The Genius, aka the GZA, is the most cerebral MC in the Wu-Tang Clan, as well as perhaps the most acclaimed. His cool, precise flow and intricate, literate rhymes weren’t as theatrical as Method Man or Ol’ Dirty Bastard, but among hip-hop aficionados, The Genius was revered for his flawless technique and lyrical dexterity, and was considered by many to be the best pure rapper in the entire Clan. The Genius was born Gary Grice in Staten Island, NY, and shuttled between several other New York boroughs with various relatives during his childhood. He started learning rhymes by the earliest hip-hop MCs while spending time in the Bronx, and returned to Staten Island to share them with his cousins, who later became Ol’ Dirty Bastard and the RZA. In fact, the three of them first teamed up in the early ’80s as part of an obscure group called All in Together Now.
Time passed, and The Genius landed a recording contract with Cold Chillin’, which, unfortunately, was nearing the end of its brilliant run. In 1991, he became the only future Wu-Tang member to release a solo album prior to the Clan’s formation, with Words From the Genius. Produced mostly by Easy Mo Bee, the album flopped badly and, creatively, did little to hint at The Genius’ future standing. Conflicts with the label sent The Genius packing, and he reteamed with a similarly disenchanted RZA (fresh off a failed stint with Tommy Boy) and Ol’ Dirty Bastard to co-found the Wu-Tang Clan. Adding six other friends and associates, the group became an underground sensation and took the rap world by storm with its 1993 debut, Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers). Their innovative contract allowed each member to sign a solo deal with whatever label they chose, and The Genius wound up on Geffen. In 1994, his first post-Wu solo track, “I Gotcha Back,” appeared on the soundtrack of the film Fresh. His second solo album, Liquid Swords, followed in 1995 and was hailed as a hip-hop classic thanks to its coolly understated menace. While it didn’t make him a star on the level of Method Man, the album did sell well, reaching the pop Top Ten and falling one spot short of the top of the R&B charts. There were no big mainstream hits, but the title cut, “Cold World,” and “Shadowboxin'” all did well on the rap charts.
Following the Clan’s 1997 sophomore set, Wu-Tang Forever, The Genius returned to the solo arena with 1999’s Beneath the Surface. While critics didn’t praise it quite as lavishly as Liquid Swords, it was another well-received effort (especially compared to some of the lackluster follow-ups elsewhere in the Wu-Tang camp), and it topped the R&B album charts. After reconvening with the Wu for 2000’s The W and 2001’s Iron Flag, The Genius dropped his fourth solo effort, Legend of the Liquid Sword, in late 2002, consolidating his reputation as one of the most skillful rappers around. Grandmasters, a collaborative project between himself and Cypress Hill DJ Muggs was released in 2005, followed the next year by an instrumental version and then a remix version in 2007. A year later, GZA signed to Babygrande Records & released the solo album Pro Tools, featuring guest shots from Wu affiliates RZA, Masta Killa, and producer Mathematics. Dark Matter, GZA’s next solo album for Babygrande Records, is due out in 2015.
Billboard Premieres Title Track From Wu-Tang Members Forthcoming New Album
Babygrande is proud to announce the new album Venom, from U-God of the seminal hip-hop supergroup the Wu-Tang Clan. Venom will be released in early 2017.
Billboard exclusively premiered The DJ Homicide & 1200 Warriors-produced lead single from the album, which is a bass-heavy banger that showcases U-God’s versatile flow as he weaves between a laidback delivery and double-time rhymes.
Brownsville, Brooklyn native U-God moved to Staten Island as a youth. Growing up on the Island in Park Hill not far from his cousin Method Man, Inspectah Deck and Raekwon were his childhood friends. He later became good friends with Cappadonna, then RZA and Ghostface, and he began rhyming under the alias Golden Arms, based on the Kung-Fu movie The Kid with The Golden Arms. Later on, his incarceration prevented him from featuring heavily on the group’s debut album Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers), although he helped finance some of the Clan’s early recording sessions, his input on the seminal LP consisting of only a short bridge on the group’s debut single “Protect Ya Neck” as well as the now famous opening verse of “Da Mystery of Chessboxin'”. Nevertheless, he quickly became known to fans for his rugged flow and bass-like voice on future Wu tracks “Winter Warz”, “Knuckleheadz”, “Investigative Reports”, and “Black Jesus”.
U-God stayed off the streets and avoided incarceration for the group’s 4x platinum sophomore album Wu-Tang Forever. U-God was featured on 10 tracks, two of which were the hit singles “It’s Yourz” and “Triumph.” Around this time, his young son was accidentally shot and injured, an ordeal the rapper documented on the Wu-Tang Clan track “A Better Tomorrow.” On the Clan’s third effort, The W, U-God was featured on hit single “Gravel Pit.” The track would become a worldwide hit and the highest charting Wu-Tang song in the group’s twenty year history.
U-God’s solo career got off to a late start, becoming the eighth member of the group to record a solo album, releasing Golden Arms Redemption in 1999 on Priority Records, which displayed a wide variety of sounds from gritty Blaxploitation funk to urgent string sections, and featured guest appearances from several Wu-Tang members and affiliates. The song “Rumble” was used as the main song for the video game “Wu Tang : Shaolin Style.” “Bizarre,” a single from the album, debuted #7 on the Billboard Hot Rap Singles, propelling the album to Gold status, in spite of Priority Records being on the verge of shutting down. It would be a long time since we heard from him as a solo artist but he remained very active recording verses on over 200 songs like SWV hit remix for “Anything” from the “Above The Rim” soundtrack, the verse and hook on Ghostface’s hit single “Cherchez Le Ghost” and recently featured on the track “Rivers Of Blood” from RZA’s Man with the Iron Fists movie soundtrack which was featured on Nike commercial with soccer superstar Neymar Jr.
In 2009 U-God released the album Dopium, his first album with Babygrande, the lead single “Wu-Tang” featured Method Man was an underground smash. The album featured guest appearances by Sheek Louch, Jim Jones, Raekwon, Ghostface Killah, GZA, Cappadonna, Method Man, Killah Priest and Scotty Wotty with production by Bloody Beetroots, Felix Cartel and Large Professor. In 2014, U-God released the acclaimed album The Keynote Speaker. The album featured artists including Styles P, Elzhi, and Kool Keith as well as Clan members GZA, Method Man, and Inspectah Deck.
U-God’s fifth studio album, Venom, is slated to hit stores in early 2017 via Babygrande Records.
Smoke DZA x Pete Rock
Babygrande Records is proud to announce Don’t Smoke Rock, the upcoming release from Smoke DZA and Pete Rock. Due on December 2, 2016, Don’t Smoke Rock shares the effortless production of legendary and prolific hip-hop producer Pete Rock and the lyrics of the critically acclaimed Harlemnite Smoke DZA aka George Kush.
The first taste of the 13-track offering comes via “Limitless,” featuring Mass Appeal/Def Jam’s newest signee Dave East who, alongside Smoke DZA, adeptly rides Pete Rock’s ominous, gritty production while establishing themselves as unstoppable. The single premiered via Billboard.
“It’s a vibe, it’s a painting, it’s a moment,” he says. “Something that comes around once in a while. I come from old Harlem, before it was a Chase Bank & Starbucks on every corner. Before gentrification.”
Pete Rock shares the sentiment, “As diehard New Yorkers, It was important for us to make a record that embraces what New York truly feels like. We wanted to bring the listener into our world.”
With pre-gentrified Harlem in mind, the production on each song bleeds that Uptown attitude: subdued swagger that could turn against you at any moment. Smoke DZA completes the picture with rhymes steeped in daily Harlem life, where old meets new without ever confusing who actually runs the block.
In the lyrical department, Smoke gets some assistance from Pete Rock himself on “1 Of 1,” with Pete serving as the elder statesman encouraging the young gunner to take the lead.
Having rapped on some of hip-hop’s classics of the past, Pete felt that his work with Smoke was the perfect project to reintroduce his voice to an audience who may not be so familiar with his skills on the mic.
Pete Rock shares, “Smoke’s youthfulness and energy was contagious, it brought out the best in me, this classic gritty soulful sounding project is the result of our collaboration.”
“Moving Weight Pt. 1” featuring Cam’Ron and NYMLo continues in the voice of Harlem as established by Dipset years ago. And “Milestones” featuring BJ The Chicago Kid, Jadakiss and Styles P takes you back to the soulful sounds of 90’s hip hop where dope lyrics and feel good music ruled.
“It’s not to often that you get the features that you actually want. We went 9 for 10 with the features so this is as close to a perfect album that I’ve ever done in my life, states Smoke DZA.
FULL TRACK LISTING:
2) Limitless – Featuring Dave East
3) Black Superhero Carr – Featuring Rick Ross
4) Hold The Drums – Featuring Royce 5’9″
5) Moving Weight PT1 – Featuring Cam’Ron & NYMLo
6) Wild 100s
7) Last Name
8) 1 of 1
9) Milestone – Featuring BJ The Chicago Kid, Jadakiss, & Styles P
10) Show Off – Featuring Wale
11) Dusk 2 Dusk – Featuring Big K.R.I.T., Dom Kennedy, & theMIND
12) I Ain’t Scared
13) Until Then – Featuring Mac Miller
Havoc x The Alchemist
It has been said that real gangsters move in silence. In the case of Havoc (of Mobb Deep) and legendary producer The Alchemist, the duo chose to let their music speak for themselves. On the newly announced collaborative album, The Silent Partner, Havoc serves as the smooth-talking, gangster mouthpiece to the Alchemist’s gritty, one-of-a-kind instrumental backdrops.
One of the most decorated producers in hip-hop today, The Alchemist’s relationship with Mobb Deep dates back to 1999 when Cypress Hill’s DJ Muggs introduced the then-upcoming producer to the revered New York duo. The Alchemist would go onto forge a strong bond with the group, resulting in a myriad of classic tracks throughout the years.
The Silent Partner is a magnificently organic album that brings together one-half of the Mobb with their favorite producer for a modern day hip-hop classic. The Silent Partner features guest appearances by Method Man, Prodigy (of Mobb Deep) and Cormega and was released on May 20, 2016 via Babygrande Records.
Just saying “Electronic” is not enough. The different aspects of the genre are endless, and for NYC based producer Lee Bannon, exploring new directions is exactly his mission. Not being tied to one genre is a trend of Bannon’s. Gaining his popularity initially in Hip-Hop by working with Joey Bada$$, Kendrick Lamar, Curren$y and others, Lee then ventured off to pursue a solo project, bridging Drum & Bass with Ambient production. Lee’s movement into the electronic realm seemed too simple. His latest LP titled Alternate/Endings catapulted Lee’s career while making him a popular staple, not only to press and other musicians, but fans alike.
With positive reviews in major outlets like Pitchfork, Stereogum, Spin and other tastemakers, the name Lee Bannon became a household one for the lovers of Drum & Bass and other lanes of Electronic music. Coming off the tsunami of praise for his album Alternate/Ending Lee immediately hit the studio and began the creation of what is now known as Main/Flex.
Lee Bannon’s Main/Flex is not simply a Drum & Bass EP; It combines Ambient aspects with hypnotizing melodies that capture the listener and cause them to think about more than just the music. Lee’s inspiration for most of his work comes not only from other musicians but from film, art, and worldly matters. It is very clear that Lee Bannon is on the rise as one of the industry’s top producers, and as Pitchfork justly said, “Bannon can call wherever he rests his head home, be it D&B, Hip-Hop, or elsewhere.”
Main/Flex features appearances by Hak of Ratking, Charlie Benante of Anthrax and Deejay Earl of TekLife, and was mastered by acclaimed producer and engineer Daddy Kev. Main/Flex was released worldwide on November 4, 2014 via Babygrande Records.
New York, NY- May 2, 2016- G-Jet looks at life as a constant avenue to invoke change. His tough gritty Texas upbringing reveals pain, struggle and ultimately survival of the fittest. Fueled by everyday life, G-Jet sees music as an inspiration to better his life and started freestyling in high school.
The new record was recorded at Launchpad Studio in Austin, TX, engineered and primarily produced by A Squared Production (with additional production by Max Lo) and mastered at Ardent Studios in Memphis, TN by the Nix family.
G-Jet says, “I write about everyday life… I know I can change my life and at the same time hopefully help make other people’s lives better. Die Rich has a motivational message… it’s a rags to riches story.” The Video for “Born Broke, Live Good, Die Rich” was directed by Jeff Adair. G-Jet adds, “The visual for ‘Born Broke, Live Good, Die Rich’ compliments the song and spotlights my passion. It sums up my life at the moment and where I came from.” The video premiered on Ambrosia For Heads.
In 2014, G-Jet caught the eye of independent label, Babygrande Records and signed an exclusive deal. Babygrande Founder, Chuck Wilson says, “What makes G-Jet unique is his story. He literally climbed his way out of poverty. He made a name for himself on the battle rap circuit.” Wilson adds, “I believe there are a lot of people that can relate to his story and his music. It’s really that simple.”
:G-Jet is the truth. You can see it in his eyes, his story and hear it in his music; he’s part of the next generation of great rappers from the Lone Star State!” G-Jet quickly attracted attention with his track, “Richard Pryor” which appeared on the acclaimed A3C Volume 4 Hip-Hop Festival Compilation in 2014.
After sharing the stage with artists such as Kevin Gates, Wiz Khalifa, Wale, Flatbush Zombies, Lil Durk and many others, G- Jet was part of the 2016 Smokers Club Tour
“G-Jet represents a new generation of Texas Hip-hop” added Wilson.
G-Jet’s new mixtape Die Rich was released on May 26, 2016
Hailing from the birthplace of Hip-hop, New York native Liam Tracy is ready to make a first great impression. Under the tutelage of his production company Taylor & Co the 21-year- old emcee has honed a unique sound studying and fusing elements from the Golden Era of hip hop along with some of today’s modern influences. Liam’s promising talent as a lyricist and producer grabbed the attention of independent label, Babygrande Records,. Immediately after signing, Liam hit the touring circuit by storm opening for Cannibal Ox in 2015 and landing a coveted spot on the 8th Annual SXSW Takeover last March performing on an all star bill with the likes of Kevin Gates, Wale, DJ Drama and more.
Liam’s first audio leak, “Fake Smile,” received great reception leaving fans asking for more he now follows that up with his first single/video a retrospective gem, “Reminisce.” The project, entitled Drugs and Alcohol, dropped May 24, 2016 via DatPiff.com.
21 year-old SoCal artist, THEAFTRPARTY, hit the scene with his debut EP, Close Your Eyes. Close Your Eyes features the lead single “You Forever” along with five additional tracks showcasing THEAFTRPARTY’s unique songwriting ability, which stylishly blends R&B and hip-hop. THEAFTRPARTY had a monumental 2016. After catching the the ear of New York indie powerhouse Babygrande Records, who quickly signed the rising California artist to its roster, THEAFTRPARTY performed at the annual SXSW Takeover with Erykah Badu, Kehlani, D.R.A.M., Mick Jenkins, and others. He then released his debut EP, Close Your Eyes, later in the year. Be on the lookout for more music from THEAFTRPARTY in 2017.
British producer, Ben Frascina, has been tuning in ears with the beautiful atmospheric music he brings to life under the moniker Skylab 3. Influenced by a myriad of dynamic music pioneers from DJ Shadow to Massive Attack to Wu Tan Clan, he cultivates an eclectic and entrancing catalog that allows fans to transcend reality. Skylab’3’s debut album, A View From Above, was released via Babygrande Records on June 10 , 2016.
Skylab 3 comes from a musical family and was exposed to a great many kinds of music and instruments. Skylab 3, aka Ben Frascina, learned to play keyboards at the age of 9 and guitar at the age of 11. “I’ve always been compelled to create music and share it with others,” he states. His love for hip-hop beats played a huge part in the creation of the featured tracks on the A View From Above album.”
Whether the album name refers to the feeling you get when looking at a landscape from a tall building, mountain, airplane, from outer space, whether it refers to being happy or even being in an altered state of mind as a result of drugs or other spiritual methods practiced by different cultures is up to the listener entirely. Frascina’s intent is to take the listener on a journey – a sonically dynamic escape from reality by getting lost in the spacey, atmospheric soundscapes that make up the album.
A View From Above was recorded in Sheffield, England and at Frascina’s home in Cardiff, Wales. He produced and engineered the album using his MacBook and a pair of KRK Rokit 5 monitors. The main DAW used was Logic 9, and many VST instruments, Plugins (for compression, effects, re-amping etc) and audio samples containing drum hits, vocals, various sound effects and speech, which he used in tracks on the album. In addition, the album was mastered by Daddy Kev at Cosmic Zoo.
Called the “Trap Lord”, “Moombahton King” & “Twerk Ambassador”, Ricky Vaughn is bridging the gap between Hip Hop & Electronic production. Starting out as Mr. Vega, the Brooklyn native served as the producer of the Moombahton 3-piece Sazon Booya, whose debut EP “La Bomba” (Jul. ’11) quickly became a seminal release in the then-blossoming Moombahton scene, earning them a coveted slot on Skrillex’s 2011 Mothership Tour. After sharing stages with Zedd, Munchi, Laidback Luke & many others. Soon after, Sazon Booya disbanded, & Vega quickly re-emerged as the Trap, Moombahton & Twerk “triple threat” Ricky Vaughn.
Named after Charlie Sheen’s renegade baseball pitcher from the movie Major League, Ricky Vaughn lives by the mantra “break all the rules and do the unexpected,” which certainly shows in this genre-bending new EP. Dancing between various electronic styles and the worlds of hip hop and R&B, ‘Primo’ blends the Latin and Carribean flavors of Ricky’s past work with a diverse array of new sounds at a variety of tempos.
In 2013, Ricky Vaughn released four EP’s to much critical acclaim from the blogosphere, and five singles from those EP’s reached Beatport’s Top 20 Singles chart. He’s received huge praise from Vibe Magazine, DJ Mag, White Raver Rafting, TrapMusic.net, Moombahton.Net, and YourEDM, all labeling him as an artist to watch. His tracks are supported by artists like Diplo, Bassnectar, Skream & Benga, Bro Safari, Munchi, DJ Craze, Nadastrom, ETC!ETC!, 12th Planet, Nick Thayer, Skism, Doctor P, and Reid Speed to name a few. His unique sounds and standout drum patterns are what makes him a leader in the wave of fresh producers in the new century.
Out now on Babygrande Records, the Primo EP finds Ricky Vaughn at a crossroads. Having released the fifth and final edition of his seminal “Art of Moombahton” mixtape series in 2015, he now aims to broaden his horizons. “The Primo EP is the evolution of the Ricky Vaughn project in the sense that I’ve made the ‘bangers’ that everyone loves and proved myself to my fans and the Beatport charts,” says Ricky (real name Josh Vega), “I sat in my studio 5 days a week creating and re-creating my sound until I figured out what would actually ‘fit’ who I am as an artist today.”
Journalist 103, the voice behind The Left’s critically acclaimed 2010 opus Gas Mask, is most comfortable on the front lines. As an MC hailing from the distressed city of Detroit, Journalist made it clear to listeners that he is always prepared to chronicle the perils of his home and the dismal the state of hip-hop, as he proclaimed to be “reporting live from the killing fields” on the chilling track “Real Detroit.”
Journalist 103’s path to prominence dates back to his early work with the Proof of D12, most notably his contribution to “Broken,” the House Shoes-produced opening track on Proof’s out-of-print Detroit classic, Electric Coolaid Acid Testing. Throughout the years, he has shared the mic with legends and acclaimed lyricists such as Kool G Rap, Freeway, Fashawn, and Saigon, to name a few.
As his name suggests, Journalist 103 is able to articulate his point of view like a true professional, never relying on cheap frills to captivate listeners. “Journalist is a perfectly-titled MC because his raps have no gimmicks….but keep the listener coming back for more because they’re expertly-arranged, compellingly delivered, and contain real substance,” declares RapReviews.com. Journalist’s collaboration with producer Apollo Brown and DJ Soko, collectively known as The Left, earned them universal praise from fans and critics alike, garnering a 92 (out of 100) from OkayPlayer.com and earning select spots in both DJ Premier and HipHopDX’s rankings for top albums of 2010. Journalist’s 2012 solo debut, Reporting Live, only strengthened his recognition as HipHopDX remarked, “there’s magnetic conviction in Journalist’s voice….Journalist 103 stands to be a vital force for the unheard.”
Journalist continues his in-depth coverage on the ‘Murder Mitten’ and the war zone that has become hip-hop on his sophomore solo album, Battle for the Hearts and Minds. In a fight to captivate the imagination of hip-hop fans across the globe, Journalist draws his lyrical sword as a protector of the culture with a Detroit-centric album featuring guest appearances from an all-star ensemble of Motor City lyricists including Clear Soul Forces, One Be Lo (Binary Star), Guilty Simpson, Willie The Kid, Marvwon, Nolan the Ninja and more.
Journalist 103’s sophomore album Battle for the Hearts and Minds is in stores worldwide via Babygrande Records.