by Maxwell Young

A Celestial Sound--Babby Releases Pleasure Demo by Maxwell Young

Babby  performing at  The Turn Around  at Eaton Hotel, 6/23/19. Polaroid by Maxwell Young

Babby performing at The Turn Around at Eaton Hotel, 6/23/19. Polaroid by Maxwell Young

Steven Holiday-Wilson Jr., aka Babby, is part of the long list of crooners who grew up in the church tradition of choral singing. It’s hard not to feel like you’re at a Sunday service when his voice crescendos. Yet, surprisingly so, Babby was prohibited from singing to congregations as his voice matured. “I wasn’t allowed to sing because they felt like I was taking people from the presence of God,” he said in between his performance for Uptown Art House’s live music series at Eaton Hotel. The word “Lamb” is tattooed down Babby’s neck in the font of early scripture like it was written with a quill pen. A sacrifice to the holy hymns, Babby is called to the masses.

The Maryland-based vocalist had just wrapped the brief 25-minute set, when one of the listeners asked me, “Where did you find him?” I hesitated before answering as if I had much to do with cultivating that ethereal experience. Babby’s talent is a gift from God. His voice would uplift spirits even if he were humming along the sidewalk. The stage is irrelevant when you hear him.

Babby’s latest offering, Pleasure, is the first grouping of tracks published since releasing “Mother” on his SoundCloud in 2017. A demo tape created from studio sessions recorded that same year, Pleasure explores themes of love loss and gained.

“The way we relate to the world around us is of a dark nature,” he said.

Babby’s interpretations of love are brooding. “Haunted by the need to love; the need to pleasure,” he speaks over a lost transmission on the opening narrative piece “Labyrinth.” There’s a palpable sense of hurt as Babby flexes his vocal chords on the remaining two tracks “Pound” and “Wound.” “My heart is blue and tender. I’ll bleed from the center,” he sings on the latter—vulnerable to the fear of loneliness while reconciling  self-worth with being in the company of someone he loves.

For day-one fans, Pleasure ameliorates the few Babby records circulating the internet. The artist’s output is intentionally restrained as he transitions from production-backed tracks to live instrumentation. Hear more depth in his sound now, with backing bass, guitar, and cello accents added to his performances. Until newer tracks drop, it’s imperative you catch a show.

The Pleasure demo is now available for listening on YouTube. We’ve pulled the audio for you below.

Tony Cruise debuts fan film for "Replica" by Maxwell Young

If Tony Cruise could perform his music anonymously, or better yet, have someone else perform it for him, I think he would choose the latter.

Courtesy of  Tony Cruise .

Courtesy of Tony Cruise.

The artist formerly known as Kill’s latest visual alludes to a sense of self-removal from his sonic output. Described as a fan film, it is not Cruise who commands the frame of the vintage camcorder, rather the armless mannequin who’s escorted around The LINE Hotel’s Los Angeles property. She/he/it embodies Cruise’s record, “Replica,” that debuted in November of 2018. “2 get the cash u deserve, run away; emulate and build a replica,” the DMV-based artist speaks over his production like it’s a 1980s infomercial. 

At the beginning of the film, viewers observe what looks like the replication process. The stairwell’s pipes and circuitry seemingly transmute Cruise’s energy into the mannequin, initializing Tony2.0. Programmed to attract fame and the white gaze, it is paraded around a Stones Throw Records pool party, with Cruise’s trademark motorcycle jacket hanging off its shoulders. Tony2.0 is a crowd-pleaser. New fans ask permission to take pictures but consent is skipped for a kiss on the cheek.

Is it an unwillingness to expose oneself to the trappings of stardom and success that make this duplication necessary? To be commoditized and sexualized at the expense of artistic merit. Or is it oneself who inhibits such trappings from being achieved? Internal and external perceptions obscuring artistic development. Regardless of the case, “Build your replica. Build it,” Cruise is adamant.

Headed to Brooklyn: Jamel Zuñiga's "Tetra-125BPM" mix, facilitated by PROGRAM LABS by Maxwell Young

If it ain’t thumping…if it ain’t thudding, then it ain’t Jamel.

DJ Jamel Zuñiga at Tech Yes at Sandovan Restaurant and Lounge in D.C., 1/24/19 | Polaroid by Maxwell Young

DJ Jamel Zuñiga at Tech Yes at Sandovan Restaurant and Lounge in D.C., 1/24/19 | Polaroid by Maxwell Young

“Tetra-125BPM” facilitated by PROGRAM LABS, is the latest mix by Washington, D.C. based DJ Jamel Zuñiga.

Press play and close your eyes. It’s the weekend, or maybe a Thursday night function, and you’re somewhere off the L-Train in Brooklyn at a warehouse at four o’clock in the morning. Work and errands are imminent, but the pulse of the speakers keep your feet in rhythm. This is the sonic pocket where Zuñiga wants to transport you, and rarely does he leave it himself.

Baby San Jay on Instagram, FKA Sex God Supreme FKA Ledroit FKA Jay-Z, has become the de-facto techno disc jockey, presiding over the turn tables of a number of restaurants, hotels and music venues as one half of his esoteric dance series with Sir E.U, Techyes. While Zuñiga’s electronic inclinations are ever present at these weekly showings, he’s working in tandem with E.U—the vocals and beat on equal footing—informing a party-oriented environment. The near one hour mix, however, is more quintessential; an inward-looking display of what Zuñiga plays when there’s no one to satisfy but himself.

“[Tetra] is harder, pure techno other than call-and-response beats and rock beats,” he told InTheRough. “This is more a spiritual journey.”

Fall into a trance, listening to the set above.

Run it up: Tedy Brewski drops Count EP, Produced by Djunivrse by Maxwell Young

Time doesn’t exist in my zone.
— Tedy Brewski on "Count"
Polaroid of Tedy Brewski by Maxwell Young

Polaroid of Tedy Brewski by Maxwell Young

Tedy Brewski pulled from the archive releasing Count, his first solo offering in over a year. The new EP produced by Pittsburgher Amadís Amaya AKA djunivrse, dropped unexpectedly at the beginning of April after sitting on ice since its genesis in the winter of 2017.

It’s not that Brewski has been absent from music-making. Find him on Instagram, daily it seems, practicing the acoustic guitar and working with his MIDI keyboard, marketing himself to Roc Nation A&R’s as an in-house beat-maker and writer with his trademark comedic flare. Plus, his SoundCloud credits five features within the last eight months. Yet there’s a disconnect between the Tedy we’ve laughed with on social media and the Tedy we’ve sparsely heard over the calendar year. From the collaborations to the alternative/punk/emo-esque guitar licks and downtempo production of Count, Brewski has revealed a melancholy and anxiety that he says reflects drug use, alienation, and night life.

Take Brewski’s contribution to Charlotte rapper Litreill’s track “questionreality,” where he introspectively ponders over a boom-bap beat, “Why am I alone in a room full of people? but never in my mind—a million personalities.” Or, his verse on "Phantom,” a posse-cut by way of Internet Hippy that elicits a realization of his eccentricity, “A misfit crucified for being different, and when it can’t benefit, that’s when friends become distant.”

Without Brewski’s punch lines and self-deprecating humor, these existential thoughts become intensified. Count stratifies this somber mood as Brewski lays forth what he describes as “wounded aspirations” in his SoundCloud bio. The two opening tracks on the EP allude to such manifestations. “I wanna rock. I wanna rock right now. I really wanna beach chair on my island. I really wanna millie rock with my right hand. I wanna get my money fine, call it finance,” he distortedly raps on “Go Pro.”

“I definitely recorded that music during a dark time,” Brewski told InTheRough.

Marinating on a catalogue of beats and bars from a few other collaborative EPs, Chef Brewski hasn’t recorded any new vocals since December. Newer sounds are on the horizon, though, and it appears Brewski is emerging from the contemplative state for the better. “I’m slowly working on a self-produced project that is definitely more upbeat,” he said.

Until then, re-acquaint yourself with the work of Tedy Brewski and listen to the Count EP below.

Who is SYBYR? TBD...Watch his music video for "Talisman" by Maxwell Young

Songbyrd Music House hosted a slew of DMV’s underground emcees in support of WIFIGAWD and The Khan last Thursday evening in Washington, D.C.

Courtesy of SYBYR’s  Instagram

Courtesy of SYBYR’s Instagram

Perhaps the biggest highlight of the show was DMV native, New York transplant SYBYR’s track, “Talisman.” Donning black lipstick and mis-matched camouflage, he slowed down the pace, ushering moshers into a subdued bop. Formerly known as Syringe, SYBYR channeled enigmatic energies, rapping “Like the talisman, had to make my own magic—balance in the hand.” By the end of the song, the vibe was caught, heads nodding along in support.

SYBYR has added context to this track, releasing the music video to “Talisman” early this morning. The glitchy visuals directed and produced by Bic Flame and Landfill, respectively, feature the rapper in what appears to be an abandoned house—the perfect canvas for graffiti alluding to anarchy and disorder. SYBYR looks comfortable in this realm as we see him rapping through broken window panes and on-top of tables that haven’t been used in years.

Anti-World” is the name of the collective SYBYR reps along with 18 other artists. Its logo, a hand-drawn, exed-out globe, looks like a spider or a gauged eye off first glance. That and the demon illustration that quickly overlays SYBYR’s face in his latest music video are reminiscent of D.C. legend Sir E.U, particularly his M a D a G a S C a R album cover, although we’re unsure of any influences. What is certain, though, is how much of a rage that show would be—a bill featuring the “Hippodramidan” and SYBYR—two of the most eccentric artists we’ve encountered here in the District of Columbia to date.

Stay tuned for more on a new favorite and follow SYBYR on Instagram and Twitter.