Because, these are my words, and I make them stick

Redway – Years Ahead EP

Posted on August 25, 2014


It’s been a time coming for this guy, and to see it come into for fruition is a sigh of relief to not only himself, but to a lot of people waiting to hear what he was going to be coming with, and you can attribute a lot of the hype around this project from when On Fire was released, and when the whole EP was to be produced by Grammy-Nominated WondaGurl straight out of the GTA. The beats would be nothing short of (no pun) ‘fire’, so that was already an expectation. Redway wasn’t always on my radar until 2012, but it was the Live Free EP that shed new light on me as a true listener to see where he was coming from, and not someone who’s just categorized as another Toronto rapper. There’s evidence of growth and the opportunity to bloom as a developing artist, because he has the talent to do so. Production is an enhancement to help propel where he wants to go, and it comes together well on this EP. There are a lot of tracks that will resonate with Toronto residents (E.N.V.Y/Right Now & Y.K.T.O are good examples) and because of the overall quality of the project, when a true LP comes about, the bar for him has been raised. We’ll just have to see what he does to raise it again. But, don’t let me tell you; listen to it. It’s worth the time. Enjoy.


Tre Mission – Stigmata – The STiXXclusive Review

Posted on August 23, 2014

There aren’t a lot of artists lately that have been catching my attention to the point where I listen to them every day and tell everyone that they need to listen to what they have to offer, but when it comes to Tre Mission, it’s just easy to guide people to his music, because he’s just that good. I only came to know about him in February 2014 as he was a co-headliner with Isaiah Rashad, and if you don’t know how Toronto shows go, people stand up, are screwfaced, and are phone watchers until the local act is done before the person they actually came to see was set to perform. Well, there are rare occurrences when the act before the main leaves an impression so strong that you thought it was him that you paid to see live and not the dude to follow. That was the impression that Tre made, and it hasn’t gone away since. When I finally took time out to listen to MALMAISON, I was just further impressed with the arrangement of music that was laid out. It was something different to the ears of Toronto Hip Hop connoisseurs, but it still held the homegrown feeling that the ‘every day man dem’ could appreciate and vibe with. Grime is not a genre that’s familiar to the masses on this side of the pond like it is in London, and I think because he adds that style to his music; it’s more distinctive to listen to and adds a flavor of personality with it. I didn’t know what to anticipate for a follow up, but when he performed some tracks at the show that would eventually be on the album, there was an excitement that grew and I just knew that I couldn’t be the only one to contain what needed to be aired out to the masses.


Click for Album link (iTunes)


How the album starts off with the intro is really what I’ve always wanted for people from the city to do in terms representing the turf, the home base, the Dot. When I heard “This is for the 416” being sung out, I couldn’t help but feel some chills as the regionalism started to take shape. With the Green Line (Bloor-Danforth Subway) TTC East end stations like Main & Kennedy making their ways into lyrical form, automatically you know the vibe is going to hit home with those who live East of the DVP – it’s just how it is. The title track Stigmata was one of the first I’d heard (outside of the show) when he dropped the video for it, and for the first time, you got that Euro vibe that the Grime scene provides, but Tre gets right into his story as it’s gritty with a serene undertone providing a smooth portrayal of his narrative. From the street struggle to the perils of coming up as a rapper (especially in this city), he lays it all out there for you to grasp an understanding of just where he comes from.


There’s always the song about the girl (on this album there’s a couple), but this track doesn’t have that corny-mushy feel to it, but rather it’s the ride-or-die motto that has resonated for two decades in Hip Hop. Andreena has that attitude that is synonymous with the ride-or-die chick that takes no mess, which the average hood figure looks for, and there are examples of that in her own work (listen to Naked), so it’s a natural element to have her vocals featured on this album (not once, but twice). Real Grind is dope in all forms because it’s that ‘us against the world’ narrative with a significant bounce, and also the feature of Wiley was also fitting. I don’t listen to British Hip Hop, but I know that they have some good ones out there (shout out to Tamia – she’s the expert on that).


From ‘Wifey’ to ‘Cyattie’ in an instant, Jessica is the example of whom you trust and whom you don’t. The moody tone of the song reminded me of how Kendrick told Keisha’s Song.


“Young king from the Milly with a gun sling
Girls love drugs if I ever knew one thing
If I knew another one, sex could be drugs too
Mix it with greed it can lead up to one thing”


Young, reckless, and free – you make mistakes, but at the same time, you tend to show others what’s good, but the stubbornness gets people caught up with things or people that they should just keep at a distance. This is one of those examples. It’s funny that the name of this song is called Jessica, because I know a lot of Jessica’s, and they all have some significance when it comes to my life personally, but that’s another story for a different day. We have this saying that may not only be exclusive to urban Toronto residents, but when someone “shows you a ting”, they’re trying to keep you aware of a situation or person (‘ting’ is such a versatile word), and the moral of the story here is that there’s always consequences when you don’t adhere to the advice of others (“those who can’t hear must feel). I hope there’s a video for this in the works or something, because it’s a dope narrative that provides solid visual context for its purpose. K-OS has been in, out, and all about in terms of the Canadian music scene, so to have his vocals on this hook (I dope one at that) was unexpected, but great in terms of a unified effort in Toronto talent old & new. I’m a sucker for great storytelling, which is the essence of Hip Hop, so I could appreciate all of the elements from the beat to the story Tre tells. It’s one of the best tracks on the album, for me.


Rally has that EDM feel to it, but again, that’s the Grime influence coming over. The back and forth between Tre & JME was dope to hear, as this has the embodiment of a party track, but you still have their individual frustrations with the struggle collapsed in it. A good balance. If breakdancing was still in (and if the song was a lot longer), this would be such a dope track to go off to.


True story: when he premiered this song at the Isaiah Rashad show, he had to pull up because as he was getting into his verse, the crowd (not just myself) was so hype and in a frenzy that it was completely overwhelming, but the energy he brought out so tough and the lyrics punched you in the chest repetitively. On Road is another term that may or may not be exclusive to Toronto residents, but that’s what we say when we’re out and about doing what we need to do.


Example: “Mandem are on road right now still. Putting in work nyahmean? I’m out here still, family.”


Along those lines, but you get the drift. This is also one of the top songs to listen to, and the fact that the intensity from the live performance is matched with the studio version is also a sigh of relief to me, because you just don’t know these days. The Rob Ford & Busy Signal (step out) references were dope, but those weren’t the only things to admire about this track. It was the perfect set up to In The Hallway because it instilled the drug dealer behaviour that I’ve seen a lot growing up. When he talks about the “trappin ass niggas” it puts me right back on the block – nostalgia is something isn’t it? The 2nd verse is the one that I sit with because he talks about those who had to do what they had to do to make their ends, and got rich from it, and although they might have had set backs, they seemed to bounce back. The “stand right next to the grocery and sell food” line is deep if you know what ‘food’ means. It’s very descriptive and honest, which I’ve appreciated about the album thus far. The features have been solid as well. Skepta added a fire verse that damn near overshadowed Tre. I didn’t see that coming, but it’s one to run back repetitively.


It’s damn near offensive to say this these days when making a description about a Hip Hop song, but Money Make (Her) sounds like a very radio friendly almost pop-crossover track, because of its softer tone to it; the opposite of what ‘Real Grind’ offered up. If you were hand this to a Top 40 radio station, this would be the one that they’d go with, and that’s not to degrade the song itself, because it’s still a good song, but because of what it sounds like and it’s a step away from the atmosphere of the album, it was a change of pace that I didn’t anticipate. Every man has to be a simp sometimes, right? Be in touch with your softer side, young man.


A lot like Rally, you get that high energy/breakdance friendly track that’s perfect for a club setting with Jack Pot and there’s always time for that. There’s not a lot of Hip Hop out there that makes you want to dance anymore. Like real dance, not just a ‘Yeet’ or a ‘Nae Nae’ or a ‘Shmoney’, like actually just let loose and kick it into gear. It’s good to have some bust-a-move type of music sometimes. How about more? I might have to start paying attention to UK rappers and their Grime scene because I’ve heard nothing but dope stuff all over this album, and that’s one thing that I’ve dismissed for a while. Time to wake up, perhaps.


Get Doe is one of the more underrated songs on the album. It has that radio feel (thanks to the Toronto’s legendary Saukrates), but it’s that coming-from-the-bottom-to-the-top storyline that carries the influence. Tre is a dope lyricist, and his flow is infectious that it seems as though any beat he’s given, he just rips it. I haven’t heard anything disappointing up to this point. Getting money is always the objective and by any means, people will do what they have to do to get it, and that requires stepping outside of the box to do something out of the norm, which Tre admits he was ridiculed for. Just goes to show you that when you’re floating high enough, the opinions of those below become quieter. One example – I was just browsing around online when the album came around and I was on a site that said that Boy on the Corner was the worst song on the album. Hey, that’s a subjective opinion, but I didn’t see it that way at all. It’s still a story being told, the hook was catchy with a more modernized bounce to it, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. Milly is where the Toronto slang came out in full effect: bait, run up, waste, and yeah eh were just a few examples while the Victoria Park (borderline Scarborough/North York) makes its appearance as well (I assume, his block). It wraps up the album well ending where it started off in terms of being for the city (well at least the ones in the East).


To put it into perspective, growing up in Toronto, you had a great representation of what it was like in the city with dope artists that put on well. It started with Maestro and that trickled down to Choclair, Kardinal, Ghetto Concept, to the early mixtape days of Drake, and I know for a fact that I’m leaving off a lot of names, but my brain can only recall so much at the moment. Some how the authenticity of Toronto’s music turned into keeping up with the Kardashians Americans, and our identity was lost. It’s starting to regain its synergy, and the only way that happens is if people stay in their own lanes and make people gravitate to us as opposed to us going to them. Tre Mission is a step outside of the box because Grime is a familiar sound here, and when you do it well, people will talk and appreciate what’s being put forward. I certainly hope that this doesn’t fly past a lot of radars, because what you have hear is a distinct sound that has the chance to propel to a higher level in the rap game, especially the fact that his music transcends not only in Toronto, but has a London influence. Geography is key to expansion, so he’s on the right path. Stigmata is one of the best albums I’ve heard this year, so give it the respect it deserves and support the kid with a mission. But for now, this is my opinion, this is my review


That’s My Word & It STiXX

Guardians of the Galaxy – The STiXXclusive Review

Posted on August 21, 2014

This summer was insane for movies, and it’s only a precursor for what’s to come in the next two years, especially from the Marvel universe. When I first saw the trailer for Guardians, I wasn’t convinced that it was going to be anything special, because I’ve never heard of these people, although it ties into the Marvel world that the majority of people are familiar with (the Avengers, that is). I didn’t think I was going to see myself watching it in a theatre – more like a rental, but because of the high reviews, and the fact that there might have been a possibility that I would have been lost while watching the next Avengers movie, I just said ‘what the heck’ and went for it. The worst that could happen would be that I’d hate the movie.



Well, it turns out that I didn’t hate the movie; I liked it a lot actually. Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, David Bautista, a Raccoon voiced by Bradley Cooper, and a giant tree figured that says the same three words over and over, voiced by Vin Diesel (go figure) made a very unlikely bunch of heroes to like, mainly because they’re all degenerates, and also because the chemistry was well enough that it made the movie go by easily without hesitation or awkward moments. There was no shortage of action involved, and it was all entertaining right till the end. The storyline is your usual story of betrayal by a bad guy who wants to take over the universe for himself, so there’s that, and then there’s a bounty that brings a bunch of criminals together for a common cause and thus a bond is formed.


It’s a great movie that I’d recommend to anyone to see, considering my first thoughts of it before I even watched it. Summer blockbusters are meant to be high on the entertainment scale, and this one had it. It was funny, and for action junkies, they get their fair fix of that to hold them over while eating overpriced food while their feet are on sticky floors. It’s a good time, so indulge in it. But for now, this is my opinion, this is my review


That’s My Word & It STiXX

Travis Scott – Days Before Rodeo

Posted on August 19, 2014


The Rich Homie Quan, Young Thug, Migos, etc. wave of Rap is not my forte, so let me just get that out of the way. Funny enough that two out of the 3 acts I mentioned prior, happen to show up on this mixtape that seemingly came out of nowhere and had/has the internet ablaze amongst a host of other things that are out there (like Jeezy’s new album going on pre-orders). If Travis Scott has dropped anything since Owl Pharaoh, I haven’t been paying attention. Now, that album was pretty dope, and was quite enjoyable, but eventually I just tapered off of it to focus on other things. The thundering trap beats with dark and gloomy autotune ad-libs lurking from the speakers give Travis at least some personality when it comes to his music, and that’s what’s important – to stand out, especially when so many people sound like each other, but that’s a different story for a different day.


Through my random music listening session, I said “what the heck” and started playing this album. Very surprised that it jumped out of the gate so quickly in grabbing my attention and holding it till the end. Now…I still don’t get the hype around Young Thug (at all, at all. At. All), so I didn’t care for him on either of the 2 tracks he was featured on, but RHQ did justice. In the post-MBDTF world of Kanye West, you can tell that his style rubs off on his proteges, and that’s equally a good and bad thing (unless if you’re on the other side of the fence and think Kanye steals from folks, go right ahead). MamacitaQuintana 2 (fire!!), Don’t Play, and Zombies are just a sample of tracks that add emphasis to build hype for whatever comes next with Travis. I already went out on a limb and said that this is better than Owl, but I’ll leave that to you to decipher for yourself. It’s definitely a good listen to take in for whatever scenario you’re in at the moment, whether in the home, on transit or in the car, or at the club. A good time. Enjoy.

Seth Dyer – IX [EP]

Posted on August 17, 2014

Honesty – I’ve been told by many artists and people involved in music alike that there isn’t enough of it going around; that there are too many people faking the funk just to get some traffic on their sites and to continually promote mediocrity in the industry – that’s wrong, and that’s not something that I advocate. When you’re honest about your opinion with people, I’ve noticed that when I meet people in person, they have a certain respect for me, and it’s a genuine feeling to be appreciated for your honesty, but it shouldn’t be such a foreign concept, not only in music, but with anything that requires an opinion. Seth Dyer is an example of people who take constructive criticism and apply it to make themselves better. Independents are the grass-roots of music because we all have to start somewhere, and with his debut EP, it’s a good somewhere to start.


Broken record phrase, but I don’t care – Toronto is bubbling with talent and it’s not just with our producers, because it’s been a known fact that we have some of the world’s greatest in our backyard, but it’s time that the resurgence of our vocalists and rappers get shine as well. Initially with Seth, there wasn’t anything special about him that  could pinpoint him as being a guy who can have an enduring career, but with this project, I could be wrong. The moody-trap vibe is what seems to be the go-to approach for Toronto since the city’s atmosphere reflects our moods, which inspires the music, so it’s understandable.


This EP was pretty dope, I have to say. Juvon Taylor is going to be something serious when he catches fire, because the man has an exceptional voice. Production by Average was far from the name he goes by. It was dope from start to finish. Seth definitely came with the fire from a lyrical point of view. If listening to Why Would I doesn’t make you want to throw something and turn up, you’re not doing it right. His flow impressed me more than the one track I listened to, so I’m glad that he came with a great EP to grab my attention even further. What was even more impressive was his live performance; energy and stage presence was crazy. I was quite surprised to see him come out like that, but it’s always a good thing to leave a lasting impression whenever you get the opportunity to do so.


This EP is worth the listen. I should just end the sentence there, but it really is something that you can bump from start to finish comfortably and be entertained in the process while still getting to know a bit of who Seth Dyer is. If you don’t know him already, I’m sure you’ll be hearing a lot more of him in the near future. But for now, start with this, why? Because

That’s My Word & It STiXX

Billie Essco – AVANT GARDE

Posted on August 14, 2014

In these tumultuous times that are happening in not only Ferguson, Missouri, but across the country in the United States with the unnecessary actions against young black men, the only thing that seems to make sense to me happens to be music – good music, might I add. Life is a piece of art that is a constant opinion of the every day person through a rationale of worldwide perspectives. It’s tragic, it’s beautiful, it’s a constant puzzle, but the stories told out of the experiences of others gives way for people to become innovators, leaders, and game-changers for the near and distant future.


            Billie Essco (or Chase Dinero; which ever name you know him by) is a constantly evolving rapper that I’m glad I was able to witness just over 2 years ago in Buffalo. The energy off the jump and the hunger in his rhymes symbolizes the environment of a Buffalo, New York atmosphere.


“Buffalo, Buffalo, 6 months of fuckin’ snow, that’ll turn you fuckin’ cold” 


There’s art in every manner, even in gritty working class cities where people tend to not pay any attention to. Billie has been steadily grinding out projects since I first heard The B Word, which was followed by projects like: 1990Twelve, and Bklyn Project$ with OG Sole. There’s consistency with his delivery, but I feel like he’s become better as each project passes along.

            Avant Garde may be dressed as the growingly popular ‘luxury rap’, but there are still the elements that bring it down to Earth, especially with tracks like $ilk Robes & $atin Jacket (which is hands down my favourite track) where the embodying themes may lead you to believe it’s about flaunting a luxurious lifestyle, but it’s the complete opposite (Radiant Child is another good example). I admire the simplicity of the messages being delivered where it’s not in a largely grand scale fashion, but it’s the embodiment of his persona and he keeps it as real as that. The ones I would leave out in my outward appreciation of it all would have to be NYLA & BAPE WALL$ because they had that ‘what-you-hear-on-the-internet-every-hour’ vibe to them, and it just threw off the overall chemistry that I felt. Regardless of those, it still felt like it was more thought out and executed better than previous tapes, so the progression is definitely evident. It’s good to see, and I hope for it to continue. Check it out, and most importantly, enjoy.


 Download Here


That’s My Word & It STiXX

Jay Birch – Lost in Thought

Posted on August 10, 2014




I’ve been fortunate enough to come across a bunch of talented people over the past few years, and through the music of Brandon Dramatic, I met his good friend, Jay Birch at a studio, while he was recording this album. The vibe of his music reminded me of Dom Kennedy because it’s so laid back (but I don’t like Dom Kennedy at all – just the beats he’s one 90% of the time), and I even had an opportunity to do some background vocals for a track, so that was cool to be apart of, being that I’ve never actually been recorded on someone else’s project before. Enough about me, I’m not the focus, the focus is that I was surprised by the finished product. With some Flying Lotus beats a Flying Lotus beat to start it all off, a couple of features by the aforementioned Dramatic, one by Erik Flowchild, and some dope interludes to help drive the album, there weren’t a lot of hiccups (Swagoo being the one that comes to mind) to stop it from being dope in the end. Based in Vancouver, but with Toronto roots, this is definitely something to bump when you have the opportunity to do so. Enjoy.


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