Sea Change – LovelyOcean Makes Refreshing Hip-Hop Waves on New ‘Forever’ Album

LovelyOcean gets introspective on her debut album, “Forever.” Photo courtesy of Golden Poppy

For LovelyOcean, the right words bring a welcome songwriting sea change.

The Los Angeles hip-hop singer-songwriter poetically shares her innermost thoughts about authenticity, self-awareness, passion and growth on her vintage-inspired debut album, LovelyOcean Forever, which dropped Aug. 14 via all streaming platforms.

Forever started off with the idea of manifesting how I wanted my 2020 to go. I wanted to speak my wishes into existence through music. Words are some of our most powerful forms of manifestation. The themes in this album just came naturally since they’re real experiences,” she said.

LovelyOcean beautifully turns the hip-hop tide through eight reflective tracks infused with shiny synths, slow jams, catchy rhymes, euphoric beats and palpitating electronic percussion. Forever serves as a modern underground mixtape to inspire emerging and established female hip-hop artists looking for a new musical shoreline.

It’s the type of cassette artists would pass back and forth to create a stronger sense of camaraderie, collaboration and community. The exquisite “Forever (Intro)” sets an ideal old-school tone as the mixtape instantly clicks into a worn boombox and compelling skits from “The Maury Povich Show” are interspersed throughout the brief track.

Quiet, thoughtful piano echoes LovelyOcean’s introversion and peaceful presence as she reflects, “I could try to be louder or extroverted, but there’s beauty in my silence. From my silence comes observation, awareness, a story, a song, a forever.”

“I want to say that I started writing in February of this year, but once quarantine started I put everything on pause because I was super uninspired. One day I woke up, listened to two beats and then just started writing. All in all, it took three months to get everything written, recorded and edited. We converted a closet in the living room into our studio so every track recorded was in the closet,” LovelyOcean said.

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East Grand – Dirty Ol’ Men Bring Clever Rhymes, Fresh Beats to Detroit-Inspired Hip-Hop Collective Album

Dirty Ol’ Men gather in Detroit to record their latest album, East Grand. Photo by Rod Wallace

With East Grand, Dirty Ol’ Men poetically capture the creativity, camaraderie and connection of the Motor City.

The international collective of hip-hop and soul producers, musicians and curators blends clever rhymes, pulsating beats and introspective narratives into 15 compelling tracks on their latest album, East Grand, which dropped Feb. 29.

“I think everywhere we go, we’re very inspired by where we are. I’m always a huge advocate for what’s happening in Detroit and so that drove a little bit of the inspiration as well as the sounds and what we captured while we were here and being together, too,” said Rod Wallace, East Grand executive producer and a metro Detroit hip-hop producer.

“We’ve all had a really huge effect on each other. All of us have very, very diverse styles. You have producers that have very, very pronounced kind of styles that are very noticeable amongst the group, and we’ve rubbed off on each other.”

Last July, Wallace and 14 other hip-hop producers gathered in a Detroit loft at the corner of East Grand Boulevard and Oakland Avenue for a three-day Scratch Magazine retreat to collaborate on tracks for the new album. Dirty Ol’ Men collaborators arrived from Michigan; Ohio; Illinois; Washington, D.C.; Maryland; Virginia, California; Florida; Pennsylvania; Tennessee; and Japan to participate.

Creating East Grand

Together, the producers, musicians and curators brought initial stems, beats and samples to lay the foundation for their fifth collective project while magically capturing the authentic vibes of the Motor City. They also visited local record stores and dug through crates to find alternative sounds that could inspire music for East Grand.

“I think part of what’s built into the culture of digging and sample-based producing is taking the most obscure music possible and trying to pick something out of it. Customarily, we don’t necessarily look for music based on who’s making it, but we look at the potential vibe and sound that could be involved. It may just be something that we don’t have, like something with church bells,” said Wallace, who’s been part of Dirty Ol’ Men since their formation in 2014.

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Multi-Dimensional – Detroit’s Carter Erickson Straddles 2 Creative Worlds on New ‘Columbia’ EP

Carter Erickson performs at a MusicTown Detroit open mic night.

As an emerging hip-hop artist, Carter Erickson travels between two different creative dimensions – Detroit and Columbia.

In Detroit, he combines catchy beats, raps and melodies with personal experiences to share with growing crowds at open mic nights and DIY shows.

In Columbia, Erickson becomes the main character, Booker DeWitt, from the “BioShock Infinite” video game and battles racism and elitism in the namesake fictional dystopian society.

Together, those two creative dimensions lay the foundation for Erickson’s latest EP, “Columbia,” an immersive six-track hip-hop, role-playing game-like (RPG) experience that dropped last week on all major streaming platforms.

“These songs are based on real-life experiences that I’ve had, but they also coincide with certain elements of the game,” said Erickson, aka Eric Carter. “When you play the game, you don’t know what the character looks like because it’s first-person. For me, this EP is more about how I felt playing this character.”

Downloading ‘Columbia’

Columbia EP

Immersed in his musical RPG world, Erickson takes Booker DeWitt to another level on “Vanishing Point,” the first sci-fi, synth-filled single from “Columbia.” He combines Booker DeWitt’s persona with Kowalski, the main character from the 1971 cult car film, “Vanishing Point.”

“They both feature two guys who have nothing to lose and are working toward this goal. All in all, they both don’t get there,” he said. “At the end of ‘Vanishing Point,’ the main character needs to get to California by 3 p.m., and he’s got this beautiful 1970 Dodge Challenger. In ‘BioShock Infinite,’ a guy has  been tasked with trying to find a woman’s father. He eventually learns he’s her father, but in a different universe.”

Erickson’s sonic travels continue through “The Handbook” and “Cha$e” and allow listeners to draw deeper parallels between his personal experiences and “BioShock Infinite.”

On “The Handbook,” Erickson introduces a slow, introspective jam about how actions have consequences, whether good or bad. “I thought it was something everyone could relate to cause as humans we all have run ‘what-if’ scenarios through our heads regarding one thing or another, and sometimes the perpetual regret we live with and/or die with no matter the outcome we choose.”

For the “Cha$e,” Erickson opens the EP’s closing drack with deep synth beats reminiscent of early ‘80s Atari music. The track was influenced by an earlier portion of the “BioShock” video game series that intersected with Erickson’s life.

“When I first played it, it was almost like a ‘blink and you’ll miss it’ kind of moment, which is wherein it intersects with life. You know, one day you’re eating cereal watching Saturday morning cartoons, and the next thing you know, you’re graduating high school and/or college, and then life pretty much happens,” he said.

“When I wrote ‘Cha$e,’ I wanted to define this same approach with the harsh instrumental, but the lyrics sort of glide over it, and this is like a metaphor for life and people. Meaning, life can be tough, but as long as you keep a positive outlook, everything will be OK.”

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Saturday’s Detroit LIVE at The Heidelberg Celebrates Motor City Music

For three Detroit-based artists, the Motor City brings a promising musical future backed by a powerful legacy.

Clear Soul Forces, John Jammin Collins and Rah the Son will represent some of the city’s best musical talent and lead the inaugural Detroit LIVE at The Heidelberg Project Saturday.

Together, they’ll showcase emerging and established hip-hop, techno and other music during the free block party hosted by POWER Entertainment and The Heidelberg Project.

From noon to 8 p.m. Saturday at 3600 Heidelberg St. in Detroit’s McDougall-Hunt community, attendees will hear seven other rising musical acts as part of the Detroit LIVE. There also will be an open mic session for other performers interested in demonstrating their talents.

“We want to build a sense of community while featuring Detroit talent and celebrating The Heidelberg Project’s 30th anniversary,” said Donna Kassab, a POWER Entertainment owner and Detroit LIVE creator.

Kassab is hosting the event in conjunction with Jenenne Whitfield, CEO of The Heidelberg Project, near the city’s iconic outdoor art installation. Detroit LIVE is part of Thirty Months of Heidelberg, a series of special programming in conjunction with the 30th anniversary of The Heidelberg Project.

The Stratton Setlist recently spoke with Clear Soul Forces, John Jammin Collins and Rah the Son to learn more about their music and upcoming performances at Detroit LIVE.

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