Young Bull, Blanko Basnet, Ebz The Artist
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What began as an unassuming SoundCloud upload in 2014 transformed into Young Bull’s first full-length album, Sopadelic, in 2016, which now has over 3,000,000 streams on Spotify alone; what began as a school talent show act transformed into stellar live band performances across the United States, sharing lineups with the likes of Erykah Badu, Miguel, Thundercat, Masego and countless others. Add that to a recent co-sign from the Grammy nominated recording artist Rapsody, several high-profile features (Huffington Post, Worldstar Hip Hop, H-WING), and a host of radio appearances (K97.5, Choice FM 92.1, WKNC 88.1), and it is clear that Young Bull is well on its way to challenging the status quo in hip-hop and R&B. With a critically acclaimed follow-up EP, Midnight Sun, following in 2017 and a number of successful single releases, Young Bull is currently recording their second full-length album for release in 2019.
Started in the halls and locker rooms of Durham, North Carolina’s public arts high school, Young Bull began as an experiment by classmates Tahmique Cameron and Solomon Fox. Helped by Cameron’s soulful vocals and Fox’s savvy keyboard and production skills, they began performing at local talent shows and recording songs in Fox’s bedroom, quickly developing a devoted following of fellow students and friends.
With a slew of talented North Carolina jazz and funk instrumentalists behind their energetic live performances, the hip-hop outfit soon gained traction on the Raleigh/Durham music scene, selling out their first major show in the spring of 2015, attracting the attention of local bloggers and bookers alike.
2016 ushered in a new era for Young Bull, marked by increasing crowds and notoriety with the release of their debut studio album, Sopadelic, and the addition of Raleigh-based rapper Christian Sinclair to the ranks. Meriting comparisons to Anderson Paak and the Internet, the overwhelming success of Sopadelic helped push Young Bull into the national spotlight. They soon began playing shows up and down the East Coast, gaining grassroots fans from college campuses to local venues. By 2018, they had upped the game again, finding themselves at home on festival main stages while becoming a fixture on editorial playlists across the internet and social media (including Spotify’s “Most Necessary” and “Fresh Finds”). With a new album forthcoming and a rapidly growing fanbase, Young Bull is proving itself one of the most innovative and exciting groups to watch.
Joe Hall of Hammer No More the Fingers began playing solo shows in January 2011 under the name JoLo. Prior to this, every musical idea Hall had was funneled through Hammer. A song was considered complete only after intense collaboration, practice and live performance. Sometimes ideas didn’t stick but Hall couldn’t let them go. The songs that didn’t develop further in Hammer soon became projects for Hall’s future solo record. Enter Blanko Basnet. Written and performed by Hall with the help of Jeff Stickley on drums and long-time friend and producer JLa, the 11-song self-titled album was recorded in a playhouse they frequented as kids in the Trinity Park neighborhood of Durham, NC.
With the record complete it became obvious that Hall would need to recruit musicians for a full band. Stickley was onboard and Hall enlisted Brad Cook of Megafaun to play bass. A love story of sorts manifested when Hall and Cook attended a Canine Heart Sounds show. “What about that guy?” Hall said, referring to multi-instrumentalist Matt Peterson. A four-piece was soon born and shows were booked. After the album release, Cook’s intense touring schedule opened up a spot for Matt McElroy of Canine Heart Sounds to join in his place.
The same vitality that drives Hall’s guitar rifts and vocal melodies in Hammer is unmistakable in his new endeavor. That said, Blanko is its own adventure and the live performance is very much a showcase of the musical talents of each member of the band.
Ebz The Artist
21-year old, Durham-based artist, Ebony Nicholson, aka, Ebz the Artist is a multi-talented vocalist and producer with her eyes set on the top of the top, and with her overwhelming amount of talented, it is essentially her birthright. Ebz’s release of EP, The Feel, placed a bright yellow highlight on her dreamy voice, diverse ability to go from sweet and innocent R&B melodies, to quick-spitting, raunchy rap lyrics, along with her wide ranges of vocal pitch.
The Feel consists of Ebz starting off with a slow, sultry sound, though she quickly changes the mood to a rhythmic, sensual vibe with “Don’t Shy Away”. Ebz closes the EP out with a slowed down, melancholic wave, as she flawlessly depicts the desperation one feels when a person can’t be saved from themselves and their own problems in “I Can’t Save You“. It is reminiscent of Erykah Badu and Rhapsody’s stylings. Both her voice and deep hitting beats make The Feel an EP that you just HAVE to listen to on repeat, over and over, and over and over, and over, and over, and over, and over— well, you get the point. Being such a huge fan myself, there was no way that I was going to miss out on speaking with Ebz. There were so many questions that I, and other fellow fans were curious about. Well, you know what they say about curiosity: it killed the cat, but, satisfaction brought it back, so be prepared to be satisfied.
117 West Main Street
Durham, NC, 27701