[YouTube] “Memory Loss” – Track Seven Band

Track Seven Band shares their new single, “Memory Loss”, their first in three years…and it was worth the wait.

Titled “Memory Loss”, this is Track Seven Band’s reemergence from the shadows to give their fans a track that will make them all remember why they started in the first place. Speaking from the heart and for the voiceless, Track Seven Band highlights the challenges of everyday life while having the power to rise above it all and continue to prove that “love conquers all”.

With vocals that sound familiar to the likes of Jay-Z and the band’s instruments bringing it all together, it’s a song you’ll want to add to your playlists.

Listen here:

Work of Art – RetroP

RetroP, or Young Retro, is an artist out of Raleigh, North Carolina who seems to fit his name perfectly. On his newest project, he finds a way to blend the old with the new. Work of Art is his second full-length record coming in at 20 tracks. This follows his first album from 2018, October, which was more poppy and trendy. His newest project demonstrates his lyrics and pen game while getting some help from other artists at WeW.O.O.D. Music. Throughout the album, we see his versatility and ability to spit, while his producer lays some solid beats.

The first thing that stands out with this album is RetroP’s flow and style. He really demonstrates some serious lyrical ability while mixing up the cadence on songs such as “Don’t Understand” or the melodic “Two Peas in a Party”. This is not a short project in the slightest and will take you some time to work through. RetroP put a lot of time and effort into this and it shows. Also, shoutout to Cxm300, the producer of each track on here. He creates a ridiculously smooth vibe throughout that compliments the vocals really well. I especially like the beat on “Nostalgic Future”, with its super washed out feel.

The Highlights:

“Hakuna Matata”, “Two Peas in a Party”, and “Make ‘Em Believe”

Stream Work of Art here:

In the Spirit of Advancement and the Pursuit of Dopeness – Ellis D

One of my guilty pleasures of hip hop is stoner rap, primarily because of the pure vibe created on each project and track. Backpack rappers, NDO & Myke Kelli, form ellis d. The Chicago duo comes from Arlington Heights, IL, and have been friends since 1st grade. Through this friendship, they have been creating hip-hop in basements and garages for the last 8 years. It’s pretty evident with their music that these two like good times and smooth vibes because, as they say, “there are no bad trips with ellis d.”

I recently stumbled across these guys through their track “Sushi Line” which is a head bobber from the lyrics to the beat. Plus love the little melodic chorus on the track. However, what I appreciate most about this record is the journey they create. From the title track to the outro song, you immediately met with soft, lyrical vocals and beats that feel like they should be on one of those lofi YouTube channels. If you aren’t a huge fan of this form of hip-hop, that’s totally understandable but you really can’t be blind to these guys vibes. “Buckets” is a perfect example of this as well as one of their more lyrical pieces on the project. I also love the feature of Shawty Roc on “Trippy”…never heard of him before but I really hope to hear more from in the future.

The Essentials:

“Trippy”, “Rhymebook”, and “Sushi Line”

Stream In the Spirit of Advancement and the Pursuit of Dopeness here:

KIRK – DaBaby

At this point, it’s pretty evident that Dababy is the hottest rapper of 2019. Baby on Baby started the year off hot for him, getting the attention of pretty much every rap fan with his steady, hard cadence and singable choruses. What’s more impressive to me is that this man had five projects on streaming and a ton more unofficial mixtapes, yet didn’t blow up until “21” got radio plays. I first learned about Dababy from a bunch of French basketball players in Paris. Little did I know at the time that this seemingly small Charlotte rapper would be featured on nearly everything in 2019 and put out two killer albums. With that said, let’s dive into KIRK, the second studio album and the fifteenth project to date for Baby Jesus.

The Vocals:

Everyone jokes about Dababy rapping before the beat even starts, but Jesus Christ, I couldn’t even get my notes organized before he started rapping on “INTRO“. He literally does that on every track. Regardless, “INTRO” is the smoothest track Dababy has released yet. When it dropped as a single, I was hyped because I was ready for this somewhat introspective album about his quick jump from regional legend to rap’s hard-hitting new star. And then it wasn’t that at all. It’s the same cadences, the same lackluster lyrics, and exact same vibes. I am all for consistency but Dababy should be trying to prove his talent and diversity, not doing the exact same thing as before.

His voice is incredibly unique and you really can’t help but be attracted to it. The raspiness mixed with the gruff sound of hunger and desire for bigger and better makes him fun to listen to. This helps save the album for me. While he always keeps the same cadence patterns, he never loses that aggressive, yet exciting sound to his voice. Sure the writing is pretty boring, because he literally doesn’t write, but the voice holds you.

You also can’t talk about the vocals without mentioning the feature list here. He got some of the best Chance and Gucci features this year, plus he had Nikki, YK Osiris, Kevin Gates, Stunna 4 Vegas, Lil Baby, Moneybagg Yo, and the Migos. “GOSPEL” is a great example of a song that used the features perfectly. It’s catchy, different, and sound “like some of that ghetto gospel shit”. It’s just plain fun.

The Beats:

Dababy got JetsonMade to make quite a few of the beats on this project, or at least help out a lot, and he kills it. “BOP” is a straight bop from the beat alone. The piano melody feels ever so slightly off but before you even question it, you get hit by some very solid drums that carry you away with the song. Every producer used on this project really killed it with the beats. Kenny Beats especially showed off his talents on “TOES” (if you have seen his show The Cave on YouTube…check it out).

However, regardless of what the individual producers do, the sound that is cultivated by Dababy’s team is intriguing. No matter how hard I try to place Dababy’s music and style, I can’t. Is it Atlanta trap? Sure it has its inspirations but it sounds nothing like a Gucci Mane, Future, or Young Thug album. Does he give off that East Coast/NYC Underground vibe? Not really at all. He has the gruffness of Flatbush but is nowhere near lyrical enough to be from Brooklyn. Well, maybe it’s just hard Southern rap? Yes and no. I truly believe that Dababy and his team have built there own sound, something that takes inspirations from the rap markets around North Carolina without becoming them.

The Production:

This album is fucking fast! Seriously don’t blink or you will already be onto the next track without realizing it. Transitions really don’t exist on KIRK, instead Dababy stops rapping for four seconds then starts again. Look, I’m not trying to beat a dead horse here but the memes don’t lie. Baby On Baby had a much better flow and rhythm to it. KIRK just feels sloppy. The idea of breaking up the fast-paced flow with a slow song, skit, or vocal sample was clearly an afterthought. The track order isn’t bad but as I said, the flow of the album is almost too fast that track order doesn’t really even matter.

The Essentials:


The Rating:

There is no denying that Dababy is one of the hottest rappers of 2019. That’s nearly undeniable at this point. You can’t even make the argument anymore that Lil Nas X has garnered more success. While the Cowboy Rapper had “Old Town Road” staying at #1, Dababy was getting featured on everything plus having a “debut” album that was seemingly impossible to put down. He didn’t need to drop another project and if he did, it had to be something different and something good. This was not that, unfortunately. KIRK gets a…


This doesn’t mean that he sucks. I really like Dababy and seriously have to consider Baby On Baby in my AOTY list. This project definitely had its bangers but it just wasn’t enough for me. I hope with the next project, he proves to us why he made it out of the Charlotte underground scene.

– Heff


The Lost Boy – YBN Cordae

Like a lot of rappers, YBN Cordae comes from a collective. The YBN crew met on Xbox Live while playing GTA V, and shortly after that the core members: Nahmir, Almighty Jay, and Cordae starting making music. Last year when YBN: The Mixtape came out, I was pretty underwhelmed. It lacked much character and entertainment that even the strong feature list couldn’t help. Then YBN Cordae dropped “Have Mercy”, and I was immediately brought back into this young Maryland rapper’s career. It just was fun to listen to. The hype around his debut solo album, The Lost Boy, was nothing short of expected and man did he meet expectations!

The Vocals:

Cordae immediately hits us with his talent. On the intro track to the album, “Wintertime”, we are met with smooth, elegant verses and a very well done, harmonic hook. To anyone familiar with Cordae, this really comes as no surprise. The Maryland native grew up listening to Nas, Rakim, and Talib Kweli. This clearly sparked his interest in rap at a young age as well as laid the groundwork for how he would later go on to spit verses. It’s evident in a video that recently surfaced of Cordae rapping as a kid that he has had rhythm and talent for quite a while.

This smoothness continues throughout on almost every track’s hook. They are each catchy in their own way while remaining melodic and fitting the overall vibe. My favorite has to be the hook on “Thanksgiving”.

Mac and cheese up in the oven‚ grandma finished cookin’
Thanksgiving ’round the corner‚ need banana pudding
Brought you home to mama even though you said I shouldn’t
Might not make it to Christmas
But I’m hoping and I’m pushing for a better day
A good day in the making‚ but you never stay
I could say that you fakin’ on the real, huh, n****
Why you fakin’ on the real?

You can’t talk about The Lost Boy without mentioning the feature list on the record. Meek Mill, Ty Dolla $ign, Arin Ray, Pusha T, Anderson Paak., and the Chance we all were hoping for on The Big Day hopped on for a verse. What’s more impressive is, while you can see the influence each of these artists has had on YBN Cordae, he still controls the tracks they collaborated on and each feels like his own. He didn’t just get the Meek Mill or the Pusha T feature for the clout.

The best feature which subsequently is on the best song is from Mr. Yes Lawd himself. “RNP” might be my favorite track of 2019, with its perfect cohesion of Paak and Cordae and old-school style. It’s just hands down fun to listen to. And then “Broke As Fuck” comes on…and you’re like ‘Wait is this still Cordae?’ It’s a trap-style flow and he absolutely kills it, even when he switches it up at the end to provide another smooth, chilled out message.

The Beats:

Throughout The Lost Boy, I was pleasantly surprised by how fitting the beats were. The album starts with a smooth Cardiak beat to set the mood for what is to come. “Thanksgiving” is the perfect example of this mood-setting by the producers. It’s a very chill, light beat that almost sounds lofi and it gets you feeling all warm and cozy inside like its the Holidays. However, it works counteractive to what Cordae is rapping about, providing that happy sense of the Holidays while thinking about the bleak outlook of a relationship.

J. Cole even hops on “RNP” to provide the beat. It fits perfectly with Cordae and Paak’s sound while providing that old school boom bop vibe. Really there isn’t a beat on this whole project that doesn’t slap. Cordae really brought together a solid team of producers here, each with there own styles but all making beats that Cordae made his own. Talk about creating a solid vibe!

The Production:

Most albums I listen to, I always find one or two things wrong with the production. The biggest thing I have been hearing lately, especially with all the new rappers, is a lack a general flow of the record. The transitions don’t have to be perfect but if the album feels disjointed, I’m definitely not fucking with it. When I write reviews, I spin the record straight through, not on shuffle. The Lost Boy is a great example of how to create an overall flow and vibe.

YBN Cordae figured out a way to show his different rapping styles without disrupting the flow. Even on “Broke As Fuck”, he experiments with a trap style but still balances it with his chilled outflow at the end of the track. “Have Mercy” also has a very different feel than the rest of the album yet fits perfectly in the order. Plus it has to have the weirdest video the Lyrical Lemonade camp has put out. All in all, I was really impressed with how Cordae’s team ordered these tracks, broke them up with little “skits”, and created a really fun, flowy vibe.

The Essentials:

“Have Mercy”, “Bad Idea”, “RNP”, “Broke As Fuck”, “Nightmares Are Real”, and “Lost & Found”

The Rating:

If this album isn’t in your consideration for AOTY yet, then you really haven’t listened to this project. YBN Cordae has proven that he has some serious talent and is by far the best of the YBN crew. Look, regardless if this is in your top five for AOTY, in my book The Lost Boy is a…


I am super excited to see where this kid ends up. He has the momentum and the talent to carry him far, the question is will he just ride the clout wave or will he carve out his own place in the rap industry and truly make a name for him? Only time will tell…

– Heff

The Lost Boy YBN Cordae


DaBaby, aka Baby Jesus, aka Jonathan Lyndale Kirk, has been everywhere the past year and has no signs of putting down the bag anytime soon. Jonathan Lyndale Kirk drops his second studio album, “KIRK” following up his massive success stemming from his first studio album through Interscope in March, “Baby on Baby”. This included the number one hit song “Suge”. Solidifying his rookie campaign, DaBaby has had arguably the biggest year of any hip hop artist from featuring remixes on songs such as “Panini” with Lil Nas X and “Truth Hurts” with Lizzo. He even had the time to pull up on “Enemies” from Post Malone’s new album, “Under The Sun” with J. Cole and the Dreamville cast, and lastly, he was featured on “Baby” with Lil Baby for the new QC tape. 

First reaction:

At only 35 minutes, KIRK embodies DaBaby’s style and attributes perfectly as he takes us into a more in-depth look into his personal life. In “Intro” and “Gospel” he dives into his family history and the passing of his father as his career began to ascend. With features from Chance the Rapper, Y.K Osiris, and Gucci Mane on “Gospel”, they complement his deep storytelling and bring a different and transcending vibe to the track. DaBaby has proven time and time before he is well off on his own and proves it on “Vibez” as he goes on to tell us about a day in the life of Baby Jesus himself. Everyone wants to work with DaBaby and it makes perfect sense. With features from the Migos, Nicki Minaj, Lil Baby, Kevin Gates and more, Dababy proves he is a hit-making machine, and this album proves it. It is a fantastic listen and he continues to prove his dominance following his historic 2019, however, it feels like a bunch of singles put together with a glance of Dababy’s personal life. 

Top listens: 

“Intro”, “Gospel”, “iPhone”, and “Vibez”


Something Different – Leekyxiv and Generic tha Character

For Colossus readers, this isn’t the first time we have covered the upstate NY scene. We first covered Generic this past fall with his project Escape Tha City. Generic, or Eric Armitage, has not only built a name for himself in the Upstate scene but has blossomed a culture. His production company, Tha Bakery LLC, which he runs with his friend Jack Redmond, has quickly helped bolster a hip hop scene in Utica, NY. One of the members of Tha Bakery, Leekyxiv, recently joined Generic in the studio for a collaborative album. Something Different is clearly a project developed among friends so let’s dive in.

The Vocals:

The connection between Leeky and Generic is evident throughout. To the listener, it just feels like they had a fun time in the studio working on this. Leeky mentioned on Twitter before the album dropped that it is some of his best work and best verses. He isn’t wrong. I’m not incredibly familiar with Leeky, however having listened to some of his prior projects and then this one, I’m impressed, to say the least. Both rappers have solid flow throughout and really emphasize that boom bap sound.

I also love the feature of another Bakery member, Nazzy, on “Say Yes”. Clearly a summer bop, Nazzy really provides those August vibes on the chorus to counter the sounds of Leeky and Generic. I use “counter” because both have very different vibes and sounds than what Nazzy brings to the table. Generic has a very “duh-duh-duh-duh” flow on his verses that gets your head bobbing and feet tapping. “Solo” is a great example of this, in which, you will find yourself more in tune with his words rather than the bass or hi-hats. Leeky, on the other hand, reminds me of a new-age, Upstate version of Meechy Darko. On “Penguins” and “Audacity” he doesn’t shy away from utilizing those scratchy vocals.

The Beats:

Solid throughout. To begin the project, we are met with an almost spooky choir of vocals. My one qualm is that there is no one sound throughout. We see a really mixed bag of beats here, with everything from the dark sounds of “Audacity” to the cartoony, old school sound of “Okay!” Typically, I would say this doesn’t work, however, props to Leeky and Generic as they seem to really carry their vocals throughout to make it all work together. My favorite beat here is on “Solo”, with its smooth flute sample and fun hi-hats that really get you excited and grooving.

The Production:

I’m going to be straight with you. I don’t like the autotune used on this project. Artists are using an ever-increasing amount of autotune, especially in the new school NYC scene, but I’m not about it. On Escape Tha City and some of the other albums I have heard from Generic, I have been a big fan of his voice as it feels unique to him. However, the autotune here just doesn’t do it for me. That being said, the overall production here is quite good. Transitions are smooth, the track order flows very well, and the songs just sound really good. On top of that, the vibe is extremely fun-loving. At the end of the day, this was a project made by two friends.

The Essentials:

“Say Yes”, “Solo”, “Penguins”, and “Far Away”

The Rating:

After I say the teaser trailer Leeky and Generic put out on Twitter, I got excited. The chemistry here is fantastic and I hope they do another collab album again in the future. I am very familiar with Generic but this was an introduction for me to Leekyxiv. I am definitely a fan of both of their rapping styles and flows. Especially after how well they seemed to work together. Is it perfect…no. However, it is still a fun little project put out by two of the best rappers out of the Utica scene. Something Different gets a…


Stumbling across Tha Bakery last fall has been one of my favorite discoveries. Not only are these guys creating great music, but they are also building a culture and a scene in the least likely place.

– Heff

Generic and Leekyxiv

Bandana – Freddie Gibbs and Madlib

Gansta Gibbs and Madlib are back. Five years removed from their instant classic Piñata, Gary, IN rapper Freddie Gibbs and legendary hip-hop beat producer Madlib reunited to give the listeners Bandana. My brother’s roommate (shoutout Dan) put me on to their last collaborative album so when I heard the rumors then listened to the singles that dropped, I knew it would need a full review. If you saw my #firstlistenfriday post on Instagram about this album, you already know I like it. Let’s dive into the rough and dark world of Freddie Gibbs.

The Vocals:

There is so much to unpack in a Freddie Gibbs verse. An entire album of them makes it even more complicated. I had to listen to a lot of tracks a few times just to catch everything he was saying. He is very lyrical but at the same time so aggressive that it can be misleading what he is saying based on his tone of delivery. “Half Manne Half Cocaine” feels as if it has two personalities. We first hear the wealth loving, sex having side of Gibbs, but then the switch up hits and we listen to a verse from the drug slanging Gansta Gibbs.

A word of warning for anyone not fully familiar with Freddie Gibbs and his sound and style…this is not your new age drug rap about popping pills and drinking lean. This is hard core, drug lord kind of rap. It’s mean and dark and sometimes straight up depressing. Yet Gibbs still finds places to hit us with funny one liners and comical punchlines. My favorite line comes on “Massage Seats” with his line:

“Shot caller, put them shooters on you like D’Antoni
Top dollar, lock me up and I make the bond, no
Big baller, father, you my son like Lonzo”

You can’t discuss this album without talking about it’s guest list. Pusha T joins Freddie Gibbs for the first time on “Palmolive” and it feels like a collab that just makes sense. It’s also King Push’s best feature verse he has delivered this year. We also heard from Killer Mike, Yasiin Bey, Black Thought (pure wordsmith on “Education”), and Anderson Paak. The Pusha T, Black Thought, and Anderson Paak features really gave me a desire to here Gibbs do collab projects with each of these artists…especially Paak. “Giannis” is such a great song, with Paak’s smooth, sexual vocals contrasted with Gibbs’ rough baritone verses.

The Beats:

Madlib is a pure genius. I wrote in the Piñata review that “he is the definition of a crate digger; literally, sampling anything and everything and making it sound good” and this remains true. He immediately hits us with the opening track of “Obrigado” which is made purely from samples. It should be mentioned that right after this project dropped, Madlib took to Twitter to proclaim that he made every beat on his iPad. While some people took offense to this or felt it brought down the production value, I disagree. I love the samples, but they don’t always feel optimized for digital streaming. The beats are optimized for listening digitally using this method.

The beat on “Crime Pays” is weirdly vibey for Gibbs to be rapping over. It’s honestly a little strange to hear. I thought for sure that the female vocals sampled on “Massage Seats” was 070 Shake but after some research on Genius, it turned out that wasn’t the case. She would’ve been a great feature though, especially after how melodic she sounded on Daytona last summer. The beat switch ups throughout this project are really well done, and Gibbs handles it extremely well on his end…especially the switch up on “Fake Names”. My favorite beat by far though is on “Giannis”. That one just plain slaps. “Practice” is also very solid. Gibbs gets really introspective on this track but more importantly, the beat itself feels like it is super reflective, with it’s smoothed out vibe, calming hi-hats, and gospel background vocals.

The Production:

This project just moves and flows very well. Madlib is famous for chopping up albums with weird vocal samples. The ones used here didn’t feel like they broke up the general flow of the album much at all. It isn’t perfect but it definitely works. The track order here seems to be far more important as it feels somewhat progressive. There isn’t an overlapping story unraveling here but the early tracks seem to provide as general, surface level to Freddie Gibbs before diving deep into his rough, drug pushing lifestyle. I do; however, love the “sample” or skit at the end of “Situations” with the Cussing Pastor talking about “Fuck You Fridays”. That had to be the funniest part of the album when I first heard that.

The Essentials:

“Crime Pays”, “Palmolive”, “Fake Names”, and “Giannis”

The Rating:

This is a really really really good album. It is already sitting in my shortlist for top five albums of 2019. However, I don’t believe that this is an instant classic like Piñata was. It’s got everything I wanted to hear, from aggressive, yet comical verses by Gibbs to a beautiful track production from Madlib. I still felt like something was missing and can’t fully put my finger on it. That being said, this is still one of the best albums released this year and is easily a…

Solid 8

Gibbs is here to save the pretty lacking 2019 rap game and I am 100% here for it. Anytime Freddie Gibbs and Madlib hook up, you know it’s going to be a great listening experience.

– Heff

Gangsta Gibbs and Madlib
Madlib and Freddie Gibbs – Billboard

Sit Down Series: Phay

Atlanta has become one of the go-to cities when people think of hip-hop. It seems everyday there is someone new. Faris Mousa, or Phay, are quickly getting more and more attention in the Atlanta scene. Being a first-generation Arab-American, Phay uses his flowy verses and smooth choruses to tell his story of trial, triumph, and racism. Recently, he found time to join the Sit Down Series and discuss his music, his recent wedding, and his desire to be your next favorite rapper!

Colossus Music: Thanks for joining the Sit Down Series, Phay!

P: Thanks for having me!

CM: Getting started, you are Palestinian correct?

P: Yep first-generational.

CM: Being a first-generation Arab-American, how has that influenced your music, your grind, and your artistry?

P: Great question. My dad came over at 19 and has been here most of his life now. He came to this country for a lot of the same reasons many others come, which is to provide a better life for their kids, have them get an education, and get a “conventionally” good job. It really shaped me. I didn’t really feel like an immigrant until 2001 after September 11th. I grew up in predominantly Latino and Black neighborhoods. When you are a kid,  you don’t see that many differences in people. You think to yourself, “We are all homies, we are all the same.” I was born in the U.S. in Chicago so I am just as American as anybody else, but after 2001 when I was in 5th grade, I started seeing a shift in mannerisms and the way I was treated. I remember even my art teacher was scolding me for being Arab. It was just weird because I felt outcasted at that time. I was just confused. That’s when I knew I needed to find my way and find the right balance. To some, I wasn’t American enough and to others, I wasn’t Palestinian or Arab enough. I feel like it’s a strange dichotomy that a lot of immigrants and first-generation Americans go through to find their place in society. I think it’s shaped my way in that sense. My music has deeper messages about immigration and institutionalized racism. I feel like growing up in an Arab household, it’s like being in a different country. Then you walk outside your house and it’s a whole different world. It really shaped the way in how I think.

CM: Arab culture has typically not embraced rap music. Has that been a challenge for you at all?

P: Yeah man, I mean my dad is kind of a hippie in the sense that he came to the U.S. during the “Make Love Not War” era. He thinks it’s cool because he’s a big fan of the Beatles and he put me onto Motown. That’s what he was listening to when he got here. My dad is cool with [being a rapper] as long as I take care of myself and do my thing. My mom is where there is a lot of backlash. A lot of immigrant parents contribute success to financial success. They aren’t typically concerned with what makes you happy. As long as you are financially safe, the rest will follow. She’s learned that this is something I really love doing and will do regardless. She still doesn’t fully understand though. I have sat with her and showed her my streaming statements, and she still doesn’t get it. She says “So you get money from people listening to your songs?” and I will be like, “Yeah I had 150,000 monthly listeners this month.” But it still goes over her head. I wouldn’t be surprised if my mom thought I sold drugs or something. I have a wife and she works full time at a really good job, but I still support her and pay a majority of the bills. I still think she [my mom] doesn’t understand though and I have stopped trying to explain because it just goes way over her head. Just being Palestinian and Arab, or even just as an immigrant, there are only a few jobs that are noble enough to choose. It’s being a doctor, an accountant, or an entrepreneur and everything else is seen as “what the fuck are you doing?” Art is not really an occupation in Arab culture, but my uncle was a wedding singer. He was kind of locally famous, but he got a lot of flak from my grandma. He would come home at 3 am drunk and my grandma would be like “You need to get a better job, this job is for losers”. Meanwhile, my grandpa, God rest his soul, he was a poet. They were always involved in the arts, but they never had a way to make it lucrative. I think that’s where my mom’s reservations stem from.

CM: Outside of your family, where else do you pull influences from? You are based in Atlanta. That city is pumping out some of the best rap in the game right now, so how does your hometown affect you in that sense?

P: Atlanta is the new mecca! You could go to different bars or open mics and somebody could be playing the sax and another person might be rapping over it. Atlanta is just a really good place to be in terms of culture. Outkast came out of here, Ludacris had an amazing run here, just so many Atlanta legends. Even in R&B too like Usher, and So So Def, and Jermaine Dupri. Atlanta has just always honed so much talent. It’s a commuter city too so a lot of people who are from Atlanta aren’t born in Atlanta. It’s the best of every world. You see a lot of people who are born in Chicago and move down here, people from New York who move over here, even L.A. It’s just like a melting pot within a melting pot, and there’s an Atlanta undertone. If you factor in the food: the chicken and waffles, lemon pepper wings, and just the whole culture. I just feel like it shapes everybody’s world view differently. That’s why there are so many different subgenres of rap in Atlanta. You’ve got your Young Thug’s, you’ve got your JID’s, you’ve got your 6LACK’s. You know what I’m saying! Back in the day you had your Gucci Mane’s too. But that’s what Atlanta is…just so many different parts to it.

CM: Now, you graduated from Georgia State correct?

P: Yeah. Oh yeah. You did your research man!

CM: I’ve got to make sure I cover everything! I read a little bit about how you went to a 9-to-5 job and it just wasn’t for you. Now, you’re making music and you’re getting a lot of attention. You mentioned 150,000 monthly listeners on Spotify, what has that shift been like for you?

P: It hasn’t been easy man. I made the decision to do music full time three and a half years ago. I had some money saved up from my job and just kind of went all in. I feel like if you want to do something you can’t half-ass it. Of course, everybody has bills and things like that, but I was at a point where I was single too. I had no bills, still living with my mom. I knew it was a now or never type situation. So I started and it was like therapeutic for me because I was dropping records again. I did like a 2 year hiatus after college so it was good to be back. My homie was engineering all my stuff and I was like “Let’s just put this record out on soundcloud and I will be surprised if it hits 100 streams.” So it hit 100 and I decided to drop a new song every time one [song] hit 100. Then it turned into every time I hit a 1000 and then I thought “Yo I’ve got all these songs, I’m gonna drop them weekly.” That became this whole “Phay Friday” thing. I hit a wave and I wanted to get different people and musicians into the studio. I had a pianist come in and play over all my vocals on my first album. I had Young Dro on the album as well as Fat Trel and Kap G. It was all from an Indie budget. These guys were doing these records for a couple thousand dollars. A lot of people think it’s not attainable to get features like that, but you really can. I had no name for myself back then…I didn’t even have a Spotify! When I had Young Dro on the record, I just hit up the right people and next thing I knew, I was in the studio with Young Dro and nobody knew who I was. I just feel like that was my fate. Once I dropped Mama, it became a whole brand. It became a whole lifestyle. A lot of people started trusting me like “Yo, this guy is doing it on his own and he put so much production value into his stuff. If he cares this much, I want to care this much.” I feel like the listeners know how much I put into the music. I have a strong base and after after I dropped Mama, I dropped E & Phay, which is the most popular project to date in terms of streams. I have like 3 million streams on Spotify on that project alone. After that, I dropped the Baby Phayce EP and now I’m on my second full length album. It’s just been consistency. It’s every Friday; this is the streaming era so you got to be in people’s faces every fucking week,m or they will forget about you.

CM: And you’re still completely independent!

P: Yeah I don’t even have a manager. No PR, nobody speaking on my behalf at all.

CM: And you’re also selling your own merchandise too correct?

P: Yep! And that’s where the majority of the money comes from. It’s all based off the foundation of the music. When you get a group of people to trust you, whether it be your tastes or your music, they will support you in anything you do. The merch moves really well because of the name that’s associated with it and the brand.

CM: Now into the music itself, you recently just dropped the track “MASEGO“. What’s the story behind that? Was Masego, the artist, the inspiration there?

P: So I am a big fan of Masego. His record “Tadow” is my favorite. One of my favorite records of all time. I don’t know much about him after “Tadow”. I never went through his discography. But my record “MASEGO” is actually about one of my friends that I grew up with who was arrested on gun charges. It’s actually the interlude for the song called “BADU“. They’re both named after artists, but it’s kind of like how people glorify violent stuff. I try to make the song sound beautiful, but the situation was terrible so I guess that’s the juxtaposition. The Masego part came from the line that goes “Chopper sings like Masego”. His gun was singing like the artist, but in reality this kid was a really good kid. He just had gotten caught up in some financial troubles and was trying to help his mom. He had a really good heart, but turns out he did a few armed robberies allegedly to help his mom in the situation. It’s a perspective thing. I got flak for it, some people were like “good job you are laughing about killing people, you should be proud of yourself.” You have to listen deeper to understand the situation and if you listen to “BADU” it makes more sense. It’s about somebody who really just got caught up. He was a really good kid at heart and was too shy and too prideful to ask for financial help for his mom. He took matters into his own hands. Of course, it was extreme and he was locked up and deported after that. The song is about him, but I named it “MASEGO” because I felt like that was the most memorable line in the song.

CM: Switching things things to a lighter subject, I saw you just recently got married. Congratulations on that! You made a music video during your actual wedding. That’s pretty unique!

P: Yeah that shit was crazy bro looking back on it. The photographer wanted to do it. The woman who did all the photography, her boyfriend shoots video. Sometimes, I guess, they do music videos for the couple over a Drake record or a Future record. But she said “You’re an actual artist and I listened to “She Mine” and it’s perfect for the wedding.” I was like “This is ridiculous. I got 300 people deal with and I’m getting married. There’s no way that this could go down.” Then the day of, I wake up and I’m like fuck it why not since we had already spent all this money on the wedding. So I hit the dude up like “You still down to do it?” It was on the fly type thing, like literally hours before the wedding. For an extra thousand dollars, he came out and shot the whole video and captured every moment which was genuine. 95% of people there didn’t even know a music video was going on. Just captured the moment between me and my wife. It was very transparent and I felt like sharing that with the world and with my family.

CM: That’s so cool. She must really support you and your music if she lets you do that at your wedding.

P: Yeah man, she’s tight. I feel like it’s tough love. It’s not like she’s an outwardly fan girl or anything. She definitely supports it and always plugs me when I’m not around.

CM: What music outside of hip hop do you listen to?  You mentioned that Atlanta’s such a melting pot for culture and music. Does that influence your choice of music, or do you specifically listen to hip hop?

P: It’s definitely a wide variety but real sporadic at times. If you are riding in the car with me, my friends will make fun of me because we will ride in silence. I won’t listen to anything. In terms of hip hop, I’m really a huge fan of Young Thug and the way he utilizes his voice. You know with the auto tune and stuff like that. It sounds like an instrument. Big fan of Future. I love old R&B artists. I’m a big fan of Craig David, and R. Kelly was one of my favorites before the whole shit with him came to light. It kind of sucks because like I grew up on R. Kelly since I’m originally from Chicago. Kanye West of course. My wife really got me into Afrobeats and stuff like Davido, Wizkid, and Maleek Berry.

CM: Wrapping things up, we have our standard Colossus question. If you could have dinner with any three artists, dead or alive, who would they be, and why?

P: So first. I’d have to pick R. Kelly. Hear me out. I picked him because I want to ask him what the hell was going on through his mind when he made the choice to do the shit he did. I just need to know why he was doing that. Not that it was justified or anything but I want to know if the man’s mentally sick or something. You don’t really hear his side of the story in terms of that stuff. But I just want to say “Yo, like you know a lot of people look up to you, why the fuck were you doing this?” I want to sit down with Timbaland, the producer too, and just literally ask him about his sampling. I feel like he’s one of the greatest samplers of all time. I could just sit there and listen to his samples and come up with a freestyle and do something on off the top. Young Thug too. His recording process is genius. I just want to go through his process. I mean, I don’t know if you’ve ever heard stories about the engineers. He will go through 12 engineers and kick them out because they can’t keep up right now. It seems like Young Thug is always high and he doesn’t know where he is, but when he’s recording he’s super sharp. I just want to pick his brain and gain more insight on how he thinks.

CM: Is there a specific place you’d want to take them?

P: There are so many places in Atlanta. There is this place on the West Side called Jamal’s Wings. It has the best wings in the world! Lemon pepper hot, the Atlanta staple, and like a peach drink or something. Just a whole bunch of sugar. It’s like diabetes in a cup but shit is good bro.

CM: Last question, where do you want to be by the end of this year?

P: A lot of rappers will lie to you and say they aren’t number guys. All of this shit is based on the numbers. I’m a big Spotify guy. I like waking up and looking at my Spotify numbers. There is a stat that comes out on Spotify and it says “X amount of people played you more than any other artist this year.” I think last year that stat for me was 70 people. All the songs and all the music they could be listening to, but 70 people literally listened to me more than anybody and that might not seem like a big deal to an artist like Drake or any of those guys. I’m looking for that number to grow to anything more than 70, to be honest with you. I just want to be one of those people’s favorite artist’s. Like, I’m not doing it thinking I hope people like me and they add me to their playlists. Instead, I want them to dissect records. I want them to play the records over and over. I want them to feel when they’re listening. So my main goal at the end of 2019 and at the end of every year that I’m an artist is, I want to be your favorite. Whether I’m your new favorite or your old favorite, if you’ve just discovered me and want to binge listen to my discography, or if you’ve been put on during the last 2-3 years. I want people to go back and listen to my records and think back on the nostalgia and how that song made them feel when they first heard it. We all have records like that when we go back and listen. Like, Chance the Rapper’s Acid Rap, while you listen you are like wow I remember where I was when I heard this record. It makes me feel like there’s a sense of nostalgia and warmth. I just want to be people’s favorite. I want to win a Grammy. I don’t know how feasible that is by the end of 2019 but anything can happen. I just want to maximize my brand and be an Atlanta staple. It’s growing and I’m on the right track to be one. I just want to leave people with a sense of authenticity. I want people to align themselves with the music because they feel it, if that makes sense. Any of the people who are listening, I want people to feel like they can relate. Maybe one of their friends or family members is locked up so they can relate to “MASEGO” or “BADU”. I’m a first-generation American and maybe they can connect with my perspective. I really just want to capture the hearts of people. Capture their ears first and then move on to their hearts. I just don’t want to let people down. I want to stay consistent.

– Heff