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 a 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 is 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.

Choo Jackson - Choo, Where U Goin? (Album) by Alex Young

Choo Jackson photographed by Kingy Kings

Choo Jackson photographed by Kingy Kings

Towards the top of 2016 InTheRough detailed some time spent with musician Choo Jackson. A written piece studied the rapper's past "Anime" mixtape, the first of three total projects he pushed this year. Text familiarized audiences of Choo and this publication with the spirit of his musicianship as well as music-making in Pittsburgh.

At the time in February, Choo was ahead of a productive year, trying to maintain a steadily growing fanbase and establish his sound. He indicated his fans would begin to hear clear differences in his songs. Choo wanted to experiment with "alternative," rock.

As the year progressed, the Foreverkool Records owner and Southern gentleman continued to make neo-hip-hop bangers like "Back From Texas" and "Myself." He pleased youthful listeners on his "Pray 4 The Best" extended play with producer Sledgren of Taylor Gang which they released in June. But, Choo's introspective vocals about his life qualities could also match a production influenced by rock bands of the 1990s and 2000s who he listened to as a kid.

The sonic transition was heard upon the release of his newest "Choo, Where U Goin?" album this December. Basically, the artist introduces a hopeful narrative that various people can relate to for its humanity and nostalgia. "Go to the light my nigga," he says in "Camo" over a plucking guitar. The evolution of Choo's music comes from childhood memories he told us over Snapchat.

Man I had a friend in Florida I used to skate with his name was Anthony. When I went to his crib he would only play his shit like Green Day, blink-182, and System Of A Down. Then I found N.E.R.D. on my own. So that’s how me and Brad kinda cliqued up musically because he’s into the same shit. It was only later that I started to like John Lennon, Jimi Hendrix, or even like Marvin Gay or Al Green. I want to be remembered like them too.
— Choo Jackson

On his third project this year, Choo finds frequent collaborators Bradley [Brad] Atom, Big Jerm of I.D. Labs, and Bounceman Christo helps cement the retro production for "C.W.U.G.?" Alternative sentiments are genuinely felt in the record's opening hook and "Feel This Way."

Though "Choo, Where U Goin?" explores another style of music, many parts of the work are dramatic and rhythmic thanks to Choo's cadence, like in "Make It Last" when he mutters "my neck, my wrist, my car, my kicks," talking fresh.

Overall, Choo Jackson's growth is made audible through each track he releases. He possesses the creativity to satisfy contemporary ears, and he gains respect for branching out to allow other genres to influence his music.



Kid Swizzy - Hippy (Mixtape) by Alex Young

Call on a "Hippy" for a pleasant mood, or at least for some spiritual motivation. In the form of music, "Hippy" is a mixtape by Local Foreigner Kid Swizzy.

Swizzy is a Pittsburgh-based artist who finds himself in a creatively progressive environment. His mates in the Local Foreigners group and his skate affiliates in We're Not Free crew allows their individual and artistic attitudes to manifest in songs and defiant, youthful activities.

Themes of free spirit, drive, and camaraderie fill Swizzy's new "Hippy" project. "I put my all in we did it, my team we all the way committed," the Kid raps in his "Perception" track. While Swizzy's work bolsters his rap career, it also symbolizes the fun he and his friends have. "We live when we awake," he says in "Earned This." When fans and listeners dive further into Swizzy, Local Foreigners, and We're Not Free, the fun they have as a collective is easily visible. Watch W.N.F. footage from skate sessions and antics to feel the groups' vibe.

Beyond hearing youths like Ahse, Jake The Kid, and James Perry on the Swizzy tape, people should attend the release party for "Hippy" at The Bushnel tomorrow, Saturday, December 3, 2016 at 7 p.m. Free entry is available, and Ahse, Jake, James, Swizzy, and other members from the crew like Que Dafoe will perform. Local rappers Deemtrill and Seas will be there in support as well. DJ Spillz will host the event.

Absorb "Hippy" below via SoundCloud.

The Bushnel 

4415 Centre Avenue

Pittsburgh, PA 15213

Perspectives from the Left Coast (Playlist) by Alex Young

May they come back 'round soon

May they come back 'round soon

When InTheRough began to build, we wanted staff to be representatives of various cities across the country. Maybe our domestic footprint could turn into something international. Regardless, we wanted commentary, projects, and collaborations to feature progressive culture from different regions that would deliver through different perspectives. Pittsburgh is a huge focus, but so far actions in Los Angeles, Washington D.C., and London have captured our attention too.

Here L.A. staff pinpoints sonic tastes influenced by a growing musical environment in the west as well as popular sounds from elsewhere. 

Listen to "Bone Music" in The Last Artful, Dodgr and Neill Von Tally's New Single by Alex Young

The Last Artful, Dodgr and Neill Von Tally photographed by @tiki_mon

The Last Artful, Dodgr and Neill Von Tally photographed by @tiki_mon

Look to the west, across the coast to Portland, specifically. Musically this area catches waves due to a jumping song called "Caroline" by Aminé. However, there is plenty of untapped talent in this region, and that is what is delivered here today.

Two artists by the names of The Last Artful, Dodgr and Neill Von Tally present a work they call "Bone Music." The description refers to the strong, rough synth sounds that hit with a certain hollowness, and the duo's upcoming album. Officially called "Oofda," the first single off the album is written and produced by Dodgr and Tally. The raw lyrics and additional production by Zip Zap Studios create a tough track with the right amount of grit that an audience could feed off of.

The hardened tone of "Oofda," thanks to vocalist The Last Artful, Dodgr, will carry over into her and Neill Von Tally's "Bone Music" project. Themes of the album focus on a blue-collar worker struggling with work and his relationships.

Listen to the interesting music below and keep up with Dodgr and Tally here and here.

Franchise - Corner The Market by Alex Young

Photo by David Newbury

Photo by David Newbury

There are benefits to a rap duo. Two musicians could present dynamic stories and styles packaged together in a cohesive unit backed by a joint fanbase. One of the more experienced pairs with an impressive musical catalog is Franchise and Vinny Radio of The Come-Up from Braddock, Pa.

While Franchise and Vinny Radio succeed together as a partnership, especially in mixtapes like "Visions From The Pacific," they also have solo outputs. How the two fare on their own is the focus of this piece, specifically Franchise and his new project "Corner The Market."

The first half of the record has some progressive, turnt sounds that some youths could relate to and enjoy. Expect glitzy musicality and rapid flows that show the mastery Franchise has in contemporary hip-hop. "50 Dimes," "Showtime," and "Confidential" provide the described energy.

Additionally, the second half of "Corner The Market" transitions to unveil a soulful and introspective side to Franchise. Listen to "Memories & Regrets" and "Real Estate."

What is so artful about Franchise and his mixtape is the control. He offers something for many people's ears whether it is a new school vibe or something chill that is pleasant to understand. He plays to popularities and maintains his sound utilizing a Pittsburgh cast, like Big Jerm and Sayez of I.D. Labs recording studio.

Altogether, Franchise delivers a strong effort to "Corner The Market," and you can listen to the music below.

Hole Things is "Free Doe Paid" from Taking Risks by Alex Young

Hole Things captured by Alex Young

Hole Things captured by Alex Young

"100 keys in the mail, I might be doin' life." Readers should know this statement comes from a risk-taker. The speaker, Hole Things, is in the game for rewards. He also moves to make music about the products of his life.

Hole Things, a born hustler, names "money, family, God, and the streets," as three important things to him. The streets are where this clever individual can spread his influence. Hitting situations in Atlanta, New York, and Pittsburgh, Hole Things carries the traits of someone who does whatever it takes to prosper.

Though Hole Things, also known as King Marlo, has sold out traps for years and has accumulated strong funds in the process, "music is the only thing in my life I haven't gotten rich off of," he says. Now he wants his rap career to send him into retirement from his grimy street life.

At this point, it has been six years since the rapper's last mixtape. Time in jail re-oriented Hole Things' priorities and halted his paper chase. His new project, "Free Doe Paid," is for the people and represents all of his spoils. "People want to know the trap life, the raw," he says.

Truly, the records on "Free Doe Paid" are tales about fast money. The man stuffs his pockets with wads of 'pink pussies' and 'blue bands,' slang for $50 and $100 bills. "This money is so easy to get to, but they don't want us to have it. They don't want us to come up."

Hole Things has survived long enough in a dangerous game because he is willing to do whatever is necessary. Most of his game is mental in keeping a low profile and stunting when necessary. However, when there is a snake in the grass, Hole Things and his Nation Of Gangsters will grip up to get physical.

While "Free Doe Paid" appears to be materialistic with raps about Fendi, raining cash, or big diamond rings, the music underlines Hole Things' enjoyment for all the rewards from his risky life. The message is that Hole Things sets up his operation to be "Free Doe Paid" with money, power, and respect.

Listen to the music on DatPiff here. Give "The Money" and "Hundreds" a sample.

DJ Motor Mane for Pittsburgh Sound in Blogordie's New Mix by Alex Young

DJ Motor Mane photographed by Daniel Kelly

DJ Motor Mane photographed by Daniel Kelly

DJs are powerful. They have the power of audio influence, mood, and musical selection or promotion. This power delivers on both national and local stages. Also, DJs can educate a population unaware of the music available to them produced by relatable talents, or of the numerous records that have the potential for popular enjoyment.

Overall, though, appreciation is held for the knowledge and skill a good DJ possesses.

Pittsburgh's DJ Motor Mane makes a name for himself in the city and across the country thanks to his proper music catalog and his membership as part of the Taylor Gang. While Motor could focus his song choice on national acts, he does well at supporting the 'Burgh's local hip-hop scene. He hosts shows throughout urban Pixburgh, and he has curated numerous mixtapes for the resident rap community, like "Motor Muzik."

Currently, he offers "that Pittsburgh sound to everybody who doesn't know what it sounds like," Motor says in his new mix for episode one of Blogordieradio. The city's influence can be heard start to finish with tracks from Chevy Woods' new mixtape "Gang Shit Only," from "underground boss" Truela Moses, and D. Yerk in "I Can't Take No More."

Along with exposing Pittsburgh, Motor Mane's goal here is to share new music, "some heard and some unheard." ITR staff likes "Omi Oma" by Indica and "On Go" by Surf. Thanks for putting the public on, Motor.



Watch the Flame Music Video for Charlie Mike's "Pull Up" by Alex Young

From Charlie Mike ft. Choo Jackson - Pull Up

From Charlie Mike ft. Choo Jackson - Pull Up

Though there is much focus on the productive creativity and music coming out of Pittsburgh, there is life beyond the city, especially deeper into the Pennsylvania state.

In particular, Charlie Mike of Carlisle, Pa. is a compelling prospect for fire musical output. His latest mixtape "Just A Walk In The Park" that released in August is a proper way to familiarize oneself with his sound.

Fortunately, however, some may presume Charlie Mike's most entertaining work is yet to come, and only sampled by his new music video for his song "Pull Up." The track comes with artistic support from current Pittsburgh residents Bradley Atom, the video's director, and Choo Jackson, the Foreverkool Records rapper.

Most of all, the parties' joint effort is evidence of the underrated talent that flourishes in Pennsylvania, and that people could enjoy abroad.

Pay attention to everybody on the rise here because Charlie Mike will release more visual projects with Bradley, and Choo is steadily preparing to release his next mixtape, "Choo, Where U Goin?" For now, watch the video for "Pull Up," produced by Diesel Beats, below.

Review "Finesse" by Watching EYEJAY's Live DJ Set by Alex Young

DJs EYEJAY and Paizley at Finesse photographed by Randall Coleman of Redd Vision

DJs EYEJAY and Paizley at Finesse photographed by Randall Coleman of Redd Vision

Finesse, every bit of the word suggests a special style. Applying such a style adds dimension and flair to a particular thing.

The party called "Finesse" had the pizzazz necessary to have such a chic event name. Held at Spirit Lodge in Pittsburgh's Lawrenceville section, attendees on the second floor danced and had fun under a colorful light installation. The blue hues interchanged with many pretty colors like purple and red. Really the atmosphere was like dancing under a flying saucer, or more literally a light show installed by artist Ian Brill.

This party "Finesse" presented an enjoyable atmosphere. In its second edition, previous attendees know of the event's contemporary musical setting that is provided by DJs EYEJAY and Paizley and curated by RB of farESH Brand.

The most recent "Finesse," which occurred on October 22, was called "party of the year" on reactionary Twitter and much of the credit has to go to the DJs for keeping the crowd moving. They played the right amount of new songs to please the progressives. They educated the public with unfamiliar material, and they played hits.

Gratefully, thanks to visual artist Randall Coleman of Redd Vision, EYEJAY's live set from the party can be heard and watched now. Here, the visuals give proof of the DJs' prime musical catalog, and a sample of the environment people took in. Enjoy songs like "Countdown" and "Controlla" by Beyoncé and Drake respectively, and hear new flavors from the song "Your Number" by Ayo Jay. Also, the video recording comes part of Redd Vision's "111 & 222," which exposes native Pittsburgh DJs.

Review the "Finesse" party below. Go to the event next time it comes around.

Kid Bookie Expounds Grime's Developments by Alex Young

Kid Bookie

Kid Bookie

Life in other places intrigues those foreign to the particular places. People want to know what influences the sounds and tastes of an area or learn about the traditions that are unique to a location. From there, people can find relatable qualities and inspiration based on how different or how similar various cultures are.

Learning anything new is important for pushing progress in all disciplines. For instance, music genres like baile funk from Brazil's favelas or grime from the United Kingdom all tell a narrative of a place and time on this earth that is special to the next territory. The music stands alone and also compares to what is popular, like grime and hip-hop.

People need to begin to understand unfamiliar things in order to appreciate them. So, to further the appreciation for grime, especially in the United States, InTheRough links with Kid Bookie, a grime artist from South East London, to speak on the genre's developments.

Kid Bookie adheres to fundamental grime practices with rhymes over electronic dance beats, like in his song "Calm Down." However, the artists' hip-hop lyricism shines in his freestyle with Tim Westwood or any number of his cyphers. Bookie also pushes grime and UK hip-hop's expansion in his latest mixtape, "You'll Rate Me When I'm Dead." The single "Premonition," which features both U.K. and U.S. talent courtesy of singer Christie, producer Dot Rotten, and Atlanta rapper Nasaan, respectively, leads the project.

As a movement, grime catches popular attention in the U.K. and it has crossed over into music culture in the States. Now, guided by questions from ITR staff, Kid Bookie expounds on the life and styles born from an independent and expressive art form that connects the world through the common ground of music.

1. How have you seen grime grow in the UK's urban communities?

Organically, within the decade-plus it's been in fruition, a new generation has grown up with the sound of British music as there go to commodity, from "U.K." Rap to Hip Hop (even though I hate labeling as music is a whole spectrum, not to limit sound by country) there's teenagers in college and secondary school that were just tadpoles in there Dad's nut sack when the sound was birthed.

2. Is grime fashion representative of youthfulness, UK weather, and creative expression to match the music? 

A lot of Grime fashion is a representative of what they see the key figures wearing and as always, influence the people below. I haven't seen a lot of fearless fashion within this culture yet as I believe there is still a stigma attached to being too expressive, in my humble opinion and what I mean by that is, look at Punk music, very fearless and rebellious in the style, Grime is dark and as its nature suggests, so is its garment choice.. I was at a Grime set the other day and it was all colours ranging from navy blue to black (obviously, until Summer comes around again and then it's maxi dress for everyone, even the dudes).

3. Jacket or sweater?

Jacket, universally fits anything.

4. How does grime have influence in UK popular culture?

I guess when something is the "in thing" the influx of what that popularity brings then serves as an influence to the masses. Some do their research, some enjoy what's current and consistently put out during it's 'hype' period, but as anything that's progressive, it's influence varies to who it gravitates towards it.

5. In your new single, "Premonition," you are seen wearing a Braves jacket. How does American sport transcend into grime and lifestyle in the UK?

America is a large country, it's influenced smaller nations for years, allowing us to manipulate the idea and create our own establishment, but just because we have.. doesn't mean you shouldn't try conquer the world with your art or with whatever ethos you carry. From Nike to other American brands. there's always been a sport influence in our scene, even country. Plus I did just come back from Atlanta watching the Braves at home and Nasaan IS an Atlanta-based artist, so I guess it correlated well.

6. What is your dream as you progress in life as a musician?

Well, a dream isn't real, so I try not to dream to face disappointment, I used to dream of fucking Buffy the vampire slayer and I always just woke up to disappointment anyway, so fuck dreams. I like to manifest reality, the power of thought and writing what you want into existence is WAY more powerful than any dream you can prep up to have, so I have 'premonitions'  (see what I did?).

Certified Soul-Killer from Eight by Two by Alex Young

Eight by Two via @mvp_fang's Instagram

Eight by Two via @mvp_fang's Instagram

Eight by Two's new record is a "certified soul-killer," representative Fang says.

The rap group follows their debut "Bedouin" project with a single track titled "Might Let It Go." Members Glenn and Freesoul deliver the song about hesitation and confirmation to express yourself with somebody else. 

Be aware and follow Pittsburgh underground champions 8x2 wherever you can.

VibeRotation 22 by Alex Young

InTheRough returns to its VibeRotation playlist series.

This mix of music is about sound through the sentiments fall brings forth. ITR staff also remains committed to delivering new, familiar, and unfamiliar music.

Quickly turn up with A$AP Mob's new song called "Crazy Brazy," then tap into sonic senses with tracks like the one produced by Willow Smith, "Its NOT THAT BAD" by Los Angeles producer Kintaro, or "The Other" by another L.A. product, Saígo.

Enjoy new music in your life courtesy of VibeRotation 22 below.

Mac Miller's Concert in Pittsburgh by Alex Young

Mac Miller and Quentin Cuff at Stage AE photographed by Xavier Thomas of Art Like Us

Mac Miller and Quentin Cuff at Stage AE photographed by Xavier Thomas of Art Like Us

"September 18th, after we beat the Bengals, come down to Stage AE and say what's up to your boy," Mac Miller said in an Instagram video. The rapper foreshadowed a day which came to fruition as the Steelers beat the Bengals 24-16 at Heinz Field, and when he played his latest studio album, "The Divine Feminine," in front of his hometown.

Upon hearing of Mac's premier show at the venue neighboring the football stadium, Pittsburghers anticipated new music from their hometown hero and performances from the cast representative of local hip-hop. Originally, rappers Choo Jackson, The Come-UpHardo, and Jimmy Wopo repped The 'Burgh and Pouya, a South Florida native, completed the lineup opening for Mac.

The public was ready to hear Hardo and Wopo's truthful narratives about life in Pittsburgh hoods. "I done hit some niggas with that gun fire, Imma definitely ride for my bros," Hardo raps in "Drug Related." "I grew up in the projects we were starving... I made the motherfucking money, the money don't make me," Wopo says in his track "Walkn Bomb (Part 2)."

Both rappers have praise in the city. Their music is raw and illustrates Pittsburgh's underworld. Hardo and Wopo sensationalize gangster ways through jumping digital sounds. For those who can relate to them, and for those who cannot, they give a glimpse at how hard life can really be for some folks.

However, The Bureau of Pittsburgh Police, Promo West Live, and Stage AE did not see Hardo and Wopo's words as relatable stories. Instead, authorities and the concert promoters saw the rappers as high risks who incite violence, posing a danger to the show's attendees. Two days before Mac's homecoming concert, Promo West Live and Stage AE removed Hardo and Jimmy Wopo from the lineup, denying them their performances in front of the home crowd.

In more than 15 shows since May, there have been zero instances of violence at a Wopo show. Hardo shows feature hundreds of women screaming his name and men who support his music, all positivity. If there was evidence for the police, Promo West, and Stage AE to be suspicious of the two's performances, it was not evident or presented.

Subsequently, people on Twitter erupted at the hinted racial prejudice.

"You tell young black men to do better. Tell them to stop being in the streets. Well, where these young men are from the only way you make it out is to rap, play a sport or sell drugs and hope you don't get indicted or killed in the process. So, when they begin to do the only thing they know and are good at, you snatch all shreds of hope from them," Meez Lateef, a concert photographer, typed. "It's almost insulting to say that we, as a superior and intelligent human race, would be swayed at a concert to do something irrational because of the music presented," fellow musician Palermo Stone wrote. Mac encouraged Hardo and Wopo. "Continue inspiring, both of y'all," he tweeted.

Regardless of the feedback and frustration, Hardo and Wopo did not perform on September 18 at Stage AE. The Pittsburgh Bureau of Police said they have "no authority to deny any performer the ability to perform at a venue within the city. However, the bureau does advise venues of the level of police security required at events. Apparently, the venue decided to act in the manner that they deemed appropriate." Presumptuously, the police advised Promo West and Stage AE that Hardo and Wopo were a risk. With the advice, Promo West and Stage AE acted as they did, unfairly.

"The unfairness is through the roof," Ryan Brown, attendee, and owner of Pixburgh lifestyle-wear farESH Brand said.

In the future, perhaps Kenny Chesney will be denied from performing at Heinz Field since he gets to "trash the city every year with no issue," thanks to thousands of his drunken fans, and the group of white men who assaulted a black man, after the concerts. Talk about high risk.

Choo Jackson captured by Xavier Thomas

Choo Jackson captured by Xavier Thomas

To digress, despite the bar of the specified performances, Mac Miller's concert went on fabulously. The support for the local and major artists, as well as the city, was beautiful. Local musician Mars Jackson described the night as "all inspiration," especially when The Come-Up called upon him to throw a Come-Up T-shirt into the large crowd. Choo Jackson referenced the phrase "black rock n roll," and it was true when he sang "I just left my side hoe cause I don't need you either. Did you see the diamond, they water Aquafina," in the track "Hydrate." Through it all, Wopo even had a moment of his own when the crowd began shouting, "we want Wopo!"

Art Like Us, operated by Xavier Thomas, photographed the occasion. "I had a good time," he said. Then, he mentioned that Mac's performance included "The Divine Feminine," and dipped in his catalog with songs like "INSOMIAK" and "When In Rome."

Now, after beginning in Pittsburgh, Mac Miller will embark on a nationwide tour with some stops supported by sound machine Soulection.

Listen to "The Divine Feminine" below.