Cousin Stizz Talks His Sound, Boston, Social Media, & More With Power 106 LA

Cousin Stizz Talks His Sound, Boston, Social Media, & More With Power 106 LA

By: Seamus Fay

Fresh off of the release of the stellar new 3-pack EP, Cold Times, Cousin Stizz is the subject of every headline right now. He’s a star in the making and an undeniably captivating personality, so much so that it’s always a blessing when we receive a new interview with the Fields Corner native. Today, Stizz hits the Graduation Music pages alongside Power 106 Los Angeles, offering a question-and-answer video all about Boston, his influences, daily life, and much, much more.

Stizz has been quite active over the past month or so in terms of dropping music, so be sure to keep an eye out for more possibly on the way. And if you haven’t already, listen to Cold Times here and All Adds Up here!

Catching Up With WHYTRI

Catching Up With WHYTRI

By: Seamus Fay

When I first started conducting interviews for Graduation Music, the hardest part was discovering artists that were actually willing to take a chance on a small website and spend the time to answer a few questions. Not many people were reading the blog, the social media accounts had little to no following, and quite frankly, there wasn’t much reason for an artist to be excited about being featured on Graduation Music in the first place. However, an artist by the name of WHYTRI decided to take this chance early on, becoming the subject of our second ever interview (which you can read here).

Looking back at that moment, now nearly a year and a half later, I can’t help but be thankful for the growth that both WHYTRI and Graduation Music have undergone over time. TRI is making some of the best music he’s ever made, and now ready to unleash his newest project, ABP (A BAD PORNO) on September 30th, we decided that it would make perfect sense to catch up with our old friend and speak about things such as performing, creative process, inspiration, and much, much more.

Read the full conversation below.


WHYTRI! It’s been a minute since we last talked. How has life been? What has been going on lately?

DAWWWGG IT’S REALLY BEEN A GRIP! SMOOTH YEAR AND SOME CHANGE!!!

Life’s been weird, man, I won’t front – it’s been good, though. I’m very happy for all the blessings that came my way from shows to records I’ve been writing to the inspiration level-up from watching my friends and team grow. This 2018 was a WILD ride for me man. A bunch of valleys and peaks but we here, so I’m happy about that. I’m hoping to end this year as strong as I entered it, you feel me?

Thank you for also watching me throughout the time and keeping notice, man. That’s love for real. Lately, I’ve just been working on figuring out how I can level up music-wise and brand-wise. Looking at how WHYTRI can develop more of the fans and give them both the expected and the unexpected of where my head has been at.

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You’ve been fairly active with performing this past year. How important is live performance to you as an artist? Especially with the energetic nature of your music, I feel as though it definitely adds another dimension to the image. Can you expand on this?

Performing is VERY important to me man. I want to be like the new Bobby Brown. All the energy the crowd gives off helps push my music because I get excited to see how all my songs will do live — especially the ones I make with live performance in mind. Going down the line, the goal is to become a very strong touring act.

The WHYTRI image is definitely backed behind strong energy and live shows, so I’m definitely going to continue building on it by crafting better shows and making sure the music continues to hit HARD.

Musically, we’ve seen a lot of growth from you over the past few months. How would you describe the progress that you’ve made as an artist?

I appreciate that a lot man, I started this year kind of in my own head when it came to my music. I felt like I had to figure out what people wanted from me as an artist. So after KAHUNA I just focused on writing and cutting records, really absorbed into the craft. I eventually got to a point where my team was like don’t worry about what people want, just worry about what I want to say and what I  want to do and people will gravitate towards it.

I feel like I developed my own style of rapping very well and figured out my way of attacking records and crafting my best work every time. I’m less afraid to put out records, because now it’s like if I drop and it HITS, then word, let’s keep it moving. If it drops and it MISSES, then word, let’s keep it moving. I feel I have a great potential and I’m just focused on hitting that mark then surpassing it.

We need to talk about the new project. What has been your creative process throughout its making?

Well, this new project is actually a Digital Cassette tape, making it two sides. Sonically, I wanted to do something a bit different from KAHUNA but I also wanted to distribute it in a different way, as well. The first half of ABP holds fun, obnoxious, out-of-the-box energy all in your face. I love everything about it.

A lot of this inspiration came from watching old Bobby Brown videos while listening to records. I’m a huge Bobby Brown/James Brown fan because of their unapologetic attitudes and in-your-face approach to entertainment. It’s a level I aspire to meet. 

A lot of that touched this project. Also, the vibes of the late 70s/early 80s were so fire. I wanted to make something fun, bouncy and unapologetically myself while still being raw and loud. However, I also wanted to give it a little back-in-the-day type of vibe because so many people are focused on being “rockstars”. Just be yourself and you’ll be okay.

How did the idea for the tape originally come to mind?

ABP started from me being in the studio just cutting records and listening back. The project didn’t really coming into fruition till my sessions with C-SPRING. We made TIPTOEJOE & YERRR and I immediately wanted to turn it into a project. After that, I just continued cutting records and looking at other ones that could fit the energy. It wasn’t until I had a conversation with my friend Dexter who told me that records such as “SNORKEL” and “BITCHRUDUMB” were super raunchy and sexual but still funny and grimy that I really got the idea for the project. From there, the title punched me in the mouth and just felt like nothing I had ever heard of before, so I worked around it and created everything!

Sound-wise, what were your main inspirations for the project?

Bobby Brown and James Brown, bouncy melodies, and neck-breaking drums. I LOVE my drums bro — if the drums don’t punch you in the mouth, it’s not for me man. My focus for ABP was to just make a project full of bops. Something you can break your neck to, especially on the hooks. I actually did a lot more rapping on this project more than I expected to which was tight.  I also feel like ABP was my first attempt at trying to craft an album. I feel like each song flows into the next and sonically, it’s super cohesive — every idea has a solid start and finish. I’m working on treating my smaller projects like albums so that when I get to that album level it’ll be some great work.

What do you want listeners to get out of the tape? What does it tell us about WHYTRI and the direction that you’re headed?

I just want listeners to have fun. This is something to bump when your down and want to feel good again — get your spirits in a happy order, you feel me? This is me showcasing a lot of my personality and being real with myself while also telling some real stories. We live in a time where many aspects of life feel super serious, so I just want to put out some amusement and entertainment for everyone. Just know that when the B-Side hits it’ll be a completely different vibe from this one.

When you sit down and write a song, to what degree is personal experience of importance to the process? Your lyrics seem to dig quite deep, emotionally. How do you go about translating your emotion and life into lines on a song?

A big thing I wanted to work on this year was becoming more honest with myself.  With records like VOMITBWOY I feel like I’m starting to understand the importance of saying how you really feel because people truly appreciate that. Personal experience is very important to me because I don’t want to put out or write about experiences that aren’t me. I want to be as honest and genuine as possible in my records. My music isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, so I don’t expect everyone to like it, but I at least want to know that they will respect it which matters even more.

Lastly, what’s your personal favorite song on the project? Which song was the most fun to create and why?

GUESSWHOIDK  for SUUUUREEE! It was the first time me and my dawg BEATO got to do something together that wasn’t a show because he’s usually my DJ. That song came so organically — I was driving around and he FaceTimed me saying he had some heat. Played it over facetime I was like “oh yeah we need that”, drove up to Providence the next day, made the song, and laid it down. Me Beato and Nino, who helped bring the visual portions of ABP to life, looked at each other like “yeah, this is the one”. We ended up making it the single for the project. That record is just so tight. It reminds me of my version of Bobby Brown’s “Humpin Around”.


Get ready for the forthcoming release of ABP on 9/30 and connect with WHYTRI on:

SoundCloud

Instagram

Twitter

Catalyst For Growth: Underground Underdogs Takes On Boston

Catalyst For Growth: Underground Underdogs Takes On Boston

By: Seamus Fay

Boston is an interesting spot right now. As compared to just a few years ago, the city is going through a musical renaissance, but even so, Boston still falls under the radar when brought into the context of the national hip-hop stage. Half of the fight comes from finding artists who represent Boston to go out and spread the word to the rest of the country, while the other half arises from giving national, more accomplished acts a reason to hop on a plane to Boston in the first place.

Needless to say, it’s a work in progress, but thanks to a number of key figures in the music community, our city has made some monumental leaps toward growth in recent months.

Quite possibly the most prominent of these developments is last month’s Underground Underdogs show featuring Coldhart, Zubin, Horsehead, Fantasy Camp, a number of opening acts, and several special guests. Blending Boston artists with bigger names from several different parts of the country, this show gave people a reason to see what was happening in the city beyond the few standout acts they usually hear about. In such a way, Underground Underdogs provided a strong sense of community and further so, a chance for some native artists to really get their names out there — both of which brought over 300 people into one room where geographical identity was strong, positivity was ample, and a visual manifestation of the future of our city became a reality.

That said, it’s important to thank those who were behind such an important night for Boston. Although we here at Graduation Music were unable to attend, we spoke with the three central minds behind the show — Jack Angell, Nathan Copes, and Disorder Ming — all about how Underground Underdogs came together, the goal of the show, the future of Boston’s music community, and much, much more.

Show some love to these much-needed catalysts for growth and read the full conversations at the link below.


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Jack Angell (@jackimissyou)

Explain your role in the process of putting together the Underground Underdogs show. How and why did the idea of throwing a show come up in the first place?

So I definitely can’t take credit for throwing the show alone. My friend Nathan Copes, who has made a name for himself taking photos of GothBoiClique, came to me around July asking me if I wanted to throw a show with him. Being from Boston, I really wanted to throw a show here, since I’ve done shows in other cities already.  After we decided to start organizing it, I used my connections through the Underground Underdogs and Copes used his connections through photography to ask artists if they wanted to perform.

Once we booked everyone and finalized a lineup, our buddy Disorder helped get us the venue. After that, it was more or less just promotion, and I had a lot of help from my design team to make some great posters and videos — basically using our formula for promotion that we’ve done in the past. I felt like there was a such a demand for a show like this in Boston, and everyone involved just pursued this idea full speed. We completely did it ourselves.

You mentioned on Twitter that this is the first show you’ve thrown in an actual venue. What other places have you thrown shows in the past and how did it feel to see such a DIY vision turn into something that could sell out a 320+ person venue?

It’s honestly surreal going from a warehouse show in Watts, Los Angeles to a fully established venue in Boston. I loved that LA show, it was super gritty —  dirty subwoofers, broken mics, and even a kid in the crowd spray painted all the walls in the ‘venue’ lol. That show was just a group of 70 or so people that loved music. I also did a show in Chicago at another warehouse, but that was on a much bigger scale. It was a concert that transitioned into a party, and something like 600 people got into the show, but another 500 or so people were lined up and didn’t even get in. It was like a line for a nightclub or something, it was absolutely insane.

This Boston show was definitely nice being in a venue since I didn’t have to worry about security or soundcheck, and most importantly didn’t have to worry about the police showing up. Plus I’ve seen some great shows at the Sonia, so it’s one of my favorite venues.

Every show I’ve thrown has been unbelievable to me, since I never anticipated throwing shows in the first place (I don’t know what exactly I was anticipating with Underground Underdogs). Looking at a crowd of fans moshing and singing at the top of their lungs is one of the most rewarding feelings, knowing that you have a room full of people that are there because you had the idea to throw a concert. It’s pretty amazing to have people to come up to me and say that they had the best night of their lives or something like that, cause I really just feel like some dude who impulsively decided to put together a lineup that I wanted to see as a fan myself. It’s a beautiful feeling to see that these shows have a positive impact on others.

Boston isn’t necessarily known as a hub for rap music to the rest of the country, and it has certainly remained below the radar for rising talent in recent years. I suppose in this sense, I would definitely consider it an “Underground Underdog”. How did the idea of Underground Underdogs come together?

I’ve always been into music discovery, no matter what genre. I guess I would have been classified a hipster a couple years ago (I was a “you probably haven’t heard of them” headass). Eventually, I got into the SoundCloud scene in 2013/14. I was really into a lot of that stuff, whether it be in the GothBoiClique vein, SadBoys, or Goth Money. But Underground Underdogs started in my dorm room. Not a lot of people know this, but UU was only an online college radio show for a while. My roommate was applying to our college radio station do some indie rock show, and the idea of a “SoundCloud rap” hour came to mind.

After a while, I realized interviewing artists was something I was interested in. I did a couple interviews, and eventually bought the website domain. I had no idea what I was doing or how I was going to do it — I just kind of wanted to write about people that weren’t getting written about anywhere else, and to do it on a basis of talent, not pay-per-article type of shit. UU really was just a passion project that eventually became bigger than myself. I wouldn’t be here without some luck and a lot of help from the UU team.   

In your eyes, what does a show like this mean for Boston?

As you said earlier, Boston is a true Underground Underdog. I feel like everyone who gets successful gets out, or they leave and come back successful. I know people will disagree with me, but in my eyes, there’s not much opportunity here as far as music goes. Yet Boston has such a demand for a music scene and its already full of talented creatives doing what they love. The hip-hop scene nowadays is so URL, all online. I think a show like this is important since it gives people the opportunity to see their favorite artists in person. Once again, a show like this is bigger than me, it’s bigger than you. It’s just an example that a group of kids who really care about music can do something all by themselves — no promoters, no external help, no bullshit. I hope Boston recognizes that.

We don’t need to wait for anyone else to bring a music scene here, we literally can create it ourselves. It’s surely not going to be easy, it’ll be stressful, and you’ll make mistakes on the way, but it’s possible to manifest your aspirations and make it a reality.


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Nathan Copes (@nathancopes_)

Explain your role in the process of putting together the Underground Underdogs show. How and why did the idea of throwing a show come up in the first place?

My role in putting together the show was putting together part of the lineup and funding the event. I hit up my friends Coldhart and Horsehead to see if they would be interested in a doing a Boston show and then Jack [Angell] and I hit up our friends in the music community and built the lineup from there. Jack and I were talking about doing an Underground Underdogs show for 2 months before pulling the trigger on it.

In your own words, what is the mission of Underground Underdogs?

We would like to have more shows like this in the future and are already in the midst of talking about who will be apart of it. The fact that we hit capacity so early in the night just shows that these types of lineups and events are what people want to see and although hard to coordinate so many people on a lineup are worth it in the end.

How did you select the lineup and why did you decide that you wanted to throw the show in Boston of all cities?

Both Jack and I are greatly influenced and take interest in the goth/emo side of underground music. I do a lot of photography for the genre and seeing a lot of the shows first hand I get a pretty good idea to what the community wants to see in a show. Jack, Ming, and I agreed that we wanted this show to be a showcase where every act was anticipated and not just 1 headliner how a lot of shows are. We decided Boston because in the past 1-2 years we’ve seen an enormous community built of people who love the underground music scene. Jack and Ming are also from Boston and I am from Connecticut.

Was there any one moment during the night where the importance of the show really hit you? If so, what was it and why was that a moment of realization for you?

I would say talking to a lot of people, afterward, helped me really realize the importance and excitement the show gave for the people who came. People told me the crazy distances they traveled to get there and to me, that really put things into perspective.


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Photo Courtesy of Sushi Sanders

Disorder Ming (@disorderming)

Explain your role in the process of putting together the Underground Underdogs show. How and why did the idea of throwing a show come up in the first place?

I told Jack earlier in the year that when it came time for him to throw his first show in Boston, we were doing it together! I am so proud of the growth I’ve seen from Jack in the past year. I remember meeting him last summer through him wanting to take photos of me and the shows that I was either throwing or apart of. (RIP JACKSVISUALS) He was so driven that his success now makes perfect sense in hindsight.

Why did we throw the show? Because Underground Underdogs Shows have happened in LA & Chicago — Jack’s hometown was just the logical progression for his 3rd show.

How? The show came together extremely quick, Jack & Copes hit me up and told me to find a space. I made a call, and we had Sonia booked for 8/29 in about 15 minutes. We reached out to the artists, confirmed the lineup and sent out contracts. Artwork and a marketing strategy was created. The show was announced about 3 days later.  

You’re also a DJ that has performed in numerous shows around the city. How did Underground Underdogs compare to other shows you’ve thrown? What made it special?

I know I have been saying this a lot lately, but it’s important. Disorder is a duo when billed as a DJ.  I am one half & Fred is the other (@bstnfred). DJ’ing is just fun for me — I don’t care about how the crowd reacts, I just play what I feel. There are days when I want people to dance, there are days when I want people to mosh, and there are days when I want people to leave. I’m the only DJ in Boston that will play Sheck Wes directly into Joy Division — I like to make people think.

I’ve thrown a few classic shows this past year in Boston, but I will say that none have compared to the UU show. On both the performer side and curator end, it was fucking lit.

What made the UU show special was the fact that we were starting full-on circle pits during our set, and the fact that I dropped a few Taking Back Sunday songs & the crowd flipped out.

Plus, I was passing out Cane’s chicken all night (Shoutout Owen for sponsoring my addiction to Cane’s Chicken.)

How would you describe the sense of “community” that exists in Boston, particularly in the underground music scene?

We all support each other. Buying tickets to shows means a lot, constructive criticism means a lot too. I look at 2018 Boston underground & feel the same way I felt about 2012 Boston underground. 6 years later, it’s amazing to see the growth & the success of everyone from 2012 on a musical and overall creative level. We are now living the second renaissance — 6 years from now, who knows? Hopefully, we will all have left a profound effect on the youth that inspires them the same way our local heroes inspired us to create. Anything is possible. If you asked me 2 years ago where I would be & what I’d be doing, I never would have imagined any of this.

I struggled for awhile with finding my role and channeling my creativity into something that I can live off & be happy with myself over. Looking back on it, the past few years were all learning experiences that molded me into who I am today. You just don’t realize that until after its over.

In your mind, what is the impact of throwing a show of this magnitude in Boston, of all cities?

Boston consistently gets dubbed. Most of the booking agents in this city are completely out of touch with the underground. Venues would rather book “safe” and reliable mid-grade national talent than take a risk on something they might not understand. Shows like this happen weekly in LA, but it’s oversaturated in LA as well. We can do this in Boston once a quarter and sell out whatever venue we chose, but if we keep doing these too much, the market will oversaturate and the idea of seeing something “rare” dies, which will decrease attendance and ticket value.

We set this show up in 48 hours & sold out Sonia. We booked a cohesive mixed bill of regional and national talent that had enough crossover to appeal to a broad spectrum.

While it’s cool throw a huge show like the UU show, never forget that we sell out the Middle East Upstairs consistently with LOCAL talent only. You can put together a great show in so many different ways.


Thank you to Jack Angell, Disorder Ming, and Nathan Copes for their participation in this article and for throwing the Underground Underdogs show in the first place.

Just look back at Boston’s sene in 2012 compared to now.

We got this.

An Interview With Lil Cxxp

An Interview With Lil Cxxp

By: Seamus Fay

An artist by the name of Lil Cxxp first crossed my screen just a few weeks back thanks to the anthemic single, “Forever”. Immediately, I was taken back by the conviction and emotion behind the rising talent’s voice, and considering the way he was able to translate the energy of a rock singer so seamlessly into the sonic direction of a rap song, I knew that I had stumbled upon something special.

Since then, I haven’t been able to keep Cxxp’s music off of repeat, as he’s already made two appearances on the Graduation Music pages in the span of just a few weeks. It only follows that we had to do an interview with the highly-talented act, so we’re here today to offer up a conversation with Lil Cxxp about his influences, creative process, goals, and much more. Read the full interview below.


To start off, where are you originally from? How did you first get into making music and who were some of your early influences?

I’m from Boxford, MA – a small town like 30 minutes north of Boston. I got into music one night during junior year of high school while freestyling at my boy’s crib. Next day, me and my friend Conn went to Guitar Center and bought some cheap equipment. Never looked back since.

Growing up, I was looking up to Lil Wayne, Kanye, and Kid Cudi. My stepdad bumped Snoop, Jay Z, and Biggie, and my dad would put me onto every type of rock.

What does your creative process look like when creating new music?

Once I have the beat I want, I usually freestyle the hook until I find the right melody. Then, I’ll write through the verses. A lot of songs I just freestyle through because I used to write every day for 3 years.

Where does your inspiration stem from?

I’m inspired by life, bro – everything I see, I take it in and reflect on it through music, the good and the bad.

Whenever I listen to your music, it brings forth a kind of energy that certainly shows parallels to that of rock music. Do you have any rock influences? If so, how do these influences translate into the style of music that you want to make?

For sure, Rolling Stones Stones, AC/DC, Guns N’ Roses, Linkin Park, Nirvana, Foreigner, Green Day, Blink-182, Foo Fighters, The Killers, Paramore. I never really dove into all their albums but yeah it’s like a blend between all the generations. I just loved the energy that all brought. They made me wanna yell and just go hard while using my own flows and different approach. I’m a fan of good music and being able to blend rock and rap wasn’t intentional. It just came out one day.

What’s the most rewarding part about being an artist and why?

Probably seeing everyone enjoy my music and having fans DM me saying that I’ve helped them get through something. That’s all that matters.

Your bio on SoundCloud includes the phrase “Introverted Dreams”. What do these words mean to you?

I consider myself an introvert. I like to be alone and in my own head. I’m always thinking about how I’m gonna make this music shit work and sometimes it drives me crazy. No one can take away the power of your own mind, though.

What are your goals for music? Ideally, where do you want to be in five years?

I want to be one of the best of our generation besides X and Peep. I’m really just taking it one step at a time. I wanna make sure all my family and friends are good first. I’ve got a long road ahead.

Lastly, what can fans expect from Lil Cxxp in the future?

A bunch of singles, music videos, and a project before the end of 2018.


Connect with Lil Cxxp on:

SoundCloud

Instagram

Twitter

An Interview With Danny Diamonds

An Interview With Danny Diamonds

By: Seamus Fay

In all my time covering new music for Graduation Music, the artists that have always stuck with me most are those who never seem to compromise the quality of their music just to increase their output. These are the artists who seem to care most about their art, and naturally, by releasing only once in a while, they tend to make much more noise when a new song or project finally does come out. Such is the case with Massachusetts-based artist Danny Diamonds.

Diamonds has been on my radar for over a year now, and by staying true to himself in every sense of his artistry, it goes without saying that his stocks are rapidly rising. This budding talent has always been a Graduation Music favorite, so it only makes sense that we reached out to him for an interview. Read our conversation about Danny Diamonds’ beginnings, creative process, hair, and more below.


To start, where are you originally from? How did you start making music?

I grew up on the edge of Brookline/Allston, MA. One of my best friends in 5th grade started rapping and he got a lot of attention at school. I always thought I could do better than him, so that was kinda why I started writing music, to affirm myself.

What has been the proudest moment of your career as an artist as of yet?

Honestly, the completion of my song “The Fall” is up there as probably my proudest moment. I’ve never been so diligent with a song before, in writing or recording. Every lyric is such a clever bar (double, even triple meanings) and the background vocals are so dense and perfect. One of my favorite tracks that I’ve ever made for sure.

Who are three of your dream collaborations?

Medasin, Monte Booker, Snakehips.

Explain the creative process behind your latest EP, For The Record. How long has it been in the works and how did everything come together? What was your mindset while creating the project?

The theme of the EP was actually based around “Stuck” which was the first song I finished on the project maybe last December. The concept was to sort of make a collection of songs that were all about my romantic encounters with women, but from different chronological parts of the relationship. The writing of each song is in a different tone and describes a different situation but they are all based around that raw emotion that develops from investing a lot of time into someone whether it’s “I don’t give a fuck anymore” or “let’s figure this out”.

The project didn’t flow as cohesively as I had hoped so I decided to rename it as an EP. Now it’s more of a collection of what I’ve been working on as of late and really a statement about where I am as an artist + how much I’ve progressed in the past year. The theme is still somewhat there though.

We have to mention it — everyone loves the hair! It adds some individuality to your image. Who is an artist that you look up to in terms of the way they rock their own hair?

Thank you bro, I don’t really look up to anyone really for hairstyle. I’m honestly just feelin the long hair right now.

How and when did you and Chase Murphy meet? What made you decide to join forces and create Golden Boy Music Group?

I met Chase when I was a Sophomore in High School. We did a lil freestyle session at his crib the first time we chilled and he said he wanted to start recording my stuff at his place. We recorded a bunch of my old songs on his lil bedroom setup and became really close during that time.

One day I came to him with the idea for Golden Boy and he was invested immediately. I think GB really perfectly embodied what we both wanted to accomplish with our music overall, especially from the standpoint of being from Boston (a city not very well known for Hip-Hop). Our image plays into the branding really well too.

Lastly, what can fans expect from Danny Diamonds in the future? What can we expect from Golden Boy Music Group?

Now that the EP is out I want to really branch out with my music in terms of genre. Right now I’m focused on kinda pushing myself out of my comfort zone. I also want to get back to my electronic roots a little more — that was always my favorite type of instrumentation to write to.

Any fans of GBMG have a lot to look forward to! Chase has some really amazing music on the way and we’ve got a lot of shows planned in the upcoming months. Look out for that new Golden Boy merch and also a website that we’re hoping to launch before the year is out.


Connect with Danny Diamonds on:

SoundCloud

Twitter

Instagram

Michael Christmas Is The Unlikely Role Model We All Needed: A Series Of Interviews

Michael Christmas Is The Unlikely Role Model We All Needed: A Series Of Interviews

By: Seamus Fay

In today’s rapidly-moving, ever-changing world of music, the art of the full-length project is often left in the dust. Instead, taking precedence over albums, we see artists turn to the value of constant output, manifested through the lens of singles as they pile on top of one another until something sticks. Whether you’re a fan of this format or not, it’s refreshing to hear an artist that prefers to express their progression through long-form projects, and such is the case with Boston’s own, Michael Christmas, and his current discography of 3 stellar albums – or better yet, 3 intertwined instances of where change in life warrants a change in mindset and a declaration of self.

Beginning in the identity-searching days of his full-length debut, Is This Art?, the journey we’ve seen Christmas undergo throughout the past few years has been nothing short of inspirational. His status as the hilarious, everyday man that we can all resonate with has made for an abundance of timeless music in the past, and whether he’s finding his place in the world or recognizing the fame that he has garnered along the way (as seen in What A Weird Day), there’s no denying that this homegrown talent is a lovable character.

He’s the same, regular kid from Roxbury that we’ve grown to know and love along the way, and no matter where music takes him, Michael Christmas will always unapologetically be, Michael Christmas.

And thankfully so.

Upon the recent release of his latest LP, Role Model, listeners get the chance to see Michael Christmas in his most developed form to date. He has graduated into an artist that fans truly look up to, and trying to assume this role as an example for the rest of us brings forth a whirlwind of emotions, thoughts, and hilarious anecdotes, all of which are expressed on this album. It’s a family affair in every sense of the phrase, blessing us all with a relentlessly personal album that will go down in my book as one of the best projects of 2018, without a debate.

In celebration of the release of such a highly-anticipated project, we here at Graduation Music decided to ask a few of the main minds behind Role Model a little bit about what role they played in the project and what it means to them. With that being said, I introduce a series of interviews with Michael Christmas himself, Meltycanon, Muyi Fresco, Dom Leafy, Teddy Roxpin, and Thelonious Martin.

Read our brief interviews with each of these unique characters below.


Michael Christmas

How did the concept of Role Model dawn upon you? Was there a specific instance in which you had an aha! moment, or did the idea slowly come to fruition simply by working on new music?

It slowly came to me but it was more my analysis of the world and its changes. I realized I’d been rapping now for like 3-4 years and the whole world has changed like 2 times since I started. I remember talking to my sisters and my little cousins and getting their take on the world today and thinking damn shits so different from when I was that age. And I came to the conclusion that the world is an awful place right now, every day we learn that some of our heroes are actually pieces of shit. So it all kinda rounded out to me being this recluse awkward superhero that could guide the kids thru this shitty place and on a bigger scale, maybe in the real world, I could bring back a feeling we’ve needed for a while. Like we all just need to CHILL.

What was the most meaningful song to record on the album and why?

I think it’s “Growing Up”. I remember being really excited to rap on that beat, it gave me a nostalgic and safe feeling immediately. I couldn’t wait to talk about my dad and mention my cousin (Jermaine) I just kept thinking of how that song would make them feel. It’s a quick little record but it’s some of my favorite raps on there.

What is your definition of the term “role model”? What makes someone a role model?

For me, a role model is someone you can look at and emulate. See them do some shit and just know that’s what you supposed to do. Someone who teaches you how to carry yourself. I think I always obsess with the idea of a “positive role model” and how I can be one while still saying so much wild shit, being a dropout and shit like that. Kind of just feeling like you don’t have to be perfect to be a positive influence on someone.

Who are a few of the role models in your life and why?

Vegeta cuz he’s a good dad, good husband and a badass – not like Goku deadbeat ass.

You noted that the purpose of Role Model is to basically “teach the kids how I maneuver through the craziness we see every day”. Was there an album that you heard growing up that had a similar effect on you?

Earl’s first tape, Danny Brown – XXX and Dom Kennedy – From the Westside with Love II all made me a different person when I first heard them. Dom’s shit made me want to be so cool, made me want those vibes every day. To be on some smooth, cookout, family and friends only shit. Earl made me feel less weird for having so much angst about everything around me, he made it so instead of feeling ashamed of being weird, I used it to rebel. And Danny Brown made me want to be the best rapper out and made me realize I don’t care how long it takes. He was 30 when he did XXX.

When all is said and done, what do you want your legacy to be as a “role model” both artistically and as an individual?

I hope to be looked at as an uncle to the world. The way people look back at Bernie Mac or Cedric the Entertainer. Even like a Robert Deniro. I want to have done and said so much cool shit in my life and with my homies, that people that never met me are just CERTAIN we’d be friends lol. I come from a little place called Roxbury and I come from a crazy family. I want to spread that influence all over the world. Be something to look up to if you come from here too.

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Thelonious Martin

What part of the process of making this album were you involved in?

My role on the album is a producer. Christmas and I started working together around when “Michael Cera” came out. I heard it and immediately wanted to work with him!

In your eyes, what is the essence of this album and what does it mean to you?

I think it’s truly a coming of age tale. Michael is growing as an artist and with this project, I feel like he’s going to break peoples’ perception of him. It isn’t just about him being a funny rapper — Christmas is a really dope artist, flat out, and I think this will show everyone.

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Dom Leafy

What part of the process of making this album were you involved in?

Just making sure he was comfortable and had genuine vibes while in da studio. I got da skit at da end of “Honey Berry” and I’m in a short film for da album.

In your eyes, what is the essence of this album and what does it mean to you?

This is a Hometown record — you can play this album on Blue Hill or MLK Blvd and feel like Christmas is right there spitting 2 you.

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Meltycanon

What part of the process of making this album were you involved in?

We had been following each other for a minute and he was wanting some tracks, but he didn’t really want to put things out unless he knew they sounded good. So, I slid him MP3s of tracks I had sitting around that he liked & from there it just went up, basically.

In your eyes, what is the essence of this album and what does it mean to you?

It’s almost a 90s-like innocence when you listen to some of the tracks. They are straightforward but still very catchy, in my opinion. I like the simple nature of it because my music isn’t all that complex either. It meshes together extremely well, I feel.

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Muyi Fre$co

What part of the process of making this album were you involved in and how did you and Christmas start working together?

I was an executive producer for the album and I’m also Christmas’ DJ, so I usually serve as one of the first ears that hears most of his stuff. As for meeting one another, Boston’s creative scene is pretty small so we have always kind of known each other, but we weren’t tight. Around 2 and a half years ago, things for my brother and I were starting to take shape and Christmas needed a new DJ at the same time. We had done a random event together years back before either of us were as good as we are now, so the dots connected way later on. It was a timing thing – as we started making waves, he needed a new DJ and reached out. Natural progression.

In your eyes, what is the essence of this album and what does it mean to you?

The album is pretty much just Christmas unapologetically being himself and showing everyone that he’s a normal guy, too. With this album, he’s coming to terms with the role he not only has to play for his fans, but also for his friends and his younger sisters.. He’s figuring out whether he’s a good role model or a piece of shit, and by the end of the album, he leaves it up to the listener to be the final judge.

The album is important to me, personally, because I’ve seen him go through his entire progression. Additionally, he hasn’t dropped a project in more than 2 years – that seems even longer nowadays, as this year it seems like every other day a new project drops. Even with a dedicated fan base, going 2 years without a project is forever. His time is overdue, and Role Model is going to help shine a light on what Christmas and the city of Boston have going on.

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Teddy Roxpin

What part of the process of making this album were you involved in and how did you and Christmas start working together?

I’m a producer on the album. I linked with Christmas through the homie Tim Larew. We were all coming up in the Boston hip-hop scene at the same time. We’ve been working together since “Is This Art?” when we did “Broke & Young”. He came through my Allston apartment and we cooked that one up together. Goodwin was there too. We worked like that a few times in person, but the majority of the joints we’ve done have been sending stuff back and forth through email.

And that’s the same with Role Model for us, all email. He would reach out every so often to me and some other producers for beats in a group text, and I would try to send some over every time. We have like a dozen unreleased joints together, and they’re all dope. His work ethic is crazy. I can’t even tell you how many joints this dude has recorded since his last album. Now he’s narrowed it down to the best 15. I’m excited.

What was your favorite part about working on the album?

Probably my favorite part about working on any Christmas project is that it’s just fun. He’s such a talented dude with so much personality and humor in his music. There are a lot of rappers I’ve worked with that don’t have fun with it. Christmas makes this shit fun. He puts so much life into his music.

An Interview With Big Leano

An Interview With Big Leano

By: Seamus Fay

Needless of an introduction, Big Leano is a staple in Boston’s music community – an esteemed act who, whenever he pleases, can shut down a given show with the simple opening notes of the anthemic offering,  “Lean For Sale“. His futuristic trap sound, highly quotable lyricism, and to-the-point, charming personality mark just a few of the reasons that listeners seem to flock to Leano so faithfully, and in this way, it only makes sense why he has grown exponentially through the authenticity and impeccable storytelling of his first two mixtapes, Tales From The Mud and Packula.

That being said, there’s no denying the power of Leano’s monstrous presence on every track he graces with a verse and every stage he sets foot on. The Boston native is a special case of importance and widespread influence in his home city, and we here at Graduation Music had to make sure we had an interview with such a venerable act.

Read our conversation with Big Leano below as we speak about Packula, his favorite movie, inspiration, fashion, tour, and much more.


Where are you originally from? What role did music play in your upbringing?

I’m from Boston. Music was always an outlet for me so it only made sense that I’d start rocking with it later on.

How and when did you start rapping?

It’s been something I always played around with, but I didn’t start posting music and taking it seriously until I started peeping the reactions at all the functions.

How would you describe your sound to someone who isn’t familiar with your music?

If astronauts were trapping this is what they’d listen to.

What inspired the name of the project Packula?

Drinking Hitech.

What is your personal favorite song on Packula and why?

“Miyagi” for sure. It was the best intro.

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What’s your favorite song to perform and why?

“Lean For Sale”… that energy is consistently crazy no matter how old the song gets.

What’s on the official Big Leano tour rider?

Backwoods and some sandwich meat.

Explain how it felt selling out the House of Blues with Stizz, especially considering that you both came up in Boston together.

I mean we always knew we’d do something great. Good to see things finally panning out.

Do you have a hero? If so, who is it and why?

Not necessarily – I take my lessons from anywhere I can get them so I don’t value one man more than the next.

Lyrically, you touch on fashion and style quite a bit. What are some of your favorite brands/designers and who inspires you style-wise?

I like it if it looks hot. I don’t favor any brand other than others really. They all have their moments of glory depending on the season.

In regards to artwork, both of your two mixtapes have been on another level. How was the Packula artwork created and how did you come up with the concept for it?

I had a lot of creative direction come from my bruv Derrick Houston (Champloo). He had some great concepts and we sat down and executed them with the homie Mike Janey behind the camera.

What is your favorite movie and why?

Nbs… Fifth Element lowkey. I might’ve watched it a million times and it never gets old.

If you were stuck on a desert island and could only bring three things with you. What would those three things be?

Backwoods, Gelato, and Biscotti.

What was being on the One Night Only tour like? What is one story from the tour that you can share with our readers?

It was like a fun ass adult summer camp… nothing but jokes and Hennessy.

At this point in your career, what’s your biggest accomplishment?

I mean just being able to feed myself off of words that come out of my mouth is big enough for me.

Lastly, what can fans expect from Big Leano in 2018?

Visuals and more music.


Connect with Big Leano on:

Instagram

Twitter

SoundCloud

Spotify