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2017 Rolling Loud Bay Area Review

If you follow any hip hop news outlets, it’s been pretty hard to avoid Rolling Loud coverage. The festival has been getting quite a bit of attention, mostly focused around Lil B getting jumped backstage, and XXXtentacion attacking a fan during his set. KZSC hip hop DJs Jinx, Elbo and RIZ aka RSD were on site for both these events, but we also saw some incredible performances that should be getting just as much attention. We’ve heard about the scandal, let’s hear about the music!

While Rolling Loud has been around for 2 years now, this October was the very first time it took place in the Bay Area– and from the looks of it, we have no doubts it will be back. As usual, the Bay did not disappoint and both the artists and crowd were hyped. We rolled up from Santa Cruz around 3:45 on Saturday, just in time to catch the last of Nef the Pharaohs set, specifically jamming from the security line to his hit song, and a personal favorite of ours, “Bling Blaow.” With our press wristbands on and ready to dance, we headed into the festival.

SOB X RBE

The next set we were especially excited about was Vallejo’s finest, SOB x RBE. Arguably, the best and youngest rap group in the whole country right now. SOB X RBE has improved performing live, as they have started to engage with the crowd more and actually perform. Their official DJ Xslapz educated those in attendance and played his fire set of Bay Area music. It was no doubt that a majority of the Bay Area fans came for SOB X RBE, who was one of less than 10 Bay Area artists on Rolling Loud Bay Area’s lineup. SOB X RBE showed up and showed out.

XXXtentacion

At 7:30, XXXtentacion came onstage, and with nothing else to see at the time, we decided to hop over and see what he was all about. Before we get into a review of his performance, I think we should recognize the fact that he was even performing at Rolling Loud to begin with. Convicted or not, X has been accused of a horrific and disturbing sexual assault, and it’s alarming that Rolling Loud would choose to ignore these accusations and have him on their bill anyways. It’s an extremely prevalent and recurring event on so many different platforms (music, film, politics, etc.) that society chooses to value whatever the perpetrator is putting into the world over the disgusting crime that almost all of us can agree was wrong. Despite the entire audience being aware of what X had done, everyone was there, unphased, ready and excited for his set. It’s situations just like this that we must ask ourselves, how much can we justify separating a person from their art? To what extent can we condemn a person’s actions while continuing to consume what they’ve created, and in turn contributing to their success? Something unique to XXXtentacion as a figure is that his violent and aggressive nature is part of what makes him appealing. He doesn’t try and hide it, in fact he’s proud and unapologetic about his behaviour. At his Rolling Loud performance, he played no more than one song before stopping to say something along the lines of, “I know I have a lot of haters out there. I respect that. If you have a problem with me all I have to say to you is come at me” He then proceeded to step off the stage on another man’s shoulders and enter into the crowd, encouraging anyone to hit him, essentially trying really really hard to start a brawl. When a few people took him up on the offer, he hit them back without hesitation. At this point it was pretty clear to us and everyone watching X wasn’t there to perform anything, he just wanted to make a scene and hold up his violent reputation. Almost everyone in the audience was disappointed– many were booing, and while it was frustrating to see such a stupid performance, it was also satisfying to see someone I have such a distaste for give a universally horrible show. Keep it up, X!

21 Savage

In the car driving home, we discussed who we were impressed by, who we wished had given a better performance, who we under/over estimated, and who we would see again. Without any argument, we all agreed 21 Savage was 100x more impressive than we expected. Judging from the media, 21 Savage is associated with the “trashy” “mumble rap” we so often hear as an insult, but after seeing him live we all agree: whether his style is your taste or not, the dude’s got talent. Unlike some of the other performances, 21 didn’t waste any time rambling about nonsense or yelling at the crowd to make a moshpit. He came onstage prepared and energized, hitting his set off with his most recent hit off his new album Issa, “Bank Account,” on top of legit performing most of his songs acapella with the beat dropping at the right time.

21 Savage

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Travis Scott

“Protect Lil B at all f*cking costs, mothaf*cka (gunshot noise)” was Travis Scott’s message between each song during his whole performance, on top his performance generally being lit af. Travis Scott had the whole crowd alive as he was jumping around on his giant mechanical flying bird. The crowd was loud in response as Travis Scott gave a mind blowing and unforgettable performance. It was certainly a great way to end the night.

 

Day 2, Sunday 10/22:

We got to the festival grounds a little later on Sunday, arriving around 6:15, and already the second day had a different feel to it. To start off, it felt like there were at least 25% more people in attendance, and despite (or maybe because of?) the events that took place the day before, the crowd felt wilder. Generally, it seemed like people were more excited about the Sunday lineup than they were the Saturday one. We met up with UCSC photographer and film student Keanu Ramos, who gave us some cameras so we could get access to the photo pit during the performances, which made our Sunday experience unique to our Saturday one.We got exclusive media photo pit access for Young Thug, Isaiah Rashad and Lil Wayne.

Lil Yachty

The first performance we saw on Sunday was Lil Yachty, which we caught up to about 10 minutes into his set. While most of Lil Yachty’s songs are bangers (I have no shame in admitting this & if you do you’re lying to yourself) the first thing you think when you hear his music is probably not “this would be really good live.” Which is why we were pleasantly surprised when we showed up and found that he sounds just as good on stage as he does recorded. Of course, it was his classic Yachty energy that really took the show to the next level. Something I love and have always admired about Lil Yachty is his ability to radiate pure joy in everything he does, and Rolling Loud was no exception. With a big smile on his face, Yachty jumped around the stage with Lil Pump, braids going everywhere, splashing water bottle after water bottle on the excited crowd. He killed all his hits, including Peek-a-Boo, One Night, and On Me.

 

Young Thug. Photo by Keanu Ramos

 

Young Thug

One place where Rolling Loud went wrong was scheduling Young Thug at the same time as Lil Wayne. Many people found it hard to choose between watching Young Thug and Lil Wayne, including ourselves so we just chose to jump back and forth throughout both sets (a pro to having the two stages ridiculously close to each other). Young Thug energized the crowd and it was surprising to us that he actually sang his entire set with no autotune and was hitting every key on point. Young Thug brought it back a couple times and played some of his songs from when he was first coming out such as: “Stoner,” “Hookah.” and “Lifestyle.” Overall, Young Thug gave an incredible performance and we really have no complaints.

 

 

 

Lil Wayne. Photo by Keanu Ramos

 

 

Lil Wayne

Lil Wayne was the last show we saw at Rolling Loud, and it was quite the finale. As the oldest and most experienced artist on the bill by a long shot, he felt like the godfather of the festival. He entered the stage with grace and ease, and you could tell the second he took the mic he knew exactly how to work a crowd. After performing his first song, he paused for a moment to look earnestly at the audience and remind us with his hand over his heart, “I need you to remember two things: y’all ain’t shit without the man above, and I ain’t shit without all of you.” After all these years, he seemed genuinely grateful and content to be exactly where he was in that moment. The audience could feel it.

 

Overall, Rolling Loud Bay Area was a great experience. We saw a number of incredible shows we would have never seen any other way, and we were very pleased with the whole festival. If you ever get the chance to hit this fest, do it!

 

— written by RIZ aka RSD & Neroli Devaney

 

Hip-hop written within the Trump era, for the Trump era

As the great Nina Simone once said, “it’s the artist’s duty to reflect the times,” and in 2017, modern hip-hop artists from all over the country have acted on their duty and done just that: reflect the times. Here’s a playlist of my favorite hip hop released within the trump era, for the trump era.

 

    1. Vic Mensa: 16 Shots

 

    Ice Cube- good cop bad cop
    Oshun: Not my President
    Kendrick Lamar: Element
    Cupcakke- Picking Cotton
    Innant James: Black
    M.I.A.: Visa
    Brother Ali: Dear Black Son
    Clipping: Fat Fingers
    Jay Z: The Story of OJ
    A Tribe Called Quest: We the People
    Princess Nokia: Brown Girl Blues
    YG: FDT
    School Boy Q & Joey Bada$$: Rockabye Baby
    Open Mike Eagle & Paul White: The Curse of Hypervigilance
    Likwuid Stylez: Faytal Silence

 

RPM’s August Festival: HARD Summer

Destructo is back once again with a hot lineup to heat up your summer!

The event will be moving to the Glen Helen Amphitheater & Regional Park this year and will be taking place over the course of August 5th-6th. The location isn’t the only thing being updated; organizers will soon be delivering an update to the HARD Summer app. This is the 10th Anniversary of HARD, and they’re bringing back some HARD veterans for this year’s event. Not only are some of the biggest names in EDM playing, but huge Hip-Hop artists are hitting the stage as well. A small handful of these artists are Bassnectar, Justice, Kayzo, Migos, Rae Sremmurd, and Skepta! Like past years, there’s going to be five stages to host everyone: Green, Pink, Purple, Harder, and HARD.

Although tickets have already shipped, they’re still available for purchase through LiveNation! If you want a taste of the music before you attend, you can listen below through mixtapes artists have for the event. With an all new venue and world-class artists, KZSC is excited to see what surprises Destructo holds in store for the event.

For More HARD Summer Information
Website | Tickets | Facebook | InstagramTwitter

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Ab-Soul at the Catalyst 05.24.2017 Interview

 

Ab-Soul is an American rapper from Carson, California. Ab-Soul grew up in a record store his parents owned, and credits much of his musical knowledge to this experience. He points to Nas, Jay Z, and Eminem as being his biggest influences– pushing him into a rap career. He also credits his rapping skills to BlackPlanet freestyle chat, a site where people freestyle over text, sometimes known as “key-styling.” Ab Soul recorded his first song in 2002, and his most recent album, Do What Thou Wilt, was released in 2016. Do What Thou Wilt includes features from award winning artists such as School Boy Q, Rapsody, SZA, Mac Miller, and more.

 

On May 24th, on the last legs of his West Coast YMF (young mind f***) tour, Ab-Soul stopped by the Catalyst to spit some bars in the atrium and chat with KZSC DJs Kaviar and Jinx for a bit. Peep the interview below!

 

Kaviar & Jinx: Thanks for meeting with us! Great show.

Soul: Of course, of course.

Kaviar: So tell us a bit about Do What Thou Wilt. That’s a satanic reference, yeah?

Soul: Nah, It’s not Satanic. It’s a quote by Aleister Crowley. He’s saying that the righteous will remain righteous and the filthy will remain filthy. And love is the law, love is always the law.

Kaviar: So do you think people are redeemable then?

Soul: Of course, everybody’s redeemable. It’s just a word isn’t it? I make a lot of money off of words, I believe in them.

Jinx: Alright, alright. Can you tell us a bit about your beginnings doing internet rap battles? Did that shape who you are as a rapper today?

Soul: Sure. That was really the groundwork for what I do now. Like that was actual writing you know? It was my journalism at the time. It was a large part of– at that time, which had to be like 2002 or something– the biggest thing more than anything was vernacular. Everyone was trying to get the best rhymes, you know? That’s definitely where I perfected that.

Kaviar: Do you think that the written word is different from the spoken word?

Soul: Certainly– can you say “hate” out of “love” ?

Kaviar: mmmmm

Soul: yeah, that’s right I’d like to see you try that. YMF. (ab souls coined term meaning “young mind f***”).*laughing*  You have just been YMF’d.

Kaviar: Alright, I like that. I’m gonna keep that with me.

Soul: But yeah, going back on it, Aleister Crowley is not a satanist. He’s a Crowliest, he was trying to start his own thing. And Jesus is my idol, just sayin’

Kaviar: Alright we’ll have to do some more research. On another note, your couch talk with Princess Nokia.

Soul: nice. She’s great.

Kaviar: Oh yeah, that’s one of my favorite pieces of art I’ve ever seen, let alone artist on artist interview.

Soul: YESS! I had no idea she was so….soo…

Kaviar: She is awakened.

Soul: Oh yeah, she is awakened. My girl is big with like Allure magazine you know what I’m saying, it’s important that we do a lot more female publications. All the marches and stuff you know, it’s really important. It’s the time, you know, I was rooting for Hillary ‘cause it was the time for the divine female. It’s the time.

Kaviar: Hell yeah

Jinx: So I’m curious with your strong feelings about the importance of feminine energy in hip hop, what’s your take on the word b*****? Do you feel like it’s been reclaimed?

Soul: Right, “b****”– it’s just like the word “n****.” I mean if you was my girl, you’d be my b****. And you’d like it, you know.

Jinx: hmmm okay

Soul: But if I were to say, “b***** get the f*** out my face” then not so much.

Jinx: yeah definitely not.

Soul: exactly, you’d be like “who you callin’ b*****?” you know what I’m saying? It’s all about the way you say it with words like that. Like I said, you can’t say hate out of love. Again, it’s about more than just what it spells. But you know, I’m still doing the research, I’m still learning, trying to figure it all out.

Kaviar: we’re all learning and unlearning!

Jinx: Well we’ll let you go. Thanks for meeting with us! And again incredible show.

Soul: of course! It was great meeting you too, lots of love.

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from left to right: DJ Lyzard, Jinx, Ab-Soul, & DJ Kaviar

 

Concert Review: Noname at the Chapel on 02/18/2017

In the never ending, open seas of modern rap, Fatimah Warner, known better by her stage name, “Noname” is like a glimpse of land or a taste of fresh produce. She is so many things that I, as a hip hop consumer, crave in modern rap: she is lighthearted and fun while taking on important topics, her songs are complex and beautiful, and more importantly she is having the time of her life doing it.

Noname grew up in the Bronzeville neighborhood of Chicago, and her roots are very evident in her music. She takes pride in her hometown, and consistently credits the city for her musical inspiration and success. She began as a slam poet, which led her to many open mics around the city, even bringing her to land 3rd place in Chicago’s “Louder than a Bomb” competition. Before long, she began rapping, and in 2013 she was featured on Chance the Rappers “Acid Rap,” with a verse in his song “Lost.” After this, she became visible to the industry’s eye, and over the next few years she was featured on a number of other artists albums such as  Mick Jenkins’ mixtape The Water[s],  Ramaj Eroc’s track “I Love You More“and multiple tracks on Kirk Knight’s album Late Knight Special. She also released a full unofficial mixtape called What the F*ck is a Noname Gypsy on youtube in 2014.  In 2013, with a name change from Noname Gypsy to just Noname, Fatima Warner announced that she was recording her own mixtape, and three years later, in July 2016, her first full mixtape and biggest hit yet, Telefone, was released.  

Her decision to remove “gypsy” from her stage name in 2016 reflects on Noname’s ability to learn and understand her mistakes. For those who may not know, the term “gypsy” is a derogatory term to refer to the Roma people whom have faced an extreme amount of discrimination; being pushed from nation to nation and often denied legal status. The word has been appropriated in the US to mean “carefree” or “traveler,” however to many people across the globe it is still extremely offensive and hurtful. So if you have an instagram bio or forever 21 t-shirt that reads “gypsy soul” or “free spirited gypsy,” it’s time to toss it. Noname was open, understanding and apologetic about her name change, as you can see from this tweet in March:

In November 2016, Noname announced a US tour and by March 2017 half the shows had already sold out. Queen Beats DJ Jinx, along with KZSC staff member and mentee Kaviar were lucky enough to attend her show in San Francisco on February 18th, and have a quick chat with Noname and her incredible opener, Ravyn Lenae, after the show.

While standing in line outside the venue, and waiting in front of the stage for Ravyn Lenae to come out, the excitement and respect was palpable. It felt like every person present was there to witness Noname and her art, not just for a good time. The venue was packed and people were up to typical concert shenanigans, but there was no shoving or hostility; it smelt like soap and flowers. When the DJ backing Ravyn Lenae came out to hype the crowd (with tasteful yet banging throwback jams) people were getting down and dancing together. Not in a “imma do my thing over here as I try to ignore Steven over there groping Sally-May” kind of way, but just sincerely having a good time together. All of this goes to show that Noname has mastered her art and is speaking truths in a way that is immediately recognizable and impossible to disregard. She talks about tragedy and resistance, but is also honest about her experience and insecurities in a way that makes it easy to recognize her humanity.

You don’t have to see Noname in person to know she’s going to give a good live performance. Her vocal style and lyrical personality set her up to be an incredible performer, and as expected, she didn’t disappoint on Saturday evening at the Chapel. Both her and Ravyn Lenae held a kind of on stage presence that is unforgettable; they interacted with the audience in a genuine, sincere way, and it was easy to tell that in that moment, the Chapel stage was exactly where they wanted to be.


Ravyn Lenae made it a point to talk about each of the songs she sang. She emphasized that her intent was communication and gave her words weight. During her set she projected stars and a moon on the ceiling of the Chapel and it fit seamlessly with her bubble-bath low-fi production. She carried herself with an ease that was admirable and soothing. Similarly, Noname had this endearing way of prancing around the stage while the instrumentation was taking over, her big smile and wide eyes not once slipping from her face. She was so clearly living by her own rules and needs, it’s refreshing to see an artist so unconcerned with fitting into the industries expectations and regulations. Her music speaks to her own experiences and feelings, and that’s what makes it so unique.

Once the show finished and the audience was filing out, we decided to hang around for a bit to see if Noname was planning on making an appearance at any point. We introduced ourselves to the security, and they told us they would send the message along that we would love to chat, despite being previously told Noname was not doing any press that night. While we waited in the main bar, we were lucky enough to catch Ravyn Lenae and ask her about her own work and her experience working with Noname, along with the many other artists featured on Telefone.

Lenae, who just like Noname comes from Southside Chicago, was noticeably nonchalant and humble about her impressive success at the young age of 17. When we asked her about working on Telefone, and touring with Noname she explained that it was “all very organic,” going on to note that her and Fatima had been good friends for a while, and working on music together was really just hanging out with a close friend. She said that her part on “Forever” wasn’t even pre written, she just came to the studio and they perfected it together day of recording.

After about ten minutes, Noname came out into the bar and introduced herself to a few fans. We talked to her about KZSC and Queen Beats and what an inspiration she is for the show. She was flattered and happy we were doing our radio show and even though she was clearly exhausted from two back to back concerts, she was more than willing to engage with us (and even take a picture!)

Walking out of The Chapel and  making our way to the Bart that night, it was hard not to feel like we had been imparted with a small piece of Chicago magic. Noname’s Telefone tour swooped through town propelled by respect for craft, words, hip-hop, people, and Chicago. MC Lyte’s utopian view in “If women ran hip-hop” was a reality at Noname’s show, and it was not because she is a female MC, it’s because for that night, she really ran hip hop.

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Queen Beats DJs Jinx and Caviar with Noname

— written by Jinx and Kaviar, for more fun articles about the women of hip hop like us on facebook and tune in every Friday night from 12-2!

Nef The Pharoah Interview & Concert Review

I caught Vallejo rapper, Nef The Pharoah last week during his Changuary Tour stop at the Catalyst. We talked about his extensive amount of vlogging done in high school, Nardwaur, and alcohols endorsed by other rap artists. Enjoy that and peep concert review below written by staff member, Riz Aliga.

-Elbo

Interview

Riz gettin’ hyphy

Concert Review

By the age of four, Tonee Hayes aka Nef the Pharaoh began developing his  own rap style in his hometown Vallejo the famous hotbed of hip-hop for the Bay Area producing stars such as Mac Dre and E-40. His rapping career dates back to his entry of a talent contest, which he won and led to his feature on the cover of the Vallejo Times-Herald.  He was given the nickname Nef (short for nephew) from his uncle, which he incorporated into part of his stage name. After the passing of his grandmother in 2009, he stepped away from music. However, he soon began using music as a form of therapy. He then moved to the Sacramento, CA and attended Inderkum High School in Natomas, CA.

In January 2015, he released his hit song “Big Tymin,’” which put him on the Bay Area radar. The song was then remixed later that year by the LA rappers, YG, and Ty Dolla Sign. After receiving recognition by Bay Area’s site Thizzler On The Roof and recognition by Drake and Kendrick Lamar (noisey), while working with artists such as: The HBK Gang, Willie Joe, Mozzy, Eric Bellinger, D.R.A.M., Snoop Dogg, and E-40, he signed with Vallejo’s own, E-40’s Sick Wid It Records and many of his songs were on the radio waves after that. After going on tour around the world with G-Eazy and around California with The HBK Gang, Nef’s group #KILFMB (Keep it Lit For My Brothers) decided that Nef needed his own headlining tour. The tour was introduced as “Fresh Out of Space” in late 2016. Nef opened a lot of Baydrestians’ eyes because of who he worked with and because his music is just down right too damn hyphy.

During his stop in Santa Cruz for the Changuary Tour, he had VernDuzit, Kay Bellz, and DAGHE open up. With my hyphyness, knowing and screaming all the Bay Area songs being played, I was fortunate to personally get pulled on stage to hype up the crowd to HBK Gang’s Kool John and P-Lo’s “B*tch I Look Good” played by DAGHE. Nef then opened up to “Dumb Life” off of “Fresh Out of Space 3.” He was able to keep the energy of the crowd throughout the show by performing songs such as: “Mobbin,” “707,” “Say Daat” “Lauryn Hill,” and my favorites “Old School Hyphy” and “Everything Big.” During his performance someone offered him to smoke a swisher, but if you really listen to Mac Dre and Nef, everyone knows “if it ain’t a backwood, it ain’t all that good.” He closed out the show performing “Big Tymin” and I joined Nef going dumb on stage when the DJ played Vallejo’s own Mac Dre’s classic song “Get Stupid.” Nef is only going up, making connections, as he has inspired artists all over the Bay Area to hop on his style of music, such as an upcoming group from Vallejo SOBxRBE (Strictly Only Brothers, Real Boi Entertainment) who has been putting up big numbers on the internet. They will be touring with HBK Gang representative and platinum selling artist Sage The Gemini for the “West For Winter” Tour and will finish in Santa Cruz (I strongly recommend that if you are in the area, you should attend this concert. I know of SlimmyB of SOBxRBE and they are LIT live).

-Riz