Sit Down Series: HappyBirthdayCalvin

“30 by my side, it might leave where you stand
I ain’t got no friends, I’m too focused on the bands”

HappyBirthdayCalvin, the 17-year-old rapper out of the West Side of Chicago, has hit the hip-hop scene hard. Really really hard. His streaming numbers are shooting up, a song of his was just featured on a Netflix original, and he has a new project on the way soon. Safe to say that the man is moving quickly. If you haven’t heard of him yet, it’s time to familiarize yourself with his music. Recently, he took some time from his busy schedule to sit down with Colossus and discuss his outlook on life, why he chose his unique name, and what is next for him.

Colossus Music: Before we talk about anything, congratulations on the 2 million streams on Spotify and 10 million on SoundCloud for “No Friends”! That’s fucking awesome.

HappyBirthdayCalvin: Thank you! Thank you!

CM: What’s that been like for you?

HBC: Man my life is really just like changing. I feel like I am really evolving as an artist and shit. Like to hear all the support makes me feel extremely blessed, you know.

CM: For those that don’t know you already, who is HappyBirthdayCalvin?

HBC: So HappyBirthdayCalvin is just a kid from the West Side. The mantra of HappyBirthdayCalvin is that every day is new, every day you are reborn, every day you have a new chance at life. That’s just my positive outlook on life. I’m just a 17-year-old artist from the West Side of Chicago that produces his own music. I rap and I produce you know what I am saying. Recently, the song “No Friends” has just been doing great things for me but also the song I did for the Netflix Original “Beats” has been great too. It’s just a testament to working hard! That’s HappyBirthdayCalvin.

CM: But why did you choose the name? You said it’s based on your mantra of being reborn but it’s a pretty unique name so why that?

HBC: That’s why I chose it! The overall mantra is how I want to live my life. When I came up with it, I feel like that’s when people starting looking at me. That’s really when I started to change my outlook on things.

CM: How long have you been making music for?

HBC: I started making music when I was 10. I started producing when I was 13.

CM: And where did it go from there? Were you just writing stuff or were you performing? I mean you are only 17 so you have only really been making music for four years. What made you decide to switch and say let’s make this a career?

HBC: I always wanted to do it since I started. My mom really invested a lot into my career early on. I was also getting introduced and working with well-known Chicago producers. My mom actually got me my first computer and put Fruit Loops Studio on it. I really have been taking it seriously since I first started. As you get older you get more connections and you network more. That also has helped put me in a better situation.

CM: Clearly your mom is a very important person in your life and a big influence on you. Is there anyone else in your life who has served as a major influence?

HBC: Being from Chicago, Kanye West has been a big inspiration to me, a huge part of my story really. Aside from that though, other artists like Kid Cudi, A$AP Rocky, and Tyler the Creator are all big musical inspirations to me. On a more personal side, I have my close friends. One of my homies who got my song on the Netflix Original, his name is Khalil Everage. We went to the same high school together. That’s the reason why my song ended up in that movie. He actually is the reason I got a record deal as well. When he was making the movie, the CEO of the studio that I am signed to had to teach him how to make beats for the film. After the movie was over, Khalil sent him one of my songs and that’s how I ended up getting my deal. Later on, he was able to help get one of my songs on the soundtrack. That’s one of my closest friends, just a really influential person. There are other people too but those are the big ones.

CM: So you produce, rap, clearly get a lot of streams and attention. Is there anything you can’t do?

HBC: I mean, anybody can do anything. I really believe that there isn’t anything I can’t do. I have a lot in the works and we try to do everything we can. I can’t lose!

CM: How are you getting a lot of those streams? What has been your path to success with No Friends EP?

HBC: Just getting it out there really. Of course, you have the ads and that stuff but that is part of being signed to a record label. Personally, what I have done is go into different schools and different areas and promoted it the best I can. I have done a lot of groundwork, or as much as I can. Then, of course, networking and gaining new industry friends. Everybody is moving in a different direction. We also are all people of service, we all should be helping someone or some cause.

CM: Speaking of helping others, let’s talk about the music scene in Chicago. Obviously, your city is one of the best when it comes to hip-hop and rap. Has there been a really strong support group behind you of other rappers or producers? Any mentors in the music game? Or has it all been an independent grind for yourself?

HBC: I mean it’s been a lot of individual stuff as well, but there’s been a lot of opportunities based on the things that I’m signed to. At The Studio Records and Hitco are hubs for cultivating new music and pushing the envelope of Chicago. Everyone that comes in I try to have conversations with. All types of people have had different experiences in the music industry. I mean I have had conversations with Q-Tip and Swizz plus a lot of other people.

CM: Q-Tip and Swizz are too pretty big names in the industry! I also saw you performed recently at a BET hosted event? How did that go?

HBC: That show was great! It was a lot of love. There was a lot of people who probably hadn’t heard of me. Just getting the chance to do it and seeing the response was amazing. Especially because it was my first BET event. Definitely will hold it dear in my heart.

CM: You are an up-and-coming artist yourself so I’m curious to know what your opinion is on this year’s XXL Freshman Class roster.

HBC: I like it. I feel like a lot of people work to get to that spot. As long as you do what you do and get those streams, I can never be mad at anybody. Art is really subjective, you know. Even though I may not listen to all of them, I’m really happy to see and will always support black people, especially in America, reaching new heights and getting new levels of success. On top of that, there were a lot of female rappers which is cool to see. Plus, my boy YBN was getting the love and attention he deserves. Real music shines through for real for real. So yeah I liked the list.

CM: The real question is are you going to have a spot in that Freshman class next year?

HBC: Ah man! I necessarily don’t know. I have been working towards it. I have been in touch with some of the people there and will keep working towards it.

CM: It’s all got to start from somewhere!

HBC: Exactly how it is.

CM: Completely unrelated but I saw somewhere that you are a huge “Pulp Fiction” fan. Why that movie in particular?

HBC: Man it’s really just a mindfuck of a movie. Honestly, it made me think differently. The chain reaction of things that can happen in life and how different people behave in certain situations based on their perspective is fascinating. On top of that, Samuel L. Jackson is one of my favorite actors.

CM: Are you a big Tarantino fan then?

HBC: I mean I also really like “Django Unchained” so yeah I guess I am.

CM: What are your top three favorites movies?

HBC: Okay so obviously gotta take “Pulp Fiction”, then “Natural Born Killers” and “Dazed and Confused”. I just really look at artistry besides the actual plot of the movie. They are all just aesthetically pleasing.

CM: Now time for the regular question here on the Sit Down Series. We always ask it because you get a different response every time. If you could have dinner, with any three artists, dead or alive, who would they be and why?

HBC: Michael Jackson, Beyonce, and Kanye. Beyonce because I really want to know what her mentality is. She works really hard and is one of my personal heroes. Plus she is a great performer and I really want to be one as well. And then of course, who doesn’t want to get dinner with her. Michael Jackson because he was so soft-spoken. I don’t usually look up to people who are dead and before my time because I never grew up in their era and I can’t really experience the same things they did. It’s different watching Kanye West’s life because I am seeing that as it happens and listening to his music as it drops. I’m not having to go back and read about him. I would love to talk with Michael Jackson about his experience with racial issues during his time and things like that. And then Kanye West because he is one of my favorite artists of all time. On top of that, he has a lot of albums and they are all so great and different.

CM: Which one is your favorite?

HBC: My Dark Twisted Fantasy. They are all so different and so raw and surreal. I want to be able to achieve that same feeling and power and vibe.

CM: Now, if you could have dinner with those three, is there a place you would want to take them?

HBC: I mean it’s not really anything special but Red Lobster. I like it and honestly want to know what they would order there.

CM: Last question. You have a phenomenal video out now for “No Friends”, just put out a remix of it with G Herbo, the whole EP is available on SoundCloud as well as part of it on Spotify and Apple Music, all in all, just a ton of great things happening for you and your career right now. What is next for you? Where are you hoping to be at the end of next year?

HBC: At the end of the year, I want a huge fan base. A cult strong fan base. I really want more recognition for my art and placement on bigger stages. I want more music friends too. I need more of them in the industry. As far as my music goes, I will be dropping a new project soon, that’s on the way. I also have more visuals on the way. Just more content really and a TV show by the end of the year.

CM: A TV show?

HBC: Yeah it would be like a sketch comedy kind of thing.

CM: Wow so extremely multi-talented!

HBC: Thank you!

– Heff


10 Day – Chance the Rapper

Chance the Rapper’s tweet announcing re-releases of his original two mixtapes sparked two reactions in me: nostalgia for a huge part of my growing up and the need to review the Chicago rapper’s whole catalog, starting with 10 Day. This mixtape always brings back memories. I heard Chance before I heard 10 Day, so I’ll try to restrain from the fangirl review, stay fair to the readers, and keep some objectivity in my rating. Let’s get it!

The Vocals:

Obviously, this album was Chance’s introduction to the world. It was the first time that we heard those “Ooo”, “Ahh”, and “Eee” adlibs that he has become famous for. One thing that stands out the most when you revisit this project is Chance’s seeming innocence. Sure he has tracks like “Prom Night”, “Nostalgia”, and “Brain Cells” that are filled with fun, child-like material, yet then he mixes in some very hard hitting material. “Missing You” discusses the violence of Chicago streets and directly relates to a friend of his who was stabbed and killed in front of him. It shows his commitment at an early age to fixing this problem. Sure he could’ve just focused on fun things and really played to that high school audience he had with this first tape, but he still focused on pushing his message across. We also see a huge amount of features on here of people that weren’t really heard of before 10 Day. Guys like Vic Mensa and Alex Wiley plus Peter CottonTale and Nico Segal (formerly known as Donnie Trumpet) were all on here and only went up after this. Plus I love the chorus of “Windows” utilizing Akenya Seymour for that melody. Music to my ears. “Fuck You Tahm Bout” might be the most comical track on this whole mixtape because it feels in every way, shape, and form like a diss track about every person who ever wronged him in high school.

Now I could go on for paragraphs and paragraphs about “Prom Night” alone. The nostalgia factor for this song is just so high for me. The memories I have of listening to this song in high school and even now feel endless. I feel like for many hip hop fans in my generation who fell in love with Chance, especially when Acid Rap dropped, still know that this is one of the best songs in his entire catalog. Primarily because we all have those moments we can think back to that surround this song.

“Here’s a brighter bulb for your limelight
And this is your night, homie, shine bright
This for everybody’s fucking prom night.”

Just a great song all around. Then, of course, the Chicago rapper chose to finish with “Hey Ma” which is the perfect outro track.

The Beats:

Chance and his production team created an on-point vibe throughout. It feels like the perfect mix of soul influence, jazz samples, and hip-hop rhythms and flows. I love the use of the sample to switch-up to a piano interlude on “Missing You”. “Long Time” samples the instrumentals of the track “Nantes” by the indie band Bierut which I think is a pretty unique style. I especially love the horns in the back of that track as well. My favorite beat has to go to “Juke Juke”. The speed and flow of those hi-hats are just too fun not to want to get up and dance. As mentioned before, Nico Segal was featured on “Long Time II”. Hands down my favorite trumpeter in the game right now and at points on this song it almost feels like he is singing with his instrument. If you haven’t already, make sure to check out his own project Surf and especially the tracks “Nothing Came To Me” and “Something Came To Me”.

The Production:

I really appreciate that Chance didn’t try and remaster the original version of this mixtape. It still feels very raw and rough. There are still fadeouts that go on for far too long and transitions that don’t make a lot of sense. But you have to remember that he made this his senior year of high school with most likely limited funds. So I will cut him some slack on that aspect. I have been on rants in my last few reviews about the current age of streaming but this really brings you back to before the days where streams didn’t matter so much. Look at the track lengths on this thing. “Prom Night” is five and a half minutes alone. This being a mixtape though also raises another point I would like to make. I miss the days of “discovering” music on SoundCloud and DatPiff. Obviously, you can still “discover” new artists this way but it just doesn’t feel the same as it did before the days of Apple Music, Spotify, and people being known as “SoundCloud rappers”. It’s not often anymore that we see rawness and minimal production similar to this project. This is a mixtape, and therefore it is imperfect. It has mixing issues, weird transitions, and no true overarching flow of tracks. Yet at the same time, it feels very distinctly like an early 2010s mixtape which you have to add the nostalgia factor too.

The Essentials:

“U Got Me Fucked Up”, “Long Time II”, “Prom Night”, “Family”, and “Hey Ma”

The Rating:

Is 10 Day a “classic” like Alex Wiley proclaims on “Windows”? No…I have to reserve that title for Acid Rap. However, I do believe that this mixtape is a true gem when it comes to the development of the new wave of rap. It really brings me back to those days when I first starting listening to Chance and thought I was the shit for bumping this “underground” Chicago artist. Little did I know back then that he would get to the point that he is at today. Look, I love this tape for all those memories and if I were to rate this subjectively, it would be a perfect ten for that reason. But I can’t as that’s not why you, the reader, are here. Therefore, I have to give 10 Day a:


Still a really good score but I can’t lie and say it has no flaws. At the same time though, it was the introduction of my favorite rapper. Plus don’t forget the fan theory about the cover art…he was still looking up at the hip hop industry at this point.

– Heff


7 EP – Lil Nas X

We’ve all heard this story before. Young artist makes a song and using the power of social media, it becomes the biggest track yet. Sheck Wes’s “Mo Bamba”, Cali District’s “Teach Me How To Dougie”, Shop Boyz’s “Party Like A Rock Star”, I could go on and on but the idea of a “One Hit Wonder” crosses genres and eras. This spring, “Old Town Road” by Lil Nas X went from a meme on TikTok to topping the Billboard Charts (still) for 12 weeks. This meteoric rise of the 20 year old rapper out of Atlanta was truly the last thing anyone expected and it was fueled by a song that blended country music with an ATL-sounding trap beat. After all his teasing and trolling, Lil Nas X finally dropped his debut project titled 7 EP, which is truly everything that represents the rapper’s rise to fame. Since it is only eight tracks – yes…I am just as confused as you why it’s eight and not seven – I will be switching up the structure of this review, taking a look at each song individually.

Old Town Road (Remix):

I am still curious to see if he will drop this “Remix” album. I don’t think it will happen but who cares because this song will be on the Billboard Top 100 for weeks and weeks to come. It is pretty obvious at this point that this version, even though it’s a “remix”, is the main one. He just recently performed it with Billy Ray at the BET Awards and killed it. Even all these months later, I still feel like this track is a banger. Not only is the music video for it amazing but it has changed the way people look at cross culture tracks. Country vocals over hip hop beats are gaining traction and it wouldn’t shock me if we start to see a sub-genre begin to blossom for a bit. Everything is a trend though and as much as I love the song, I know it doesn’t have the potential to be something that will last for years and years and years to come.


Easily the most anticipated song on this EP, but I truly don’t see the hype around it. It’s good and catchy but it really just isn’t that great. Also, I have ranted about this before and I will say it again…streaming is slowly killing track lengths. Under two minutes is not really a full song and it’s designed like that to maximize streams.

F9mily (You & Me):

The third piece on the record feels very late 90s, early 00s inspired punk rock. It truly doesn’t fit the album in the slightest. Look, I understand what he was trying to do here but like…eh. Feels more like something that would fit in a Disney movie about summer camp with a bunch of wannabe rock stars – Camp Rock?

Kick It:

I know a lot of people aren’t fans of “Kick It” but I kind of like it. The lyrics are pretty simple and Lil Nas doesn’t really push his vocals very far, staying extremely monotone, but the beat is solid. I love the horns in the back of the beat here. Honestly, this is one of the most fitting tracks to his vibe I feel. When he seems to rap, similar to on “C7osure (You Like)”, it’s just chilled out.


This song is what I was honestly expecting more of off 7 EP. This track literally sounds like country and rap were thrown into a blender as what was poured out is a post-“Old Town Road” sound. He sings in a very bravado voice with a very “Cowboy”. Then all of a sudden, Cardi B hops on and kills her verse. It’s honestly amazing to think this is where music is in 2019. If you asked me at the end of last year what was going to get really big in 2019, I would have never expected Cardi B to get featured on a country song. I’m not even going to attempt to make a prediction about next year yet.

Bring U Down:

Lame and boring. Yeah this track is trash.

C7osure (You Like):

As I mentioned earlier, I actually really like this side of Lil Nas X. It’s really vibey and doesn’t seem to fit one genre or another. It’s quite unique. “C7osure (You Like)” as a track is pretty bland, however, I can appreciate what he was going for here. Hopefully, this is something we will get to see more of in the future.

Old Town Road:

This really shouldn’t have been on here at all. Look I get it…this is the song that made him famous. But still, it’s too short and feels like it was added just to add on. Keep it as a single and let the remix on the album. There is nothing wrong with the original; I sang its praises talking about the remix. I just don’t think there was any reason to include it on here twice. It doesn’t add any value in my opinion…just kind of there.

The Rating:

I’m not including the essentials because it’s pretty clear which tracks were good and which were bad. Instead, let’s discuss what you are all here for…the rating. I understand what Lil Nas X was attempting to do with this album. He created an album that fits his trolling ways while attempting to break down the barriers of multiple genres. It just didn’t do it for me. Each track has its pros and cons individually but altogether, it makes zero sense. I’m sure there are some people out there who truly enjoyed listening to this album but I am not one of them. My first listen through, I thought “Okay, this kinda is cool” but after my third and fourth listens, I was just bored and unimpressed. With that all said, 7 EP is without a question a…


I really hope whatever he releases next is way more focused. This kid has talent, both in making music and creating a buzz around him. But if he doesn’t focus on developing his own sub-genre of Country Trap, he will always be looked at as a one-hit-wonder.

– Heff

lil nas x

PTSD – Rod Wave

So far, there hasn’t been too many artists I’ve found in 2019 that I have thought to myself, “oh shit, they’re next”. I have found tons of artists with crazy good potential (hopefully interviewing and reviewing many of them soon) but no one like Rod Wave. This 19-year-old out of St. Petersburg is exactly that though. High skill and high potential. He has two other albums out on streaming aside from this one, Hungar Games 3 and Hungar Games 2. However, his newest project PTSD  is by far my favorite. Rod Wave’s talents ooze out of every song and make you want to sing along on every chorus.

The Vocals:

Before you say “woah this kid sounds like Kevin Gates”…stop. He doesn’t like that according to an interview he had with XXL. Honestly, I see it and don’t see it. Rod Wave just sounds unique to me. He can go from this really gruff, beefy sounding rap to pretty solid singing. It’s impressive and the last thing you would expect from a dude with this kind of rapping style. This shows in his melodies throughout the project, my favorite of which come on “Paint the Sky Red”. And while he is definitely his own man, you can hear a lot of the influence he gets being a rapper in the south. Florida seems to always create its own sound, drumming to their own beat while hinting at the sounds coming out of Atlanta. Rod Wave seems to be following in similar footsteps to his fellow Florida rappers. When you are listening to PTSD, you will quickly realize that Rod took this album extremely personal. The chorus of “Heart on Ice” says it all;

“Heart been broke so many times I don’t know
what to believe
Mama say it’s my fault, it’s my fault, I wear my
heart on my sleeve”

He isn’t rapping about popping percs in the club and spending racks. “Heart on Ice”, “Proud of Me” and “No Love” are the opposite from that. Deeply personal tracks that feel relatable to anyone going through the pain and strife of a breakup or rocky relationship.

The Beats:

This is where the album somewhat falls off for me. It’s incredibly piano heavy, with a piano loop in pretty much every beat. However, it feels as if a majority of the beats have been washed out to make room for Rod’s voice. Now I understand why an artist might choose to do this but I feel that there is no real reason to do such on PTSD. If the beats stood out a bit more, I think it would not only help the overall sound of the project but also help Rod Wave start to gain larger attention nationwide. He was nominated for XXL Freshman Class this year. I don’t think washing out beats were what caused him to miss getting a spot but amazing beats definitely help blow rappers out.

The Production:

Aside from the quieter beats, the mixing on the project is good. I discovered Rod first on SoundCloud and sometimes the mixing can be a bit off on there. However, can’t complain at all really. The album feels very digestible if that’s even the right adjective because you can easily listen through this whole thing and not be unsatisfied or bored. That said though, a lot of the track lengths are shorter and only comes in at 33 minutes long. Yet even then, all twelve songs flow very nicely and it is like a solid album through and through.

The Essentials:

“Popular Loner”, “PTSD”, “Heart on Ice”, and “Calabasas”

The Rating:

This dude has been gaining really steady momentum in Florida and the south as a whole. I’m honestly in shock that he has started creeping his way up north. Imagine if this man did a track with Dave East or TJ Porter…he would be the next big thing in NYC. I’m serious New Yorkers, put this man on your radar because sooner or later he is going to pop off nationwide! PTSD is easily a:


This 19-year-old from the Tampa Bay area is the next up. He’s got a bit of a road ahead of him but I promise you…this man is next!

– Heff

rod wave

Sit Down Series: Elijah Bank$y

Forming a solid group of friends in high school is vital to pretty much everyone. For Elijah Bank$y, a rapper out of Orange County, NY, that made all the difference for his artistic career. By joining a group of young artists and creatives, he honed his skills and slowly began gaining more popularity. In the past five years, he has grown tremendously from his first show in Poughkeepsie, NY to having 10,000 monthly listeners on Spotify alone. This past weekend, he took the time to sit down with Colossus and discuss his craft, his grind, and most importantly, the influence of his tight friend group.

Colossus Music: Let’s begin by talking about Orange County, NY where you are from. How has that influenced you as a rapper and an artist?

Elijah Bank$y: I mean it influenced in the sense that it is who I am. I grew up listening to 90s hip hop. My mom is from Brooklyn and my dad is from Nyack. They both listened to different styles of hip hop and things like that. I mostly grew up listening to guys like Jay Z, Biggie, all those people like that. A lot of the kids I was hanging around when I was a kid were listening to Lil Wayne and those kinds of guys. I’m honestly not a huge Lil Wayne fan because I grew up listening to stuff that was slightly different. It was all old school stuff. My first big mainstream artist was Eminem and 50 Cent. Those were the two people that I was like ‘alright, these are the two rappers I am gonna listen to that are new.’ I was one of those weird kids.

CM: Then what was the moment that really made you switch to not just listening but making your own music?

EB: When I was much younger, my cousin and I would always mess around with rapping. I have been writing since I was in fifth grade. One day I was at his house and he had an mp3 player that would let you record. I wrote my parts and he wrote his and we sat there and hovered over this little mp3 player. We would bring in family members one by one and show them it to them. That’s a little bit of what had started it. From there it grew over the years. Phones have the voice memo thing so I was doing that on all my old phones. It really just started by messing around with my cousins recording stuff on phones or mp3 players. I took a year off from it because I played sports and wanted to take it more seriously. Then one year in high school, I decided I didn’t love playing football anymore. I loved writing more and was still always looking at the lyrics for rap songs. I tried focusing on that and thought it was pretty cool and stuck with it. That’s really how it started!

CM: After doing a deep dive through your Instagram, I saw that you did your very first show way back in February 2014. Now you have 10,000 monthly listeners on Spotify alone. That’s a pretty incredible journey!

EB: Yeah it’s honestly been special, so special! That first show I opened up for this frat rapper. It was so funny cause like I don’t even make music like that. We were laughing because it was literally the total opposite kind of music to what I liked and what I was making. I don’t even remember how I got the chance to do it. In my friends and I’s minds, it was like once we did that show we would be the next big thing. I ended up choking on the first verse of the very first song. I was just so hyped and then the beat drop and I was like ‘uh’ and looked into the crowd and played it off like the mic was low. I was tapping it and everything but I was choking. I knew the hook was coming so I did the hook and from then on it was smooth sailing. Right before I went on I called it too. From there to now, I’ve just been working man. Constantly making music, constantly doing this. It’s just weird like now I have two projects getting mixed and mastered and before I just had the one. Coldest Days in February Shines the Amethyst Rock was the EP I dropped last year and it wasn’t even supposed to be serious because I already had a bigger project I was working on. I decided to put the big project on hold to finish the EP because it turned into me having to put my all into it. That kind of took off on its own. I just constantly create music. I know I’m not completely answering the question but I just work and try to make songs and figure out that algorithm. I always try to drop certain things at certain times to see how the response is. Every time I thought I had something, there was always a different response to it. Some wouldn’t get as many plays or other people would comment on SoundCloud or social media and be like ‘yo I love this song!’ I was seeing in real time how things worked on different social media. It’s a climb now. I know I’m making better music, at least I hope I am. It’s a big climb.

CM: So explain your connection to Gus Dapperton. He’s not a rapper, pretty unique alternative guy, but you guys go way back. He even had a feature on Coldest Days. What’s the connection there?

EB: He’s just my best friend! He’s like my little brother and I say that cause he’s just younger than me. That’s really it – he’s just the homie. I have known him for like the past 7 years I think, maybe a little more. When I first linked up with him, he wasn’t Gus Dapperton and he was just making beats. Once I met him, I started taking things way more seriously. We had a whole album that we were working on and stuff like that. I was always going over to his house, making a bunch of songs or writing a bunch of raps. All that work led to me building my own work ethic. Initially, it was my recording stuff but now it’s my perfecting stuff. At first, I would just go in and not focus on getting the best verse but instead bust a bunch of them out. Once I got with him, we really focused on perfecting the studio work. That’s really how that started. We would always send our work back and forth to each other to critique. Even that song “Coitus” was me, Tomas, and Gus all chilling at his apartment in NYC and I was like ‘yo I would love to have you on my first serious project.’ Tomas hooked up the beat and I didn’t even write anything down or listen to it. Once we got down to the studio we hung out, drank, shared stories, then I started coming up with some bars and Gus provided the hook. We recorded it and that was that!

CM: With that being said, what is the music scene like coming out of Orange County? Is there a community or a lot of support up there for rappers?

EB: It depends. There is definitely a bigger rap scene starting to come up but before it was way more of a band scene. But like Pardison Fontane is from Newburgh and he co-wrote for Cardi B and Kanye. There are also people from Rockland that are also doing stuff. For me, it was just me and my homies. Like W Swisher is another rapper who I grew up with. Ever since I got out of high school, I’ve been making music with him. It’s kind of a weird knit group of people who rap, produce, edit, some are part of the skate culture. It’s not a specific kind of person. Rap hit everyone differently here. Even Gus, he is a huge fan of it but like there isn’t your prototypical hip hop person up here. I have another homie who raps and produces but also makes lo-fi beats and plays guitar and sings. We all have to be our own different person. But at the end of the day, it’s really a band area. Like no one wants to go to the local bar to hear you rap and the bar owners don’t even really want us. Usually, we have to trek it down to the city or more upstate. My first show was in Poughkeepsie, an hour north of here. It’s just tougher to get people behind you. If you aren’t making a certain style of rap like trap or frat rap it’s just a little bit tougher.

CM: So bringing it into your inspirations and writing a bit, one of the first songs I heard from you was “FIFA Pro Club”. Where did all the references and inspiration come from for that track?

EB: Okay so this is some SoundCloud shit. One of my homies who I know strictly through SoundCloud linked me up with Chris Rose. We both knew of each other but never worked on anything together. We chatted back and forth a bit then he wanted to give me a beat. I was at work working retail when he sent it to me and I saw it was titled “FIFA Pro Club”. I was like ‘wow that’s a tight beat name’. I had never seen anything else titled like that. I knew for the hook I had to use FIFA Pro Clubs in it in some way. I ducked down behind the counter at work and held it up to my ear, listened to maybe 30 seconds of it, hummed to myself ‘something something green, FIFA Pro Clubs’. I knew I wanted to make it something soccer related and knew I was on to something. I just ran with it and threw a whole bunch of soccer references in there, while trying to not make it too cheesy. I only knew soccer through FIFA the video game and only ever followed the sport loosely. I know tidbits here and there but I am not the biggest soccer fan. I actually mixed those vocals too on the first version I put out. Then I had my friend Tomas like actually mix it when I was going to put it out to streaming services. People liked the mix of it but I wanted to get it sounding clean.

CM: Your latest track, “Heavy Heart”, that dropped early June, is clearly an extremely personal track for you. Do most of your songs come someplace personal?

EB: Yeah. I mean that one was about my Pops who just passed. Now more so than ever actually. After Coldest Days, I was in a weird space because I thought things would happen. But then other things happen and I didn’t drop it exactly how I wanted to, especially with PR and things. We had some stuff with PR people and it just didn’t work out. I’m the one who put all my money into it and to do PR and shit like that so when it doesn’t work out, I’m out of whatever money I just put into it. That’s the game of an independent person who’s just trying figure shit out and get his music places. If you put your money into some shit and it doesn’t work out, you say to yourself time to grind a little harder. That’s the lows of it. After that, I was just stuck on what to rap about. I didn’t want to stay on one topic or repeat stuff from the EP. I went a created a bunch of random songs then hit this huge rut. I went to Gus’s house and just hung out with him for like a week. Called out of work and just stayed there as long as I could. That helped clear my head and came back and starting writing more personal shit. Not even more personal but like globally, everyone is going through the same things in some form. I knew if I could talk about some of the stuff I had been through, it could help other people go through whatever it is they are dealing with. Dealing with a lost person in the family or your normal family troubles or perspective on life in general. I started doing more of that and for me, that’s when it started coming a little easier. Not even that…like I could make a two-minute song with just a verse and a hook but it still would be as heavy and hit the same as a three-minute track. I would say yeah almost of my life is written into my raps but at the same time, I can do a song like “Coldest Out” where it’s more so a feeling or a vibe.

CM: Any scroll through your Instagram shows you have a keen eye for style. What is your go-to, especially when you are performing? Is it pure style or is it comfort-focused?

EB: It really depends. Sometimes I will hit up a couple of friends to borrow stuff. Like most of my stuff is comfort but some I know is strictly for fashion. I love the old vintage stuff; Nautica, Polo, things like that. A couple of my friends make shirts too. Most of the time I try to wear my friends’ stuff. I will hit them up and be like ‘yo I need this in an XL and will pay you afterward!’ Afterward, people will come up to me and be like what hoodie or shirt is that and I point them straight to the homie who’s stuff it is. As much as I can I try to involve the homies in everything. Even my homie James Paris in Philly did the cover art for me on Coldest Days. He has a multi-media brand called In-House and he makes a “Fuck Nazis” shirt so I will wear that too. I especially like wearing that shirt cause I’m like, you know fuck Nazis! I will wear that one a lot but now it’s really whatever. It just doesn’t matter that much about what I am wearing it’s more delivering the best rap at shows and having fun when I can.

CM: Who is your favorite mainstream artist right now? Maybe broaden that out to be top three favorite artists making music right now.

EB: Damn you got me in a bind here. Mainly I listen to underground guys because I can hear their hunger and the stuff I want to hear from people. That’s way more relatable to me than listening to like Drake rap about how rich he is and same with Jay Z. At the same time, I do understand how good Drake is when he is in his rapping bag and I’m a huge Hov fan. But for three, it would definitely be Wiki from Ratking, Roc Marciano for sure because I just think he is one of the better rappers, and King Krule because he’s rapping about being depressed and stuff but at the same time he’s being so descriptive. I’ll go with those three.

CM: Those are all solid!

EB: And Frank of course.

CM: Well who doesn’t love Frank Ocean!

EB: It’s a cheat code really!

CM: Now rolling off that topic and moving into the standard Colossus interview wrap up, if you could have dinner or drinks with any three artists, dead or alive, who would they be?

EB: Definitely Gil Scott-Heron. I have “Pieces of a Man” tatted on me. That’s an album and song he did and it’s one of my favorites ever. I just feel like I would learn so much from him about where we come from and my people and stuff like that. I’m big on that. I will ask my grandfather who came over from Peurto Rico how it was for him coming from where he was killing his own chickens to NYC where there are huge buildings. Obviously a huge difference. So I would want to talk to him and definitely also talk to Hov. Just to learn as much game as I can and pick his brain on stuff. After that, I don’t know. Actually, I would group all of my friends together five years from now. Like all my friends that make music and are creatives, I would just want to sit at a big table and have drinks with them. Like we all started in a basement and then to become super huge artists in our own ways – rapping, singing, producing, art, all that. I would just love to talk with them about it after five years and see how everyone is feeling.

CM: Last question! We are halfway through 2019. What do you want the rest of the year to be like for you?

EB: I definitely want the EP that I’m working on out. It’s called From Me to You. Or at least getting close to being out by the end of the year. Besides that, I want the world obviously but a couple more shows would be nice. And just to be happier, man! 2019 has been kinda dull for me and the last few months got really serious. I got a lot of shit to drop in 2020 so watch for that!

– Heff

Elijah Banksy 1

Yesterday’s Gone – Loyle Carner

If you have ever played any of the FIFA games, you know their soundtrack is one of the best as far as sports video games go. It has artists from all over the world and can be anything from alternative to hip hop. It’s always just fun, cool music. This is how I stumbled across Loyle Carner. Featured on a Tom Misch song in FIFA 19, I was like “wait wait wait, who is this smooth ass MC?” Before I knew it, Yesterday’s Gone, his debut album from 2017, became one of my favorite albums. It’s incredibly flowly, fun, and smooth. Before you tell me that you don’t like the sound of British rappers or that vibed out hip hop isn’t your style, just give the album a listen, in order, as you read this review.

The Vocals:

So I can’t talk about Loyle Carner’s vocals without talking about his flows. They feel like water, and no, that isn’t an exaggeration. I don’t really know if it’s his accent or if his general skill but something about the way he delivers his verses just feels smooth. Like smooth as marble smooth. I love the way he starts the album with a sample of Dr. Dre’s “It’s All on Me”. “The Isle of Arran” is lyrically a phenomenal song, discussing the trials of being a young dad after his own father left. “+44” has some beautiful poetry done in the form of spoken words and I feel breaks up the initial tracks quite well. Tom Misch also hops on the chorus of “Damselfly” so you already know that’s a vibe right there. On “Florence”, we also get to see his more emotional side. You can almost hear the cracks in his voice as he talks about the little sister he never had. As he said in an interview, “I’ve always wanted a little sister. The music speaks for itself…” That’s a huge part of this album. Family. Carner clearly values his family, his childhood, and his upbringing. He doesn’t need to rap about money, drugs, cars, jewelry, etc.; instead, he focuses on what matters most to him. You can really feel his love and admiration in his verses, and it undoubtedly makes his music feel much more meaningful. Sure, he has some assistance though. The beats are beautifully done and definitely help him but I often found myself grooving to his flows and words instead of the hi-hats or basses. It also definitely helps to have some solid features on this project. Tom Misch, Kwes, Rebel Kleff, and Jehst all provide the right amount of talent without ever overpowering the track they are on. Plus he raps about Guinness on “No Worries”…I’m a Guinness guy…I like that a lot.

“Still you slip for a minute, blame the Guinness that you sip
Little piss, missing ignorance and bliss”

The Beats:

The beat on “The Isle of Arran” sets the tone for the entire record. It’s faint choir vocals, haunting piano, cheery guitar, and hand claps adds a nice gospel feel to Carner’s hip-hop debut. This flows into every other song on Yesterday’s Gone. It’s soulful, jazzy, and ridiculously smooth. At times, it almost reminds of the lo-fi playlist I listen to when I study. You just start to drift off into a different world. “Damselfly” is a top-quality track solely because of the instrumentals behind it. Anytime Tom Misch is on guitar, you can’t resist feeling relaxed and vibed out. “Ain’t Nothing Changed” takes us back to the ’80s with its old school sound. It feels like something off an old Tribe Called Quest album. Coming in as the 9th track on the album, the beat on “Stars & Shards” throws you off guard a bit. It’s totally different than the rest of the album in the fact that it isn’t jazzy. Instead, we get this very rock n’ roll vibe with its prominent guitar loop throughout. Lastly, after all the chill, jazzy, dreamy beats throughout, we are brought back to earth with an acoustic, previously unreleased project of his dad’s. It provides a nice, cheery end to the album as a whole.

The Production:

Nowhere on this album do I feel like a track is disjointed or messy. The flow is nearly perfect. That being said, I highly recommend you throw this whole piece on in order when you are studying or working. While it’s smooth and jazzy, the flow of it all almost feels productive. I love the breakups Carner chose to use like the candid recording of him and his mother on “Swear” and the spoken poetry of “+44”. As I said, it seems that Carner really designed this project to listen in order…just like an old school vinyl record.

The Essentials:

“The Isle of Arran”, “Damselfly”, “Ain’t Nothing Changed”, “Stars and Shards”, and “No CD”

The Rating:

There are rappers I recommend and then there are rappers that I recommend. Loyle Carner is one of them. Easily one of the best new rappers out of London, I highly advise anyone who likes hip hop even in the slightest to check him out. He, of course, isn’t for anyone but Yesterday’s Gone is essential to any good hip hop library. It’s got fast stuff, slow stuff, vibey stuff, and all-around flow. I thought it would only make sense to publish this on Colossus one year anniversary. It’s been a minute since I gave out a perfect ten. It takes a special album to get that rating. Yesterday’s Gone gets a…

Perfect 10

Debate me all you want in the comments…this is one of my favorite albums and a seriously solid put out by the young London MC. If he keeps putting out music (which he just dropped a new album so check that out), it wouldn’t shock me if he starts to get solid attention in the US.

– Heff

Loyle Carner

Sit Down Series: Blake Fades

Colossus has been sure to keep its finger on the pulse when it comes to new rappers getting attention. One that we have been watching grow over the past few years has been Blake Fades. Formerly Young Fades, the rapper out of Ardmore, Oklahoma is making waves in the industry, getting attention off his freestyles, and building a solid fan base. His music is raunchy, fun, and perfect for any party playlist. Recently, he took the time to sit down and talk with Colossus about being from the country, Hennesy and Red Bull, and his upcoming album Southside Cowboy.

Colossus Music: Let’s start off simple. How did you get into music?

Blake Fades: Oh man, I’ve been into music since I was fifteen. I always liked rap. I’m from the country, like cows and chickens and shit. I didn’t hear rap until I was like eight then started liking it and went to school with a bunch of people who liked it as well. I fell in love with it. I loved rapping along to the songs. I didn’t try to make my own music until I was fourteen or fifteen. One of my homies was like ‘just do it bro. If you suck, you suck and that’s that.’ People liked it so I just kept doing it. I started a little thing in the city where I am from. Everybody used to come to my house to record. We bought a shitty $7 microphone and took a wire and bent it then stretched pantyhose over it to create a pop filter. We were just doing whatever we could to make music. That’s really how I started and I’ve kept doing it ever since.

CM: So if you didn’t hear rap music until you were eight, who was it that you heard that made you really like the genre?

BF: Nelly! And his song “Country Grammar“. All that shit really. That was my first rap love. Nelly is dope as fuck. That whole Country Grammar album I loved. Then every day after school I would come home and watch “106 and Park”. I just loved it and always thought it was dope. Where I’m from is really diverse. I was just always around rap so I gravitated towards it.

CM: You mentioned your buddies were coming over and recording at your house. Is there a community of hip hop artists in your town or in Oklahoma to help grow you?

BF: Yeah definitely. There are definitely people here. I think there were fifteen or so people who were rappers and would put out mixtapes and songs. Everybody would do songs together and help out. I used to press up CDs and go sell them around town for $5 at the gas stations. Oklahoma too is super overlooked. I don’t know anyone from here who has blown up major. There is definitely a community though. I learned a lot of shit from this dude named LB. He was like the biggest rapper I knew out of my area. He showed me how to record myself, how to edit my vocals, shit like that.

CM: So you have really started to pop off. Last year you had over 2 million streams on Spotify and Apple Music. There is even a video of one of the cornerbacks on the Chicago Bears dancing to “Beeper”. Obviously, you got attention and a lot of fans. How did that come to be? Did it happen overnight or was it more gradual?

BF: Since I was eighteen, I’ve been doing concrete work and construction. One day, I was on my way home from work. I was dirty, tired, and hot. I saw a freestyle on Twitter. It had like 30,000 retweets or something. I was like, ‘man I’m gonna freestyle when I get home.’ So, went home, took a shower, made the freestyle then put it on Facebook. It was the “Ending Racism Freestyle“. I went to sleep then woke up and went to work. When I checked my phone it had like 70,000 views. I was like wtf bro. People were messaging me and shit and it was blowing up. I realized I needed to capitalize on it so I grew it from there. The freestyles were what got people looking at me and then when they realized the music was good they stuck around. I think people like my personality that comes through in the little videos I put out.

CM: How do you now continue that growth into the end of 2019 and further to 2020? Is another album on the way? Music videos maybe? Basically, how are you gonna deliver to the fan group you already have while growing that fan base altogether?

BF: Honestly, I’ve been slacking just cause I’ve been dealing with shit outside of music. I dropped Fades World and I think it’s great but I haven’t shot any visuals to it. I need to capitalize on that, being that it is good videos which will help spread it. I want to drop “Glide” and “Dancer” and maybe “Digital” or “Tms”. Hopefully those will start spreading and while that’s happening I will be working on a new album called Southside Cowboy. That’s gonna be fucking crazy. I’m gonna do all the production for it. If you didn’t know, for Fades World, I produced six or eight songs on there. I helped make “Glide”, I made “Dancer”, “Super Freak”, “Tms”, “2:15”, I made all those beats. I’ve done everything myself. I record myself and write all my own lyrics. For the “Beeper” music video, I helped with the idea and my homie Pat made most of it. It’s all self-driven. We’re independent!

CM: That’s awesome! Walk me through your creative process, especially if you are so heavily involved in the beat production. Does it start with the beat or start with the vocals?

BF: Randomly shit will pop in my head. I will click on the voice recorder on my iPhone and say it in the melody I had in my mind. Then I will use FL Studio and make a beat to it. Then I find the melody that matches up and make a track that way. Or my homie TFitzz will come through and bring me some samples ready to go and I will just come up with the melody off of that. 80% of the time it’s hear a beat, like the beat, turn the recorder on, go in the booth, freestyling a bit, then mumbling to find the melody then finding the lyrics to match.

CM: At the end of the day, a lot of your music is party rap. Drinking, smoking, girls, all the fun stuff. That being said, what is your favorite drink?

BF: Hennesy and Red Bull. Yeah man, it’s delicious to me. I’ve tried Crown and Coke and I used to drink Ciroc all the time. But Hennesy and Red Bull is the shit. Thot Juice. Always.

CM: Now you mentioned this new album that you are working on is going to be titled Southside Cowboy. Even on Instagram, you hinted at creating “Swim Mcgraw” as your country rap alter ego. With that being said, what is your opinion on this new wave of “country rap” with guys like Dababy, Lil Nas X, and Lil Tracy?

BF: For the Swim Mcgraw thing, I’m not even sure if I’m gonna do that really. I was working on this song and I was gonna approached it as a parody country rap. But then I thought it actually came out as an alright song. As for Dababy and Lil Nas, I think it’s dope. It’s fucking amazing. It’s good music and I love all music really. I think its dope because being from the country hasn’t always been that cool but now it seems like everybody loves the cowboy shit. It’s crazy.

CM: Who is your favorite mainstream artist right now that you are listening to?

BF: I listen to so much random shit honestly. The past week I have been listening to a lot of Nipsey Hussle. I usually just shuffle my playlists. I listen to Hank Williams Jr., Elvis, Frank Sinatra, funk music like Earth, Wind, and Fire, Stevie Wonder, really anybody. All kind of music is on my phone.

CM: If there was one feature on Southside Cowboy that you could get, who would you want? You get one who is current and one all-time great?

BF: I would do Drake cause anything that has Drake on it pops. Then I would do George Strait, on a rap song though. Just like how Billy Ray Cyrus worked with Lil Nas, I want to get George Strait on something.

CM: So you just changed your stage name recently from Young Fades to Blake Fades. Why the change?

BF: I was Blake Fades first and then I switched to Young Fades. I did that because I felt like I needed more of a rapper name for some fucking reason. That’s when I came out with “Wave” and all those singles. But all of my fans still know me from Blake Fades. My homie mentioned switching back, so I asked my fans on Instagram what they thought. They were all giving really good points about originality and that Lil and Young are so overused. I switched back because it’s original and it’s mine.

CM: Alright, time for the question that has become standard in all Colossus interviews! If you could have dinner or drinks with any three artists, living or dead, who would they be and why?

BF: Jay Z, P Diddy, and Nipsey Hussle. I want to ask them questions about business models, how they move through the industry, how they went from being independent to billionaires. Just to get knowledge from them really.

CM: And then the follow-up. Is there a certain place you would want to take them?

BF: I would take them to this catfish place that’s in Ardmore. It’s really good. Some real country catfish. Or just to the pasture to shoot some guns. That’s shits fun to blow things up.

CM: Speaking of pastures, I see all the time on your Instagram stories videos of you with cows.

BF: Yeah I own cows. I go out and feed them and put them on Instagram and shit. I still live in the country you know what I’m saying. I feel like me growing up in the country and internet being so prominent, or better yet me being able to see shit from different places made me who I am. I got to see “106 and Park” and Air Force 1s. I don’t have to try and be one or the other, I’m just both. I’d say the internet is what should be credited for that.

CM: Alright, so last question, what do you want the rest of 2019 to be for you?

BF:  I want to be popping. I want to be touring. If it’s small tours or a big tour. I’m lacking on visuals. I only have one music video out and I have fifty songs. I want to take Fades World and blow those music videos up. Then I want to release Southside Cowboy mid to end of summer. I want to make summer popping with both albums and hopefully be touring, selling merch, linking up with rappers that are above me and just get moving up. Hopefully, get to around 150,000 followers on Instagram. Maybe that’s a low goal. Who knows honestly!

– Heff

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Self – SAIN

Sain, aka Fouch, aka Chris Fouchet, is for sure my most mysterious personal friend. Also from Long Island, Sain has a super unique sound, something I try and strive for. For Sain, it comes naturally though. With a solid arsenal on SoundCloudSelf is Sain’s third project, the first two being Fouche and the second being Break (Fouche is available on YouTube, and hopefully soon on Spotify and Apple Music). Sadly, and unlike the others, it’s only 4 songs but god damn my man put in the work. It took quite a few listens for me to realize (at least for me) what the message behind this project is.

The mysterious Sain cracks the door to his mental, just enough for us to sketch an image in our minds of the room that is his brain. Then, the door is slammed in our face just a mere fourteen minutes later. For someone I’ve known for a majority of my life, this taught me a lot about my boy, and inspired me to…well….not be more like him…but be more like myself. Thanks for the much-needed advice Fouch (Sain).

The Vocals:

“I’ve been shitty to my friends/ I don’t even know them/ I don’t ever call anyone/ Locked in my den” 

I’m sure everyone relates to this on some level but GOD DAMN dude, I feel that on a very personal level. That’s the first reason I love this project so much. Sain keeps his shit real as fuck, like really really real. His lyrics are so beautifully and artistically crafted. Honestly, after listening to it eight times from beginning to end just today, somehow Sain tricks the mind. I can’t front, this really isn’t a happy project. But the way he delivers the lyrics over the instrumentals makes your brain so happy, while the message is pretty damn sad, and relatable. Not to be a “fucking millennial” but this life shits mad hard. Why do you think this is my first article since December? Maybe it’s because…

“I think so many thoughts a day that it would make you throw up” 

Sain doe…Sain takes his personal struggles and makes really great, really relatable art out of it. The second reason I love this project so much is how many different artists you can hear influencing Sain (I’m assuming). He pulls inspiration from quite a few artists, and it’s fucking fascinating how prevalent it is. Leo (Colossus’ founder Heff) and I went out for drinks a few nights back and agreed Sain sounds like the combination of like six different artists from all different styles of Hip-Hop/R&B. He throws in some (properly used and actually enjoyable) auto-tune, some mild singing, all fire bars, and it’s all over beats that HE PRODUCES! MAD FUCKING RESPECT BROTHA! You can tell the man is a prodigy the way he talks about some of his issues while ever-so-playfully dancing around on his instrumentals. It’s ridiculously idiosyncratic. Ridiculously baller.

That brings me to my next thought…

The Instrumentals:

Sain gets DUMB funky with the instrumentals on Self. Like I mentioned earlier, he makes all his own instrumentals. After calling him and asking a few questions about the project, I’m blown away by the thought that went into his instrumentals. Not only does he sample (in some cases) historic and (in all cases) far out artists, but he ties in and recycles samples across multiple songs. I would have not caught that until presumably months from now had he not mentioned it. Sain is a groovy ass dude and even without his words, you can hear his grooviness, his passion, and his musical talent in his instrumentals (he may or may not have let me leech a few instrumentals off of him).

On Self we hear samples from Sam Cooke (aka the King of Soul) on “Bend”, we hear a sample from a fucking TED TALK presented by John Cacioppo that talks about “The Lethality of Loneliness” also on “Bend”. Also, an insanely fantastic Ted Talk to watch, thanks again Fouch. He goes on to use, then somehow nonchalantly recycle a vocal sample from an acapella group called “Voices In Your Head” that ties the project together without you even knowing why. All in all, these instrumentals are on a different level. They’re unique as fuck, MAJORRRRR slaps, upbeat and bouncy enough to make your toes tap and your head bob, yet dark and cloudy enough to match the vibes of the project and remind you what he’s saying is serious. It is sheer, fucking musical genius.

The Overall Vibe:

As I keep saying, this project is a complete mindfuck for me. I love it so much. It’s not clear cut. It’s not a “Look at me, everybody! I’m the fucking best! Gimmie fame and clout!” project, it’s not Soundcloud rap, it’s genuinely from the mind and soul. Something rare as fuck these days. It’s (again in my opinion) genuine, incredibly talent driven music. Sain mentioned on our short call that his goal was “to do what no one else is doing” and I think, unlike most musicians who spew that bullshit, it’s really crafted in a way we don’t see anymore. He really went and did it to em’. Another factor of this project, something I’ve just been introduced to with Self, that makes it that much more unique is the “4×4 Rubric”, that (to the best of our knowledge Fouch (Sain) came up with himself). Sain’s “4×4 Rubric” means that Self is composed of 4 songs, and all 4 titles are 4 characters each. “Need”, “Feed”, “Bend”, “END.” Best described as a super low-key Haiku-Hip-Hop type of idea. I totally dig it. Also…

*SPOILER ALERT* Sain might have mentioned he’s gonna make a project like this once a month. Hence the overly-complex simplicity of it. Mans on his shit. I fucking love it.

That’s fucking impressive.

That’s a real fucking smart musician.

Overall, I dig the vibes super hard. I’ve been in a super dark spot in life the last few months and his words were something I really needed to and finally did hear. It’s really relatable for anyone dealing with Self struggles. I also have to add the disclaimer that it’s not some cheesy Logic spewing words out about mental health radio shit. It’s from the heart of a really real “just-like-you” human. I love Logic but he’s OD with it. Sain hits the nail on the head and is super humble about it.

The fact that (almost) the entirety of this project, including the album art, comes completely from Sain’s talented brain makes me respect the ever-loving shit out of it. I say “(almost)” because Sain mentioned that one of his boys from college and another insanely talented producer, Ian Campbell, mixed and mastered the project. Let me just say, great shit my guy. In my opinion, as a musician and aspiring (slightly educated) producer, the mixing and mastering on this project are nearly flawless. It sounds so clean, so great, so well crafted so SHOUT OUT IAN CAMPBELL!

The Essentials:

This project is only 4 songs so here’s my favorite because I don’t wanna be OD and say the whole thing is essential.


The Rating:

Don’t think I’m biased since Sain and I have been friends for a while. We’ve been out of touch for way too long now, so this is my sheer unbiased rating of this album.


Honestly, I really wish it was longer. But knowing his 4×4 Rubric allows me to accept it’s length. Whether it was made by someone I’ve known forever, or some random ass “New Music Friday” artist on Spotify, this is a great fucking project. Please keep em’ coming. This really really helped my mental and made the last few months a little less shitty by making me feel not alone.

Final Thoughts:

It’s great to hear from you, Fouch. I mentioned earlier and I’ll say it again, for the first time in my life I experienced depression and truly being unmotivated to get up in the morning. This project spoke to me. It gave me hope in reaching normality within myself again and frankly made me feel at peace for the first time since January 25th. So yeah, life can be FUCKING hard BUT if you’re not a shaky warrior, you can take that dark cloud and turn it into an overcast day. You can take that overcast day and turn it into a sunny day. You can take that sunny day and shine a beautiful light on others. That’s exactly what Sain did with this project. His pure musical talent, mixed with a 2019 mindset made for a great fucking project. There’s absolutely not one good reason to not bump Self at least once. It’s 14 minutes long, insanely thought-provoking, and most importantly REAL.

Colossus Fam, it’s fucking great to be back.

Much love!

– JMac

Sit Down Series: SGULL

Greg Sullivan, or SGULL, is beginning to make a name for himself in the music industry. No, he isn’t rapping or singing, but instead, creating beats. This past month, he placed a beat on NLE Choppa’s single “Birdboy” that has nearly 7 million views on YouTube. This isn’t a one-off thing, as SGULL has grinded to get to this point and continues to build a solid catalog of beats. Recently, he invited Colossus to the studio he works at to sit down and talk about his craft, the industry, and music in general.

Colossus Music: Let’s start from the beginning. How did you get into music and more specifically how did you start making beats?

SGULL: I’ve been beatboxing since I was ten. I just kind of fell into it really. I played guitar in middle school and then I got Mixcraft at 14. I dabbled with that for a couple years and then for my 16th birthday I got an iPad mini. Basically, I downloaded iMaschine and that’s the program I have been on for like seven years.

CM: Were your parents playing music around the house or anything like that?

S: No not really. My mom played piano in high school but that’s about it. My brother played guitar but he didn’t stay with it for very long, only two years then quit. I played it for two years as well but got bored with it because I couldn’t create the textures I wanted to create.

CM: So if you started on the guitar, who were you first listening to? Was it a rapper or someone in a different genre?

S: I was listening to fucking Tim McGraw, CCR, James Taylor, those kinds of guys. I’m from a town in Connecticut of 8,000 people and 50% of it is protected land. Small ass town!

CM: Who was really the first rapper you started listening to then? Who was that one artist that made you think ‘man, I like this kind of music’?

S: This is gonna sound really embarrassing but it’s Chris Webby. He was a white rapper and had a song called “A.D.D”. I had Attention Deficient Disorder so I immediately thought ‘oh, here’s this white kid talking about ADD and he is from the town my dad works in.’ My dad actually used to work with his mom so I already knew about the kid. The genre was introduced to me in 7th grade though when someone gave me a CD. That’s when I really started to get into it.

CM: Being a producer, were you attracted to the beats then?

S: No I was attracted to the subject matter. Then I started getting further and further into it. I started just making beats for my own purpose but really I was just making elevator music. It wasn’t hip-hop and definitely not trap beats. The first song that made me want to make trap beats was “Money Baby” by K CAMP. I heard that beat and I was like ‘ohhhh shit what is this? This beat is crazy.’ I got into boom-bap first then I started getting into trap. Now I really like trap cause boom-bap really doesn’t have enough bass. I like the drill style, gun-you-down shit.

CM: So where did the producer name SGULL come from?

S: Well my name is Gregory Sullivan. People used to call me “G Sully”, then it became “SGully”. However, “gully” is another term that basically means you are ready to fight someone. I knew I didn’t want to have that connotation directly associated with it cause I knew people would just refer to me as “Gully” so it became SGULL.

CM: Walk me through your creative process a bit.

S: Fuck it let’s make one!


CM: When you start, do you hear a sound or try to go for a certain vibe?

S: Sometimes I will think of a sound, other times it will be the drums first. I’ve had experiences where I will produce a whole beat and not even listen to it. I’ll put all the chords in that I know I want and I program the drums since I know all the drum sounds. Then I just make a basic melody and it’s done. It’s all about the amount of content you create. I give everything I make a light mix and then I send it out. People spend way too much time with producers. The producers will produce shit all day long and all it does is make the meeting more expensive for the artists.

CM: How many beats are you making per day?

S: I am making three beats a day. That means I am on track to make 1,000 beats by the end of the year.

CM: And how many those are getting sold daily?

S: Shit it depends really. Some records are gonna fall by the wayside and you will also have records that will place. I had beats from two or three years ago that just got bought yesterday. You build a catalog for that reason…not everybody fucks with everything you have. People are looking for what they want. The catalog I’m building now is not for 2018. It’s more for like 2021. The old shit I have, I can get out now. The new shit I have, only some of it will get out now but most of it I will hold.

CM: You just placed a beat with NLE Choppa. How long was that one sitting around?

S: Honestly two weeks. I was sitting at one of my buddy’s house and I was like ‘yo I’m gonna troll the fuck out of everyone. I’m gonna make a beat with a hi-hat, a snare, a kick, and an 808 and it’s gonna blow the fuck up.’ He told me no way but it’s what all these young kids are onto these days. I got home from work two weeks later and get this call from a buddy who needed a ride. I pick him up from Astoria and we drive to Manhattan to Jungle Studios. I was chilling with a bunch of big names and Choppa was there. He was mad chill and very humble. I didn’t say I made beats or anything until my buddy was like ‘Choppa if you need beats this kid makes solid beats.’ Then that’s where “Birdboy” came from.

CM: Seems like that’s the route to go if you are a producer trying to get your beats to big names.

S: Yes and no. It depends on who you are with. Certain people you can do that with and certain people you can’t. You just have to know your place. I wasn’t supposed to be in that studio. I was just thinking this is cool and anything that comes out of it is a bonus.

CM:  Who are you listening to heavy right now?

S: Stack Bundles and Max B definitely. Old school.

CM: So we are currently doing this interview in Sha Hef’s studio. How did you get involved with him?

S: He’s the homie honestly but he is also my favorite rapper. That’s why I am here really, just to be able to work with him. I was at this studio in Connecticut and one of his homies was there. I went to smoke some weed and take a bit of a break. I put Sha Hef on immediately and he was like ‘oh you fuck with Sha Hef?’ It took forever to manifest from there but six months later I met him and did some work for him. Then I got a call from his manager out of the blue. They were about to open a studio and needed an engineer. This was last summer but it didn’t really come together until February.

CM: How much time are you spending in the studio?

S: It’s up to my own discretion. I pull a lot of 18 hour days though. Yesterday I got to the studio at 2 pm and left at 4 am.

CM: So you’ve been at this for a few years and you’ve been making three beats a day this year. I’m sure there were times early on where beats just weren’t selling or people weren’t taking you seriously. How did you keep pushing through those moments?

S: Honestly, I kind of did it the stupid way to keep my catalog so stacked. It taught me a lot though. Producing is a weird clout chase type of thing. People won’t fuck with you if you don’t have credits but then at the same time they do. It’s weird — like with Choppa, I didn’t charge him for the beat because I know I will get my payment on the backend through other means. The industry is weird, man. All these little kids are giving away free beats which fuck everything up. Some people who I know produce are totally in it for the clout. They just want to be popular. They are more worried about 60,000 followers than $60,000. It’s not too often of a problem for me now but like everyone wants them for free now. No one wants to pay.

CM: But what motivated you to keep that grind up? Three beats a day is not an easy task.

S: A lot of the people I have looked up to have told me that if I really want to be a producer, I could. I was sitting playing beats at Cinematic and one of the A&R’s there kept saying to himself ‘damn this kid could be something but what.’

CM: Speaking of people you look up to, who do you look up to in the industry?

S: My homies A Lau and Tony Seltzer. Shout out to them! They are killing shit right now. Those are the homies. That’s the type of grind I’m trying to be on. Like I think three beats a day is a lot then I go hang out with Tony and give him three melodies and he flexes all of them in forty-five minutes. Him, Kenny Beats, Scott Storch, Harry Fraud, it’s mainly just like white producers.

CM: Okay now this is a question we have to ask everyone. If you were to have dinner with any three musicians, dead or alive, who would they be?

S: Uzi. Damn wait now I’m trying to think of two others beside Uzi. Scott Storch probably. Maybe A$AP Rocky too. I feel like he would be dope to hang with.

CM: Is there any place specifically you would take them?

S: Probably the studio. I’d just order the food. All I eat honestly is pizza, fruit, and Chinese food. Yesterday I had two apples, some fries, and a panini with avocado. That was the first time having avocado and it was at three in the morning. So yeah a weird dinner.

CM: Last question. What do you want 2019 to be for SGULL?

S: Some very dope opportunities were just dropped in my lap a couple days ago. I’m capitalizing on those, just waiting for one of the rappers to get out of jail so we can make the song.

– Heff

Both photos shot by @notlanosphoto










Fades World – Young Fades

Young Fades makes any marketer happy. He is extremely active on his socials and clearly has seen success from some Twitter campaigns, one post having nearly 4.4 million views. This is how Young Fades came onto my radar. Honestly, a white dude out of Oklahoma rapping in camo shirts is not usually my go-to listening but Fades seems to be developing his own brand. It’s sexy, raunchy, and fun. Are you going to listen to this in the car with your parents? Hell no. Throw it on while your studying? Eh. Play it at a party and just have some drinks, dance around, and enjoy? You bet your ass! Fades isn’t for everyone but seems to be gaining more traction day by day. Fades World is his debut album.

The Vocals:

As a singer, Fades is honestly not that bad. He has flow and can hit the melodies pretty well. Throughout the entire project, we see a very sexual side of him, which is no surprise after his initial EPs, singles, and mixtapes. It’s clear to any listener of his preferred hobbies: liquor, partying, and female associates. As a fan, I was hoping for a bit more from Fades, as we saw this version in the early EPs. I understand that is who he is and his brand but we don’t see a ton of depth from him. The only song on the 14-track album that discusses a different topic is “Coming Down”, in which he describes his come up in the rap game, his successes, and where he wants to go from here. While the subject matter on “2:15” is a bit silly, it has the best flows we see from him. The smooth, almost crooning verses leading into a solid chorus is a route he should definitely look at exploring more on future albums. Fades is party rap. Plain and simple. When I put this album on, it’s not to get introspective or question the powers that be, it’s to get lit and enjoy a few beers (maybe more than a few). However, I can’t talk about the vocals on this project without bringing up the best line on the album from “Beeper”:

“Not from the city, country like I’m Willie
Bad boy like I’m Diddy, trying to hop off in that Bentley”

The Beats:

In no way are the beats on Fades World trash, however, at the same, they don’t fully stand out at you. That’s not to say that I mark them down in any way. I feel that they end up perfectly matching Fades sound and style. The piano samples throughout are solid, like the clean loop on “Glide” and the poppy piece on “Wave” (easily making it my favorite beat on the project). Overall, Fades’ team of producers on the album cultivated his unique sound, a poppy, yet hip-hop focused vibe aimed at getting you hyped anytime you hear it come on.

The Production:

The value here is lost for me when you realize that a majority of the tracks are between two and three minutes long. I could go on a whole rant here about the current status of the music streaming industry. However, that isn’t the point of this review. I understand that to succeed in this new era of music, songs have to be short, so it only makes sense that that’s how this album turned out. Aside from that, the flow between songs is very fluid and there aren’t many skips on the album. He opens with his party tracks, flows to slower, more “romantic” pieces in the middle, then right back to that braggadocious style at the end.

The Essentials:

“Glide”, “Lodi Dodi”, “2:15”, and “Wave”

The Rating:

I have been listening to Fades for a while and for his first project, I am honestly impressed. While he references his country attitudes, this is far from the new wave of country trap. He remains on brand, demonstrates his style and vibe, all while providing some pretty decent flows and melodies. I just wish he would mix it up a bit more on future projects instead of talking girls, parties, and drinking nonstop. However, with that said, this is a solid debut album from the rapper out of Oklahoma and Fades World gets a…


– Heff

young fades