Collective Efforts
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Collective Efforts

Band Hip Hop R&B

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Jul
26
Collective Efforts @ Red Eye @ Bragg Jam

Macon, Georgia, USA

Macon, Georgia, USA

Jul
25
Collective Efforts @ Apache Cafe

Atlanta, Georgia, USA

Atlanta, Georgia, USA

Jul
19
Collective Efforts @ House of Blues

Chicago, Illinois, USA

Chicago, Illinois, USA

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Music

Press


Ben Hameen, Bambu and J-Mil kick back with bottles of Bass ale and laugh about it now, but for an entire year they endured living in a rental house infested with rats. "There were so many rats, we had owls in our yard," J-Mil says in his jagged razor-blade voice. "When's the last time you saw an owl?"

It's not the kind of satirical question you might expect from Collective Efforts, a group that has spent the last half-decade crafting hopeful hip-hop in response to the woes of the world. But something positive did arise from their time spent in the Rat Cave. Released in '06, the group's third full-length, Medicine, offered solace from the South's snap-or-trap onslaught. But poor promotion unjustly condemned the three MCs – then signed to Atlanta's now-defunct indie-rap label ATF Records – to hip-hop purgatory. With an abundance of Southern-accented beats, soulful hooks and credible collaborators such as Gripplyas, the self-produced unit wasn't just underground; it was underexposed.

"People like to be able to sum [music] up," Ben Hameen says, "Like, 'OK, well, this is the live, conscientious, positive-lyric, soulful, white-boy hip-hop from Atlanta.'" That would make CE an ironic pick to perform at a six-day concert series (Jan. 24-Feb. 2) celebrating Georgia music and the Grammy Awards.

But the blue-collar MCs know how to earn their keep. They hold down regular 9-to-5s while working on new material. (Full disclosure: J-Mil is a graphic designer for Creative Loafing.) Meanwhile, they've moved up from the Rat Cave to a home with a basement studio in Tucker they like to call the Estate.

It's the kind of upgrade they could get used to. - Creative Loafing


For the past decade and a half Atlanta has been the fertile breeding ground for black music, coinciding with the city's cemented status as the Mecca of Black America. When we think of Atlanta sound today, the first thing that comes to mind is the booty shaking, trunk rattling, crunk music. This is a far cry from the revolutionary organic hip hop soul offered by Arrested Development or the gritty southern fried, funky soul sounds of Organized Noize, which brought to us arguably the most innovative hip hop outfit of all time, Outkast. Much like hip-hop, the city's sound has changed a lot. I am not the one to arbitrate if it's for the betterment of hip-hop or otherwise. We had a hip hop classic like "Cell Therapy" by Goodie Mob ten years ago, and the new hit being churned out from Atlanta is "Laffy Taffy" by 4DL . This is more a reflection of hip-hop than the city.

ailing from Atlanta, Collective Efforts is an alternative to the Atlanta crunk hip-hop scene. Their third album Medicine is a smooth, jazzy, easy listening hip-hop record. CE cannot help but conjure thoughts of Jurassic Five or they at least come from the same school of thought. This not trying to say that they are biting off J5 but to a certain extent when you think of them they remind you of J5. Kind of like when you think of Rakim, you think of Nas .The only drawback to the album is on the lyrical side. CE do not pack that necessary lyrical punch needed to catapult them to the next stratosphere among hip -hop heads. Although the lyrics are positive and the delivery effortless, they lack the essential word play to truly be considered nice. I will definitely be checking for their next album, because these cats have so much potential. Medicine is the perfect summer time CD that you can play in front of big momma and your lil' cousins with no shame nor explanation at family cookouts. - okayplayer


Ben Hameen, Bambu and J-Mil kick back with bottles of Bass ale and laugh about it now, but for an entire year they endured living in a rental house infested with rats. "There were so many rats, we had owls in our yard," J-Mil says in his jagged razor-blade voice. "When's the last time you saw an owl?"

It's not the kind of satirical question you might expect from Collective Efforts, a group that has spent the last half-decade crafting hopeful hip-hop in response to the woes of the world. But something positive did arise from their time spent in the Rat Cave. Released in '06, the group's third full-length, Medicine, offered solace from the South's snap-or-trap onslaught. But poor promotion unjustly condemned the three MCs – then signed to Atlanta's now-defunct indie-rap label ATF Records – to hip-hop purgatory. With an abundance of Southern-accented beats, soulful hooks and credible collaborators such as Gripplyas, the self-produced unit wasn't just underground; it was underexposed.

"People like to be able to sum [music] up," Ben Hameen says, "Like, 'OK, well, this is the live, conscientious, positive-lyric, soulful, white-boy hip-hop from Atlanta.'" That would make CE an ironic pick to perform at a six-day concert series (Jan. 24-Feb. 2) celebrating Georgia music and the Grammy Awards.

But the blue-collar MCs know how to earn their keep. They hold down regular 9-to-5s while working on new material. (Full disclosure: J-Mil is a graphic designer for Creative Loafing.) Meanwhile, they've moved up from the Rat Cave to a home with a basement studio in Tucker they like to call the Estate.

It's the kind of upgrade they could get used to. - Creative Loafing


ATLANTA: Hip-hop locals Collective Efforts and RJD2 man the mic and bring the inaugural event to a close.

Emerging into the dustbowl that had become the stage compound, it was time to trek across the grounds for more music. Under the soothing shade of the Pontiac Tent, local hip-hop/soul revivalists Collective Efforts were greeted by a lively crowd, already grooving to the house music playing softly overhead. Delving into the set, the band, fronted by three MC's and backed by a solid cast of musicians, immediately drew a wave of curious bystanders from the Spoon show in progress at the adjoining Lunar Stage. Feeding off the crowd, Collective Efforts bounced around the stage, spewing a positive message of self-awareness and sharing that only heightened the already brewing sense of camaraderie and togetherness that had become the hallmark of the Echo Project.

Dreamy synth riffs emanated from the stage while Ben Hameen, J-Mil and Bambu continued to inspire the crowd with rhymes like "So much in the world's gone wrong, but everything else is right." Meanwhile, a few dozen die hard dancers kicked up an almost impenetrable dust cloud as the rest of the audience looked on in comfort from the back. With the set drawing to a close, the band took a moment to address the festival's larger social message. "Any of ya'll from somewhere other than Atlanta," Hammen queried to a roar of applause. "That's what it's all about. Getting people together through music for a good cause." We couldn't have put it better ourselves. - Spin Magazine Online


"Music is the medicine to open the brain and learn," says J-Mil of Collective Efforts when asked about the group's new album, Medicine. "A lot of people who are hip-hop enthusiasts need a little bit of medicine, because a lot of what's been going on -- I remember, during the golden age of hip-hop, when you could turn on the radio and hear Wu-Tang Clan, the Roots, A Tribe Called Quest or Hiero. Now you turn on the radio and you're hard-pressed to find something of substance."

The sound of Medicine is contemplative and mellow. Its keyboard-driven blue beats, mostly produced by MCs J-Mil, Bambu and Ben Hameen, are spare and mellow. Multi-instrumentalist Hameen sometimes augments them with guitars and bass, and DJ Creashun scratches over them. The trio usually raps about introspective topics such as the way the music feels to them. Hameen and Ruthie Smith often sing the hooks, adding a soulful element to the music. "Head-on collision/I'm living the vision/I've written the wisdom/Now I'm just spittin' into the wind, son," raps Hameen on "Until My Life's Gone," the album's first single.

Medicine's most remarkable quality is that its tone is so serious. But J-Mil says its occasionally somber mood is unintentional. "There wasn't anything that we intentionally set out to do, no 'We're going to make this record be this way.' When we created it, it was just a [reflection] of what we were going through at the time," he says, without elaborating.

J-Mil, Bambu, Hameen and Creashun formed Collective Efforts in 2002 from the ashes of well-known hip-hop group Live on Arrival. Medicine is the quartet's third album, and will likely be the first to benefit from Arc the Finger Records' growing national profile (thanks in part to fellow label act Psyche Origami and its 2005 album The Standard). If Collective Efforts can't get props from Atlanta's hip-hop radio stations, maybe it will get the respect it deserves elsewhere. - Creative Loafing


Discography

Time For Hope EP (Release Date: July 1, 2008)
Medicine (Release Date: May 2, 2006)
Trail Mix (Release Date: May 17, 2005)
Vision of Things to Come (Release Date: June 16, 2003)

Photos

Bio

Collective Efforts emerged onto the Atlanta underground hip-hop scene in 2002 from the ashes of the acclaimed hip-hop group Live On Arrival, and garnered critical praise in 2003 with their debut album, Visions Of Things To Come. Merging the skills of MCs Ben Hameen, J-Mil and Bambu de Asiatic, and held together by the edgy, organic turntablism of DJ Creashun, Collective Efforts' positive, powerful message sets them apart from the majority of hip-hop currently coming out of the south, and appeals to fans of both “mainstream” pop, rap, and R&B fans as well as aficionados of underground, conscious hip-hop.

Four years and three well-received albums later, the group has expanded its collective effort to include a backing band of solid musicians. Although first touted as guest members of the group, the energy and synergy between the original four and the five new musicians was unmistakable from the very first show, and soon were incorporated as full time members of Collective Efforts.

Currently in the studio working on several new tracks with the new band, as well as a remix album, Collective Efforts continues to be of underground hip-hop's most talked about acts.

The Atlanta-based group toured the US in 2005 with Sound Tribe Sector 9 and has performed with the likes of Goodie Mob, Aceyalone, and Count Bass D, as well as playing on several festival bills with the likes of Lyrics Born, RJD2, and The Roots. In 2007, CE was asked to play at several festivals including A3C Independent Hip-Hop Festival, RE: Generation, and the Echo Project, which resulted in an article on spin.com lauding the group’s performance.

Releases include the albums " Visions of Things To Come" (independent, 2003), "Trail Mix" (ATF Records, 2005) and " Medicine "(ATF Records 2006); the " Another Soulful Song " 12-inch single (ATF, US, 2004) and the " Higher We Rise " single (ATF/Handcuts, Japan, 2004); a self-titled, Japanese exclusive full length was also put out by Handcuts in 2004.