Vaytus Presents THE VNDERGRVND 

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What do you get when you get dope emcees from Oakland, Detroit, and Houston on one stage for one night only? THE can’t miss show of the summer. Get your TICKETS NOW!

Vaytus is 100% committed to highlighting the best underground Hip Hop out there. We launched the iOS Vaytus App in April, and THE VNDERGRVND is our first of many live shows.

We are featuring some of the best emcees  in the game, including Pep Love from Oakland, Marv Won and Denmark Vessey from Detroit, and Radio Galaxy from Houston. It’s rare that this many lyrical heavy hitters share the same stage, and we’re bringing it to Oakland. 

Be sure to download the Vaytus App to hear music from this all star lineup, and many other dope underground emcees. 

Everyday Struggles: Hip Hop’s New Counter Culture

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[Originally published on abernathymagazine.com July 4, 2016]

Peace.

Welcome back to Music for the Rest of Us—an exploration of dope music made with artistic integrity. In short, this column is dedicated to music that’s about something more than just the turn up.

I just finished listening to Mark Battle’s new release: Before the Deal (BTD). If you aren’t familiar with Mark Battles, he’s a dope MC out of Indianapolis that makes music you’ll want to add to your rotation, as opposed to listening to it once then forgetting it’s on your phone. His latest project, BTD, happily met my expectations. My first intro to Battles was his mixtape Shelter Food which instantly made me a fan of his casual, less is more, flow. A lot of cats who try to say something worth listening to either spend too much time using random words plucked from the dictionary, or they rap fast whilst saying nothing.

Yay or Nay? In BTD, Battles presents a self-portrait, giving a glimpse into what he prioritizes, what drives him, and what it means to be the master of your destiny as an MC in 2016. In a nutshell, this album is all about perseverance and drive in the face of slim odds. The beats aren’t earth-shattering, even though there are a few gems that’ll have you nodding your head. If you like to put an album on, press play, and let it take you on a journey, you should definitely give this album a listen. It’s a definite Yay!

BTD is about the battle, no pun intended, of being a Black man from humble beginnings. This isn’t anything new, but what’s refreshing is it outlines what it takes to win in today’s Hip Hop without being a wack stereotype. Cats have been lying on wax about their millions for a minute. And even for the few who rode those lies to actually making millions, their hyperbole does nothing for youngstas in the trap… other than ensuring they remain in the trap.

Who is the enemy in this battle? In the second track on the album, “This is Me,” Battles gives notice that he recognizes game and is prepared for the fight. He sees what awaits him on the path to stardom: lies, rumors, betrayal, and pressure to make ignorant music. The beauty of being an indie artist is you make music that you feel. That authenticity builds your following but then at some point non-artists will tell you what you need to say, wear, and be in order to be successful. It’s like Chapelle Show seasons one and two when Chapelle had creative control (wildly successful) vs. season three when other people tried to force their way into the creative process (epic fail). Battles has a clear voice as an artist, and if you try to add artificial flavors to it, he’s not trying to deal with you.

Why fight the battle? This album isn’t about bottles and fly whips and other things thousandaires spend their money on—to the amusement of the truly wealthy. BTD gives you a glimpse of the odds Battles faced, from being a young father, to the soul crushing economic conditions of the inner city, to the ever-present dark side of the hood that consumes too many lives. In understanding the scarcity that comes in a market-based economy, Battles gives zero fucks about people who don’t have his or his fam’s best interest in mind. “No Love” is two proverbial middle fingers to any and everyone he sees as being on the other side, obstructing his family’s well-being. His family will not live trapped in poverty. Not on his watch.

What Does Success Look Like?  On the track “Wit It,” Battles indulges in classic Hip Hop braggadocio, articulating his appreciation of his own greatness. To avoid the champagne and fancy car clichés, he stays more high level and talks about the mentality of being great. He gets a bit more tangible in his definition of success on “Grounded.” This track is a two minute and sixteen second mission statement that can be synopsized like so: I’m here to make money to open doors for my family, not to get caught up with groupies and fame.

Like all art, there is plenty to critique—including Battles embracing being non-committal romantically, yet desiring to have something meaningful with women. But beyond the nitpicking, there’s so much good in this album for heads to enjoy.

The Regulars

Regular But Not Ordinary

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Regular, defined as done or happening frequently.

There’s a new project out by The Regulars (Otayo Dubb and Tahaj the First) that clearly demonstrates these dudes are in the lab refining their skills, regularly. It’s evident in their flow, their mastery of the beat, word play, and content.

So instead of the corny minstrel show of materialism/make believe “rap,” Otayo and Tahaj take you on a ride, masterfully bringing to life what real Hip Hop heads can connect with. Check out their hella dope new single!

backup

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