ANGORREPUBLIC recently provided us with an ill remix to G-Eazy's "Far Alone", and return today with a refix of Rich Gang and Young Thug's anthem "Lifestyle". The vibes that this cut emit forth with a groovy synth make for the perfect summer track, stream + download the latest from the Bay Area based DJs/production group.
Bay area music blog & a group of young creatives. Est. 2010
Hip-Hop veteran Common, has steadily shown that time and time again that he has what it takes to remain a force in the game. He does so again by releasing a video from his album newest album Nobody's Smiling. Watch the ill Jerome D. directed visual above.
Kool John’s latest release $hmop City drops at a pivotal time, just as the Gang embarks on tour with Wiz Khalifa on this year’s Under The Influence of Music Tour. With most of the HBK Gang also dropping projects this year, IAMSU! and Sage dropping their major label debuts, and Skipper and P-Lo providing us with their sophomore releases, John follows up with a stunning release in $hmop City. The HBK Gang has been at the helm of the resurgence of the Bay Area musical scene for years now, introducing a club-ready sound through their production group The Invasion that has influenced the overall sphere of the music industry as of now - standing at the dead center of it all is Richmond entertainer Kool John. After a strew of releases, he stands poised as the next HBK affiliate to take off, the release of $hmop City his musical barge-in to the next tier of the music industry. Riding high off the success of “Quit Cattin”, a tune that when played in parties causes a crowd reaction similar to Juvenile’s “Back That Ass Up” (that is, a standstill excitement that surges throughout the crowd just from hearing the introductory bars), John dropped off two more incredible singles with “Bitch I Look Good” and “Wobble”, prior to the album release. On this project, Kool John sounds ever confident and his improved rapping really dominates the body of work; as someone who always has a standout & memorable verse on tracks, John sounds better than ever before with this release. Aside from his music, Kool John has also managed to build a huge following for himself through the use of his brand $hmoplife, which promotes positivity through partying. Check out our conversation below with Kool John which took place at his personal studio in Richmond, where we spoke about his process, the branding behind $hmoplife, his personal life and more, while you stream his latest album $hmoplife which is available via iTunes now.
$hmop City just dropped, not to mention the fact that Su and Sage both dropped their albums this year, and you had two major label placements with those. However, you’ve had early success as far as the Billboard charts with “Swaggin”, how has it been to watch the progression of the whole team?
It’s been completely beautiful to see everything grow from an idea into reality, from a dream and working it into life. It’s been a blessing, and it’s been beautiful. Those are the only two words I know. I know a lot of people who do what we do what we do and don’t get as far their whole life, we did it in a couple of years. We still have a ways to go, but it’s just been a blessing and it’s been beautiful. To come from a small city like Richmond, California where no one makes it out of - no further than the region or the Bay Area, and we’re starting to cross real barriers. It’s been a beautiful thing to me.
I heard that you used to dance back in the day, how did you get into rap?
I used to dance, but a lot of people didn’t know I was rapping at the same time - I was doing a bunch of stuff at the same time. I was just doing whatever I could do to get me popular at the time, so dancing was something I did. I did a bunch of stuff to get me noticed, my whole idea was to start a brand and work my ideas that I had whether it was to do my own brand or to do someone else’s brand. I was going to use any of my God given talents to get me there, first it was turf dancing because I love to dance, I’m hella active, I love to party - I’m a party animal, so I started dancing first but that’s not how I got into music. How I got into music was because I love to rap, and I’ve always been a music head and at the time Loverance was my buddy, and I was doing songs with him before “Up!”. It was really songs that no one took seriously until “Up!” and “Swaggin” came out and that’s when it completely turned 180 with our music.
With that being said, who are some of your musical influences, because you sample a lot of older songs like “Posse On Broadway” and “Freaks of The Industry”..
Well Live From The New Bay was a concept project, that whole project was all samples so I just wanted to do an all sample project, and try to modernize it. We do use a lot of samples in a lot of stuff like Master P, but my influence is 90’s gangster music and 90’s hip-hop positive music. I’m a blend of Master P., Ma$e, Puff Daddy, Jay-Z, Kid N Play, the whole Cash Money - all of em, Mannie Fresh, Baby, Wayne, Juvie, BG… Will Smith, all them type of guys are my idols so I’m just a blend of those guys. You’ll hear a lot of Southern, or Cash Money samples in my music because that’s what I grew up listening to and that’s what I idolized growing up.
You have a line that says “I came from a Juvenile to a Big Tymer”, and you even performed with Juvenile at Slim’s and got on the remix of “100 Grand” with him. How was that experience?
That was beautiful. That was one of the best moments of my life, shout out to Suzy for getting me on that track with Juvie, that “100 Grand”… That was beautiful because Juvie is one of my idols growing up, and that was always one of my goals to do a song or do anything with Juvie. Let alone just to meet him was just a check off my bucket list, and I got to do a song with him so that shit was tight as fuck, I was so happy, I was juiced and all that shit.
On “Made It” from KILT, Su says “Kool John called it all a couple of years ago, he had a vision and I made it musical”, and on the outro to “Best Thing Yet” from KILT II you explained how you guys used to ride to work together. How did you guys originally meet?
Really I think Su knew me before I knew him, I was popular in my area so I’m pretty sure we knew each other before then. He was my lil youngster, like my little brother, him and his friends used to go to the parties I threw, the $hmopfests, and I met him through there. My friend ‘Rance at the time.. Su and them got together to make HBK Gang, and I had been knew about Su and I knew his music and stuff. We went to the same school, the same junior college, and he used to give me a ride to work and stuff so that’s when I started hearing his music and he had told me he did music. And I just did my research to see what he did, and I was a promoter at the time I was starting my little own promotion company, “Kool People Do Kool Things Promotions” and I wanted to apply my youth and my talents to seeing somebody get out. I saw him, and he was so talented and I just figured - you know, it’s just so hard to get a little buzz in the area, and I had enough clout to get something around out here so I just spread his music all over. Then Twitter came out, and we helped campaign on Twitter and we helped get him to the place he needed to be and now he’s everything that I knew he was gonna be - I don't even think he’s that yet, he’s growing into that. He’s taking that route I knew he was gonna take, all he just needed was a little push and I was that little push that got him to that point where he was gonna just go in and take over. I was just behind the scene promoting, I did music but I didn’t take it seriously.
The first time that I heard Dave Steezy was the track “Ghetto Jams” with Jay Ant, a while ago.. How did you guys link up being that he’s a lot younger than you guys?
Well - I’ll tell you… Steezy used to come buy $hmoplife clothes, when I first started $hmoplife I had a couple of loyal fans, people who came and got all the gear. Steezy was one of ‘em but Steezy was different from a lot of them, he had something to offer and he was a go getter, he knew what he wanted and he was gonna go for it. Nothing stopped him, and I seen that in him, and I just wanted to help him out, that’s what I saw in Su - all of them. I just wanted to help em out with whatever they needed. He (Steezy) already knew how he was gonna get started, I’m pretty sure, he can explain it better than me, but he used to come in the store and was like ‘shit I wanna model the clothes and take pictures’. Then he started working for the store, interning at the store, and I was always looking out for him and fuckin with him cause he was hella cool, and he said he rapped, and I wanted to see how he rapped… and he was good [laughs] so I was like shit, well fuck it! You $hmoplife! I think he was already considering himself $hmoplife before then, I think, I don’t know but shit, he had everything in him.. he wanted to be somebody, and we was likeminded as far as what we wanted to be and what we wanted to do so it was only right.
Steezy: It’s a treat when players meet
I know you went to SF State a while back, is that where you developed your interest in branding?
I learned about branding through reading… when I was little I used to go to Safeway and Long’s Drugs and I used to have my mom buy me all the XXL and Source magazines, every one, and through there I used to see the way people developed their brand. Master P, Jay-Z, when I was little I used to listen to everything they said about grinding and going for something, and branding yourself, I was into fashion, I’m into music, pop-culture and so much shit but I really love music and everything involved with it. I saw how FUBU and Karl Kani, and different brands, Roc-A-Wear, G-Unit.. just would blow up from different artists rockin it and promoting it, building their brands and their brands being able to feed their family… and develop projects for other people and help get them money. I wanted to that’s a solid foundation, that stood for something and provided quality for the people so I figured like Master P had his own brand, Puff Daddy had his own brand, all these successful people.. I gotta have my own brand because I wanna take the same route. The next step was going to school.. I stopped going there because I feel like I could apply my youth into something that I really wanted instead of trying to follow society’s laws, ‘you gotta go to college, then graduate, then get a job’ that shit doesn’t necessarily work all the time. So I was like, I’m gonna apply my youth to something that I really am passionate about, and now we’re here.
I often think of your projects like a platform for the homies to have their shine as well, as you have more features than other people typically would. Is that your approach when you’re formulating a project?
Definitely, that’s what it basically is - it’s basically fuckin with my people, fuckin with my niggas, it’s just features from people who I can just call and I’m like ‘hey, fuck with me’. Every project is inspired by something, S.N.A.C.K. was inspired by How You Luv That and The Chronic and stuff like that. Live From The New Bay I just wanted to do a whole project where it was just all samples, and make it a T.V. show like the “Arsenio Hall Show” or “In Living Color”, that inspired that whole shit - so it made me be in the 90’s type of style of music. Peace, Love & $hmoplife that was… I don’t know, Martin Luther King inspired me to do that shit, that’s why I dropped it on his birthday. I can’t even explain that one. Chill, Drink, Fuck, Smoke was basically just that, 4/20 was coming up and I just wanted to put out shit I had that no one ever heard, so I just put it on a CD and had muthafuckas listen to it. $hmop City was inspired by Chopper City In the Ghetto, Cash Money, that inspired me to do that one. For the features, it’s all family, I don’t never really go for big people for features because I feel like if I can’t kill my song, or my friend can’t kill my song then there really ain’t no point, you feel me? I don’t really reach out for features like that because I feel like all the talent is within the group, our flows and patterns and what we talk about - can’t nobody do it like us. I’d rather have different styles on a song than just one person on a song, that gets kinda boring to me, I be wanting to hear different styles if you got other people who’s just as talented as you who can kill it in a different way.
Any last thoughts?
Shoutout HBK Gang, $hmoplife, Filthy Dripped. Shoutout to Tree Crew. Shoutout to Richmond, California and The Bay Area and Youthful Kinfolk for this interview.
Too $hort returns with new music today, a braggadocious cut that guesstimates the number of women that $hort has been with throughout the year. Produced by The Dream Team, you can pick up this uptempo track via iTunes today while you await more from the Oakland legend.
After freshly releasing his album on iTunes today, Kool John drops his video for his lead single featuring P-Lo "Bitch I Look Good". Aaron Kai assists with some graphics on the Adrian Per directed video. Kool John is in pure stunt mode in the video, be sure to cop $hmop City on iTunes if you haven't yet. Be sure to also check out our special interview with Kool John later tonight at 7:30.
Diplo has been teasing with the release of this song since May, and he recently dropped the full version of the song. People don't give Lorde as much credit as she deserves, the young songstress already had a hit song, Diplo's remix however takes it to a whole other level. Adding some heavy synths and more percussion, in flawless Diplo fashion changing the whole mood of the song. Peep the track below.