10 Cool Songs From Pittsburgh by Alex Young

Music videos and tracks featuring Hardo, Josephine, Nizzy and more.


Josephine | Photo by Alex Young

1. Jordan Montgomery - Black Folk 4 Life (Bad Boy For Life Remix)

It was Jay tracks only. Slim Tha DJ proved up to the task combing through Jay Z’s music catalog to entertain a crowd at the Boom Concepts gallery venue in Pittsburgh. Rapper Jordan Montgomery was there as Hov’s super fan spitting every lyric bar for bar with acute cadence. Montgomery’s music could play at intermission during a Jay Z concert. He rhymes around the beat like Hov. His wisdom speaks to other young, black Americans and that deserves more attention. The classic flavor on Montgomery’s “Black Folk 4 Life” tastes fresh from the cut’s cool music video directed by Jordan Armstrong. Artists’ cameos by Jaybee Jackson and Livefromthecity are hype.

2. Slicky Williams - Remain Humble

A sensitive trap tale from Homewood, Pittsburgh rapper and singer-songwriter Slicky Williams. Buy his new EP on iTunes.

3. Josephine - I Need Teeth

Super chill song from an Irish-Jamaican songstress from the ‘Burgh. Any DJ worth any finesse could play Josephine’s track at the function. She has more music on the way so, don’t sleep.

4. The Keymakers - Tell Me Something

When we observed The Keymakers at the Always Money studio in Toronto, it was clear, Rome and Rederic had a plan to roll out their music. The assist from the Always Money collective, engineer B.C., writer Jesse Christophr and Cash Money Records representative Anshuman Sharma, boosts The Keymakers’ quality. From prep school life in the ‘Burgh to radio ready, introduce yourself to The Keymakers. If not, you may come across the group in a Spotify playlist.

5. Rome Fortune & Toro Y Moi - Hoodrich Disco (Music Video Directed by Glasshead)

Media production company and music group, Glasshead adds to their clientele with this music video direction for well-known musicians Rome Fortune and Toro Y Moi. Glasshead rises out of The Steel City to meet opportunities across the country because they entertain with whacky, flattering content kind of like a meme. Whether its hip-hop mimicking Doja Cat’s “Mooo!” song with The N word or general comedy about the culture, Glasshead shoots straight. Feature article on that squad soon.

6. Camp Yola x D Clak - Home Invasion Part 1

50 Cent got people wanting to turn their lives into TV like “Power.” It goes to show the inner-city underbelly really tries people. What’s perceived as entertainment is survival mode.

7. Hardo - Fame or Feds

Hardo follows up his 2011 “Fame or Feds” mixtape with OG Pittsburgh rapper Deezlee. This time, “The Fame or Feds Story” album illustrates Hardo’s trap origins, while paying respect to the relationships that affected him most. Hardo’s latest project culminates his development as a rapper to those who’ve watched his rise.


“But I got this little dream team called B.C. What the fuck we gonna do?” The B.C. rap group is prowling. BIG BEE pouncin’.

9. FlatLine Nizzy - Watch

Next out of the trap. Watch his video for “Dey Don’t” too.

10. Stoneith - The Thought of Mine

“You keep switching up your ways moving lane from lane.”

Best New Tracks by Alex Young

Benji, Tairey, Hardo, Knuccleheadz, Kizzl, Bill$up, Zende & Linwood

Let's roundup the quality music that's released from some Pittsburgh artists recently.

Benji - Smile, You're Alive!

Benji's "Smile, You're Alive!" cover art by Yung Mulatto

Benji's "Smile, You're Alive!" cover art by Yung Mulatto

The godsend talent through musicianship has given us a meaningful album. Benji's listeners take away hope after they've spent time with the "Smile, You're Alive!" album. He takes risks by sharing personal, vulnerable stories that drive his confidence in himself. Feel your jaw drop when you listen to "Zola Rose," but then get in your bag when the bass line drops in the second half of the song. Additionally, appreciate the artistry throughout the project thanks to the live instrumentations like strong keys and even the cover art by the legendary Yung Mulatto.

Tairey featuring Hardo - Nothing New

This music video is everything. The coolness of it goes hard. The bop meets the trap, and Tairey and Hardo are the perfect characters. Tairey opened up for the Migos in Cleveland last May, and Hardo gears up for his new album "The Fame or Feds Story," which has a complementary "trapumentary" about growing up in the hardened Wilkinsburg neighborhood outside of the 'Burgh. Both rappers have been tested in Pittsburgh and nationally, so the duo present a refined product. "Nothing New" is that excitement you want from a fun song like this. Watch the video first and then cop the track on iTunes.


Kellz & Heem of the Knuccleheadz at the Strip District Music Fest [2016] | photo by Alex Young

Kellz & Heem of the Knuccleheadz at the Strip District Music Fest [2016] | photo by Alex Young

Two youngins ran into each other at a gas station. One was a local rapper, and the other was a local writer. As he pumped air into his tires, the rapper Jiggy of the KNUCCLEHEADZ handed an early copy of his group's "Endless" album to the writer who was pumping gas. The exchange would be atypical in a city like Atlanta where people who ask you to check out their mixtape is another way of saying hello. In Pittsburgh, that interaction is not so common. The KNUCCLEHEADZ's "Endless" album improves their hip-hop image. Heem, Jiggy, Kellz and Shady Higgler created a soundtrack for self-indulgent lifestyles. A variety of sounds are on display in the album. "No feelings" is fun, trendy and lit. The following song "Yeah You" flexes the group's classic retro gangsta rap flow that they are known for, and "X2c" changes the mood completely to a chill reggae mood. Also, production from Taylor Gang's Sledgren moves the project along. Support "Endless" on iTunes or Spotify.

Trapway Kizzl x Bill$up - Nightmares of a Chevy

Come from the trap, and you're a different breed. You can tell stories in ways others cannot begin to understand, and that's what makes trap music so interesting. The gritty risk-reward lifestyle seems anxious and glamorous at the same time. "Young nigga tryna see the top ceiling. Packs for my woes. Bags for my hoes. Pistols for my foes. You know how it goes," Kizzl raps over a crisp Bill$up production.

Zende featuring Linwood - Girlfriend (prod. YourFavoriteProducer)

"Girlfriend" explains the contemplation a man goes through before he asks a girl to be his girlfriend. Rapper Zende enjoys the pleasures of a woman even after she "met my momma, brother, sister," but she "still ain't my girlfriend," he says. Linwood, a rapper originally from Worcester, Mass. who makes his home and music career in Pittsburgh, gives Zende some motivation in his verse saying, "take it there." Linwood, along with Tairey, will open up for the Sheck Wes show at Diesel Club Lounge on the South Side come July 1. Listen to "Girlfriend" and maybe provide some advice for the young artist Zende.

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.


EarthGang Featuring Hardo - Rounds (Prod. by Super Mario) by Alex Young

Atlanta-based rap group, EarthGang, composed of CaesarStone and JohnnyVenus, releases new music in support of their upcoming project.

The new song, "Rounds," features Pittsburgh local and trap star Hardo, who linked with EarthGang various times in Beverly Hills and Santa Monica Beach, California. "Rounds" is taken from Spillage Village's, a collective of artists represented by EarthGang, J.I.D, Hollywood JB, JordxnBryant, and DJ DarkKnight, next project called 'Bears Like This Too Much.'

Listen to EarthGang's new track, produced by Super Mario, below or watch the in studio video here, and be on the lookout for Spillage Village's work later this spring.

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.