Video: Dag Savage (Johaz & Exile) – Twilight

In which Johaz professes his love for young adult fantasy fiction. JUST KIDDING THIS SHIT BANGS DON’T SNATCH MY ADAM’S APPLE!!!

Again, Dag Savage EP. Dag Savage album release party.

Video: Dag Savage (Johaz & Exile) – Dag Sav

Well, damn. This bangs. I forgot to post this up a couple months ago when it first came out along with this Dag Savage mixtape.

I also like that the video includes the two dancers that are always on-stage at Deep Rooted shows. It helps capture the high energy of their live shows, which is probably Deep Rooted’s greatest strength. And it also helps the video match the intensity of the vicious beat.

Dag Savage just put out their self-titled EP on iTunes. If you like what you hear, come through to this album release party in February too.

Video: Dag Savage (Johaz & Exile) – Cali Dreamin

I wrote about Dag Savage’s 7-inch release, “Cali Dreamin” b/w “Mic Jackson (Fly Shit)” for SoundDiego. I guess it made more sense immediately after Thanksgiving. But I guess this blog has given up on timeliness, among other things.

As I type this, I’m about ready to leave the Twin Cities in Minnesota where I spent my extended Thanksgiving holiday. It turns out the Twin Cities of St. Paul and Minneapolis are either a hipster haven or a hippie haven or maybe it’s just that hipsters turn out to be the hippies of the new millennium. Bike lanes are extra wide. I just came back from the first certified organic bakery in the nation. Minnesota Public Radio exists and just played local hip-hop heroes Atmosphere, classic Sly Stone funk, the pleasantly melodic Mumford & Sons, and the hard-ass country of Johnny Cash all in a row.

And then there are some great record stores. While I won’t get to listing every piece of hip-hop vinyl I picked up, I did happen to stumble upon one new single from a San Diego artist, which is always a good feeling. It lets you imagine that people outside of SD might be listening to someone from your hometown after all.

At any rate, what I picked up was the limited 7" single, "Cali Dreamin," from Dag Savage, who also recently dropped a video for this song (check that out here). Dag Savage is a duo with SD rapper Johaz backed by acclaimed LA beatsmith Exile. Johaz is probably better known locally for his work in hip-hop group Deep Rooted with rapper-producer Mr. Brady, singer Just Brea, and DJ Artistic. For the past couple years or so, he’s been working in LA with Exile, who is best known for dropping the underground classic Below The Heavens with rapper Blu. They’ve been teasing their Dag Savage collaboration for some time now.

"Cali Dreamin" also features two other rappers, Fashawn and Co$$. The three MC’s each contribute a verse dedicated to their respective hometowns (Fashawn and Co$$ are from Fresno and LA, respectively). As you might expect, "Cali Dreamin" sounds dreamy, covering the lyrics in a coat of reverent, nostalgic haze with gentle piano playing. Johaz’s verse turns out to be less a tribute to SD than it is a tribute to his mother as the verse reveals the personal demons she overcame to raise her son right in the harsh ghetto environment.

The B-side to "Cali Dreamin" is "Mic Jackson (Fly Shit)," which you can actually listen to via the Dirty Science Soundcloud page. This is more straightforward MC braggadocio. Exile is a monster on the beats and this one’s a banger. Johaz, prior to even joining Deep Rooted, had a reputation for terrorizing dudes in battles across the city and this is a reminder of that. This should satisfy your urge for boom bap, original rap. If you’re interested in picking up the 7" single, check out the Dirty Science store.

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CityBeat: Album Review: Johaz – The Alina Marin Theory EP

I spent about 300 words saying that I liked two out of five-and-a-half songs off this EP (the Intro is the half-song). You can read below or at CityBeat here. Listen above and tell me what you think though.

Johaz has been relatively quiet. While fellow Deep Rooted member Mr. Brady has released a bevy of EPs and albums since the group’s last album in 2009, Johaz has leaked only a few tracks, though he’s been working on a collaboration called Dag Savage with famed L.A. beatsmith Exile. That’s a hard road to travel in 2012, when artists might release a new song every day just to stay at the top of people’s minds.

The Alina Marin Theory EP could be Johaz’s way of maintaining his visibility. Featuring Exile and his Deep Rooted fam, Alina Marin serves as a holdover until either Dag Savage or the next Deep Rooted album drops. The six-track EP was released for free download on Valentine’s Day. (If you’re wondering who Alina Marin is, you’d be hard-pressed to find an answer, even from Johaz himself.)

The topics in Alina Marin run the gamut from lost love to fake, money-grubbing women to giving up the “player” lifestyle. It’s reminiscent of Ghostface Killah’s 2009 album Ghostdini: Wizard of Poetry in Emerald City. Both Ghostface and Johaz take the concept of “ladies’ songs” and explore it from different angles, like a writing exercise.

But Ghostdini received mixed reviews, and Johaz is not quite the writer Ghostface is. Alina Marin turns out to be a mixed affair. “Socialite Girl” wins because it’s just so hard to go wrong sampling Sade’s beautiful voice and lyrics. “Watch Some Martin” is playfully intimate with its moody, bass-heavy instrumental and quirky references to the ’90s sitcom starring Martin Lawrence. But “Digital Love,” sampling Zapp & Roger’s “Computer Love,” is either kinda genius or kinda obnoxious. The remaining songs lack inspiration.

Thankfully, albums by Dag Savage and Deep Rooted are slated to drop this year, so this pit stop won’t matter that much.

If you’re interested in more songs that sample Sade, E-40′s son, producer-rapper Droop-E, put out this ill EP that samples Sade on each song. And the first line on there is “I’m 22, ain’t trust nothing since Peek-a-boo.”

Signator ft. Johaz – Last of a Dying Breed

Dag Savage (Johaz and Exile)
Last of a dying breed ft johaz dag savage by SIGNATOR CHAMPION

Found this randomly on Soundcloud, a track featuring Johaz of Deep Rooted fame, though it looks more like this track came together because of his Dag Savage fame. Johaz’s verse is nice, straightforward battle raps with a possible jab at the president (“How you gon’ lead a nation when your eyes are closed?/ You got a heart of plexiglass, n*gga mine’s is gold”). This beat is not by Exile, however, it’s by Elusive. The beat’s alright but a little too schitzo and not really touching Exile production. Dag Savage, please drop soon.

Dag Savage (Johaz & Exile) – Mic Jackson x Growing Pains

Dag Savage (Johaz and Exile)
17 Mic Jackson – DAG SAVAGE aka Johaz & Exile (Exclusive) by DIRTY SCIENCE
4 Growing Pains – DAG SAVAGE aka Johaz & Exile ft. Fashawn, Blu and Exile (Exclusive) by DIRTY SCIENCE

I missed this when it dropped a couple months ago. Exile put out a freebie mixtape called Intro To The Outro zipping through tracks in his back catalog in anticipation for his rapping debut album, 4 Track Mind. Thankfully, much of the mixtape focuses on exclusive songs from the Dirty Science/Dream Sequence camp including these joints from the Dag Savage project with Johaz and Exile (you notice the affinity towards “DS” names? It’s like making up names for first generation Nintendo DS games).

“Mic Jackson” finds Johaz in straightforward battle rap mode including a punchline about beating you down with chopsticks, the Asian-ness of which caught my attention. The lineup for “Growing Pains” teases another Dirty Science posse cut but it’s not really. Johaz reminisces about his struggles growing up and name-drops both Lindbergh and Mt. Aguilar in the process, making me speculate that he grew up in Clairemont like me. That would be some fly isht because otherwise, our only claim to fame is Fast Times At Ridgemont High (filmed at Clairemont High) and … I don’t know, I guess our Burlington Coat Factory is pretty dope.

The Dag Savage project is hopefully coming soon but clearly not soon enough. You can get the entire Intro To The Outro mixtape here.

Video: Blame One, Johaz live at Paid Dues

Blame One got a chance to rock at this year’s Paid Dues Festival just this past Saturday. And in a freaking Octagon, no less. It probably wouldn’t hurt him to take some tips from Johaz though, who is an excellent live performer. Johaz jumps all around the stage, spazzing to the beat. Even when he’s not rhyming, when he’s just hype man, he kinda steals the show from Blame. He’s captivating as a performer because he–in all his bouncy enthusiasm–looks like he believes in the music, or maybe more accurately, he shows that he believes in the music. I have no doubt that Blame believes in his music. The challenge then is to translate that conviction into live performance, if not in the same exact way as Johaz, then in some way that works just as well to grab the attention of a crowd of dudes who may or may not be familiar with him.

Peace to chaddyp for the footage.

Blame One ft. Johaz of Deep Rooted, Planet Asia – Left Shattered

Blame One ft. Johaz of Deep Rooted, Planet Asia “Left Shattered” [prod. Tranzformer]

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One last leak to entice you to buy Blame One’s Endurance, which is available now on iTunes and Bandcamp (although you can preview the entire album at his Bandcamp page, so it’s kind of a moot point anyway). “Left Shattered” is actually a bonus track tacked onto Endurance without being apart of the album proper. I’ve only scratched the surface on the album so I couldn’t tell you why exactly. But it probably has something to do with Blame just talking straight emcee shit without any other agenda, which is more rare for him than I wish. I really wish he would beat up on wack rappers more often with the level of energy he has here. It’s also pretty interesting that he jumps in with a Planet Asia-inspired flow for like the first two bars. I’d like to hear him experiment with flows more. Either way, he gets the best of both Johaz and Asia.

Tranzformer on the beat, which sounds nasty as shit through my headphones. Dope. More thoughts on Endurance to follow soon.

Anti Citizens ft. Black Mikey, Orko Eloheim, Johaz – Underground Jugganautz

Anti Citizens ft. Black Mikey, Orko Eloheim, Johaz “Underground Jugganautz”

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I couldn’t sleep tonight if I didn’t share the official version of Anti Citizen’s “Underground Jugganautz,” which we could previously only hear through Youtube. Orko rules over us all.

This song as well as “Effortlessly,” which was posted a few weeks ago, comes from Anti Citizens’ recently released The Awakening EP. You can cop at Access Hip-Hop. On first listen, the EP is pretty dope. Mr. Ridley has really outdone himself on the production side, even serving a couple curveballs that kept me on my toes. A more lengthy review is pending.

Video: Johaz & Exile (Dag Savage), i.e. How To Rock A Live Show

Chaddy P came through with the live footage from the Freestyle Fellowship-Dag Savage (Johaz & Exile) show at UCSD back in April (by the way, if someone knows the contact for the organizers of that show, send me a message). It was a pretty crazy night between the fire alarms going off, the subsequent evacuations, and the near-cancellation of the show. Not mention the local rapper giving away free debut CDs, the awkward white kids in the front who knew all the words, and Mike Gao swearing like UCSD’s 95% Asian population had as many Freestyle Fellowship fans as they do Dumbfoundead fans and telling everyone they should come hella early and me coming hella early to an empty ballroom as Exile was soundchecking and him telling me to get the hell out before I ran into Mike Gao and guilt-tripped Gao into letting me stay because I’d been waiting for 2 hours on his word. And then of course, there were the performances.

Let me tell you: Johaz rocks live. Read more of this post