Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Staten Island Rap Group, Team Alliance Releases New Album "It's About Time"

As you can see by my blog, Staten Island has a rather big and important hip-hop culture outside of the Wu. Now whether you believe that or not is up to you, but don't sleep on us because an overwhelming majority blast techno beats out of their Escalades- there is a lot you may not know. With so many gritty, superb underground lyricists it's a shame we get stuck with so much mainstream nonsense.

What if I told you that these next rappers I'm talking about are White Italian rappers? Would you believe me? What if I told that one of the rappers in the group was featured on Hot 97 every week. What if I said their new album features Royce Da 5'9, and it was as low as number 66 on the iTunes downloaded list? Well guess what, I'm not lying, so here's my review of their album It's About Time by Team Alliance followed by a Q&A.

Agent Lead and 1MT

New Album It's About Time

"Straight out from the underground comes Team Alliance, a hip-hop group whose in-your-face lyrics and unique blending of personal heritage and hip-hop culture are shaking up the earth with each new track. Equipped with an arsenal of powerful rhymes, Team Alliance delivers an incredible show of verbal finesse with true passion, generously providing to the rap community what many recent hip-hop teams have been lacking: versatility, intensity and unbelievable skill." - Section of the bio on Myspace

Album Review
After previously releasing a mixtape called Rare Cuts, it was time for Team Alliance to make a full length, and speaking of time, they knew it too. Releasing It's About Time September 8th, it promises to deliver from the time you hit play until the disk stops spinning. Agent Lead (the ruff voice) and 1MT (the swag voice), leave it all out in the open on their newest release. The tracks blend well together to paint a true story of real life and experiences. It really is a breath of fresh air to hear some inspired hip-hop that isn't bragging about girls, money, cars, etc. TA does a good job coming down to earth because they are just like you and I.

As far as repping their hometown, they do it well giving Staten Island a name drop here and there. But the pride for home goes a bit deeper, it's how they deliver the rhymes over the beats. The beats on the record have dark and dingy feel like something out of RZA's book, but yet have a more modern and distinctly mainstream feel that plays well on their voices.

TA also does a great job paying homage to classic early 90's hip-hop in the inflection of the lines and the raw angry flow approached on every verse. Every time they spit you believe them, and you feel the confidence exuding through each syllable. This is especially prevalent in songs like "Put Your Pens Down" and "The Oath" featuring Royce Da 5'9.

Overall this album is a valiant effort for Team Alliance. It's an album like this that brings you from S.I. hip-hop act to next in line rap group. The guys are on the right track and I wish them the best of luck, so be on the lookout for Team Alliance.

#66 on iTunes
What's the biggest show you ever played capacity wise and venue wise?
Agent Lead- We haven’t done that many shows. Our biggest show was probably at Club City in Manhattan 3 years ago, to about 300 people. I personally did a show at a recent skydiving event in California to the tune of about 500 people with a live band backing me.

What's your biggest rockstar moment as an artist?
Agent Lead & 1MT - Our biggest rockstar moment was being flown down to Interscope Records and being treated like a star in Hollywood for two weeks. They offered us a bum deal and we told them to beat it.

What did Interscope do for you in Hollywood, and what was their lame offer?

Interscope wanted to sign us to a deal that would lock us up for like eight years with eight options on those years to renew at their discretion, with no guarantee of any product ever being released. I come to find out years later (this was in 2001) from a close source deep inside the industry that Interscope allegedly went on a spree, signing all of the dopest white rappers and groups and locking them up in these shitty contracts for years so that Eminem would have no competition. Pretty shitty if you ask me. Only thing they did for us, aside from wining and dining, was open our naive eyes to the world of the record industry and its shady ways (no pun intended). From that moment on we pretty much gave up on signing a major label contract and focused on doing it ourselves. You may sell less records in the long run, but your fans are REALLY fans that care about your music and make a connection with you as an artist.

Where'd you guys get your emcee names from, and where'd you get "Team Alliance" from?
1MT- I always was a terra growing up, ask around. The one-man part is, I always felt like I never needed to ask another man for help with nothing. Do my dirt all by my lonely.

Agent Lead - I was Lead since like 89. I used to write graffiti and Lead was my name. Around 93 a bunch of friends formed a crew called the FBI, in which we were all agents. The name just stuck with me and traveled with me thru everything I’ve ever done. When I first discovered 1MT, I was doing my own thing as a solo artist and I had him record a few songs with me. I called it "Agent Leads Alliance" obviously that name wasn’t a fair representation of what we were doing so we changed it to “Team Alliance”.


Describe that chance meeting in the record shop, and how you started exchanging rhymes?
1MT- Lead was a customer that would always come in my store. He already had a buzz in the neighborhood, so I knew who he was when he introduced himself. He started playing new tracks he had just recorded in his studio, and I became a fan. I told him I wrote rhymes in my spare time, but I don’t take it serious. He asked to hear something, so I kicked a verse. He was like holy shit, lets go back to my crib and record that right now. We made a track, and it was a hood smash. Lead was the first person that made me believe that I really had a gift, and after that it was a rap.
What sparked your early love for hip-hop, and who are your biggest influences?
1MT- I was a big West Coast fan. I loved N.W.A and then became a big 2pac fan. So many people inspired me in all genres of music; from big haired rock bands to Sade to Luciano Pavarotto Enya back to Stevie B in freestyle. I love all music, crazy wide range.

Agent Lead - I used to be into heavy metal back in 89-90. My boy, Echo (House of Repz) came over my house one day with a cassette of Dwick from nice and smooth. The song was looped on the tape, I thought it was the freshest shit I ever heard and I instantly went to hip-hop from that moment on. Early influences were: Gangstarr, nice and smooth, then came Nas. After I first heard halftime in 92, from there on out it was all based on east coast mc's of the early 90's.

How'd you get noticed by Hot97, and describe your short run on some of their shows?
Agent Lead - Hot 97 used to have a show called the Furious 5 Mic Check show where you would call in and rap live on the radio over their beats. After calling in for four straight weeks with fire, they asked me to come up to the studio and do some live in studio sessions. I did a few of those and then the show went off the air. It was followed by a show called Home Jams where they would play your demos on the radio. The tracks I submitted opened the show just about every week.

What do you bring to the rap game that's different, and what's TA's unique style?
1MT- We bring feeling and emotion, mood music, real life story's, personal trials and tribulations, and we answer your questions thru our situations. If you’re not a fan of Hip-Hop, you will still be a fan of Team Alliance... I promise...

Agent Lead- I feel that the things we say and talk about are all without masks. We don’t wear any costumes so to say. Everything we speak of is stuff that happens in real life to real people everyday, and we are not afraid to talk about issues and situations that other rappers may feel would tarnish their hard rock image. We do not have a hard rock image, just a real relatable image.
Ever perform or record with anyone famous?
Agent Lead- Royce Da 5'9 from Slaughterhouse and Eminem’s early music is on the album. He’s one of our all time favorite mc's so getting to do a track with him was awesome.

How did you get involved with Royce?

Our manager at the time, Mike Sword (great guy), was in contact with Royce's manager handling some other business. Mike knew we were huge fans of Royce and asked Kino (Royce's manager) if Royce would be down to do a track with us. Kino played Royce some of our music and Royce came thru and did the track. Im not exactly sure if there was a monetary payment or if it was a favor for a favor kind of thing but whatever it was, Mike Sword got us our track with Royce. It's one of our favorite joints on the album. There are only a small handfull of other artists we would consider working with.

Blue Skies Magazine

Why should people listen to you guys?
1MT - Because everyone can relate to our words.
Agent Lead- I have to agree with 1MT. The shit we speak of is pretty much what happens in real life. If you can go thru the whole album and say "I can’t relate to a single thing they are speaking about" then you are most likely just hating on us, or don’t have the balls to admit that some of this shit happened to you too. Take that mask off son!

How do you promote your music and build a fanbase? You don't get 11 million plays just hanging out...

We have been working on this for a long time. We had both been active in online battle tourneys and our name as solo artists and as a group were well established on many giant internet hip-hop forums. Then out of nowhere the massive amount of hits started rolling in. They were really a mystery to us at the time. Myspace was booming and we were getting a steady 1000 hits per day on the site there. According to some fans we had a small mention on and then all of a sudden we were getting up to 85,000 a day! We have never been able to confirm or deny this. All we know is people heard it and loved it and anything beyond that is pure speculation. Since Myspace has been basically abandoned we kinda feel like we missed the boat there to capitalize off of whatever buzz we had going. It kinda urks me personally. Wish we would have acted on the album sooner, it was basically 98% finished at that time. We sat on it for no apparent reason, losing all momentum we had built on the then dying Myspace. Now I sign on there and it's nothing but a million idiots spamming me about their newest song which 90% of the time sucks (yes I actually listen to a lot of them because I love finding GOOD new music. Sadly good music on Myspace is very few and far between.)
Where do you think the state of hip-hop is today?
1MT- Hip-hop is trying to make a comeback, but the radio just won’t let it. There is so much talent out there, but they insist on playing the same five artists twenty times a day because they are being paid to. This in turn brain washes the listeners to get these songs stuck in their heads until they become fans, because they don’t know any better. It is a disgrace!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please feel free to leave your comments and feedback below. I'd love to hear your feedback whether positive or negative, and I always respond. Thanks for reading!