LADE Sheds Light on His New ‘YORK’ Brand and Talks Hip-Hop Revolution

LADE is a rapper and producer that has put forth some impressive works over the past few years (he used to go by other aliases: Dgh, Doughmars, Je$us). He’s had a few songs of his own and produced a few great tracks for other artists. Namely those on Lord Byron’s Frozen 10 awarded Dark Arts Vol. 2 album, and on Shinobi’s (formerly known as Sir Milo) Corner Stores and Iron Horses.
Lately, he’s been working on building his new YORK imprint, and in talks of collaboration with Blu. After several months of inaction, he’s ready to unveil what he’s been working on.

Over the past year or so you’ve been showing a lot of sneak peeks of your York brand, but the details of it is shrouded in mystery. Can you define to us what ‘York’ is?
LADE: It’s basically a brand that’s starting out music based for now. Music, Videos, Artwork, and eventually stylized tours/concerts. I’m basically behind every facet of it and I’m properly working my way into investing into artists of all kinds to bring the brand to a multi-dimensional reality.

Have you ever heard of the Blue Ocean Strategy? It seems like that’s the type of mindset you’re bringing into this brand.
LADE: Yes, the art of creating what they call “blue oceans” of uncontested market space. Bits and pieces of that book I’ve been using as inspiration to minimize competition. I believe in the music industry today there’s lots of demand that’s not currently being paid attention to. Me, being a strong fan of both the business and artistic sides of the music industry, I feel a unique kind of enthusiasm to bring them to the forefront.

I know you have a really strong passion for hip-hop, but you also seem to be very critical of the current landscape. What do you feel hip-hop needs right now?
LADE: Hip Hop needs an entire reinvention that will take years to accomplish. African Americans critical of the culture need to get in business schools, study the practices behind the scenes, and take back their own culture that they claim Caucasians have “stolen”.
What I plan to do for hip hop is something I can’t do alone, which is why I plan on investing into hopefully a lot of aspiring artists and giving lots of people a chance to make something of themselves by not only benefiting this brand, but by benefiting themselves.

I remember you had a sort of call to arms for people who want to improve hip-hop culture and rap music a good while ago. Are any of those people part of the current movement you’ve got cooking up?
LADE: Yeah. That’s the most difficult part. Getting people who mutually support your vision is stressful, as most people think your plan won’t work, or they just flat out don’t take it seriously. Most people don’t take an idea seriously until it blows up and it’s making millions.As of right now I only have two childhood friends as silent partners. Besides that, I’m basically carrying this myself. For the moment. It’s unrealistic to expect everyone to jump on your ship ASAP. You have to work and show why you deserve that support. Not only is it unrealistic it’s also a little narcissist. To think people are supposed to immediately invest all this hope in you even though you haven’t shown as much promise as all these other geniuses out here who’ve done their work already.

You must have some radical moves in mind, at least by common perception.
LADE: Radical is probably the most accurate term.

You’ve been quiet for a long time. Have you been working on a lot of different content, or on one big piece?
LADE: A lot of different content, but devoted about two months to one piece. Just trying to make the product as effective as possible without being over complicated. I’m a firm believer in simplicity. But it’s not simple to create simplicity, contrary to popular belief.
At least I don’t think it is.

I guess we’ll have to see. So you’ve made music in the past from rapping, to beats, to remixes. What kind of sound can we expect next from you?
LADE: Basically a combination of everything that I’ve been influenced by. And that hybrid of styles will be my initial platform musically, but as years go on, it will grow step by step into new territories. Even through other artists that I plan to be the engine for.

You’ve expressed an interest in doing R&B, is that something in the works or a longterm goal/project?
LADE: I plan to make a separate R&B/soul based division of York. For starters I will eventually have a R&B artist to headline it before that division actually becomes a thing.

In a lot of your production, particularly the most recent, it’s really abysmal (in a deep way) and cavernous. I’m not much of an R&B person, but it seems like a unique sound to the genre. Is that kind of production style slated for the York R&B music?
LADE: Absolutely. I intend to bring a different dimension to R&B music. Not to dismiss R&B of the past or present, because there will be a heavy inspiration of past R&B into what I tend to create. I’m basically just twisting the standard a bit.

So you’re going to be the face of production in your York imprint?
LADE: Yes. 100% of the production will be by me and me only.

There’s a huge standard that separates producers from beat makers. Which are you, and what do you think that standard is?
LADE: Producers are beatmakers who direct a project and have a vision. Beatmakers are just those who make beats and give them out to whoever has money. I’m a producer. Never really believed in the art of having one of my beats on a project if I’m not going to produce the whole project. There’s exceptions here and there but once in a blue moon.

Interesting. The best projects are when the vocalist and producer build together directly?
LADE: Sounds cliché, but yes. Not to say every album with different producers isn’t focused. But the producer and artist has to have a certain chemistry for the project to be more believable.

I kind of asked this already, but is that a mindset you’re bringing into your upcoming release?
LADE: Pretty much being that I’m artistically in charge of the entire thing.

Cool, what’s the timeframe for this release?
LADE: March at the latest. Before then is mini promo.

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Cal Rips – Phor You

DC/Maryland hip-hop artists Cal Rips and Suede Moccasins team up to create something major. Cal Rips is a vet in the scene. Cal is also a member of the Kool Klux Klan, a collective out the DMV area that has consistently maintained relevance in the area and is claims a massive amount of talent. He’s known for consistently smashing verses in features. On the other hand, you’ve got Suede Moccasins, a Frozen 10-awarded producer who has crafted many of the most impressive instrumentals in the past couple of years. You put it together.

OWLKINGLORD – XXX XXX XXX the mixtape

The artist formerly known as Brandyn Jaye finally puts together his first project post new moniker. With the name change comes a whole new style to match. Several songs come with a gothic feeling, much akin to his genius dual single Second Circle/Angel. But then it also wavers back into his original, less-dark style.

Mick Jenkins – The Water[s]

Chicago’s own Mick Jenkins has something for you. An interesting concept album themed around the truth, represented as H2O-the essential chemical for all living beings. “The Water[s]” showcases Jenkins’ skill in syntactic manipulation, aggressive rapping, and underlying conscious messages.

Itzme Review: Alex Wiley – Village Party

“Bout to bring that turn up to your city.” Lyrics vividly describe the objective of Alex Wiley’s music. Wiley’s a Chicago rapsinger, using one of the standout styles of Chicago hip-hop music. People are getting hip to him gradually, and there are two sharply contrasting viewpoints on him: total adoration or disapproval, the latter being related to his word choice. That’s a concern for someone else though.

Village Party is a tracklist tailor-made for live performances. It’s filled with hype stadium-entrance type songs and catchy chants you can see a huge crowd of people singing along to. Therein lies the strength and the weakness to Village Party. It’s super-fun to listen, sing, dance, and rapsing along to. “See the Day” is going to get that body moving, “Ideas” is will get the crowd hopping and bopping, “Ova” will have somebody doing the cooking dance. It’s fun as hell, but one-dimensional.

Some of the tracks are a bit less hype and more ambient, but the general feeling is still the same. The subjects of the songs aren’t concise, and generally graze over the same few topics like unsupportive homies from around the way, him being a sick rapper (which isn’t untrue skillwise), and not digging labels much. As a result, listeners just hear a super rapping-singing machine and not much of the real Wiley and his personality.

To elaborate on the “super rapping-singing” part, Wiley is just a supreme vocalist. His flow is transcendent. His singing voice is pretty good, and is used effectively throughout this tape (and really any other song I’ve heard him on). He uses a sprechgesang technique reminiscent of other Chicago rappers, but does it in a way that really makes him stand out.

Personally, I’d like to see him use this talent to fill out his songs more. Village Party’s songs are ridiculously short, and even with that duration seem to have one really high and exciting part of the song. Then the rest of the formula is some catchy part and a chant or ad-libs to pad it out. For instance, “Ova” which is super catchy and has an impressive melody, barely hits a minute without an abundance of “aye”’s at the begging and end of the song.

Overall Village Party is a relatively good and fun album. It fits perfectly well as a playlist for his live performances. I can’t imagine anyone not having a good time at a Wiley show listening to these. However, it falls short on the versatility end and doesn’t show much depth.

Cool enough.

My Favorites: “Ova”, “#takeoff #takeoff”, “Vibration”

Yeeeaaaaaauh

J△hTrig – Cig△r △shes

You rarely find such depth and wisdom in music. JahTrig is one with an enlightened sense of poetry when he spits his rhymes. He’s a warrior for knowledge and greater consciousness. But even with that sense of wisdom he maintains an exquisite musicality with genius beat selection, a well-rounded mastery of rap skills, and a unique and synergistic take to tracks.