The Tedy Brewski Playlist by Alex Young

Tedy Brewski photographed by Maxwell Young

Tedy Brewski photographed by Maxwell Young

Following his 2016 project Space Cowboy, Tedy Brewski has released a new EP--Platinum Beach.  It must have been the DMV native's hyper-patience that kept him from releasing music in over ten months because we know he's been grinding.  "Staying up 'til six in the morn' making songs," the underground rap veteran syas in "blue Blockers," a song that makes you want to get in your car and drive.

Dubbed the 'best backpack rapper,' Brewski is back on the creative wave.  While dropping the six-track project at the end of August, he also published a series of what he tagged as '#Alternative Rock' songs on SoundCloud.  "In My Dutchie" and "Blue Dream"--a track Tedy Brew released just four days ago--both capture that new wave bop that's reminiscent of sounds by bourgeoning producer Pi'erre Bourne or mainstream hits like "Please Shut Up" in Cozy Tapes Vol. 2.

"I listen to everything and I'm influenced by everything.  Some shit is influenced by me and some shit influences me," he says over a blunt. 

Enjoy the Tedy Brew Playlist and Groove below, and stay tuned for his upcoming interview.

Slicky Williams Gives Acapella Freestyle and a Message to Lost Youth by Alex Young

Slicky Williams photograph by Alex Young

Slicky Williams photograph by Alex Young

Slicky Williams stands on pride rock speaking to InTheRough. This thing is huge, the rock sits in Pittsburgh's Highland Park. Walk down a path next to the picnic pavilions and hope to find it under a canopy of trees. Slick tucks away from his native Homewood neighborhood to smoke blunts back here. "It's a nice way to start the day," he says.

The blunt passes back and forth, and the 22-year-old R&B talent named Sh'mi White describes his music. "My music is just me. It's how I'm feeling. It's soulful. The only way I can describe it is like Bryson's shit, Trap Soul."

Which means sensitive and raw qualities of 'trap soul' present in Slicky's newest song, "Fake Moves" produced by WavinLane.

Further, balance is the key element to Slicky's music. Past tracks like "My Wrist" smash with stories of riding around in a Mitsubishi Lancer with rap friend Pk Delay. Though the tales of mobbin' around the city are fun, Slick shows compassion too. He touches on a romance with his songs "Fiend For You" or "Me You Us." Sincerely, Slicky tries "to talk about how I survive the situations that could damn near break people," he says.

Hardships in the city leave people stuck choosing between "the good and bad shit," Slick says. Right now he's pondering buying a gun 'cause "too many niggas out here dying I can't be another one," he raps acapella for ITR.

A post shared by InTheRough (@intheroughstyle) on

I paint the picture for the troubled kids, the kids in the mix between good and bad who everyday have to figure out which way to go.

Purposefully, he speaks for lost youth, and Slicky also champions the 'Burgh's hip-hop community. "The scene in Pittsburgh is coming around. Artists need to support each other," he says.

In 2015, Slicky's mate in The Company Only rap collective, Joel Kellem (Pet Zebra), won The King of The 'Burgh rap competition. That title gave notoriety to everyone in The Company Only like Deem, Fat Corey, Pk Delay, and Seas. "Things started poppin' off" after the collective got their first headline called the "Hotbox" show in Downtown Slicky remembers.

Since then the trap-soul artist finds his sound. Great tracks like "Ain't Nothing" will appear on the Slicky Williams SoundCloud account and disappear months later if he's not satisfied. The substance is important to his messages. "I live life in between the music. This is a lifestyle," he says.

Altogether, Slicky wants his fans to know that regardless of the circumstance, "you're not alone."

 

 

Slicky Williams - Fiend For You by Alex Young

"In your ocean, I just want to swim... She make me want to have a junior."

Slicky Williams photograph by Alex Young

Slicky Williams photograph by Alex Young

Primarily, R&B artist Slicky Williams separates himself from the pack because his music confidently explores intimacy, love, and relationships. He isn't "stuck in the stigma of being a hood nigga" making trap music he said in a forthcoming interview with InTheRough. The Homewood, Pittsburgh native has bangers and soul with some funk in between.

Enjoy Slick's new song "Fiend For You" below, and look out for an acapella freestyle along with the Slicky Williams profile soon here.

NVSV - Villain by Alex Young

Producer and rapper NVSV [NASA] sustains himself in Pittsburgh's music community. He spends long hours at Library Collaborative, a full-service recording studio and independent record label located between the Dormont-Whitehall boroughs.

The 'Burgh has welcomed NVSV with open arms since he moved to the city from Baltimore in 2011. In the hip-hop scene, he's brushed shoulders with trap-stars like Stevie B, the infamous producer who crafted Jimmy Wopo's "Elm Street," and Reese Youngn's engineer.

At Library Collaborative, NVSV meshes well with a crew of talented artists who produce in the hip-hop and rock genres. Their space is interesting, racks of vinyl line the walls, purple hallways feature sensational art, there's a full-environment green screen, plenty of recording studios, and much more. Library is a diamond in the rough that is Pittsburgh.

Now, NVSV dedicates himself to his music and all the resources that Library provides him. Off the cusp of enjoying "Like Me" on VibeRotation 27, NVSV releases a new song and video called "Villain."

Listen to the new track and understand his perspective when he says, "I'm in a dream I gotta leave 'cause the real world never wait." ITR readers can have a thorough review of NVSV's processes, life experience, and the Library Collaborative soon here.

Choo Jackson - Make Me Laugh by Alex Young

Known for the Stillers and the bridges, you might be surprised to find Pittsburgh is also known for its parades. Whether that is relevant to rapper Choo Jackson's new "Parade" album executive produced by I.D. Labs studio is to be determined.

Before "Parade" releases, Choo wants us to simply "enjoy" his new song, "Make Me Laugh." So listen and #MakeChooLaugh. Watch this here, Chooie Lennon.

Aïcha- Finding Her Voice by Maxwell Young

Last September, we introduced you to a woman who was just beginning her musical journey, writing and ‘developing her sound’ as she calls it, in Paris and LA with artists and producers.

We began to hear the actualization of Aïcha's time spent abroad on recent SoundCloud playlist, Elle The Diary. She sings in french on “Entry 2”, a remix of Drake’s “Bria’s Interlude” and Bryson Tiller’s “Sorry Not Sorry."  For "Entry 1," over the instrumental of Common's "Go!" she recognizes the poignancy of being a young woman in the music industry.

“Entry 1 I actually performed live on the radio in Paris like in March, it was so dope. I was so nervous though, it was definitely a learning experience,” she says of her joining French R&B artist Skreally Boy on OKLM Radio’s Rap/Hip-Hop show La Sauce (track 2).

Aïcha’s recent spoken word poems “ELLE” and “Abbas and Iman Pt.1” showcase her dense lyricism. In "ELLE" she aligns her flow with the delayed bass kicks produced by Duce, she says "Is it because I am woman she wonders/ That I could mend my words with many truths and execute With injury/ a pretty melody to match my frame/ Would still have more appeal?"

To provide a little more insight on current inspirations, we asked Aïcha for a taste of the music she's been listening to. "The Gap Year" is a 22-track playlist featuring songs from influences like Kendrick Lamar, PARTYNEXTDOOR, and Wizkid but it also has an international flair indicative of her time abroad. An iteration of French trap by Damso gives context to the adaptation of hip-hop across foreign countries.

“He isn’t on SoundCloud but I’ve been listening to a lot of afro-trap from this kid MHD and it just made me want to try and work over similar beats... it’s been interesting. But I’ve been listening to a lot more music from West Africa. These are my roots so it’s dope to have all my languages come into play and blend into my music.”

Today, she combines SZA’s “Normal Girl” and “Go Gina” on a smooth instrumental for what has become our new favorite vibe.

“I have some singles coming up that I’m really excited about. Right now I’m just finding my voice and enjoying the process of doing so”.

Stay tuned and follow Aïcha on Instagram & Twitter.

VibeRotation 27 by Alex Young

We've been sitting on a lot of good music, tracks for the pregame, the club, the ride home, and the morning after. Listen to the new VibeRotation playlist from start to finish or pick around our selections. Find a roundup of some songs by Pittsburgh artists like rappers Linwood and Mikey P, as well as songstress Sierra Sellers. Trap-star Reese Youngn has a heater in "Microwave." The hometown hero Wiz Khalifa teamed up with Ugly God for a " No Lies" track thats gains national attention. Be turnt to "Bodak Yellow," "Plain Jane," and "Jugg," a trio of songs that provide the most energy.

Enjoy three hours of new music for the three colorways of ITR T-shirts we are soon to release.

Pet Zebra - Ferris Wheel by Alex Young

Today is history for Pet Zebra, a fun rapper from Pittsburgh, as he celebrates his birthday and the release of his new album.

Zebra spent the weekend hyping his "Ferris Wheel" project with his fellow rap friends The Company Only, Fat Corey, Pk Delay, Seas, and Slicky Williams. They engaged a loyal audience for the album's listening party at the Social Status streetwear boutique on Saturday, August 5. Notable hip-hop artists showed up in support, like Jiggy and Heem of The Knuccleheadz and producer Bill$up. Pet Zebra stood on the sneaker display case and performed "Ferris Wheel." When he played his new song "Plexico," people in the shop gave the stank face. The beat bops and Zebra's lyrics hit on comedic nostalgia, "Bring them straps to New York like I'm Plexico," he says in the hook.

After the listening party, Pet Zebra and his mates brought glitz to Pop Style, a party at The Brillobox for contemporary hip-hop run by Cody Baker and DJs Pete Butta and Preslav. The crowd was jumpin' when "Plexico" came on. Pet Zebra rocked his brief set, and his presence placed attention on the new album. Before he left he played a cool jam in "Dads Benz."

Officially, "Ferris Wheel" is out now, August 6. People can stream the album on iTunes here and keep up with Pet Zebra on his SoundCloud. Wish him a happy birthday on Twitter if you're real.

 

DJ Motormane - The Novice Tape by Alex Young

DJ Motormane photograph by Xavier Thomas of Art Like Us

DJ Motormane photograph by Xavier Thomas of Art Like Us

In Pittsburgh, the music is rockin'. Rising stars like Jimmy Wopo find their footing and the underground hip-hop scene grows every day in front of lit audiences.

DJ Motormane, a legend in the 'Burgh thanks to Taylor Gang company and most recently his Burgh Boyz podcast with DJ Spillz, gives local music talent the shine it deserves. The DJ compiled a seven-track mixtape of hits. "The Novice Tape" introduces the city to artists worth listening to and keeping up with. Enjoy new hip-hop such as "For Nothin," a Choo Jackson and Pk Delay (congratulate dad on signing a deal) track, and "Westbrook," fresh Jimmy Wopo. Other notable musicians working in Pittsburgh and beyond feature on the project. Hear Sledgren beats and Cleveland native Shawn K lyrics. Atlanta rapper Carby has a banger in "All If I Wanna." Altogether, thank Motormane for his executive production on "The Novice Tape."

P.S. "Do The Same" smacks.

Reviving Real's Mix for the 'Burgh by Alex Young

Illustrations by Yung Mulatto

Illustrations by Yung Mulatto

In an effort to connect the artistic communities of Pittsburgh's "big city small town," Reviving Real, a local clothing brand and collaborative platform, releases a music mix to showcase the city's thriving musical talent. The tape features unreleased music from underground champions who are bound to get the recognition they deserve. Reviving Real gives the artists on the mix momentum and exposure to grow the artists' audiences in the 'burgh and beyond. Also, "VOL 1" by R.R. diversifies the clothing label's content.

Additionally, music producer, cartoonist, and visual artist Yung Mulatto designed the cover art for Reviving Real's mix. To date, Mulatto is responsible for the artwork for several different projects. Most recently he helped young local rapper Blackboi with an interstellar doodle for his "ASTRO O2" album, a record about love and an end to Earth.  "Cover art is the visual connection with music. [You] can't see sound," Yung Mulatto says. His drawing, a style that takes cues from Danny Phantom and anime, provides creative direction for much of Pittsburgh's hip-hop scene. He says to look out for work with Benji, a rapper with a great live presence and band. Listeners can hear both Blackboi and Benji on the mix.

Moving forward, pay attention to the effort Reviving Real put forth as they support the music community in the Steel City. Watch for your ears because the mix they put together is entertaining thanks to the aforementioned characters and more like Mars Jackson, Isaiah Small, and James Perry. Peep the tracklist and do your research on the musicians.

Sounds of D.C. Playlist by Maxwell Young

The music scene in Washington, D.C. as well as its surrounding areas in Maryland and Virginia, is diverse with different grooves and experimental sounds blurring genre lines.  Over the last several months, these sounds have been on display at numerous events and venues around the District.  InTheRough has documented some of these experiences, like Frankliin's set at D.C. Funk Parade in early May or performances by Alex Vaughn and Meche Krorrect for the Glow End Theory Program at Black Cat.  There are shows three and four days out of the week put on by art and music collectives within the creative community.  Scroll through the Instagram feeds of Medium Rare, Bombay Knox, CMPVTR CLVB, and DCDIT to find show posters from 2014.

From Go-go and jazz to punk rock and indie-dance, the genres of the District have always been "amazing unto themselves," said Marcus Dowling, chronicler of capital culture for publications including the Washington City Paper, Vice and Complex.  The Sounds of D.C. playlist captures a number of the contemporary sounds and artists that are influenced by the rich, musical heritage of Washington, D.C. Listeners will understand the collaborative element to much of the music that is produced in the DMV through tracks like "Devil's Red Dress"--a true rock ballad assembled by Dreamcast and Fat Kneel.  

GoldLink and Fat Trel are DMV artists who have found commercial success.  They continue to promote the budding talent and sounds with their respective tracks "Rough Soul," which features April George of April & Vista, and a Trel track, "IN MY BAG," that's anchored by forefather Wale.  Of course the lineformation family is present in this playlist, especially Tedy Brewski who's purportedly working on new music.  But pay attention to rappers Nappy Nappa and Sir E.U who are headed to London for the first time.

Listen to the playlist above and if you like what you hear, be sure to keep exploring new music by clicking on the artists' profiles.

Rob Smokes Funk Disaster- love was made for these times by Maxwell Young

"It 100% comes down to the collaborative effort.  That's the status quo here."

Rob Smokes Funk Disaster: (left to right: Joe Wilson, Sam Catherman, Rob Stokes, and Jack Delamater)

Rob Smokes Funk Disaster: (left to right: Joe Wilson, Sam Catherman, Rob Stokes, and Jack Delamater)

On May 6, Rob Smokes Funk Disaster released their album love was made for these times.  Rob Stokes, one of the band's members, took to his mediumrare.dc Instagram account to thank artists like Cautious Clay, Milf Mitch, Sir E.U., St. Clair Castro, Nappy Nappa, and Jamal Gray, for without them he "probably would've quit altogether." 

Originally from Uniontown, Pa., about 45 miles away from Pittsburgh, Stokes has been a contributor to the creative community of the District of Columbia for the last six years. What initially started as house shows at his fraternity at George Washington University so that he and his friends could jam, has evolved into helping to cultivate a sustainable community of musicians in D.C.

"My journey in the District started slow," Stokes said.  "I was putting on house shows and meeting people that way.  At the end of the day, it's a lot of listening--like boots on the ground, going to shows, and meeting artists."

The musician, producer, and curator is a member of the CMPVTR CLVB collective and owner of Dead Art, LLC, which is now referred to as Medium Rare.  Both entities are responsible for throwing events highlighting the District's cultural influencers such as the Nike Boy Secret Shows, Phunk.Gif, Ski Club, and the more current Glow End Theory and CTRL Space CMD programs.  It is these outlets that allowed Stokes to foster relationships and collaborate with other DC artists.  InTheRough readers know of his audio production on songs with rappers MILF Mitch and the rest of the lineformation and Goth Money Records crew, but he's also worked with friends Sir E.U and Cautious Clay.

"I've just been putting out beat tapes, so I don't really have a following, honestly.  It was just like, 'I'm gonna try hip hop now or I'm gonna try making music via electronic instruments and stuff.'  So, I haven't put out much in the past four years," he said.

A jazz drummer in high school, Stokes is a percussionist at heart.  His hiatus from playing live instruments ended when he moved to his current home in Ledroit Park.

"Maybe five or six months ago I really started recording live stuff.  I moved from Virginia, which was not an environment conducive to recording drums.  Now, I have a big space where I can record a lot of drums and that's been the most fun; just being able to play to a click and then put the headphones on, go to the drums, lay down the drum track, and lay down the bass track...I definitely wanna see more jamming.  That's really what I'm feeling," he said.

ITR: Is that what we can expect on love was made for these times?

RS: Yea, all instrumental stuff.  There's a lot of Steely Dan, Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan, Bobby Caldwell, and Curtis Mayfield influences.  I didn't try to croon or anything, but the grooves are just classic--like the chord progressions and how things work in terms of composition.  I tried to put my own flip on them in the 21st century, but more specifically 2017 in D.C. being in love in this time and what that's like.

An aspect of eccentricity is evident from the deep-red cover of the album to some of the synthesizer sounds in "old friends" and "lush greens."  According to the multi-hyphenate artist, this was intentional.  A big fan of David Lynch and the '90s cult classic series Twin Peaks, Stokes wanted to incorporate leitmotif, which is a recurrent theme throughout musical composition associated with a particular person, idea, or situation.  The show's composer, Angelo Badalamenti, was particularly adept at this technique because his sounds drew from emotional associations that heightened the drama.

"I'm not trying to rip his style, but I'm trying to make something that is exactly the same representation of the record in terms of the lyrical content," he said. 

Rob Smokes Funk Disaster is comprised of Joe Wilson on keys, Sam Catherman on bass, Jack Delamater on guitar, and Stokes both singing and playing the drum kit.  During their set at Night 1 of Ctrl Space CMD, Delamater flexed his saxophone skills too, in the band's rendition of Bobby Caldwell's "What You Won't Do For Love."  The seven-track album is abundant with psychedelic tones, while Stokes' Bob Dylan-like inflections can be heard on "old friends" and "love."  The former is a song Stokes had worked on with one of his best friends Themba Searles since they were 17.

love was made for these times is available for purchase and download on Bandcamp here.

VibeRotation 25 by Alex Young

Here is a playlist dedicated to InTheRough staff's experiences that we've had and the songs that we've heard over the last few weeks. The kids' energy has been crazy at parties like Bounce 4 at Spirit Lodge in Pittsburgh or the 4.20 theme banger we threw in D.C. The time we've spent with young rappers like Blackboi and Zolo of the 'Burgh's Sanguine team put us in touch with new music. The communities' consistent creative outputs inspires us to find new artists to enjoy.

In VibeRotation 25, the music reflects ITR's D.C., Los Angeles, and Pittsburgh locations. The scene in D.C. is diverse with different moods that still hit on contemporary hip-hop. The genre-bending nature of the city influences the music. Pay attention to rappers SIR E.U in his song "Navy Blue coupe," as well as lineformation (M.I.L.F.). Across the coast, kids in L.A. and elsewhere listen to Chicago native WARHOL.SS who gains national attention as a parallel to Chief Keef. JR also wants people to be aware of guitarist Steve Lacy who has credits on Kendrick Lamar's new "DAMN." album. Pittsburgh remains relevant with the help of rapper Slicky Williams and his pleasant tune "Me You Us." Slick always comes through with something catchy. Also, become familiar with more Sanguine members, like Ant Windu.

Listen to the playlist below and click on the artists' SoundCloud profiles. Explore new music more.

Know the Wave: Blackboi, Zolo, and Sanguine Team by Alex Young

Zolo and Blackboi - photograph by Alex Young

Zolo and Blackboi - photograph by Alex Young

Blackboi owned the steps in front of the Andy Warhol Museum. His navy colored dreads matched his navy sweatshirt, and his ensemble was complete and casual as Vans covered his feet. Zolo sat on the Warhol steps. He wrote lyrics in a wire bound notebook.

The two 17-year-old hip-hop artists were the attraction and not the museum as they gain attention for their rise through Pittsburgh’s underground hip-hop scene.

Walking past the Artists Image Resource and Boom Concepts Activist Print street-art installation on a building next to the Warhol, Blackboi and Zolo stopped in front of two composite photographs. In one, a seated, theater crowd wore 3D glasses, engaged with what they watched. In the other, a young black girl highlighted in yellow stood on stage looking back at them. The boys looked at the artwork, they too the object of people’s attention.

Ahead of his forthcoming “Astro O2” album, Blackboi has released a mixtape and a handful of single tracks in the promotion of his album which carries the premise that the world ends without creativity. His six-song tape called "some shit i made in my room" isn't the most recent thing he's dropped. Newly minted "tsukyomi flow," featuring rapper Ant Windu, hit Blackboi’s SoundCloud account over the weekend.

"I want to be the most versatile rapper to ever do it," Blackboi said. Production credits from producers abroad, like eestbound of Toronto, genre experimentation, and using his friends as inspiration play into his artistry.

Zolo sat in the back of a car with a notebook on his lap. Now, his earbuds were in. Writing to the beat “helps me find my flow,” Zolo said. Blackboi, officially Byron Stevens, and Zolo, Alonzo Cotton, rode around the North Side. Blackboi lives there and Zolo is a Garfield native. The rappers handled the aux chord. They listened to new music by St. Louis, Mo. crooner Smino and District of Columbia rapper GoldLink.

Blackboi and Zolo are friends, and they make music as members of the Sanguine team. Sanguine is comprised of 20 young musicians and artists. All of them are talented. They met through schools like Perry and Allderdice, as well as KRUNK Movement, a micro-enterprise located in Hazelwood that supports youth and hip-hop through media production.

KRUNK made their musical acts “refined. We couldn’t cuss,” Blackboi said. The organization guided the artists in the studio, and they received platforms to perform. Blackboi, Zolo, and other Sanguine members debuted their “fist in the Air like the ‘60s” song, a message about activism, last summer. The track featured as part of the Center of Life non-profit’s Rap4Reform project.

Creating in the city with talented friends, like “Keith,” the founder of Sanguine, or designer of D.R.I.P.P. and rapper Aaron Owens, encourages Blackboi to “reach my goals.” He’s “never felt like an outsider. I love Pittsburgh,” he said.

Blackboi, Zolo, and the numerous members of Sanguine expand the ‘Burgh’s hip-hop community. Their music pushes collaboration because they use each other as inspiration. “In Sanguine, my girl, Bird, influences me the most,” Owens said as they are often pictured together wearing coordinated D.R.I.P.P. outfits.  “These other cities know how to help each other out,” Zolo said. “I’m trying to get people to look at Pittsburgh like they look at Atlanta,” Blackboi continued. The way to do that is by supporting each other in any way the group can. Sanguine teammates feature on each other’s songs and in their music videos. Their Instagram pictures highlight everyday moments with each other and their creative processes.

Cool moments in Blackboi’s music attract listeners. He often references popular cultural heroes like actor Jet Li. Authenticity features in his songs about love. “This girl is the underlying topic to a lot of my songs,” he said.

Though Blackboi steadily adds to his music catalog, Zolo writes and records to perfect his work until it is ready for public ears. He will release his first ever single called “10” on April 21. “I’m real nervous,” Zolo said. “Nervous about how people will react and vibe to the song,” which he calls his last love song “for a while.”

Whatever happens, Blackboi explains that Sanguine will have “positive attitudes in bad situations” as they pursue notable music careers.

If there is a star in Pittsburgh’s hip-hop scene, “Keith believes in me,” Blackboi said, and Blackboi believes in Sanguine.

The Pi'erre Bourne Playlist by Alex Young

Meet Pi’erre Bourne, a 23-year-old producer out of Queens, New York who has managed to cultivate a distinct sound for the likes of Atlanta rappers Playboi Carti and Young Nudy. In a short 3 weeks, the Pi’erre Bourne produced track “Woke Up Like This” by Playboi Carti featuring Lil Uzi Vert has over 11 Million plays on Soundcloud, and has received nods from the Fader and XXL Magazine. Bourne’s infectious instrumentals serve as the perfect platform for the emerging wave of today’s so-called internet rappers to effortlessly float over—and rank extremely high on our list in terms of replay value.

Hopefully we aren’t speaking to soon, but it seems as though the wait is over and Carti season is officially upon us. If the clear chemistry on the well-received “Woke Up Like This” is any indication, there’s no doubt the two will be frequent collaborators moving forward. Be prepared to hear more beats by Pi’erre Bourne on Playboi Carti’s highly anticipated forthcoming mixtape. 

As made evident by posts on his social media accounts, Pi’erre Bourne is constantly working, and that work is just beginning to pay dividends. So, take our word for it and familiarize yourself with who is sure to be one the biggest new producers in rap. As a prequel to the Carti tape and whatever else Pi’erre Bourne has been cooking up in the studio, listen to ITR’s “Pi’erre Bourne Playlist” below and watch Carti hint at Pi'erre delivering "that Carti sound" in an interview with Lil Yachty for Fader.

VibeRotation 24 by Alex Young

ITR Tee photograph by @draie_96

ITR Tee photograph by @draie_96

+ Have a good music catalog that has a balance between classic and contemporary styles, as well as local and national artists

+ 24 of the 55 songs on this VibeRotation playlist were selected by Los Angeles staff, and the other 31 were selected by Pittsburgh staff - hear different styles of music in different regions of America/the world

+ Find Lil Traffic as a notable artist from the West coast

+ Pittsburgh artists like blackboi. light up the radar - 9 "Pixburghers" contribute to this crazy set (did y'all see Jimmy Wopo represent The 'Burgh on HYPEBEAST?) 

+ The UK been here

+ Most lit part comes between tracks 7-30 (yes, that many bangers)

+ Quality energies come from They., ALEICIA and Balance510

Get to Know the FairRose and Sussioty Collectives by Alex Young

Orian Villa x Prezident at The Observatory, Santa Ana, Calif.

Orian Villa x Prezident at The Observatory, Santa Ana, Calif.

In the sub-cultures of hip-hop, plagued by monotony, standing out amidst the sea of young, energetic rappers is no easy feat. Los Aneles rap collectives FairRose and Sussioty have managed to set themselves apart from the pack with a perspective and level of versatility, few-- if any of-- their peers possess.

Cohesively, the L.A. crews integrate, some of the artists have dual memberships to each collective and other bands. The FairRose members are as follows: Apollo, Cereal Witness, Gigi Envy, Nile Villa, Frankie Jax No Mad, and Xae. Whereas DJ Amack, Orian Villa x Prezident, as well as Nile Villa x PyramidKid represent Sussioty, pronounced like "suss" in suspects or suspicious and "ioty" like in society.

Essentially, collaboration is a core value for both FairRose and Sussioty. While Nile Villa creates music within both camps, he and Xae were previously in a punk group together called The Hungry Eyes. Cereal Witness and Gigi Envy are a separate duo called The Stonewvlls. Apollo and Frankie started making music three years ago, and they set the foundation for FairRose together last year. Nile founded Sussioty.

Both music entities are staunch symbols for the enterprising and candid spirit that fills L.A.'s air. "The name FairRose comes from the cross streets Fairfax Avenue and Melrose Avenue," Apollo says, which have to be among the coolest streets in the country due to the sub-cultural consumerism available in the district. "We represent a culture that is viewed as suspicious by the general norm," Orian says of Sussioty.

The groups float from show to show throughout Los Angeles, and they have established themselves as the go-to opening acts for some of your favorite rappers. "Opening up for the Suicide Boys at the Novo DTLA - That shit was banging," Sussioty writes to ITR in an email. FairRose recalls their experience opening up for GZA of the Wu-Tang Clan at The Novo as one of their most memorable shows. They fit the bill with other artists like Warren G and they can heat the stage for the underground elites like Xavier Wulf, who FR and Sussioty opened up for at The Observatory in Santa Ana, Calif. and another time at The Novo.

Moreover, give credit to FairRose and Sussioty for their many opening acts because they show that the groups' music can entertain eclectic audiences.

Further, their authentic and positive approach provides more performance opportunities. It would be hard not to feel welcome at a FairRose and Sussioty function when they "encourage free-thinking, independence, and creativity," Orian says.

Currently, the two hip-hop groups have the skill to establish themselves as premier entertainers with dynamic and expanding music catalogs. FairRose explains their style saying "Imagine if Common, Madlib, Fugees, Wu-Tang, Black Moon, MF Doom, and Atmosphere made a baby," and no one explains it better than that. Sussioty delivers a contrast citing Rob Banks, Xavier Wulf and Three 6 Mafia as comparable artists.

Coming soon, FairRose and Sussioty will both release group projects in the form of E.P.s and L.P.s, and they will continue to perform and collaborate together throughout the L.A. area and beyond, like Austin, Texas where Sussioty will have a performance at SXSW on March 16.

Role Model's First Song - "Cocaine Babe" by Alex Young

Artwork by Jacob Finch

Artwork by Jacob Finch

Nowadays a role model can be anyone and anything. A role model used to be parents or community figures like a pastor, but consumerism and popular culture make idols out of a lot of things, perhaps athletes or types of artists and maybe even drugs.

The point here is role models influence how we act and who we want to be, and individual preference selects the person or thing to absorb.

Find importance on this topic of influence in regards to "Role Model," a musician from Maine. He speaks beautifully about respecting the valuable opportunities life provides in his new song "Cocaine Babe."

Role Model challenges listeners to appreciate purities rather than vices.

"There's more to life than getting high... Never seen someone so dedicated to numbing their pain. Well wake up and smell the roses, baby, instead of that cocaine," he sings.

These words with Role Model's song are pertinent because people should understand what affects them affects others. If we all focus on having genuine interactions and if we admire genuine people, society's influences might come from more positive places.

"Cocaine Babe" sits noteworthy due to the considerate thoughts and as Role Model's first song since changing his name from Dillis. The new track certainly carries a different energy than Dillis' previous hip-hop work. Role Model grows, and he explores the indie rock genre in "Cocaine Babe," which Tom Sheils produces

Whether fans and newcomers to Role Model take his name with a grain of salt is up to them, but valuable messages in song will always find respect.

Mars Jackson - Sorry Not Sorry by Alex Young

Mars Jackson photographed by Chancelor Humphrey of Keep Pittsburgh Dope

Mars Jackson photographed by Chancelor Humphrey of Keep Pittsburgh Dope

A hip-hop head is someone knowledgeable about hip-hop. True heads know the originators of styles and sounds aligned to geographic regions across the country. Hip-hop heads are aware of the underground, rising talent. Overall, a hip-hop head is well-researched.

Mars Jackson has been around Pittsburgh's music scene long enough, and he has the credentials to be considered a hip-hop don. The 30-year-old rapper has put on 50 live shows throughout the city, and he has created a culture with legends like Boaz while pop-icons Wiz Khalifa and Mac Miller grew out of The 'Burgh to head for national attention.

Listeners of Mars understand the respect that he has for hip-hop artistry as a whole. He works with skillful musicians who have experience. Mars and local talent Nice Rec masterfully produced the album "I'm Just Being Nice." Nice Rec, a producer, has credits to rappers like Curren$y and Domo Genesis.

Mars' latest song carries a West Coast flavor. Instead of capturing a California sound in Western Pennsylvania, Mars went straight to the source for his track "Sorry Not Sorry." Larry Jayy, a Los Angeles beat-maker linked to DJ Mustard and Y.G., produces the music. Who Mars works with and what he talks about appreciates hip-hop culture.

Authenticity features in Mars Jackson's newest song which people can listen to below. Also, be on the lookout for Mars' debut album coming soon, and a live open mic night at Spirit bar where don Mars will share some performance knowledge or lend an ear to acts.

Javed's "Time to TIME" Premiere by Alex Young

Readers here begin to see how diverse the hip-hop talent is in Pittsburgh. Use a compiled list by local producer Yung Mulatto to review the artists creating in the community.

To focus the broad perspective of Mulatto's list, pay attention to rapper Javed and Serene team. The 412 product is good for cool and shows in The 'Burgh, like when he opened up for Father which coincided with his "Window II your Soul" mixtape.

Boom bap productions complement Javed's laid-back approach. His lyrics are stylish, but they are also very real regarding the artist's life perspective. Materialistic references to fashion designers Bianca Chandôn or Karl Kani contrast serious questions like "why does 12 keep glocking us all the time?" that are in his new song "Time to TIME."

Javed's new effort seeks personal insight on trend with his work in "W2YS." Although how Javed sees his role in society plays out in his music, the man also affects popular culture in Pittsburgh tangibly.

901 Western Avenue - Pittsburgh, PA 15233

901 Western Avenue - Pittsburgh, PA 15233

The fly-down-to-earth quality to Javed feeds his and his brother Rome's apparel store called Senseless on the Northside. Together the two have a selection of vintage quality brands like Tommy Hilfiger, Ralph Lauren Polo, Nautica, and Supreme housed in an encouraging atmosphere.

More on Senseless's involvement in the Steel City will feature on "Life's Goods" soon. For now, listen to Javed's "Time to TIME" featuring a verse from Serene member Calvin below.