If you’ve been keeping your ears open to the music rising out of Massachusetts, it’d be safe to assume that you’re familiar with Brockton’s Van Buren Records. With a team of unique and polished artists that includes growing acts such as Jiles, Luke Bar$ and Saint Lyor — they’re a collective that is becoming increasingly difficult to ignore.
Playing an instrumental role in this group is Lord Felix, but despite being at the epicenter of one of the more prominent collectives in the area, Lord Felix himself has been rather silent thus far in 2020. Other than his handful of features, the man behind the infamous mask has remained somewhat reserved since his victory as Best New Artist at the Boston Music Awards this past December. Now with the release of his newest single “Bad Bwodie”, it appears as though Lord Felix’s silence over the last few months has been spent building momentum — the pulling back of an arrow with the intention of a powerful release.
The single, released in tandem with a short clip entitled “Hometown Hero”, reverberates an anthem of triumph. Produced by MultiplePetes, a Boston native who astonishingly balances law school and music, Lord Felix rides the track with high energy and prideful lyrics, undoubtedly mirroring feelings still lingering from a breakthrough year in 2019. “Wifey ‘round my arm cuz she watched me beat the odds!” he proclaims in victory.
From the energy and magnitude of this single, one can only assume that Lord Felix, along with the rest of his Van Buren clique, have big things coming on the horizon. As his sound continues to refine with each coming release, it is safe to say that if you’re not paying attention to Lord Felix right now, you should be.
Brockton, Massachusetts has played a sort of mitochondrial role within the Bay State’s music scene over the last year or two, with notable acts such as DTheFlyest and Van Buren Records spreading the City of Champions’ influence far beyond its borders. Attached with this surge in music coming out of the Brockton area has been an influx of truly profound artists that — together — have assisted in shining a light on the diverse landscape of music that exists within Massachusetts. Helping to validate this statement is Premo.Dee, who recently gifted his listeners with his first project — Satellite.Blvd.
Since releasing his first song more than two years ago, Premo.Dee has been making strides with respect to developing his sound. His recent string of releases prior to Satellite.Blvd were extremely promising, as each showcased a different side of Premo’s artistic capabiities. Satellite.Blvd is where he really ties everything together, with each of the EP’s five tracks being a fitting addition to his discography.
Featuring Van Buren’s Saint Lyor, Lord Felix, and Jiles, in addition to James Boy — Premo.Dee included the perfect cast of individuals to bring this body of work to fruition. Some notable standouts on this release are “Watch It” and “How We Get Here” as both of these songs do a superb job at detailing why Premo.Dee is as promising as an artist as he is. If you’re a fan of Satellite.Blvd, be sure to listen to Premo’s verse on Briefcvse’s new album as well.
With a mere two weeks being left in the month of August, the realization that the Summer is essentially on its way out has become apparent for many. To help compliment the softened sensation that often comes paired with this time of year is Connis, who recently recruited Lord Felix, Notebook P, Ricky Sour, and Rilla Force for the delivery of two new tracks titled “Ditch the Function” and “Planets”.
“Ditch the Function” serves as an ode to introverts from all walks of life. Both Connis and Lord Felix have proven to be two of the most advantageous artists out of the Bay State in 2019, and the pair continue down this route as they bounce off of one another with true grace on this release. Connis makes use of his verse to relay some messages surrounding both being alone and working on oneself. He’s not afraid to speak on what it took for him to reach this current point in his life — something that has ultimately attracted a large flock of fans toward Connis’ direction. Brockton’s Lord Felix helps build atop Connis’ verse by reinforcing both the development of a secure temperament and the abandonment of remorsefulness. Nobody is perfect, but it’s the combination of holding one’s head up high and learning from mistakes that Connis and Lord Felix want listeners to know and understand. Ricky Sour, who was in charge of the production on “Ditch the Function”, has had a long history working alongside Connis — with the sonic chemistry exchanged between the duo being one of my favorite aspects of this track.
“Planets” is the second single that Connis released, which features Randolph’s Notebook P on the hook and Rilla Force on production. I was beyond enthusiastic upon seeing that these three talents had finally joined forces, yet still surprised as to how wonderful the output ended up being. Much like many of the verses included on Connis’ debut album, Conn(is), that dropped earlier this year, the Cambridge native continues to rap with a relentless energy. Each line holds a vast amount of weight as the listener is quite literally kept on the edge of their seat throughout the entirety of the listen. In a truly intergalactic fashion, Rilla Force’s usage of synth-rooted 808s help make this instrumental sound like something that’s out of this world, which assists Connis in delivering his thoughts in an unparalleled fashion.
If you still haven’t found yourself within the depths of Connis’ discography up through this point in time, then there’s no better moment than now to begin that journey. Take some time out of your day today and dedicate it towards some of our area’s most refined talents.
Listen to both “Ditch the Function” and “Planets” below:
If you’ve been paying attention to the Massachusetts music scene in even the slightest bit this year, you’ll note the narrative surrounding the fact that Brockton has swiftly become the Bay State’s powerhouse with respect to the production of high-caliber music. Seemingly every week some new sounds manage to escape the grasp of the city’s young, prominent artists, and today Premo, Saint Lyor, and Lord Felix are here to add some more flavor into the mix.
“How We Get Here” serves as Premo’s first release in more than 7 months, however this statement doesn’t do justice to the amount of work the Brockton native has been putting in over the course of the year. Working diligently alongside Bodega as a model, Premo is one of the few artists from Massachusetts that has successfully trekked multiple lanes of local art. Much like his eclectic fashion sense, Premo’s ability to piece a song together can be characterized as both innovative and diverse. Similar to both Saint Lyor and Lord Felix, Premo possesses an innate ability to flow meticulously whilst maintaining lyrical formidability throughout — which is something that has ultimately made his discography wonderfully thorough.
Circulating around what it took for these artists to rise into the positions that they’re currently in, “How We Get Here” serves as a reminder for us all to put out heads down and keep working no matter what. In the cases of Premo, Saint Lyor, and Lord Felix — this is exactly what they’ve done to reach the level of artistic mastery that they currently possess. Complete with both beautiful sonic elements and thoughtful purpose, “How We Get Here” is one of the Graduation Music staff’s favorite drops up through this point in the year.
The Brockton group continues to dominate the Massachusetts music scene, and their latest release undoubtedly amplifies the year of success that they’ve been having. The brotherhood has managed to have an already explosive 2019 — from the release of Luke Bar$ and Jiles’ 2 Sides to Lord Felix’s Ultraviolet to Meech’s ‘NineFour, they continue to move with unrelenting force.
Van Buren’s “Live @ the Oberon” is their debut video as a collective, and following its release this past week it’s safe to say that it’s one for the books. The track was produced by Ricky Felix and Kiron, and features an all star Van Buren line up of: Meech, Luke Bar$, Lord Felix, Saint Lyor, and Jiles. The cypher is reminiscent of Odd Future’s Oldie or even A$AP Mob’s Yamborghini High — in that it shows precisely how every member is capable of holding more than their own. While visually opting for a minimal and dimly lit hallway as the backdrop, the strategic choice allows their bars to take center stage.
Although the show at Oberon has been cancelled for the time being, be on the lookout for the next Van Buren performance as it’ll surely be an event that you won’t want to miss.
Watch the official music video for “Live @ The Oberon” below:
Subconscious and gradual as it may be at times, becoming a fan of an artist is no different than investing in a stock. It starts with the initial discovery of an artist — a chance to spark the listener’s attention and encourage them to conduct further research. Assuming that the music passes this test, long term fans are often born out of some sort of value proposition in regards to two key factors — artistic development and longevity.
Realistically, becoming a fan of an artist is an investment — sometimes long term, sometimes short term — of time and energy into following this artist and their journey. If a fan suspects that the artist will only improve or that the music will grow as the fan grows, they will be willing to make this investment; if a fan suspects that the artist is a product of quick excitement or cheap virality and therefore, won’t peak much higher, they may hang onto the artist for a short moment, but no long term investment will be made.
With this in mind, it’s important to be picky as a listener. Viral moments are fun, of course, but rare are those that last and end up becoming something greater than this singular moment. Instead, picking and choosing to invest time, energy, and even money (buying merch, concert tickets, etc.) into an artist should be a thoughtful decision, and one that supports the logic behind one’s listening habits in the long run.
When I first created Graduation Music, the aforementioned concept was what provided me a sense of direction in my writing. I had to figure out who was worth paying attention to, what was worth paying attention to, and why it was worth the attention in the first place. Then, as these artists grew, my early investments of time and energy in the form of writing would begin to pay off, growing Graduation Music as the artists, themselves, grew.
This mentality was a notable portion of the reasoning behind the name of the site, itself — Graduation Music. From the very beginning, it was all about providing artists with the attention and support they needed as “underclassmen” — or smaller, still-developing artists — in order to work toward that moment of “graduation” that would some day come. Whether this moment manifested itself in a great project, a deal with a label, a cosign, or something else, didn’t really matter — it was all about giving artists a sense of encouragement so that they could work toward this moment, realizing their potential in the process.
This anecdote brings to the spotlight two artists who have perfectly navigated the arts of development and long-term investment — Lord Felix and Connis.
I’ve been writing about Lord Felix since the very beginnings of Graduation Music (yes, I’m still waiting on “Ferrari Felix” to release, for those who know). From the voice memo series to the random singles released throughout his journey, Felix has remained a prominent mainstay in the Massachusetts music scene mainly because he’s always kept his sights set on the long game. Personally, I found myself impatiently awaiting a full project from Felix for what seemed like a long time there, but now, reflecting on the final product that it yielded, I must say that Lord Felix’s devotion to development was, and is, a brave and thorough principle to hold onto. Nowadays, it feels as though many artists rush themselves into careers to match the pace of the internet, but Felix laid low and plotted on the moment he would rise up, developing a strong creative direction and remarkably loyal fan base in the process.
With Connis, it wasn’t quite the same story.
In the case of Cambridge native Connis — or Connor Donovan, as he was known when I first started writing — I wasn’t a huge fan of his music at first. Sure, he always had some promise, but for a long time, it just didn’t click with me. Nevertheless, Connis kept creating and kept improving, so much so that I truly had no choice but to pay attention.
This persistence taught me a lesson. No, I was not a fan of Connis in the beginning and I’m not even sure I felt as though he had a project like Conn(is) in him, at first. However, I stuck with him, kept listening to his music, and when he began to show the signs of life I was waiting for, I made sure to jump on the opportunity, making a long-term investment in his music and becoming a huge fan along the way, writing aside.
Now, not even half way through 2019, I can safely say that each of these artists have reached their long-awaited moments of graduation — for Connis, in the form of Conn(is) and it’s accompanying short film, and for Lord Felix, in the form of In Bloom, Forever. Each of the two certainly took different paths to reach this destination, but nevertheless, their respective senses of artistry have finally come full circle, achieving the refined potential that we always knew was there, but wasn’t fully realized until now.
And wow, have the years it took to get here paid off. Nowadays, Connis has delved into a realm of remarkable introspection and sharp storytelling, using songs like the heart-pulling “New Orleans” and the ever-so-hypnotic “Kiss The Moon” to prove the extent of his skills. Furthermore, the cohesive sonics of Conn(is) make note of the fact that Cambridge’s own has found balance in his art, realizing how to allure fans into his stories and keep them there throughout the duration of a full project.
Resulting from this artistic improvement is a profound sense of comfortability and vulnerability that fuels many of Connis’ standout moments throughout the project. Whether or not you watched Connis take shape all the way back to his days as Connor Donovan or not, Conn(is) brings each and every listener eye-to-eye with his soul-searching journey — a personal tint to the project that I’m sure we can all connect with on some level.
On the other hand, Lord Felix’s forward-thinking, even cutting-edge creative vision recently yielded one of the best projects to come out of Massachusetts, nevermind Brockton, in quite some time.
I’ve always felt as though Felix’s art mirrored his use of music as a therapeutic outlet, but with In Bloom, Forever, he brought this honesty to a level that I never could have predicted. One song after another, this project establishes an unpredictable, electrifying burst of colorful emotion and sound, weaving in and out of versatile styles of production while maintaining its striking, true-to-self lyricism. Felix’s naturally charismatic presence keeps listeners just as locked into the somber, smooth stylings of “Love Is Fleeting, I Promise” as it does the Elton John-sampling dramatics of “The Worst Summer Ever,” with each song taking on a life of its own along the way.
In this sense, In Bloom, Forever is a direct reflection of its title, refusing to stay stagnant and constantly chasing peace of mind throughout a series of diverse emotions. To say I’ve found myself revisiting this one on occasion is an understatement.
Providing some context here, while Lord Felix and Connis may be the subjects of this article, that’s not to forget that Massachusetts, as a whole, has experienced immense growth within the past few years during which Connis and Felix’s development has taken place. Take, for example, Brockton — a city that has fostered one of the closest-knit, most supportive and overall inspiring artistic communities in the entire state.
From Jiles and Luke Bar$’ new project 2 Sides all the way to Luke Bar$ and Ricky Felix attending the infamous Dreamville sessions, Packy Marciano dropping one of my favorite Massachusetts projects in Side Effects, and even the incredible recent work of Garrett Merk, Leo The Kind, and countless others, you can’t help but root for Brockton right now. The entire slew of artists in Brockton not only cares about their own art, but also about the growth and development of their peers, exemplifying the infectious mindset that “rising tides lift all boats.”
Okay, sorry, I got a little off track there.
Shifting back into focus, above all things, Connis and Lord Felix’s newest projects are worthy of mention because they bring us back to the idea of long-term investment as a fan. Seeing two artists try so many different directions, fail and succeed several times (including the countless trials that I’m sure occurred behind the scenes), and continuously refine their respective crafts, it’s easy to see why these two are amongst Massachusetts’ most promising artists right now. They were both willing to stick it out and give the fans a journey to grow with, the reward being a sustainable career and an insurmountably bright future now that they’ve found their footing.
Taking this into account, I suppose this article is almost meant to act as a sort of “state of the union” address. I’ve been writing about Massachusetts artists ever since 2016 when I first started Graduation Music, and now, looking back at all the artists I invested my time and energy into at the beginning, I realize that many of these names have finally found their creative strides, forming themselves into the artists that they’ve always had the potential to be.
With that, I want to say thank you. Thank you to all the artists out there who invest in themselves and refuse to step away from their art until they finally reach the full circle moments that Lord Felix and Connis recently achieved. And for the fans, thank you for sticking around, both for the artists, and for myself and Graduation Music.
Don’t be afraid to be picky with the artists you root for in the long run. Supporting great art fosters great art, just trust your ear.
Anyone who’s been keeping up with the current climate of Massachusetts’ music scene will undoubtedly be aware of the mark that Van Buren Records has been leaving in 2019. Luke Bar$ and Jiles kicked things off with the release of their collaboration project, 2 Sides, and soon after they were followed up by Lord Felix with the release of In Bloom, Forever. The both of these projects have assisted in cementing Brockton as one of the Bay State’s musical powerhouses, and today, MEECH dropped his second album, ‘NineFour, which only reinforces this statement.
Sitting at a comfortable 6 tracks, ‘NineFour is a solid composition that intertwines vulnerable life experience and futuristic aspirations. Anyone who has kept up with our site throughout the last few years will assuredly recognize MEECH by name, as he’s steadily risen up the food-chain within Brockton’s long list of amazing artists. He possesses an innate ability to flow meticulously whilst keeping his lyrical content up to an extremely high par. Each track off of ‘NineFour contains a vastly different feeling, but much like life itself, flows into the next chapter with true fluidity. In a statement released by MEECH prior to the album’s release he stated:
I HIGHLY urge you to listen to the lyrics, concepts. Smoke one to it, drink to it, meditate to it, work out to it, etc.
Topics such as falling to the Demise of your own and other people’s actions, feelings of being financially/spiritually/mentally Rich & Broke. Struggle with Trusting people wholeheartedly, stress of going to outside festivities and evil aspects that’s currently infested into our world. To elevating mentally, spiritually & physically with a possible life partner. Every feature was written with so much vulnerability, and authentic ass perspectives. It’s the closest you’ll get to truly know who we are as PEOPLE and what we think and go through. If you don’t personally know us, we gave you a piece of who we are.
Stay Woke, Stay Blessed, and Stay Inspired.
MEECH via Instagram
The only features on this project are Van Buren’s Jiles, Lord Felix, and Luke Bar$, with each putting their best foot forward to assist MEECH in achieving new heights. “No House Parties (Stay Inside)” served as the first single to be released off of ‘NineFour, and throughout my first few listens to the project it remains formidable as my favorite component of this release. “We VB” which features Lord Felix, is yet another standout, as this track thoroughly encapsulates the energy persistent within Van Buren Records. This collective of highly capable artists is centered around hometown pride and the truthful bond that persists between each member. They only grow stronger as each builds upon their individual discographies, and as they continue to develop alongside one another there’s no telling where the end of their achievements will lay. We’ve already been blessed with a high volume of potent music in 2019, however it’s Van Buren Records that has been paving the way for the rest of Massachusetts.
Stream MEECH’s latest project, ‘NineFour, below:
Production by AG, B. Stanley, Godzart, AeBeats, E’ZZ, Emani Beats, & Dartizt