J.I.D Releases "DiCaprio 2" with help from producer Christo by Alex Young

J.I.D left Christo right via  J.I.D’s  Instagram

J.I.D left Christo right via J.I.D’s Instagram

We’re watching Christo on TV. Not really it’s BJ The Chicago Kid, Thundercat with a Mac Miller tattoo on his arm, and J.I.D, an Atlanta rapper who’s sound in part comes from the mind of producer Christo, performing on late-night television with Jimmy Fallon. If you’re from Pittsburgh, you know how to support a moment like this when a hometown kid like Christo gets significant placements on a mainstream, number one hip-hop album being played live on national television. This feels like watching your star jock friend from high school ball out on ESPN with some pass deflections while beating the number two college football team in the country (aside because J.I.D got a scholarship to play football at University of Georgia).

Christo is Pittsburgh sound to the international audience. Christo has been out here productively and consistently producing music. What have you been doing?

Christo, aka ‘bounceman,’ is a Pittsburgh musician with a recognizable sound and a hand in a lot of songs from the city’s hip-hop artists. He has hits with majors like Wiz Khalifa, Mac Miller and even Atlanta’s Ludacris. Christo’s crisp sound supports up and coming acts Choo Jackson and EarthGang.
— Me from an ITR article three years ago
(left to right) Christo, Johnny Venus of Earthgang and Zeke

(left to right) Christo, Johnny Venus of Earthgang and Zeke

His catalog amplifies local hip-hop talent from around Pittsburgh although Christo has built success elsewhere too.  “I made a conscious decision to build with J.I.D and the whole Since the 80s camp,” Christo said in a November Instagram story. “DiCaprio 2” is an album by J.I.D, but the project has a lot to do with Christo. “Dicaprio 2 is the best work I’ve done with any artist to date… no cap lol,” he finished. In total, Christo has credits on six songs from “DiCaprio 2” as a composer, engineer, lyricist, producer, and studio personnel. Listen to “Westbrook.” J.I.D and A$AP Ferg feature, but Christo also wrote it says rap Genius.

Headed to Keith.wav and Zende’s album release party at The Bushnel back in October, Grace (DJ) played an early copy of “DiCaprio 2” off the aux in my Volkswagen Tiguan, whipping through Penn Hills, Pittsburgh. This was a clouted car honestly with Grace, My Favorite Color (slickest tongue in rap), and  Taylor Babushka (media personality/artist) processing the new music. Listening to J.I.D is “like reading a book,” Grace said as she broke from the 14-song album to play a more rhythmic “Immediately” by Mystro and Wizkid. You do have to pay attention when listening to J.I.D. You can get lost in the Christo bounce, and J.I.D’s intelligence comes across so clearly in his records that his words and flows make you think almost too much.

At any rate, that’s what makes J.I.D great. “DiCaprio 2” deserves your support for all mentioned here. Shout out to more Pittsburgh influences on the record too, like Nice Rec musicianship on “151 Rum” and management from Zeke of Since the 80s. Read a good DJBooth article about the bunch. Listen to music below.

What You Should Know About Foreverkool: Before The Dirt Vol. 1 by Alex Young

Foreverkool Records'  "Before The Dirt Vol. 1" | Album art by Travis Carter

Foreverkool Records' "Before The Dirt Vol. 1" | Album art by Travis Carter

Foreverkool friends and music talents released their compilation mixtape called "Before The Dirt Vol. 1." Fk captain Choo Jackson said in an interview with swidlife publication, "It was fun finding a pocket in what I think 2018 should sound like and what my homies sound like now, too." Altogether, Foreverkool turned up here.

The digital bop lights the way in "Before The Dirt Vol. 1."

Aw yeah, aw yeah, aw yeah floss everywhere

Transform, 'wanna be a millionaire

[Phil800k in "Transform" with production by Staxx and a feature by Choo Jackson]

Along with the artists mentioned above, rappers SGE Bubba, SLIM, and Shaady feature on the project. Including Staxx, ChristoJay Card, Quentin "Q" Cuff are also responsible for production on "BTD." Album art is courtesy of Travis Carter. Credit the Foreverkool mates for setting the tone and contributing to the mixtape. Local Pittsburgh photographer and tastemaker Meez of The Cultivators helped "choose the songs," Choo said on his Twitter account. Twitter has been the go-to place for cool tidbits on the project regarding who helped make the magic. Pittsburgh influence is heavy, and so are Choo's Florida roots. Talent carries "Before The Dirt Vol. 1."

Another tidbit:

"Slim always been the best rapper, he like a rare Pokémon or something you gotta catch him, sit him in the studio and he will drop crazy shit, then will be out haha." - Choo Jackson

Listen to "Before The Dirt Vol. 1" below and look out for Choo's next project called "Lynn," a dedication to his mother, on June 19, 2018.

About Last Night: Hip-Hop at Mr. Smalls by Alex Young

Choo Jackson

Choo Jackson

Energy was good inside a concert theatre, formerly an 18th century Catholic church, known to people in Pittsburgh, Pa. and the national music community as Mr. Smalls Funhouse.

Local artistry, as well as legend, on display at the venue moved Pittsburgh community members to support and attend a May 13 rap show.

The atmosphere became particularly festive when Taylor Gang's own, DJ Motor Mane, one of the hosts of the concert along with DJ Afterthought, played a knocking song by Carnage, "WDYW," featuring studs A$AP Ferg, Lil Uzi Vert, and Rich The Kid. Attendees started to dance in the middle section of the crowd and wallflowers and standstills throughout began to loosen up.

Soon after, Jimmy Wopo, a rapper native to the 'burgh streets, hit the stage energetically. Notably, he rattled off a catchy chant, "woponese, woponese, woponese," he said in his last song before leaving the stage.

Via rbfaresh Snapchat

Via rbfaresh Snapchat

A surprise party came from Chevy Woods, another Taylor Gang member. He stepped on stage, stunna shades in tact, and slid over top a beat, "I just made a play on ya bitch she in love with my watch, yeah, yeah, ooh."  The lyrics open Chevy's newest song, "Forever," which was released and performed Friday the 13th to celebrate the rapper's birthday.

Fans met thorough enthusiasm when local rock star, Foreverkool Records honcho, and signee to Mac Miller's Remember® music label, Choo Jackson began his set. Gold Miller High Life can in his right hand and microphone in his left hand, Choo split one of his jean pant legs down the seam, and his inner thigh showed on stage. Playing through his catalogue, he encouraged the crowd, "before this next song drops, I need everybody to say 'Hell Fucking Yeah, Nigga!'" Many complied and amidst the yelling, the rapper's new anthem, "Back From Texas," a song about getting head while driving and other important things, rained down. In between songs, Choo engaged with the crowd, "I just want to say happy birthday to RB (owner of Pittsburgh lifestyle clothier farESH Brand)." An audience member chimed in, "put titties in RB's face!" "Titties in RB's face," Choo shouted to everyone.

However, despite the merry-making, female attendees started roaring for the next performer in the lineup, "Hardo, Hardo, Hardo, Hardo," they screamed as Choo finished his last two songs. The girls essentially encored the biggest trap star in Pittsburgh onto the stage, and their hearts skipped a beat when he entered. Hardo and his DJ, Christo, also known as Bounceman, had heads nodding as the rapper narrated his Wilkinsburg, Pa. neighborhood experiences to his hometown comrades.

Hardo's new school, gangster sound appropriately warmed the crowd for the night's headliner, Cam'ron, leader of Dipset, proud representative of Harlem, N.Y., and Rico from the movie Paid In Full. The hip-hop legend performed popular jams like "Down and Out," "Hey Ma," and "Oh Boy." Killa Cam thanked the Pittsburgh crowd on numerous occasions for their era long support. He even let an excited, burly man "rock out" with him on stage.

From the fanfare, to the festivities, it was a pleasure to see youth and old heads intermingle and show appreciation for various styles and genuine forms of hip-hop. It is nice to experience and know the purest forms of popular culture can thrive in Pittsburgh.


Pittsburgh Influence Felt at SXSW by Alex Young

Photo by Brennan Peirson

Photo by Brennan Peirson

SXSW Music festival wrapped as the sun went down on March 20, 2016, however, coverage continues on to shed light on the Pittsburgh, Pa. area artists who left their mark in Austin, Texas.

From March 15-20, the live music capital of the world hosted many well-known artists like Rae Sremmurd, Kehlani, Drake, Aluna George, Vince Staples, Anderson.Paak, and more at house parties, day parties, branded events, and concert venues. Crowds flocked to showcases such as 40oz Bounce mansion party, House of Vans, or The FADER FORT Presented by Converse, then enjoyed the festival's atmosphere walking the streets with the very artists who performed.

PK Delay via Jasano Brooks

PK Delay via Jasano Brooks

Pittsburgh native photographer Jasano Brooks and Chambersburg, Pa. raised visual artist Brennan Peirson were on hand to document the eclectic experiences of South by Southwest. In their pictures, viewers see individuals whose musical and creative endeavors stem from the 412, as well as the flavors of the festival.

Truely AP, Drew, and KH of Mo'$crill Hotel, with Hardo via Jasano Brooks

Truely AP, Drew, and KH of Mo'$crill Hotel, with Hardo via Jasano Brooks

Jasano said in an email to ITR, "I expected to see tumble weeds and such," on his first trip to Texas, but instead he saw his hometown comrades all at a national stage. Members from rap collective The Company Only Joel Kellem and PK Delay had performances at Pittsburgh based music blog Daily Loud's private showcase, and Team Epic's lake-house function headlined by Norman Dean. Local streetwear clothier and event promoters Daily Bread sponsored acts Choo Jackson, Hardo, DJ Afterthought, and Christo for a show as well.

SXSW via Brennan Peirson

SXSW via Brennan Peirson

Brennan attended House of Vans at Mohawk, a multi-purpose venue, and caught another performance by rapper Hardo and DJ-producer Christo there also. The photographer's artist pass, courtesy of Atlanta rappers J.I.D and EarthGang, gave him access to major events, backstage, free food, and power outlets to charge his phone.

Specifically, Jasano, or "sano2fly" on Instagram, attended SXSW to capture the artists of Mo'$crill Hotel, KH and Truely AP, two more Pittsburgh ambassadors.

"You don't go to SXSW to see the big acts, you go to see the up and coming," said Brennan over the phone. 

iLL Chris via Jasano Brooks

iLL Chris via Jasano Brooks

People attend SXSW to support the artists on the brink of success and popularity. The creative atmosphere breeds socializing and collaboration. "Anyone that wasn't really big, I got so many of their business cards, CDs, phone numbers, and texts asking for photos," said Brennan. He discovered a Minnesota hip-hop artist called rajítheone. Beyond the music listening and culture, SXSW proves to be valuable for its networking experience. Jasano linked with a fashionable artist from Seattle, Wash., iLL Chris, and took some photos for him.

DJ Afterthought via Jasano Brooks

DJ Afterthought via Jasano Brooks

Much of SXSW's foot traffic patrolled on Sixth Street, described by Jasano as a bigger and much livelier East Carson Street. With Sixth blocked off, entourages belonging to major talents flashed by and intermingled with the public. "I saw Rae Sremmurd walking down the street 20 deep at least. The more crew members artists had the more official they were," Jasano said. He noted rappers Lil Uzi Vert and Migos passing by too.

Additionally, Brennan bumped into star studded faces like DRAM, Rome Fortune, and Lil Uzi on the Austin streets and shared their portraits on both of his IG accounts, "ForgetBrennan," and his namesake.

"You just run into some crazy stuff you didn't plan on seeing," said Brennan. On his walk home one night, he came across a Downtown Boys punk rock show held on a bridge.

Now, all the artists who attended and participated in SXSW hope to build on the connections they made and create new experiences to reach their desired successes. 

Wiz Khalifa - Khalifa (Album) by Alex Young

Pittsburgh pride and joy Wiz Khalifa makes "Khalifa" a household name today with the release of his new album, Khalifa. Furthermore, coinciding with the music release is the public debut of his marijuana strain called Khalifa Kush, or KK.

Musically, Wiz's new project is a special representation of his Taylor Gang family. He sent a Tweet on Feb. 1 that said Khalifa is, "an album produced entirely by the n*ggas i started this with." The product is a homegrown, Pittsburgh sound thanks to people like Sledgren, ID Labs, Big Jerm, and Christo. Sample the song "Make a Play" for evidence.

Other highlights in the album are features by Ty Dolla $ign in previously released "Lit," and a lovely appearance by Sebastian, Wiz's son.

Listen to Khalifa in the stream below and download a copy on iTunes. Also, be on the look out for Rolling Papers 2, which Wiz said drops before summer. He told The Source, "we're gonna go on tour during the summer, so before the summer, we're gonna put Rolling Papers 2 out."