Category Archives: Latest

Exclusive: Sidra Smith says New Album coming for The Voice’s Kim Nichole


Written & Image by Renita Clarke

We caught up with Sidra Smith at the African American Festival in Baltimore yesterday. She told us that we can look out for new music and a new album from “The Voice’s” Kim Nichole. When talking about the upcoming project, Sidra said, “It’s going to be some ROCK & SOUL, baby. The one thing I like about Kimberly Nichole is that she stays true to herself.”

Sidra first met Kim at a coffee shop. “She was working in a coffee shop about 4-5 years ago and I said “Who are you?” you can’t just be working in this coffee shop.” Kim told Sidra she “sangs” and Sidra went out to a show of Kim’s and the rest is history.

Look out for the RockBallerina opening for R Kelly this summer!

Seez Mics // Cruel Fuel Review

Article & Photography by Andrew Mangum

Welcome to the first edition of The Early Tapes – an edgy take on independent music journalism with a focus on true photo-journalistic coverage. Sit back and enjoy as we travel with our first guest, Seez Mics, from a day of rehearsal to a night of true hip-hop performance.

Nostalgia. That’s one word coming to mind as I ride into downtown Kensington, Maryland. Rows and rows of storefronts, offering antiques and artisan coffee, whiz by the passenger’s side window, as Nicholas Policy, better known as Seez Mics, drives down to the Old Town Market.
Serotonin. That’s the second word coming to mind while I wait patiently for Seez Mics to fuel up with coffee and herbal tea from the local market. Person after person passes by, offering ear to ear smiles and a delightfully toned “Good Morning”.

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With herbal tea and coffee in hand, we’re on our way to Gigs Guitar Studio on Howard Avenue where Max Bent, producer, and beat box extraordinaire, finishes setting up speakers for their rehearsal space. Seez and Max will be joining artists Drew Scott, Butch Dawson, and Ceschi as part of the opening acts for the well established hip-hop artist, Cage during his stop at the Baltimore Soundstage.

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Max’s iPhone is loaded with the show set list, pulling all of the performance tracks from the ”Cruel Fuel” album he produced for Seez. Quickly jumping into performance mode, Seez Mics stops after each track to reflect on how to transition into the next song.
Max and Seez have over 20+ years of experience making music together and it truly shows as we transition from the rehearsal of their set to the actual night of their performance. Arranging music with his mouth, Max sets the tone for Seez to conquer the stage with his lyrics. As a pair, they create a high energy performance weaving their styles together to portray a unique hip-hop performance.

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In a hip-hop culture where most artists are performing to their pre-recorded track with a DJ, Seez Mics brings more flavor and spontaneity working with Max, who lays down a crowd pleasing beat box solo, fresh with vocal scratches and melodic hums reminiscent of a Koyaanisqatsi film.

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Here is what Seez Mics had to say in an interview prior to his performance:

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When did you first get into music?
I learned to read and write much earlier than most of my peers, but I never had any inclination towards instruments. I remember scribbling (what I assumed to be) clever phrases a lot as a kid but didn’t get into actually making music until I was around people who could play instruments or make beats. I met my homey Max (producer on “Cruel Fuel”) when we were 14. He is an amazing beat-boxer, so it was easy to freestyle with him and we spent pretty much our entire teenage years working together in one group or another. So to answer your question, I was an accomplished scribbler as a toddler but didn’t get into actually making music until my late teens.
You have a great storytelling approach in your music, what comes 1st – the story or the beat/production?
Thanks for the kind words! I’m open to whatever process yields a good song. My preference is to wait until I get a beat that suits a vibe I’m already constructing so I usually have a phrase or two chambered in preparation for the right beat, but some of my best stuff was unplanned and completely in the moment.

Why make narrative music?
The human brain eventually processes every experience as a story, whether that story is actually true or not. I tend to write about things several moons after they’ve actually happened, so my brain has already formed the narrative about my experience and thus why my music has a narrative tilt.

Where do you get your inspiration?
My inspiration comes from coping with my mental and emotional issues in a constructive way. And appearing to be so unapproachable that everyone leaves me alone so I can watch TV in peace. But mostly the coping part.

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Any significance to the title Cruel Fuel?
“Cruel Fuel” explains why humans have historically been on a downward spiral towards self-destruction: we are generally fueled by negativity and that tendency has been exploited by manipulative monsters. Also, I have bad eating habits so maybe I came up with the phrase “Cruel Fuel” after eating country fried steak at a Denny’s near BWI.

Not many people make songs about rape or dealing w/ rape. I read that this album was about being honest & facing fear. Can you elaborate at all?
Rape is less about the physical act than the mental exertion of power. I was involved in a few relationships with mentally abusive women; I ended them but a lot of guilt ensued which made me feel weak since I knew ending them was the strong thing to do. From what I read about rape victims, I was experiencing some of the same PTSD symptoms so I made “Never Apologize To Your Rapist” in order to deal with the guilt. It worked; they’re terrible people and I’ve found peace with having ended things.

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What was your vision w/ the project?
My vision was to cut the shit I had created for myself as “Seez Mics” and start figuring out why I am a generally unhappy person. Stop subconsciously seeking out dysfunctional relationships and start having a better relationship with myself. Stop saying or doing what I thought people wanted me to say or do and start using spoken word lyrics when I grew bored trying to rhyme something with “panhandler.” Stop making so much money from my music and start burying myself under crippling debt just so I can complain about capitalism in front of 7 people in Pittsburgh. So far, so good.
Also, and more importantly than my individual goals, my vision was to keep a light shining from and on Crushkill Recordings. Crushkill Recordings was started by my friend Eyedea (rEYEp) before he passed and it’s the label that put out “Cruel Fuel.”

What do you hope the listener walks away w/?
I genuinely hope the listener walks away with the understanding that life is very hard for everyone, regardless of what they look like or where they’re from. Stop looking around and thinking, “I feel bad and they look like they feel better, so I’ll make them feel worse.” I’m a white male from the suburbs and I guarantee 90% of the people reading this wouldn’t trade places with me if they knew what my life has actually been like beyond what you’d assume from my skin color or childhood zip code. I don’t want (or at least no longer want) a pity party, I want you to know I’ve had it rough and so have you so let’s accept we all come from stars and can become them again if we set aside the petty finger pointing.
However, I know the smart money is on humans destroying everything including ourselves.

My favorite track is “What Your Head Will Hold”. The production is unique but classic & your words seem uplifting. I would classify this song as an essential track for new listeners to your music. I think it gives people a great overall view of you as an artist. If you could make an essential listening Album from your own work, what would be your top 5 songs on that Album?
I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how many people on a wide spectrum of personalities chose “What Your Head Will Hold” as their favorite song from “Cruel Fuel.” It’s far and away the most personal song I’ve ever made, so I was worried that it’d cross into TMI territory and turn people off; however, Max and I did a great job of creating a Blues song that is specific to my story while remaining relatable to all. My personal favorites from “Cruel Fuel” are M.O.M., Becomes A Ghost, Human Farm, Cruel Fuel, and Post Pathic Profiteers feat. DJ Abilities.

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And likewise, if our world was going to end, what 5 songs from any time period or artist would you want future generations to hear?
I have an existential melt down when trying to narrow down a list of my favorite artists to a list of their essential songs, so I’m going to pull a diva move and answer your question on my own terms:
1. TV On The Radio “Dear Science”
2. Aceyalone “A Book Of Human Language”
3. Beck “Morning Phase”
4. Diamond District “March On Washington”
5. Anything Seez Mics ever said/did/thought/felt

What is next for you in 2015? Any goals you hope to reach?
Seez’s 2015 Goals:

1. Get everyone on the planet to listen to “Chrome Bills.” I co-host a podcast called “Chrome Bills” with my friends Chuck and Steve. I know that while my music is incredibly impressive on a technical level, it isn’t for everyone. Listen, everyone: Chrome Bills IS for everyone. It’s hysterical. It’s insightful. It’s intoxicated. Did I mean to say intoxicating? Download an episode and listen to find out! Check out Chrome Bills on iTunes and/or SoundCloud.

2. I’ve been working on an album with Cubbiebear. He and I work well together, plus he’s very popular, so I plan to hang on to his coat tails for dear life.

3. I was the MC in a group called Educated Consumers from 1999 – 2013. I’ll be releasing a best of Educated Consumers in the summer of 2015. We made 5 LPs and 3 EPs, so there’s a ton of material and I’m currently having a panic attack just thinking about which songs to choose.

4a – 4f. Get a new back, definitively prove that god is a man-made construct much like the circus or a cubicle, convince Dan Snyder to sell the team, nod approvingly as the Wizards championship parade rolls by, be a good friend to my friends but a better enemy to my enemies, and give a copy of “Cruel Fuel” to Riley Reid who will find my brooding nature charming.

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Please check out and find “Seez Mics” on all the social media outlets that you use to stalk exes. Peace!


Written & Photography by Andrew Mangum


On July 13th, I spent the day traveling with Baltimore hip-hop artist Wordsmith. As I sat in the backseat of Wordsmith’s car en route to the Paperbox in Brooklyn, New York, The Supremes “You Can’t Hurry Love” played on the radio. This was the perfect song to start our journey for today. Wordsmith has patiently waited, and continues to patiently wait on his love – the love for music.



Choosing a career path in music can be an extremely frustrating experience, filled with highs and lows. Wordsmith knows the business and has been plugging away, taking on new shows and venues that are working to break the next great talents.


With New York City on the horizon, we are just hours away from the start of the 1st annual 50/50 Festival, put on by POW-TV. The festival aims to highlight underground artists, as well as mainstream, ranging from Hip-Hop, Pop, EDM, Soul, and even International Music.


More than halfway into the festival, and moments before Wordsmith takes the stage, everything starts to take a turn for the worst. What do you do when things start to come apart at the seams? When what you planned doesn’t go accordingly? Do you crumble under the pressure or rise above?

I can tell you that Baltimore Hip-Hop artist, Wordsmith doesn’t even blink. In the presence of pressure he keeps his eyes locked and focused on his goal, which is ultimately, performing his music for the people. However, at this exact moment, 10 minutes before going on stage, the house DJ, DJ Jovi Baby, can’t seem to locate Wordsmith’s set. Without dropping a beat, Wordsmith asks his manager and long time friend, Dan Wachter, to get the backup flash drive from the car.



Wordsmith’s vast experience has taught him to always be prepared for situations just like this. With the backup flash drive in place, Wordsmith is ready to take the stage and do what he loves, perform.





Not every opportunity is going to sling you into a world of stardom. The hike is long, and the path is treacherous. But if you never take the time to dive into these opportunities than you will never know what will or will not come from them.



With New York City in the rear view, Wordsmith makes his way back to Baltimore and onto the next opportunity. He not only lives life check to check, but venue to venue.

DJ TALK with WPGC’s DJ Reddz

Written & Images by Renita Clarke

We had a chance to catch up with one of our favorite dj’s in the D.M.V area and on WPGC 95.5, DJ Reddz.
With over 22 years in the game and over 10 years with WPGC, DJ Reddz is a true legend in the dj community.

Check out how DJ Reddz got started and how he feels about the Hip Hop & EDM scene, after the jump…







FILE: DJ and Chicago House Pioneer Frankie Knuckles Has Died at Age 59


Though he was born and raised in the Bronx, Frankie Knuckles (née Francis Nicholls) called the Windy City home. Known in dance music circles as the Godfather of House Music, the DJ/producer is credited with helping to popularize Chicago house in the wake of disco’s greatly exaggerated demise, paving the way for the genre’s domination of the pop charts in the late ’80s and early ’90s. Cutting his teeth alongside DJ Larry Levan in the ’70s, Knuckles spun regularly at the Warehouse in Chicago, went on to open his own club, the Power Plant, and remix hits by everyone from Michael Jackson to Inner City.

In 2004, the block where the Warehouse once stood was renamed Honorary Frankie Knuckles Way. And with house music enjoying a renaissance of sorts in recent years, one of the genre’s foremost pioneers has similarly experienced a deserved resurgence, commissioned to remix indie dance act Hercules and Love Affair’s “Blind” in 2008, as well as Whitney Houston’s 2009 comeback single “Million Dollar Bill.” Sadly, news hit yesterday that Knuckles died in his adopted hometown at the age of 59.



With 12 editions held in Brazil (1985, 1991, 2001 and 2011), Portugal (2004,2006,2008, 2010 and 2012) and Spain (2008, 2010 and 2012). The festival gathered 6.511.300 spectators that cheered 968 artists, Rock in Rio is the biggest music and entertainment event of the world. There were more than 980 hours of music being transmitted by the TV and the internet, for more than 1 billion viewers in 200 countries. The Rock in Rio also collects records on social network (in the music festivals category) with more than nine million followers. In 2011, the event was the Twitter Trending Topics (TTs) in 13 countries. The event, which is in its 13th edition, starts on Friday, September 13 th and continues by September 14th, 15th, 19th, 20th, 21st and 22nd of 2013, at Cidade do Rock, in Rio de Janeiro (Parque dos Atletas – Av. Salvador Allende, s/n), an area of 150 thousand square meters.

Here’s a sneak peek of what you can accept this year: