GrandAce Reflects on Midwest Living with “No Beaches in Ohio” Video

Photo Credit: Annie Noelker

GrandAce takes the good with the bad while soaking up some sun for his new video, “No Beaches in Ohio.” With co-director Ciara Cruder, the Cincinnati MC traveled to the beaches at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park in Michigan for the visual, which also features shots of the song’s Australia-based producer, Inigo Magno.

“He sent the beat to me and I did what I always do: I added my own touches,” GrandAce tells Audiofemme. “It really was an active collaboration because we were talking about different ideas, switching out baselines, and doing stuff like that.”

“No Beaches in Ohio” was GrandAce’s first time working with Magno, and since the single was such a collaborative effort, it was important for him to include the producer in the song’s visual. 

“It’s not something I could have made on my own because one, I don’t play guitar, and two, that type of sound isn’t where my head is at,” he adds. “I love working with people who bring their own complete sound like that, and then I was able to come in and add some sparkle. It’s literally our song, because I would’ve approached it completely differently on my own and it wouldn’t have happened without him on there.”

The sing-song-y track, underscored by synths and guitar, finds GrandAce reflecting on his Ohio dwellings, fighting against the comforts of nostalgia, and holding onto his passions. 

“There was a lot of reflection on what it’s like living in the Midwest, and Ohio specifically. Depending on how you’re doing in life, Ohio can be a very bleak place,” he explains. “The winters are hard, the skies are grey. It’s a very melancholy state, which is why everybody likes to rag on it. But because everybody likes to rag on it, it’s actually becoming one of the more popular states to mention.”

GrandAce is quick to point out that there are “certain beauties” to living in Ohio, too. “Things are not as expensive as they could be, which means you can stretch your dollar to more experiences. Partially growing up in Ohio, I have a lot of really fond memories here – hanging out with friends, throwing art shows, going to malls, typical stuff,” he says. But with the simple pleasures comes a caveat: “Nostalgia is the enemy,” GrandAce sings on the track.

“There are beautiful things in the midst of such a bland place, but it’s very easy to get stuck here. It’s very easy to be complacent when you’re in a place like Ohio,” he elaborates. “I’ve met a lot of very cool, talented people who, when I met them, had very big dreams. But life can kind of beat you down, and years later they haven’t thought about what they love or their passions. Some people forget. That’s kind of what I’m trying to avoid because it’s so easy to slip into that mode, and that’s really what the song is about.”

Living by example, GrandAce has had a productive year, releasing a collaborative two-pack with Gladwell, Pad Thai. He also put out his French Vanilla EP and loosies “Granite Countertops” and “Sufficiency,” and has another single, video, and two full projects coming out early next year. “The projects are finished now, but I keep adding to them and tweaking them,” he says. “What they are now might not be what they are later.”

For now, “No Beaches in Ohio” is a great reminder to keep at it, no matter where you are in life. “The song is appreciating the good with the bad and reflecting,” GrandAce says, “but also being aware that reflecting too much can be a bad thing.”

Follow GrandAce on Instagram for ongoing updates.

TellemJoness and Shalom share ‘Modern Nostalgia’ three-pack

Modern Nostalgia
Modern Nostalgia
Artwork by Noah Catalan

When TellemJoness and Shalom first linked up to record “Fade Away,” they never knew it would lead to a project. The two Cincinnati natives – Joness, a local hip hop staple, and Shalom, a budding star – had been fans of each other’s for a while, and the chemistry in their intertwined voices was just too good to pass up. 

“’Fade Away’ was just gonna be a collaboration. I would do a verse or whatever, maybe be on the hook. So, we did that and Shalom was like, ‘Joness, do you think you could hop on this other song too?’ And ‘Divine Council’ happened,” Joness says. “So, we were like, ‘We should release this as a project.’”

A few recording sessions later in Joness’ home studio, and the pair had created Modern Nostalgia – an atmospheric three-pack including “Fade Away,” “God Like,” and “Divine Council.”

It’s also Shalom’s debut project. “It’s been a long time coming,” Shalom reflects. The duo first joined forces officially in 2019 on Papa Gora’s single, “Mayday.” Working on building his own catalogue, Shalom approached Joness about featuring her on a song while at Cincinnati’s Elementz

“I’ve always been a fan of Joness,” he tells Audiofemme. “I met her at a poetry slam called Speak… and being exposed to those creatives in the city motivated me to do something of my own.”

TellemJoness added, “I’ve known him for years as a poet and an activist in the community – so, a very kindred spirit, but he’s nice with some flows, too.”

“I think we both resonate with the sonic vibe of the project because we’re both poets,” she continued. “I know my power is in my words; my relationship with words and how I use them and string them together. And that’s important to him as well. So, the content, the things that we talk about in the three songs – it’s heavy.”

The emcees discuss religion, spirituality, and provide commentary on society as a whole, though you’ll have to listen to the project a few times through to truly get the deeper meanings; it’s easy to be swept up in the dreaminess of Joness’ and Shalom’s vocals. 

“The things we talk about in ‘Fade Away,’ ‘God Like,’ and ‘Divine Council,’ they’re all – for lack of a better word – trendy things,” says Joness. “Like, people talk about their spiritual journeys, exalting women – as we should be, because we do so much but get credit for so little – and getting rid of negativity, keeping positive auras. But where we’re coming from on these tracks are not necessarily trendy places – they come from a place of healing for us. We kind of flipped these trends on their head and presented them in a different way.”

Photo by: The Content Girl 

“All of the messages that we have intertwined in the songs, it was important for us to shine a light on those things and speak honestly,” Shalom adds. “And we wanted to make sure our sound was fluid, which I think came pretty natural.”

The artists’ conscientious bars are underscored by celestial production, courtesy of Pxvce. The effort was also engineered by Joness and mixed and mastered by GrandAce. With their first collaborative project out, Joness and Shalom are now working on their solo endeavors – though they’re open to working together again in the future. 

“I think we kind of set a standard with this,” Shalom says. “We could create a Modern Nostalgia Part 2. So, we’ll see what happens.” 

Joness is currently readying her debut studio album P.O.L.R., which was delayed last year due to the pandemic. “Now that [Modern Nostalgia] is out, I’m even more inspired,” she says. “I’m so grateful for Shalom. He’s an example of if he wants to do something, he’s gonna go do it.”

Follow TellemJoness on Instagram for ongoing updates.

Roberto and Risky Patterns Reunite for ‘Invierno’ EP

Photo Credit: Carter Hawks

Cincinnati rapper Roberto and South Texas-based producer Risky Patterns returned last week with their latest joint offering, Invierno, which Roberto will celebrate with a livestream release party via Zoom on Saturday, March 6. The six-song EP marks the second installment in the duo’s seasonal-themed series, after 2020’s Verano (Spanish for “summer;” with Invierno, which means winter, out now, the pair will next release Primavera in spring and Otoño in fall). They first teamed up on last year’s Many Truths EP, when Risky Patterns was still using the moniker Matador. 

For Invierno, Roberto and Risky Patterns continue to build on to the chemistry that they initiated with Many Truths and serve up a new Southern hip hop sound. The pair started writing songs for the project and testing them out for live audiences while touring in Texas with Devin Burgess at the beginning of 2020, before the pandemic. 

“[Risky Patterns] sent me the first beat I ever rapped on when I was 16. So, it kind of built itself into a relationship to the point where I was grabbing beats off his Soundcloud and then we ended up touring together,” Roberto tells Audiofemme. “When we were touring, which is the only time we’ve ever been together in person, we were working on this project.”

Invierno has the audible ease of a project written pre-Coronavirus and the wild stories that can only be captured while on the road. Each track is named after a significant destination in the duo’s Texas travels, such as the desolate “Exit 51,” where Roberto, Risky Patterns and Devin got stranded after running out of gas.

Roberto, who hails from Texas but is based in Cincinnati, said he also felt a special kind of grounding from creating the EP in his home state. “When I was in Texas, shit just kept coming to me,” he recalls. “I don’t know if it was my ancestors or what… but I was really just doing what I felt like I was being told.”

The project still feels a heavy Queen City presence, though, as the rapper calls on several of his “best friends” for features. Invierno sees welcomed assists from local artists Jay Hill, Ladi Tajo and GrandAce, as well as out-of-towners Na$ty and Miles Powers. 

“This project is new to me in that way,” says Roberto. “There’s artists on there that I really admire. This project is reflective of my mission statement as an artist, which is to connect my roots to my upbringing between Texas and Ohio. Everybody here that I know has [a] Risky Patterns [beat] in their head somewhere, and a lot of people of over here I knew would sound good on his beats.”

The collaborative chemistry is especially felt on “sharpstown usa” – the electrifying result of Roberto’s years-long friendship with Jay Hill and Ladi Tajo. “That song makes me so happy,” he says. “Back in the early days, we would all pull up to any show in Cincinnati together. If I did a show, it would be Ladi Tajo and [Jay Hill’s group] Patterns of Chaos with me. Their song ‘Sleep Paralysis’ that they did together; I mixed that song. I’m really glad that chemistry got to be heard.”

2020 was an extremely prolific year for Roberto; in addition to two EPs and some singles with Risky Patterns, he also released purpan collab Happy Birthday, his “face/off” single with Khari (which includes b-side “escape”) and some stand-alone singles as well. “Last year, I dropped like six times,” Roberto says. “This year I’m focusing on making my drops mean more, rather than doing them more often. I didn’t take a lot of time out for burnout and things like that. I think if I take some time for rest, it’ll make more sense on my end.”

Roberto plans to head back to Texas to self-quarantine with Risky Patterns to “knock out” Primavera and Otoño, which he thinks will be finished “in like two weeks.” When asked if he and Risky Patterns will ever swap rapper and producer roles for a project, he responded, “Yes, I’m definitely looking forward to that.” This summer, Roberto will actually release his first-ever self-produced project.

“All the music that you hear from the two of us, he’s produced [and] I’ve written, mixed and mastered, but people don’t know that I can also produce and he can rap,” he explains. “We both do both things, but when we first met, we were very far into one way. Now, we’ve been getting into both crafts, so it’s a growing relationship in a musical sense.” 

Follow Roberto on Instagram for ongoing updates.

PLAYING CINCY: GrandAce Urges Fans To “Bus Back” Against Systemic Racism In New Single

Photo Credit: Romain Maya

GrandAce confronts systemic racism and police brutality head-on with his bouncy new single, “Bus Back.” The self-produced track lays down a vibey minimalistic base, while the Cincinnati MC gets straight to work.

“These last few weeks have had me spinning, so I had to resort to music to figure things out,” he wrote of the single on YouTube. “I want retaliation in the form of policy, legislation, and defunding corrupt systems. To those in power, it’s really not even hard.”

In a statement provided to Audiofemme, GrandAce further elaborated on why he chose to speak out against ongoing injustices and contribute to the current Black Lives Matter movement with his music.

“I’m not a big artist nor do I have a large platform, but I realize that my greatest superpower is that I’m able to use my voice to speak out on what’s wrong,” he explained over email. “If my words can resonate with even one person, it can make the movement behind the fight for justice and equality one person stronger. I’ve always made music with the aim of soundtracking life, and that includes revolution as well.”

“‘Bus Back’ [means] not only in the physical [sense], it’s also firing back at oppression through policy, legislation, dismantling of systemic inequality, and my joy,” GrandAce continued. “The beauty of joy is that it can be weaponized to overcome the worst situations. I hope others hear it and are inspired to keep pushing forward.”

“Bus Back” follows a healthy dose of singles from the Queen City rapper this year, including “Mad Shook” from earlier this month, “Satellites,” “Free Space,” and “Magic Something.” Last year saw the arrival of GrandAce’s Christmas three-pack, aloneon25, and his five-song EP, Also Codachrome.

Listen to GrandAce’s new single “Bus Back” below. Also, find more resources and organizations to donate to in the fight against police brutality and systemic racism here.

PLAYING CINCY: GrandAce Teases Upcoming EP with New Single “GO!”


GrandAce. Photo by Ciara Cruder.

You can easily chart the progression of Cincinnati rapper and producer GrandAce through his evolving lyrics and style. Born Jody Jones, GrandAce first hit the scene with singles in 2016 and 2017. Last year, he released two EPs – the first of which, Colors in the Office, existed as an outlet to release pent up frustrations and disappointment. His second project dropped the following month, and true to its title, Feel Good showed an elevated state of mind. His latest single “GO!” is an optimistic tune with an easygoing rhythm and bars; it will appear on his upcoming EP Also Codachrome, out March 12.

“It’s about progressing to a level where you are successful and love until your surroundings and mentality becomes unrecognizable,” he told DBLCIN about “GO!” and his upcoming EP.

Check out the single below and catch GrandAce live when he performs at Top Cats on February 21, with Dayo Gold, Leo Pastel and Isicle.