently moved down the coast to L.A., he's just released a mixtape called The Gazmo Show that, judging by his constant Seattle/Tacoma references, is very much a product of his time in the northwest. The mixtape, which can be previewed and downloaded for free HERE, features his raw lyricism over a disjointed mix of original beats and borrowed instrumentals from well known artists--in short, it's a pretty standard mixtape.
The music on TGS is a series of high and low moments as many of the tracks are backed by production simply too weak to support his talent, and in turn the verses on them are equally as forgettable. But when the beat is on the level of Biggie's "Gimme the Loot" (track five on TGS), or Lil Wayne's universal show-your-shit track "A Milli" (track thirteen) for example, Gazmo spits absolute fire.
In the do-it-yourself era of downloadable mixtapes and EPs, The Gazmo Show definitely serves it's purpose as bait for hungry producers to jump on. The kid's got potential, that's for damn sure, so listen, contact, collaborate, or just enjoy.
Gazmo - A Trillie
Posted by Todd Hamm
BeanOne is continually mentioned in the same breath as Seattle production giants JakeOne and Vitamin D by members of the press elite, and deservedly so. While his name might not ring as many bells as his Rhymesayers affiliated/Big Tune-founding counterparts (respectfully) for most of the scene's casual assemblage, the man they call Bean has been quietly cranking out classics for the better part of a decade (well, longer than that, but most notably the last ±five years, e.g. Framework's Hello World, Boom Bap Project's Reprogram and DymeDef's Panic EP).
Bean's most recent project is Short Circuit, a 32-track instrumental mix that ranges from feel good party hop to dub step fusion and quirky headphone grooves. While many of the tracks are built around samples you'll probably recognize--from the Eurythmics to Hendrix, Interpol to Chairmen of the Board--that recognition is soon followed by a 'well that's an interesting twist' feeling that comes from Bean's ever unique take on the sounds that surround him. With seamless transitions, and a decidedly uptempo pace, it's entirely possible to listen front to back roughly four times before you realize you've gone around the horn even once (as I just did). So do yourself a favor and DOWNLOAD THIS RIGHT HERE (for free!), then enjoy the next hour and six minutes of you life.
BeanOne - NeverBe4