I am Trevon James, and I am from Howell, New Jersey. Currently, I am a student at Monmouth University. I founded Shore Life Lyrics in the fall of 2017. In its genesis, Shore Life Lyrics was nothing more than an assignment for a Social Media/PR class. It was an assignment that was designed to create a portfolio of journalism and public relations works that would have been accrued over the course of the semester. Shore Life Lyrics was just a small blog. I interviewed various artists over the course of the semester and would create a feature story about them as well as their work, I would write short stories that popped into my head from time to time, all on the basis of art, and I would provide reaction to things going on in the world of pop culture, particularly music.
At a certain point during that semester I started to realize that a certain life style was prominent in this area. Every person, young and old, lives their lives uniquely and differently, but all at the same time the people in this area live in such a fluid way that I could not ignore. I fell in love with music in 2013 when I used writing as a coping mechanism in high school. I noticed during that semester in 2017 that my case is similar to that of a lot of young people in the Jersey Shore area. Here is where the life style becomes OURS; instead of having everyone just make music about nonsense and create art for nothing I noticed that everyone does it in such a way where the personality of this area is laced within his or her creations. The lifestyle we live, by the beach, by the boardwalk, and down the shore is tucked so smoothly behind all of the art in this area. My plan is to make it shine.
I started by trying to develop exactly what I wanted to do. I decided that music was too narrow, so I expanded to photography, and eventually all art. I featured people on my website and I stated that Shore Life Lyrics was no longer a blog, but an entire lifestyle; “Shore Life.” This is where Pat Walsh came in. The 20-year-old from Spring Lake Heights, New Jersey has helped me with everything tangible for Shore Life that you see today. He was instrumental in making my visions reality, taking the lifestyle off of the website I made, and spreading it around. Pat and I worked like absolute dogs for so long developing a name and trying to get people to buy in and eventually they did, the first of whom was his brother Ian Walsh. Enter, Dan Lodrago. He gave Pat and I the ability to take the music we were making to new levels. His connections allowed our social media following to grow, and it they are still growing today. We added Anthony Cinko not too long after that. Cinko has been amazing and his connections and efforts are what allowed us to book places like the Asbury Park Music Foundation for our first ever Listening Party.
Almost a year later the Shore Life Lyrics team that now consists of its founder Trevon James, Patrick Walsh, Ian Walsh, Dan Lodrago, and Anthony Cinko, has advocated for artists across this area, and now plans on hosting their very first event. It went from a class assignment, to a blog, to advocacy for a certain lifestyle, and now it has the potential to be an amazing start up that will hopefully give the Jersey Shore art scene the shine it deserves, starting with this listening party on July 7th at the Asbury Park Music Foundation. At this event there will be 20 vendors and performers in attendance, all from the Shore Area, and it will hopefully be just the beginning of an even more massive adventure.
I sat on my phone on a steamy summer morning and skimmed through my direct messages on Instagram. I must admit before I go on, that there are multiple users that run the Shore Life Lyrics account. I came across a conversation that another Shore Life Lyrics board member had started. It was with Soire Records affiliate, Darion Harris. I became interested with the idea of learning more about Harris, and about Soire Records. We talked for a bit getting to know each other’s music interests and styles. Eventually we scheduled a phone call for the subsequent day. I had to think about what I would ask Harris, mainly because I wanted to extract from him the most unique factoids about his music along with the rest of Soire Records.
Our conversation started as an interview soon broke into an open conversation about diversity of music. Harris answered questions as if he had been doing it for years. Although he was soft spoken, his confidence grew with every answer. We talked for about 20 minutes before we parted ways. After the conversation ended I thought about the best way to express to you the creativity that Soire Records has on it’s hands.
The First Fire Quote
We talked about the direction of his music and as my pen blazed across the page Harris let out one of the most important pearls that artistry has to offer. “Every artist has their own direction,” said the New York native, “I’m a producer first.”
Harris The Ever Growing Artist
Darion Harris entered the world of artistry as a neophyte. At just 16 years old Harris started making his first tunes. His main influences are Donald Glover, Pharell, and Tame Impala writer, Kevin Parker. The main genres that Harris sticks to are EDM, R&B, and Hip Hop. Harris however did talk about the fact that there is no boundary on what Soire records music comes with; their discography seemingly comes with an endless range of genres and styles.
Answers Directly From the Source
How many artists are on this lable?
We have been expanding we started off with two artist, but we have 5 artist right now. Their names are Junius Karr, Darion Harris, Must Come Down, Absent Nabi, nd Gosha Guppy. Then we have people who don’t make music who are big a part of what we do. Blake who has been a DJ for us at all our shows is an example of that. Nate who has been doing our artwork for years and Jordan who’s helping get stuff moving the backend are also important parts of this label. We honestly move like a family over here.
How did it start?
The anti-label label. In 2016, Darion founded Soire Records; a label where artists get the support they need to launch without having to relinquish creative freedom. While the vision sounds like a politically-correct statement that Universal or WB Music Execs could cough up at any second, it is through Darion’s experience that brings meat to this statement. “I was producing behind the scenes for people when I was sixteen and I was able to observe other artists. Many of them didn’t have control over their own ideas and branding. From watching this, it created a fear of not being able to express myself as an artist. That’s how my label came about.”
What is the main focal point the branding you are going for?
Honestly, the main focus is trying to put out authentic content and quality content. We take our time with our music until its ready for the world to hear what we are doing. Everything that’s out feels like its dressed up nice and packaged well, but the product itself isn’t what it’s cracked up to be.
Stay up to date with all of Darion Harris’ music HERE
Soire Records Music can also be found on spotify here:
For Darion Harris and Soire Records next up is the release of his single on August 21st. Here is was the Soire Team had to say about that.
After a year long hiatus following the release of Soire his explosive joint mixtape with label mate Absent Nabi, and garnering support from rising stars in the music industry like Smooky MarGielaa and his mentor Melo-X, Darion Harris is ready to step back into the spotlight with his new single “W.U.L.A.” The track is a message to all those that doubt Harris and are obsessed with questioning his lifestyle. He lets them know that if they can’t accept his individuality, they should “take a pic” and keep it moving. Drawing inspiration from Rae Sremmurd and Pharrell, “W.U.L.A.” is a light and bouncy self-love anthem that demands engagement from the listener.
Darion’s Pearl Of Wisdon
I guess my advice to anyone trying to create is to know your worth. Each thing you create is a product of yourself and it should be treated that way.
I caught up with the talented shore artist Ella Ross. We covered an abundance of topics some short questions. Here is your chance to dive deeper into what can become one of your favorite artists from this area. Enjoy!
1. At what point in your life did you realize music was important to you, and at what point did you want to pursue it.
For my whole life I was really drawn to music, as most people are. I love that a song can remind you of a specific place or time in your life. Songs can have different personal meanings to different people. Music truly is the universal language. I started doing vocal lessons when I was 11. Right before I was about to go to college in Nashville, I realized there was a lot more to learn and I took advantage of my surroundings, Asbury Park! I was around 18 when I started writing and taking music more seriously. I released my first EP in the summer of 2017.
2. Who are your main inspirations as artists in this industry?
It changes a lot, at the moment I’m really inspired by Billie Eilish, Lorde, Radiohead, and Wolf Alice. I think Lorde’s writing style is really unique, her voice is truly her instrument. I think Billie Eilish is really cool. She’s super young, but is already so successful and I think it comes from being herself. Her melodies are simple and beautiful.
3. Do any other genres besides your own influence you?
I listen to all genres and I am definitely inspired by so many different genres. I listen to a lot of Dolly Parton even though country is not my genre.
4. Who pushed you to pursue music?
I really pushed myself. My family completely supports me along this journey as well.
5. At what point will you be able to say youve made it?
I don’t really like to set goals that will cause too much pressure on myself, but there are definitely certain venues I’d love to play at and certain people I’d love to play with.
6. What is your pearl of wisom, or advice you would give to your younger self or other artists?
First, Don’t put too much pressure on yourself and be yourself. Take advice from people, but your own opinion matters the most.
7. Whats the next big thing for you?
I have a new EP coming out June 29th with a release show that night at The Saint.Special guests include We’re Ghosts Now, Lauren Patti, and Ernest. I’m really excited about these new songs and I’m genuinely proud of them.
You can follow all of Ella Ross’ music, and so on through the various links:
These lists are based off of my own personal opinion. I do not take into account commercial or critical success, and these lists may differ from your own opinions or appear biased.
Los Angeles has become arguably the best place for a rapper to come from. The impact the city had in the 90’s with artists like Tupac, N.W.A., Snoop Dogg, and many more, has forever changed the game. It’s Californicated paradise sound, heavily influenced by the weather and marijuana, creates relaxing vibes, while keeping in touch with the ghettos of Compton and enormous gang presence, creating some of the hardest gangster rappers we’ve ever seen.L.A. is an artist’s paradise, and I am going to explore 15 of my personal favorite albums created by Los Angeles rappers.
15- “Goblin” – Tyler, the Creator (2010
I am sure we all can remember seeing the edgy music video for “Yonkers” for the first time. Rap had not had its own personal dark psychopath since Eminem. Tyler’s debut enraged many, but inspired even more. He wasn’t a gangster, but he surely was not innocent, as he rapped about committing violent crimes, rebellion, and some questionable ideas. Songs like “She” and “Radicals” stand out to me as two songs on this project where Tyler made it clear he was here to stay. His odd style of production in collaboration with his aggressively rugged voice makes for a one of a kind sound.
14- “Black Sunday” – Cypress Hill (1993)
Cypress Hill is an interesting group, and at the time, were pushing boundaries to places nobody thought they should go. From “When The Sh– Goes Down”, to “Insane in the Brain”, to “Hits From the Bong”, the madness that is Cypress Hill is evident, while remaining a classic L.A. rap group and keeping in touch with their roots production-wise. Cypress Hill is an important piece to what Los Angeles rap has become today.
13- “Doggystyle” – Snoop Dogg (1993)
Although I went against the grain and did not pay homage to Los Angeles greats like Tupac and N.W.A. in this article, I enjoy Snoop Dogg’s debut all too much to not include it. As a superstar and television personality today, people forget how gangster and reckless Uncle Snoop was back in the day. While songs like “Gin and Juice” give a glimpse of the chilled out Snoop that he would so famously become, songs like “Murder Was The Case” shows how in touch with the hard streets of Compton Snoop Dogg was. All in all, this album is a classic.
12- “Earl” – Earl Sweatshirt (2010)
Tyler’s little brother, the genius producer who goes by Randomblackdude, or “that motherfucker Earl”, whatever you call him, Earl made a name for himself with his debut album back in 2010. Still a very young man at the time, only 16 years old, Earl was rapping way beyond his years and creating some of the most unique instrumentals we’ve heard at that time. From “Couch” to “Earl”, Earl makes his ability to spit mad-mouthed rhymes very clear, on top of his boundary pushing lyrics. While initially angering parents due to his lyrical content involving crimes and darkness, he became one of the first rappers to touch on mental health as a teenager.
11- “Oxymoron” – ScHoolboy Q (2014)
Kendrick’s right hand man should not be known as just that, and he proves so on his album. ScHoolboy Q has created a distinct image for himself as the aggressive MC druggie with the bucket hat. He keeps Los Angeles, particularly Compton, close to his heart, and embraces it’s style to a full extent. While showcasing his gangsta rap abilities on songs like “Man of the Year” and “Gangsta”, he does not hold back, and creates some unique melodies while displaying his fondness of partying and substances in songs like “Collard Greens” and “Hell of a Night”.
10- “To Pimp A Butterfly” – Kendrick Lamar (2015)
Almost everybody claims to love Kendrick, but not many people really listen to what he has to say, or listen past his monster commercial hits. While songs like “King Kunta” and “i” have become radio staples, it is songs like “These Walls”, “Alright”, and “The Blacker the Berry” that really made me fall in love with this project. The symbolism behind the cover art which shows a shirtless squad of minorities on the White House lawn, is so perfect because it intimidates all that corrupt politicians stand for. Kendrick challenges the ideas so blindly accepted by society, and reads a poem throughout the album. The story this album tells will break your heart and make you smile at the same time, and on top of all of this, will send an extremely important message.
9- “November” – SiR (2018)
Don’t let its recent release date confuse you, because SiR has a sound so jazzy and soulful, it will take you back to the 90’s. His soul and soft voice accompanied by a west coast vibe create for some eloquent masterpieces to take you to a different planet. Songs like “Something New” and “Dreaming of Me” display his softer side and his ability to sing, while his newfound T.D.E. associates helped incorporate that west coast sound on songs like “D’Evils” and “Something Foreign”.
8- “I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside” – Earl Sweatshirt (2015)
Earl Sweatshirt has made a name for himself as a unique lyricist, but only some knew of his skills on the production side. This project puts his versatility on display as he gets extremely experimental. Although it may sound odd at first, the completely unique style of Earl is almost genreless, and he creates a complex array of sounds on each track. My personal favorite track, “Mantra”, not only showcases a different style of production never before heard, but also includes some of Earl’s best bars. The album might be an acquired taste, but it is definitely worth the time. 7- “Blank Face” – ScHoolboy Q (2016
ScHoolboy is without a doubt a gangster, and he embraces that hippy gangster image on this creative project. While he touches on the modern style with songs like “By Any Means” and “THat Part”, ScHoolboy Q makes it clear he will never lose his ghetto roots with hood anthems like “Dope Dealer” and “Groovy Tony / Eddie Kane”. Although and gangsta rap legend in the making, ScHoolboy Q proves himself as a true artist with long story telling ballads and interesting production.
6- “Summertime ‘06” – Vince Staples (2015)
Known for his breathtaking music videos that include creative imagery, Vince made it clear he is just as much an artist as a visionary. His boundary pushing lyrics tell stories of violence, heartbreak, and political concepts told from someone who has seen the worst of it on the streets of Long Beach, and is also a former member of the Crips. “Norf Norf” and “Senorita” depict so vividly life on the streets, while songs like “Jump Off the Roof” give us a taste of Vince’s artistry and musicianship. This album is an instant classic, and its sharp imagery will live on for years to come.
I’m not too sure what I can say about this album that practically everybody doesn’t already know. This is the album that made Kendrick Lamar who he is today. This is the album that dug a message into listener’s minds of not only what Compton is like, but made us remember the name. It will go down as one of the best rap albums of all time most likely, and while hard hits like “m.a.a.d. City” are timeless bops, the most memorable track for me is “Sing About Me, I’m Dying of Thirst”, as Kendrick tells a heartbreaking story involving death and legacies.
4- “Do What Thou Wilt.” – Ab-Soul (2016)
Ab-Soul had already become a lyrical madman by the time he released his 2016 album, in which the title is the tattoo across Ab-Soul’s shoulders. Different from the other releases from Ab-Soul, he gives us a deeper look into who he is as a person. By far the darkest of his projects, songs like “D.R.U.G.S.” and “Huey Knew THEN”, really give us a view of his inner demons. His choice of production also differed in a good way, as he created a fusion of traditional west coast elements with darker, more abstract, elements. This album as very easy to relate to personally, and is Ab-Soul’s most creative work.
3- “Flower Boy” – Tyler, the Creator (2017)
I think it was unfair that this album got so much attention for the sole reason that it made people question Tyler’s sexuality. In my opinion, I don’t care if you’re attracted to boys, girls, turtles, or dolphins. I just want a good project that is honest, personal, and obviously sounds good. Tyler does exactly that on this album, and gave haters everything they said he couldn’t do. His previous projects showed us how ridiculous Tyler can be, as he almost made his last projects as laughable as possible. On this album, however, he gets personal. Songs like “911 / Mr. Lonely”, “November”, and “See You Again”, we see Tyler’s emotions for the first time. He vividly depicts that behind the colorful anarchy, he is still a person, and is most likely lonelier and sadder than we think. On top of that, just when critics thought he couldn’t rap or have the ability to deliver bars, he gives us “Who Dat Boy” and “I Ain’t Got Time!”, in which he, excuse my French, raps his fucking ass off. His musicianship is, as always, enjoyable to listen to, as he is a master of his production craft. Tyler’s best project yet will be remembered for a very long time as most likely the project that took Tyler to another level.
2- “DAMN.” – Kendrick Lamar (2017)
As I said before, there is not much to say about Kendrick that we all don’t already know. This album is, in my opinion, his best project yet, and when you look at his catalog, that was very difficult to do for Kendrick. His flow has evolved substantially, moving from traditional bars to intricate and creative flows, while not losing his lyrical mastery. He also has become a skillful producer and musician, incorporating some of the most creative use of instruments I’ve ever heard in rap music. As expected, he gets political, but to my surprise, he somehow delivers an expected message in a very unexpected way. He also touches on his personal life and experiences with romance, creating for a journey that will make you just say “damn” at the end of every masterpiece of a song.
1- “Doris” – Earl Sweatshirt (2013)
Aside from the fact that Earl is one of my favorite rappers ever, I put this album as number one on this list because I feel like it goes underappreciated. Earl’s lyrical madness is on full display, and his skills as a producer are not held back in any way. From a dirty street anthem like “Hive”, to a ballad to marijuana on “Sunday”, to a darker personal view into Earl’s troubled life on “Chum”, to a typical circus of a song that Earl has delivered time and time again on “WHOA”, this album has it all. Earl establishes himself as a true artist on this one of a kind project, which is clear is the most in touch with who Earl really is.
Welcome to the Lambert 15. This will become everyone’s most debated volume series this site will have to offer. I encourage you all to reach out on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, or directly on this site and voice your opinon. Andrew Lambert is going city by city, state by state, and week by week he will tell you his top 15 projects from that city. Enjoy each volume and take it for what it is; a debateable topic.
The Lambert Top 15: New York City (Vol. 1)
By Andrew Lambert
Photo via: Fine art america
A note from the author:
These lists are based off of my own personal opinion. I do not take into account commercial or critical success, and these lists may differ from your own opinions or appear biased.
New York City was the birthplace if hip hop music. When Sugarhill Gang release “Rapper’s Delight” in September of 1979, music was changed forever. As a result, and to no surprise, there has been a plethora of talented artists.In this list, I will explore fifteen of my favorite albums delivered by a New York City artist. There may be some projects that will come out of left field, and there may be some projects that you’ll be just as hyped as me about… deadass b.
15- “Disguise the Limit” – Nyck Caution (2016)
Pro Era stormed into the rap scene in 2012 when two rappers dropped revolutionary projects, but the other artists in their crew don’t get enough credit. Nyck Caution is a mad-mouthed MC who can deliver classic New York punchlines, and has an unmatched flow. His raspy voice somehow seems smooth, and makes for great additions on Pro Era’s unique style of production. “Disguise the Limit” features a number of classic rap songs, including “What’s Understood” which was produced by Metro Boomin and features no other than Joey Bada$$. It also includes a tribute to his late friend, Capital STEEZ, on a track called “Out of Reach”
14- “Vacation in Hell” – Flatbush Zombies (2018)
The first time I heard Flatbush Zombies I was a freshman in high school (2012), and “Thug Waffle” came on. I honestly thought it was a joke, until I started exploring more of their music. Although Meechy Darko’s voice was an acquired taste their unique style and border-line psychedelic rap is nothing short of ear candy. “Big Fish” and “Leather Symphony” are just two tracks of the many that stand out on their first studio album, and as a producer, I marvel at Erick the Architect’s abilities to create, and was surprised at how little samples he uses.
13- “Amerikkkan Korruption” – Capital STEEZ (2012)
There is a lot that can be said about Capital STEEZ, and after his mysterious suicide in 2012, the enigma of the crazy lyricist only become more vast. STEEZ had a lot of mental health issues, including schizophrenia. These complications mixed with his heavy use of shrooms and LSD lead to his unfortunate demise. He believed he was a god, an indigo child, and thought the world was going to end in 2047 in which he will come down and reveal himself as god. He became obsessed with the number 47, and even released this project on April 7th (04/07). The number 47 is visible in a lot of STEEZ’s artwork, as well. His extremely wild mind did make for some amazing music, however, and when I first saw the music video for Free the Robots, I was instantly hooked. Long live STEEZ!
12- “LONG.LIVE.A$AP.” – A$AP Rocky (2013)
A$AP Rocky, in my humble opinion, is an unbelievable artist. He has managed to prove himself in almost every rap genre, including trap, east coast rap, experimental, grime, and more recently collaborating with new wave Soundcloud rappers. His undeniable swagger and touch of psychedelics make for an interesting mix, and his debut studio album delivered all of the above. From “P.M.W.” to “Fashion Killa”, it is clear of how diverse Rocky can be, and there are plenty of bars where Rocky flexes his ability to spit.
11- “All-Amerikkkan Bada$$” – Joey Bada$$ (2017)
I know, it is pretty clear of how much I enjoy music by Pro Era. Joey Bada$$ has proved himself to be one of the best lyricists in the game, and although this project gets some hate by fans, I happened to enjoy it greatly. Songs like “For My People” and “Temptation” really showcase Joey’s soul, as well as his ability to provide something different than aggressive New York rhyming. His flow and tenacity are still evident, and he shows so on “Rockabye Baby”, a collab with ScHoolboy Q that is nothing short of a Pro Era and TDE classic.
10- “Evermore: The Art of Duality” – The Underachievers (2014)
If you haven’t heard of The Underachievers yet, you better get yourself acquainted. The duo from Flatbush is, in every way, one of a kind. Their projects feature a blend of New York MCing with a vibrant style and taste for psychedelics and separate universes. Their song “Allusions” is a timeless display of their rapping abilities, while “Rain Dance” puts their creativity on the forefront.
9- “12” – A$AP Twelvyy (2017)
When someone from the A$AP Mob dropped a project, and it wasn’t Ferg or Rocky, I did not know how to feel at first. I wasn’t sure if it would be any good. It was summertime, so I said why not and threw it on while I was painting. A$AP Twelvyy is as New York as it gets. His intense flow tells stories that take you to the streets of New York City, and make you feel like the shooter Twelvyy once was. “Strapped” and “Periodic Table” show just how in touch with his concrete jungle roots he is, while “Diamonds” and “Ea$tSideGho$t” display how creative he can really be and make a name for himself in the new age of rap. The album even features a wild collaboration with Flatbush Zombies on a track called “A Glorious Death”, and the switch in that song will leave you speechless.
8- “Illmatic” – Nas (1994)
You can’t talk about New York City and not mention the legend, Nas. If you played the video game Saints Row 2 back in the day, “N.Y. State of Mind” would be immediately recognizable. There was something so badass about driving around in gang wars while listening to Nasty Nas spit heat. Nas’ project features hard N.Y. bars, and even soulful flare in songs like “The World Is Yours”. This classic is a must have in your music library.
7- “1999” – Joey Bada$$ (2012)
It is amazing to think that Joey Bada$$ released his legendary debut mixtape at only 17 years old. What’s even more impressive is the nostalgic sound he produced as a teenager, and his ability to create some of the most exhilarating punch lines. Joey’s debut mixtape will take you to the 90’s while keeping you grounded here today. It is a classic mixtape that features some of the most iconic Pro Era songs that helped their rise to stardom, including his epic collab with Capital STEEZ, titled “Survival Tactics”.
6- “The Black Album” – Jay Z (2003)
When I saw Jay Z live, he played about 30 songs. Whenever the legend, who some argue is the greatest rapper of all time, performed anything off his 2003 album, the arena went haywire. It is hard to pick which Jay Z albums are my favorite because he has so many. Jay Z’s distinct voice and slick flow, matched with his expert ear for good production has helped this project become a staple in music libraries. From “Dirt Off Your Shoulder”, to “99 Problems”, it is clear Jay Z may have 99 problems, but this album certainly isn’t one.
5- “4:44” – Jay Z (2017)
I may get some flack for including this album and not some other Jay Z classics like “Reasonable Doubt” and “The Blueprint”, but there is something special about being alive when a legend like Jay Z drops something and being able to experience it. The first time I heard the instrumental for the title track off this album, I was immediately inspired. The music video for “The Story of O.J.” is not only a classic vibe and showcases Jay Z’s creativity, but it is something that was needed for the time. Jay Z is as honest and open as he ever was on this album, and it made for some emotionally incredible music.
While I did not enjoy the second edition of the Mob’s “Cozy Tapes”, Volume 1 is a journey and a half. Every song sounds completely different, from production to flow, and really shows how well A$AP Rocky in particular can work with other artists. The album features hard New York flow on songs like “Money Man” and “Crazy Brazy”, a touch of grime on “London Town” and “Put That On My Set”, and even some more experimental and psychedelic anthems like “Way Hii” and “Telephone Calls”. The visuals for the album took my breath away, as evident from the visually stunning music video for “Yamborghini High”, which is the most popular song on the project. A$AP Rocky put his creativity and acting skills on display as well, with a short film for the album with “Put That On My Set” and “Money Man”.
3- “B4.DA.$$.” – Joey Bada$$ (2014)
Before the money… badass. Aside from the cool title, this album is in my opinion Joey’s best work. He fused classic New York style MCing and production with ideally modern elements. Joey flexes how talented he is on the mic on songs like “Christ Conscious” and “Big Dusty”, while showing his creative side and his ability to send a message on songs like “Paper Trail$” and “Hazeus View”. This project is as New York as they come, and there isn’t a single song on it that you can’t bump with the volume all the way up.
2- “Too High To Riot” – Bas (2016)
While J. Cole is clearly the ruler of Dreamville, Bas is slept on too heavily. This project is something I can’t even put into words. The production is not like anything I’ve ever heard, and he almost fuses modern-style trap with nostalgic vibes and a jazzy touch. Bas is clearly a man on a mission, and the album sends a message. As creative as the subliminal undertones are, it is really the unique flow and wild production that blows me away on this album. His soft side and emotions are on display on songs like “Live For” and “Penthouses”, while he narrates his bad experience with drugs on “Methylone”, and just in case you forget how talented of an MC he is while getting lost in the creativity, Bas makes sure to remind you on songs like “Night Job” and “Housewives”.
1- “AT.LONG.LAST.A$AP.” – A$AP Rocky (2015)
I’m a sucker for Rocky, I know. But come on, it is impossible to deny how creative he is. There is not a stone Rocky left unturned on this project, and while some argue his debut album is his best work, I disagree. From slow moving, jazzy instrumental rap songs like “Holy Ghost” and “Jukebox Joints”, to psychedelic masterpieces like “L$D” and “Fine Whine”, and to new age bass fueled on songs like “M’$” and “Lord Pretty Flacko Jodye”, Rocky covers all aspects. I think he best displays how creative he can get while still keeping it G and delivering top notch bars on songs like “Canal St”, “Electric Body”, and “Max B”. This album, best when listened to start to finish, is a peak into the mind of a gangster turned artistic genius in A$AP Rocky, and if you choose to take a look, you will be delighted with what you find.
There is a beautiful home in Manasquan, New Jersey. If you were to walk into this home it would look just like any other, but if you were to peer your curious head around the corner of the hall, much like myself, and stroll down to the basement with a mindset of child-like wonder, much like myself, you would enter a small home studio. A computer monitor sat on the right, a microphone to the left of it, and key boards surrounding it. The walls were poster-ladened with images of different bands, artists, and influencers alike. The gray walls popped with vivacious color at the sight each poster or framed picture. Casted into the corner was perhaps the most pertinent frame, and it caught my eye, a t-shirt with Recess Radio’s name and logo much like the first ones they sold, perhaps this was the one that got the ball rolling for Recess Radio, because now “Nothing is a joke,” according to producer/artist Blake Foster.
The two Recess members, Martin Terry and Eddie Destefano, along with myself, sat awkwardly for about 5 minutes, making light conversation about music. As the conversation grew Blake Foster walked into the home studio and contributed to the talk. My goal was to find out what the premise of their latest project, Decentralized Brotherhood, was based on, but I found out so much more about the popping music collective from Monmouth County, New Jersey. Recess Radio carries the age old narrative of a music group that started back in high school. According to the 3 members I spoke to, around September of their senior year the group formed. The collective is made up of 8 people. Daniel Harmon, a.k.a Skyeboii, Seamus Higgins, a.k.a ShaeBoro, Blake Foster, a.k.a Lakeblake, Martin Terry, Sean Ferguson, Eddie Destefano, Andrew Cosenza, and Justin Hetzle. The year 2016 is a time that seems about a life time ago when Recess’ success is taken into account, but that is when the high school friends got together in the clouds, made beats, and parlayed them into tracks no one knew about and very few had heard. At that time it wasn’t at all serious, but Eddie Destefano stated passionately that, “nothing starts serious.”
There is an old Casio Keyboard pressed against the far wall. I chuckled as I said, “I have the same one.”
Martin Terry seems always in production mode as he responded, “oh yeah, but I cant seem to record anything down off of it, so I just use a different one, or we go to Blakes house.”
Eddie Destefano interjected sighting the audio jack used from the dinosaur of a keyboard to the computer. Terry then ran upstairs to grab his lap top perhaps to try and appease the issue, or perhaps just to have it on hand.
Martin Terry, and Recess are very meticulous in their actions, it seems as if with them everything is calculated, and you can certainly hear it in their sound. But, the genesis of any project derives from influence. The sound influence, according to Terry, is directly correlated to Chance the Rapper’s 2013 project Acid Rap. Chance seems to be the closest thing to a deity besides God, that Blake Foster and Martin Terry can find, they spent all of high school listening to and studying Chance The Rapper’s music.
The main influence however came from within. Recess had never done a project before Decentralized Brotherhood, which released on all music platforms on January 25th, 2018. And when I asked about the main influence of the project Blake Foster sat back in deep thought as Martin Terry spoke on the phone with Shaeboro and Eddie Destafano watched on intensely. Finally, Foster said, “I don’t know, we just felt like it, I mean, it was spontaneous as sh*t.”
Terry then chimed into the conversation with resolution saying, “Well, we were done with the day time, evening, and night time…” he paused and smirked as he continued, “nothing comes after night time so…we wanted to move to something bigger.”
The group was finally able to sit down together in front of their giant wall to wall chalk board located in Foster’s home and work on music over christmas break after being away at their respective colleges, and the word “finally” to Lakeblake, and the rest of the gang was huge. Them being so far apart form each other as they see more success is only bringing them closer.
“It is really [inconvenient] that it’s a bunch of us not together,” Foster says, “and that actually ties directly into the title, Decentralized Brotherhood.”
It was the origins of the phrase “Decentralized Brotherhood” that peaked my curiosity and I dove into questioning where Recess got that term from. As unorthodox, and out-of-left-field it may sound for the fans, the term “decentralized” derived from group member, Andrew Cosenza’s affinity for, and interest in, Cryptocurrency.
“We would just make fun of him by saying decentralized and he’d get really pissed off,” Foster says. He went onto explain that decentralizing from a cryptocurrency stand point is when a price is out of place, or is “going crazy.” Foster continued on saying that, “The brotherhood part worked perfectly.” The representing members of the groups stood tall by their proclamation that they are all close enough to be brothers. Terry, Destefano, and Foster all agreed that the group wasn’t formed on a whim of finding the most talented musicians, rather a bunch of best friends finding a common interest and common bond and capitalizing off of it.
Eddie Destefano put it this way, “Everyone’s got their own [problems].” And according to the three members with me that day, those problems and issues of life and growing up are what makes their bond a brotherhood.
Going off of that influence and that idea, Foster talked about the time the group sat down on January 5th and started to sift through their old music. And what they found was that they had a Google Drive of unreleased songs, that if tweaked the right way and paired with new tracks could lead to a pretty dope project.
From January 5th up until, and past the projects release Foster explained that he and Terry had spent ample time working on music, he even claimed confidently that he had never worked harder on music at any point before this collection of songs. “Me and him were at it from 8 A.M. every day,” Foster says.
Terry darted in with almost a moment of revelation saying, “we actually wrote out a whole schedule to work off of from 8 A.M.”
“I felt like a fire,” Foster responded.
According to Foster, the project was hard to make. He compared this project to a “second album,” and relayed the message that all of the groups music released prior to this project was like telling a story, or a “first album,” there for making those tracks easy to write. So going back into the catalog of unreleased music for the group was a no-brainer. They had tracks on that album, Foster dated back, as old as one year, these tracks being Brotherhood, Scene 1, and Dandelions, but then there were other tracks, such as the anthemic, Pick Me Up, that were brand new, only weeks old.
As the polarizing conversation waged on with only little but comical interruption coming from Martin Terry’s brother poking his head in the room to remind his house mate that there is food upstairs, we dove into the last track I mentioned, Pick Me Up. I referred to the track as an anthem because of the way Lakeblake, and the rest of the crew vocalized it, but it was also the point they were getting across that made it feel that way for them. Foster, and Recess emphasized that one of the things they wanted to do was make it okay for kids their age in this area to chase what they want.
“Just out of our own influence that we’ve seen,” Foster says motioning toward Terry, “his little brothers and their friends get laptops and download [Logic Pro], and start doing it too, because we are here all the time and they are here all the time.”
Their music has reached past the edges of Monmouth County into other states, they have done shows not just in New Jersey but in Vermont as well. They have recently hosted their own concert at Gamechanger World, and find themselves currently in the finals of a “Battle of the Bands” series in Vermont, winner getting to play an opening set at a larger concert. However, perhaps their most famous claim to fame in the local area was their antics at the Stone Pony just a summer ago. Lakeblake, Terry, and Destafano cited that it was very hard to ask people to pay 28 dollars for a ticket, and when they actually did they felt like rockstars. Things got out of hand at The Pony when water started flying, and they were asked to leave the stage…And they did. Except, only, they actually didn’t. According to Lakeblake Foster, the group was given one more song.
“They said one more song and you’re done,” Foster told me with a proud smile on his face, “and we had a live band so we played one song, but did not stop, so it was really every song.” They had over 200 people in the building carrying on with their stunt and it made a name for the group in Monmouth County at that point.
This is important because, I in that moment, hearing that story, felt like the New Jersey music scene was slowly but surely growing back to having strong representation. There is a push to create new unique sound, and not duplicate another, and there is a push to create something great. I even made it a point to ask professors outside of the music field and Dr. Eleanor Novek, a journalism professor at Monmouth University with an outside perspective on the topic had this to say of the New Jersey music scene, “If the interest of my recent students is any indication, it will be [well represented] in the future!” This promising quote leads me to believe that there are enough young artists in the area that influence people. This causes people outside of the field are to take interest or notice the growth in the New Jersey music scene. However, professor Aaron Furgason says New Jersey’s relevance has been longstanding for a while now. Professor Ferguson says, “I think depending on your age, New Jersey musically is probably best known as the place that Springsteen, Sinatra and Bon Jovi built their fame. But New Jersey can also take credit for the the rise to fame of Metallica, My Chemical Romance, Bleachers, Sugarhill Gang, and may other artists.”
As I parted with the three of eight group members I asked what advice means the most to them, what was their pearl of wisdom? As candid as can be just like their personalities their responses differed.
“Give it your all, or don’t do it,” said Martin Terry.
“Yeah, mine would be…No plan B,” said Blake Foster.
“We are brothers, at the end of the day, we still have each other,” said Eddie Destefano, probably not knowing he may have just made the hook to their next track. It was an interesting talk, and one that makes you think. What is the most recent thing for you that did not start so serious that could become your entire life?
I, Ben Ril of Shore Life Lyrics, am rolling out another playlist of tracks for you all to digest and take with you!
Now last month I dropped the Catalog, so my Soundcloud version of SYSH was just my latest project, I know, so modest right? This month that will not be the case! Same as the Janurary issue I will be shining a light on Shore Artists for the playlist for Soundcloud. So those of you with the FREE music streaming service check out your fellow brothers and sisters, and those of you without? Get it.
Some great new music came out since I last dropped a playlist including the Billboard topping XXXtentacion album titled “?” and Lil Yachty’s long awaited bounce back project “Lil Boat 2.”
My favorite of the projects dropped in March was on the 5th. Pouya dropped his album “Five Five.” I love it because its catchy it evokes feeling and it has a certain “Bone-Thugs-Esque” sound to it. That is a personal opinion, and if it completley misses your ear then that is okay!
Now the album that I am going to confidently say is the most traditional was Bishop Nehru’s Elevators Act I & II. The album was one of clean, smooth and wonderous production that left me with a crick in my neck after bopping my head so damn hard.
One album we are still waiting on is Rich The Kid’s album which is set to drop on the 30th. I thought about holding off until that highly anticipated album is dropped, but trust I will have something to say about that project when the time comes as I am uber hyped for it.
Here is the playlist! Be aware that not all tracks are from March alone! I catch onto songs very late.
Soundcloud is buzzing! We need a huge summer from the Shore’s artists to get this ball rolling. Here are some recent, and some old drops that have been blaring through my car speakers and my head phones as of late!