Commendations for Music / by Alex Young

Mainly, these Commendations show gratitude to the productive and progressive communities worldwide. In part, the Commendations coincide with the articles that InTheRough published in 2017, which featured geographic locations AtlantaD.C.Toronto, and Pittsburgh.

Stories about Pittsburgh communities on InTheRough detail the great life that happens in the 'Burgh. Events and creations pop up in the city and people should know about them to support them.

Much like Commendations 2016, the next edition of the review relies on ITR opinion. Although, reader polls this year will add more credibility because the peoples' taste matters.

There are 16 categories, like Best Producer, Most Stylish, Teenie Award (Pittsburgh's best photographer), Best Event, Best Live Performance, Favorite Item, and more, that are part of the Commendations list for 2017. ITR admires folks we've written about in and from the 'Burgh and those people, organizations, and events who carry a buzz so strong throughout the streets and social media. Nominees for Commendations are Pittsburgh natives or Pittsburgh based business and organizations.

To celebrate the scene and acknowledge those commended, there's a Review Party hosted at Senseless and powered by Jenesis Magazine. The 2017 Commendations winners list will drop the day of January 12, 2018, before the Review Party that night from 10 p.m. - 2 a.m going down at Senseless. Tell the boys to clear the clothing racks for a dance floor. 

Stick with the Year In Review page for an update on more nominees for 'best of' and more types of recognition. See you in the new year.

Music is fundamental to ITR content. We like to dance, and we appreciate the people who set phenomenal grooves. Working in Pittsburgh provides an opportunity to write about and commend the community who makes quality music. Here vote for Best Hip-Hop Album, Best Music Artist, Best Live Performance, Best Song, Best Music Group, Best DJ, and Best Producer.

Best Hip-Hop Album

1. Knuccleheadz - Dirty Dancing - The Knuccleheadz set the mark for premier gangsta rap. "Dirty Dancing" tells a flavorful story about trap life from the crime to the women. The sound of the project is killer as it flows from a current bang set in Pittsburgh to a G-funk delivery very easily. "Dirty Dancing" flexes the range of The Knuccleheadz talent. Heem, Jiggy, and Kelly gain producing support from Taylor Gang technicians Ricky P and Sledgren, as well as golden boy Christo. 

2. Macroderma Gigas a.k.a. Saani Mac - BLK 1.0 -  "BLK 1.0" carries heavy Pittsburgh themes and supporting local is always a good idea. Macroderma Gigas describes local neighborhoods like Springhill and Brookline. The project utilizes a local cast of musicians like Babyt33th and Linwood to boost production values higher. Listen for the bop in "BLK 1.0."

3.  RDP - Wreckanize - RDP stands for "Rap Dance Poetry" and he's the self-described "Fly Class Weirdo." RDP's album flies under the radar, but "Wreckanize" shows a 25-year-old cruising around the 'Burgh high out of his mind. Beats trip and pluck as RDP hops through his melodic and spoken flows. "Wreckanize" shines through the songs "Broke," "Far," "Intro," and "Runnin Through The Burgh."

Best Hip-Hop Album
Which album represents the class of new rap talent in Pittsburgh?

Best Music Artist

1. blackboi - He moves youth and hip-hop simultaneously through diverse sounds. Listen to his "Astro O2" album and his cuts on lifestyle label Reviving Real's hip-hop mix.

2. Sierra Sellers - A pure vocalist with a jazzy tone. Sellers is perfect for live entertainment at any function of any size. Her inviting music shows best in "Gimme." Plus, her songs offer a great change of pace to the heavy hip-hop listeners.

3. Yung Mulatto - DJ and beat technician Yung Mulatto "had his fingers on everything," rapper Cap Jazzo said. Yung Mulatto was the creative director of Pittsburgh's hip-hop scene. He was accomplishing so much for the community here. Since his death, his legacy lives on and this Commendation for Best Music Artist serves as a way to honor Yung Mulatto's legacy.

Best Music Artist
Sound + Talent

Best Live Performance

1. Babyt33th at Jailbreak "White Noise" - Jailbreak was a music and art festival on July 15 in an empty warehouse in Pittsburgh's East Liberty. There, Babyt33th was dressed in white on the stage with dancers twerking in skimpy rave clothing. "White Noise" moaned through the speakers creating a high point of Babyt33th's set. An LED igloo backdrop intensified the experience.

A post shared by Reggie Boy (@babyt33th) on

2. Pet Zebra at Pop Style "Plexico" - Pet Zebra surprised the Brillobox bar crowd as he performed at the night show back on August 6. The day called for celebration because Pet Zebra had released a new mixtape the same day and turned a year older. His happiness showed on stage and his song "Plexico" got people amped that night.

Best Live Performance
When what you hear through aux chords and earphones gets played live in front of your eyes

Best Song

Four songs from a new class of musicians in the 'Burgh. Linwood, Pk Delay, and Windu push contemporary hip-hop sounds, while Princess Nostalgia, Role Model, and Sierra Sellers croon sensitive lyrics that touch a groove and funk.

1. Ant Windu - outofmyway pt.1 w/Wave.

2. Linwood ft. Sierra Sellers - She Tried 

3. Pk Delay - No Lil Pups

4. Princess Nostalgia - Princess Nostalgia

5. Role Model - Stolen Car

Best Song
Which is your favorite? Listen to each above if you don't know.

Best Music Group

Friendship and comradery feature in music. Commend the collectives of people who make music as part of a group or a rap crew.

1. Knuccleheadz - Heem, Jiggy, and Kelly are the gangster rap trio. Together they tell stories about the underbelly in Pittsburgh where people do whatever is necessary to survive. The Knuccleheadz share authentic stories from harsh surroundings.

2. Lokal Foreners - Music, streetwear, and skate mix with the members of Lokal Foreners, which features Ahsé, Hippy Swizzy, James PerryJudah, Que Dafoe, Shakkur Thomas.

3. Sanguine - Sanguine is the youth: Bird, big trvpblackboi, Keith .wav, PablosobahTrebleZende, and Windu.

4. Serene - Members of the Serene team do well at executing cool flows over boom bap type beats. They're down to perform at local spots such as Roboto Project. Javed has opened for acts like Father, so his music catalog stands with any local rapper. Retrorosser creates magic within Serene as group members, like Calvin and Jet, use his beats. The crew uses Javed's clothing shop, Senseless, as a meeting spot.

5. 1Hood - Jasiri X, Jordan Montgomery, and LiveFromTheCity lead a crew of people who are the "vanguard of arts and activism." Look at the expansive cast here.

Best Music Group
Coolest Crew

Best DJ

1. DJ Femi - Femi gang is strong at events like Tilt party by RB and ThankBanksCo. Further, her female encourages support from other females. DJ Femi spins trendy tunes often. Catch her out in Lawrenceville or East Liberty.

2. DJ Jaybee - Jaybee gets the call as a reliable DJ and music man. He produces beats under his Jaybee name and he plays at local parties like rapper Jordan Montgomery's No Requests.

3. DJ Seams - Seams spun at a grime party at Spirit Lounge, a bar in Lawrenceville. The UK night, another event sponsored by RB, featured a depth of knowledge of the hip-hop, house, and garage tunes that make grime in London.

4. DJ Topgun - Though he's a Cleveland native, Topgun found a home in Pittsburgh. He linked with Boom Concepts to through crazy sets with his Ohio rap friends. He's also gained the trust of local rappers here like Choo Jackson. DJ Topgun's skate background, which comes from his Rage Club company, makes his performance more entertaining.

Best DJ
Who plays the best selection of music?

Best Producer

All of these producers have production credits with major hip-hop artists, like EarthGang, Jimmy Wopo, J.I.D, Wiz Khalifa and more. Each producer has a signature sound and raises music quality when they produce.

1. Big Jerm is one of the most useful tools in the I.D. Labs toolbox. Big Jerm has helped Wiz Khalifa and Mac Miller. Interestingly, this year he produced commercial music for Shop412.

2. Christo has been the official tour DJ for J.Cole and J.I.D. for the majority of 2017. His DJ success matches his production success because Christo featured on several new albums by rising artists. He has credit on J.I.D.'s "The Never Story” and NJOMZA's "sad for you" album.

3. Sledgren does best at feeding Taylor Gang artists with glitzy digital beats. He showed his strengths as he crafted the sound of Wiz Khalifa's "PreRolleds" extended play.

4. The streets of Pittsburgh have been on fire with Jimmy Wopo music. Thank Stevie B, the man who is responsible for producing Wopo's hit "Elm Street" track and more of his catalog. Stevie B. B as in Builds Beats.

Best Producer
Who makes the best beats?