By: Mike Scarfo
“I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it”; Charles Swindoll’s infamous quote is brought to sonic life by Boston-based recording artist, Washy, on his debut EP X:XC.
Theoretically, Swindoll’s brilliant sentiment makes a lot of sense, but why is it so difficult for most people to put into practice? In today’s competitive social and economic climate, we often succumb to toxic modern values, using fame and fortune as measurement for success. X:XC becomes the musical framework for Washy’s own personal exploration of Swindoll’s “10:90” concept, which begs the question: how do we fall victim to these societal pressures even when we are conscious of them?
X:XC features an accessible production palette that includes instrumental nuances such as melodic vocal samples, glimmering keys, and colorfully gloomy guitar chords: ultimately resulting in a unique blend of modern hip-hop and pop. The introspective songwriting, however, is what sets this EP apart from much of the music that floods the mainstream.
X:XC’s openness and raw introspection unveils some of Washy’s life story, yet its built-in sentiments are indistinct enough to achieve widespread relatability with its audience. Take the opening track “617 Nights” for example, which depicts the initial leap of faith necessary to move from a small town to a big city in pursuit of a dream. Or, the move could amount to nothing more than someone in need of a fresh start, hence the beautiful ambiguity in Washy’s lyricism. “Yeah, it’s all about the process, that you gotta get lost in”, Washy croons on the hook over light, atmospheric production, backed by wavy vocal samples. The final verse ends in spoken word as Washy brings us back to a defining moment in his young career:
“I was getting a haircut by Jose down on Broadway, and I told him I was a rapper. He made a quick phone call, and twenty minutes later his boy pulls up. My haircut isn’t even done yet, but I go out to the sidewalk and he opens his car door and throws on an instrumental. Kid you not, I’m in the middle of Chelsea freestyling with half a fade”.
Aside from comic relief, the inclusion of this seemingly surface-level anecdote serves to challenge listeners to recognize and embrace the unexpected good fortunes that may come their way. The focus of the narrative is less about the opportunity itself, but the preparedness for that opportunity. And because of his preparation, a simple haircut manifests itself into Washy’s first studio session in Boston.
Much darker in contrast, “The Recipe” encompasses a slightly unique perspective as Washy searches for the plan that will bring him success, while simultaneously blocking out haters that cloud his judgement. The piano runs dominate in the forefront of the production and blend into harrowing background guitar chords. O’Mega Red provides the lone guest feature on the project; the Boston hip-hop legend’s contribution is one of the EP’s highlights, his bars synonymous with the song’s message of focus and confidence.
“Andale”, the lead single, is an upbeat, club-banger that acts as a brief intermission from the overall theme of the EP. “Lifestyle” feels like the logical continuation of “The Recipe”, as Washy talks about getting caught up in chasing “superficial fame, it can’t be good for your health”. He focuses on the disconnect between what we value as success in comparison to what is best for our mental health. He croons, “you would think all of these accomplishments would lead to overconfidence”, portraying his constant struggle with acceptance as an artist, yet could also be interpreted to how we perceive each other in the social media age (that beautiful ambiguity I mentioned earlier).
Is this process healthy? Washy grapples with that question as the EP continues to its most deep, gut-wrenching track in the listing: “Rain”. The song interprets an unnamed
hero in Washy’s young life, witnessing this person’s struggle with addiction and mental health. He utilizes rain as a metaphor to explain the pain and suffering of his loved one, yet is conflicted over the morality of working in the pharmaceutical industry in his adult life. The psychedelic, guitar-led instrumental is gorgeously nostalgic and bolsters the reflective tone of the track.
The EP ends with “Growing Pains”, the hook capturing a symbolic journey of aimlessly driving down the highway, unsure of which exit is yours, but believing you will get off at the correct one: “Riding through a red light / Night drivin’ with no head light / And I’m somewhere on the Mass Pike, tryna get my mind right / Don’t know what to act like, tryna drive away these growing pains”. The echoing vocal sample paired with mellow, raw piano chords blend into a drum progression as Washy delivers some of his most powerful bars to date:
“Always giving presents compensates for lack of presence until people start to wonder why you’re never never there / Maybe this will be the last thing I ever drop / Re-evaluating life while I’m sittin here / I’m just tryna find a balance, in pursuing all my talent without sacrificing happiness to get me there”.
Whether it’s the melodic auto-tuned vocals, articulate lyricism, or widespread sonic appeal, X:XC is a refreshing take on the often overused “follow your dreams” sentiment of the 21st century. Washy’s authentic, meditative writing on X:XC creates a narrative to explore Swindoll’s “10:90” concept much more thoroughly than the quote offers on its own. Whatever you’re passionate about, do not allow your circumstances to determine your outcomes in life. Take a chance, begin the process, and simply get lost in it.
Stream X:XC on all platforms:
By: Shamus Hill
Massachusetts' Onbloom makes her debut on our blog today with the official music video for her newly released single -- "Self".
Fresh off of her Star EP which dropped earlier in the year, Onbloom has been making her presence known through the usage of her powerfully intoxicating vocals. Each addition to her discography up through this point in time has an incredibly serene feel to it, something that has drawn me back towards her music time and time again. "Self" is the most recent component of Onbloom's musical catalog to debut, and the first of which to recieve its very own video treatment.
Local cinematographer, Daymian Mejia, was tasked with bringing the visuals for this video to life, and as usual, he over-delivered yet again. If you've yet to give some of Onbloom's music a spin as of yet, then the team here at Mass Music Radio highly recommends that this video be your starting point.
Watch the official music video for Onbloom's "Self" below:
SONG BY ONBLOOM
VIDEO BY DAYMIAN MEJIA
By: Shamus Hill
Mattapan rapper, Kadeem, teams up with LOMAN to deliver his second project of the year -- Remains of a Man (R.O.A.M.). Categorized by Kadeem as being "a collaborative project that looks to explore, destroy, and rebuild one's self", this 17-minute-long EP is worth each individual second.
Remains of a Man has actually been in the works for several years now according to LOMAN's twitter account, and one can quite literally hear their relationship grow as each track progresses. Much like Kadeem's Passing Exchange which dropped earlier in the year, Remains of a Man is full of depthful bars that are incredibly thought-provoking.
Much of the subject matter on R.O.A.M. circulates around looking oneself in the mirror and figuring out what we want to get out of the lives that we live. Additionally, Kadeem spends a good portion of this EP reflecting on the events that have taken place in his past. Rather than dwelling about what has happened though, he utilizes this information to become the best version of himself. We've all heard the sentiment, "you have to know where you're from to know where you're going", and throughout R.O.A.M. Kadeem becomes a living embodiment of this.
While the subject of his lyrics is certainly something that adds to my overall enjoyment of Kadeem's discography, it's his method of delivery that keeps me coming back for more. He possesses this way with words that's somehow simplistic, well-calculated, and full of depth all at the same time.
Listening through R.O.A.M. has left me with a feeling of optimism that I hadn't felt prior to my first listen. "Green to Red" in particular is responsible for doing so. Kadeem reflects on the continuous movement forward that comes attached with the world that we live in. Much like the changing of the seasons, we can't slow down and drown ourselves with the thought of "why?". Rather, we must continuously push forward despite what has occured in our pasts. The only question that we should spend a considerable amount of time with is what we want to accomplish, and who we want to accomplish it for.
Top-to-bottom, this EP is not just a good listen, but a reminder to truly reflect on one's motivations, actions, and trajectory. While things may not necessarily make perfect sense every step of the way, it's important to remember to keep moving forward no matter what happens. We all possess the ability to reach our goals, but we must remember to adapt as we grow.
Listen to Kadeem and LOMAN'S Remains of a Man below:
By: Shamus Hill
Boston's JORD4NEVERDIED continues his hot streak following the release of "Right Now" featuring STARCHILDKAYLA.
Maintaining somewhat of a lowkey profile throughout the majority of 2020, JORD4NEVERDIED has been closing the year on a positive note -- releasing two new singles titled "SLOWLY" and "RIGHT NOW". When first becoming familiar with JORD4NEVERDIED's music, he was working more so on the production side of things. Over the years, he gradually began working on music of his own, and based off of how his singles are sounding, it seems as if he's most definitely on the right track towards success.
Not only was JORD4NEVERDIED on point throughout the entirety of this song, but STARCHILDKAYLA certainly did her thing as well. The vocal work provided by the both of these artists is of a high tier, with both sounding truly incredible throughout. Lacing this track with a silky-smooth instrumental is local producer, itwasartem, who truly helped make this song the bop that it is. I've listened to "RIGHT NOW" at least 100 times over the course of the last 24 hours, and it seems to only get better as each new listen passes. Show JORD4NEVERDIED, STARCHILDKAYLA, and itwasartem some love as this will hopefully be the first of many future collaborations between the three to come.
Listen to "Right Now" by JORD4NEVERDIED and STARCHILDKAYLA below:
SONG BY JORD4NEVERDIED + STARCHILDKAYLA
PRODUCED BY ITWASARTEM
PHOTO BY MARIKA
By: Shamus Hill
Plymouth's Jack Karowak taps in with Xandros once again to construct the official music video for his song "Sleepwalking".
This track served as the intro for Karowak's late project The Myth of the Mechanical Universe, which debuted just this past summer. Not only is this the third video that Jack Karowak has put out to date, but it's also the third that Karowak has released alongside Xandros. The chemistry prevalent between the two is most certainly apparent, and it seems as if their bond has only grown stronger as time progresses. Rather than making a run-of-the-mill music video for a popular song, both Karowak and Xandros set their sights towards something greater. Each visual of theirs has been cinematic to say the least, somehow always finding away to inject an additional layer of lovability to the track at hand.
Jack Karowak has proclaimed his love for horror movies on social media in the past, and that's something that has arguably been my favorite component of this music video. The vision that this pair came up with was most certainly seen through, and I'm not sure that I can recommend it more. I was blessed with the opportunity to speak with Jack Karowak this past summer about The Myth of the Mechanical Universe, so if you're interested in gaining a bit more background knowledge with respect to this album, then you should definitely check it out!
Watch the official music video for Jack Karowak's "Sleepwalking" below:
Directed by Xandros
Produced by Ricky Felix & Kiron Akil
Mix/Master by Brad Feeney
By: Shamus Hill
Newton's Mike Fellow has made his long awaited return with respect to releasing new music with the official music video for "TOAST".
This track provides the first glimpse towards what will eventually be his next project, the DAMN, TIMES ARE CRAZY EP. TOAST" is jam-packed with cleverly-written, introspective bars that are addicting to listen to. The video itself, much like the song, contains a sort of hazy energy that's reminiscent of the come down on a Sunday morning. Throughout his tenure as a rapper, Fellow has never failed to deliver raps that are of a truly high caliber. While the past additions to his discography were most certainly notable, "TOAST" -- in my personal opinion -- sits atop his discography as the most potent release of Mike Fellow's to date.
Watch the official music video for "TOAST" below:
VIDEO: ELI BEUTEL
SONG PRODUCTION: AIDAN BRODY
By: Shamus Hill
Boston-based, Palestinian artist, model, and photographer -- Neemz -- is prepping for her debut project with the release of the official music video for her latest single "LIFETHATIVEBEENLIVIN".
Following the drop of her first-ever song "Runnin' Thru the City" this past July, Neemz's name has quickly become a popular one within the blossoming music scene in Massachusetts. Not only does she have an impressive resume with respect to modeling, but her music is now providing some context to the life that Neemz lives. She's an incredibly driven individual with a hustler's mentality -- something that becomes evident as you spend some time with her music. "LIFETHATIVEBEENLIVIN" provides a snapshot of this, which really makes me excited for her debut project's release date to approach.
Recently, "LIFETHATIVEBEENLIVIN" was picked up by Apple Music Middle East for their "New Artists" playlist, quite literally putting her name on an international stage. Possessing the ability to both rap and sing, both "Runnin' Thru the City" and "LIFETHATIVEBEENLIVIN" are wonderful examples of what Neemz is capable of doing.
The music video for this track was brought to life by Reko, who was tasked with both Shooting, Editing, and assisting Neemz with the Production. The end-result is amazing, and I highly recommend that everyone out there goes and shows Neemz some love!
Watch the official music video and listen to "LIFETHATIVEBEENLIVIN" below:
CLICK HERE TO STREAM "LIFETHATIVEBEENLIVIN" ON ALL PLATFORMS