Catching Up w/ True Laurels' Favorite Artists From 2014

2014 saw four new issues of True Laurels and while we wish we could have caught back up with every single artist featured, here's what seven artists from the zine took from this year and how they're going into 2015. Check it!

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Butch Dawson (True Laurels Vol. 2)

What was your favorite musical moment from 2014?

My favorite musical moment of 2014 was experiencing my first tour and first time in LA.

Best artist you got put onto?

I got put on to Thundercat this year and I listen to him all the time so he has to be my best artist.

What’s the most valuable lesson you learned this year to carry over to 2015?

I've learned that things are possible for a Baltimore guy like me and for all musicians from Baltimore, and that i shouldn't doubt myself or have a conscience when it comes to taking the next step. I wanna be able to take my confidence into the next year and show myself that I'm capable of doing what I need to do.

Abdu Ali (True Laurels Vol. 1)

You've been very candid online with your take on the structure of our society this year. What's a more fitting explanation: The world's bullshit making you more conscious or is your increased level of consciousness hipping you to the bullshit?

It's a combination of both: me being more conscious/educated on the shade of society and the current events of shade that have taken place as well. Both sort of provoke each other to come about. Also with age comes wisdom. As you get older, if fortunate, you become less blind and your perception of the world you live in starts to become more raw and real.

Something you did that even surprised you this year?

At the last Kahlon, during my performance I got too overwhelmed by the energy and became very emotional and idk. It was an out-of-body experience I had on stage for the first time, it was a lot to deal with. I loved it though. It was like I saw and felt that burning bush, as if "god" came down to me touched me and spoke to me.

3 Essential Do's & Don'ts for DIY touring.

Do: Be vegan. Drink a gallon of water everyday. Sleep as much as possible (fuck going out to sight see and all that). Don't: Eat bad. Smoke or Drink. Don't hold any emotions or feelings in.

Your most valuable takeaway from 2014? 

To do the most you can, be uninhabited, and try to stay calm and positive. All three are vital. And try to be healthy as fuck. Drink a gallon of water a day. Try to eat meat once a week or twice. Or never. And vitamins are bullshit. They basically don't work. Most herbal supplements are bullshit because they are cheaply manufactured and can fuck your body up. If anything use raw herbs or powders. Get mad iodine (salt with iodine or from sea plants), b12 (veggies or a high quality b12 product that contains no cyanide), vitamin d (from sunlight or uv light) in your body. FOOD IS THE BEST MEDICINE.

UNIIQU3 (True Laurels Vol. 5)

Overall, club music seemed to have reemerged as a leading genre of interest on the web this year. As an artist in that field, how'd it make you feel?

To see something that we just grew up on grow to be enjoyed and accepted internationally was beyond amazing. It also gave me hope and reassurance that I'm doing something right, as far as my music career goes. Overall it's just a blessing. 

You were on the road a lot this year. What was your best and worst touring experience?

This year was my first year being on the road. My best experience would have to be traveling to Australia. It's half ways around the world and it was my first tour! The whole thing was an amazing experience. My worst experience would have to be when I was getting picked up from the airport one time, my driver had the wrong name on the board so I walked around the ground transportation for an hour, but eventually I found him. 

5 mixes you really rocked with from 2014?

That's kinda hard, I'm such a music junkie but here you go!

1.  Pause FadetoMind :: Kingdom b2b Rizzla b2b Prince Will - Fade to Mind on Rinse FM - 10.9.2014

2.  Pelicanfly :: Dj Slow - As The World Turns Slow Chapter 1 

3. FILTHYRICHTAJ - xoChill

4. BEASTONLEASH :: SICH MANG - WARKSTAP FOR TRADER JOE'S MIX P3

5. The FADER FADER Mix: UNIIQU3

What's a non-music-related goal you have for 2015?

I really want to be the best version of Cherise I can be, and I'm well on my way there. 

B L A C K I E (True Laurels Vol. 2)

You've been a fighter through your music since Day 1. Has this year's heightened exposure to police killing black men added more fuel to your fire?

Not really. Not at all. I'm focusing on making sure my family is living good and all that outside of music. That's the first & only real battle. I got a black child. Fuck the police state. Fuck these tyrants.

Something you HAVE to get better at in 2015.

I want to get better at maintaining my own personal solitude. Kick all the fakes, flakes and mistakes to the dumpster.

Something new you learned about yourself this year?

This year I learned I can move on in my life and not let anyone (even myself) restrain me.

Three albums that got the most spins from you in 2014?

Ola Playa - Slime Season

Blunt Fang - 777 #1 Hits

Deftones - White Pony

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Chrissy Vasquez (True Laurels Vol. 4)

What was your biggest challenge of 2014?

My biggest challenge in 2014 was going to summer school and going on the Freakshow Tour. I had to wake up early in the a.m for a straight month and ride my Huffy bike to school while going out of town on weekends, coming back to school exhausted and not ready to pass some days. In general, it's hard trying to level out school and performing. It's like, "Okay do I take this chance and be half sleep in the morning while the school bus is 20 minutes away?" and I always did it. To be able to express is a blessing. 

What artists did you listen to the most this year?

Artists I listen to the most: Nas. 2Pac, Crystal Castles, Andre 3000, A Tribe Called Quest, Michael Jackson, Erykah Badu. Can't forget the good bike rides listening to Earl Sweatshirt. I listen to tons of artist and tons of genres. So it's not as if I listen to the same people everyday.

You're always carrying around a gallon of water. What health tips can you lend us going into next year?

Yes. I try my best to drink a gallon of water a day. Your body and my body needs water. I've transitioned from a vegetarian to a vegan, it being a full year now. I'm not saying in order to be healthy you have to drop the meat and lift the veggies...however, that would be a good option. I recommend everyone to eat many servings of vegetables and fruit a day. It's many fun things you can do with your food to make a healthy lifestyle not so bland. I enjoy making a good vegan meal with a spot of green tea. Sip it, it's good for you and very relaxing. Everyone should have up to 2 spots of tea a day. For my protein I like to eat beans and eat tree nuts...and digging my finger in the peanut butter jar. Be optimistic when it comes to having a colorful diet. Broccoli is your friend. Pineapples love you. Always remember that you can either look at your body as a trash can or a temple, and that what you eat on a daily basis can either better you or harm you in the long run.

Was there anything you read that changed your perspective?

I'm in the process of reading "Think and Grow Rich" by Napoleon Hill. To sum it up, it talks a lot about the mental and how you can think positively and act on your goals, pushing them to your full potential. Most of the people who are successful now is because it took hard work and a smooth thought process. You can do anything you desire as long as you strive for it. In the book he talks about successful people and situations where a blockage may come into your life and you just have to bite your way through it. I'm not going to summarize the entire book, but here's something I underlined: "Tolerance and an open mind are practical necessities for the dreamer of today. Those who are afraid of new ideas are doomed before they start."

Hi$to (True Laurels Vol. 3)

With some of your peers being featured in both Boiler Room's Baltimore and Jersey club episodes, how were you affected? Were you motivated?

I was definitely moved and more confident in being next. I've payed attention to these people for years prior to moving to Baltimore and I get respect from most of them featured in both episodes. I have a few joints with TT The Artist, a remix I'm working on for James Nasty, and I'm working on a beat I want UNIIQU3 to hop on for my next tape. I met Sliink again around this time last year and talked to him about working before but he was touring heavy over seas after that. One day.

What there a moment this year that made you really miss Houston?

Not really but I say that because I spent three months in Houston over the summer. But if there was a moment, it was definitely SXSW. I missed out on it this year and I usually kick it in H-town before I go to Austin. 

Did you develop any new musical routines during the year?

I've been practicing  new scratch techniques on the turntables. I learned a personal technique where I can knock out remixes within a day. And I'm currently working on fusing visuals I create with my sounds right now for my short film dropping next year. 

Four tracks that never left your rotation in 2014? 

That's kinda hard but my favorites I mostly play are:

Lakim- "Rent4"

iLoveMakonnen - "Don't Sell Molly"

DJ Rashad - "Do It Again"

HI$TO & Gianni Lee - "Shake"

Asaad (True Laurels Vol. 2)

What's your proudest moment of 2014?

The entire 2014. The fact that I stopped lying.

You were on the road with Ab-Soul for the These Days Tour. Your three favorite stops and why?

Chicago because I like the thrill. Toronto because I'm Drake there lol. Madison, Wisconsin was a great vibe. 

I saw online you were talking about getting your health right this year. What was your method?

I rid the lying, rid the stress, told the truth and got some rest. 

Your 5 favorite tracks from the year? 

Lil Mouse- Don't Get Smoked

Asaad- Blue Note Entendre 

Pharrell- Gust Of Wind

Rick Ross Feat. Yo Gotti- Trap Luv

Chief Keef- Faneto 

Pick 'Em Up: Mighty Mark, Lucid & DJ Tuco

What up!  It's stoopgirl and I'm back for another week of Pick 'Em Up!  I really hope you heard something new from the tracks in the very first post from last week.  This week we're traveling the world with club music and we're starting right in our very own backyard.

Juicy J - Low (Mighty Mark & DJ K-Spin Remix

I just can't get over all the vibes Mighty Mark and DJ K-Spin are incorporating in this brooding club remix of Juicy J's "Low".  It boasts a hyperactive breakbeat but a dark, future club vibe to it that makes it sound really complex.  Baltimore residents Mighty Mark and DJ K-Spin sample only the essential parts of Juicy J's "Low" to make this more of an original production instead of a run-of-the-mill remix.  "My beat low/My bass low/I ride low/She go low," pitched down so low that you can't help but to sport a serious stank face.  They even cut into a sample of Ludacris' "How Low Can You Go" to bring the whole theme full circle and make this track one that the ladies won't be able to resist in the club.

DJ Tuco - "Sweet Talk"

Upon my first listen of "Sweet Talk", I totally thought the producer was gonna be some old head from Baltimore with a really solid appreciation of both Baltimore club music and R&B.  I was so, so, so wrong here.  DJ Tuco kicked off his career in London, explored the world, and then set up shop in Prague.  So yeah, some producer in Czech Republic is making Baltimore club music and it's fucking classic.  Sampling one of my not-so-guilty-pleasures, "Heard It All Before" by Sunshine Anderson, DJ Tuco embraces the classic breakbeat of Baltimore club but goes heavy with the synths, bringing it right back to 2014.  I love how many audiences "Sweet Talk" could potentially appeal to: club heads, dance music fans, and ladies who are mad at their boyfriends.  I think it's a win-win situation for everybody on this dance floor tonight.

Lucid - "Heartagram"

I'm not usually a huge fan of festival tunes but I found "Heartagram" by Lucid to be especially intriguing when I heard its nod to the high energy and rapid pace of Jersey club music.  The Melbourne-based producer has created quite a niche for himself within big room dance music and exactly how he melded the two genres together on "Heartagram" has a unique way of meeting both genres right down the middle - making Jersey feel a little bigger and a festival feel a little more intimate.  I'm actually curious if Lucid found any inspiration from his label-mate and proud New Jersey resident, Nadus, for this track (both artists are members of the Belgian-based record label, Pelican Fly).  "Heartagram" is the title-track for an EP that Lucid released last week, so if you're into this kind of sound, feel free to check out the other three tracks.

 

 

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Pick 'Em Up w/ Stoop Girl

I remember being in middle school, listening to 92Q, and recording Baltimore Club classics onto cassettes from artists like Rod Lee, Ms. Tony, and of course Scottie B.  I was a half-white/half-Panamanian girl living in the suburbs while all my friends were bumpin' Backstreet Boys and Linkin Park so of course I was the fucking oddball in the crew.  And it's not that I wasn't interested in that kind of music, but it's always been Baltimore club that has stuck by me even when I went through weird musical phases of my life, like that one time in high school I was really into trance music and that other time I couldn't stop listening to ska.  UGH.  For me, Baltimore club music was never a phase.  It's one of the only genres of music that consistently moved me.  I just have a pure, unwavering love for club music of all shapes, sizes, and wavelengths.  

So, hey, I'm Casey (also known as @stoopgirl on Twitter) and welcome to a brand new series on True Laurels, "Pick Em Up", that will explore all avenues of club music.  When I'm not here kickin' it with Lawrence and his truly exceptional zine, you can find me over at my own blog,Cool Breezy.  Anyway, let's go: 

Swagson- Bring It Back Up

Lately, I’ve been trying to tackle the question of whether an artist has to physically reside in the city of Baltimore to make proper Baltimore club music.  Are they truly capable of translating the very tangible aggression of these city streets into gritty, raunchy club music?  The answer remains inconclusive, but Baltimore club music can feel very exclusive sometimes.  However, I discovered an incredible exception to the rule with Swagson’s “Bring It Back Up”.  I mean, wow.  The horns are blowin’, our signature what!s are expertly sprinkled within, and engaging vocals from Baltimore’s very own Rye Rye are sampled masterfully from her hit, “Shake It To The Ground”.  

Would you even believe me if I told you that Swagson is based out of Germany?  Apparently Swagson is a part of a crew called REALMSIX, an anonymous collective of producers making electronic club music from every corner of the world.  But I swear I can hear this shit bumpin’ right out of the cracks of the sidewalks on North Ave.  So, believe it, man.  I’m 100% fucking with it.  So maybe you gotta be from Baltimore to make authentic club music; maybe you don’t.  I’ll let you decide.

Kilbourne- Jellybeans

This one will rattle the damn bones out of your skin.  You should really prepare yourself for “Jellybeans” from Kilbourne’s latest EP, Satisfaction.  In typical Jersey club fashion, “Jellybeans” borders daringly on sensory overload with alarming sirens, repetitive what!s, and gunshots galore – but I love every second of it.  For me, “Jellybeans” stands out amongst a lot of other Jersey club that tends to become a blur after a while.  It sounds clean, not distorted, and I can pick out every intricate sound within the production.  And it’s fucking fast – music that is bound to move every wallflower out onto the dance floor in the club.  Fresh off the Motivational Tour with Baltimore’s own Abdu Ali and Schwarz, Kilbourne is definitely someone you wanna keep up with.

DJ Juwan- Dance Sing

It’s back to basics with DJ Juwan.  To be honest, I don’t know too much about this guy.  I heard he’s from Baltimore and he’s only like, fifteen years old.  But I’ve never seen an actual picture of his face so who really knows.  It’s very mysterious to me.  But what I do know is that he has fully embraced the classic sound of Baltimore club music.  For real though, his productions sound like they were made back in the 90s during the heyday of Baltimore club music.  Case in point here with “Dance Sing” in which DJ Juwan structures the song around the classic Baltimore club break beat and introduces a vocal sample every now and again.  (By the way – does anybody know where this sample comes from?  I know Cajmere used it in “Do Dat Dance” from 1991’s Underground Goodies Vol. II, but it’s killing me not to know more).  Anyway, it’s very minimal and that’s what I love about it.  Today, it’s very easy to get carried away with an abundance of samples and textures in music but sometimes it’s the simple beats that get us moving.