Black Sheep: Black Sheep’s “The Choice is Yours” is the first hip-hop song I learned all the words to back in 1992, and Saturday night was the first time I ever got to awkwardly rap them along to a live performance. It was epic. Dres got us all to crouch down to the floor, slowly chanting “engine, engine, number nine, on the New York transit line” building us to a frenzied explosion of “pick it up, pick it up, PICK IT UP! BACK ON THE SCENE…” The place was packed and bouncing and as he spit the lyrics. “Anytime capacity was filled-tried to rock it. Anytime a honey gave us play-tried to knock it.” A lot of us felt like we were living the words right at that moment! Dres is actually only half of the original Black Sheep but Mista Lawnge and he are no longer working together.
Dres was careful to identify himself and DJ Strike as “representing” the group Black Sheep repeatedly throughout the night and never actually said “We are Black Sheep.” Dres played some newer material that was just as pure and authentic as his work in the early nineties. DJ Strike that Dres had with him was amazing! I don’t see turntable skills like that often. Real records, the fader flying from left to right, constant cueing and bringing it back, and the elusive crab scratch. He worked the mic like a real DJ should, and the two of them gave us an amazing set!
Hailing from Southern California’s own Inland Empire, just 50 miles East of Los Angeles comes the underground hip-hop trio Specific, Master Chief and Dj Sway Deeze known collectively as the Magnificent Ruffians. The groups’ name was inspired by the Shaw Bros. Kung Fu cult classic “The Magnificent Ruffians”. Don’t let the name catch you off guard though, these guys are nothing short of pure fire with over a decade of thought provoking songs and 7 albums under their belts, with 3 albums being released in the last quarter or 2009, with 2 of the 3 released being double CD. The first being “The Magnificent Soul LP” a collaboration album with the producer group known as Elevated Soul. The second album double disc released was “Firewater” which was another collaboration album with Eno.D (emcee/producer) of Tha Othas. The third release but not the least was “12 Jewels, Knowledge and Freedom” collaboration album with Anthalyzah of Forensic Abolitionist.
The Ruffians (for short) has a resume of music that include collaborations with Triple Platinum Artist Pace Won (from the Fugees “Score” album), hip-hop legend Masta Ace, Guilty Simpson, Rock Marciano of the U.N., Phil da Agony of Strong Arm Steady, Ohno, Wild Child of the Lootpack, and Vast Aire of Cannibal Ox. The Ruffians are all about the business when it comes to hip-hop and their music. With ground breaking performances in hollywood, Pasadena, at the House of Blues in Anaheim, and internationally in Germany these guys truly are a diamond in the Ruff, with a professional work ethics that is unmatched you would think that they are already signed to a major label. With recognition from local publications to numerous internet radio exposure, and with songs “Harlem Renaissance” off their Magnificent Soul LP and “Yes I Am” from their Firewater album being featured on the popular “And1 Mixtape Tour in Japan Final” dvd video including music being available for download on itunes, amazon music, rhapsody, and napster etc. its only a matter of a time before the Ruffians become a house hold name. Until the Ruffians get their chance to shine in the lime light they will continue to show and prove their Magnificence. In 2011 the Ruffians continue to exercise the professionalism and work ethics that has brought them this far in their music career with their eyes still focused on taking the next step towards to top spot.
There is always room for something new and refreshing in a community that has long since been saturated with mediocrity. Hip Hop is the pillar of street culture and has influenced people across the world. Though the art form of emceeing is decades mature, there are still newcomers who use unique expression to captivate listeners. One of these emcees is Awon.
Awon, born Antwan Wiggins on March 6, 1980 in Brooklyn, New York, got to witness, first hand, a Golden Era of Hip Hop. For the first nine years of his life, Awon was a young Brooklynite and resident of the Fort Greene neighborhood. This neighborhood was a cultural epicenter for young African-American artists. Influenced early on by fellow Brooklynite Big Daddy Kane’s hit record “Ain’t No Half Steppin’” Awon became engulfed in music and decided, at that moment, to become an emcee.
Present day, you can find Awon in Newport News, Virginia, making a name for himself, internationally, via the Internet. In 2004, Awon was introduced to DJ Al Bumz and Mac The Menace, both hosts on WHOV 88.1, Hampton University’s radio station. He was soon after invited to come into the station for an interview and anxiously jumped at the opportunity to freestyle on their show, Soul Students Radio, given its name following the development of a collective they were a part of, consisting of emcees and producers. Awon sought refuge with the Soul Students and joined the crew. Soon after, Awon began extensive recording sessions and performed live up and down the East Coast with the collective. As a member of the Soul Students, Awon secured a licensing deal with Goon Trax, a Japanese record label specializing in “jazzy” underground Hip Hop in 2007. In 2008 Goon Trax released Awon’s first studio album, the critically acclaimed, Beautiful Loser.
Currently Awon has once again teamed up with longtime friend and Soul Students producer Kameleon Beats for a follow up album entitled Love Supersedes, which is set to be released, independently, in March 2010. Gaining friends and fans from across the globe, Awon can credit his closest friends and family for helping him to achieve his dreams through their belief in his craft.
So how was Vic Freeze born? The beat machine had the same 4- bar loop playing in the small Ohio dorm room. The mic was hung down from the ceiling like a punching bag. For hours, he and his college roommate, Paul Richardson aka Paulie Rhyme, would work on their craft to hone the art of songwriting, rhyming and performing. As a result, after some dedication and hard work, Vic Freeze has shared the same stage with legends such as: Krs-One, Big Daddy Kane, Del, Wu-Tang, and Talib Kweli.From early on gaining respect on Cleveland mixtapes, performances at underground clubs, and local airplay, the sky is the limit for this genuine hip-hop artist. In late 2005, Vic put together a collection of material called Watch For Ice on The Bridge Vol.1. The unique but polished sound garnered knock and respect in the streets, selling copies out of his trunk. After touring with The Green Giants Tour in early 2008, Vic recorded the single “Now” featured on DJ Green Lantern’s MySpace Invasion Mixtape series. His first national mixtape, it showed that not only hip hop heads but mainstream music appreciated his sincerity and feeling behind his songs. In 2010, after returning to the road on The Jose Mateo Tour with Paulie Rhyme and Rey Resurrecion, he is proving he is ready to turn the corner. In early 2011 he will release his first LP “The Reluctant Star” on Browntown Wreckords. Vic Freeze is a potent emcee with a fresh flow who brings the streets and the world together over rugged hip-hop tracks. A pure lyricist who emits positivity through trial and tribulation but touches everyone with honesty and his “live before you speak” attitude.