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.

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.

PLAYING CINCY: Jay Hill, JayBee Lamahj & Ronin Halloway Collide on “Babs Forever”

Babs Forever

Ronin Halloway, JayBee Lamahj, and Patterns of Chaos alum Jay Hill teamed up on a high-energy single and video called “Babs Forever.” The three Cincinnati emcees spit bars at a fiery pace while maintaining their lyricism over the cascading SmokeFace-produced beat.

The video, directed by Bradley Thompson, matches the rappers’ energy with colorful lighting, quick cuts, and dizzying effects.

“Working with this lineup is definitely a dream-team scenario,” says Ronin. “Me and JayBee had been talking about getting a track with Jay Hill all the way since last year, so it’s super dope to have one with all of us out in the world.”

Babs Forever
“Babs Forever” cover art by Paul Kellam

“I think it’s a crazy song with three unique verses. Everybody snapped,” he continued. “I definitely hope to keep making songs with all three of us in the future. It’s an exciting moment – those guys inspire me a lot, and it’s crazy to think how much room we all have to grow from here.”

For Ronin, “Babs Forever” follows up his Smokeface-collaborated Pressure EP, which arrived earlier this year. The single comes in a series of musical output for JayBee, who previously released “Angels (Bron Bron),” featuring F.A.M.E. and Phonz, and appeared on Ronin’s The Icarus Trilogy. Jay Hill most recently hopped on Khari’s “Da Art Of Ignorance” remix and dropped his “40% Of Cops” freestyle. His group, Patterns of Chaos, released their debut EP, Freedom, last year.

“They’re two of the artists I admire most in the city and the collab itself was a long time coming,” Jay Hill says of the track, calling the collab “the first of many.”

“I love how none of us really discussed a topic for the song, yet all of us were able to tap into the same well of energy and deliver something this cathartic,” he said. “Shooting the video was a really fun time too, I couldn’t be happier about how it all went. We spent every moment between takes—sometimes during takes—joking around with each other and Bradley, and y’all see the result: three grown-ass kids making hard ass rap music.”

Check out Jay Hill, JayBee Lamahj, and Ronin Halloway’s new single and video, “Babs Forever,” below.