It's been said before that there's strength in numbers. Back in the old days my crew certainly knew that was true. It was the late 90's and from all over the Metro Boston area heads would trek to the South End to a house between Columbus & Tremont in search of a collection of the nicest emcees & illest beatmakers you could find around. The core of the crew were once young Hip Hop prodigies that were brought to the attention of A&R's & executives at many labels but unfortunately even at a young age they refuse to fall for industry bullshit.
Growing up around the industry in Boston they'd seen it happen to numerous acts repeatedly. The list was a long one by then. The crew numbers grew as time passed. Only the illest were allowed to claim they were down at even breathe on the mic or spit in ciphers @ 487 Mass Ave back in the days. Local legends used to visit there often looking to sign someone, acquire beats or even ask for one of them to get down on a track and spit a hot 16. Too bad a "hot 16" was a joke to us. We'd been spittin' "hot 16's" since we were 8. By the last 90's, we had members down with us from the South End, North End and a fair amount of us were from Cambridge. Since we lived on Mass Ave it was nothing to come across the bridge and find our crib. Some of boys brought this kid that just moved from California over to 487 Mass Ave, they called him O. O turned out to be a beast.
He was younger than us but hanging around a crew of older cats and being in a super competitive Hip Hop environment turned a young Omri Barbosa into even more of a monster than we ever thought possible. Between myself, Buctayla, Nasarok and DYS, O had no choice but to elevate every aspect of his game and stay sharp. He began to shine so much that we had no choice but to put him on tracks. Soon he, Buc & Brandon we in the home studio laying down demos that when we let people hear 'em they got the scrunchface and said "Woooooo!". We were poised to take over the underground. We had our plan. We had a team. Nothing could stop us...except for gentrification and the vote against rent control that lead to our eviction from 487 Mass Ave in 1999., that is. Without that base, things began to fall apart for the crew. Sometimes we'd just lose touch with each other for long stretches of time.
The apartment @ 487 Mass. Ave wasn't just my childhood home. It was like a Boys & Girls Club, rec center, community center, home studio and haven where we could escape all the bullshit around us. Back then, Boston (especially the South End) was considered Hell. Shit, it got called "Hell" so often that it became slang for the South End during the Crack Era (1984-1996). We took that and ran with it. It was Hell trying to get signed out of Boston considering the fragile state of the local scene, rampant violence (ask about it), lack of venues in the metro Boston area (thank God for Cambridge!), etc. O used to come to our house all the way from Cambridge to get advice, kick it with his boys, lay down tracks, get into ciphers or just chill. O much like our boy D had a foot in the streets and we were his tether to the alternative...Hip Hop. We were committed to get shit poppin' and help him on the right path. In the end, we failed him.
We were forced to move in with our sister & her soon to be husband a month before their impending wedding and my sister was expecting. Shit got real. O was going through legal bullshit. D was running back and forth between labels and cats that wanted to put him down but we couldn't record or give him beats cuz all our shit was in storage plus we had no space to call our own anymore and hash things out, get shit done or make plans. The money we were saving to press or own 12's & CD'S (Hi, Discmakers!) was used to buy in to a co-op back in the South End were we've lived for the past 10 years now. D went in and out of jail. Nasarok moved to Hawaii. O moved away after some bad luck but we did see him every now & then. Homie was locked up in 2003 and he let out not too long ago. Dude showed up at out apartment and it was like God said "Let's try this shit again y'all".
O said "I prayed y'all still lived here, man!". We do. "Ayo, Buc, you still make beats?" He does. "You still rhyme, Sonny?". Nah, I write now and no one's called me "Sonny Fontaine" since 1999 (long story, wait for the book). Either way, our boy Omri Barbosa is back and he's ever more of a beast than he was back when folks used to want to battle us and we'd say "If you can handle this kid, O... then we'd battle". They couldn't. When O sought us out he asked us to explain why kids are rockin' tight pants or why the radio's full of garbage. We broke it down the best we could. "So, how do I get on now?". I said "Basically, you make a gang of material and you send it to blogs. If the blogs think your shit is hot, they'll champion your cause. Blogs are sorta like a new A&R, marketing or promotions venue nowadays.".
O asked me "So, who's the biggest blogger in Boston that I can send my music to after I make it to start this entire process rolling then?". I smiled (I rarely do that) then pointed to myself. God decided to give us all another chance so O decided to call his EP "Godspeed". The kid that once went by the name Devil's Angel (We were the Hellfire Club, we were based in the South End during the grimy 90's...it made sense then) now calls himself Overcast. Once the "Godspeed" EP is finished in the coming months we'll have it available for download and start on a full length. Check out what Overcast has made in two weeks of grinding in the studio after work. Wait until we get the album underway and Deandre comes home this Spring. 10 years ago we were poised to take over the world. The world's changed since then but that doesn't mean we can't still try.