Ay Ay – Jinbutu

Now this rapper is way too famous to be featured on this page, but I had to give some love (completely joking about the being famous part, but did want to sort of highlight a recent performance of mine). Jinbutu a.k.a. Jinsu is the stage name for yours truly, and I’ve had the recent pleasure of performing in collaboration with Emotions Open Mic at BCITMA’s annual Fashion Show event at MIA Nightclub.

The underground, hip-hop theme of the fashion show set the stage for some pretty exciting performances throughout the night, and I was lucky to have been a part of the unreal atmosphere and hype.

Not having performed live for almost 5 years now, it was definitely nerve-racking, but once on stage the music simply flowed through the mic.

The song ‘Ay Ay’ is an introductory song to myself as a rapper, paying homage to my roots being born in Vancouver, as well as having roots in South Korea. The lyrics encompass my confidence as a lyricist, and the exciting lifestyle of being a rapper. Most importantly, I wanted to perform a song that everyone could really vibe with and join in – as the interaction with the audience is such an integral role in the atmosphere of a performance.

Shout outs to Emotions Open Mic, MIA, BCITMA, and #1 Supporter whom I shall regard to as Meow Meow.

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Yours – SG Lewis

Although I am an avid fan of all music genres, I have become particularly amazed at the quality and distinct flavor of music that SG Lewis continues to produce masterfully. At a time where electronic music is in the midst of some drastic changes and what most audiences once understood electronic music to be, SG Lewis is a modern day Michelangelo in this new electronic Renaissance – combining R&B and deep house beats beautifully.

Lewis often collaborates with local independent singer-songwriters, which really amplifies his passion for producing and sharing music through artists that may not be well-known in the industry. His productions are often mellow, minimalist and features intricate live instruments within a canvas full of soulful vocals. His production of ‘Yours’ really paints his passion and precision in creating an intricate blend of a down-tempo electro-soul track.

‘Yours’ was made on a rainy day in South London with Raye on the vocals and Mr Bruno Major. The song starts off with a light rain drop offset with the introduction of Raye’s vocals which are pitched down to accentuate the mellow mood of the production. The song highlights the magnitude of emotions that are inevitable in a relationship, and that sometimes there is no point in fighting for one’s own agenda. Sometimes it’s easier, and healthier for the relationship if one gives in, and thinks about the little things that bring joy to one’s life. Perhaps the one you are with right now may not be the one, and the artist seems to understand that life moves on, and that one can find a place to ‘snuggle up’.

The heartfelt topic of the words in the song within the mellow nature of the instrumental really flows well together, and I know I will continue to be on the lookout for productions by SG Lewis.

4r Da Squaw – Isaiah Rashad

Tennessee-native Isaiah Rashad was just another former Hardee’s employee with rap dreams. Rashad enjoyed sports, music, and had strong work ethic in terms of his education. With being accepted into Tennessee State University’s credible Communications major, Rashad had thought his future would slowly fall into place. With the sudden passing of his great grandmother, things had suddenly taken a drastic turn for the worse. In his emotional state, Rashad had picked up some Krystal (Crystal Meth) with his girlfriend, and was quickly in pursuit by police. Although he was only given a citation, community service and was put in jail for one day, this was a detriment to his education. Although he finished his major, the profiling was significant and Rashad could not seem to land a job – at a time when his first son was on his way.

However, Rashad did not stop pursuing his passion for music and ventured to Los Angeles, where he was fortunate to meet Dave Free, the President of Top Dawg Entertainment. In the past couple of years, Rashad has slowly become an up-and-coming artist while being both a father and having been signed to the TDE record label.

Squaw is best interpreted as a southern way of pronouncing “squad”. Squad can be thought of in the same category as a ‘crew’, ‘team’, or ‘clique’. In the song ‘4r Da Squaw’ (For the Squad), Isaiah Rashad had his friends from Tennessee in mind when writing the song. He offers gratitude towards the music industry, and the blessings he’s received while being able to realize and pursue his talents. Although his money management may not be the best, he expresses how he can help pay his mom’s bills, and support his son. The video further portrays the happiness and fun that could be had with his son, even though he may not have any money. Isaiah is content, and feels thankful that his bills can be payed, while enjoying the free luxuries in life such as fishing and dancing on the Santa Monica Pier.

Crush – Yuna

Yuna is a well-acclaimed Malaysian pop star, who began writing songs at age 14. Music was a creative outlet while attending school, and Yuna really felt the connection and power of music through her first live performance. Her recorded debut in Malaysia in 2008 saw her off with four Grammy-equivalent trophies including ‘Best New Artist’, and ‘Best Song’. Yuna wanted to continue her growth, and aspired to be a widely-acclaimed musician globally.

Although Yuna had begun to inspire a lot of underground scenes and music in Australia, Singapore, and the United Kingdom, ultimately she wanted to venture into the U.S. With help from well-known producers such as Pharrell, Yuna has gradually transitioned from pop-rock to a smooth, indie, neo-soul sound with hints of Janet Jackson and Aaliyah. Her beautiful voice, accompanied by her soul and emotion really compliments the songs she produces, and is continuing to reach new heights – as seen on her single titled ‘Crush’.

‘Crush’ is a sultry duet between Yuna and Usher, featuring soothing, angelic vocals over a mellow instrumental beat. The conversational lyrics that are being exchanged are simple, yet convey the emotional vibe that resonates with the feeling you get when you first set eyes on someone you have become attached to. The intimacy and excitement of having a ‘crush’, and how difficult it can be to open up about personal feelings can be felt through the song.

Sundaze/Devin’s Song – Rexx Life Raj

Representing Berkley, California, Rexx Life Raj is a versatile artist who is a rapper, producer and vocalist. With the Bay Area’s rich musical history and collective progress of talented artists, Rexx Life Raj has really started to cement his place as an influential and creative individual. His music paints a picture which is addressed in smooth tones on songs that feel like falling into a pile of pillows.  Raj’s ability to communicate clearly in an empathetic, and emotional tone is really the foundation upon how his songs are beautifully crafted. The inspiration and encouragement for his aspirations as an artist is heavily influenced by his mother, while his father taught him the beauty and challenges of being black as well as the value of hard work.

“Sundaze/Devin’s Song” is a two-for-one record that masterfully merges two stories. “Sundaze” encompasses a vibrant day party in San Francisco, representing where Raj comes from in an upbeat tone while “Devin’s Song” is paying homage to one of Raj’s best friends. Devin is an integral part of Raj’s music and every move he makes is with his friend in mind. “Sundaze/Devin’s Song” is a song that really highlights Raj’s unique flow lyrically – complimented with the chill, mellow vibe that’s perfect for a late-night cruise down the highway. Watch out for this up and coming artist who has the right mix of classic hip-hop vibes with the modern hype in trendy songs today.

Creative but conscious. Free but moral.

– Rexx Life Raj