Producer Spotlight: JLVSN

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Jay Levison is one of the leaders of the next wave of hip hop production, and in a short period of time has the body of work to back that claim. He first caught our ear with the exceptional Tha Shoulder series with Left Lane Didon, utilizing breezy melodies and unique drums to create a one-a-kind listening experience. Other full projects include The Glass House from Chris Skillz, The Holy Mountain from Stack Skrilla. He has also infiltrated the Psych Ward camp, teaming up with Pro Zay for Fishweight as well as the brand new single Time for Chris Crzna featuring DapZini. Jay has great taste in collaborators, between that and his growing sound it’s safe to say he’s gearing up for a big run.

RD: Your introduction to many of us beat heads was the work on Saturday Night Lights for Mach and Fahim. Expound on how that came to fruition, and the feeling of sending music to one of the finest emcees on the planet.

JL: I had just started sending Fahim packs like October 2017, and outta that first one he picked the Flowers N Graveyards beat, so from there im kinda sending packs like one or two a month. Lowkey sent the pack with the FOH beat like two days before the first SNL dropped, and I didn’t know it was coming out like that I kinda woke up to it and heard the track and did a little tiger woods fist bump type shit. It’s amazing though man, I’m lucky and grateful to get to work with Fahim and Mach.

RD: Left Lane Didon and yourself have dropped 6 volumes of Tha Shoulder series. What is it about your two styles that made the chemistry form?

JL: I feel like myself and Left’s ears are kinda in a similar place for The Shoulder series. I got all these like 80s sounding beats that I’m just making for fun, but he really gave me a platform to put them out and have the shit hit right.

RD: Can you walk us through your beat making process? What comes first, and what comes last as far as construction?

JL: When my money’s right I’m buying records and just listening to shit, but I’ll use You Tube too to find samples. It really depends, like as far as first and last, there isn’t always a set way.

RD: If you add any one piece of gear to your setup, price be damned, what would it be?

JL: Probably some type of MPC, or a version of Ableton that I don’t gotta authorize to open every time.

RD: Do you do your own post-production?

JL: When it comes to stuff I’ve worked on with other people I like to let them go about adding interludes or skits and that type of shit.

RD: Stack Skrilla is another frequent collaborator. Do you feel like apart of the Dump Gawd crew? You have produced quite a few tracks for them.

JL: No doubt, those are my brothers for real, low key crazy how much support they’ve showed me. Not just on some send the pack type shit, it’s some shit that’s like all love.

RD: Your latest body of work is Fishweight with Pro Zay. He is making a name for himself in a short time, what can you say about the creation of that project?

JL: Zay was up in New York at the end of April, and we had linked last time he was out here in November when Frozen and I put on this show with Psych Ward, Immobiliare, Mavi, Murky, Hesh, and No-Fvce. Bro needed a couch for a night so he crashed at my place. We were just kickin it, smokin heavy, Zay had me play him some beats and we just kinda busted that shit out.

RD: What’s the ceiling for JLVSN? How far would you like to take this?

JL: I mean ideally just continue to get better with it, there are certain goals beat tape ideas or people I’d like to work with. The main thing is just like development. I hope a ceiling would be something where I feel like I’m where I need to be with this music shit, although I don’t necessarily know what that looks like.

RD: Ultimate goal as an artist?

JL: Man I guess like sometimes I’m thinking on why I make shit, and then I’m thinking of whatever that feeling certain shit gives you—if i can make some shit that makes me feel how that shit does, thats really what I’m going for.

RD: Plans for the rest for 2019?

JL: Off rip, Stack and I have a project coming, I got a tape with the Ward coming soon, and I got a tape with Jay Nice coming this summer. There are people out here sitting on some beats from me, so if it drops we’ll see but I don’t wanna speak on it too soon.

RD: If you could get any 5 vocal talents on a production album, who are you rolling with?

JL: Shit, everyone already mentioned, but also Murky, Redman, Earl, AZ, and (liv).e

Follow Jay on Twitter @_jlvsn and IG jaylevison

Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/user-837651074

Cop Tha Shoulder series here https://phonicart.bandcamp.com

Glass House https://chrisskillz.bandcamp.com/album/the-glass-house

 

Awol Interview

Awol joins us for this interview to talk about his inspirations behind the project Insert Coin.

RD:  What was your inspiration behind Insert Coin project ?

AWOL: The inspiration came from a lot of different places. Mainly because of my irresistible love for the style of Hip-Hop being what I grew up on and of course SEGA. With countless references and mentions of titles such as Virtua Fighter, House of the dead, as well as retro and modern day video games in general. The 90’s inspired me very widely as well, though I felt that I didn’t go in to depth with 90’s culture too much on this record, but I’m sure people will get the idea.

RD: What can you share about the process of creating this project?

AWOL: I can share a bunch of things this project comes with backstories like a timeline of sorts. A tale of vengence, as told in “Return of the Death Egg”  which is about me rebelling from a rap group I was once part of some time back that no longer exists. Being in and out of love explained in “Cheat Codes”, “91%”, and “Night Trap”, to partying it with the happy ending of “Birthday” EP which The Doppelgangaz gracefully blessed his presence on the record. There’s a lot of things I can express on this record, but I got you next time though. (Laughs) Stay tuned

RD:  Who are your hip hop icons

AWOL: Honesty there’s a lot of icons tons some to whom I wish were still here. Starting off with Sean Price because that man has taught me how to be real grizzly and not give a fuck, Guru, Prodigy, Chinx, Craig Mack, Camu Tao who I’ve gotten a lot of my steel from, a fuckin’ legend, an underrated one indeed, ODB, Heavy D, DJ Roc Raida, Big L, Big Pun, Nas, AZ, Raekwon, GFK, Method Man, DJ Premier, Chuck D, Cypress Hill, Wu-Tang Clan, Killer Mike, El-P, Outkast, Pharrell, Peanut Butter Wolf, Madlib, Samiyam, Tyler, The Creator which dead serious is like my lost younger brother, Earl Sweatshirt, Hodgy beats, GOLF, Alchemist, Kanye West, Sway, Busta Rhymes, Rapsody, Eminem, Cage, the list goes on… RIP to our lost greats in Hip Hop

RD:  Did you produce as well as rhyme for this project ?

AWOL: Nah. AWOL Da Mindwriter is just a writer however the entire project was made by The Doppelgangaz. I love their production, their sound it’s one of the main reasons why I started the project, not to mention it was the cartridge sound that I couldn’t let go out of all the games I played. Producers I’ve listened to that equally fitted to what I wanted. #SHARKNATIONAFILLIATION

RD: What is your favorite track from the release

AWOL: I don’t know that’s a hard one. Considering that there’s a lot of classic joints on the EP, but I think mostly “9th Floor”. That record built my foundation and is the reason why I started the idea of “Insert Coin: The Sampler”. It may sound bias, but I don’t give a fuck

RD:  What would you like to see for the underground hip hop scene?

AWOL: What I would like to see is more consistency. More open minded artists, people who are actual artists, not just rappers who are in this for a quick check. More action, less bullshit. More real motherfuckers, and less clout chasers. Less toys, more playroom, can you dig it?

RD: Anyone you would like to work with for future projects?

AWOL: There’s a bunch of people I would like to work with on future projects, including people from my side as far as One Take Carter, Maui Mac, Adam Maxwell, Passport General, WGWS, Llewkritive Sly Wolf, True Freedom, Grandmilly and Shozae, Midnite Society. Members from my crew Divine 9 such as Ant Pablo, Numeral Numbers, Emanyouill and much more from #TheLostBorough (Long Island Artists). As far as outside of that, Bodega Bamz, Norm Regular, K Burns, Widowmaker, Rigz, Jamal Gasol, CRIMEAPPLE, Asun Eastwood, Daniel Son, Saipher Soze, Phyba, The Winners (Hus, SmooVth, SageInfinite, etc) Sadhu Gold, Blimes and Gab (Which are the best female duo thus far) Atar’e Godspeed, Sydetrack Imperial, AG Da Coroner, One Be Lo, Roc Marciano. Bishop Lamont he’s been a real dude throughout the process too, shouts to him and Hillie Hill, Action Bronson, Tyler The Creator (one day), Jean Grae, Despot, Vast Aire, Vordul, Ill Bill, Vinny Paz, MF DOOM, Elcamino, Westside Gunn, Conway, Benny, A$AP Twelvy, Nuclear Garden, Dj Al (Cubilas), CF Word (aka DJ Clark After Dark, Al’s good friend), Bad Seed, SCVTTERBRVIN, Dj Enyoutee, Constrobuz, The infamous Tito Sanchez, Mr. Muthafuckin’ Exquire, King David Beats, Revnxnt, THRVD (“The Ravada”), BuBu the Prince, Illconcious, R.A. The Rugged Man, Mayhem Lauren, Al Divino and others I can’t think of at the moment, but damn….that’s a lot of collabs I’d like to do.

RD: Do you enjoy listening to any praticular UG artists?

AWOL: I do enjoy listening to a lot of underground artists, especially today with some of the most gracious talent I’ve seen from lyricists such as Al Divino, CRIMEAPPLE, Daniel Son, Rome Streetz, Falcon the Outlaw, SCVTTERBRVIN but mainly gritty, traditional, lyrical. Anything that doesn’t rupture my listening experience I listen to a lot of stuff from high school too like Little Brother, Justus League, El-P, Aesop Rock, Cage, Tame One, Camu Tao (RIP), Copywrite, Y@kballz, BCC, Buckshot, Murs, Despot, Jurassic 5, Rob Sonic, Hangar 18, artists that people don’t speak of, or know about anymore. It’s rare I can even find people to have conversations with about things like this…it’s rare.

RD: Any producers that you would like to link up with

AWOL: Where do I begin? Alchemist, Black Milk, 9th Wonder, Roc Marciano, King Beats, Pete Rock, V Don, Dj Muggs, Fortes, Eto, DJ Fred Ones, Rob Sonic, Aesop Rock, El-P, Constrobuz, Graymatter, Revnxnt, CF Word, Dj Al, Mr. Len, Statik Selektah, Large Professor, Vinyl Villain The Marty Scorsese of Hip-Hop , Nef, Dokbrass, Khrysis, Ka$h, Nottz, Dj Premier, Jake One, Widowmaker, The Custodian of Records, RobDiner0 (shouts out to both of them and I got some work with them for you guys soon), Fitz Ambro$e, Illm!nd, MDSGN, Madlib, it’s endless honestly

RD: What are your plans for the rest of 2019 more music, shows etc ?

AWOL: My plans for the rest of 2019 is to do more shows, largely widen my fanbase, make more music, make a household name for myself, and establish what I stand for. There’s more stuff in the works I’m not gonna say much let’s just say my light gun’s loaded. (Laughs)

RD: Shout outs

AWOL: Shout out to God first of all for making this possible and for my existence! Big shouts to those that held it down during before and after the time of this record! To my mixing engineers Jason “JD” De Rienzo, and GoldMind of Space Age Entertainment LLC(I love both you and Beesh and everybody in the squad), my family at Divine 9 of course most of all Betty The Producer for The Bakery Studios and all his wonderful works. Ant Pablo for never giving up on me and riding with me. Numeral Numbers and Emanyouill for killing it at aiding almost every show and helping me along the way as well as riding with me every step of the way!! Sean Muknowz (that’s the gawd), King Who (Nuclear Garden), My heart Charlyn (mi Amor, thank you for holding me down, Love You), Quelz for always being my brother, thank you for everything gawd, brothers for life!! Teri Strouse for being the BlondeBomb and a great friend and mentor. Killa for being my brother from another UG for life!! 6 feel better bro, peace gawd, Mary Jane Lindquist for being the greatest mother figure ever! Love you! Justin Fischetto, Grandeye Creative, JewelzintheRaw Films,Kas Kazmere. Atar’e Godspeed for speaking incredible knowledge. GUNDAMNERD for being the illest custom Gundam modeler in the World, 1000words I cant wait for the legendary Pic Rome, Tanboys forever baby. For to all my hardcore SEGA fans, from Master system, to Dreamcast. Especially fans of SEGA Genesis. All my 90’s babies. The party at Respect Due for having me, my fans, Dj Enyoutee, Abstrak(SKMZ) Rhythm Junkies, J57 Yo you’re the man bro!! My mother for birthing me (miss you and love you dearly I will meet you when God calls. Aaron Fredrick, Adam Maxwell, Sivan Jacobs, Queen Mylene and Spec the Kid, Bigg Dogg, The owner of Joes Pizza for helping me during the time of employment to make this record possible. Dmac, Doms, Frankie, Aaron”Yakballz” Biramian, Oliver Lee (free Oli, hope to see you soon) “Free Aaron” aka “Ji-on”, Scrambler$ Gang (TO family, I’ll see you soon!!) Sono Godbody (Free Sono, that’s the fuckin’ gawd, Summer Ave, all my siblings, the family at Groggy Pack ENT, and last but certainly not least, My mother on Earth, who put up with me since young till adult hood, a big lifetime shout-out goes to Tina Jackson, I love you dearly and wish you many more years. Hopefully not pissing you off and picking on you! (Laughs

Follow AWOL on Twitter @ https://twitter.com/AWOLMindwriter

Artist Spotlight: ToneyBoi

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We have built with some multi-faceted individuals in the past, but not many in the hip hop community take on as many tasks as Buffalo’s ToneyBoi. He is a DJ, emcee, engineer and promotes shows. A member of the Coolie High collective, he already has an extensive catalog including his latest work Ugly Luxury. It boasts features from Sleep Sinatra and FastLife, not to mention hard hitting production from Onaje Jordan, Filfy Tarantino and Skitso.

RD: You wear many hats, including emcee/DJ/engineer and show promoter. Which came first?

TB: Emcee came first. I recorded my first verse back in 05 with my brothers while in high school. I was always the one recording my bro’s and trying to upgrade the equipment so we could have a better sound. In 2015 I studied recording arts at Full Sail University in Orlando, Florida and received my BS in sound engineering. While in Florida, I spent a lot of my free time drinking beer and DJ’ing in my bedroom until I landed my first DJ gig. When I returned home to Buffalo, I realized that the best DJ’s and emcee’s in the city weren’t getting the gigs that they used to. So I started throwing events to bring a spark back to the Buffalo scene.

RD: Buffalo and upstate New York in general has taken the underground by storm. Talk to us about experiencing the growth of the scene first hand and your thoughts about the long-term potential

TB: It’s really been interesting to watch the rest of the world take interest in what we have to offer. The crazy part is that we’re just scratching the surface now. There are some dudes that I’m sure you’ll be hearing about soon. If we all keep it 100 like we have been, there is so much potential for a long term run.

RD: For those unfamiliar, tell us about the history of Koolie High. Would you consider KH a collective?

TB: Koolie High was initially just a group with me and my 3 brothers (Gaines, Skate, Hood). We had a bunch of mixtapes that we dropped and had a solid following because we threw some of the best parties. Later, we added some other members to the group as artists, even had a visual and merchandise team. So to answer the question… yes, we were a collective. You can still find a lot of the Koolie stuff online. (khmg.bandcamp.com)

RD: Would you consider R.A.K.S. Report your debut album?

TB: Yes, I do consider that my debut album in Buffalo. I consider Kool 4 Thought produced by Camoflauge Monk my debut to the world! RAKS Report was the first project I released where I didn’t jack the beats.

RD: You had a chance to work with one of the premier producers in the game, Camoflauge Monk. How far back do you guys go, and what was the experience like recording a full project with him?

TB: Me and Monk go back about 10 years now. While I was in Koolie High, he was in a group named First Class as an emcee. I don’t remember exactly how we linked, I think it might have been a showcase or a house party. Recording a whole project with Monk was easy. Like I said, we’ve been kicking it for years so we both know how each other acts for the most part. When I moved back to Buffalo, Monk was the first one that reached out because he knew I really didn’t have a rap situation at the moment. And that’s how I ended up partnering with Monk and becoming an Art Dealer.

RD: You have organized some shows in your area, are there any crazy show stories you can talk about?

TB: The craziest show that I can think of is the show we had this past December. The crowd was so lit that Benny The Butcher hopped on stage and did a surprise performance of India for the hometown. Other than that, there’s always a special guest in the building if I can make it happen.

RD: How important is having good venues to help grow a hip hop scene?

TB: Wow its crazy you ask that. I just wrote a whole article about how Buffalo doesn’t have many venues that’ll support hip hop. I’ll be sure to send you the link. Venues are important, but not as important as you’d think. We need the community to commune and support the artists first in my opinion.

RD: Ugly Luxury is your latest offering, did you bring a similar approach to your previous albums?

TB: With Ugly Luxury, I spent a lot more time by myself trying to puzzle together what I wanted to do with it sonically. I didn’t want to carry the same vibe over from Kool 4 Thought, but I wanted to keep the same work formula and process. I did the same with Drunk Unkle. When I make a project, I try to think “which part of me can I give them this time?”. Most of the time thats the hardest part.

RD: It featured production from two of our favorites, Onaje Jordan and Filfy Tarantino. What was it about their work that made you seek them out?

TB: Onaje reached out a while ago right after K4T. He sent me a batch of heat! It took me a while to release those tracks with Onaje, we had been sitting on Burning Slugs for a while before we decided to put it on Ugly Luxury.  My homie Filfy hit me up to do a Daniel Son record for his album and we’ve basically had a good working relationship ever since. Both of these producers have their own sound, thats what I think I admire the most about both. You can tell an Onaje beat from a Filfy beat, well at least I can lol.

RD: Plans for the rest of the year?

TB: I don’t want to get peoples hopes up and start dropping titles and names haha. But I do plan on dropping a few EP’s and hopefully two more albums. Definitely one more album.

RD: Shouts/specific message to listeners and supporters?

TB: Big shoutout to my Homie DJ Rukkus over at rebelradio716.com, he’s been my biggest supporter for a long time. Make sure you all tune in and check it out, he’s always playing some REAL HIP HOP!!  I can’t forget to send some love to my guy Jerry, this Ugly Luxury run wouldn’t be working without that man. This is only the beginning, BaLeeDat!

Follow Toney on Twitter and IG @IAmToneyBoi

Bandcamp https://toneyboi.bandcamp.com

Artist Spotlight: JuneLyfe

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Today we hone in on the multi-talented JuneLyfe, a man who rhymes, sings and produces at a high level. We were first introduced to him as a member of the group Retrospek, then as a member of the prolific Winners collective. He is now a fully functioning solo artist, having dropped Mood Swings Vol. 1 last October. Using a combination of highly descriptive lyrics and mic styles, your never going to get the same song twice. His production catalog is growing as well, with stellar contributions to Hus Kingpin’s WAVO EP (hook and beat for Cold World) and Recognize Ali’s Real Pain .We feel he is one of the most underrated talents in the entire scene, and his profile will only get larger as he releases more music.

RD: You started out with Retrospek, a 3 member group. What are some of the fondest memories of your earlier days, and what is the main difference recording for dolo as opposed to recording for a group project?

JL: The organic structure of 3 completely different minds collectively sharing ideas and thoughts. Direct contact, emotion, energy… it’s a vibe I miss but chapters move forward, never back.

RD: How did your relationship with The Winners come to be?

JL: Awww man, that was random in itself, because my brother, Spnda (Retrospek) did a record with Roxbury’s own OTO and Hus entitled, Burn It Down. Truthfully after that, I think Hus and Smoovth found me on Soundcloud. Money Makin Mitch set the tone for me! It was all just me and Rah Intelligence (Retrospek) catching a vibe. I was watching the movie. At that point the movie (Paid in Full) was just a flick we kept on silent and kept working. Occasionally laugh at some scenes and recite lines. Well, that song helped a long way because it made Hus check my catalog on Soundcloud. Then he heard Clairvoyant aka Palm Reader and it was a wrap from there. I was told I was gonna be down with the click.

RD: Let’s talk about your diverse mic styles, you come at tracks in completely different ways. Is it a conscious effort to give the listener something new, or mostly how the beat speaks to you?

JL: Truthfully you would think it’s just how the beat speaks to me, but it’s not. It’s also how I speak to others as well. A lot of times ideas manifest from conversation. I talk about “Lyfe” all the time and whatever beat helps feed that vibe, whatever vibe that is at the time, I’ma go for it! Sometimes the beat brings me back at a certain time or conversations that I would have with people up front, and I still produce that energy. Good or bad. Wouldn’t know what one is without the other so I talk about everything… on any beat fitting.

RD: Boston is my favorite hip hop scene in the world at the moment, there seems to be an endless amount of dope talent from the area. Would you say theres a renaissance going on, or were us outsiders asleep the whole time?

JL: Truthfully the world is supposed to spin man. The rotation of the globe means that everyone is supposed to get a piece of shine. So really it’s just nature taking its course. We had it at one point and time where the attention was on Boston for a few a few times. It’s just rotating around full circle again. That’s how I see it. The attention only swings because of pure dopeness too, don’t get me wrong. Also we’ve kinda branched and excelled farther than just Boston. Boston is just the face everybody knows. It’s like Boston is the older bro in High School and the lil bro got a name of course but everyone knows Boston. Lil Bro (and I mean that respectfully) been out here thuggin and bangin’ a name for himself… places like Worcester, Lynn, Chelsea, etc. Them cities got their own identity and we all family and all… but they deserve their seperate attention as well! Gotta Love ALL of Mass!

RD: Your latest work is Mood Swings Vol. 1, talk to us about creating it, this was your first body of work in some time.

JL: See Mood Swings is a vibe as you know. I had to accommodate every vibe with feelings I wanted to capture from beginning to end. It was gonna be long, but I didn’t want to overwhelm folks with too much variety in one sitting. So I stuck with relatable topics such as happiness, ambition, embarrassment, excitement, and anger. I try to tap on all of this when I create. Not forced food tho. Always organize organically.

RD: Is Mood Swings a euphemism for your different styles in music, or life in general?

JL: Yeah, I guess. I wasn’t dwelling too hard on that while creating tho. That’s what seemed to happen after putting everything together. Kinda just pieced itself together.

RD: Cold World is my personal favorite from the WAVO EP, you produced it as well as providing the hook. How long have you dabbled in production?

JL: Thank you, sir! I’ve been dabbling for some time. Off and on. I tried it all: Fruity Loops, Sony Acid, COOL edit pro, you name it, I was splitting wavs, copy, paste, crossfade. Getting older and watching people work, like Rah, Evilldewer, and others, I started asking questions (which I knew would irritate them while they’re working) to get a better understanding. I even remember using an SP-303 as my first piece of hardware making beats on (which also belonged to Rah). I went out and got my own and got into more production, Rhythm Roulette inspiring me too. I always watch the best ones on there before I make a beat too. On some competitive shit. Haha!!

RD: What are some of your favorite collabs? Recently you’ve blessed tracks with Estee Nack, Chronic Tone (the outstanding hip hopera Take A Breath) as well as Haze & Grubbypawz, Rozewood and Rec Ali.

JL: Some of my best collabs I haven’t even released yet and I kind of don’t want to spoil anything. But some of my best featured songs that are out now of course Money Makin Mitch ft Hus Kingpin. Another is SageInfinite’s Water record off his joint album with Ro-Data. And lastly I would say (and the only unreleased joint I’m mentioning) is my joint on DJ Manipulator’s project releasing sooner than later, mid-this year… the feature I will keep a surprise tho. Worth all the while, trust me!

RD: Talk to us about the ups and downs of being an independent artist, im sure its quite the grind.

JL: Awwww man, it’s a cluster-umf of events. Money to fund yourself. The right team around you. Support. Engineering. Beat production. Format. Layers. I can go on forever! Lol, clearly those are the downs. Wanted to get all those out the way. Now the ups for me, was acknowledging all those errors and followed a do it yaself manual I discovered in my head of thought libraries and confidence shelves. The mental book of “I’m tired” was found and I caught the “I can do it” syndrome. The joy of being om stage for me is the absolute best. That’s my one on one with the fans. Creating is the beautiful foundation. Performing it displays the hard effort put in, even if the outsiders think it looks so easy!

RD: Is Mood Vol. 2 the next step? What can listeners look for in the second half of this year?

JL: Mood Swings 2 is indeed following soon, but I want to anticipate it some more with others I have lined up to knock down! 2019 and so forth will be an enthusiastic time for MUSIC IN GENERAL! I’m having fun!

Follow June on IG and Twitter  @Junelyferetro

Cop that Mood Swings here https://junelyfe.bandcamp.com

Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/junelyfe