This whole internet blogging thing is a total crapshoot. Outside of anything Kanye-related or booty-related, it's hard to predict what will "blow up" and get a ton of pageviews. I've written articles expecting them to be the greatest thing on the internet, and the response has been underwhelming. Likewise, stuff I never expected to create a stir have caught on. Well, I'm pretty sure this piece will do aright because of Strange Music's fan base.
You would be hard pressed to find a group of fans more passionate and outspoken about their love for the music than Strange Music-ers. You write one thing and all of the sudden the page is taken over by swarms of face painted hip-hop heads. Don't get it twisted though, I am not writing this because it's good for RefinedHype. Well, partly so, (bloggers gotta eat), but mainly because Strange Music made a big acquisition recently. One of my all time favorite emcees and another indie staple, Murs, joined the Strange Music squad. With the addition, Strange adds a veteran, talented, and versatile emcee to an already solid lineup made up of the following artists.
Way back in 1999, Tech teamed up Travis O'Guin to form Strange Music and the rest is history. A co-founder of the label, Tech has been a cornerstone of Strange Music and played a huge role in their underground success with albums like
(which is a classic in my book) and
All 6's and 7's
(which hit number 1 on the U.S. Rap and Indie charts). Though Strange is a force now, it wasn't always easy, but with an insane work ethic, one of the most exciting flows in the game, and of course some help from others, Tech has really helped build Strange to what it is today. Without him, none of this would be possible. If you haven't already, grab his last album,
, released last year.
I don't want to say Krizz is Tech's Robin, because Krizz would beat the ever-loving shit out of Robin, but the idea is the same. Since being signed in 2004, Krizz has lived and breathed (and rapped) Strange Music. With the exception of
(Tech's first Strange Music project) Krizz has appeared on every single one of Tech's album's since starting Strange Music; sometimes more than once. He is more than just a gust though, Krizz has carved out his niche with five Strange Music albums and two EP's, most recently,
(which contains the still bangin' tune "Gumbo"). Tech N9ne is known for bodying tracks and outshining fellow emcees, so for Kaliko to repeatedly welcome the challenge, and go toe-to-toe with Tech on a regular basis speaks to his confidence and skill. He might not be a founder, but Krizz has been pillar of Strange Music since its fledgling days.
This dude is more Kansas City than ribs and Jamaal Charles touchdowns and encompasses everything you love about Strange Music. Signed in 2004, Kutt is actually the longest tenured Strange emcee not named Tech N9ne, but he doesn't get nearly enough credit or respect. He fits in so perfectly with Strange thanks to his relentless, ruthless flow and a knack for pushing the boundaries on hip-hop's sound. For the life of me, I can't figure out why I didn't hear more about his 2013 album,
check it out, you won't be disappointed.
I know KCMO is in the Midwest, but on occasion, the Strange Music teams sounds like they are straight out of the South. I think the best example of Strange's Southern influence (which shows up from time to time like on "Gumbo") is Big Scoob. He has a few party cuts, a few bout living in the hood, but like the Southern masters, it doesn't seem contrived or over the top; Scoob is pretty damn authentic. He was originally part of the
, but now, Strange Music. If you want to hear more, check out his 2011 album,
Brotha Lynch Hung
There are concept albums and there is Brotha's saga of "The Hang". It is not one, not two, but three concept albums that all tell the story of a serial killer. It might just be the concept to end all concepts; it has to be the only concept trilogy in hip-hop right? If you thought Tech had a dark, edgy, vibe you ain't heard nothing. Tech might rip off your head and eat it but at least it is only on the mic; Brotha might eat your face off...
Brotha has been making music since 1992, long before Strange, but, as you can see, he fits in well and is another Strange Music emcee who you wouldn't want to cross in a dark alley. If you are interested in the hip-hop serial killer saga (how could you not be?) check out
Dinner and a Movie
but those are only three of his 14 albums (all of which can be found
First and foremost, Mayday is fucking awesome. Every Strange Music emcee is different, but Mayday is especially unique because they are group not just one emcee. Live band hip-hop is my absolute favorite, and the 6-man ensemble really gives Strange Music more range. They have the same hard hitting, aggressive attitude, but that live band feel is in a different lane then the rest of Strange; every great label needs an arsenal and Mayday is definitely that. They are led by Bernz and
who has a resume all by himself as well. He could have had his own section, but it didn't feel right separating him from Mayday; it is with them that he shines the brightest. Their 2013 album
was a treat and really made me a believer. Energetic, diverse, fun, edgy; it really doesn't get much better than that LP. I included "Mortuary Mary" above because the video was on of the best of the year, but you HAVE to listen to "
" too. Just make sure their aren't any kittens around or you might end up punching them right in their adorable, fluffy faces.
Honestly, Stevie was a name I was unfamiliar with until he made quite the impression on me with the Rittz, Tech assisted tune, "The Baptism". Going toe to toe with Rittz and Tech is no small task, and while his flow isn't as rapid-fire, it is just as powerful thanks to his growling vocals. His "2 Birds 1 Stone" project was a late summer treat last year and in addition to featuring plenty of the Strange Music family, RefinedHype favorite Jarren Benton also made an appearance. I can't get enough of his unique flow and am definitely keeping him on the radar.
In addition to being a dope emcee with a raspy flow, he is also a filmmaker. That filmmaker fat might seem random until you see his videos. Each one is so well-done and striking; there are some insanely cool shots. I get so bored of music videos because they are often so formulaic, but each one of Prozak' s videos are unique. It isn't just videos either, Prozak has released three albums under Strange Music's guidance; most recently was
released in September of last year.
Though he has only been a Strange Music emcee for two years, Rittz sounds like he was right there alongside Travis and Tech in 1999. Though his 2013 album, The Life and Times Of Johnny Valiant was his debut, he has been a favorite of RefinedHype (and the Mothership) for sometime now; his two tapes, White Jesus and White Jesus: Revival were both hosted by DJBooth. There really wasn't any other label he could sign with, Strange is the perfect home for him, and although he is already a experienced emcee, the ceiling is sky high now that he has a label like Strange Music behind him.
Rittz was the only big signing for Strange Music in 2012, as Ces Cru also joined the squad. It was basically a two for one since Ces Cru is a duo, made up of emcees Godemis and Ubiquitous. Also like Rittz, they released their Strange Music Debut a year later.
might have made more waves, but
was dope in its own right; how many labels, indie or major can say they have had two successful debuts in one year? God and Ubiquitous are Strange material on their own, both have unwavering, attitude-filled flows, so when they get together it's just a double dose of Strange and it just might make your head explode. These two are hungry and this is just the beginning; keep them on your radar.
Murs may be the newest Snake & Bat emcee, but don't for one second think he is a rookie. The guy has been making rap tunes 1997 and is one of the undergrounds most respected emcees. At first, I was surprised by the signing--Murs, isn't the first emcee I think of when I think Strange Music--but the more I think about it the more sense it makes. First, like Tech and all of Strange, he has proven he can be successful while maintaining independent. Also, Murs has been experimenting with his sound more lately.
is a fucking rock/punk band for fucks sake and
is a trap album. I am still not 100% percent sure what to expect, but I am so excited to hear how Strange shapes his sound; it could very well end up being legendary.
God damn. I knew Strange rolled deep, but this is getting ridiculous; that is one hell of a roster. If you are a fan of real hip-hop and the underground, you have to be a fan of Strange Music. For indie labels, they set the blueprint of how to be successful. Though they have already grown so much since 1999, the acquisitions of Murs, Rittz, and Mayday show they are continuing to grow and expand their sound. When ever you see Strange's name attached to something you know it will be quality...and will melt your face off. Want to hear 'em all in one place? Well, come May, you can, as Strange will be dropping a label compilation album,
there are 11 reasons to be excited and they are all above.
: Jay Rock still Strange Music as well, although obviously now known primarily as a