In honor of it being 6/17, the Graduation Music team is proud to announce the official launch of our T-Shirts! Proceeds will be going directly to the Urban Farming Institute to assist in building a grow box for a community member in need.
The Urban Farming Institute, founded in Mattapan, is an organization that strives to not only provide local communities with fresh food, but teaches community members how to farm within urban environments. Being a music blog that specializes in shining a light on the talent prevalent within our local area, what Urban Farming Institute is accomplishing for Boston is truly admirable. Noting the health disparities that are prevalent within both Roxbury and Mattapan, UFI is striving to bridge the gap and provide fresh produce to communities in need. The Urban Farming Institute is currently on a mission to build 100 boxes for community members, and the Graduation Music staff is thrilled to be able to contribute to this cause.
If you’re interested at all in getting involved with the Urban Farming Institute, please visit their website to find out some more information. To buy a T-Shirt in support, please click here.
Stepping in with his first release of the year is Kleo, who unchains the official music video for his thunderous single, “Stomp His Ass Out”.
According to Kleo’s Artist Bio on Spotify, “his music provides a backdrop to an anime fight scene”, and that is probably the most effective way to characterize this track. “Stomp His Ass Out” was one of ten songs that were featured on the Roxbury native’s 2019 album, Battle Damaged, and had been a personal standout ever since my first listen through the project. Furnished with a ridiculously high-paced energy, “Stomp His Ass Out” will have you feeling like you can rip a mountain from the ground and toss it into the depths of space.
The iLL Addicts were tasked with shooting and editing this visual, and much like their own music videos, they successfully created something both unique and fitting. A song of this caliber is deserving of a powerful video, and that’s exactly what the iLL Addicts achieved here.
Watch the official music video for “Stomp His Ass Out” below:
The versatility prevalent within the music exiting Brockton, Massachusetts is staggering to say the least. It makes sense that the city is dubbed “The City of Champions” given the exorbitant amount of high-level musicians that have their foundations set in this area. Adding his name to this roster of individuals is Benjy Ali, who just recently shared the first component of his discography — Grace.
The 3-song EP rests just shy of 10 minutes, however do not let this fool you into thinking that Grace is something that’s meant to be breezed through. Each singular song carries extreme depth, showcasing the multi-faceted artist that Benjy Ali is at his core. Full of lush harmonies that are crossed with some truly masterful production, Grace is substantial from every view point. Benjy carves in and out of the underlying instrumental with the strength and precision of a fighter jet dancing amongst the clouds. He intertwines deep-seated emotion that tears at the listener’s heart with well-balanced sonic elements that help to create a standout body of work. Justin Bloom, with assistance from Baby J and Isaiah Valmont, swung for the fences with respect to the production on Grace, with the end result being a grand slam.
“Be My Home” is without a doubt my personal favorite from this project, as Benjy encapsulates all of the above sentiments into this one track. He emphasizes the true prowess that’s associated with his vocal capabilities here, while at the same time maintaining lyrical dominance. I’m confident that this will not be the last time you hear Benjy Ali, as this Brockton artist is quite literally just getting started with what’s to come.
Following what has been more than a year long hiatus with respect to releasing new music, New Bedford’s Caliph makes his return as he recruits Obeatz to unleash his new single “Green Faces”.
While many listeners may initially be drawn towards the sound of his music alone, it’s what Caliph speaks on, and stands for, that has helped him amass a deep-rooted following. “Green Faces” circulates around the struggles of striving towards one’s goals while being an immigrant in the United States. This theme has been prevalent within a large portion of Caliph’s discography, and for rightful reasons, as the African-born artist has been a defying the odds for his entire life. No matter the set of circumstances, Caliph has persisted through the shadows and come out an extremely formidable human being. This was perfectly represented in 2018 when he won a Grammy for his role in American Dreamers: Voices of Hope, Music of Freedom, which was composed entirely of artists that were DACA recipients. When listening to Caliph’s music, that what you hear — the voice of hope. He’s continually been outspoken against social issues, and has made it a personal mission of his to become a voice for the disenfranchised.
Possessing a lengthy resume that’s full of some truly staggering accomplishments, there’s no better example of perseverance than Caliph, especially on his latest single “Green Faces”.
Austin Fair has had his foot on the gas in 2020. Only a few months following the release of his 17 song project Joyride, the Chicopee rapper returns with a brand new album entitled PIONEER — a lyrically dense, 29-minute reminder of why Austin’s name carries weight across the entirety of Massachusetts.
Although the pace of his recent releases may be characterized as being somewhat ambitious, the high-level of quality associated with them unquestionably stands as justification for such a rapid musical output. Laced with production elements of jazz-hop, courtesy of executive producer — and Austin Fair’s cousin — Humbeats, Fair flows from track to track with such mastery that it almost appears effortless. Bouncing between songs such as “Honor Roll”, which will motivate you to roll out of bed and do push-ups, to “Up & Away”, which will motivate you to roll up and spark, the lyrical content prevalent within this project is of a high degree. Echoing the sounds of a man punching his way through the glass ceiling that hangs over the Massachusetts Music Scene — a struggle that many artists from the Bay State know all too well — Austin Fair does a phenomenal job with respect to getting authentic sentiments out to his audience.
Dorchester native Dun Dealy taps in Gil Videos to help bring the official music video for his new single “God’s Call” into existence.
Arguably the biggest standout within his musical catalog to date, “God’s Call” is a three minute offering during which Dun Dealy details some of what he’s endured in life. No matter the set of circumstances, he continues to persevere through any and all obstacles that lay in his path. This perseverance is something that’s continuously been a theme within Dun Dealy’s releases, as the Dorchester rapper manages to paint powerful anecdotes of Boston’s street life in each and every verse.
Watch the official music video for “God’s Call” below:
Following a lengthy trip to some of the most beautiful corners of our planet, Maka is back with an airy single that’s appropriately titled “Rainforest”.
Starting off with an ethereal entrance that gradually picks up power with each passing second, “Rainforest” is only the most recent stellar component to be added to Maka’s already solid musical catalog. He possesses a very eclectic taste in music, which is something that can be noted by the widespread versatility that’s prevalent within his discography. This blend in styles is perfectly represented just after the two minute mark of “Rainforest” when Maka repurposes a segment of 50 Cent’s notorious single “In Da Club”. Whether it be his blissful ability to harmonize, proficient production skills, or his tactful wordplay, Maka simply knows how to deliver.
If you’ve been keeping your ears open to the music rising out of Massachusetts, it’d be safe to assume that you’re familiar with Brockton’s Van Buren Records. With a team of unique and polished artists that includes growing acts such as Jiles, Luke Bar$ and Saint Lyor — they’re a collective that is becoming increasingly difficult to ignore.
Playing an instrumental role in this group is Lord Felix, but despite being at the epicenter of one of the more prominent collectives in the area, Lord Felix himself has been rather silent thus far in 2020. Other than his handful of features, the man behind the infamous mask has remained somewhat reserved since his victory as Best New Artist at the Boston Music Awards this past December. Now with the release of his newest single “Bad Bwodie”, it appears as though Lord Felix’s silence over the last few months has been spent building momentum — the pulling back of an arrow with the intention of a powerful release.
The single, released in tandem with a short clip entitled “Hometown Hero”, reverberates an anthem of triumph. Produced by MultiplePetes, a Boston native who astonishingly balances law school and music, Lord Felix rides the track with high energy and prideful lyrics, undoubtedly mirroring feelings still lingering from a breakthrough year in 2019. “Wifey ‘round my arm cuz she watched me beat the odds!” he proclaims in victory.
From the energy and magnitude of this single, one can only assume that Lord Felix, along with the rest of his Van Buren clique, have big things coming on the horizon. As his sound continues to refine with each coming release, it is safe to say that if you’re not paying attention to Lord Felix right now, you should be.
It’s been nearly a week since Kadeem unveiled Passing Exchange — a 5-track visual project that features some of the most remarkable raps to come out of the city of Boston in recent memory. From start to finish, Kadeem exudes thought-provoking lyricism that manages to connect with the listener at their core. Each individual bar leaves a lasting impression, as the Mattapan native provides yet another example of the high caliber of art that’s being pieced together in our own backyard.
According to Kadeem’s Bandcamp page, Passing Exchange is only the tip of the iceberg with respect to what’s to come:
This project is meant to be my steppingstone. I’ve always used music as an outlet, but for mostly thoughts rather than emotions. This project is my first attempt at beginning to break through. A quick-lived glimpse into what my journey will offer. During your listen, I hope it sparks anything. I hope you continue to create as your spirit intends.
Via Kadeem (Bandcamp)
Helping to catch the pure essence of each of these songs are filmmakers JR Alexander and Colin Pagnoni, who’ve successfully displayed why they’re some of the most capable within their craft that Massachusetts has to offer. Kadeem has always been applauded for his distinctive discography, however each passing moment of Passing Exchange brings the viewer a step closer towards knowing who Kadeem really is. Whether it be shots of him cooking some breakfast at home, or sipping Hennessy on Morton St., both JR and Colin manage to capture the essence of these raps — and Kadeem — in a wholistic fashion.
Typically, I like to point out standout tracks on every body of work that I discuss, however doing so here would be foolish as Passing Exchange is more of an experience than simply just an EP or mixtape. I strongly urge every one of you to play each of these tracks in their entirety, in the order that they’re presented so that the true experience may be retained.
Watch the Passing Exchange visuals below:
Direction by JR Alexander + Colin Pagnoni
Production by bza, no.pulp, Jeff Alan Gore, useeit, and Skunkz
Brockton, Massachusetts has played a sort of mitochondrial role within the Bay State’s music scene over the last year or two, with notable acts such as DTheFlyest and Van Buren Records spreading the City of Champions’ influence far beyond its borders. Attached with this surge in music coming out of the Brockton area has been an influx of truly profound artists that — together — have assisted in shining a light on the diverse landscape of music that exists within Massachusetts. Helping to validate this statement is Premo.Dee, who recently gifted his listeners with his first project — Satellite.Blvd.
Since releasing his first song more than two years ago, Premo.Dee has been making strides with respect to developing his sound. His recent string of releases prior to Satellite.Blvd were extremely promising, as each showcased a different side of Premo’s artistic capabiities. Satellite.Blvd is where he really ties everything together, with each of the EP’s five tracks being a fitting addition to his discography.
Featuring Van Buren’s Saint Lyor, Lord Felix, and Jiles, in addition to James Boy — Premo.Dee included the perfect cast of individuals to bring this body of work to fruition. Some notable standouts on this release are “Watch It” and “How We Get Here” as both of these songs do a superb job at detailing why Premo.Dee is as promising as an artist as he is. If you’re a fan of Satellite.Blvd, be sure to listen to Premo’s verse on Briefcvse’s new album as well.
Wherever you find yourself in this current moment — close your eyes and take some deep breaths. Think about the moments in your life that have brought you tremendous amounts of joy and tranquility. Search for that peace that lies within you. Can you feel it yet? That overwhelming sensation of joy that seemingly seizes control of whatever negative emotion that surrounds you? It’s beautiful isn’t it? Let all of your problems and worries melt away. Even if you only close your eyes for five seconds, you’ll notice a tremendous amount of change in how you’re feeling.
This change in thought is what drives Plymouth’s Jack Karowak to make music. No matter who you are, or what you’re going through — we all need a break from the daily challenges that we endure throughout the course of our lives. The Myth of the Mechanical Universe serves as a sonic embodiment of this. Sitting at 9 songs and approximately 27 minutes in length, Jack Karowak’s latest release seeks to provide the listener with the motivation to be in full-control of their lives, and subsequently their destiny. Though this is only the second body of work to be released by Jack up through this point in time, it packs the depth of someone who’s had an incredibly long tenure in music.
I took some time to speak with the Plymouth native about what motivated The Myth of the Mechanical Universe, how Ricky Felix and Brad Feeney played a role in the project’s inception, and his path towards showcasing a free-range of emotion in his discography.
When starting your journey towards the creation of ‘The Myth of the Mechanical Universe’, what were some of your early goals with respect to how you envisioned this album?
Jack: Sonically, I wanted it to embody all the elements of music that I love the most. I wanted it to sound refreshing to the listener and provide an experience you wouldn’t really find on any other album. Another goal of mine was to show a side of me that wasn’t fully expressed in my first project. I wanted this one to really show the range in my music
What were some of your sources of inspiration when making this project?
Jack: I was listening to a lot of philosophical/spiritual lectures from Alan Watts, Ram Dass, Terrence McKenna, and Hunter Thompson. Musically, I was inspired by people like Lauryn Hill, Earl, John Mayer, and a lot of old blues and soul music. I also drew a lot of inspiration from horror movies, specifically A24.
There’s a long list of names attached with the creation of this album, however both Ricky Felix and Brad Feeney were staples throughout the entire project’s tracklist. How did they assist you in molding the sonic structure of ‘The Myth of the Mechanical Universe’?
Jack: This project wouldn’t exist without Ricky and Brad. I linked up with Ricky for the first time about a year ago, and right when he started playing me shit I knew our sounds would mix perfectly. Ricky is a great producer because he started off the session by asking questions, trying to get a clear picture of the idea in my head. He wanted to help me make my project, not *just* a project. Brad has been the homie, and my engineer, for about 4 years now. I recorded the both of my projects with him, slowly but surely finding my sound and figuring out how to execute ideas in the studio. I got nothing but love for that man, he’s been putting up with me calling his phone, waking him up for 9AM sessions every other day for the past 2.5 years hahaha
What’s music-making process typically like? Do you prefer any specific settings when writing?
Jack: Yeah I definitely like to be alone when I’m writing, I feel like the more people there are, the further my attention gets spread and pulled around. When I’m alone I can really settle into an idea and move freely inside that train of thought.
If you had to single out one song from this album as being your favorite, or the one that you want fans to listen to the most, which would you pick?
Jack: I’d have to say Playing in traffic. That song felt like it made itself. Writing it was very therapeutic and I had never articulated my feelings in lyrics so easily. It almost felt like I was singing along to it as I was writing it. Not to mention pfey laid down an incredible bass line on that track
Has it always been easy for you to pour your real life emotions and experiences into your music?
Jack: I think so because emotion has always been the thing that drew me to music. Regaurdless of the story I always looked for and admired authenticity in artists. Emotion is the thing that connects the artist and the listener and if your trying to cover up certain regions of your emotion then you cheat everyone involved
How would you say being from Plymouth, and Massachusetts in general, has effected you as a person, and subsequently the music you create?
Jack: I think it’s inspired me to just create the shit I’m into. Growing up in MA there wasn’t a huge music scene to look up to, so I pulled my inspirations from all over the place, their only consistency being that they resonated with me. Now the city is starting to get a little bigger on the map and it’s beautiful. There’s a big collaborative mentality, and one person’s success is celebrated by all. I think the main effect it had on me was teaching me to trust my ear.
What do you want your listeners to get from your musical catalog? What message do you want to relay on ‘The Myth of the Mechanical Universe’?
Jack: I hope the listeners get whatever they need, whether it’s just a three minute escape from their own head, or they end up walking away with new ideas about life. Listening to Ram Dass, I noticed that another person introducing new ways of thought provides you with the freedom to identify with it, and see yourself from a whole new perspective. The message behind TMOTMU, to put it simply, is don’t be Mechanical. Mechanical means you ain’t thinking about what your doing, you’re just bouncing around imaginary social structures and reacting to life as opposed to responding to it. You ain’t in the moment and using your full awareness. The Myth is that nature is the same way but that couldn’t be further from the truth.
What’s next for you?
Videos and merch otw ✌🏽
Listen to The Myth of The Mechanical Universe below:
Brevin Kim, a duo of brothers from the Greater Boston area, release “swim!” and announce that they have a collab EP with Lil West that’s set to drop this upcoming Friday.
Consistent with the majority of the pair’s discography, both Bren and Cal play somewhat of a balancing act throughout “swim!”. Bren sings with an overwhelmed, almost aching torment that revolves around the various hurdles that life throws one’s way. Just when his thoughts seem to spiral out of control, Cal arrives with the important reminder to “swim” as Bren belts out, “it’s hard to forget, when you’re focused on forgetting”. Not only does their lyricism evoke a vast amount of emotion, but the manner in which they deliver these lyrics takes that feeling and expands it exponentially. In short, “swim!” is a powerful anecdote that emphasizes the necessity to persevere through the depths of life’s tumultuous moments. No matter how bad things may seem — we can never give up.