Long Live The Jimi Hendrix Of The Cuatro

This past Sunday we all officially learned of the passing of Yomo Toro. Last week we all received a false alert about his death which disturbed many who were close to him and others like me who grew up listening to his music.

Of the legend I will reiterate something I’ve stated time and time again. That is there are a handful of musicians who I know when they are playing their chosen instrument and can identify them blindfolded. I’ll always know when Dave Grohl is drumming, when it’s Flea on bass and Clapton on guitar. The same can definitely be said of Yomo Toro. You just knew it was him. I had my first encounter of this nature on a Sunday afternoon in the summer of 1997 in mall in Jersey City, New Jersey.

I just stood in awe, shut my mouth and listened.

While I was listening I just thought two things. The first being how cool is it to be that revered because of how people like me just flocked at the mere sound coming out of his amplifier. The second relates to his playing and the tone of his instrument. How did he manage to get that same signature sound each and every time now matter how many notes he ripped through?

Just one of the cleanest and purest tones you can get hands down. This is coming from a man who tried in vain to copy the clean tone of Kurt Cobain. I thought his was by far the most striking and I know that I was not alone in my past attempts and that others after me have continued in their pursuits. But with regard to El Maesto, as he is called, I know others have tried to do so in regard to cuatro playing. His was more punchy and crisp while the aforementioned Cobain’s was warbled and chilling one.

As for his overall play, which would include guitar work as he was known to play Gibson’s, Yomo could be considered in the realm of Clapton. But often drew comparisons to another left-handed legend in the late Jimi Hendrix. To me he was a little different because his play was a bit more precise.

That precision was on full display as watched and listened. However, what I did not realize at the time was that I was witnessing a virtuoso performance by a legend whose health would continue to decline. Toro was not standing during the majority of the set. In fact he only stood up for the final minute of the last song plus the ovation. When it was all over I wondered one more thing. That was how long will we have him for?

Well we had him here with us fifteen more years after that performance. The ones following that would begin to be less frequent because of his health but when he did perform or speak to people none of us fans took it for granted. Yomo Toro will be sorely missed just like all the other great musicians who have come in and out of my life even though their legacies live on.

Someone once asked me what word comes to mind when I think of the man. It’s a simple one that is comprised of three letters. That word is joy. He was a joy to watch, a joy to listen to and for those who got to be near him he was a joy to be around.

And now I’ll give you a bit of joy on a hot July day with Parranda Fania.

If you have any questions, comments, or story suggestions, please feel free to reply in the comments section below. Or you can e-mail me at DanielRivera2424@gmail.com. Also, follow me on Twitter @DanielRivera24 and I will do the very same.

Artist To Watch: Ben Lyman

Tulsa, Oklahoma native Ben Lyman is in love with NYC.

Now since I’ve re-embarked on my writing endeavors I have had the opportunity to reconnect with some artists I’ve known from my past and encounter some new ones along the way. To say that I am blessed to have gotten to know many of these wonderful and talented people is a huge understatement. I am fortunate to have written about these musical acts and will be forever grateful.

Such is the case with twenty-three year old Tulsa, Oklahoma native Benjamin Lyman. For Lyman this is his second stint living as a musician in The City That Never Sleeps. I encountered Ben last Saturday at the Union Square Station waiting for the L train on my way to start a much anticipated project. After briefly introducing myself I offered Ben two of my business cards and exchanged some social media contact information. Once I was done for the day with the first part of my project I ran into him again at the Bedford Avenue Station on the L line. We talked a bit more and got more acquainted with one another. Eventually we linked up yesterday for an interview for this article.

Lyman, who was introduced initially to gospel music by his parents, I found is not one of those types who are musically bashful. I find him to be very bright, articulate and to be of an avant-garde mind set. “I was inspired to start playing music by an impact that was made on me by John Frusciante, who’s kind of my hero, during a trip to LA. I was about fifteen or sixteen and that’s when I kind of decided I want to do it. I really didn’t start doing it until I was seventeen. Specifically the work of John Frusciante, his stage presence and his solo work influence me. It made me pick up the guitar and from there I kind of found that I wanted to start singing,” says Lyman of his early musical efforts and how he was impressed with the legendary Chili Pepper guitarist.

This would eventually lead to Ben adopting his avant-garde approach to music citing such influences as Asap Rocky, Depeche Mode, Bjork, Kate Bush and Frank Ocean just to name a few. Many of these artists Lyman told me he would love to be in the proper position to work with. Of his other musical work Lyman went on to tell me that he is willing to get involved in songwriting and beat making for hip-hop acts. “Lately I’ve been obsessed with Frank Ocean’s work. I feel that there’s a certain element of eastern thought in the way he approaches his stuff that is really humbling me and kind of forcing me to think outside the box in what I’m doing,” divulged Ben in reference of the neo soul artist. Ben also stated he is always “striving to find something constantly more bizarre and more diverse” in a musical sense with the need to be constantly challenged in his life.

In describing his music Ben states, “The music of my preference to make is electronic music from a singer/songwriter perspective. I make little pop songs but my music is always going to be changing. I’m writing an album right now and a lot of the work is pretty much on acoustic guitar but the arrangements are much bigger. I’ll be playing a lot of guitar but I will be branching out to rap.” In adding rap to his repertoire Lyman is showing that he is willing to showcase his range as an artist and further demonstrate his need to push the envelope. As for his rap aspirations he told me, “I think rap is a young and fertile genre. It’s breaking out of its box but it’s still very limited. There’s so much further we could be taking it and I’m not saying that I could be the one to do that at all. All I’m saying is that as an artist making music if you have pop intentions, which I very much do, you can’t ignore rap/hip-hop. That is popular music.”

In no way shape or form does Lyman describe himself as musically bashful. In detailing his personality both musically and personally he said, “I wouldn’t say generally I’m super bashful about my craft. Music is my outlet I think that’s why I’m not bashful. It’s my escape and the hat I can wear where anything goes. It’s melded into my body and become an extension of me to the point where my musical personality has taken my overall personality to different heights. It’s made me a much stronger, forthright and confident person. I’ve become more comfortable in my own skin since I started playing music.” Indeed a very profound set of statements from a young man who has come a long way from being a kid who once learned to play “Toxicity” by System of A Down and admitted he is a bit of an anomaly like Ace Frehley in that he doesn’t read sheet music.

As for his feelings toward our fair Gotham Ben declared, “It’s an intense energetic city. It gives you a lot and you have to give a lot. It has a certain reality about it and certain diversity about it. It’s a great epicenter to come to in order to cultivate my craft. I love this place. It’s my favorite city in the nation. I feel right at home. I feel I can be myself. I feel that there’s something I can do here. I have a unique vibe and flavor within such a diverse city. It’s something that I can bring to the whole mix.” From the look and sound of things it is blatantly obvious that Ben Lyman is on his way to accomplishing this goal.

Let’s just all hope he is able to sustain a long career in music and continue to add something to the flavor of New York City.

You can purchase Ben’s music on Band Camp plus follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

If you have any questions, comments, or story suggestions, please feel free to reply in the comments section below. Or you can e-mail me at DanielRivera2424@gmail.com. Also, follow me on Twitter @DanielRivera24 and I will do the very same.

They’ll Still Be Three MC’s and One DJ

This poster was a constant in my door room in college.

This is has been a rather difficult year so far when it comes to the death in the music world. First Whitney Houston, then Dick Clark and now one that really hurts is the passing of Adam “MCA” Yauch after his courageous battle with cancer. All of those mentioned had an impact on our lives and left their marks. In fact the Beastie Boys did make an appearance on American Bandstand. This shows you how not only Clark was a pioneer and very open to new acts on the ever evolving musical landscape but that the Beastie’s were a sign of things to come.

The Beastie Boys were originally seen as a passing fad when they officially hit the airwaves. But as we all found out over the years they were anything but a flash in the pan. They were constant staple in our lives and especially mine. Evidence of this could be seen in my door room wall right by the window as the photo on the top left-hand corner was always hanging there. They were the pioneers in the room. Their image and likeness resided alongside those of Led Zeppelin (who they sampled), Soundgarden and Nirvana just to name a few.

For me they stood for many things. They represented timeless progression in music, humanitarian spirit and trend setting. The Beastie Boys went from a four piece hard core punk band which included Kate Schellenbach, of Luscious Jackson fame, on drums to the hip hop icons that we now know them. They went from a frat boy attitude and matured before our very eyes while championing such causes as the plight of the Tibetan people. While many were pushing Nike and Timberland as part of hip hop fashion they stayed true to their roots and continued to rock Stan Smith Adidas and Puma Clyde’s. They even founded their own record label Grand Royal, where everything was guaranteed fresh. All of these things made me want to be the extra Beastie Boy.

MCA was obviously behind all of this as a founding member of the group. Of the three he was definitely my favorite. He was the backbone of the crew and more often than not he always was the one finishing a track with flare, gusto and some lines that may be simple to some but will forever go down in hip hop lore. If you don’t believe me I have two samples for you below this paragraph.

“So Whatcha Want”

Well I’m as cool as a cucumber in a bowl of hot sauce
You’ve got the rhyme and reason but no cause
Well if you’re hot to trot you think you’re slicker than grease
I’ve got news for you crews you’ll be sucking like a leech

“Intergalactic”

If you try to knock me you’ll get mocked
I’ll stir fry you in my wok
Your knees’ll start shaking and your fingers pop
Like a pinch on the neck of Mr. Spock

Sadly now he’s gone but his legacy and that of his band will most certainly live on. No one could ever replace MCA and it’s very safe to say that Mike D and Ad Rock will never allow that to happen. And as for me, the kid who once wanted to be an extra Beastie Boy like so many others, I would not want to see anyone in his place. Besides those are some large shell toed sneakers to fill and there isn’t a person alive who is capable of doing so. The man known and MCA, Nathaniel Hörnblowér and Nathan Wind as Cochese will be sorely missed by me and legions of fans.

The Beastie Boys will be remembered for many great things. But for me they will always and forever be remembered as three MC’s and one DJ.

If you have any questions, comments, or story suggestions, please feel free to reply in the comments section below. Or you can e-mail me at DanielRivera2424@gmail.com. Also, follow me on Twitter @DanielRivera24 and I will do the very same.

Hey! Wait! I’ve Got A New Hologram!

Cobain as a hologram?

On Sunday April 15th the crowd at the Coachella Music Festival and eventually the world was treated to a stirring 2-D hologram medley performance by the late Tupac Shakur. The hologram itself as of this date has accumulated over 3.5 million views on YouTube alone. The overwhelming popularity of this hologram has even led members of the R&B group TLC to consider creating one for the late Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes who passed away ten years ago according to a Huffington Post article published on the anniversary of her death.

With all the buzz concerning the advent of the 2-D hologram format being used on musical artists who have passed away I have been brewing some ideas of my own as to who may ideal candidates for such a thing. There are hundreds of possibilities but one came to mind immediately. Yes, those who know me best have picked my brain easily as to who it is. That’s right a hologram of the late Kurt Cobain.

I bring this up because recently the surviving members of Nirvana, Krist Novoselic and David Grohl, have been working on material in the legendary Sound City Studios in Van Nuys, California where they recorded the game changing album Nevermind. What would it be like to see Kurt at Coachella? Would diehard fans be accepting of such a thing? Would we still feel a little cheated because it’s not him in the flesh? Would his widow Courtney Love, who controls his image and likeness, allow for this to come to fruition?

I have to admit as much as the idea rolled through my well functioning cerebral cortex may sound appealing I will go on record as saying that I am on the fence with this one. That’s because I like millions of fans would have loved to see the man perform live and to have met him. So there may be no real closure and not to mention it the very thought could freak out and frustrate his band mates and daughter Frances Bean. After all who could forget the big legal flap that is still ongoing over his use in the Rockband video game series?

But this does not mean other artists estates will not be contacted in regard to being presented in a 2-D hologram. Hip-hop fans would like to see others immortalized in this fashion. I’m giving you all fare warning to be aware that two large possibilities do exist. You all know very well who they are. I know for a fact that people may like to see holograms of the late Notorious B.I.G. and Big Punisher. How about one of the late Big L? What about putting all of those greats along with Tupac to have the Four Deadly MC track performed that has been floating around for over a decade?

What about rock fans?

Unfortunately there are more than a gaggle of deceased rockers that could get the hologram treatment. Could anyone fathom virtual versions of original AC/DC front man Bon Scott or Boston’s Brad Delp? Imagine John and George rejoining Paul and Ringo?

Salsa fans I did not leave us out in the cold in this read. The thought of a Celia Cruz hologram did cross my mind. But I have one that’s even better. How about one of El Cantante himself Hector LaVoe? I bet his could give a lot of current salsa singers a run for their money.

Reggae diehards I did not forget about us all when it comes to this matter. Would we all like to see Bob Marley or Gregory Isaacs in this 2-D platform?

Again the possibilities are close to endless when it comes to this subject. But I would like to know the thoughts of each of you when it comes to it so feel free to comment on it right here. And please be kind in doing so.

If you have any questions, comments, or story suggestions, please feel free to reply in the comments section below. Or you can e-mail me at DanielRivera2424@gmail.com. Also, follow me on Twitter @DanielRivera24 and I will do the very same.

Album Review: Smile and Nod

I’ve been listening to hip hop for many years and have heard countless records over the course of my time. I’ll always remember where I was when I heard such seminal classics released by A Tribe Called Quest, Souls of Mischief and De La Soul just to name a few. I mention these legends because I’ve always felt they made records that made me feel good after listening to them from front to back. This weekend I had the very same pleasure when I received my advance copy of Kingston, NY rapper Tom “Upgrade” Taub’s debut release Smile and Nod.

When I received it I couldn’t help but remember the albums and artists that I listened to when I was coming of age exactly eighteen years ago. That very weekend was when the music world lost Kurt Cobain. At that time not only was I heavily into Nirvana but also to the hip hop icons I previously referenced. Again I cannot help but reiterate how wonderful it was to listen to that music during that period of time. In listening to Smile and Nod I had the same feeling this weekend. I could not deny the notion that I was listening to a feel good record.

Smile and Nod includes guest appearances by Mac Lethal, Skyzoo, Justina Soto and Rev of Ev stalwarts Gregg Self and Wes Cashtro all lending strong support on the record with their performances. The flawless production work was headed by Escrappa and Max Conklin who mixed and mastered the record. A veritable who’s who of producers left their diverse and unique imprints on Smile and Nod which perfectly compliment Upgrade’s outstanding lyrical acumen. Lending skilled hands on this record are Boonie Mayfield, Vans Beats, Scarecrow Beats,!llmind (Illmind), Kid Flash, Flawless Tracks, Evelution Beats, Sinima and Vherbal.

The tracks on Smile and Nod range from melodic to up tempo and they display Upgrade’s range of flow perfectly. This is all demonstrated on such songs as “My Perspective”, “Met My Match”, “Growing Up” and my personal favorite “Farewell” featuring Queens, NY native Nilsa. Of the latter soulful track Upgrade explained, “When I first played the beat in the studio I got a lot of weird looks. But once they heard where I was going with it. It all made sense. This track is about saying farewell to the flaws in your life and just trying to have a positive outlook on everything. Nilsa killed the chorus as well and made the vision clear.”

Upgrade also tackles relationships and coming of age with the tracks “Met My Match” and “Growing Up”. The first track Upgrade reveals, “Is based on a true story about an attractive female I was feeling. I wasn’t looking to meet my match for a relationship and really never go out of my way to find someone but I just let it happen. In this case I met my match in the way that I was feeling her more than I got back. She’s still cool people by the way Also during the recording of this project this was kind of the song that set off the whole process of Smile and Nod so I wanted it to come next after the intro.” As for “Growing Up” he went on to describe it as, “A feel good growing of age track. Just me being me and open to the stupid shit we use to do as kids. Back in the day when the girl with her locker next to you was the girl you were dating and you never even talked to her before. So much shit that seemed like such a big deal back then that you just look back and laugh at now.”

“The whole project is an introduction to what I hope to bring to the table”, Upgrade shared.  “I want to create the most honest and real music that I am capable of. Whatever the topic, I want to make sure that it is ME 100%. I’m not trying to be anything but myself and as long as that is portrayed in the music, I did my job. Even if it’s a Power Ranger watching, video game playing, awkward, bipolar, Pokemon master, alcoholic, Bob Saget wannabe, hip hop fan.”

However, this album may not be an introduction but more of an invitation. It’s an invitation to the world of a rapper who is trying to cross musical and social boundaries with his talent. Upgrade’s brand of music can definitely appeal to different crowds whether it is the Mac Miller/Asher Roth types or the people who rock a little harder in the Slaughterhouse set. It appeals to back packers, skate boarders, the kids who feel a little left out of the crowd and the cool kids who may still never have the time. This record is the kind that will get your attention via its well structured beats dressed with clever lyrics that are colored with, humor, sadness, joy and pain.

Smile and Nod is set to be released today and I highly recommend music listeners of all walks of life to pick up a copy. You can do so on iTunes, Amazon and all digital stores on the internet. A free download link will be posted on upgradehiphop.com and hard copies will be available for sale next week. You can follow Tom “Upgrade” Taub on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

If you have any questions, comments, or story suggestions, please feel free to reply in the comments section below. Or you can e-mail me at DanielRivera2424@gmail.com. Also, follow me on Twitter @DanielRivera24 and I will do the very same.

The Passing Of Memories

Whitney Houston in the mid 1980's

This is very difficult for me to write. I was supposed to be writing a feel good piece for all to read. However, I will get through this and soldier on. Who knows? Maybe this will be a feel good piece after all.

This has been a difficult past seven days for many of us who grew up in the 1980s and would later come of age in the 1990s. In this span we’ve lost two people who brought sheer joy to millions who watched and listened to them on television or radio. On Saturday we lost perhaps one of the most iconic voices in the world of popular music in Whitney Houston to her long battle with substance abuse. Yesterday we lost a hall of famer and New York baseball icon in Gary Carter to his nearly yearlong battle with brain cancer.

Growing up in the 80s both Houston and Carter were a part of our lives. What little girl growing up in that decade did not want to be like Whitney Houston? Every girl no matter what race or ethnicity wanted to sing like her, mimic her style and wish they would have at least one of her songs played at her future wedding. What teenage boy did not have her poster on his wall or had a huge crush on her? My brother Luis was of the latter because he had an affinity for the diva. Whitney had a voice that definitely grabbed your attention and made the hairs on your neck stand up. She also had one of the best smiles no man could ignore.

As for Carter his all out hustle, will to win and unbridled enthusiasm endeared him to all of New York City the first day he stepped on the field at Shea Stadium. Carter was the final big piece to large puzzle that would lead to not only one of the greatest summers in my young life but one of the most fabled moments in World Series history. “The Kid” as he was called refused to buckle and be the last out. It was Carter who started that infamous rally in Game Six of the 1986 World Series. His five seasons with the Mets put him on a first name basis with all of New York for the rest his life. Gary was on a first name basis with me because after all, his poster was on my bedroom wall when I lived on the Upper Westside. He was also on a first name basis with my brother Carlos because he copied his batting stance, which is something he does to this day.

Back then none of this was such a bad thing.

It was never a bad thing for Carter and his 24 brothers in blue and orange to completely dominate baseball. And it certainly wasn’t bad thing having Whitney dominate the airwaves. As child I naively thought these things would last forever. But unfortunately time goes on all things do not last at least in the living tangible sense.

With passing of both Carter and Houston a piece of our collective childhood may be gone in one aspect but the memories of them and their legacies will live on in sound and images whether they be on DVD, Blu-ray or in our minds. My image of Carter is of a framed 8×10 photo of him at bat right next to my plaque of Roberto Clemente, two Cooperstown alums side by side. I look at it at and will remember those fun times when it seemed like every weekend I was in Flushing, New York.

When it comes to Whitney Houston I will always pause when I hear her voice. I will remember her flawless performances that brought countless houses down. The one that will always standout for me is when the entire nation hung on her every note at Super Bowl XXV.

These are the memories I will have stored in my mind’s eye as time flies.

Kid Carter endears himself to NY in Game 5 of the 86 NLCS

If you have any questions, comments, or story suggestions, please feel free to reply in the comments section below. Or you can e-mail me at DanielRivera2424@gmail.com. Also, follow me on Twitter @DanielRivera24 and I will do the very same.

Buggin’ Out With Bugnanas

Phase One & Asa Buchanon are Bugnanas (Source: Katie Piper)

It’s slightly more than a quarter past 8 p.m. After exchanging pleasantries, a few old stories, some jokes and finally finding a spot to sit in the cafeteria in Macys Cellar two rappers I have been following since college finally sit down with me. We are doing what we call “break bread” even though neither of us is passing around condiments or components of a meal. Phase One and Asa Buchanon have been involved in hip hop the majority of their lives living it and breathing it. They have some pretty awesome and funny stories to tell. Particularly Phase One since we’ve known each other dating back to our days at the Lehman College Radio Station WHLC 590 AM. These are stories for another time and maybe another article.

A lot of time has passed since 1997. That’s fifteen years to be exact and in that time this rap duo has put out quite the body of work in the underground hip hop scene both individually and collectively. After some more jokes and laughter Phase One then begins to tell me how all things Bugnanas came together.

“We were like you know what freak that we should be a group man! That’s it! Because we’re running around like too much crazy like together! We should just be a group regardless! That’s it!”, exclaimed veteran emcee Phase One of his decision to officially join musical forces with fellow Bronx emcee and producer Asa Buchanon nearly ten years ago. It is a partnership that has grown by leaps and bounds since it was officially established after a performance at the legendary club Shrine. The early roots of this partnership were fostered in a tight circle of other well known emcees and producers from the New York underground hip hop scene such as DJ Static (the Bronx), Rugged N’ Raw (Harlem) and Poison Pen (Brooklyn) just to name a few.

In fact the name and concept of the group can be traced to an underground single Phase One and Poison Pen worked on with DJ Static called “If You Wack”. “Poison Pen at the end of that record had said Phase we gonna go bugnanas on ‘em. Yo Static talk to ‘em with your hands son and Static was cutting up the record. Then when we started talking I was working on an album I didn’t get to release (Déjà Vu All Over Again). We immediately stopped and started getting into this whole Bugnanas thing,” Phase One divulged. But before Bugnanas officially formed both Buchanon and Phase One took some time to work out the kinks both musically and vocally. It was at the insistence and encouragement of Buchanon that convinced Phase to change his vocal style from the amped and high energy approach he had adopted when he started rapping in the early 90’s to utilizing his natural speaking voice when he took to the microphone. Anyone who has listened to Phase One from his early beginnings up to now can see the difference and how it has paid off over the course of time.

After going through what both Phase and Buchanon described “dark spot” the two decided to officially embark on a project. “I was like you Asa we should do a project and we should call it Bugnanas! And he was like what?! He was like ight fine! That’s it! He immediately went with it,” said Phase One with great vigor in referencing a very animated phone call he had with Buchanon in front of a landmark New York transportation hub. This phone call between the two ultimately bore the trademark phase they coined “Going Grand Central On ‘Em”. From then on that’s when the fun began for the duo and it can be seen to this very day with the release of each single.

In describing the concept behind the name Bugnanas Phase One explains it as, “Bugged out but at the same time bananas meaning its ill. And it also gives us room to venture in whatever lane we want to go in. It doesn’t leave for any expectation or box as to where we want to be in. It allows us to do whatever and it’s still tasteful. And it’s still us.” This kind of mind set has allowed Bugnanas to approach music from different angles and be one of the more experimental groups in hip hop. This is evident in their 2009 release “Phase One & Asa Buchanon Present: Bugnanas” and has continued with their current single “UH HUH!”. Their hodgepodge of musical influences (A Tribe Called Quest, The Police, Big Daddy Kane and The Eagles just for starters) and mature approach to constructing the overall sound of the group has opened many doors for them in more ways than one.

It has pretty much put them in what many may see as an emerging hip hop category which Buchanon takes full credit in creating. He describes Bugnanas music as “adult contemporary hip hop”. “It can be considered as sophisticated. Yeah we can roll with the best of them. As Phase can freestyle with the best of them. The dirty, the grimy, the dudes who are just straight up brain surgeons on that intellectual scientifical he can do that. As far as the tracks I can roll with the best of them. We can ride in the same truck. It doesn’t limit us from going here, there and there. We see who are music gravitates to. It’s the guys in a certain age group that are professionals. They do have the home, the kids and the dog. But yet they can go home when they’re on their way home and knock it something crazy loosening up their shirt and tie knockin’ Bugnanas. On the train knockin’ it and not feeling like they are dumbing themselves down,” Buchanon explained. This demonstrates a savvy marketing move by Buchanon in approaching an audience mostly comprised of today’s thirty something crowd that may feel left out by current music trends and are looking for modern music that encompasses the tastes of its youth. He fully understands that a target core audience exists for Bugnanas and is not only unafraid to cater to it but also expand upon it.

Another avenue that was opened up to Bugnanas since the group formed is the continued collaborative effort with super producer and engineer Ariel Borujow. The collaboration started in Borujow’s C 4 Studios in Astoria, New York and would eventually move on to Stadium Red in Harlem. “I had started working with Ariel when he had his home studio in Queens. He prided on his mixes and he’s a very good engineer. He did a mix for T.I.’s King album that Just Blaze did the intro and he did that in his crib. And people we’re like damn son I could’ve sworn you did that on a big SL Board, which shows how good he is. And if he had that mixing board at the time how much better it would have been,” shares Phase One of his beginnings in working with Borujow.

Buchanon would eventually jump in to working with Borujow after he relocated to another studio in Queens thus cementing the musical partnership between the three men. “The experience with him is very ill. He’s very talented and is willing to tryout things to make sure that he knows what we like. To make sure that a better sound is manifested from the original idea”, says Phase One of Borujow’s production skills. Both Phase and Buchanon went on to add, “You don’t want an engineer that just sits there and presses play, which is technically what they’re supposed to do. But when you’re invested in a person that you’re vibin’ with, because you’re name is on it you want to make sure you get the most and the maximum out of that project.” This effort, attention to detail and all out experimental approach by Borujow can be seen on the first album which took a grand total of three months to make according to the group. According to Buchanon the chief reason the production moved as swiftly as it did was due to the fact he had his beats prepared prior to the start of recording.

As for a second album the duo has confirmed that one is on the way tentatively titled “League of The Ill”. “That one is going to be even more bonkers. Asa is actually creating a lot of these beats for this particular project. So now his heart and soul are really going into it. It’s going to be like a 2.0 or a 3.0 to what the first record was,” states Phase One.  Both men have pledged that their signature approach to making music, experimenting with different sounds and having all out fun will be applied to this album.

With regard to other future endeavors Bugnanas does have one more right around the corner. The group was selected to be the first act to perform at the new Apollo Theater Café and will be playing there on February 11th. Tickets have already gone on sale this past Wednesday. If you’re looking for an upscale and sophisticated hip hop performance then look no further and reserve your seats. Anyone who has seen Bugnanas perform can attest to having a great time when they hit the stage and captivate a crowd.

Bugnanas will be perforning live at the Apollo Music Cafe which is adjacent to the legendary Apollow Theater on February 11th. For ticket information or to join their A-List you can log on to their website at www.apollotheater.org.

You can follow Asa Buchanon on Facebook and Twitter . You can also follow Phase One as well on Facebook and Twitter. For all things Bugnanas you can find it on their Facebook fan page and Twitter.

If you have any questions, comments, or story suggestions, please feel free to reply in the comments section below. Or you can e-mail me at DanielRivera2424@gmail.com. Also, follow me on Twitter @DanielRivera24 and I will do the very same.

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