Artist Name: Lil Tone & Kemickal
Song Title: Cigarillos
Album/Mixtape Title: Beats, Pussy & Cigarillos
Album/Mixtape Release Date: Late July
Label: Soul Material Entertainment
On Saturday, March 31st, the Southside’s Z Lounge will be overtaken by an assortment of local underground hip hop artists as it hosts the next installment of the popular Pittsburgh hip hop concert series, Monsters of the Mic.
Organized by Human Hustle Entertainment, the free show will begin at 9pm with opening acts from local up-and-coming artists. An abundance of Pittsburgh hip hop talent will be on display, leading up to the headlining performance of JonQuest, who is one half of the popular rap duo, Varsity Squad. In addition to a quality musical performance, drink specials and crowd giveaways will also be available. Come out to support Pittsburgh’s growing pool of gifted hip hop artists!
This will be the last hip hop show at Z Lounge ever, so close it down the right way by supporting your local talent to the fullest!
Z Lounge is located at 2108 East Carson St, Pittsburgh, PA 15203
Opening Acts: Ayatollah Jaxx, Cri-Shounda (aka the Street Soul Queen), Looney, Mistro Calhoun, R-Sin, Worth Whyle, Shad Ali, Kemickal, Lyrical Arson
Playing Kemickal’s latest project during work, while outside in the sun, while driving at night or even while alone in your room, each time you may notice something new about it depending on where you are when you hear it. One thing, however, remains consistent throughout. Grind or Get Left is twenty tracks of exactly what its title suggests: music for those on a mission. Though perhaps made predominantly for hustlers and the realities of the streets, the fact remains that if you aren’t on your own grind, whatever yours may be, then don’t even bother here because you won’t relate. But if you are (as we all should be), then press play and get to work.
Starting things off is “Go,” an inspiring opener with haunting vocals that introduces us to a focused Kemi throwing some veiled jabs at rappers constricted by major labels as he raps, “You got both feet in, but the ball ain’t / Headed to redemption, Shawshank / I’ma grind ’til I get it, y’all ain’t / I’ma say what I want cause y’all can’t / It’s the politics of rap making y’all wait / I’m ahead of myself, trying to better myself.” His brutally blunt delivery and no-bullshit approach to life’s dark realities is a staple on this tape, and enhances “Shit On My Mind” and “Teach You How to Rap” as he uses an ironically dumbed down hook next to some especially intricate verses on the latter to demonstrate exactly what the song’s title claims.
Kemi’s lazy flow creates the illusion that what he’s saying is simple, but listen carefully to seemingly surface-friendly, car-worthy songs like “Coastin’” and you can find several meanings layered within many of his rhymes, a welcome exercise for even the most weather-worn listeners. But Kemickal is truly at his best when he gets into discussing his grind and its metaphorical journey. The ominous “Here I Go Again” (“A slight relapse, tell them I’ma be back / On the road to success, I’ll do three laps”) and motivational “Myself” (“They know the format, so it’s fuck the format / I walked on, like doormats”), though both solid in their own right, pale in comparison to the absolutely chilling, guitar-driven “Glory.” Serving as the tape’s highlight and boasting the most intense production to be found on Grind or Get Left, it’s a tragic injustice that it appears so early on the project.
Having found the subject matter on which Grind or Get Left excels, the project falters when it strays from this arena, causing other types of songs to come across as outcasts or filler rather than inspired material. This is not to say that females, weed and the nearly catchy “Is That You” don’t have a place here, but because they aren’t executed nearly as well as their grind-centered counterparts, they stand out for the wrong reasons. Additionally, having so many songs depicting progression towards something creates its own problem: the journey here keeps building. There is a gradual climb throughout the tape, but listeners may feel devoid of a climax or victory. Though the end product here, success or fame, has yet to be realistically attained, listeners may feel like they are owed a glimpse of the light at the end of the tunnel. In his defense, hip hop artists have an obligation to honesty in their rhymes, so if Kemickal has yet to taste what he is striving for, how could he possibly be expected to depict it? And therein lies the dilemma for any artist on the rise.
Grind or Get Left is quite literally the musical embodiment of an actual grind, filled with setbacks, missteps, persistence, darkness and the not-yet-realized end that justifies the means. Kemi successfully depicts the difficulties of the struggle, and keeps it broad enough to speak to anyone on their own grind, from the streets to the classroom. He knows this world, but at the same time that familiarity takes away from the project as a whole. How will listeners know when they’ve arrived at their destination when songs that suggest something other than a never-ending grind come across as unnatural and out of place? Some more refinement is needed before one can truly believe that Kemi is ready to reach the end of his grind. And, redundantly, that progression towards improvement is, in fact, his own personal grind. But the question still remains: if Kemickal is the proverbial dog chasing the metaphorical car of success, would he know what to do with it, musically, if he finally caught it?
If you can relate, use Grind or Get Left as motivation to get on your own grind.
Overall Rating: 2/5
Featuring NEW MUSIC from: The JSP, Cory Eaux, Joey Fattz, Kemickal, Ciego, EDOT, Brodie B, Cin-Q, Kniseburgh, Tolly, Sash Mead…AND MORE!
Download link after the tracklist…
Digital Hustle Vol. 4: Delorean Musick | DOWNLOAD
Overlooked Ent & Sunny Boy Music presents – Ciego & Kemickal – Cold Heart, Hot Summer (Mixtape)
With the revamp of “Overlooked Entertainment” (OV Ent), and previous releases already under their belt. Its two last men standing, “Ciego” & “Kemickal” finally release their first mixtape under the new “OVNostra” moniker in conjunction with Sunny Boy Music, “Cold Heart, Hot summer.”
The collab effort was mixed by DJ Mynd Tek (known for his works with East End Empire & recently Moola Gang.) And with features from artist such as Y.M.DaKid, Kenn Will, Ello & production from Juliano, Sam Whit, etc. The two hope to make this a landmark release among more to come in the future. “All Hail OV (Nostra).”
Sunny Boy Music, DigitalHustle.info, & DJ Mynd Tek bring to you the third installment of their Digital Hustle series hosted by Southwest PA’s own Moola Gang.
Ceigo da Stress
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