Mike Fellow – “SOUNDWAVES | UNTITLED” [Music Video]

Mike Fellow – “SOUNDWAVES | UNTITLED” [Music Video]

By: Shamus Hill 

Putting an exclamation point on his HOT WINGS EP is Newton’s Mike Fellow following the release of his “SOUNDWAVES | UNTITED” visuals. This video encompasses two of the tracks that were featured on HOT WINGS, “SOUNDWAVELIVEFOREVER” and “UNTITLED”, and does a phenomenal job at portraying the feelings derived from each. 

Will Haworth (@sherylcrowbar) was charged with the task of both directing and editing this video, and it’s safe to say that he was the perfect individual for the job. The introduction of the video features “SOUNDWAVELIVEFOREVER”, which was the first song off of Mike Fellow’s project. The visuals perfectly align alongside the gritty, yet poised attitudes displayed by Fellow throughout the song, as scenery includes the rising talent performing at his EP release party as well as him and his tight-knit group of friends roaming the streets of Boston. While the overall feeling of the track lies somewhere around ambiance and the state of being mellow, the lyrics speak to an entirely different truth. Fellow is more than aware of what he’s had to overcome to reach the point he’s at, and with this knowledge, he’s prepared to take that leap to successfully follow the path that lays in front of him. 

“UNTITLED” is the second track that is featured in this video, and it’s here where Mike Fellow is shown grubbing on some wings and working on music in a friend’s basement. This portion of the video does a great job at displaying the nonchalant/unbothered attitudes that are exhibited by Mike Fellow throughout both his Hot Wings EP and the remainder of his discography. Fellow has the innate ability to concrete flows that keep listeners coming back for more, and he doesn’t cast a shadow of doubt over anything that he does. It’s this persistent, formidable attitude that will assist him in seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. 

That said, the “SOUNDWAVES | UNTITLED” visuals are here to bring an entirely new sign of life to the Hot Wings EP. This project is one of my personal favorites to come out of the state of Massachusetts this year, so definitely be sure to set some time aside in order to give it a listen. 

Watch “SOUNDWAVES | UNTITLED” below



Shot by: Will Haworth

Music by: Mike Fellow

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: 

theworldbirdie – “ARTx Intro” [Music Video]

theworldbirdie – “ARTx Intro” [Music Video]

By: Shamus Hill 

Making his debut onto the Graduation Music site today is an artist going by the name theworldbirdie with the video for his latest single, “ARTx Intro”. Directed by former UMass Amherst student, Alexander Hagani, the pair joined forces to deliver us some exceptional visuals, which grasp both the meaning and the overarching feeling of the song tremendously well.

This music video was actually my very first taste of theworldbirdie’s music, and I’m thrilled to say that the Cape-native is yet another addition to the mixing pot of talented artists from Massachusetts. “ARTx Intro” has this sort of meditative, shimmering touch that has its roots set in theworldbirdie’s criss-crossing thoughts. He opens up about how his self-confidence flutters from left to right, how his past shapes his future, and how he’s on a seemingly never-ending journey towards solace. All of this is delivered over a smooth, melodic instrumental that’s perfect for this beautiful time of year. I’m only one song in, but theworldbirdie’s artistry is truly shining through with “ARTx Intro”.

I can’t commend Alex Hagani enough for his role in bringing theworldbirdie’s vision to life. The extremely talented pair aren’t finished here either, with another music video AND a 3-part interview series set to come out during the coming weeks. I’m ecstatic to see what their next move is going to be, as theworldbirdie is on a mission to prove to the world that he’s got what it takes to blossom as an artist.

Peep the video for “ARTx Intro” down below:

 

[PREMIERE] DJ Chuck ft. NLITEN & jakilace – “Brave” + A Conversation with NLITEN

[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. 

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

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

By: Shamus Hill

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

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

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

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

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

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

Listen to Boston-based artists’ debut album below: