Photo by Chris Mills
NO BETTER TIME THAN NOW A NOTE FROM THE EDITOR
If you’re going to do something, there’s no better way to do it than to just do it, hence, the new feel/size/look Demencha Magazine. Our graphic designer, Adam Forrester (grapedesignllc.com), told me at one point that there’s “no better time than the present.” And I think he hit the nail on the head with that, as it relates to the improvements we‘ve made with our print publication. If you’ve shown support for Demencha over the past couple of years since we restarted back in July of 2008, you’ll surely notice that we’ve gone with more of a “real magazine” format this time around and from here on out. Not to say that we don’t still retain a lot of indie-zine traits, but hopefully you didn’t choke on your coffee or liquor when you picked this up. This issue also marks our initial pursuit of covering local band/rock styles that the greater Kansas City music collective has to offer, whereas before we were covering almost exclusively local hip hop and DJ acts. As a part business decision, part creative decision, we hope this move will help further expand our readership. Back in May, I had the pleasure of covering an event at the Riot Room for demencha.com, the Local Artist Overthrow, a three-night-long band extravaganza featuring blistering performances from the likes of Thieves, Cowboy Indian Bear, The Noise FM, and about 30 other bands. As far as I can remember, it was the first time I’d attended a band show in about two years, whose names weren’t Hearts of Darkness or Dredg. I will continue to open myself up to local bands, all in the name of keeping the magazine fresh and to keep my own tastes evolving. Thieves particularly blew my mind at this show, and I think anyone who’s into electronic music would agree if they were to put themselves out on the line as well. At the Local Artist Overthrow, I learned just how similar the band crowds and hip hop crowds are in KC. Though their specific demographics are quite different, their reactions to local live music share a common suspiciousness. Call it the “Show-Me State” philosophy. I was expecting more of a thrash-fest, but most of the people in the crowd were very attentive, staring straight ahead with an almost critical look in their eyes, from the opening acts to the headliners. We hope that you will look at our magazine with the same kind of guarded wariness, in order for us to know what further, future changes we should make to the print version of Demencha. Good or bad, if you’ve got something to say, there’s no better time than now.
Here’s some music that got us through this new and improved issue:
If you would like to advertise with Demencha, contribute articles, photography or artwork, please contact:
Cherry Tree Parade - “Perfectly Polyphonic” Nesto The Owner - “Man In My City” Anthony Rother - “When The Sun Goes Down” Kutty Slitz & Leonard Dstroy - “Pain” Intuition & Verbs - “Touch The Moon” Drop The Lime - “Set Me Free” (Reso Remix) LC - Umove mixtape 035 (umove.net) Alicia Keys - “Unthinkable” Remix (feat. Drake) Norrit - “You Were Just Callin” & “Nobody Baby” DR+ - DOANDROIDSDREAMOFELECTRICLOVERS DJ B-Stee - “That’s The Way” Slum Village feat. Colin Munroe - “Faster”
Chris Mills Demencha Magazine Editor-in-Chief demencha.com email@example.com facebook.com/demenchamagazine twitter.com/demenchamag
T A B L E
After a trip to Samoa, A:42 explains why the best days for international music could be on the horizon.
14 Kutty Slitz & Leonard DStroy The Lenny Slitz Project Reviewed
16 Louiz Rip
Vestige Autonomy Reviewed
Hitting the Nail on the Head
C O N T E N T S 22 The Young Guns:
Introducing four of Kansas City’s Emerging Producers
24 DR+ The Young Visionary 26 Norrit The Ever-Evolving Creature 28 Church Boi Take Two Beats and Don’t Phone Him on the Late Night 30 B-Stee The Machine Gun Funk 32 The Local Artist Overthrow Photographic Review
After a trip to Samoa, A:42 explains why the best days for international music could be on the horizon.
I noticed immediately that they usually played Samoan music, ast year, I spent a couple of with American or Jamaican music months in American Samoa, playing maybe 30% of the time. The which, if you went to a first bus I rode was actually in Apia, Kansas City public school and don‘t in neighboring independent Western know, is a small island in Polynesia, Samoa. The driver was playing some in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. DJ mix of Samoan songs. Some They do use the U.S. dollar, as it of them were Samoan language is an American territory, but it’s a versions of American pop songs or sovereign nation, and sure as hell reggae standards, but most sounded didn’t feel like being in States. like originals to me. Pasifika music The whole island is smaller than usually sounds like a combination Kansas City, with a much smaller of R&B, rasta reggae, hip-hop, population. There’s no city, just traditional Polynesian music, and… some shops and businesses around Casio keyboard demos. Imagine Boyz the main harbor and a couple other II Men reggae. But I was impressed areas. And yes, there were two by the amount of homegrown music. McDonald‘s. Though you can get Local CDs looked about just about anything you’d want as the same as low budget local CDs an American, it’s mostly an island anywhere. Badly photoshopped of villages. I arrived in mid-October covers on regular matte printer 2009, about two weeks after the paper; a CD-R that, if you’re lucky, tsunami of September 29th, and one will have a sticker label; and no of the two canneries, Chicken of the guarantee of a full-sized jewel case. Sea, had recently closed its operation And you can forget about cellophane in Pago Pago. So, the economy and those annoying sticker wasn’t anything to write home about. things. But they sold. Possibly The buses that go around the better than American releases. islands are hilarious. They’re not The American industry has government-run; they’re basically been going nuts over how much like big tricked out taxis. People money they’re losing to independent take a truck, cut the back off, and labels and piracy now that the internet add a bus shell and some seats, has leveled the playing field. What I custom paint it with some ridiculous hadn’t considered is that technology airbrushing, and get a license. But of has made it easy for every other course the beat is what they spend the country to stop caring so much about real money on. So you’ve got these American pop music as a whole, goofy buses blasting whatever the especially places that previously had driver wants to hear, and they’ll pick little access to professional recording you up and drop you off anywhere studios and distribution. I grew up you ask them to. I remember them seeing clips of Michael Jackson playing some extremely vulgar Lil’ selling out crowds all over the Jon or something, with old ladies world, like the Beatles, the Rolling and children on board, and nobody Stones, and Elvis Presley before thought anything of it. Granted, him. Of course most nations have they may not have spoken much their superstar recording artists. Yet English to catch on, but I laughed. I always imagined American music
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was typically at the forefront of sales internationally, aside from the few countries with music industries developed enough to compete in quantity on a domestic level, or those with some sort of cultural or political resistance to outside influences. Jamaica is the only small country I can think of that churns out enough music to be worth mentioning. These days, a lot of major labels are trying to slow down their losses with iTunes sales and other online schemes. I saw a few iPods and some people had songs on their phones, but most families in Samoa don’t have computers, so there weren’t a whole lot of mp3 players being sold. Artists like T-Pain have made a lot of money selling ringtones at a higher price than the full song would cost to download. Yet, in Samoa, mobile phones were not as ubiquitous as they are in the States, and they were all prepaid setups and often cheap phones with midi tones. Meanwhile, there weren’t really record stores, but a lot of general boutiques that sold clothes, house wares, souvenirs, snacks, etc. So there’d be a rack of CDs behind the counter to choose from. For the most part, they were Samoan CDs. Most likely because your average Korean shop owner in Pago Pago, AS would rather have local cheap CD-R albums on consignment than work out an import deal to ship music in expensive containers overseas. Especially since they sold better in the first place. American labels’ adjustments to impede dropping domestic sales seem only to have hurt their predominance internationally, especially in less industrialized and commercialized nations. There’s not much you might consider a nightclub, and drinking
was taboo to a lot of people, but I went to a few bars and a couple of them were kind of hopping on the weekends. Most of the time they had a local band playing early, and other music over the P.A. later, and it was still usually Samoan songs. Aside from one “Mexican” themed spot I frequented because it was owned by a distant cousin; they played a bunch of (not Mexican) Pitbull and old (not Mexican) Gloria Estefan. The most popular band, I’d say, was Tap’s Band, who had a weekend gig at a beachside bar/ hotel called Maliu Mai. So, not only could you see them live every week, but the island is small enough you’d probably meet one or two of the members eventually if you hung around enough. Plenty of reason to support them by purchasing a CD. By the way, I’m pretty sure they’re the ones that made a pretty comical Samoan language version of that played-out Flo-Rida song, “Low.” So
now I‘m sick of it in two languages. Oh yeah, there’s also a dedicated broadcast station solely for music videos, from Samoa and abroad. As far as imports, Rihanna, Akon, and Beyonce were all popular in their own right. But I can’t say they were much more popular than, for example, Polynesian singer Fiji from Hawai‘i, or Samoan/Indian singer Aaradhna and Samoan rapper Savage (who you probably know from that “Swing” song from the Knocked Up soundtrack) on the very impressive Dawn Raid label from South Auckland, NZ. Seriously, check them out. Plus, most of the time when I did hear American music, it was still pirated. So even when it came to imports, they were often coming from other Pacific islands. A lot of us take listening to lyrics in our own language for granted. Other countries are going to realize they can make their own music relatively cheaply. It may not have the
professional mixing and mastering and expert session musicians, but it will be instantly more relatable for the target demographic. Personally, I love it. I don’t care what nation or genre, world music may be getting a bigger boost than even American indie labels have experienced. I want to hear what the rest of Earth sounds like.
Photo by Chris Mills
Kutty Slitz & Leonard Dstroy
The LennySlitz Project (Innatesounds, 2010) Written by Chris Mills
he East Coast had Illmatic and Ready To Die. The West Coast had Me Against The World and The Chronic. The South had Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik and The Diary. These are all hip hop records that everyone can agree upon the brilliance of. Another thing that all of these classics have in common is that the artists who varnished them certainly went through some shit in the process. Local battle rap titan, Sephiroth (aka Kartoon), once told us that there was a time before Kutty Slitz’ sixyear hiatus from hip hop, when Kutty (formerly known as General Ali) would enter a room and other MCs would walk the opposite direction. No other song on The LennySlitz Project illustrates such recollections better than “Reverse,” which thrashes hard enough to be a heavyweight’s ring-entry anthem, complete with a mandatory call-and-response intro sure to get your blood boiling at just the third track in. For “All I Got,” featuring Reggie
Download this album for free at: leonarddstroy.bandcamp.com B on the chorus, Kutty calms it down a bit and admits, “Yea I’m known to kick it conscious/ But I ain’t never been the type to act as if I ain’t got monsters in the closet.” On the same song, Kutty describes advice he would’ve given to people who slipped up in his life had he known then what he knows now. Over the somber horns on “Pain,“ provided by in-house producer, Leonard Dstroy, Kutty raps, “One thing’s for certain, we all looking for purpose in this life before it’s closed curtains/ However you do it, you’re blessed if you attain that/ Knowledge of self is the key and that’s the plain fact/ Long as you know who you be, can’t nobody change that/ Look in your eyes and know that they out of your range, Jack.” “Daddy’s Little Secret” is more expressive and wordy than David Banner‘s “Play,” but aligns itself similarly in detailed risqué jargon. “The Life (Fekkafriend)” is sure to make anyone think twice about the company they keep. The overriding theme on this record is one of Kutty
killing his old self and beginning anew. On “The Eulogy,” Kutty suggests what you should do with your memories of who he was before, “…don’t bury me in no cemetery/ Take me and cremate me and lace me in marijuana wrapped inside my obituary/ Smoke and choke and blow my soul until it’s ether/ Take the rest and sprinkle them over shrooms and eat ‘em/ ‘Til my demons, you can see ‘em.” Slitz’ painfully personal rhymes and chilling reality checks intensified by an uncanny ability to deliver them via his baritone voice, add up to one lyrically plush album, to say the least. Slitz and Lenny’s masterwork unfolds more like a collection of Kutty’s journal entries compiled over the course of several years, finally unleashed in rap form. Over some of the most temperamental beats we’ve heard yet from Leonard Dstroy, Kutty’s insight, rawness and articulation are front and center on The LennySlitz Project. This is the first time that we can sincerely acclaim a local recording for it’s excellence without ending such a thought with “…by a local artist” or “…in our area.” But as they say, there is a first time for everything. This is the most weighty, self-reflective and intriguing hip hop listen we’ve come across in years. Though The LennySlitz Project won’t have swarms of people scurrying out to the record store to buy it (this is a free digital download, after all), everyone who’s heard this record can agree upon it’s virtuosity. This is a release that we as a Kansas City hip hop collective can present to someone in Atlanta or New York, swear upon it, and not sound forced. Regardless of where you’re from, records like this do not come along very often.
Photo by Chris Mills
(Datura Records, 2010) Written by Chris Mills
dmittedly, we’ve secretly been a little shaky on the music coming out of Kansas City’s Soul Servers crew up until now. Louiz Rip, in particular, seems to be a bit more mysterious of a rhyming creature than that of his Soul Servers counterparts, Smoov Confusion, DJ Yady and Deuce Fontaine. In Lou, we’re talking about a guy who will rock a show wearing a hoodie with the word “DORK” ironically plastered on the front, regardless if his frame could be mistaken for that of a powerforward or not. Symbolizing the last traces of what independence Lou has left after surviving years of conditioning from
Download this album for free at: louizrip.bandcamp.com various angles, Vestige Autonomy, kicks off with “Grand Architect,” introducing his creation. “The architect and grand designer of this rhyming matrix/ Hop aboard my spaceship, let’s see how far I take it.” “Enemy of the State” sees producer, Lemroc (aka Deuce Fontaine), turning out some bloodcurdling strings for dramatic effect, fitting for a paranoia-stained theme and reminding everyone of just how obsessed these two are with The Matrix. This track and the uptempo, “End of the Free World,” both live up to the grand scheme of Vestige Autonomy, one of trying to hang on to any thread of individuality in spite of societal obstacles.
The clannish drums offered up by Lemroc and the dancehallinfluenced, “Rebellion Born,” add up to a personal favorite on this record, and even Lucid’s guest verse on the Curtis Mayfield-inspired, “Pusherman,” makes for a standout track. The three guest appearances on this record notwithstanding, the one producer/one rapper combo works very well here, just as in most cases. Dorks or not, this is probably the most enjoyable listen to come out of the Soul Servers camp yet, and the finest batch of beats we’ve heard from Lemroc thus far.
Written by Chris Mills
in June 2008 and our first recording came out on Halloween of that year, so ammerlord has been we’ve been active for two years as of butchering Kansas City’s last month. Happy anniversary lords! metal scene since they officially formed the group in 2008. CM: Tell us about Init Records This past May, they released their and how you linked up with them. second album, Wolves At Wars End, Are they based out of Kansas City? a 9-track collection of skull-cracking bass, unrelenting, vehement vocals, AM: Init Records is a small label based a foray of finger-bending fury and out of Sioux Falls, South Dakota. The inspirations drawn on everything from owner and operator is an old friend of the Kansas/Missouri border conflicts Terry Taylor, our bass player. Terry has of the 1800’s to old-school WWF played in a few other bands on this label and that’s how we became affiliated. wrestling. Comprised of Stevie Cruz (vocals), Adam Mitchell (drums), SC: The best part about working Terry Taylor (bass), Ty Scott (guitar) with Init, is the relationship. It’s very and JP Gaughan (guitar), this killer honest and straight up. Steven puts out quintet is dead set on mincing every music he loves and is passionate about. crowd they’re put in front of and have There’s not a whole mess of contracts garnered solid reviews after sharing and absurd expectations. He does what stages with the likes of Static-X, he does and we do what we do, it’s cool. Unearth, Exodus and plenty more. We recently conducted an CM: You guys are planning on shooting e-mail interview with Stevie and at least one music video from the new record, correct? How do you guys Adam to find out what the method to imagine it turning out? their madness is, how they separate themselves from the stereotypical metal heads out there and perhaps most SC: We are going to do as much for importantly, whether or not the band this record as possible. As far as music will be in tact long enough to build videos, we have two on the burner. even more steam than they have in just One for “Tombstone Piledriver,” which their two previous years as an official we are working on with our friend Jeff Sisson of Troglodyte. The other group. is for “The Ballad of Rusty Tomaski” which our friend Brian Hicks is going Chris Mills: How long has to direct. Right now both videos are Hammerlord been active? being scripted and locations are being Adam Mitchell: Ty and I have been scouted. It’s going good, we all really playing together for about three- enjoy collaborating with other artists, and-a-half years. At first just for especially in different mediums. fun and to make some demos. It We’re all really into film and visual art. eventually became a full band and I would say that didn’t really get started until the summer of ‘08. CM: What are your songs about? Please give a couple of examples citing songs Stevie Cruz: We played our first show on the new record, Wolves At Wars End.
Photos by: Todd Zimmer
SC: In a nut shell the new record is about heavy metal and why it rules! Musically it’s a fusion of the different styles we enjoy and pursue. We recorded everything but the vocals with Adam at his house which is also our rehearsal spot/studio. Mostly everything was tracked this past winter which was brutal and beautiful and I think inspired the record and the artwork. Justin Osbourne of Slasher Design did the cover as well as the art for our first record. It’s much like the first one with the Lordess on the cover but now she’s got her winter gear on and the two wolves are now a pack and they’re about to storm the castle. Lyrically it’s all over the place but remains true to the metal aesthetic of victory, vengeance, nostalgia, and the future. We take having fun very seriously and that’s also what this recording and band is about. The album kicks off with “Demon Fever” which someone compared to Exodus/Kreator style riffing and vocals, and I can dig that, as those two bands are pretty influential to us. The chorus though is pretty rockin’…kinda has a Down or Crowbar-like vibe. The lyrics are about being liberated through chaos and madness. Harnessing the power of your inner demon, (like your inner child but more bad ass) and using it to overcome you’re ultimate fears. A big lyrical theme on this record is powering through. The title and lyrics are inspired by Doctor Strange, who is my favorite Marvel Comics hero. Early Ditko/Lee era Strange is my shit or inspirado if you will. The second song is called “Storm the Castle” and opens with a sample from the movie “The Princess Bride.” When the character Miracle Max and his wife say, “Have fun storming
the castle,” I think that sums up the can apply to many different situations in it’s own world too. The few times song pretty well. It’s a jammer. depending on who’s listening. we’ve played it live it sounded huge and was a blast. Lyrically this song like The third track is titled “Tombstone “The Ballad of Rusty Tomaski” is next “Demon Fever” is inspired by Doctor Piledriver” and is a tribute/ode to old- up and is about a very minor character Strange and his Sanctum Sanctorum school WWF era Undertaker and Paul from the show “Twin Peaks,” who and the cosmos. It also has to do with Bearer. The lyrics are from the point made a major impression on me. I love winter as does a lot of the material on of view of the challenger and how “Twin Peaks,” so much so, next month “Wolves..”. he would feel going up against The Hammerlord will be playing the Pitch Undertaker. Also what The Undertaker Music Showcase without me, because Last but not least on the new record is and Paul Bearer would say and do to I will be in North Bend, Washington “Creating Destruction” and it could their victim. I love old-school wrestling, (where they shot most of the pilot for have easily been the opener as it the story lines and characters from back the show) celebrating with other TP relentlessly shreds and never lets in the day are golden. Musically, the nerds. A bunch of our friends from up. The working title for this was song sounds very fresh to me. It’s like other bands will be filling in on vocals, “Motorcycle” because that’s what it a hybrid of death metal and thrash like it’s going to be awesome, hope they sounded like. Lyrics are fairly self I’ve never heard before. The fusion of record it. Lyrically the song is about explanatory, it’s about what we do. those styles is something I think the band this character Rusty Tomaski (A.K.A. will explore much more on our next Heavy Metal Youth) and what happens CM: How long have each of you been recording. to him in the brief three or four minutes playing your current instruments/voice? that he’s on the show. Musically the “Cloudsplitter” has a modern mix song is one of my favorites because SC: I think all the guys have been of metal and hardcore elements. It’s it has this this sinister and intense playing their instruments since junior super fast and has some real intricate vibe. Again the guys have created high/high school which wasn’t that changes and fills. The title comes this thrash/death/punk-like hybrid and long ago for some of us and many from the novel by Russell Banks, it sounds so mean. This song will moons for some of us others. I have about the life of John Brown as seen knock your dick in the dirt and make been playing with myself my whole through his son Owen Brown’s eyes. you laugh at the same time. Love it! life. It’s a great read if you like historic fiction. The lyrics are loosely based Every band that means business should AM: I have been playing the drums on John Brown’s involvement in have their own theme song. The seventh for going on 15 years. the Kansas/Missouri border wars. track is called “Hammerlord” and it’s an ode to ourselves. It’s one of the CM: Have you guys ever toured? Do The fifth song is the title track and it’s most rockin’ tracks on the record, it’s you have any out-of-town gigs coming the first song we wrote for the record. still super metal of course, but grooves up soon? We played “Wolves...” more than any and has got a catchy chorus. The other song live before recording it. lyrics reference characters from SC: After the first record came out we Musically and lyrically it sums up the both records again, furthering the mostly played around Lawrence/KC record pretty well. It’s thrash-based Hammerlord mythos. It’s a really fun but did get to play out regionally too. with a lot of modern elements of metal song to play live. We are about to buy a van and plan on and nods to old-school cross-over. The touring as soon as possible for as much solos on this (as well as the rest of the The next track is aptly titled “The as possible. record) are over the top. Lyrically it Anomaly Rue” because it’s a very ties together some of the mythology different sounding song for us. The CM: What’s the first stereotype about from our first record and this one. To main riff is this hypnotic, Voivod-like metal that you think probably comes to me it’s an anthem for creating your looping with the band real heavy behind other people’s minds? dreams and carrying them out but like it. A hard song to describe but it fits well a lot of the lyrics on the record, they with the rest of the record but also lives AM: As far as contemporary metal
goes, I think a big stereotype is that metal musicians are all sort of meathead type dudes. In my experience this could not be further from the truth. Most metal musicians that I have had the pleasure to meet are very well-educated, dedicated people who approach their art more like a classical musician would. To do thi s w e l l r e q u i r e s a lifetime of dedication. There is nothing better than a great metal band. There is nothing worse than a bad one.
money in this genre. Once again I can’t speak for the other guys, but for me Hammerlord is my favorite thing that I have ever done within the metal genre. I listen to mostly non-metal music so I would imagine that my next project would probably not be metal at all. As far as metal music goes I am SC: On the bottom, under me. very happy where I sit. Best seat in CM: Why do you think so many band the house. Being behind the drums at musicians bounce around from group a Hammerlord show is a pretty damn to group, and do you think that the five cool experience. of you guys have finally settled in one SC: Everything is true, nothing is place as Hammerlord? SC: I don’t know about the jumping false, or was that, nothing is true around part. I’m kind of a one band and everything is false? Either way AM: I think that really good metal type of man myself. Although I’ve stereotypes are for posers. musicians are in high demand and been known to whore around for the there are some guys that bounce around right price and sometimes just for shits CM: Where do you guys want to see and almost act like metal mercenaries. and giggles. Right now Hammerlord yourselves five years from now? My theory on this is simply that that’s is my main squeeze and we’re getting one of the only ways to actually make pretty serious if you know what I mean.
Photos by: Todd Zimmer
AM: Artistically I would like to see us perfecting the same thing that we are doing now. I would like us to stay true to our original vision but just be doing it better than ever. Professionally I would like to be at the top. Where else?
producers full page intro
DR+ THE YOUNG VISIONARY
Photo by Chris Mills
Written by Chris Mills
any local artists that DR+ (pronounced “Doctor Tee” or “D-R Plus”) is currently collaborating with or has previously worked with on music have never even met him in person. He doesn’t have a car and carries no cell phone. Now granted, DR+ is just 19 years old, but when he finally confirmed a date and time with us for a face-to-face interview, we felt more than privileged. “I’m doing a project with Leonard Dstroy, and I’ve never actually met him in person. I talk to him on the phone and all that. A lot of it has to do with circumstance,“ he says. “A lot of people that I (work with) live towards the inner city, Westport and all that area. I live out on like 93rd, so I’m really kind of far off from people.” But that didn’t keep another local music zine from interviewing him back in October of 2008. In an interview with Beats 4 The Streets, DR+ confessed that he was listening to electronic music before he’d even dabbled with hip hop, and that he only began watching BET to fit in with his peers. In a coffeeshop nearby Longview Community College, where he currently studies graphic design, we asked him if having recently graduated from high school has helped him become more comfortable with himself, and his music. “Yea, most definitely,” he begins. “In high school, even if you wear the wrong things or you listen to different music than everyone else you pretty much get (exiled)…In middle school, I was like your typical mainstream fan, and I would listen to everything that they played on BET or on the radio, and I was acting a certain way. And that wasn’t so much because I really wanted to do that stuff but it was more so just to be accepted. Everyone has that phase or stage of life. But yes, I’m so glad I’m past that now.” However cliché, DR+’s sound is among some of the least genrepigeonholed music you will hear in 2010. For example, he can work at hip hop, disco and house music tempos…but none
of his tracks sound anything like those given arrangements. A beautiful, dreamy amalgamation of hip hop drums, ambient, reverb-heavy synth sounds, and a splash of dubstep sensibilities make for some of the most rewarding instrumental music out now. He even touches on some “neoclassical” qualities, most apparent on a few of his tracks that negate any marked drums whatsoever. His version of Roger Troutman’s “Emotions” maintains the make-out anthem spirit, but sees DR+ upping the pulse by about 20 notches and swelling the drums with much more zing than the original. His compositions range from the dark and heavy to the buoyant and carefree. Just consider him the Doogie Howser of local beat architects. Regarding all of the surprise EPs and mixtapes he’s been releasing at a steady pace over the past twelve months or so (A Left of Consciousness, Onetrillionyearspassed, Doandroidsdreamofelectriclovers, Hands Like James, to name a few), very little of his music could even remotely be considered as lukewarm. With buggedout song titles like “Ebonics For Green Women,” “Inhaled Ignition Clutch Apparatus,” “Balloons Over Baghdad” and others, we had to pick DR+’s brain to find out exactly what the core of his creativity is. “When I first started making music I got inspiration from a lot of other producers. The J Dilla, the Madlib, the DJ Premier,” he remembers. “But here recently, ever since I started taking on this new kind of music, I’ve been influenced less so by musical artists, creative-wise, and more so by painters. There’s an artist, I think she goes by Michelle Blade, I think that’s her name…she does these portraits, these pictures of sort of paradisaic, serene situations and that’s really inspired me. Also, there was this artist who was born in the 1800’s, Alphonse Mucha, and he does art-nouveau, this kind of weird, dreamy art-style. I get influenced more by paintings and art-related things. That’s where most of it comes from.” We went out on a significant limb and asked if he actually had the ability
to stare at a given painting and derive an idea for a beat, directly based off of what he saw in someone else’s visual artwork. It was at this point during the interview that it became apparent as to just how next level this kid really is. He paused for a half second… “Sometimes. I’m not really skilled as a painter or artist or nothing like that, but instead of using canvas and oil paints, I use kicks and snares and synths. My music is my audio rendition of their paintings and stuff like that. When you get influenced by people like 9th Wonder, you start to sound like them. It’s hard for people to trace my sources when I creatively sample Alphonse Mucha and Michelle Blade and stuff like that…My music is a translation of what I see in other people’s visual arts, to sum it up in one sentence.” He would later say, “I think a lot of my influence comes from the things I see, more than some of the things I hear,“ and, “When I hear people better than me I just get jealous. But when I see a painting that I know I can never re-create, it inspires me more so than it makes me mad.” In DR+’s world, he’s probably already thinking about what painters from centuries before he wants to cite in the sample credits of his next record. For you pick-pocket producers out there wondering how you can rip off DR+’s sound, don’t bother following his tracks to whatever record store you think he’s getting his samples from…you might have better luck at an art gallery. And that’s next level shit. Age: 19 Collaborations: Reach, Leonard Dstroy, Barbaric Merits, Greg Enemy, among others Gear: Fruity Loops What to hear from DR+ in the future: an upcoming project with Kae under the duo name Light Extended, the Youth In Asia project, and much more
Photo by: Zac Bennett
norrit THE EVER-EVOLVING CREATURE
Written by Chris Mills
ansas City, Missouri-native, Norrit, also known under his DJ alias as Iggy Baby, is not one of those “you know where to find me“ type of dudes. At the time this interview was conducted, the two of us were lamping at the top floor of his two-story house just a couple of blocks away from the party capital of the Sunflower State, Massachusetts Street in Lawrence, KS. I remember him being very fidgety, barely able to remain stationary, stretching out his legs on the coffee table, then folding them in his seat again, it doesn’t matter. Perhaps it’s because he’d just returned home from work and is anxious to get his weekend underway. “It started one evening when one of my friends showed me Acid, the software,” he assures us before going into the redundant but required answers about how he began making music. “And he had it on a computer at his mom’s house, and he had a couple Casios and shit. He had a bunch of kids over, they were watching a movie and I was bored so I just went in their basement and started fucking around.” Like a lot of 90’s babies, Norrit’s story unfolds as if he’s never been able to stay still at all, really. It turns out that this ADD-like snapshot moment in his life spring-boarded him into becoming a first-class track master in the KC metro. From there, he got his first synthesizer when he was 14, picked up his first drum machine when he was 15. At 18, he began DJing parties in college by playing music off iTunes, essentially. “And then, like most things that sort of determine what I do with my music, I just found the right software to be able to play my music out live,” he says. “I don’t know that there’s any sort of good string of how I got from point A to point B. But it seemed pretty organic to just go from
making music to realizing I could DJ if I wanted to.” So at just 22 years old, he’s already dabbled in several different methods of making music and playing out as DJ. Norrit is what you’d call an “ever-evolving creature.” Fast-forward to about 20072008, Norrit’s name began popping up in the artist fields on mp3s that spread like wildfire throughout the blogosphere. The dance musicfocused, KC-rooted Think 2Wice label began putting out some of his music like the Feel The Remix EP and The Rhythm EP, containing one fidgethouse inferno of a remix borrowing from KC rap act, Royce Diamond’s song “Everybody Move.” After being floored by a performance that Royce put on at the Jackpot Salloon in Lawrence, Norrit got his hands on the acapella and transformed it into his own clubbed-out 130 BPM interpretation. “Move,” was saluted by XLR8R Magazine as “one of the best party tunes of 2008, hands down.” Norrit also shares with us a like-minded lunacy for early-mid 90’s r&b music, which bleeds through in his previous remixes of TLC, Brandy, SWV and Faith Evans, which you can search easily on google. In fact, his latest EP, titled Now Jack Swung, borrows samples from singers like Keith Sweat and others. Much different than his earlier, more eccentric remixes, the Now Jack Swung EP, is a showcase of three of Norrit’s somewhat more traditional house tracks, “Nobody Baby,” “Trippin‘ Around“ and “You Were Just Callin.” Accompanying him on the remix tip for what stands out as our favorite dance-shaded EP of 2010 are Chrissy Murderbot, Salva (who also produced Approach‘s “Brothafly Effect“) and Doc Daneeka. On the standout “Nobody Baby,” Norrit lets a soaring male r&b vocal ride out with immaculate sense and timing, culminating in a piece that coagulates as a borderline spiritual experience of bliss and tranquility.
“I loved that moment in r&b where it was…a sort of soulful side and big drum machine drums and stuff,” he reminisces. “I sort of like that dichotomy and I think it shows up in my tunes, even when I’m not sampling r&b.” According to him, tastemaker DJs out in LA and dubstep bosses overseas have been rinsing out tunes off the Now Jack Swung EP since it was released earlier this spring. But as these stories usually unfold with local artists containing a ridiculous amount of aptitude for what they do, Norrit is ready to “get the fuck out of Dodge.” He would also say, “I’m not necessarily at the level that I want to be.” So what level does he want to be at? “I just want to be like, a heavyhitter. I would love to just do music and get to a point to where I could get flown around and just do my thing. I’m gonna try to make that happen by moving to New York. Not that I don’t have any love for KC, because I do. I just feel like if I was gonna jump off it would be easier to do it in a big city.” He says he’s planning on jetting out to NY in September, after moving back in with his mom for a while to save money. But stay tuned to the blogs, iTunes, wherever you get your music, because Norrit’s name will be popping up more and more. And when you do hear his music, you probably won’t be able to stay still either. Age: 22 Collaborations: Chrissy Murderbot, Royce Diamond, Doc Daneeka, Salva, Tactic, Thunderous Olympian and DJ B-Stee among others Gear: Fruity Loops What to hear from Norrit in the future: A 7-inch on Palms Out, an EP on Palms Out, a tentatively secured project on Ramp Recordings and an upcoming project with vocalist, Queen Bea, under their duo alias, Melt.
CHURCH BOI TAKE TWO BEATS AND DON’T PHONE HIM ON THE LATE NIGHT
Photo by Chris Mills
Written by Chris Mills
first came across Church Boi’s name one night last summer when scouring the production credits on the Groovy Movement album by Kansas City rap artist, Young Boss. One freaky fable in particular caught my ear immediately, a song titled “Slowly,” featuring female rap guest, Infinity. The next day, I made a blog post about the track and sent it to a number of local DJs, trying to see if anyone liked it enough to give it some spins in their respective venues. The sleigh-bell jingles, rolling snares and zipper-fastener bassline mixed with a chorus slightly borrowing from Usher’s “Love In This Club,” made for one of the most club-ready scorchers I’ve heard out of KC yet. “You heard the shit!” Church Boi begins. “Ain’t nobody else told me about the song. You got your executive producer opinion on it, like “Man, that could be going in the club.” And after I listened to it, I was like, “Yea, this motherfucker could be goin’ in the club!” And it makes me look good because my beat gave life to those words.” Giving life to words is what Church Boi does best. Whereas the other three producers chosen for this feature primarily make instrumental music, Church Boi is the only one of the four who works exclusively with vocalists and rappers. In fact, one of the most well-received street albums to come out of KC all year, Skiem Heim and Killa Tay‘s Money & Muscle, featured a Church Boi beat on the third track (out of 18 total). Amongst a production roster packed with heavy hitting local beat-makers like K-OZ, Boy Genius and Krush Groove, Church Boi’s track, “Yep,” stole the show as a certified cruising
anthem. A wonderful featured chorus from crooner, Matt Blaque, helped out everyone’s case on that song, as well. When I asked Church Boi how he felt about the amount of phone calls he’s been getting lately from people trying to track him down for beats, he retorted, “I wish there was more paper in my account than the fuckin’ phone calls, really. I mean, fuck your phone calls and fuck your street fame. That ain’t paying the bills.” He went on to say, “My inbox (on facebook) is full of motherfuckers like, “Yo dog, I’m doing this shit at club Phase II, uh…fuck with me, man.” Fuck the street fame, man. As Rich The Factor said, Bucks Over Fame, man. All day.” Later he would add, “Get me some phone calls from New York, Atlanta, California, New Jersey. Give me some Texas area codes on my phone. I’m tired of seeing “816,” man.” Something intriguing about Church Boi’s music is that if he does just one beat for someone else’s record, often times it will end up having more club/radio potential than any other track featured throughout that given album. But why? “I ain’t promised to have another beat machine in front of me to do something, so while I’m here I’m gonna give you the best fuckin’ shit that God allows me to do.” Like most of us at 23 years old, he’s got wide eyes dead set on big dreams. “I’m a Kansas City kid, but with a mindset of making music that can reach beyond Kansas City. I take the extra step to carry it beyond what other motherfuckers are doing. I want to reach the world. I’m not just trying to reach 7th Heaven, man.” We all know there’s plenty of trash in this city’s music scene just as
there is anywhere else, but for Church Boi, the struggle between making music for artists who he actually admires and making music that gets him paid is constantly in the back of his head. At times he says he feels “took.” “I feel like a slave. All I did was sell an amazing beat to the wrong artist, but I was able to pay my bills…I have worked with the wrong artists who pay me cool money, but the song wasn’t shit to me.” It’s a strenu o u s d e b a c l e , indeed. He says that there are in fact, beat-makers out there who are “just trying to get a sack of kush weed and a bottle of champagne out the deal.” But Church Boi’s aim is different. “I’m tryin to buy more gear and stay on top of my shit. Beyond the money, I always want to work with the right artists. It makes me feel good at what I do. It gives me hope.” Some people reading this might encourage Church Boi to take a chill pill, but music is life for him, literally. “When it’s all said and done, music is my life. This is how I clothe myself. This is how I get a cheeseburger for me and my two kids. I give a fuck about how many people call my phone.” Age: 23 Collaborations: Block Life Entertainment, Fatboy Chubb, Overkill, Skiem Heim, Killa Tay, Matt Blaque, Rich The Factor, Young Boss, M.A.B., Infinity and Big Ben, among others Gear: Roland and Reason products What to hear from Church Boi in the future: A solo album, Cashmere Sweaters & Bowties
Photo by: Zac Bennett
DJ b-sTEE MACHINE GUN FUNK
Written by Chris Mills
tarting out as a self-proclaimed “scratch nerd” in his hometown of Columbus, New Jersey (one hour from New York, 20 minutes south of Philly), DJ B-Stee was always surrounded by party music, whether it was the overwhelming hip hop sound coming from NYC, or the burgeoning dance genre known as Baltimore Club creeping northward from the Mid-Atlantic. “I started DJing in ‘99 or 2000 when I was in high school,” B-Stee begins. “Then I went to college for a little bit in Bloomfield, which is right outside of Newark. The main DJ out there was this dude Black Mic, who’s actually a part of my crew now called The Klasix. He was kind of one of the main dudes that was throwing parties out there. I made a mixtape right before I went to college, so I started handing that out and got it in his hands. He heard of me before I met him, basically. He was one of the dudes that put me on to club music.” B-Stee started working on hip hop tracks with Black Mic until he discovered the budding hot bed for club music in Newark. By the time he knew it, B-Stee was a part of the notorious DJ/producer coalition, The Brick Bandits, a crew basically 50 members deep including the likes of DJ Sega, DJ Tameil (who played an influential part in bringing Baltimore’s club sound to North New Jersey) and DJ Tim Dolla. B-Stee caught a break when he remixed Daft Punk’s “Robot Rock,” which he changed the title to “Robot Club Rock,” back in 2005. He chopped and sequenced the track into an undeniable club firestorm for a mixtape he was working on with Triple Threat, Black Mic and Tim
Dolla, a short time after he relocated to Lawrence, KS to pursue a degree. “A few months later,” he tells us, “Tre Threat calls me up to let me know that Tameil put it on one of his mixtapes and it was blowing up overseas and whatnot. But since it didn’t have an artist filled in on the tracklisting, everyone just assumed it was by Tameil. So there’s a lot of copies of “Robot Club” floating around that still have DJ Tameil tagged in the artist field.” From there, the track found its way into the Serato crates belonging to the late superstar, DJ AM. B-Stee says he was at work one day, sifting through various DJ battles on youtube when he came across a clip of DJ AM’s set at Steve Aoki’s birthday bash at Cinespace in LA. “And out of the blue, like the third or fourth track in, he just slams in my track. It took me a second to realize he was actually playing my remix, but when I did I kinda lost my shit!” B-Stee would say. Even in this Serato age, it’s not everyday that one of the most visible DJs in the world drops your track, much less at one of the trendier clubs on the West Coast. After settling down in Lawrence, B-Stee started getting booked for DJ gigs at places like Abe & Jakes, Brothers, Axis and others. But it wasn’t until he saw Kansas City DJ duo, Tactic, at Neon that he realized there was a setting out here for an open DJ format. “And it blew my mind what they were playing. They were playing what the kids were getting off to. It made me start focusing more on that type of sound.” A couple of years later, B-Stee would join forces on Tactic’s imprint, Think 2Wice, a dance music-rooted label based out of Kansas City. B-Stee’s sound is obviously
Baltimore Club/Brick City Clubdriven, featuring skittering, machine gun-like snare drums and claps, drawing a lot of influence from South Florida’s Miami Bass traditions. The style of club in which B-Stee specializes is ideal for slapdash remixes of pre-existing originals, meant to be knocked out in a quick studio session. However, B-Stee’s tracks specifically sound as though he’s put a bit more time into them, as he collects encouragement from warmer, less aggressive dance genres like filter house and nu-disco, as opposed to much of the earlier, rawer Baltimore club music sound in the 1990‘s. One exclusive, a track tentatively-slated for an approaching EP on Think 2Wice, “That’s The Way,” takes Janet Jackson’s “That’s The Way Love Goes” and sees B-Stee retaining all baby-making merit while sliding in one of the most luscious club grooves we’ve heard in a long time, and making it sound easy. But recognizing a different kind of club vibe on the East Coast, B-Stee still pays homage to that style on traditionally-unsentimental tracks like “9mm,” fulfilled with gun blasts, chopped Fatman Scoop vocals and all. Not bad for a self-described “scratch nerd.” But pay attention to this dude. Some of your favorite DJs probably are already. Age: 24 Collaborations: Joe Budden, Klasix, DJ Tameil and the Brick Bandits among others Gear: Ableton, Fruity Loops and Adobe Audition What to hear from DJ B-Stee in the future: A forthcoming EP on Think 2Wice and work on The Academy’s upcoming r&b project.
LOCAL ARTIST OVERTHROW
Photos by: Todd Zimmer
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Photos by: Todd Zimmer
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