NliteN drops new single, “MOMMA NEED FREE”

Artwork by Rohan Mugdal

Almost immediately after dropping his debut album “!NFiNiT”, NliteN is dropping singles on Soundcloud. One of which is “MOMMA NEED FREE”.

One of the things I had discussed in my review of the album was that each song put emphasis on lyrical content while production took a logical step back, acting as an aid to the lyrics as opposed to a whole different element in itself. The album delivered what NliteN is best at, quick and witty lines that deal with issues he sees on his day-to-day.

This song, while still having intense lyricism, has that hard /bass heavy production that the album didn’t have. Notably, the production was also at the hands of NliteN. The song is easily playback material, whether you want to rap along to something or you want that loud bass for a party atmosphere.

“Got momma a discount 

But momma need free

She from the Deep South

Had me in the bean

I coulda dished out yeah

Cuz I gotta eat

I coulda stitched y’all

I Got the degree

My money free (x8)

Nigga witta attitude 

Ain’t so bad at school

Did it for the pat on back

Momma be so proud of you 

Lemme be surrounded by the people giving gratitude 

Spending too (!) too much time being mad at you

I tell em, don’t get mad at me

It’s about to be 

Me and my whole team winning

You ain’t seen the scene

You ain’t sipping lean

You ain’t got to refilling 

Had they presents resented

Had the records they ain’t spinning 

If he look like me, kill him 

It’s weed nigga, we get it 

(Yeah) 

Still don’t get mad at me

Shit is a lottery 

There’s is a lot of me 

This mean a lotta me 

But I got a light in me

Peep the lobotomy

Yeah pardon me 

Part of me really wanted to depart

I mean, yeah but Imma prodigy

So none of the bull shit ever bother me

Imma machine it’s inside of me

It’s pre-decided by god

Poseidón at sea

With a trident 

He still isn’t trying me 

I see the challenge and sign on the dotted, it’s nothing

Say hello goodbye to me 

I believe, all of the knowledge is gotten me farther then

Asking for likes and a following man

Ask for a dollar instead…eah

Talking bout Free!

Free is the mind 

Free from the bind 

Free is the grind

Sleep when I die 

(What can you buy?)

Nothing it’s fine 

Got the supply 

I wanna fly 

I said it twice

Y’all niggas fried

I ain’t surprised 

You wanna slice 

What’s is your price?

You can decide. 

I know what mine is”

 

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MTU7SABA x CARMEN LOOKSHIRE

A year back I did a piece about Machakos Kyalo and the ONE TRyBE COMPANy, an African based music collective. I talked to MTU7SABA about some of One Trybe’s work, but didn’t really get to touch base on his music, and if I had the room I would have. MTU puts out great music often, and is all around a great creative spirit. MTU is releasing an afro-beat album December and another album early next year , so the song is a precursor of what’s to come.

“I got an album coming out soon after elections in my country. It’s an album full of African music. It’s a seven track album. I’m also planning to have a tour to promote my latest single “Don’t Tell Mommy Why” feat. Carmen Lookshire from the U.S,” MTU said.
“Right now am on a mission to preach peace in my motherland, I am a peace ambassador chosen by the gods.”

A month back MTU dropped a song with Carmen Lookshire, “Don’t Tell Mommy Why”, and it’s beautiful. I was supposed to write about it earlier this summer, but I got a full time-writing job so my blog was inactive and I was unable to write the piece, which I regret. The track would have been too nice for the season, and I did a lot of people wrong by not shedding some light on this track going into the heat of summer.

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Anyways, here is the track. It’s sad, sweet and warm. The lyrics can be a little heart breaking, but with the beach theme to back the wonderful music it still lifts my spirits.

NliteN drops debut album “!NFiNiT”

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Photography by Gracie Gulick

Two years ago I wrote a profile on NliteN, and with an EP and a hand full of singles he showed a lot of promise. Well, August 23rd his debut album, “!NFiNiT”, drops. Taking a listen, right off the bat you can hear the sound NliteN’s had all along, but tighter.

Clocking in a eight tracks, the album is a cohesive work that will later define NliteN’s style to new listeners. !NFiNiT still has that tight flow that switches tempos on a dime and the ethereal Fly-Loish-Sci-Fi like production that had NliteN standing out as a rapper who’s time is well spent focused on production and lyrical finesse over aesthetics and straight hype- and it should be noted that NliteN did the production almost exclusively himself.

“If time is money why you wasted/ saw a message in a bottle drank it down now I’m wasted/ this flow is copyin’ and pastin’/ that’s a problem that I’m facin: threw a party in a basement/ coppers in the place/ anyone seen Jayson? …Grace and?… Anybody else I came with,” opening lyrics off the fifth track, “Fly”

Lyrically NliteN is clever and with how easily he switches his flow up, listeners won’t lose focus on his voice. NliteN flirts with the beats he raps over, his voice doesn’t detract but only adds. At the same time, you won’t necessarily find any crazy bass heavy party bangers. That’s not to say the album does not have energy, NliteN’s energy is in his delivery, you just won’t find a track that’s focused on messy fun; but that’s obviously not what NliteN is about. Without any features and considering the brevity of the album, !NFiNiT is a strong debut that showcases what NliteN cares about, his words and voice, his ability to put himself out there as a rapper you can listen to, enjoy, and take something from.

You wouldn’t do yourself or the album justice hopping around between songs, listen to the album as it is supposed to run and you’ll see a well thought out musical experience. Listen to it with some context from the visual story he provides along with the piece, and there’ll be a solid story that sets the album apart from any mixtape or NliteN release thus far.

Between the production and the time you can spend just listening to NliteN’s lyrics, I found myself driving to the album, writing to it, chilling to it. Importantly, I found myself really listening to it, something I haven’t done with an album in awhile.

Find !NFiNiT here

 

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A quick interview with Howard Jones, expect a new, heavy project coming soon

 

As many of you may know, since leaving Killswitch Engage, vocalist Howard Jones has come back from taking a breather from performing. His current band, LA-based Devil You Know, has two albums out and they are working on their third. Still in the writing process, there is yet to be a release date but fans should expect some new music coming from him soon.

They haven’t gotten too much buzz, but Devil You Know is actually pretty sick. For fans of Blood Has Been Shed and Jones’ heavier side, DYK is a nice return to that sound while maintaining Jones’ and DYK’s more recent metal sound. Vocally Jones seems to have returned to his roots a bit bringing back that hardcore vibe BHBS was known for while maintaining that sexy rich timbered singing voice. DYK is much more riff-y then BHBS, but that’s never a bad thing.
On top of that, Jones is working with founding member of Soilwork  Peter Wichers on a new project.

“I am starting another project. I am doing a project with Peter Wichers, who filled in for Adam when he had that emergency back surgery on our tour in Europe and the UK. Peter filled in, and we since became friends. Now we are doing a thing. No title, still trying to figure it out. Right now we are just demo-ing and writing a ton. That’s also what Im doing with DYK. I don’t know how I get involved with the things I do. Stuff just happens.” Howard said over a laugh.

Check out Devil You Know.

 

 

TOLD SLANT/THE FLIES?/ PAPER BEE/ ADA @ ASBESTOS FARM

ORIGINALLY APPEARING IN PIONEER VALLEY UNDERGROUND 2/7/17

by Chance Viles

After two changes of venue, this show found its home at the Asbestos Farm, which was a blessing in disguise. The Asbestos Farm has always seemed like a dream to me. The interior is decorated with an array of trinkets without much of an obvious pattern, yet somehow it all fits. There were a few dogs around; you’d be standing watching a band or talking and feel something slink past, rubbing your legs. It was like a delightful fever dream the way things were happening all around.

The bands were set in front of a white sheet decorated to look like the moon, with a black light and glowing plastic stars dangling from the ceilings. The ceilings were low, giving an impression of a dark sky above. It created a sort of tunnel vision to the stage, which was the only source of light while the bands played. Maybe it felt like a dream to me because all I could see was art that could have been from Le Petit Prince casually hanging around the band as the crowd looked on.

Hadley two-piece The Flies? played first. They were quiet at the right times, building anticipation for a sort of “drop” where the band would get much louder and demand the attention of the room. Their whole set was like that, a roller coaster of dreamy indie-rock that would excite, then calm. The more interesting part was how the band made their two-piece set up work. Not long ago, The Flies? had a bassist as a third member. Oddly, it would be hard to tell a bass was missing if you couldn’t see the stage. It is something in the chunkiness of the guitar, the singer using his voice as an instrument itself, and how each element worked with the drums that makes the band sound more dimensional than a band normally would without a bassist. There wasn’t that empty bass-less feeling, and the beat remained danceable. The Flies? are a band I am excited to have seen and discovered, and they set the show up with great momentum.

Ada from Maine played an interesting set next. Their stage presence was calm, almost unnoticeable. Their music was somewhere in between experimental, country/folk, indie, and post-rock. The singer reflected the shakiness of a classic country singer’s voice, and between the twangy banjo sounds and the show’s location in a farm-house, the country element worked well. On the downside, a song would start off interestingly but they would drag it on for way too long. Songs would take up to seven or so minutes, which is a very long time to play when you’re in a crowded dark basement in a lineup with three other bands. Not much was lost as the show’s demeanor was calm itself, but instead of the nice dreamy feeling, this act was more like a heavy dose of Nyquil.

Paper Bee picked up where The Flies? left off.  Paper Bee was engaging, addressing the crowd and talking with one another. Their music was energetic indie rock that let their drums bang and their strings play up-tempo. There was an obvious comfort with one another as a band in the way they deliberated set-lists and tempos onstage. At the front of it all, the vocalist, Nick Berger, was a demanding and powerful force in the room. Perhaps one of the most talented singers I have seen in the Valley in a long time, they really tied all of the music together. They had a beautifully pitched voice that was clear and crisp. When the music would change tempo, Berger was able to pitch and manipulate their voice around it, providing a dynamic level that brought the music from fun indie-rock to something more unique.

Felix Walworth of Told Slant, NYC, performed solo next. Their music is usually presented with three people, with Walworth, the vocalist, as the drummer, but that wasn’t the case at this show. Walworth performed on their own, playing the guitar in absence of the drum. The songs sounded sort of different because of this. Told Slant is an indie band that focuses on the emotional aspect of a track to engage the listener. Lyrically, the songs are often about missing a loved one, not fitting in one’s own body and environment, and the pain of that combination. Due to their presentation in a solo act, the lyrics were much more pronounced than normal. At a slower speed without anything to detract, the focus for this performance was on the vocals alone. I think this emphasized the lyrics of personal struggle and pain, and made the longing for a loved one more poignant and believable.

Everyone sat down at Walworth’s request, which is pretty common for these types of slow, intimate performances. Functionally, sitting also allowed for everyone to see over one another to the stage, as the view in the back of a low ceilinged basement is never too good. Sitting also upped the feeling of crowd engagement. Everyone was below eye level with Walworth, who was seated on their amp. It felt like story-time prior to a nap in pre-school, between the seated crowd and the starry decorations behind.

The music continued into the night, stopping only when the performers were getting tired. It was a calm Friday night. There wasn’t much noise, there was limited dancing, and people took a seat during the show. That’s not to say it was bad by any means; in fact, it was memorable. For a crowd to be so tame, they must either hate the music, or they are really engaged with the performance. I found the crowd attitude that night to be the latter. The show was exactly what an easy night out should be.

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GABE GILL FEATURE

ORIGINALLY APPEARING IN PIONEER VALLEY UNDERGROUND 1/18/17

by Chance Viles

Gabe Gill is a producer, singer/songwriter, and rapper from Northampton. Gill initially lived in Boston, moving to Northampton at 7 years old. Gill has since moved back to Boston to study in the Studio for Interrelated Media program at Mass Art, but still considers himself a Northampton native and spends his breaks back in Western Mass.

Gill started making music as a high-school freshman with his friend Tieren forming the indie-pop band DRMRL. While initially live instrumentation, DRMRL (Dream Real) became an electronic based pop  band that utilizes strong choruses and melodies with a good amount of auto-tune and electronic instruments, similar to the electronic-pop music craze that took over Myspace as well as many teenagers music tastes from 2006 onwards. While not necessarily Gill’s strongest material, DRMRL  represents the wide variety of music he can produce.

Since DRMRL, Gill has joined Valley based hip-hop collective Ugly Family, performing with rapper Dro Brown at the Amherst College Hip-Hop festival, as well as producing beats for other rappers and rapping and singing over his own tracks. Notably, Gill began his career producing beats for rappers across the Valley including hip-hop collective Dark World.

The production and beats ride a fine line between almost too weird to rap over and a more euphoric R&B kind of sound. This creates a diversity even among his own production and characterizes the weirdness that is Western Mass. Hip-Hop.


How did you get involved with DRMRL and making music in general?

Gill: Tieren could play any instrument, so I started making music. Eventually I figured out how to use Fruity Loops and could make a song with any instrument on my computer. That was the first moment where I thought I would sit and write a song as opposed to being unable to play music because I didn’t have a knack for musical instruments.


Initially DRMRL was a Red Hot Chili Peppers rip off band. Then I got really into rap. I was listening to Kanye West and Outkast, like a lot of southern rap, so then I started making beats as a sophomore. I sent my beats to DJ Lucas, Morimoto, and Gods Wisdom from Dark World and got positive feedback and so I kept making beats. I still had this band that was me, Tieren, and his brother, and grew to become DRMRL, which is still a thing. We put out an album last year, but it’s to the point where we need money to go to a studio and record guitar bass and drums. And after a certain point I was like I have all those instruments on my computer, so we started making super electronic beat based music. Still kinda with the same writing style as before, just electronically instead of live instruments.

-What programs do you use for your music?

Gill: I have used Fruity Loops since I was a sophomore. I just got a Mac and haven’t been able to figure out Fruity Loops on here, so I have been using GarageBand. I actually just figured out how to make GarageBand work for me. I’ve been enjoying GarageBand lately.

-How did you get involved with Ugly Family?

Gill: I’ve known Ugly Family’s Dro Brown for awhile through beat making. I feel like I know every rapper in the Valley from producing. Now that I am singing and rapping more I forget how I have met people. But I am pretty sure it was through my production and beats. I did a song for Machakos Kyalo, that was the first time we hung out. We started linking up to make music since then. I became official member of ugly family after texting Dro about it.

It kind of makes sense for me to be a part of Ugly Family. It makes sense considering who I have been making music with and who makes music together. I wanted to be in Ugly Family.

-How did you start working with Dark World?

Gill: I have always been the kind of person that if I know of someone in any capacity I will hit them up and ask to work together. I saw Dj Lucas open for Danny Brown, he went by a different name then, and I added him on FaceBook and sent him my beats. I think what is funny is my beats sounded like they did because I didn’t know how to make beats, but it really worked with their sound. My early stuff was raw and distorted which fit their style. The first people to use a beat of mine was Dj Lucas, Morimoto, and Gods Wisdom, I sent the beat to them [as opposed to being asked for it]. The song is called “Live to God”. That was about three years ago. 

-Have you worked with any artists outside of the Valley?

Gill: I have used beats from this group called Brockhampton that Kevin Abstract is a part of (which is not released yet). I am also part of a label called Retro Neon out of Orlando. I just started talking to a marketing group called TangleWood. I collaborated with this rap group from the UK a few times.

-Describe your sound

Gill: Probably like experimental pop, influenced by rap and rock, but kinda mostly pop music with interesting sounds.

-Do you rap over your own beats, or do you keep that separate?

Gill: I have. it’s sometimes weird. The producing part of my brain and rapping part of my brain are too similar. If someone else sends me a beat I can see it better as a vocalist. It’s easier to rap on someone else’s beat. Or if I make a beat I have to wait to write on my own beat otherwise the melodies come together at the same time. I am still trying to figure out how to get my rapping voice as unique as my singing voice.

-What is the general approach and process you take to your music?

Gill: I always feel like it’s a big choice whether I start with a sound, stringed instrument, or drums, one of those things come second to the other.  A more hype beat I will start with drum and bass and get like bounce going and add melody and sounds. If the goal is something else, I usually am looking for an inspiring sound to make melodies with. It could be because my music training is not formal, but I always feel as if the sound dictates the melody. If something sounds like an old organ, the chords that I think of will come from that rather than vice versa. I don’t have strong ideas and I iron my ideas out.

-How would you describe the musical community you are involved with in the Valley?

-Gill: I would say that it’s interesting. I am kind of a part of a few different communities. I love the same thing about all of them which is the strong sense of hard work and personal integrity. I love when people have DIY spirit but also work as if it is  not DIY in a sense. Sometimes I see people who have bands but don’t take anything seriously. That’s cool and fine and usually fun, but there are a lot of people out here like HoneyFitz who grind hard to record their own music and make t-shirts. They tour all over. He is my age. HoneyFitz puts all of his work into that. I love Dark World. They have done cool things for the valley. There are some rappers in Springfield I work with who are great, and kids at the Northampton High School are doing cool stuff. These people have their vision and goal and work towards that, which is why I love the Western Mass. music scene. 

-What in your current sound would you say is uniquely influenced by Western Mass. music?

Gill: Local music in high-school was Dark World. Aggressive lo-fi stuff. Other friends were making chill rock music. And although my music is not either of those things, what is unique is I took both of those styles and made them more poppy and brighter, but still with that feel of being in a place where people are listening to everything and recreating it on a very wide and lo-fi scale. That carries into my music. It channels all different things. Including that Western Mass. punk energy. I am filtering it all through what I can do and know how to make.

-You recently moved back to Boston for college. Has your sound changed since you have left the Valley?

Gill: I think so.  I don’t even know if this is the kind of shows I tend to go to here versus the shows I go to in Western Mass., but, I think that Western Mass. shows were home-like and low-key, introverted. Here, the shows are high-energy and more people, less familiarity. It has made my music more focused. The songs I have made since going to Boston have been more high energy. When I make a song I think ‘how is a crowd of people I don’t know going to react to this?’ versus ‘what will my friends think of this song?’ So I think that even being around new people has made me shift how I make songs. It has made my music more aggressive. Bigger sounding. Yeah. More concise.

-How has your sound changed since you have started making music in general?

Gill: When I started with DRMRL it was alt-rock. Over time I realized that Tieren and I love pop music and big choruses and melodies. So our sound has gotten more on a pop side over time. I think that when I started making beats we became much more electronic. We put out a mixtape last year that was almost entirely electronic beats with vocals over them. When we figured out auto-tune we fell in love with it, and now it’s on a lot of my music. Now it’s a combination of everything. The roots of that indie-rock songwriting and sentimentality is now in all of my music. I throw in hip-hop influenced drums now. Our sound has gotten more unpredictable. Now I feel more careless in a way and I will sing on anything or throw any sound on an instrumental.

-Do people hit you up to make them beats?

Gill:  A little less lately. I have been emphasizing that I am less of a producer now, but yeah. I think there is a while where I was frustrated because my production skills are limited. I know how to make what I make. If someone wants something very specific, I can try, but it’s gonna sound like me trying to make a beat like that. I couldn’t just make a Biggie style beat. It’s going to sound like me trying to make that. So people who don’t produce might not get that it’s a different skill set. People do hit me up and I am always happy to make stuff but people need to know my music and know what it will sound like.

-Does rapping and producing now take a backburner? How would you categorize yourself as an artist?

Gill: I am a songwriter. I want to make good songs. The tools I have are production, singing, and rapping. Rapping is starting to rise in the ranks of my confidence. I use my skills based on how well they will work out for me.

-What are your main musical influences?

Gill: Red Hot Chili Peppers, Kanye West, Frank Ocean, 90s indie rock and pop, 90s/2000s R&B, are thee most influential to me as a blanket.

As a kid I read a ton, and I think that changed how I rapped. I could freestyle, but I used it as a party trick sort of. People always thought I could rap, and I thought it would be corny if i started rapping so I didn’t take it seriously. Once I started genuinely making music that was kind of good, I started rapping. High-school was a gradient of me being more serious about rapping. It wasn’t until like last year until I was comfortable rapping and used it as a serious thing. Prior I was a singer, and I could freestyle but it was funny.

-I noticed that you are into fashion, what are you involved with outside of music?

Gill: Everything is intertwined for me. I am at art school right now for visual art. Like 90% of the time I am drawing or painting or doing graphic design projects. I do like fashion. I don’t care about technical knowledge of fashion. I like clothes a lot. I recently did some modeling for Bodega in Boston. I was in their winter catalogue. I work at a teen center in Roxbury, I am really into community work that is art related as well as educating. I did a lot of stuff like that last year, I took a gap year and did a lot of teaching and community work with internships in the Northampton area. So I think it all comes together with me in terms of my main interests being art, music, and community events and exchange of knowledge.

-How much music do you have released right now, and what do you have coming up that we should keep an eye out for?

Gill: DRMRL has 1 mixtape, 97, which came out December last year. I have a bunch of singles on my Sound Cloud. Personally, I have 1 song and 1 video out, and a bunch of collaborations.

I have an album in two parts, two EPs sort of, two seven song installments. I am about to go back to the Valley and finish part one over break. I want to have it mixed and mastered and have a few videos out in the Spring. The album will come out in June or July. I am also aiming to tour over the summer. The goal is to then put out part two of the album next Fall.