Author: Allie Russell

Black Knights
Medieval Chamber
Self-Released
Street: 01.14
Black Knights = Eazy-E + Mos Def + Synthetic Epiphany
Wu-Tang affiliates and Black Knights members Rugged Monk and Crisis the Sharpshoota met John Frusciante through mutual friend, RZA. After meeting and beginning an experimental collaboration, the final product is Medieval Chamber. This 10-track LP made my head explode. Prepare for sounds of electronica with unrelated samples and effects, which are backed with an orchestra and an occasional chorus. Rugged Monk and Crisis spit harmoniously with the beats, hitting you with those West Coast, hard-hitting flows. “Black Knights, you know the story, since we lost Doc Doom the game ain’t got nothing for me,” Crisis shouts out to deceased member Doc Doom in “Knighthood.” However, the tracks remind me of the snyth-pop sounds I made on my brothers’ Yamaha keyboard in the ’90s. I have respect for John Frusciante because I’m a huge RHCP fan, but I’m still debating if I’m a fan of his hip-hop production skills. –Allie Russell
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Tunde Olaniran

Yung Archetype

Quite Scientific Records

Street: 02.25

Tunde Olaniran = Kanye West + Joey Bada$$ + Frank Ocean

Yung Archetype, a five-track EP, is one of the most innovative pieces I’ve heard in a while. The electro-pop, street sound reminds me of the late ’80s/early ’90s hip-hop that was produced with drum machines. The laidback instrumentals make his hard-hitting lyrics flow gracefully, and contribute to telling his life story. The production on this EP is straight cream: It’s a majestic ear fuck in the best way possible. In his single, “Brown Boy,” he spits, “I’m every single thing you think of me. I’m a sinner, killer, drug-dealer refugee.” A couple of my favorites are “The Highway” and “The Raven.” Not many rappers can successfully switch between rapping and belting one-liners, but this EP should have emcees taking notes. –Allie Russell
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Q1
The End is to Begin
Self-Released
Street: 02.14
Q1 = Slug + Del The Funky Homosapien
 
Anyone that pays homage to Eminem on his album has my respect. Q1’s debut solo album, The End is to Begin, has such a unique sound that exemplifies his passion for hip-hop. While the production is more focused on the storytelling antics, each song has a unique style, which combines sounds reminiscent of East Coast and Midwest hip-hop. He flows about his inspirations, passions and life stories up to this point. Incorporating his family and killer local emcees, like Atheist, Donnie Bonelli, Mimi Knowles, Chance Lewis and more, leaves this album with a solid Wasatch sound. The theme of the album can be heard in the opening track, “To end is to begin. Let’s end, let’s end, let’s end …” Other tracks worth checking: “Pictures of You,” “Do What You Do,” and Atheist’s verse on “Weird Science” is straight fire! I can’t wait to hear more from Q1. –Allie Russell
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The Breaklites
I ♥ America
Self-Released
Street: 01.07
The Breaklites = The Internet + Murs
I ♥ America is the most recent project from The Breaklites out of Tacoma, Wash. This eight-track album sounds like hometown, suburban rap. The flows are great examples of simple hip-hop storytelling with an added ’80s funk-electro vibe. In the opening track, “Fill It Up,” they discuss love—“We got American cures for American girls … There’s a hole in your heart, girl, you better fill it up with cocaine, Vicodin and rich men.” In the title track, they dissect their ideas of what the American Dream has evolved into—“Corporations are people and the dollar is king.” I’ll keep a couple songs on a pregame playlist and the rest are worth listening to for the interesting story and upbeat rhythm. I’ll be curious to see what their upcoming projects will bring. –Allie Russell
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Fleetwood
Saying Goodbye
Fleetwood Music/SEM Music
Street: 03.01.13
Fleetwood = Riff Raff + Uncle Kracker
 
Fleetwood puts his soul into the lyrics on this album, which is a defining quality for an artist. He vocalizes what he knows, speaking on topics such as family, love, his hometown and his career. The beats and production on this album, however, are a bust. The bland sounds slightly remind me of a GarageBand creation for an early-’00s boy band singing sad music. The lyrics in some songs are lost because of auto-tuned echoes, and the ostentatious sounds consist of drums, pianos and violins—sometimes all three at once. I’d love to hear him on something aesthetically pleasing and hear how it fluctuates his flow. Songs worthy of checking out are “Old School” and “Trailer Park Music.” –Allie Russell
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Grits Green
Imagination in Motion
Self-Released
Street: 01.07
Grits Green = Pepper + Murs + Kid Rock
 
I commend Grits Green for having a unique and innovative sound in their most recent album, Imagination in Motion—though it’s hard to classify it as solely hip-hop/rap. The group brings a funk-like melody reminiscent of reggae sounds. Band members include Greggy Shaw on bass, Jeremy Beising on drums and Jonny Knoder on guitar. MCs Rhagenetix and Porta D have two completely different styles of storytelling flow delivery, which, surprisingly, clash well. “All We Need” sounds like the group’s anthem: “The flow will grow, we just gotta plant the seed. You could bring the 30 pack, Swisher and some weed. But as long as we’re together, that’s all we need. Cheer up, hold your beer up, it might be raining right now, but it’ll clear up.” –Allie Russell
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gLife
All I Know
SEM Music
Street: 02.05.13
60 SaltLakeUnderGround
gLife = Wax and EOM + Eyedea & Abilities + Sage Francis

All I Know is an orchestrated mix of classical sounds with hometown flows from gLife. This album has a blend of uplifting, hard-hitting, independent songs and somber melodies about love and life. In “She Loves to Hate Me,” he spits bars on his confusing take on love, with lyrics such as, “I’m smoking hash over broken glass, hoping that we can just chill and talk. She loves to hate me and deep down I must love it too. What the fuck to do?” This 20-track album features a plethora of local features worthy of checking out. “Depending on the Day,” “Come Back To Me” and “Dreamland Agenda” were some of my favorites. Dudes that can lay tracks and speak from the heart about personal relationships have a special place in my heart. Thanks for sharing your experiences, gLife—excited to hear more. –Allie Russell

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We Our Environment, out on Jan. 12 2014

Deyshawn “DopeThought” Chapman is a Salt Lake City–based rap artist who hopes to bring more than music to the lives of listeners. He helped establish and is part of MakeMind, an entertainment label dedicated to enriching people’s lives through performance art. Known for their music production, songwriting and visual art collective, you can expect a lot from this ambitious bunch.

After transferring from West High to Skyline High, DopeThought met his soon-to-be collaborator, Jackson “Worth” Savage, at a birthday party in 2009 through mutual friends. Worth produces music and was already making beats at the time he and DopeThought met. Around the time of their meeting, they started working together and self-released the album Life Elevated Pt. 1. “It started with a beat that became a song, which became a movement. We’ve always been very natural-based, just letting things fall into place. The best things in life just kind of happen,” says Dope.

Soon after its release, DopeThought & Worth continued their partnership. In January 2011, just after they finished recording, Worth gave Dope a beat which he titled, “Make Mind.” When trying to establish their collective, friend and graphic designer James Mendieta stumbled on the idea and said, “Why not just call it Make Mind?” Consequently, MakeMind as a collective was born—the vision started coming to life.

In May of 2012, DopeThought and Worth released their flagship LP, titled We Our Environment, under Heaven Noise Recordings.

Dope says his biggest influence in his music comes from Atmosphere, especially the rhyming styles of Slug. Dope explained his gravitation towards Atmosphere—he says, “Their way of expressing was very true to a human’s thoughts versus a human’s wants. That’s what MakeMind is here to do: to evoke purpose, real emotion and feeling—not be material-based.”

Their collective is about inspiring others, not just being heard. For them, they’re all in it for one thing: to make a difference in their community. “The way I see MakeMind in Salt Lake is like how Rhymesayers was to Minnesota,” Dope says of establishing a voice in his hometown. He continued with saying, “SLC isn’t labeled yet—its very open to interpretation. There’s still a wide gap as to what Salt Lake is to people, besides just being in the Mormon state.”

Each city with a recognizable hip hop scene shows its own characteristics in its music. When considering what Salt Lake is comparable to in the industry, Dope says, “There is a strong religious and spiritual influence in Utah. It’s not gonna sound like other cities—it’s gonna sound like Salt Lake.” SLC gets a bad rap from outsiders when there are so many different types of people, especially those expressive through art. It’s as though Salt Lake has an established norm which gives outsiders a preconceived idea—most of us get lost in translation. MakeMind has a goal of changing that norm. One of the coolest things to me is seeing someone genuinely accept their originality. Regardless of where you live, you should always feel confident being yourself.

“I have influences from Mac Dre to 2Pac to Slug and Atmosphere to Michael Jackson and Usher. Even though they influenced me, you won’t hear them all in my music—you’ll hear me,” Dope says. Dope makes sure his listeners are aware of the effect they can have on their community. He explains it’s not about being successful, but about getting his message across, and if it catches on, success is a natural part of that process. He continues on about the youthful exuberance the city has: “We all have a part in painting what Salt Lake can be and a movement to adapt to. It’s not about one person. It’s about all of us,” he says.

DopeThought has established a name for himself in local hip hop. By working hard to bring artists and real hip hop to our community, MakeMind is entertaining and educating others on a movement, with a mission to come together through music. With Salt Lake on a larger scale, more recognized artists have started bringing their tours to our city. Dope has shared stages with artists such as Wiz Khalifa, Mac Miller, Andre Nickatina, Chali 2na, Aesop Rock, Talib Kweli, Mobb Deep, Dizzy Wright and Hopsin, to name a few.

Regarding where Dope thinks Salt Lake is heading in the next few years, he says, “It’s about inspiring the next generation, helping the progress. SLC hip hop is not far from hitting a global scale. It just takes one person to get out there.”

If hip hop isn’t something you’re interested in, this group has a multitude of upcoming projects to engage audiences. “MakeMind is bigger than music,” says Dope. It isn’t about him or his team, or you and me. It’s about “us,” and how we can all work together to make a positive difference in our community. Get out and support local hip hop, Salt Lake!

Don’t miss another collaborative project from DopeThought & Worth, set to release their new album, Drop In Ocean, on Jan. 1, 2014. Be on the lookout for local shows put on by MakeMind and performances from DopeThought & Worth. Check out Worth’s newly released solo album 13Love on Soundcloud or on iTunes, with features by DopeThought, Negrodomus and more. You can find DopeThought on Facebook, and also on DopeThought and Worth’s page. Follow and get daily updates on Instagram, Twitter, and buy We Our Environment on iTunes. Dope and Worth also just released a new single “Godly Indigos,” featuring The Underachievers—find it on iTunes.

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