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 

Wyo Joins Philly's Street Culture & Young Bul Rap w/ Asleep At The Wheel

Wyo is a rapper you could easily skip by but once you realize you did, you'll be pissed at yourself. After listening to a shit-load of Asaad tapes, he became that random guest rapper that was added incentive to even listen to Saudi. Best thing about Wyo is his ability to be Philly as a whole--like covering all grounds that any rap listener would care about: He's not completely get stoned, eat Chinese food on the couch and play Xbox as Grande Marshall nor is he the super shit-talking street rapper that Meek has become, and he's definitely not as all over the place as Asaad. He has throwback Philly grit of a Beans or Freeway that none of those aforementioned new guys can seem to capture with any authenticity yet he still manages to be as compelling and experimental sonically as new wave rap continues to move. When I talked to him on Labor Day he attributed his assortment of styles to being a real person and not spending too much time in the studio; he'd rather spend his time living life so when he finally does get into the studio, he can flow with as much ease as possible. Asleep At The Wheel, the EP he released last week is a mash-up of styles and Wyo is sounding more polished than ever.

From the jump, he does the classic mixtape thing by hopping on Dom Kennedy's "My Type Of Party" beat for "Block Party". It's usually bad news to hop on a beat that's neither a classic hip-hop staple or a currently hot one but somehow for a split second before realizing, "Oh. this is that Dom beat", Wyo has you thinking that this is all original material—which is either a testament to how good he raps on this or how less I've cared for Dom's music these past two years.From there, Asleep At The Wheel is really just rappity rap at its best and nothing else, which is completely fine here. His endless wind is Meek-like on tracks like "Idol Talk (Kill Your Idols)" where he barely takes a breath. The wordplay is on point too: "Golden Era flow, they should put me on vinyl/ This kid need riches, you be bitchy like Nicole, I get bitches like Lionel/ Lions in the jungle get tamed by the bull/ Now the killer lines open got some strings to get pulled". He's Grande-like on the dual track (Something Asaad typically does) "Release a Wy/ Fuqq On Top Of The Money" as he spits for 7-plus minutes over stoner-centric cruise production. He's at his most experimental on "That's What You Get"; the production could easily go to some teenybopper kid but he takes it and goes harder than he does on the rest of the project.

Most of this EP is Wyo taking time out to show how many flows he can properly execute and he accomplishes each try. Getting back to his real-person-ism, taking jabs at phony rappers and ones that can't meet the mark talent-wise is also a big theme here too. Wyo keeps alive something that weirdly gets overlooked in internet rap right now, the ability to rap really well. Every track is a lyrical exercise, which alone is entertaining. That's what makes Chance The Rapper, Earl Sweatshirt and Underachievers all worth listening to right now...they can actually fucking rap. In that same conversation he told me that Asleep On The Wheel, more than anything, translates to him being on autopilot with rap; he's spent so much time in studios sharpening his technical skill, that he sometimes doesn't notice what he's doing, which is why he can fit a package of flows into one song. Since he has that part covered, concepts and ideas is what he has to focus on now. The delivery is there. This EP proves that.

Stream & Download Asleep At The Wheel HERE