Album Review: Maeko’s ‘Dead Center, Looking Around’

Album Review: Maeko’s ‘Dead Center, Looking Around’

By: Shamus Hill

Dead Center, Looking Around is Maeko’s debut album, and the Boston-based artist has crafted a genuinely intelligent project that covers a wide array of human experience, listenable for anyone out there in search of introspection. With this, the UMass Amherst alum demonstrates his progression as both an artist and a person with this release, utilizing a stellar production team featuring BLAKE, Dave Chapman, Natty Reeves, and Esbe. The buoyant, poised sonic structure effectively assists him in achieving a solid concept, which centers around entering, coexisting with, and moving past the hardships of life at its very core. I highly recommend listening to the album from front to back to truly experience his marvelous concept.

Furthering this, Maeko’s latest bestowal navigates through a variety of subjects, ranging from deep loss to  the beauty of life. If there’s anything he wants you to know about Dead Center, Looking Around, it’s that:

The project is a trip to the “hive” from front to back, both sonically and conceptually. The “hive” represents the chaotic, hectic, messed-up aspects of life… Flying in, seeing it dead center, and flying out having learned more.”

As you begin listening to the album, Maeko gives insight towards how he felt upon entry to the world of music as an artist. Soon following this, he dwells on his aspirations to be like some of the artists he sees on stage from afar. He’s confident that his dreams will manifest eventually, however as time continues and more negative events unfold, Maeko’s hopes begin to diminish. This behavior combines with conflicting trains of thought, which ultimately result in Maeko being in “the center of the hive” – a place where he’s seemingly watching all of the chaos unfold all around him. Instead of remaining on the sidelines, he reflects on how he can truly make an impact on the world, and from there begins moving with new knowledge that he’ll carry into the next challenges of his life.

Some standout tracks for me off of Dead Center, Looking Around were “Amber” (ft./Prod. BLAKE), “Scarlett Lining” (Prod. Esbe), and “Rather Bee” (Prod. Natty Reeves). “Amber” is a groovy, yet mellow track which perfectly encapsulates the feeling you get on late summer nights. BLAKE continues his sensational production job on this track, and even hops on the record to add a verse of his own. “Scarlett Lining” features some tremendous production at the hands of Esbe, who excels in helping Maeko continue the lively spirit of this project. This song, in particular, features Maeko’s cry for positivity in the world – something that’s of utmost importance in the current climate in our country. The Natty Reeves-produced “Rather Bee” is a jazzy, ambient record that helps you cool down and reflect, which is exactly the purpose of the end of Dead Center, Looking Around; No matter what we experience, we have to reflect upon these experiences so that we may grow appropriately and learn from them.

That being said, this project is the perfect microcosm of life. We all strive to not only have experiences, but to both learn and grow from said experiences all along the way. Maeko puts these lessons and what he’s learned on display through the use of the metaphorical “hive” in Dead Center, Looking Around in a clear light, making this a must-listen for any fan out there. Be sure to go see Maeko live in Northampton at this year’s Extravaganja event, next Saturday April 21st.

Listen to Boston-based artists’ debut album below:

Austin Fair – ‘STARPOWER’ [Mixtape]

Austin Fair – ‘STARPOWER’ [Mixtape]

By: Seamus Fay

Considering the extensive catalog of bangers that he has created up until now, I feel confident in saying that it’s always going to be a great day when we receive new music from Austin Fair. Today, the rising talent is here on Graduation Music to share his latest project, STARPOWER. 13 tracks long and packed with features from a number of fellow MA artists, this project is a highly-entertaining listen from the first second to the last, and definitely not something to be sleeping on.

Personally, my attraction to Austin Fair’s music roots from his ability to curate a vibe with any venture he sets out on. Whether he’s trying to craft a banger or a smoother, R&B-influenced track, Fair always puts his all into it and seems to know exactly what he’s doing. In this light, STARPOWER is the perfect example of the young artist’s talents in creating and executing his vision, making for cohesive and impressive projects, not just scattered singles.

If you didn’t realize it already, the dedicated work ethic that we’re seeing from his corner is definitely paying off, so be sure to show some love and listen to the latest project from Austin Fair at the link below.

Features and Production Credits:

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FourtyFor – ‘s.$ide’ [Mixtape]

FourtyFor – ‘s.$ide’ [Mixtape]

By: Seamus Fay

Simply put, I had never been quite familiar with the work of Massachusetts producer FourtyFor until this morning. His name may have crossed my eyes on the production credits for a few songs, but overall, he has remained in the shadows for the past few months, hidden away from Graduation Music while quietly making his mark on our state’s budding scene. Thankfully, however, the rising talent is here to leap into the light today, taking to our pages with his latest mixtape, s.$ide. With features from DumDrumz, MT Mill, Ashauni, Isaiah Valmont, Chris Morris, Lord Felix, and Patrick Michel, this is definitely not the project to sleep on.

10 tracks long, s.$ide weaves in and out of a number of different production styles while maintaining a common feeling throughout. This running commonality is most clearly defined by the homely pinch of charisma that seems to touch each track ever so slightly, reminding us that FourtyFor is the mastermind behind the boards for each track while hiding him within the shadows at the same time. In this light, the tape acts as a thorough introduction for the world to get hip to this rising producer, and he will definitely be someone we look forward to hearing more from in 2018. Be sure to show some love to Massachusetts’ own, FourtyFor, by listening to s.$ide below.

Note to the reader – I cannot keep this Max B intro off of repeat. 

Plad Fine$$e Releases Self-Titled Debut Mixtape

Plad Fine$$e Releases Self-Titled Debut Mixtape

By: Seamus Fay

Just a few weeks ago, I attended a listening party for Plad Fine$$e’s self-titled debut project at IV Boston’s storefront in the North End. Packed with a tight community of fans and friends, the album yielded the same reaction from everyone: a certain look of shock due to genuinely impressive bangers coming one after another, speaking to just how well Plad Fine$$e performs on his long-awaited debut mixtape. Today, we’re happy to help unveil this final product to the people, because if we’re being honest, Plad Fine$$e is one of the main names ready to put Roxbury on the map right now on a national scale.

9 tracks long, Plad Fine$$e does not overstay its welcome, but instead holds the ability to keep fans entertained from the first second to the last with trunk rattling production and fearless flows and rhyme schemes. Plad’s unforgiving stories of ambition, the life he lives, and where he’s destined to go all hit home with a personal sense of triumph, and when added to truly standout beats from names including 4oTo Roles, LoLoTheGod, and Lil Rich, this one is, quite simply, a wrap.

This project has been long-awaited, but now that it’s finally here, I’m proud to say that the Boston front-runner did not disappoint by any means. He’s running a full court press in 2018, and his newest offering is just the first note of what will surely become known as quite the prosperous year for Plad Fine$$e. With that being said, show some love and be sure to bump the new project below.

Plad Fine$$e’s Debut Now Available For Pre-Order

Plad Fine$$e’s Debut Now Available For Pre-Order

By: Seamus Fay

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Roxbury has yet another rising star on their hands with Plad Fine$$e. Having said that, this young talent is gearing up for the release of his self-titled debut project due out this Friday (1/26). 9 tracks long and never ceasing to bring in an unforgiving wave of energy (based on what we heard at his listening party), this project will most definitely make noise in Boston and beyond, so Plad made sure we could cop it early by making the album for pre-order this past weekend.

You can buy the album for just $3.99 below via iTunes. Be sure to show some love to Roxbury’s own by keeping the full-length debut on repeat this Friday.

https://itunes.apple.com/album/id1333566837?ls=1&app=itunes

Additionally, the tracklist of the project was released with the pre-order and will only contain one feature from none other than Jefe Replay. Check it out below.

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Haasan Barclay Talks New Project ‘800 Fantasy Lane’

Haasan Barclay Talks New Project ‘800 Fantasy Lane’

By: Seamus Fay

In essence, Haasan Barclay is the quintessential example of the appeal and effect of staying true to oneself in everything that one does. His music acts not only as a testament to his incredible talents, but also to the self-confidence and individuality that truly make artists stand out among the crowd. With that being said, the Boston creative and Graduation Music frequent flyer is here today to bless our pages with his latest EP 800 Fantasy Lane.

4 tracks in length, the illustrative production on this one is perhaps its most influential element, complemented by Barclay’s emotional deliveries and thoughtful lyricism. Everything on the project is packaged in a nostalgic casing with an overwhelming atmosphere formed in every aspect of the creative direction, and I don’t think fans could have asked for a more personal project. The guitar-fueled energy of 800 Fantasy Lane is present throughout every second, speaking to yet another element of the appeal in its ability to translate so easily to a live stage.

Continued below…

Press Kit 2nd page

In light of the project, Barclay answered a few questions for us about the creative process that you can read below. Thank you to Haasan and his team. It’s only a matter of time with releases this solid to lead the way.


What does the title 800 Fantasy Lane mean to you? At what point did you realize it was the perfect name to represent such an incredible body of work?

To me, 800 Fantasy Lane expresses the idea of following the path of your emotions. Every track on this EP expresses a passionate emotion; lust, self destruction, fear itself. Sometimes it’s fun to get lost in, sometimes it’s painful or therapeutic. You shouldn’t be afraid to follow your passions and see them through. Liv and I saw it as the title of a really crazy porno from the 70s and it just stuck.

How long did the making of the project take? What motivated you during its creation?

I started this project with Live For You almost a year ago. It was the first time in my life that I had the freedom to throw myself into the music and I dove in head first. Seclusion is a great motivator for me. Now I want to go off the grid and come back to society with a masterpiece.

In the last few days before its release, what was going through your head?

Right before a release is always stressful, but this time was really chill. I didn’t have the same level of anxiety I’d had before, but I really felt myself leveling up this time. There was no doubt that I put my best forward and was ready for the world to see it.

DJ Lucas – ‘Lucas’ Mansion III’

DJ Lucas – ‘Lucas’ Mansion III’

By: Seamus Fay

Western Mass representative DJ Lucas is one of those artists that comes along every once in a while that you simply can’t help but love. I mean, with an abundance of small-town pride and never a lack of spirit, how could you not root for the Dark World artist? His genuine spirit and energy complement the charismatic approach that his music takes, and in all honesty, I don’t think Lucas’ music has ever failed to entertain me. By means of ingenious references to obscure Massachusetts towns and staples, it’s always wonderful to hear what the DJ himself will come up with next.

Today, the frequent flyer at Graduation Music is back with his latest full-length project Lucas’ Mansion III. 22 tracks in length, it’s a testament to the immense growth that the DJ Lucas has seen throughout the past year, filled to the brim with New England gems and hometown-hero lyricism. In this light, it’s comforting to see that even among all the changes that his life and career have undergone during this inspiring run of success, he’s still the same eccentric artist that we fell in love with in the first place.

If there’s one thing that I want you to leave with after listening to this project, it’s that you can never underrate the power of an organic rise to prominence. By sticking to his guns and unapologetically acting himself, DJ Lucas is in a position that I’m sure he would have never expected just a year ago. With solid projects like this to fuel the fire, it’s going to be quite exciting to watch his fanbase grow, and I wish him nothing but the best in his journeys – Massachusetts needed someone like him. Give Lucas’ Mansion III a listen below.