RH Review: The Lollapalooza Experience (2018)

After a long four-day weekend of countless live acts, underground after parties, and spending over a hundred dollars in Uber’s; it feels great to be in the AC recapping the Lollapalooza experience.

Arriving early on Thursday to see Valee was the perfect way to start off the festival. The energy during “Two 16’s” was insane. One person, who looked about 17, was screaming every lyric directly in my ear. If I wasn’t sure about the lyrics, I certainly am now. Also the photo below is legendary.

After helping tear down the temporary studio set up hosted by Closed Sessions at SoHo House, I found my way to the front of the Bud Light stage to see Travis Scott. With his new album Astroworld dropping an hour after his performance, the crowd was ridiculous. I had a difficult time recording any of the show due to the mosh pits.

Tyler The Creator and Post Malone were two notable acts on Friday. Post Malone receives a lot of hate in the hip-hop community, but his set was much better than expected. His voice sounded strong and it felt like the entire audience knew every word during his performance. I added a clip from Tyler The Creator’s set below to give an idea of the audience.

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Saturday was the least exciting day for me. I missed Femdot from sleeping in too long. Other than LL Cool J, the other acts I saw were disappointing. Lil Pump found a way to be worse than my already low expectations. GoldLink sounded as if he didn’t have enough material for an entire hour. The energy of the festival was redeemed during Hippie Sabotage’s performance at their after party. The two brothers from Sacramento killed it.

The final day ended strong. Knox Fortune had the most intimate show of the weekend. Their crowd was also the most mature I saw all weekend, with the median age above 18 for the first time. Lil Uzi Vert is a rock star. To think about seeing him at the Metro just two years ago, to playing at the main stage at Lolla is crazy. The crowd loved him.

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All in all, the weekend was a success. It’s almost hard to believe Lolla is over.

RH First Look: Sierra Sellers

The next edition to our RH First Look series is with Sierra Sellers, an upcoming singer/songwriter from Pittsburgh, PA. Sierra's music blends acoustic textures along with neo-soul and R&B influences to create a smooth lo-fi sound. With a self titled project and a collection of singles out, it's exciting to see what she has in store. We sat down with her to discuss growing up in Pittsburgh, musical influences, and what we should be on the lookout for in the future. Check out our interview below:


rubyhornet: For any of our readers not familiar, who is Sierra Sellers?

Sierra Sellers: If you were to meet me and spend time with me you would learn I’m very kind, humble and shy. Then when you really get to know me, I’m super goofy. I have a lot love for music and kids. I am really ambitious and have a business mind. I’m still trying to figure out who I am.

rubyhornet: You started singing in the church at a young age. Was there anyone that encouraged you to begin doing this?

Sierra Sellers: No one had to encourage me to sing in church. Singing in church was something I felt compelled to do. It’s not a forced moment, it’s something that naturally happened. Singing for god is an entire different feeling than singing for yourself. It’s hard to explain. But you feel it throughout your entire body and you don’t have to think about it.

rubyhornet: How did the environment at the church, growing up in Sewickley (Pittsburgh), and life in general impact the music you were listening to growing up?

Sierra Sellers: I had a unique upbringing. My mother passed away when I was five. My dad worked late on the weekends to take care of my sister and I. I would spend weekends with either my mom or dads side of the family. I’m half black and half white. One weekend I would spend with my mom’s side which listened to a lot of Neo-soul, R&B, and Hip-hop. Then with my dad’s side we listened to strictly country or Led Zeppelin. The contrast and exposure of genres was interesting. I would go from Johnny Cash to Jodeci in a day.

rubyhornet: You were originally going to attend college on a basketball scholarship. Did you end up going to college or were you fully focused on music at this point?

Sierra Sellers: Growing up in my environment, I knew I wanted to go to college because I wanted to shape my own life. I knew I had to make it through an academic scholarship or through sports. I got a basketball scholarship, but so much time was concentrated on basketball and not music. When it was time to commit for a full ride or the D3 offer, I took the D3 offer. This is because if I quit basketball they couldn’t take away the scholarship. I played for a month and then a quit, telling the coach I spent so much time playing basketball to get to college, and now that I’m here I want to focus on music. I still hoop for fun.

rubyhornet: How does the creative process start for you when working on something new?

Sierra Sellers: I am a Pisces which makes me a dreamer. I typically start with the beat. I close my eyes and a movie plays in my mind while I narrate it. The first idea I have I usually go with. Sometimes it’s just one word and I’ll create a word web around that.

rubyhornet: What does stepping outside the box mean to you?

Sierra Sellers: Challenging myself to try things I’m capable of but that I was afraid to do. Growing up in the church you hear amazing singers with amazing voices that no one can touch. I don’t think I have a voice like that. Sometimes that insecurity holds me back. I like to be in the studio with people that push me in the vocal performance aspect. Song writing for different genres like pop was super interesting and challenging also.

rubyhornet: The percussion on songs like, “Too Good” and “Be Wise” have a traditional Hip-hop influence to my ear. What other factors effect how your music sounds?

Sierra Sellers: I never listened to the radio growing up, so when people say, oh that song came out when I was in middle school or high school, I don't relate in the same way. I listened to Lauryn Hill, Farside, A Tribe Called Quest, and all these older 90’s artists. I found Prince and Michael Jackson at an older age. I still couldn’t tell you what the number 1 song is right now. I hate when the radio plays the same 5 songs.

rubyhornet: What should fans expect in the near future?

Sierra Sellers: I plan to put out a project. My intention is put it out in the fall. I hate trapping myself by saying what’s next. I don’t like to pressure myself or anyone I work with by doing that. The time and freedom I have right now to build myself is great.

First Look: KOTA The Friend

The 25 years young Brooklyn native, KOTA The Friend, makes his first appearance on our pages today. With three solid projects, a collection of singles, videos, and more, the independent rapper has been on our radar for a minute. He will be playing at Reggies in Chicago on August 23rd.

KOTA manifests the classic New York style into a California paradise. Palm trees and sandy beaches contrast the depression and real life problems that can be faced when coming to age in New York. Check out our full interview below:

rubyhornet: For any of our readers not familiar, who is KOTA The Friend?

KOTA The Friend: KOTA The Friend is an artist in the purest sense of the word. I believe that while art can be monetized, it will outlive any industry. It will always be important. I’m a musician. I’m a classically trained trumpet player and I taught myself guitar, bass, and keyboard. I’ve been writing poetry since I could remember which made the transition to rapping seamless. I’m a self taught pro - cinematographer and video editor. I’ve shot hundreds of music videos for artists from New York City to California to Japan. I love creating and I create as much as I can.

rubyhornet: You were born and raised in New York, but you mention California a lot. What do these places mean to you?

KOTA The Friend: For a long time New York has represented some dark times in my life that I wanted to escape from. Out here on the East Coast we were constantly talking about getting out of the city and moving to LA where the sun is always shining and the palm trees tower over highways. My first 2 projects were mainly about escaping to find something new and better, so that’s why I reference California a lot.

New York is home, it’s where things get real for me. I’ve recently started to express my feelings towards my hometown and I plan on telling the stories of me and my friends in my new music + the album.

rubyhornet: What’s your definition of a friend?

KOTA The Friend: A friend is someone that you can depend on. A friend is someone that you can bring the worst news to and they can make you feel like its going to be okay. A friend will love you for the person you are and doesn’t judge you for being imperfect.

rubyhornet: Your lyrics are very honest. How do you approach writing a new song?

KOTA The Friend: Every song I write is true to my experience. Almost every time I begin with the music. I hear an instrumental and I get to writing, singing melodies and rapping gibberish. Then once I get in the groove I put my life onto the page until I’ve painted a vivid enough picture. I always tell the truth in my music because that’s the only way I can connect. You can tell when people are disingenuous so I keep it real.

rubyhornet: The growth from Palm Tree Liquor to Anything is evident. If you could go back in time and tell yourself anything while recording Palm Tree Liquor, what would that be?

KOTA The Friend: Thank you for noticing the growth! I honestly wouldn’t tell myself anything because my life is so beautiful now and I wouldn’t want to mess with the natural order. I was in such a dark place when I created Palm Tree Liquor and even Paloma Beach. Every day I’m just grateful that I’m no longer in that space and I’m reaching more people with my music.

rubyhornet: You speak on depression and suicide on past projects. What advise would you give to someone who feels boxed in due to their mental health? Has music helped you get out of this stage?

KOTA The Friend: It’s not always easy trying to get someone out of depression. A depressed person can often be their own worst enemy. In my personal experience dealing with depression, I felt alone like many others. I felt like a failure, like I didn’t matter, like even God was against me and I hated myself. I turned my life around when I started to be grateful for the little things I did have. I would tell a depressed person that they are worth so much and that they are in control even if they don’t feel like they are. Even if you’ve been making the same mistakes for 5 years you can decide to live your life different from this day on. You don’t have to be the negative things that “they” say or think you are. I would tell a depressed person to take time to get to know the real you. If you don’t like something about yourself you can change it but you have to be honest with yourself about who you are and then make adjustments. No matter what, don’t let the thoughts of others define you. They are dealing with their own struggles and imperfections. On top of all of that, IT’S NOT ALL ABOUT YOU. Other people are struggling mentally and it’s important to understand this. Be kind to everyone no matter what.

rubyhornet: As an independent artist is it a goal of yours to become signed?

KOTA The Friend: Not really. I like being indie. It’s super fun. But I don’t know what the future holds. I’m making music, feeding my family and I get to be around my son all the time so I’m happy right here

rubyhornet: What are some plans from here on out?

KOTA The Friend: Just keep making music, touring, experiencing new things, eating healthy, being a better person and keep showing my people love. That’s it.

RH First Look: PK Delay

I had the pleasure of sitting down with PK Delay a few weeks ago while I was back in my home town of Pittsburgh, PA. It was a solid 90 degrees outside which felt more like 100. After pulling up on Carson Street and walking over to one of his friends crib we sat down and started chopping it up.

rubyhornet: For our readers not familiar with PK Delay, what can you tell us about yourself?

PK Delay: I’m a rapper. I play video games. Born and raised in the Hill District (Pittsburgh).

rubyhornet: How old are you?

PK Delay: 24

rubyhornet: What was the attention like you received from rapping in highschool?

PK Delay: I was clowned for the first few years before people started taking me serious. It wasn’t genuine hate, just on my ass for wanting to be a rapper.

rubyhornet: Did other people rap in you school?

PK Delay: Yeah, I met Pet Zebra when I was in 6th or 7th grade. We best friends now. Some of his friends from his high school started rapping with us. We started recording at a home studio. The quality and production was decent so we sounded good. My father is a gospel singer and my grandfather is a drummer. It’s in my blood.

rubyhornet: Were you spending money on music at this point in time?

PK Delay: Yeah I was working at Taco Bell. Whatever I got from my check would be spent on music. We were recording our own shit, so we would be grabbing better speakers, interfaces, etc. I know how to mix well, but tend to head to other studio’s more now.

rubyhornet: What’s it like to be an artist from Pittsburgh and obtaining a platform?

PK Delay: We got a lot of rappers around here. Some of them suck. Some of them are alright.

rubyhornet: Where is most of your audience coming from?

PK Delay: 2012-2014 had a lot of growth on my social media. A good mix of the city (Pittsburgh) and other places like Atlanta and the west coast have been showing love online.

rubyhornet: Near the end of “On That” a saxophone comes in and the track fades out. Who produced this track? Who are some producers you have been rocking with?

PK Delay: Jay Card, he works out of I.D. Labs. My bro laid the saxophone down live at the studio. I wanted some live instrumentation on their, so bro came through and played the saxophone to a flow I had.

rubyhornet: How would you classify yourself?

PK Delay: Emotional. Comfortable. I be speaking my mind.

rubyhornet: Would you consider your fashion similar?

PK Delay: Yeah. I rock whatever. Wear my hair however. Tattoos.

rubyhornet:  Tell me about disappearing off Twitter and Instagram for the past few months.

PK Delay: I be dealing with anxiety and stress. Sometimes I be too tapped into my phone. Scrolling all day. 20 mins to an hour goes by and I'm like what did I accomplish just scrolling? I'm tapped into everyone else and I just needed to take some time for me. The break felt great. I had to get back on it now for the music.

rubyhornet: Plans from here on out?

PK Delay: Keep dropping music and videos. Got a few videos in the cut. Exploring different lanes with the music. Rap is boring to me. It’s easy. I want to try some more singing type stuff.

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Chance The Rapper Explores Past, Present, and Future With Four New Singles

Last night, Chance The Rapper, released four new songs, just ahead of his performance on Saturday at his Special Olympics after party.  While it wasn't the full album that was initially hinted at in his interview with Greg Kot, it is a cohesive collection of music, all of which are set in the present, influenced by his past, and eyeing the future.

The first song, "I Might Need Security" samples a comedy show with the same title staring Jamie Foxx and lists several reasons why Chance might need to add some new bodyguards. He calls for Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel's resignation, for starters.  "And Rahm you done I’m expectin' resignation An open investigation on all of these paid vacations for murderers."

Chance also calls out Crain's and The Sun-Times before revealing his acquisition of the Chicagoist, a local blog covering news, events, and entertainment. This business move could be in response to the Chicago Sun-Times article from March 2017 in which writer Mary Mitchell criticized Chance over a child support dispute.

"65th & Ingleside", the last song on the playlist appears to be about Chance and his relationship with new fiancé, Kirsten Corley. On the 4th of July, Chance proposed to Kirsten. The title comes from the intersection where the couple used to live. The ups and downs in their relationship, before Chance elevated to a super star, are evident in the song.

"I was sleeping with you every single night, but I was still tryna act single right".

Chance reminisces on being broke before the touring days with Childish Gambino. The 2012 Camp Tour was the start to their long lasting friendship and many other collaborations between the two.

"Then one day Donald took me on tour. Young broke Chano ain’t broke no more".

Steven Moses Debuts Love Me / / Leave Me

Steven Moses makes his first appearance on our pages with his debut project Love Me // Leave Me. The 18 year old musician from Hollidaysburg, PA displays his guitar-skills throughout the project. The young artists has taken off with his single "Love Me" which premiered on Elevator earlier in 2018. He has also been seen with the likes of Rick Rubin.

The emotional lyrics, contagious melodies, and hazy production combined create a trippy vibe. The final verse on the outro track "Leave Me" foreshadows the rockstar lifestyle Moses is about to partake on. "So now I be in the limelight drugged out thinking 'bout nothing but money. Funny how only the people below me think that they're above me, low key fucking love me".

Wiz Khalifa's Rolling Papers 2 Out Now

Wiz Khalifa has finally dropped Rolling Papers 2 after teasing the album for what feels like years now. The album is 25 songs and contains a long list of features that include Lil Skies, Gucci Mane, Snoop Dogg, and many others. Jimmy Wopo, who was shot and killed in Pittsburgh, PA last month is also featured with fellow Pittsburgh rapper Hardo on the 3rd song "Blue Hunnids".

Wiz's breakthrough album Rolling Papers, that dropped back in 2011, had anthems like “Black & Yellow,” “Roll Up,” and “No Sleep.” The sequel  has similar energy that made the first Rolling Papers a classic. The production from TM88, Sledgren, Cardo, and others has Rolling Papers 2 sounding much like the mixtapes that led Wiz to his popularity.

The intro track "Hot Now" trades the typical melodic hook for back to back verses building up the auto tune setting up the album. Listen to the rest of the album below:

Lil House Phone Drops Single Off Upcoming Project

Lil House Phone returns to our pages with his single "X6". This is the first release from his upcoming project Voicemails 2, which is set to come out August 17th. The short catchy track has one verse between two hooks about copping a BMW, while mentioning past relationships.

The track debuted only on SoundCloud and has been added to their "First on SoundCloud" playlist.