California up-and-comer Ab-Soul has created a street album chronicling his life as a hip-hop buzzmaker on the verge of his big break. As member of the west coast supergroup Black Hippy, Ab-Soul is regularly cited as one of LA's top underground rappers.

Joey Bada$$

As a youngster, Brooklyn MC Joey BadA$$ was baffled by Nas' 1994 classic Illmatic. The iconic album cover featured a childhood photo of the then 20-year-old God's Son. "I seen him as a kid and I thought he was a kid rapping, I was just confused," Joey told Mixtape Daily. After all, how can a kid that young deliver such impactful and insightful records like "Life's a Bitch" and "The World Is Yours"?

Somewhere along the way, Joey's initial confusion must have led to some sort of inspiration, because at 17 years old, he has already delivered a single that seems to surpass the subject matter of other spitters in his age bracket. The militant-minded "Survival Tactics," borrows its instrumental from the 1998 Styles of Beyond song of the same name.

Pro Era is a young hip hop collective from New York City that has catapulted itself into the forefront of the music world. Defining a new Progressive Era in today’s musical landscape, their unique sound mixes old school craft with new school vision, and embraces a distinctive approach that is based on principles of consciousness, awareness, enlightenment and positive energy. Comprised of founding members Joey Bada$$, CJ Fly, Capital STEEZ, Pow P, as well as Kirk Knight, NYCk Caution, Chuck Strangers, Dessy Hinds, A La $ole, Dirty Sanchez, Rokamouth and Dyemond Lewis, Pro Era has engaged an international audience of fans eager to subscribe to a more meaningful brand of music.

The Progressive Era sprouted in the hallways of Edward R. Murrow high school in Brooklyn (notable alumni include Basquiat and the Beastie Boys’ MCA) when co-founders Joey Bada$$, Capital STEEZ, CJ Fly, and Pow P linked up, cut class, and honed their skills by ciphering for hours in the school auditorium. The movement quickly absorbed more members and soon linked with music mogul Jonnyshipes founder of Cinematic Music Group. Pro Era dropped their first mixtape, The SECC$ Tap.E and shortly after, a video for the song “Survival Tactics” featuring Joey and STEEZ introduced Pro Era to the world. The explosive video directed by Coodie and Chike from Creative Control took the Internet by storm and immediately had music fans hailing Pro Era as the resurrectors of New York rap.

In less than a year, the Pro Era camp released three critically acclaimed projects: Joey Bada$$’ 1999, Capital STEEZ’s AmeriKKKan Korruption, and P.E.E.P. The APROcalypse. With a nostalgic ‘90s feel and timeless sound, golden era rap giants like DJ Premier, Pete Rock, Q-Tip and publications like Billboard, Fader, Pitchfork, and NME, quickly tapped Pro Era as the most exciting music movement to come out of New York in years. These young artists are redefining the notions of success in the music industry and breaking down clichés about their generation by independently putting out quality music, selling out concerts, and running their own Pro Era clothing line. Pro Era headlines their first North American tour this year along with fellow Brooklyn artists Flatbush Zombies and The Underachievers. Dubbed “The Beast Coastal Tour,” this continental takeover delivers a taste of the next generation of hip hop stars, and allows Pro Era to spread the love. After all, it’s the Brooklyn way.

The Underachievers are rappers’ AKTHESAVIOR and Issa Gold, both Flatbush, Brooklyn natives and members of the Beast Coast Movement who came together in 2012. Hailed as influential players in the new New York wave of rappers, the tag-team burst onto the scene with conscious rhymes in Oxford vocab over progressive beats while maintaining the true school era foundation they grew up on.

Issa and “AK” didn’t start rhyming together until years after they met. Fast forward from their first conversation, the two bonded about wanting to get into psychedelics - to Issa doing a feature for AK, who at the time was the sole Underachiever. “You guys need to rhyme together,” a producer told them. Being friends of fellow Beast Coast influencers, Flatbush Zombies, both rappers had witnessed the critical and collaborative attitude that permeated the group. They believed that finding that environment and willingness to work, would be the key to doing it right.

Now, The Underachievers boast three critically-acclaimed mixtapes (“Indigoism,” “Lords of Flatbush” and “It Happened in Flatbush”), their debut album "Cellar Door - Terminus Ut Exordium," a popular “Clockwork Indigo” five-track EP with Flatbush Zombies, a sold-out headline tour across North America, Europe & Canada, and their sophomore album "Evermore - The Art of Duality" which portrayed a mature and auto-biographical manifesto of the UA lifestyle past and present.

Loved by fans and critics alike, the duo’s viral sensations “So Devilish”, “Gold Soul Theory”, and “Herb Shuttles” prove they’re hitting the mark between genre-bending and mass appeal dead on. They have become more ambitious in developing their craft and displaying the ability to convey their musings. Delivering their message over both head-banging and laid-back lyrical soundscapes, The Underachievers commands their music to do what they want it to do.

Sparking change, infusing the culture and inspiring their fans worldwide is what the duo sets out to do with each new release as anticipation builds for their next project "Renaissance" to come in April, 2017.

Chevy Woods

“Chevy Who? Chevy Who?” might just sound like a lyric from Wiz Khalifa’s 2011 hit “Taylor Gang,” but there was a point when this was a very common question asked.

Pittsburgh, PA also known as “The Steel City,” is not your average city; it’s a city with a story to tell. Kevin “Chevy” Woods, who was born and raised in Pittsburgh, played sports all throughout high school and college, and began taking it seriously until he was introduced heavily to hustling. The early years of college saw Chevy dividing his time between hustling and rapping, leaving no time for college. Soon after dropping out of college, Chevy began spending more time focusing on rap and spent more time writing and honing his flow and subject matter.

After years of writing and recording in his home studio, Chevy traded in his keyboard for cash, to pay for studio time. While many would think pursuing a rap career is no reason to give up a chance at a serious college sports career, Woods note that his time as an athlete has paid off when rapping and performing. “There’s definitely a connection between music and sports. They are really intertwined when it comes to the mental aspect of it. It’s all about listening and reacting. It’s all about pushing yourself to do your best.”

In 2004, while recording at Pittsburgh’s I.D. Labs Studios, Chevy had an encounter with a fellow young rapper from Pittsburgh by the name of Cameron Thomaz, better known as Wiz Khalifa, that would change his life forever and the two instantly formed a bond. “Me and Wiz, we always had each other’s backs. Since we were both recording at I.D. Labs at the same time, we would hold each other down,” Chevy says of his relationship with Wiz, “even if it was just picking up Wendy’s for the other one on our way to the studio.”

At the time, Chevy was going under the alias, Kev “Tha Hustla” Woods, until one day his friends dubbed him with the new name ‘Chevy.’ “One day my homies just started calling me Chevy as a nickname. I don’t know why they did but it just started to stick. I never really thought twice about it until Wiz heard it and was like ‘That’s dope! Chevy Woods’.”

As the two continued to record, Wiz invited Chevy out on a small 2-week tour. “Once he told me that he wanted me to start going on the road with him, I quit hustling cold turkey. After two weeks, I started preparing for tour life….getting into the mental state of constantly working and writing and recording and really working on my stage presence.”

2004 also saw the release of Chevy’s first mixtape “Hustler’s Dream,” which featured music produced and recorded at both Chevy’s in-home studio and music that he recorded during his time at I.D. Labs. The motivation to take rap, from something that he did in his spare time during his early years of college, to a career came from a place of significant purpose; family. “I’m doing this for my family. It’s a different type of hustle than I was used to. There is so much more that comes with the street hustle. You have to let something go, in order to gain something new.” Woods says on working hard each day at perfecting his rapping, to support his girlfriend and daughter.

Chevy’s time on the road saw the release of several mixtapes including “Red Cup Music” and “The Cookout,”( the latter which was a joint project with Wiz Khalifa), two projects which were created and released during a pivotal time in Chevy’s career. “There was this moment between ‘Red Cup Music’ & ‘The Cookout’ where it just clicked. It was no stopping me from that point on.” Woods always stayed consistent by making music that mirrored how he was raised in the sense of his surroundings, neighborhood and culture.

Touring with Wiz served many purposes aside from the financial aspect. Woods was constantly inspired by the places he was going and the people he was meeting. “Seeing more than Pittsburgh and meeting different people and seeing how they operate. If they’re grinding like that, why aren’t I?”

At a time when Wiz’ popularity was rising, it was easy for many to assume that Chevy began to feel jealous or resentment towards his friend who he came up in the game with. It was actually the opposite; Woods used Wiz’ rise to rap stardom as a motivation tool. “Wiz and I have always been competitive like brothers. He’ll make a record and I’ll hear it and say ‘Oh word? Give me an hour in the studio real quick.’ He pushes me to do better and I push him to do better.”

All of Chevy’s hard work proved worth it on August 6, 2011, when the Rolling Papers World Tour, rolled through Pittsburgh’s Station Square Arena. This was the first time Chevy was touching down on a major stage in Pittsburgh, and was doing so performing his own set. “Everyone was there. From cats you went to high school with, to cats you played with in Little League. It’s all good when you’re travelling around the country, but when you bring it back home and you get that type of love. Man, that’s real.” Chevy recalls about the emotional return back to the Steel City, where he started 7 years prior.

Now, with his latest release, “Gangland,” which was released on June 6, 2012, Chevy is proving that he is here to stay. He’s proving that he’s not just another former hustler trying to make it big as a rapper. He’s got something to say and a story to tell, and wants you to listen.

19 from Colorado. On the road to a dream with a bag full of green.

Russell Grande

Russell Grande a.k.a Ayenar Small town artist from Denver CO . 1/2 of Shock Nation Feel The Music

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