The Higher Concept
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The Higher Concept

Staten Island, Maryland, United States

Staten Island, Maryland, United States
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Artist: The Higher Concept
Title: ‘Everybody’
Website: http://www.thehigherconcept.com

Overall Album Vibe: The first thing that will grab your attention on Staten Island, NY. group Higher Concept’s (MC’s-Matty J, Tekst, IB) ‘Everybody,’ is the releases cover that’s a take off on the classic Beatles’ ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,’ album. The band’s updated version includes modern day pop icons ranging from, Jim Carrey and Michael Jackson to Homer Simpson and Inspector Gadget.

Since their start back in 2005 The Higher Concept has been hardcore DIY, having turned down opportunities for record contracts and management deals. They’ve done it because they don’t want to water down their messages of, creativity, positive energy and uplifting messages that are found in their songs. The guys say that, “we make music because we love it, anything that stems from that love is an added bonus.” The group has managed though to land a distribution deal to start their own record label, The Projectivity Movement, to help distribute their music around the globe.

Stylistically the group mixes hip-hop along with pop and rock beats and even a pinch of funk to achieve their sound. Their album also offers up a long list of gifted MC/singers to help in the vocal’s department.

I liked a lot of what I heard on this album including the opening up tempo title track that mixes hip-hop, pop/rock and even some gospel undertones with lyrics about not letting others tell you who you should be in your life. That everyone needs to open up their own minds to their destiny.

“Runnin Away,” is a nice fast paced track that mixes dance music with rock beats. “Smile,” is an upbeat track about keeping positive thoughts in your life even when things go bad. “Topanga,” offers up a nice mix of funk and pop with its horn driven sound.

‘Everybody,’ ends like it started strong with, “This is For,” a mid tempo track offering up nice horn solos along with a heavily strung guitar part. The song is a thank you to all of the bands family, friends and fans that have been behind them along the way.

Standout Tracks: “Everybody”,”Runnin Away”,”Smile”,”Topanga”,”American Way”,”This is For”

Review by C.W. Ross - CWS Place


The Higher Concept (THC) is a trio from Staten Island, New York or as they put it "The House Of Dreams"; referring to the history surrouding the small island in the "Big Apple" where millions of emmigrants have passed through that building "dreaming" of a new start and a new life. What better way to sum up how THC is changing music and putting new "life" into it with their talent and vision: "Changing lives one rhyme at a time"

On their first full lengthed album, Everybody, THC self-produced it DIY since day one and is infused with 14 motivating tracks. Most people see hip-hop on a genre label for an album an sometimes get the stereotype (pun intended) that it's filled with hate and constant uses of explcit language with heavy drug influence, but that's everything that THC is not. Their goal was to create a "powerful hip-hop rock hybrid that appeals to kids, their grandparents and everyone in between." You will also notice on the album's artwork the use of Sgt. Pepper motif from the 1967 Beatles album "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" and is surrounded by numerous pop icons from all generations including the most recent.

THC uses everything from guitars, bass, pianos, gospel choruses, brass instruments, rythm machines, DJs, and beat mixing on almost every track; it really is refreshing and definitely is a catchy beat. They have been described as if A Trible Called Quest & Beastie Boys had a child, this is what the ending result would be. A couple of songs that stick out and are worth listening to are "Everybody", "Everything", "American Way", and most importantly "This Is For" as its lyrics really speak to everybody in the sense of the human race.

I feel confident to give this album 4.5 stars and commend THC for keeping the big record companies out of this collaboration. The ability to produce your own music, unaltered and with the true spirit behind it is what it is all about; true expression & emotions of the artists and everyone involved. - MusicEmissions.com




The blend of rap and soul that begins Everybody is something that is utterly unique, and it shows The Higher Concept an act that would work equally well on R&B, rap, and pop radio stations. The multiple vocalists that are introduced to listeners through this introductory track ensure that the momentum is running high as the disc continues to spin. When It’s Over begins with a heartfelt guitar line that will immediately tattoo itself on the mind and hearts of listeners, while the linkages between the rap and emotive vocals create for a much more varied track.

This eclectic nature provides considerable replay value for the band, and means that listeners will have little idea where the act will go on subsequent tracks. Hittin the Road is a late-disc track that keeps the same high quality and catchy sound as was presented on the earlier regions of Everybody. The slight Latin influence added to the track by the horns makes the Linkin Park-styled delivery of the vocals hit that much harder. While The Higher Concept shines throughout Everybody, I would personally love to hear the band take to the live stage.

I believe the sheer energy and expansive sound that is achieved on Everybody would be that more impressive in this format. Those interested in cutting-edge bands would do well to pick up a copy of Everybody; the never-ending array of styles and influences that the band pulls from allows the band to provide something for everyone. Give their website a spin for the latest in news about the act, and to see the direction that the act spins off on with subsequent releases. I know this will stay in our players through the fall.

Top Tracks: Hittin the Road, They Used To Say

Rating: 8.3/10

The Higher Concept – Everybody (CD) / 2012 Self / 14 Tracks / www.thehigherconcept.com

- http://neufutur.com - James McQuiston


From New York comes the hip-hop trio The Higher Concept with their new full-length album entitled “Everybody.” Since their beginning in 2005, the band has made it clear that they don’t want to compromise on their message and their sound. They have a “Grassroots” motto and they display that in their latest release.

The 14-song release begins with “Everybody,” a funk/R&B flavored song with some great positive lyrics, while “Everything” sounds more like a mainstream, pop/rock dance hit. The Black Eye Peas-type “Runnin’ Away” has the most potential with the help of vocalist Missy Modell. I love the addition of the acoustic guitars on “When It’s Over” as it draw influence from Michael Franti & Spearhead and on the positive message of “Smile.” The Higher Concept has a very radio-friendly sound with “Topanga” and show that they can also rock on “American Way.” The album closes with more positive vibes on “This Is For” as the musical trio reaches new heights in song-writing with this outstanding track.

For more information on The Higher Concept and their new album, “Everybody,” please visit their facebook page (facebook.com/TheHigherConceptMusic). - JP's Music Blog


Rather than revel in the endless boasting and beefs that permeate so much hip-hop these days, New York-based MC trio The Higher Concept aim for something a bit more radical: togetherness. On their newest album ‘Everybody’, which dropped in April, the group tackles a variety of social topics and music styles, creating a catchy batch of tunes with a broad scope. The three MC’s that make up The Higher Concept (Tekst, Matty J and IB Profyn) call Staten Island their home-base but aim for a more global sound on ‘Everybody’. Pairing slick production with catchy choruses and smart rapping, the best songs feel like radio-ready anthems of positivity and self-empowerment.

As the title suggests, there really is something for everybody here. Some tracks like “Raindrop” carry a harder-edged sound, some feature orchestration, and “Everything” sounds like Nicki Minaj-style bubblegum pop. The song structures are mostly a fusion of hip-hop verses and pop choruses, with a female vocalist providing the main hooks on tracks like “Runnin Away” and “Smile”. It’s a formula that has successfully pushed hip-hop elements into Top 40 radio in the past few years, but might be reaching a saturation level as of late.

The heartiest fare on ‘Everybody’ comes near the tail end with a group of songs that turn the mood slightly more serious and introspective. “American Way” is a standout here and uses catchy distorted guitar riffs to distract from slightly subversive lyrics about American culture.

The most moving moments come on “They Used to Say”, which features frank talk about one vocalists’ grandparents escaping the Holocaust. Over a dramatic mixture of piano and soaring synthesizers, the refrain “Back in the day when they used to pray/ They used to pray for a brighter day” repeats in the chorus until it feels like a profound truth.

To end the album, “This Is For” ties together the varied themes on ‘Everybody’ with one last impassioned call for unity. It’s a timely message given all the violence permeating the news these days. “Its time to wake up”, the band pleads. “One day we gonna realize we started as one.” - Hot Indie News - Gabe Vigh


Is it possible to be blinded by positivity?

I think so, because I have built up a long list of what eHarmony calls “must haves and can’t stands” with the music I keep in my library. Repeat offenders at this site know one of my “can’t stands” is Auto-Tune and other tools that tip the hand of an album as being over-produced. Raw talent trumps a glossy cover 9 out of 10 times, though any producer worth their salt knows how to package a sound and add layers that are generally aesthetic, thereby moving product. We all recognize the pleasing sound but know that while catchy, the message is flat, or nonexistent at all, and it falls to the critics to cry out that the emperor has no clothes.

So what happens when the message is one you buy into?

The Higher Concept, or THC (hmm…), a hip-hop trio out of New York City, is so brightly optimistic in their message and tight with their lyrical stylings that it is virtually impossible to say a bad thing about them. They’re like a wired-hair terrier wearing aviator goggles and a scarf while riding in a motorcycle sidecar: you can’t help but smile. Oh, and their music is solid, too.

We may be only 13 years removed from the peak of rock and hip-hop fusion, but there was a reason some bands mastered it and the rest imitated it: when the blend is right, it sounds so right. The 3 MCs of The Higher Concept: IB, Matty J, and Tekst back their rhymes with guitars, bass, and drums but the real rhythm section is in their poetry. Instead of boastful rap or trying to settle scores through freestyle, the trio speaks of love; happiness; and generally enjoying life. Their new album, Everybody, is an incredibly thoughtful party album. Purists may say it is hip hop, but I’m sorry: if you have a line “Put your glasses in the air,” you have either a party album or are at a Renaissance Fair dinner table and have a flagon of mead within arm’s reach.

Even a party album has peaks and valleys, but the strengths of Everybody are the high energy moments. The trio’s rhymes in “Everything” take on a life of their own and become an instrument in and of themselves. The rap/rock fusion in “Runnin’ Away,” featuring the delightful Missy Modell, creates a truly infectious beat and makes you want to run toward something.

There are plenty of filtered vocals, Auto-Tune, and drum loops but when used for the good of a positive message instead of selling a few extra million records, you tend to look the other way. Intelligent hip-hop comes around only so often; IB, Matty J, and Tekst keep everything high-brow and optimistic. They want to be “changing lives one rhyme at a time,” and as ridiculous as that may sound in our cynical time, it is worth considering and Everybody is worth your times. You want to call them out for what they are doing, but this emperor is wearing Sergeant Pepper’s finest satin.

And it fits them well. - http://nanobotrock.com - Clay


Artist: The Higher Concept
Album: Everybody
Label: Independent Artist
Website: http://thehigherconcept.com/
Genre: Rap/Hip Hop
Sounds Like: Black Eyed Peas, Fergie, Flo Rida, Timberland, Nelly Furtado, Bruno Mars
Technical Grade: 8/10
Production/Musicianship Grade: 8/10
Commercial Value: 8/10
Overall Talent Level: 7/10
Songwriting Skills: 7/10
Performance Skill: 8/10
Best Songs: Everybody, Everything is Everything, Running Away, Smile
Weakness: Cover Art Concept and Marketability, Winded Songs
CD Review: The Higher Concept from New York City is an interesting project that consists of 3 MC’s IB, (Matty J and tekst) whose groundbreaking new full length release entitled Everybody: includes packaging that uses the Sgt. Pepper Motif.

The CD takes off with “Everybody” a catchy intro piece that serves up hooky hip hop rhythm, against grand slam chorus and passionate vocal presence. This first is quite invigorating as it flows and ebbs its way through to emotional fruition. Track 2: “Everything” keeps things moving with impressive rhythm guitar painted against heartfelt vocals and infectious groove. Track 3 “Change” shifts gears slightly with its methodical intro, heartfelt chorus and compelling lyrical content. The CD makes a great first impression dishing out 3 solid songs in a row. As this CD slowly unfolds I can hear influences like Black Eyed Peas, Fergie, Flo Rida, Pink and Timberland and even a touch of Nelly Furtado and Bruno Mars. I would classify this music as a catchy combination of Hip Hop, Rap, Alternative Rock and Power Pop with a New York City flair. The musicianship, vocals, rap flows, production touches and sampling is clearly above the bar. Along the way you will notice lush tidbits with things like impressive Piano, Guitar, luch Harmonies, a few impressive solos built upon a think as a brick rhythm foundation. The vocal presence from everyone is impressive. All songs are extremely well crafted, catchy and consistent across the board and cover allot of musical ground. From my personal favorite “Running Away” to heartfelt “When It’s Over” to uplifting “Smile” to thought provoking Raindrop” to rocking “Up To Me” this CD has something for just about everyone. The CD ends with Track 14 This is For” the perfect finale statement for a CD of this caliber.

The SGT. Pepper Motif is cool but it can be a double edge sword. From a marketability standpoint it lacks originality and may rub some people the wrong way as "The Higher Concept" don't even remotely sound like the Beetles. Why is this such a big deal? Well The Beetles were so big using the motif is a rite of passage mostly as some may consider this to be Rock n' Roll blasphemy - lol. case in point The Beetles will always be the biggest Rock band in musical history - period! At the end of the day I think using it is a bad decision. All songs over 3.5 minutes drag you to the finish line. I don’t care for the multiple singer line-up. It lacks continuity track to track and at times doesn’t even sound like the same band.

From start to finish Everybody by The Higher Concept is an impressive collection of music. The music is highly original, thought provoking and just plain entertaining to listen to. In many respects this project is light years ahead of it’s time and is comparable to a Melting Pot of musical flavors. The songwriting – impressive, all consistent musical experiences, each one possessing a unique personality, flair and signature groove. Note for note, song for song there isn’t really weak piece on this entire CD. The writing, singing rapping and playing abilities of THC are rock solid. The melodies are well crafted and the lyrical content is packed to the hilt with brilliant messages. - http://www.musesmuse.com - Cyrus Rhodes


Matty J, Tekst, and IB of The Higher Concept [THC] might be the hardest working emcees in New York City, consistently pumping out songs, albums, and mixtapes at a pace that would impress Lil Wayne. Hence it was fitting when THC released 4 videos in anticipation of their newest record ~ EVERYBODY. I could already tell this was going to be the biggest sound of any of their projects to date. The album delivered.

EVERYBODY is a testament to its name: the songs are packed full of collaborations with NYC’s hottest young musicians & producers. It can be easy to get lost on a disc with too many featured guests, but THC cuts through the symphony with flawless production, creative lyrical flows, and a subtle (yet easy-to-understand) unifying message. Their current sound reflects indie rock and live band influences, neatly packaged by a radio-ready bounce and shimmer. The tracklist plays like a party mix, consistently crammed with feel good anthems and fresh electronic beats.

The title track starts the album perfectly (feat. Deshawn Chalant & AC, prod. by Mike Cash), and quickly flows into ‘Everything is Everything’ feat. D1 (check the video below) and ‘Changes’ feat. Matt Beilis (this talented singer/pianist appears twice, & his powerful voice instantly crosses several genres for THC). The next three songs highlight a trio of unique female vocalists: Missy Modell on ‘Runnin Away,’ JoyLuv on ‘When Its Over,’ and Christina LaRocca on ‘Smile.’ Each of these songs is very different, but all contain top-shelf beats and super catchy choruses.

Next, singer/producer Jon Muro steps out from behind the scenes with the jaw-dropping emotional banger ‘Raindrop,’ easily one of the best tracks on the entire album. That’s followed by ‘Hittin the Road,’ an introspective journey from the emcees punctuated by an unexpected, beautiful solo by cellist Sam Oh. Two Mike Cash-produced singles ‘Topanga’ and ‘American Way’ keep the energy high; both songs are strong enough to lead off the album, which is definitely why they were released in the first wave of music videos.

‘Up to Me’ is an infectiously positive jam that features frequent collaborator Doug Atkins on guitar/vocals (he also duets with JoyLuv on ‘When Its Over’). The next track is ‘Toast to Life,’ which showcases the versatility of producer J.Glaze, and is quite possibly the funnest song on the album. Beilis returns on ‘They Used to Say’ – the beat is a chop of one of his piano riffs and the verses are executed perfectly. Do not skip this track.

‘This is For’ is the coolest surprise, the right kind of song to be tucked away near the end of a record. It’s refreshingly different from the others, and comes at the perfect time to deliver the headiest, most crystallized strain of THC’s universal message. ‘This is For’ features a full roster of friends and contributors: saxophone by Marcus Anderson; vocals by LaRocca, Muro, & Atkins; and a tasty trumpet solo by J.Glaze, whose evolving production skills have defined the group’s sound for years. The bonus track ‘They Don’t Like Us’ concludes the sonic boom with the biggest beat yet, a sizzling trunk-thumper with heavy dub influences.

EVERYBODY is a great Concept album (pun partially intended) that combines cutting-edge electronic and indie rock production with underground Hip Hop sensibilities. There is a long list of guest voices and instrumentalists that made this record so brilliant from start to finish, but ultimately it is the creation of three rappers and a crew of producers who have been paying their dues with long nights in the studio and an unstoppable will to succeed. As I finish this review, it’s the vibe of the second-to-last song ‘This is For’ that leaves the lasting impression: This is music made by everybody, and it can be enjoyed by anybody.
- New Swag City (NSC) - Herman Ubis


Think A Tribe Called Quest, Len and Arrested Development and the band The Higher Concept has a nice place in that group.

A trio of MCs out of New York City, collectively known as The Higher Concept, are onto something. While other groups like the folks in Rhymesayers out of the Midwest and other regional hip-hop artists have speedy raps and drop the beat in sometimes insane ways, The Higher Concept have this amazing ability to trick the listener into thinking they are listening to something music has not heard before.

And, this writer/listener loved it.

Right off the bat, "Everybody" is this incessantly, mind-blowing, positively cannot get-out-of-one's head song. The intro is a bit deceiving; a white noise, crowd-yelling, jarring sound starts it out. All of a sudden, this mesmerizing chorus and joy-inducing lyrics protrude through the speakers. Mix hip hop and this fresh sound and "Everybody" knocks it out of the park. Special guest vocalist Joyluy (so appropriate!) sounds a lot like SEAL and really keeps this track bound at the seams.

Did I mention that this song is still stuck in my head?

Flow is Tight

In "Everything" and "Change" these songs were just cosmically squirrelly, but so refreshingly different than any hip hop tune. While more mainstream slam poets and higher profile hip hop artists can dive into darker lyrics and more surreal moments, The Higher Concept really stretches out and challenges the listener with positivity. These songs are really catchy, too, and the flow is tight.

In "Change" a stirring, but very subtle guitar riff is mashed with flickering piano keys and this ever persistent percussion. The result is this resilient track that lingers for hours. Hours.

By the time "Runnin Away" turns up, the mood and the flow is jamming with fun and electricity. "Runnin Away" felt a bit more Gym Class Heroes than the previous tracks and this song can easily make its way to Hot AC radio. This is also a keeper.

And, by now, this writer/listener feels like a broken record. Song after song pulled out all the punches and had these bursts of unique arrangements, stellar beats and bending lyrics. The only song that really did not hold up to the others probably had to be "American Way." The words have depth - and the message is clear, but for some reason the chorus on this one did not deliver like the others.

Overall CD Review is A+

No surprises here, The Higher Concept's Everybody delivers an impressive A+ rating from yours truly. Stunning and an overall awesome experience on this 14-track collection. Fans of A Tribe Called Quest, Len, LMFAO, Arrested Development and Gym Class Heroes will find something they will really want to keep in their music collection on this.

- Suite101: By Melissa Kucirek


STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- Abe Lincoln comes out of the closet! Aliens invade Florida circa 1957! Adam and Eve ditch the Garden of Eden for fast food joints and strip-club steakhouses!

The revisionist history overload can only mean one thing: The New York International Fringe Festival is back.

Now in its 13th incarnation, the experimental theater showcase presents 201 shows on shoestring budgets -- from political comedies ("Abraham Lincoln's Big, Gay Dance Party") and tragi-camp ("Bargains & Blood: How to Succeed in Home Shopping!") to dance ("Ukrainian Eggs") and bio-dramas ("Hungry").

It all happens Aug. 14-30, when FringeNYC commandeers 20 Lower Manhattan venues, from 50-seat hole-in-the walls to 700-seat auditoriums. Tickets for all shows are 15 bucks. For a complete list or to buy tickets more than 24 hours before a show, see FringeNYC.org.

Meanwhile, look for these shows with Staten Island connections:

"first dark"
Tumultuous times lie ahead for two private school kids dabbling in drugs in this coming-of-age story. Serving as sound director is Ian Weisz, one of the three emcees in the Staten Island-based hip-hop group The Higher Concept. Weisz, along with emcees Christian Reinsch and Matt Jacob, all of whom live together in Clifton, perform during performances.

"We do conceptual songs -- songs that have a message or a meaning. We've had this idea of coming out with some sort of a hip-hop musical," says Weisz, 25. "Basically when (the director) called me, and asked me, I said this would be a perfect way to get into this realm of the arts."

Among other songs, the crew will perform "Innocence Lost" off its 2005 album, "Figure it Out," and "What Would I Do" off its 2008 EP, "The Lookout." Josh Glazer, aka J. Glaze, composed the score of "first dark."

Curtain: Aug. 15, 2:45 p.m.; Aug. 17, 7:15 p.m.; Aug. 21, 9 p.m.; Aug. 24, 10:30 p.m., and Aug. 26, 7:45 p.m. Cherry Pit, 155 Bank St. - Jodi Lee Reifer/ Staten Island AWE


I was given the opportunity to speak with the guys of THC and we composed a little interview to give you guys a chance to get to know The Higher Concept. An excerpt is below, while the rest of the interview is after the break. - 5StarHipHop.com


Full interview with THC - Indie Media Magazine


The Higher Concept appears with Wiz Khalifa and Twin Atlantic on Hypebot.com. - Hypebot.com


Fresh off of performing at SXSW in Austin, Texas, we sat down with The Higher Concept: three guys (Matty J, Tekst, and IB) making their way through the ever-so-competitive music industry! Through their 10 year journey they’ve shared the stage and opened up for established artists of every genre such as Nas, Kid Cudi, LMFAO, Fergie, and Sean Kingston. We sat down to talk about everything including how they got together, their journey in the music biz, what inspires them to keep going, their "Hunger Games" remix, and their experience at South by Southwest. - Joonbug.com


THE HIGHER CONCEPT
Representing: Staten Island
For fans of: A Tribe Called Quest, Beastie Boys
Who they are: Ian Weisz, Chris Reinsch and Matthew Jacob (stage names IB Profi n, Tekst and Matty J) comprise the hip-hop collective promoting positive messages with their infectious beats and witty lyrics. This is their fi rst year at CMJ. "We don't believe in writing haphazard verses about owning things or insulting people," says Reinsch. "Every song we ever write, we map out what the theme or message we are trying to get across is." Their next album, "Everybody," hits in early 2012. - New York Daily News


Tekst produced a mash-up album a while back, the Wudos Band (Wu-Tang x Budos Band). Spinner.com wrote about it. - Spinner.com


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, BURLINGTON, VT


Inside the Clifton studio space of a growing conscious hip-hop collective

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- On practice night, it's not hard to find The Higher Concept's home recording studio in Clifton. Dull thudding emanates from the garage. The screen door bangs open and closed as people go in and out. In the yellow light of the sparsely decorated kitchen, a slender African-American woman and her companion stand and chat with passersby.

"This is Rhya, she just finished a session with us," says Mike Cash, the rap group's producer-guitarist. "She's got a sort of Rihanna thing going on."

Downstairs in the smoke-filled studio, the scene is chaotic. It's hard to tell at first who's making music and who's just hanging out. A Sri Lankan gal scampers around in flip-flops, first asking to sing into the microphone, then leaving, then returning with a small video camera and shooting footage. A well-dressed dude in a leather jacket and black ball cap thumbs away at his Sidekick.

This melting pot is the hub of a musical scene that will be in full view July 11 at Martini Red, when The Higher Concept (aka THC) joins indie hip-hop artist Scott James and other acts for a live show. All of the people on the bill deserve attention, but the twentysomethings in THC have something different going on.

The lasting Syracuse University and Wagner-born friendships and loose affiliations that have resulted in this rapper/live band hybrid on Staten Island reflect why THC is worth talking about. In this physical and creative space, there is an impressive level of openness and a lack of presumption and cool. These guys, it seems, will play with anybody and everybody. But their skills as a group putting forth conscious (i.e. positive) hip-hop backed with live instruments -- reflected most recently in the mainstream by genre-benders Flobots -- also prove they have taste and talent. "They're clever, intelligent and never violent -- you never hear about 'bitches and hos.' They're really productive, too, which is hard to do," says Christina LaRocca, singer for the local band Heavy Weather, who works with the group on the "Projectivity" mix-tape series, which endeavors to connect artists and musicians all over the Northeast by collaborating on recorded material.

As the practice room and home studio downstairs begins to fill with people who pick up instruments, THC co-leader Chris Reinsch, 25, sifts through piles of gear near the mixing board, trying to find three working microphones and chords. There are plenty of faulty combinations, so it takes a while. Reinsch, housemate Matt Jacob and Ian Weisz -- three guys who don't quite look the part but whose varied styles of rap mix well in unison or succession -- will eventually take up or share the mics.

The elephant in the room, of course, is that everyone in THC and The Contraband is white. It's hardly something the members are unwilling to discuss.

Weisz -- whose laid-back style is obviously influenced by Snoop Dogg (and not just because he happens to be wearing a "Doggystyle" T-shirt) -- wrote his senior thesis on the Caucasian usurpation of black musical innovation throughout American history.

"We just try and stay true to what hip-hop was created as, which was something positive," says the 25-year-old. "If we had different personalities, it would be different. We write about our own lives, what we live."

Once things get going, the group launches into that familiar '90s bit of West Coast gangster storytelling "Regulate," by Warren G featuring Nate Dogg. But all the words have been changed to be Staten-centric. Instead of area code 213, it's "THC," and there's mention of the Verrazano Bridge, the Staten Island Ferry and the BQE.

As rambunctious drummer Geordie Wood, 24, lays into the kit, the band hits a groove and, suddenly, chaos becomes order.

The musicians playing with the three-man rap group called THC have been dubbed Contraband, and some of its members do cross borders under the cloak of night. Bassist Dave Giordano, 22, and Brett Dovman, 25, are locals. Wood comes from Brooklyn to play the drums. Guitarist Doug Atkins, 25, makes the trek from Short Hills, N.J. -- partly because of the group's open-door policy, he says.

"As someone from a rock background, I have to say this is really different," says Atkins, whose sample-like alt rock guitar lines are just one of the many things that make THC's new live sound unique on Staten Island. "None of the groups I was in before were as open to collaborating, just having people come in and see what comes out."

Reinsch, who has been instrumental in getting the group heard with gigs from Black Dog to spots in Boston, echoes this.

"That's the whole idea of the movement," says the rapper, who works as an engineer at View Studios in St. George. "It doesn't matter if you're a musician, artist or even visual artist. Come over, see if you can fit in our band; if you can't, see if you can perform a song with us. If you' - Staten Island Advance


Projectivity Movement/GTD
TheHigherConcept.com

With a bit of caution, I think it's fair to say something is stirring in post-Wu-Tang hip-hop on S.I. Projectivity Movement is a perfect example: TekstTHC (aka View Studio's producer Christian Reinsch) has put no small effort into bringing local and non-local artists -- including nationally notable groups like Atmosphere, Akrobatik and Brother Ali -- towards a coalition of musicians for these mixtapes, and the results are increasingly impressive. The production on this 26-track behemoth of underground rap is exceptional, the variety of talent broad, and the tracks themselves solid. Personal favorites come from the locals of course -- NYOil's dream-like cut "Moment I Said It," Mark D's rant "Blast4Me," and old-school-ish laid back cut "When" from TheHigherConcept -- but opener "Get It" from Origin and Akrobatik's back-to-basics anthem "Be Prepared" are also great. Your own choices will be different, but whatever the case, this is a must-buy for the connoisseur who gives props to our home-grown emcees and considers them in the same league as other well-constructed hip-hop from the city and beyond.

-Ben Johnson - Staten Island Advance


2008 was a productive year for Burnt MD. He released another excellent full-length album and appeared on Northampton-based collective The Problemaddicts’ top-notch regional compilation mixtape The Guestlist. In addition, the hardest-working man in Vermont hip-hop has been touring regularly in the Northeast, spreading his higher-conscience Green Mountain flow from legendary Cambridge nightclub The Middle East to South Burlington’s Higher Ground. Somehow Burnt MD found the time, under the banner of his own collective/movement GTD, to reconnect with New York-based collective/movement Projectivity and release the latest installment of their high-minded hip-hop comps, Projected Mixtape Vol. 3. Whew.

The estimable Burnt Microphone Doctor appears three times on the weighty volume’s 25 tracks. Each of these contributions appears on his previous effort, Burnt MD & Tha Professor. But local hip-hop aficionados will find them worth revisiting. Of particular note is the comp’s second track, “Daydream,” which follows a smooth intro cut by Albany’s Origin.

With ace beats courtesy of Tha Professor, Burnt unleashes his signature, paradoxically laid-back and aggressive flow before yielding to longtime collaborator Network. The latter MC has been quiet of late, but the song is an apt reminder of just how potent this dynamic duo can be.

Next up, “Fuck You Mean” introduces the comp’s considerable star power: Pack FM, Atmosphere’s Slug and current underground heavyweight champ Brother Ali trade verses with ease and wit.

The hit parade continues throughout as underground luminaries from Staten Island’s The Higher Concept — whose MC, Tekst, spearheads Projectivity — to NYOIL, Akrobatik, iCON the Mic King, Sons of Kalal and The Problemaddicts, among many others, contribute stellar tracks. As The Higher Concept themselves put it, “We’re all stars. But we’re better as a constellation.”

That line does a better job of summing up the comp’s overriding message than any keyboard jockey could. In an age when hip-hop is notable for lavish overstatement, it’s refreshing when truly artistic and accomplished talents join forces, reminding us that the culture was inspired by a need to make the world a better place. There is power in understatement, too, and few examples are more effective than Projected Vol. 3. - Seven Days - Dan Bolles


MIGHTY VIN'S TOP 10 LOCAL ARTISTS/BANDS OF 2008
When I was asked by AWE's own music man, Ben Johnson, to compile a Top 10 list for this issue, I felt it was my duty as the host of S.I.'s only local music radio show to write a list of my 10 favorite local musical acts of 2008. They are in no particular order and contain everything from rock and acoustic to rap and even a jug-band. If you didn't make the list, it's nothing personal; I could only pick 10. Who knows, your band might be on it next year.

The Higher Concept (MySpace.com/thehigherconcept)
A local rap collective that would make any of the early-mid-'90s rap acts proud. THC create tracks that aren't laden with AutoTune or glossed over with repetitive chants of commercialist values or male chauvinism. What they are filled with are rich and original beats and fresh, crisp lyrical stylings that haven't been heard since 1997. One listen to THC will transport you to a place where the Soulja Boys of the world are scoffed at instead of praised and everyone knows who EPMD and A Tribe Called Quest are. - Staten Island Advance


http://www.silive.com/entertainment/music/index.ssf/2008/06/music_soundbites_18.html


"The Lookout EP"
The Higher Concept
(MySpace.com/thehigherconcept)

These days, emcees who take aim at cash-driven trends in mainstream rap music are easily as numerous or as vocal as those who embrace it. So when you discover yet another group that claims to be "different" by doing something underground, it can be a claim tough to swallow. But THC must be doing something right; the consortium of musical minds centered around J. Glaze, IB Profyn, Tekst and Matty J have been consistently putting out mixtapes and CDs since before 2005. The group's latest work sounds dark -- largely thanks to the brooding but skillful production of Glaze, with strings, a clip of Samuel L. Jackson's famous monologue from "Pulp Fiction" and pieces of horn lines. But lyrically these songs are full of positive messages as well as moral and social criticism. "Rock On" is a choice cut featuring Jack Brown and Heavy Weather's singer Christina LaRocca, where one of the rappers says "I'm walkin' through life with a smile on my face/ I know I'm blessed; lots of people want to be in my place/ I don't let the bad times get me stuck like quicksand/ my friends and my fam keep me up like kickstands." NYOil makes an appearance, too, on the vicious-cycle-of-the-ghetto lament "What Would I Do." Overall, it's a good set of songs, and the way THC and the Projectivity Movement are going, it won't be the last one you hear. - Staten Island Advance (Advance Weekly Entertainment)


Discography

Still working on that hot first release.

Photos

Bio

Featured October 2011 in the NY DAILY NEWS as one of “10 NYC bands that are the next big thing,” The Higher Concept is three energetic EMCEES who are more than just professional entertainers. They deliver an energetic experience of music and message that keeps listeners enthralled, all while a powerhouse of rhythm and funk from a live backup band drives the crowd.

The Higher Concept has steadily grown in popularity since they began in 2003, bending ears throughout the northeastern region by playing almost 200 shows alongside LMFAO, Kid Cudi, Method Man, Nas, KRS-One, Fergie, Sean Kingston, Talib Kweli, Afroman, DJ Kool Herc, the Zulu Nation, Double Trouble, Slaughterhouse, Keith Murray, and numerous others. The Higher Concept has had the honor of playing multiple shows during the 2012 SxSW Festival in Austin, TX, and were invited to perform at The 2012 Dewey Beach Music Conference. Also at the 35th Anniversary of The Zulu Nation. They have played notable venues such as Highline Ballroom, The Knitting Factory, Tammany Hall, SRB’s, and Bitter End in NYC, and also to a sold- out crowd of over 1700 people at the Michigan Theater and Easter Michigan University Convocation Center. THC has been invited twice to Tainted Blue Studios in Times Square, NYC, where their performance was featured on Blender.com.

The Higher Concept’s live show is a “can’t miss” event, but they also have an extensive catalog of releases. The group has released 5 studio albums, the last one, “Everybody”, being released under their own Projectivity Movement record label. Projects and releases from THC have received stellar reviews from notable websites Hypebot, The Smoking Section, OnSmash, 5STarHiphop, YRB Magazine, Alwayz Therro, Audible Hype, Indie Media Magazine, and Datpiff.com amongst others.

In addition to their studio albums,The Higher Concept has released 3 mixtapes under their Projectivity Movement record label, which has featured exclusive tracks from Masta Ace, Lord Jamar (Brand Nubian), Remedy (Wu Tang), Slug (Atmosphere), Little Brother, Akrobatik, Pack FM, Brother Ali, One B Lo, iCon the Mic King, Cymarshall Law, and Burnt MD, amongst other local talent from around the country. Most recording is done at the House of Dreams Studio, managed by J. Glaze & Tekst. This professional quality studios has allowed for both Tekst and J. Glaze to have engineered countless sessions with artists such as RZA, Kool G Rap, Raekwon, Kurupt, Ghostface Killah, Inspectah Deck, and Sean Price, Methodman, and Q-Tip. This is the reason all of THC’s music is released with a professionally mixed and mastered sound.

Aside from studio releases and mixtapes, The Higher Concept regularly releases free audio and visual content for fans and newcomers to enjoy while the group is busy crafting their next release. The video for their smash hit “I Need A Dollar” has 1 million views and counting! Four videos from THC’s last release have over 15,000 views each. Most recently, they have been releasing an indie-rock remix project on consecutive Mondays, entitled "RadioHeads"

The Higher Concept has been featured on several mixtapes over the past years, including, Terry Urban and Mick Boogie’s “The Great American Mixtape” and WSIA radio personality Emilio Sparks’ album “Chicks, Kicks, and Pornoflicks” & "The Scumbino's Way". THC has topped the college radio charts in Canada and the U.S. multiple times and in over a dozen different markets, including New York, Michigan, California, Vancouver, and Toronto. The group also was invited to visit Shade45 radio as a guest on Angela Yee’s “Don’t Quit Your Day Job” segment, where they were rated a rare 3.75/5 by the notoriously harsh group of callers.

Band Members