Masego Loose Thoughts EP Masego Loose Thoughts EP
Jack McKain

Premiere: Masego's 'Loose Thoughts' Make For One Heck Of A Summer Project

Masego's birthday compilation of loosie tracks is a party for your ears. Come celebrate with him.

It's a special thing when someone uses their birthday to give gifts rather than to receive them. Masego has been raking in blessings in multitudes this year, so it was only right that for his 23rd birthday, he share a little bit of the positivity back with his fans via some new music. Enter Loose Thoughts, a compilation of tracks that have been floating in and out of select Masego performances and Twitter videos with no formal home. Until now, that is.

Kanye West's birthday twin (who's also one of Sego's inspirations, see: Pink Polo EP), self-diagnosed himself WebMD style with "demo-itis." The remedy? To gift-wrap loosies, EP and LP rejects and finished freestyles in one package before they didn't have the chance to see the light of day. "This is just the stuff that if they don't come out now, they'll never come out," he says over the phone. "This is like the B-squad. The cut squad ain't varsity but they can all still dunk."

The oldest song on Loose Thoughts goes back to his freshman year at Old Dominion University in 2011 and the newest addition joined the project's ranks as late as this morning. The 11-track jambalaya of sounds flexes all parts of his multi-hyphenate being. "Do you play the keys? I can play that/Do you play the sax? I can play that/Do you play the marimba? I can play that/Do you play the cymbals? I can play that," he sings confidently, not boastfully, on "I DO EVERYTHING!" And that barely scratches the surface. He takes the reins on most of the production. Vocally he's stronger, showcasing just how much he can stretch his rasp and falsetto to enhance a song. So is his rapping. The metaphors are more sophisticated and the topics have matured.

"The premise for the whole thing is to come out with a project that does the same thing that Frank Ocean's [The Lonny Breaux Collection] did," he says. "It felt very demo-ish but it shows [his] full capabilities and was a really cool introduction to someone."

Whereas his Pink Polo EP was predominantly high-energy, youthful fun, Masego is a little older and wiser now. Loose Thoughts reflects that. The project is not only a marker of the transition into his Jordan year, but his sonic evolution as an artist and timeliness with the summertime season. "This whole project is just how I'm feeling," he says. "I made the first half of the tape the old me. 'Girls That Dance' and similar songs. Pure fun. Great energy and vibe. The second half starting with 'Small Talk' gets into the new me." After Masego went to DJ Jazzy Jeff's house for his annual mentorship retreat, he left with a recharged energy. "My songwriting got better, and I was able to dig a lot deeper and tell some stories. I think this does a better job at getting my fans to the new me."

Join in on Masego's birthday festivities by pressing play and see where his mind was during the creation of each loose thought below.

 

1. "YOU GON' LEARN SOME JAZZ TODAY"

I freestyle so much on Twitter and none of it's a song but everyone's like, 'Yo when's the song drop?' So I thought I'd just make this one a song and just enjoy myself in a Kanye-esque way, because I swear Kanye never writes any verses anymore, he just freestyles. The opening track is something I made completely myself. That was another thing I wanted to do on this project. There's so much "Masego x Producer." I just want to say, this is all Masego. I'm trying to show as much of myself as possible to build that foundation now that things have finally started with this career. My mom's not gonna like the N-word in there, but we're gonna have to just pray.

2. "I'm In Hollywood"

That's another Twitter video, another one I made into a little song. It was actually my first time being in Hollywood and I was in the studio with Busta Rhymes and three other people that would look very hip-hop with gold chains around their neck. It was just like, welcome to Hollywood. There was all this equipment [in the studio] and the dude in there told me, use what you want. Let's create some stuff. I was on top of the world at that time and it was just a nice little freestyle. And at that time, that's when I started to get the calls back from home where some people were trying to say, 'Hey, can I have something?' and I had that little "How about nah" attitude going.

3. "Wifeable (Demo 3)"

The biggest show I've done in L.A. is the Regent [Theater]. That was SPZRKT's first time seeing me. It just turned into yo, we gotta link. We created "Wifeable." It started off with this looper pedal idea I had. It graduated into a full beat, but I produced that as well and it felt really good. With SPZ's new name, Xavier Omar, he's doing his own thing in a different direction so this song didn't make the cut, but it's still really cool. I wrote it when I first got to Miami. Everybody there was just beautiful but then I learned later that everybody's bougie, so I didn't want to wife 'em up.

4. "Send Yo' Rita!"

I first heard "Send Yo' Rita" in San Francisco, actually. When it came on it had the same feeling as the original. When those drums hit, I was like this is what I'm all about. It's really innovating that sound of a classic. You know when you'll see someone in an everyday environment and you just run these scenarios in your mind? That's what it was. I saw this young lady in the club and... I don't really engage in the club. I'm not like that "Girls That Dance" video type the whole time. I'm like that for like one minute and then I get back to my corner and just ponder. My mind went on a trip. You know when you're about to go into dream mode and the picture gets foggy for a daydream? That's what "Send Yo' Rita" was. It was a daydream music video in my head.

5. "Too Much"

"Too Much" is dumb old. It's like back in the early, early SoundCloud days when I met BNJMN [of FilmNoir]. That was my frustration with Virginia shows, honestly. I was doing all this cool stuff onstage and it just seemed like they weren't entertained with what I was doing. What's it gonna take? I used to perform "Too Much" in a more live instrument jazzy way, but it just didn't work. So when BNJMN actually sent me that beat, I threw the same lyrics on that and then everybody started F-ing with it because it had the energy of trap. I treat Virginia like a girl, this frustrating person that I have a love for but agh, what is wrong with you? That was the big metaphor with "Too Much." I'm dancing around trying to get your attention.

6. "Small Talk (TrapScat To Cali)"

"Small Talk" was a demo. It was a placeholder because I usually scat or freestyle something then write a real song to it later. But Jarreau Vandal ended up putting my demo out, a real song. But this is the fully matured version. I wanted to make the verses simply trap scatting and it be an innovating song. Even treat the beat at the end a little bit. I like this song because I've never seen something structured like this before. It feels like I'm saying something but I'm not, but I am. I feel like with this being "Small Talk," the verses are the small talk.

7. "Plant A Seed (Rough Like Old Weave)"

I made that song after I tweeted something about how I sowed a lot of seeds early on and then when things are starting to happen good for me, it seems like it's out of nowhere. I was trying to make the point that I do a lot of small things that might go unnoticed, little tweets at five in the morning or random things that seem like they're not linked together. Both my parents are pastors, so at church they're always talking about how it's so important to plant seeds and be patient. It's hard to be patient when it seems like everything online is moving. Everybody got a deal. Also, I did a fake Anderson .Paak verse on there. [Laughs] In the future, it'd be dope to get a verse from him on that type of song.

8. "I Do Everything (More For Cruisin)" & "I DO EVERYTHING!"

"I Do Everything" Part 1 and 2 is me flipping my own song. I want to show that change that's taken place. The energy will always be joyful for me but as someone that does everything, I want to dig deeper and that song is instrumental as a way to reflect on that transition. This whole project is merely a preview to the first song on then next. Those hits are gonna put me on a platform to allow me to reach more people and take this to a new level.

9. "Disconnected (Shorty From VA)"

The oldest song is "Disconnected." I wrote that my freshman year of college, and that's when I first started to decide I wanted to be an artist. I met this girl and she was kind of on her Azealia Banks self-destructive-but-mad-talented stuff. She was the first person to really inspire a song and I was building a project around that. But that didn't come out because of something and then something else I put on this project didn't come out because of something else. So I was like, this is like the B-squad. The cut squad ain't varsity but they can all still dunk.

10. "White Man"

"White Man" was when I thought I was making money but the bills and everyone's cut took the bulk of it away. On top of that, I was frustrated that I felt like I wasn't people's top priority. I'm ready to move but I feel like since I don't have a lot of money to wave in everyone's face, they didn't wanna move. Producers, artists, collabs and all weren't moving at the pace my mind was. The White Man was who I blamed, figuratively. I touch on racism and different races that were holding the character in my song back as a way to vent that "I'm just trying to feed my young." I'm just trying to put the ones I love on. I just wanna create my great ideas and bring them to fruition.

 

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Courtesy of Project Girls Club

D. Woods And Shanell Share Details Behind Project Girls Club: Exclusive

There's power in numbers, especially when it comes to black women. YMCMB songstress Shanell, former Danity Kane star D. Woods, Princess of Crime Mob and platinum-selling songwriter Mika Means have merged their talents together to form Project Girls Club, a group that not only boasts big female energy but also a sisterhood like no other.

The ladies' first single "Run Up" is all about the girl power while playing with boastful 808s. The video does the same with the ladies turning up industrial style as their colorful personalities bursts out on every verse.

The group's origins were planted in Atlanta over a decade ago with the women acting as supportive cheerleaders as they moved in their previous groups. After moving on to solo endeavors, the ladies decided to add a music component to the group which also includes mentorship of young girls.

Speaking to VIBE Tuesday (Jan. 22), Shanell and D.Woods, the sisters of the group, shared the creative process behind the first single.

"We put the track on and each girl just went in," Shanell explained. "We kind of feed off each other and that was the vibe. We are a little different than your normal girl group. We feel like power rangers and superheroes so we have that tough exterior. We're still women so we still have a softer side but the tough side is what you might get first."

The ladies know a little something about girl groups. At the start of their careers, three of them were apart of the biggest groups in hip-hop and R&B. Shanell was the sole female vocalist in Lil Wayne's Young Money group comprised of Nicki Minaj and Drake, D. Woods was famously in the platinum-selling girl group Danity Kane while as a teenager, Princess was apart of Atlanta's Crime Mob.

The ladies plan to hit the ground running with more new music and their upcoming album this year.

Check out the rest of the interview below.

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I love the fact that "Run Up" is a confident track as opposed to a love song. Was that a conscientious decision to make the first single more braggy than a love ballad?

D Woods: I think that is just how we are as people. We didn't really have to think about it or make any type of strategic decision of what kind of subject matter. It just came out of how we really talk in every day in conversation.

Shanell: We put the track on and each girl just went in," Shanell explained. "We kind of feed off each other and that was the vibe. We are a little different than your normal girl group. We feel like power rangers and superheroes so we have that tough exterior. We're still women so we still have a softer side but the tough side is what you might get first.

If you could label each woman as a superhero who would be what?

Shanel: I can kind of give you the personalities of each one of us. Like Minka is the party girl, myself, I am like more of like, "Here is the plan," D keeps everybody organized and on task. Princess is our hood spiritual advisor. She's gonna give us a crystal and try and throw you a shot of jack at the same time.

So how did this group come together?

Shanel: We created Project Girls Club years ago with myself D, and Mika. We were all doing shows and mobs of guys would be on stage and there wasn't enough feminine energy.

So we were like, "Let's band together and do all of our shows together. So when you have a show we are gonna come out on stage; if I have a show you're gonna come and support me," so we kind of built it like that.

Then everybody got their deal and started getting pulled away from doing stuff together so much, me signing to Young Money, D being with Danity Kane and Mika doing her solo project, it was hard for us to keep doing stuff together but now, we're wiser and we're experienced

What would you say is the biggest difference between this and other girl groups?

D Woods: For me personally, these are people that I've chosen to work with instead of being put together with that I didn't know. That's the biggest difference. Shanel of course, is my blood sister and Meeka we've known each other since high school, and Princess, we know we cross paths so many different times in the Atlanta music industry so this is like we're coming together because we want to (laughs). That's the difference between me and anyone else's group experience. I was put in a group with people I didn't know and had nothing in common with before–

Shanel: And they were pitted against each other.

D Woods: We were pitted against each other and then put into a group to act like we're all on the same page. Even during the time I was in Danity Kane, there was Project Girls Club. I wanted to include my group into that but we weren't on the same page.

This is a lot being on the same page because we want to be on the same page and seeing the benefits of being on the same page. A lot of times in groups, people are competing against each other and are pushing out one leader and everyone else has to be background singers or just the backup to that person's vision. With this group, we have a hard time explaining that because we see groups, especially those with females, it's like "Who's the leader? What's the look?"

Everyone in Project Girls Group has their own vibe and we don't make anyone else have to be on everyone else's vibe. We celebrate each other's vibe (laughs). I'm not going to make my dream be your dream. Let's figure how to coexist these dreams and push them to the next level.

Shanell: For me, being a part of Young Money it was mostly men. I had Nikki [Minaj] for a while but then she went and did her own thing. It was a lot of creative things I wanted to but there was no female energy. I felt like I was the black sheep. Everyone was super rap and I was doing rock and R&B so I just want to build a place where all of those parts of me can shine. We've all thrived, we've all seen success and we all get it. This is like a more comfortable, a better space for me to tap into every stream of talent I have.

Can you tell us anything about the upcoming album?

Shanel: That's our timeline so we have to set our set dates so that we work toward those dates the project is going to have our plan is to feature as many female artists as we can and leave enough room for us to be on the records.

Shawna reached out and was like, "I want to be a part of this." Sharaya J who was on The Four wants to be a part. We are going to feature a lot of black women in the game and some new girls and just make it a party, make it fun.

D. Woods: Right now we just see black women fighting on TV and talking about taking each other's men and bend it over, pop it open, buss it open for these real ni**as like okay well we are going to be that other thing, that fun thing.

Do you think that because all four of you have these massive hits in your catalogs already that you will revamp those to fit within the group that you are doing now?

D Woods: I mean, that's an idea. I mean we still perform some of those songs for the audience for the audience that is there that is like can we hear something from Young Money and Danity Kane and Crime Mob, like we tap in and give them a little bit of where we came from but right now my focus is in creating this new sound, this new feel, this new vibe, this new culture of women who aren't afraid of each other, who uplift each other, who congratulate each other. What we are hearing and seeing now.

Lastly, what have learned about each other and the process of Project Girls Club?

Shanel: That is a special thing. Of course, we are positive thinkers, we move positively but being that we are all from different walks of life, different experiences, just learning each other's strengths and weaknesses.

When you say women working together it's easier said than done, just people working together is easier said than done so we have to constantly know that that is what we stand for so when we are challenged.

We argue, we bicker and get upset about certain things but it's like okay so we are learning ourselves how sometimes you just gotta figure out how to make it work and understand somebody else's point of view or show them something they don't know and learn something they can teach you. There has been crying, there has been fighting there have been happy days of celebration but it's all apart of this journey.

D. Woods: I joke and say I know everything because she is my sister but you know when you are around people and have known people for as long as we have known each other you tend to generalize people because you are too close to them you can't see the trees through the forest.

In this new stage of Project Girls Club and us having come back together after we have gone out into the world and fought our own battles, we have relearned each other's passions again and then relearned each other's talents and seeing each other's hearts.

We are here to support each other's vision and execute it together so we are learning each other's hearts again and making each other's dreams come true.

Check out the video above and stream "Run Up" by Project Girls Club below.

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Smif N Wessun

9th Wonder Talks Collabo Album With Smif N Wessun And The Soul Council

A few weeks fresh off the 23rd anniversary of their classic debut album, Da Shinin', Brooklyn duo Smif N Wessun (Steele and Tek) have released the video for the soul smacking single, "Testify" produced by Khrysis, off their newest album, The All. The project, produced entirely by Grammy-nominated producer 9th Wonder and his Soul Council team, brings the hardcore feel of SNW's best work to the forefront.

“9th Wonder and the Soul Council provide the perfect backdrop for Tek and I to deliver heartfelt lyrical content,” Steele reveals directly. “It’s a true tale of ups and downs, wins and losses, growth and acceptance. It speaks to the hearts and minds of all people; particularly our followers and fans of all ages and ethnicities.”

When artists who rep a certain quality sector of hip-hop music resurface to offer newness to an audience, the longtime fans are looking to bring that old thing back while looking to reflect and push forward at the same time.

"'Testify' is a realistic reflective look back on our accomplishments and failures throughout our career and serves as a precursor to what you will experience on The All,” Steele continues. "This project is a reality check for SNW, one that reflects the struggles and obstacles that we’ve had to endure to survive at the level we occupy in the hip-hop arena."

9th Wonder took the project on as a lover of the group, "My goal is to make sure that we cement the legacy of the artist, but at the same time update the artist. We came up with the concept of  The All (based on a speech from Louis Farrakhan), you can never underestimate the essence of Islam in Hip-Hop. Given the fact that SNW are both Muslim and so many others are as well, we couldn't forget that part."

Going into new chambers of living is needed when you have been recording albums for over 20 years. 9th explains, "we wanted them to talk about stuff they wouldn't normally talk about on records, as they are in a different point in their lives, very grown man. It gives something to our generation to listen to, appreciate and celebrate without feeling old, without feeling outdated. We also wanted to let them know, the legends can still do it."

As the word legend gets thrown around a lot, it's not a far off title for the duo of Tek and Steele. "Some bestow the 'legend' tag upon us (we are very appreciative of that)," says Steele. "And we are chronicling that journey throughout the album.”

The full project will be dropping on February 22nd, 2019 on Duck Down Records. You can pre-order the album here and group merch here.

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Photo Rob

Premiere: Duck Down Records' Smif-N-Wessun Returns With Khrysis-Produced 'Testify'

It's been nearly 25 years to the day since their classic debut Dah Shinin' impacted in January 1995, but legendary Brooklyn duo Smif-N-Wessun is still representing the culture with authority and authenticity. "Testify," the premiere music video from their upcoming album The All, adds another notch to their storied catalogs.

"Testify" begins with old photos of group members Tek and Steele in their 90s heyday, but they don't spend much time there before getting busy with present day rhymes. Over a backdrop from Khrysis, the Duck Down Records duo confidently announces their return while solidifying their legendary pedigree. The song gives a short but sweet taste from The All, their upcoming album produced entirely by 9th Wonder and the Soul Council.

“9th Wonder and the Soul Council provide the perfect backdrop for Tek and I to deliver heartfelt lyrical content,” Steele told VIBE. “It’s a true tale of ups and downs, wins and losses, growth and acceptance. It speaks to the hearts and minds of ALL people; particularly our followers and fans of ALL ages and ethnicities.”

‘Testify” is a realistic reflective look back on our accomplishments and failures throughout our career and serves as a precursor to what you will experience on The All,” Steele continued. "This project is a reality check for SNW, one that reflects the struggles and obstacles that we’ve had to endure to survive at the level we occupy in the hip-hop arena. Some, bestow the “Legend” tag upon us (we are very appreciative of that) and we are chronicling that journey throughout the album.”

The All is scheduled for a February 22, 2019 release on Duck Down Records, and is available for pre-order.

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