Leo The Kind – “No Drama”

Leo The Kind – “No Drama”

By: Seamus Fay

Simply put, Leo The Kind is a star. We’ve featured him on our pages here at Graduation Music in the past, and yet, with every successive release, it seems as if he only sharpens his skills and gives us something entirely new to be obsessed with. Leo’s ranging talents of crisp instrumentation, versatile sonic direction, and undying energy can be compiled into an entire catalog of incredible releases, and today, he’s here yet again to add to the list with “No Drama”. But before we get into this one, I will say that, in all honesty, it might just be my favorite offering from Leo The Kind to date. And that’s saying something.

As the title denotes, “No Drama” is a step away from the annoyances and social dramaticism that we encounter on a regular basis. Leo is proclaiming his status as an introvert, and by backing this up with a marvelous lyrical performance that speaks of just how much he avoids the negativity, it’s no wonder why he seems to be so lively in his deliveries. The authentic exuberance and intoxicating sounds that we hear on “No Drama” remind us of why this rising talent holds the status as such a galvanizing young artist, and with that being said, this is one of the best songs I’ve heard of Massachusetts in 2018.

Listen to “No Drama” at the link below:

Rob Valentine – “Free Fall” [Prod. MLJ]

Rob Valentine – “Free Fall” [Prod. MLJ]

By: Seamus Fay

Quite possibly the best part of my job writing for Graduation Music is finding out about new, fairly undiscovered talents that aren’t receiving the shine they deserve quite yet. This leads to perfect opportunities to assist the artists and put their music on our pages, and today, we offer our readers yet another gem of a find with Boston-based act, Rob Valentine. Sent to me by none other than @gregisonfire, Valentine is here to make his Graduation Music debut by way of his new single, “Free Fall” — and trust me, if there’s any way for him to make an impactful entrance into the ears of potential fans, this song will certainly do the trick.

The main reason that caused “Free Fall” to strike me as a special release was the way that each element is assembled together in such a seamless manner. Not only do the bellowing vocals lightly graze right alongside stellar production from MLJ, but lyrically, this piece lets out true emotion without ever losing the attention of the listener. Maintaining this natural capability as an entertainer will certainly do Rob Valentine well in the future, and this song is the perfect example of just how well he is able to effectively bring to fruition a piece that impresses both lyrically and sonically.

I could go on about this one all day, but be sure to click play on”Free Fall” at the link below and get hip to Rob Valentine’s deep arsenal of talent!

Lance Jackson – “Lifeline” [Prod. Auntie004]

Lance Jackson – “Lifeline” [Prod. Auntie004]

By: Seamus Fay

If there exists any artist that embodies the value of self-improvement, it has to be Lance Jackson. Every new release from this rising talent showcases a noticeable bout of refined artistry, and today, Jackson is here on Graduation Music to show us the result of all of his hard work with a brand new single entitled “Lifeline”. And trust me, if you weren’t hip to Randolph’s own before now, this is the song that will undoubtedly get you hooked.

Produced by Auntie004, this song acts most impactfully as a testament towards the sonic direction that Lance Jackson’s career is pointing in. He makes unique, alluring music that listeners can connect to with ease, and amidst knocking drums, dense lyricism, and charismatic deliveries, there truly isn’t a low point in “Lifeline”. The song is both entertaining and highly passionate, so be sure to show some love to one of the most promising young acts in MA right now.

Listen to “Lifeline” at the link provided below:

Mizzie Ca$h – “BOTJ” [Prod. Corey Lingo & iKnowShellz]

Mizzie Ca$h – “BOTJ” [Prod. Corey Lingo & iKnowShellz]

By: Seamus Fay

Anyone who has been following Graduation music for some time now clearly knows the name Mizzie Ca$h. This Boston native has taken over headlines many times with a consistent supply of memorable singles, and today, he’s here to make his presence known yet again with a brand new offering entitled “BOTJ”. It’s been a short minute since we last heard new music from the young talent, but with his latest, Mizzie informs us all that not only is he “back on the juug” as the title denotes, but he’s better than ever, with an arsenal of hits to back it up.

Produced by Corey Lingo and iKnowShellz, “BOTJ” hits the ground running from the very opening notes by way of ominous yet mesmerizing melodies and a drum pattern that demands listeners to nod their heads. Each successive repetition of the beat feels more infectious than the last, and complemented by Mizzie’s street-inspired lyricism and confident stature, there’s no reason not to keep this single on repeat. The summer is just getting started, and one of Boston’s youngest stars is here to take over.

Listen to “BOTJ” at the link below:

[PREMIERE] DJ Chuck ft. NLITEN & jakilace – “Brave” + A Conversation with NLITEN

[PREMIERE] DJ Chuck ft. NLITEN & jakilace – “Brave” + A Conversation with NLITEN

By: Shamus Hill 

NliteN returns to the Graduation Music pages today alongside both his uncle and sister, DJ Chuck and jakilace, with a record that circulates itself around being both brave and free. A very fitting theme for Juneteenth, NLITEN, whose music grows more versatile and thorough by the day, has delivered once again. I spoke with NLITEN about making music with his family, the significance of Juneteenth, and what he’s been up to as of late. Read the conversation, and listen to “Brave” below:

What have you been up to since graduating from UMass Amherst? 

That’s a loaded question haha. In the 5 months since graduating college…I’ve really just been networking and learning how to become a better musician, son/brother/family man, and person. I was both John Legend’s and Bryan Stevenson’s personal assistant for a few hours, and that was pretty dope. Otherwise, just creating the best art that I can make, and rubbing pennies together to feed myself. 

What was the driving factor behind leaving Massachusetts? Was it entirely based in music? How has it been adapting to such a dramatic change? 

Do you believe in destiny? lol, jkjk. But really, since I was 3 years old my biggest dream was to move to California. Once I was free from university, I really didn’t give myself a choice besides to follow my dream. It just kinda happened that, at that time, I was in the heat of trying to become the best rapper I could become. Dramatic? Kindaaa…yeah. I’m still kind of walking the line between homeless and pro couch surfer, because whenever I have a few bucks I’m calculating risks to invest in my dream. I’ve paid no less in total rent than $950 every month, which equals a meal or less a day at times. That dramatic enough? 

Your first release of 2018 was “Mother’s Day”, an ode to your mother who played a highly impactful role in your life. What did it mean to you, personally, to put that record out there? Has she always influenced your music? 

My mother means everything to me. I’m a momma’s boy and I’ll admit it! But growing up she never told us what we were going through, she just went through it for me and my older brother and sister. So when it comes to paying it back…it’s legit impossible. There’s a line where I say “Imma make it so you get that lil pad with the garden in the back / know we good now so you’d never let me pay you back / but I have to” and that basically saying….she bossed up! And although I owe her my world, she’s such a powerful woman that she went out and got it her damn self! My mother and family in general have been the biggest musical influencers that I have. Father and aunt are traveling musicians. My sister, @jakilace, is a recording artist as of 5 days ago. Brother has been singing and acting for as long as I can remember. Its all love, family, and music.

 Your latest release, “Brave”, features both your Uncle and your sister, making the track a true family affair. For how long now have the two of them been making music? Does your creative process remain the same when your family is brought into the equation? Do you plan on continuing this effort to produce records with your own family members? 

They have both been making music since before I was born. It’s in our nature to make records. My uncle (DJ Chuck) has DJ’d all over the world and has fans internationally. When we were kids he used to DJ for Hot 97 in NY and when we visited, we would drive around the city in the HOT 97 van (which of course had no AC) and just bump the station live around the city. The creative process with my sister (Jakilace) and uncle was actually an experiment…that went near flawlessly. We came back from this lit karaoke event, I sat down and made the beat. My sister lead me with the concept because she was reading about a positive pre-sleep meditation practice, which is to list your decisions made from Fear in one column and the decisions made from Bravery in another. I embedded that in the beat. My uncle came upstairs to the stu and I was singing the hook. He goes “Lets record it!” puts on the headphones and goes in! He mixed that…I wrote my verse…recorded that, While I recorded, my sister fleshed out her verse. I put down a rough mix and changed some arrangement pieces. Then we went to sleep, woke up. My uncle put some final touches on the mix and boom! I would love to continue making music with my family. I believe if you can find peace with your family you can learn to find peace anywhere in the world. And I know we touched that in the making of this track. I’m no one to say it will always run smoothly…because family is family, but damn it feels good to be in sync like that!

The message that rings most prominent throughout “Brave” is “I don’t wanna be a slave”. In 2018, what’s the significance of this line? Are there any personal experiences that helped to shape this message, or does it speak more to the current state of the world in which we live in? 

It is what it is. Slavery is systemic. There’s a narrative of color and inferiority that we continue to perpetuate in our culture. We are enslaved physically, having to work minimum wage jobs that are typically heavy on the manual labor. We are enslaved mentally. Check this: just yesterday I realized that I have been the token black guy my whole life. Brought up in Boston, I was one of, if not, the only black person in my classes growing up (K1-through college). Without realizing it, that mentality became so engraved in my mind and person that everywhere I went, I felt like the only black person. It’s the “House Nigga” complex. But it’s 2018. Black people learn to hate you because you’re as black as them but seem to be benefitting more. White people make you their servant. Also the while… “I don’t want to be a slave!!” just….like…you. 

Historically speaking, Juneteenth, is representative of the day in which the slaves present in Texas learned of their freedom from slavery. How does it feel to release such an important, meaningful song on such a significant day? 

It was an accident. I believe that god has a plan. And we may not always know that it’s happening, but there are instances like this where you make a song, and then check the calendar for release dates and boom: The most historic day of liberation for a region of people is coming up! It feels like being in the right place at the right time. 

How has traveling around the world helped to shape your perception of the Boston music scene? Comparatively speaking, where would you say Boston ranks amongst the other “big” players such as Los Angeles and New York? 

In all honesty, it’s shown me how entitled Boston artists are. Everyone thinks that their lil clique is the one that’s gonna “put the city on”. Everyone feels like their the hottest in the city (myself included). But niggas rarely LEAVE the city. RAMS made a post on Twitter yesterday saying “niggas act like the world isn’t bigger than your city” and it’s a fact. I commented “is not” (with a bunch of shamrocks) as a joke, but it’s for real. If you never leave, you will always feel like that! Boston….Massachusetts…New England…its a non-factor. We can claim Cousin Stizz, and there are a bunch of independent artists making moves, but there’s no infrastructure for a scene. No agents. No label A&Rs finding and developing new raw talent. It’s crabs in a barrel. New York and LA are, geographically, just way bigger. 

What advice would you give to any readers out there working on ventures of their own? 

You have to be willing to take risks. And start early. A lot of us are still looking for our passions, but if you are blessed to know at any point, pursue it relentlessly! I was already on stage performing with Wale over a year ago. I took a risk to move to LA where I had no traction. Why take this risk? In my head, opportunities are not a limited resource. At some point, if you stay focused and hone your craft, you will get a chance to take the stage…then it’s just a question of how prepared you are. Put your faith in something: God, self, love…and RUN WITH IT! 

If there’s a single piece of advice you could give to a younger version of yourself, what would that advice be? 

Give less fucks! Speak your mind. Have more fun. Don’t stop listening to people. Don’t overthink. You are going to make it…but you have to want it more than anything. No one said it was gonna be easy.

What can we expect next from NliteN?

100K followers. Platinum & gold records. A few Grammys. A lot of pictures of family and people of color being fabulously successful and happy. 

Augmented Reality Is Here To Take Over: An Interview With Fermatta Digital

Augmented Reality Is Here To Take Over: An Interview With Fermatta Digital

By: Seamus Fay

Simply put, augmented reality, or AR, is a clear glimpse into what the future of marketing and visuals in the music world are on their way to becoming. This mind-bending technology has graced its way into our lives in ways that we may not even have realized so far, and even in the Massachusetts music scene, we experienced a taste of the AR world with the following animation of Caliph and Jefe Replay’s anthemic offering, “The Mood”.

With this rapidly-growing field of technology on the rise right now, we spoke to the good people over at Fermatta Digital about how the Caliph animation came together, the role of AR in the music world, and the future/potential of such impressive new ways of packaging music.

Read our conversation below.



What role will AR play in the music industry in the future?

Augmented Reality blurs the lines between physical and digital worlds, providing a transformative, new medium for creatives to express themselves. From a music industry standpoint, we at Fermatta see a tremendous opportunity for musicians and labels to harness the power of AR to create innovative experiences to between artist and fan. This can come in many forms such as immersive lenses to bring a music video or album “to life”, applications that enhance live shows, merchandise, album covers, show posters,  and experiences. AR can be a disruptive force in marketing and branding, especially as companies such as Snapchat lower the barrier to creation and deployment. One of the most exciting parts of this is that we are in early stages of AR and it’s up to creatives of where they want to take it.

An interesting hypothesis we have is that AR will strengthen the emotional bonds between fans and artists, which then turns into digital engagement and financial support. It’s well known in the music industry that live shows are still the best form of marketing – this is largely because of the undeniable emotional connection that fans develop with artists once they’ve seen them perform live. Being in the same room and seeing the artist as human beings turn fans into avid supporters and drives their online habits such as streams, sales, and engagement on social media. AR can play a similar role, but at scale – allowing the artist to be “with” fans anywhere, at any time. For example, placing an avatar of the artist in a fan’s environment to sing, dance, or talk, or creating a portal that allows fans to enter a new environment with the artist. The more time spent “together” between fan and artist, the stronger the bond.

Where has the impact of AR been seen in the music industry already?

AR is slowly emerging with early adopters within the music industry. In the context of Snap lenses, we recently launched an immersive portal on Snapchat for Powers Pleasant, Joey Bada$$ and A$AP Ferg to promote their latest single: “Pull Up”, bringing the JMP-directed video to life in AR (shout-out to JMP who is also from Boston). We have seen this spread very organically with fans on social uploading videos of them using and interacting with the portal wherever they are. You can check that out here.

We are also seeing new ARSnap face lenses to support new singles. Post Malone released one in support of his new album (here), LSD (Labrinth, Sia, Diplo) released one in support of their new single (here), and The Chainsmokers released avatar based lens (here). A$AP Rocky released an AR component in his mobile application “Yammy Vision” in promotion of his new album Testing (here). Finally, Eminem released an AR application that allows his fans to experience his live shows differently (here).

How did this collaboration with Caliph come together?

Caliph: Music has always been a means of communication beyond any language that can reach people with little to no limits and technology has a very similar reach in many ways. I being an immigrant, DACA recipient and an artist feel like it’s my responsibility to use these means of communication to bring people together, change the narrative and stigmas put on our communities and teach people to love themselves. The mood is an example of that for me. It has always been my goal with that song to improve and lighten the listener’s mood no matter what they are going through. In activism, it is important to know when to back down from constantly fighting to focus on helping those you are fighting for cope with their issues. Whether it’s a break from reality with an enigmatic and euphoric song or even an AR lens that takes you to the beach no matter where you are. In this case, the goal was to achieve both and it turned out to be really cool. It also allowed me, someone who can’t leave the country, to virtually travel beyond my legal means and that was very dope. I was just dancing in the Dominican Republic. & Dubai the other day. That’s amazing. I’m excited about the future and what we will bring to the table as we continue to push beyond limits with the advancements of technology and our music.

Fermatta: Augmented Reality is still a new, somewhat foreign concept for the mainstream consumer. We were really interested in working with an artist that was forward thinking and saw the potential implications of AR even if the infrastructure is not fully materialized. Also, on a basic level, we wanted to partner with someone who made dope, meaningful music, because, at the end of the day, all of this is somewhat meaningless if the music isn’t there. Caliph checked all the boxes with the added bonus of being from the Boston area. “The Mood” is super catchy, and the perfect summer song. Beyond just the music though we were inspired by Caliph’s involvement in the community and politically, empowering marginalized and immigrant communities. We really thought it was a natural fit, and we are inspired to help Caliph spread his mission far and wide, so stay tuned for some more projects in the intersection of technology, music, and activism.

What does the process of creating something like this look like?

For a Snap portal lens like this, our process is pretty straight-forward. It typically starts with an open-ended brainstorm session where we all get together and bounce around ideas; if the goal is to enhance a music video or song, there is typically more structure given there is an environment or scene to pull from creatively. From there we see what is technically feasible given constraints (such as Snap file size limit), and build iteratively. Throughout the process, we have active, open dialogue with the artist and their team in order to ensure that we are bringing their vision to life.


Embrace the future and connect with Fermatta Digital on:

Twitter

Instagram

Maka – “WaveRunners”

Maka – “WaveRunners”

By: Seamus Fay

Maka is the kind of artist that always comes to the spotlight just when you need him most. His consistent supply of music never fails to keep us here at Graduation Music entertained, and right when we feel as if we need new Maka in our lives, there he is, ready to deliver. That being said, we are here to welcome the Cambridge native onto our pages today with his brand new single, “WaveRunners”. Simply put, the weather is warm, the sun is shining, and this song the cherry on top to the wonderful energy that the summer evokes.

Self-produced, “WaveRunners” speaks to the sonic atmosphere that Maka’s music seems to thrive in. Light melodies, graced with ambitious drum patterns and a playful mood to match, always complement his voice in the best way possible, and when this rising star is able to achieve this, there’s really no stopping him. Maka’s latest single lets the sun-soaked energy of his artistry grace the microphone both effortlessly and infectiously, and in such a way, we have received yet another banger to add to his long line of incredible music. And for that, especially in the summertime, we need to be grateful.

Listen to “WaveRunners” at the link below: