Tuesday, March 19, 2019

After Hours with Calligraphy - Episode 1 w/ Noa James & Lesa J

The homie Callig has some dope ideas in that head of his. Not only is he killing it with his coffee shop called The Reverse Orangutan located at 440 E Rte 66 in the city of Glendora, California but he also started a web series slash late night show! This is what it is according to the folks at Productive Culture and the man himself:

"Calligraphy brings in his first guests Noa James and Lesa J to after hours. Noa and Lesa talk about their personal journey, Noa's health and the health of the hip hop community. Lesa j gives great advice describing things she learned the hard way."

Hosted by - Calligraphy
Produced by Productive Culture
Director of Photography - Duo
Executive Producer - JMKM

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Ribs: Beatmaker edition with Asend & Dope Kid Danny

I was thrown for a loop with Asend’s new album Nobody Cares dropping because I thought it would be among his first projects to showcase his more modern-pop style that I’ve seen him use lately- hi-hats and trapbeats with a blending of his boom-bap sampling roots but I was pleasantly surprised when the album turned out to be a clearing-out of golden-era style beats from his archives that for whatever reason didn’t come out with his last projects. While I look forward to a tape that puts together his own take on boom-trap (hat-tip to !llmind) it really takes me back in a fresh way to hear all these unreleased Asend boom-bap beats. 
What can be said? Despite being young as hell, Asend is a master at this style. He has such a great ear for melodies, drum-swings and chill thoughtful moods. You can always vibe or freestyle to his work, smoke or meditate: it’s multi-functional-music. These beats sound like waking up on a Saturday morning in Spring and taking your time to blaze and make breakfast as you let the sun hit you through the sliding glass door. They have a darkside too…those same vibes can turn into a malaise but that his beats walk the razor’s edge of wonder and melancholy is part of their deceptively simple charm. The album to me is about meditation, but there’s some undeniably sad commentary to the quote at the end that reiterates the project’s title: “nobody cares”. A lot of younger beatmakers have the tendency to delete their folders when the mood strikes so I am truly thankful that Asend decided to let the fans have the choice- the choice to care.
The intro to Gelid, Dope Kid Danny’s new beat tape, “Celebrate” is a beautiful opener for this clean and chillactimous beat-tape. Off the bat, this “celebration” isn’t your regular turn-up sesh but something more thoughtful and melodic- the album follows suit. “What I want” has a simple and hypnotic melody/ “Under the Street Light” plays with an easy-going trumpet during the chorus while the bass and the bells lays the foundation of the cut.  8thWonder is simultaneously experimental and pop-hit ready. The “Medicate” Interlude is chill, catchy and eastern-tinged in its melodies and instrumentation. Danny’s beats sound placement-ready: the kind of tunes you might see in a new Netflix show or cannabis documentary. 2 AM on the Highway reminds me of the set up to a thriller or horror movie while also being exactly what it sounds like. Cocaine has tinkly piano layers, sick drums and melancholy expressions of an addict’s pain. 
  For me, Kryptonic Justice is the album’s highlight- thunderous bass, spidery guitar and key melodies, simultaneously ominous yet majestic, it truly could be a Superman theme for the modern-era. The outro is also a regal banger with extended horn notes and stop-start drum knocks. Danny is growing ever into a more polished and professional beatmaker with tracks ready made for pop-stars to be or grimy spitters or just people who just need beats to chill out too. Though he’s in Minnesota, these beats remind me of the west coast freeway and how I fill my time on it.

Tristan "Tanjint Wiggy" Acker is staff writer for JooseBoxx, a youth hip-hop and poetry tutor, and member of the Inland Empire nerdcore hip-hop group the West Coast Avengers. Catch more of their work at westcoastavengers.com, follow Tristan on Twitter @Tanjint or e-mail him at tristanacker@gmail.com

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Jooseboxx / The Happiness of Pursuit Festival Ticket Giveaway Contest

60 East's THOPFest III is going down in Ontario, California in less than 1 month! Featuring major stars, IE favorites, and other So Cal standouts, there's no doubt that it's about to crack off! Jooseboxx is doing a 2 ticket giveaway through Instagram: follow @Jooseboxxblog on Instagram, post a screenshot of Jooseboxx posting about Thopfest from Jooseboxx.com or Instragram, tag @thopfest & @jooseboxxblog, encourage your followers to follow both accounts on IG and the post that gets the most likes in a one week period gets 2 tickets to THOPFest. To purchase tickets for Thopfest, go here !

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Reviews in Brief: Local Heroes by Chamber Records and Beats 4 Breakfast by Beezy & Faja

                     The long-awaited Chamber Records supergroup album has finally come- in the form of a G-funk nerdcore magnum opus that finds the Chamber Crew in peak form despite not having released an album together in most of a decade. Namek's verses are so air tight and in the pocket that it's easy to take his consistency for granted- don't, there's gems in all of his rhymes. Josiah remains an expert MC but his easy transitions into funky choruses and vocal melodies throughout the album shows a maturity and songwriting sophistication befitting the resume of these accomplished musicians.
 I've heard most Chamber albums and this might be my favorite showing from Malathion whose creative wordplay and vocab refuse to be ignored. Hearing how hard Arkyve tears shit up here, it's just mindboggling to think that his dude hasn't missed a beat in two decades. The album showcases its diverse production while also putting forth a coherent snapshot of the larger than life Chamber Boys and the living myths they have become. The real magic of the project is that the legends are true...the dudes still have the goods and they execute. The record was worth the wait- and that's rare.
With funky production from Spok, Rokem, West Coast Avengers' RasJosh and more, the Chamber crew attacks verses with topical discipline but always with the flair of the extra hip-hop mile- their music is made with love and we're all lucky for how much we can hear the fun they're having bursting through the speakers on this rollickingly funky but still smooth album full of lyrics and west coast tunes for a new stony, nerdy generation that also needs to know about the 626's longtime champions. 
Full disclosure, Chamber Records is a bunch of my crew's oldest friends and allies and this album felt like the logical emotional and artistic culmination of everything we've seen them do over the last 2 decades- but that don't mean they're done. I suspect they'll be back to save us from monotony and whack beats whenever our cities call for them.

Breakfast begins with chill pensive statements of purpose from Faja and Beezy respectively. Faja describes his aspirations for his family in the I.E. and for artistic validation. Beezy is the id to these wholesome desires as he shits on whack bitches and expresses burning disdain for those who would dare sleep on the new wave. Beezy is thoughtful and disrespectful at the same time, Faja’s chill deep voice expresses earnestness- both seek artistic excellence, hence the musical Wheaties.

“Exit off Del Rosa…Might get snatched out your corolla…” Beezy shoots warnings about San Bernardino on the album’s second track “California Soul”, followed by Faja calling out sectors of the I.E. city by city. “Crop Tops” is a chill but banging west coast cut featuring RNB that has Beezy telling outlandishly surreal hood tales of braggadocio reminiscent of Eazy-E and Adrock of the Beasties. The “Old school music” theme punctuated by the recurring image of “crop tops” helps these artists build in simple but effective ways while still drawing on west coast rap’s rich legacy.

A message I get from the persona that Beezy presents is that this is a dude whose raunchy lyrics and shocking wordplay are a defense mechanism for a soul like a satellite that actually receives signals from everything. Faja’s MC persona is much more good-natured and the contrast of the facetiousness with the straightforwardness with a common I.E. demeanor is an alchemical pairing that reminds me (biasedly of course) of Stone X Sober or myself w/ Sham of WCA, Skruf and Fresh Raheem of Poetik Prophets and many other multi-racial MC duo pairings the So Cal region has seen in the last decade. 
On “Hold the Applause”, Beezy explains how MCing helps him shine besides being a white boy who can’t dance per his own admission. Kasai and Tru Speech deliver on all these features. Every one who touched this project is overly dedicated to craft and it shows. I keep hearing Faja talk about helping his parents and I don’t hear this enough in music, particularly from this area. It’s refreshing to hear MCs who understand priorities. “Hold the Applause” and “Breakfast” both have an air of potency and melancholy- this is these artist’s shot but I hope they are not discouraged if it does not hit every target- sometimes the win we seek takes firing off a few rounds. That’s not to say this album isn’t wonderful- it’s damn near perfect with a coherent thematic and musical feel- but sometimes densely crafted hip-hop doesn’t get the immediate success and attention it deserves. Having dropped the first music video for the project, let’s hope that changes from this point. Faja and Beezy are like angels and devils on your shoulder, like Jay and Silent Bob- the solemn poet and the rude rapidfire spitter, their combination is electric- grab a plate.

Tristan "Tanjint Wiggy" Acker is staff writer for JooseBoxx, a youth hip-hop and poetry tutor, and member of the Inland Empire nerdcore hip-hop group the West Coast Avengers. Catch more of their work at westcoastavengers.com, follow Tristan on Twitter @Tanjint or e-mail him at tristanacker@gmail.com

Monday, March 4, 2019


This Thursday in Santa Ana - the multi-regional supercollective Fresh State supports Self-Provoked on tour!

                             This Friday at San Bernardino's sole record store: dopeness!

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

A Rainy Saturday in January with Viva Mescal, Zzay and the man once known as Johnny Greaseball

"Bankin' off this rap shit / forever with these flows and this Peyote Cactus"

             Having lived in Fontana for the decade during which I transitioned from adolescent to young adult before having lived in San Bernardino for the last decade does an interesting thing to how you understand the East Los Angeles / Inland Empire milieu...you can actually get to Boyle Heights in less than an hour from Fontana when you take the 10. A lot of people in the western parts of L.A. County think of anything east of East Los as rather “Inland” covering vast areas like San Dimas, Montclair, Pomona and others that exist in a sort of interesting limbo to those in the So Cal know. On a rainy Saturday morning in January I dipped out to Viva Mescal’s EOTR studios. When I arrived he was dragging just a bit, having had a birthday/record release celebration the night prior.
            Mescal has been my crew and I’s vision of the future of Latin L.A. hip-hop since he whupped our collective asses in a massive performance contest in West Covina in 2015 and started booking us for various shows in the year subsequent. He and his crew EOTR have kept boom-bap fresh while showcasing diverse progressive professional music in major venues with top-acts like Murs and Felipe Esparza from East Los to Europe.  One rolls up to the automated gate at their First Street studio in Boyle Heights and it feels like the Rebels on Yavin IV waving in allied freighters. After getting lost like a dweeb in their nondescript hallways Penner and other EOTR homies kindly point me in the direction of Mescal’s studio even though I’ve been here like 4 times before at least. An honest and communicative collaborator, Mescal engineers a recording of a song I’m working on produced by Yohalmo for my first solo album. Both of us familiar with these motions, we have a satisfactory set of layers within 45 minutes and have time to get some pho and visit the dispensary Zzay works at.
 "keep it to yourself / if it's negative..."

                The large pho combo is fire and Mescal dishes on how busy he is trying to achieve and represent for his city and families. He’s engineering, recording new music, making a video for every song on his new album to name just a few things on his plate. He says he’s shooting the next morning with a guy who was working an a Hopsin video while we were in the stu. His latest video, “Peyote Cactus” having garnered most of 10,000 views in the first month of it's release is a good indicator that he’s not just saying shit. “People don’t have attention spans anymore and that’s okay. You don’t gotta hype up some shit for 6 weeks before you drop it. – ‘got a project coming out’ – okay? Cool? Just give it to people. Just give it to them. No need to sit on it forever.”
              Zzay brought some sunshine into a rainy day and rolled us all a blunt while we visited her shop and caught up about video shoots and newly discovered mutual friends. She’s making visuals for her stellar new 4-song cycle producedby NugLife Solstice. As someone who’s followed Zzay from the outset of her recording endeavors I’ll always have a soft spot for the spirited growing young woman who rapped and sang her real thoughts over hip-hop soul as she found herself but the Solstice EP finds her a woman so confident in her groove that it’s a Throne now; NugLife is a wildly melodic producer but knows how to make productions that keep the performer front and center. With more upbeat ideas and spiritually conscious lyrics from EOTR's resident songstress than ever before, the EP goes down easier and more smoothly than any of her other projects, a smart snack of posi-neo-soul made with utmost craftsmanship; both artists are in their pocket.
                    Blunted back at the lab, Viva Mescal slid me a copy of his new album. Now his Weird Turn Pro LP from 2017 is a master’s class in keeping an album one coherent mood but this new album Long Live the Peyote is my favorite record from Mescal since the fevered and political Strange Rumblings in Aztlan. With swifter ease than ever Mescal bridges hip-hop posturing with grown man example setting, barring out spazzing with hook-driven songwriting, psychedelic politics with working class grounding. With beats from Rokem, Global Getdown and more, the album bangs and unfolds cinematically- Mescal’s ponderings and pontifications about drugs like lean and peyote weave organically into references to the Latin culture’s agua frescas and nopales that he grew up with. Before we parted I think we had a moment of kindred business- seeing someone in front of us who kept as busy as we did. I see it seldom and sometimes it’s nice just to be reminded that you’re not the only insane one who is trying to balance so much. He gave me valuable advice on the album he was helping me with as well as another project I have coming in the Spring and we promised to follow-up with each other about both as well as music we had mentioned to each other for listening recommendations- I’m still curious as to what he’ll think of At the Drive In, Mars Volta and No Malice albums I sent him links to.
               Greaseball from Strange People, Herbalistics, and lately Cookie World Productions has long been my favorite Inland Emcee and I don’t say that lightly. I recognize that Vision is the illest freestyler in the region, I recognize that Cam Archer’s power levels are unimpeachable, I recognize the versatility of Brandon the Wizard and the battle chops of Epyk Saga so I’m not claiming my preference is objectivity I’m just being honest about my tastes. On the way home from Boyle Heights I decided to stop in San Dimas and catch up with the man once known on the other side of the I.E. as Johnny Greaseball.
“Everybody my age learned the name of the game and I think that we all want to die”

Between the aforementioned Zzay and Greasy B, I don’t know whose journey of change surprises me more…as I type this out I think it’s Greaseball’s because Zzay’s felt gradual and step by step whereas Greaseball’s life shifts seem even more volatile. I remember hanging out with him in dusty garages and backhouses in San Bernardino and Riverside throughout 2014, 2015 and 2016. Reckless swings through downtown with his drunk troublesome exes, anxious blunts with ne’er do wells in alleys….visiting him at what many call the TrapHouse in San Dimas was different. A beautiful home sheltering a makeshift artist commune, various beanie-topped sweater-clad tall men made a veritable vegan feast in the kitchen while Greaseball and I smoked glass pipe bowls of herb in front of his computer and Xbox, showing eachother demos. Young women with their facially modified friends brought in cannabis cannisters and twelve-packs of Stella Artois. One such person said she used to hang out with my sister in my old Fontana home to my stoned surprise. Grease talked about embracing progressive philosophies that he used to seem somewhat distant from when he was just a thunder-voiced street urchin battle-ready scrappy Riverside MC. On songs like “The Pain” from his new album The Alligator King  Grease shows that his values have changed- he now walks through life with a deep almost burdensome empathy for everyone’s struggles; every stanza is not a tank filled with internal rhymes designed to melt your face but rather with melancholy limerick that often devolves into tourettes like spasms of coping mechanisms for the agony of letting things stack. Even when he does spaz on this song, it’s to show a man fraying as he grasps at his values like a sweater being ripped from him and not an MC battle like display of spittery.  He grapples with the loss of his father at a young age in new ways yet compared to the hagiographic tracks about his father in his past oeuvre. Now he complicates the picture of his fallen patriarch as he discusses the struggles his mother bore for the family growing up. On “Goodybe River” he says goodbye for now to his hometown of Riverside, singing wistfully and hopefully about his current Pomona-Claremont village frequenting San Dimas-dwelling paradigm. Given the inter-genre collaborations and production company community he’s developed with Birote the Musical and other Cookie World artists, who can blame him? Rock artists and the always welcome Hepthy sound equally natural on this indie hip-hop masterpiece of an album.On "I think I do", Grease embraces the idea of free will and gets positively philosophical. Grease was fresh off of a night at the Smell in LA rocking a packed house when we caught up; also right around his birthday, like Mescal. I told him I was truly envious of his new life-art-friends arrangement. That I had long sought such a treehouse refuge in my own 20s and that I was happy he had the chance to truly enjoy and expand on such an opportunity. He gave me some kind feedback on a song I had about just those very topics. I asked him if he'd heard Mescal's new one and he said not yet. He told me a story about how he saw that his last album Happiness to Me was on a Snapchat story shared by EOTR some months back and he laughed and thought "gotcha!" as he saw the image scroll by on his feed. "Good," I thought, "Greaseball and EOTR should be hearing eachother as they are each the most cutting edge progressive boom-bap Latinos of their respective regions..." 
His new album haunts me- for me it represents working class Latinos of my generation finally bumping against the realities of the limitations of our aspirations. Here he is existing in a situation I used to fantasize about and he drops a 45 minute long document as to the inescapable pain of life when you’ve been trained to feel inadequate by a too-often too-narrow-minded society. Here he is to say the pros and cons are just as balanced in his circumstance and perhaps even more starkly and intense. His Gator-King persona alternates between being out of fucks to give and being paralyzed with sympathy for his fellow misfits and lovers. His defensiveness slowly gives way to his seeing all of our souls behind surprisingly earnest eyes.

Mescal and Greaseball are both sensitive thoughtful Capricorn poets who have built communities they’ve nestled themselves within. I relate more to Greaseball’s claustrophobic paintings because of where I am from but visions like Mescal’s give us I.E. kids an idea of what we’re looking for when we stare towards the coast and press down on the gas. I thought of both of them and the friends I’ve been lucky enough to meet and know through and around them as I made my way home, transferring from the 605 North to the 210 East, chasing the massive distant moon.
Tristan "Tanjint Wiggy" Acker is staff writer for JooseBoxx, a youth hip-hop and poetry tutor, and member of the Inland Empire nerdcore hip-hop group the West Coast Avengers. Catch more of their work at westcoastavengers.com, follow Tristan on Twitter @Tanjint or e-mail him at tristanacker@gmail.com