Maeko – “FLUX”

Maeko – “FLUX”

By: Shamus Hill 

Making an eye-catching return to the Graduation Music site today is an artist named Maeko, with the first release off of his unending project, Getting Still. And yes, you read that correctly — the project will be unending. “FLUX” serves as the debut “inStillment” off of Getting Still, and, following the first listen-through, it becomes overwhelmingly apparent that the Boston artist won’t be wasting any time producing content that’s enriched with depth. 

When asked about the ideology behind Getting Still, Maeko said: 

“Musically, this project will continually represent how I am changing my approach to life, as well as my day to day, in order to get inspired, focused, and, most importantly, still within. With ‘Getting Still’, I’m interested only in capturing the sounds and styles I am evolving into – and out of – on the way to my next album or endeavor. In a world of constant change, we all need to find stillness within. FLUX marks the beginning of that lifelong journey.”

“FLUX” almost sounds like an older version of Maeko speaking to a younger version of himself. While he’s still a young adult, Maeko has gained a great deal of knowledge throughout his human experience thus far, and his latest shows recognition of the importance of continuously learning and adjusting one’s perception. On “FLUX” he genuinely wants listeners to digest some of the lessons that he’s come across during his 25 years on Earth, all of which are delivered in an incredibly entertaining manner. It is with this talent that Maeko makes use of abstract lyrics to really allow listeners to take what he’s saying and apply it to their own situations, and even if you aren’t going through the exact same set of circumstances that he is enduring, you can still pull away something from “FLUX” that will ultimately better your life. 

The overarching message behind both this track and Getting Still as a whole is becoming “still”, or achieving balance and clear-focus throughout all aspects of life, as Maeko deems it. While this is a goal that’s extremely difficult to achieve (especially given the climate of the world in which we live), it’s all about the journey. Keeping that goal in mind no matter what it is that we’re doing is what Maeko wants us to remember. 

Listen to Maeko’s latest release, “FLUX”, down below: 

Ven – ‘Ventige’ EP

Ven – ‘Ventige’ EP

By: Shamus Hill 

Making his debut onto the Graduation Music pages today is Boston’s own, Ven, with the release of his two-song EP titled Ventige. I was first introduced to the tranquil-sounding rapper by the homie Sammy over at Selfmade Designs, and since diving into his music there’s been absolutely no turning back. Following the drop of Ventige, it’s apparent that Ven is willing to do whatever it takes to prove to everyone around him that he has what it takes to see his goals through.

That said, dubbing himself as the “Basquiat of the rap game”, Ven is on a mission to transform aspects of hip-hop’s original roots into some new art that entangles itself within the current fabric of modern culture. What really drew me towards Ven’s music at first was the nonchalant feeling that can be derived from both his raps and melodies. As one continues to listen deeper into his discography though, the seriousness of his wordplay begins to be revealed, and despite facing choppy seas during specific periods of his life, Ven has come out the other end unscathed, fully prepared to share his experiences with the world. As the young rapper continues to develop as time progresses, it’s going to be exciting to witness how his musical abilities grow.

Don’t hesitate to show Ven some love on his latest project, especially considering that he’s living proof of the fact that our area is only continuing to blossom. As new artists emerge from the cracks on the daily, the future of the music scene in the state of Massachusetts is only getting brighter. If you find yourself liking the sound present on Ventige, I highly recommend taking the time to listen-through Ven’s prior project titled U • FAME • ISMS, as it offers feels which are very reminiscent of this release.

Stream OfficialVen’s new EP titled Ventige below:

Froze.40 – “No Wait” [Prod. JGONTHEKEYS]

Froze.40 – “No Wait” [Prod. JGONTHEKEYS]

By: Shamus Hill 

Returning to the Graduation Music pages today is the up-tempo trio Froze.40, a group that is consistently responsible for injecting energy straight into the lives of their listeners. This statement proves to be more accurate than ever following their latest release of “No Wait”, which features both SK85! and Giuseppe Love seamlessly flowing over some icy production at the hands of JGONTHEKEYS. Labeled as a member of the Alternative Rock genre, “No Wait” proves to be a stand-out example of how the group is only going to continue to develop their sound as time progresses.

What stood out to me the most upon the first listen to this track is how much SK85! seemed to alter his sound with this release. While he continues to evoke the same feeling of liveliness that he’s always achieved through his vocals, SK85! amps things up to 10 here as he explores a more melodic, tuneful sound on “No Wait”. Coming in to polish off this record is Giuseppe Love, whose artistry has grown on me tremendously. He’s routinely successful in concocting vocals that contain high levels of feeling and energy — a defining characteristic which has made a vast majority of Froze.40’s releases straight-up addicting to listen to.

The trio has promised to release even more high-caliber music in the coming future, so listeners will have to throw “No Wait” into their rotation until that moment arises. If this is the first time you’re hearing about the group, I highly recommend listening to their track “Ride” which, much like “No Wait”, is an uplifting banger that you’ll find stuck in your head for days to come. Major props to SK85!, Giuseppe Love, and JGONTHEKEYS for their willingness to both hustle and experiment with their sound. Their work ethic is most certainly not going unnoticed.

Stream Froze.40’s latest offering “No Wait” below:

Nick Gray Speaks on Brand New ‘Bittersweet’ EP

Nick Gray Speaks on Brand New ‘Bittersweet’ EP

By: Shamus Hill 

This past weekend, Massachusetts’ own Nick Gray released his sophomore project, Bittersweet — an introspective EP that seamlessly balances wonderful sounds and genuine meaning. One of the most outstanding aspects of Nick Gray’s artistry is his innate ability to speak on life experience in a manner that’s borderline addicting to listen to, and while Gray’s entire discography is filled with these profound talking points, his latest effort brings this sentiment one step forward, marking some of his best artistic progression to date. Alongside the main act here, we need to dish out some well-deserved shoutouts to Shame, BBY J, RolexDaytona, 10Fifty, and FlashBeats for their phenomenal work on production throughout Bittersweet. Watching how Gray’s sound has developed with time has been an absolute privilege to see, and it’s safe to say that Nick Gray is only going to continue to blossom in the future.

To honor the occasion, I took a few moments to speak with Nick about the meaning behind the Bittersweet EP, and some of what he’s learned throughout his tenure as an artist. Read all about it down below:

What is the meaning behind naming this project Bittersweet?

I’ve noticed you can’t have all good without something going bad. Putting time into one thing means less time for another. It’s sweet for the thing you’re putting time into but, bitter for the other. And that’s what I’ve been feeling lately. It’s life I guess.

Money appears to be a large portion of your motivation on Bittersweet, but what else drives you to be the artist/person that you are? 

Emotion. Seeing things get done. Seeing people be affected by things I do for a positive outcome. I wanna take care of people. It’s just who I am as a person. A provider. I’m selfish for my side. Deeper down though, maybe it’s a flaw, but I want to feel of value. That I have worth. I think it’s a general human thing to feel like that. But, I guess the things I do are because I’m trying to appease that feeling.

Prior to the start of working on this EP, what did you want your listeners to take-away from this body of work? Did it pan out as you had hoped? 

I just wanted to give people stuff I like listening too. Stuff I enjoy making. The stuff I make stems from emotion, even if it is just about money or hustling. I also wanted to put some deeper personal stuff in it. It’s tucked away behind the metaphors but if you can break through them you’ll see who I am. I’m hyped on the outcome. All the tracks hit exactly how I wanted.

Despite the use of an array of producers on this project, you still managed to achieve a formidable sound that develops throughout the entirety of this project. What were you looking for in terms of production on this project? 

I don’t really ever have an overall whole sound I’m thinking of. I just listen to beats and if they hit I make a song. Once I get enough songs that hit on sort of the same wave, I see how I can put them together. I like emotional slaps hahaha. I like bangers and stuff I can get introspective on. I think this project has a little of everything.

How has Massachusetts/Boston helped to mold you into the being that you currently are?

I grew up in MA my whole life. In the cold ass winter. Having to work outside, then moving to the city and learning how to navigate the underworlds and inner workings of it. It’s made me appreciate some things I’d taken for granted and also showed me sides of human nature I hadn’t previously seen. I think it’s turning me into exactly who I want to be.

You’ve been making high-quality music for a very lengthy period of time now. If you could give a single piece of advice to younger artists, what would that be? 

Don’t try to do everything yourself. Find what you’re good at and get better at it. Everything costs money in this world and making your music into a finished product is no different. If you truly believe in yourself, you’ll invest in yourself.

Stream Nick Gray’s Bittersweet EP below:

Click here to stream on all other platforms

Kingfrom98 – “Friendzone”

Kingfrom98 – “Friendzone”

By: Shamus Hill 

Deadlock Riot is a collective of diverse artists from the Boston area, and though they are relatively “new” to the ever-so-growing scene, they’re on a mission to prove that they’re to be taken extremely seriously. Deadlock Riot’s Kingfrom98 recently dropped “Friendzone” to help reinforce how versatile and talented the group truly is. Kingfrom98 has made a few appearances on the Graduation Music site to date, and deservedly so, he’s back today with some adaptations to his typical sound.

The complexity of “Friendzone” is what instantaneously attracted me to this record upon first listen. “Feels like I’m home when I have you by my side” echoes Kingfrom98 towards the beginning of the track, and from here he only dives deeper into his past relationships, and the feelings accompanied by these relationships. What I really love about “Friendzone” is how it continuously develops with each coming second. Starting off as a more somber, reflective piece of work, Kingfrom98 chops things up a bit, before diving on into the more upbeat remainder of the song.

On the second half of “Friendzone”, Kingfrom98 showcases his vocal skills as he continues to reflect on the love-related issues of his past. The ability possessed by Kingfrom98 to not only sonically develop, but to inject his personal life directly into his music is admirable. On top of this, he’s responsible for mixing and mastering each of his records. With each new release, it’s overwhelmingly apparent that Kingfrom98 is an artist from our area that’s worthy of undivided attention.

Listen to Kingfrom98’s latest offering, “Friendzone”, below:

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.


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.


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.

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.

Meli C – “Gave My All”

Meli C – “Gave My All”

By: Shamus Hill 

Here to make her debut onto the Graduation Music site is Meli C, a poised artist from the Boston area who recently blessed fans with her latest single “Gave My All”. Utilizing production at the hands of TnTXD and Yung Tago, Meli C flows elegantly as she reflects on the hardships of losing a close friend. The death of a loved one will forever remain one of the greatest challenges that one encounters in life — however, moving on from such a damaging point can prove to be an even greater challenge for many. Despite this, Meli C isn’t about to let this difficult moment seize control of her well-being. Perfectly encapsulating the emotion of something so traumatic, “Gave My All” serves as a powerful addition to Meli C’s discography.

What caught my attention upon first listen to “Gave My All” was Meli C’s melodic presence on the track. Combine that with the raw emotion displayed after the loss of someone close, Meli C offers an amazing display of her artistry with this release. While “Gave My All” proves to be an extremely catchy record, Meli C’s hard-hitting lyrics paint a vivid picture of what she endured throughout this tumultuous period of her life. Describing everything from the harsh reality of what has occurred,to the feeling of giving everything you’ve got and still hitting roadblocks, “Gave My All” is a song worthy of undivided attention.

Meli C is further proof that Boston is home to some truly amazing artists. Helping to raise the stocks a bit higher with “Gave My All”, I’m really looking forward to what’s next to come from young talent.

Listen to Meli C’s “Gave My All” down below: