#YN #WritersChoiceSpotlight . @TaylorJTakeover . Written By @DerekGodown

Writers Choice Spotlight

Taylor J


Taylor J

Taylor J

Photo Via - Sicness.net

Full Name: Walter Taylor Jr.

Hometown: St. Paul, Minnesota

Height: 5 ft, 5 in.

Handedness: Right

Style: Smooth R&B melodies and vocals mixed with powerful hip-hop delivery and lyricism

Freestyle/Written: Both

Business: Scenious Society


Early Life

Born in St. Paul, Minnesota, Walter Taylor Jr. (also known as Taylor J) was raised as the only child in the home by his mother, Frances Ellis. With four siblings at his father’s house, Taylor had plenty of family. However, it was his older brother who performs under the artist name ‘Renegade’,  who would grow to be his original inspiration that led to his venture into a music career. In St. Paul, Taylor grew up seeing people make their ends meet any way possible. Some worked steady jobs, some sold drugs, some robbed. Taylor knew that his route out was in music.

Taylor grew up with the bigger picture always in mind. Through school and his adolescence, he knew that he was eventually going to have to make a big move to break the mold of his environment. After his older brother was sent to jail in 2003, Taylor’s move became more obvious and he set out to fill  the void that his brother left in the music world. They kept in touch through phone conversations and visits, where Taylor would learn more about his brother’s message and vision for his movement. On top of their casual conversations, Taylor would also spit him some of the stuff he wrote which boosted his confidence and his practice. Growing up listening to Biggie, Pac, Nas, etc from his brother and his mother’s influence, he understood the roots of hip-hop when it was at its peak. As he grew and shaped himself as an artist, he became part of two local groups, Mid-west Mafia/New Era, before setting off for a more independent scene when he found his passion and enjoyment for the craft.

Taylor J

Taylor J

Photo Via - Illuminati2g

The Music

Taylor J’s overall sound incorporates a lot of different elements that keep his final projects interesting and each song a degree different than the other. In summary, Taylor brings piano keys and r&b traces and layers them with sharp hip-hop beats and precise vocals combined with a flow that ties every song together. His melodic singing works as both a filler and a main part of his songs. His vocal range plays well aside his precise delivery with his verses. When asked how he decides when and how to sing or rap, his strategy is simple. When he hears a beat he hears the whole song, when and how a certain part should be sung, what ad-libs are going to go where. It all formulates in one step in his mind and the rest of the process is simply adding the pieces.

With no background in singing, aside from his time studying music at McNally Smith College of Music, vocals come a little too naturally to Taylor. His melody mixes flawlessly with his ability to rap on top of a variety of different beats as he shows in his vast portfolio of work. His message is clear throughout his work, he states time and time again that he’s the next up and coming and is going to take over every platform on his way. His mother is a top motivator for Taylor and he proves it time and time again in his lyrics. He tells about his trials he faced on the way through music and about betrayal from those close to him, which has only motivated him to surpass them as far as possible.

They shitted on me but it made me the shit, what a wonderful feeling
— First One, Who Would’ve Thought
Taylor J

Taylor J

Photo Via - Singersroom

Taylor has worked with some of the greats in music already such as Gucci Mane(who after meeting Taylor attempted to sign him), Nipsey Hussle, Jazze Pha, Gorilla Zoe, and more. Topped off with a mentorship by the well-known, and well established Shaheem Reid; he has built himself into a veteran of the game with years of hard work. Though he is still after many features and projects with artists, his most desired has always been Andre 3000 of Outkast. Who Taylor had already had a run-in with, but under different circumstances.

One time, when i was working on a project at a studio down in Atlanta, we decided to take a break and drive to the mall, on the way we stopped at the gas station for gas and drinks and whatever. We were walking into the building when my friend nudged me and pointed out a man to the side of us who, sure enough, was Andre 3000. At first I thought it was a lookalike due to his truck not being what you’d expect to see 3 Stacks in but he was always a humble man so I wasn’t entirely surprised, he had the hat and everything. I approached him and we started choppin’ it up about music and life and everything inbetween. While we were talking for what seemed like hours he mentioned his truck needed a jump. My friends came over and helped him out and he took off. We went our separate ways to the mall and stayed in Atlanta to work more on the project. Well 2 days later we drove past the same gas station and there was Andre again at the same gas pump, this time with a brand new truck and himself looking just as new. It’s a story I’ll always remember and most people don’t believe it at first.
— Taylor J

Taylor references this run-in on the song “Impossible” in which he showcases his singing ability and also his unique flow.

I gave 3-Stacks a jump and for once I thought it was all good
— Impossible, Who Would’ve Thought

The song goes on to explain the hurdles Taylor and others have faced as artists and humans overall growing up in troubled areas. While bringing attention to these struggles we also hear throughout the song that none of this will slow or stop his movement, and it shouldn’t stop anybody else.

Recent Chronology / Favorite Tracks

Control-2013

F*** The World

No Good ft. Dose, Gucci Mane

Interlude

Clubs, Drugs, and Hotels- 2013

2 Good

2 Door

One Time

Peer Pressure- 2014

Michael Jordan

Peer Pressure

Money

TJ CA.jpg

Central Ave- 2015

1991

FTSU

1991 - 2015

Little Dreams

White Rain

Nothin

The 91 Family- 2016

Pop Dat

Do For Me

Who Would’ve Thought- 2017

Five Times

I Kno

Ticket

Scenious.jpg

Scenious Society is the whole idea behind Taylor’s Takeover movement and the inspiration came from a professor at McNalley Smith which he attended. The professor spoke of the term “scenious” and its referral to being a genius of your scene, a master of adaptation and capitalism. Taylor quickly understood this concept and ran full sprint with what would grow into his entire Scenious culture.

It’s all about being aware of your scene. A modern day genius is not necessarily as much book smarts as it used to be. Not everybody is that person so you need to be able to capitalize on who you are and what you have. That goes beyond you as well. Being aware of your scene and what you can contribute/ how you can thrive it in it the important part. Scenious Entertainment covers everything because I’m going to be a master at my scene whatever it is.
— Taylor J

Taylor emphasizes in his music and in our interview that in so many cities around the world, money isn’t just out there for everyone to make. Some people need to go out and sell drugs, rob/steal, etc. just to eat or pay the rent for their family. In his song Little Dreams he stages a conversation between two friends on opposite sides of fortune, both with different options in life. This song is an example of Taylor’s elite storytelling abilities as he assured that the conversation didn’t really take place between him and a friend but it happens every day all over. I asked Taylor what he thought of this years XXL Freshman Class to which he responded,

I think it was much more focused on the youth this year, we’re at a big time where the youth is deciding what’s in as far as the media and trends all over the board. It’s all about setting those trends and making huge statements. I mean- I sound old but I’m still super young; but the difference in age between Lil’ Yachty is the exact reason our music is made the way it is. I like to respect the variety in music of all kinds and I really like where Hip-Hop is at right now, it’s dope.

Music is about keeping your footing and staying involved with the youth as well as your other crowds. Which is something the new generation of artists do very well. It’s important that people be able to see the type of person you are through your music. It’s deeper than just the sound, music is medicine. It can change your entire mood and how your day is going. That’s powerful. It’s important to stay rooted and in touch with your fans because you’ll always have a family to come back to then. Music is the only thing some people have, so you play a big role in some people’s lives.
— Taylor J
TJCUMAD.jpg

Photo Via - The Hype Magazine

Taylor’s next album, Only Us, will be coming out within the next month. After dropping his single “Feelings” the anticipation has stacked since. Feelings brought together Taylor’s delivery style from his older mixtapes combined with the powerful, clean, new production he has been working on every day for years. Taylor’s work day consists of 20 hours a day of constant work and tweaking of his products with small naps in between. When not in the studio, Taylor works hard on social media promoting his music, videos, clothing line, promotions, etc.

His music video for his song “Five Times” off of his newest album has amassed over 14k views in the 3 months it’s been up. His song “Hunnits” gathered 15k in only 2 months and the video for “No Good” feat. Gucci Mane and Dose has over 231k. His other songs range up to 40-50k as well. His online streams also stack in the thousands with his older stuff averaging 5k and his newer works hitting near the 20k mark with his newest Who Would’ve Thought quickly catching pace. 

I have been an avid fan of Taylor J since I found him while browsing Datpiff one evening a few years ago. Since then I have listened to almost all of his work and noted his progression and have yet to be disappointed with what I find. His keep-pushing mentality mixed with his veteran stature is one that demands respect. 1991 was the first mixtape I listened to and remains my favorite. A very close second is his newest Who Would’ve Thought. Every song on both of these projects provides something knew throughout. He mixes up his flow, tempo, beats, and overall themes enough throughout his projects that the new-age redundancy bore isn’t a factor when listening through.

Each song is a refreshing change from the last. A thing I appreciate most about Taylor’s music is that it appeals to two major fan bases that sometimes disagree. Those who enjoy a soft r&b melody and those who appreciate hard lyricism and strong delivery. Taylor incorporates these into songs. With something for each party and plenty for those who enjoy both. His ad-libs are strong and well inserted as well as his choruses. Overall I expect Taylor J to be a consistent name in the entertainment industry for a long time. His versatility and his motivational drive are two that cannot fail and paired with a talent like his it is bound to take off. Keep an eye out for his local tour dates and his newest album Only Us dropping very soon.

#YN Get To Know The Boston Rap Scene . Written By @RePete617

When you think of the cities...

Boston

Boston

Photo Via - MassVacation

that have produced some of the great rappers of today, Boston is rarely in that discussion. Atlanta, New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago have produced more well known talent than the City of Champions but that doesn’t mean there is hidden talent. If you live in or around Boston, you’ve probably heard of these following rappers but if you haven’t, I’d suggest you go check them out immediately. They could change your mind about the Boston rap scene.

Cousin Stizz

Cousin Stizz

Cousin Stizz

https://soundcloud.com/cousinstizz

So obviously the first name that comes out when you think of Boston rappers is Cousin Stizz, a man who is single handedly changing the game here in Boston. Stizz is for all accounts a legend around Boston and those who have dug deep into his collection know how great his music is. Suffolk County and Monda are two classic pieces of work from Stizz’s library. Talk ft. Jefe Replay, Fresh Prince, Gain Green,500 Horses,and Living Like Khaled. Living Like Khaled was such a hit that it is featured on NBA 2K18 and those are just a few of the amazing songs from both albums. Monda really helped Stizz catapult into the stratosphere and it caught the attention of some of the biggest names in hip hop today. Stizz just dropped a mixtape called One Night Only and on it is one of Stizz’s best songs, Headlock ft. Offset is an absolute banger of a song. Lambo and Switch Places are also a few other hits from the tape that are worth having a listen to. Stizz is currently preparing to go on his One Night Only tour with the very last show of the tour being held at the House of Blues in Boston. This show has been hyped up by Stizz himself because to him, it is going to be very special performing in front of his hometown.


Michael Christmas

Michael Christmas

Photo Via - Vice

Michael Christmas

https://soundcloud.com/michaelchristmas

One of the most loveable artists out today is Michael Christmas. His music has this happy feel to it, almost like Chance the Rapper. Some of the songs you should check out by Mr. Christmas are Top Turnbuckle ft. OG Swaggerdick, Don’t Talk About It ft. DRAM, Bubbling, Get Up, and Intercontinental Champion. Christmas’ music can give whoever listens to it a jolt of positivity kind of in the same way a Lil Yachty track does. Christmas shares some of the same qualities as Yachty does. He appeals to the youth and his tracks are relatable to some high school/college students. He is a loveable rapper who brings out good vibes.


Big Leano

Big Leano

Photo Via - Pigeons and Planes

Big Leano

https://soundcloud.com/bigleano

You may have heard of Big Leano if you listened to Stizz’s recent album as he appears on the song The Store. But if you haven’t heard of him then what are you waiting for? Leano has a slower flow to him but it goes along with the beat and creates a certain vibe. Tales From The Mud is probably his best work. I highly recommend listening to Resume, Lean For Sale, Don’t Judge Me, and Woody. His lyricism in these songs makes you wonder why you didn’t find out about him sooner as they tell tales of his life. Leano isn’t one of these “mumble rappers” you hear about these days, he is much better than that but rather he tells a story in his music which is something a lot of rappers today don’t do. Leano just released a song called Broke that is going to be on his upcoming project and if you live in Boston or know about the former mayor, then a line in this song will leave your jaw dropped.


Jefe Replay

Jefe Replay

Photo Via - Pigeons and Planes

Jefe Replay

https://soundcloud.com/jefe-replay

Out of all the rappers on this list it seems like Jefe Replay has the biggest cult following. His motto: Ain’t Sh*t Free has sparked a new wave of fans for him. His line of clothing, Ask for Juan, has some very cool merchandise and not to mention the logo is an unreal play on the old Utah Jazz logo. Jefe Replay was featured in the song Talk and his line in that song really makes you see the potential in him. He virtually aces every flow and he sounds like a mix of Kendrick Lamar and Wiz Khalifa. He also has a song titled Ain’t Sh*t Free which a perfect song for a summer party or if you’re just chilling and want a nice flow.


Plad Finesse

Plad Finesse

Photo Via - Flying Tides

Plad Fine$$e

https://soundcloud.com/itsplad

He is one of the lesser known Boston area rappers but if you are from the area and have heard of Plad then you’ll know he has this untapped potential. His song The Wave has a lot of hits on SoundCloud and Apple Music which gave him a boost in popularity among Boston teens. The good thing about the Boston area is everyone is friends with everyone and there seems to be no competition. It is kind of like how Atlanta area rappers put their affiliates works out there so this means Plad will benefit from being associated with guys like Jefe Replay and Big Leano. He is a hidden talent for sure.


Millyz

Millyz

Photo Via - Killer Boombox

Millyz

https://soundcloud.com/millyz

He is certainly a unique rapper and he is one of the best lyricist in Boston currently. Millyz creates this Eminem type vibe to him and his music reminds you of a young Logic. His flow is very fast and to the point too. He often doesn’t lose track of it and can switch it up beautifully. He is also one of the better storytellers in Boston and also has a Jadakiss feature along with performing with Dave East at one of his shows in the city.


Vintage Lee

Vintage Lee

Photo Via - Noisey

Vintage Lee

https://soundcloud.com/vintage-lee

If you’re a fan of Cardi B or just female rap in general then you’ll love Vintage Lee. Her take no nonsense attitude is evident in her songs as she goes in on every track and she is one of the hidden talents Boston has. Surprisingly, her song Hennythings Possible made it onto the NBA 2K18 soundtrack. I am surprised by this because I didn’t think people knew her like that but I am also proud to here a Boston rapper, especially one who isn’t well known, on a major game soundtrack. Check out some of her work on her Soundcloud and she will make you a believer.


Pistola

Pistola

Photo Via - Respect Mag

Pistola

https://soundcloud.com/pistolahoe

His hair will make you think he resembles Lil Yachty but he is certainly a different breed of rap. Pistola has a calm flow to him but it is still a good flow regardless. If anyone has listened to SahBabii then they should appreciate Pistola. Some of his songs to check out are Jokes on You, Swang REMIX, and Playa. Give each song a close listen and you’ll how good he is.

#YN Beef: Now Made With Soy . Written By @DerekGodown

If you grew up in the early 90’s...

Biggie and 2Pac

Biggie and 2Pac

Photo Via - Youth Culture

you likely remember at the very least hearing about the Tupac vs. Biggie Smalls rap beef. If you’re a hip-hop fan and grew up in the early 90’s you likely also remember conflicts like Ice Cube vs. Eazy E and the rest of NWA. If you’re from the late 90’s/early 2000’s you witnessed the end of true rap beef. That’s right, the end of true rap beef. However, before we can talk about the end, we need to explore the beginning. See, the whole concept actually stemmed from something a lot more simple, competition.

Breakdancing

Breakdancing

Photo Via - Inside The Games

The seed for what we know today was planted in the early 1970’s in the Bronx. When breakdancing and other forms were brought out to the streets, people flocked and joined in on the fad. As it became more common and some perfected their craft, others decided to challenge and hold “break-offs” and almost immediately the concept of being the best was one that a lot of people focused on. Street blocks, warehouses, basements, etc. would be cleared out, then filled with spectators to witness these competitors show their prowess head to head. Everybody wanted to be known as the best for the sheer respect and boost of pride that comes with any top spot.

Jam Master Jay

Jam Master Jay

Photo Via - Pinterest

Now, if you have ever seen the movie Juice, then you already know about the second chapter in the timeline; the magic behind the music. DJs (Disc Jockeys) quickly gained the spotlight and competitions were held often. Here is where the top local DJ’s would duke it out head to head for an allotted amount of time to see who was the best. With this title came respect, attention, and opportunity. Just as before, everybody wanted it. It was around this time that more attention was being paid to these competitions. Radio shows and hosts were getting involved (even hosting) and rewarding the top prize winner some air time or cash prizes. These things could launch a young aspiring DJ’s career, even more reason for everybody to fight to be considered the best. Along with this new motivation and more intense competition came friction, and the top spot became something a little more personal.

Kool Moe Dee and Busy Bee

Kool Moe Dee and Busy Bee

Photo Via - Stop The Breaks

When hip-hop was ready for something new is when the focal went to vocal and MCs (emcee, Master of Ceremonies, Microphone Checker, etc.) took the stage. This is when hip-hop became verbal and people were able to express themselves directly using their own words and opinions to gather fans and support. Artists like Grandmaster Flash, Run D.M.C., Sugarhill Gang; were all some of the earliest and most positive to run the game. Using their spotlight, these and other early artists used hip-hop to reach their audiences and show the everyday trials in inner-city life, as well as uplift their common man with upbeat songs with catchy choruses and tempos. Now don’t be fooled, even artists like MC Hammer had their own beefs, but few as serious as the later years to come.

NWA

NWA

Photo Via - NME

Hip-hop quickly became rap and then even quicker became gangster rap at the end of the 80’s, and beginning of the 90’s with artists like Ice T, Public Enemy, NWA, Ice Cube, Big L. Nas, and more hitting the surface and the charts quicker than ever. These artists and many more brought the initial rough, rugged, hostile and dangerous act to the hollywood surface; and with exposure like that, there will always be people who want to try you and ruin if not take what you have built for yourself. A very popular example of early rap beef is seen in the movie Straight Outta Compton soon after Ice Cube parts ways with his group NWA over a disagreement and miscommunication with his label manager and group about royalties. Cube left the group and began releasing solo records. The crew didn’t appreciate that and thus added a few lines on their EP “100 Miles and Runnin’” where Dre has some direct yet vague lines in a song.

Clouds are dark and brothers are hidin’

Dick-tricklin’ at the sunny mutherfucker’s are ridin’

Started with five and, yo, one couldn’t take it

So now there’s four cause the fifth couldn’t make it
— Dr. Dre

Both parties released a few songs targeted at each other one specifically where Ice Cube is called a benedict arnold among many other things and is actually called out by his birth name “Oshea.” Cube then responded by releasing the song “No Vaseline” which had direct references to the group as well as verbal battery and low blows. This was a direct shot at the group and the direction they were headed which is why he left originally.

Biggie and 2Pac

Biggie and 2Pac

Photo Via - Youth Culture

Skip a few years ahead and we stand in the middle of one of the most devastating feuds to ever hit music; The Notorious B.I.G. vs. Tupac Shakur. Unfortunately, What began as a close friendship left us in a musical hiatus without two of the best rappers to ever touch a microphone. When Tupac was shot in a recording studio in New York with Biggie present, he assumed he had involvement and the beef began. Tupac then did time in prison and released the legendary diss track “Hit Em Up” aimed directly at Biggie and his affiliates when he got out. The Notorious returned with the track “Who Shot Ya” and the debate was on, who was better? As we know, the beef ends with both rappers being shot and killed, a tragic end for two of the 90’s biggest stars.

Big L

Big L

Photo Via - Hip Hop Golden Age

Now we have to look closer at what it was that really caused all this tension to lead to not only threats of harm, but actual acts carried out upon the other. See, hip-hop was still budding back then as it will forever be, however, big industry was just getting their hands on it. This led to the #1 spot being more rewarding on scales larger than life itself. Making it in the rap game at this point was a rat race, everyone was representing their home cities and fighting to climb the charts. At this point, rap was honest. Many rappers actually led the life they proposed in their lyrics and were ready to back their words up at any minute. One of, if not the best to ever touch a mic, Big L, led the life he rapped about through and through, he emerged as a great and was shot in an anonymous drive-by shooting which remained a mystery until months later when a childhood friend was arrested for the crime, then later shot and killed.

50 Cent

50 Cent

Photo Via - Gazette Review

The fact remains, in the 90’s, rap was young, and it was about the streets, it was about who was the hardest, and it was competitive if you wanted to stay relevant and alive. As it aged in the coming years it became not only about gang affiliation but now about drugs and dealing. This brought a whole new world into the rap game which harbored fresh new hostility and jealousy. Soon after the tragic deaths of Tupac and Biggie, rap kept beef very much alive through new artists and for new reasons. 50 Cent was a big target during his rise due to his massive popularity with hit singles as well as chart topping albums. Not only was he succeeding on a massive scale in the rap game but he was doing it talking about the rough and rugged life he lived every day growing up in South Jamaica,New York. 

50 Cent had plenty of conflicts with plenty of people in not only his everyday life growing up, but in his music career. One of his most infamous was with Ja-Rule which started over Ja getting his chain snatched by a friend of 50. Though 50 wasn’t involved the affiliation was enough for Ja Rule to start conflict, the two we reported to have fought on more than one occasion and name called on numerous tracks each. However, 50 Cent also had beef with Fat Joe, Killa Cam, Nas, Rick Ross, Jadakiss, and more less mentionable issues. Bottom line, rap was a breeding ground for hostility, competition, and multiple people willing to do whatever it takes to get their names out there as the best.

Drake and Meek Mill

Drake and Meek Mill

Photo Via - StereoGum

Fast-forward to today, that’s exactly what it has become. The main goal of almost any artist in the mainstream media today is not to make the best music and be crowned rightfully as #1, they want to get their names out into the widespread media by any means necessary. It is now so easy as an artist to top charts at seemingly any given moment with any given single if it’s promoted and produced well enough. My best recent example at hand would obviously be Drake vs. Meek Mill. What a devastating and disappointing new age global rap feud. This issue began over Drake not shouting out Meek’s new album, leading Mr. Mill to put Drake on blast for not writing his own music, leading to a diss track from the canadian born superstar. Charged Up hit Meek in a few areas but was overall not very direct and not too huge of a shot to the Philadelphia rapper. Meek responded verbally during one of Nicki Minaj’s shows on her tour that was happening at the time. Without waiting for a real response track Drake released “Back to Back” which was much more direct and finished the beef officially for many spectators. Meek brought back the beef here and there in his 4/4 EP but made no moves that would consider him a gladiator by the end of that one.

Why?

Nicki Minaj and Remy Ma

Nicki Minaj and Remy Ma

Photo Via - HipHopDX

So why do we see so many here and there tiny beefs that seem to headline monday and sizzle out by thursday without any real outcome? Headlines, headlines headlines. If you haven’t said it out loud by now do it now, HEADLINES. No rap beef that gets publicized today will have any serious tension or outcome. There will be no shootouts, no studio drivebys, there will be no club brawls, for gangster rap is no more. Now don’t be mistaken, I’m not saying it doesn’t still happen, rap beef is very much alive in the local scene and people still die daily over issues stemming from this craft. However, on the television the most we’ll see is beef similar to Remy Ma and Nicki Minaj, a current icon and someone on the come up or coming back taking shots at one another until both have enough sales percentage increase and it fizzles out.

Nas and Jay Z

Nas and Jay Z

Photo Via - ThoughtCo

Rap beef has been dead for some years, some say it died with the Jay-Z vs. Nas conflict, some say with the 50 vs. Ja Rule and others. One thing is for certain, in today’s music industry of one-hit wonders and comeback singles, there will be no genuine, long-lasting beef  any time soon, and for the better. I for one welcome an era of hip-hop where we don’t need to worry about our favorite artists getting gunned down in their prime. With standards of lyrical content getting presumably lower it’s safe to assume new-age diss tracks will contain less punchlines and luster but harbor the competitive energy necessary to keep the altercation exciting and on our timelines for months to come.