Monday, June 8, 2015

'Nation' Builds The Empire

(By way of a disclaimer, if you've yet to see the epic film 300 then the introduction to this review will make little to no sense to you.)

In the film 300 Leonidas and a Persian messenger have a rather heated conversation about choosing their words carefully. For those who know this scene it doesn't end well for the messenger at all.
But it gets me thinking about the words we use. As a writer I like to think that I use an excellent array of syllables to elucidate my eloquence.

(See what I did there?)

But I take a backseat to a duo of rappers whose description of themselves as "unapologetically deep" is so accurate that no disputes can be made to contrary without sounding stupid.

That duo is Barz Damu and TrailBlazzorMuzik, New GA artists the Fly Mind Poets.

Their latest offering to the sonic tableau is the compilation tape known as Nation Leakz.

The compilation album was, by their own admission, meant to be something of a throwaway. (Oddly enough, iBeast said the same thing about Cadillac Diaries). What it ended being was a soulful and in depth view into the unique purview of the two rappers.

Usually I would talk about a few tracks and leave at that. However this one requires a full analysis. So here we go.

"What Is NL?" is, for all intents and purposes, a history lesson masquerading as an intro. Here TrailBlazzorMuzik tells us how the Fly Mind Poets linked up with New GA, the release of the Fly Minds EP, the death of friend Quincy "Q" Suggs, and the music. He [Blazzor] goes on to tell us that Nation Leakz is the second step, the point where these two artists start showing us who they are both individually and as a duo while whetting our appetites for their solo projects.

"The Urgency" is next, produced by Jordeaux. It lulls you slightly before drum beats and the flow hits you almost immediately. This track shows two ambitious artists who are refusing to wait for success to come to them. They are recognizing the urgency of life, of fame and stepping out on their own skills in an attempt to race time. It's a sentiment that any and all of trying to do more can relate to.

A favorite track is "Scholarship Problems" featuring the always amazing iBeast. Originally meant for iBeast's Cadillac Diaries the track was added to the Nation Leakz because they [Fly Mind Poets] wanted 'the vibe' on the project.

And what a vibe it is.

Propelled by a jazz inspired horn section the production lends itself well to the three voices.

Lyrically speaking, the track speaks of advancing and learning. To me the title draws a parallel to the problems college students often have maintaining a scholarship and the things that we sometimes must sacrifice to keep that blessing as well as the growth it can supply.

This is reinforced by an amazing hook:

They say that Satan just need a vessel
The police just need a nigga
Excuse me for all of my wrongdoing
But I ain't finna let life make me a victim
Did some wrong to try to eat better
Stepped on some toes to move up a level
Not an OG, no thug life
Not a killer, nigga
I'm just a rebel

Being that I have previously spoken on "Genius Genes" as well as "ShoeBoxInTheClosetFlow" and "Motivational Speakerz", I won't say anything about them outside of reinforcing how amazing these tracks are. Anything further can be found in the links at the end of this article.

"Bounce" is another of those clever tracks that uses many different definitions to deliver in spades. The word, obviously, is 'bounce'. Blazzor plays well against a somewhat dark beat that shows both his absolute eloquence and the apparent creativity.

"Perfectly Mistaken" is a laid back and well crafted track. So much so that I won't trust my paltry words to touch it. What I will do I quote Barz when I asked him about it in our recent interview.

"The song is touching on how we can be so prideful in ourselves that we do not own up to our mistakes. On the other end of it, we get too hard on ourselves for making mistakes rather than moving forward with a healthy self worth and pride..."

What else needs to be said?

From there we move on to  "Dwayne James”, which is, an interesting track. This is why is why: here we are given Barz and Blazzor rapping over an instrumental from Dom Kennedy's Yellow Album ("We Ball" featuring Kendrick Lamar). It surprises both artists that the track seems to be a favorite for many of the listeners to the tape. By his own admission, Blazzor isn't particularly fond of the track.

The next two tracks play like an introspective interlude to an already rather well put together tape.

"Rap Ramblin'" is unadulterated in its smoothness. Barz presents free associated over the beat, his delivery powerful but nowhere near a yell. Some of the subjects include being Southern born, crooked cops, and the lifting of one's consciousness.

"The Key" is another of those overly deep pieces that even my mind is dubious about touching on. So we allow a quote from my interview with the brothers to illuminate the brilliance on this one.

"I wrote it a capella. It was really a diary to self. Nothing more was expected. That was until I found a beat to match. (laughs). But it was basically an attempt to ground myself through my frustration of perceived limitation within myself. And eventually, at the end, I found the key to ease my restlessness. It’s like a literal meditation laid out for you to hear. This is the thought process I tend to have when I try to ease my frustrations in private..."

"Reminiscin'" is the next offering , an track of cool, horn heavy trip down memory lane. Hearing it takes me two places. One is towards my own Savannah born days while the other allows me access to the place Barz and Blazzor are taking us. Calii Dream comes through towards the end to deliver a great verse with his unique timbre.

"75" is the obligatory riding song from a Southern artist. From some artists this seems like a space filler or a contrived attempt to get a cheap pop on a lackluster project.


Blazzor adds himself to a lexicon, a pantheon of legends in a strong showing with his storytelling and epic flow as he waxes poetic about Atlanta's I-75.

"Trippin'" is, to me, introspection at its finest. We have all been visited by old habits and the ghosts of the things we once were. Things like that can make any man (or woman) trip out, especially with Barz 'riding around sipping on a cup of some of that something something'.

"Ignore-Rant" is clever wordplay on the title and, from what I can see and hear, a rant of sorts coupled with storytelling in a freefall format. It's played over a beat (produced by KlausePrime) that I cannot qualify or quantify particularly but it carries a nice effect. Maybe later on I'll gain some clairvoyance and another view on this one. Stay tuned.

"Self Centered" has an Caribbean sort of vibe to it. Here we are once again confronted with a title and a track that takes it in another direction. Immediately upon reading the title you get the negative connotation of arrogance or even being cocky. But no. What Blazzor is speaking of on this track is being centered within oneself, focused on growing and being something better. It's concepts and ideas like this throughout the tape that make it so special.

This next track is one of my favorites and a lesson in context.

The track is "Sink In". 

If you were paying as much attention as I was when you dowloaded and/or bought Nation Leakz, you'll notice the similarities between this track and "What Is NL?". That's because it's the same beat, a cool something produced by Scientific). In the context of "What Is NL?" it's merely the backdrop to an eloquent explanation/history lesson..

But in this context?

It becomes an almost sensual track. To me as a music connoisseur I am reminded of 80s fare from artists like Barry White or Teddy Pendergrass. It's a smooth track that teases at double entendres through the repetition of the song's title. One can either take it to mean either allowing words to sink in or maybe sinking into the depths of a woman. Whichever you get, the track is a masterpiece.

"Goddess" and its production makes me think its producer Kelly Portis might be a music connoisseur such as myself. Sampling the Deniece Williams track "Free", this one is a poetic love song that Barz is happy to lay out for us. It's less about her looks but more about the intellectual aspect of loving someone. This is presented well and could be used on any romance movie soundtrack.

I'm about to stop here because by now you should be listening to this tape. 


Because Barz and Blazzor are building the foundations of an empire. You need to be like me and support it.

Fly Minds Poets: Interview

It's always good to catch up with #NewGA members. Today I caught up with the duo of Barz Damu and TrailBlazzorMuzik, collectively known as the Fly Mind Poets. Today we talk about the future, the new compilation tape Nation Leakz, and who they are listening to. Second interview with these brothers so let's see what they have to say.

LUCIUS: Once again, it’s good that you guys took time out to do this interview with me. I truly appreciate it.
BARZ: No problem, man. It's always a pleasure having a dialogue with you, fam.
BLAZZOR: What’s up, bruh? Honored to chop it up with you again.

LUCIUS: So the tape just dropped. Right now I think you’re potentially sitting on a monster of a tape, something I distinctly remember saying to iBeast about his tape [Cadillac Diaries]. How does that feel?
BARZ: A monster? That feels just about right. Not to be cocky but on this joint, you can tell that we are doing exactly what we want to do with the throwaways on this tape. But it all comes down to how the people digest the content that determines if I will have a monstrous impact. We'll see in due time.
BLAZZOR: To me it’s a sign of confirmation. I honestly didn’t have any expectations. I just wanted honest feedback because on this tape we showed where our general direction will be artistically. We also wanted to know if most of our Fly Minds EP supporters rocked with our versatility of sound and content. So it’s a feeling of confirmation, bruh.

LUCIUS: Explain to us the choice of Nation Leakz as the title. What was the thought process there?
BARZ: Well, basically the tape consists of songs we leaked before the Fly Minds EP dropped and some exclusive joints that were intended for our individual tapes. We decided to let those go for the fans AKA “the Nation” to enjoy and to hold them over before our upcoming projects. The Nation is basically our fans so this is a tape for them.
BLAZZOR: Nation Leakz basically means this....the Nation is us and the Fly Mind supporters and the tape was a compilation of songs we leaked within the last fifteen months plus exclusives. Hence Nation Leakz. You know?

LUCIUS: How is this new tape different from the last one? Would you say it surpasses the previous effort? Why or why not?
BARZ: It's different because there was more space for selecting the sounds we wanted. It surpasses the previous project because on this tape, there is a more expanded expression of who we are as individuals
BLAZZOR: It’s different because we had a limited selection of beats on Fly Minds EP. Z3, the Fly Minds EP’s producer, didn't have much output at the time due to life situations so we worked with what we had. On NL, we expressed more artistic freedom as far as sound especially as individuals. And I think that's why the new tape surpasses the prior one. To add to that, we opened up more on a personal level and that's what we will do more as we evolve.

LUCIUS: OK, how is it similar?
BARZ: It's similar in tenacity. On both tapes, we were in the state of mind to fuck shit up.
BLAZZOR: It's similar because the overall message is generally the same as well as the chemistry between me and Barz.

LUCIUS: So I paid close attention to your intro "What Is NL?” I'm sorry to hear about the passing of your friend Q. Being a writer my pain finds its way into my writing. How has his [Q's] passing affected your rhymes and what you write?
BARZ: It didn't affect me too much because the life he led and the way he passed touched base on what I already right about in many angles. I mean, I will speak on it. That's for sure. I write nothing but my insights and experiences so it comes out.
BLAZZOR: It tweaked my objective a little bit. It forced a slight paradigm shift in my focus to where now I took it upon myself to be the voice of my area. Though we live in the ‘burbs, law enforcement is corrupt. We’ve lost 100% of our lost ones to the gun but no one speaks on it. Everybody’s trying to be like Future, rap on Auto-Tune, speak on lean, flexing, and running through bitches. His death hit home and it just really reinforced my objective, you know. What's really happening?

LUCIUS: Long live Q. So why did you guys decide against a concept for this tape?
BARZ: Well from the jump, we knew since last year we were going to release this compilation tape. We didn't have a concept for it because it’s simply just leaks from the vault. We intended nothing deeper than that.
BLAZZOR: Well we just had so many songs that weren’t going to land on any projects we decided to package them into one. So that's why there was no concept.

LUCIUS: How was it having your brother on a track alongside you?
BARZ: It's something that has always had a flow because our chemistry is so in sync from both knowing each other and how we tick, as well as being on tracks together since before pre-teen days.
BLAZZOR: It’s dope because our differences and high standards as artists bring so much more to any track. He knows I’m going bring it and I know he will bring it. So it forces us to stay on our A game.

LUCIUS: As I'm sure you both know, I'm a major supporter and a huge fan. How many new fans are you looking to gain because of the release of Nation Leakz?
BARZ: Enough solid fans to the point where the momentum of our movement shifts from having to push vigorously on the daily with this tape, to anticipation and word of mouth has a more potent push of its own on the upcoming projects. It's about striking the right people.
BLAZZOR: I don't have an aim of how many fans. I just go with the flow. I don't really like setting expectations because it’s a set up for disappointments a lot of times.

LUCIUS: Let’s talk on the music from the tape a bit, OK? A track that I really vibe with is "Scholarship Problems" featuring the incomparable iBeast. Explain the process on this one from conception to recording.
BARZ: iBeast sent us the beat and the hook for the track along with his verse. We wrote to it and recorded our verses for one of his Cadillac Diaries sessions but it didn't make the cut. So we asked him if we can place it on the Leakz. He replied, “Run it.” So here it is. If I am not mistaken I think it was intended to be on the #NewGA summer tape, which never came into being.
BLAZZOR: Basically it to originally his idea. He wrote to it, recorded a sample, sent to us and we wrote to it. And we met up and laid it down at South [Johansson’s] house. It didn't make it on Cadillac Diaries. I think he had other plans for it but I couldn't resist asking him if we could put it on NL. I just needed that vibe on there, you know? And it's certainly one of my favorites. iBeast is very creative and this track displays it.

LUCIUS: Another track I find myself getting into has to be “Dwayne James” featuring production by Chase N. Cashe. Mind shedding a little light on that one for us?
BARZ: Basically, Blazzor wrote to the beat and asked me I wanted to get on it. I said hell yeah! This is one of the tracks we released early last year
BLAZZOR: Me and Barz are surprised at the fact that this is most people's favorite! First off, it’s not an original track. It’s the instrumental from Dom Kennedy's Yellow Album ("We Ball" featuring Kendrick Lamar). I loved the beat, wrote some shit, recorded it, and asked Barz if he wanted to get on it. He laid his verse and the rest is history. I don't even like the track like that. (laughs)

LUCIUS: The tracks on the tape strike me an extremely eclectic mix of subjects and production. How did you decide which tracks made it on the tape?
BARZ: We really just chose our favorites. It came down to the wire when I had to decide between two tracks because keeping them both would have lapsed eighty minutes. So I had to choose the one that feels lighter in spirit because I have enough dark tracks on there.
BLAZZOR: Well we added all the Leakz within the year span, and then we chose our individuals personally. My process was to show my versatility. That's what truly drove my decision making process.

LUCIUS: Now, Barz...I want to talk to you about "Perfectly Mistaken". It's, in a word, dope. Same deal as before. Speak on it a bit.
BARZ: The song is touching on how we can be so prideful in ourselves that we do not own up to our mistakes. On the other end of it we get too hard on ourselves for making mistakes, rather than moving forward with a healthy self-worth and pride. That song was the most fun to record out of all the tracks on the tape.

LUCIUS: OK, Blazzor...I am completely blown away by "The Key". It's surprising and really well put together. Speak on it for a second.
BLAZZOR: I wrote it a capella. It was really a diary to self. Nothing more was expected. That was until I found a beat to match. (laughs). But it was basically an attempt to ground myself through my frustration of perceived limitation within myself. And eventually, at the end, I found the key to ease my restlessness. It’s like a literal meditation laid out for you to hear. This is the thought process I tend to have when I try to ease my frustrations in private.

LUCIUS: As always, I have to ask you: favorite track(s)? Least favorite?
BARZ: My favorite tracks are “The Key”, “Scholarship Problems”, “Perfectly Mistaken”, “75”, and “Genius Genes”. I don't have a least favorite.
BLAZZOR: My favorite tracks are “Scholarship Problems”, “Perfectly Mistaken”, “Trippin”, “75”, and “FlyMindReligion”. My least favorite is everyone's favorite, “Dwayne James”. (laughs)

LUCIUS: How does it feel to be being compared to Nas and J. Cole? I saw that today and I wanted to get you guys’ two cents.
BARZ: I can understand that comparison on the level of content. It shows that we are living up to our potential more and more. But I respect the craft so much; I wouldn't dare say that I'm on their level skill wise yet.
BLAZZOR: It's flattering but I don't feel like I'm near their level. But I like that because I know that the people know that we respect the craft and we are serious about it.

LUCIUS: Not to go too deep into it but what’s next for you this year? I remember a mention of solo tapes.
BARZ: This year I will be working on my solo along with some feature projects and a whole lot of visuals. Hopefully, I get the time to start working on my production game. That's what I really yearn to do.
BLAZZOR: Yeah, solos are on the agenda. It’s important to differentiate our individual selves through these solo tapes. Help people see the differences.

LUCIUS: We're doing a lot of talking about you guys and your music. But who are you listening to? Are there writers who inspire you to dig deeper, be deeper?
BARZ: Right now, I'm listening to Starlito, Earl Sweatshirt, Kendrick Lamar, some Kevin Gates, and I'm getting into Tink. The first three artists I mentioned inspire me to be deeper. When I hear deep shit, it's a breath of fresh air to me while for others, it's "depressing."
BLAZZOR: Lately I been on Earl Sweatshirt, Future, Curren$y, Starlito (my favorite), Nipsey, Cole, K. Dot. Lito and K. Dot inspires me to go deeper than any other artist can

LUCIUS: Thoughts on the next move for yourselves and the trajectory of the #NewGA?
BARZ: Our move right now is to keep working and attract the right pieces to get to the next level. We, #NewGA, are looking to add members that are serious about their craft, down for the team and down for the vision.
BLAZZOR: We got a lot of plans laid out and you will witness it in due time.

LUCIUS: Any last shout-outs and/or words of wisdom you want to drop on us?
BARZ: I would like to shout out to Q's family, the Suggs and my homie AJ. As far as wisdom goes, I'm just in soaking game mode so I don't really have much to share with you except that, the only way to open up to wisdom is to accept that ultimately, you know nothing.
BLAZZOR: Shout out to you, #NewGA, St8OutDaDen and all else who support. You know who you are. Thank you.

LUCIUS: Thank you once again for the interview. I’ll be keeping an eye out and an ear out for what comes next, brothers.
BARZ: No problem, man. Any time.
BLAZZOR: Glad to do it.