The Problemaddicts
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The Problemaddicts

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"The Problemaddicts turn ebony and ivory into asphalt and chalk outlines."

Since it became a petri dish of musical cross-pollination, the Valley has seen its share of bands rise to confront the challenge of the national stage. From Amherst/Westfield indie-rock to Northampton alt-country to Springfield metal, occasionally a part of the scene prospers to the point it tosses up its bravest, most willing tour warriors to face their fortunes with the fickle. From there they either spread their wings and fly, returning only rarely to play one of the bigger venues, or come limping back 10 pounds lighter with hangovers, scabies and a doughnut spare tire on the foul-smelling tour van.

The last few years have seen the gelling of a local hip-hop scene that, perhaps thanks to the unique makeup of the Valley's populations, has succeeded in spanning age groups, racial boundaries and a chunk of geography that seems to include more than just a couple of Pioneer Valley cities and towns. While the styles of this burgeoning movement range widely from straight rap to Latin- and reggae-influenced versions or even metal-edged beats and rhymes, a sense of community and commonality has been forming among MCs from Amherst to Agawam. Paving the way are a few select acts, including a fresh posse of verbalicious concept artists who call themselves The Problemaddicts.

Though The Problemaddicts are at least half made up of conspicuously Caucasian fellows, they've done an admirable job of not only assembling their own collection of respectable rhymes but, like Eminem or the Beastie Boys before them, also forging lasting, positive connections with the African-American majority of national hip-hop culture, inside and outside the band. Fortunately, music is one of the few languages that can speak coherently to all ears, and though elements of racism have plagued the music industry since its inception (the controversial exclusion of of rap videos at the advent of MTV comes to mind), the sharper share of artists and even some industry types have come to recognize that talent and message are the primary commodities in a business that purports to be about universal communication.

The Problemaddicts clearly understand this—to the point that they've penned a bordering-on-brilliant tune ("I'll be White Black") that deconstructs just about any notion of black and white differences or juxtapositions that may ever have existed, from milk in your coffee to the Chicago White Sox/"Black Sox".

Fresh off a win for best hip-hop act in the Valley Advocate's Grand Band Slam (the live performance of which comes to both the Pines Theater and The Elevens on Saturday, Sept. 8), the barely one-year-old band has just emerged from the sound-proofed chambers of Amherst's Northfire Recording Studio, where they've been putting the finishing touches on their debut full-length, The First Step. The 15-track effort is the latest release on the Mystika Music label, a local indie founded by Problemaddicts core members Tone and DJ Theory.

The label recently secured global distribution through Red Line Music Distribution, a company that already has Mystika's Western New England Hip-Hop Compilation in stores from Europe to Japan, as well as most Newbury Comics locations and web-based music hubs such as www.undergroundhiphop.com. The compilation itself seems to have done a lot to help solidify a common cause in the area's hip-hop scene—the disc contains a hearty 28 cuts and represents a cross-section of artists from Vermont to Connecticut.

The First Step is a combination of MPC (short for Music Production Center, an industry standard drum machine/sampler/sequencer)-based sampled beats, bass lines and some live instrumentation (mostly keyboard), soaked in occasional vocal melodies. The tracks are peppered with smart, keep-up-if-you-can ADD rhyme assaults, Hawaii Five-O theme bites and a stoney mock game show hosted by a character named "Jack Jackington." Tone and Theory are accompanied on the album by fellow crew members (Jason) Vorheez, Black Buddha, Force (also of local band The Alchemystics) and 1ne Man Sound, who doubles as Theory's co-conspirator in the project Lyke Minds. As is customary in the hip-hop world, the release is also chock full of guest appearances, most notably by O.D.B. homie Tash (of the Alkaholiks), old-school cred-meister and Juice Crew veteran Masta Ace, and even a track ("Check Mate") featuring the Grammy-nominated California artist Planet Asia. Ray Hendricks, of the Ray Hendricks Revival, also appears on the disc. Tone/Theory claim most of the production credits, while engineering duties on the disc are chalked up to Northfire's amply be-dreaded Garrett Sawyer.

DJ Theory (a.k.a. Jake Krauth) is a Valley mainstay whose fingers have been in many a musical pie in the area, himself a three-time Advocate Best DJ winner and a hard-working veteran of the Springfield/Northampton club scene. He's made a name through dance nights at area hotspots like Springfield's Cobalt and Northampton's Bishop's Lounge. He's also had a hand in the production of several tracks on the compilation disc, as well as the various groups and projects that he's more personally involved in. Not surprisingly, his demeanor is naturally producer-like—musical arrangement, perception of details, and an air of perfectionist control characterize not only his work but his personality, too. One might be tempted to call him the "Dr. Dre" figure in Problemaddicts lore.

Tone is an Amherst native who now makes his home in urban south Jersey, a location that has allowed him to access the more big-league hip-hop markets of New York and Philadelphia. Tone seems to represent the wilder, more playful side of the group, equally at home honing studio tracks as freestyling at a wall-to-wall after-party at 3:30 a.m. He's not quite as clownish as a Flava Flav, but neither is he as threatening as a Tupac or an Eazy E. Regardless, his lyrical gifts are considerable, and well worth the listen if you're an appreciator of mental dodgeball and complex verbal acrobatics.

Problemaddicts'/Lyke Minds' 1ne Man sound provides some of the dopest lyrical rhythms on the disc; his delivery is not only the most easy-flowing and natural-sounding, but he seems equipped with ample amounts of skill and attitude. In the meantime, guest-star Ray Hendricks even lays down some full-on Stevie Wonder-style melodic silk on the track "Keep On," which sounds undeniably professional. Vorheez (formerly of Lords of tha Fly) and Black Buddha (multiple freestyle contest winner and former WSKB DJ) trade machine-gun Eminem-style rhythms and chunky Biggie Smalls baritones that round out a five-man posse of extreme stylistic variety. This is a good thing for them—as the Problemaddicts themselves acknowledge in what sounds like a potential single, "Rappers are Repetitive." That's especially relevant if you've ever been to a live show where cloned MCs sling similarly tired urban clichés around like they just learned the word "eloquence,"and base their credibility on who they roll with and how many ounces of gold are hanging around their necks, or how many ounces of weed are back at the crib. Variety is a quality The Problemaddicts possess that will surely serve them well.

The Problemaddicts have a tour slated to bring them to Portland, Maine, Burlington, Boston, New York City and Philadelphia, but they're launching out of the starting gate right here in the 413 with a CD release party at Northampton's Iron Horse Music Hall Friday, Sept. 7. A Southern tour is also planned for November with fellow Northfire-produced artists The Alchemystics, whose ubiquitous Valley presence in the last year or two has made them something of a rallying point for like-minded musicians of every stripe who want to push local music forward, upward and outward. Check them out and wish them luck—we may not see them for a while.? - Th Valley Advocate


"Northampton Does Hip Hop"

So we decided to break out of our normal... I guess you could say "indie rock oriented" music bubble, and we checked out a Western Mass hip hop show at Pearl Street. The Problemaddicts and former Hampshire performers, Supreeme opened for Clipse last night, providing for a very crowd pleasing show. I think the first thing I noticed [this is Fraylie speaking] is that I couldn't hear a thing I was saying, and the venue smelled like eight thousand different kinds of perfume and cologne - an obvious contrast to Hampshire College.

The Problemaddicts were not as vulgar as many hip hop/rap acts you hear today. They seemed to present a very positive image about the whole scene. The group made some comments (through their music) about the redundancy of mainstream hip hop, and they also did a song about the multi-cultural aspects of their group. - Turning Out


"Urb Next 1000"


Problemaddicts :: Play the Cut
Mystika Music
Reviewed by Som Khamsaysoury

The first step to recovery is usually admitting that there is an addiction. Problem is, if hip-hop is an addiction then these six dudes from Massachusetts aren't looking for that magic cure. Flowing like water through a river, these dudes trade rhymes back and fourth effortlessly over the grimy backdrops- something that's sorta reminiscent of the now defunct Jurassic 5 in their prime. These dudes were recently honored with "Best Hip Hop for 2007" for The Valley Advocate's local readers poll as well as taking the top spot in Ourstage.com's hip-hop category in August. It's no wonder why others are becoming addicts. See, admitting that there is a problem sometimes ain't that bad. - www.Urb.com


""The First Step" Review..."

The Problemaddicts
"The First Step" :: (Mystika Music)
Thursday, November 29, 2007
By Casey Hayman

Hip-hop's obsession with the "real" has always struck me as a bit oppressive. When it comes to more mainstream hip-hop, this obsession manifests as a tendency to tell fetishized tales of street life that are usually anything but real.

The Problemaddicts address this hypocrisy throughout their debut LP, The First Step, most notably on the album's closing track, "Rappers are Repetitive". That's all well and good, but the contrived nature of mainstream hip-hop has been documented ad nauseam by self-proclaimed underground artists since the early 90s, revealing the subculture's own obsession with keeping it real in the form of a purist's stance toward the music itself. So what do the Problemaddicts have to say that hasn't been said already?

Plenty, as it turns out. While the group does sometimes dwell a bit heavily on their need to defend the sanctity of hip-hop, they are at their best when they are expressing a joy in making music as a group that comes off as completely free of posturing and, yes, real. This is perfectly exemplified on tracks like "Play the Cut", in which emcees Vorheez, Force and 1ne Man Sound playfully trade rhymes over a smooth funk groove.

The rapping is strong throughout the album, with one of my favorites being Tone and Black Buddha's breakdown of black-and-white binaries with the power of wordplay on "I'll be White Black". The production, handled almost exclusively by Tone and DJ Theory, is superb, and Theory's cuts are well executed, as always.

Will The First Step be the album to end the debate on the true nature of realness in hip-hop? Probably not, but the group's appreciation for the music and for each other is tangible, and that makes for a real fun listen. - MassLive.com


"Hip Hop Pick of the week: The Problemaddicts"


Why are the Problemaddicts blowing up on OurStage? Five words: intelligence, drive, skills, respect and personality. While their name makes them sound like trouble makers, these guys have no interest in selling out to the dramatic divide that infests the hip hop community. They aren’t concerned with who killed hip hop but rather, “who will revive it.” Their recipe for resuscitation? Smart lyrics, fresh beats, positive energy and killer live shows.

The Problemaddicts also take advantage of their individual talents to maximize the impact they make as a group. Vorheez works on the business end of things - Tone and DJ Theory work on mixing and developing the bands sound - Buddha reigns in the recognition with his sick free-styling/beat boxing skills & Force is networking the industry with his other group the Alchemystics.

Since these guys hit the competition they’ve managed to rack in seven top 10 spots and 2 number one channel placements (not to mention a frenzy of interest from OurStage fans and partners). - ourstage.com


"Various Artists, Projectivity & Gtd Present: Projected Mixtape Vol.2"

Pardon the pun, but hip-hop music gets a bad rap. Perhaps it was the explosion of gangsta rap in the late 1980s and early ‘90s that fueled the negative stereotypes often associated with the genre and led to widespread and snobbish disapproval from mainstream America. Or perhaps, in our sex- and violence-obsessed culture, artists promoting malignant stereotypes have been deemed more commercially viable than those who choose to promote positive thinking. It’s a sad commentary indeed. But hip-hop was born out of the need to create something good from a bad situation, and that ethic propels collectives such as New York’s Projectivity and Burlington’s GTD. Independently, both groups are beacons of higher consciousness within their respective communities. Combined, they are a force to be reckoned with, as evidenced by their latest collaboration, Projected Mixtape Vol. 2.

The CD is a remarkable collection of underground hip-hop talent, featuring acts from Burlington, NYC and beyond, such as Wu-Tang affiliate Remedy, Boston’s Akrobatik and Staten Island’s NYOil, who is soon to star in his own animated series on BET. Massachussett’s The Problemaddicts set the comp’s tone with the opening track “Hurting,” enlisting legendary underground MC Masta Ace, long an outspoken critic of gangsta rap and commercial hip-hop.

But the star-studded mixtape is of particular local interest because it once again serves notice that Vermont hip-hop artists can more than hold their own alongside some of the region’s finest. GTD’s Burnt MD is showcased on no fewer than four of the disc’s 25 cuts, including “Time Is Now,” with frequent collaborator Network, whose own track “Be Somebody” is a standout.

Burlington heavyweights The Aztext weigh in with a cut from their excellent 2007 release The Sacred Document; “Lettin’ You Know” features noted Michigan MC One Be Lo.

VT Union’s Nastee makes a welcome appearance with “Go Away.” The MC has been somewhat elusive since VT Union’s Tha Mixtape was released last summer, splitting time between Burlington and NYC. But the tune is an apt reminder that Nastee’s talents extend well beyond spinning club anthems at Red Square.

Perhaps the most impressive Vermont contribution comes from Northeast Kingdom duo Algorhythms, an offshoot of Wombaticus Rex. Playful but incisive, “Dreams of Lisbon” is emblematic of the compilation’s overall spirit. “Everyone insists they spit doper than you / yeah, I play strip poker at the Smithsonian, too. / I’m over it, dude — all the games that I played are breaking like papier mâché and fading away,” rhymes wordsmith Thirtyseven.

It’s difficult to spread a positive message without sounding preachy, especially in hip-hop. But, by and large, the artists showcased on Projected: Vol. 2 do just that. Can I get an amen? - Seven Days


"College Town Tour Guide"

The Problemaddicts of Massachusetts are a group of five hip-hop/rap artists who originally started as solo artists before uniting the summer of 2006. The group hopes its well-crafted beats and thought-provoking lyrics help bring some depth back to a style of music that's become increasingly shallow.

The Problemaddicts' first album, "The First Step,"? features Planet Asia and Masta' Ace. Last year, the group won "Best Hip-Hop of 2007"? in a reader poll conducted by the Pioneer Valley's the Valley Advocate. -- Stephanie McPherson - BillBoard.com


"The Problemaddicts – The First Step"

The Problemaddicts – The First Step

«Το The First Step είναι ένας δίσκος Ï€Ï?οσανατολισμένος στους ακÏ?οατές που θυμοÏ?νται και εκτιμοÏ?ν τι θα πει αληθινό underground hip hop και έχουν βαÏ?εθεί τα εμποÏ?ικά Ï„Ï?αγοÏ?δια του Ï?αδιοφώνου».
(από το δελτίο Ï„Ï?που της κυκλοφοÏ?ίας)

Κι εγώ που νόμιζα ότι τα δελτία Ï„Ï?που πάντα υπεÏ?εκτιμοÏ?ν τους δίσκους που Ï€Ï?ομοτάÏ?ουν. ΠολÏ? …μετÏ?ιόφÏ?ον κείμενο.
Βαθμολογία: 8,5/10 - TheHipHop.GR


"Why They're Blowing Up OurStage"

Eager to "revive" hip-hop, the five-man squad, which is comprised of two chefs and an amazing beatboxer, blend their unique styles to create a sound reminiscent of the days of two turntables and microphone, b-boy crews and graffiti. The outfit released their debut album 'The First Step' in September 2007. The albums features guest appearance by underground legends Planet Asia and Masta Ace. - theboombox.com


Discography

Mystika Music Sampler (2006)

Western New England Hip Hop Compilation (2007)
-Rappers Are Repetitive

Planetary Group Compilation CD (2007)

Problemaddicts LP, "The First Step" (2007)

Projected Mixtape Vo. 2 (2007)
-Hurting ft. masta ACE

Ourstage.com's Best of Hip Hop Compilation (2007)
Checkmate ft. Planet ASIA

KeepItClassic.com's Hip Hop Compilation 11 (2008)
"Hurting" ft. Masta ACE

Projected Mixtape Vol. 3 (2008)
-Money

The Problemaddicts second LP, "The Dark Side Of Oz" (2008)

DJ Toshi Classic Storm mixtape
-What U Need ft. El Da Sensei (2009)

Mystika Music Presents: The Guest List (2009)
-Genesis
-WHat U Need ft El Da Sensei

Bunkradio compilation (2008)
-Hurting ft. Masta ACE

Keep It Classic Vol. 16 (2009)
-What U Need ft. El Da Sensei & Blacastan

"Burn This Shit" (2009)
-A Mixtape By The Problemaddicts

Photos

Bio

"Reminiscent of the now-defunct Jurassic 5 in their prime" (URB.COM), The Problemaddicts approach Hip Hop with a genre-crossing blend of new school production and old school lyricism. The Massachusetts based six-member crew has played over 200 shows since their 2006 inception and pride themselves on the ability to kickstart any party while also facing the issues of today. The Problemaddicts pushed the boundaries of rap music with their 2008 release The Dark Side of Oz. The 12-track mash-up of Pink Floyd's Dark Side of The Moon and The Wizard of Oz soundtrack landed in College Music Journal's Top 10 Hip Hop charts, winning over a variety of fans in the process. Their follow up, a free downloadable mixtape entitled Burn This Shit, has been showing up across the blogosphere with great reviews as they move towards their untitled 3rd LP, due this fall.

The Problemaddicts have toured with artists such as Tash (of the Alkaholiks), Akil the MC (of Jurassic 5) and Planet Asia. They have also shared stages with acts like Dead Prez, The Beatnuts, Little Brother, KRS-1, Living Legends, Mos Def, Soulive, De La Soul, Akrobatik & Mr. Lif, The Clipse, Addison Groove Project, J-Live, Ghostface Killah, Blackalicious, Rahzel, GZA, MOP, Pharaoh Monch, Sizzla, Brother Ali, Sean Price, Special Teamz. The list goes on...

The Problemaddicts won "Best Hip Hop” '07, ‘08, & '09 in The Valley Advocate's reader's poll, as well as the 1 Hip Hop Song (August, ‘07) and 1 Alternative Hip Hop Song (February, ’08) on OurStage.com. They recently were featured on AOL radio, after winning the 65th HoodHype.com episode’s viewer vote. The act was one of Urb.com’s “Next 1000”.

Radio Stations that have been spinning The Problemaddicts include:

CFUV Victoria, British Columbia
CHLY Nanaimo, British Columbia
CHRW London, Ontario
CHYZ Quebec City, Quebec
CILU Thunder Bay, Ontario
CJLO Montreal, Quebec
CSCR Toronto, Ontario
DMX Los Angeles, California
KBGA Missoula, Montana
KBVR Corvallis, Oregon
KDWG Dillon, Montana
KGFN San Francisco California
KHDX Conway, Arkansas
KSAU Nacogdoches, Texas
KSPC Claremont, California
KSVR Mt. Vernon, Washington
KTRU Houston Texas
KWCR Ogden, Utah
KWCW Walla Walla, Washington
Lasell College Radio Newton, Massachusetts
M3 Radio New York, New York
Rainy Dawg Radio Seattle, Washington
SCAD Radio Savannah, Georgia
WAUG Rock Island, Illinois
WBGU Bowling Green, Ohio
WERU-2 East Orland, Maine
WERW Syracuse, New York
WFNP New Paltz, New York
WHUS Storrs, Connecticut
WIRE Norman, Oklahoma
WKNC Raleigh, North Carolina
WMHB Waterville, Maine
WMTU Houghton, Michigan
WOSP Jacksonville, Florida
WPKN/WPKM FM Bridgeport, Connecticut
WPVM Asheville, North Carolina
WQUB Quincy, Illinois
WRAS Atlanta, Georgia
WRDP Chicago, Illinois
WRUV Burlington, Vermont
WSAI Staten Island, New York
WSUW Whitewater, Wisconsin
WUML Lowell, Massachusetts
WVAU Washington, DC
WXOU Rochester, Michigan

BLOGS/ NET RADIO THAT HAVE FEATURED THE PROBLEMADDICTS (partial list):

KevinNottingham.com
WYDU.com
URB.com
Rockthedub.com
beyondrace.com
checktherhime.com
Tuckdragon.com
theboombox.com
epidemikcoalition.com
hoodhype.com
eodub.com
ourstage.com
Rappamello.com
newschoolers.com
pbskl.blogspot.com
souledonmusic.blogspot.com
ghanigautama.com
beatboxradioshow.blogspot.com
twoseventeen.net
blazewon.blogspot.com
letsgogetit.blogspot.com
4twk.com
masslive.com
yungdrew.com
vinylmeltdown.com
www.urbanmusicblog.net
cabezasunderground.com
giealbume.blogspot.com
globalgrind.com
billy4202.blogspot.com
hillydilly.com
juliofromny.com
djtoshiclassicstorm.podomatic.com
brooklynradio.net

QUOTABLES

Pink Floyd + Wizard of Oz + Top tier producer + Five of the best MCs today = I suck at math but holy fuck.
-Motumbo (pbskl.blogspot.com)

Let's face it—most live hip-hop sucks; it's awkward, stereotypical and often lyrically inferior to an NPR food review set to jerky klezmer beats. In contrast, The Problemaddicts' game has yet to go stale; in fact, I think they're just beginning to approach the top of it.
-Thom Sturm, Valley Advocate

Flowing like water through a river, these dudes trade rhymes back and fourth effortlessly over the grimy backdrops- something that's sorta reminiscent of the now defunct Jurassic 5 in their prime.
-URB.com

the five-man squad blend their unique styles to create a sound reminiscent of the days of two turntables and microphone, b-boy crews and graffiti.
-Ourstage.com Snapshots

These cats are obviously well seasoned performers who know how to drop in and out of one anothers verses smoothly, write good hooks and make solid joints.
-ProPayne, EOW, NYC

It happens every year. There is one album that I slept on, didn't give enough spins to until it was too late, or just straight up didn't hear that I hear the next year and realize it was good enough to be in my year end list. That album this year is Problemaddicts "The Darkside