Stallitix Launches New Cincinnati Music Exploration Series “Warmth”

Prymtime / Photo Credit: Noir Media

Queen City-based producer and artist Alex Stallings, who goes by Stallitix as one-half of the Patterns of Chaos rap duo, launched his new Cincinnati music exploration and DJ showcase series last month in hopes of creating a safe space for local artists and music lovers. He’s calling it Warmth, for the feeling he hopes to foster with each event.

“Warmth has always been a feeling I’ve wanted [to promote], to make people to feel welcomed, and for people to feel that with other creatives,” he tells Audiofemme. An Instagram recap of the event put it succinctly with an Anna Sewell quote: “It’s good people that make good places.”

The inaugural boogie went down successfully at Walnut Hills’ Sideways 8 Studios in late December, with DJs Prymtime, Rah D. and Mr. Fantastic at the decks. The music spanned across R&B, house and hip hop genres, giving DJs the space to fine-tune the vibe and giving fans the chance to dance and socialize in a setting unique to the typical club or bar experience.

“There’s a void for people who want to dance, for music lovers, and for DJs who want to share music,” Stallings says. “[Warmth] is a music exploration series of Black music: house music, hip hop, rhythm & blues and soul music. We want to explore all of that. Like with house music especially, lots of people think it’s made by Europeans. But actually, it was started by Black DJs in Detroit and Chicago. So, we want to get into the significance and the history of that and more.”

This approach puts DJs in a more curatorial role, rather than relegating them to spinning records solely to fill dancefloors. “We want to allow DJs to flip and play the songs that they want to play, [umlike] being in a club or bar and being annoyed by people who request [songs],” Stallings explains. “There’s a line between artists and entertainers – this is definitely for artists.”

And Warmth has another important mission as well. “I wanted to create a safe place for people to come and dance and enjoy themselves,” Stallings adds. “The vision is to make a safe space for BIPOC, women and artists in general, because Cincinnati sometimes has an exploitative culture when it comes to artists.”

After the first successful installment, Stallings says he plans to hold the events either bi-monthly or quarterly and showcase talent from Cincinnati and beyond. “Cincinnati is a very big music town. There’s a lot of people who love music and a lot of them are transplants,” he says. “Prymtime is from Louisville; Rah D. is from Detroit. So, they bring their own little flair to the city.”

“Everyone who came out said they loved it. Everyone and said it was needed in Cincinnati,” he continues. “You’re not just going [to Warmth] for a drink [or to party]; the main reason you’re going there is for the music, which I think is needed… I went to this big function in Indianapolis that was a party catered to artists and DJs. It was a gathering of artists and influencers, mostly Black people, and that’s when I thought, we need to do something like that here.” 

On his own artistic front, Patterns of Chaos’ latest full-length project, Chaotic Good, just hit streaming platforms last week. The nine-track album, which was over two years in the making, features Cincinnati artists like Aziza Love, GrandAce, JayBee Lamahj, Roberto and more.

Follow Warmth on Instagram for ongoing updates.

Meet Inkrewsive, Australia’s Only Fully Inclusive and Accessible Hip Hop Crew

Felicity Brown // Courtesy of Inkrewsive

“People with disabilities have the right to be heard. Some people have trouble with talking and it’s hard for them to communicate so we have to support everyone, no matter what their disability is. It’s not the disability, it’s the ability,” says Shea MacDonough, an MC in Melbourne hip hop collective Inkrewsive.  

Inkrewsive has been creating and performing hip hop for a decade now through arts organisation Wild At Heart, which works with professional musicians and multimedia artists to inform and empower disabled, mentally ill and socially disadvantaged Australians.

She has joined Audiofemme via Zoom, along with fellow MC Felicity Brown and Executive/Artistic Director of Wild At Heart Community Arts, Philip Heuzenroeder.

The morning we speak, Brown is running a bit late. She has had three seizures and has to be careful not to overexert herself during the interview. When she does show up, she is a riot of colour, from her rainbow-hued hair to her dangling, red bauble earrings. She first joined Inkrewsive a decade ago, and got involved with it again over the last year after taking a break.

“I’ve got depression and anxiety, a lot to do with mental health and all that stuff, and other disabilities that don’t help,” she explains. “I manage to get through them in doing hip hop, and I do songwriting as well. I do everything!”

For Brown and MacDonough, Inkrewsive is more than an artistic outlet, it’s a community and a family. The regular Thursday meetings, which have returned to their usual venue at Ministry of Dance in North Melbourne post-lockdown, are a place of solace and inclusion for Brown. “I get to be with my friends, especially my MC that I’m looking at,” she says with a cheeky smile for MacDonough. “I enjoy hip hop, dancing, rapping, creating songs and all that.”

“I’ve been involved in Inkrewsive for over 11 or 12 years now,” MacDonough shares. “Back then, I was an MC hosting dance parties and all that. That’s been my favourite part, public speaking. I’ve been doing that for quite a while now.”

She adds: “It feels that we’re all family, all of us have different needs different abilities. I would not say disabilities. We all have that, but I don’t see that in the crew. I see everyone as who they are, definitely not their disability.”

The crew’s YouTube page showcases the many performances and videos they’ve recorded over the last decade. It’s not all gold chains and grills, but there’s definitely some serious swagger in the animal print suits, sunglasses, and the take-no-shit lyrics of “Superstar.”

The song isn’t just about fronting, though; it’s an assertion of boundaries, of self-worth, and of demands for a more inclusive world. “Get out of my space, who do you think you are? You don’t know even know me, I’m a superstar!” goes the point-blank chorus.

“All of us have our own song to perform,” MacDonough says. “Some of us have difficulty with writing, reading and stuff. I sometimes have to take it easy, talk slowly, don’t rush it. I know that Phil tells the crew ‘Don’t rush it, keep it clear!’ I always keep my raps clear because I’ve got a fair few in my book at home, my personal ones.”

MacDonough writes and raps about what matters to her: living with Down syndrome, growing up and living as a disabled woman in Australia, and advocating for inclusion in all aspects of society, not least the performing and entertainment world. She’s been a part of it since she began dancing in primary school; she continued with dance through high school, and has since joined a dance company that provides classes for children and young adults with Down syndrome.

“Back when I was younger I loved to dance, especially on stage, so that’s one of my passions,” she says. “I’m in a dance company called Emotion21 and I’m their ambassador alongside [singer and actor] Tim Campbell.”

Shea MacDonough // Courtesy of Inkrewsive

Luckily, her passion and talent for dancing, rapping and MCing was not starved for an outlet during the pandemic. Despite lockdowns preventing access to their usual meetings, the crew met up via Zoom and worked with a wide range of Melbourne’s most eminent hip hop, dance and breakbeat talent as mentors, including Elf Tranzporter, Bricky B, and MC Yung Philly.

It was Yung Philly, together with Bengali rapper Cizzy, who came on board to help with a unique collaboration to celebrate the International Day Of People With Disabilities on December 3rd. The 13-strong Inkrewsive co-wrote and performed “Lockdown E Bondho” (“Because of the Lockdown”) with six intellectually disabled students from the Monovikas School in Kolkata, India. The track was formed as an ode to solidarity and perseverance in the face of suffering. Filmmakers in Melbourne and Kolkata worked with the artists to create a video that represented each of the crew and their performative strengths.

“I thought it was absolutely beautiful,” says Felicity Brown. “When Phil gave us the link to start off, it was a once-in-a-lifetime [opportunity] to actually be with them even though we couldn’t go to India. Just being with them on Zoom made us feel like we were actually there. Also, we were mentoring them with the kind of stuff we do, teaching them what we were doing. And they would mentor us with what they were learning.”

MacDonough chimes in: “I got to learn how they lived. We mentored them, like Felicity said. They showed us how they dance and their Bengali language… we got to actually talk in Bengali along with our music video that we did. [Using] their language and our language – Bengali and English – we collaborated with them, and everyone around the world has a chance to be heard.”

When the video was launched, Brown says, “We were excited.”

MacDonough immediately exclaims, “More than excited!”

It wasn’t the only highlight of the year. On November 27th, they opened Ability Fest 2021, a music festival organised by Australian three-time Paralympian and gold-medalist Dylan Alcott in response to the lack of accessible, safe and inclusive live music opportunities for disabled Australians.

“At Ability Fest, we performed a few of our old songs. We felt it was a privilege to actually perform at the Ability Fest, and after we performed, we got to see [Dylan Alcott]. I was excited to actually get to meet him in person,” says MacDonough. “He said that we all killed it, and nailed it, smashed it. He said to me, after we had performed, that I was the best rapper he’d seen. I would say that everyone was the best, not just me. It was the whole crew that did it.”

MacDonough has grown up with Inkrewsive, and it’s evident in her confidence and compassion that she will be an invaluable mentor to younger and newer members of the crew well into the future. “I used to get teased quite a lot, but not anymore,” she admits. “Because I’ve got a disability, it doesn’t mean that I can’t talk, communicate to others, tell them how I feel.”

Follow Inkrewsive on Instagram for ongoing updates.

Devin Burgess Showcases Versatility with That’s Unfortunate LP

Devin Burgess
Devin Burgess
Photo Credit: Curtis Turner

Devin Burgess is flying high after the release of what he knows is his most well-rounded project yet. That’s Unfortunate, Devin’s latest full-length album, arrived last week complete with 20 songs, a handful of features, and a multi-faceted display of the Cincinnati rapper/producer’s far-reaching skills.

After losing his job last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Burgess says, “I had all this free time, and I could finally sit down and work on music. That’s Unfortunate is a product of that.”

With the newfound time to dedicate toward his craft, Burgess has been firing on all cylinders. So far this year, he’s shared Swooty Mac collab Sunday Morning, his solo EP 2018 and his alter-ego beat tape Kei$ha, not to mention co-producing Brandon Isaac’s latest album, The Sketches of Healing 2020. However, That’s Unfortunate stands apart from Burgess’s latest projects for its versatility. The LP balances vibe-y cuts, party tracks, love songs and bangers, and hears the MC switch up his flow between melodic anthems and hard-hitting raps.  

“I always feel like people want to put me in a box or think that I’m one dimensional – that I can’t tap into different things,” he tells Audiofemme. “So, I wanted this to be the fullest representation of me. Like, if no one ever heard me before, this project is the best way to introduce everyone to me and what I have to offer.”

That’s Unfortunate opens with a powerful spoken word by B.A.D. (Be A Difference) and snippets of poetry are woven throughout the effort. 

“I’ve always gravitated toward B.A.D.’s poems,” Burgess says of the Cincy-based poet and songwriter. “I thought it was important for a Black woman to be the first voice people heard on my album. I wanted it to be something unexpected. And Black women are the reason I am the way I am today. I was raised pretty much by my mom and my aunties and my grannies, so I wanted to show some love.”

Other highlights include a well-placed sample from The Lox and Dipset’s August Verzuz battle on the outro of “Peace,” as well as a feature from Pink Siifu. 

“That’s the homie,” Burgess says of the Cincinnati-bred Siifu. “We were listening to different beats, and he’s always eager to make music. We got the beat from demahjiae, he’s an Oakland-based producer, and I think Siifu wrote his verse in like ten minutes!”

“I had never gotten a verse like that from him,” he continues. “The tracks we’ve done in the past have been more vibe-y, more personal, but on this one he was just going off. So, I knew that I needed to show up, because I’m not trying to get washed on my own record. I wanna make sure that if he’s up here, I’ve gotta match it or be above it. I think it’s healthy competition – it keeps everyone on their toes.”

Burgess has already released clips for That’s Unfortunate cuts “Everlasting” and “Baritone,” and says he has a third video on the way. “I’ve already reached a personal best for videos since I’ve [filmed] three, and I’m definitely trying to put out as many visuals as possible,” he says. 

“The energy around this project has been so different, but in a good way,” he adds. “I’ve never felt this way about a body of work before and I feel like I really applied myself in every way, shape and form. I feel like this is the most cohesive, most consistent body of work I’ve ever done.”

Follow Devin Burgess on Instagram for ongoing updates.

“Push Up (Freestyle)” Unites NaQuia Chante and PwiththeDrip as Cincy’s Latest Rap Duo

NaQuia Chante
NaQuia Chante
NaQuia Chante / Photo Credit: PwiththeDrip

NaQuia Chante and PwiththeDrip are on the precipice of becoming Cincinnati’s most prolific female rap duo with the release of “Push Up (Freestyle).” The pair dropped their inaugural offering along with a self-directed music video on Friday, after performing together in Detroit on the Streets Most Wanted Tour. The nine-stop trek, led by Big Heff, wraps up in Wichita, Kansas on Sept. 14.

For those who haven’t caught them on stage yet, NaQuia and P’s “Push Up (Freestyle)” makes a fierce first impression. The Buddy Ball-produced track is laced with clever, self-assured lines from the two MCs and scathing rebukes aimed at anyone who dares stand in their way. 

“We’ve been doing kind of a boot camp almost – meeting every week, getting together, getting the beats and making fresh hooks,” NaQuia tells Audiofemme. “Then we meet up the next week, get the verse done and record everything at the house. So, we’ve built up a lot of music for our catalog just over the last two months.”

Besides new freestyles and official singles, which NaQuia says fans can expect to hear in the coming weeks, the pair is also working on their debut full-length project: The Bag Lady. The duo’s rapid-fire recording sessions seem to be a testament to their artistic chemistry. NaQuia, a bridging force behind Cincinnati hip hop, has had a self-taught hand in nearly every aspect of the Queen City’s music scene – from artist management and video directing, to marketing and visual art. When her longtime friend P returned to Cincinnati from Atlanta, the scene was finally set for the pair to join forces, ironically becoming the equally ambitious partner that the other one needed. Both say they are “obsessed” with one another.

“When I went to Atlanta, I was building and doing my thing, but I was watching what [NaQuia] was doing in the city, since like 2014, all the way to 2020,” PwiththeDrip explains. “So, I have been watching her and I was like, I need to get back to the city. I believe in her and her vision, and I knew that she needed somebody who was gonna have her back and help her do what she’s doing.”

“It’s the amount of energy, the talent and working hard – and I have all that, too. I work hard and I can match her energy,” she adds. 

“We’ve always thought about doing things together,” NaQuia agreed. “I be doing so much, and she’s doing it with me!”

PwiththeDrip / Photo Credit: NaQuia Chante

On the solo front, NaQuia will soon begin the rollout for her long-awaited debut compilation album, Church Girls Love Trap Music. The gospel-influenced rap record, which features an array of local voices – NaQuia’s included – was recorded last year. 

“The manager I was working with went back in the studio and added a few songs to [the album] with just me singing, and we recorded some new songs with [producer] MamaNamedMeEvan and a DJ from Cleveland, DJ Ryan Wolf,” she says. “That added a little time before it could be released, but it’s in the mixing process now. [Cincinnati producer] Natown is mixing the record. I should have a [release] date by the end of this tour.”

“It’s my baby, so I’m mad it’s taking so long, but I’m also okay with it because I want it done right,” she adds. 

Catch the Streets Most Wanted Tour at one of the remaining dates below and follow NaQuia Chante and PwiththeDrip on Instagram for ongoing updates.


Khari Unleashes Institutionalized Sequel to This Is How We Feel EP Series

Photo Credit: Noir Media

Khari continues his hard-hitting three-part EP series This Is How We Feel with Act 2 (Institutionalized). Picking up where Act 1 (Trapped) left off, the Cincinnati native continues to balance harrowing lyricism with thoughtful ruminations about racism, the criminal justice system, mental health and more. Production is handled by Courtney Kemper, G1, AvAtor Hughes, Nick Burke and Maaster Matt, with features from Kamiylah Faatin and Paris.

This year, Khari also launched his own record label, Be The Best (BTB) Records, through which Act 2 (Institutionalized) was released. 

“I really wanted to… take back control over my art instead of just giving it out to streaming right away,” he tells Audiofemme

Here, Khari talks about his new project, when Act 3 will be released, upcoming visuals and more. Listen to This Is How We Feel: Act 2 (Institutionalized) and read his full interview below. 

AF: What does that phrase institutionalized mean to you as it relates to this project? 

This whole EP series has been a process of me taking the listener through what it means to be mentally in a prison, or even physically in a prison, because I’ve got a lot of family and friends locked up. So, looking at the similarities between those two, even in your day-to-day life, we can be institutionalized. We can be programmed. We can be conditioned to think a certain way. Whether it’s school – I’ve been institutionalized by that – there’s a number of things that line means, but that’s really like the main thing I was trying to get across to people.

AF: “Numb” is a super powerful song to start the EP with. That song, and a lot of these records, is very personal; what headspace were you in when you were writing and recording it?

I really wanted to be vulnerable and honest this time around, just give people more of me. And “Numb,” I wrote around the time when George Floyd had just got murdered. Everything was happening in the country, just a whole bunch of turmoil, and I was just feeling like super numb to it all because, mind you, this stuff been happening forever. I was at a point where I was like, I don’t even know how to feel about anything anymore. I’ve been through so much stuff in my personal life, and then also the plight of my people, it’s all weighed down on me. So, I tried my best to convey that on that record. 

AF: “Eve” is another important song. How did you and Kamiylah Faatin get linked up?

She’s actually the first R&B singer [to be signed] to my record label, BTB Records. She’s super talented.

AF: Having her on the track took it to another level, for sure. 

Oh yeah. That song was for Black women, so I really wanted her voice on there. She just really gave it that energy, so I was just extremely, extremely blessed to have her on the track. 

AF: On Act 2, you talk about taking back ownership of your craft, and you’re releasing the project on Bandcamp and through your record label for one week before streaming services. What made you want to do it that way?

That was a big thing for me this time around. I really wanted to, like you said, take back control over my art instead of just giving it out to streaming right away. Because we only get half a penny for every stream. It’s like all this work just to build up a certain number of streams and hope people listen to it on these platforms, when there’s people that are willing to support what we’re doing out here. I just wanted to take it back to when I was a young kid, 15 years old, selling my mixtapes at my school. Just put it out there and allow people to support it this way and see what we can bring in. Especially now with the label, trying to build that up. 

AF: It’s super dope that you launched your own label here because you’re keeping the talent and revenue in Cincinnati. Like, you can keep building it up and become a pioneer in the city.

It’s funny you say that, because that’s always been a big goal on my list. To really be a staple in Cincinnati. I think what we’re missing is the revenue and the attention. We can bring that in. We can make it so these talented artists here can start really living off this music. 

AF: I also saw your “Sha’Carri (Amari Freestyle)” on Instagram where you rap about Sha’Carri Richardson being suspended from competing in the Tokyo Olympics. What made you want to write a song about that?

It’s funny how that came about, because I told myself I was not gonna rap until the album came out. Like, no one’s gonna hear me rap until the album. But I just had to put that out, because that really is some bullshit. You know I’m saying? And that there are people locked up for [marijuana] right now. Why? When these big white corporations are eating off marijuana? I already was touching on some of these topics in the project, and then I just felt like I had to drop something because it’s a stupid situation.

AF: Absolutely. “Tin Man” is another song that stood out on the project. What was making that track like?

That was a fun song to record because that was my first time using auto-tune. With this project, I was trying to step outside my comfort zone and not be so locked into being this guy that’s only doing one type of sound. So, I wanted to do the auto-tune, I wanted to have more trap sounds, more modern sounds, but still give the substance and the content.

AF: You’re gearing up to drop a video for that song next; any release date in mind for Act 3 yet?

Well, I said Act 2 was gonna come out in January [laughs], but I do want to get Act 3 out soon, maybe at the top of next year, because I’m already working on some newer things that’ll be, like, the next phase of my career past This Is How We Feel. I’m excited about that. 

AF: Who have you been listening to/inspired by lately?

I really like the new J. Cole album, that’s really inspired me a lot. Tyler, the Creator’s album is probably my favorite right now. And H.E.R., I’ve been really tapped in with R&B lately and her new project, too. But, I like what these more lyrical guys are doing right now, you know, stepping outside their comfort zone. I’m trying to do the same thing right now, so that’s given me a confirmation about what I’m doing.

AF: What else have you got planned coming up?

Visuals, visuals, visuals. I want to do a visual for every song on the project. And I want to do a tour, since we can do shows now. I’m definitely trying to tour in Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky – do like a little tri-state tour. So, that’s getting set up for probably the fall.

Follow Khari on Instagram and Facebook for ongoing updates.

Tiny Jag Keeps Her Circle Small and Her Spirit Rich in New Single “How It Was”

Tiny Jag has never been one to mince words. Ever since her first EP Polly debuted in 2018, Jag has been known for her no-bullshit lyricism and cutting delivery. Though her sound has grown and shifted since then, the heart of it remains the same: an uncompromising sense of self that’s easy to sing along to. In the video for her new song, “How It Was,” Jag emphasizes the importance of keeping your circle small and supported. 

“When I made this song I was dead in the center of thinking about what relationships were working for me and which ones weren’t,” Jag explains. She says that the last year has been a time of not only looking inward, but looking around her and tempering expectations around friendships and relationships. What she discovered was that supporting herself first and foremost yielded the ability to show up for others in the way that she wants to. “I feel clearer over the last few months since that song has been created,” she says. “Just being comfortable in exactly where I am at any moment… and finding a way to have my own back… makes it easier to figure out what you expect out of the souls and spirits around you.”

This realization led Jag to write the ultimate ride-or-die anthem that mirrors the relationships in her own life. She explains that her tendency to keep her circle tight in her personal life bleeds into her creative process. In an industry that is built off of multiple people – sometimes strangers – co-writing songs and cranking them out like an assembly line, Jag takes a more intimate approach to songwriting. She says that 99% of the time, she’s going into the studio with someone she has a prior connection and strong basis of trust with, and if not, that bond is made before the session even starts. “Any producer that I went into the studio with blindly, we probably talked for like two hours before we started working,” says Jag. “I think that for my peace of mind, and the way that my anxiety is set up, I need to focus on the people that feel the pull… some type of law of attraction has brought us together and here we are vibing the fuck out.”

The video follows Jag and her besties (Jag’s long-time DJ and friend Wah Wah and local musician Shannon Barnes of White Bee) as they devise a plan to rob their douchey corporate boss. At some point, we’ve all probably fantasized about tying up our boss and taking all of their money, which makes sense, considering that the average CEO in the United States makes up to 320 times more than a typical worker. The visual shows Jag and her posse enduring various morbid circumstances like domestic abuse, a messy breakup, and debilitating debt. The three decide that in order to escape their current situations, they’ll team up and take down their superior, Robin Hood-style. 

While the video was inspired by fantastical scenes like the Joker walking away from a burning hospital in Dark Knight and the grocery store heist in Good Girls, Jag says her vision was one step closer to reality. “I wanted it to be something that you could see some mother fuckers fuckin’ around and doing,” she says. And that’s how a Tiny Jag song usually makes the listener feel – like you could rob your boss and get away with it. An indestructible aura surrounds her music, permeating through the speakers and touching whoever is listening. It’s fitting, then, that Jag’s ultimate goal as a creative is to be an entity rather than solely a musician. 

“Even when I started doing music, I knew it was going to be a leg of something bigger. I always wanted to be a force more than any one designated thing,” she says. “I would rather be a reminder of something that reminds you to be yourself, or don’t be wasteful, or don’t throw your trash on the ground or whatever the fuck.” She lives out this intention not only through her music, but, more recently, through repurposing old fabrics to make her own merch. She explains that having multiple outlets allows her to nurture her creative self and shift focus from output to being present with herself and her art. 

Jag’s unending quest towards self-discovery is what keeps her music so authentic, and inspires listeners to do the same. “It feels like every time I talk to you, I talk about how I’m being my most authentic self and that’s the best thing that’s going right now,” Jag muses. “But, every time, I feel like I’m getting closer and closer to that most internal piece of myself, that highest self.” 

Follow Tiny Jag on Instagram for ongoing updates.

Papa Gora Talks Latest Album The Feel, New Videos And More

Papa Gora
Papa Gora
Photo Credit: Noir Media

For Papa Gora, everything comes down to timing. The Cincinnati native has been working hard the past few years to emerge as a rising star in the city’s hip hop scene and released his latest album, The Feel (An Album by Papa Gora), earlier this year. The project was initially meant to drop in 2020 – a year that seemed bleak for many local artists. However, Papa Gora decided to delay the album, which ended up bringing on a host of new opportunities, remote performances and organic collaborations. 

“Everything with this album was based on a feeling; I wanted to make sure that I expressed myself so people could feel something from the music,” he tells Audiofemme. “This one started with production – the beats. The intro song [‘The Best’] was the first beat that I got, and from there, more producers were sending me different sounds.”

“Nothing was forced, it came about really naturally,” he adds. The feelings he wanted to capture shine through on every track on the album – from the spiritual highs of “Testify” to the raw emotion on “Violence,” which features Cincinnati rapper Jay Hill

“I had ‘Violence’ sitting there and was like, who can bring that emotion in? Jay Hill,” he says. “Shalom, same experience. He’s more of a poet and he was transitioning into songwriting at that time, and we ended up making ‘Divine Timing’ maybe in 20, 25 minutes. And also Harmony [Haze], her vocals are just amazing. I needed that texture to add an extra layer to that song, [‘Truth Will Set You Free’], and she did amazing.”

Papa Gora’s visceral vocals also stand out on “Too Wild,” which, like “Violence,” speaks vulnerably about police brutality, systemic racism and loss. 

“I can’t say there was a particular thing that triggered those songs, but they came from a soulful place; a place of this keeps happening,” Papa Gora says. “Even before 2020, stuff like police brutality, violence, people getting murdered… I actually had a coworker whose son got killed, and I’m not saying she was the reason I wrote the song, but it is something that constantly happens and myself, as an artist, I feel like I have a responsibility to speak out about it.” 

Papa Gora also recently wrapped up a remote performance series called “Live-N-Direct,” for which he was able to virtually perform several of the album’s solo tracks as well as collaborations.  

“It was awesome. I honestly did it because I miss performing,” he said about the series. “I miss that, and it’s not the same as performing in front of people, but performing in general is just my favorite thing to do. And I was able to include Shalom and Jay Hill on the performances, and we did the season finale at a clothing store in Cincinnati. It was a great experience and it came about naturally.”

Later this month, Papa Gora will head to Texas for a string of live shows. He’s also performing at the Thompson House in Newport, Kentucky on May 28. Currently, he is putting the finishing touches on a new music video for album cut “Open Your Heart,” which is slated for release at the end of this month.

“I always say the album is done, but it’s not finished,” he reflects. “I’m really big on visuals and I feel like I need to take my time and push out visuals for almost every song on this album. That’s one thing I’m really focusing on right now, but my studio is also in my house, so I’m always creating.”

Follow Papa Gora 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.

Cincy Rapper Swooty Mac Releases Sunday Morning LP in Collab with Devin Burgess

Swooty Mac
Swooty Mac
Photo Credit: Guy Nee Whang

Swooty Mac and Devin Burgess have gifted fans their first joint project: Sunday Morning. The eight-song offering houses some of Swooty’s most honest and direct lyricism ever, not to mention some truly excellent beats by Burgess. The project also includes an ample amount of vibe-y bangers (opener “Function” and “Twenty” are my favorites) and the boo’d up “Bath Water – Extended.”

Cincinnati rapper Swooty and rapper/producer Burgess first linked up on Swooty’s 2018 debut EP, Jolie: The Swooty McDurman Project. Since then, Swooty says he and Burgess have teamed up together on roughly 20 songs – some released, some still in the vault.

“It was different [making Sunday Morning] mostly because [Devin] didn’t rap on the project. Usually we’re trading bars, but he didn’t rap on this at all or even do a background vocal. That was the biggest difference,” Swooty explains. “We have a pretty good chemistry, though, so it’s kind of hard for us not to come up with something.”

The beat Burgess made for “Bath Water – Extended” is what kicked off Sunday Morning. After hearing the instrumental, Swooty co-wrote the sensual cut with JayBee Lamahj and set out to make a full project with Burgess.

Swooty explains that initially, Sunday Morning was set to be a four-song EP. But, it was Burgess – who also mixed, mastered and engineered the project – who wanted to turn it into an album. Swooty agreed to record four more songs, but then he learned he was going to become a father for the second time.

“I’ve got a 7-year-old and [now] a 1-year-old and, you know, I had to handle my responsibilities before I dive too much into being a rapper,” he says, taking some time off to focus on his family before returning to finish Sunday Morning. “But, it worked out,” he continues, “because two years later we came out with a dope ass project.”

Learning he was going to have another child also made finishing Sunday Morning “even more special,” Swooty said. The album tackles several vulnerable topics that the rapper had previously steered clear of, for the most part.

“The stuff I was going through, the stuff that I was talking about on the project, it [took] time for me to express that stuff,” he confessed. “A lot of my music is personal, but it’s like surface-level stuff. This was, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty and see what’s going on. Like, I feel this way, and now I’m telling you why.”

Swooty dabbles in love on the pleading “Teach Me” and insecurity on the self-reckoning “blue af,” but he pushes his boundaries the most on “Neo.” On the stripped-down cut, the rapper examines co-parenting and juggles anxiety with ambition in an intensely personal, yet sharply relatable way, making it a standout track. Amazingly, though, it was almost cut entirely from the project.

“[‘Neo’] was just me being open and it’s one of the most vulnerable tracks on there,” Swooty says. “I wasn’t really rapping; I was kind of just talking and saying how I feel. Me and my daughter’s mom were going through some stuff at the time – arguing, breakups, and that’s pretty much what I was talking about on that record. And the reason everybody likes it is the reason I almost didn’t put it on there – I was thinking, don’t nobody wanna hear me be all sad and shit.”

Because of the song’s success, Swooty said he’s become more comfortable being vulnerable in his music. “I can do more stuff where I’m being sensitive,” he says. “I don’t gotta stick my chest out and be the big bad guy all the time.”

“I’m extremely proud of Swoot for delivering and executing such vulnerability and emotion,” Burgess adds. “I know how much that can take out of a person.”

Looking ahead, fans can expect some visuals from the project – possibly merging with companion clips for Swooty’s 2020 offering, Do4Luv. Devin Burgess, on the other hand, is set to release his live EP, 2018, on Valentine’s Day, followed by his rap album, That’s Unfortunate, next month.

“I really put thought and effort into other people’s music as if it was my own,” Burgess says of Sunday Morning. “I try to make everything as special as possible and this felt special to me.”

Follow Swooty Mac and Devin Burgess via Instagram for ongoing updates.

Stallitix, THRIVE Cincy and Elementz Produce Cincinnati’s First-Ever Hip Hop Orchestra

hip hop orchestra
hip hop orchestra
Photo Credit: Oussmane Falls

Though hip hop has a habit of sampling strings for an added dose of cinematic sound, it’s not every day that audiences get to see a full orchestra playing Kendrick Lamar and Kanye West. Alex Stallings – a.k.a Stallitix of Patterns of Chaos – is looking to change that. In partnership with Cincinnati youth outreach program Elementz, Stallings co-composed and executive produced the first-ever live-streamed production of THRIVE’s Hip Hop Orchestra, and he hopes the project will live on as a series. 

“We wanted to do something cool that brings people who don’t go see hip hop to a show, and people who don’t come see classical music to a show,” Stallings tells Audiofemme. “We’re trying to mesh those different worlds.”

Meshing the likes of Ye’s “Diamonds from Sierra Leone” (which samples Shirley Bassey’s “Diamonds Are Forever”) and Kendrick’s “LUST” (from 2017 LP DAMN.) into classical music is about breaking down each individual sound, says Stallings. “Hip hop itself sounds simple, but there’s a lot of things you can add,” he explains. “It’s the process of finding what sounds like the [hip hop] sound. If the song has an ambient sound, let’s see if violins can recreate that. Or, if you have a very low bass sound, let’s get a synth player to replace that. It adds flavor to it. It’s a very experimental process, finding that right sound and the right range for what sounds cool.” The performance took place December 17 at Cincinnati’s Music Hall and is still streaming via THRIVE Cincy’s Facebook.

The performance was also co-composed by Preston Charles III and featured musicians from the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and beyond – several of whom played steadily in the city before the pandemic. “It’s a beautiful thing, bringing different people together to create something we’re all equally passionate about,” says Stallings. “We have a lot of diverse musicians: white, Black, women, men, people who identify as nonbinary. We have a palette of different people with different stories about why they like hip hop. They all come from different backgrounds. One person, their whole family plays classical music, and they just love hip hop. Another, their father was a rock musician in China, and they like hip hop… I think it’s a beautiful thing; we’re creating a conversation.”

Stallings, who leads Elementz’s THRIVE Cincy, first approached the hip hop-centric arts center with the idea not only to bridge fans between the two genres, but also to put the city’s musicians back in the spotlight. “It was very hard at the beginning of the pandemic, but we took the initiative,” says Stallings. Elementz, which offers music and other classes and serves as a home-away-from-home for many Cincinnati kids, has taken their courses and outreach mostly online amidst COVID-19. “I think this [performance] is one of the biggest buzzes we’ve had, especially for Elementz online. I think everyone should be impressed; this will definitely lead to something bigger – maybe a program or a series that goes on for months at a time.”

Hip Hop Orchestra / Elementz

On Instagram, Stallings has used THRIVE Cincy to support hip hop artists in the city while performances have been scarce. “Since summer, we’ve been putting out videos from different artists, playing their music and interviews with artists,” he says. “Next year, we’re moving into a different direction, where we’ll do one music video per artist and spotlight that. During the pandemic, there’s been no places to perform, so this helps them out.”

As for his own musical ventures, Stallings says fans can expect a new album from Patterns of Chaos – fronted by himself and Jay Hill – next year.

“It’s gonna be different than Freedom,” their 2018 EP, he says. “It’s gonna be fun and it’s gonna address some deeper issues like race, self and gender. It’s gonna be very experimental; you couldn’t really put us in a category, and that’s what we want.”

Follow Alex Stallings on Instagram and THRIVE Cincy on Facebook for ongoing updates.

Dayo Gold Channels Great-Grandfather on Timeless Eddie Kane EP

Dayo Gold / Eddie Kane
Dayo Gold / Eddie Kane
Photo Credit: Mookie Love

Dayo Gold makes his return with his latest offering, The Eddie Kane Chronicles, Vol. 1. The six-track EP finds the Cincinnati rapper trying out a smooth flow with classic, old school beats – a stylistic choice that he says is a testament to his great-grandfather. 

“My great-grandad’s real name is Ed Bendross,” Dayo told Audiofemme. “His nickname – one of my aunts always used to call him – was Eddie Kane, because he always stayed with a cane as he got older. The other reason she called him that was because he was just so smooth. You never saw him sweat, never saw him pressed, never saw him yelling, none of that. It was just a little trove in the family, and they’ve always said that I remind them of him.”

“So, once I got to sit down – with all of this quarantine stuff going on – I really just got to sit down with myself and I felt like a lot of those comparisons were similar,” he continued. “[This project] is almost like a reincarnation of him, but it’s still me… It’s almost like you’re getting a piece of both of us.”

While listeners can usually depend on Dayo’s music to set the roll-a-blunt-and-sip-some-wine vibe, the MC sounds especially at-ease over the EP’s nostalgic-sounding instrumentals.

“I feel like it was just my most natural sound at the end of the day; like the beats brought that out in me,” he said. “With this quarantine time, I’ve been experimenting to find out what my fans like, and I’m seeing that people are digging this vibe. So, I can be my real, natural self, and it still works.”

Most of the beats on the EP were provided by Dayo’s “right-hand man,” local beatsmith Trey Young, while “Old School” was produced by Eb & Flow.  

“As far as anything that I drop, he’s always there giving me some input or advice,” Dayo said of Trey. “He’s always hands-on with my projects, and this one he definitely showed up big. He made a majority of the beats, and we just sat there and kind of went for a certain type of sound this time – and built upon that sound.”

Next up for Dayo will be The Eddie Kane Chronicles, Vol. 2, which he says he’s already gotten started on. The “Twang” rapper also plans to drop a video for “Old School” next month, following visuals for EP cuts “Caprice” and “A Wise Man Once Said,” the latter of which features Sax B. 

“I think videos are the best way to get to the people right now,” he said. “I felt like I didn’t have enough visuals already – for my best songs. My problem was that I usually have samples and stuff, but that’s another reason I’m really proud of this tape; there’s no samples. We really did it from the ground-up.” 

Although the current pause on live shows means he probably won’t be able to play The Eddie Kane Chronicles, Vol. 1 for an in-person audience anytime soon, Dayo says one silver lining of the pandemic has been the extra time to write and record new music. 

“I feel like as artists, or really just anybody who’s a creative, this year has been a blessing in disguise,” he explained. “You can get more creative, and it’s a chance to see what works inside your home.”

“Being a creative, you just gotta stay flexible,” he added. “So, I’m not trying to rush anything. And being sensitive to the world as well, since there’s been a lot going on.”

Earlier this year, Dayo did get to participate in one of Mind The Method’s live-streamed performances. He’ll also be featured in Donuts N’ Akahol’s upcoming virtual cypher.

But for now, he’s celebrating his new EP. 

“I feel like what made this project special is that I truly believe in it and I believe in the process as well,” he said. “I believe that this is a great foundation for what I’m doing and the direction – brand-wise and sound-wise. And I appreciate everybody that helped, whether it was visually, sonically and in any way. I just wanna keep going off of this and hopefully people like what’s going on.” 

Follow Dayo Gold on Instagram for ongoing updates.

JayBee Lamahj Brings The PHONK to Bittersweet LP Nostalgie Supreme

JayBee Lamahj serves up the bittersweet taste of nostalgia on his third studio album, Nostalgie Supreme. Using dreamlike and jazz-tinged production – courtesy of his PHONK bandmates Amari Emàn, Roberto, and others – the rapper thoughtfully and effectively captures his past, while offering a hopeful, triumphant gaze into his future.

“From this project, I want people to take away just an appreciation of their life,” Lamahj says over the phone. “Also, in regard to what’s been going on in the world right now, just an accountability and respect for life and our relationships.”

From the album’s invigorating opener, “WAKE UP,” to the reflective anchor track, “All Growed Up,” Lamahj explores themes of self-growth, love, and childhood. After listening, he says he hopes fans will be inspired to reconnect with their “inner child” and rediscover “the things that brought them happiness when they were small.”

“I want people to be proud of how far they’ve come and be proud of how far they’re willing to go [to get to] where they wanna be,” he adds. “I want people to hopefully feel happy about where they’re heading, because I do. That’s kind of what this album is celebrating; it’s just the growth that comes with life, the loss that comes with life, and the love that comes with life.”

Lamahj’s self-growth, childhood, and future were clearly on his mind two years ago, when he and Emàn began recording Nostalgie Supreme. However, the album’s themes mean even more to him today, as next month the rapper and his partner will welcome their first child together.

“In the midst of [making] this album, me and my lady lost a child, so there’s a little bit of talk about that [on the record],” he says. “There’s also lines like, ‘Nostalgia got me missing things I probably won’t feel ’til I have a mini-me.’ That’s the opening line of the outro [song], and I recorded that last summer. And here we are now; my album’s dropping like a month before my first-born. So, it’s cool to see my words catch up to me.”

JayBee Lamahj
Photo by Mandy Di Salvo

Besides Emàn and Roberto, Nostalgie Supreme also features several other local talents, including Joness and NTRL WNDRS on the breezy “Braids In Da Summa,” Perez on “Deep End,” F.A.M.E. and Phonz on “Angels,” The PHONK on the “BluuMile Interlude,” and Paris and F.A.M.E. on “3Ls.”

“There’s a lot of special people on the album,” Lamahj noted. 

Earlier this month, Lamahj also released his music video for album cut “Can’t Tell.” Directed by Cincinnati-based NTNK Productions, the clip finds the rapper starring as a funky substitute teacher. 

Nostalgie Supreme follows Lamahj’s 2017 debut, Yllwbrkrd, and his sophomore effort, 2018’s Phonk Phoever. In the meantime, Lamahj kept fans fed this year with his Nostalgie Prelude Deluxe Edition – an offering of loosies that he made during the Nostalgie Supreme recording sessions. 

“It’s a taste of what was being made in the process,” he explains. “You know, we created a lot of music, besides just the album.”

Now that Nostalgie Supreme is here, Lamahj can’t wait to perform it. The rapper and his band, The PHONK, were able to play the album all the way through at Nostalgia Wine over the weekend, marking the group’s first in-person performance since February.

“I’ve been dying to get back out there!” he exclaims. “I’ve been missing performing. As soon as we’re able to perform again, we’re gonna be out there like six days a week.” 

Follow JayBee Lamahj and The PHONK on Instagram for ongoing updates.

PLAYING CINCY: K. Savage On Making The Most Out Of Quarantine As An Independent Artist

IN2ITIV3 / K. Savage
IN2ITIV3 / K. Savage
Photo Credit: Anna Silvius

2020 has been a tough year for independent artists. With no touring in sight – save for a few one-off virtual performances – underground bands and solo acts have had to be creative in finding new sources of revenue and staying relevant to their fans. For Cincinnati rapper/producer Kelby Savage, this has meant focusing instead on the business side of his artistry, like designing a brand new website, writing press releases and creating an electronic press kit (EPK). 

“Since we didn’t have any, like, traditional live shows lined up, it allowed me to take more time to do all the other back-end stuff,” Savage tells me on a quiet afternoon at Dive Bar. “I guess my goal at the end of the day is to kind of formulate a team, but until I can get that team, I’ve got to do everything myself.”

Since independent artists often have to juggle many of the music industry roles supporting their art – publicist included – Savage’s strides in bolstering his digital footprint (as well as that of his band, IN2ITIV3) is an effective way to push his career forward without touring. It’s also important, Savage says, in keeping his business self-sufficient.

Although the independent path is challenging, Savage says, “I’m not worried about somebody who’s got my masters.” Self-ownership was a big talking point of Nipsey Hussle’s and recently came back into the mainstream discussion during Kanye West’s latest tweet-storm

“I was surprised to hear about these bigger artists, that are legendary, that are mad about their masters,” Savage reflects on ‘Ye. “That kind of makes me glad that I ain’t blown up yet, ’cause a lot of these artists that are huge – like Trippie Redd and stuff – they all signed to labels that got their masters. I’m trying to figure out how I can get my shit going viral like them, but I ain’t signing to no labels.” 

“Russ is a prime example,” he continues. “I’ve been studying people like him on how to do that. I always wanted to be that artist to take the long road. I’ve taken this time to learn how to do all the other stuff, like the videos, designing my own album covers and being self-sufficient.”

Along with building an impressive press portfolio and getting serious about self-ownership, K. Savage is also using quarantine to strengthen his and IN2ITIV3’s video catalogue. The artist just recently unveiled his “Danny DeVITO” video and plans to continue releasing his vault of self-produced singles with accompanying visuals.  

“I have enough music to release [a project], but I don’t really wanna do that right now, with the way things are looking,” he explains. “Since I can’t perform these projects live, I think it’s just a singles climate for now.”

As for IN2ITIV3, Savage revealed that the genre-fluid band is gearing up to release their live EP, which will feature live recordings of new material and one track from their self-titled debut project. The EP, due this fall, was recorded at Urban Artifact. The “punkadelic” rock band recently premiered their music video for “Moon,” a loosie they dropped this summer.

Besides one live-streamed performance earlier this year, the band also performed at a Black Lives Matter rally in Milford, Ohio.

“I kinda grew up there and spent a lot of time in Milford, so I’ve experienced – just from being a minority out there – a lot of racial tension,” Savage says of the experience. “So, coming back and doing a whole rally and speaking my side of things out there, that made things come full circle for me.”

Savage also attended another protest organized by Patterns of Chaos alum Jay Hill in Cincinnati this June. 

“I shot a lot of video at that one, masked up. It was my first protest experience and I didn’t know what to expect,” he remembers. “I was already hearing about people getting pepper-sprayed and stuff.” 

“And I didn’t even have like a traditional mask; I had a t-shirt, Taliban-looking thing on,” he adds with a laugh.

Unfortunately, between the emotional weight of continued racial injustices and not being able to perform music with his friends, Savage says the past few months have taken a toll on his mental health – a sobering reality for many people this year. 

“Being locked-down, this shit has had a really big impact on everybody’s morale right now,” he confesses. “I went through like a depression episode. I was still making music, despite how bad I felt. It became a positive way to channel those feelings.”

Although Savage, and other independent artists like him, continue to grapple with the uncertain future of touring, he’s making the most out of this time by working on his web presence, expanding his already multi-faceted skillset and recording live sessions.

Keep up with Savage on his Instagram and follow IN2ITIV3 for more about their upcoming EP here.

PLAYING CINCY: Audley Talks ‘ROY,’ Poetry And His Colorful World


Photo Credit: Annie Noelker

Audley’s world is colorful, honest and full of possibilities. The 27-year-old singer/rapper just released his new album ROY—a glittery yet deeply personal offering that shifts between pop, R&B and hip hop sounds and combines introspective tales of love, pain and moving on.

Since Audley released Pink – his debut effort and ROY’s predecessor – in 2018, a lot has changed. The artist swapped an unhealthy environment in Cincinnati with a move to Dayton; left a high-intensity job in digital media after suffering burnout; and has spent the past few months flourishing in sobriety.

“It was such an organic movement, getting this album done, and I think it happened so fast because I’ve been holding in this expression for so long,” he told me over coffee in our socially-distanced interview. “These last three years, I was not confident enough in my art to finish it, and once I moved, slowed down and found my true colors, I became so confident in who I was, that no matter what I created – I wanted to share it.”

Color is everything to Audley. It began with Pink – a rosy love album that sent him on the path to streaming personal-bests, media attention and two Cincinnati Entertainment Award nominations.

“With Pink, we created this beautiful explosion,” he reflected fondly.

The artist admits he set out to create a kind of Pink 2.0 for his sophomore effort, but felt that colors – which were once a door to his emotional expression – were now boxing him in. He scrapped two potential albums rooted in other hues: Chrome, which was going to be an electronic album, and john. – a self-produced indie-rock album that made him think of the color brown.

Poetry became a new creative outlet for Audley, where he could put pen to paper without the limiting self-doubt that encumbered songwriting. After jotting down dozens of free-flowing poems, he decided to try them out against beats.

“I had hundreds of beats, all from people I really admire,” he said. “I decided one day that it’s a cop-out for me to think that I can’t write music right now. I would put a pack of about 40 beats from [producer] Luna (aka internetboy) on shuffle and just sing in the shower – every day.”

When verses turned into songs, Audley started recording three new projects inspired by the colors green, black and mustard yellow.

“They were all sonically so sporadic that none of those songs made it on to ROY,” he explained. “But, I think it’s really interesting that I wanted to do three colors, and then now ROYRed Orange Yellow – is three colors. The vision was there, but it didn’t let me tap into it because it knew I need to do some more work before I was ready to receive that blessing.”

ROY first took form with “Right Now,” which is track No. 3 on the album and the first song he recorded.

“I was at the point where I was writing half-songs and thinking, ‘This is trash. This is trash,’” he said. “So, with track No. 3, I was like, ‘Just finish it and then sit on it.’ And it was like, the moment I finished that song, I recorded myself performing it and I sent it to Luna and I was like, ‘We’re gonna make an album.’”

“Right Now” opened the floodgates. As he began writing and recording his way through ROY, Audley also launched a campaign on Instagram, where he posted a new verse and video every day for two months.

“I’ve been creating so much and now it’s even bigger than that. I’m making clothes, I have my own LLC – it’s so much bigger than music,” he gushed. “It’s one medium of me, vomiting my truth into the universe.”

Photo Credit: Alexa Gallo

That truth found a home in ROY. Sonically, the album sees Audley deviating from his past hard-hitting raps and swimming to warmer pop and R&B shores – although he knows he won’t stay away from hip hop for long. A competitive yet tender voice in Cincinnati’s rap scene, he forewarns other emcees of his return with: “Let me flex on you by spreading love.”

“Utilizing hip hop sonics with the message being finding yourself and loving everyone around you is powerful,” he said. Laughing, he described his rap style as “so pristine that a 70-year-old woman is gonna listen to a good trap beat about spreading love” and say, “This is fire.”

ROY helped Audley find his way back to his world of color, too. Hues became a way for the artist to visualize his emotions and – when he allowed himself the freedom – he realized he could push the boundaries of that expression by showcasing more than one feeling; more than one side; and more than one shade.

“I realized that Pink was a piece of me, and all the colors of the spectrum are me,” he said. “If you look on the album’s cover art, you’ll see a pink gemstone. It is a visual representation that I proudly wear Pink as a magical gem right on my head; right in front of my mind. Pink is a part of me, but it’s not all of me. It’s just a beautiful tip of the hat to say, ‘We’re not disowning 2018 Audley,’ because you’re gonna hear that on the album, but it’s just so much bigger.”

Even after our hour-long chat, Audley is still buzzing with ideas. ROY is just one universe in his mind; he’s currently working on an experimental synth record, a rap album and two other projects, all of which he aims to release next year. As for their thematic hues – that remains to be decided.

“The next album, obviously, is gonna be rooted in color, but I don’t think it’s gonna be named a color because we’ve established the game we’re playing at this point,” he said. “Now it’s just, ok cool, what’s the next level?”

Follow Audley on Facebook for ongoing updates.

Khari Launches This Is How We Feel Series with Reflections on Incarceration


Photo Credit: Khira Burton

Khari begins an introspective journey with his new project, This Is How We Feel: Act 1 (Trapped). Boasting his trademark thought-provoking lyricism, packaged in a silky melodic flow, Act 1 (Trapped) is the first vulnerable offering from the trilogy.

“Making this project was definitely therapeutic for me, but it was probably the hardest material I ever had to make,” he told Audiofemme. “I told myself that I wanted to touch on a deeper layer of Black plight and trauma that is prevalent in my music. For me, that layer was the feelings and the mental aspect that doesn’t often get talked about when it comes to experiencing racism, police brutality, drugs and gun violence.”

The Cincinnati-bred MC describes his This Is How We Feel series as mirroring “the steps of a person going through the prison system.”

“The first act is Trapped because when you first are incarcerated, you are literally trapped in your cell,” he explained. “Throughout this first act, I talk about different ways we may be trapped by society and our own personal struggles. I sometimes feel trapped by my thoughts, societal pressures, expressing my love and the longing for financial gain. I even feel trapped by the pursuit of my rap career, and these are all things I touch on in this first act.”

Though Khari doesn’t have a release date for the next installment yet, he said fans can expect it before the end of the year. “I definitely want to let people live with this first act before going into the next act,” he explained. “Now that the project has been released, I feel a sense of relief because it now belongs to the world and even though it is a personal story, I made it with the intention of it being a story for everyone, hence the We in the title; it was initially called This Is How I Feel.”

When asked what he feels role is during these uncertain times, Khari said, “I think my role as an artist is to speak on something that is personal, real and honest.”

“People want to feel something right now, and it’s weird how eerily this project lines up with the [current] times, given the fact that I began this concept over a year ago,” he continued. “It just goes to show that our voices and our creativity are always needed to spark minds, and at the very least help people make sense of all that’s going on.”

Follow Khari on Facebook for ongoing updates.

Y2K Kitsch and Bedroom Rap Bravado Meet on Debut Brujita EP Cyber Angel

@akabrujita on Twitter

@akabrujita on Twitter
@akabrujita on Twitter

While doing my preliminary research for this article, I double checked the meaning of the word “Brujita.” In Spanish, “Bruja” means witch, but a few websites suggested that “brujita” (“little witch”) can also be a term of endearment, like calling someone a scamp.

This is cute, but it’s also unsurprising that condemnation and affection come as two sides of the same coin for a word most frequently associated with the feminine. While a full etymology of the word “witch” in various cultures would necessitate a thesaurus-sized dissertation, for San Francisco’s Brujita, it is an undeniably fitting moniker.

Call it duality, call it contradiction, or call it the devil and (cyber) angel sitting on Brujita’s shoulders pushing around the pen while they write lyrics, but their first EP, Cyber Angel, is at turns bratty and sweet, harsh and soft. This is most pronounced in “come thru” and “vibez.” The latter is one of the EP’s strongest songs, kicking in hard after ten seconds with a beat that sounds like a toy xylophone got drunk at the club in 2007.

Y2k pastiche is a big pop trend right now, and one that is palpable in Cyber Angel, but without some of the single-minded obsession that can make it tiresome. Influences bounce around the EP with beats pulling from various eras: the backbeat on “better than me” sounds like the theme music for a 2010s keystroke game, while its opening line — as spoken by a Siri-like automated voice — makes me feel warm and fuzzy remembering when feeding curse words to text-to-speak programs was the height of comedy. The instrumental of “come thru,” however, would fit comfortably over a scene of intense eye contact in an ’80s romantic drama, which, strangely enough, works for Brujita’s softer side. While “vibez” is a harsh dressing down of a hookup who foolishly wants more, “come thru” is all yearning, a catalog of all the things you say when you don’t really care any longer about sounding desperate. “I just want the best for you and maybe that could be me,” Brujita almost-whispers on the latter. And yet, I couldn’t say I would be surprised if these two songs were written about the same person.

“Duality! Ouroboros!” I yell with my headphones on blast. And it’s the truth; everyone is someone’s second choice, even Brujita. But you’ve got to appreciate the bombast that permeates the majority of the EP. “get glad!” starts with a paraphrased version of a Kim Kardashian rant, replacing “maybe if you had a fucking business” with “maybe if you were mayor.” “Oh my god Mayor Brujita how do you do it?” Brujita raps later in the song. Brujita is creating a personal folklore here, from the concept of running a town of the “baddest villagers” to the self-aggrandizing and sexual bravado on track three, “better than me.”

Gassing yourself up is paramount to pop and hip-hop, so it makes sense for Brujita to do it here, but it makes even more sense taking in to account their appreciation for the hyper-feminine internet aesthetic and their identity as a non-binary womxn. Carving out space for yourself in music while identifying outside of the gender binary necessitates some bravado, but it’s easy to forget the bravery that lives beneath that.

Brujita doesn’t want you to get to caught up in singular notions of  beauty or identity. “Just back it up,” they sing on the EP’s bonus track, “back it up!” “It doesn’t matter what you look like…I’m a lil’ tubby bitch and imma still back it up!” Brujita will make space for themselves, whether on the dance floor, in the town square, or in the heart of an unsuspecting booty call. Little witches, take note.   

Follow Brujita on Twitter for ongoing updates.

WhatUpWally? Recruits Cincinnati’s Best Rappers & Producers For ‘Pandemic’ LP

Photo Credit: Chaya J.

Wally Hart, aka WhatUpWally?, tapped some of Cincinnati’s best rappers, beatsmiths and vocalists for his debut album, Pandemic. Spanning across 14 tracks and picking up assists from over 15 MCs – not to mention another seven producers – the sharply-made effort cuts through the noise of other quarantine offerings and provides relevant, outspoken takes, rooted in a love for hip hop.

Pandemic was created during Cincinnati’s COVID-19 stay-at-home mandate, with WhatUpWally? first approaching fellow artists with the idea in early March. In what ended up being a four-month process, the album’s many collaborators would send track recordings to each other via Dropbox or work at opposite ends of the studio, the hip hop aficionado/music educator told Audiofemme.

“The result is a full coherent concept album with 26 collaborators that is meant to be listened to from front to back, in order,” Hart wrote on Facebook. “The mood of the album represents the mood of various times during the pandemic.”

Photo Provided by WhatUpWally?

“I thought we were going to end Pandemic on a happy and optimistic note so I sent out a beat to AC [the Entity], SamSun, [Sharp.One], and Wonder [Brown] and asked them to write something with a hopeful tone to end the album with. That was it. The album was finished and it was dark with an optimistic ending,” Hart says, but in the wake of continued police brutality that sparked “the beginning of the largest civil rights movement in the nation’s history, we had to go in and rewrite the ending.”

The police killings of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd and the likely racially-motivated murder of 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery are most felt in the album’s “Outro” and bonus track, “XPac,” which samples a speech by Malcolm X and interview with Tupac. WhatUpWally? also offers a razor-sharp analysis of systemic racism, oppression and economic disparity in the stinging “Capitalism Kills.”

Besides timely boldness, the album stands out in its sonic diversity. Boasting a wide range of talent, Pandemic has songs for classic hip hop lovers and contemporary fans alike, with the unifying factor being thoughtful lyricism. Scratching and nostalgic flows are on full display in the opening “Cincinnati Cypher” and “Use Your Sword.” A few places down the tracklist, “Duke Energy” stands out as a new-school melodic high-point, where Khari and Spirit swap bars about cutting the negative energy out of their lives.

“Some really dope art is coming out of this time,” Hart noted to Audiofemme. On Facebook, he added that Pandemic is a “representation” of these times and, he hopes, will provide a reflective listening experience.

Check out the album on Bandcamp and see the full tracklist below.

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.

Get To Know Cincinnati’s Virtual Rap Playoffs Winner Duprae


Photo Credit: Vince Young

Duprae is plotting his Cincinnati takeover. The up-and-coming MC was recently crowned the winner of the 2020 Rap Playoffs, hosted by the “Queen Behind The Scene,” NaQuia Chante. Beginning on April 15 and wrapping up this past Friday (May 1), the virtual tournament-style battle saw some of Cincinnati’s most talented artists – including Joness, Aziza Love, and Audley – go head-to-head over four rounds. Duprae was finally victorious in the G.O.A.T. Round against singer/songwriter Naji. Fans were encouraged to vote for their favorite artists in the comments.

“You’re going against different people, every few days, battling them – verse for verse. So, it was definitely a different experience,” Duprae tells Audiofemme.

Now that he’s the Cincinnati Rap Playoffs champ, Duprae is planning to release his debut full-length effort, Whatever It Takes, later this year. The album will be preceded by a new single, set to arrive later this month.

“My new music will really represent me and what I’m trying to do, and the message that I’m trying to get out there,” he added.

Check out our full interview with the Rap Playoffs winner below.


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S/O to @jayduprae THE CHAMPION of the Rap Playoffs! ‼️Go follow him RIGHT now‼️ He needs to drop ASAP! Stay locked in as he receives his prizes from our dope sponsors! Thanks again to @vic_land of @audiofemme , @djjdough @goodcoapparel @dreshotthis @blackcoffeecincy @donutsnakahol and @looney_turner at @timelessrstudio ! Take a look at all his rounds to get to the crown! #naquiachante #queenbehindthescene #pinkbrainsagency #cincycreator #dreshotthis #donutsnakahol #ikeepgoodco #audiofemme #timelessrecordingstudio #blackcoffeecincy #rapplayoffs #newmusic #bars #cincinnatirap #rappmusic #nba #nbaplayoffs #cincinnatimusic #rapbattle #rapcontest #16bars #typebeats #beats #rapchallenge #hiphop #unsignedartist

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AF: Congratulations on your win! What has this whole experience been like for you?

D: Thank you! It’s been very interesting. I really got the call to be in the competition from NaQuia, just randomly, out of the blue. I saw a post about it and I thought, “Wow this looks really dope.” Then I got a message from her saying, “Hey, do you wanna be in this?” And I was like, “Yeah, sure!” I definitely didn’t expect it to turn out to be what it was, but it was a great opportunity to do it.

AF: Had you done anything like this before?

D: No – especially with everything going on right now, it definitely had a different feel to it. I’ve been in different rap competitions, shows, performances, stuff like that, but I’ve never been in a competition like this, where it was tournament-style. You’re going against different people, every few days, battling them – verse for verse. So, it was definitely a different experience.

AF: Was it difficult to come up with fresh verses for every round?

D: I’ve gotten a lot better, a lot quicker, with writing verses. Last year, I was doing a segment called “Issa Rap Thursday” and I was coming up with new material every week. The day would come, Thursday, and I’d write a whole new verse, get it memorized, record it, make a video, and put it out. So, I’ve gotten into a habit of being able to write quickly and apply it. It really pushed me to make quality [verses] too, not just put something together.

AF: Tell me a little bit about how you selected your beats. I really liked the beat you used in Round 2, and then later on you also used Wu-Tang classic “C.R.E.A.M.

D: The first two I just found on YouTube, for just something I could vibe with. The first round was about basketball and I wanted to really come with that kind of mindset. That first beat, to me, was really triumphant-sounding, so I thought that worked well with that. The second round was more soulful/R&B round, and I think that beat that I found brought a vibe and something special – a little more soulful, intimate. I really connected with that. The third round was picked by Graval over at Donuts n. Akahol. I was asking one of my friends, like, “Should I use [Drake’s] ‘Pound Cake’ beat?” Because I really wanted to show my lyrical abilities. And then one of my homies, his name’s Rob, he told me that I should go with something classic, like the “C.R.E.A.M.” beat. So, I was like, “Okay, I’ll play around with it.” It wasn’t until I started playing around with it that I realized that “C.R.E.A.M.” is the original sample used in “Pound Cake,” so I thought that was completely crazy. So, I started playing around with both, I added a drop for the transition, and the rest is history. I combined both beats for the round – I love both of those beats too. I love soulful samples.

AF: Was there any round you were especially nervous about?

D: I was kind of nervous – really, every round made me kind of nervous! But, the round that made me the most nervous was probably the third round. I didn’t know that it was gonna be a combined round, against two people, Naji and Turner Allen. One thing that the judges went by was the fans in the comments, and both of those guys had crazy support. I was thinking, “Man, they’re about to flush me in the comments.” So, it really depended on the judges’ votes. That round had me a little nervous. I was happy to come up with a win in that round.

AF: It’s so cool this was all able to happen virtually. Such a dope idea.

D: Definitely. Shout out to NaQuia – she really put this together and it seemed like she came up with it out of nowhere, but she’s really been putting on for the city, bringing people closer together, and I think a lot of people got a lot of different looks and opportunities from this event. It definitely wouldn’t have been possible without her.

AF: Where can people go to hear more music from you?

D: See that’s the thing, right now, they can’t! I’m currently working on a project right now called Whatever It Takes that I‘m looking to drop in the fall. I’m working on some singles right now, too. My new music will really represent me and what I’m trying to do, and the message that I’m trying to get out there.

AF: When will we get to hear some of those first singles?

D: I think you’ll see something very soon. I’m looking to drop something later this month or, at the latest, early June.

AF: With social distancing, lots of studios are closed. Has it been tough for you to record your album?

D: It definitely feels like things are limited right now. Who would ever have seen this coming, you know? It’s just been a time that no one ever thought would happen. I’ve actually got equipment at my house that I can record and send it out to different engineers. So, it’s definitely been tough, but it’s still possible.

AF: How has self-isolating been for you?

D: Self-isolating has been weird for me. Being around my family, I still see them, and I still see my girlfriend, and I’ve been doing drive-bys to see people. You really have to connect with people as much as you can. I heard someone say, just because we’re social distancing, doesn’t mean you have to distance yourself socially. We don’t have to disconnect from people. If you have a loved one, call them. If you have friends that you haven’t spoken to, talk to them. Right now, we really have to stick together and manage our relationships.

AF: Besides making music, what else do you like to do?

D: I love to play basketball and I’m hurting right now, because I can’t. I miss being able to play basketball. I’m just a regular, everyday citizen! I’m watching different things on Netflix. I love doing artistic things, like drawing and painting. I’m also a student right now, so I have a lot of homework to do. Homework hasn’t stopped for me because I’m in online classes.

AF: What else can you tell us about your debut album?

D: Whatever It Takes is a long-time-coming project for me because I was definitely getting around in my city, a couple of years ago, making connections and playing shows. But I really felt like I had to journey to find myself and also to find God. I went through a lot of different struggles to really put out this album. I really think it’s feedback from making music and focusing on my walk with Christ. Now, being able to come back a couple of years later, a lot of time and effort has went into this project. I really can’t wait for people to hear it.

Electronic Duo 18th Vineyard Show Versatility With ‘2 Deep’ Debut

2 Deep

2 Deep
Photo Credit: Josiah Seurkamp

The debut effort from Cincinnati-based production duo 18th Vineyard, 2 Deep, has arrived. The two-track EP delivers an experimental hip-hop/jazzy beat on “Adam Levine” – expertly paired with somber bars from Jay Hill and Roberto –  while both electronic and live sounds on “False Idols” offer as many sonic twists and turns as a winding psychedelic road.

Comprised of Ziaire Sherman and Gerred Twymon, the duo first met in middle school and played together in the Ohio Music Education Association jazz ensemble. After reuniting during an audition in Boston, they decided to create their first joint project as 18th Vineyard.

“Our goal for our debut project was to show versatility,” Twymon told AudioFemme. “We wanted something that could catch the eyes of people that enjoy hip-hop, but also like electronic music.”

As for linking with Patterns of Chaos‘ Jay Hill and Roberto, the 2 Deep collaboration was born out of a like-minded 16-hour jam session.

“Roberto has been a good friend of ours for a while and we are both big fans of Jay Hill’s work with Patterns of Chaos. We ended up playing a gig together and the vibes were just all clicking,” Twymon explained. “A few days later, we decided to hit the studio and see what [came] out of it. It turned out to be almost a 16-hour session. During this time, we were able to get two tracks and a beat done. It also started at 10 pm, so throughout the session, one of us would take a nap while others were working, and we alternated throughout the night.”

The evident sonic variety comes from both members’ diverse musical backgrounds.

“I have strong roots in gospel music and fusion, where Ziaire has more roots in electronic music and jazz,” Twymon said. “Through many years of jamming, we have developed a sonic space that allows us to call on all of these influences. Our biggest goal with every song is to present a story or a journey sonically that the listener can join in on.”

After releasing their debut project, 18th Vineyard is currently working on a follow-up two-song release, titled 2 Packs. Looking ahead, 2 Deep will also be followed by a collaborative poetry EP with California-based artist and animator Devon Iverson, which will feature a “diverse range of poets” and provide “sonic palettes to help them tell their stories.”

For now, get to know 18th Vineyard through their 2 Deep EP below.

Blimes and Gab Debunk “Female Rap” Stereotype With Forthcoming Debut & TV Show

Tía Blimes (aka Blimes Brixton) and Gabrielle Kadushin (aka Gifted Gab) first met on Facebook in 2017 through a mutual friend, and when they met up in person in Seattle, it was clear they had a special connection. “We solidified our bond IRL during a street fight with a girl who kicked the car we were passengers in,” Blimes remembers.

The next time they hung out, they wrote and recorded their first song, “Come Correct,” whose video got over 10 million views. In it, they rap about brushing off haters — “We be the mama and the papa / so every time you bullshit us / all we hear is blah blah” — then close the video with a fist-bump. The public’s positive reaction to the song encouraged them to officially become a musical duo, dubbed Blimes and Gab.

They’ve recorded several more songs since, culminating in a debut album called Talk About It that comes out this summer. The tracks range from “Feelin It,” which captures the mood of a rowdy house party, and “Magic,” a celebration of hard-earned career success.

The overall message of their music? “That we’re not the ones to fuck with because we’ve done the work and paid our dues, that we know how to have a good-ass time, we’re self-accepting and loving, and that we don’t take ourselves or this business too seriously,” says Blimes. “Oh, and that we can rap and sing hella good.”

The artists’ musical careers go way back. Blimes participated in rap battles in middle school, which is where she adopted the first iteration of her stage name, “Oh Blimey.”

“I was into UK hip-hop and admittedly really loved the Harry Potter series, so I grabbed that term from the British slang phrase used to express one’s surprise, excitement, or alarm,” she says. “I hoped to alarm my opponents when we battled and sometimes put on an accent as a character to throw off the competition. Iono, some 12-year-old shit.” Gab’s name, more predictably, is an offshoot of her real first name, taking into account the “gift of gab” she possesses.

Blimes and Gab are currently writing a scripted comedy series about their friendship and their journey to gain recognition in the music industry, which will be directed and produced by Nelson George (A Ballerina’s Tale, Life Support, Brooklyn Boheme). 

They sometimes get categorized as “female rappers,” but they hope to debunk the misconception that “female rap” is something distinct from regular rap. “Women have been around in the game just as long as the men. We are not new to this,” says Gab. “You hear ‘female rapper,’ and most people have a preconceived notion without ever even hearing you. Luckily, when they do, they more often than not switch their tune.”

Blimes, who identifies as gay, views being part of the LGBTQ community similarly: It’s not so much about making music about LGBTQ issues as elevating the community by modeling success. “If I can be myself and be respected in the mainstream, then I’m advocating for the LGBTQ community,” she says. “That’s my goal: not to be looked at for my gender or sexual preference but for my ability to make dope music.”

Follow Blimes and Gab on Facebook for ongoing updates.

Joness Discusses Upcoming Debut P.O.L.R.

Joness / P.O.L.R.

Joness / P.O.L.R.

Cincinnati’s Joness is gearing up to release her debut studio album, P.O.L.R. The record’s title stands for Path Of Least Resistance and is expected out this fall.

“It’s really touching on the idea of polarity,” the Cincy-based singer/rapper tells Audiofemme. “There’s the saying that opposites attract, and when you think of magnets, something on the south pole is attracted to something on the north pole, which means that each of those ends has something that the other needs.”

Like the invisible draw between magnets, Joness says her album is about embracing life’s own guiding forces, instead of relying on her predisposition toward calculated decision-making.

“Over the past couple of years, I have been going through some things, personally, where I’ve been very resistant to change and the things that are calling me,” she continues. “This album is me [saying], let’s try something different. Let’s try to just let things flow and see what I become attracted to and what gravitates toward me. It touches on love lost, newfound love gained, and various areas of growth that I have seen, and me adopting this new way of existing.”

While she plots P.O.L.R.’s forthcoming rollout, Joness plans to drop new music consistently throughout the next few months. Most recently, she delivered her single “Play.”

P.O.L.R. will follow Joness’ six-track Sheep EP, which she dropped last year. Song-by-song, the project mimicked the stages of intoxication, amounting to a powerful story about the throes of addiction.

“At that time, I was pretty deep in my addiction,” Joness says of recording Sheep. “So that started off as one thing and ended up as a form of therapy; I kind of needed to put that out there.”

While Sheep found Joness in the midst of the struggles she rapped about, P.O.L.R. offers an opportunity for her to reflect on her own – and others’ – experiences.  So far, P.O.L.R. is set to feature production from Internet Boy, Devin Burgess, and more, and will find the artist flexing her vocal range, as well as delivering skillful raps.

“All of my music is therapeutic; it’s one of my favorite forms of release,” she says of Sheep and P.O.L.R. “But I think the magnitude that Sheep held within me is not as heavy [as P.O.L.R.]. With P.O.L.R., I can take the hindsight view… There’s still some songs on there where I’m kinda still working on this, kinda still healing through that, but for the most part, I’ve already come out of it.”

Zach slump talks ‘Outskirts & Outcasts,’ Casual Crooks & more

With hard work and a multi-faceted team, Ohio-bred collective Casual Crooks has been steadily paving their way to becoming the next big Midwest next rap crew. Their latest release comes from group member and rapper Zach slump, who recently dropped his first project of the year, Outskirts & Outcasts. Boasting emotionally-charged lyrics and a diverse collection of beats, the record welcomes another win for slump and the Crooks.

With two features from groupmate Sioux on energetic banger “Like a Jitt” and laidback party track “Trap Trap,” Outskirts & Outcasts finds slump delivering undeniably catchy hooks and aggressive bars. The Ohio-based MC recruited multiple producers – hailing from Ireland to California – to assemble the project’s spacey and off-kilter beats, which anchor the likes of “Mad Late,” “Dash Home” and more.

Slump has already released three visuals from the album, the most recent being “Mad Late.” All the visuals are handled by Lunar Thought, Casual Crooks’ videographer.

“I had found out about his music in high school and here we are, three years later, doing all my videos,” slump says of working with Lunar. “I swear, some of my videos are his best videos! We’re starting to mesh so good.”

He plans to drop a few more clips from the project, including “Like a Jitt” and “Pulse Dance.”

“I’m really hyped for the ‘Pulse Dance’ video because it’s got a vintage sound,” he says. “We’re gonna have a party and have it like ’70s-themed.”

After he’s done promoting Outskirts & Outcasts, Zach slump plans to drop off a bite-sized five-track EP over the summer, with visuals for every song. As for a new Casual Crooks record, slump says the group’s solo projects have taken priority.

“We’re all so into making our own music, that’s it’s really hard to get that shit finished,” he says. “We have like five songs finished that are technically taped, but we’re all perfectionists, so we’ll see how long that takes to come out.”

That doesn’t mean the group is slowing down, though. The Crooks have carved out a dedicated fanbase due to their work ethic and consistency, which slump hopes will be part of his legacy.

“It’s just work, but we love it,” he says. “We really wanna leave a legacy. I know how much music means to me – I just wanna mean that to somebody with my discography.”

“It’s crazy because we taught ourselves how to record everything,” he continues. “This is going from the ground up… to creating something that’s respectable. It’s been an interesting-ass journey.”

Stream Zach slump’s Outskirts & Outcasts below.

Khari Reflects on his Hustle with “K-Balla” Video


From Khari

This month, Khari dropped an inspiring clip to accompany his second single of the year, “K-Balla.” The video, directed by Khari himself and filmed by NTNK Productions, finds the Cincinnati rapper reflecting on his younger self’s work ethic in basketball and rap, as he continues to chase his dreams today.

“The video works as a snapshot of the past,” he told Audiofemme. “I go back and witness a younger version of myself practicing basketball with my dad. I am a 10 year old, grinding on the court and writing raps. As the video progresses, I witness a 15-year-old version of myself on the same grind. Playing basketball and writing raps. I wanted to mirror these moments to show the dedication I put into my two crafts as a kid.”

Lyrically, Khari also recalls his ingenuity and entrepreneurship as he raps about selling his own mixtapes for $500 as a teenager, taking notes from legends like E-40 and Nipsey Hussle.

“I was on the court, in the booth, with no plan B / Never won a ring, but I bet I’d win a Grammy,” he raps.

“The song itself serves as a story and a reflection on my path as a kid,” Khari continued. “I reminisce when I went by the rap name K-Balla and I sold mixtapes to my high school classmates while also having dreams of reaching the NBA. I soon realized that hip hop would be my true passion and that’s what we tried to convey towards the end of this video.”

The two-minute clip is edited in black-and-white – a fitting filter for Khari’s genuine bars and producer Consistent’s old-school scratching.

Last year, Khari served up his Sinsinnati project, as well as his Skywalker EP, which saw contributions from B.A.N.K.$., Phresh Kyd, Amauri J and Papa Gora. So far this year, Khari has already dropped off his “Insomnia 2020” single, followed by “K-Balla.”

Watch Khari’s video for “K-Balla” below.