Dag Savage
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Dag Savage

Los Angeles, California, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2011 | SELF

Los Angeles, California, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2011
Band Hip Hop




"Dag Savage talk “E&J,” what makes for a classic album, and why they still love hip-hop - See more at: http://thecomeupshow.com/2014/03/04/interview-dag-savage-talk-ej-makes-classic-album-still-love-hip-hop/"

Interview by: Martin Bauman
What happens when you combine one of the best hip-hop producers of the past decade with one of the most energetic emcees on the West Coast? In short, you get Dag Savage. Los Angeles beatsmith Exile and San Diego rhymespitter Johaz have teamed up for E&J, their latest — and greatest — in a long line of collaborations since they first paired up for a track on 2006′s Dirty Science. Exile has proven himself twice already as a full-album producer, first with the 2007 cult classic Below The Heavens with Blu, and again with the 2009 fan favourite Boy Meets World with Fashawn. Now, with Johaz on the mic — and a lot of things he wants to say — he’s going for the threepeat. The result is pretty special. We caught up with Dag Savage to talk about their latest release, what makes for a classic album, why they still love hip-hop, and lots more. Read the full interview below.
TCUS: You guys were in Japan just a few months ago. What was that experience like?
Johaz: Ahh man, Japan was amazing. The main thing out there is the language barrier, you know, so us not speaking the same language that they’re speaking, the main connection was through the music. I felt a real tight bond out there; the customs were different, but at the same time, they were really embracing us, they were really into what we were doing, and we just felt that love out there. We didn’t speak the same language, but the language that we did speak was music.

Exile: We were able to even communicate just through saying funny shit and making fun of each other through simple words and shit. I’d guess about 30% of the people maybe spoke broken English. But it was a good time, and digging for records out there was real dope, because I was able to buy records I’ve never seen out here before. There’s a lot of dope shit out there.
TCUS: What kind of stuff did you come back with?
Exile: Some Japanimation records… just eighties and seventies music from Japan.
Johaz: I copped a few Transformers and vintage toys – G.I. Joes and Voltron, stuff like that.
TCUS: Before we get into talking about E&J, I want to get into a little bit of the backstories for each of you. Exile, I’ll start with you. What can you tell me about Koo’s Cafe?
Exile: That was the spot in Santa Ana; it was actually the second place [Aloe Blacc and I] ever performed. We first performed out in Long Beach with J Rocc, but [he] was one of the deejays that was always out at Koo’s Cafe in the beginning. DJ Drez was out there a lot, the Youth International Party (YIP), Ugly Duckling would be out there, Tony da Skitzo… man, it was like a punk rocker place, but then they had their hip-hop night. It was all-ages, there was no alcohol, there was a graffiti yard in the back, and it was just a place for youth to go to express themselves. There would be big dance [circles], freestyle cyphers, and performances, and it was just the place for us to discover our talents, you know?

TCUS: Johaz, what would have been one of the early venues for you as far as music goes?
Johaz: Man… There used to be this spot in San Diego called the Loft, and it was put on by these guys called Closed Sessions. That was like the first place that I actually used to go to and get into emcee battles and stuff like that. You had to be 18 [to get in], but there was a back door I used to go through and sneak in. One time, [the bouncer] caught me, but he was like, “yo, you come in here every night and rip it, so I’mma let you go through,” so I didn’t have to sneak in anymore.
Exile: How old were you?
Johaz: I was like 16. We would catch the bus from high school.
Exile: Yeah, Aloe was 16 when we were rockin’ out there. I was like 17.
Johaz: I was going to open mics and freestyle battles and shit.

TCUS: Is the Loft still around?
Johaz: Nah, hell naw. A bunch of spots in San Diego got bought out. They turned it into some condos. But the Loft was real big at that time, you know? If you were a [hip-hop] artist [performing] in San Diego, you’d definitely have to come through there, whether you were big or not. I remember seeing Smif-n-Wessun there; I remember seeing Buckshot there; I remember Brand Nubian came through there one time, Chino XL, Masta Ace…
Exile: What about local cats?
Johaz: My man Orko – shout out Orko the Sycotik Alien – he would always be there. Who else? Mr. Brady was there. It was a cool little melting pot of the hip-hop community; it was dope. They used to always do freestyle dancing too. I was in a crew that was full of dancers, and I was the only emcee, so you’d go there and there’d be b-boy circles and everything. It was real dope.
TCUS: Getting back to you, Exile, you have a rich family history of musicians, starting with your grandfather Alberico, but it also extended to your father as well. What can you tell me about Lost and Found?

Exile: Lost and Found was my dad’s band back in the sixties. It was like garage slash psych rock. They pressed up a 45 and it’s bangin’, man. I made a beat out of that; it should surface sometime soon. It actually got re-pressed out in London. Actually, later, my dad – Albert Manfredi – went on a solo venture in 1973, and I got a call from Groove Merchant in San Francisco. They just looked up my father’s last name in the L.A. area, and they were looking for copies of the record. They were trying to buy them off me for $60 a pop.
I went to my dad’s storage facility – he had passed away, but his girlfriend had a storage unit with all of his stuff in it – and I found a bunch of boxes full of his reel-to-reels. I found like 16 copies of that record, and I looked it up on eBay, and it turns out it sold for like $700 in Japan. I needed some cash, and I sold two of them for $500 a pop. It kinda blew my mind that people were actually seeking out my father’s music.

TCUS: Johaz, speaking of early musical influences, what kind of music were you growing up with in the house?
Johaz: It was pretty diverse. My step pops was heavy into Bob Dylan, The Beatles, and Jimi Hendrix, but at the same time, he exposed me to groups like Public Enemy and Rakim. My mom played a lot of Public Enemy, to be honest. She played a lot of Stevie Wonder, a lot of soul music, and a lot of early conscious hip-hop – that was what was blasting in my house. I remember being like five, six years old, and my mom coming home, like, “yo, you like rap? Check out this guy Big Daddy Kane” [laughs].
TCUS: I know you two have known one another for years already – well over a decade. How did the two of you first meet?
Exile: There was actually a group – one of them was the little brother of one of Johaz’s crew members, a dancer for Urban Dynamics and also Deep Rooted – and he had brought Johaz out to a show. I had been hearing a lot about Johaz, and we met there and started building, you know, listening to each other’s music. I had brought him through to some of the earlier Below The Heavens sessions, and [again] when I was doing my Dirty Science album, where I had a bunch of different rappers on it. Our first song we put out together was on that Dirty Science record; it was a record called “Do Not Touch.”
TCUS: Let’s talk about E&J. When was the idea for this album birthed?

Exile: Well, we had first wanted to make an album, and my initial idea was to kinda make a raw, grimy album. We started making songs along that nature, and we had put out The Salvation mixtape, and then later the EP, but as we progressed, I came to realize that Johaz was more than just a one-dimensional emcee, and he had a lot more to speak upon about his life. Eventually, we were just stacking up songs, and we made E&J. After we finished E&J, [we] went in and put in a lot of work, and we finished a mixtape too called The Warning Tape.
Johaz: We originally were just working on tracks together, and we were like, “yo, we’ve got some dope shit, let’s try to do an album.” In the course of recording the songs, we came with the mixtape, The Salvation, and then once we started progressing, we put out the EP just to hold people over. After that, I think we hit the moment where we knew “we’ve got something” when we did “When It Rains.” It took a minute [to release], because of all the stuff we’ve got going on, but I’m pretty happy with the result.
I feel like Exile, out of all the producers I’ve worked with, he brings the best out of me, because he challenges me and pushes me. He doesn’t let me just [stay satisfied] with one dope song. A lot of the songs that we recorded have like three, four, five versions, just because we’re trying to get the best song. I think [him and I] working together and pushing each other [is] why, to me, E&J is my best work.

TCUS: Tell me about how he’s pushing you then. What’s that process like?
Johaz: You know, as emcees, we all think we’re the dopest shit ever. But Exile’s the type [of person] where I’ll do a song, and I’ll be like, “I know this shit is hot!” And he’s like, “yeah, that’s dope, but could you try it this way?” [Laughs]. If you don’t have thick skin, that can rattle you, but I took it as a challenge to exceed the last verse I did. It was just constantly trying to get to a point with the music where he was satisfied with it and I was satisfied with it.
He had a dope track record already with Below The Heavens and Boy Meets World, so [I figured], “if he’s feeling it, then I know we’ve got something.” I was basically doing these songs to impress Exile, so it took me back to the days of [rapping] on some cypher shit. Every time Exile gives me a beat, I’m trying to step to it and knock it out of the box. When I know we have something dope is when I’ll be like, “yo, give me a beat, what do you want to hear on it?” He’ll explain to me what he wants to hear, and then I’ll try my best to come with that. Most of the time, when he explains to me what he wants, I usually deliver.
That’s what I like about working with Exile – not just “here’s the beat, do your own [thing],” it’s like, “let’s work hand-in-hand with this shit to make a cohesive song.” Sometimes I’ll go do my own thing, but I felt like we got the best shit out when he explained to me what he wanted to hear.
TCUS: You mentioned “When It Rains” as being the one when you realized that what you had was something special. Why that song?

Johaz: It was just one of them moments, man. I can’t really explain it. It’s one of those moments where you look and you’ve got the hair raising on your skin. Of course, with Aloe Blacc on it – not that we were using that as a selling point – but with Aloe Blacc on it, the way he was killing that hook, he just came in with that shit [mimics singing]. I remember looking, like, “yeah motherf—er, we’ve got something now.” To me, that was the crowning moment, like, “yeah, this shit is ready.”
TCUS: An interesting common point you two have is the early influence of LL Cool J on your love for hip-hop, something you subtly make reference to on E&J. Tell me about your different experiences with that.
Exile: Well, I was just a big LL Cool J fan. Actually, LL Cool J’s Radio was the first hip-hop tape that I ever got. Man, he was the dude; he was my number one rapper at the time [laughs]. I used to memorize his lyrics and lip sync them for my mom when I was younger. When we decided to name a song on our album “LL Cool J,” it was mostly because of Johaz’s last line – he had quoted an LL Cool J line, and it just made sense to call it “LL Cool J.”
Johaz: I mean, “I’m Bad,” that might’ve been the first video I can remember seeing. I had an aunt who was younger at the time, and she used to wake me up and be like, “yo, that video ‘I’m Bad’ is on, come check it out!” That was like the first video I ever saw, so I always had love for LL. To me, LL represented the fine line between dope lyrics and [also] having shit for the ladies. He was young at the time; he just looked like he was the man you wanted to be. He’s definitely still one of the top emcees of all-time. [He was a] big influence growing up.

TCUS: Johaz, you mentioned earlier how Exile had done Below The Heavens and Boy Meets World – two albums that, today, could be considered classics. What do you think makes for a classic album?
Johaz: I think for me, what I consider classic albums is when there’s many layers to it; it has a lot of variety, but it’s cohesive. They explain who they are, you know what I mean? When you hear a classic album, it’s basically a description of where that person is at in their life, or a description of how their life was. When I think of a classic album, it’s either explaining their upbringing or where they’re at in their life.
When I hear some old Ice Cube shit, his albums were real descriptive – he’ll talk about shit that was going on in his neighbourhood, shit that was going on in his upbringing, and his current situation. When you get that type of cohesiveness to where it all blends, especially with the beats and the rhymes, to me, that makes a classic album. It has a theme. Illmatic — that had a theme. Lethal Injection had a theme. When they have a theme, that’s when I’m like, “yo, this is classic.”

Exile: Most of the records that I consider classic will have one producer [throughout], from Big Daddy Kane having all Marley Marl, to Ice Cube having all Sir Jinx, King Tee [having] DJ Pooh… I think it brings together a cohesive sound and a comfortableness, because they’re working with the same producer. When you have that in combination with either them talking about their life and letting you know who they are, or coming out with some crazy character that you haven’t heard before – like some fun shit like the Pharcyde, or the Alkaholiks on some party shit – or Ice Cube talking about 1992 in L.A. and painting the picture perfectly, [showing] you the mind state of somebody in South Central at such a wild time as 1992. They take you right there. When somebody takes you where they’re at, and you’re there with them when you’re listening all the way through a record, that makes a classic record.
TCUS: I want to get into a couple songs off the album. Let’s start with “The Beginning.” Johaz, you rap a little bit about your frustrations with the Zimmerman trial on that song. How did the results of that trial impact you?
Johaz: I mean, it definitely pissed me off. It just took me back – like Exile was saying – to the riots in ’92. It just felt like a big injustice, like a slap to the face. I just thought about that shit, like, coming up, [all my peoples and I] wore hoodies. All the time, we were always f—ed with by the cops and the higher-ups, so that shit affected me.

I was really pissed off about that, because I thought, even though we have Obama as president and we have change, ain’t no way in 2013 that [someone] would get away with that shit. Like, damn, shit has changed, but it hasn’t changed. I had to drop that in, to be like, “yo, that was a bullshit call.” It still pisses me off talking about it [laughs], but I had to put that in there, because I feel like to this day, there’s still a lot of injustice that goes on, based off somebody’s appearance.
TCUS: It kind of reminds me of another line, in the song “When It Rains” actually, where you say, “this country’s got cancer in her breasts.” Tell me about this line.
Johaz: Well, initially, I was just quoting a Biggie line. It’s just saying, even though [it's] American the Beautiful and America the Brave, there’s still some dirty shit that goes on within our country. There’s still a lot of injustice, still a lot of poverty. It’s America the beautiful, but [there's] still a lot of ugliness in there. She got a breast job, but shit, she just found out she’s got breast cancer, you know?
TCUS: Another song – really, one of the more powerful songs on the album – is “For Old Time’s Sake.” On that, you talk about some of your early history, saying, “at 4 years old, the first time I was molested/ 13 years old, the first time I was arrested.” How did these things shape you at such a young age?

Johaz: Man… I’m still getting shaped by those experiences, but I definitely walked around sometimes with a lot of pent up rage and frustration. I held all those [feelings inside for so long]. The molestation part, I barely revealed that shit to anybody in the past six months. Sometimes, I would walk around and just have this pent up rage in me, and nobody would know why. I kinda channelled that into my creative outlets, but at the same time, that rage in me drove me to get arrested, fighting in the streets and doing the shit that we were doing. 13 years old, that’s a young ass age to be going to juvenile hall and be in and out of jail. It shaped me to be a passionate person, but at the same time, sometimes my passion gets misplaced, because I have this pent up [emotion] that hasn’t been released.
TCUS: Exile, when you have such a powerful song like that, how do you go ahead and craft the music around it to make sure that it’s as impactful as possible?
Exile: Well, the beat was made first, and I thought it would be a good beat for Johaz to create a timeline of his life and speak about it. He decided to really open up, and I applaud him for that. After the song was made, I did have keys laid over it to accentuate the emotion and match the emotion and passion that Johaz was giving.
TCUS: Let me ask you another question. You mentioned how you tend to think that a lot of classic albums are done with one emcee and one producer – this is something you’ve done with Blu and Fashawn in the past. What drew you to Johaz’s music and made you want to collaborate on an album with him?
Exile: His voice and his lyrics. To me, it was something new, a type of emcee that I haven’t worked with. Even seeing Johaz live onstage, he’s very captivating and aggressive onstage, and he’s just the perfect addition to the music family, you know? He was just a good missing piece to the puzzle.

TCUS: Johaz, what about you? What made you want to collaborate with Exile?
Johaz: Exile’s got dope beats, man, basically [laughs]. I was around for Below The Heavens and the creation of Boy Meets World, so just seeing how he [crafted] albums really made me be like, “damn, I wanna do a record with Exile!” I love how he puts albums together, and I love his creative process. Just the beats, initially, but seeing what he did with artists when he got with one guy and did a record – and how dope he was – is what drew me to Exile.
TCUS: A question for both of you, what makes you still love hip-hop after all these years?
Exile: Ahh man, it’s just like anything in life: you have your highs and lows with it, but as long as you can tap back into what initially made you happy with making music, that’s what makes me still love hip-hop. As music changes, I definitely experiment with different types of sounds, from electronic shit, to even indie rock-sounding stuff, and I might get caught up in doing too much electronic music. The fact that I can reinvent myself and go back to the classic, traditional type of shit, as of last night and today, I’ve been really back to my classic shit.

I’ve been making some really cool, raw, emotional and hard-ass bangers right now – I just got through making two, can’t wait to get back to the MPC – but really, it’s just making sure that it’s fun for you. It’s like when the summer ends and fall comes in, things look different and you smell these smells that remind you of when you were little. The type of beats that I’m making can kind of do the same thing – almost like a season, bring me back to why I love hip-hop – and make me feel like I’m 17 again. I kinda feel like that right now.
Johaz: Initially, all I ever wanted to do music for was for somebody to be like, “yo, that shit is dope!” With me, I still get a charge when somebody says, “I love the music; I love what you’re doing.” I just like making dope music that people like. If I think it’s dope, and somebody else thinks it’s dope, that makes my day. With me, man, my passion is to make dope music and hope people like it, whether it’s a million people or it’s 50 people. That’s just what I love doing. I love getting in front of somebody and doing my thing, and having them shake my hand, like, “yo, that shit’s dope.” That’s basically all I ever did it for. I just love hip-hop. I love rhyming, and I’m a fan of this culture forever.

TCUS: Final question for you guys. What does the next chapter hold for each of you?
Exile: I just finished an album with Aloe Blacc, the Emanon album. I’m working with this new emcee, his name’s Choosey – I’m finishing up an album with him. I’m finishing up an album with Fashawn, The Ecology. It’s pretty much done; I think we’ve got like one more song left that we’ve gotta nail. I’ve started working a little bit with Denmark Vessey, ADAD, and definitely a Dirty Science album will be coming out soon. Also, new Blu & Exile. There’s talk of me being on the new Domo Genesis album. And Asher Roth is actually gonna come over later today, so who knows?
Johaz: You know, with me, I just wanna keep creating, keep reinventing myself. Right now, I’m on the Dag Savage wave. Within the year, I definitely want to drop another free project for the people. My main thing is just making music and hitting the road, man, so that’s what I want to be doing. Keep making projects and hitting the road, and keep my relationship with my Dirty Science crew strong. I’m definitely writing right now for the Dirty Science album and to keep my pen sharp. But [I plan to] keep creating, hitting the road, and getting in front of people. Expanding. Expanding and staying sharp with the pen.
- See more at: http://thecomeupshow.com/2014/03/04/interview-dag-savage-talk-ej-makes-classic-album-still-love-hip-hop/#sthash.5XsywzD5.dpuf - thecomeupshow.com

"Friday music picks: Dag Savage, Bill Frisell"

By Peter Blackstock and Deborah Sengupta Stith
Dag Savage at the North Door. Between the lush beats and expert cuts from producer Exile and the furious barrage of unforgiving wordplay from rapper Johaz, the West Coast duo Dag Savage threw down an unforgettable set on the Okayplayer showcase at South by Southwest 2014. It was a riveting, stalk the front of the stage with both hands held high kind of performance. Take heed old school heads still pining for Rawkus Records’ hip-hop heyday, this Dirty Science crew is carrying the torch forward for the next generation. $10-$12. 10 p.m. 502 Brushy St. ndvenue.com. — Deborah Sengupta Stith - Austin360.com

"Dag Savage E&J"

posted February 04, 2014 at 9:02AM PST | 36 comments

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Dag Savage's "E&J" finds Exile and Johaz creating honest and traditional Hip Hop that is in touch with today's times.

A large part of Los Angeles producer Exile's impressive repertoire to date furthers the groundwork laid by duos including Gang Starr Pete Rock & CL Smooth, having built his name as a one man beat factory responsible for complete albums for artists in his Dirty Science camp. Though it's worth examining his past work with Aloe Blacc under the Emanon banner, most notably Blu's Below The Heavens and Fashawn's Boy Meets World were distinct semi-autobiographical works tailor made for their subjects, proving Exile's versatile chemistry within his chosen circle. Sticking to this script, he has combined forces with Johaz to form Dag Savage, a team effort that takes a no nonsense approach to creating honest and traditional Hip Hop that is in touch with today's times. E&J is the latest chapter in Dag Savage's saga that has garnered respect in just a little over a year's time.

Much like the brandy liquor commonly associated with its acronym, E&J is an acquired taste due to its initially strong and bitter character. The self-proclaimed West coast Reflection Eternal, Dag Savage's aesthetic matches the group's edgy name, with Exile giving his protege an unfiltered platform to speak on personal plights and struggles along with society's greater issues. Hurdling out of the gate, "The Beginning" attacks systematic injustice as the LP's very first verse pulls no punches. While he can't be neatly categorized as a conscious emcee, here Johaz seeks to spark a proactive revolution barking, "These niggas is full of shit like the Zimmerman trial / How you gon' stand behind the murder of a innocent child / In a all white hoodie blowing smoke to the clouds..." "Twilight" continues this righteous battle, drawing parallels between slavery, the conditions of disenfranchised black youth, commercial Rap's lack of civilization and the famed execution of gang leader Stanley "Tookie" Williams. This confrontational manner is but an example of why the San Diego native has quickly stood out in an underground scene that risks the same complacency suffered by the opposing mainstream.

Mindful of the need for balance, E&J makes certain to offer alternative lanes for anyone who isn't held captive by its rage driven moments. A brave feat considering he's still a relative newcomer, Johaz goes into painstaking detail looking back at his dreams to pursue music as a career and his family's skeletons on the introspective memoir "For Old Time's Sake." Letting the audience look deeper into his innermost complexities, the soulful and bluesy "When It Rains" could potentially gain traction given the harmonies of Aloe Blacc, who has increasingly become a staple of modern pop culture. On a lighter note, the jazzy and playful "LL Cool J" allows Exile to flex his sporadic passion for rhyming and "Wine & Cheese" is a classy ode to romance, fueled by the vocal stylings of songstress Jimetta Rose.

Dag Savage's E&J is another of Exile's cohesive soundtracks highlighted by his trademark penchant for melodic loops and hard drums, with intermittent difficulties and inspirational lessons derived from life's joy's and pains better understood after successive plays. A likely explanation of Johaz's aggression is the byproduct of a burning desire to be recognized amongst the future elite, a commendable trait of ambition that could be mistaken as unfriendly since this is a formal introduction for many. - HipHopDX

"The Golden Age of Dag Savage"

Dag Savage create an album bursting with a throwback hip-hop angle
By J. Smith
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Johaz (pictured, left) and Exile teamed up for a vintage platter of hip-hop on "E&J."
Sunday, Sep 21, 2014 • Updated at 10:36 AM PDT
Earlier this year, San Diego rapper and Deep Rooted MC, Johaz, teamed up with LA's Dirty Science head honcho/producer Exile as the duo Dag Savage for an album heavy on boom bap, dusty beats and rhymes -- a classic rap nod to hip-hop's golden age. Titled "E&J," a play on their names perhaps, or possibly a nod to their late night studio drink of choice?
On the rhyme side "E&J" finds Johaz, at times gruff and aggressive at his warrior-poet best. "Before I pop a pill, man/ I'd rather pop a Nazi", while at other times reflective, almost confessional-like when retelling childhood memories about talent shows and adolescent arrests, "From the walls of juvenile hall to Hawthorne elementary...... rocking talents shows, busting flows at assemblies."
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His yin-and-yang of aggression and reflection allow Johaz to showcase himself fully formed and multidimensional. The two qualities provide context and backstory for his songs which give his raps depth, and while he's not preachy or heavy-handed, his songs do carry weight. They also provide insight into who he is as an artist, but more importantly, they provide insight into who he is as a man.
As the album finds Johaz in full block scholar glory, it finds Exile in a golden haze of hip-hop's golden age. There's a timelessness to the production. Some of the beats sound as though they'd be just as comfortable on a Jeru album as they are here. But even with its distinct boom bap feel and vintage glow, the production also has a bit of regional bounce and a SoCal sheen that shines through on tracks like "Twilight," with its Dr. Dre-esque drums and pulse.
Or on "Bad Trip," with its slow rolling, sinister Westside 'G-Funk' bass line. Exile also provides the album with consistency. As the sole producer on the record, he maintains its cohesiveness. While Johaz uses reflection and aggression as two sides to the same coin, it's the beats and Exile that keep it all together. For every pensive mood and reflective line, there's a pensive beat; a reflective sound scape. It all helps in making "E&J" a proper album as opposed to a killer mix tape.
There's a lot to be said for chemistry: Pete Rock & CL Smooth had it, as did Dr. Dre and Snoop; Guru with Premier as Gangstarr became legends because of it; and on "E&J," Johaz and Exile prove that they too have that often elusive quality -- that certain jene sais quoi.
They just click.
J. Smith, aka 1019, is a San Diego native, rap fan and one half of the rap duo Parker & the Numberman. You can follow him on Instagram at 1019_the_numberman or on Twitter

Source: http://www.nbcsandiego.com/blogs/sounddiego/The-Golden-Age-of-Dag-Savage-275906071.html#ixzz3FhMeU9XN
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"Dag Savage: E&J (Album Review)"

Home » Reviews » Hip Hop Album of the Week » Dag Savage: E&J (Album Review)

Dag Savage: E&J (Album Review)
Posted on February 4, 2014 by Stone
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10 / 102 votes, 7.50 avg. rating (81% score)
More and more, hip-hop albums are progressing back to the traditional model of one producer-one rapper "duos." I say progressing because I truly feel that this is forward movement, not necessarily a regression to an old format. And whether actually labeled as a duo or not, this format of one producer and one emcee together - when executed precisely - usually offers the most consistent sounding records.

When you see production credits by Exile, it's easy to jump the gun and start allowing your mind to race thinking of all the crazy sounds the West coast producer jam-packed in between his funky drum breaks and fat bass lines. When you see Exile as the sole producer on a record, it's practically impossible to keep the smoke from billowing out of your ears as the gears inside your head work out the zany thoughts in preparation for a wicked production trip. E&J is in fact produced in full by Exile and features San Diego emcee Johaz (hence the title, "Exile & Johaz"). Together, the duo excels at keeping consistency strong throughout this wildly mellowed-out record and only offer up the finest of their respective musical universes for us to hear.

Johaz isn't as known as his other Dirty Science contemporaries (i.e. Fashawn, Aloe Blacc, Blu, etc.), but he sure bears weight enough to make his mark on talent-hungry listeners. Forget wearing his heart on his sleeve, the grass roots rapper exposes his inner soul by disclosing some pretty personal information through passionate rhymes over pensive instrumentals. Everything from sexual encounters to family woes, Johaz leaves no stone unturned and is sure to give listeners the rawest form of his being and that is a truly remarkable thing to experience. No holes barred should be the motto of Dag Savage's lead emcee for few artists could spit bars as intimate as his.

To smother the style of Johaz under the choking grip of a label would undermine his true appeal. Johaz is very multifarious in his rhyming skills and subject matters and should be honored as such. His varied style reflects positively on his overall versatility as an artist. Johaz can rock a beat rapping about striving to make a solid check just as well as he can rock a beat discussing his troubled childhood. You can almost never be bored listening to this emcee get on the mic because like a mystery box, you never know what you're going to get when a new track comes on.

Dag Savage enlists the help of fellow Dirty Science members to cover some features on their debut record. Blu spits the top verse (in my opinion) out of any of the features on "Don't Stop," one of the singles off of the album. Additional great features range from Fashawn's verse on "Cali Dreamin" to the hook sung by the never-dissapointing Aloe Blacc on "When It Rains."

Few words need to be said about Exile's production because it is just as wondrous as ever. Obscurely chopped samples blend seamlessly with warped audio effects (usually of the same sample) and other electronic shots. Though it is interesting to hear the darker mood embodied in the production on E&J. Especially after the live, funky feel of Fashawn's Boy Meets World, the sound and style that Exile creates for Johaz is complimentary to the lyrics of course, but is also notably more solemn than Exile's production on average. Nonetheless, it rocks steady alongside Johaz' aforementioned deeply felt rhymes and offers a nice dose of funk, electronic and jazz all in an eccentric instrumental package. "Twilight," "Milk Box" and "The Hurt" will all have your head swinging to the rhythm.

E&J marks yet another nominal project handled by Exile. Next in line after Blu's Below the Heavens and, again, Fashawn's Boy Meets World, Johaz' debut gets expert level production treatment by one of Cali's finest producers. Tucking his permanent position neatly into the Dirty Science crew, Johaz proves he's just as deserving of a worthy debut as his predecessors. E&J will have you reveling at the duo's chemistry while simultaneously feeling the words of Johaz mean something more than just bars on a beat. Likewise, Exile's beats leave no room for error as they perfectly capture the atmosphere defined by Johaz' verses. All in all, this album marks a phenomenal debut by a shining talent with the help of a famously eclectic producer.



1) The Beginning
2) For Oldtimes Sake
3) Twilight
4) Bad Trip (feat. Adad, Gonjasufi & Sahtyre)
5) Drugs (feat. Co$$ & Choosey)
6) Don't Stop (feat. Blu)
7) Van Gogh (feat. Choosey)
8) Cali Dreamin (feat. Fashawn, Co$$ & Tiombe Lockhart)
9) F.U.P.M. (feat. M.E.D. & Ras Kass)
10) Milk Box (Remix)
11) LL Cool J
12) Wine & Cheese (feat. Jimetta Rose)
13) Darlin (feat. Choosey)
14) The Hurt
15) When It Rains (feat. Aloe Blacc)
16) The Finish
***Notable Mentions:

Chill Moody, Beano & Hank McCoy: Who Do You Love…More?
Prince Po & Oh No: Animal Serum - hip hop speakeasy

"Dag Savage (Exile & Johaz): E&J [Album Review]"

“I’ll have an E&J VSOP neat, please.”
With a magician’s sleight of hand, the bartender places the snifter on the bar and the bottle of E&J brandy hovers over the narrow rim for four or five seconds. There is something appealing about the clear rigidity of the glass and the thick smooth viscosity of the brandy, the gentle curve of the snifter, abruptly ending at the sharp opening. The rim of the glass bites into the back corners of my upper lip as the warmth of the brandy fills my mouth and makes its final descent down my esophagus, providing a tolerable burning in my chest and upper abdomen. Smooth and sharp. Harsh, but not too harsh – a welcomed spectrum of sensation.
It’s fitting that Dag Savage, Exile and Johaz, would title their debut LP, E&J. Not only do the first letters of their monikers create the title, but the make-up of their personalities – both individually and collectively – bears resemblance to the drink in my hand: smooth enough to get the burn into your ears with little to no resistance, yet harsh enough to stir emotion and a call to action. The soulful samples pulled from dusty records are laden with stirring melodies, and are highlighted with sharp pops and hisses. The smooth kicks, crispy snares and hi-hats, hand chosen by Exile, are married perfectly with Johaz’ aggressive yet inviting delivery. This is E&J.
Classic Exile piano chops and subtly bold drums open the album up, followed quickly by a perceptibly eager welcome (a tone maintained through the entire record) from Johaz, the master of ceremonies for the duration of the album. This provides the entrance for the listener into the world of Dag Savage. The opener, “The Beginning,” is a summary of the raw lyricism to come, “These rap cats are switching like hermaphrodites / these niggas claim they hard, but they ain’t half as nice / I’d rather chew my arm off before I pass the mic.”
Social commentary (“Yeah, killin’ these clowns / these niggas full of shit like the Zimmerman trial / how you ‘gon stand behind the murder of an innocent child / in an all-white hoodie blowin’ smoke to the clouds”), battle raps (“I slap rappers like Greg ‘the Hammer’ Valentine”) and a plethora of subjects above, below and in between also have a presence on the LP.
“For Old Time’s Sake” is an intimate disclosure to let the listener know that nothing’s being held back and no holds are barred. The darker keys and painfully upbeat melodies provide the perfect canvas to paint this beautifully horrific composition. Johaz almost provides the why for each of the what’s that are to follow in each of the subsequent songs. The dark keys of “For Old Time’s Sake” serve as a foreshadowing of “Twilight.” The production gets heavier and creates an anthemic procession as Johaz marches forward lyrically; here socio-political themes provide a platform for some of Jo’s anger to be “channel[ed].”
As the weight of everything unleashed from the heart, mind and mouth of Johaz up to this point builds. It almost becomes necessary to seek solace. Johaz, ADAD and Satyre turn to various narcotics as a means of escape, but “Bad Trip” is exactly what it sounds like. While the track is fitting at this point in the album, I find it a bit distracting and, though the technical aspects of the track are phenomenal, I didn’t care much for the track. While literal drug references had me on a “bad trip,” “Drugs” had me on a good one! Jo and label mates Co$$ and Choosey absolutely kill this figuratively framed narcotics themed, braggadocio record.
E&J carries on in much the same manner all the way through, taking calculated but not predictable turns and going on enjoyable tangents, all the while carrying on the legacy of Hip Hop’s purity without even the slightest hint of wavering. Some of the notables along the way are: “Van Gough” – a slow and serious gem that’ll require multiple listens to fully grasp; “Milk Box” – an aggressive barrage of rhymes from Johaz aimed at any who foolishly think they belong in the ring with him; “Darlin” – a melancholy love jam that can run the gamut from pensive musings about the object of your affection to a warm break-up son; and finally the Aloe Blacc-assisted “When it Rains.” Johaz posted on FB, “You should cop the E&J album for this song alone,” which is an accurate statement. This track is like the perfect storm of choppy melodic production, subject matter, soul-filled crooning and a feel-good vibe.
It may be too soon, or even inappropriate, to make comparisons, but I will say that E&J sits, and deservingly so, right next to Below the Heavens and Boy Meets World as jewels in the crown of Exile’s canon.
Cop the album, purchase some E&J brandy, pour yourself a drink and hit play.
Review Overview
Overall - 9
out of 10 - kevinnottingham.com

"Music Review: Dag Savage (@DagSav) – E & J"

Dag Savage is the combination of Exile on the beats and Johaz on the rhymes. I named Exile first because it seems as if he has mastered the “one producer/one emcee” format. With a classic (Below the Heavens with Blu) and other exemplary albums (Blu’s GMFWICSST and Fashawn’s Boy Meets World) in his catalog, Exile has shown that he has what it takes to put out a great project. Now, we have to see if he can give Johaz what he needs to have a complete project.

Within a few listens of E&J, it can be said that Exile provides the proper backdrops for Johaz to flex over.

If one is paying attention, Johaz actually gives a lot of himself within the first few tracks. At the very beginning of the album, “The Beginning” allows him to express his thoughts on Trayvon Martin, religious beliefs, and his disbelief in the use of mollies as the drug of choice. The very next song, “For Oldtimes Sake”, gives him some room to touch on personal issues like being molested as a youngster, having relationship issues, and being arrested at 14 years old. Many artists don’t take the time to express WHO they are. With Johaz, however, he wanted to get that part out of the way.

That doesn’t mean that Johaz won’t flex his lyrical skills throughout the album. “Drugs” equates his lyrical prowess to crack rock, while the production is “that Coltrane”. In contrast, he shows how extra romantic he can be with “Wine and Cheese”. “Van Gogh” gets into his spiritual beliefs and idealistic views about life. It may not go over as swiftly as Exile’s previous rap partners, but Johaz has enough panache and skill to keep a listener’s attention.

Exile, being the producer that he is, actually flexes even more production muscle than usual. It is a good thing that he kept close to his roots with production like the extra soulful-yet-somber “Cali Dreamin”. Meanwhile, he gets extra funky-wormy with the heavy synths and cosmic slop of “Bad Trip”. Yet, Exile feels most at home when he uses the smooth soul samples and vocal wails that are highlighted on tracks like “Twilight” and “When It Rains”. Keeping things at home, yet diverse, allows Exile to provide the right backdrops for Johaz to rhyme over.

By the time “The Finish” comes to a close, we can see that Johaz and Exile put together a project that demonstrated their camaraderie over hip hop tracks. Johaz put a lot of himself, and his own personal beliefs, within all of the tracks offered. Exile kept things diverse enough so that the album doesn’t become totally mundane. It is hard to say whether or not people will laud this album years from now. Still, it can be easily said that E&J is an album that puts a lot of promise into fruition. - stacks magazine

"Premiere: Dag Savage (Exile & Johaz) Take You To “The Beginning” Where It Don’t Stop"

I’d rather chew my arm off before I pass the mic…

Have you ever been to Berlin? But have you really been to Berlin? When Dag Savage go to Berlin, they get to the real Hip Hop roots of the place. In their new video, “The Beginning,” off of their E&J album, they compiled show footage and combined it with some time they spent digging in the crates while abroad this past summer. This track was just one reason why we reviewed it in our recent print issue in the Independence Day section. The feel good jam is matched by the clean and simple edits that showcase some ill local graffiti, all through a faded filter to give you that warm feeling of nostalgia. But don’t get too lost in that feeling since Johaz has some serious messages for those who think they can step to them just like that.

See if you can spot all of the cameos from Blu, Quelle Chris, and Denmark Vessey who were all on the Dirty Science Tour with Dag Savage. And bonus points if you find Dag Savage breaking it down, not on the mic or boards, but with some dance moves. You can buy your copy of the album on iTunes, CD, and vinyl.

Bryan Hahn (@notupstate) - source magazine

"Dag Savage E&J"

By Aaron Matthews
San Diego emcee Johaz has teamed with L.A. producer Exile for their debut album E&J, their second project after 2012's The Dag Savage EP. Much in the same vein of past Exile-produced projects, from Blu to Fashawn, E&J is an introspective long-player soundtracked by sample-happy production.

Johaz is a serviceable rapper with raw, honest lyrics but stylistically indistinct from a number of microphone fiends working the indie circuit, so it's when left coast luminaries like Co$$, Ras Kass and Fashawn check in that E&J really lights up. Exile is also a welcome presence on the mic, as he and Johaz go back and forth on "LL Cool J" and "Don't Stop" with Blu.

However, it's Exile's choppy, jazzy beats that make E&J worth the RPMs, from the buttery, Aloe Blacc-backed "When It Rains" to the dark doo-wop of "Twilight." Though far from classic, E&J deserves a few months to appreciate; it's a ray of Cali sunshine in the heart of winter.
(Dirty Science) - exclaim.ca

"Album Review: Dag Savage- “E&J”"

Dag Savage is the duo of veterans consisting of: Johaz (formerly of Deep Rooted) and Exile (a producer way too many classics to name here). The duo has put out 2 free mixtapes in Salvation and The Warning Tape in addition to a self titled EP. This brings us to the release of their first full length album: E&J.
The album is a diverse piece of work both lyrically and on the production side of the project. Exile brings his patented jazzy sound to the album and Johaz comes through with everything from battle raps to love songs to personal anecdotes of his life. “For Old Time’s Sake” is literally an open book into Johaz’s life and everything he’s gone through. From dealing with molestation to going to jail, Johaz puts the his life out there for the listener to relate to and touch your soul while listening to this joint.

The personal joints continue on with what was the lead single for the album, “Cali Dreamin”, which features Fashawn and Co$$ on the verses. All three rap poetically about the environment that they live in and their worries about the future and even those that are still struggling in the hood. Exile brings one of my favorite beats on the album and possibly one of my favorite all-time from him. A piano loop and some light drums to really set the somber mood on this joint and it fits perfectly.
Now this part of the review is dedicated to the drug portion of the record, which while it sounds kind of weird, was actually really well done on this album. The two songs are “Drugs” and “Bad Trip” and Exile set the sound up real well to specifically set the tone for these two joints. “Bad Trip” probably has the most unique production on the album with these unique drums and 8bit sounds just bring this track full circle. Johaz brings Adad, Gonjasufi and Sahtyre to talk about their bad trip. I’ll let you guys listen to “Drugs” since it was actually on their self-titled EP.

The diversity on the album continues with the latter quarter of the album centering on love, which includes both the good and bad sides of love. “Wine and Cheese” has Johaz longing for someone to love, because he would treat her like a princess. The very next track “Darlin” has Johaz reflected on the hurt he’s caused his significant others. Exile has a way of fitting the mold and mood of every track and the love songs are just the same.
E&J is a very solid effort Exile again creates a beautiful sound scape for Johaz to craft some stories, speak to the people and motivate the people. The album is lyrically diverse with everything from love songs to social commentary and everything in between. The guests come through and don’t steal the show but give stellar verses (especially Choosey) and add some different voices to the project. There’s no excuse to sleep on this record, Dirty Science comes through again with another great release. I’m praying we get another release from these two, because E&J is stellar. - Dead End Hip Hop

"Album Review/Stream: Dag Savage (Exile And Johaz)- E&J"

So many emcees live out their careers with their potential unfulfilled due to never finding the right yin to their yang on the production side of things. This is more so common in today’s hip-hop climate due to the fact that so many producers skip around from one artist to the next in a rush to simply make a beat, receive the paycheck, then move on to the next request. Fortunately, there are some veteran producers out there who are sticking to the traditional format of 1 rapper/1 producer for the entirety of an album. This usually results in the creation of cohesive music, and that is exactly what we have here from this West Coast duo of Exile and Johaz. Exile has made a name for himself over the years due to his exceptional skill of tailor-making projects that bring out the best in the rapper he is working with. This was exemplified in previous albums such as Blu’s Below The Heavens and Fashawn’s Boy Meets World as both projects are considered as standout material from each artist. A similar success story has taken place here as Exile has teamed up with Dirty Science member Johaz for this E&J album, a body of work that may surprise listeners due to its unfiltered honesty and eclectic consistency.

Before we get into the wicked production of Exile, it is essential to properly introduce the somewhat unknown San Diego rapper/singer Johaz. While Johaz may not have the same underground popularity as other people in the Dirty Science crew (Fashawn, Aloe Blacc, Blu), E&J proves to be a coming out party for Johaz who lays everything out on the table for the listeners. Johaz’s hunger and natural talent is revealed on the album as he passionately raps about his personal struggles as well as society’s greater ills. The bar is raised high right off the bat on the intro “The Beginning” in which Johaz immediately showcases his raw intimate style as he raps about everything from the George Zimmerman trial to holy wars in the Middle East. While it would be unfair to Johaz to label him as a purely “conscious rapper”, he is certainly proactive in stating his opinions on the greater injustices that plague our world. Johaz reveals his life’s harsh realties early on in the LP and gets extremely personal on “Old Times Sake”, where he provides an introspective memoir on all of the hardships he had to go through on his quest to break through in hip-hop. While his moments of detailed self-reflection are striking, it is not the only quality that makes Johaz stand out as he also speaks on the parallels of slavey and today’s black youth (“Twilight”), as well as less heavy concepts such as odes to romance (“Wine and Cheese”). Johaz’s high level of versatility gives E&J a multifaceted identity and keeps the listener on edge as to what they will hear next.

While Johaz is the star of the show on E&J in terms of being its headliner, he does bring along some noteworthy guests who further strengthen the LP as a balanced body of work. Album single “Don’t Stop” features a noteworthy verse from Blu, who is no stranger to the production of fellow collaborator Exile. California is fully represented on standout tracks like the thoughtfully mindful posse cut “Cali Dreamin” and the smooth soulful tone of records such as “Drugs” and “Van Gough”. All of the Dirty Science members are easily able to stay in tune with the Dag Savage sound and that gives even more meaning to Johaz’s substantial verses.

What brings E&J over the edge as a top notch release is the expectedly fantastic production from Exile. From the obscurely chopped samples to the nicely blended-in scratches, Exile shows off his skills on this project and does so on behalf of Johaz. A more darker than typical mood is embodied in the production when you compare it to other Exile projects such as Fashawn’s Boy Meets World, and the sound fully compliments the sentiments of Johaz’s powerfully soul-revealing lyrics. The warped instrumentals are influenced by a varied dose of electronic, funk, and jazz sounds that mesh nicely with the hard drums that we are accustomed to hearing from Exile. The layered production of one of Cali’s finest producers gives Johaz the proper platform to passionately tell his story. With the ability to both sing and skillfully flow over the advanced beats, Johaz proves himself as worthy of standing right next to Blu and Fashawn as an artist who used the expertise of Exile to create a phenomenal debut album. As Dag Savage, the duo present an undeniable chemistry on E&J as Exile’s beats flawlessly captured the atmosphere of Johaz’s purposeful rhymes. This album is one that will stand the test of time for the young rising artist as E&J could not provide a more strong foundation for Johaz to build off of.

Album Rating: 4 out of 5 - Hiptothegame.com

"Dag Savage – “E&J” Review"

Back to where it started. Review done and dusted. That’s all that needs to be said about Johaz, the microphone magician. And as for Exile? The phrase ‘one man beat factory’ very much springs to mind. His collaborations and career speaks for itself. With E&J however, he has Johaz speaking for him.

The immediate attraction I had to this album was the simple yet effective approach of all purists and lovers of Hip Hop yearn for. Exile makes the beats, Johaz raps, and it’s as simple as that. It is the content and subject matter of those rhymes that of course, stands us to attention.

Never had I heard of Johaz before this project, something I say with sincere disappointment. Boy oh boy I’ve heard of him now though, and with every intricate line and detail you appreciate the brutal honesty and biographical standpoint Johaz is spitting from, “I wonder if he thought I was effected/At four years old the first time that I was molested”. Speaking of his father, this line is just one of many Johaz throws out for us to chew on. When listening to it for the first time, I stopped seeing him as a rapper and more as a person, equal for the people, he’s been through as many trials and tribulations as the rest of us.

That right there is one quality many so called ‘rappers’ of today lack; the distinct connection between listener and speaker. How can we relate to diamond rings and benjamins when Hip Hop was a genre of music created by the people for the people?

We warm to Johaz because he levels with us, both on a personal social viewpoint, ironically ‘keeping it real’, a term thrown about so much in the culture these days that ‘real’ lost its way somewhere inbetween money, power and mainstream chart sales.

For an MC to possess the hunger he portrays is to get Dr.Dre to give you an answer on when the infamous Detox is dropping; it’s a rare thing. But how this is enhanced all the more is the beautiful and harmonious beats Exile treats us to. E&J can be considered yet another cohesive classic, highlighted by his trademark melodic loops and the hard drums. I’m bopping my head just thinking about it.

Below The Heavens creeps slowly into my mind, and even though the ever regular Blu features on Don’t Stop, this album is an edgier, aggressive and more raw account of ones man’s introspective outlook on success, social issues and the conscious fight to be recognised as a credible artist. This is heard literally in The Beginning, where Johaz bursts through like a bull at a gate, attacking the verdict of the Zimmerman trial, the state of music and the importance of religion. Twlight, a song of similar fashion, depicts the bullishness of Johaz, something I personally admire.

Unfortunately of course, not everyone is going to agree with me, and one or two might mistake Johaz’s ambition for an apparent air of arrogance at such an introductory stage of his career. Me? I just think Exile has created a grand canvas, and Johaz has wonderfully painted all over it. - beamusicpro.com

"Blu, Dag Savage, Quelle Chris & Denmark Vessey"

Live am 15.4. in der Alten Feuerwache in Mannheim
Diese Entourage liest sich wie das Who-is-Who des Indierap: Blu, Exile, Johaz, Quelle Chris und Denmark Vessey waren gemeinsam auf Tour durch Deutschland. Bei ihrem Stopp in Mannheim waren wir dabei.
Text Andreas Margara

In gebotener Regelmäßigkeit präsentiert Aleksander Manfredi alias Exile heiße Newcomer aus seiner kalifornischen Rapper-Talentschmiede: Aloe Blacc, Blu und Fashawn – um nur drei erfolgreiche Konstellationen zu nennen, mit denen sich Exile als klassisches MC/Producer-Pärchen duo-liert hat. Neuester Exile-Protégé im Dirty-Science-Camp ist der junge Rapper Johaz. Als Dag Savage haben die beiden im Frühjahr mit »E&J« ein gemeinsames Album veröffentlicht, das als Highligt dieses Indierap-Jahres gefeiert wird. Mit großer Spannung wurde Exile und seine Entourage auf der Dirty Science Tour von den Fans erwartet, trat der Producer aus Los Angeles mit seinem alten Homie Blu Blu & Exile und seinem neuen Schützling Johaz als Dag Savage schließlich gleich doppelt in Erscheinung. Abgerundet wurde das interessante Line-up außerdem von den Dirty Science Label-Mates Denmark Vessey und Quelle Chris.

Letztere durften den Abend in der gut gefüllten Alten Feuerwache in Mannheim eröffnen. Die Reaktionen auf den unkonventionellen Sound fielen recht unterschiedlich aus. So eckt besonders Quelle Chris mit geistreich betitelten Tracks wie »Super Fuck« an, die er in abstrakter Kool-Keith-Manier auf abgedrehte Beats in Szene setzt. In puncto Innovation sicher einer der spannenderen Künstler der letzten Zeit, den man unbedingt im Auge (Ohr) behalten sollte. Die Bühne erhielt bald schon regen Zulauf, als Johaz nach den Dag-Savage-Stücken »When It Rains« und »Old Times Sake« bereits den Main Act Blu für den gemeinsamen Song »Don’t Stop« begrüßte. Wie sich bald herausstellte nicht ohne Grund, denn Blu feierte heute seinen 31. Geburtstag. Lässig bis zuweilen teilnahmslos schwebte der Birthday-Boy über Bühne und Beats seines soulhaltigen Underground-Klassikers »Below the Heavens«. Ungeahnte MC-Qualitäten präsentierte hingegen sein bärtiger Partner Exile, der sich erst mit einer spontanen Runde Rap hervortat, als human Beatbox in Erscheinung trat und sich danach mit einer ausgedehnten Beat-Show als wahrhaftiges MPC-Monster an den Tasten seines Drumcomputers offenbarte. Die Geburtstagsparty war nun voll im Gange und die Rapper spielten sich gegenseitig die Bälle zu. Eines der letzten Highlights der extrem unterhaltsamen Show setzte Blu mit seinem Hit »So(ul) Amazing«, das die sonnigen Westcoast-Soulvibes von Blu & Exile in Reinform übermittelt. Nachdem er das Mic erneut gekapert hatte, läutete Exile den Abend mit einem Freestylemarathon als Ein-Mann-Cypher dann etwas unsäglich aus.

Die Musik von Exile findest du bei hhv.de.
Tags: Exile Blu Quelle Chris Hip Hop The Live Report

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Real Name: Johaz Bosley
Hometown: San Diego
Influences: Busta Rhymes, Public Enemy, Native Tongues, Snoop Dogg
Who He's Down With: Dirty Science, Deep Rooted

Johaz gets around. The San Diego rapper came up with the group Deep Rooted and partnered with Exile for the group Dag Savage. His music -- from the female-centric "The Alina Marin Theory EP" to the politically-minded single "Dream Sequence" -- highlights the nomadic nature of his mind and rhymes.

You've got your work with Exile as the group Dag Savage. You also do solo material and the group Deep Rooted. How do you decide who and what you're recording for?

Deep Rooted was my base and I've been knowing Exile for 10, 11 years, but we were just on some homie shit, doing tracks here and there. Then we were like, “Yo, let's do a record together.”

Even though Dag Savage is a group with Exile, it'll be like my solo introduction because all the shit people ever heard from me is attached with another MC or someone else.

I'd done three records with Deep Rooted, so Dag Savage is like my solo jump-off. I wanted to branch out on my own and get people comfortable with Johaz as an individual artist. Then if you look at all the projects, it's Dirty Science. Dag Savage is on some tagger shit, like an abbreviation for Dirty Science.

In your material, you touch on a lot of different topics in a pointed way during the course of one song, whether it's relationships or social commentary. How do you make songs where you talk about more than one thing and still make a lot of good points?

I've seen a lot in my life, so I'm not just a one-dimensional cat. I've seen domestic violence. I've had uncles and aunties on crack. I grew up around bangers, around skaters, so my mind is diverse. I try to stay on topic, but hit 'em with various shit. That's just how I grew up, so when I write, I take that approach.

Your “The Alina Marin Theory EP” focused on relationships. What do you find interesting rapping about women and relationships and what makes you comfortable doing it?

I’ve had a lot of up and down experiences with chicks and I know a lot of women have up and down experiences with men. So for me, it just comes out naturally. When I get on that woman-topic-shit, it just pours out. I could do 200 songs about that shit. That’s an easy topic for me.

Back in the day when LL Cool J or later when Ja Rule was doing it, Ja Rule wasn’t that dope. Then with LL, he had big muscles and everybody doesn’t have big muscles like that, so a lot of cats were hating on that shit. He was getting all the chicks anyway, so shut up. Slum Village was always one of my favorite groups and most of their shit was based around women. Plus, times change.

Now it’s cool to admit that you've got feelings, that you've had ups and downs with women. Even though Frank Ocean used it as a marketing ploy, you can even say you're gay and nobody gives a fuck. Years ago, that would have been it. You couldn’t admit that shit. It would have been a wrap. It's a more tolerant generation as far as music and stuff. But the Dag Savage album, it's some darker, soulful stuff.

For more information from Soren Baker follow him on Twitter and check out his author page on Amazon.com. - red bull usa


May 14, 2014 • The Judge

Johaz and Exile are two of the most slept-on artists in hip hop from the last five years. Exile made a name for himself alongside west coast emcee Blu on the superb “Below the Heavens” album released all the way back in 2007. Then there was the equally excellent “Boy Meets World” with Fashawn, another album that established a dope rapper as an ever-present in the underground scene. “Radio” was further proof of Exile’s capabilities, bringing his instrumentals to the fore and possessed one of my favourite tracks of 2010 in “Summer Song”. Having seen Exile live too, I can confirm that his MPC work is incredible – he treats that thing like a master pianist. It’s unsurprising then that he has gone on to work with the likes of Pharoahe Monch in recent years, but he has returned to the west in 2014 to team up with the emcee Johaz – most likely somebody you won’t have heard from before. It’s a shame, because Johaz was part of Deep Rooted, a hip hop group not too dissimilar to Black Eyed Peas when they first brought Fergie in – except they fully embraced their hip hop roots. Deep Rooted’s “D.E.E.P. R.O.O.T.E.D.” from 2009 was just that, so deep rooted that no motherfucker heard it. It’s a forgotten gem which benefitted from some top notch production and irresistible vocals from Brea – but the rappers were never particularly jaw-dropping. Listening to Johaz on “E & J” makes you realise just how overlooked he was in Deep Rooted, a group which also included Mr Brady, who has also just released a new album.

Johaz is a gruff emcee, not too dissimilar to Rakaa Iriscience of Dilated Peoples in his natural, easy-on-the-ear delivery. It’s easy to compare him to Rakaa in terms of overall sound, because both benefit from crystal-clear, professional production that bangs hard, even on slower songs. Of the two Dag Savage members, Johaz surprised me here. Exile can seemingly do no wrong, as his production feels like a follow-up to “Below the Heavens” in the way he has delivered a healthy mix of head-nod cyphers (“Drugs”, “F.U.P.M”) and more personal songs (“The Hurt”, “Cali Dreamin’”). It’s hard to really criticise this record from a musical standpoint – scatterings of chopped pianos and crisp drums remind me of Gang Starr’s “Moment of Truth”. What perhaps holds the album back from toppling Guru & Premier’s best work, is that Johaz isn’t quite as charismatic as Gifted Unlimited. While that may be a harsh comparison, it’s one that I’ve juggled with for a few weeks now – this album sounds phenomenal on first listen and I’ve had to listen to it at least twenty times to truly give credit (in the words of Mr Monotone) where it is due. Johaz helped create some good, if unremarkable albums with Deep Rooted, but as Dag Savage has certainly stepped up a level. “E & J” is just so damn consistent. “Oldtimes Sake” gives newcomers a bit of background to Johaz’ upfront manner (“I still have nightmares of my Aunt’s friend touching me, it’s why I’m cold to every woman that’s loving me”), whilst also throwing in other lines about working whilst pursuing a rap career, and feeling this collaboration with Exile is a new chapter in his life. It’s a testament to Johaz’s ability to just throw a deeply personal rhyme in to a song that could well be elaborated on and made in to a separate record altogether. Yet this is not an introspective, emotional journey that perhaps Blu would do with Exile, it’s a healthy blend of bragging, messing about and tackling everyday issues.

Radio-favourite Aloe Blacc earns his much coveted dollar crooning on “When It Rains”, a satisfying collaboration that doesn’t overpower Johaz given his star-quality. What is refreshing about the guest features is the inclusion of the extended Deep Rooted family – Aloe Blacc, Fashawn, Blu, Brea, Co$$ and even Ras Kass are all local artists that have links or past work with Johaz and Exile. Hearing Ras Kass on “F.U.P.M.” is surprisingly natural, given his penchant for violent imagery and gangster-isms. Most importantly, there’s a natural chemistry between both Johaz and Exile, and it is the moments of pure fun on tracks like “LL Cool J” that lend “E & J” its cohesive quality. This is most definitely an album rather than a collection of songs. An album that hammers home the fact that Exile is a producer in his prime, a talent that’s surely capable of working with bigger names and for bigger cheques but is equally happy blessing those he came up with, with some of the best instrumentals of his career. This is highly recommended – don’t let it stay “Deep Rooted”.

8.6/10 - hiphopjudge.com

"Dag Savage (Exile & Johaz)-Interview w/ Out Da Box Radio"

Posted: March 9, 2014 in Hip-Hop, Interview, Radio, Soundcloud
Tags: California, Dag Savage, Dirty Science Records, Exile, Johaz, Out Da Box 0

This week Out Da Box Radio is happy to bring you our latest interview featuring California Artists’ “Exile and Johaz”. Together they are better known as “Dag Savage”. The two recently released their debut collabo LP entitled “E&J” following the success of their “Dag Savage EP” and recent “Warning” Mixtape.

We got the chance to talk with Ex and Jo on a number of topics, beginning with their individual history and how they eventually came together to form the name “Dag Savage”. In light of their new album, Exile took some time to reflect on the success of his previous collabo LPs with Emcee’s like Blu and Fashawn, and identified the common defining moment that has made every one of his collabo albums something special to him. Johaz later took a moment to reflect on being around during the time Blu was recording “Below The Heavens” and what it meant to witness the classic album in the making.

In a turn of topics, we also got Johaz to speak in detail about the struggles of his upbringing and how overcoming the obstacles have helped him to be the man we also know as an artist today. His story definitely gets deep and can be best introduced in the Dag Savage track entitled “Old Time’s Sake”. We also got some word from Jo on future goals he would like to achieve as a growing artist.

The other part of the interview gave light to Exile and the success of his record label known as “Dirty Science”. He also spoke on the cutting edge/experimental Los Angeles Beat scene, giving props to Sound In Color, Low End Theory and Stones Throw as labels/movements that have helped make an impact in building the west coast indie beat making scene. I truly had a blast talking with both Exile and Johaz for this insightful interview.

If you like what you hear from their music, definitely feel free to support with a purchase on itunes or at their Dirty Science website. In the meantime please do take a moment to check out our in-depth interview with Dag Savage themselves. We hope you are certainly inspired! - ruggedones.com


Still working on that hot first release.



Dag Savage is like yin and yang, dark and light. Los Angeles based Exile, the producer that helped birth classic collaborations with Aloe Blacc, Blu and Fashawn, has found another kindred-spirit MC in Johaz. Together they unite under the banner of Dag Savage to bring a dose of gritty realism to hip-hop. 

Exile was raised into music, something that began generations ago in his family. Through rudimentary beat machines, turntables and instruments, Aleksander Manfredi found his niche and spent years honing it. In his teenage years Alek would find a musical comrade in future soul artist Aloe Blacc and in 1995 they would form the Hip Hop Duo Emanon. In the mid 2000's Aloe would introduce Exile to an MC by the name of Johnson Barnes. Johnson who would eventually take up the guise of Blu would record with Exile what would be Exile's biggest album to date "Below the Heavens". "Below The heavens Would garner critical attention from both fellow hip hop artists and musical critics alike and be hailed as an instant classic. In 2012 Exile Established the Independant Label Dirty Science Records from which to release his own material and the material of the artists he Collaborates with. Exile's Musical Journey has led him all over Southern California’s underground scene and it was at a show in the mid 2000's that he first met a young, hungry MC by the name of Johaz.

Cultured by experience, Johaz grew up both in East San Diego County and Tijuana, Mexico. Life was definitely not easy for
a young Black boy living in Tijuana and crossing the border everyday to go to school in SD. He returned to the states full time as a teen but the wise and intelligent young man had developed a belligerent streak. Though he was too young to get into local clubs normally, Johaz infiltrated the scene as a dancer, hopping on the mic once he’d finished a routine. This inevitably led to
an encounter with the Masters of the Universe crew and after proving his worth through battle and realizing he was kin with Sumach aka Gonjasufi, Johaz became an extended member of the collective. He didn’t record much with them though, aesthetically Johaz was a bit different than everyone else at the time. Johaz’s flow was a bit more deliberate, his lyrics painstakingly honest and unabashedly raw. It wasn’t until his dance crew Urban Dynamics grew into the hip-hop group Deep Rooted that Johaz began to find a home for his gravely flow.

It was his Urban Dynamics brethren that brought Johaz out that fateful night when he met Exile. Johaz immediately made an impression on Ex through his ferocity on the mic and his hunger and humility as a person. He was quickly invited to the studio where he began cutting tracks with Exile and the idea of an extensive collaboration began to brew. Soon it became apparent that the chemistry was unique and the duo spent the next several years chiseling away, crafting their unique blend of hip-hop.

Finally, 2014 is the year the world meets Dag Savage. A balanced blend between the Raw/ soulful sound Exile has culled out of previous work and the fierce intensity Johaz carries with him from life and battle days, Dag Savage brings another dimension to hip-hop: gritty and raw, heartfelt and honest.