Sev Seveer Writes About Life

Here is a piece by Chicago beat-maker and my good friend, Sev Seveer. He has moved across the country to further his education. Buy his music and support a good dude doing cool things. This piece and much more can be found in our Spring/Summer Jugo and Rada Zine. We worked really hard with lots of artists to make a cool Zine. Get your copy for only $5. We are also trying to raise money for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and Afrorack Chicago through these amazing shirts. Please help a great cause.


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Making beats has been nearly impossible for three months. In lieu of any consistent ability to make music to my liking, I’ve learned many other things during COVID lockdown: How to live with a life partner in a small space with close to zero conflict. How to scratch with the up fader on my Vestax mixer. The number of household objects that also work as joint filters. That my bike got stolen. Why you shouldn’t lock your bike outside if you have even the slightest amount of room in your home. That I love making Ethiopian food more than I love buying it at a restaurant. But most of all, I learned that time, creativity, and capitalism are far more intricately connected that I have ever considered. And in 2020 they are all trying to kill each other.


Coronavirus lockdown has stranded us with a situation in which every minute feels like it has a life of its own. For many without jobs, a feverish attempt to maximize productive time has led to being unproductively suspended in it.The cost of time has enabled many to realize, the hard way, that they are expendable as workers. And of those still working, a massive number of Americans have been jolted into the surprisingly challenging home office environment—which freelancers and remote-workers have long mastered and developed adaptation to, i.e., they know how to say “no”. For those new to this, time seems to have forsaken the place they once took refuge from labor. Just the same, time has been granted to restaurant industry workers, so that they can engage with the current race struggle in America, which has morphed from marches in protest of George Floyd’s murder to a general mass movement against whiteness, patriarchy, and all the ways they manifest violently in the workplace—not to mention the legal system, academia, and the healthcare industry.


Lockdown has provided me with time to read, time to sleep, time to love, time to gaze at the tree outside my window and watch two seasons change before my eyes. I could never do that before, because I was working, and wondering when the day would come that I could do all of those things. And while deaths have and will always be the products of time, the time we’ve been granted since March has been the product of deaths—nearly 200,000. Negotiating that reality with a positive view of time reclaimed is difficult, and dwelling on it could drive you mad. Americans have felt every day of the last six months. Every day of the last four years. Yet somehow, they’re all still vague and still just one long, bad time. What I know is that I’m grateful for life, I’m grateful for the healthy time I’ve had, and I’m grateful for the time I’ve been granted to think about the future. Last year I dreamt every day of how I’d spend my time if I had it. Soon I’ll be wishing that again. But until that time…

billy woodz Interview

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Here is my interview with the brilliant and prolific billy woodz. This interview and much more can be found in our Spring/Summer Jugo and Rada Zine. We worked really hard with lots of artists to make a cool Zine. Get your copy for only $5. We are also trying to raise money for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and Afrorack Chicago through these amazing shirts. Please help a great cause. 
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billy woodz and Elucid (Armand Hammer) released the critically acclaimed album,  Shrines on June 5. Cop it here.  I wanted to pick billy’s brain about the current state of our country, releasing an album during a pandemic, and his influences as an artist and label runner. He has established one of the most consistent hip hop record labels in the world, Backwoodz Studioz. The artists on the roster are eclectic and diverse in sound but all fit. I highly suggest visiting their website and giving it a chance. Lyrically, few are on par with this roster. Aesthetically and musically, they are refreshingly unique.  I am super proud of getting a chance to talk to billy woodz. Enjoy.
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1. You and most of the artists on Backwoodz seem to get a lot of your writing and inspiration from what is going on in society. In this time of turmoil, is your reaction to try and produce art immediately about it to respond or do you take time to write? Or is this something different entirely?

Hmm. Well, I can only speak for myself but I would say that I get inspiration and ideas from what is happening in my life. It comes from the people, places and circumstances that I encounter, from the art that I am see or hear, the ideas that I am exposed to. So, part of that certainly falls under the umbrella of “what is going on in society” and occasionally there are specific events (big or small) that I could tie to a particular song, but I don’t watch the news, sit down and start rapping.
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2. Can you tell us the process of releasing an album during a pandemic? We saw many artists delay their releases, why did you think it was important to still release Shrines?
Well, it was important because I can’t tour with this happening but I still have bills to pay. And beyond that, what would be the benefit of waiting? I try not to rush things out but this was not rushed, we had our vinyl done, we had videos ready, so I would have needed a compelling reason to call it off. Without knowing when this would be over, or what things will look like at that time, we felt it best to stick with our schedule.

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3. I can try guess your influences based on delivery and sound: Cannibal Ox, the Def Jux Records crew. That could be wrong. If wrong, who inspires you currently or who has influenced your sound?
Vordul Mega and I had a personal relationship that predates anything rap related, but he was a huge influence on me as an artist, simply because he is the one who convinced me I could do it. There are so many different types of “influences”, it’s difficult to answer this question because there are people who I listened to a lot growing up i.e. Public Enemy, Redman, The Coup, Black Sheep, Goodie Mob, The Wu, etc. Then there are people whose styles I admired or tried to learn from when I was starting to do music like Ghostface,Cam’Ron, MF DOOM, Bigg Jus. Then there are people who I actually was around, who I learned things from, like Vordul or ELUCID.
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4. Do you pay attention to music reviews? How does it feel to know that Shrines is being considered one of the best albums of 2020 so far?
Yes, I do. It feels like there are lots of months left in the year.

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5. There are several features on Shrines. Can you give some insight on how an artist like Earl gets on your album? Do you reach or does he? Or do you guys have “people” that do that?
Each situation was different. Earl and I had actually connected some time ago, kinda through Mach Hommy, actually. He was the one who was like yo, I gave Earl your contact info. Probably 2018, I’m not sure. Moor Mother is someone who already had a working relationship with ELUCID, and then we all did a show together, and built on it more. Curly Castro is my friend and we have all collaborated many times. Andrew Broder just reached out, basically because he dug Hiding Places and I talked him into contributing to this project. I still have never met Nosaj, ELUCID made all that happen. 
So yeah, there was no one way that these collaborations happened. 
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6. A few months ago, we decided to launch our record label (Jugo + Rada Records). As someone who has grown your label into something we aspire to be, what advice can you give? Please don’t tell me to quit like others have said.
Jesus, that’s a tough one. I would say, figure out what you are trying to do, what your aesthetics and sound is, what type of business you want to run…and focus on doing those things the best that you can.
Thanks again for your time and your art. It is inspiring and I thank you.
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Support us and we will continue to provide content we are super proud of. Don’t support us and I will post my personal lyrics from when I was an angst-filled 14 year old Korn fan. I don’t want to do that, but I will.