“Being out in front of people and just being ‘The Man’” might sound like a vague and ridiculous dream to have, but for Cameron Thomaz it might be the most appropriate thought to cross any mind. Better known as Wiz Khalifa, the son of two military parents has always had his eye on being a new standard by which cool is measured. Rapping since the third grade and starting to record music at 14 was probably a step in the right direction. The next best move? Inking a deal to Rostrum Records after a meeting with Benjy Grinberg.
Fresh out of high school, it was time to either sink or swim. In 2005 Wiz released his first mixtape, “Prince of the City: Welcome to Pistolvania.” The mixtape was quickly accepted by the local scene and began to gain buzz outside of Pittsburgh. With that excitement growing by the day, it was the perfect time for a proper commercial album. Wiz soon dropped “Show and Prove,” which Okayplayer.com claimed was “arguably the best album of the year.” The accolades began piling up and Khalifa was receiving significant co-signs from XXL, Rolling Stone, and VIBE, alike. A deal with Warner Bros. Records soon followed.
Any other 20-year-old probably would’ve let all this hype go to their heads, but not Wiz. As focused as ever, Wiz only saw this praise as an opportunity to work harder. In 2007, with the help of famed mixtape DJ, Green Lantern, Wiz released “Grow Season,” which was soon followed by “Prince of The City 2.” The sequel to “Prince of The City” would soon out grow its predecessor so much so that the demand for Khalifa’s music was greater than ever.
Unfortunately, the relationship between Khalifa and Warner Bros. dissolved, and once again, Wiz found himself as an independent artist. Typically a huge roadblock for any artist, Wiz refused to allow the lack of a major label deal to slow down his momentum. He and his Rostrum team hit the ground running in 2009 and released three highly acclaimed mixtapes: “Flight School,” “How Fly,” a collaborative mixtape with New Orleans rapper Curren$y, and “Burn After Rolling.” The album “Deal Or No Deal” followed in the Fall and debuted at the top of the iTunes “Hip-Hop” chart, and has remained in the top 50 to date.
In the months following, both his fanbase (known as the “Taylor Gang”) and the anticipation for his new mixtape grew daily. Once Wiz dropped “Kush & Orange Juice” in early 2010, it was clear that he had established himself as one of the rap-game’s brightest young stars to watch. With an unprecedented amount of downloads, not to mention both the top search on Google as well as the number one trending topic on Twitter, it seemed as if the entire nation was on board with the “Taylor Gang” movement. Many said that the release of “Kush & Orange Juice” placed Wiz as the valedictorian of his “XXL Freshmen 10” class and kicked open the doors he and his team were looking to walk through.
Fast forward a few months, and together Wiz and Rostrum Records proudly announced that these doors were those of Atlantic Records, the new home to Wiz Khalifa. Following this huge milestone in his career, Wiz soon embarked on a stint on the famed “Rock The Bells” tour alongside such legends as Lauryn Hill and Snoop Dogg, immediately followed by his nation-wide headlining tour, appropriately dubbed the “Waken Baken Tour.” After receiving co-signs from a multitude of rap veterans, including Rick Ross and Diddy, and humbly rejecting Drake’s offer to join his recent tour, it became evident that Wiz also established himself as a prominent staple online with over 3,000,000 friends on Facebook, and over 1,000,000 fans following him on Twitter. With the video for his first Atlantic Records release, “Black & Yellow,” getting an astonishing 30 million views on YouTube, there is no question about it: Wiz Khalifa’s debut album is bound to be something great.
“Making music is about having an impact,” exclaims DJ Carnage.
It’s easy to feel the impact on every track the Los Angeles-based artist produces or remixes. With a versatile mindset and deft approach, he siphons electro, hip hop, pop, and trap into an intoxicating brew unlike anything out there. It’s dirty, defiant, and diverse.
Carnage embraced music at a very young age. Before moving to the suburbs of Maryland, he grew up in Nicaragua and Guatemala. It gave him an international consciousness and perspective at a young age that would pervade his art. In order to get through long car rides with his mom, he’d make mix CDs of everything from Kanye West to Michael Jackson, and they’d listen to them together. It was with mom’s encouragement that he began actually building his own tracks.
He recalls, “It’s funny because one day my mom was like, ‘Why don’t you make your own beats?’ I’d never thought of it before, so she bought me Fruity Loops. From there, I just got hooked.”
He carved out a sizable local following in Maryland, slinging independent mixtapes and solidifying an online presence. Niles from The Cataracs actually stumbled upon his MySpace page and immediately became a fan. Their correspondence turned into a creative partnership and led to Carnage’s signing with Indie Pop.
One of his first projects under that banner was a tripped-out and captivating remix of Yuna’s “Live Your Life”. Soon, Tiesto began spinning the cut on his popular Club Life podcast, while Paul Oakenfold inserted it into regular rotation on his radio show, Planet Perfecto. Carnage began turning heads. His “Festival Trap” remix of Hardwell’s “Spaceman” soon exceeded 100k plays on Soundcloud, and he teamed up with Theophilus London and ASAP Rocky for the 2012 single, “Big Spender”, and he co-produced The Cataracs “All You”, featuring Waka Flocka Flame and Kaskade.
Everything simply laid the groundwork for the release of his proper debut, “Bang”, on Fool’s Gold though. It’s an incendiary instrumental with a big hip hop bounce and a dubstep drop at just the right moment. “It’s really massive,” he enthuses. “It’s a rap record with a huge drop. You never hear that kind of climax in hip hop or trap records. It’s the perfect introduction to who I am because it touches on so many genres.”
The single’s B-side is a grimy and guttural gem that sees him collaborate with 15-year-old Chicago underground rap sensation, Katie Got Bandz. It’s bound to get the internet going crazy.
There’s nothing quite like seeing Carnage live though. Every show explodes based off his hyperkinetic energy and formidable presence. He’s rocked stages at Nocturnal Wonderland, Electric Daisy Carnival, Coachella, and more as well as performing alongside Borgore, A-Trak, The Cataracs, and countless others.
“I’m a big black guy who loves to rage,” he chuckles. “I’m not what you expect. I feed off the crowd and go for it.”
That’s why Carnage’s impact will be felt for a long time to come.
Grant Kwiecinski (aka GRiZ) is has blown up quickly. At 23 years old, GRiZ has asserted his place in the music world with his sax-infused sounds that find heart and soul within the beat of the dancefloor. A musically trained ear from the start, GRiZ played the alto saxophone since elementary school and took piano and saxophone lessons his entire life.
He recently supported Bassnectar, Pretty Lights and Big Gigantic on their respective tours, which then led to his own headlining tour — all within a year. His first album, Mad Liberation, given away for free really put him on the map in 2012. His single “Smash the Funk” was featured all over, from Jay Z’s Life + Times to This Song Is Sick. The popularity of the release landed him on stages all over the place, from his hometown Movement to Coachella, Electric Forest, Lollapalooza, Outside Lands, Lightning in a Bottle, Governor’s Ball, Diplo’s Mad Decent Block Parties, Summer Set and the legendary Red Rocks Amphitheater. He also found time to play one half of Grizmatik with the Gramatik crew.
Subsequently he kicked off his own label, Liberated Music, which he intends to keep his independence as well as give other artists the same shot he has. The follow up solo album, Rebel Era, features a scorching blues undertone and a wild ride through Griz’ eclectic influences — from rock to dubstep. “Getting Live” has already seen over 700,000 plays on Soundcloud.
Vic Mensa is 19 years old, but it is clear as soon as his unique sound hits that Vic is a veteran in the booth. Not many high schoolers claim a delivery that can shut down live venues yet simultaneously challenge even the most avid hip hop heads lyrical standards.
His first project, the EP “Straight Up,” was released as a Ruby Hornet exclusive and has garnered significant buzz across the internet. Vic is a true student of the game and his commitment to uncompromising creativity on the mic is a refreshing change from the watered down acts that are currently flooding the market.
Don’t be surprised to see Vic Mensa as the next breakthrough young artist from Chicago, but you better “savemoney” because he’s focused on churning out insane music and bringing the rest of Hyde Park with him to the top.
In 2008, Stalley made his mixtape debut, Goin Ape, with fellow Ohio-native Terry Urban; 2009 followed with the release of the new mixtape MadStalley: The Autobiography, and a newfound reputation as a force on stage. Stalley attended the 2010 Iron Mic Competition in Beijing as the featured MC. He has headlined shows domestically in Birmingham, Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, Austin, College Station, Tempe, Oklahoma City, St. Louis, Lowell, Lexington, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Sacramento, Portland, Seattle, Providence, Boston, Chicago, Nashua, Bloomington, Cincinnati, Youngstown, Cleveland, Joliet, Akron, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Baltimore, DC, Greensboro, Winston-Salem, Columbus, Rochester, New York City, Miami, and New Orleans, and internationally in Paris, Antwerp, Lisbon, London, Warsaw, Calgary, Ottawa, and London (Canada). He has performed alongside hip hop heavyweights such as Rick Ross, Drake, Meek Mill, Kendrick Lamar, Big K.R.I.T., Bun B, Curren$y, The Cool Kids, KRS-One, Ghostface Killah, Styles P., Method Man & Redman, Freeway, Camp Lo, Jay Electronica, and Mos Def, and has performed at events such as Rock The Bells, SXSW, Brooklyn Hip Hop Festival, Montreal Jazzfest, and select dates on the 2011 I Am Still Music Tour.
Stalley has worked with producers Ski Beatz on tracks “Address”, “S.T.A.L.L.E.Y.”, “Do It Big”, “Harsh Ave”, Rashad Thomas on album Lincoln Way Nights, and J. Rawls on track “Babblin”. He is featured on Curren$y’s Universal/Def Jam album Pilot Talk (“Address”), released in June 2010, as well as Ski Beatz’s Universal/Def Jam projects 24 Hour Karate School and 24 Hour Karate School, Pt. 2. Stalley is also featured on the Warner Bros./Maybach Music Group albums MMG Presents: Self Made, Vol 1 and Self Made Vol. 2, Rick Ross’s Rich Forever mixtape, and Rick Ross’s full length album God Forgives, I Don’t.
Stalley completed a sports-themed music project commissioned by ESPN in February 2011, for future use in television and online programming.
Stalley’s Lincoln Way Nights (February 2011) received 130K+ downloads and reigned at #2 for Bandcamp hip hop releases. Lincoln Way Nights [Re- mastered] (November 2011) debuted #18 on the iTunes Hip Hop Charts and sold 9K+ copies. Savage Journey To The American Dream (March 2012) reached 100K downloads in the first week, and was featured as the Stereogum Mixtape of the Week and the Spin Rap Release of the Week (7 out of 10). It was graded an XL by XXL Magazine, and HipHopDX awarded it 4 out of 5. The album release party sold out at SOB’s in NYC. Stalley is currently recording for his Warner Bros./Maybach Music Group debut solo album.
Comprised of Grammy-nominated producers Mayne Jackson & Dru Brett, The Runners are an up-tempo, high energy group now touring world-wide. Producing for top musical talents like Rihanna, Jay-Z, Nelly, and Kanye West, The Runners first broke into the music world by writing the international rap hit Hustlin’ for Rick Ross. Now focused on the electronic dance music scene, The Runners have already collaborated with top EDM artists such as Tommy Trash, DJ Carnage, Adrian Lux, and the Stafford Brothers.
Captain Kidd is an indie pop/alternative dance group from Cleveland, Ohio. The band is a mashup of Ohio State students playing a jukebox array of songs with a wide variety of influences, ranging from The Strokes and Arctic Monkeys to Two Door Cinema Club. The band was formed in late 2012 and performed at an excelling rate around some smaller clubs in Cleveland. In May 2013, Captain Kidd sold out their first headlining show at a locals favorite club called the Grog Shop. The band booked another summer show in August, but this time on the west side of the city at a bowling alley/bar called Mahall’s. They proceeded to also sell it out. Anybody attending a Captain Kidd show can expect high energy, some spanish influenced jams, and even a little bit of disco if you can “get down.” In 2014, Captain Kidd is expected to release a highly anticipated EP and perform at major festivals around the midwest region of the United States. While you wait, continue to jam the well received “Freaky Love” and catch Captain Kidd at a club near you.
Combining electronic music with the versatility of a live-instrument controlled performance, yacht club. merges the dance-inducing vibe of EDM with the intensity of drums, keys, and vocals. With one member still in high school and two recently graduated, they are relatively new to the music scene. The Columbus, Ohio trio plans to release their debut EP of “decadent dance” – a blend of chopped vocals and layered synths accompanied by the steady groove of a pop-influenced rhythm section – in 2014.
JOLA THE TRUNK BOI
Hailing from the suburbs of Dayton, Ohio, Jola is not cut from the same cloth as most other rappers. While most will say they grew up listening and getting their influence from Biggie Smalls and Tupac Shakur, he openly admits that artists like John Mayer, The Fray, Journey, and The Beatles, along with other classical rock bands were his influences.
Looking to keep himself separated from the norm, the newcomer looks to introduce his movement known as “iRep the Trunk” / “Trunk life”, which he has no problem explaining.
“If you look at life as a car, on one end you have the hood, on the opposite you have the Trunk”, “I’m not from the hood, I’m from the Trunk”, and with the memorable and anthem like chorus of “She Say”, Jola will have everyone singing “Y’all can have that hood shit, I rep the Trunk!” “Im here to give everybody that’s just like me a voice,” he states. “I see some many kids trying so hard to be something they’re not and I feel like it’s my job to step in and give them something to identify with”.
With capturing the attention of Jermaine Dupri in 2010 with the release of his first mixtape “I Went To Private School” Jola knows that he has what it takes to make it in the big leagues. Gearing up to release his 4th mixtape entitled “Vandalia” Jola Is ready to take his career to new heights in 2014.
Anthony Bergamesca, Dj/Producer behind Entel, is no stranger to the Athens area. Based out of Columbus, Entel has been lighting up dance floors around Ohio for the last three years. His signature Progressive House and Trance sounds have been heard in multiple venues as well as campus House shows.
In the last year alone, he has seen growing success both regionally and over the internet. He has opened for artists such as Paul Oakenfold, Bad Boy Bill, Savoy, Gladiator, Cookie Monsta and Paper Diamond to
name a few. Entel also performed on the first ever Lokoween stage for the 2013 Halloween Block Party at Ohio University. Many of His productions have been featured on music blogs like thisera.com andragetracks.com. He hopes to have a full EP out by this coming spring.
Representing Ohio University, undergrad student Logan Cassidy (aka DJ LoCo) was born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio, but has established himself in Athens. Logan began DJing just over a year ago spinning at various venues around Athens, Cincinnati, and Columbus. His popularity comes mainly from his ability to mix and twist a variety of genres, specializing in EDM.
LoCo quickly became a sensation throughout Athens opening up for local artist Bailee Moore, dubstep duo No Limits, and national phenomenon, 3LAU, who was the headliner at last year’s 10Fest. Though he is new on the scene, his rapid growth in the music community did not happen on accident; but has been a result of his high-energy sets that quickly get a crowd to their peak. The way he is identified is not just a DJ, but also an entertainer who fires up the crowd and brings the energy.