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Into the Hive

Just recently did I have my first encounter with the new brethren of Columbus hip-hop. An unsolicited link led me to “HBO Porn,” by a group called Lost Society. It’s slow-motion, ‘90s inspired boom-bap, warped and submerged in a murky slime, while a cipher of youngsters spit about Pokémon and drugs at Comic-Con. There’s not [...]
Kevin J. Elliott

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Just recently did I have my first encounter with the new brethren of Columbus hip-hop. An unsolicited link led me to “HBO Porn,” by a group called Lost Society. It’s slow-motion, ‘90s inspired boom-bap, warped and submerged in a murky slime, while a cipher of youngsters spit about Pokémon and drugs at Comic-Con. There’s not really a chorus; a conversation about the blurry carnality of the title replaces a hook. It’s fresh, inventive, a bit disjointed, but it’s a perfect entry down the rabbit hole that followed. Next was GoldenWave’s plinky, barely beat-driven anthem “Surfin,” produced by the prolific KMB. Then the psychedelic trap of Brady’s “Touch,” and the phantom darkness of Tribe’s “God Complex,” and on and on and on. Each new track had its own distinct flavorful ephemera. A few hours into it, the journey felt like part of a particularly self-made zeitgeist—a surreality of many distinct voices, all from the same under-25 contingent, all from Columbus, all using the tenets of hip-hop, no matter how grotesquely they twist them, as a platform for mythical expression.

I owe it all to Cromzz. Still a student in Fort Hayes music program, the dragon-mouthed madcap of Lost Society was the liaison in gathering most of the collective in one place at one time. Sitting at a table surrounded by 13 of the city’s most optimistic and avant garde emcees and producers became more of a hip-hop summit than the average weeknight interview at a dive bar. Of course there was the rote journalistic exercise of attempting to give what they do—which is tirelessly creating a dizzying world of abstract aliases and hard-to-tail SoundCloud playlists, ziggurat collaborations, and naive goofing—an umbrella name. No such luck.

“A big component for us is that it’s not only hip-hop,” answers Yogi Split of GoldenWave, “that’s why I don’t think we can give it a name. It’s not even just music. It’s all forms of media and art being developed by these young people of Columbus. Buzz (E. Nova of Tribe) does graphic design. There are people making videos. There’s an EDM and an acid house element. We are just letting it all in.”

So much for pedantic writing or giving our readers something tangible to grasp onto. That was quickly thrown out the window as soon as the crew started enthusiastically talking over each other to give the discussion more definition. There are definite groups within this scene—Lost Society, GoldenWave, and Tribe—and outliers who have been embraced on solo merits—including Brady and Bree—but like bees in a hive, they are constantly crossing paths, dipping into each other’s honey, and working together no matter the affiliation in order to please the queen. In this case the queen is “music.” As generic as that may sound, their music has a sonic familiarity that is wholly foreign when placed up against any other hip-hop artist, old or new, in the Columbus scene.

“What I’ve noticed is that this collective is boldly creative—there are no limits,” says Tribe producer Durr. “It’s impossible to put it into one space. I’ve only recently started to make hip-hop, but I don’t even have to do that intentionally because these guys can do anything over any kind track as long as it’s really f*cking weird.”

“What we are doing is opening avenues that haven’t been explored,” adds Kevin of GoldenWave, whose effortless flows on record sound like Drake on P.E.D.s. “Hip-hop is all about competition. With us, we’re not competing with each other, so there’s no other option than to collaborate. And in doing that it can be uncomfortable, but we’re kind of doing things that haven’t been done before.”

One distinct characteristic is that are no vinyl or CD releases planned—or any tradtional distribution at all. For them, SoundCloud is the new Wild West for any aspiring up-and-comers with wi-fi access and a song to share. The currency consists of “likes,” “plays,” and “followers,” “co-signs” and “re-ups.” Should you head to Cromzz’ page you’ll see a whole list of recommendations and links to other artists. Binge on Lost Society’s broad playlist and you’re bound to find Yogi Split’s superstar-in-the-making solo album, Take. The fluid nature of SoundCloud allows the hive-hop kids to upload and remove as they see fit depending on what’s trending. They could be cutting a track right now and have it up in an instant. It’s also a forum where they can show support and invite new recruits.

“These days, no one pays for music,” says Bree. “So on our SoundCloud pages you really have to stand out. You have to have your best feature front and center. It’s definitely a form of social media, a way to communicate with people who are doing similar things.”

Yet even as their personalities loom large in the virtual world, being embraced by the local scene and gaining traction has proven to be somewhat difficult. As Lost Society’s Ghostt reiterates, “there’s a lot of people in this town whose egos get too big, too fast.” It’s a frustrating chore to get the old crews to pass the torch to what is obviously a hungry breed of exceptional talent. Continuing to pound the pavement is necessary. Tribe alone have calculated they’ve played 120 shows since forming in 2012, none of which were paid. Any place that will have them—Scarlet and Grey, the Shrunken Head, the parking lot of a Sunoco—is fair game to promote their burgeoning scene.

“We want to help other artists out in Columbus,” says Warchief Avalon of Tribe (indisputably the most original name among the interviewees), “and if that support isn’t mutual, we will quickly dismiss you. It’s people, energy, input and output.”

Finding acceptance is minor though; these are millennials who already know what success looks like. In their world the gears are in motion, the branding is there. No gimmicks, no copying—just soul and trust. Throughout the interview there was constant talk about craft, studying music, professionalism, and using their art as an escape from a myriad of problems that affect their real lives.

“Individually, everyone in here worked to a level that caught each other’s eye,” Kevin says, in conclusion. “That’s why I think of this as more of a collective, even if there are different groups here. Individually we all set our own foundation, then joined together and said ‘Let’s put our city on,’ because we love it so much.”

The culture is there, they just need active participants to buy a ticket and partake.

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Curbside Concerts brings live music, hope to those in need

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Can’tStopColumbus took a quick pause when the pandemic shut down the world and asked two questions:

  1. Are we sure we're solving the needs of everyone in our community during this time? 
  2. Are we not just coming up with ideas based on our own experiences?

Our elder community was one of the major demographics to have stricter socially distancing guidelines suggested to them. Holidays and birthdays went by without hugs from grandpa or grandma’s cookies.

Out of the need to fill that missing love in the life of American seniors, the idea of Curbside Concerts was born. Anyone is able to jump on the Curbside Concerts signup page and request a concert for an elder, sick people not able to leave the house, or a simple celebration.

Sending a concert telegram is free, and you can also leave a message for a loved one and suggest what type of tunes the organization-selected Columbus-area musician.

So far, the feedback has been inspiring. 

“People cried. I cried. We cried. It was beautiful,” said Zach Friedman, one of the service’s founders and creators. “We had a powerful idea on our hands, and the amazing power of the #Can'tStopColumbus community to scale it and bring it to life.”

To date, Curbside Concerts has had over 50 volunteers. Their job is to drive around a Columbus musician and their equipment with trucks provided by Ricart Automotive. It’s a road trip around the Columbus area, delivering concerts to those who may just need their spirits lifted. It’s like a non-depressing version of Inside Llewyn Davis.

Support has come from all ends of the Columbus creative community, including The Columbus Foundation, Greater Columbus Arts Council, Streetlight Guild, and What? Productions. Through these organizations, musicians are able to be paid for a route that usually lasts five to six hours. 100 percent of the donations they receive on their route also goes to the musicians.

Friedman is asking people to keep requests to older audiences.

“Working with local musicians to perform curbside at people's homes is the vehicle or medium, but the real thing we are doing here is connecting those to older people they love, with an authentic and emotional experience to send love over,” Friedman said.

We found out pretty quickly how much as a collective that we take live music for granted. Live streams have been a temporary, dulled-down replacement. You realize how long people have been robbed of the experience when you see a musician pull up in a pickup truck, set up in five minutes, and serenade neighborhoods with songs like “Lean on Me” and “What A Wonderful World.” It starts off with a message to one house and then resonates down the street, like the citizens of Gas Town rushing to The People Eater for even a drop of water.

Photos by Zak Kolesar

For most people, it was their first taste of live music since mid-March. While we may want concerts to return as soon as possible, its productions like Curbside Concerts that display the emotional power of music.

To request to send someone a concert, follow the link here: https://sendaconcert.herokuapp.com/request

To volunteer for Curbside Concerts, follow the link here: https://www.signupgenius.com/go/9040b45abaa22a4fb6-curbside

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Arts & Culture

Live music allowed again in restaurants and bars: how will these establishments respond?

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A major step forward in the return of live music in Ohio took place over the weekend. The Ohio coronavirus guidelines were updated to reflect the new COVID-19 Dine Safe Ohio Order.

The order outlining the guidelines on live music in restaurant and bars is as follows:

Musicians and bands may perform in restaurants and bars as long as the individuals who are performing maintain social distancing of at least 6 feet from all other people including, but not limited to, fellow performers and restaurant and bar patrons and staff.

DJ's are included along with musicians and bands in the order.

Something that was on the mind of a lot of musicians with the reopening of restaurants and the indefinite closing of large venues was how restaurants and bars were going to respond to the immediate venue demand. Places like Woodlands Tavern that already have an infrastructure for live music will have no problem complying with the updated order, but will restaurants and bars that depended on jukeboxes before pivot to a live music model?

With a lot more space available in restaurants due to capacity cuts, does this leave more room for a live music set up? Or will restaurants have to get rid of even more tables if they want to make room for a performer?

The thought of live music in a venue setting is alone enough to get excited about. How these places that now have the ability to host live music execute freeing up space for a band to set up or a DJ to bring his rig in while practicing social distancing is what makes this situation a tricky one.

Not being able to get down in a MojoFlo Soul Train line will be pretty tough, but it’s a tradeoff we’ll have to accept for the return of live music.

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Arts & Culture

(614) Music Club: Sarob

Julian Foglietti

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Every week (614) Music Club teams up with your favorite local artists to build a playlist of what they’re listening to, and what’s inspiring them. This week’s playlist is brought to you by the R&B artist Sarob.


Photo by: Wyze

Tell me about some of the songs you’ve selected.

"The first one is Sobeautiful by Musiq Soulchild. So every week with my vocal coach, I have to learn a song. And I've been trying to figure out how to do vocal gliding. Which is not a strong point for me, and I remember hearing that song and being like, OK, this is it. The song is just beautifully written and composed, so when you add the technique to it, it’s just great. The other song was Workin On It by Dwele, who is one of my favorite artists of all time. Workin On It uses this J Dilla beat that just feels really timeless."

Have the past few months changed the direction or mood of the music you're creating. 

"So I have been making stuff here and there, and then I'll go into something creative for like two days. I'll just be making like a bunch of songs and then I'll stop for two weeks, not even want to look at a microphone or anything. I mean, it's a lot more inward, so I’m learning how to better communicate the things I'm experiencing, and set the scenes for people and talk about what is going on. Also not having my band has been a challenge. I’m more of a thinker, I play the keyboard, and I can build a song, but I’m not the most gifted musician so having to build a lot of it on my own is tricky."

Do you have any plans or releases coming up? 

"Yeah, so I had a song Pleasures U Like that was made for my last album, but it didn’t quite fit the story of the album. So I just forgot about it until recently and I finished the vocals just before the lockdown, and now I’m releasing it on Bandcamp as part of a fundraiser for The Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio. All of the proceeds from the song are going to go to support their Pandemic Emergency Fund, and it just felt like a good way to do something that would impact everything going on."

Sarob's Playlist

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