Archive for August, 2012

Eddy Baker and Sky Lexington Chilling with Chris Travis & Ethelwulf at the Video Shoot for¬†“West $ide Dirty $outh Klash 1991”

Each Raider Klan member certainly brings his or her own flavor to the gumbo of music created by the Raider Klan collective as a whole, but there are definitely regional twists in the flavors of the music concocted by California BRK member Eddy Baker, and his primary collaborator and producer Sky Lexington (an emcee/producer in his own right, who distinct vibes for his solo music separate from the work he does with Baker) who relocated to Cali recently. ¬†Amber London hails from Texas, so well outside of the California border, but Texas has always been strongly cross-influenced by California, and much of Amber’s music, which has at times an authentic g-funk vibe to it, recalls artists from the 90’s artists of the West Coast, Southwest, and of course Texas. ¬†There are a few other members of Raider Klan who have cropped up out West of the Mississippi, from Seattle’s Key Nyata to The Pack’s Stunnaman, but Eddy, Sky, and Amber have been mainstays for some time and have earned the reputation as three of the most respected and talented artists in Raider Klan.

I caught up with Eddy Baker and Sky Lex to talk about the recent release of their mixtapes Edibles and NC-17, what it was like having the Klan come out to Cali, the new rift with ScHoolboy Q, the Black Panthers, the growth of the Raider Klan movement, break down some Raider Klan terminology, unusual influences from the likes of Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin.  I separately interview Amber to talk about her influences, female rappers, how she uses youtube as a source of inspiration in her music and videos, and what it means to be the Original Goddess of Raider Klan.

[Editor’s note: Amber London was interviewed sometime in July, whereas Eddy Baker and Sky Lex were just interviewed on August 27th, so some of the variation in their responses reflect how quickly some things have changed or developed over the course of the last month, for instance on the Raider Klan album/mixtape]

To read more on the Raider Klan check out this article on them as well as Part 1: Memphis (Ethelwulf, Chris Travis, & Yung Raw) and Part 2: NYC (Grandmilly, Matt Stoops, Big Zeem)

“West $ide Dirty $outh Klash 1991” Eddy Baker featuring Ethelwulf (prod. by Sky Lex)

JB: What projects do you have coming up?

Amber London:

Right now I’m currently just working on a mixtape, it’s called¬†Nature of the Phonk, everything is just kind of up in the air right now. ¬†I’m just kind of going with the flow, but that’s pretty much what’s next to come out. ¬†In terms of beats I pretty much work with any and everybody who sends me a beat if I like it, then I’ll put it on the tape. ¬†I’m hoping to work with Purrp and Konflict OD and just a lot of random people. ¬†DJ Two Stacks actually sent me a beat.

Sky Lexington:

I just released my solo project and it‚Äôs out right now and basically it was just a mash off all the stuff I did throughout the year, and something like four new tracks, and it‚Äôs all produced by me and there’s a couple tracks on there produced by Metro Zu too. ¬†And that’s NC-17.

Eddy:

¬†Edibles¬†is like my first mixtape, I guess it ain’t my first mixtape since I’ve been a part of the Klan, because I dropped a mixtape in like 2010 called The Bakery, it’s like my first mixtape in a minute really, it’s my second mixtape I guess, but I consider it my first. You feel me?

(more…)

SpaceGhostPurrp Performs Live at SOB’s with a couple dozen of his NYC homies

Although Raider Klan is often viewed as a kind of 90’s revivalist movement for southern artists, New York is an unofficial second outpost for the Raider Klan. ¬†After all it was in New York, not Florida or Memphis, where SpaceGhostPurrp’s work with A$AP Rocky helped both of them gain national attention and grow both of their vibes. ¬†It was also in New York where Matt Stoops was recently jumped by A$AP Twelvy – an incident that’s been talked about quite a bit on twitter on the internet, but really only a symbolic boiling point in tensions that have been mounting between the two camps for some time due to creative differences, petty slights, and some other incidents that have continued to push the two camps at odds with one another after their previously amicable relationship. ¬†

Despite the fact that Grandmilly may technically be the only New York member who’s made a contribution to the Raider Klan catalog to date (at least in the form of a full album/mixtape that’s received some decent recognition online), few know that Matt Stoops is one of Purrp’s most trusted allies, a friend so close they refer to each other as cousins, and Stoops holds a kind of consigliere status next to Purrp in the Klan’s hierarchy. ¬†Big Zeem plays a similar role in working with Grandmilly and is one of the Klan members who’s interested in turning Raider Klan fashion sense into a clothing line. ¬†I caught up with Milly and Zeem a little over a month ago¬†to talk about their debut,¬†Bandanas & Black Magic and to get a sense of how they fit into the increasingly growing Raider Klan puzzle. ¬†I also caught up with Matt Stoops to get his viewpoint on a few topics as one of few Raider Klan members who actually has a good read on where SpaceGhostPurrp’s head is at, at any given moment. ¬†These are the voices of the New York chapter of the Raider Klan.

Link to Part 1: Memphis (Ethelwulf, Chris Travis, & Yung Raw) and Part 3: Southwest (Amber London, Chris Travis, Yung Raw)

JB: Matt, describe to people your role in Raider Klan. ¬†You’re not a rapper so what’s your role with the Klan.

Matt Stoops:

Nah, I’m not a rapper so it’s like family. ¬†SpaceGhost is like my cousin and I’ve known him probably the longest out of anybody in the Klan and we’re really close and we call each other cousins and shit. ¬†We’re trying to start-up a skate team, but it hasn’t started off yet, we’re trying to get shit together right now and I skate and shit like that. ¬†But other than that, when Purrp is gone and he has like business I try to go take care of that for him if he’s not in town.

JB: How did you meet SpaceGhost?

Matt Stoops:

I’ve known SpaceGhost for about five or six years. ¬†I met him when I went down to Atlanta and shit, just on twitter pretty much and this was back when nobody knew who he was and my friend from Mississippi, who lived down in Atlanta at the time put me onto his music and we started talking on twitter and shit, and this was like before he moved in with Rocky and all that shit. ¬†And we just became really cool and when he moved up to New York he stayed with me for a couple of days before he moved in with Rocky. ¬†And we were always together in New York while he was living with Rocky.

(more…)

Those that follow the Chicago scene are all well aware of Mikkey Halsted. ¬†The annals of rap history are filled with the tales of rappers who had impressive talent that were never able to translate it into mainstream rap success, but Halsted has certainly flirted with greater success longer than most rappers who fall into that category. ¬†The length of that flirtation has to be in part due to the fact that Halsted hasn’t made the same kind of creative missteps that plague many of those rappers, he may have made material that Cash Money wasn’t ready to release to it’s core audience, or been stranded on Virgin during their collapse, but both of those situations are relatively understandable to those who understand both of those situations. ¬†The music that Halsted has released whether mixtapes or independent albums has continued to showcase the same talent that has earned him praise and respect as an inspiration in the game from everyone from former labelmate Lil’ Wayne to former collaborator Kanye West to the great No ID. ¬†There is likely not a person of prominence in the rap game or an avid follower of the Chicago rap scene who hasn’t heard the name Mikkey Halsted and recognized the talent he could bring to the table in the right situation. ¬†That said, it hasn’t worked out for Halstead to date, that’s not to say his previous projects aren’t all worth listening to, they definitely are, or that he hasn’t had opportunities, he has and for one reason or another they haven’t panned out. ¬†Fortunately, right now Halsted seems completely focused on the music, and he seems to have surrounded himself with an impressive team, filled with excellent producers, Chicago legends, and industry power brokers. ¬†If there was ever a time for Mikkey Halsted to make good on his ample promise in this rap game, it’s right now.

(more…)

“You can’t trust the tap water, much less the kettle, double entendre to your phrase test your meddle” – DOOM

Despite the lack of Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends¬†DOOM-related samples, there’s no question from the intro on “Waterlogged,” to the last track that this is a DOOM project, rather than a project just using DOOM’s cult popularity for financial gains (and there have been a couple of those¬†–¬†musical Doombots, not to be confused with concert-going Doombots). ¬†Once unavoidable questions of legitimacy are placed aside, Key to the Kuffs reveals itself to be¬†an excellent project, another step in the right direction after MF DOOM ended his extended hiatus three years ago with the release of the critically acclaimed and fan appreciated¬†Born Like This¬†only to disappear again. ¬†Jneiro Jarel is an unexpectedly nice foil for DOOM here, as his beats¬†here sound like boom bap meets original Nintendo or 80’s arcade synth work. ¬†Despite a distinctly different production methodology, the album is not a far cry from the formula on¬†Madvillainy, where DOOM worked with a producer/rapper with a very distinctive lo-fi vibe, who could compliment DOOM’s eccentricity behind the boards, and jump in to handle a bit of the mic time just to break up the monotony of Dumile’s hypnotic¬†crotchety¬†reclusive long in the tooth god body lyricist routine and use interludes, his own vocals, and guests to spread out DOOM’s typically sparse set of lyrical offerings. ¬†While DOOM has yet to prove that he has another¬†Operation: Doomsday,¬†Madvillainy, or¬†Vaudeville Villain left in the chamber – primarily due to the fact that his once awe-inspiringly unique rhyme steez and song crafting technique¬†have lost their luster a bit over the last thirteen odd years – he’s shown with¬†Born Like This¬†and again here with¬†JJ DOOM¬†that he still has the ability to create high quality music in the DOOM vein.

(more…)


“Momma In My Ear,” Mikkey Halsted featuring Pusha T (prod by Young Chop)

Mikkey Halsted has been one of your favorite rapper’s favorite rappers for years now. ¬†Not to mention a favorite of the entire blogosphere, particularly those that follow the Chicago rap scene. ¬†That said, he’s faced over a decade of label woes and near misses. ¬†He’s been in the same room with the greats and earned respect and¬†shout-outs¬†from raps biggest superstars. ¬† He’s been so close the breaking through for so long, that it would be easy to have doubt about his career prospects at this point. ¬†That said, something about his new street album¬†Castro feels markedly different from his past endeavors. ¬†It could be the all-star production lineup of No ID, The Legendary Traxster, Don Cannon, and Young Chop. ¬†It could be that he sounds as hungry and ready for commercial success as he ever has. ¬†Regardless of where responsibility lies, it’s clear that there’s an energy to his latest work that is undeniable, and he seems poised once again to make a run at the majors. ¬†I caught up with Mikkey to talk about¬†Castro, No ID and his new team, the old days, Pusha T, Killer Mike,¬†and to find out why after so many years of¬†unfruitful record deals he feels his time is finally about to come.

JB: First of all, why Castro?

Mikkey Halsted:

Really, like I say in the intro, it’s really just a tale of survival. ¬†Like I go through so much just trying to navigate this minefield of an industry, but I feel like I continue to survive. ¬†One thing about Castro, regardless of what side of his politics you might be on, everyone has to acknowledge is that he’s the ultimate¬†survivor. ¬†Basically, being about 90 miles away from the strongest government on the planet and surviving as long as he has, it’s definitely something where that part of him inspired me. ¬†It was so crazy, they have this documentary out called 638 Ways to Kill Castro¬†and it just blew my mind, and I’m like, “that’s the name of this tape,” and that’s when I went in and recorded that intro. ¬†Once I did that intro, the tape kind of fell in place.

(more…)


“Black Magic” Ethelwulf & Yung Raw

Since “Nostalgia Rap Surrealism – Decoding the RVIDXR KLVN” was published here on hardwoodblacktop.com I’ve been working to put together an interview with all of the Raider Klan members. ¬†Initially, I planned to interview every member individually, combine their answers, and create one collective interview for the entire Raider Klan. ¬†While this is still the intention of the project, having finished about eleven of the interviews, with plenty still to go, I realized that there’s way too much material to publish in one interview without severely editing the material down. ¬†It also became clear to me, that with the fast moving pace of music today, and the Klan’s development, that by the time I got around to interview each member, the earliest interviews would be extremely dated. ¬†The Memphis interviews were three of the first ones I did on the project so I thought it made sense to share them now. ¬†And then share each of the group’s regionally, as I found throughout the process that like their music, the attitudes of the Raider Klan members is often strongly influenced by their locality, despite the group’s geographic diversity and diversity of musical influence. ¬†It is important to note chronologically that the interview with Chris Travis was done over two months ago, Yung Raw was interviewed in the middle of June, and Ethelwulf was interviewed in mid-July. ¬†If you haven’t yet, be sure to check out Chris Travis’s Codeine and Pizza, Yung Raw’s¬†The Trill OG, and Ethelwulf’s The Wolf Gang’s Rodolphe as they undoubtedly represent three of the finest Raider Klan projects to date.

Link here to Part 2: NYC (Grandmilly, Matt Stoops, & Big Zeem) and Part 3: Southwest (Amber London, Eddy Baker, Sky Lex)

JB: What projects to you have coming up?

Ethelwulf:

Well actually, right now, I don‚Äôt really have anything coming up really. ¬†Well, actually I might do this mixtape with this producer named DJ Manny Virgo. ¬†I’ve been working with him so that’ll probably be the next thing popping up if I get to it real fast. ¬†I don’t know what it’s going to be called yet. ¬†I’m just waiting on him to send me the rest of the beats, it’s going to be a five track EP. ¬†Once he sends me the rest of the beats I’ll be working on them and we can crank something out.

Chris Travis:

My next project is gonna be, I don’t know what I’m going to call it yet [editor’s note: it ended up being this past week’s Codeine and Pizza mixtape], but the theme is going to be underground horror.¬† I‚Äôm trying to find a producer.¬† I‚Äôd like one producer to producer the whole mixtape if possible.

Yung Raw:

My next project will probably drop in 2013.  I don’t know the exact time.  Most likely around Spring Break if not before Spring Break, because I want to make sure everything is down packed again, everything is perfect.  Because if your work is not perfect, if you got one bad song, and everybody can have one bad song, people can say you’re not a good rapper.  You want to make sure everything is at a good point, or your buzz can fall all the way down.  So I’m not going to rush it.  Also, you don’t want to give out too much free music, because you’ll be over and done with before it’s time to release your real album and people won’t have time to crave it and build that buzz.

(more…)

“Sleep At Night” Rittz featuring Yelawolf

Recently I sat down with Rittz to talk about his approach to song writing, the reasons behind his re-release of White Jesus, his relationship with DJ Burn One and the 5PMG production crew, Yelawolf, 8Ball, and what’s next for him. ¬†If you haven’t checked out much from him yet, I definitely recommend picking up the White Jesus: Revival album/mixtape, which is a great introduction to his work. ¬†

JB: For those that don’t know, talk to them about Slumerican. Who’s on the label and what you guys are about? ¬†What sets you apart from other labels?

Rittz:

Well you know honestly, as of right now, Slumerican isn’t really a label. ¬†Basically Slumerican was an idea that Yelawolf came up with. ¬†You know when I had first got in contact with him, he had talked to me about wanting to do something with me and building up a crew. ¬†You know when he had dropped Trunk Muzik, Slumerican just ended up being the name of the crew that we had. ¬†At one point I think it was going to be label, but I think he just got wrapped up as an artist. ¬†I think he’s still exploring that option, but really Slumerican is just a family man. ¬†It’s really Yelawolf started that shit, so it’s really Yelawolf, myself, Struggle, Shawty Fatt, that’s it as far as rappers go. ¬†There’s a lot of other people that aren’t emcees that are Slumerican too that are just skateboarders, DJs, just friends man. ¬†It’s more like a crew as opposed to a label right now.

(more…)