Hardrocks and Glasshouse
It’s wild that it’s been a year since we last checked in on W.O.K.E. (We. Only. Know. Elevation.), the traditionally tough but certainly experimental troupe of producer Jon Glass with MCs Oblivious and Lateb, all names that you might recognize from countless underground rap bills with crews like Heddshotts and the Gutterheads that these guys hail from. Here’s what Oblivious told us last January when the newly announced unit was about to take off for its first outing in Europe:
“Observation is key, and my lyrics on a project like this are inspired by things I personally have experienced. I am a victim of Sallie Mae to this day; I have been targeted by police and have felt unsafe many times, as have many people in my life. I have been in the prison system and seen the ugliness and the mindstate of people who can’t get out of their own minds. It’s a vicious cycle. Not everyone will agree with our views, but as long as we make people question things that maybe trigger new thoughts and ideas, then the goal is accomplished.”
At long last, W.O.K.E.’s self-titled debut is now streaming everywhere, with videos for “The Bird Box” and “Wake Up” flanking the effort. “Our outlook on the state of things going on in the world and in our country are very bold, and cut and dry on this record,” Lateb tells DigBoston. “This is our dream and what we want to do for a living. We elevate because this is what we love.”
Congrats to all of the recipients of the latest round of Passim grants through the Iguana Music Fund. Twenty-three musicians “with a strong New England connection” were given a total of $41,000 ($500 to $2,000 each) “to enhance their careers and support community outreach projects.”
“Grants are allocated in the areas of recording or manufacturing assistance, publicity and marketing support, equipment and instruments, songwriting retreats, tour support, special projects and other specific activities that promote artists work and/or professional growth.”
Here are some specific examples, for those of you who may want to throw your thinking cap in the ring next go-round.
- Volkan Efe also plans to give back through the Makam Healing Project. Efe will use traditional Turkish arrangements known as Makams to help heal people at Lemuel Shattuck Hospital in Jamaica Plain.
- Katie McNally, Dorene Higgons, and Katharine MacPhaill have started a weeklong Boston States Fiddle Camp in Groton, Massachusetts. The program helps educate fiddle players of varying abilities.
- Clawhammer banjo artist Allison de Groot is putting together an album of duets and singer-songwriter Prateek will record a live album in Somerville at Q Division Studios. Naomi Westwater is starting to work on an EP about race relations, climate change, and her health struggles. Molly Pinto Madigan will use the grant to promote her new folk opera.
In case you missed our interview with Boston reggae artist Greg Roy, he told us all about his experience as a music engineer as well as a writer and front man, here and also back home in Jamaica.
“It’s like gathering everyone around a campfire with a drum,” he said of the ideal session. “When the feeling gets right, then you hit that [record] button.”
On that note, we’re excited to hear that Roy’s new album, Tomorrow, is now being distributed worldwide by the iconic Tuff Gong imprint. More info and tracks at gregroymusic.com.