Maddox’s new single may be the one to wake the industry up after releasing top-tier pop on Soundcloud.


Screen Shot 2019-04-03 at 10.28.41 PM

Not much is known about Maddox… at all. He’s mysterious, but he’s not trying to be. From a social angle, he hops deep and playful fences often. On My Wheels was the first time I heard his music. His new single But Maybe is now streaming on YouTube.

Lyrics written by @xxmaddox@o0omiso0o@cyc719
Composed by @xxmaddox@eden_yh@seop_buddy
Arranged by @eden_yh@seop_buddy
Recorded & mixed by @ingrid_studio
Mastered by @metropolisstudios
Album introduction by @cinphile
Styling by @madeboyhyup
Hair & makeup by @nangmansalon
Fashion film directed by @gowontae


NOEL Drops “Mount Olympus”

Screen Shot 2019-01-02 at 12.45.35 PM

Houston, TX rapper NOEL is preparing his album Generation Mac for release this year. To precede this project, he’s released his new music video for his song “Mount Olympus”, a far cry from the R&B offerings found in his earlier work.

In “Mount Olympus”, NOEL puts his bars on full display while showing his inclination for theatrics: narration, subtitles, intermissions, and more. These things go a long way for new artists making a name for themselves. The sticking point for me watching the sleeveless NOEL catapult himself around this barren mountain where the video was shot was his proclaimation that he was “Zayn with some 808s”. In an industry where branding has overtaken, a lot of artists choose to play the game while hoping to maintain their own identity. If I were NOEL, I would stick with the Zayn with some 808s tagline and turn into a social or media campaign.

Watch the video here:

VAIN returns with a bang, seamlessly adapts to Believe on R. D. Abernathy

The monthly party says goodbye to Studio No. 7, kicks off new era

“Just follow me. Just follow me. Let’s dance,” says DJ $ushi Ceej.

Ceej has played at Vain for years and has become one of, if not the, leading Atlanta DJs controlling what the community gets down to on any given weeknight.

The night also marks the shift to the venue Believe on R. D. Abernathy. “Very ratchet,” says SRDTV of the place before Trevon Williams and his team took a hold of it. Vain held a residency at the cozy Studio no. 7 on Marietta Street for years.

The good thing is that Vain, as advertised in promotion, had a long, long line. The bad thing is that the gusts and sleet-like rain pelting people. The banners were a nice touch but was there an effort towards installing overheads? That’s all I’m asking.

Notable attendees included Junia Abaidoo, Key!, Josiah, SRDTV, James Supreme. Around 1AM is when the 90s R&B comes in, the pinnacle of feel good feel good gets. Champagne Trap likes sirens and blared them all night.

Interview: Who Is Ricky Babar

Screen Shot 2018-10-18 at 4.22.54 PM.png

Ricky Babar is a recording artist from Detroit, Michigan. His song and video Do You Love Me is at 50,000 views at press time since being released two months ago. Romusa caught up with the rapper for an interview while he was visiting Toronto.

What is your earliest memory of music that helped form the genre you make today?

I would say my album OCD. It was where I found my flow.

How much of a musical history does your family have?

I have a great grandfather or an uncle in my family who was a locally famous singer in Pakistan about 100 or 200 years ago.

What do you remember about the very first song that you wrote and released?

The very first song I wrote and released was for a science project. It was a remix of “Forever” by Drake.

Do you think that was the one that made you want to make the genre that you make today?

The biggest thing that made me rap the way that I rap now is the fact that I would listen to Lil Wayne and Drake. They are really heavy on metaphors. They are really heavy on aggressive rap.

Throughout your recording career, you have accumulated these aliases. Babar Ali, Ricky Babar. How did you get these names? Which is at the forefront of your recording work?

I would say Babar is the forefront because everybody knows Babar. That’s my real name. I kept it a part of the brand the whole time. But Babar Ali — Ali is my middle name — so Babar is a part of all of my nicknames. I get called Young Ricky a lot too. I use Ricky Babar now because it stands out more to people. It’s easy for people to catch onto and understand when they first see it. When people just see the Babar, they don’t know how it’s pronounced, and it’s hard for people who aren’t of the same background to know how it’s pronounced. I just want to make it easier for people. That was one of the main reasons, but also, it wasn’t very interesting. When I was recording my songs, one of the lines was “swerving like Ricky Bobby.”

In Detroit, there is such a large population of Arabs, we know that you were in Canada —  in Toronto — I’m wondering what have you seen in Toronto that reminds you of Detroit and what have you seen in Detroit that reminds you of Toronto?

I don’t know too much about the Toronto music scene because I haven’t talked to enough people or met with enough artists here. The studios are much busier. I feel like if you have money in Detroit, you can get a studio at anytime of the day. In Toronto, it doesn’t matter if you have the money. It depends on how much but they are definitely busier in Toronto.

How long were you in Toronto and what brings you out there?

I know some people out there. There are some some major cities that are pretty close drives for me. I like to travel in general but it is an easier trip. It is still a major city. I am trying to network and do videos and meet artists. Also, my in-laws are in Toronto.

How has being in a relationship affected your music?

I think it is good thing because it grounds you. You can’t be writing, working, recording all the time. Secondly, you always have a second opinion and from a female. That is valuable. Thirdly, and in general as a Muslim, you want to be married. I just think it’s a necessity. It helps. It’s just a good thing.

Screen Shot 2018-10-18 at 4.23.09 PM.png

What did you start with when you made “Do You Love Me?” From the skeleton of the beat to the first vocal track, how did that record come about in the studio?

I was flying to LA with my friend Dre. I wanted to write with him for a while. I was on the plane and he pulled up this beat. Honestly, I didn’t think much of it. I thought it would be like a random soft song that not too many people would like. I don’t remember him liking it that much but I was listening to it and I don’t know if I wrote or not. I might’ve come up with some rough ideas.

Then, Dre just let me come to the place where he was working. They had this office in there with papers and pens and it was just a really nice office. I like to be in a nice place when I’m working. I have to have an outlet for my phone charger. I like a big table. I like a comfy seat. I like a lot of paper and pens and a speaker. I put the speaker on high blast. My friend was just around the building vacuuming and cleaning and I just freestyled out loud. I could be as loud as I want it. I like to hear my voice bouncing off the beat at a high volume. I was just rapping whatever was coming to me in my head out loud. I tried different melodies. I freestyled a good four bars, used five or six pieces of paper. This is how I do a lot of my songs.

Then I was looking at the thing and as I was writing the verse, I’m like OK yeah, that’s the chorus right there, that’s the hook. The second verse said do you love me. I said yo, that low-key sounds like a hook. It was already a conversational song  with my wife. I was going to be saying, “Yeah, I don’t know.” I was going to be the one asking me that question as if I was rapping from her perspective. She never got on a song with me and I didn’t even think of her singing it. I was just making it for myself.

Once I got that down, I pieced it altogether. I took those pieces of paper, shoved them in my backpack. That was the super rough skeleton. I got a session at a local studio. I had like a three or four hour studio session that night and I was at at university for one of my classes or something. I was having lunch at OU and my wife was there and I was like hey, do you want to go to the studio and do this part? It clicked in my head because Dre had mentioned that this should be a girl singing this and I was like well, I don’t know. I didn’t know if she would want to do it.

She was actually down, and she came to the studio, and it took a while because that was her first time. It took a while to get it down with the tone, getting comfortable inside the booth for her, but when it came together, it was fire. I didn’t put it out until three or four months later, like around the time when I got married. A year later, we did the video.

So, from that experience, how typical is that when it comes to all of your recording sessions. Do they generally go like how you just described? Or is each session kind of its own thing?

That is kind of how it is in general. There’s a little variation. Sometimes the beat is made in front of me, sometimes it’s an old beat that I haven’t touched in a while. I don’t make my own beats so it depends on where I get it from. I freestyle, write down what I freestyle, and then I hit the studio. It’s a freeing process.

Who are your top five rappers of all time?

Strictly musically… I can’t vouch for these guys totally. I don’t know a lot of the things they stand for. A lot of them have like fell off in my eye but I would say Eminem, Lil Wayne, Drake, J. Cole… I can’t decide between Jay-Z, Kanye West, and Big Sean.

What are your general thoughts on how NAV said he is the first brown boy to get it popping?

I mean, if he means he’s the first brown boy to go mainstream, I guess. In the American rap scene, that is true. He is the first. I don’t like his music for myself. I don’t like his music because the subject matter is overwhelmingly negative. I do like some of his beats and melodies, but not his subject matter. I do not think he is that skilled of a rapper as well. If he had better subject matter then I would definitely be a fan.

If subject matter is important to you, how much do you keep your brown fanbase in mind when you make music?

I don’t generally keep it in mind. There was a time when I was keeping it in mind. I was trying to do a whole niche market thing, but now I don’t. I’m just trying to make an honest sound.

What is your status as a signed artist today?

I’m just independent as of now. I don’t have a label, it’s just me doing my thing.

What are your thoughts on the state of the industry today?

I think I like a lot of the ways… I like the sound of a lot of the newer stuff that is coming out. Just aesthetically, I like the sound of the music. I do like the trap, the poppy trap, I like the cadence on a lot of the newer stuff. I actually really like it.

My only problem is the subject matter and the actual skill of some of the rappers. So what I’m doing is I am going to take that new sound that I actually like and I’m going to take the parts that I like and I’m going to put real skill — like real rap skill — and use it. I’ll use the same tone, cadence, beats to make something with the right subject matter with real skill. I think some of them do have some real skill.

What’s next for you?

I have a lot of hot songs about to come out. A lot of videos and a lot of projects are coming out, but I don’t have any names, and I can’t give away anything about it. Just know that there is a lot of heat coming.

Interview: Who Is Emzae?

Emzae is a recording artist from Derby, England currently coasting off the release of her Lucid Dreaming single. I got a chance to have a conversation with her about music, her own work, and what’s next for her. Keep up with her on Twitter.
What is your earliest memory of music?

I’ve never really thought about that before. I guess it was just always on the radio and on Top of The Pops. I got told off for going round the house singing Right Said Fred when I was about 3. I remember when I first fell in love with music, though. I’ve always been a strange combination of flamboyant and anxious, and i’ve always been afraid of the dark. One winter afternoon me and my mum were walking from the shopping centre in Derby to the bus station, and it was cold and dark and I was scared. Then I saw the pink neon lights of the HMV sign, and my mum asked me if I wanted to see if there were any cassettes I wanted before we went home. I remember the feeling of warmth and safety when we went inside and I saw the rows of cassette singles in the order of the charts. I fell in love with it then, and that feeling has never changed. Music has always been the same to me – the place where I feel I can belong. The one thing that makes me feel safe and normal and that everything might just be ok.

How musical was your family growing up?

Not very at all. My oldest brother is a huge oasis fan and he plays the guitar, but it’s for his own enjoyment and he’s never played live or anything. I think the fact that my parents weren’t into anything like that has made it all a bit more of an uphill battle, because I started out with zero contacts and zero knowledge of how to do anything. Everything is a learning curve!
Did you ever consider going by your real name instead of Emzae?
No, because my name is the most average name ever and there are thousands of me, even if I went by my middle name. Having a stage name also gives me the ability to separate being a musician from being my everyday self, although my on stage wardrobe is starting to merge with my everyday wardrobe and I don’t know if that’s a good or bad thing.

How did you get the stage name Emzae?

I came up with it when I was around 15. Everyone has always called me things like Em, Ems, Emz, Emsy and other variations of my name, and I’ve always had a strange obsession with the letter Z. At that time, most of my favourite artists ended in ‘e’ or ‘y’ too. I thought Emzy or Emzie sounded a bit too playful next to my more melancholic tracks and wasn’t available anyway, so I put an A in there. The username was always available, so I stuck with it!

What have you learned from other artists you apply to your own career?

I come from an area of the UK (the East Midlands) where there is a really awesome local music scene. Everyone is really friendly, welcoming and supportive and there are so many talented artists that I’m constantly inspired by them in different ways. The biggest thing I’ve learnt is just to keep going and never give up. To push through any challenges, to believe in myself and to always be kind and encouraging. I post a lot on social media about music and live gigs from other local artists that I love, and I genuinely enjoy watching good people achieve success. I’ve learnt that anything is possible if you have the work ethic and the enthusiasm.

How did you craft your Lucid Dreaming single?

I’m big into meditation and I sometimes meditate to binaural beats. I wanted to create my own binaural beat and use it as the bass in a track, and that’s how Lucid Dreaming started. The rest of the song was basically built around that, and it only has two chords throughout. Sometimes I like to play with that repetition and progress the track in other more subtle ways. The album version is over six minutes long, so I had to cut quite a bit out for the radio edit, which is still over four minutes long. It’s one of the longest tracks i’ve ever made.

Inspiration behind it?

During the making of my upcoming album, i’ve been listening to a lot of assorted Trip Hop in my spare time, so some of my music is loosely inspired by the type of beats and the atmosphere of those songs. Lucid Dreaming is also about how I’ve been working towards making music my full time job for so long that I’ve almost forgotten why I work so hard. It’s about reflecting on burning out, and at the same time reminding myself why I love what I do. If that makes sense.

How different is your earlier stuff compared to what you make now?

Some of it might initially seem quite different, but i’ve always basically been the same artist. I just sing about myself, my weird thoughts and the world around me, the melodies and lyrics are often melancholic but usually always with a light at the end of the tunnel. Even when two tracks sound different, I think that they both contain the essence of who I am as an artist. I guess the only thing that has changed is the quality of my productions, as I am always learning new skills and techniques.

What helped make that transition smoother?

Definitely the older I get and the more I learn, the better I feel I get at songwriting. And the more I study production, the more creative I can be with the instrumentals.
How long have you spent in the studio at once?
Many, many, many hours late at night after work with tired eyes, a tension headache and a packet of biscuits. Lucid Dreaming took 8 months to mix. There are so many layers on it. The vocals are what takes the longest. I actually write the songs themselves in a really short space of time.

Who are your favorite producers of all time?

I’m a fan of so many people. My favourites have to be Timbaland and Danja, then I obviously love Pharrell, Mark Ronson, Bloodshy and Avant, Mike WiLL Made-It, there are too many to mention.

Top 5 rappers of all time?

I like a lot of different songs from different rappers and don’t necessarily have an overall favourite. I listen to British grime more than I listen to American stuff, and mainly I enjoy the legends of the scene like Chip, Kano, JME, Skepta etc. but I will sometimes watch things like SBTV, GRM Daily and Fire In The Booth to check out newer artists. I find grime so powerful, raw and honest as a genre. Plus, it has a unique sense of humour that isn’t found anywhere else.

What is your opinion on the state of the music industry today?

There are some truly beautiful, moving tracks being made and I think they have more of an impact on me and I appreciate them more because of the hard times we are currently experiencing in the world. The music is better than ever. It’s a little more challenging as an artist to get streams than it was say, four years ago, when places like SoundCloud hadn’t been infiltrated with major labels, but there are always opportunities and you just have to come up with new ideas and keep moving along. From a live perspective, one of the things I dream of is a minimum rate that artists must me paid for gigs that aren’t open mics.

What is your writing process like?

One of two things usually happens. I’ll either be feeling a certain way and need to express it in a song, in which case i’ll get it all out pretty quickly. Usually at least one verse and chorus will be written in a day, and fleshed out later. The other thing is that I will get an idea for a concept or melody whilst i’m out and about and i’ll quietly record it into my phone to re-visit at a later date. Those songs usually take longer to write, but all in all I write pretty quickly.

Who or what are you inspired by the most in the studio when crafting these songs?

I just take myself to another world. I switch off from everything and all that matters is the music. I try not to listen to too much music when writing, in case I accidentally rip something off. Usually i’ll be inspired by whatever the theme of my album is. At the moment my album is set in the city I live and grew up in, Derby. So I imagine that whilst I am working on music.

What’s one thing you’ve learned about making music in 2018?

It takes a while, sometimes you think you might never finish it or get it out there, you question whether anyone actually cares and what you’re doing with your life at times, but overall it’s totally worth it.

Would you change anything about your career?

No. Like everything in my life, it’s all basically me stumbling along through trial and error, but I look back and I can see a clear progression there. I’ve improved so much as an artist and a person since I first started uploading demos in 2014, and i’m looking forward to the future.