R&B

10 Cool Songs From Pittsburgh by Alex Young

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

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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.

8. BIG BEE - WON By WON

“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.”

B. Knight by Alex Young

The Superstar You Don't See Coming.

B. Knight | Photos by Alex Young

Brian Michael Knight Jr. fired on his friends. He was funny cracking jokes against Kevin Galloway,  Nairobi Jones, Tykee Jones, and Terrell Robinson as they all clowned around eating McDonald's before they headed out into the night, Downtown, Pittsburgh winter weather to film a music video. Knight turned his attention to women who walked by in the lobby of Point Park University's apartment complex. Legs in tight jeans and complementary boots caught us staring. Once, Robinson cracked an unassuming smile and Knight said, "When you smile, it looks like you dookied on yourself." We all howled.

The '90s baby, Knight was "always attracted to entertainers," he said. He was a four-year-old standing on his bed performing for a large imaginary audience.

Now, he goes by B. Knight, and his then imagination for stardom manifests itself in B. Knight's performance and his upcoming mixtape called "Unapologetic."

Dancing came first, and his brother showed him how to moonwalk, but Knight said "both sides of my family sing" so doing both came naturally young. "Brian McKnight, I thought that nigga was my dad. I was all over his shit," he said. He remembers studying R&B legend Usher with his 2001 "8701" album, citing "U Remind Me" and "U Dont Have to Call" as good influences. "When Chris Brown came, it ruined my whole shit." The comparable artists describe an "edge" that features in B. Knight's music.

When it comes to the music, the 21-year-old McKeesport raised Knight finds that "it's so easy to make something organic."

"Unapologetic," a project executive produced by the sound of the streets Stevie B, is about "knowing you're the best," Knight said. And, "when you want to be humble, but you know who you are. When you're the best you, that's when it's over."

B. Knight's team allows him to be "unapologetically myself," he said. Stevie B's been an asset to the singer-songwriter. "We both got that same love for Usher. We listened to the same stuff coming up," Knight said of the super producer who gets credit for the music behind trap-stars like Hardo and Jimmy Wopo. However, "friendship" makes Knight's music work with Stevie B. Also, being around the producer influences B. Knight's writing process and his cadence. "I write my songs like raps," he said keying on his song "My Place."

Additionally, director Kevin Galloway, photographer Nairobi Jones, comrade Tykee Jones, and director Terrell Robinson, also known as Maur The Sun, support B. Knight with the professional aspects of his musical act.

Galloway and Robinson were the cinematographer and director respectively for Knight's music video shoot for the interlude song on the "Unapologetic" tape called "SKEEE Back Interlude (3x in a Row)." It's a two-part story about Knight's life riding the bus to clock-in work at Target, and then the music video paints the picture of B. Knight the "superstar."

B. Knight, Kevin Galloway, Terrell Robinson and Nairobi Jones | Photos by Alex Young

For the set, the crew wanted comparisons to, "alleyways from 'Batman' or alleyways behind the club from hood movies," Robinson said. We travelled in a three-car convoy while Galloway and Robinson scouted alleys until they stopped at one between Commerce Street and Centre Avenue. Galloway called the video shots "sleek" that matched B. Knight's swagger "so people can see this and be like ‘he’s the star he says he is,'" Robinson continued. Cameraman Nairobi helped the visuals and composition. Knight trusts him because he moves "rapid with his profession."

The friendly vibe around the group makes standing in the cold covering the subjects enjoyable. Between Tykee, better known by his rap name Keys412, and B. Knight, "we know the common ground that we like music and weed and we pay attention to girls," Knight said.

"I like relationships. I'm really good at it," B. Knight said. "No, you like the idea of them," Keys finished. "Nowadays, [girls] want the whole shebang," Knight added. They always have, and they deserve the shebang, but now he says these elaborate prom proposals on Instagram are becoming too much. Being let down in love "helped my writing," he said focusing on the interview.

Overall, B. Knight knows he must "accept you're on a journey." When "Unapologetic" drops this spring, he feels like "it's 'gonna be a good moment."

Update: 3/31/18

Tanglewood storytellers ante up for B. Knight's music video. 

Watch Jenna Camille's Roseanne Inspired Video for "Up & Down" by Maxwell Young

Jenna Camille plays a deflated wife vying for her husband's lust in the new video for her single, "Up & Down."

"I got this idea of writing this song about a working-class couple whose still trying to find the time to keep the spark going," she says in her upcoming 'Uptown Interview.'  "The video is inspired by Roseanne where Dan, her husband, is having dreams about another woman, and she's trying to figure out why he's not into having sex with her anymore...and trying to find ways to make their sex-life work."

Art work designed by  St. Clair Castro , CMPVTR CLVB.

Art work designed by St. Clair Castro, CMPVTR CLVB.

Davon Bryant AKA Dreamcast, who's been featured in the Sounds of D.C. playlist and most recently in The Fader, plays disinterested Dan.  Both Camille and Bryant are consistent supporters of one another's artistry; find them in attendance at each other's D.C. shows, but perhaps there is an ulterior motive behind this collaboration.

"I feel like this is a question that could get me in trouble..." Camille said when asked why Dreamcast was the subject of choice.  "Well, one because to be honest--Davon--I feel the most comfortable with him as a leading person.  And two, because...don't make me answer that!"

"Up & Down" is now available on Bandcamp, where you can also download an exclusive Michael Jackson outro performed live at 9:30 Club.  Watch the video above.

Free, Jenna Camille's next album is on the way, stay tuned.

Linwood and Sierra Sellers Deliver Mood Music by Alex Young

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Some artists consistently execute moods, like a tranquil hit sensitive enough to talk about love and experience over raw beats.

Musicians Linwood Randolph and Sierra Sellers represent that balance here. Their dynamic created a beautiful collaboration in the song "She Tried" produced by Zach Healy and observed by Connor Duddy. Linwood's on a roll since his "Let's Not Wait Til Summer" E.P.

Plus, Sellers premiered a tender new song of her own called "Gimme." To attain love, commit.

Enjoy the mood set by a local Pittsburgh cast.

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."