Leano – “Dark” [Prod. Twayne The Kidd]

By: Seamus Fay

Simply put, receiving new music from Leano is always a blessing considering the seemingly endless supply of hits that the Boston native holds. Not once has he ever let up the full court pressure and given us a song that was sub-par in any sense, and today, he maintains this flawless streak of music with an ominous single, “Dark”. Produced by Twayne the Kidd, who also garnered credits on “Talk Show” and “Two” off of Packula, we see the power duo join forces yet again in a remarkably hard-hitting song that I’ll be keeping on repeat for months to come.

That’s being said, Leano’s confident, haunting presence when on the mic makes for a scary sight. He gets to the point without dancing around what he’s trying to say, and in “Dark”, we find Leano money-minded as ever as he details his hustle. Each line is delivered with a calculated allure, shedding light on the lifestyle around trapping and Leano’s ability to kill someone in the dark, if need be, thanks to his newly-acquired flashlight. His deeply-engrained dedication to the trap is something that listeners find to be one of Leano’s signature characteristics, which we see on full display through quotable lines such as the ever-important “When I trap, know I’m trapping from the heart”.

“Dark” is quite possibly one of this Boston star’s finest offerings to date, so be sure not to sleep. Stream the song on Spotify at the link below!

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

A Reflection On Cousin Stizz’s ‘Suffolk County’ 3-Year Anniversary Show

By: Seamus Fay

Within the geographically-minded landscape of rap music, the weight behind a homecoming show consists of one central theme: loyalty. This encapsulates loyalty from the crowd, loyalty from the artist, and loyalty to a vision of success and “making it out” of one’s hometown which, amidst other manifestations of hard work, also translates into the ever-important power of pride. On June 6th, just last Sunday, Cousin Stizz crafted his own definition of both loyalty and pride by offering a live performance at the Paradise Rock Club in celebration of the anniversary of his critically-acclaimed debut mixtape, Suffolk County. The show sold out in 6 minutes.

At face value, the function of this performance was to make sure that those who missed Boston Calling would still receive the opportunity to see Stizz live while he was in the city. But looking back on the energy brought into the venue that night, the true function of the show was a reflection on the success that Stizz has seen since 2015 when he first released Suffolk County. The whole city came out, and just like that, the Dorchester native used this family affair to look back on the roots that brought him where he is today.

Personally, the reason that this project has remained a timeless collection of music in my ears is mostly due to the way that it brings Stizz’s lifestyle down to a listener-friendly level, complete with a certain degree of familiarity that only helps Boston fans to embrace its magic even more directly. Whether it be the triumphant, anthemic nature of “Dum Dope”, the unapologetically confident hooks of “Fresh Prince”, or the unfaltering honesty that comes through on “No Explanation”, Stizz tells it how it is on this project, and in doing so, listeners are doused in the emotional roller coaster of life in Fields Corner.

With this, Suffolk County is, in a nutshell, a uniquely comprehensive look of the triumphs and struggles that predated Stizz’s rap success. Life was certainly more simple, but times weren’t easy by any means, and the way that such intense pain and passion are communicated through ringing hooks that still resonate with people today, defines what it means to be a classic piece of music. And now, my Suffolk County importance rant is done, and we can delve into the show.


The first point of importance that surrounds such a legendary night was seen in Big Leano’s spot opening for Stizz. Any fan of Boston music might tell you that Stizz and Leano are close friends, but this brotherhood runs far deeper below the surface than that. In fact, Big Leano’s debut performance within the city’s rap community, after releasing just one song prior to the show (the ever-important “Muddy Sip”), was at Cousin Stizz’s first-ever headlining show in Boston at the Middle East. These two have been working towards the top since before rap was the plan, and to see them together even today, more strengthened in their bond than ever, is an immaculate sight.

From the mud all the way to fame, loyalty doesn’t budge.

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That being said, Leano’s undying energy and galvanizing set, which, of course, included the insanity of a “Lean For Sale” mosh pit, made way for a perfect transition into an unforgettable performance from Stizz. But before the headlining act graced the stage, he retreated into the dressing room of the Paradise Rock Club, where a number of close friends and acquaintances hung around in pure excitement for what was to come. Luckily enough, I was brought into the room by a friend of Stizz’s (shouts out to Juxi one time), and what I noticed most specifically was the way that the Fields Corner native gets into the zone before shows.

Just a few minutes prior to when the opening notes of “Ain’t Really Much” would play and Stizz would jump on stage, he wasn’t talking to anyone, messing around, or even communicating with the world in front of him. Instead, he slipped his headphones on, stared at the ground, and simply slipped into an isolated zone, marking the calm before the storm that was a sold-out, nearly 1,000-person performance in his hometown.

And then magic happened.

Stizz went through Suffolk County‘s dense tracklist of hits, one by one, garnering the attention and love of the crowd with every successive note of music. The show didn’t need anything extra to make it an incredible performance, but sure enough, when Jefe Replay gets involved, there’s no limit on what insanity might occur. He’s an undeniable rockstar, and rockstars do rockstar things. Like crowd-walking. Not crowd-diving, for those who may be confused. Crowd-walking.

The chilling melodies of “Talk” creeped into the venue’s sound systems, and after Stizz had unleashed his unforgettable verses, Replay took center stage for his monumental role in the song. But just when it looked as if he might dive into the crowd to deliver each line, he positioned his feet on the raised hands and starting to walk out into a sea of feverish fans. Showmanship aside, the fact that the crowd walk even happened was insane in and of itself, and I suppose it only adds to the long list of reasons why Jefe Replay is a star and why this show superseded the concept of what a rap show usually is.

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My final point of importance, before this article takes the form of a novel, was seen in the simple barrage of “thank you’s” that Stizz proclaimed throughout the night. He paused his set at least 4 or 5 times after a variety of different songs, and looking out at the physical evidence of how far he has come as an artist, Stizz couldn’t help but show his appreciation for his supporters. And sure, obviously most performers would be saying thank you if they, too, sold out a show in six minutes, but coming from Stizz, with his home city leaning on every new syllable that came out of his mouth, this “thank you” went far below the surface.

The Suffolk County anniversary show was a step back in time to one of Boston’s most iconic mixtapes and the lifestyle that came with it. Time moves quite rapidly with no foreseeable slowing, but by revisiting this classic set of anthems with the same fans who have watched Stizz undergo both musical and personal growth since it’s 2015 release, life slowed down for a moment and all felt right. Stizz is one of Boston’s bonafide stars, and we couldn’t ask for any better artist to help play the role.

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Before I wrap this article up, however, it’s also important to note that the real magic of this night is only achieved when we take a step back and marvel at the inspirational sight of comradery as a city that it brought together. For the few, impactful hours that the show spanned, Suffolk County was suspended in its status as an eminent assemblage of reflective sound and thought, surrounded by an ethereal glow that reminds us, above all things, of one mixtape that united people from all different backgrounds and helped to offer us a common thread of pride in our city’s music scene that before then, had not been achieved in such an authentic, modern light.

Just one night of unwavering authenticity and prideful proclamations towards Boston granted me with an abundance of memories that I’ll carry with me for the rest of my life, and for that, only two words capture the moment: thank you.

Thank you to Cousin Stizz, thank you to Tim Larew, thank you to Boston, and thank you to every person that made such a magnificent night possible. Suffolk County remains one of the best bodies of music that I have heard to date, and it set the stage for a bright future that even Stizz didn’t think was possible.

I guess there’s a reason he’s our favorite cousin.


Thank you to @gregisonfire for the photos used in this article.

Big Leano – “Hit My Phone”

By: Seamus Fay

Last time we heard new music from Big Leano, he delivered the monstrous, ever-important mixtape, Packula. A few months removed from this release and tens of thousands of plays later, Leano is back on our pages today to bless the world with a brand new song, this one titled “Hit My Phone”. As he mentioned on Twitter, the Boston native noted that this song is simply one that he had laying around and decided to put out, but thankfully so. “Hit My Phone” is the anthem that we all needed heading into the spring and summer months.

Fast-paced and infectious in his flows, Leano seems to float over the melodic production on this one. He uses each kick and clap as an opportunity to jump to the next line, delivering an abundance of clever wordplay in the process and blessing us with one of his best lyrical performances to date. With that, “Hit My Phone” is an incredible release and an undeniable theme song for everyone looking to keep the stocks rising as the year moves on. Leano has learned how to move with the success that has come his way, and he’s just getting started if you ask me.

Listen to “Hit My Phone” at the link below:

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

TrakTrain

Sir South ft. Big Leano – “Anyways” (Prod. StoopKid)

By: Shamus Hill 

Featured in the second episode of GRADUATION MUSIC RADIO, Sir South and Big Leano recently collaborated on South’s first single of 2018, “Anyways” – an ode to how little mind the duo pays towards certain women in their lives. Instinctually, I was drawn in by the Big Leano feature, but what has kept me listening to the track over and over again has been South’s exceptional work on each of his verses. The combination of Leano’s intoxicating hook and South’s lyricism make this another track that the city should be proud of, and being my first taste of Sir South’s music, I was pleasantly surprised to find yet another young talent from the Boston area to get behind.

In addition to the work put in by South and Leano, local producer Stoop Kid has once again delivered an incredible job on the boards with this one. Everywhere I look, Stoop Kid’s name has been popping up as of late, producing a few of my favorite tracks to come out of Boston in recent memory. With this, considering the track that he’s on, Stoop’s catalog is growing with new gems by the day, and we’re here for it. That being said, Listen to Sir South ft. Big Leano “Anyways” below:

Graduation Music Presents: ‘Recent Picks’ Playlist

By: Seamus Fay

As you may recall, we recently started a segment by the name of GRADUATION MUSIC RADIO, set to release a new episode every other Monday. This week, due to some technical difficulties, we are postponing the newest episode for a few days. To make up for it, we present to our readers a 15-track playlist of some of our favorite local songs at the moment!

Some tracks are older, some newer, but regardless, these are a few standout releases that you need to get hip to if you weren’t already. Check the playlist out below:

The Top 50 New England Songs of 2017

By: Seamus Fay

Looking back, 2017 was a year of immense growth for New England and specifically Massachusetts’ budding music scene. We were fortunate enough to see the rise of many new talents as well as watch some of the more established artists prosper in their own ways, and frankly, it was inspiring to us to see the work that the artists, the producers, the photographers, the graphic designers, the mixers, the managers, etc. have been putting in. Without all of these people playing their respective roles, our scene wouldn’t be where it is today.

Having said that, we here at Graduation Music collaborated with Fresh Out The Mint to compile a list of the “Top 50 New England Songs of 2017” (in our humble opinion). Below is the playlist of all the tracks – enjoy!

Thank you sincerely to everyone for supporting us throughout 2017 and making our first full year as a blog a successful one. We greatly appreciate all the love and can’t wait to show you what we have in store for 2018.  

  • Young Seuss – “123”
  • Big Leano – “Broke” [Prod. Tee-WaTT]
  • Vintage Lee – “Bless You” [Prod. Jew Paidro]
  • Millyz – “Lessons” [Prod. Achillies]
  • VALLEY – “Atari” [Prod. Stoop Kid]
  • Caliph & Jefe Replay – “The Mood” [Prod. Obeatz]
  • MyCompiledThoughts – “Romeo and Juliet”
  • Cousin Stizz – “Lambo”
  • DJ Lucas – “Doubt”
  • Lonny X – “Believe It” [Prod. Gravez]
  • Juxi – “Leave Me Alone” [Prod. Banbwoi]
  • Jiggz – “Excuses” [Prod. digitLIX]
  • KREW$ – “Dog Days” [Prod. DMND]
  • RAMS – “Disease!” [Prod. Maka]
  • Rothstein – “Jaded” ft. Supa Bwe [Prod. Shepard]
  • Patrick Michel – “Perfect” [Prod. GrandCruu]
  • Alejandro Blanco – “Give It To Her” [Prod. TFresh & SSB]
  • Jefe Replay – “Stay Ugly” [Prod. Humbeats]
  • Mizzie Cash – “Maneuvering” [Prod. Rob $urreal]
  • Lord Felix – “Power” ft. Marvelous Stefan [Prod. LoLoTheGod]
  • Plad Fine$$e – “Cheese” [Prod. 4oTo Roles]
  • Maye Star – “Adjacent” ft. CH!LD [Prod. Sevnth]
  • WHYTRI – “XURWIFI (Remix) ft. Lily Rayne [Prod. Cecil]
  • Stripes iii – “Henny Down” [Prod. K.C.B.]
  • Khary – “1-800-IDGAF” [Prod. Cloud Atrium]
  • SuperSmashBroz – “Replay Interlude” ft. Jefe Replay [Prod. LDG]
  • Michael Christmas – “Not The Only One” ft. Tobi Lou [Prod. Durkin]
  • $ean Wire – “Moonlight” [Prod. Tropicana Bwoy]
  • Pistola – “Jokes On You” [Prod. Stoop Kid]
  • CAVE – “Who’s Next” [Prod. Maka]
  • Maka & Durkin – “Waterworld”
  • Gio Dee – “Buzz Lightyear” [Prod. MLVN]
  • Humbeats – “Monday” ft. Austin Fair & TeaMarrr
  • StupidGenius – “Palm Trees” ft. Capito [Prod. Lil Rich & Gruca]
  • Garrett Merk – “Simple” [Prod. Frace]
  • Danny Diamonds – “Can’t Talk”
  • Gogo – “Cocaina”
  • Polo $ummers – “$ad Boi” [Prod. WaVe GoD]
  • SuperSmashBroz – “Still” ft. Big Leano & Vintage Lee [Prod. Tee-WaTT]
  • Haasan Barclay – “Live For You”
  • CHE – “Thii”
  • Avenue – “Ain’t Shit Funny” (Remix) ft. Prano, Millyz, Le$, Al-Doe & Chase N Cashe
  • Donald Grunge – “Shade” [Prod. Maka]
  • Boogie Da God – “Get Well Soon” ft. Jefe Replay
  • Marvelous Stefan – “Double Tap!” ft. Saint Lyor [Prod. Trevor Powers]
  • Black EL – “Another Dose” [Prod. Durkin]
  • $wooli – “Rainy Days” ft. Rachel Aiello
  • Rosewood Bape – “Miss Me” [Prod. Kin Rich]
  • TeaMarrr – “The One” [Prod. Ky Thompson & Keith Bell]
  • Michael Christmas – “Top Turnbuckle” ft. OG Swaggerdick

An Interview With Joe Johnson

By: Seamus Fay

Whether fulfilling his role by supplying Henny, ordering 50 wings to the club, or rushing an artist to a venue, the show doesn’t go on without the help of Roxbury’s own, Joe Johnson. As a tour manager for some of Boston’s most prominent names in rap including Cousin Stizz and Michael Christmas, Johnson has solidified his spot as a pivotal figure in the logistics of getting a few of our favorite talents around the country and beyond, most recently taking the wheel during Cousin Stizz’s One Night Only tour.

In pursuit of learning a little bit about what Joe does and how he does it, I had the opportunity to ask Joe a few questions about his life as a road manager and how this is all came to be. You can read our conversation below.


What was high school Joe Johnson like?

I actually went to boarding school for a couple of years in Maine. Outside of intense ping-pong battles with international students, I would say in those two years I was connected, literally. That was 2007-2009 – I had just gotten a laptop and was online basically self-educating, observing, learning.

What role did music play in your life at this point and did you ever think you would become a tour manager?

I’ve always been into music. My father had a Caribbean show on the radio growing up. He has played in celebrity basketball games (although missing every shot he took) so it was a cool experience. I was always at the station and got to meet some folk – Terror Squad in ’99, Master P n Lil Romeo, Christina Milian in like ’02. I used to always see the managers and busy people around and kinda wondered what they did.

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How has Roxbury helped to shape you as a person? 

Love and humbleness and civility. That’s what Roxbury has given me.

Describe Boston in 3 words.

Patriots, Celtics, Sox.

How did you decide that you wanted to be a road manager?

One day Michael Christmas introduced me to someone like “Yeah this is Joe, my road manager”. That was when I knew.

What is the most difficult part of being a road manager and why?

Dealing with artists with low bladder control can be a real hassle. Say you have 8 hours ahead of you and you just turned onto a 315-mile stretch and an artist has to use the bathroom. It can really hurt morale and can take upwards of 20 minutes to get back on the road. On top of that, you are changing time zones and losing an hour, so…

What is the most fulfilling part of your job?

Getting to see the artist’s dreams come true and impact fans of every background.

How did you first link up with names like Stizz, Christmas, and Leano? 

Stizz and I actually met at Children’s Hospital – it was my mom’s birthday and she was visiting my Aunt in the hospital who had just given birth to a legend. Leano is a package deal with Stizz that came in the later years. I’m pretty sure I met Christmas over a tray of baklava.

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When and how did you decide to start working with them on tour?

When they needed a driver I was the guy. I was able to rent a car and was responsible, haha. It’s funny because I actually brought Christmas, Stizz, Replay, Dan Mac (Rolex Daytona), and another rapper to Long Island for a release party for this old brand I was working with in like 2013. The first real road trip was in 2015, I think.

What does Joe Johnson’s typical tour preparation routine consist of?

Nothing. I just get up and get to the bag. I pack a little, but with an iPhone you can do a lot on the go. I usually make sure I tell my momma I love her, that’s necessary.

What tour has been the most fun for you to be on and why? 

One time we did a two-show run in Canada with Christmas and Stizz co-headlining. Leano came along for the trip. We hit the dispensary and racked up on like 30 pre-rolleds. The rest is history. Our Northern neighbors are great.

What specific show has been the most meaningful?

The sold-out House of Blues show as cliche as it sounds because we sold out the House of Blues.

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

Albuquerque. I can’t actually share that story but it’s a funny one lemme tell ya.

Lastly, what are your goals for the next 5 years? 

See Europe, win a Grammy, own a pair of Off White x Nike Prestos size 12, at least ten tour bus tours with the squad, and to meet Rihanna.

I just wanna say hi mom, look it’s me! Thanks for everything. Thanks! 


After speaking to Joe Johnson, it becomes clear that he’s not only passionate about what he does and the role he plays in the lives of artists, but he is, in every way, for Boston. People like Joe play crucial roles in the logistics of music and simply put, that cannot be overlooked. Thank you, Joe, for the interview. Best of luck moving forward!

***All photography courtesy of @perspec7ive

Connect with Joe Johnson on:

Instagram

Twitter

 

A Reflection On Cousin Stizz’s House of Blues Homecoming Show

By: Seamus Fay

From a kid in Fields Corner to a star in the making. From basement shows to a sold-out House of Blues. From 301 out of 305 in his high school class to a national tour and a deal with RCA. From Dorchester to the world.

Since his beginnings as an artist, Cousin Stizz has proven time and time again to be destined for success, and now, years removed from these very beginnings, it has become clear that Boston has a hometown hero on our hands.

Here enters November 24, 2017. After moving to Los Angeles to work on what would become his critically acclaimed third mixtape, One Night Only, Stizz returned to the light with a vengeance this past summer (word to Big Leano) and turned a hell of a mixtape into a national tour. To end this tour, he played a sold-out homecoming show at the House of Blues – an incredible story in itself when you think about how far the Boston representative has come.

Today, I’m here reflect on the importance of the show and shed some light on a few moments that I found to be most impactful when you think about the rich history behind them.

– – – – – – – –

Within Friday’s historic concert, two moments in particular spoke out to me as a testaments to the growth that fans have seen since the Suffolk County days: one being the presence of Guillermo Antonini and Tim Larew at the show and watching them interact at the end of the night, and the other being Stizz’s performance of “Talk” with Jefe Replay.

When reflecting on the journey of how Cousin Stizz’s success came to be, one specific freestyle event called “12 For 12” cannot be missed. Initially helping to introduce the ambitious Dorchester rapper’s lyrical prowess, BU students (at the time), Tim Larew and Guillermo Antonini were two of the head figures responsible for organizing the “12 For 12” Freestyle events – a series of cypher sessions focused on uniting Boston artists and building working and personal relationships as the city came together and showcased its underappreciated and often times relatively unknown skills.

In a full-circle moment that not everyone may have caught eyes on or understood, right near the end of Stizz’s show this past Friday, I watched Guillermo dap up Tim near the back right corner of the stage. A simple handshake and a nod of approval and gratitude couldn’t have meant more. When seemingly no one was paying attention, these two saw the potential and talent in their city and went above and beyond themselves to make sure it was recognized. Pair that with some truly honorable work ethics and sharp ears for talent, and you’ve got the basis for a story that will never again be imitated in such an incredible manner.

That one handshake meant the world for me to see, and I can only imagine what Stizz, Tim, and Guillermo alike would have said back then if you had told them that their story would eventually lead to a sold out, 2700-person show at the House of Blues. What a sight to see.

Okay, so I sort of went on a rant with that one. Sorry. But now we can revisit the second impactful moment I mentioned: Cousin Stizz’s performance of the Suffolk County cut, “Talk” featuring Jefe Replay.

This song has always been one of my favorites from the tape even before I understood Stizz’s history with Replay. By utilizing an ominous atmosphere to paint the unforgiving images of life in the city, both artists are at their finest on this track in their lyricism as well as their stone-cold deliveries. Slow-paced but chilling in its nature, this is one of those songs that comes around every once in a while and sets the tone for an undeniable classic.

Taking a step back, before Cousin Stizz was “Cousin Stizz”, he was in a group by the name of Pilot Nation alongside fellow Boston artists Nick Gray (who also performed on Friday) and Jefe Replay. Almost reflecting on these humble beginnings when the three talents first began to establish their names as acts to watch out for locally, Stizz’s performance of “Talk” at the HOBs was another full-circle moment for Boston.

His well-documented chemistry with Replay has been impressive from the jump, and to see two artists who have remained among the most promising talents in Boston still performing together today is nothing less than historic. Hearing the lines of “I hear whispers of death come from many men/ But I still walk through my city, man” and the ever-important outro from Stizz, saying, “Still on that same shit, that never change shit, you know/ Stick with it, you gon’ get it, I promise”, acted as nostalgic reminders of the progress that has been made as well as reminders of the the sky-high potential that still exists – both of which rang out in the importance behind the handshake that Replay and Stizz shared at the end of the song with the instrumental playing in the background.

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Boston’s music scene has seen quite a few changes since the 2012 days, yet the one staple that has remained consistent throughout and has personally been my favorite element to watch has been the unrivaled loyalty. Whether it’s observed best in Stizz bringing Replay out for “Talk”, Stizz’s come up with Big Leano, or something else, there’s no denying that the love still remains among some of the pioneers of Boston’s resurgence in rap.

– – – – – – – –

I could go on and on about the importance of this past Friday, but it’s probably best to leave it there. Let some things live in legend, you know? To end this article off, I first want to say thank you to Cousin Stizz, Tim Larew, Guillermo Antonini, and everyone involved in such an inspirational journey. Seeing those 2012 dreams come to fruition has been motivation for all of Boston, me included, and I can’t wait for the success that the future holds.

Here’s to a night that that will go down in history as the day a Boston rapper, or better yet, a hometown hero sold out the House of Blues. The story continues.

Thank you to @photokohli  and @Perspec7ive  for the photos used in this article.

An Interview With Dreaveli

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By: Seamus Fay

Dreaveli is a multi-talented producer and DJ from Dorchester determined to watch his stocks rise by means of hard work and dedication to his crafts. He’s the quintessential example of how a relentless work ethic yields success when joined with heart and perseverance, and, currently on a national tour alongside the same people he came up with, his mindset reflects this very journey.

Aside from DJing for Big Leano, Dreaveli is also a well-known producer responsible for hard-hitting tracks such as the ever-important “Muddy Sip”, Mayklen Don’s “Lessons“, and much more. His extensive resume within Boston’s budding music scene has proven itself to cement the young artist’s role as one of the city’s most promising acts, and I can’t wait to watch the blessings keep rolling in for him as time goes on. I was fortunate enough to have a conversation with Dreaveli about his upbringing, tour, and much more. Read all about it below:


To start things off, where are you originally from?

I’m from Boston. Dorchester, specifically.

What was your childhood like? Who was Dreaveli growing up?

My childhood was lit, lol. I come from a Caribbean household so you know the food was really lit. I was blessed w/ 2 older siblings & a younger brother & it was always lit. Real big family ting going on.

DREAVELI was/still is that quiet dude but still is cool w/ everybody. Sports wasn’t really my type of shit so music took over real quick.

What was your first experience with music that really sparked your interest in it? Did anyone in your family influence you in that lane?

My big brother definitely. Watching someone that I look up to have their own take on things & have their own style really stuck w/ me. Really showed me that it’s a lifestyle. S/O my brother Tone forreal.

I can’t really recall the spark b/c music has always been w/ me. It’s more than just music to be honest, other than life’s ups & downs it really made me who I am now. A lifestyle. My lifestyle.

How did growing up in Dorchester help you to grow as a person?

Dorchester is mad universal. There are legit people from everywhere, so just having an open mind bout life in general helped me.

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When did you first meet Big Leano? How did you two decide to start working together?

I met Leano like the first day of high school, freshman year type shit & been my dog since then. It just happened to be honest. I was making beats, he was rapping, then “Muddy Sip” came out. I was doing hype man type shit until I really knew that I wanted to DJ & we haven’t slowed down since.

Mentally, how have you grown since “Muddy Sip”? What has life been like these days and how has it affected your mindset?

My mindset is really on being better. Getting better. Making better moves & all that good shit. Not just in music, but life overall.

How does it feel being on a national tour right now with the same people you started off with?

Dreams really do come true when you really want it. That’s it.

What’s the best story you have from tour so far that you want to share with the people?

I’ll probably have a top 5 by the end of tour lol, every city has been crazy!

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On the production side of things, where do you mainly get your inspiration from?

Too many places, man. Listening to random shit like Barry White to Future to King Krule. Inspiration can come from anywhere.

What advice can you give to the readers out there working on their own ventures?

You can really have whatever you want in this world if you go & get that shit.

Lastly, what can fans expect from you and your team in the future?

Vibes! Big vibes!


After interviewing Dreaveli, I realize that in a journey of such hometown pride and countless hours of hard work put in, his success is more than just a sight to see for Boston; It’s an example and an inspiration that in a scene of budding talent that hasn’t received the shine it deserves yet, there’s only one solution: to keep going. As we watch Dreaveli’s stock to continue to rise in the lanes of both production and DJing, the importance of all this must be kept in mind. The blessings are there if you go get them.

Thank you to Dreaveli for the interview and best of luck in the future and on the remaining stops of the One Night Only Tour. 

Connect with Dreaveli on:

SoundCloud

Twitter

Instagram

Big Leano – ‘Packula’ [Mixtape]

By: Seamus Fay

Big Leano is back, and he’s back with a vengeance. Currently touring all around the country and beyond with Cousin Stizz, the Boston representative is here with the follow-up to his highly regarded debut Tales From The Mud. This time around, Leano is blessing the streets with Packula, an 8-track collection of money-minded anthems and unforgiving accounts of the life that he’s lived. One phrase comes to mind when I think of a motto for this project: real life. Just like Stizz, Big Leano prides himself on brutal honesty in his raps and it’s clear that with the pinpoint detail he raps with, the rising artist is about the life he tells listeners of.

An equal amount of street wisdom and vivid storytelling make this one an automatic must-listen for me, and I find myself especially entertained when hearing the never-ending humor of Leano in his self-comparisons and descriptions. Marry these aspects to a production clinic from Qreamy Beats, LoLoTheGod, Twayne The Kidd, Tee-WaTT, and LDG Beats and you have something special.

I began my first listen of Packula at 6:30 this morning during my drive to school, and with booming production to complement aggressive verses/hooks, it definitely set the tone for the day well. I’m ready to keep this one on repeat for quite some time, and you should be, too. Give Packula a listen below.

***Also, check out Packula on Spotify and Apple Music