Hidden Gold: Newzteam

Throughout history social and cultural changes have been carried out by the sweaty, hammer-clenched hands of the youth. From the rebellious cultural changes carried out by 1950’s teenagers to Joey Bada$$ releasing an ambitious hip-hop mixtape in 2012 at the modest age of seventeen, the youth are always the match to innovation’s flame. Hip-hop’s history is full of rags to riches stories; just about every rapper has some sort of “ghetto-hardship” past and their rugged background is always an ingredient for their personality and aesthetic. Newzteam, a hip-hop collective based out of Raleigh, North Carolina embodies everything that is beautiful about hip-hop: struggle, persistence, the up’s and down’s of partying, and yes, even philosophy. On the group’s newest mixtape, Oro, the collective taps into classic aspects of hip-hop, employing looped piano riffs, crisp 808 drum beats, quick and eager rapping, and catchy strong hooks. Newzteam seems to have an innumerable amount of members (a la Wu-Tang) but boast a handful of stand-out rappers and producers. Jeff “Jag” Gaston, Wesley “T-Star” Tshuma, John Wolfe, and Martin Otoya all have a clear grasp on the meaning of hip-hop and a cut-throat execution of its confident, relentless attitude. An astonishing aspect of Newzteam and Oro is their/its youthful vitality; their music is never bogged down by the members’ ages or affluent backgrounds. Instead of pouting about ignorance or throwing in the towel to cheap production, Newzteam stares life in the face and tells it to “chill.” The members have an obvious inclination toward beginner-philosophy, with the majority of their music focusing on worldwide social and moral issues like betrayal, life’s meaning, and blue-collar struggle. Contemporary rappers either cherish their ignorance or wallow in the darkness of realism, but Newzteam find a way to balance out the scales. The group never becomes excessively ignorant and never becomes entirely philosophical.  At eighteen or nineteen, one recognizes the unflattering and horrible aspects of the world, but also realizes the beautiful, fun portions of it as well; and that is the exact purpose of Newzteam.

-Ryan Ricks

One of my personal favorites…

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