Ronnie Dylan’s new track “Suite Life” documents the hustle-hard philosophy of a young rapper on the come-up over a spacious, radio-ready beat. Producer Jake Crocker adds a dramatic vocal touch.
Ronnie Dylan — the budding MC and collaborative partner with producer Jake Crocker (Black Umbrella, Raz Simone, Fatal Lucciauno) — probably couldn’t have picked a more loaded title for his new album: Manumission. In short, it means the act of a slave owner freeing his or her slaves. Rap music is full of superlatives, to be sure, but to adopt one with such baggage for what is only your second EP could be considered an exercise in imprudence and, quite honestly, bad taste.
Thankfully, Dylan brings a measured focus and an appropriately heavy hand to an album with such a title. The intent on Manumission is to subvert the traditionally held definition; to re-frame the act inside the context of how hip-hop music is crafted. For Dylan, that means with a transparent honesty which he feels is sorely lacking in the contemporary culture.
It’s difficult to imagine someone as young as Ronnie Dylan undergoing a spiritual hip-hop crisis like this, but it appears to be happening. Dylan is keen and sharp with the pen, one of his skills being the ability to write rhymes with nary a wasted word. He tackles real-world trials and tribulations like substance abuse, suburban ennui, absent parentage, and socioeconomic disparity with impressive poetic ease. The musical backdrops for Manumission‘s subject matter are all handled by Jake Crocker who lends his own gravitas, emotive touch and, when the mood calls for it, soulful exposition (see album highlight “A Day Like This”). Everything feels cohesive and natural between the producer and MC.
Manumission is certainly an overly-ambitious project, but impressively so. Through the act of overreaching, Ronnie Dylan captures the essence of his current relationship to hip-hop: he loves this shit, but he’s unhappy with much of it. Manumission is his own personal attempt to right the ship. If he happens to oversteer in the other direction, so be it. At least he’ll be known as an artist that took corrective action.
Stream Manumission below and download the album for free here.
Black Umbrella, musical home to Seattle movers and shakers Raz Simone and Sam Lachow, have recently been unveiling projects by other artists under their canopy. Producer-singer Kevin Lavitt will soon release his debut EP, Planets, and rapper-singer Magik holds court this week with his debut music video and single, “Long Run.” His face and voice will already be familiar to fans of Black Umbrella as he’s appeared in the videos “Action Figures” and “Good Reasons.”
“Long Run” is a concise, soulful statement of Magik’s musical goals with insight into a turbulent past and a hope for a brighter future. Co-produced with BU’s in-house maestro, Jake Crocker.
The final episode (number 11 if you’re counting) in Raz Simone’s lead-up to the release of his Cognitive Dissonance: Part 2, is a quiet moment. “The Lights” reminds me of Wyclef Jean’s best ballads: half sung, half rapped, with a spiritual heaviness and weary resilience that conjures rap music’s mighty forebear, the blues.
206UP first met hip-hop producer Jake Crocker in February 2014 at a 300 Entertainment listening session for Raz Simone’s Cognitive Dissonance: Part 1. Jake was barely out of high school and about to embark on a bonafide real-world education with his close music partner, Raz. The classroom? The notoriously lecherous music industry.
By all accounts, Jake is an honor roll student, having survived a months-long tour in 2014 with Raz (whose team served as the opening act for Rittz’s OD Tour) and as an instrumental player in the roll-out to the hotly anticipated Cognitive Dissonance: Part 2, set to drop online for free tomorrow (Wednesday, 1/28). Jake again plays an integral part in the production of the new album, his dramatic musical backdrops lending emotional heft so vital to Raz’s confessional style.
Focused, dedicated and refreshingly earnest, Jake Crocker hopped on 206UP’s THE SIX to provide insight into his new life as a working creative.
Episode 10 in Raz Simone’s lead-up to his Cognitive Dissonance: Part II release (due Wednesday, January 28) is “Shoes On,” a banger that draws parallels between your nine-to-five office job and the grind of a hustler. The lesson here? There is no additional glory in the street life other than the false romantic notions that get attached to it. It’s one shoe at a time for all of us, Raz says.
206UP and Jae Changehave collaborated to form 28Hundred, a new media company dedicated to producing original video content and in-depth, personality-driven interviews with some of your favorite artists. Stay tuned here for the latest 28Hundred productions.
In 28Hundred’s latest exclusive interview, we sat down with producer Jake Crocker in New York City to discuss the Seattle native’s earliest days hustling beats on the internet, to getting linked with Raz Simone and his Black Umbrella team. Peep game above. Also check out Jake’s most recent project, the American Dreams EP featuring rapper Ronnie, Dylan below.
There are rap video stars in Manhattan who don’t even know they’re stars yet. Seattle rapper Ronnie Dylan found a few in Times Square for his new clip “A Day Like This”, a track from a forthcoming summer project with producer Jake Crocker.