Game Of Thrones: A Look At Strange Music In 2013 [Part One]
“I didn’t think we’d ever outgrow Travis’ basement.”
Krizz Kaliko’s moment of reflection during an interview with HipHopDX late in 2012 spoke volumes of what lies ahead for Strange Music.
At over a decade in the “game”, Strange Music’s meager beginnings now stand as an example of what can be done with the right mindset and the right work ethic. After a spectacular year that included the record-breaking Hostile Takeover 2012 Tour and the most releases in a single calendar year from Strange Music, it’s probably a good time to try and absorb just what is about to happen in 2013.
With ten currently active members on the roster, Strange Music is at the largest capacity it’s ever been and if 2012 proved anything, it was that Tech N9ne is not the only star.
The past year brought four full-length albums and a string of EPs that set up each artist to shine brighter than their peers and thus provide a bridge to their work in 2013. While Krizz Kaliko earned his biggest first-week sales with Kickin’ & Screamin’, ¡MAYDAY! bumrushed the show and flipped the entire landscape of what Strange Music releases were supposed to sound like with their debut, Take Me To Your Leader.
The Kansas City King upped the ante and led his army of elite emcees through a year of incredible breakthroughs that also included center spotlights for Prozak, CES Cru, Kutt Calhoun, Stevie Stone, and the newly-signed Rittz.
Days into the new year, it’s very clear: 2013 is it. This is the year that holds new promise for every artist on Strange Music and believe it or not, it’s anyone’s game. Like kings jockeying for position, Strange Music’s elite are hungry and are not afraid to compete with each other, something that gives the fans plenty to look forward to.
“The Life And Times Of Johnny Valiant’ shouldn’t be slept on when it drops”
The long-haired, speedy-mouthed emcee known as White Jesus gained a respectable following from his popular collaboration with Catfish Billy on “Box Chevy”, but it wasn’t until his appearance on Krizz Kaliko’s “Mayday” that the Strange Music audience really began to pay attention. Fast forward a few months later and Rittz was center stage with Tech N9ne receiving his Strange Music chain in Kansas City, MO.
Thanks to a large fan base and a strong showing on his White Jesus: The Revival mixtape, Rittz has an early buzz in 2013 as HipHopDX.com didn’t hesitate to deem his upcoming The Life And Times Of Johnny Valiant album one of the most anticipated of the new year. Couple that with his popularity among the Strange Music audience and Rittz could very well prove to be the biggest breakout star in 2013.
What to expect: Rittz still has plenty to prove and with his first national release, we know he’s not playing around. As Strange Music’s Southern connect, we anticipate hearing some fresh production – in fact we have our fingers crossed for a Will Power possiblity. Tech N9ne, Yelawolf, and Krizz Kaliko confirmed for appearances.
“ It has to be perfect.” – Strange Music CEO Travis O’Guin
While some of the Strange Music roster has to carry the pressure of a debut, Brotha Lynch Hung holds the weight of the world with the final chapter in his historic saga. The legendary emcee spent most of 2012 working on his upcoming Mannibalector album, save for some guest appearances, but this February, the Sac-town cannibal unleashes the album that will define his career with Strange Music.
Lynch has previously expressed his desire to wrap up his Coathanga Strangla trilogy, noting that he would like to work outside of the constraints of a storyline. Still, fans are eagerly awaiting the end of the killer that first terrorized hip hop in 2009. The ambitious task of a three-album story is enough to make most emcees buckle, but Lynch has shown the kind of patience and creativity that could only belong to a veteran, making Mannibalector one of the most highly-anticipated releases in 2013.
What to expect: This album is big. Really big. The spotlight is shining bright and Brotha Lynch Hung HAS to deliver an ending worthy of three albums. If “Blood All Over Me” is any indication of what to expect, then consider us excited. Production from Seven will continue the cinematic value of Lynch’s story while confirmed features from Tech N9ne, Yelawolf, Bernz and Wrek, and Hopsin hopefully play out into the already twisted narrative.
” I’m so excited because Stevie is a star.” – Tech N9ne
Strange Music is not normally a name mentioned frequently in radio talk, but thanks to Stevie Stone that changed in 2012. The rugged-voiced emcee from the middle of the land displayed the kind of star power that reminds us why Tech scooped him up in the first place.
On the strength of his Strange Music debut, Rollin’ Stone, Stevie Stone now moves on to his sophomore Strange release, Two Birds, One Stone. Already an explosive force and often compared to the likes of DMX, Stevie Stone faces the challenge of expanding on his hardcore sound while maintaining a good grip on real life struggles that made songs like “My Remedy” so popular with fans.
What to expect: If anything on Two Birds, One Stone sounds like “808 Bendin’”, then we’re in for something special. We won’t lie, we love the MONSTER bangers that Stevie Stone delivers and on top of hoping for lyrical growth, we also look forward to addictive production on this one. Stevie Stone is known for having a specific taste in beats, let’s hope he keeps up his streak on dope picks.
“It’s two times better than Kelvin.” – Kutt Calhoun
With two back to back EPs in the bag, Kutt Calhoun looks to return in 2013 with a full-length album that will build on the sound fans enjoyed on KELVIN. Out to prove himself after being absent for much of 2012, Kutt sharpened his flows and focused on wordplay more than ever.
Black Gold marks the fourth full-length release on Strange Music for the Kansas City Chief and his partnership with Seven on the KELVIN EP proved to be a successful revamp his already raw sound. Among a slew of releases, Kutt Calhoun needs to stand out from the pack and deliver the classic we’ve been waiting for.
What to expect: So far, Black Gold has given us a bonus track in the form of “Heart 2 Heart” featuring Krizz Kaliko and we’d be lying if we said we weren’t excited. Add to that production from Seven and confirmed appearances from Tech N9ne and Brotha Lynch Hung, Kutt Calhoun’s Black Gold may just be the surprise of 2013.
“I’ll be swinging harder than ever” – Wrekonize
Already hailed as one of the top pound for pound emcees on Strange Music, Wrekonize has his hands full in 2013. Not only will the former battle rapper join his ¡MAYDAY! brethren for a sophomore Strange Music effort, but this year will also mark the emcee’s first solo national release.
In 2012, Wrek blessed us with a freestyle series that, well, pretty much wrecked instrumentals from some of your favorite artists and earned the Miami native quite the rep for handling bars. Strangeland has heard sprinklings of Wrek’s solo joints throughout his tenure with the Snake and Bat, but a full-length solo could elevate the versatile emcee to more exposure within the rap game.
What to expect: Wrek’s prior solo work demonstrates just how unique his delivery is. Recently, he and his Miami cohorts were spotted in the ATL working with producer Will Power and Funk Volume’s Jarren Benton for the solo album. With all of those minds pumping out music, what’s there not to like?
-Victor Sandoval, Strange Music Social Media Dept.
Follow Victor on Twitter: @VicMSandoval
STAY TUNED FOR PART TWO!
Which of these releases are you most excited about?