culture

After Livefromthecity Said He's Lit, Pk Delay Said He’ll Extinguish Him by Alex Young

IMG_5342.jpg

PITTSBURGH— Rapper Livefromthecity Tweeted he was the best rap emcee in the city on March 2.

On March 3, Livefromthecity followed his statement with a track called “Offseason (Balling For No Reason).” The hook has a line, “Lit like Bic, they charge me with arson.” Live hits the basketball reference with, “23, way too many rings. MVP, that’s in every league.” His confidence booms.

After the Tweet and “Offseason” release, the following days provided many responses from the hip-hop community. Some supported Livefromthecity’s claim as the best rapper. The Pittsburgh City Paper even hopped on the bandwagon advertising the conversation. Others disputed Live’s claim. “You should wait to hear some raps, that talking shit dead,” NVSV said. Javed, the co-owner of the Senseless streetwear boutique chimed in saying, “Being the best rapper in Pittsburgh is thinking too small.” Self-confidence is great, but it will be tested in hip-hop, especially if you say you’re the best. “People are being challenged to grow or fall with the leaves. (I love a good competition when it’s about skill and content. Ain’t gon' lie lol). Hopefully, this will make for some dope music and art,” songstress Clara Kent said.

Of all the talking done on Twitter from Pittsburgh’s hip-hop scene, Pk Delay has been the only rapper so far to respond to Live with music. “Prove it WITH BARS,” producer C.Scott said. Once Livefromthecity took advantage of the conversation and publicity announcing his next project called “Lightwork” dropping April 1, Pk dropped his response to the discussion called “LIGHTWORK.”

Here are some of Pk’s bars in “LIGHTWORK” to pay attention to:

  • “I’m Live In My City. I’m the nigga that get it crackin’.”

  • “These niggas don’t really rap they just like singing to these bitches.”

  • “Don’t pull up to they spots ain’t being seen with these lil niggas. Nephs it got me hot I’m even on the scene with these lil niggas.”

Peoples’ opinions on who is the best rapper are only entertainment. What’s important is the challenges that come from pushing yourself, which Clara Kent alluded to. Also, Zeke Nicholson, who boomed out of the city managing national rappers J.I.D and EarthGang, offered sage advice. “Being the best in the Burgh doesn’t matter AT ALL. If it doesn’t find a way to spread out it will only Live there,” he said. DJ Spillz tagged in, “That title means nothing if your music cannot resonate outside of this city!” The positivity Don, Mars Jackson told people to focus on love and put their egos aside. This particular thread earned lots of responses, which you should read here.

Screen Shot 2019-03-05 at 6.59.20 PM.png

Overall, we’re excited to see the music that comes from this situation, and you should be to if you’re a fan of the local scene and hip-hop in general because we all know we want Pittsburgh to shine to the world.

Kremmy Six and The Big East Championship Rap Show by Alex Young

Photos of Kremmy Six Saucin by Alex Young

Kremmy Six Saucin invited me to his 24th birthday party at the Gooski’s bar in Polish Hill, Pittsburgh. Graffiti and stickers plastered everywhere mixed with the smoke tinge and rock classics playing all night. Kremmy’s nails painted black. Two silver crosses hung from his right ear. More silver pierced his nose cartilage and septum. The punk aesthetic worked for the rapper Kremmy Six Saucin whose taste is very of the moment which you can tell from his bulky European size 43 Balenciaga Triple S Trainer sneakers.

Describing his music as “in a mode,” Kremmy’s songs are cinematic journeys laced with auto-tune trap jams where he starts realizing “some things in my life,” he said, like working on self-love. Over the course of his albums like, “RIDE 4:12 AM” or “TE$T YOUR LUCK,” Kremmy’s self-discovery dealt with what type of man he strived to be finding himself going against his morals, or the internal thoughts of a black man.

Screen Shot 2019-02-09 at 12.26.36 AM.png

Now, with help from the “home team,” including producer Jaybee and rapper NATO Rounds among others (Finessin Wes, Manu, Ron James plus more), Kremmy readies the release of his next project called “SIX.” He said, “it’s more just working towards being a better person.”

Though the “SIX” project is on the way, people should attend The Big East Championship show at Haus of Vain on Feb. 9, 2019. The rap show features native ‘Burgh emcees Kremmy, LiveFromTheCity and Ron James. Jaybee handles the DJ set, and the crew will welcome New York artists Bknott, Kudoz and RAF of Thrifty Retro Records as the “home team” must show out on their turf.

Haus Of Vain

4711 Centre Avenue

Pittsburgh, PA 15213

Show starts at 9 p.m. 2/9/19

Ta Ta For Now, Ahsé by Alex Young

Local Pittsburgh Rapper Michael Ahsé Moltz Moves to Los Angeles

Matt LeBlanc, Roach, Ahsé, Rio, James Perry | Photograph by Alex Young

Like most kids, Ahsé (Awe•Say) walks around in a T-Shirt, jeans, and Jordan brand sneakers. Though as he sits for interview, the 19-year-old dons a white, fur trench coat and platinum grills on his teeth.

His Hollywood, and classic rapper aesthetic prelude the rapper's forthcoming move to Los Angeles where he will pursue a job with Universal Studios.

Before he departs, Ahsé shares memories in the studio he's recorded past songs and with his friends who've experienced life with him. Matt LeBlanc, a producer who tasted viral success with the track "Damn Daniel," sits in front of the desktop Mac. Shakkur Thomas, a.k.a. Roach, one of Ahsé's best friends, sits on the floor with his knees to his chest. "I can feel 2Pac's emotions," he says. James Perry matched Roach on the opposite side of the room. Both Roach and Perry join Ahsé in the Lokal Foreners rap crew along with Hippy Swizzy and Que Dafoe.

Matt plays a song he made with Ahsé called "Fanny Pack." "Recording this shit was fun as hell. This is my favorite verse you did here," Matt says.

Suddenly, "bring that cypher," Matt says. "James you tryna get in that freestyle," Ahsé asks. James agrees to rap.

"How shallow is you? Step out of your body for a little," James says. "Open those eyes and let you walk with me," Ahsé adds.

The room is pleasant, kids having fun listening to music. "What I saw was the energy [from Ahsé]," Matt says.

If Ahsé isn't rapping, he's on his skateboard. "I definitely skated before I rapped," he says. He remembers walking from his home in Penn Hills to the Duff Skate Park and then walking to the Timebomb streetwear shop in East Liberty where he met the owner, Brick. "We got paid to skate and slap stickers around. Brick sets up the opportunities."

Additionally, Ahsé rode for the Daily Bread lifestyle label. They gave Ahsé and his We're Not Free skate crew free clothes.

Growing up, "the only way I could express my emotions was through art," Ahsé says. He started making music when he was 15-years-old. Ahsé's family put him onto good music. His mom gave him vinyl records by Prince, Anita Baker, Tina Turner, and Al Green. His brother, Nick Moltz, played him Kid Cudi's "Man on the Moon" for the first time.

A post shared by InTheRough (@intheroughstyle) on

"My older siblings are my guidance to somethings," Ahsé says as six of nine Moltz children. He values his friends too. He carries on the life of his friend Todd Dye, who was killed by police brutality in Colorado Springs, Colo. in 2015. The phrase "If you don't have a target, you'll always miss" is something Todd told Ahsé and it's a tattoo on his arm now. "If not for We're Not Free and Todd, everything would be different," he says.

While Todd's life drives Ahsé, the rapper has yet to release a mixtape. He has solid collaborations with Lokal Forener mate Hippy Swizzy and another local rapper named Bossy. Currently, Ahsé wants to "build up" for the release of his debut project, "Age of Aquarius." The tape's title plays on Ahsé's spirituality, sense of self, and zodiac sign. He calls himself a buddhist. "The higher power has been in yourself the whole time," he says.

If you don’t have a target, you’ll always miss.
— Todd Dye

As Ahsé gets ready to board his plane to L.A. and start life in a new place, he says he'll be back in the 'Burgh soon, and to his friends, "stay golden," as Todd would say.

Astonished by Eight by Two by Alex Young

"Bedouin" by  Eight by Two

"Bedouin" by Eight by Two

A text message read an invitation to a house party in Friendship, a neighborhood in Pittsburgh's East End. The Snapchat geo-tag for the area near Bloomfield depicts a bed of flowers with "Bloomfield" text, a nice compliment to the section of the city described on Wikipedia as "a neighborhood of large Victorian houses."

At the gate leading to a green yard with a tree house tucked in a corner, I was charged $5 for entry. Completely unfamiliar with the artists about to perform, I looked puzzled at the young man at the door who referred to himself as Dutch Master, or Flying Dutchman something like that. He stared back at me and nodded his head as if to say, "do you want in or not?" With a couple of friends already inside, I gave him my five.

People gathered around and in the modest, Lincoln Log-like tree house. I met up with Amani Davis and Hannibal Hopson, students of knowledge and artists working in Pittsburgh. Amani's younger brother, Keanu, produced the musical project everybody would eventually hear, which is the reason all were there. "You two are the biggest Internet niggas I know," Amani said as he introduced me to his brother.

Thanks to the Internet, specifically SoundCloud, and loyal friends, Eight by Two, a rap collective, hosted a house party to unveil and share their debut project, "Bedouin."

Too many people were wandering around the yard and coming in and out to smoke. A person warned the partygoers, "the homeowners are inside and they are getting upset." The house party was one of those types you throw the summer after you graduate high school and your parents chaperone as you practice for college life to come. The parental guidance, however, did not disrupt or takeaway everyone's energy and excitement for Eight by Two's performance.

"We're about to start! Everyone go to the basement," Wathan, the Eight by Two cameraman, yelled.

Down a steep flight of cement steps, 30 people strong huddled in the muggy, dark cellar. There was red mood light, consistent flashes from people's iPhones, and a white sheet hung from the back wall with video of various landscapes passing by like out of a car window.

Shabazz of Eight by Two opened the set. He asked for a moment of silence to pay respect to those who have lost their lives to senseless racial violence. "I'm going to turn all this negative energy into something positive for my performance," he said.

The volume was not at its peak, and some white noise came from the speakers maybe due to poor wiring. "Turn it up," the crowd shouted.

8x2 got through the first track fine and cranked the volume. In each song they performed, the bass hit heavily. The group rapped over their playback so the audience could get familiar with the new music. Their concert doubled as a listening party for their latest extended play.

Then the title track came on, "Bedouin." Jono, a rapper in the crew, removed his shirt, and his partners followed suit. Shabazz removed his do-rag to show his crisp cornrows. All of 8x2 was jumping up and down, shouting the lyrics, pausing for breath, and sweatily bopping through the packed crowd in the nearly cramped space.

Their music is at times introspective, menacing, stylish, and thrilling. "Sets down in the basement, fuck your playlist my shit banging, with my crew you best behave from 'less a clip neck is what you craving," they rap in "Part 2 (Best Ever)." "Pray I make it out of this high tonight, yeah hope that I'm gon' wake up alive, if 12 pull up know I'm down to hide," are some lyrics of Eight by Two's song "No Plan."

People were most active when the upbeat "Henne Man" came on. "Why you won't sip you some Henn? I got that shit tell me when" as a bottle of Hennessy was raised high to the ceiling. Listeners enjoyed the song so much that they encored Eight by Two into playing it again.

The group's talent and people's reaction to the music surprised me and caught others off guard. We were impressed at the live quality of 8x2 because up to that point their work existed on a computer on SoundCloud. "All of this was on the Internet, but we just heard it live," Angelo, an audience member, said after the show.

But, witnessing Eight by Two perform gives greater appreciation to the music once you hear it on a mobile listening device.

Give "Bedouin" a play below and follow the rappers on SoundCloud here.

Thoughts on "Driving While Black" by Alex Young

"This is pro-black, so black it make you nervous."

Watching the memorial service for Muhammad Ali broadcasted on ESPN, Jordan Montgomery's debut solo album plays in the background. Titled "Driving While Black," Montgomery's project is a coming of age story of what it means to be young and black in America.

Since Ali's death, many stories and quotes about his champion individuality and demand for respect amongst all humans echo from the people the boxer touched. "Hating people because of their color is wrong. And it doesn't matter which color does the hating. It's just plain wrong," Ali said.

Paralleled by the day of remembrance and recognition for the heavyweight champion of the world, Montgomery's music raises awareness about a problem we still face in America and around the world, racial injustice.

The Pittsburgh resident, activist and rapper, a product of 1Hood, a collective of hip-hop artists who believe art is the best way to challenge inequity and unify humanity, presents an album inspired specifically by social and political issues, like police brutality, affecting the African American community.

Conceptually, "I wanted the album to serve as a time capsule. I feel like the sound and content represents how a lot of young people feel about the modern injustices that we've witnessed," Montgomery says.

From the heavy guitar chords DJ Thermos inserts in the song "Bodies in the Trunk," and declarations like, "This is pro-black, so black it make you nervous," which Montgomery says in "Black People," the rapper resonates with the frustration some Afro-Americans feel about their treatment. The track "East Side" illustrates the life-threatening possibility of being racially profiled and arrested by police.

Though "Driving While Black" travels through troubling times of the black community, it also offers a beaming light of hope for those who relate to the album's content. Montgomery's lyricism is revolutionary and celebratory. With bounce provided by producer Christo, the song "Only Thing" offers excitement and pride around black culture. "We the only thing I hear poppin', we them boys you can't stop us,"  Montgomery raps.

However, commercial, white audiences' adoration of black culture cannot cover up the lack of respect some people have towards its creators.

Jordan Montgomery's "Driving While Black" album makes listeners aware of the injustices some people face simply because of their skin color.