Collective Thoughts Vol. 1
T.D.E., OVO, Dreamville, G.O.O.D. Music. Any time the head honcho of these respective cliques drops a new project or single, debates over who's the best collective get sparked up between hip-hop fans everywhere.
While the four aforementioned crews and their collective members deserve all the recognition and accolades they have received, there are other labels and collectives that are worthy being brought up in the discussion.
In the first installment of Collective Thoughts for The Barber's Chair, Eyeless and Just JT take a closer look at four crews that are poised to make a major impact in 2018 and beyond: SAVEMONEY, SOB x RBE, GRISELDA, and T.R.U.
The goal of this series is to give light to those getting overlooked by the widespread masses. There will be some established brands and household names but the main focus will be on the equally talented moving parts inside the machine that helps it operate.
After the breakdown of each collective, a sampler playlist and links to standout projects are provided to help you get familiar with the clique.
JUST JT - The Real University (T.R.U.)
2 Chainz has been building his name in the rap game since his debut with Playaz Circle back when he was known asTityBoi and was repping for Ludacris then label, Disturbing the Peace. He started off with his first hit Duffle Bag Boy, with Lil Wayne and went from there. He then leaves DTP and re-invents himself to the world as 2 Chainz with his mixtape, T.R.U. Realigion, which becomes the first mixtape to appear on the music charts. Then he releases his debut album Based on a T.R.U. Storyand from there, we’re blessed with a resume full of albums, mixtapes, hot singles & features verses that will make you a believer that 2 Chainz is in fact of the most consistent rappers out.
At one point, there was speculations that Chainz was joining G.O.O.D. Music when Kanye had posted his tweet on twitter saying “2 Chainz is charging 100k for a verse now cause he's G.O.O.D!!!!!" On January 6th, 2015, 2 Chainz announced his independent label, TRU also known as The Real University and follows up with a compilation Mixtape T.R.U. Jack City featuring his artist such as Cap 1, Skooly, C White, Fresh (formerly known as Short Dawg). After the introduction to Tha Real University it brought forth many of different projects from the crew. With 2 Chainz holding down the fort, the rest of the collective is putting their footprints out there on their music .
The CEO aka the Head huncho of this collective. Most of my favorite projects that came from Tity are included in his mixtape catalog. He’s dropped such fire ass mixtapes such as Codeine Cowboy, The Trap-A-Velli Series, T.R.U. Realigion, & Freebase. He takes it up a notch by switching from mixtapes to EPs during 2016-17. He first started off with I Feel Like Cappin EP, and then graduated to Daniel Son; Necklace Don, Hibachi for Lunch, & his most recent EP, The Play Dont Care Who Makes It EP.
As of 2017, ,Chainz is becoming more known for showcasing his marketing skills with promoting albums. He did such an incredible job with his album campaign for Pretty Girls Like Trap Music; from having his themed Pink trap house on Howell Mill Road in the heart of Atlanta, to having spotify host a Pretty Girls Like Trap Music series hosted by different celebrity women who create a playlist of their own favorite trap music to play throughout their daily lives. He knows his crowd and attracts them to different yet unique things. His next album, Rap or Go to the League is coming very soon sometime this year. No official release set at this time.
A Former member of the legendary Atlanta duo, Rich Kidz whose debatably responsible for playing a part in creating the current sound for Atlanta today. If it wasn’t for his singing style, we probably wouldn’t have such acts like Future, Rich Homie Quan, or anyone else here.
We still need to give our flowers to Skooly every single chance that he gets. My favorite project from him right now is BAcCWArdFeELiNgS. So far he’s dropped two dope EP’s at the beginning of 2018 and the way it’s looking, i’mhoping he continues to take the 2 Chainz route and drop EPs worth of material.
When I first came across Cap 1, i remember seeing him at my school’s SpringFest alongside 2 Chainz performing most of T.R.U. Realigion, which was the soundtrack of the time in Spring 2012. I also didn’t realize that he was also from Chicago, one of the greater cities in this world (that’s another topic for another day), which then brought me to pay closer attention to his music. He dropped his mixtape Caviar Dreams not too long afterwards. His most recent project is Street Poetry where you can find it in on Soundcloud here.
Fresh (Short Dawg)
If you might recall during the Young Money run, you might have heard of Fresh, who at the time was known as Short Dawg, whether on Me & My Drank or Doggin with Travis Porter. He’s made his appearance on T.R.U. Jack City mixtape and has dropped a couple of songs here and there. No word yet on mixtapes or projects at the current moment.
Hailing from the Southside Atlanta, C-White is considered to be one of the other members of the Tru University collective. Though he is a member of the crew, not a lot is really known about his music at this moment but here are some current records to check out at this time.
Affiliates, Notable Features, and Former Members
One of TRU’s most notable affiliates is the late Bankroll Fresh. He started off on the Atlanta scene as Young Fresh working with Gucci Mane on multiple occasions. He also appeared on Metro Boomin’s mixtape 19 & Boominalongside with Future on “For the Love.”
He helped contribute towards T.R.U. Jack city mixtape on records like Make it Werk, We Fukin It Up, How It Feel, & Granny. Their ties with Street Execs plays a role in their affiliations right before his passing. . Other artists and producers such as Young Dolph, Zaytoven, Mike Will Made It, 808 Mafia, 2-17, Jak Brown each have played contributing efforts and affiliations as well towards creating hits and bodies of work with the collectives.
“I feel like we unfuckwitable, we unstoppable. I think Westside Gunn, Conway, Benny, and Daringer came down as the illest at what we all do. And we a collective, we all on the same team. I don’t care who ask, Preemo, Alchemist, anybody. Ask them about Daringer and see what they tell you. And even little bro Camino. We unfuckwitable, man. The almighty. We on the next level. When it comes to bringing art back—that real hip hop sound, the storytelling, the swag, the style—it’s not too many people that fuck with it. Period. I’m talking about new or old.” -Westside Gunn
Restoring that motherfucking feeling of the traditional New York hip-hop scene of the 90s is the grimiest assortment of rappers in quite some time. Named after the ruthless"Godmother" of Columbian drug trafficking, GxFR(GRISELDA by Fashion Rebels) are about as gruesome with the raps as Ms. Blanco was in her adult life.
Hailing from Buffalo, NY brothers Westside Gunn and Conway started GRISELDA Records at the top of this decade, along with Benny and his late brother, Machine Gun Black. More than 5 years later, their prolific run on the underground circuit was rewarded with a deal from Shady Records, the first rappers from Buffalo to sign with a major label.
Disturbing, deranged, and demented are some adjectives to describe the very essence of their being, musically and otherwise. That could be sensed before even pressing play on one of their tracks; the cover art alone is, at times, highly controversial or beautifully twisted. They are attention grabbers that also double as an ominous warning: "this ain't for the weak of heart or those that are easily offended."
The confident delivery, the appalling subject matter, and the distinctly bleak production are more frigid than the Upstate winters. Some real street niggas that are not ashamed to let you know they're about that life. The coldest clique in the game, bar none.
When you hear that "...AYO", just know that some real flagrant shit is about to be said. The FLYGOD is a New York rap legend in the making. Scratch that, Westside Gunn is already certified and highly respected among past and present members of the New York rap scene. He exudes confidence with his approach to the mic, calmly spittin' threats to any challenger, bar by bar.
He'll patiently hit you with insults with line after line, each one more disrespectful than the previous. Gunn's high-pitched voice may lead some listeners to think younger than he actually is. He's a grown-ass man that's lived through some shit that he's not afraid to talk about on wax.
If you have a dark, (like Lupita complexion dark,) sense of humor, you'll enjoy the "comedic relief" throughout his verses. Bruh, he released Part 5 of his EP series in October 2017, another EP a few weeks ago, and just last week, announced upcoming album...Chris Benoit. Told you they're prolific and controversial.
Conway the Machine
Even though he's just as gutter and grimy with the raps as his brother, Conway compliments Westside perfectly when they collab. As Hall 'N Nash (an homage to the wrestling duo Hall and Nash), they trade line back and forth in full blocks or partial bars, reminiscent to the give and take of Styles and Jada. Don't get it twisted though: Conway is also a fucking force to be reckoned with by himself.
There's a strain on his baritone voice that only adds to his menacing presence on tracks. Lyrics like "I got him and his homies in your bushes now // Sniffin' grams to stay up so he can put you down" are one of the tamer bars in his catalog. That haunting laugh of an adlib is a reminder that he knows that you know that he knows you're not about that life. Tread lightly.
Benny the Butcher
Are you expecting anything less than gully after reading the name "Benny the Butcher"? Similar to Conway and Gunnin regards to the cadence, but distinct in his own right, Benny is vicious with the imagery he paints. He fits right into the mold of GxFR by rapping with conviction about his past street life and his current status as someone you don't wanna cross. He released his official debut project for GRISELDA, Butcher On Steroids (with DJ Green Lantern) in November of last year. With only 2 people making a guest appearance, The Butcher was given ample space to show that he's capable to stand alone for the length of the project and didn't disappoint.
A demeanor that's way more relaxed and smooth but the ferocity of the threats have no chill whatsoever. El Caminois another facet of 0the clique that can really become a standout artist in due time. The way he calmly spazzes on "FOOD LORDZ" exhibits skill and potential for great things in his future. He is very young and fresh in this rap game but has the composure of a vet who can be bluntly transparent about his own life: "I hustle hard just to get me some bread, my lil' brother shot himself in the head // theguns on my lap, relax, react and get clapped // facts, my nerves bad, ma dukes on crack, ain't no time for that// I'm 16 with a .40 cal..." Wow.
Affiliates, Notable Features, and Former Members
Salute to Daringer and Camoflauge Monk, GRISELDA's in-house producers for creating such a raw atmosphere for a gritty collective. Their instrumentals capture the true cold and heartless landscape that is New York. Sample heavy, but not in a traditional sense. What really adds to the uniqueness of GxFR is the way they can incorporate a news clip and have that serve as a chorus of sorts.
A majority of the production fromDaringer andCamoflauge Monk individually share similarities like a devotion to being minimalistic. You know how old horror films with less technology felt more terrifying than modern slasher flicks with over the top CGI? The parallel can be made to their production style: looping a haunting and shrill element over a bassline without too much clutter. I don't ever wanna hear them rap on a "happy" beat. Ever.’
If your crew has original production credits from DJ Premier, The Alchemist, and DOOM, and guest features from the likes of Raekwon, Sean Price, Prodigy, Skyzoo, Action Bronson, Royce Da 5'9 and Danny Brown, you're already certified on paper. GRISELDA rarely misses when it comes to executing on big-name collabs. The equally grimy brother Mach-Hommy of Newark, NJ was a former member of GxFR before he departed in 2016. There aren't many verified details about his departure from the group. It must have been on not bad terms because Hommy has collabed with members of the crew since 2016.
Start Here: Original Playlist and Notable Projects
Westside Gunn - FLYGOD
Conway - G.O.A.T. (Grimiest Of All Time)
Benny - Butcher on Steroids
El Camino - El Camino EP
GxFR - Don’t Get Scared Now