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Los Angeles, California, United States | SELF

Los Angeles, California, United States | SELF
Band Hip Hop Alternative


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"Top Hip-Hop Albums of 2012"

Sum is one of the most wildly creative people in hip-hop. Spinning an album of his is almost more encompassing than simply being a listening experience. He puts together complete, thematic, pieces of work, and his latest achievement is Dragon, Volume 1. There's so much going on with Dragon, Volume 1, from the subject matter, to Sum going to the furthest reaches of numerous musical landscapes, that just one listen isn't enough. The album runs the emotional gamut, and does so with an adept musical marathoner at the helm. It's no surprise Sum does so much on Dragon, Volume 1, though, as he notes on the song "Timeless," "in a circle of leaders, you don't need an angle, just be well rounded." -

"Review of "The Lil Folk" on"

SumKid made an album about "The Lil' Folks" because he's one of them. Underpaid? We'll just say his house is devoid of platinum plaques. Touring schedule? He won't be headlining the Summer Jam next year. He's an average man who knows that, realistically, his voice doesn't matter. "Average" in the whole scheme of things, sure, but on record, SumKid's like Superman. Life moves fast, and yeah, we all watch, but only a handful of emcees, let alone human beings think at such a breakneck speed.

SumKid dares you to catch up. "If If" might make him look a pretentious bastard, what with his metaphorical chorus ("if," and "why" represent different intoxicants), but he clearly refers to his life more than his thesaurus. It's an exploration in self doubt, everyday crises, fear, and commitment. In short, it's a fine introduction to what lies ahead.

SumKid's verse can reflect everything and nothing, of cultural significance or total fiction, often both in the same song. The Kid has a heavy chest, evident by the uprise anthem "The Lil' Folk:" "We in the concrete jungle shooting the documentary - with plenty of nudity - plenty of beauty for you to see the booty on the naked truth ... there's more of us than all of them." It's more delicious conspiracy theory power snacking than Mr. Lif feeds, only to be later followed up with "the president sucks a big brown nut" on "The Down." Yet in between sits the purely surreal "Skeleton's Ball," a fantastical narrative tracking a clan of madmen that builds into a blossoming, climactic opus.

Where does Sum open up the bigger can of awesome - his cash oriented self examination on "Ole Gnat Grind,"or in viciously serving fake emcees on "Niggas & Flies?" "All up in their videos grabbin' their meat, whoopin' and hollerin' and shoutin' and bouncin' and yellin' and growlin' and flashin' they teeth." Searing and true, it's like God finally delivered the new standard for dismissing punks (sorry Guru). Not to be blunt, SumKid prefers bitter satire in telling it like he sees: "keep it coming 'cause the white kids love it." Preach.

As for production, SumKid is further proof that a good lyricist can make average beats sound great. He decimates an unassuming techno pattern on "Lil' Fox" and rocks what would have been an equally stagnant rave party number on "Way Hard." This isn't to say there aren't adequate breaks. "Dude More Blue" provides the perfect orchestral backdrop for the Kid to roll through North Carolina, and "Contra's" slow flowing jazz waltzes, step by step, with his gorgeous flow: "but even at my all-time low my heart was in the right place, when I wasn't doin' shit, starin' off in space, depressed and down, messin' around, you came and checked on a dude when we wasn't on level ground."

"The Lil Folk" is telling, raw and impalpably suggestive, but SumKid can't avoid his troubles, one in the simple fact that he puts forth a difficult record. By way of SumKid's versatility, it's all over the place at once. So many emotions are sprayed, so much personal buckshot is scattered, it's nearly impossible to describe. Still, even this lends to its beauty, and "The Lil' Folk" comes off the express line practically emitting creativity through gaseous vapors. It's Def Jux soaked in emotion, it's Andre 3000 starved and done wrong, it's a dictionary-toting backpacker's true envy. It's one thing to give praise; it's a wholly different animal for the reviewer, keenly listening with a merciless pen in hand, to forget about the ins and outs and just enjoy. Set me free? Cliched, but in a sense, absolutely. Truth be told, it's a wild trip

On "September," we find our protagonist returning to love from an unspecified absence. In his journey to, he absorbs the summer surroundings, appreciating things so small as the shades of green. But on arrival, things aren't so peachy keen. Girl tells guy "get your ish together," guy tries, but girl rejects his love. Maybe things weren't working out in bed, maybe "he" simply couldn't offer what "she" needed; it's up to the listener to decide. By September, she leaves, with only so much parting solace: "when the leaves turn a green hue, maybe then I'll need you." Deflated, Sum musters what he can to even conclude: "it was a long, long lonely fall."

-Matt Tomer


2012 Dragon, Vol. 1
2012 "All Up In Your House" [Milky Way single]
2011 " Keep It Milky" [Milky Way single]
2012 Metal Tiger Mixtape [Fusicology]

1999 'The Dosage' EP (VJC Recordings)
2001 'VJC Maxi-Single' (VJC Recordings)
2002 'What's The Meaning' EP (VJC Recordings)
2004 'Natural Fun' Compilation (Female Fun Records)
2001, 2005 'That Grown Man' Vols. I & III Compilation/Mixtape (Frank151)
2003 'Independent Music World Series Best of 2003' Compilation (Disc Makers)
2005 "Nicci Cheeks Presents HipHop Love Jazz" CD (Kwerk)
Releases: 2004 'SumKid Presents: The Cool Hand Luke Samplin'' (VJC Recordings), 2005 ‘QZR & SumKid Present…. BatMilk!’ (VJC Recordings), ‘The Lil Folk’ LP (VJC Recordings/Domination Records)




Sum is one of hip-hop's most eclectic and creative writers, storytellers and voices. To add, he is a captivating and polished performer, whether by himself, or with his electrifying genre-blending band, The Milky Way. Writers, bloggers and fans alike have described him as "wildly creative" and "enigmatic". His approach is extremely visual, full of intricate wordplay and attention to detail. He then takes that density and smooths it over with a keen ear for good hooks and catchy melodies. Each song and project of Sum's is like a fingerprint, no two are alike. His name, translated in Cantonese, means "heart".

His music and style reflect a charmed life and spiritual sojourn. He has written dozens of songs that have appeared on cable and network television (MTV, CBS, ABC) widely successful video games (i.e., Saints Row The Third, Saints Row IV) and films (i.e., Notorious), and enjoys continued success as a working songwriter.

Beyond being just a rapper, Sum is also a rising influential figure in the world of music technology and online content curation. His work has lead him to curate online radio for Earbits, and music talent for reputable Los Angeles venues like The Central Social Aid & Pleasure Club, Bigfoot Lodge West and The Venice Music Crawl.

His latest creative endeavor is a solo series by the name of Dragon (one of's "Top Hip-Hop Albums of 2012") and continued music from his band, The Milky Way.

Dragon, Vol. I features production by some of the best beatsmiths making music, including: Ski Beatz, Needlz, DK The Punisher, brandUn deShay, Dibia$e, Belief, Tye Hill, Computer Jay, P.U.D.G.E. and Blockhead to name a few. Released in November 2012, Sum is set to present Volume II in late 2013, while providing fans with more music from The Milky Way, tours, events and other appearances in the meantime.