Independent labels come a dime a dozen, rap crews come even cheaper. SSMG however, is not the run-of-the-mill. In fact, they might be the benchmark. Hip Hop has a way of dividing itself into categories and sub-genres. Not quick to classify themselves, they find that they are either too hip hop for hardcore rap lovers or too hardcore for hip hop heads. But that position makes them the balance that hip hop/rap is missing. "Y'all make music for the times, we make timeless music." That is their mantra and describes their approach to recording.
SSMG which stands for Sound Scandal Music Group, is headed by Willie J. Wrice Sr. and Riot One, two-thirds of legendary 90's Chicago group Tha Chamba. As president, Willie J. Wrice Sr. runs the day to day operations of the label. He has a business all the time mind and speaks with authority. He handles the corporate side of things and keeps the SSMG train on track. CEO and founder Riot One is a sort of renaissance man in hip hop, not only a DJ/producer and graf artist (x-men and askcrew) but has been known to lay a verse every now and then. Riot produces, engineers and mixes all SSMG releases. Not merely a beatmaker, Riot actually produces. His tracks are thick with instrumentation and melody, which gives every song feeling.
SSMG was started in 2005 when Riot changed his 773 Music to Sound Scandal Entertainment. He produced the album 'Cold World' for founding member Spq Legend and 'Diary Of A Tribesman' for another future SSMG artist Booda Blaou. In 2008 they changed the name of the company to Sound Scandal Music Group. They've put out a treasure chest of material including 4 compilation albums, 3 mixtapes, 2 full length albums, an EP and a slew of videos. Throughout their existence they've undergone a number of roster changes, but right now they have a solid stable to win with.
While most labels have one or two shining stars, with the rest of their team being nothing more than tagalongs, SSMG explodes with talent. Every member of the squad has their own lane and still fits together like puzzle pieces.
Booda Blaou, whose current album 'Diamond Neckbones' is a sure shot masterpiece from the beats to the rhymes, delivers ill soliloquies like a tai chi master. Devilla Tha Duchezz (the vice president of SSMG), with her mixtape 'Breast Of The Best' and her album 'Thexy', ought to be bangin in car systems and on the airwaves. She definitely has what it takes to surf the line between mainstream and underground. Although her bars are confrontational, her flow is bouncy and enticing as if she's seducing you as she rhymes.
Darchorse brings 100% B-Boyism mixed with street and consciousness on his 2 mixtapes 'P.U.M.A.' and 'Hot Soup Muthafucka!'. Spq Legend, the first artist on SSMG, provides that raw hood appeal combined with wit and wisdom, in other words game. His rap cadence is like a boxer, bob and weave, stick and move then throw punches in bunches. Seerz Tower weighs in with a deep perspective on everyday life as well insight on topics rarely touched on. His lyrics come in a frenzy, a sharp contrast to his flow which is laid-back, like driving a Mercedes CLS at night down Michigan Ave. Both Spq and Seerz Tower have albums coming later this year, according to Seerz his album is done as far as the recording, it's just awaiting the final touches.
Then there's the sensuous songstress Donyetta b.k.a. Dony. A real deal R&B singer with gospel roots, her energy and aura is as hip hop natured as the rest of the crew. A songwriter and vocal percussionist (a term she coined, copyright pending) she is either providing the hook or filling in the track for multiple SSMG releases plus outside projects. She's currently working on her own project entitled Custom Made, and has a fiery single 'Turn Me On' that is club, radio and bedroom ready. Dony and the other thick and lovely misses of SSMG have a crew with their homies called Shawtnin Bred, they too have an album in the works.
A minute ago when I said SSMG explodes with talent, that was more than a metaphor. Their stylist/road manager/Donyetta's baby sister Javonna, a.k.a. Jocee Luv, is a sweet sounding singer in her own right. You'll be hearing her soon, as she is prominently featured on one of SSMG's up coming releases. The promoter/photo archivist/hypeman Swahzee is also a bonafide emcee, as well as the battery to SSMG. Tori their media coordinator, and self proclaimed "biggest SSMG fan", can flip verses herself. You may never hear her on an SSMG release, but her presence is an integral part of how they operate.
A full functioning label equipped with recording facilities (ever business minded), SSMG Labs is open for any artist to purchase tracks and or studio time. As well as an official website soundscandal.com, where you can get the latest news and info on their artists, download music and see videos. They have the talent and they have their business in order, so what is that has thus far prevented them from being a bigger presence in the marketplace?
The reason, sadly, is all too familiar. It's the oldest and most potent obstacle on the Chicago music scene, the infamous Hate. Riot sums it up like this, "You performing for people that do the same thing you do, and feel like it ought to be them up there and not you." They also site the lack of support from fans and radio, with the exception of WNUR and WHPK. Regardless, they are moving full steam ahead with plans to branch out to other cities and expand their brand. "It's bigger than Chicago".
Aside from the music, it's a beautiful sight just to see them interacting. Calling them a family would not be an overstatement of their bond. It is plain to see they have a genuine love for one another, and are true fans of each other's songs. Go to show they're more than a label-mates or a crew, their children connect and play like cousins. Some of them even represent 2nd and 3rd generation SSMG artists.
They certainly know how to have a good time, and on many occasions do. The partyin' in no way interferes with getting the job done, but best believe they get it in. As recording artists know, that kind of relaxed and cohesive atmosphere, can make for some good ass music. When they are kickin' it, don't be surprised if a freestyle session kicks off, that’s why the mic stays on at all times.
They would say it's Dubslife. A phrase Spq came up with, Dubs(short for double S, as in Sound Scandal)life is their slogan, but it's much more than that. Dubslife is the punctuation of their lives, what they go thru and how they do things. It's what they chalk up their struggles and successes to. You can find them performing at venues all over the city. There aren't too many rap shows in Chicago that at least one Sound Scandal artist isn't on the bill. The individual notoriety and respect each member of SSMG receives in the hometown hip hop community is partly due to their membership in the Chi-Rock Nation. Everyone in SSMG is either in chapter 1 or chapter 15 of Chi-Rock. In conjunction with their business manager Mr. Moreskee and his Rocmore Ent. they have upcoming performances in L.A. and St. Louis.
Before the 2013 is done they plan to hit the public with two more projects from Devilla, a mixtape 'T.I.F.F.A.N.Y.'S.' and her sophomore album 'Duchie Baby'. 'Str8 To Da Money' and 'Starting Center' by Spq and Seerz Tower respectively, an as yet untitled album from Darchorse and a 5th installment of the SSMG compilation series. Dubs.
Randall Irwin The First
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