Rei - A Place To Stand

 

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A place to stand is the sophomore album by New Zealand's very own urban artist Rei. A place to stand is an intricate album both in concept and production. Multi faceted conceptually, Multi cultural and multi genre, I found A place to stand an intriguing listen.

There's so much going on in this album. It really had me thinking a lot about what it took as an artist to make A place to stand. Rei produced this album himself which is really impressive when you take in the intricacies of the beat making, not to mention the skilful songwriting and lyrical craftsmanship involved in the 12 tracks on this album. Rei's talent is truly awe inspiring and I don't say that lightly.

I would categorise A place to stand as a Pop album. Not Pop in the Brittany Spears sense but in the sense that Rei has been able to successfully integrate the current sound of contemporary popular music. He's not behind like a lot of New Zealand artists tend to be. He is right on time, current and present in what is popular in the here and now.

I would describe his sound as similar in style to Drake with melodic vocal phrases delivered in a Trap style, punctuated with the familiar Yah, Yeahs and ayes. The music is contemporary Trap with elements of Jamaican Dance Hall and Drum N Bass. But this is merely the frame of the music, The canvas so to speak. What makes this album special is what he does with this style. And what he does is takes it and makes it his own.

You won't find the usual soulless uninspired money, guns and Xanax lyrical themes of American Trap music here. A place to stand talks of Reis personal experiences and incorporates Reis Maori heritage and Kiwi nationality. With Kiwi slang and the use of Te Reo Maori, in the form of a deep pitch shifted chanting voice that invokes images of ancient Maori warriors casting incantations. 

The overall production of A place to stand really is world class and I believe Rei as a songwriter, producer and artist could stand toe to toe with the best the world of contemporary music has to offer.

Everything Rei does, from his marketing, his music videos and his music, is well thought out and well crafted. If he was an American artist I'd say that he'd have a record deal with a Major label and a $500k advancement by now. I just hope that being an artist in New Zealand doesn't stop him from reaching his full potential.

You really have to check out  A place to stand to understand why I'm so impressed by this album and I really hope you do. You won't regret it.

Click on the album cover to hear A place to stand on Spotify.

 

INTERVIEW WITH REI

 

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What drives you to keep on going in the music industry?

The number one drive for me is the fact that I enjoy making music. I have fun when I create and make something out of nothing. I just want the freedom to be able to create as much as possible. To do that, I need to make a living from my music. And I’m getting there. Slowly but surely.

I notice you use marketing effectively. Do you have any advise for indie artists when it comes to marketing their music?

Decide on what type of artist you want to be online. The music/creative side is one thing but deciding on what you want your image to be is important as too. It could just be you, the honest you, in which case you wouldn’t need to be very careful with social media marketing. You can just post whatever you want when you feel like it. Others may want to have a more crafted brand, which is when you’ve got to be careful about what you post. It all comes down to what you want to get out of music really. Self promotion is hard, but it’s not meant to be easy. Most of the richest people in the world are self promoters. They’re people who have learnt Sales techniques and learned how to present themselves. Do what you’ve got to do really.

Who is Rei as a Hip-Hop artist?

The idea of rangatiratanga is central to both myself and my music. I want people to feel like chiefs when they listen to my music. I want them to know that they can be chiefs of their own environments also. When I call myself a chief in my music, I’m only trying to be a chief of my own destiny. Most of my songwriting comes from this kaupapa, and the various struggles and victories that come my way as a young man chasing his goals. So yeah, my music is grounded in where I come from and my surroundings. I love music where you can listen to it, and identify where it’s from. That’s why I use Te Reo, kiwi slang and kiwi references in my music. I want people to know where it’s from. At the same time though, you want to keep that mass appeal.

When did you start and what inspired you to make music?

I started making music when I was 13, I picked up my mum or dad’s guitar and just started writing songs with the 3 chords I’d leant. I wrote about 5 tracks, recorded them on a burnt CD and gave it to whānau as a christmas present. After that I downloaded Mixcraft on my Mum’s computer and just started making beats and rapping. The freedom that creating allows inspires me to make music. I can literally write a song about whatever I want, whatever I’m thinking about. That’s dope.

How would you describe your music in one sentence?

CHIEF Sound.

Which one of your songs are you most proud of, and why?

I’m probably most proud of Mix at the moment. It’s my favorite from the album at least. It’s a real personal track, resonates with me big time every time I listen to it. Hope it helps other people out too. I also like the fact that it’s an acoustic song on the middle of a Hip Hop album.

Do you produce your own beats or do you use any particular beat maker?

I produced the album myself. I’ve been making beats for about 10 years now, and have been rapping for just as long. I produce best when I’m in the comfort of my own home and there’s no pressures around me. If I’m producing at a studio, it feels like I’ve got to come up with something great then and there. At home though, I can feel free to make something stupid, knowing that no one will ever hear it if I don’t want them to. This album was produced at my home studio. It was mixed and mastered by Chris Chetland of Kog Studio. He’s an awesome engineer to work with and always takes the time to teach his clients various tricks and tips of the trade.

What's your favourite and least favourite thing about Hip-Hop culture?

My favorite thing about Hip Hop is the fact that it is a music for change. It has always been a voice for the voiceless, for minorities, for people wanting to see change in the world. The thing I don’t like is the fact that people outside of Hip Hop still have this negative perception about it, that’s all about money, drugs, sex etc. That perception is wrong, but it still gets played out for some reason.

Tell us about your latest single and music video? Deep is the latest single from the album. The song is all about a pillow talk between lovers, where the girl wants to go deep emotionally, but her partner is just looking for a physical connection. We thought it would be cool to take this concept literally and shoot the whole thing underwater, so we did that. It was pretty challenging, but I’m happy with what we ended up with.

What advice would you like to give to other aspiring rappers/producers? ‘I tell em all chief in your day to day, you can really get it if you want it’. That’s a line from one of the off cuts of the album and I believe it. Keep backing yourself 100%, be the chief of your own future, and you’ll get to where you want to be.

What can we expect to see from you over the next year? Few more videos, another album, lots of shows, some shows overseas, more collaborations. Good times ahead.

 

GRVY Lick 'o' The Spoon.

 

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GRVY is Laz Karaka and Mr Pianoman. They’ve just released a 5 song teaser for their forthcoming album called Lick of the spoon. Meant as a taste of things to come this is LAZ at his most current and creative.

The rest of the album will have to wait. But the five song EP is definitely cool. On one hand, they offer really funky vibes and on the other competent Trap. LAZ delivers in his youthful manner about love and relationships and the ups and downs of life. Keeping his up beat flow on point and bright at every moment. He’s a respected battle rapper and artist in his own right and has always had my respect as a true talent. 

LAZ has a nice clarity to his raps on this record and hooky moments like Good Girls shows his diversity. He brings it hard on these tracks until easing into the warm waters of some slow R & B Piano from Mr Pianoman and the insanely catchy and enjoyable chorus of Love Boat. Which struck me as a mature analysis of love and life. LAZ and Mr Pianoman lend a certain sophistication and loungyness to this record and I'll tell ya the swag is heavy on this one.

The Trap and Dance hall of Put It On De Fyah is for me the highlight of the teaser. A really exciting song with loads of super current Trap vibe. Probably the nicest Trap I’ve heard from A Kiwi artist. The Ragga hook constitutes brilliance and is insanely smokey and cool and brings in the elements of Jamaican music beautifully to this superbly crafted song.

I was thrilled to hear there was new music to be honest. I’ve been waiting on some LAZ for a minute now. So myself and all his fans and supporters are happy to see him back in the booth…. with the heat turned way up and Mr Pianoman at his side.

Need I say more  This is a dope release… I would say prepare to become a fan.

So what you waiting for grab it before your computer crashes.

 

INTERVIEW WITH ALPHA

 

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Alpha AKA Angus Grace is a Hip-Hop artist I've known from the Auckland Hip Hop scene for a few years now. 

He's the kinda artist that works hard and takes every opportunity to perform and spread that good good.

I remember seeing him at cypher nights were he would absolutely shred the mic with some of the fastest rapping I've ever heard. But he's diverse too and knows that the message is important so equally kills it on the slower mid tempo raps as well.

I really just wanted people to get to know him even better and give them the opportunity to enjoy some of his new music. So I hit him up with some questions.

 

Who is Alpha as a Hip-Hop artist?

 

Just a horie tryna tell everyday stories dat relate 2 every1.

 

When did you start and what inspired you to make music?

I started back in college wit school bands and wanted 2 pursue more after leaving school, what inspired me was family bein so musically talented that i decided 2 make somethin happen 4 me

 

How would you describe your music in one sentence?

I would describe my music as "RUGGED".

 

What sets you apart from other acts/groups?

 

Wot sets me apart from every1 else is havin 2 speak my mind/ truth and something dat radio music isnt doing nowadays.

 

Which one of your songs are you most proud of, and why?

 

I would say "Hori Life" because it has so much truth about my culture that i've even been through it myself. It has elements containin tha life of a hori and hori's get up 2

 

Where do you come from or what part of NZ do you represent?

 

I was born in tha rugged streets of northcote and raised in tha hori enviroment of opotiki, but i represent Aotearoa as 1.

 

Do you produce your own beats or do you use any particular beat maker?

 

I make ma own beats but i prefer other peoples beats instead.

What's your favourite and least favourite thing about Hip-Hop culture?

My favourite thing in hip hop is having 2 connect with others that have tha same passion as well as tha skill, my least fave would be rappers who have no passion at all and only want it 4 tha fame.

Tell us about your latest release.

 

My latest release was my 1st mixtape dat i had just put out recently (march 1) in my career of 6 years bein in dis game properly and im excited 4 the next projects comin soon.

 

What advice would you like to give to other aspiring rappers/producers?

 

My advice is always keep it humble but deadly wen it comes 2 puttin in the work. And let your integrity guide you 2 your direction cos action speaks louder dn words.

 

What can we expect to see from you over the next year?

Expect the unexpected.

 

Go like ALPHA MUZIC on Facebook to keep up to date with his live shows and releases. Here

 

Click on the picture below to check out the fantastic latest release and free give away  Tha Re-Up Rough Rugged & Raw volume 1

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Holiday By Earth Tiger

 

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Earth Tiger creates songs that swirl together the electrifying textures of hip-hop, big pop, rock and electro dance music into a brand-new sound. Masterminded by artists Cruz Mathews and Tom Taylor, the group spins out clever lyrics, infectious hooks and energetic, inventive grooves that intertwine with bold bass and playful synth layers. 

 

Earth Tiger was dreamed up around a campfire on Christmas Eve in New Zealand, when friends Cruz Mathews, a songwriter fresh out of the Gold-selling New Zealand group Kidz In Space and Tom Taylor, decided to turn their shared passion for ‘90s and ‘00s hip hop into an musical collaboration.

 

Their debut album titled Holiday has arrived just in time for summer and has already seen their single Lucky ones added to Flavor and ZM playlists.

The songs on the album are masterfully crafted with spacious sound scape's that utilise sparse, bass heavy beats. Each instrument occupies its own space in the sonic frequency spectrum giving Earth Tiger a very clean sound and to my ears a tell tale sign of skilled and experienced producers.

Cruz Matthews is from Hip Hop group Kidz in Space and you can hear the similarities in the songwriting. The style of rap is modern with trap influences, occasional low pitched vocals, pre trap triplet flows reminiscent of Flow Rider, a swag in the vocals reminiscent of LMFAO and a foe American accent. If I could be so bold I would describe it as Hipster Hop.

The lyrics are often gritty and raw which helps to balance the overtly pop orientated formula of the songs and keeps the music in the Hip Hop genre while really making the most out of their accessible radio friendly sound. I think these guys understand whats expected of them from Move The Crowd Records, Warner Music and "radio land" and are going to hit a bulls eye with radio listeners. This is a rare quality indeed and no doubt was knowledge that was hard earned.

Over all this album is a great listen and kept my mind ticking away as I listened to its intricacies in the music and lyrics. I really liked Kidz In Space and although Kidz In Space probably appealed to the more rugged Hip Hop heads. I think this album is set to hit a wider audience and a more lucrative market for Earth Tiger.

 

Check out their music video Lucky ones which might just be your new summer Jam for 2017.

 

 

Three And A Half Seas & Reconstruction by Dilz

 

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Dilz is a rapper from New Zealand with a fresh voice on hip-hop. Working endlessly on collaborations and mixtapes from the start of his career as an amateur rapper, Dilz has grown into a professional ready to break his way into the forefront of underground hip-hop.
Dilz has 2 new projects to ad to his repertoire, his EP 'Three And A Half Seas' and his new mixtape 'Reconstruction'.

'Three and A Half Seas' sees Dilz team up with american rappers 'Kongo Madstak', 'Mr 200' and 'JSapp'. The first song on the EP after the intro is 'The Rill-Ist' a cliche Trap song about being real and getting money with a typical Trap flow with simple repetitive chants and syllables broken into triplets. The EP continues in the same vein with songs about hustling and living large never straying too far from the stereotypical. It sounds like Dilz has bought beats from Madstak studios with hooks and verses included with some space for him to spit. The production is great and Madstak, JSapp and Mr 200 have that deep Afro American voice that compliments rap so well. But Dilz has the fresh lyrics and flow. In my opinion showing up Madstak, Mr 200 and JSapp's played out Lyrics. Although Dilz has the thin white boy tone to his voice his penmanship is a lot more interesting than his american counterparts.

There's things that Madstak studio do very well on this EP though and that's production with huge beats and rappers with fantastic sounding voices. Kongo Madstaks flow is simple and hard hitting and his hooks are strong but his lyrics show little original thought. The accents and tone of Kiwi rapper Dilz and USA Kongo Madstak and guests don't really play well together in my opinion and they sound like unlikely bed fellows. For a small town white boy from Foxton NZ to team up with "'real G's'' from the states is no doubt a dream come true for Dilz and If anything this EP is a testament to Dilz giant ambitions. But these are two very different worlds colliding and Dilz sounds a little out of place in these songs. Never the less the quality of the work is far superior than most releases from underground NZ rappers and If you like your Hip-Hop formulaic and contemporary you might very well enjoy Three And A Half Seas by Dilz and Kongo.


On the other hand Dilz new Mixtape 'Reconstruction' which Is a sequel mixtape to his 2013 mixtape 'Renovation' is a little more suited to Dilz particular set of skills which Is conscious Hip-Hop with meaningful lyrics and descriptive rhyme and story telling. With 'Ill Lies of Foxton' telling a haunting tale of domestic violence.

His version of the Trap hit 'Panda' which is a tongue in cheek remake of the popular tune, sees Dilz showing us how it could be done with fast technical flows instead of the almost laughable mumbling rubbish vocals of the original. 'My Love' is a sweet love song with impressive 'Twista' like flows and the lyrics to 'Dilz Time' rips in to corny USA whiteboy rapper 'Slim Jesus' over his famous song 'Drill Time'. He also does a version of Australian rapper '360's' 'Hecktickist'. The last track on the Album 'Stan' is a remake of the famous song by 'Eminem' with a kiwi girl singing 'Didos' part and Dilz singing about his rapping inspirations. The mixtape format lets Dilz shine and as usual Dilz goes hard with his impressive rapping abilities.

Its only half way through the year and Dilz has released 3 projects all ready. Dilz obviously eats sleeps and breathes Hip-Hop and must spend a huge amount of time working on his craft to be such a prolific artist.


So check out Dilz EP 'Three And A Half Seas' and Dilz mixtape 'Reconstruction' on Bandcamp.

     

 

 

SCRAPBOOK BY DILZ

 

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Dillon Lamb aka 'Dilz' is a young rapper from Foxton who has released a new mixtape called 'Scrapbook'. This isn't Dilz first mixtape his Bandcamp discography shows several mixtapes dating back to 2013. In 2013 he released 3 mixtapes alone which shows he's putting in the hard yards and coming out the gate full steam. He seems to have taken a step back for most of 2014 and 2015 (probably to create new material) but his first offering for 2016 Scrapbook showcases Dilz immense talent not only as a rapper but as a musician.

Scrapbook is 13 tracks of medium paced Hip-Hop in which Dilz displays a competent flow and a pretty decent singing voice. Dilz has a great ear for hooks and melody and Scrapbook is full of great songs. I thought the album could have used a professional mix and master but the quality is still decent.

Usually when I think of mixtapes I think of rappers taking popular songs and rapping over them. I didn't recognize any of the samples used in 'Scrapbook' although the samples chosen like the female vocal hook in the opening track 'Losing my mind' are catchy and creatively put together. In saying that I think you could consider this a full length album rather than a typical mixtape.

Dilz raps about his life. His frustrations he has about being trapped in a small town, his love for his girlfriend and the struggle a Hip-Hop artist has getting recognition in a never ending ocean of rappers and competition. Dilz speaks from the heart and I could feel myself relating to his story. In a lot of ways his story is my story and maybe your story too. I like this approach to Hip-Hop lyrics and is a device successfully used by huge international rappers like Eminem and other artists like Kiwi rapper Tom Scott. Here's an example from Dilz 'Losing my mind'. " 'Heal the wounds' made it big and they say it really helped, but I’ve got a hundred other songs that took my time and effort, though my closest friends can’t even find the time to check it, I’m feeling like my hope is gone, got a girl I love and it’s her that I’ll focus on, working on a farm filled with pigs it’s ironic though, as working with the police is the route that I wanna go, but I promise that I’ll grab the pen and finish what I started if I get the urge to rap again"

I also related to his song 'Hometown' which is about feeling trapped in a small town. I know I relate to that and has got to be a subject many in this tiny country of ours have experienced. Check out the music video for 'Hometown'.

 

Check out Dilz music on Bandcamp.

 

The Doqument - 5:09

 

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“509” is the new album from Auckland Hip-Hop crew The Doqument. Consisting of $ikeOne (MC), IMAG€ (MC), and Shaqles (Producer/MC), the three-part team have been turning heads for both their solo and group outputs, and between them have performed alongside Bone Thugs n Harmony, KRS One and Mobb Deep, jointly collaborated with bona fide rappers such as David Dallas and PNC and already released two albums:The Rookie Album and Blank Canvas: Wall & Piece. The later being nominated for “Best Urban/HipHop Album” at the Vodafone New Zealand music awards 2015.
The Doqument produce and master their own music, alongside filming and editing their own music videos. Which when you hear the quality production value of 509 is a testament to their many music related skills.
The first thing I noticed on listening to the album was how huge the beats sounded. I also thought the MC's had really good voices. The lyrics on first listen seemed a bit uninspired but the flow was locked in and sounding great. The album has 10 songs and runs for  37 minutes. The instrumentation is classic boom bap but the MC's bring a very modern flavor with their rhythmic approach.
I thought that this offering was a step up from most of the local Hip-Hop music that I hear and I have been watching The Doqument gaining fans and support from taste makers in the local Auckland Hip-Hop scene. This is an album that will sound huge on a speaker system with subs and one that I recommend you check out If you're a Hip-Hop fan.
 

The Boom Box Eulogy- Crates And Collabs

 

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The Boombox Eulogy is a hip hop production collective made up of Simon Townsend, Kriston Batistic and Josh Harvey.

Crates and Collabs is a 6 track E.P of Jazzy boom bap with a real nice local flavour. The album reminds me of nights at Khuja Lounge on Queen Street 10 years ago. Not saying their sound is outdated but the crew have found their sweet spott with their style of 90's inspired loungy, Jazz infused Boom Bap and are creating some superb music with it. MC Simba Diallo is the voice behind the crew. Simba an inspired lyrisist, brings some great performance heat to the project, lending the songs insight and swagger. 

Hazy Nights wins the "Hugest Hook" award with its Gang Vocals, Jazzy Motifs and swung out Hip Hop groove.

The song Born from a boombox reminded me of the hit song Groove is in the heart by swinging psychadelic freakazoidz Deee Lite with a similar Jazzy upbeat Hip-Hop energy and is the song that I could see myself freaking out on the dance floor to on a Friday night.

The songs Back to The Streets and Breathe bring a low down and dirty Gangster feel to the project, painting a picture of the streets, holding it down for the true heads out there. Although I thought Breathe had a bit of trouble with the mix and that odd timed sample kind of through me off a bit.

The whole album flows well and maintains it's upbeat atmosphere and your attention for a good 30 mins of jazzy dopeness.

I really enjoyed this album and I could picture it finding a home in hipster cafes on K Road and maybe your car stereo. It's definitely the kind of band you want to see live. The album accurately captures the huge energy coming from this talented collective and this project would be a happy companion to any respectable playlist.

Get your copy from Bandcamp now!

 

 

 

 

Louie Knuxx-Tiny Warm Hearts

 

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With a husky rapping voice reminiscent of 'The God Father' Louie Knuxx latest offering Tiny Warm Hearts is a collection of introspective and mellow songs mainly about relationships. I could describe them as love songs but I think that would be a stretch. Louie Knuxx keeps the raps slow paced and simplistic and the vibe of the whole album is rather low key. The album has a handful of collaborator's who lend the project a Polynesian flavor. The instrumentation has a strong Trap influence made apparent by the tempo synths and snare rolls. In moments like the chorus of Mercury Plaza the album also has a slight Indie vibe.

Someone covered from head to toe in tattoos has to maintain his tough guy image so probably isn't going to get too soppy with his "love songs" so initially there's not too much warmth in the lyrics of Tiny Warm Hearts until you get to the title track which is quite a touching and a true emotional "Love Song". There are definitely hints at a deeper emotional undercurrent in the rest of the album that become apparent on further listens.

The songs are well structured and nicely produced and the album flows quite well in pace and tempo. It's definitely more of a contemplative mood than a party album. Louie keeps his sound current with the Trap of YARP and the opening track Body would fit quite well on commercial radio.

On first listen I found it hard to get past the gangster-esk Americanised posturing present in Louie's voice, delivery and lyrics, which is how I often feel with NZ rappers. But once I got over myself, I began appreciating the album.

Louie Knuxx has been working on his craft for a considerable time and this is the second album he's released in the last couple of years. Tiny Warm Hearts reflects artistic mastery and is the kind of album that allows you to peel back layers of depth the more you listen to it.

Tiny Warm Hearts is available on iTunes, Spotify, Bandcamp and Soundcloud.