BEST UNDERGROUND RELEASE
"Heart of the City"-LilTae
BEST CLOTHING LINE/CLOTHING APARREL:
HIP HOP ARTIST OF THE YEAR-Male
Dat Girl Kesh
BATTLE MC OF THE YEAR
BLOG/WEBSITE OF THE YEAR:
POET OF THE YEAR:
BAND OF THE YEAR:
PRODUCER OF THE YEAR:
DJ OF THE YEAR:
PROMOTER OF THE YEAR
PHOTOGRAPHER OF THE YEAR:
STUDIO OF THE YEAR:
VOCALIST OF THE YEAR:
BEST NEW ARTIST:
Finesse the Best
GRAPHIC DESIGNER OF THE YEAR:
VIDEOGRAPHER OF THE YEAR:
BUSINESS EXECUTIVE OF THE YEAR:
(Awarded to members of the artistic community who go above and beyond who serve their communities and/or give services that enhance the artistic community)
Kariz Marcel-Kariz Kids
Lano/Hip Hop For The Homeless
Shaka Pitts/Contributions to Hip Hop Scene
SPECIAL CONTRIBUTION AWARD RECIPIENTS
Judah's Juke Joint
Lisa Champlin Suit
Jon Cash (of Cashland Clothing)
Frky Felony of The Plug
Noise in the Basement
E the Poet MC
I will be honest....leading up to the Crown...sometimes, I want to scream lls.. because of the workload but the night makes it all sooo worth it.. just seeing everyone together!!
.Thank you all for packing it out again and thank you for all the kind words and beautiful energy y'all gave. I'm humbled and thankful.. s/o to Navasha Daya for killing it on the mic..and for giving me that beautiful sisterly helpful energy.. I needed all night.. s/o to Ama Chandra and her band..that was LIVE!! and everyone that jumped on the live band cipher.. s/o to Sammie Preston..for bringing out those dope dancers... Slangston Hughes--my stage manager..and poetry segment organizer.. Thanks for holding me down.. Haneef PermissHolla Wynn.. #delicious..sike.. Thanks Bro .. You are appreciated... Bar Cardy.. Thank you for blessing the mic.. all the poets.. thank you.. s/o to Skarr and Spaz..the producers.. Jahiti Brownfish-Thank you.. Ogun Bmorehero--Thanks for your positive energy and encouragemen. That is always well appreciated.. J5/ J Infinity..It was honor presenting you with the legend award..thanks for all the support over the years..and for all your services in the scene.. s/o to Amotion Dfs..for going through so much to be there... It was great to see her get her recognition for all they years of hard work that she has poured into the scene.. s/o to Porkchop..for that moving acceptance speech.. s/o to Baltimore Legend Marc Evans for all his contributions.. s/o to EVERYONE who was honored, nominated, and won.. and s/o to ALL of this year's Hall of Fame Inductees.. and again.. thank you to EVERY SINGLE one who came through last night and thanks to anyone who has ever came through for the Baltimore Crown Awards over the past 6 years.
Thank you to all the presenters..
Stay tuned to the 7th Annual Baltimore Crown Awards.. first week of November 2013..
pics/updates to come!! #loveyall
Please stay connected: Subscribe facebook.com/chinyer or facebook.com/thebaltimorescene, @chinyer on twitter, or "LIKE" the fan pages facebook.com/baltimorecrownawards
NUFF SAID has broken from his brothers shadow and established his own nitch in the Pit, he has a string of wins and entertaining battles and has risen meteorically in popularity and skill over the past year
APEX has already cemented his status as one of the greats in Bmore battle history and continues to make great battles and be the man to beat in the Pit.
MURDA is a phenom on the scene right now. He like the Black Undertaker. His performance AND lyricism are exceptional which is increasingly rare these days. His promos this year have had great anticipation and rewatch value and he had a good showing vs URL's M.Ciddy.
KILLER ZEEK has defended his MK2 title twice successfully. I think he deserves to be acknowledged for that.
2. Lenwood-because of his passion to make good music i have never heard a song that i didnt like and his attitude is fit for the stage great performer...
3. Apex-he is an awesome artist. His music is genuine and his word play is unstoppable...
4. Savage the beast-because of his creativity and grind. He has great work ethics. He's very dedicated and he's another artist with great bars and delivery...
5. Only- Only is hiphop- 1 word sums up Only the kid!!!
Thanxx Chin for valuing my opinion!!! Goon
I collected these artist because they all have put out at least a decent project within the year. I have personally seen these artist come out to shows when they are not even performing. None of these artist alienates themselves from other artist, never publicly bash local artist. For example, I hear and see alot of local artist say they don't care for support from local artist cause they dont look at them as fans. That's pretty much it!
2) Ray Lugar-He's moved on to videograghy/ films on an industry level and does well with his band. A vet who has helped young artists, very lyrical also
3) Huli Shallone- He has progressed over the years into a song maker, not as lyrical as some would want but you fall for his song energy. Hood anthems
4) Los- always kills shit. Good industry resume
5) Bar Cardy- lyrical enough to battle but has appeal in songmanship.
Opinionated!!! Who are the top 5 Poets In Bmore? Answer by Luminous-(Poet)-won 'Book of the Year' at Poetry For The People 'People's Poetry' Awards
1. Rebecca Dupas… with a voice barely over a whisper she exudes grace, poise and wisdom when teaching from the stage. I gravitate to her work mainly because she has a knack for focusing on relationships and self-discovery/evaluation as a woman. Her writing is simple yet complicated and I can't wait to see what she does with topics outside of love, family and relationships.
2. LOVE the poet… She never stops growing innovatively and is constantly striving to channel her inner artist. Her recordings as well as her writing has definitely evolved over the years.
3. Taalam Acey… He's simply captivating. His subject matter runs a vast gamut but his writing is consistent in content and in delivery.
4. Unique the heaven sent… Although I'm just being introduced to her work, her writing and performance precedes her and she definitely didn't disappoint. Her words are powerful beyond measure and her cadence is melodic. She uses imagery in ways one wouldn't imagine and delivers it in a raw and unapologetic manner.
5. Gray… His concepts and writing style draws me in. He's a bold poet who isn't afraid of bringing forth his method and has been a great inspiration to me.
Quill Wordsmith… Many have slept on Quill in the realm of poetry and simply embrace him for his jazz melodies and syncopated scats but Quill has a very vivid and abstract way of writing that has simply inspired me beyond measure.
Top 5 Female MCs in my opinion and in no particular order.
1. Jaydee- Polo this Polo that!! Hahaha. I love my girl Jaydee, every song is catchy but not annoying and I know almost all of them. Her performances are more like a damn party then a concert. If you haven't seen Jaydee perform you NEED to, its an experience!
2. DGK- Only female rapper to make me cry, her songs are her life stories and they hit home with me bigtime. She has grown alot as an artist and I am exited to see her go far.
3. Mia Lone- Shocked the hell out of EVERYONE in attendance at Queen of the mic 3, myself included. Cute blond white chick with girl next door looks, and people was like, huh? But she then opened her mouth and killed the show with her flow and stage presence! If you ask me people are really sleeping on this one!
4.Miss Cream- Can sign, rap, act and drop it like its hot!! haha....for real tho, another one that I have had the pleasure to see grow as an artist. Its always a good show if Miss Cream is on the bill. Mad professional, never bitchy about set times or this and that and great tickets sales,you know what that means...grinding!
5.Tiffany Couture- Dope artist and performer. I feel like we are sisters, in the way that when I started promoting and booking she started performing. So we have grown together. I remember when she used to wear sun glasses and lots of clothes like she was tryin to hide, now she owns the stage in every performance. Al Shiply even wrote about Tiff in the city paper saying she could give Rye Rye a run for her money.
Opinionated!!!! Q: Who are the top 5 Poets in Bmore?? Answer by: E The Poet MC –Host/Creator of The Art of Conversation Open Mic
Peace. This list of who I believe to be the top 5 Poets in Baltimore is based on two things. The first being that the Baltimore area is their primary residence. (And since I no longer live in B-more, I don't make my list. LOL). The second being I've had the privilege of hearing and experiencing these poets over a protracted amount of
time. Others I may have listed would be newer poets who haven't proven to stand the test of time. These are poets I've witness for at least 10 years and at ANY time they could easily take to the stage, stand and deliver.
In no particular order:
1. Taalam Acey: Considered by many to be a living legend of this current generation of poets, along side Saul Williams I would say Taalam's writing and performance style is an archeotype of many of today's best poets. Easily the most imitated poet in the country, Taalam's performance rhythm harkens to the days of the Black Arts Movement's Amiri Baraka wherein one's mastery of tone and inflection is as important as the writing. Taalam's writing style is unmuddled with tricky word play, but places value on each word's placement. As awriter he's unequaled. As a performer you could try but it's better if you just take notes!
2. Komplex: Very few poets who are also MC's are able to find the balance between the two where you being an MC enhances your poetry and it does not sound like an aceppella rap. Komplex is one of those few; Intricate wordplay, poetic timing and a master of stage presence. Whether he's fronting a band as Cowboy Kom, or being Mr. Keep On Movin' he's consistently a great poet.
3. Olu Butterfly: As artf orms become more popular to the masses there's a tendency among artists to make it more accessible instead of cultivating audiences to grow into the art form. Poetry being an art form that's based in abstract thought, poets must be masters of both the language of land animals as well as those that take to the sky. If you missed what I said, consult Olu Butterfly. Her writing speaks volumes of advance studies in June Jordan, Nikki Giovanni, while her performance is more Lena Horne meets MC Lyte. Though these days she's more behind the scenes as Baltimore's Poetry Movement's backbone and spine; When she does decide to hit the stage, it's like Stevie Wonder...he doesn't need a hit song on the radio to do what he do! Neither does she!
4. Slangston Hughes: The Thelonius Monk of poetry. In a word based artform it's hard to differentiate yourself unless you find your own voice. Slangston has done this. His wordplay is his own form of
"slanguage arts." The depth of concept and imagery forces the listener to really LISTEN or you'll miss something. And you'll probably miss something anyway due to his stage performance of shooting himself with a pencil to fall face-flat on stage to only resurrect as a different personality. What I said earlier about abstract thought doesn't really apply here...Slangston is more like alien thought!
5. Archie the messenger: In the next five years Archie The Messenger will probably be the next most imitated poet in the country. What hits you
first about Archie is his stage performance; I'm not sure if it's that healthy to give so much of yourself in a performance. Secondly it's his wordplay; which is an understatement, it more like full-out recess! Easily the most dynamic poet ever, Archie's writing style is
a potpourri of every poetic device used by poets, MC's, Actors, comedians, sewn together into a seamless fabric of rhyme. And bad news for the biters: he keeps growing and he's getting better. So while your biting what he did tonight, it'll be known as "old Archie" by next month!
The weirdest thing about the Baltimore poetry scene, with the exception of Olu most of these poets aren't originally from Baltimore. Baltimore has become like Bermuda Triangle for talent and is known
around the country as one of the best cities for poetry. So, I pray that my appreciation of my fellow poets above is accepted in the spirit of love it was written in. Peace.
Opinionated!!! Q: Who are the top 5 producers in Baltimore? A: Reina Williams Producer/Composer/Engineer/Beat Battle Champion/Singer/Songwriter (with very impressive industry credits)
Beat Ryda: Beatryda isn’t boxed in by the MPC. He loves to know about technology and makes it a point to master his weapons of choice when it comes to making his music
Ish: ish was the first hot producer that I was exposed to in Baltimore when I interned @ oz recording studio. Until I met him, most tracks I heard from local kats sounded amateur. His stuff sounded like they were radio ready. He also used the proteus rack hardware which was real dope @ that time. He did cool stuff with the sounds and was just an inspiration to me
dj class: dj class isn’t just a beat maker, he is a composer. His original tracks are amazing cause he is a composer.
Kid from Track Kings: He’s dope. He is very in tune with the sound of “today” and seems to pull it off effortlessly.
• Barnes- His songs have a real spirit about them. His presence is captured on record very well and dude is just a problem period! Reality rap at its best and his hooks are usually pretty dope.
• OHH- This dude is just insane. As far as raw lyrics, creativity, confidence, concepts, and live shows he is hands down one of the most entertaining artist I have come across.
• Comp- His thought process is incredible and he seems to have mastered his craft… He is a very good song writer…. Very witty, cocky, egotistic and confident! When I hear him its like I’m listening to a super hero rap. I think he has super powers…
• Symph- She can really rap! I have seen her destroy dudes on numerous occasions! She is truly a Rock Star; she is confident, cocky, witty as hell but most of all she got BARS!!
• Bossman- Now heads got their opinions about dude. But Bossman is very talented. Very good song writer and performer. Has a great voice and he isn’t scared to take risk! Not sure if you all have heard his new album “The Re-up” but it is pretty serious! But yeah dude is def a heavy hitter in our city!
*** On a side note Skarr Akbar is my personal favorite…. You can put this guy in any area and he will hold his own. Now with all that being said; I have a lot of favorites for different reasons so all my true artist just keep grinding! Your hard work doesn’t go unseen! Oh yeah one more thing….It’s Gritty Gang Season! Seek Shelter!
1. NativeSon/David Ross: yeah he's my rhyme partner in The 5th L but I dare you say he's not PCP dope with the writing and performing. Native's approach to subject matter proves there is nothing new under the sun but different ways to approach it, he is capable of offering new insight to many of the same old things in life and he plants himself within each piece with a vulnerability that make it easy to stirke him down and yet he'll appear stronger once finished.
2. Olu Butterfly: I started out with this lady, grown up with her and respect everything about her. Olu B or "gangsta rainbow" is the type poet that brings the crowd into her world of language and hasn't a care if everyone doesn't fit. Sometimes she can be cryptic sometimes she serves you with a sledge hammer; either way she's incredible to watch and amazing to listen to.
3. Sir Reigns: above average, once thoroughly celebrated, before his time, conspiracy buff, but a lyricist like no other. To truly understand Sir, you have to be well read or you'll just be in awe of how much you don't know, I've missed alot that I got later honestly. Sir dances in many worlds that conflict and yet he manages to make them function some how through his words and work. I currently wish he was hitting the stages more now but hibernation is his current state.
4. Chuck The Mad Ox: Forget calling him a poet, The Mad Ox is an entertainer who uses poetry and rhymes as tools to lure you in. He's most unique because truly he doesn't have a care on what you think and has no boundaries when he writes along with a performance unlimitless in style, this man isn't afraid to be a fool or sensual or militant or a combination of all. Everyone says that they are multidimensional but chuck shows it consistently or he's just Skitzo?
5. Grandma Dave: I've always battled with the question, "what is poetry and what isn't?" What Dave writes and recites comes across so pure that it's sounds like human expression from a past era of man. If anything was ever in question, Grandma Dave writes poetry even if you hated it you can't deny it.
Opinionated!!! Q: Who are the top 5 MCs in Bmore? A: By Lenwood “Hip Hop Artist of the Year” and “Best New Artist” Baltimore Crown Award Nominee
1.Supe: Supe is part of the love meds.. He’s new, he’s differant and he makes great songs..
2.J.D: He’s another part of the love meds. He’s raw and uncut, truthful. He brings the real back to music
3.Only: Only's lyrics and the way he plays with different ways to put his rhymes together are great
4.Trace Blam: Trace Blam is hip hop in its rawest form.. dope dope lyricist.. and he has a strong stage presence.
5.Speilberg: Pickin a 5th was difficult but I had to think of “what I listen to". Speilberg- his “Another World” mixtape was crazy.. I listened to it for months.. for a minute I used to say "shidd my fav rapper is a producer"
If you’re heavy on the Bmore hip hop scene, you’re bound to run into photographer- Lisa Stant lovingly nicknamed “Baltimore’s Paparazzi”. Even if you didn’t realize it, you probably have been in the same room as her . She’s at just about everybody’s show/event documenting the scene through her pictures. She won the “Special Contribution” Award at last year’s Baltimore Crown for her service to the artistic community.
Now, if you know Lisa personally, you know that’s she’s a big fan of Shy and Bomb.. so I told her, it’s understood that she loves them…lol so… excluding them, who would make her top 5..
1. I would have to say Comp definitely!! His stage presence is great no matter if there are 10,000 or 10 people in the audience.
2. Lenwood!! He has a great show presence as well! His music and lyrics are on point as well! I really enjoy watching him!
3. Dirt Platoon!! Those guys work the stage, engage the audience and have a real hip-hop feel to them that I really like!
4 . would have to be Grad Dai! The are my number two favorite band in the city!! I really like their feel and their vibe!! Those guys are really going places. They are making a good name for themselves right now.
5. And I really love watching One aka Generalbeatz! He has this passion for his music and you can see it in his performances. His music ranges on many levels and subjects!
Opinionated:!!!! Q Who are the top 5 Poets In Baltimore? A: By Pages –Slam Champ/Brave New Voices mentor..(one of my favorite DMV poets.. He’s from PG County)
because he is way out of the norm. his rhymes are clever, slick and he pushes boundaries.
2. Sir Reigns
Dude is just PLAIN SICK. Bottom line. Sir Reigns be going in...
3. 5th L
they are very dynamic and quite good at what they do together its always fun mixed with a message
4. and 5 i honestly don't know.
I feel like a lot of names. I will be saying just cuz they are names to say, and as people I respect them and got mad love for them, but strictly speaking from a poet's perspective they aren't all that good to me.
ooooooooooooooh wait i do have ONE MORE
She's different. in the way she tackles concepts and ideas and renders them. It's like it's complex yet simplistic all at once. ..and that's genius
Opinionated!!!! Q: Who are the top 5 poets in Bmore A: by Slangston Hughes-First $700 Word War Champ
In no particular order:
E the Poet MC....is one of the most consistent, one of the most versatile writers and is definitely the peoples’ poet...
LOVE the poet: one of the best ‘from page 2 stage’ poets... always has strong recordings and is fearless as a writer
Olu Butterfly Woods: …from another planet artistically which makes her mad original... fits into any setting as a performer and one of the most effective abstract writers... has always inspired me!
Taalam Acey: Greatest spoken word poet of this entire era, possibly the greatest ever! he can write on subject matter from Love to politics and art etc... all equally well... one of thee most consistent anywhere who just happens to live in Baltimore.
and.... drum roll!!!!!!
Luminous: very slept on….. but one of the most vivid and descriptive writers out there... incredible concepts and approaches subjects that most poets won’t or can’t touch with a wit and cleverness that is often lacking in the realm of "performance poetry" and has a knack for making it look rather easy...
Gray..has always been a very dynamic performer and the writing continues to grow at an drastically inspiring rate.... one of the bravest poets I know and as dope as he is, probably isn't nowhere near as dope as he eventually will be! can't wait to hear what he writes next! I'm such a fan... of all of them!!!!!
and one more thing... Ad-Lib will easily take one of those top 5 spots back very soon now that he’s back performing again, because he's easily one of the best ever ….from anywhere... not just Baltimore!!!!
ps... best spoken word/poetry group... 5th L... They’re in the top 1 in that category!!!
Opinionated!!!! Q: Who are the top 5 Producers in Bmore??? A: by Kariz Marcel $700 Track Meet Producer Battle Champion
Well you know it wouldn’t be right to say that I’m not Number 1. I have a well diverse catalog to prove it. I’ve produced a live jazz/samba project, urban pop, r&b, neo soul...the list goes on. The only people I can think of that come close to my track record is Ray Lugar (but Ray aint been to oactive lately) and Reina Williams. I got to give Beat Ryda his props. hummmm??? idk
Chin-yer: lol...not including you..;).. but why Beat Ryder? and Reina"?
Kariz: cause they’re the only ones that I can see myself sharing a big check with someday. I would say Reina then Beat Ryda. Reina is somewhat of a veteran. It aint nothin she cant do, plus she’s a songwiter first. Beat Ryda cause of his artistic consistency. He extremely competitive, that might be the one thing that will push him through the door
Chin-yer: O.k. who else?
Kariz: I been researching this J Oliver cat. He's pretty good. Justin Lay of Purple Hearts/ Left Brain Prod. is nice too.
2. dj tanz
3. dj 5 starr
4. dj phaze
(not including myself of course lol)
DJ lil Mic is like my mentor and very talented in his own right. Hustler personified.
I learned alot from Tanz’ sets at Club One.. timing, switching genres, keeping the energy up, etc.
Booman holds it down for bmore club
dj phaze holds it down for the soulful sounds
dj 5 Starr is dope for dirty south sets and his acapella blends
They’re all vets and I learned a lot from listening/watching them… I would list more but they spin in DC and other cities other than Baltimore..
…for lyrical skill, concepts, and pure raw talent and I chose testme cause he is one of the youngest but super nice.....
OPINIONATED! ………..Q: Who are the top 5 MCs in Bmore? A: from: Tonio From Da Top, Baltimore Crown’s ‘Under The Radar’ Award Winner
………Los is a star. Skarr is the truth, literally. Ogun is energy and style. Only puts words together like no other and Comp is different but super entertaining”
When I started this blog, I hit up Al Shipley and told him "you just HAVE to let me interview you" lol. I don't care what anybody says, Al is Baltimore's blog king so it was only fitting that I question him..pick his brain.. plus.. I wanted to get advice from him. I've been reading "Government Names" and "Noise" for years and Al writes some of the most entertaining reviews and articles out here. His commentary and insults of people's CDs, music, and events have literally made me laugh out loud.
In a city where so many people criticize each other behind each other's back, it's so refreshing to have someone publicly speak their mind.. straight..no chaser. I've judged events with him and he's judged a couple of my events and he never fails to be politically incorrect..I think he has single-handedly stepped alot of our games up. Don't get me wrong, Al Shipley is not some terrible critic who gets joy out of hurting people's feelings....not at all (at least I don't think so :). No... really, Al Shipley is a mad cool guy, who cares enough about Baltimore's artistic community to check us when we're off..and to applaud us, when we're on our game..
Ok..so.. here's our Q & A
1. What inspired you to write the blog Government Names
Well, in 2004, the music blogosphere was still kind of in its infancy,
and blogs in general weren’t really as cool or accepted as they are
now. And at the time I was really resisting getting into that, but at
the same time it seemed like a good outlet for just talking about what
you were interested in, and there were some really good music blogs
but very few were about hip hop. So I kind of got together a few
friends and people I liked to bullshit with about rap online, and we
just wrote about whatever we were into, mainstream stuff, regional
stuff. And this was before MySpace and YouTube and labels creating all
this content for blogs, so a lot of time there’d be no pictures or
anything, just what we wrote about music. So that’s the discipline I
come from, it being more about your perspective than cut-and-pasting
links and regurgitating whatever news is being promoted that day,
which is basically what most rap blogs are about now.
In the first few months I wrote about Baltimore rap a few times and
had just been starting to scratch beneath the surface of the scene and
hear people that weren’t signed or getting played on 92Q. And so I got
deeper into that, and by the end of 2005 all the site’s other writers
kind of lost interest and dropped out, so I just took over and steered
the focus exclusively towards Baltimore music.
2. why did you name your blog “Government Names”
The simple answer is that it’s a phrase that’s just used in hip hop a
lot without sounding overtly hip hop, so I feel like it’s a good
brand, it kinda gets across what you’re going for without trying too
hard. But you can also read other things into it -- I mean I post
under my government name, there’s no alias or smokescreen with me,
which there is with a lot of rap writers/bloggers.
3. How did you become a writer with The Baltimore City Paper?
I didn’t really know anyone at the paper, although I was friends with
Tom Breihan, who was still writing for them at the time, and I guess
people around the city were starting to look at Government Names more
around 2005. And one day Bret McCabe, who was the music editor then
and is the arts editor now, kinda e-mailed me out of the blue and
asked me if I wanted to write for them. This was shortly after a
pretty in-depth post I wrote about Tim Trees, so if I had to guess
that was why. And again, I was reluctant about blogging to begin with,
and had kind of wanted to avoid being a music critic/journalist, since
I’m a musician too and it can be hard to do both (and considering how
little music I’ve played in the last few years, I was right, although
I’m starting to get back into that). But around the same time Bret
e-mailed me, I was also asked to write for Stylus Magazine, and I was
just finishing up college then, as an English major without any kind
of career plan, so it just seemed like the timing was right. And I
give Bret a lot of credit for helping me work my way up, giving me a
few short reviews, and then a full-page piece, and then a feature
interview, so I just gradually got up my confidence and my abilities.
And from there I was just off and running, and every editor I’ve
worked under there has been great and has given me a lot of
opportunities to contribute.
4. What advice would you give to a writer/journalist looking to have
their articles published in The City Paper and other magazines etc..
I would say the first thing is to know your venue -- read it
regularly, get an idea of what they cover and how they write, think of
things they could cover but don’t and see how you could fill that
niche. I’d been reading the City Paper for 10 years before I was in
it, and that’s really why I was able to jump into things fairly
quickly. The other thing is just to have a lot of writing samples,
even if they’re just stuff online or on your own blog. And that means
really treating your blog or whatever as seriously as anything you’d
get paid for, writing as well as you can and showing what you can do.
It’s a pretty tough time for just about any print publication these
days, so getting your foot in the door is harder than it was just 5
years ago when I started, but I wouldn’t discourage anyone from
trying. The world needs good, committed writers, no matter what medium
they’re writing in in the future. Sometimes people who can barely put
together a coherent e-mail ask me to help them get in CP, and I'm just
not sure what they think they're gonna do and I feel almost insulted.
But anyone that really wants to do it and is serious about it deserves
some help or advice, so I try not to be an asshole about it.
5.You have the reputation for giving some of the harshest/meanest(but most honest) reviews in the city..lol Are you as “I don’t give a fuck what anyone says/thinks about me” as you come across? Do you
sometimes fear for your life after writing one of your reviews?
I guess I really don’t give a fuck, yeah, but mainly I just think that
you can’t let fear or paranoia dictate your actions, especially in
Baltimore. You can be a nonthreatening white guy and go the places I
go, but if you let people smell fear then you’re just asking for
something bad to happen. I can’t say I’ve ever really thought I was
gonna get jumped or tracked down or something, but I guess you never
know. I’m lucky that generally when I walk into a show I have way more
friends than enemies in the room. I’ve had a few heated phone calls or
e-mails, but never a personal confrontation or anything that felt like
it would escalate. And oddly, it’s really not the most negative
reviews that elicit the most negative reactions -- it’s the people who
take one sentence the wrong way, or get really mad about one detail
being included or excluded, that are usually the most angry. I think
my best asset there is to know when to leave well enough alone, or
when to apologize or back down when I know I'm in the wrong -- I'm not
one to stick my neck out just to prove a point or boost my ego.
6. Do you think that you’re ever TOO harsh?
There are definitely times when I know I went overboard, or I was in a
bad mood and made a decent record seem worse than it is. Sometimes
I’ll spend half the review obsessing over some small thing and ranting
about it, and then that colors the reader’s perception of an otherwise
positive review. I try to balance it all out in some way, though. I’m
big on the word “but” -- every rave review still points out a flaw,
and every pan still points out a silver lining.
The thing about local music coverage is that it’s very easy to be a
cheerleader, to only be positive -- I don’t think anyone gets into
covering local music unless they have a bit of “root for the home
team” instinct in them. But the more you hear, the more you
differentiate the good from the bad, and the more you realize that you
can’t just blindly recommend stuff. If I make a shitty local record
seem better than it is, someone could hear it and be disappointed, and
maybe think that’s the best Baltimore has to offer. I’d rather
Baltimore be thought of as a place where the cream rises to the top,
and the weak shit gets called out or ignored, than a scene where
everybody holds hands and tells each other how great they are even
when the music sucks.
7. I know you’ve reviewed a bunch of cds..some great..and some
terrible… Issue out a warning to underground artists... what are the
components of a reeeeeeally bad cd that will get a terrible review
from you in the city paper
One thing I will always note is that I cover virtually everything I
hear on Government Names -- which averages over 80 CDs a year -- and
will cover a tiny fraction of that stuff, maybe 10% or so, in the City
Paper. So generally I try to reserve the best and/or most newsworthy
stuff for the paper, which means most of my CP reviews are more
positive than not. And when they’re not, it’s usually because the
record was a big deal or newsworthy in some way, and I decided to
review it before realizing how bad it was.
Obviously, with independent and underground artists, production values
are the biggest hurdle -- you can make a great-sounding record without
a lot of money these days, but most people still don’t. So on one
hand, a lot of stuff just sounds like shit right out of the gate. But
with the more professional-sounding product, there’s a lot of more
nuanced issues, mainly having to do with whether the artist has a
personality, a perspective, a sound of their own. Nobody needs another
generic indentikit rap album that sounds like everything else and apes
every trend. I’d rather hear a diamond in the rough that’s unique than
a slick, well-produced record with absolutely nothing interesting to
say. So the people that really piss me off are the ones that I feel
like are wasting my time with some boring shit I’ve heard a billion
times before, especially if I think they have a potential to be
creative and memorable and are squandering it.
8. In you’re opinion, what’s a good example of a good cd
(production/song wise).. … Which independant artists do you play on a
regular basis (and why)
In terms of assembling and structuring an album, I’m of the opinion
that less is more. Having an intro and a bunch of interludes and drops
and bonus cuts gets in the way more often than not, and unless you’re
like De La Soul and can make hilarious skits that feel like part of
the album, you’re better off not bothering. When a rap album hits you
with song after song, no bullshit, and the songs speak for themselves,
the effect is really striking, I wish more artists had the confidence
to do that. Mixtapes that are all or mostly freestyles over industry
beats bore the shit out of me, and I’ve become almost hostile towards
them over the years -- it’s pretty much a waste of breath to write
that many rhymes and then just throw them over someone else’s song. I
mean sure, if you have a crazy idea for a version of a song, or really
just wanna rap over that beat, go for it, but if you’re just too
lazy/cheap to write hooks and song structures or find original tracks,
you don’t need to be making a CD anyway. I think the last local CD I
heard that I really thought was put together well and had a strong
individual viewpoint and cohesive sound was 810’s Glass Half Full.
Since I’m always kind of struggling to keep up with new releases, the
people I play the most regularly are generally the most prolific
artists -- Skarr Akbar, Labtekwon, Mullyman, Comp, Wordsmith, Born
King, PenDragon, guys that tend to drop multiple projects every year,
year after year. And I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the people
who work the hardest and make the most music also have carved out
their niche really well, and have a great sense of who they are and
what their music’s about. Some people can pop their head out of the
ground every couple years with a new record and make an impression
every time, but not many. Like I will still forever jam those records
from the first two Tim Trees albums, even if it's been almost 5 years
since I interviewed him about the third album and that shit's still
9. I’m gonna ask what I heard someone say.. before.. Do you ever feel
unqualified to review hip hop music?
The thing about being a music critic that tends to rile people up is
that there is no qualification, there is no certification -- you don’t
have to pass a test or have certain records in your collection,
ultimately you just have to be able to write, and be able to say
something about the record that’s in front of you at the moment. And
that bugs me as much as anyone sometimes, because I’m a real
nuts-and-bolts person who’s studied music history and tries to learn a
lot about the actual creative process. Whereas a lot of music critics
approach it from a literary or sociological standpoint: they’re all
about what the lyrics mean, what the artist represents, more than what
the record sounds like or how it was made or whether it accomplishes
its goals. I’m a big production nerd, but I'm not obsessively into
lyrics like some heads are -- I can’t really memorize or quote back
lines to you very easily, and a lot of times I’m more focused on the
flow and the overall effect of the track than just the words. But if
you’re saying a bunch of DEEP HEARTFELT SHIT but can’t make it sound
fly or stay on beat, you should go do poetry and leave rap alone
anyway, to be honest.
So I would say, other than the obvious strikes against me -- being
white, listening to a lot of music other than hip hop, being born
after 1980 and having somewhat mainstream taste in rap -- I think I’m
as qualified as anyone. There are definitely some critics with an
encyclopedic knowledge of rap that would put mine to shame, but
generally I’m no slouch when it comes to actually knowing the ins and
outs -- I think people who only read my stuff on Gov’t Names sometimes
think I don’t hear everything from everywhere else too, or have to ask
me what else I listen to. And again, there are a lot of critics that
really half-ass it when it comes to covering rap, especially at the
bigger publications and sites, so reading them always bolsters my
confidence that I'm not punching above my own weight. There are
certain kinds of rap that I have never been especially interested in,
so when local people make that kind of music and I feel obligated to
cover it, sometimes I’m out of my depth and I know it -- I don’t
really know their influences, their artistic goals, I’m just kind of
doing guesswork. Sometimes that’s great because it’s opened me up to a
wider variety of hip hop than I’d gotten into before, but sometimes I
probably stumble and show my ignorance.
10. Based on your articles, I was expecting you to be a real wild
guy.. and I thought you were black..Now knowing you, I'd say that you
strike me as a mysterious, introverted person.. does this surprise
you..or are you wilder than you look?
Well, I think most writers are able to let out their personality a
little more in print than in person, that’s just part of what makes
them good at what they do. I try not to write anything that I wouldn’t
be comfortable saying out loud, but of course there’s always going to
be times when you amplify your opinion or your personality for effect.
Probably out in the music scene I’m more reserved, because I just like
to play the background, observe things, and not draw attention to
myself -- to be a reporter, essentially. But I can be pretty obnoxious
and extroverted around people that know me or have talked to me
one-on-one a lot, as any of them could tell you. I'm only mysterious
to the extent that I know being a public person, even to the minor
capacity that I am, leaves you open to catch a lot of shit the moment
you put any of your business out there. People can only form an
opinion on what you let them know about. So while I'm not ridiculously
private or paranoid, there's a lot of my life that I will always keep
offline and out of my writing.
11. What are you really like, when you're home chillin..no pen in hand?
Well, I have a 6-month-old son and I’m doing the stay-at-home dad
thing right now, so there’s a lot of chilling at home these days. My
inner critic will definitely come out in daily life and I’ll have
ridiculous debates about anything and everything with family and
friends, but generally I'm pretty mellow, not a lot of drama.
12. lastly.. let me ask you one of our opinionated questons.. why
not..? lol According to you, who are the top 5 MC in the scene?
(and why..1-2 line description.. or longer)
This is such a loaded question, and surprisingly tough for me,
considering that every year I write Best of Baltimore pieces and
end-of-year lists and kind of put my opinion in stone. So I’m just
gonna say who I think is doing good work at the moment or who has the
most potential to drop something crazy at any given time, as opposed
to who’s best known or ‘hottest’ or whatever. You could ask me this a
week earlier or a week later and get 5 totally different answers.
The Boy Blesst’s last album was killer and that dude just does not get
enough credit, his voice is unique and he can flow and pick good
beats, really the total package.
I was going to say Ron G. before I even looked and saw that the most
recent post on your site was “How come I don’t hear about Ron G. more
often?” You’re totally right, he’s Mania’s secret weapon and I think
people need to start figuring that out soon.
I have to mention A-Class, he mighta lost one recently but he’s won so
many times I kinda got tired of judging battles because there was no
suspense if he showed up.
Greenspan is real slick and probably puts more effort into doing a
real live show, not just throwing on a beat and rapping to it, than
almost anyone else in the city.
Los is still crazy, crazy talented, can’t ever count him out, and
every time I stop thinking of him as one of the best in the city I
hear something that reminds me.
Opinionated: Q: Who are the top 5 female MCs in Baltimore A: Civil Jones- Radio Personality & Executive Producer of "Even A Man Can Do This"
In no particular order other than alphabetly these are my top 5 Bmore Fem Cees
Lyrically she nice and she rhymes about real women shit. Not just how many dicks she can lick but real life shit. From Up against the win, to Cut N Paste, Get Buck Get Free, Natural Chic. First artist to come out of a elevator. Till this day I have not seen that done. First female emcee in Baltimore to rock with a live Band, 3back up singers she just dope. Really looking forward to her new stuff.
2. Get Em Mammies
Ter Awesome is in my car right now. They are the business. They have been able to brand themselves beyond the realms of the "local hip hop spots" but every where. There in Philly, Rolling Stones and everywhere your favorite emcee wants to be. There fan base is ridiculous these girls are the truth.
3. Ms. Stress
The Madam she just a lyrical beast. I have seen her demolish emcee's. One time it was so bad Ms. Stress started battling her self. The best damn battle I have seen.
4. Mzery Loves Company
I'm glad that Mzery has found her lane now she killing it. With her all female live band her live show is one of the best in Baltimore. She is a great example of artist going against the status quo.
I love Si-Notes style, her boldness and personality. She got the ability to speak for all the hooded girls around the world. Looking forward to see what she morphs into.
Lyrically unforgiving and not ashamed to be funny, angry or any other emotion. His natural lightheartedness is refreshing. He captures an audience.
He is the essence, the flavor and the funk that is Brownfish. I love his style and his lyrical mind is on another level.
He wins a lot of battles and people don't want to admit it but this kid is good. You can't knock him. He is lyrically clever and smart. He is always thinking 2 steps ahead. Thats what I like about him.
Lenwood and Tonio From the Top~
To me they are the "New Money" of our artistic community. Although both have been rhyming for years. They haven't Hit there peaks as full on performers. I enjoy every time they hit the stage because they both have swag and finesse.
Honorable Mentions:Ogun and Shy- Both go hard on stage and are lyrically dope. I'm a fan of both of their music.
His wordplay is crazy
Swag and again his word play is retarded
I love his songs and his voice is so ill, he spits that real life Tuff Tony shit and he reps us Gees sooo well lol
4. Knotsworth wells
This cat is just plain dope. He's from Columbia, MD and if I needed to find the definition of dope MC, his face would appear
5. Myself: Sonny Brown
I love my stories and wordplay as well. I think I'm one of the nicest in the game.
To have your opinionated lists published: please send message to firstname.lastname@example.org