Thursday, November 21, 2013


It didn't take long for Chicagoan Add-2 (@ADD2theMC) to drop a project after signing with 9th Wonder's JAMLA imprint.  With Khrysis (@KHRYSIS) on the boards with the heat, this mixtape will surely warm our ears and hearts for the winter months to come.  Nine bangers are among us, ranging from "The Birth" to "The Glorious".  With features from like-minded artists GQ (@LifeOfGQ)) and Rapsody (@rapsodymusic), Between Heaven And Hell is poised to end 2013 on a high note when it comes to independent Hip Hop releases.  Download the dope collaborative effort below.


The end of an era in Queens. 45-46 Davis Street in Long Island City (in the borough of Queens) was a mecca for urban artists and graffiti masters. I say was because it is set for demolition. The slap in the face is that overnight it was whitewashed (an appropriate term in my non-humble opinion).  Since 1993 5 Pointz has served as a mutual meeting ground for like-minded and highly creative artists to flex their skills.  In the middle of the night on November 19th, reminiscent of the Baltimore Colts leaving for seemingly greener Indy pastures, cowardly lions made their way down the proverbial yellow brick rode that is Davis to paint over the blood, sweat and tears etched onto the walls of the former warehouse.  No regard for the historic value that is 5 Pointz.  Commerce provided the upper hand once again, as the almighty allure of the dollar superceded the value of a venue with graffiti at its core.

Tracing the history of The Institute Of Higher Burning back to the early 90's as the Phun Phactory, one can only imagine the countless hands that have gripped aerosol cans and other artifacts to make their individual pieces of art living facts.  In fact, even with the whitewash effect in effect recently, the defiant have protested by retagging the building as of this writing.  Make no mistake, the graffiti may be gone, but the spirit behind the artistic expression lives on.

The curator for the majestic urban museum, Jonathan Cohen, is known to the aerosol world as meres One, and he took on the astronomical responsibility of transforming the defunct for a year Phun Phactory into what the borough of Queens (and the world for that matter) came to know and love.  Artists from near and far trekked to the location to make a graffiti-laced mark on the cavernous walls.  Names within the urban art world such as Cope2, TATS CRU, Tracy 168, Stay High 149, and many others tagged, bombed, and painted from their souls on the globally-recognized largest aerosol art center on the planet.  This undertaking of a grand and, truthfully, global scale should NOT go unrecognized.  Too much has been vest and invested in making artist dreams come true at this location.  The same ol' story of gentrification and development is now ready to take its toll on an old building to some, but a monument to countless others.

Words really can't and won't do justice to what 5 Pointz means to the graffiti world.  Hip Hop is always a target (negatively speaking) and is used by commercial outfits for THEIR gains.  What about OUR gains?  Historic Hip Hop landmarks such as 45-46 Davis Street, 1520 Sedgwick Avenue, 205th Street and Hollis Avenue and other hotspots in the Big Apple and beyond are within the crosshairs that P.E. classically showcase as a logo.  Public enemies to the so-called public interest is what our culture is recognized as, to this day.  Most may not know, or care, about the happenings with 5 Pointz.  That is a shame indeed, because creative expression should not be swept under the rug or whitewashed.  Should we tear down the Washington Monument in  to make way for US Highway 1 expansion?  Should we blast the Gateway Arch in St. Louis in order to provide space for an overpriced condominium community?  Let that marinate for a moment.
Where do we go from here?  Let's hope that Hip Hop can move forward in a constructive manner and provide other outlets for creative expression in NY and elsewhere.  Graffiti Alley in Harm City, Venice Graffiti Pit in Venice Beach, Free Expression Tunnel in Raleigh, Graffiti Underground in Philly (I can go on and on not only here in the United Snakes, oops, United States, but worldwide) are examples of a thriving culture that cultivates graffiti as a viable, visible form of expression.  5 Pointz is still in its physical form, albeit naked.  Jerry Wolkoff, the property landlord for the iconic location, has the green light to move forward with his grand plans for two apartment buildings (41 and 45 stories high, per reports).  5 Pointz is whitewashed until its demolition, but colorful images imbedded in the hearts and minds of those in the know will last for many more years.  If you don't know the true history, visit the website that houses photos and info for 5 Pointz:
I don't want this whitewashed image to be the lasting memory for The Institute Of Higher Burning.
5 Pointz should forever be remembered and revered as a safe haven for artistically-inclined and like-minded people to network, discuss, bond, fellowship, and ultimately create.



Sunday, November 17, 2013


First of all, I want to say Rest In Power to Lou Reed, iconic rocker and founder of The Velvet Underground.  He was an integral piece to that seminal punk rock scene that New York fostered, including varied characters such as Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Debbie Harry, David Bowie, Patti Smith, and many others.  You may not be familiar with his musical discography, but I am pretty sure that Hip Hop heads have heard this featured joint for Sample Sunday before. 

A Tribe Called Quest dug into the vaults to unearth a gem on their seminal debut Peoples Instinctive Travels And The Paths Of Rhythm.

The video made this jam even more noteworthy, in my opinion.

Q-Tip undoubtedly had (and still has) an impeccable ear for picking loops and samples, as witnessed by the 1972 RCA album from Lou Reed, Transformer.

  The David Bowie and Mick Ronson produced "Walk On The Wild Side" is easily recognizable from the first couple of seconds of listening.  I remember this song from my childhood during television commercials, or those six-plus hour drives from MD to NC cruising to easy listening stations along the way. 

This esoteric cut made the perfect backdrop for Tip and Phife to "kick it", so to speak.  When you listen closely to the Reed joint, you hear topics and themes ranging from sexuality and drugs, almost taboo subjects considering this song received a lot of radio play in the 1970's.  Nevertheless, the original made its way to the record collection and ears of Q-Tip at some point, leading way to a classic song being used to make a classic song on a classic album.
Again I say Rest In Power to Lou Reed.  Go visit his discography.  See where the quirky lyrics were derived.  Enjoy the artistry that is Lou Reed.  Appreciate the music.  Walk on the wild side.


Rome Cee and Greenspan combined forces to drop a dynamic EP entitled Cee-Span.  This September 11th release has garnered nothing but positive attention and praise on a nationwide scale, not limiting these two lyricists to being known as just Baltimore-based artists (even though Harm City shows much love to their native sons).  Please take a listen and get a glimpse into the world of Cee-Span, as this six-song collection of dopeness takes us on a lyrical journey outside the 81 square-mile radius of B-more.  With production from the likes of August Flight Gordon, Carvo Music, Pablow Beats, Swiff D and R-Play Beats, we have a soundbed that matches the fire and passion behind the lyrics throughout.  Al Great, Chelsea Terrace and Masherra Hunt add just the right Old Bay Seasoning to the delectable crabcake that is Cee-Span (peep the reference Wisdom Seekers).  Expect more from both Rome Cee (@RomeCee) and Greenspan (@Greenspan410) in 2014 and beyond, because both artists are poised to make a major splash and crush the notion of what an emcee from our fair city is capable of doing.


This review has been a long time coming, but good things come to those who wait Wisdom Seekers.  The Protocol is the long-awaited project from the creative minds of B-more emcee Ullnevano (@ullnevano) and VA beat representative Logic Marselis (@logicmarselis).  I've been aware of the project for a while now, and it is very good indeed that it has finally seen the light of day.  It has taken a hot minute for me to properly review The Protocol, for Wisdom tries to be very thorough in his approach.  I wanted to let the listening experience sink in, then listen again, and listen again, in order to give an honest description and depiction for listeners and readers alike.

Thirteen cuts deep, The Protocol starts with "Again", showcasing Logic Marselis at his best with bringing dope samples to life.  Ullnevano hits the ear with stream-of-consciousness verses that blends with the soundscape provided by LM.  "Go On" continues the trend as beats and rhymes collide, creating an explosive example of studying the craft of Hip Hop.  Ullnevano paints pictures by using the mic as a brush over the Marselis canvas.  My personal favorite on this album has to be the third offering on the album, "Can't Complain".  "Filled out the Scan-Tron" is the pathway 'Neva takes to vividly depict living life with no regrets and moving forward without letting roadblocks hinder.  Logic Marselis dug into his vast crate of soul samples to unearth an uplifting joint to take listeners on that path.

I don't know how true Ullnevano's claim was at the beginning of "Hold" that he waited four months for beats from Marselis, but this tidbit opened the doors for the song to take shape.  Another dope foray into territory that you don't see or hear in music today.  You can clearly hear the 9th Wonder influence on the title cut "Protocol" with the soul-based chops present throughout.  'Neva does another good job dropping gems over the sounds that abound. 

"City Limits" is going to be on constant repeat, as Ullnevano, Soosh*e, and Logic Marselis himself drops lyrical bombs over an engaging and engulfing joint.  Kudos for everyone on this song bringing their A-games.  Sean Armstrong has a strong showing on the next TP offering, "Epic".  As usual, the musical backdrop drives the energy on this song, with piano keys providing the emotional push for Armstrong and 'Neva to wax poetic.  Nice nod to the Purple Tape by Sean Armstrong on this one.  With the title "RZA Rings" I was envisioning a Wu-inspired song complete with Saturday morning kung-fu aural effects and lyrical acrobatics that the average listener may not be able to decipher.  It doesn't quite live up to that heady comparison, but it is still a cool joint nevertheless.  Featuring Action Figures, "RZA Rings" is still a nice nod to the Wu-Tang spirit.  Next on the menu is "The Jam", another ode to those songs that stick out in the minds of true Hip Hop heads.  Ullnevano, the self-proclaimed "Word Wizard" on "The Jam" makes certain that he brings heady lyricism and witty wordplay to the forefront.

The energy of the album did start to lag somewhat, however, towards the end of The Protocol.  "Good Grief", featuring Teddy Faley on the rhymes and Chinch 33 on the cuts, starts with a panned and filtered sample, but it doesn't quite allow for the emcees in place to spit heat.  It definitely is not a bad song, by any means, but it doesn't quite measure up to the best of The Protocol.  It is good to hear an actual joint with some cuts.  It has almost become a lost art within Hip Hop circles in 2013.  "The Idea" has a nice vocal sample to compliment the lyrics of 'Neva.  "Get up get out and get something" is the mantra spit during the chorus on "Get Something", giving the listeners another uplifting and positive message to digest (with a nod to the Outkast classic from their debut album).  Closing out The Protocol is the dope "Catching On".  Sounding like a vintage Little Brother song reminiscent of The Listening or The Chittlin Circuit 1.5.  Marselis again brought the heat, bringing life to a soul-based sample and allowing 'Neva to stake his claim as a force to be reckoned with on the underground scene.  "Beats, rhymes and life is what we're on" is an apropos statement, especially on this blog.  That simple phrase sums up the mission for The Protocol.

I'm impressed with the offering that Ullnevano and Logic Marselis has presented to the masses.  Not only should Harm City and the DMV be proud of The Protocol, as it is one of the best joints of the year, but it holds up very well with other underground, independent albums and mixtapes by artists such as Rapsody and Oddisee.  Make no mistake, this album reaches further than the states of Maryland and Virginia, and should make noise no matter the region if the listener appreciates a balanced approach to music-making.  Support the artistry that The Protocol presents to the Hip Hop world.  It is a breathe of fresh air in a sometimes stale atmosphere.  You can cop this breathe of fresh air at the following:

Beats, rhymes and life is what we're on...


Sunday, November 10, 2013


Here is the official video for the lead single from the dope Ullnevano and Logic Marselis release The Protocol.  My B-more cohort, with great assistance from his VA partner in beats and rhyme, has dropped the visual companion for an album deserving of shine within the Hip Hop community.  Enjoy the various nuances of the video, from the MF Doom-like masked cat, to the Camden Yards cameo throughout. 

#The #Protocol


Ullnevano (@ullnevanohiphop) and Logic Marselis (@logicmarselis) are showing the world what true, unadulterated Hip Hop is all about with the release of The Protocol.  This Baltimore to Fredericksburg duo has given usa very dynamic joint for 2013, adding to the wealth of solid Hip Hop concoctions this year.  Peep the visuals for "Can't Complain", the first video release linked to The Protocol.  Syranno Debergiak (@Syranno) provided the visual direction for this dope look. 

More insight forthcoming for The Protocol, which is thus far one of the most complete projects of the year, due to the balanced lyricism from Ullnevano and visceral production from Logic Marselis.