Keeping it Boston, we move onward by diving deeper into the underground of the Boston rap scene with Boston On The Rise 2. Boston On The Rise 1 dropped a month and some change ago, check that here.
Boston’s underground is low key moving. Above is PapaRay DonDada, fka Scoopay.
Jonathan Cloud, fka Jonathan Lowell, has been grinding for what seems like forever now. I first came across his production through Sacramento rapper Chuuwee, when they collaborated on a project titled, Be Cool, in 2011.
Some of Cloud’s standout tracks are collabs with Atlanta rapper Levi Watson (they’re dynamite together), Dallas rapper Lord Byron and DMV rapper Ciscero (Ciscero track no longer on the net but is my favorite single produced by Cloud).
Crown Me King, a track produced by Jonathan Cloud when he was still Jonathan Lowell. From one of Chuuwee’s best albums.
Levi Watson x Chuuwee track produced by Cloud when he was still Lowell. Levi smashed.
Levi Watson x Cloud when he was still Lowell. Levi needs to get back out here. He was a great prospect as well.
All the beats in Lord Byron’s first video are produced by Jonathan Cloud, homie is nice on the boards.
Trying to break down Cloud’s production style, I would say he keeps it fairly hiphop with the rich and soulful feel yet adds some flare with a nice experimental flavor. As if derived from the Kanye West soul era, Cloud is that combined with a few of the people he looks up to like Dilla, Madlib and RZA.
Jonathan Cloud’s remix of Jay Z’s American Gangster album.
Over the years, Cloud has begun to rap himself. Check that below.
At the moment, Jonathan Cloud produces, raps, engineers and handles all his artwork. The man has put in a lot of legwork as an artist, constantly releasing music, he just needs a little luck to take that next step.
The next artist on this list is Leon Lavvish, a dude I grew up with, and until my most recent trip back to the city, I haven’t seen since I moved out the city over a decade ago. It was good to see my bro, man. Through the grapevine, I always knew he made music but never had his artist name or any social medias to check him out. On this recent trip, we linked briefly and he played me some tunes.
Stories Of A VIP is an EP released early October from Leon Lavvish. Produced and engineered by the man himself, the intro to this and Bratty are my favorite cuts from the project. The production on Bratty reminds me of Wiz Khalifa’s Flight School project. Some bangers on here.
Another slap from Lavvish featuring Quan Benjamin$ (QB), another dude I grew up with and cousin of Lavvish. S/o to bro.
Tough is very much an understatement for this track above. “If you really want it, setbacks never hurt you.”
Interesting to note, I played Muscle, the track above, for one of my homies here in Houston and he said Lavvish sounded like a UK rapper. That’s my favorite track from Lavvish, and once the comparison was made I could see the Grime resemblance.
Another observation the homie and I made is that Lavvish sometimes hints Cousin Stizz so we are interested in seeing how he develops in the releases to come. Like Cloud, Leon Lavvish is another grinder who releases new music frequently. And like Cloud again, Lavvish handles his artwork, production and engineering too.
L-R: Quan Benjamin$, Leon Lavvish, me (Jackie Tran), P, PapaRay DonDada (fka Scoopay). When I was in Boston this past September chopping it up with the bros.
**Sidebar, because both Jonathan Cloud and Leon Lavvish are workhorses, I want to say I’m not a fan of this. Constantly releasing music, to me, is hustling backwards and has truly hurt the game as well as many artists. Take your time and let the people digest your work. I’m not saying release every 3 years, but don’t shoot yourself in the foot releasing every week. Now, if your lane of music is Atlanta-style, the constant churning of hits, then I can sort of understand. Sort of.
It is said that Future makes 600-700 songs before picking for a project, but why not focus in on 20 songs then cut it to 10-14? Create moments in time that’ll last because quality will always beat quantity. Discuss in the comments if y’all like.**
I might be bias with this one. Another dude I grew up with, my big bro fka Scoopay is making a resurgence as PapaRay DonDada.
The circle of homies and I are all ecstatic about Ray’s comeback. As kids, Ray always had a talent with the arts so him deciding to pick the mic back up means killa season is amongst us. Even if we get nowhere with this, which I know we all will, the process of creating is so liberating. Ideas are our greatest weapon as humans.
This track is from 2013, when I was trying my hand with the raps as Deetran. I laid the track and shot it over to Ray. The beat is by Khepra, and this track is from Ray’s Post Modern Life 2 project when he was still Scoopay. Ray killed it.
Above is Ray’s Hot Boy RMX. One of his last uploads as Scoopay, bro was getting better before stopping briefly. 2015.
Previously, Ray was doing all his artwork as well as shooting/editing videos. This time around, he’s trying his hand with the beats. Everyone is/should try to.
Produced and footage edited by Ray, 40oz Knows About Me is a recent release. When he first came out as PapaRay DonDada, roughly a year ago, he was running with a team by the name of Alumni Boston. Check a track from them below. Alumni Boston was a group of 3, and after a brief stint with that, it appears Ray is solo now.
PapaRay DonDada has been sending beats to my email, and recently sent a track that he doesn’t plan on releasing titled, You Lying. That track is so heat, and refreshing as hell to hear my boy really back on it. His style has switched a bit, but the same skills that made me a believer are still present. Hopefully more music comes to light sooner than later.
New music/video from PapaRay DonDada above. It Follows featuring They Call Me Shellz. Ray is ready.
Last and most certainly not least, is the spirit bomb of a rapper, Skunkz. I compare him to a spirit bomb because dude boasts a ton of potential. If handled right, Skunkz can really blow.
The Polo rocking, Henny Privilege sipping Skunkz tends to keep the music simple. He will never really go over heads lyrically, or is he so good that he already has, but it’s his frequencies that resonate with me. His production, words, stories. There’s so much confidence, swag and authenticity in his product delivery. It’s the perfect blend of fly and real. Don’t get it twisted though, despite the simplicity in style, he has killa punchlines and metaphors for days. At times, he gives me that Cam’ron vibe.
Skunkz as a kid on the left, and in the ATL jersey on the right. I remember when Playboi Carti’s debut project released, Skunkz was a huge advocate boasting nothing but positive things for it. Fun fact because of the type of music he makes vs what he’s a fan of.
If handled right, Skunkz can really blow. Well he seems to be in great hands. He runs with a team, NoStableLabel, that appears to house a few producers behind Skunkz, who is managed by a cat named Finnereaux.
Skunkz’s first track debuted as a video with the beat laced by Lade, a name I have mentioned a couple times before and a dude y’all should look up, this record really caught my attention. Standing on top of taxi cabs, blazing in/out the restaurant and sipping on the train, Intro To Dime’s video is the Boston I know. Ray DonDada and P put me onto that. Video for that is below.
“The game ain’t sweet what my pops said. Do ya dirt by ya lonely, only front the homies.”
Produced by @RoddieTheMusic, Corner Store was Skunkz’s next release and this track did the same as Intro To Dime. It caught my attention.
“Polo to the ground, they thinking Ima ski on shit. We to the rings in this game, we taking Lebron trips. I blow an ounce then I bounce on that rebound tip.”
Before Skunkz’s debut EP, Bail Or Mail, dropped, he released a freestyle over Kendrick Lamar’s Sing About Me, as well as another original that continued this trend of grabbing my attention.
Split into 2 parts titled, On God, Skunkz’s remix of Sing About Me came in the form of a Twitter video with @CinemaxAnime editing clips to pair with the music.
Above is I Might Go. You can’t convince me his energy isn’t resonating all the right frequencies.
How Skunkz always starts a verse, those first few bars lure you in like a reel. He then keeps you hooked throughout the verse until it peaks at a catchy chorus. The chorus section of this one in particular, he talks his shit. “I’m still broke but I got that motherfucking talent boy, fuck with me.” Transitioning from that, he kicks the 2nd verse off with some of the best opening bars I’ve heard in recent memory. It’s tough not to feel where the man is coming from.
In summary, Skunkz‘s first 4 offerings was a YouTube video, audio track on Twitter/SoundCloud, an anime Twitter video, and 1 more Soundcloud offering. I appreciate that rollout prior to his debut EP which you can check below. Great raps over great production, Bail Or Mail EP is produced by @1993ParkAve, @VDONSOUNDZ, and @TeddBoyd, some producers I believe are part of NoStableLabel.
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