Sunday, June 22, 2014

TrailBlazzor Musik: Interview

LUCIUS: As always with my interviews, I want to thank you guys for sitting down and doing and interview with me.
TRAILBLAZZOR: Anytime, brother! You support our work and I support yours! Its always love!

LUCIUS: So how has 2014 been treating you thus far?
TRAILBLAZZOR: Probably the most progressive year in my lifetime! This is the year in which I am a witness to the power of positive thought and the power of perception. So although I haven’t materially progressed much yet, I witness the potential and true value of impactful thoughts and emotional self control.

LUCIUS: Tell us what to expect from you for the rest of the year and on into 2015.
TRAILBLAZZOR: I expect growth, that’s it. Whether it’s a down year or a progressive year, I expect myself to expand and grow more. As far as musically we are dropping the #NewGA #SummeTape, #NationLeaks just a tape of leaks we released throughout the year. And we are working on our solo tapes.

LUCIUS: So explain your stage name to me a bit.
TRAILBLAZZOR: I chose TrailBlazzor Muzik because in essence, I'm representing every human being on the planet in the sense that we are responsible for our outcomes for the most part whether we realize it, accept it, or not. We are all trail blazers because we blaze our own trail, we create our own path through our decisions, whether we are losers or winners. So I represent that in my music. I speak on my intents, my motives, my outside circumstances, my past, and how I made or make decisions and how they affect me. I am ultimately attempting to show people that we have the power through thought, hence Mind Ova Matter.

LUCIUS: Who truly inspired the first spark for this Fly Minds EP?
TRAILBLAZZOR: I believe I did, if I remember correctly.

LUCIUS: What got you guys working on the Fly Minds EP? Or rather, what's behind the concept?
TRAILBLAZZOR: Our producer and longtime friend Z3TrackZ was sending us beats one at a time. We was recording them for fun. After about four songs me and Barz was like, "Shit, we might as well do an EP with this". We was kicking game but the beats made it sound fly. So we just called it #FlyMinds. We ended up recording more tracks and still named it an EP because we feel it’s just a promo to what’s to come from us as a brand on a general perspective, and to demonstrate that we don’t go by the rules. Shit, I’ll make a five song tape an album if I want to. Fuck the rules.

LUCIUS: How did you link up with iBeast and the #NewGA movement?
TRAILBLAZZOR: We went with a mutual friend Trina to see him perform, but my dominant intent was just to network with the artist there. When I met him, he was very personable and down to earth. And I was even more impressed by his presence on stage, his ability to command the crowd, his true to life music, and his rebellious attitude. So I handed him a business card after the show. And a couple of days later, which is rare, he reached out to us and told us he respected the craft due to our honesty. He told us about the #NewGA idea and if we were down for the cause. Without hesitation, I said yes, because I know real one when I see it. And I'm glad we did it. It’s good to fuck with a nigga with that type of work ethic. The whole team is solid.

LUCIUS: Any favorite track(s) off the EP? Any that weren't particularly your favorite?
TRAILBLAZZOR: My favorite track by a long shot is "True 2 The Code" because that shit just rides! My least favorite will have to be "Hurt So Bad". It just didn’t seem as powerful as the rest of the tracks.

LUCIUS: I have been hearing through social media that the #NewGA has been doing a number of shows. How has that been?
TRAILBLAZZOR: Very successful.  We're starting to make waves by showing our value due to our unique approach to southern rap and our unwillingness to conform. It makes our individual brands and the whole #NewGA movement that much more distinctive.

LUCIUS: I see that the #NewGA is growing. That's an amazing thing. What kind of people are you hoping to add to the roster.
TRAILBLAZZOR: Anyone who respects the true craft of hip hop/rap and authenticity as well as work ethic, either from an artist, producer, promoter perspective, or whatever role they may play. You have to be dedicated to stand on the truth and enforce it.

LUCIUS: Whose music are you listening to in your free time?
TRAILBLAZZOR: I'm a hip-hop hop head! Sometimes I bump oldschool rnb but majority of the time I bump underground artists like Starlito, Nipsey Hussle, Ab Soul, Mick Jenkins, Curren$y, Big K.R.I.T., Cyhi Da Prynce, Freddie Gibbs, Killer Mike, Young Roddy, Kendrick Lamar, J. Cole.

LUCIUS: Is there a goal you're hoping to reach with your music?
TRAILBLAZZOR: Personally it is to be able to create financial freedom, influence the culture in a positive way, but most importantly is to empower people and expose them to the power that they have at their disposal via their mind.

LUCIUS: Any thoughts on the current direction of hip-hop?
TRAILBLAZZOR: I think hip-hop is always moving in a positive direction because that’s the nature and original intent of hip-hop, which is the part of the culture I represent. Now fap on the other hand is leading the masses to self-destruction because of the overwhelming promotion of this death culture which overshadows hip-hop, which in fact is still alive. It’s just not televised.

LUCIUS: Who is someone you are really looking forward to working with someday?
TRAILBLAZZOR: I don’t really have a wish list, honestly. I just wanna see where my journey takes me and I will eventually work with who it will make sense to work with.

LUCIUS: What's the greatest bit of game that you can share with our readers and your fans?
TRAILBLAZZOR: Never box yourself in. Embrace that stressful or anxious feeling of allowing yourself to feel vulnerable because only then will be when the greatest surge of passion and excitement will eventually flow through you and allow you to be an undeniable force for any cause and/calling you represent.

LUCIUS: Are there any thanks or last shout outs you want to give?
TRAILBLAZZOR: Shout out to you, my brother! Shout out to Above The Ruckus, IndieThi3ves, #NewGA of course, and all of my extended fam. I don’t call them fans!

LUCIUS: Thanks for that. I appreciate your time.
TRAILBLAZZOR: Fa sho, bruh. Holla at me anytime if you need something!

Barz Damu: Interview

LUCIUS: As always with my interviews, I want to thank you guys for sitting down and doing and interview with me.
BARZ: No problem, brother. I have been looking forward to chopping it up with you ever since we first got connected, man. I respect what you do

LUCIUS: So how has 2014 been treating you thus far?
BARZ: It’s been cool. This year, the exposure is coming in tenfold but more importantly, I am growing exponentially thanks to the many challenges I have faced and am facing.

LUCIUS: Tell us what to expect from you for the rest of the year and on into 2015.
BARZ: Ummm…at the deepest level , just me growing more into myself. But at a relative level, more great music. #NewGa got the #SummerTape dropping and I have a couple of songs on there. Also, we will be releasing a #NationLeaks tape which will feature some songs we released while promoting #FlyMinds. It will be nothing major, just some great music to be posted on the Internet for the extended fam to enjoy. Abundance of features, random songs, and shows. And also, I am currently writing some new, deep, soulful, raw, melodic, jamming, Jedi Mind shit that will bless the ears of my listeners on my solo tape. The world has barely heard the deeper level of art from us. The #FlyMinds Ep BARELY scratched the surface for both of us and people are still feeling it. So just imagine. (laughs)

LUCIUS: So explain your stage name to me a bit.
BARZ: Well my first name is Jabar and my mother used to call me Barzy as a child. My homie who also is a super talented producer, Kopano aka Dynamic Arrangement, suggested that I use the name Barz since I rap. Damu is my middle name which means "blood" in Swahili. I embrace that name wholeheartedly because of its roots and the sound vibration of the name. I don’t regard my last name. Too European for me.

LUCIUS: Who truly inspired the first spark for this Fly Minds EP?
BARZ: I actually cannot remember but I know it first came about when we were talking about after recording "September". Then Z3 started sending us some other beats and we were just moving through them and we figured, "Why not make a project out of this?" Most of those songs that we wrote to, though, never made the actual EP.

LUCIUS: What got you guys working on the Fly Minds EP? Or rather, what's behind the concept?
BARZ: Well, #FlyMinds is just a part of our entire being. It’s basically an expression of embracing intelligence with style and authenticity. Also, the willingness to step out of the box with the audacity to experiment with some different shit and say “Hell yeah. This who the fuck we are.” You don’t have to like it but you will respect what we are about. But it’s so many ways to look at it to me. It was just where we were at that point in time artistically. It is a very loose concept.

LUCIUS: How did you link up with iBeast and the #NewGA movement?
BARZ: We met iBeast through my girlfriend Trina, who invited me to check out his show in College Park. I enjoyed his performance featuring #NewGa member India Catrice. I respected the general idea of what his music represents. Trina played some of our stuff to him and he liked what he heard. We started chopping it up with him with his idea of #NewGA and I figured why not try this out. We made the right decision. It is a blessing. Without the #NewGa support system, #FlyMinds wouldn’t be what it is today.

LUCIUS: Any favorite track(s) off the EP? Any that weren't particularly your favorite?
BARZ: It changes from time to time but right now I think my favorites would be "September", "No Concept", "Neptune" and "True 2 the Code". "Night of Honor" used to be my least favorite but it’s growing on me!

LUCIUS: I have been hearing through social media that the #NewGA has been doing a number of shows. How has that been?
BARZ: It’s been great! But we barely started. People respect the movement and the variety that is within the movement. Live shows is our forte. Our approach brings more life the environment of the show.

LUCIUS: I see that the #NewGA is growing. That's an amazing thing. What kind of people are you hoping to add to the roster.
BARZ: I want talented, dignified, committed, honest people, no matter what skill they bring to the table. I feel like we need people that are willing to grow on their own even within the movement. In order for a supportive unit to work, the individual units have to be strong individually. This system is not for beggars.

LUCIUS: Whose music are you listening to in your free time?
BARZ: I don’t really just sit and just listen to music much but it varies. But at the moment, I have to say Ab-Soul, some 60s-70s soul, and the classic Lil Boosie. But generally, Badu, Pac, Earth Wind & Fire, K.Dot, Nas, Sade, Solange, Nipsey Hussle, Starlito, OutKast, Mick Jenkins. The list goes on.

LUCIUS: Is there a goal you're hoping to reach with your music?
BARZ: With my music, I hope to have people understand the urgency of humanity’s need for transformation, and the give them the inspiration to act on humanity’s dire need for transformation with whatever gift they can give.

LUCIUS: Any thoughts on the current direction of hip-hop?
BARZ: Hip-hop is going off into all kinds of directions because there are many different artists on different levels with different aims. But mainstream wise, it’s shitty. I only like Kendrick, Lupe, J.Cole, and some Wale in the mainstream. You got other dope artists like Drake but he don’t speak to my struggle like the others do. But the underground's about to crack open the concrete.

LUCIUS: Who is someone you are really looking forward to working with someday?
BARZ: BJ the Chicago Kid, Jhene Aiko, Tinashe, Sza, Ab Soul, Rhapsody, Saba, NoName Gypsy, Joey Badass, Cooley Savant to name a few

LUCIUS: What's the greatest bit of game that you can share with our readers and your fans?
BARZ: Whatever your greatest fear is, seek to UNDERstand it so you can OVERcome it.

LUCIUS: Are there any thanks or last shout outs you want to give?
BARZ: I would like to shout out Joycelyn Renette (, Kudee Garley supported us since the very beginning, Kinfolk,  Shakur El Bey, Akilah Stewart, War Beyah, MarccGrand, DJ Sienna Robinson, Literati Clique, LR, Tai James, Debose Muzik, Sosa, Grip, Pee-Wee, CJ, Fame, Brilliant Minds, Michelle, Nyres The Poet (, William Cherry, Lil Hod Muzik, Dub and DonSean. And many others I can’t think of right now. Of course the fam, moms and pops.

LUCIUS: Thanks for that. I appreciate your time.
BARZ: No problem brother. Peace, blessings, and revolutionary art….from Barz Damu.

'Fly' As They Are... (Mixtape Of The Week)

A while back I did an interview with the amazing Gibran Harris (iBeast to the wholly unaffiliated). Having listened to his excellent debut effort Pimp Said So: The 1st Supper I was anxious to speak to the man behind such a juggernaut of a tape.

So I interviewed his as well as the lovely India Catrice, a vocalist featured on the tape.
In the interviews both spoke humbly and intelligently about the music and their styles. It was refreshing to me, to say the least.

One of the things that I really liked hearing about was the #NewGA, a movement that is about telling the truth in your music. He [iBeast] told me they were on the rise and I believed it.

That rise is now firmly attached to M.o.M MuziK , card carrying members of that #NewGA movement.

I met the brothers Barz Damu and TrailBlazzor Muzik via social media. We all knew a lot of the same people and connected through mutual respect. Since then these brothers have been blessing my timeline with real shit. Mostly it's thought provoking posts and thoughtful status posts.

The most real things they post are their music and the visuals, all from their stellar Fly Minds EP.

As a whole the project puts me in mind of one of the best EPs that Outkast never made. The production, handled by Z3 Trackz, is a strong counterpoint to rather impressive rhymes by both Barz and TrailBlazzor.  Each track is quite well written but for the sake of whetting your appetite I'm only discussing about four songs off the twelve track masterpiece.

Let's dig in.

Oddly enough, I'm starting with a skit. "F%ck A Skit". I like this skit simply because it tickled me with the sort of tongue in cheek delivery. I say this because having listened to A LOT of mixtapes and I have encountered those long and verbose skits and interludes. That is present but, to me, it's a jest at that particular done expertly well. You (or rather I) see it in the grossly mispronounced names towards the end of the 2:05 playing time.

"True 2 The Code" plays like a really cool track. The lighter production on this one belies (or rather aids) the strong rapping from the guys here. Earlier today I was doing some writing in my free time and this one was the soundtrack of my inspiration. Amid the eloquent storytelling is an excellent track for a cruise in the car amid the summertime heat. It's a perfect track for the season.

"Fly Minds" is probably my favorite on an EP of favorites. The furious rhyming bursts in immediately alongside a beat that sounds like something that wouldn't be put of place on a Shaft soundtrack somewhere. Being a fan of the blacksploitation genre appreciated that part of the track and almost felt the need to say, "Damn right..."

"September" is a horn heavy beast of a track. Listening to this one puts me in mind of Fabolous and tracks from him like "Breathe" or "B.I.T.E.". I am utterly floored by the way Barz and TrailBlazzor transform effortlessly with each track. Here they give game over insistent trumpets and great percussion. Another track that truly gets to me.

Usually at this point I would suggest a few more songs here. In lieu of that I will suggest that you listen to the album as a whole and pick your own favorites.

The Fly Minds EP is, not to put too fine a point on it, fantastic. Everything from the production to the features are well done with perfect delivery and pitch. As previously stated Barz and TrailBlazzor are versatile in their abilities and the way their style as a duo works onto matter the direction the production takes. As a member of the #NewGA movement, these two fly minds are ones to watch.

India Catrice: Interview

LUCIUS: First, I want to thank you for doing this interview.
CATRICE: Of course. Thank you for having me.

LUCIUS: How are you?
CATRICE: Everything is great. I am very blessed.

LUCIUS: How has 2013 been treating you?
CATRICE: 2013 for me has been full of new challenges and very musically inclined

LUCIUS: What can we expect from you in 2014?
CATRICE: In 2014 you can expect to see India Catrice blossom as an artist. More songs, more cover on YouTube, etc.

LUCIUS: How long have you know that you had this talent? Was there a specific moment when you knew you had this gift?
CATRICE: Honestly, singing has been a part of me since I was born. My grandmother wrote a lullaby that has been passed down for over three generations. My mother was a choir director. Music has just been a way that my family bonded no matter what the occasion. No specific event brought that to my attention. This is just something I was born to do.

LUCIUS: Do you write your own songs? Is there a set subject matter that you write on?
CATRICE: Yes, I am a songwriter. I like to touch on all subject matters when I write. Real life, everyday situations people can relate to.  Now one day I do plan to write a song as poetically inclined as the great Lauryn Hill but until then I will give you the best of what India Catrice has to say.

LUCIUS: Do you have a genre of music that you enjoy singing the most?
CATRICE: Acoustic hands down is my favorite genre to sing. However, my music currently is mainly R & B but, as stated earlier, in 2014 you will get to see more of who India Catrice really is.

LUCIUS: How has it been working with iBeast?
CATRICE: Working with iBeast has been a wonderful experience. He has such a drive and passion like none other. It propels me to set and reach higher goals. Needless to say, he is an awesome person to work with.

LUCIUS: Let’s talk about your song “Happy Place”. Did you write your own verses for that one?
CATRICE: "Happy Place" was definitely a song that spoke the truth . Having gathered experiences from different people, I wanted to make sure that I told a story that was as real as possible .The verses indeed were written by me. iBeast sent me the track and allowed me to approach it how I wanted and I feel I did that song as well as the topic justice.

LUCIUS: Another song you did with iBeast was “Lookin Shife”. What was the process there?
CATRICE: The process behind “Lookin Shife” was really free ranged. If iBeast or myself had an idea for the track we would contact each other and share it. If it worked we ran with it and if not we continued on with the drawing board.

LUCIUS: Who (or what) is your biggest inspiration? Are there artists who you admired growing up?
CATRICE: My Inspiration has been and still is my mother, She is so talented vocally . Also Tamia, who is a phenomenal singer. As a child I would always try to mock Whitney Houston’s riffs and runs. Beyonce of course and Luther Vandross

LUCIUS: Describe your singing style.
CATRICE: My style of singing is very comfortable, I write songs people can relate to and will put on repeat. I love painting pictures with my music.

LUCIUS: Do you adopt different styles from other artists when you sing?
CATRICE: I put to use their styles of singing with different songs. If I’m singing about deep passion for love I look into a more Tamia feel. When I sing songs that are more vocally challenging for me I look to Whitney.

LUCIUS: Where does your ambition come from?
CATRICE: My ambition comes mostly from myself. I know how talented I am. With that being said, I feel as though singing and writing songs is what i was put on this Earth to do.

LUCIUS: Any artists you’d like to work with?
CARTRICE: Of course. I would love to work with Ne-Yo, Brian McKnight, Taylor Swift because I do have a high interest for county music, and also Kirk Franklin just to name a few.

LUCIUS: Tell us something we don’t know about you.
CATRICE: Something as an artist that people don’t really know is that I can freestyle better than I can actually sit down and take the time to write out a song. Also as I stated earlier I love listening to county music.

LUCIUS: What can we expect from you in 2014?
CATRICE: You can expect a mixtape from me within the year 2014. I have yet to set a date but trust me good things comes to those that wait .

LUCIUS: Any last thank yous or shout outs?
CATRICE: First, I want to thank to you all for having me, iBeast for believing in me and having my back always, my family friends and fans that support me, and all the great singers and songwriters that have paved the way before me.

LUCIUS: How can people keep up with your music?
CATRICE: You can find various material from India Catrice at :
Instagram -Indiacatrice
Facebook- Indiacatrice
YouTube- Indiacatrice

iBeast: Interview

LUCIUS: First, I want to say thank you for sitting down to do this interview. It is much appreciated.
IBEAST: Thank you for taking time out to chop it up with me.

LUCIUS: How has everything been going for you?
IBEAST: MAN, I can’t complain… I’m blessed

LUCIUS: Before we go into anything else, I wanted to talk about your monster of a mixtape. How does it feel to not only be well past 4,000 downloads, 8,000 views on, and even a shout out from Big K.R.I.T. How does that feel? 
IBEAST: All I can say is God is good! My brother Dustin asked me if I thought I could sell 100 tapes in the first month; that was an eye opener because I never thought of it in that light. I always see people on with maybe 6-20 downloads and I honestly didn’t know if I could even get to 100 downloads, let alone 100 sells. The day it dropped, the tape actually hit 100 downloads with in the first 2 hours… it was crazy.  K.R.I.T. showing love was just icing on the cake, ya dig? Just notification that I need to keep going

LUCIUS: What was your mindset after being mentioned and shown some sort of recognition by K.R.I.T.?  
IBEAST: My mindset was money first and money last, ya dig?. But on some real shit, it was like two in the morning when I got the notification and it was crazy. This enormous wave of emotion swept over me and I ran upstairs, woke up my lady and told her the news. I actually lost my voice because I was yelling so loud. 

LUCIUS: Pimp Said So: The 1st Supper is the name of the project in question that is being received so well. What inspired the title? Did the title come first of did the music?
IBEAST: The title was originally going to be Pimp C Said: The First Supper but I didn’t want to ruffle any feathers by using Pimp’s name in my title without permission. I actually called Rap-A Lot Records a couple times and left messages in order to use the name but I didn’t receive any feedback. But the title was just what it says. Pimp requested that rappers in the South put more social commentary in our music and so I feel like I just wanted to honor that request. Hence the name, Pimp Said So: The 1st Supper. The title came before most of the music.

LUCIUS: In much the same way, what was your mindset as you started recording? 
IBEAST: I just wanted to give my fans the most complete and quality product I could afford to put together. I’ve been doing music for going on five years now and this is my FIRST official project! I even took a 2 year break with in that time period and my fan base still stuck with me, so I just wanted to give them something they could hold on to.

LUCIUS: I have been listening to the mixtape pretty heavy since I downloaded it. A favorite track of mine is “Cardiac”. Are there any tracks that stand out to you or are favorites? 
IBEAST: “Cardiac” is one of them, but I really dig “Hakunamatata“, “Failproof“, “Real For Y’all“, and “Lookin Shife”. 

LUCIUS: I also loved “Happy Place”. What can you tell me the featured artist India Catrice?
IBEAST: She is just a wonderful talent I stumbled upon at work through a co-worker! She is also an up and coming artist looking to work with other up and coming artists,  ya dig? Her voice is reminiscent of the greats from back in the day. I cannot believe I was blessed enough to come across her! But everything happens for a reason. 

LUCIUS: Speaking of featured artists, which artists were your favorites to work with?
IBEAST: My favorite artists to work with all of them, honestly. Everybody brought something different to the table that took this project to the next level.

LUCIUS: Moving beyond the mixtape for a second, tell me a bit about your stage name.
IBEAST: (laughs) it’s funny that you ask.  Originally my name was supposed to just be Beast (I always called myself that since I was a youngster way before rap). I put the Spanish exclamation marks in order to make it more dramatic but people kept calling me iBeast so I just went with it. But I consider myself a beast because of the things I’ve endured.

LUCIUS: On your Facebook, I hear you talk a lot about the New GA. Explain that a little bit.
IBEAST: “What’s understood ain’t gotta be explained“ (like my big brother Rob say). GA is becoming known for bullshit mainstream music, studio thugs, and basically all the wrong things.  There is a bunch of flexing going on with little truth.New GA is a movement dedicated to making it popular to tell the truth in music and in life.  

LUCIUS: Are there other artists that you consider a part of this “New GA”?
IBEAST: India Catrice, FAME, South Johansson, GA Slique, J3, Robert Jeter, there are others we just have to make them official.

LUCIUS: So do you have a team that your are working with or a part of?
IBEAST: I’m with Luxury Committee, I’m with New GA, and I’m with MMI (me, myself, and I)

LUCIUS: What is your personal stance on hip-hop today? Is it good or bad? Why?
IBEAST: I think hip-hop can be and is good depending on where you listen.  I’m not a BIG hip-hop fan but I love that they speak on real shit and that they stay true to their genre. I think its pathetic that Kendrick Lamar had to make a diss song about other rappers in order to rekindle hip-hop. If I gotta hate on my colleagues in order to come up, then fuck it… I guess I aint coming up.

LUCIUS: Based on your sound and your mixtape, I can see that you are inspired by Southern hip-hop legends like Pimp C, Bun B, and other contemporaries. But is there anyone who’s rapping right now that you admire?
IBEAST: Curren$y, KRIT, Z-RO, Paul Wall, Tech N9ne. There are others but I cant remember right now, I’m gone off a red cup.

LUCIUS: Are there any artists you’d like to work with, new or old? 
IBEAST: Bun B, Big K.R.I.T., Curren$y, Scotty ATL, Killer Mike, Rich Boy, Gucci Mane, OJ Da Juiceman, Anthony Hamilton, D’Angelo, Adele, and Creed among others

LUCIUS: So after the success of this mixtape, what’s the next move?
IBEAST: I plan on pushing this tape for the next 8 months, then start marketing for my ALBUM. But before my album I have projects coming up with J3, Kobee Kobain, Pha’rii Phorm, and Craig Butcher (a country singer) among others.

LUCIUS: Anything you want to touch on that we haven’t discussed?
IBEAST: I just want people to know that I relate to them. I know y’all can’t relate to all this bullshit on the radio talking about million dollar houses and $300k cars. Therefore I make music for regular lower and middle class people. I haven’t met one person who didn’t like this tape!

LUCIUS: Are there any last shout outs that you want to give?
IBEAST: My cousin Tory, my cousin Isreal Simmons, my lady, all the people from Hip Hop Shit Talkers Facebook group, Jeremy Dean Jackson, and many others.

LUCIUS: How can people keep up with you, your music, and the New GA?
IBEAST: Twitter: @Ibeast85
Facebook fan page:
Youtube: Ibeast!
Website: Coming Soon