By: Mike Scarfo
“When you’ve been hated your entire life, the hate becomes a part of you” reads a description on the website of Shrewsbury, MA alternative hip-hop artist, TAHA, for his song “BLOOD”. The tone of the quote may initially sound morbid and off-putting, yet it highlights a necessary perspective of clarity from a year that has been like no other. Now more than ever, it feels as though hate is all around us, and it bears a deeper burden than we realize. Not only do we project the hateful things we hear onto ourselves, but we start to only see the ugliness in others, leading to the spread of more hate. TAHA conveys a toxic cycle, and 2020 brought out the worst of it: an ongoing pandemic that continues to affect the lives of millions, paired with outward social unrest and division across the country.
It is important as a society we carve out a place to build empathy for each other and spread hope for our future; however, HAVE NIGHTMARES ABOUT ME, is certainly not that place. Instead, TAHA’s latest project represents the unspoken consequence of ongoing chaos as it takes a deep, albeit abrupt, journey into the dark facets of his psyche. After its fifteen minutes of runtime, the end result is as much of a reflection of anger, depression, and pain, as it is a self-confident statement of arrival.
A dark, tortured persona is the version of TAHA that is portrayed on HAVE NIGHTMARES ABOUT ME. Glimpses of the 22-year old going in a more artistically aggressive direction were present on his previous effort Breath of the Phoenix, with tracks such as “Gasp” and “Man Down”, despite the rest of the record being melodic and lighthearted. And yet, the predominant themes of mental health and Islamophobia within Breath of the Phoenix make their way back onto HAVE NIGHTMARES ABOUT ME. This time, the descriptions and aesthetic are more vivid, a testament to deeper imagery through much-improved songwriting. On the lead single “NIGHTMARES”, TAHA is at his most ruthless, criticizing the destructive behaviors of social media whilst simultaneously addressing those that attempt to both disrespect and undermine him. Over blends of eerie synths and a stark-stringed bassline, he delivers:
“Imma go and kill it I’m better than all the rest / I be working with the positives saying that I was blessed / They talking they be mocking don’t ever go second guess / Imma pull up to the spot like Hey, Have Nightmares About Me”.
Sir Rollie’s production creates an anxiety-heightening, cinematic mood that’s much more grim, and urgent in its tone than any song in TAHA’s previous discography.
TAHA continues to dismiss the “fuckbois in his DM’s”, and at the end of the track, boasts about scoring an OnlyFans model through an infectious outro, “I drop 100 in her OnlyFans...she calling me now!”. TAHA manages to point out the fallacies of our connectivity and content consumption, while pronouncing his arrival through variations of engaging vocal inflections. It’s a haunting aura that’s chillingly addictive.
“STEADY” is the next track and another standout as TAHA deeply addresses Islamophobia in America:
“A lotta teachers tried to touch me yea I do wonder why / I had some friends they said they didn’t really like what I eat / A lot of people said I never did smell good in the heat / Ye I loved making friends I was always so generous / Till those same friends surrounded me and called me a terrorist”
The imagery present in his lyricism highlights the microaggressions he faced as a young Muslim boy in America. TAHA painfully seeks answers to these oppressive insults, only to have his father paint him as being “less than a man” for his emotional reaction. This dynamic drives him further into an already present sense of worthlessness, followed by the emergence of a monstrous anxiety, leaving him tongue-tied and unable to keep his hands steady no matter how hard he concentrates. The origin story of his anxiety alludes to TAHA tapping into a dimension of self-awareness that many of us currently seek, making “STEADY” the most relatable song in the tracklisting.
The song “NO COLOR” depicts a psychoanalysis of America’s judicial system in his best Death Grips impression, and is followed by the EP’s climax, “BIG SHOT”. TAHA describes the track perfectly, as a “Blade Runner meets Unforgiven meets Cowboy Bebop in this genre blending odyssey. "BIG SHOT" is a Cyber-Punk Western about fighting for your life.” The sonic tension ultimately builds to a catchy refrain “once upon a time not too long ago / had my heart ripped out had nowhere to go”, and concludes with his most profound statement on the album: “Only time I felt something was when I was fighting”. “BIG SHOT” is TAHA’s most creative and cinematic track to date.
“BLOOD” is the EP’s closer, and by this point he’s at his wit’s end. The division. The hypocrisy. The dangerous rhetoric. He’s expressively angry about it all, and that's the most beautiful element of this song. TAHA calls out anyone and everyone through jarring lyricism over warped production, led by a sample from an Asian string instrument known as the erhu. It’s a song that’s psychedelically abrasive, as its closing seconds mimic an episodic meltdown that abruptly cuts out, leaving the listener potentially uncomfortable but awake. And that, in essence, is the entire point of the project.
HAVE NIGHTMARES ABOUT ME is the creative, erratic, mind-bending experience that demands to be heard. It acts as a necessary release of toxicity, with the foresight to still reflect mobilizing change on the many social issues that plague our society. Real, true change starts from within; in the aftermath of the EP’s closing seconds, TAHA appears to understand this. He publicly grapples with his demons on HAVE NIGHTMARES ABOUT ME as a therapeutic means towards healing. It is a bold, brave statement rich with authenticity, making it one of the best Indie/Alternative Hip-Hop releases of 2020.
Stream HAVE NIGHTMARES ABOUT ME on all platforms below:
By: Shamus Hill
Stoughton native, NiceEyes, makes his debut onto the Mass Music Radio Blog today with the official music video for his new song - "Enemies".
Both shot and filmed by TrillisBliss, this visual does justice for what I would say is one of the most distinguishable components of NiceEyes' discography to date. The song showcases his abilities with respect to both rapping and maintaining a well-cultivated sonic presence, something that enables his music to truly stick around within the mind of the listener. He's been making music for some time now, and it appears as if he's truly elevating his game as 2021 kicks off.
NiceEyes is slated to drop another visual in the coming month, so if you're feeling what you heard on "Enemies", then the team here at MMR highly suggests that you keep him on your radar!
Watch the official music video for "Enemies" below:
By: Mike Scarfo
After a successful campaign for his late-2020 album Anomaly, on the surface it seemed easy to define DK as an artist: the collection of songs portray an eccentric persona through colorful production, expressive vocal cadences, and clever dry humor. It’s entertaining, yet still feels authentic. And if you ask DK himself, being an entertainer is when he’s at his most comfortable. Nevertheless, no one person is defined by a singular part of themselves.
“Reality” sees the Western Massachusetts artist in a state of vulnerability, confronting darker, repressed traumas; a side of DK that had been concealed to his fan base until now. Lyrically, DK shows a profound level of self-awareness. He acknowledges growing up with a privileged background before detailing a life-altering mistake:
“When I was twelve I had seven cops at my front door / locked up,
mugshot, front page of the news / that’s when all my trauma started / it damaged my youth / spent my childhood crying and tying belts in a noose”.
In this moment, DK suddenly becomes much more than just an entertainer. The depiction of his arrest and suicide attempt come off honest and forthcoming in its tone. The music video, directed by Jon Savona and Bobby Cannon, is an eye-opening portrayal. DK enacts himself watching his own arrest on the news, the TV representing a metaphorical mirror as he reflects on his disgust and shame for the person he sees on the other side. He identifies the immature nature of his ways and insecurities that
riddled his psyche, ultimately landing him in therapy. But “Reality” is also a rebirth for DK, an acceptance of his downfalls and finding the strength to move forward. The second half of the song focuses on manifesting his own reality, not to be defined by this one moment of his life.
The lyrical depth of “Reality” is captured by an instrumental that provides the perfect aesthetic. DK teams up with UV on production as they compose a colorful psychedelic guitar melody blended with hard-hitting snares and a slick bass-line. DK’s vocal performance may be the best component of all, as he delivers a wide range of emphatically emotional low notes and falsettos layered with modern autotuned inflections.
“Reality” is a dynamically transparent indie hip-hop/pop fusion that is both infectious and inspiring.
For further analysis on “Reality” check out an exclusive interview with DK on The Turntable Teachers dropping Sunday, February 14!
Stream “Reality” on all platforms:
"Reality" by DK on Spotify
"Reality" by DK on Apple Music
By: Shamus Hill
He goes by many names - Teflon Hoot, El Hooto, Bori, and BoriRock to name a few. No matter what you may know him as though, there's one thing for certain, and it's that BoriRock has quickly risen up the ranks as one of the most distinguished artists that Massachusetts has to offer.
Despite the fact that he was briefly at the Suffolk County House of Corrections, BoriRock did not let it delay the release of his debut album Fishscale this past October. From top-to-bottom, this project exceeded all expectations, with BoriRock delivering some of his most potent bars to-date. In the months following the release of his project, El Hooto has been busy formulating video treatments for some of the tracks. "Bruv" was the first to receive it's very own visual, and now "Exciting" has officially become the second.
With video by Cambridge's Bridge Visions and photography by Bilindoff, the final product for "Exciting" is exactly that - exciting. Equipped with shots of BoriRock alongside his family, rapping on the front stoop of his home amongst a large group of children - this music video provides some context with respect to who BoriRock is at his core. The video in its entirety feels incredibly candid, allowing for the audience to connect with Bori on a somewhat deeper level. A part of the reason BoriRock's music resonates with so many is due to the fact that he's in possession of an infectious aura. He's destined to bring joy to everyone that surrounds him, which is something that becomes relayed especially well through this music video.
Watch the official music video for El Hooto's "Exciting" below:
In the course of a year, a lot of wonderful and tremendous things have happened here at Mass Music Radio. We began working on several podcast productions during the Fall and Winter of 2019 ,and were looking forward to bringing more shows onto our network as the Spring rolled in. Our DJ’s worked hard to play the absolute best music in the world, and kept the energy right regardless of what was going on in the world. As you all are aware, Covid hit Massachusetts really hard in March ,and our studio was closed down for several weeks. We spent months regrouping, planning, and investing back into the station. Despite the restrictions in place and the limited availability at the studio, we were still able to record and publish over 126 podcasts in 2020!
We began with a brand new program called Highly Optimized, hosted by Ryan Sprague, which focuses on the lives and experiences of some truly incredible and inspirational people. In the Spring, we jumped back into the Heel’s Turn wrestling podcast for Season two with JQ and a new co-host in Scotty G. Following that we had another Season two return with the Steele & Nazz Sports Podcast. As these shows began to flourish, we saw the need for some community building that would bring the station and network together as a whole, so we tapped into the talents of an old friend to help make that dream a reality. In comes Antonio Agcaoili, the Executive Producer of Remember When in the 2010’s: another Podcast that began in the winter. Under his direction, we launched MMR Talks, a show that covered a variety of topics, and features many of the people who call Mass Music Radio home. Additionally, one of the newer faces is Eifion Griffiths, a.k.a. the Bloke. He is the host of the Across the Pond Podcast, a brand new show where we feature some of the greatest Hip-Hop and Grime artists from the British Isles.
One of my favorite things about running this station is that I’ve been able to hear a plethora of different genres of music. Our DJs truly have such an expansive ear to the wide world of music. When DJ Vo joined MMR, he not only came with some dope innovative ideas and effective marketing schemes, but he introduced me to my newest favorite genre, house music. One of the longest reigning DJs on the station is Garfield, who runs a show called Feel Good Friday which airs every week from 8-10PM EST. His catalog of records includes Dancehall, Reggae, Afrobeats, and so much more! Speaking of DJs with a sick crate of records, we are blessed to have the one, the only, DJ Kris Crosse! Kris has been the maestro of the Morning Mix which is featured on every single episode of the Mass Music Morning Show.
The Morning Show was created in the Fall and officially launched in November. We wanted to create a new live program that aired during the week and could showcase the different aspects of the station in a single package. We have DJFAMOUSHAMUS curating the Mass Music Minute, which highlights different local artists from our community who have been making exceptional music. Shamus has also become our Programming Director and the Editor-In-Chief of our Blog! - Mans been workin’! Another incredible addition to the Morning Show has been Jake Liberty - who brings ideas and energy that electrify the studio every time he comes in. Jimmy Askins has been killing it as a content creator for the Morning Show & the Steele & Nazz Podcast. Jimmy has also been helping out with processing orders for merchandise through our brand new online shop that launched in November!
Our merchandise was a big part of the business that kept us up-and-running this year, and we’re so thankful to everyone that bought everything from hoodies, to beanies, to sponsored bricks! A huge shoutout to Andy Luong, our Executive Designer, for creating several of the pieces that we released this year including my favorite Skooby in the Sinbin Crewneck! Learning the business of merchandising, and subsequently branding, has been such a fun and rewarding part of this journey. I want to send a special thank you to our friends at the SelfMade Designs, LuckyHouse MFG, Imperial Promotional Embroidery, and Will Palacios for helping make everything possible! I’m truly looking forward to this year and seeing what else we can accomplish together!
Speaking of this year, I have very high hopes and expectations for Mass Music Radio. As the vision grows, I’m looking to bring in more people as we expand the platform. One of my goals is to train more audio engineers to help produce podcasts and, in turn, bring on more podcasts to the network. Eventually I would like to open up another recording studio that specializes in podcast production and teaching folks the ins and outs of podcasting. Another goal is to continue to increase our listenership on the radio stream and utilize our reach to help businesses in our area promote to our audience through sponsorships and ads. We have built strong relationships with Bravo Pizza & Kerry Phelan Designs this year, and are definitely looking forward to many more in 2021!
Again, I can’t thank my team enough for the work they’ve put in this year, and I’m eternally grateful to everyone that has been rocking with Mass Music Radio from day 1! Cheers to 2021!
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