Vandalyzm
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Vandalyzm

St. Louis, Missouri, United States | INDIE

St. Louis, Missouri, United States | INDIE
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"More Than Meets The Eye"

In the world of Transformers geekdom, controversy surrounds the name "Megatron." Those who dislike the leader of the evil Decepticons interpret the name as an allusion to the character's megalomania, deriding the cyborg for harboring false fantasies of wealth, power and genius. His supporters point out that Megatron's actions have a cold sense of logic behind them, and that he fights with fairness and a sense of honor.

St. Louis rapper/producer Vandalyzm explains that he had all this in mind when he titled his self-released debut Megatron Majorz.
"I set out to make an album that was so good people would hate me, to the point where they'd think that I'm a villain," Vandalyzm says of the album, which officially dropped on December 18. "So I thought, 'Why not be the most badass villain that I know: Megatron?' So I went ahead with that. My alias is V-Majorz, so it became Van Megatron Majorz. If you don't like it, fuck you."

Clearly, he isn't afraid to piss people off. Packed with disses of varying degrees of seriousness and playfulness, Majorz could create enough beefs to supply a Ruth's Chris Steak House. The album's eighteen tracks decry the stigma of the post-Nelly era in St. Louis hip-hop, dumbed-down lyrics, and emcees who brag without the street cred to back up their boasts.

It would be easy to dismiss Vandalyzm (given name: Van Coleman) himself for such a fault if he didn't possess such an impressive resumé. His achievements include collaborations with independent hip-hop icons Little Brother and their crew the Justus League, production work for Usher's US Records label, and an ability to recruit a veritable who's who of the St. Louis underground to appear on Majorz. What's more, the album is full of enough wisecracks, irony and self-depreciating humor to disarm even the most jilted rival. Seated in a booth at Blueberry Hill, not far from the University City neighborhood where he grew up, Vandalyzm's wry sense of humor is in full effect. He explains how he deals with the misperceptions about him and his music that arise because of his clean-cut appearance and baby-faced grin.

"It's a little awkward when people see me and I tell 'em I rhyme," he says. "Most of the time, especially when it's women, I just tell them I'm a magician or a stripper."

Such wit is often given more serious treatment on the album, cutting deep on songs like "Studio Gangsters," which disparages emcees who have a tendency to boast about riches that don't exist or claim drug-dealing exploits that never happened. "Out the booth screaming, 'Yo, I flip ki's like janitor,' when there's no doubt about it, you flip keys 'cause you a janitor," Vandalyzm raps with typically clever wordplay.

"Listening to his music is like having a conversation with a person who makes you laugh the whole time you're talking to them — but at the end you're like 'Damn, you telling me something,'" says fellow St. Louis emcee Rockwell Knuckles, who drops verses on the Majorz track "Charity Case." "He tries to be honest and clever and charismatic, and I've got to salute him for trying to do it. A lot of people don't take it that far to get attention, and in my opinion it's not shock value; he's trying to make an artistic statement. He's trying to show people what he really thinks."

"Studio Gangstas," like several other tracks, ends with a flurry of spoken-word trash-talk and a proclamation of "Yeah, I said it." It's this air of defiance that the rapper assumes for virtually all of his outspoken views, particularly when it comes to his take on the impact that Nelly's success has had on St. Louis hip-hop.

"No dis to Nelly, props for being successful and doing what he did, but the process of this is, you look at every signed national artist from St. Louis, what do they sound like? Nelly," Vandalyzm says. "Reason being, only way they were going to get signed was to sound like him. And now nationally we've been looked [at] as a gimmick, because beyond the steps that Nelly took, with everyone copying what he doing and looking like buffoons, [the industry] is not taking us seriously."

Vandalyzm's music is certainly a far cry from the stereotypical St. Louis sound. His beats sample everything from Billy Joel to I'm Gonna Git You Sucka, while the rapper has an abrasive delivery reminiscent of Pharoahe Monch and Aesop Rock. In order to broaden his horizons — and with the hope that he'd be able to garner national attention without the baggage associated with a 314 area code — he says he cast his lot outside the city. He caught a break in November 2005 when a friend in Chicago passed on a copy of his demo to the acclaimed North Carolina hip-hop duo Little Brother.

The music made an immediate impression.

"Honestly, most of the CDs we get on the road suck," Phonte of Little Brother says in an e-mail. "Luckily, Van's didn't. My first thought when I heard his music was, 'Finally somebody got it right. "It only had a couple tracks on there and they were all heaters," adds Big Pooh, the other half of the duo, who contributes a verse on the Majorz track "Hands High."
Collaborations with Little Brother's crew the Justus League followed. In October 2007, Vandalyzm was featured on a track produced by former Little Brother DJ 9th Wonder, on which he traded verses with Detroit emcee Royce Da 5'9". DJ Khrysis, also affiliated with the Justus League, produced the Majorz track "Money on the Table."
For the past two years Vandalyzm has lived in Atlanta, where he worked as a producer for the R&B group One Chance, who are signed to US Records. (Vandalyzm's double-duty as a producer/emcee — he crafted his own beats on ten of the eighteen tracks on Majorz — is clearly a point of pride: He makes a point of including production credits for each song on the album's track listing.) But after returning to St. Louis late last year and enlisting several notable St. Louis emcees and producers to contribute to Majorz — Black Spade, Wafeek, Gotta Be Karim, among others — Vandalyzm says he's proud to be representing the city again. He just hopes you won't hold that against him.

"I keep my Cardinals hat on, but don't let that be something that you judge me automatically on, on the strength of 'Hot In Herre,'" he says, adding a playful declaration that embraces the spirit of his Megatron alter-ego. "I'm speaking some truth in a lot of people's faces, and as much as it might hurt people to listen to it, the truth is they're going to enjoy it 'cause it's a damn good album. You can't front. Even if I might be talking about you, it's a damn good album." - The Riverfront Times


"Vandalyzm mixes it up before next CD release"

Hot underground St. Louis rapper Vandalyzm has something special for his fans to hold onto until he re-releases a tweaked edition of his “Megatron Majorz” CD late this summer.
He’s offering a soulful new mix tape, “Vandalyzm is Not the Father,” and it’s a free download.
Vandalyzm is prepping a remastered version of “Megatron Majorz” with new songs and remixes, and in the meantime throwing “Vandalyzm is Not the Father” out there in an effort to keep his name relevant.
“I didn’t want to be out in the streets without anything,” says Vandalyzm. “I’d been dropping loose joints here and there, and cats were asking ‘you know you need to release a mix tape, right.’ So I needed to do that, just drop a dope and fun mix tape.”
The mix tape bares a different side of Vandalyzm than what he revealed on the “Megatron Majorz.”
“ ‘Megatron’ was me being aggressive and real, saying I’m here to make a statement, be shocking, and show folks what I do,” says Vandalyzm. “But this is stuff I’ve done all my life but never bought to the forefront. I thought it was imperative to show a more musical end of what I do and what I listen to.”
He points out “Vandalyzm is Not the Father” brings forth “a lot of the older elements I listen to from the ‘50s, ‘60s, and ‘70s. I don’t listen to a lot of hip-hop.”
One song features a sample of Marvin Gaye’s “God is Love”; another has music from Brazilian soul artist Tim Maia.
He considers “Vandalyzm is Not the Father” a test of sorts. “If you think this is dope, you’ll love the next project, because it’s definitely that, says Vandalyzm, part of local music collective the Force that includes names such as Corey Black, Rockwell Knuckles, Tef Poe, Teresa Jenee, Nato Caliph, Wafeek, Gotta Be Karim, and DJs Needles and Reminisce.
Just before “Megatron Majorz” hits the streets with digital distribution from Soulgasm out of New York City, Vandalyzm has one more mix tape to unleash – “Vandalyzm is not the Step Father,” naturally.
“You can do a lot more on mix tapes,” he says, referring to the fact there’s more leeway when it comes to the use of samples, which are costly.
“I might hear something and want to rock it or add something different to it, but can’t necessarily go and record it. It’s not right to put that out there and sell it. You can’t clear it. But when you’re putting out a mix tape for free, I can do what I want musically and no one is hurt,” he says. “There’s lots of freedom and good publicity.”
Get more information at myspace.com/vandalyzm or twitter.com/vandalyzm. - St. Louis Post Dispatch


Discography

Megatron Majorz- Jan. 2008

Vandalyzm Is Not The Father- Jan 2010

Megatron Majorz Redux- July/Aug 2010

B***h Im Mis Talented Jan 2011

The Proposal July 2011

Ozymandias (single) August 2012

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Bio

Proud St. Louis native, artist and producer Van “Vandalyzm” Coleman, is not your ordinary emcee. While hip hop to his core, Vandalyzm is a true student of music itself. He credits Burt Bacharach as one of his favorite composers of all time, along with David Axelrod, Quincy Jones, Barry White and Isaac Hayes. His influences vary greatly – from the likes of Donny Hathaway and The Sylvers, to Daft Punk and Nirvana, to Arthur Verocai, to J. Dilla. He fuses it all to create his versatile sound.
He has racked up production and writing credits with Flying Lotus, Outasight, 9th Wonder, Royce da 5'9, Skyzoo, Oddisee, Naledge of Kidz in the Hall, One Chance (T Pain's Nappy Boy/ Usher's Us Records imprint) and others.

Not to be eclipsed by his talent as a producer is Vandalyzm’s undeniable stage presence. He has shared the stage with Kendrick Lamar, Big Krit, Schoolboy Q, Danny Brown, Dom Kennedy, Black Milk, Jean Grae, Murs, Black Sheep, Slum Village, Bel Biv Devoe and many more. 

In addition, Vandalyzm received the highest of praise in HipHopDX.com’s DX Next column in 2008, was voted “Best St. Louis Hip Hop Artist” by the Riverfront Times, has been featured on several prominent hip hop sites, such as smokingsection.com and NahRight.com, and his debut album, Megatron Majorz Redux, broke through the Top 30 Hip Hop releases on iTunes.

Though still building his name, Vandalyzm is anything but a novice at hip hop, bringing a sound that strays far from the stereotypical STL vibe, yet stays true to his self and his pride in where he’s from. And he has the star quality to match his extensive resume. Not to be mistaken with the trite “swagger” that too many rappers of today rely on instead of actual talent, Vandalyzm is first and foremost a lyricist—impeccable wordplay, seamless story-telling skills, and a fluid flow that’s sure to drown all naysayers.

"I’m a regular dude who came up rough, and decided to go a different route than most folks in my situation,” Vandalyzm declares. “So the music I create is reflective of that. I talk about it all, from women, to clothes, to battling, to revolution. My music isn’t linear because my life isn’t. I feel like that skill keeps me ahead of the pack. Put me on any type of song, with any artist, and I won’t sound out of place."

Band Members