Day 15 - August 7th, 2018 - Underground Music Showcase, Cleveland
Our next stop was Ohio, as we arrived in Cleveland on the 7th of August, a day prior to the interview with hiphop artist Case Bargé.
Since I was in the city a day earlier I figured I check to see if any music performances were going on in the area. Luckily that night the Cleveland chapter of the Underground Music Showcase, UMS, was having an event at the locally famous bar and music venue The Grog Shop. 'Striving to showcase live music, The Grog Shop has played host to countless local, national, and international touring acts for over twenty years, booking all ranges of indie rock, hip-hop, hardcore, jam, reggae, metal, electronic and more. (Source grogshop.gs)
The host, Brady Payne, was the perfect example of how hosts should be for these types of events and showcases -- funny, kept the vibes up throughout the night, and facilitated a theme of opportunity and encouraged the crowd, the artists to collaborate and network with one other. Click here to view some photos taken of the night, and click here to follow the chapter!
Day 16 - August 8th: Interview with Case Bargé
Prior to this State2State tour we’ve been in contact with Cleveland hiphop artist Archie Green, however the man was grinding and was not able to meet up and do the interview. So he did the next best thing and referred to reach out to his manager of ALOOF Recordings, Alexis Manalo, to set up an interview with another hiphop artist on their team, Case Bargé. Checked out his music online, and I'm glad Archie made the recommendation! Below is probably one of my favorite tracks of his, titled 'Manifest'.
I then went through his previous project 'Ascension' and liked what I heard, so the next day on the 8th of August we ended up scheduling that interview with Case at the studio where the magic of ‘Manifest’ was created.
A humble and creative soul, with a lot of passion for hip hop, Case Bargé has got some big things coming up! You can find teasers of his music video he directed, wrote and starred in on his gram’ titled ‘You & I’, but definitely follow so you can stay tuned to his upcoming projects.
The energy was positive and real, and before I left he gifted me a necklace with an Aventurine stone, said to be the luckiest of all crystals and source of positive energy, “The Stone of Opportunity”. Stay tuned to his vibes, and keep them coming brotha!
Lodging: Airbnb - upstate NY, VT to OH
It took an airbnb overnight stay to get from Vermont to Cleveland, but driving upstate New York is always worth the drive if you ever get the chance. Big shout-outs to “superhosts” on Airbnb by the way for providing the amazing hospitality! The Airbnb host in Rotterdam, NY had a cozy spot with a small friendly dog she left alone to greet the guests. Being in NYC for the past 5 years, it blows my mind how the host trusted each guest to come and go to the spot leaving the dog there by herself - but I guess that’s the beauty of Airbnb.
For those who are weary of the service or don’t know, there is a vetting process the superhosts go through where they can approve the new guest, or not. My profile has nothing but good reviews, plus this is a business trip so there’s that credibility factor. Also, to become a superhost is also a process boosting their credibility. So if ever using Airbnb, make sure you keep the superhost box checked! You just might get lucky and end up at a spot with a chill dog.
Day 14 - Windsor, Vermont
With frequent performances in Vermont and the northeast region, Ali T is no stranger to SILO Distillery, an award-winning distillery that offers a bar and hosts live music. Its in a small Vermont valley, around a few other bars and small stores with a river right next door, which is open for the public to swim and go rafting in. SILO Distillery’s wooden interior is said to provide an amazing sound for acoustics, however for her performance that I saw, Ali T performed a 2-3 hour set right outside, covering some classics, todays hits, and also singing some of her originals. The sun was out so it was nice day to enjoy outside live music, but damn was it hot. I was not expecting the heat to be so extreme in Vermont, but luckily there were tables outside with umbrellas that offered shade and some good music to relax and sip our iced drank to. Below is a clip of her voice.
Thoughts on Vermont
So far driving in Vermont both coming from New Hampshire, and leaving to Ohio through NY has been the most scenic drive of the north east. It was a bit of a drive from Maine, so luckily I found a hostel last minute in the middle in New Hampshire. No it wasn’t like those hostels from the horror movies. It was homely like a bed and breakfast where everything was shared including the rooms. I got there around 1:00 am and usually once I get to the hotels, Airbnb or wherever, I upload the photos, videos and audio from the camera to a safe place. Since this was a shared room, I was worried I would wake up the two other people who were sleeping in the room. But I had to do what I had to do. Not sure if it was because of the noise I was making but one guy kept tossing and turning and breathing out of frustration. It was either the noise i was making or the breathing machine the other guy had. That shit was loud. At first I thought someone kept making smoothies in another room, but I looked over and saw a machine connected to his face and that’s when I realized this constant noise was coming from this persons sleeping device or whatever it was. Nonetheless the bottom bunk bed was comfortable af, and the next morning got up, got ready and continued on to Windsor Vermont. After seeing Ali T perform, the scenic drive continued towards the next Airbnb before meeting the next artist in Cleveland, Ohio.
I stopped off at a Gulf Station out in the middle of no where, since I'm taking all the backroads to really digest the areas I'm going. The reciept didn't print, so I had to go inside and ask the worker there to print it out. While it was printing, I asked what his favorite place was in Vermont, he replied in a country accent "My tree stand".
Day 11 - 13 of Diversal's State2State Artist Discovery Road trip
Portland, Maine - Artist: B. Aull
We had the pleasure of kicking it with up and coming hip hop artist from Maine, B.Aull at his home studio in Portland. It’s basically where all the magic happens, where he not only records, vibes and creates, but also hosts what he calls #BMixes. This is where fans comment on his posts which beat they want him to flow on. He then chooses the best one and does his thang. See a recent #BMix he did to Taste (Feat. Offset) by Tyga below:
He then opened up his vault of fire and gave us a glimpse to some upcoming projects he’s been pearling, some produced by music producers here in America and few others he’s been working on with a few music producers from Istanbul, Turkey who go by the name The Flytones and are also according to Bandbasher, one of the top 10 music producers on Instagram people should follow —and ohh do they got soul! Stay tuned for their upcoming collaborations with B. Aull. The following video is the first track which introduced us to B. Aull.
When he’s not in the studio rhyming, writing, vibing, or selling his merch, he's working at one of Portland's biggest and hottest radio stations Hot 104.7, which enables him to keep his ears and fingers on the pulse of the music scene in the north east and hip hop overall. So what is the status of the hip hop music scene in Maine, let alone Portland, ME? According to B. Aull the scene is growing, big time. He mentioned that there is an increase amount of opportunities for local talent to get their chance to shine. For instance there's the ‘Monday of the Minds’ at Flask Lounge in Portland where frequent showcases are held. Not to mention, more national acts are coming to Portland, which many B. Aull has opened for. Some of his opening credits include opening up for Snoop Dogg, Sean Paul, Lloyd Banks, Ty Dollar $ign, Post Malone, and more. B. Aull also recently performed at Hot Summer 2018 where he opened up for Fabolous, Big Boi, Joyner Lucas and more.
When asked who he wanted to collaborate with, among artists like Kaytranada, Anderson.Paak, and others there was one artist in particular that stood out, not only because B. Aull was a fan, but this particular artist is responsible for inspiring B. Aull to get into music in the first place. This artist is J.Cole. Too young to attend J.Cole’s 2010 concert at Port City Music Hall, before he was B.Aull, underage Brandon had to sneak in the venue with his mother (Shh). According to B.Aull that concert was the moment that would change his life, because after the concert he knew what he wanted to become. He wanted to be up on stage doing what J.Cole did and having that positive impact on a crowd of people like J.Cole has. He knew then he wanted to be a hip hop artist and the rest has been falling into place. Since then B.Aull has performed a few times on that same exact stage where he saw J.Cole perform at for the first time. “Well isn’t ironic…don’t ya think?”
After the interview we chatted more on his projects and upcoming collaborations, and did some more vibing to beats. B. Aull has got a lot of positive energy which is undeniably contagious, and according to him it’s that attitude he has, his charism what sets him apart from others. I can attest to this, as he did not break his grin the entire time I was with him. B. Aull’s got a lot of experience and continues to progress and evolve year after year, month after month. Spotify even recently added his single ‘Come Down’ to their “Fresh Finds: Fire Emoji” playlist in late July.
“I want to be the face of hip hop in the state of Maine…I want to be the person that puts Maine on the map for hiphop”
With a consistent and growing number of streams on Spotify each month, anywhere from 5/6k to 13k consistently month over month, it’s apparent that his fan base is existent and growing. Moreover, when leaving his home studio walking down the stairs one can’t miss the huge painting/mural, fan art done of B. Aull by artist Nick Genesio. See below, this guy is extremely talented, check out his page.
The next day we got a taste of his stage performance and energy at the Hip Hops 9 event, another artist showcase that frequently hosts events in the Portland, ME area. This event was hosted at the Oxbow Blending & Bottling bar/music venue. If you’re ever heading to Maine make sure to check if they are hosting another event. Dope spot, dope artist, dope vibe.
Day 9 - 11 : Portsmouth, New Hampshire
Artist: Sam Robbins
Although attending in his third year at Berklee College of music in Boston Massachusetts as well as having a studio in Boston, singer and songwriter Sam Robbins is based out of New Hampshire as we met for our interview at his families house in the third oldest city in America, Portsmouth, NH. Although only 21 and super down2earth, Sam’s maturity in music and willingness to continue growing and learning as an artist was a confirmation that this man is going places with his voice. Below are a few clips of him singing after the interview.
Sam Robbins singing Leaving on a Jet Plane by John Denver
Sam doing the #KekeChallenge #kikichallenge
More on his maturity as an artist, when he performs he controls the stage not only with his indie soul voice, but the way he performs. In the performances we saw, he didn’t go by a set song list, rather along with his originals, he created an engaging atmosphere by taking song requests from people in the crowd and performing them well. He seemed to know everysong! Did I mention he’s only 21? Below is a snippet of blending song requests Free Falling, and Fast Car by Tracy Chapman.
@samrobbinsmusic taking requests of music to play. Blended #FreeFalling with #FastCar by @tracychapmanonline on the deck of @portsmouthgaslightco - #Coolvenue #IndependentArtist #PerformingLive #Singer #Songwriter #Cover #musicmanager #unsigned #Acoustic #Freefalling #AmazingVoice #Portsmouth #NewHampshire
One can say there are two types of anything. With artists, there are those who continuously practice their craft no matter how successful they become, then there are those who don’t. Sam Robbins is the former. After hearing his voice from the video above, You wouldn’t think someone with his talent still needs voice coaching. Wrong, at least that’s what Sam would tell you. When asked what his plans were for the rest of the evening that day, he shocked us by saying he was attending his usual meet up with his voice coach, who ironically was Charlie Puth’s former teacher. Sam stressed the importance of having a voice coach...
“Sometimes you forget certain things”
Sam invited me to a show he had that night at a bar/live music venue called Gas Light Co. in downtown Portsmouth, even though we were already planned to go to his show the following day at Latchkey, another cool bar/music venue in Portsmouth. With a hundred shows already under his belt, needless to say, the man is always working, practicing, writing and performing.
Day 6 - 8 : Boston, MA
Inspired by the sounds of Radiohead, Muse, Sigur Ros, Björk and more, we met up with Mike, music producer and Dan, lead singer and lead guitarist from L.S.C (abbreviated from Light Sweet Crude), a multi-genre live performing band from Boston, Massachusetts. With beginning roots making music for film, ever since playing live throughout the city these past few years, their sound has evolved. The alt-rock pop sound was a foundation of their sound until they begun blending more soul in their music, incorporating the vibes felt by the music that inspires them. If you’ve heard of them before, you will be surprised to what’s in store next as the demo track below is an example of what’s to come.
Thoughts on Boston, MA
Boston was like a mini NYC, but greener and the area felt cleaner. The commute however was another story. The GPS even was slow to update to its confusing spiderwebs around the city. Nonetheless, Boston and its historic surrounding areas with its several of fields, trees, rivers, was a chill and pretty place. There were people running, walking, walking their dogs everywhere. The rivers were even lively with dozens of dozens of sailboats cruising the water in all directions. There were a lot of people out but it didn’t feel crowded like NYC crowded. Perhaps it was due to its historic universities located all within a 5 min radius from another; Cambridge, MIT, Harvard and Boston College.
After meeting with L.S.C, we had to try Boston’s famous lobsters, and Yankee Lobster downtown Boston did not disappoint. Not only was the food good, but they’re right next too Blue Hills Bank Pavilion, a music venue. As we got there it just so happened that the amazing Sylvan Esso was performing, and when sitting outside the restaurant, it’s as if you’re right their in the concert venue. So make sure you check out Yankee Lobster while their is a performance at the same time you’re there if ever in Boston.
Day 4 - 6
After looking online for open mics, live music, and other artist performance opportunities in Rhode Island, there was one voice we frequently posting events - Feral G, a DJ/Music Producer from Providence, Rhode Island. Him and his producing partner Atto Pilot, along with a few other members who collectively go by TimeMachine steer-head an independent music production company with long-term goals to expand both in offering additional creative services, as well as operating out of multiple locations. First, their finessing their production game, and finessing well.
At the moment their growing their clientele providing quality mixing and engineering, fire production and more, at great rates too. Their studio located in the heart of what was once considered the hangout spot for artists in the 80’s and 90’s in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, has seen a drastic change since them lively times, as depicted in the cool graffiti that surrounds the inside of the multi-floor garage next door.
The culture has sort of dispersed elsewhere over the years, so I was surprised to learn from them about all the up and coming talent being brewed out of Rhode Island, and Time Machine has been a strong force behind this. Feral G and Atto Pilot, including their intern Broke Island Baby are putting in work, and not only providing what their clients need, but also helping revitalize and expand the hip hop music scene in Rhode Island if not to what it use to be, then much larger than what it was decades ago.
Left: Feral G, Right: Atto Pilot
After taking advantage of the natural sunlight, we finished our interview and they continued to give me a tour of the historic building their studio was in. When we got back to the studio, the intern was with hip hop artist Zay, who was checking out the studio for potential work. He showed us some songs, and the man’s not bad. Ironically, he told us he was the son of a Dj who dj’d for local legend, Chachi, and was apart of the legendary creative scene decades ago in Providence, Rhode Island.
“There’s some dope folk in PVD that are low-key"
While we all talked music in the studio, Feral G got on the midi board and created a quick melody, Atto Pilot then came in and layered some drums and also faded adlibs, and within 10-15 minutes all of us in the studio were glued to that head-bopping position you can’t get out of when you hear a track that makes you make that stanky face. 7 second tease below:
We finished the evening by chatting more about the culture of RI (Rhode Island) and their goals and plans with their group, TimeMachine, while we got some grub at this spot that just opened up last month called Chinatown on Thayer. Their fried shrimp was friggen' delicious. Get that when you go.
Day 5 was devoted to logistics of the trip and getting organized, while Feral G and Atto Pilot had sessions booked with artists. Day 6, our last day in Rhode Island, Feral G Dj’d at a artist/designer showcase at a cool bar/lounge call Troop - another example of a dope spot in Rhode Island embracing creativity and artistry. They frequently host these artist showcases, so if you’re ever going through Rhode Island, make sure you stop by.
Meanwhile, Atto Pilot and intern Broke Island Baby were setting up and getting their event ready they host every Thursday called The Beat Down--a get together for local artists to get together, share and go through music, feedback on one another and connect and network.
Final thoughts on RI:
Similar to Connecticut with its history of firsts, as I stopped off to check out the place that invented the hamburger in New Haven, Connecticut, it was only fitting to also check out, Modern Diner, America’s first diner located in Pawtucket, RI.
Quiet, old, with a lot of creative potential. While their were neighborhoods of suburbia, we saw more older beat down towns that seemed worn out, but then again we didn’t go through the entire state. Nonetheless, after meeting with Feral G and Auto Pilot and learning a bit more about the areas culture, it’s definitely apparent that there is a large growing creative culture bubbling, and they're doing their part to make it happen for RI.
The artistic love was definitely felt. I was even asked by local store owner if the art work I had in my car was for sale. It was, however it’s price was out of range, so he offered to pay $50 if I could get him a print copy of it with my signature on it. So I went to the nearby Walmart, made a copy, and not only sold my first piece of art involuntarily, but also made a new friend.
2nd Stop: Connecticut, July 22, 2018
DAY 2: After going back and forth for a few years on Facebook, as the case with several of the artists we will be meeting with on this project, we finally met up with the up-and-coming Hip Hop artist Shiwan. Sporting his signature look, low-brimmed cap as seen in his videos, it was good to finally kick it. The conversation immediately became productive, which is always good, so once the interview was done it was good to relax a bit and play a few rounds of pool.
Towne Billiards in Hamden, Connecticut is a dope, large spot with 18 tables, darts and a bar serving drinks and food, so it was surprising to see that we were one of the few people in there, then again it was Sunday night and the area outside was a bit empty and industrial - good for photoshoots though! Nonetheless, after we left we continued the conversation and I got a deeper glimse into his future plans and goals, and we aligned our creative visions even more. The man's got several projects coming up, so stay tuned.
Stayed at an Airbnb in New Haven, 30 minutes south of the capital. The area was quiet, historic, green and hilly, with pockets of run down and old parts of neighborhoods. However you take one turn to the left or right, and you'd find yourself in a more upscale area camoflaughed with vintage styled buildings, and Tesla's zipping by you. Between backing up and charging equipment there isn't much time to sight see, however there was the opportunity to take a quick snap infront of the place which is known for inventing the first hamburger in America, 'Louis Lunch'.
Day 3 - Connecticut Part 2
Coast2Coast Live - Artist Showcase
The next day the largest artist showcase in the world according to Coast2Coast LIVE was having it's pop-up Artist Showcase, an event they host in cities throughout the country. While the music is usually Hip Hop, and sometimes blended in with other genres, these events are great opportunities for any aspiring musician to attend not only to network with other aspiring talent, but to also use its stage as practice for performing and comfortabillty in front of an audience, or even to test out an audience with new music, etc.
The way the showcase works: There's a host and DJ who sets/controls the vibe, about a dozen contestants perform on stage back-to-back, and then 2-3 celebrity judges agree on the winner and runner-ups. The host then awards what the prizes will be.
First State: New York - July 21, 2018
Artist: Latasha, Hip Hop
DAY 1: A week after she electrified energy at Brooklyn 2018 Hip Hop Fest, we met up with the Flatbush-native and Hip Hop's Class of 18', Latasha, and her extremely creative and multi-talented photographer, filmmaker, designer and collaborator boyfriend, Jah, she took us to one of her favorite places in Prospect Park, where she likes to get some creative inspiration someties.
As we passed through dozens of people setting up in prep for Brooklyn’s 2018 Curl Fest later that night, among regular small talk, growth and evolving as an artist was a theme of conversation. Not sure if it was her show coming up that night, the high from her performance a week prior, her album set to drop end of 2018, other big upcoming projects she's got coming up end of summer of 2018, her recent moments with Lil'Kim she included in her recent docufilm project 'Missy Elliot', but nonetheless, there was this strong, natural feel of emergence, creativity and positive energy around her, and her powerful, high-energetic performance later that night at Baby’s All Right in Brooklyn, would prove this. See clips and pics from the show below. #VibrasNYC