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Instrumental Breakdown: John Stone – Now You Know



Instrumental Breakdown – John Stone – Now You Know

So, instrumental breakdown? Here’s how it works – I’m going to be listening through John Stone – “Now You Know” a sixteen instrumental project currently available to stream/purchase through all major digital outlets. As I listen I’m going to write alongside with a live instrumental breakdown. Me unedited thoughts as I go. With that, let’s go!……..

Enter 01. The Command – a introduction building off what I gather will be a project with often G.I. Joe references thrown in, this intro covers a wide range of sounds & builds into different layers with this enticing opener. When I got 02. Springfield – it brought on the type of beats I personally can get lost in, the piano/synthy vibes get my head bobbing & anxious to hear the remainder of the project. Onto 03. Blue Lazers beams of music I like the way these instrumentals are vibing, this one is a more mellow laid back sorta vibe, the guitar comes in later & add it’s own element. Smooth laser beams!! 04. Destro – oh great cobra, enter the haunting voice crafting the entrance of Destro. I love how this one started off & right when I thought it was tapering off that eery ghost chick sounding voice kicks back in. Throw a hook in there this one is my fave listen this far in. Here comes 05. The Battle – the flutes come marching in, after a while it kinda felt repetitive with the flute for me, this one I would need to hear some vocals over after last track being my fave, this was prob my least fave this far in. Just me though, I know some people who would love this one. March forth into 06. Knowing – this one drives the tape forward & I’m digging it – the hook portion of the beat I presume gave me a halloween sorta Frankenstein type vibe. this one was cool. Next up 07. Red Lazers – ahhh, this one gives us some more dope sonic lazers, I love the the variety of instrumentation that transitions across a lot of these records so far, a good mash up of sounds in this is one my top listens nearing the halfway point. Onward 08. Zartans Logic – I feel like I’m tunneling through caves and chambers inside an old school video game fighting to the finish. In the middle of this beat exploration session & we’ve had a variety of different directions, but one thing has been consistent. John Stone utilizes a variety a different instruments and layers in a very unique way. The way a lot these beats build & change have me imagining lyrical stories peaking over them. With 09. Dreadnaught – another highlight rises, this one is smooth, a little more straight forward but the hook comes in & overall I can imagine a variety of emcee’s taking an approach to this. Title track time 10. Now You Know – I do know, I know I’ve stumbled across a dope collection of beats at this point, minus The Battle – ten tracks in & my attention has been kept & my interest to hear more continues. When it comes to instrumentals I like stuff I can imagine crafting too – and I’m down with these. The title track keeps the momentum going and eager to close out these next few songs. Luckily snow season has finally passed but 11. Snow Shadow – now this felt like more of a battle theme to me, or something I might hear at a beat battle, I visual an army karate kicking fools with blasters spinning in circles. Nah but this one is nice, I like the way it developed. With 12. The Saga Of Snake Island – chill, relax, slow down, this one strolls along with silky sounds, a mellow landscape of sound. yes. to this one too. Quick, quick bring on 13. The Quickest Kick – this vocal sample & lead in this one pulled me in off the bat, it sounds like an epic soap opera unfolding, some bad vs evil type menacing. I love the way the hooks come thru on a lot of these records this is another one, subtle but gives the song character. This one stands out to me. Let’s take a trip to 14. The Hood – couldn’t write well listening to this one, freestyled for the hell of it. the melody piano whatever element that is – If your listening I think you know what I mean just had my mind flowing. I want to hear how this beat was utilized asap. Another standout track. Two in row! The last non bonus track is 15. Fireflies – funky, bouncy, & electric guitar drenched. those three elements combine in a dope way. Lastly 16. Bonus Track – hmmm. not sure what to make of this. i’m wondering if there was some sort of concept behind it – or technique. I felt like I was listening to tv static with someone scanning items at a grocery store blended in with background noise. yeah don’t know what to this about this I’ll have get with John to see the meaning behind this one!

UPDATE: The hidden track is all the tracks playing together at the same time….BOOM!

Well that’s it, my live listening session slash instrumental breakdown. I listened to a lot of these two or three times before I moved on to the next track to & I will say my overall impression is very positive. I love the range of sounds, the creative approaches to mashing those sounds together & the sound bytes added character. Honestly only two songs & that odd bonus track that I could’ve done without. The rest of the project had me caught in a vibe, bobbing my head, or wanting to belt out some lyrical adventures myself. Standout picks would have to be Destro, Now You Know, The Quickest Quick, & The Hood. It’s a thumbs up for me, & if you like to freestyle, zone out to instrumentals, or value creative production I strongly suggest giving it a listen as a whole. – COMMi$$ION

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Beware – “Learning Together 2”



Beware - "Learning Together 2"

In a follow-up to 2014’s first entry comes “Learning Together 2”. A spacy vibey instrumental invasion has begun and Beware is the producer pilot in this half an hour packed adventure. “Space Invaders” was a real standout starting off but as I dove in deeper between the talking bytes that pair sounds together in a way that just fits I was immersed. A journey into the technology of the past is the concept behind this here release and do I think it was able to convey this concept? Absolutely. “Cheap Mansion“, “Zoo Beans“, “Flipping Stereo“… the whole thing is dope. Detroit is spoiled with talent right now and Beware is yet another shining example.

Stream/Purchase: Beware “Learning Together 2”

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After many trials & tribulations & some delay, the latest release from AGiLE SOCiETY was finally given the “green” light. Unearthed for your listening pleasure the two-part instrumental project had to battle through the distributor’s assumption that it was packing samples. However, when it comes to creative forces of AGiLE SOCiETY the sounds they were hearing indeed were not samples but the purposeful natural creations of the skilled artists behind “the UNMiXED 420 LiST“. The soul of side B had semblances of vocals that indeed were not but had the work called into questioning.

In the modern day music scene, it’s becoming less & less likely to have such original compositions, especially in hip-hop! However with “the UNMiXED 420 LiST” we’re treated with a double dosage two-part manifesto of instrument driven sounds compiling into one purely excellent listening session. Beat lovers and instrumental junkies rejoice, maybe puff a few dragons, and soak in the vibes of AGiLE SOCiETY in the purest form.

SIDE A FAVORITES: Cult, Go Harder, Let It Flow, Toy Story

SIDE B FAVORITES: Citybus, Coil, Open, Quagmire, Touch

These favorites just happen to be my personal vibes. Being an emcee myself when I listen to instrumentals I’m kind of always judging by whether I would really want to craft a record myself out of what I’m listening to. So with that those favorites are just the joints that had my lyrical mind flowing the most, however, there’s a ton to love throughout these two sides outside of my personal faves & even the records I maybe wouldn’t particularly write to are still standout offerings worthy of vibing out to. AGiLE SOCiETY continues their hot streak with yet another stellar release of which more is sure to come soon.

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THE HIP-HOP LOCKER ROOM With Rod Wallace + “At The End Of The Day” Beat Tape



Welcome to The Hip-Hop Locker Room! After shooting me a submission for his latest beat tape “At The End Of The Day” I had the chance to chop it up with Rod Wallace about the release, his story, & the Detroit hip-hop scene. I’ve been familiar with Rod Wallace for some time now and he without a doubt contributes in many ways to the local scene and beyond. With “At The End of The Day” we get his latest instrumental offering packed with eleven powerful records. Take in the sounds of his latest below and dive into the interview to learn more!


COMMi$$ION:  With your latest release “At The End of The Day”  you mentioned when reaching out to me that it allowed you to tackle a lot of tough situations in the last year. What was it about this project in particular that aided through rough times?

Rod Wallace: Just being able to process change. One of the only constants throughout my life has been music, so I turned to it to help me start processing some of the tough issues and choices I faced. As you get older, relationships change, your expectations of people change. You question your purpose. The only way to deal with some of it is to really become an evaluator of your own thoughts and emotions and how you interpret the things that happen. So I went into a cocoon but didn’t realize these were the records I was making until I looked at them as a whole. I came to realize that making this album was me processing the pain that I hid outside of the studio.

The reason that it is called “At The End Of The Day” is because you have to be really, really honest with yourself and your perception of yourself. It is what it is. There are truths that are inescapable, but living and flourishing within them and giving that to others can help you see the other side.

COMMi$$ION: For those just stumbling across your music or even longtime fans what’s the backstory behind Rod Wallace and when did you get your start in music?

Rod Wallace: I was born and raised in Flint and I grew up around plenty of music. I was in my father’s records on the daily. I started recording music in 1989 and was always more curious about that process than being an artist. I went to Eastern Michigan University and wanted to become a professor, but I continued making music. I put out my first album in 2000. I went to Recording Institute of Detroit and met @MicNotes and we started Double Negative People by bringing our crews of artists together. At the time, I was also a teacher in Detroit, and I used hip-hop as a learning tool in my classroom and eventually as a school administrator. I came back to music in 2013 thanks to my wife, and I founded a music production program for kids at River Rouge High School with Travis Beane called RRAMP that has helped hundreds of kids get started in production and making music. Now, I am back at Eastern Michigan University studying hip-hop pedagogy and urban education as a doctoral student. In the process, I get to work with young people AND advocate for hip-hop and producer culture and the creators in the area. I get the best of both worlds.

COMMi$$ION: Throughout “At The End of The Day” elements from the classroom seem to be sprinkled throughout. Is there, in fact, a theme you were following during the creation process?

Rod Wallace: Since I wasn’t working in the school anymore and that was what I did everyday for a long time, I think I went through a withdrawal to a point. I felt guilty about not being on the frontlines helping kids  everyday, and even though the program I direct at EMU works with high school students, a part of me was missing.

I think that you have to be a good leader first in order to be a good teacher. The problems that exist in education are not necessarily new, especially when it comes to the gap between teachers and kids. Teachers have to realize that being in front of a classroom is not about power, it’s about service. The same is true of life overall. Soon as you think you can exert power over it, you find out quick that you really can’t. If you listen to the teacher, he figures out that he is making the situation way worse than it needs to be.

I think its also about education in general. “Teacher Teacher” is about a teacher that is overwhelmed… going through changes, trying to understand society in general while developing. Teaching can be chaotic, and that songs represents that chaos. I try to convey things through music without having to say it.

COMMi$$ION: You recently were the executive producer on “Phuckenum” by The Dirty Ol Men, a group of producers that meet in a city once per year. This time around that city was San Francisco, Ca. What was the most memorable experience well working on that release & is there any future plans to join them again?

Rod Wallace: The Dirty Ol Men is a group of producers from all over the world. Many of us meet in a city once a year and buy a bunch of records and make music for a weekend or so. We do a weekly vodcast with Digital Hustle Films called the Scratch Magazine Hangout every Friday night. We talk about music and gear and all that, but we spend alot of time laughing at how we interpret life. We have released over 20 projects in the past three years or so. I usually mix the projects.

COMMi$$ION: I’ve noticed that you constantly are contributing to the hip-hop scene both as an artist and as support. Amonsgt the Detroit area are there any particular artists you look up to or have been influenced by either past or present?

Rod Wallace:  I’m a curator of hip-hop. Always have been. I would never disrespect DJ’ing by saying that I am a DJ, I can’t do what Los or Uncle P does. To be honest, I am inspired by the unity and support I see people showing each other more than anything.

I appreciate the music and the culture itself because I critically study its actual power and influence, and because of that I have grown to love and respect the process and people who are hungry for it around me. They deserve unadulterated support because I feel like they are doing it for the right reasons and not only chasing a bag, but adding something to the conversation. Merch Music deserves support. I think Swoop is a star. Street Gang could be the Wu of production teams. Tru Klassick has my favorite record on the planet right now, and I told him that.  Middle Finger Music and Big Gov and Supa and Team Money Hungry, so many different styles. I think knowing that somebody is in their corner is sometimes just enough for an artist to keep plugging in.

I think the most inspiring thing is how many of my former students are making music now and on the come up at the same time. Milfie, E Baby, Jonnie Morris, E-Man Bates, so many others. I mixed a whole album for Damn Jamz called Math In Ink, I was his fifth-grade teacher! To be told that I helped to inspire them is the best feeling in the world because I will always be their teacher.

Thanks for tuning into the latest edition of’s Hip-Hop Locker Room with Rod Wallace.

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