Establishing his own spot amongst the ranks of East Coast hip-hop’s seminal figures, DJ/producer Statik Selektah utilized his turntabling skills and ingenuity in PR and promotions to break some of the region’s most promising artists, bearing his own influence on the national mixtape circuit. Born January 23, 1982 in Lawrence, MA, Patrick Baril was exposed to production equipment at a very early age, tinkering with his parents’ eight-track machine, cassette recorders, and turntable. By middle school, he was already DJing school functions, but he was inspired to be a true wheels-of-steel artiste after hearing DJ Premier scratch and mix records on Funkmaster Flex’s Hot 97 radio show. Soon after, at 14 years old, he purchased his first turntables and mixer. Calling himself DJ Statik (the “Selektah” surname came later), he started to work clubs and private parties up and down the New England coast. In 2000, after living in New Hampshire, he moved back down to Massachusetts to enroll in the audio production program at Boston’s New England Institute of the Arts. That same year, Selektah started putting out mixtapes, namely his Spell My Name Right series. With his mixtapes and DJ gigs, Selektah never passed up the opportunity to champion local hip-hop from Boston and the surrounding New England area. In particular, Selektah was responsible for introducing fellow Lawrence, MA, native Termanology to the world, helming his Hood Politics mixtapes in the mid- to late 2000s. Managing all of these tasks became much easier when he established in 2003 his own PR/marketing firm ShowOff. In 2006, he turned ShowOff into an official record label, with Termanology & Producer DC’s Out the Gate LP as its first release. By this time, though, Selektah’s prestige had grown considerably. His radio shows were playing in several places, from London to Mobile, AL; he produced beats for many artists, including Foxy Brown, AZ, and Joell Ortiz; and most importantly, the DJ dished out tons of mixtapes with big name and up-and-coming artists, such as Nas, Q-Tip, John Legend, Royce Da 5’9 (The Bar Exam, co-hosted with DJ Premier), and Saigon. Statik dropped his first LP, Spell My Name Right in 2007, and his follow up Stick 2 the Script album in 2008. Other artists he has produced for following that include Talib Kweli, Bun B, Styles P, Consequence, Freeway, M.O.P. and Jadakiss. Rockstar games reached out for Statik in late 2008 to enlist him as DJ and producer of the Grand Theft Auto IV update “the Lost and Damned”, as well as 2 songs for Midnight Club: Los Angeles. In March 2008, Selektah and Saigon recorded All In A Day’s Work in a 24 hour period, and was acclaimed by critics. He also DJed for Q-tip on his 2009 Renassaince World Tour. Statik just dropped his 3rd studio album, 100 Proof: The Hangover on Showoff/Brick Records. Catch DJ Statik Selektah every Thursday Night on Eminem’s Shade 45 Sirius/XM Satellite Radio Station as well as FM stations across the globe. www.showoffhiphop.com
Statik Selektah ‘Extended Play’
The MC known as Playdough is a rare story in Texas hip-hop. While much of the state is populated by artists who are content to achieve regional fame, and boast about it as if they have taken over the world – this is Texas after all, where everything is “bigger” – Playdough remains humble though his career has literally taken him all over the world. He recently hit number 2 on the CMJ hip-hop charts as well as cracking the Top 200.Nothing about this MC is typical. His name refers to the playtime cornerstone of everyone’s youth, the colorful clay modeling compound known as Play-Doh. But he’s no toy, and he’s definitely not here to be shaped by anyone’s hand, but his own.
His real name is Doug, and that played a role in his choice of moniker, but there’s a deeper meaning behind the name. “I try to change my style up and do something unique for each song,” Playdough explains, “shaping a melody, cadence and rhyme scheme.” Much like a sculptor might do when approaching a new piece. One listen to any of Playdough’s releases and you’ll see that he puts the art before anything.
Life on the road has taken Playdough all over the United States, the UK, Sweden, Holland, Australia and much of Europe. He’s performed with artists like Method Man & Redman, Evidence, Stalley, Brother Ali, Mr. Dibbs, Atmosphere, KRS-One, Tanya Morgan, Mutemath, MURS, Mos Def, Erykah Badu, Linkin Park, Pigeon John, Blu and countless others.
Playdough came up as a battle MC, known for surprising crowds with his deft wit and complex off top freestyles. He’s the top Dallas freestyle rap champion of Monday Night Fights for two years running and has won five times on 97.9 The Beat’s Freestyle Fridays. He’s also won the Skribble Jam TX Battle and most recently was asked to participate in the prestigious invitation-only Red Bull Emcee competition.
Not content with the life of being merely a successful battle rapper, Playdough auditioned for a show on MTV called The Cut. Hosted by the late Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes, Playdough competed against talented artists like Anastasia, and Big Al from the Good Life. He made it to the finals of this celebrity judged talent competition, a precursor to shows like American Idol, impressing the likes of Montell Jordan, Dru Hill, KRS One and Treach,
and was soon offered a record deal with the Seattle based label Uprok Records.
Uprok Records was distributed by Tooth & Nail / EMI. Focused on releasing rock and punk music, Playdough was one of the label’s first underground hip-hop artists, releasing his debut Lonely Superstar in 2002. This led him to his life on the road as a successful touring artist.
His life on the road, and his positive, intelligent rhymes led him to release his second album Don’t Drink The Water on Chicago-based, Sony distributed, 7spin Records, which again was a label known more for rock than rap. This turned out to be a step in the right direction for Playdough as he got to tour with a lot of bands – namely Mutemath, P.O.D. and Switchfoot — and play in many different circumstances.
“I like being the only rapper out on a tour with a lot of rock guys,” Playdough says excitedly. “A lot of the time people come up to me and tell me that this was their first hip-hop show, or that they don’t really listen to hip-hop but they really like me and plan to check more of it out.”
Soonafter, Playdough connected with Mustard Records in Australia for his Australia-only release Goodonya. A band called Brethren called and asked him to accompany them on the road in their home country, he spent three weeks with them on the other side of the world, and the rest is history.
But it’s his first indie release, Hotdoggin on his own Writer Dye Wrecords that has really started getting this diverse and highly motivated MC his just due. The singles, and compelling videos for “Ya Heard (with Mr Dibbs and The Black Keys)” and “No Angel” have been featured on some of the biggest music blogs as well as being listed as best hip-hop act by the Dallas Observer in 2011 and nominated for best rap/hip-hop act for the Dallas Observer Music Awards in 2012. It’s a real culmination of everything Playdough has learned on his path to becoming such a highly respected MC.
The album touches on all sorts of styles, and features Gift of Gab from Blackalicious, Mr. Dibbs vs The Black Keys, Deepspace5, PicnicTyme, Harry Krum and lots more.
With all of these accomplishments under his belt, you’d think that by now you’d know more about the MC known as Playdough. But instead of composing Texas-sized stories about himself, he’s been putting in the work, achieving success, and moving on to the next mission.
With no plans to stop anytime soon, you are sure to see this legendary MC in a city near you very soon.
Latyrx is an alternative hip hop group consisting of Lateef the Truth Speaker and Lyrics Born. The roots of their partnership lay in the formation of the Solesides collective at the University of California, Davis.
The crew’s charter members—which also included DJ Shadow and the future Blackalicious team—were all involved in student radio and shared a progressive-minded approach to hip hop. Lateef and Lyrics Born initially recorded as solo artists; under the name Asia Born, the latter released the first single on the Solesides label, “Send Them,” in early 1993.
The first proper Latyrx release came in 1996, and was actually the B-side of Lateef’s solo single “The Wreckoning.” For the track in question, also called “Latyrx,” both MCs recorded completely different raps that were played back simultaneously. Coupled with DJ Shadow‘s production and its unique effect, it started to build an underground buzz for the duo. More solo sides followed that year—Lateef cut “The Quickening (The Wreckoning, Pt. II)” with DJ Shadow on the boards, and Lyrics Born produced his own 12″ release, “Balcony Beach” b/w “Burnt Pride.” Most of these solo sides, along with a raft of new material, appeared on the duo’s debut LP, Latyrx (The Album), which was released in 1997.
DJ Shadow produced a total of four tracks, and Chief Xcel (later of Blackalicious) helmed two, while Lyrics Born handled the rest himself. The Album earned rave reviews for its adventurous, electronic-flavored production and the distinctive flows of both rappers. It was followed closely by the Muzapper’s Mixes EP, which contained the boundary-pushing single “Lady Don’t Tek No.” Muzapper’s Remixes appeared in 1998, but unfortunately, The Album didn’t stay in print much longer; it was reissued briefly in 1999 before disappearing again. Meanwhile, Solesides was reconfigured into a new label, Quannum Projects, and the collective officially changed its name to Quannum as well. Latyrx didn’t record much following their brief reign as an underground sensation. They guested on “8 Point Agenda,” a 1999 single by the Herbaliser, and also contributed new material to the Quannum Spectrum compilation that year.
Quannum Projects finally reissued it in 2002, allowing it to take its place alongside the new crop of independent hip hop that included El-P’s Def Jux crew, Anti-Pop Consortium, and Anticon Both Lateef and Lyrics Born went on to successful solo projects, the former with Blackalicious‘ Chief Xcel and Fatboy Slim. Lyrics Born released two successful solo albums on Quannum Projects, before signing in 2006 to Epitaph Records
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Hailing from Oakland, California, Del and his crew, the Hieroglyphics came out as a markedly non-gansta response to a burgeoning West Coast scene. After being put on at the tender age of 17 by his cousin Ice Cube, Del released two records on Elektra, I Wish My Brother George Was Here (1991) and No Need For Alarm (1993). Despite record sales in the hundreds of thousands, he recorded a third album, Future Development, which was never commercially released. Del parted with Elektra and started work on the Hieroglyphics..family album, 3rd Eye Vision (Hiero Imperium, 1998). Hiero went on the road and toured incessantly in support of the album for much of 1998. Del also spent a good portion of his time drawing, practicing Japanese, and playing mass amounts of video games. 2001-2002 Deltron 3030 was release becoming one of the most influential Indie Underground Hip Hop albums of all times. Finally ready to unleash a new record on the world, Del comes with BOTH SIDES OF THE BRAIN. Seventeen tracks of pure Del. He says of his work on this album: ..¿½I..¿½ve had complete control. At times, Del has felt restrained by the formulas in hip hop and the expectations fans place upon emcees who have had hits. I wish that I had the same freedom that someone like Bjork has when she puts out an album..Apart from collaborations with PrincePaul, El-P (Company Flow), and help from a few of his Hiero co-horts (A-plus, Casual, Domino) Del handled the majority of production on this album. By staying true to himself, Del has earned legions of adoring fans. He may have said it best in his classic, Mistadobalina when he declared all in the mind and the heart. Indeed.
SKYZOO started making mixtapes in 2002, and in 2005, through a mutual friend, was introduced to Grammy-winning producer 9th Wonder. The North Carolina native was won over by the upstart MC’s talents, and readily sent him beats to record over—which would soon become 2006′s Cloud 9: The Three Day High, a mixtape that launched Sky into hip-hop’s consciousness. His deft wordplay, confident delivery, and vivid imagery were all on display. Fans continued to flock following Cornerstore Classic in 2007 and 2009′s Power of Words, each mixtape again showcasing Sky’s skillset as a hood poet.It was September 2009′s The Salvation, though, released through Jamla/Duck Down, that solidified the rhymeslinger into an elite class. “It all was leading up to The Salvation,” he says. “That was the album I had been planning since I was nine years old.” Landing at No. 14 on the Billboard Top 200 charts, the critically acclaimed release stood on a cohesive and engaging sincerity that explains the sizable fanbase Sky has cultivated.Still riding the wave of his debut, Sky returned in July 2010 with Live From the Tapedeck, an album produced entirely by !llmind. The summer of 2011 brought The Great Debater, a free mixtape of album-quality material that Sky treated his fans to as a follow up to two retail releases.The fanbase Skyzoo has been able to acquire stretches from the street to the workplace to high places, leading to memorable placements: “Popularity” was featured on the seventh season of the HBO hit Entourage; his music was featured in video games NBA2K11 and NBA2K12 (the first artist to be included in the franchise twice), as well as Grand Theft Auto 4: Lost and the Damned; his music has also set the tone for ESPN’s KIA NBA Shootaround; and the rapper has a longstanding relationship with Brand Jordan.Skyzoo has toured with Ghostface Killah, Raekwon, Pharoahe Monch, Sean Price, and Buckshot, as well as internationally in places like China. He’s collaborated with other respected artists including Pete Rock, Hi-Tek, Jake One, Flo-Rida, Maino, Little Brother, EPMD, N.O.R.E, Wale, Talib Kweli, Ace Hood, Sean Price, and Don Cannon.With his highly anticipated album Dream Deferred slated for a 2012 release, Skyzoo is focused on continuing to become the ultimate artist, able to make music with a lasting impact.Listeners can identify with his story; they can see the many sides of themselves in him. They play “For What It’s Worth” on their way to a dead-end job. They bump “Necessary Evils” as they hustle. They blare “Speakers On Blast” when they party. No matter the mood, season, or circumstance, Skyzoo offers music to live to.