The 2009 Register Vol.1: Intuition, DJ Flip and Sankofa

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I’ve taken the liberty of deciding for all of you that trudging through some half-assed, inferior, “End of the Year” smorgasbord of songs and situations of importance to me, Employee, would bore you to salty pretzel, heart-shaped tears comprised of an indescribable fury. That being said….I thought it would be lighter on the psyche if I asked as many different microphone megalomaniacs and sample slaughterers if they’d be benevolent by sharing their personal ruminations on the year that will soon be a calendar in the garbage. Nothing is edited.

Intuition

2009 flew by very quickly for me. Between working my 9-5, writing and recording a solo album and a collaborative EP with my friend Verbs, man-whoring myself to any lady I could, and just generally trying to get my all around grind up this year, I haven’t had much time for myself. I didn’t see too many movies, I didn’t listen to too many new albums, and I only kept up with a few TV shows. Essentially I’m a pretty uninformed guy when it comes to pop culture in the last year of the first decade of the 21st century.

When Employee asked me to be a part of the year end wrap-up for SteadyB, I really didn’t think I was enough of an authority figure to speak on anything important. While everyone else is probably going to mention Michael Jackson’s death and crap like that, I figured I would take the opportunity to do a little bit of bragging, a little bit of promotion for my friends, and a little bit of brown-nosing to acts that are bigger than me that have helped out in 2009. See…the one thing I did get to do a lot this year was perform. Between solo sets and sets with Verbs to support the BUZZ EP, I probably played about 40 shows without ever going out on tour. I’ve had a great time meeting a ton of talented artists, dedicated rap fans, and pretty girls.

So, without further ado, here are my Top 10 favorite people I performed with in 2009:

10. Versis
Versis is an 18 year old rapper that I met in May of this year. He came up to me at a show that he was opening for Verbs and me at. He instantly gave off a “talented person” vibe. He was respectful, and name dropped a few of my songs, but never came off as a fanboy or as cocky young rapper. Talking to him made me want to watch his set, and when I did I was very impressed, so much so that I booked him for a show I threw two months later. He looks like he could have been a cast-member on Higher Learning (natural ‘fro, Africa medallion and all) but it doesn’t come off as forced or gimmicky whatsoever, and while the untrained eye would mistake him for your common Los Angeles high school “jerk” enthusiast, he is quite the opposite. He has an outstanding rap voice and his sound is remarkably mature for his age. It’s been said he sounds as if he’s a lost member of the Native Tongue movement. I caught another set of his recently and his stage presence has already improved ten fold in the last few months. This kid has a bright future and is already getting some bloggy love around the net. I think with his good attitude and his aptitude for networking, we’re going to be seeing a lot of him in the future. Check him out @ http://www.myspace.com/therealversis.

9. Dumfoundead
Dumb has been a friend of mine for quite a few years now. I met him before he even opened for his first big act, when he was just a witty young Korea Town street rat becoming known for freestyles at the Blowed and being a hilarious battle rapper in LA. This year year Chino really opened up the whole game for himself. It started late last year with a battle against Tantrum (a Chinese rapper from the bay area) that quickly became the most watched Grindtime battle in the brief history of the company. It’s hilarious, and even if you’re not into that scene it can still be appreciated. I think that battle was a real eye-opener for Dumb about his own potential, and since then he has been grinding and learning to market himself in innovative ways better than anyone else I know personally. His web presence is becoming phenomenal and the Asian market has embraced him like nothing I’ve ever seen. We shared the stage numerous times this year and he is always a pleasure to perform with and a true crowd-pleaser. Whether rapping his entertaining and purely LA underground songs, or spitting jaw droppingly poignant freestyles, he always leaves the crowd with smiles abound. Check out his youtube channel @ http://www.youtube.com/user/dumbfoundead for hours of footage.

8. Rob Roy
Rob is a Floridian transplant to Los Angeles that released one of the best and most creative music videos of 2009. The video for “Fur In My Cap” off of his album “King Warrior Magician Lover” was praised by everyone from Kanye, to Pharrell, to Justin Timberlake. Rob is a triple threat musician being a rapper, singer, and producer (he co-produced his whole record to my understanding). While the show I played with Rob was a bit of a let down (the crowd didn’t seem to realize there was another performer after Verbs and Me and dissipated significantly after our performance), I have seen him play a few other times and he is always highly energetic and entertaining. He has a very modern, fun, yet mature sound with a seemingly carefree stream of consciousness rhythm reminscent of Andre 3K. With backing from A-Life, co-signs from all the right artists, and even his own collabo shoe with Converse in ’09, i’m sure that 2010 will be a big year for Rob. Check him out @ http://www.myspace.com/robroy make sure to peep the “Fur In My Cap” video.

7. Tech 9
This one is kind of a stretch, but in March of this year I got to perform w/ Verbs (albeit very briefly, and literally as the doors opened) at the Paid Dues Festival in San Bernadino, CA. Atmosphere and Tech 9 were the co-headliners. Admittedly, I am do not listen to Tech on a regular basis, nor am I a huge fan of his music, but this man was the best rap performer I have ever seen. It was like watching a WWF event for 45 minutes, complete with a giant video screen complimenting his songs, theatrics and synchronized dance steps, and I’m pretty sure there were some pyrotechnics. It was amazing. He and his right hand man Krizz Kalico seemed to know exactly where eachother were on stage the whole time and NEVER missed a single syllable the whole set. If you’ve heard the dudes raps than you know that that in and of itself is a huge accomplishment, let alone with all the other crazy shit they had going on during their set. I think that Tech is one of the smartest business men in independent hip hop, and his work ethic and marketing techniques are the things legends are made of. On top of all that he is a really nice guy. My younger brother (in North Pole, AK) is a huge fan and, when I ran into Tech backstage, he was nice enough to chat with my brother on the phone for five minutes and wish him a happy birthday AND inform him of when he will be performing in Alaska next. Follow the link to learn about the massive empire that Tech has built for himself http://2dopeboyz.okayplayer.com/2009/12/02/tech-n9ne-behind-the-scenes-at-strange-music-video/ .

6. UNI
These guys are playing a big part in defining the new LA sound. Verbs and I performed with them a few times this year and their stage show is very solid. Y-O and Thurz work very well together and they both know when to let the other play the lead. Y-O plays the roll of the flashy, eccentric entertainer while Thurz compliments his character by playing the straight man to a T. With the release a solid mixtape (Before There Was Love) and album (A Love Supreme) this year, and a critically acclaimed video and single released by Green Label Sound entitled “Land Of The Kings,” I’ve heard that they have majors knocking down their doors right now. A truly polished crew that is always a pleasure to perform with. Learn more @ www.yothurz.com.

5. Fashawn
Fash and Exile put out one of my favorite rap albums of the year. Fash is just a solid emcee with very little need for glitz and glamour. He’s the perfect roll player to showcase the fantastic beats that Exile laced him with. I feel like the beats on this record are even more cohesive than the those on Blu’s “Below The Heavens.” We performed with him last month and I also caught him opening for Ghostface. Fash doesn’t need to be a mind-blowing showman because he is able to utilize his already great catalogue of songs and perform them extremely faithfully to thier recorded counterparts. With his ear for beats (Alchemist mixtape and Exile album? sheesh), and talent for songwriting at such a young age, I hope to see Fash continue on the path he’s treading right now. Peep him @ http://www.myspace.com/fashawn.

4. Low End Theory Residents
The Low End Theory is a club night that’s been taking place every Wednesday for three years now in Los Angeles. The club has become my one guarantee of a good time in LA every week, and oftentimes the only night of the week I end up going out. The show is run by Daddy Kev, head of Indie label Alpha Pup, and is a melting pot of tastemakers from various genres of music ranging from electronic, to dubstep, to hip hop, to indie rock. Many an artist have been invited to play Low End right before going on to achieve big things in the indie music world. Verbs and I were lucky enough to play Low End in August and it was an honor and privilege. There was a great turnout that night and all of the residents in attendance killed it before we were able to bring a rare night of energetic rap music to the club. Kev always throws down a killer mix of banging newness often filled with beats that were sent to him that week that no one else has heard. Residents Gaslamp Killer, Dj Nobody, and Dj D-Styles consistently throw down killer sets of obscure cuts while resident emcee NoCanDo freestyles seemingly non-stop for hours at a time. I hope to be invited back soon to play because the crowd is always amazing and eclectic. Learn more @ http://lowendtheoryclub.com/theclub.html.

3. Speak
Speak is a fucking weirdo. I mean that in the nicest way possible. He’s a dirty, bearded, mexican hipster (that of course loves constantly talking shit about hipsters) slowly forming man-boobs, all the while convinced he is a sexual Adonis of the rap world. The weird thing is, I have never seen him play in front of a crowd that doesn’t embrace him by the end of his set. Whether it is a crowd full of new school LA cool kids, backpacker Cholos, or sorority girls, he always leaves a crowd wondering what in the hell they just witnessed. Speak can rap, and he does so while destroying shit in the room, spraying the crowd with silly string, popping confetti poppers, waving 4th of July sparklers, and strutting around on stage thrusting his pelvis like an amalgamation of Bobby Brown, Mick Jagger, and Bowie (during his androgynous stage). Over the last year he has become a trusted ally of mine and one of my favorite folks to perform with, simply because he brings out a completely random crowd to see him every time. If you ever have a chance to see this kid play, do it. I challenge you to not smile or laugh (with him not at him) at least once during his set. Check him out more @ http://www.myspace.com/octopusluck.

2. Verbs
So this one is probably pretty obvious. Verbs is an excellent performer. He has bars for days, and it’s rare to see a rapper that is so able to lose himself in his music so easily on stage. Whether he’s performing in front of 10 people or 1,000 people, he always delivers the same amount of energy and that energy let’s every crowd he’s in front of know they’re seeing something special. Seeing him perform around town is what originally made me want to work with him on a project and, I think he would agree with me when I say, the first time we performed a song together we KNEW we needed to make the collaboration a reality. Something about the dude’s passion for rapping is contagious and you just want to rap better, jump higher, and be more hyperactive when you’re onstage with him. While both of us are treating our work together as a side project and trying to concentrate on solo projects, neither of us would deny that performing together opened more doors for us than we ever thought it would. Even though he’s 4 years my junior I can shamelessly say that I learned a lot about stage presence from him over the year. I look forward to putting out another EP with him in the first half of 2010 and playing a shitload more shows with him. Look for more from Verbs @ www.myspace.com/verbsisthehomie.

1. Murs
I was fortunate enough to share the stage with Murs, in one way or another, five times this year. I opened for him solo once, played his Paid Dues Fest with Verbs, and opened for him with Verbs 3 other times. He has been great to Verbs and I over the last few months and called on us to open for him at the last minute for a couple of great shows in the late fall. Opening for him at the House of Blues Anaheim in front of a sold out crowd of over 1,000 people was personally one of my top 5 favorite shows I’ve ever played. Murs fans are truly fanatic, and while I’ve opened for just about every combination of the Living Legends collective (LL, G&E, MJ, etc), I would say that his fans might be the most loyal to him, yet most open minded to new acts. Every time I’ve performed with Murs I’ve gotten off a shit ton of merch (at the HOB show alone we got off over 60 CDs). I think the fanaticism of his fans attests to what a class act the guy is. He always comes on stage with a smile on his face and emits pure energy for his whole set which seem to last over an hour on average without a boring moment. Whether you’re a fan of Murs’ music or not, the guy has truly drawn a blueprint for West Coast indie acts on how to build an underground rap empire, and because of that he’s become my favorite artist to perform with in 2009.

Peace,
Intuition

DJ Flip

2009 was was eye opening year for me,career wise.
It’s the first year since 2004 i didn’t release any vinyl, just cd and digital.

Its definitely the year i learned “less is more”
Tour wise, in this financial climate its smarter to do short runs (like a Thursday to a following Sunday week) instead of hitting the road for 3 weeks straight and losing dumb money on weekdays.

In general its harder to get solo dj shows in Europe. Ive have to change my dj sets drastically, 100% hip hop sets are dead and buried.
Electro has taken over, so im trying to ride the fine line of mixing them both well enough for Hip Hop heads to get down with it and Electro/Dance heads to stay in the room.

Im excited with the potential of where my new sets are going, wider audiences,bigger shows,less back packs.

Its still fun, a lot harder, but thats all part of the challenge, the smart will hopefully prevail.

“Crossroads” feat. Zion I, Grip Grand and One Be Lo (Produced by Flip & Freeze)

Download Link

DJ Flip.

Sankofa2009’s a year where even the most carefully cultivated buzz, painstakingly crafted with just the right measure, could die once seeking something beyond the ephemeral. Time spans shrank and the opportunity one had to go from astroturfed feel good story to cash cow became an ever imaginary window. With a peppering of gossip columnistas and tastemakers dotting the landscape, music became an increasingly peripheral issue. The skeptic in me watched and, rather than be enraged, felt more of a detached curiosity. 2007 was me listening to the hip-hop/R&B station for the sake of motivation. Such brief interludes brought forth anti-industry screeds. Now, I don’t really care. That music is an occasional backdrop to my busted Malibu going to and from work. These days, HOT 107.9 sounds more like a throwback to singers doing impressions over 80s Madonna/Eurthymics blends while another local station has taken the mantle of representing hip-hop and R&B. Who knows-maybe there’s less money to be made in it these days? Seems like cats are dying to give music away. Hell-save for the dying part-I’m no different. The times of putting a couple thousand bucks into pressing and promoting a CD and losing sleep about inventory is history. In questioning my measure of success, it boiled down to having fun making music. Anything in the way of my enjoyment (whether that be ranting against a deaf machine, responding to local diss tracks, trying to right a path that damn near nobody walked) just wasn’t worth it. 2009 is done.

Music With Friends 5 (Free Sankofa Album)

More Sankofa here.

A tip of the hat to Intuition, DJ Flip and Sankofa. Future volumes arriving soon.

Peace,
Employee

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