Entries in Rap (55)


Storytelling into Haven with NYC MC Des Brennan 

Emerging NYC MC Des Brennan is on the cusp of breaking into the hip hop scene for real. Des’s reliability and lyrical skills make him not only someone you have to stop and listen to, but also someone you can depend on. Using rapping as therapy has become a normal outlet for Des, and he continues to do it with his latest EP ‘Haven.’ ‘Haven’ beautifully draws into the light when things were getting dark for Des. 

We chat to Des about his thought process when writing lyrics, other forms of therapy he uses to fight depression and why listening to beats is his favourite thing in the world. 

Does production or lyrics come first?

Production always comes first. 

What's your thought process when you write lyrics?

My thought process usually revolves around the type of song I am trying to make, and the mood that I get from the beat I am listening to.

What got you into rap in the first place?

I just loved the way hip hop songs sounded as a kid. I knew right away that it was the genre I would be most drawn to. I listened to it non-stop. The more I did, the more I loved it. 

You use rap as therapy, do you find you need to do other stuff to keep your mind occupied?

Yes. Rap isn't my only release and therapeutic outlet. It's my favourite and most important one, but I definitely have others such as weightlifting/working out, flag football and basketball, reading books and watching TV series, doing craft beer research and hanging out with friends, etc. 

You just released an EP, how did you come up with the concept?

I came up with the concept when I was sitting in my car at the park. I was feeling pretty gloomy, so I knew I had to make something to make myself feel happier and more motivated.

What stimulates your soul? 

Writing and recording songs. Also listening to new beats. It's the best feeling in the world. There is nothing like making music. Not only do I love it but I also need it.


Fusing styles with MC/Producer Kolade Olamide Ayodeji

Multi-talented Kolade Olamide Ayodeji is a prolific story teller and a razor sharp producer. Everything he touches turns into a hit. He recently released a killer album dubbed ‘Hit List’ and whist hip hop is his forte, Kolade’s latest album effortlessly fuses electro, R&B, pop and hip hop. 

We sit down with Kolade and chat about what does it take to make a hit, what it’s like to produce different genres, and why his single ‘Lonely but not lonely’ was his most challenging track.

What does it take to make a hit?

I can say it depends on the song because each song has a separate tune and identity. I do not do cover song or work on other people’s song so I cannot really say this song I am producing now will be a hit, but when you get the feedback from the fans or listeners that is when one can justify but as a producer I always ensure I want to produce a hit song but this depends on the song from lyrics, structure and the tune but I have to be original and creative. I cannot sacrifice my originality and creativity under the disguise that I want to make a hit song.

What do you prefer making hip hop beats or other genres?

Hip hop beats is very easy to make because it is basically sampling and anything goes but other genres need rhythm, melody and tune so other genres are more challenging to me than hip hop.  

You just dropped your album, what was the most challenging track you made? 

“Lonely but not Lonely” was the most challenging track for me on that album because I came up with four different versions while mixing and hard to select the one that would be included in the album. It took me more than a week, mixing and coming up with multiple versions because the style was a bit different.

Who are your influences?

Michael Jackson, Bob Marley and Dr Dre 

What stimulates your soul? 

Creativity and faith in God.


Top 5 albums that influenced Hip hop artist Ryland Rose

Melbourne hip hop/rap artist Ryland Rose dropped a delicious track called ‘Brooke Shields.’ Last year, Ryalnd Rose’ single ‘Almost Famous & Broke’ entered the Billboard Viral Charts at #4, and peaked on Spotify’s Global Viral Charts at #5. 

We sit down with Ryland and he reveals to us his top 5 albums that influenced him.

Dr. Dre - '2001': The album that started the obsession for me, I was a little late to the party with rap (all my friends got into it a year or so before) but this is what sold me. Once I was in though, I was all in. Early on it was the shock value, then it was the raps, then the production. Then I just followed the 'family tree' into the rap world...


Kid Cudi - ‘Man On The Moon - The End Of Day’: Cudi’s first album was such a big influence on me. Before this album I was just some wannabe rapper. After this I discovered how important is was to make good songs. It's just so complete, and for a debut album its unbelievable how timeless it is.

Oasis - What’s the Story (Morning Glory): I used to play guitar when I was younger (I sucked), but I still know every song word for word. I just watched their 'Supersonic' documentary and I forgot how genius these two crazy brothers were. Champagne Supernova is still the best song ever with the coolest song name ever.

Kanye West - Graduation: Again, just totally broke the realm of what rap was. Everything changed after this and I remember feeling it when I first heard 'Flashing Lights'. If you do the numbers and look at the history, Kanye's level of influence on today's generation is undeniable. Special mention: 808s & Heartbreak continued this trend and influenced me just as much. 

Jay-Z - The Blueprint: An album by one of the greatest pure rappers ever at the peak of his talent.  On top of that, it's introduced me to a young producer name Kanye West (AND Just Blaze). Think of the importance of that alone. Casually also features Eminem's best guest appearance ever. Oh, and one of the strongest battle records as well. In terms of a rap album, it has everything and is faultless. Even the bonus cuts are highlights ("Breathe Easy"). PS: He made it in 2 weeks. Let that sink in.


Kicking it old school with MC KVKA

After dropping a number of quality projects, New Zelander KVKA is establishing himself as a preeminent artist in the hip-hop scene. Blending hardcore hip-hop, boom bap vibes and raw soul, his latest release, the ‘Outlierz EP’ further solidifies his place in the ever-changing scene by kicking it old school. The EP is a collaborative effort with legendary NZ producer DENZ 1 which brings his own take on soulful boom bap hip-hop.  

We spoke to KVKA on the day of the ‘Outlierz EP’ release about the meaning behind it. When he linked up with DENZ 1 and making it into the semi-final of the Wellington Def Jam showcase Victor McMillan writes.

How did you first come up with the name KVKA and is there a meaning behind it?

Yeah so my name is Makiivka which came from kvka, back in Latin writing they wrote u’s as v’s because they couldn't carve a curve so I thought that was cool and plus I’m the first born so that was another part of it.

When did you and DENZ 1 initially link up and what was it about his production that drew you to want to work on a collaborative EP?

Me and DENZ met through my old producer Tony Douglas, me and him had started a collective and a label called Stay Savage and DENZ was a part of it so initially met him in Hamilton when I was working on my music. He then joined the crew and I decided to come out to Wellington for shows and was staying at his place and just got real inspired by all the analog work that he does and all the records so I just got inspired to do something old school. 

The Outlierz EP was released today, in your eyes, how does it differ from some of your previous work? 

It’s definitely taking a step back into how I used to rap and the boom bap style I originated in. But it’s different in a way that its more raw hip-hop and its more of a dirty grungy New York style of hip-hop and also more of a New York style neo-soul vibe. I was taking the Freddie Joachim style of boom bap vibe mixed with a Busta Rhymes I guess.

And a little bit similar to some of the artists DENZ has worked with before like The Outsidaz and The Fugees.

Yeah definitely because I do a bit of singing and I’m definitely heavily inspired by The Fugees. It is very different from what I have been dropping, it’s less contemporary and more focused on the boom bap aspect and the lyricism rather than melody tone and cadences, stuff like that, its just real raw and grungy. 

With the way in which the world is now connected through technology, how much do you think where an artist is from still matters in the grand scheme of things?

I think in more of general life view it wouldn't matter but personally I do think it matter that you represent where you’re from because where you’re is where you are going to develop different aspects and your whole type of vibe rather than being like someone from another place. Definitely it doesn't matter as much now, in terms of sound, you have a whole bunch of people from different places but as long as you have originality and have your own vibe I think your origins and where you come from does come through, you always go back to it you know. It is important but it’s not as important at the same time. 

You have made it to the semi-final of the Wellington Def Jam showcase, what has this experience been like so far and what do you think of your chances going into tonight’s show? 

I’m confident, I always try and go into shows as confident as I can because at the end of the day because how you fell inside will show when you are on stage. If you have a lot of confidence and a good stage presence you can learn how to control the crowd. I feel that I definitely do have a good chance and even if I didn't I wouldn't say that out loud (laughs).   

Have you got any plans for any shows in Australia? 

We are hoping so, mainly just waiting for people to contact us and then we’ll see what we can do from there. We want to come over as soon as we can, we’ve got a lot of support and I’d definitely want to see the people. 

What Stimulates Your Soul?  

Music, vibrations, frequencies, vibes, that stimulates my soul. Energy is a very big thing for me, I pick up on peoples energies very easily, so if there’s not a good energy my soul is kind of bummed out. So I’m always looking for energy and positive frequencies.

Purchase the EP here. 


Propelling Positivity With MC Uspire


Hip hop has gone on many twists and turns throughout it's history. However, at the route of it all, hip hop has always been a strong form of expressing conscious thought. Chicago-based emcee, Uspire, emphasises the relevance of the origin of the genre in his latest project ‘Shadows In The Night.’ Rapping over the instrumentals of the legendary Pete Rock, Uspire takes us on a journey that combines technicality and lyricism, while connecting us through a deeper message of the human experience. At it's core, the project challenges the struggles that each of us go through throughout our lives, and acknowledges the strength that each of us have within us to overcome suffering.

We chat to Uspire about the concept behind his latest project, the diversity of the Chicago hip hop scene and the importance of human connection. Ayla Dhyani writes.

You just dropped your latest project ‘Shadows In The Night,’ tell us a bit about the concept behind it.

So the concept basically takes on a whole lot of struggle, hardship and negative situations. It doesn't try to minimise the violence or the pain and suffering that you're going through, but rather helps you see through a different lens and have a new perspective on it. To use the pain or struggle that you're going through as something to propel you to do something positive. It doesn't try to down-play the negative things that are taking place, but tries to help you see it through a new light. And that kind of goes into the title of the album as well, ‘Shadows In The Night,’ with the darkness being the troubling situations and then the light being that sense of hope. So in order for there to be a shadow in the night time, there has to be a source of light. 

Was there something that inspired you to go in that direction for the project?

I guess it was just a collection of personal experiences along with just talking with other people. I'm really a person that likes to expand my perspective a little bit. I like talking to people who are different to me. People that come from different backgrounds and have different life-stories. I've had some troubling times that put me in a darker place, but once you have time to reflect on things you're able to come out of that stronger than you were before. I guess that's the basis for creating this project.

Definitely, it's such an important part of the human experience. To connect with others through that struggle.

Exactly. I think there's probably a track on there for everybody regardless of your demographic or your situation. I think there's probably at least one track on the record that everybody can relate to in some way and feel a personal connection to.

You used a whole lot of instrumentals from Pete Rock. How did you come about using that?

Yeah, he's one of my favourite producers in hip hop. Him and J Dilla are probably my two favourite producers. However, Pete Rock takes me to a place and creates a soundscape that is such a great backdrop for me to go into and create a story.

Tell us a bit about the meaning behind the name Uspire.

I guess a message that was always relayed to me as a child, and pretty much all throughout my life, is to not be content with just who you are, but always aspire to be greater. Not to just be content with what you know, but always look to expand your knowledge. So it's the word aspire, but put with a "u." I like that the word "us" is in there because when I'm making music, it's not just for me, it's for everybody that wants to partake in listening to it and joining in on that experience. So I see it as an "us" rather than a "me." I guess to take it a step further, it's also an acronym that stands for Underground Soul Preserved In Rhyme Esoteric, which basically means that the style of hip hop I'm doing might not be the stuff that is on the charts right now but for that relatively small group that still appreciates real lyricism, I'm kind of keeping the soul of hip hop alive. 

How did your journey in hip hop originate?

I've been a fan since I was first exposed to it around 8-years-old and through the years it grew on me more and more. I started to really develop an appreciation for the lyrics. People like Rakim, Nas, and A Tribe Called Quest just to name a few. So like most people, I just started as a fan of the genre and then in high school I remember being bored in class and sitting at the back of the class and jotting down rhymes. I think one of my first rhymes I wrote was talking about some of the teachers who I wasn't to fond of and pointing out funny things about them and stuff like that (laughs). Then when I was about 18 or 19,  I actually started recording for the first time and ever since then I've been polishing my craft and constantly improving.

How do you find the Chicago hip hop scene today?

There's a wide spectrum of different styles. I think there are some more well-known artists connected to the city than others. You can see it with mainstream artists like Common who will give you a real conscious style, and Kanye West who's had a career that has really changed style from his early days where it's been more soulful, to now where it's a little more experimental and loud-sounding production-wise. So I think if you really delve into the city and check out the styles, it's a pretty wide variety of sounds. Add-2, who's the only other emcee featured on the project. He's been doing some incredible things on the scene for a while. In 2006 he really came onto the scene, and he's one of the younger dudes right now who's putting Chicago on it's back and doing positive things. Not only in his music, but in the community as well.

If you could collaborate with anyone who would it be?

As far as producers, I'm obviously really into Pete Rock, Large Professor, DJ Premier, Hi-Tek, and 9th Wonder. Then in terms of artists, anybody who's really lyrical. Some of the younger dudes like Kendrick Lamar and J Cole. I like Blu & Exile. People who are more underground. There's a dude out in Michigan called One Be Lo. I'm a really big fan of his. Obviously anybody that you'd just dream of working with. Q-Tip, Rakim, Nas. Anybody who's been in the game for a while and you respect their skill set and their contribution to the genre.

We touched on this a bit earlier, but because you have such a deep lyrical content throughout the project, what's the main message you want to send to the masses?

Well, there's a good amount of story telling on the project. I guess there's a lot of people that make music that has a good message. Sometimes it's lacking a message all together, but the lyrics sound nice. I really tried to combine those things. To give a strong content, but not sacrifice the technical aspect of the genre at the same time. It could be a story about a relationship or there's a track on there that's about my best friend's mother who died of cancer. So these are things that really tap into your emotions, but at the same time if you listen to it from a technical standpoint all the lyrical components are there. So that's really what I try to do. To not just give content, but quality as far as the technical component and connect all that to the one concept. I mean, there's a lot of tracks that I could have put on there, but they didn't necessarily fit with the overall concept. So I wanted it to be pretty cohesive in terms of what I'm actually talking about.

Do you have any other projects that you're working on at the moment?

Not currently, but I have ideas all the time. I really like projects that revolve around one concept and relates back to that. So at the moment I have ideas for two projects in my mind that I'm going to be getting into. When I actually put out something, I want to have something to say and be able to share some type of knowledge to the people rather than just saying any old thing. So right now I'm just doing the research, getting my knowledge up and when I feel like I've got a good pile of information, then I'll just get into the writing process. You gotta crawl before you can walk.

What stimulates your soul?

Anything that I find creativity within stimulates my soul, whether it's art, music, movies or even food. To learn something new everyday and just interact with people are two big things. I have a real appetite for learning. I feel like you should never be done learning. Every person is filled with their own experiences and I feel like you can learn from other people's stories as well as your own.