Philly True School’s Next Generation: DJ PHRESH SELECT

September 29, 2014

Over the years I’ve taken in as much of the local music culture as possible wherever I visit.  Whether paying a visit to discreet record stores in Boulder and Pittsburgh; hitting the Access Music storefront in San Diego or Gramaphone Records in Chicago, or Turntable Lab in LA, I always ask for (1) the best local DJ mixes and (2) the events’ [fliers rack] and [usually] leave having experienced each.  I can say with certainty the Philadelphia hip-hop scene, even the overall party scene, revolves around a bunch of incredible DJs that conform to fundamental hip-hop aesthetics and can shake the floor without touching a top-40 track.  For my 12+ yrs living there, !llvibe Collective, Scratch Mekaniks, Nex Millen, Jim Redz, Sega, Emynd & Bo Bliz, Ultraviolet, the Seclusiasis DJs, NoPhrillz, Dave Cramske, The Philadelphyinz, and DJ Low B’s irreplaceable HOLLERTRONIX, [the platform from which Diplo soon-after rocketed to stardom], had been working and are still working.  Each one of these individuals/crews have all been *the* Philadelphia DJs of my generation [30-40 yrs], and now more than half of them tour nationally, if not worldwide… If I were to give only one example of Philadelphia displaying “brotherly love” inside of its city limits, no doubt it would be in witnessing living legends like Jazzy Jeff, Rich Medina and King Britt mentor younger DJs, like Statik- now the world-touring, Mr. Sonny James, as well as Lil Dave- co-host of Eavesdrop Radio on WKDU, with listeners from multiple continents tuning in weekly.

But with a bar set so by by such a large group of A+ turntablists, I often wonder about what younger DJs are deserving of carrying on such a legacy… It won’t be DJ Damage, trust me [whole other story]…  Really, there’s no better way to sell me on an unfamiliar DJ than a cosign from Mr. Sonny James… MEET DJ PHRESH SELECTS: I just peeped his first Mixcloud installment, and it’s the first time I can honestly call a mix full of apparent trap influence “engaging and tastefully done”, also “not-requiring several Red Bull + vodka pints to get me on [his] wavelength”.  Enjoy…

Phresh Ph15teen (Episode 01 - Trap House / Twerk) by Ace on Mixcloud

Cosmik Radio The Complete Second Season

July 11, 2014

Dom [Public Axis]:

@NexMillen has a few slick mixes dropping w/ Public Axis very soon, including the 2014 sequel to last year’s Summer Dusk Mix, and an an extremely rare collection of lounge-friendly mix sessions… His radio show at Rhode Island Univ. is just as dope, and each episode of season two is now posted on NXM’s mixcloud

Originally posted on Nex Millen Music:

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Summer just got hotter! Presenting, Cosmik Radio with Nex Millen The Complete Second Seasonon RTC MixCloud.

I want to thank everyone who tuned in and listen every week. Now you can replay your favorite “Special Mixes”, rhyme over “The Producers Music Bed” or just enjoy the “Timeless Music Mix” Plus two bonus Special Mixes that didnt make it to the airwaves!!!

It’s a concentrated 30min set that will have your head nodding even after you stop listening.

Listen, Post and Share!!!
////Millen

WRIU Cosmic Radio f. Nex Millen by Nex Millen on Mixcloud

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Earl Sweatshirt: on ‘Tyler, the Director’, ‘Taco the Socialite’.. More Great Stories (Uncensored w/ Rosenberg @ SXSW 2013)

June 7, 2014

This summer’s Pitchfork Music Festival in Chicago features a somewhat predictable, but well-chosen lineup of popular hip-hop talent.  Among them is a young, creative and rap genius, who’s been at the top of my “must-see in-concert” wish list for over two years: Earl Sweatshirt from Odd Future.  Although Earl’s not headlining  the final day of the reputed #PitchforkFestival (duties being handled by Kendrick Lamar, who deserves many of the same compliments critics afford to Earl Sweatshirt), if the majority rock/cross-genre concert audience was to have only one “ambassador” to grassroots hip-hop music gracing the roster, I would want it to be Earl.

Not simply because of the numerous, reputed (and controversial) comparisons of Earl to a young, Illmatic-era Nas, but also because of his apparent humility and authenticity, and intelligence… qualities that are lacking among many aspiring and current stars in today’s rap game: land of the incessant #CoolandTough fuckery… Rosenberg is also well-aware of what Earl could be to the world hip-hop community 10 years from now (whether Earl gives a shit or not).  Intrigued enough for a continuation to their first interview in spring 2012, which was held almost immediately upon Earl’s return home to the surprise of OF’s massive success from a completely different reality, Rosenberg caught up with Earl in Austin during SXSW…

In the living room of Earl’s Austin, TX rental for the week- along with one of OF’s ‘elders’, Domo Genesis, offering anecdotes as he rolls up off-camera, and without consistent interruption from Tyler, Rosenberg leads an unadulterated, non-PC follow-up to his 2012 Hot 97 Interview to address peoples’ unanswered questions.. most of which lead to entertaining narratives for fans who follow Odd Future… This could be the first time I’ve laughed through a YouTube video that’s more than 10 minutes long, let alone 20.. Rosenberg manages to unearth comments from Earl on his top-5 emcees, the “garbage” some of he and Domo’s OF comrades listen to, plus impressions of Taco mingling with Hollywood’s red carpet club- all in his own brand of dry humor that works perfectly with Rosenberg’s style… Great stuff:

Vintage Video: O.D.B + Busta Rhymes’ Impromptu Public Cypher

April 26, 2014

By the looks of things, specifically Busta Rhymes’ slender build, and the Tommy Hilfiger and Helly Hansen jackets scattered about the audience, I’d say this video is about 20 years old, from 1994-95…  If so, BR unveils a verse that would become part of his famous, hit debut single “Got You All in Check” and continues to freestyle after it’s over.  The vintage nature of the shoot is also evident in the fact that Old Dirty Bastard appears in “Brooklyn Zoo” form, dropping punchlines during his heyday, before going overboard with aliases.. and crack cocaine.

The owner of the video labels it a “battle” when it’s clearly not… but it’s nonetheless rare footage of two now-legendary hip-hop icons still on the rise, entertaining the public at a time when they were hiphop’s next generation…

 

[VIDEO] Bop Alloy (Substantial, Marcus D) – Live in San Diego

April 26, 2014

Dom [Public Axis]:

I wish I had the tine to do a full write -up on this at the moment, but any fellow connoisseurs and/or bored fans looking for stimulating, next level production and progressive rhyme delivery without compromising an ounce of ‘the boom-bap’ need to listen to this record. When I first heard it, I drew immediate comparisons to CYNE, awho my friends hear me tout as “the most underrated rap group ever”. Check out the video and get the album on Bandcamp…

//bandcamp.com/EmbeddedPlayer/v=2/album=2951339328/size=large/bgcol=333333/linkcol=e99708/tracklist=false/artwork=small/

Originally posted on Substantial Music:


Deep Chill Productions Presents
A Spyridon Pictures Production

‘BOP ALLOY – LIVE IN SAN DIEGO’

On April 4, 2014, Substantial & Marcus D, known together as Bop Alloy, began their West Coast Tour with CYNE in San Diego, CA at The Worldbeat Cultural Center. With over 300 dedicated fans in attendance, Bop Alloy performed tracks from their debut album ‘Substantial & Marcus D are Bop Alloy’, their new LP ‘Another Day in the Life of…’ and some of Substantal’s solo material. The show concluded with Substantial & Cise Starr of CYNE performing tracks produced by the late great Nujabes.

The event also included performances from co-headliner CYNE, and support from DJ Norm Rocwell and producers Jenova 7, Esbe, & G. Rhodes. It was truly a night to remember, which you can now relive (a portion of it) thanks to this video of Bop Alloy’s peformance produced by…

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DJ Nex Millen – Satellite Radar | Latest WRIU Mix

April 5, 2014

DJ Nex Millen gets around.  From PA to NJ, to Cali and North Carolina, NXM spins weekly, 2PM – 3PM Tuesday afternoons at Rhode Island University’s WRIU, streamed online in real time from the station’s website…

Nex Millen is also the composer of the two illest installments of Public Axis’ *Satellite Radar* mix series thus far.. (which we make entirely from collectible vinyl records).  Streams of the latest WRIU show, the ‘Summer Dusk Mix’ (Vol 3) and the ‘Rare Remixes Collection’ (Vol 4) are all embedded below… NXMsummerduskMIX and Rare:Mixes each contain A LOT of records that are out-of-print and/or previously available only on vinyl records… Enjoy… More coming soon.

Satellite Radar Vol.3 - DJ Nex Millen - NXMsummerduskMIX by Public Axis on Mixcloud

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CosmikRadio f. NexMillen_WRIU_S02E03 by Nex Millen on Mixcloud

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#SatelliteRadar Vol.04 - DJ Nex Millen - RARE:MIXES by Public Axis on Mixcloud

[press:] @RAEKWON (wu-tang) Live – 2.28.13 @TheBlockley Philadelphia

February 22, 2013

So, the Public Axis “kill-some-shit-with-live-shows” department is back open for business, partnering with dd Productions on a series of live hip-hop events at The Blockley, which was voted 2012’s Best Live Music Venue by PHL17 television.

Below the poster is the press release I wrote for the first installment with Chef Raekwon…

CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE TICKETS

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In the ongoing conversation of the current state of hip-hop, to evoke the mid-90’s “golden era” is to recount an initiation of albums whose level of originality, many older fans feel, could never be rivaled by most contemporary fan favorites.  ‘When they reminisce over’ these tales of ultimate hip-hop-ness, it often falls on deaf ears with young crowds, many of whom had barely learned to walk before the seemingly-ancient, 20th Century trendsetters had been overshadowed by the pop culture influence ushered in Jay Z, Swizz Beats and others…

Now, 20 years since the golden era’s utopian existence, very- very- few of its legendary originators still remain tangible to subsequent generations of fans.  Even fewer have managed to evolve with the ever-morphing trends such that their appeal is as widespread as ever… RAEKWON the Chef, founding member of Wu-Tang Clan, is one of them.

Arguably the driving force behind the Wu’s enduring prevalence, everybody loves Rae.  While his subject matter as an emcee isolates thugs and black-market entrepreneurs rather specifically, his vivid lyricism and persona attract listeners from all walks of life.  Raekwon’s storytelling ability is hailed by critics; his poetic technique is admired by intellectuals, and his psychedelic references engage hipsters and coeds everywhere…

With extensive experience touring the world, as Raekwon’s audience continues to expand so does his eccentric kingpin aura…  Manifesting in the physical dimension for one night only in Philly- Thursday February 28th @ The Blockley- don’t miss this chance to ‘witness the God’.

#FridayFix: 5-Year Memorial … [Part 1]

January 8, 2013

Like most people, I’m prone to fits of nostalgia at the turn of a new year and, more personally, day dreams about how my life might be different (for better or worse) without the occurrence of certain events and milestones… Searching the seedy back-alleys of Google Images during “Christmas break”, I coincidentally managed to unearth a gallery of fliers from Public Axis’ founding endeavor, “The Friday Fix” at Medusa Lounge- the small, stageless, aesthetically-perfect venue’s first and only live hip-hop showcase- which ended abruptly a little more than five years ago after a solid 24-month run.

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Here and there, the event played host to traveling independent acts like Qwel, Substantial, Cymarshall Law and Flex Mathews, but The Friday Fix trademark was its dedication to (and in some cases, introduction of) top shelf, Philadelphia-based underground emcees.  It was also marked by emphasis on quality over quantity, mixing and matching 2-3, diversely talented artists on each month’s bill in an attempt to continually weld respective fan bases into a cohesive “scene”.  At its pinnacle, rosters were booked five months in advance, and the potential for disappointment rested not on unheard-of performers (now a contemporary plague, see: too many rappers), but on Medusa’s moody speaker system.  Ironically, the only potential for disappointment in the eyes of the bar’s owner was the high-likelihood of well liquor, blunt smoke, and spectator-emcees galvanizing unplanned cyphers and improvised sets that scared away all Spankrock fans among her hipster regulars (which my regulars loved).

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Good timing was at the root of the project’s success.  Along with the inception of 215HipHop.com, “Hip-Hop Lives” on first-Fridays, various !llvibe Collective monthlies, the activities Karma Response Unit Records, and wherever Reef the Lost Cauze was performing, FF played its part in creating an underground subculture outside the red tape of Clear Channel events and the influence of commercial radio-endorsed “crack-rap” that already laid claim as the “Philly hip-hop scene”.

oct2007

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Most importantly, and back to my original point, each flier triggers its own collection of memories that, in retrospect, carved my niche in the Philadelphia music scene and still today embody my company’s business model.  If it weren’t for this event and the relationships made through it, it’s very possible that I’d be a different person, living in a different city with a different career.  Without caring what “different” could mean, I’m thankful for Jim Redz, John Kahn, Young Harrison, Nex Millen, Portia (I still want to marry you), everyone that rocked without a promise of compensation, THOR Takeover, and the former members of Beat Garden Entertainment for helping to perpetuate this every month for two years…

Over the next few weeks, there will be more posts to come on the most notable installments of The Friday Fix…

mar2007

#1 Instrumental Hip-Hop Album of 2012: *Cool Story, Pro* by Small Professor

December 31, 2012

On a hazy weekday afternoon circa 2005, during my occasional routine of MySpace “window-shopping” for undiscovered emcee talent to book on upcoming events, my attention was seized by the name of a young, Philadelphia-based producer known as Small Professor.  My initial reaction, ignorantly misguided by his avatar of ‘Wheelchair Professor-X’, was, “Okay, so is dude, like, a paraplegic or scientist/rap-producer?  [Why else would someone justify such a bold nod to the namesake of a hip-hop pioneer?]  …Homage or not, I better hear some BEATS.”

 Small Pro-black&white pic

Within minutes, all my pretentions dissolved in the echoes of Small Pro’s “Jamal Gray” instrumental (first track on the mix from link).  Its sublime harmony was most impressive for how perfectly it catered to Jamal Gray, aka Last Emporer, our (coincidentally) mutual favorite emcee.  In the following seasons, SP’s gift for absorbing and expanding musical styles through his own, trademark form erupted into an impressive resume of contest victories and concept-based remix projects, plus instrumental collections, complete with irreverent titles and eccentric imagery, that amassed critical acclaim online for their vision and cohesive presentation.

…As the timeless saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words.  For the forward-thinking Small Professor, the value of a melody is quite the same…  Since the early-2012 release of his Gigantic, Vol.1, MC compilation album, Smalls has continued to harvest his fan base through Bandcamp with a trilogy of sequels to 2011’s reliable Jawns instrumental projects, setting the tone for his latest musical evolution, Cool Story, Pro

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Cool Story, Pro is not a drastic departure from its preceding releases, but it’s much, much more than an arbitrary collection of great hip-hop beats.  Best appreciated when played in its undisturbed entirety, each chapter of the glowingly soulful, 25-track opus is coupled with implicit titles like “She’s The One (I Think)”, “Signs”, and “Get Over It Already.”   The titles, as complemented by the dreamlike ambience, moody drums, and emotional vocal samples that weave throughout them, guide the listener through a kaleidoscope of all the sentiments that highlight the timeline of a romantic experience.  To me, Cool Story, Pro could play as the beginning-to-end cinema soundtrack to a love story that needs no dialogue… and subsequently wins ‘best movie’ at the Sundance Film Festival.

[PRESS] The Symphony Wins 1st @ BOTB w/ !llmind, Rook & S-1

December 25, 2012

Below the video and links to the official competition set on Soundcloud is the press release I drafted to celebrate my friend, Samik’s victory at iStandard Producers’ Beast of the Beats championship competition in NYC… You can also catch plenty of The Symphony’s latest music through The #BOARDROOM Living Compilation Album.

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THE SYMPHONY on Soundcloud: http://soundcloud.com/#bau-symphony

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Saturday, December 1st:  a five-minute contagion of scrunch-face saturated Rebel nightclub during “Beast of the Beats VI” in NYC as Philadelphia-based producer, The Symphony, showcased an epic, 3-track set of music before a Grammy-winning panel of judges including S-1 (Kanye West’s “Power”), !llmind (50 Cent), and Rook from J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League.  When the smoke cleared, The Symphony won first place out of 70 reputed beatsmiths, each of whose resume, at minimum, boasts a first or second place score in one of the many regional iStandard Producer Showcases across the United States.  Aside from generous supplements to his repertoire of production tools and personal supply of Monster Energy Drinks, he was also awarded the opportunity to spend a couple days in the studio with G.O.O.D. Music recording artist, Cyhi the Prynce, in Atlanta.

With the potential of some non-disclosed, A-list collaborations on the horizon, The Symphony anticipates the of release many bigger records in time, trying his hand not only in hip-hop but dub-step and house as well.  Never one to shy from challenging his own musical aesthetic or customs of the industry, he has also been a major contributor to The Boardroom, a “living album” project online that remodels itself in accordance with fan feedback.  Check it out to hear his latest single, “Everywhere”, alongside his Business As Usual Entertainment colleagues PT, DS and 2ew Gunn Ciz, plus plenty of other new music…

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Kendrick Lamar – “Swimming Pools” (Hezekiah Remix) w/ Johnny Popcorn

December 24, 2012

Digital stocking stuffer courtesy of Hezekiah and Dave Ghetto

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http://3crates.bandcamp.com/album/swimming-pool-remix-prod-by-hezekiah

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Uptown XO (Diamond District) – “RUGGED” Video w/ Obi Say, Awthentik

December 18, 2012

Just got this in my inbox… dope as fuck.  Let’s just say it’s appropriately titled.  I miss videos like this; the style/scenery of the shoot reminds me of the old Redman “Funkorama” video, also below.

XO’s upcoming album Colour de Grey is coming soon courtesy of Mello Music Group.  In the meantime, you can cop his pre-release mixtape The Color Gray (featuring “Rugged”) for $7 on Bandcamp.  I grabbed this a couple months ago, still play it in my whip regularly.

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UptownXO

Mello Music Holiday Clearance

December 14, 2012

Despite the massive success procured by Rick Ross and his Maybach Music henchmen in recent years, a significant fraction of today’s hiphop fans relate the iconic “MMG” stamp more closely with Mello Music Group, one of the most thriving (truly) independent hiphop labels working right now.  Not only the long-term home for underground mainstay, Oddisee, who according Shady Records Director of A&R, Dart Parker, “is the first act I’d sign if I were running an indie label,” Mello Music is also responsible for introducing acts such as Apollo Brown, Trek Life and Has-Lo to an international audience…

They’re also one of the few hiphop labels out that still presses vinyl, let alone any kind of physical copies.  Through the rest of December, MMG is having a clearance sale on all CD and vinyl via Bandcamp; visit the link below.  Keeping with the holiday spirit, I’ve also included some great free tracks they’ve given us in the last month or so.  (Having a bitch of a time embedding the Bandcamp player, so I’ve just linked them w/ artwork.

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MELLO MUSIC HOLIDAY CLEARANCE (link)

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mellomusicxmas_substantial

MHz – A Legacy

October 30, 2012

With all the hysteria surrounding Meek Mill’s and Kendrick Lamar’s recent, breakthrough studio albums, it’s likely more than a few good projects will be trampled in the crowds.  Rallying behind ‘mainstream’ debuts of the underground’s young champions is almost instinctual, but today bears another landmark release deserving of attention from grassroots hip-hop’s most fervent supporters… The MHz Legacy LP showcases Copywrite, Tage Future, Jakki Da Mottamouth and RJD2 working together on an album for the first time in well over a decade despite the passing of their most charismatic member, the late Tero Smith (aka Camu Tao).  While “unsung” isn’t a strong enough comparison for the buzz of this release against that of Dr. Dre’s and Rick Ross’ protégés, a cult following of fans have been waiting for another MHz full-length since before K. Dot spit for Punch, before the first Flamerz mixtape was pressed to CD.

Clockwise from top-left: Copywrite, Tage Future, Jakki, RJD2… Click to hear new album on iTunes.

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Before Tero’s untimely death presumably sealed the fate of the group, collaborations and accomplishments of its solo entities solidified their reputation as some of underground hip-hops finest- even without more than an appropriately titled Table Scraps album under their collective belt.  Early MHz vinyl singles were a cornerstone of the pioneer independent label, Fondle ‘Em Records, which laid way for Copywrite and Camu Tao to be catalysts in the rise of Definitive Jux Records as leaders of the Weathermen conglomerate with El-P, Tame One, Cage and others…

Camu Tao w/ Aesop Rock… Click for Camu’s posthumous Def Jux release, King of Hearts

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I’m certain “Kendrick Lamar is going to change the game” is a frequent comment among hip-hop circles right now.  The ambitions today’s generation of purists has for volcanic underground acts like K. Dot, Danny Brown and Slaughterhouse are tantamount to the expectations many fans had for the Weathermen 10 years ago…  In fact, imagine a more dynamic, bugged-out version of Slaughterhouse, and you’ll have MHz…  Now more than double the number of group members, and you’ll have the Weathermen.

Although I haven’t had much time to digest MHz Legacy, it’s so far the evolution I’d hope for after such a long hiatus.   For the most part, they make no failed attempts at recreating the dusty, lo-fi ambience of their original catalog; and although the Camu Tao’s psychedelic influence is absent from this project, it seems each track was produced with the question, “how would Tero want this to sound?”, in mind.  Clever wordplay, electric delivery and edgy soundscapes are still the group’s trademarks, once again amalgamating into a forward-thinking aesthetic that challenges hip-hop’s contemporary norms.

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JET LIFE (Curren$y/ Trademark/ Young Roddy) – New Single + Album Trailer

October 4, 2012

In the past few months I’ve been sleeping on a few write-ups I started, as well as posting anything at all for that matter.  While my preoccupation with helping plan a tour around the A3C Festival and studying for the LSAT are convenient excuses, a lot of the latest movements in underground hip-hop haven’t been exciting me.

I’m glad Clockwork Music dropped this off in my inbox today.  Bottom line: Curren$y is my favorite emcee out right now, partly because it’s impossible to lose interest with the frequency of new music he releases.  Fresh out is the appropriate titled “No Sleep” with Trademark Da Skydiver and Young Roddy as Jet Life- the lead single off their forthcoming Jet World Order 2 album (November 20th)…  Make sure to check out the trailer as well.

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