Black Milk at Velvet Jones w/

As the buzz of many of hip hop’s young leaders-to-be evolves from loud commotion into hushed whispers, Black Milk has stayed relevant by remaining focused on creating music that endures. He’s achieved recognition from fans, critics, and his peers as one of the best producers around, and when coupling that talent with his sharp lyricism and stylish delivery as an emcee, Black has proven to be one of the most vital hip hop artists of his generation.

This is already clear to those who heard his 2008 album Tronic, which capped a successful and astonishingly prolific year (in which he also released collaborative full-length releases with rappers Bishop Lamont and Fat Ray, as well as producing the acclaimed solo album from Slum Village’s Elzhi). Tronic showcased a growth in production technique that few expected from a beatmaker best-known for chopping samples, as his signature drums were now peppered with live instrumentation and richer arrangements.

2009 looked to be another year of tremendous progress for Black Milk’s career. After touring Europe with his newly-formed band, consisting of drummer Daru Jones and keyboardist/singer AB, he returned home to Detroit ready to launch efforts on his next album. The year took an unexpected turn as his mentor Baatin of Slum Village–who Black credits with launching his professional career–suddenly passed away. Only weeks later, Black’s manager HexMurda fell into a coma and was paralyzed with a rare pontine stroke. The quick succession of these events eerily mirrored the abrupt deaths of Detroit legends J Dilla and Proof in 2006, stunning the close-knit hip hop community in the Motor City. Things only got worse for Black as he dealt with additional deaths within his family over the next few months. 2009 had become the most difficult year of his life.

As the year came to a close, he returned to recording, and announced that his next release would be audaciously titled Album of the Year. Black quickly explained that the title was referring to the course of events from the previous 12 months. Many fans and critics discounted that explanation, expressing either excitement or objection that he was brashly proclaiming that his work would be the year’s best before the year had even started.

Far from a melancholic work, Album of the Year once again sees Black Milk working to break new ground in hip hop production, and to both refine and redefine his sound. While continuing to construct the skeletons of the tracks on his same trusted AKAI MPC-2000 XL that he’s been using for years, he now employs a team of studio musicians and session players to add new layers of fat and muscle to his songs, with most of the players’ parts composed by the artist himself. A broad range of influence shines through in the tracks, with tinges of rock, reggae, and afrobeat joining his trademark hip hop bangers.

Other than the heavy contributions from both members of his live band (vocalist/keyboardist AB and drummer Daru Jones), the album exclusively features players and vocalists from his hometown of Detroit, including vocalist Melanie Rutherford, bassist Tim Shellabarger, and the versatile horn player and string arranger Sam Beaubien (who arranged horns and strings on Mayer Hawthorne’s A Strange Arrangement). The few guest raps are provided by Royce Da 5’9″, Elzhi, and newcomer Danny Brown.

Few artists in hip hop are able to create music that can rise above expectations and defy categorization. Black Milk welcomes the challenge to accomplish what others cannot, and he’s doing it not only with his acclaimed recordings but also with an electrifying live show. Performing with Daru and AB, the tracks are taken to another level on stage. Both Album of the Year and exciting live performances across the globe are sure to elevate Black Milk that much closer to the star status many have predicted.

"So like the rain that constantly hits the pavement in Seattle, so is the creative juices of J Pinder." --

J. Pinder has accomplished an extraordinary amount for such a young artist. He has worked with the cream of Seattle hip hop (Jake One, Vitamin D, Kuddie Fresh) and he has worked with characters such as Guilty Simpson. Pinder has made guest appearances on releases by Rhymesayers, and has been written up by both local press and heavy hitters such as URB and Okay Player. That’s so far... and he’s twenty two years old.

Such a fine resume alone would be astounding but J. Pinder has something else - something that eclipses these worldly accomplishments. J. Pinder's delivery, presence, and style suggest an understanding of the musical forms, of hip hop and beyond, that far exceeds his years on earth. His charismatic confidence and ability to tell complex stories in a poetic manner - but without mincing words and overwhelming the listener - intimate an artist that is well rounded, well listened, well versed and mature. His wide range of content, from the boisterous to the solemn, is always interwoven with his own very particular voice of strength and quiet grace. In a word J. Pinder is unique.

On his new single Go Far [FIN-LE12-009] J. Pinder expertly weaves his words through the backdrop of a Kuddie Fresh produced beat, live strings, live drums and live bass. Working with veteran Seattle producer Martin Feveyear, and employing musicians such as drummer Barrett Martin (Screaming Trees, Mad Season, Tuatara) and Seattle Symphony players masterfully performing a full string arrangement by Feveyer and Katie Freeze (The Hope) Pinder positively shines. His effortlessly delivery of well-crafted verses and unforgettable hooks is executed with stellar confidence. The rich, full composition behind his voice elevates the single further skyward. To call the material epic would not be an overstatement...this is song writing of the highest order.

The Cowboys, the Grassy Knoll, J.R. Ewing, the Stanky Leg… Dallas, Texas, is known for lots of things. Progressive, forward-thinking hip-hop has, until now, not been one of them. Quirky yet streetwise, fun-loving yet dead serious, A.Dd+, the duo of Paris Pershun and Slim Gravy, may just be leading the city towards a rap renaissance. With a recipe that falls somewhere between UGK’s downhome Southern cooking and the abstract vibes of the Native Tongues movement, Paris (a.k.a. 23-year-old Arrias Walls) and Slim (Dionte Rembert, 23) move easily between slang anthems (“Likeamug”), skirt-chasing tales (“Satellites”) and weighty raps about father figures and Black male incarceration (“Momma’s Brother”). Locally, they have even been labeled the “OutKast of Dallas.” As Paris states on “The Rapper & The Poet,” the lead track from A.Dd+‘s debut LP, When Pigs Fly, the group strives to offer listeners “a double dose of reality mixed with tragedy mixed with immortality.”

The A.Dd+ story begins in 2000 when Memphis-born Paris moved into the same North Dallas apartment complex as Slim. After years of rhyming together, the pair decided to make their partnership official in 2007, dubbing themselves A.Dd+ (Spoken “Aye-dee-dee,” with the plus sign silent) after attention deficit disorder, the most ubiquitous of youth behavioral problems. “A.Dd+ is whatever you want it to be,” explains Slim, who is also known as “D.D.” “It has many meanings like A Dynamic Duo, Analog and Digital. The plus sign symbolizes us being beyond what others are on, always adding to the craft never subtracting. It’s all about imagination and creativity.”

In 2008, Paris and Slim met manager/then sound engineer Rosalinda Ruiz and, after a year holed up in her studio, they emerged with their debut mixtape, Power of the Tongue. While the 2009 release earned them local acclaim and a “Best Rap Act” nomination from the Dallas Observer, it just as importantly led to their partnership with producer Picnic Tyme (of Erykah Badu’s Cannabinoids crew), who has become the group’s sonic sensei and unofficial third member. “He felt our creativity and really liked the setup of our first mixtape, and that was enough to get him interested in helping us develop a better sound for ourselves,” Paris explains.

Paris and Slim are at the center of a vibrant clique of Dallas MCs striving to do for their region what the Dungeon Family once did for Atlanta. “Basically, everybody we roll with are lyricists,” Paris says. “Everybody we roll with is more creative than what is seen on a national scale from Dallas artists.”

Coming off of the biggest performance of their career, opening for the Wu-Tang Clan at Dallas’ Granada Theater, A.Dd+ dropped When Pigs Fly in March of this year. Produced entirely by Picnic Tyme, the LP takes listeners on a ride through the streets of Dallas and a journey through Paris and Slim’s own offbeat imagination.

“When Pigs Fly represents the impossible,” Slim says. “We are doing what people are scared to do in this Dallas music scene. We’re making the impossible, possible.

Epsilon Project

Epsilon Project (EP) is a collective of three emcee’s, three emcee/producers and a DJ. Members of the crew include, Dex (a.k.a. Riff Raff McGriff), J-Pro, Unxpect, MP (a.k.a. Antidote), calmplex, Verb-T and DJ Armani. As Oxnard, CA natives, the crew stakes its flag with fellow “Ox City” alum, Lootpack (Madlib, Wildchild, DJ Romes), Kankick, Roc C, MED and OhNo.

Although EP began as two solo emcees, two groups and a separate production team, the crew has since concentrated its efforts, with Dex repping the crew on the solo tip, and the remaining members holding down EP on the group front. In June of 2007, EP dropped its first full length release, Raising the Bar. described the album’s production as “sample-heavy” and “slightly dirty,” “reminiscent of Slum Village’s finest moments” while added “Raising the Bar has become one big, screaming wake-up call for the heads still sleeping.” Reaching #7 on the Spectre Independent Radio Charts, EP spent the remainder of 2007 and early ‘08 on stage, opening shows for artists like KRS-1, De La Soul, Wildchild and The Liks.

EP’s strength is definitely its high energy performances; however, having heard several tracks from the stables upcoming releases (yes, releases with an S), what separates the crew is definitely their diverse content and style. “Everyone in the group has their own ideas, sometimes we follow the leader, other times we meet in the middle but mostly we just run off in our own directions. There’s no plan.”

What you can plan on is hearing much more of Epsilon Project in the future. Stay tuned.

Sinuous is an Emcee, Producer, and Audio Engineer, who grew up in the Golden Era of Hip Hop. Sinuous is known for clever rhyme schemes, and dope beats. He plays multiple instruments, and balances that with digging in the crates. Interest in the sonic quality side of things eventually led him to purse the audio engineering. Sinuous started working with a group called the Dead I Click from 97-2001, then moved on to do solo work, projects, and production with P-able, and other artists. In 2005/2006 Sinuous and P-able got international distribution in Japan with the album “The Jazz Council”. It was sold in all Tower Records across Japan. It sold out all copies printed and was considered a classic Jazz Hip Hop album overseas…Sinuous followed up that release with his “Street Musicians” release on vinyl, and it was distributed in Japan, and London…It also sold out all copies printed…In 2009 he put together a live Jazz/Soul based band to perform with him at his live shows.
Sinuous released a free album 2010 called “Throwbacks” online at, and will be releasing a bunch of new music in 2012. “Needle 2 The Groove” will be out 2012 .
Sinuous has done shows from San Francisco to LA, and rocked almost every club/stage in Santa Barbara…He has shared the stage with Rza, Gza, Killah Priest, Slick Rick, Akil of Jurassic 5, Dj Muggs of Cypress Hill, KRS-1, MED, Brother Ali…He was worked with Prince Po, Chino XL, Mr. Metaphor, Verbal Kent, Domingo, Sene, Freestyle of The Arsonists, Epsilon Project, Wildchild, Blame One, and more.

Noah Tabakin is the man behind Ssssnake, a hip hop, funk and gospel-inflected soul project with a wild, joyous vibe. Defying categorization, Ssssnake has been likened to the lovechild of Ray Charles and MF Doom or a hip hop Jeff Buckley.

Tabakin produces all the music for Ssssnake on Logic software, which he pipes on stage through his iPhone. Rhyming, freestyling and singing over the tracks, Tabakin’s vocal work lands somewhere between Lenny Kravitz, Cee Lo Green and Lyrics Born. He often closes out the show in his underwear. Add in the antics of backup dancers Lil Bite and Venom, and the effect is a high-octane dance party with a sexual edge and a lot of humor.

“It’s an outlet for me. I can process things. It’s therapeutic,” says Tabakin. “When I’m on stage, I get real high off it. I’ve played to one person and I’ve played to 15,000; I love it all the same. I’m confident it’s what I’m here to do.”

Ssssnake is the latest project from one of Chicago’s most original and hardest working soul performers.

In addition to fronting Ssssnake, Tabakin currently songwrites and plays saxophone for national touring act Mucca Pazza, a punk circus marching band, with whom he has performed on the Conan O’Brien Show and Lollapalooza, and opened for Primus. He sings backup and plays keyboard and saxophone for art-rock band D. Rider as well.

Tabakin has been singing and making music for over two decades. His considerable tour of duty includes fronting three bands: soul and R&B group All Fours; live hip-hop band Tabakin, with whom he produced an album and opened for The Roots; and the soul-funk group Little Blue Crunchy Things, with whom he performed for ten years, selling 14,000 records.

Additionally, Tabakin has participated in a kaleidoscope of music collaborations and behind-the-scenes roles. From singing in the choir at the University of Wisconsin- Madison to contributing to the successful hip-hop compilation series “The Chicago Drop” to serving as co-director of the Tour de Fat’s house band, Tabakin has earned his self-appointed handle “solider of music” many, many times over.

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