An Interview With Twayne The Kidd

An Interview With Twayne The Kidd

By: Seamus Fay

You may know him from one of his famed KIDD.FM exclusives, you may know him from one of his two placements on Big Leano’s latest project, Packula, or you may just know him from his widely-respected stature within Boston’s budding community of talent. Regardless of how you heard the name Twayne The Kidd, however, there’s no denying that he’s getting ready to take things to the next level in 2018. Between a relentless balance of work ethic and natural talent, the opportunities are sure to present themselves in a short matter of time, and deservedly so.

We here at Graduation Music have been keeping track of Twayne The Kidd for almost a year now, and considering the abundance of potential that he holds, it only made sense for us to get him on the site for an interview. That being said, we spoke to him recently about topics ranging from his upbringing to making a movie soundtrack, and everything in between.

You can read the interview below.


Where did grow up? What was your childhood like?

I grew up in New London, a small town in Southeastern Connecticut. I lived there until 7th grade then I transferred schools to live with my dad in Groton.

When did you first connect with music and what artists inspired you early on?

I have always been a creative since I was 8 years old. I had an IBM Thinkpad from my grandma and I used to record my raps through Windows Sound Recorder. I was heavily influenced by The Low End Theory album from ATCQ, it was all that I would listen to on my PSP. I started making more raps in 8th grade and started releasing music under the name “Amusers.” I found Fruity Loops Studio 9 on YouTube one day and I downloaded a demo and tried it out. I learned how to sample and it was a wrap after that! I’ve been using FL Studio ever since.

Top 3 producers of all time?

Kanye West, Pharrell, CardoGotWings.

Where do you look to for inspiration when making beats?

I try to play video games from my childhood like SSX 3 or Sonic Heroes to feel nostalgia. I do this to capture that feeling people are familiar with, but I try to add a modern touch to it. Primarily the reason why I use the Capcom jingle in most of my beats.

If you could go back and create your own soundtrack for one movie, what movie would it be and why?

Above The Rim! I feel like a Twayne The Kidd soundtrack would sound crazy on it because I would make a killer theme song for Bishop.

What is your DAW of choice and why?

FL Studio 12. The step sequencer is easy and quick to get my ideas down.

When/how did you meet Big Leano and how did your two placements on Packula come together?

3A.M. I tagged Tee-WaTT on one of my beats I posted on Twitter. He followed me and then hit me up about working with Big Leano. He gave me his email and then I just sent some beats back and forth. Leano replied back to me each time and then eventually gave me his number. I sent him the beat for “Two” and “Talk Show” over the summer and he hit me back with the records right away.

What is your proudest accomplishment in music so far and why?

Getting linked up with my manager Maine. I’m happy to finally have representation and others who believe in me. I’ve been laughed at and doubted for making music since I started, so I’m happy everyone can see my vision.

Lastly, what can fans expect from Twayne The Kidd in 2018?

Collab project with Big Leano, more KIDD.FM exclusives, and major placements soon!


Connect with Twayne The Kidd on:

SoundCloud

Instagram

Twitter

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An Interview With Stripes III

An Interview With Stripes III

By: Seamus Fay

I vividly remember my first interaction with the name Stripes III. It was directly after the release of his debut EP, Baby Flame, and once hearing such a cohesive, artful approach to music, I quickly realized this was an artist that I simply had to keep an eye on. And now, just over 7 months removed from this first impression, Stripes has done nothing but work to fulfill the potential shown so early in his career, making his whole city proud and beginning his inevitable rise to the top.

Aside from this, as you may have heard, Pusha T recently stumbled upon Stripes’ music and contacted him via social media. Following up throughout the past few weeks, the Boston native has been in talks with the likes of Pusha himself, Steven Victor, and more, in hopes of reaching a deal in the very near future. Considering these recent events as well as the ample supply of talent that this rising star holds, Graduation Music figured there would be no better time to connect with Stripes to figure out how his career in music came together.

That being said, enjoy our interview with Stipes III below!


Where are you originally from and what was your childhood like?

I’m originally from Sandusky, Ohio. We ain’t got shit but an amusement park and water slides, lol.

Growing up, what artists were you listening to that inspired you to make music yourself?

From a baby until like 6, I only resonated with Michael Jackson forreal. That basically transitioned into R&B until about the age of 10, then once I heard Lil Wayne I left Earth.

Where does the name “Stripes III” come from?

The name “Stripes III” comes from my second home: Boston, MA – Grove Hall, to be exact. But you know like the “3 for the stripes” throwback Boston slang, I guess it’s an Adidas thing.

Lyrically, you tend to translate your life experiences into verses. How has living in Boston influenced your music?

Thanks, and Boston basically made me learn how to rap like “yo yo uh check it” lol – boom bap shit. I believe that’s essential to the culture, but more than anything I’m influenced by my niggas. I love my brothers.

Describe your sound to someone who has never heard your music before.

I pretty much sound like I’m on fire in the booth, like literally. I be in there blowing n shit, lol… super saucy, super slutty at times, but it also makes you feel something. I’m always open to growth, though. Gotta stay fresh, ya dig.

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Describe the process of making your Baby Flame EP. How did that project come about?

The whole Baby Flame EP was like 5-track click bait, lol. Super fun, pink vibes showcasing my range of talent n shit. But it’s offline now, I’ll be putting those songs back out soon.

In the past, you have released two remixes of songs from Frank Ocean’s Blonde. What does that album mean to you and how does it inspire you?

It’s crazy because I lowkey remixed all the tracks on Blonde in 2 days just so I could have a real first listen, like in detail. Shit’s so beautiful.

What Boston artists inspire you?

Lowkey the artists that inspire me from Boston are Teamarrr, OG DOMO, cWave$, Boogie Da God, Chi, Alejandro Blanco, Bully, Maka, Tony Bodega, Pistola, Bouve (Booty Bae), and so many more. Can’t even get into all the wild producers and videographers, but those are just some of my favorite musicians off top. BIA’s my all time favorite, though, lol. Grammy family, respect it! <333

What are your top three dream collaborations?

Dylan, Dylan, Dylan.

Lastly, what can fans expect from Stripes III in the rest of 2018?

A full-fledged fire, lol. But forreal, I don’t exactly know at the moment. I’m just going with the flow, trusting my journey and where it leads me. Recently been in connection with Pusha T, too. He has shown nothing but love, man, kinda taking me under the wing in a way and introducing me to a lot of his people. You know, setting me up for the win, lol.


Connect with Stripes III on:

Spotify Releases Vintage Lee “FLOW Freestyle”

Spotify Releases Vintage Lee “FLOW Freestyle”

By: Seamus Fay

In celebration of Women’s History Month, Spotify has been putting together a series of FLOW freestyles from some of our favorite female artists. On that list, of course, is none other than the Roxbury pimp herself, Vintage Lee. In the video posted by the Spotify Twitter below, Lee jumps in for a quick freestyle, making sure to communicate her unmistakable charisma and seamless flows, bar after bar. You can watch it below.

In other news, Vintage Lee was also just featured on Fact Mag with a new interview discussing her musical origins, Boston origins, aspirations for the future, personality, some gems about branding herself, and much more. Show some love to the rising star by reading the article here.

“When people bump my music, I want them to think of just getting your bag. Or if you’re in your feelings, hop out your feelings, go get it, feel motivated.”

 

TuneIn Interviews Michael Christmas

TuneIn Interviews Michael Christmas

By: Seamus Fay

As fans await his forthcoming album, Michael Christmas has been diligently working, even heading out to LA last week to record some music as well as do an interview with the esteemed TuneIn podcast. Over just a half an hour and some change, Christmas and the interviewer are able to cover a number of topics including his childhood, wrestling, touring with Logic and Mac Miller, who we can expect on his new album, Lollapalooza, and more.

All in all, it captures the vibrant personality of this rising star while offering listeners a number of hilarious anecdotes and gems along the way. Be sure to listen to Michael Christmas’s latest interview below and tell him congratulations for hitting a million views on the “Not The Only One” video!

An Interview With REEF

An Interview With REEF

By: Seamus Fay

Tagged by his ever-important slogan, “Music is Energy”, REEF is a Boston-based DJ for Cousin Stizz and producer known for enthusiastic performances and an unrivaled ear in curating mixes for any mood. In my own experiences, his infectious personality yields memorable shows night in and night out, and considering the positive mindset that this young talent brings to the city, he’s destined to continue on the path towards great things in the near future.

We here at Graduation Music had the opportunity to speak to REEF about his come-up in the DJ world, touring, and more. Check out our interview with him below.


To start off, where are you originally from?

I am from Boston, MA, born and raised.

Who were you listening to at a young age?

I was listening to a lot of great music as a youth such as Michael Jackson, The Temptations, The Stylistics, James Brown, Jagged Edge, The Isley Brothers, Avant, Chris Brown, Sam Cooke, T.I., Kanye, 50 Cent, etc. The list goes on but those are just a few.

If you had to listen to one album for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?

Hmmm, that’s a hard question right there. I would have to go with Michael Jackson’s The Ultimate Collection because I always looked up to Michael Jackson. He loved everybody, was a true humanitarian, and made some of the most impactful music to this day.

At what point did you know that you wanted to become a DJ? How did you go about actually learning how to DJ?

You know what’s crazy? What really got me into DJing was playing DJ Hero when I was in middle school, but I didn’t start actually DJing until after high school.

I self-teach myself everything. I get inspired, then I focus.

How did you first meet Stizz?

It was around the Dojo days when we all use to hang out in the city when we wanted to get out of the hood to cleanse for a bit. I was just the cool youngin’ lol.

How did you become his DJ?

We were all chilling on Newbury – me, Stizz, Rah, Christmas, OG, etc. Christmas brought up the fact that it would be dope if I became Stizz’s DJ because at the time he didn’t have a fully committed DJ. So, I stacked up, got some equipment, and naturally, it went from there.

Name three food places in Boston that everyone needs to try.

Shittttt. There’s way more than that, but I would say Tasty Burger (Fenway Only), Silver Slipper (Roxbury), and Simco’s (Mattapan). There are many more, but those are my favorites.

Explain what “Music Is Energy” means to you.

Music Is Energy is a way of life. It’s a way we connect our energies within whether you’re playing a sport, running, dancing, singing, driving, relaxing, etc. Music gets us through so many obstacles in life and it’s all because of the artist’s and producer’s energy that they put into that track, just to sum it up a bit.

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What is your favorite city to visit on tour and why?

LA because I love cruising, listening to great music, and looking at nice houses that I will someday acquire. It’s inspiring and cleansing.

What is one story from the One Night Only Tour that you want to share with our readers?

Lol, too many long, hilarious stories.

What did Stizz’s sold-out show at the House of Blues mean to you?

The HOBs show meant that this isn’t the final curtain call; we all have so far to go and it’s only the beginning.

Was there a specific moment that made you realize how monumental that show was for Boston?

When Stizz’s dad came on stage and felt all that energy when the crowd screamed in joy. Amazing.

What can fans expect from REEF in 2018?

Music and visuals from REEF. I’m not going to say – instead, I’ll just do it.

Lastly, any advice for aspiring DJs and/or producers?

FEEL IT, THAT’S IT.

Thank you to REEF for the interview and thank you for always providing the city with such positive energy. Boston appreciates you. Can’t wait to see what you have in store for the rest of 2018.

Follow REEF on:

SoundCloud

Twitter

Instagram

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Shea Serrano Talks Cousin Stizz

Shea Serrano Talks Cousin Stizz

By: Seamus Fay

Shea Serrano is a man of many titles: former teacher, current best-selling author, basketball encyclopedia, father, husband, and the self-proclaimed “#1 Cousin Stizz fan in America”. He truly does it all, and with the substantial amount of Cousin Stizz-praising tweets and even articles that Serrano has offered throughout the years, it only made sense for us here at Graduation Music to ask him a few questions regarding Boston’s hometown hero.


How did you originally discover Cousin Stizz?

Someone sent his Suffolk County tape on Twitter when I asked if anyone had any good new music I should listen to. This was back in 2015, I think.

What are your top 3 favorite Stizz songs and why?

“Fed Up” is probably my favorite one because it arrived to my ears at a point in my life when I needed to hear it the most. “Doubted Me” is my second favorite for the same reason. And “Talk” is probably my third favorite, mostly because it feels like a very good encapsulation of what a Cousin Stizz is.

You can only keep one – Suffolk CountyMONDAOne Night Only. Which project would you choose to keep and why?

One Night Only is the best Cousin Stizz tape, but my personal preference is Suffolk County because I have a personal emotional connection to it.

If you had to compare Stizz to an NBA player, past or present, who would it be and why?

I would probably say somebody like James Harden, on account of how Harden makes the very difficult things he’s doing on the court look easy and effortless. That’s the way Stizz raps and builds songs. You hear them and you go, “Oh, everyone can do this,” but then you see people try and go, “Oh shit. Wait. This is terrible.”

If you could choose any artist, past or present, to collaborate with Stizz on a song, who would it be and why?

The perfect Stizz collaboration would be Cousin Stizz featuring Cousin Stizz.

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Thank you to Shea Serrano for taking the time to do this interview and for the tremendous love that you have shown to Boston’s own. 

Follow Shea Serrano and his FOH army on:

Twitter

Instagram

An Interview With Malcolm Gray

An Interview With Malcolm Gray

Story and Images by Malakhai Pearson

Edited by Etenish Abebe

As some may already know, Malcolm Gray has been a heavy hand behind the Boston music scene for some time now. He has been (and always will be) an avid supporter and influencer for music culture in Boston and beyond. Gray is also one of the original founders of cllctv.us, the full-service creative agency that hosts one of Boston’s best dance parties, The Wave, and writes for Live Nation’s Ones to Watch. Now based in Los Ageless, Malcolm is a social media manager with Live Nation and continues to have a presence in the national music scene.

While he was in town for thefour year anniversary of the Wave, I got the chance to sit down and chop it up with Malcolm about the beginnings of cllctv.us, The Wave and how the music scene has changed in Boston.


MP: How did cllctv.us get started?

MG: I met everyone almost five years ago. Paul (or Yvng Pavl as most people know him) gathered a group of creatives, artists, photographers and DJ’s in the city. We wanted to come together to fill a void in terms of a creative space in Boston. We planned to build a space where creatives could come and not only listen to music but to also collaborate with one another.

Around that time, I had a friend who had spent some time in LA. When she came back, she told me how poppin’ the day parties were out there. That’s when we realized we wanted to try something like that here in Boston because no one was doing anything like it. We just said, why not?

MP: You used to work at Emerson’s radio station too right?

MG: Yeah, so I went to Emerson for grad school and I got on the radio program in 2011. In the early days, the station was the unofficial meeting spot for cllctv.us. Me getting the job there was really random, I just sort of stumbled into it. The popular stations then were ones like 88.9 WERS and had programs like ROCKERS (the legendary Reggae show). While I was at the station I was trying to engage with the local scene as much as possible – going to events whenever I could. I wanted to connect local artists with radio airplay and I was successful in doing so. In my second year with the station, I became the urban program director.

I was with 88.9 for about three years and then station ended up switching initiatives, ultimately cutting the hip-hop and the Reggae shows. I had done so many interviews during my time there just trying to bring a voice to the new scene that was coming up.

MP: Ok, so that party became “The Wave” – why did the team decide on that name?

MG: We sat down and started brainstorming names and we were listening to a lot of Max B – classics. So the wave just felt right. We didn’t want to overthink it…

“Free Max B.”

After that we threw the first one in January of 2014 – 75 of our friends and family came out to that. We just kept going from there.

MP: What was the Boston music scene like when you first started The Wave four years ago?

MG: Four years ago Boston was just finally starting to make waves on the internet, coming off the heels of the hip-hop stuff from12 for 12… it was starting to get national attention from the big blogs like PnP, XXL. It was good to see early Stizz at that time, Michael Christmas, and a bunch of other people, too.

Around then, we were finally starting to see some of the acts breakthrough a level outside the Boston showcase circuit. It’s crazy to see where it is now. Five years ago a lot of people probably wouldn’t believe that Stizz would sell out the House of Blues (even though he might have told you otherwise). It has grown tremendously and it has been great to watch everything grow and mature so organically.

MP: How do you go about booking acts for the wave?

MG: I’m very tapped into music,  I go to events in LA and New York so I see what people are listening to. A lot of my friends are DJs so I ask them what they are into. I’m really paying attention. I’m also digging on SoundCloud all the time. I talk to our crew, too, to see who they want to bring in – so it’s a balance between a lot of different factors.

MP: Why is curation important?

I think Boston gets a bad rap for not being “cool” and that’s not anyone’s fault. But there are people here who do know what a good vibe is and we throw events for them. A lot of other venues won’t bring the DJs that we bring in because it won’t fit their audience. There’s also a part of Boston that just wants to hear top 40 and that’s fine, but we do it for people who have an eclectic taste in music – we do it for them.

When I was 21, I didn’t have something like The Wave to come out to. If I did, who knows – cllctv.us could have started way earlier. The Wave is what it is because it’s a space for creatives to come together and chop it up, dance, have fun and hopefully create and build on some ideas. We want the next cool app to come from The Wave, the next dope event. We would like anyone working on something creative in the city to come. At the party there aren’t sections or VIP – it’s everyone in the same room on the same level.  

Cllctv.us is for sure a passion project. It’s more of a service than anything. We are doing this because we know there are people who want something else that’s not always available in Boston.