Friday, September 18, 2015

Rise Up, A 'Phoenix' Story

Rise up.

Immediately you'd think of the Atlanta Falcons since the team has taken the two words as their slogan of sorts. Although they are off to a good start after Week 1, this article isn't about them. Maybe if they win the division we'll revisit them.

Another set of people heard that and thought of Rocky III and Survivor classic (and perennial workout motivation track) "Eye Of The Tiger". Clubber Lang and iconic films notwithstanding, that isn't the subject of this article either.

The subject is twofold.

First the title refers to Chicago born and HBCU educated producer Boyce. His sound is something amazing that one doesn't simply come across on the daily.

Secondly I speak of the labor of love that he [Boyce] has and/or will be presenting to the world in due time. I speak of Boyce's production EP Phoenix.

If you know anything about mythology you know that the Phoenix is the symbol of immortality, rebirth, and the circle of life. It lives, dies, and is reborn. One could go as far as to say it rises up, hence the title.

Phoenix is, putting it mildly, a great EP. Within the expanse of seven (7) tracks we are given much to feast on musically. By his own admission he is a 'Chicago born Caribbean boy' and this EP shows those roots plainly and perfectly. To the avid listener with a discerning ear notes of many genres can be heard such as soda, hip-hop, R & B, and house.

Because Phoenix is only seven tracks I will give you my three (3) favorites.

"Enana" is an instant favorite of mine. It gets you moving with little to no effort, almost as if putting your body into a rhythmic and hypnotized state. Assisted on production by Marq Raymond this house track has that sound locked down with heavy bass influences you'd expect from the best of hip-hop tracks. The juxtaposition here is flawlessly done.

"Thrones" had me lost immediately. As it began I was quietly wondering when that female voice was going to say, "Mike Will Made It..." As much of a fan as I am of Mike Will Made It, the comparison is high praise. This track is the club. It's the South. It's good ass, booty shaking hip-hop. Hearing it transports me back to my freshman year at Morehouse and the parties full of beautiful women, their perfect curves in glorious motion. Boyce has captured a moment and is giving it to use in the 3:12 running time. Quite gracious of him.

Finally, my most favorite.


This one is theatrical, epic even. It has so many faces, some many facets that you can never really see it the same way twice. You can heard Caribbean vibes as clearly as you are reading these words. There is a thrumming of an electric guitar adding to the menagerie. The drums, pure hip-hop. The vocals of what's assume is some druid choir enters the fray. All of this over a dark and looming presence throughout. Somehow the track becomes almost sentient, taking on a life of its own. That is amazing when you think about it.

Go ahead, think about it.

Boyce rises here on this EP, showing us how great production and beautiful art are reborn. I can't wait to see what he does next.

Interview - Boyce

Once again I am bringing you a great interview with another talented individual. Today I am speaking with Myzil Boyce, Jr., also known as producer extraordinaire Boyce. We talk about music in his life, the future, Phoenix, and a few other things.

LUCIUS: First things first. I want to thank you for doing this interview with me, taking time out of your schedule to talk to me. 
BOYCE: Anytime, man. I’m pleased to take the time out to speak with you. Other than job interviews, this is my first time being interviewed in my life.

LUCIUS: How is your 2015 looking thus far? What are looking towards in the new year? 
BOYCE: 2015 has been an amazing year. I was fortunate to engage in a one year MBA program at HULT International Business School and it provided me with the opportunity to travel the world while gaining an advanced education. If I had to summarize the year in one word it would be “culture.” But most importantly, this year provided the time to concentrate on my health-spiritually, physically and mentally. It’s been a year of healing and immense growth. Being isolated from my comfort zone made me stop lying to myself in every aspect of life. As far as 2015 and beyond is concerned, I’m looking to relocate from my home city of Chicago. I want to live in Miami or Los Angeles going forward so my priority is there. Looking for a corporate job as well, to help get me back on my feet and generate some cash flow. However, I plan on continuing my education; music education. And also, learning a new language. I didn’t realize how important it is to speak another language until I left America.

LUCIUS: What got you started producing? 
BOYCE: I come from a music/engineering-based family. My entire life has revolved around music. My father is an electrical engineer by trade, sound engineer by specialty. From as long as I can remember, I remember being over a DJ setup and sound system in the living rooms of my houses. Also as a youth, I played classical piano for about 8 years of my life. I played in multiple competitions and recitals. Unfortunately, I stopped playing piano around twelve to thirteen years old. What started my reemergence in music producing is after I left my job in corporate America on February 17, 2014. It was a grueling, demanding and unsatisfying four years of my life in the corporate world straight out of matriculation at Clark Atlanta University. One day while bored watching the NBA, I started making the song Phoenix on my iphone Garageband. It was garbage at first. (laughs) Sounded like shit. But that song was a sort of manifesto what would be my changing life. Over time and with dedication, I ended up making the skeletons remainder of the song on my production EP.

LUCIUS: How long have you been doing it for? 
BOYCE: Technically I been making music forever. I always made songs as a kid while bored practicing piano. Also, I was known for making the best mixtapes in high school. You wanted a mix, you came to me. But to give you a straight answer, about eighteen months now.

LUCIUS: Congratulations on Phoenix. I know the history of the mythical bird as I am sure you do. What made you title it thusly? 
BOYCE: Exactly what the bird represents; transformation, growth, rebirth, strength and invincibility. This EP represents my dedication to self and investment into my spiritual needs in this world. You have to feed your passions and invest in yourself in this life. You can’t give your time to these people that have no regards for your well-being without supplementing your own happiness.

LUCIUS: Now I say project because I'm unsure of what you would rather it be called. EP, mixtape, LP. What would you classify it as? 
BOYCE: It’s a production EP. Shout out to Pete Rock for making this a trend.

LUCIUS: Via Facebook you and I have had a few passing conversations about music and the like. What type(s) of music inspired you as you put Phoenix together? 
BOYCE: Well I’m a Chicago born Caribbean boy. Automatically that means house, soca, reggae, hip-hop, R&B, and interestingly enough reggaeton. (laughs) Reggaeton is my shit. I also have a affinity for neo-soul music. Man, I just need to be able to FEEL the music. I hate anything commercial though. Unless I'm in the club.

LUCIUS: So take me through the creative process you use as a producer. Is there a certain something that you look for from each track? 
BOYCE: Because I still consider myself a novice in production, I don’t really have a certain process. Every song I made so far in life is based off a certain emotion I’m feeling at the time. But I plan on getting more technically sound at my craft and attending production school to do so. I just want to FEEL my songs. If I don’t feel it, I start over.

LUCIUS: Not to give too much away before the release date but what can people listening expect from you and Phoenix
BOYCE: You can expect a different sound I hope. My music is very influenced by many different musical genres. People ask me what genre I make, and I don’t know what to tell them. I make music. Tribal music. It’s very African and Caribbean influenced, but modernized.

LUCIUS: Any one stand out as a favorite of the tracks? 
BOYCE: Arrival hands down. I haven’t heard anything that sounds like that track.

LUCIUS: Switching gears for a second, what are you listening to right now? 
BOYCE: I’m a die hard Future fan so that Dirty Sprite 2. The new Dr. Dre Compton. Travis Scott-Rodeo. The Weeknd's new album. And all the carnival music from Barbados Crop Over.

LUCIUS: Any dream collaborations you'd like to do? 
BOYCE: Kanye, Nas, Outkast

LUCIUS: So what happens after Phoenix? That is to say, what's the next move for you musically? 
BOYCE: I started my next project already. Have a couple songs completed. But im more concerned with the technical aspects of music right now. I want to be technically sound in my production, so I will be attending production school part-time. I also plan on registering my holding company for my businesses. A music company will be under that umbrella.

LUCIUS: What are your thoughts on the landscape of hip-hop right now? Of music in general?
BOYCE: Hip-hop is the music genre that is keeping the music industry alive. It is stronger than ever. I got the opportunity to travel worldwide as you know. The only genre you hear in every country is hip-hop. Music in general is moving in a good direction. I think the creative are gaining the power with the power and distribution channels of the internet. Once creative people gain their power back, art in general will be more powerful than it has ever been.

LUCIUS: Are there any shouts out that you want to share? 
BOYCE: Shout out to the HULT MBA class of 2015. Shout out to Maurice Tramaine, he has one of the hardest albums that nobody has heard yet. Shout out to Marq “Marq the Infinite” Raymond. A veteran in the industry at just 30 years old. He helped me develop the EP from a mixing and mastering standpoint. Also a hell of a producer. And shout out to Enana. They know who they are and what value they brought to my life.

LUCIUS: Got some uplifting wisdom for us? 
BOYCE: Take risks. It’s really that simple. And meditate.

LUCIUS: How can people keep up with your music? When is Phoenix officially dropping? 
BOYCE: Phoenix EP should be available in the next couple of weeks.

LUCIUS: Thanks again, man. Be blessed. 
BOYCE: You too, man.