[PREMIERE] Maka + Durkin – “Forward”

By: Shamus Hill

Maka and Durkin grace the Graduation Music pages once again, this time with a highly-listenable offering titled “Forward”. The first release from the duo in 2019, “Forward” is a sonically-pleasing reminder to keep pushing forward no matter what may occur.

Maka and Durkin have had quite the history with one another, releasing two projects and a string of singles that have proved to be some of the best releases out of the state of Massachusetts in recent years. Their first piece of work together since Waterproof (2018), “Forward” is a tell-tale sign of the successes that are to come from Maka and Durkin as the year unfolds.

“Forward” revolves around Maka’s decision to move forward in his life at all costs. He details some of the tumultuous events that he’s been forced to endure in his life as of late, however, refuses to let this negativity drag him off the path towards his destiny. Maka understands the fact that the world will continue moving no matter what, and he’s not prepared to get left behind whatsoever. As the cover art depicts, “Forward” quite literally feels like a stroll along the beach as a storm ensues. With distraction and risk surrounding us completely, we must make the decision to keep moving gracefully as if all is well. This is the only way that we’ll see our true potential face-to-face, and it appears to be something that Maka understands exceptionally well.

Maka and Durkin have successfully blessed listeners with a potent release once again. As the pair continue to work side-by-side, their chemistry only seems to be growing stronger. Be sure to keep them on your radar in 2019.

Listen to Maka & Durkin’s latest release, “Forward”, below:

CLICK HERE TO STREAM VIA APPLE MUSIC

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[PREMIERE] iLL Addicts – “Anthrax” (Prod. ProSwervez)

By: Shamus Hill

The iLL Addicts grace the Graduation Music site for the first time in 2019 with the premiere of the audio/visuals for “Anthrax”. Sitting atop some beastly ProSwervez production, each member of the iLL Addicts makes use of this song to give listeners some insight into their “careful” mindsets as they enter the new year.

This talented group from Boston had quite the 2018, releasing a long-list of potent tracks, while at the same time participating in performances up-and-down the east coast. There’s a strong element of fun and togetherness that can be felt through the iLL Addicts’ discography, and these elements are only amplified when the group drops a video or has a performance. The chemistry between everyone within iLL Addicts is nothing short of stellar, with each complimenting the next perfectly.

“Anthrax” is a shining example of the unity that’s prevalent within iLL Addicts, as the group gears up to have an even more successful year this year. Aware of the position they’re in and the tremendous amount of work that it took to arrive at this point, the iLL Addicts are not prepared to let anyone or anything deter that. Approaching the game as if they were opening a letter full of anthrax, the group are only making carefully selected moves towards their future.

Listen to iLL Addicts’ first release of the year down below:

[PREMIERE] Brevin Kim – “I Was Happier When I Was Sad”

By: Shamus Hill

Brevin Kim are slated to have an extremely successful 2019, starting off their year with the release of the official audio and visuals for “I Was Happier When I Was Sad”. The duo ended their 2018 with a long list of high-quality releases, and it’s looking as if this behavior is only going to continue as we enter the new year.

“I Was Happier When I Was Sad” is a self-explanatory name for this song, as the pair dwell on how they feel more like themselves when they’re enduring darker moments in their lives. We all eventually become molded by our surroundings, and it’s apparent that Brevin Kim have been surrounded by turmoil and distrust. They’re so used to being battle-tested that they’re unsure of how to live their lives otherwise, and it’s gotten to the point where they actually feel more comfortable when things aren’t as easy-going.

As you listen-through Brevin Kim’s collection of music, it becomes overwhelmingly apparent that these two brothers are extremely well-connected with one another. “I Was Happier When I Was Sad” is another testament towards this statement. Sonically speaking, Brevin Kim routinely find a balance that almost always results in wonderful music. As they’ve continued to develop, the lyrical content only seems to be behaving in the same fashion. It isn’t often that a musical group can achieve the type of connectivity that is present within Brevin Kim, which has been something that’s truly helped them stand-out in the Massachusetts music scene. The future is looking brighter than ever for these two brothers, and I cannot wait to see what’s in store for them.

Watch/Listen to “I Was Happier When I Was Sad” below:

Artist: Brevin Kim

Cover Art: Nic Violets

[PREMIERE] Caliph – “King Liph Freestyle” [Prod. RELLWTHEWAVECAP]

By: Seamus Fay

In my time writing for Graduation Music, New Bedford artist Caliph has been one of only a few names that have stuck out and remained one of my favorite artists from the very start until now. Charged with an electrifying personality, a strong sense of passion, and both the lyrical and sonic direction to do some serious damage when on the mic, Caliph is always finding new ways to impress, as hit-making seems to come as an innate talent for him. Today, we’re proud to help remind the world of his prowess by premiering the budding star’s brand new release, “King Liph Freestyle”.

Produced by none other than RELLWTHEWAVECAP, this dense new offering takes fuel from an infectiously soulful instrumental. The unforgettable sample-based melody clashes against drums that hold no hesitation in garnering energy, and once everything meshes together, the final product is a hard-hitting beat that leaves a wide-open canvas for Caliph to do what he does best. Bar after bar, the New Bedford representative steps into the room and asserts his dominance, offering up an endless supply of clever lyricism that will have you flashing the stank face for every second of the song’s nearly 3 and a half minute duration. He covers a wide range of topics that justly sum up his personality, so much so that listeners will be sure never to forget Caliph’s name after this one.

Caliph absolutely snapped with his latest, so if you need a reminder as to why he’s ready for the top, I advise simply clicking play on “King Liph Freestyle” at the link below.

Produced by RELLWTHEWAVECAP
Mixed by Ryan Easter
Art by Caliph

And if you haven’t heard them already, peep the rest of the Free Liph freestyles at the link provided below!

[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. 

WHYTRI – “GUESSWHOIDK” [Premiere]

By: Seamus Fay

Exuberant energy, passionate vocals, and charismatic personality. These are just three of the main traits that come to mind when trying to describe the relentless force that WHYTRI has become within Massachusetts’ budding music scene. Writing articles about his music in the past has always been both a pleasure and a privilege, as very few artists bring forth such intense bouts of illustrative, vivid feelings through their artistic expression. That being said, WHYTRI’s artistry has become increasingly refined and mastered through the lens of each successive release, and today, we here at Graduation Music are proud to help exhibit this rising talent in full form on his latest, Beato-produced offering, “GUESSWHOIDK”.

At its very core, the reason that this track seems to work so well is due to the unapologetic, spirited presence that comes to fruition within its reckless melodies and pounding drum patterns. The impassioned deliveries and melodic cadences from Tri himself shed light on his versatile talents as a vocalist, and by embracing the ominous sound of the instrumental on this one, he shows a clear understanding on how to make each bar as impactful as possible. With this, “GUESSWHOIDK” is an anthem of self-confidence and the value of treating yourself like a boss if you want to be a boss. The song doesn’t slow for anything or anyone, and WHYTRI clearly defies the idea of being held back by anyone who is in the way of his progression as both an artist and an individual.

That being said, this is yet another undeniable banger to add to the collection of hits that WHYTRI has given us in the past, so be sure to spin this one at the link below:

[PREMIERE] Marvelous Stefan – “On My Side” ft. Saint Lyor (Prod. Isaiah Valmont)

By: Seamus Fay

It comes as no surprise that Brockton is a hotbed of talent right now, filled to the brim with a number of standout acts that will undoubtedly be taking their careers to new heights as 2018 moves on. Among these artists are Marvelous Stefan, Saint Lyor, and Isaiah Valmont – three Graduation Music frequent flyers and inarguably three of Brockton’s finest talents out at the moment. Hearing them come together on a track would be nothing less than a privilege, and today, they’re here to bring that dream to life with a new single entitled “On My Side”, premiering via the Graduation Music SoundCloud.

Right off of the bat, this song proclaims both pace and energy, as Lyor and Stefan bounce off of another’s flows, going back and forth between smooth vocals and quick shipments of rap. By creating this stark contrast early on, the two are able to compliment Valmont’s hypnotic production and the burgeoning force of the drums – two elements that define the very essence of “On My Side” at its finest. With all of these features perfected to a common point of chemistry, it’s important to note that the lyrical content of the song decides who’s on Stefan and Lyor’s side, who’s pocket watching, and everything in between. They’re here to claim the top spots in MA rap, and no one is about to get in their way.

Listen to “On My Side” at the link below: