Monday, August 29, 2005
Interview: Sivion

Interview conducted by Brandon Herbin

1. How long have you been emceeing/producing and what is your process for doing each of these? I've been emceeing and producing since about 1991. As far as emceeing goes, I am more of a poet than a battle emcee. I like to vibe off of a beat for hours before I write one single word. Mainly because, the beat determines what cadences I use or create. So once I really have committed the beat to my inner being and the beat becomes a part of me........then I put the pen to paper. Now production, that's a little different. I usually find a really dope sample and then start building around it. I like to let the root sample determine the tempo and groove of a beat, then I just build from there.

2. What type of equipment do you use to make your beats? I use an Ensoniq ASR X Pro (the little red box). It is very "user-friendly" as compared to other more desirable beat machines. But I have to have something easy, because I'm pretty much an idiot when it comes to computers and electronics.

3. Do you have any plans to do music full-time? I would love to do that. Right now it's just not feasible with a wife and 2 kids. But one day once I'm in more demand......maybe. But by then I'll be like 40 years old or something. I definitely ain't getting any younger. Ha Ha!

4. What do you do full time? I work for Hilton Hotels Corporation. That's my full-time gig. Although my heart and passion are in music. Hilton is the vehicle that God has blessed me with for paying the bills.

5. What is a Sivion set like? Do you do Deepspace 5 or PHATKATS songs also? A Sivion set is like a box of chocolates......you never know which one you're gonna get. Just kidding. Actually it is just like my album, a twisting turning emotional journey into my heart. I do not do any Phat KATS stuff anymore, although I did when I first went solo. However I do have a Deepspace5 medley that I do to appease the DS5 fans a bit. Also, I do a little call and response type stuff and sometimes even incorporate my sax. She's wounded right now so I'm waiting to get her to the doctors at Brook Mays...............Hang in there Honey......the paramedics are coming soon...

6. What enhances your "Mood"? The knowledge of Christ in my heart and God's guidance through the Holy Spirit. That enhances my mood. Watching God's Grace unfold throughout each step of every day, enhances my mood. The response I get after each and every show...enhances my mood. In all these years, I have never gotten a bad response at a show. Sometimes it appears that kats aren't into it, but then later at the merch table.........it becomes obvious that lots of people saw the light that I brought with me to that particular spot. And what a blessing it is to receive that encouragement from a perfect stranger.

7. If you had could be another Deepspace5 member who would you be and why? I would be Sintax because of his heart and his ridiculous wordplay. I'd be Manchild so that I could battle anyone and hold my own at the drop of a hat. I'd be Playdough because of the passion he brings to his music. I'd be Sev because of the boldness he displays for God. I'd be Fred because of the way he bullies a crowd into responding. (LOL!!) I'd be Listener because of the risks that he is willing to take in exploring new things with his music. I'd be Rabbi for his tremendous ear for music. I'd be Manny because, face it he is a dope turntablist! I'd be Dust for his ability to producer flat out "Bangers"! Then lastly I'd be me just because that's what God intended!

8. I was talking to Patrick and he said that you are planning to release an EP soon? Could you tell me about it? Whose going to be on it? (artist and producers). It's actually not an EP, but more like a short LP. It will probably have about 10-12 songs on it. Lots of production from Ohmega Watts and Siamese and will be released on Hip Hop Is Music, which is Braille's label. Not sure who will be on it yet. Still in the conceptual stages. But the first song I've finished so far will be one called "I Still Love H.E.R." which is a spin off of the Common classic, "I Used to Love H.E.R." Siamese made a banger of a beat for this one!

9. How did you signed to Illect? Sintax has been working with ILLECT for a long time and has been begging me to give them a try, so I did.....and I'm extremely happy with how my project has been promoted and handled. They really work hard at trying to make the most out of what they have to work with. I'm very impressed.

Sunday, August 21, 2005
Artist Encounter: Mars Ill

Mars Ill made its way throught Richmond Virginia this past friday and all of the people who contribute to The Beacon Hill Project were able to make it.

Friday, August 05, 2005
New Song: LA Symphony

LA Symphony has their new song Timeless up at Myspace.com from their upcoming album Disapear Here. This song is the most exciting song I have ever heard from LA Symphony. They have also have had the song The Money Song up at www.Gotee.com. It is under their section in artists. They have an EP called Less Than Zero coming out in August to build anticipation for Disapear Here coming out in October. For more information check out their site www.LASymphony.com. I hope you enjoy these two treats. I sure did!

Thursday, July 28, 2005
Review: Sivion - Mood Enhancement

Review by Daniel C. Warshaw

Sivion's first solo album, Mood Enhancement, starts off appropriately with his Mood Intro - a short overture that sets the tone for the disc with light hearted pre-song conversation and lyrics that make plain his intentions to share his love of Jesus Christ. What follows is an album full of amazing rapping and straight-forward lyrics, punctuated occasionally by guests' descriptions about what "enhances their moods."

Even the casual listener will be taken aback by rapping that's distinctively Sivion. The intricate rhythms and rhyming patters are reminiscent of quality hip-hop poetry, while the lyrics themselves send out a hard-to-miss message about various aspects of his faith, notably on Flood Gates, The Name Game, Fly so High, and What is it?

There are a few surprises on the CD as well, not least of which are the guest spots from Deepspace 5 and Phonetic Composition. The most unexpected elements of the disc, however, are the songs featuring and about members of his family.A.N.D.R.E.O.N. features Sivion's five-year-old son both producing and rhyming, adding a typically unheard-of cuteness to a hip-hop release. Equally touching is the lyrically excellent tribute to his wife, S.H.A.N.N.A.N., on which Sivion expertly rhymes his way through the letters of his spouse's name.

Unfortunately, Mood Enhancement suffers in the beat department. With the exception of a few gems such as In the Know and What is it?, most of the tracks produced by Sivion sound a little amateur. While many listeners may expect this from a first effort, some of the tracks are more than simply unpolished; The Search contains a drum beat that sounds as if it was lifted straight from a Casio keyboard - including the descending tom fill. Out of the Blue is simply overcrowded; too many layers make it difficult to decipher which way the beat is moving.

Without a doubt Sivion created an album that highlights his outstanding rap skills. Even with beats that draw attention to Mood Enhancement's freshman status, listeners will be treated to songs that profess the hope of Christianity without feeling as if the lyrics are forced. If hip-hop fans are looking for unique new rapping talent, this is a disc to pick up.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005
Review: Playdough - Don't Drink The Water

Review by Daniel C. Warshaw

Playdough greets the listener at the opening of 2005’s Don’t Drink the Water both literally and musically on the track Up to Date. With lyrics that question the mainstream rap scene, the excellent beats keep heads bobbing all the way to the disc’s closer, Daisy Proof.

The verbal delivery on this CD is incredible, particularly evident on the short song, Huh!, with a simple track to accentuate Playdough’s mighty rapping. Continuing with perfectly syncopated rhythms that seem to throw forth the words, Dang!, Saddle Up, and the dramatic title track, Don’t Drink the Water leave nothing but satisfaction. Raps meet pleasant vocals on the Kevin Max collaboration, Sandal Sole, a fairly pop-friendly song that sill comes with a fantastic beat and verses.

The beats don’t come close to disappointing either with Don’t Drink the Water’s adventurous beat reminiscent of a classic movie sound track. Up to Date makes the hot list in this category as well with static-laced guitar sounds over delicious percussion. Beat Rabbi’s artful production work on Saddle Up blends natural drum sounds with an airy string sample.

While Don’t Drink the Water is mostly an audio delight, there are a few minor snags worth mentioning: The beat on Ghetto Blaster ends up sounding a bit boring and crowded; too many layered noises that repeat throughout the song start to sound grating after repeated listenings. Emergency Broadcast comes up a bit short as well with a cheesy hard-rock beat that sounds like it wants to be P-Diddy’s rock remix of All About the Benjamins.

Play-Doug-H delivers on Don’t Drink the Water with an album full of sweet tracks. Pointed lyrics, infectious beats, and fresh rap skills provide plenty of reasons to head out and grab this disc.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005
Review: Procussions - Up All Night

Review by Daniel C. Warshaw

Deviating from their previous release, The Procussions deliver more soul-infused jazz jams than hip-hop on their 2004 import, Up All Night. The first two thirds of the album, in fact, feature no rapping with the exception of Mr. J on Mr. J Warm Up.

Up All Night seems to be the all Stro show, as he provides most of the musical background, layering fantastic drum parts with equally enjoyable Fender Rhodes. He also covers the production on four of the five hip-hop flavored tracks, and vocals on some songs – be it spoken word or rapping. The rap tracks generally sound pretty tight with decent verses – particularly evident on We are Here. What listeners may find most surprising about this release, however, is the superb recording quality. All the instruments are clear with little to no distortion, line noise, or interference. The first ten tracks, mixed by The Sound Providers’ Jason Skills, are so clean, in fact, they sound like they’re playing in the next room.

Understanding that this album was created over an eight-hour period doesn’t make up for all of its missteps, though. The spoken word parts of The Cereal Chronicles, B Boy Alarm Clock and other tracks are pretty cheesy, distracting listeners from music that’s enjoyable on its own. While the verses on the last third of the album are pretty cool, the production isn’t as consistent, varying from We are Here’s energetic beat to the almost Casio-keyboard-demo sound of the Introducing...(What’s Your Name?) remix. Likely the most disappointing aspect of this album is its disjointedness. Had the fellas decided to make a complete disc of soul-jam tracks, this would have been a solid release. Instead they put together seemingly everything they worked on in those short eight hours.

Ultimately, the purchasing of this album will come down to what kind of fan reads this review. Those who want every Procussions release from 12” singles to imports like this CD will be happy to add this to a collection. The rest are likely to be disappointed by a recording that delivers only half-way.

Friday, July 08, 2005
Profile: DeepSpace5

Welcome to our first Profile/Resource. We will be doing this weekly for a group or artist. This week we're following up our review with some resources to hear more of DeepSpace5 and find out who they are.

Official Site: www.DeepSpace5.com
Once inside this site, You can find the navigation by rolling your mouse over the group name in the upper right hand corner. There are 2 exclusive tracks on the media page that can be downloaded. These were recorded at the same time Unique... was recorded. They are both production gems by Beat Rabbi. There is also news and tour information for all the artists in DeepSpace5

Beat Rabbi: You can go to www.illect.com and listen to a preview off of his upcoming album on Illect Recordings entitled DeepSpace5oul. The song is played on the illamp.

Dust: myspace page www.myspace.com/casmetah blackDust Blacksoil Project remix

Fred B: myspace page

Listener: www.forthelistener.com myspace page purevolume.com/listener

Manchild: myspace page

Playdough: www.playdoughmusic.com 7spinmusic.com

Sev Statik: www.sevstatik.com myspace page

Sintax The Terrific: www.sintaxtheterrific.com
Several tracks can be heard on the illamp at illect.com.

Sivion: www.sivion.net myspace page

Manwell?: DeepSpace 5 Bio Page
Manwell did the scratchs on Unique... . He also has done scratches on John Reuben's 3 early albums. Manwell may be puting out an album of his own soon...