It’s The Circuit!

THECIRCUIT

Three dynamic students with the passion for hip-hop, dope lyrics and the freshest sneakers you’ve ever seen are determined to put Pomona on the map.

It’s The Circuit and they think you should know them by now.

Leon Frierson, 23, Michael Rios, 20, and Courtney Linsey, 20, are the energetic trio that makes up The Circuit, a Pomona-based hip-hop group willing to sacrifice everything to get one clean Nike through industry doors.

The boys started as a dance group after meeting in grade school and sharing a love for hip-hop culture.

“[Courtney] always vibed on beats, even in class when we were little he could never sit still,” said Rios of Linsey, who appropriately goes by V.i.b.Eazy and is the only of the three who started out singing vocals.

“The teacher would stop the lesson and everyone would be looking at Court, and he wouldn’t even know because he was just dancing.”

After taking a deeper look at their lyrical and vocal abilities, the three put their money where the music was and started recording tracks.

“It got serious once we got in the studio, because we used to pay for studio time,” said Rios. “When you’re paying money to record, you can’t be bulls***ing.”

To get more access, Linsey’s parents, both of whom currently work in the music industry, loaned out their in-home studio so the boys could further their musical career.

In 2006, The Circuit released its first mix tape “The Circuit Presents: The Bandits Mix Tape,” and from then on it was a never-ending hustle to stardom.

“We always wanted to get paid,” said Frierson, whose fashion sense, from fitted caps to ‘80s shades, can only be compared to hip-hop’s greats.

Frierson, who goes by Sha’boy Malloy, started early in the entertainment industry, and in 1997, joined the cast of Nickelodeon’s sketch comedy show “All That,” where he remained until his contract’s end after the sixth season in 2000.

As individually unique as the names they rock on stage, each member fully embodies the personas they came up with together.

Rios’ obsession with Marvel comics branded him as Marvel the Great, an alter ego he exemplifies from his eclectic collection of super hero T-shirts to the Spider Man plush key chain always clipped to his belt.

The trendy clothes and kicks may have The Circuit walking the walk, but get them on the mic and they can talk the talk — or better yet, rap it.

Whether performing for a mob of fans at The Key Club in Hollywood or free styling over popular beats to pass the time, the verses, hooks and choruses that make up The Circuit’s tracks are the driving force behind their appeal.

From upbeat club hits that feature auto-tuned samples to lyrical tracks that flaunt witty rhymes, the boys hit every corner of hip-hop.

On “Ain’t Payin’ 4 It” from their 2008 mix tape “For Promotional Use Only,” they playfully rhyme about girls who are only after money.

V.i.B.Eazy plays up the second verse admitting “Naw see, she ain’t too proud to beg. Her temptations cost an arm and a leg.”

“Where Is The Love” off of the 2009 mix tape bearing the same name samples the famous 1978 White Snake hit “Ain’t No Love In The Heart Of The City” and dives into the difficulties of being surrounded by people who don’t believe in you.

Though all three are currently enrolled in school — Linsey and Frierson at Mount San Antonio College and Rios at Loyola Marymount University — pursuing music dominates their priorities.

At the moment, the boys are working on three solo albums expected to be released on Independence Day.

The Circuit performs next on June 11 at the Aqua Lounge in Beverly Hills during the world premiere screening of “Broken.” Tickets are $10 at the door.

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June 2, 2009 Posted by | Reviews | Leave a comment

Eminem Relapses Into Rap

eminemWhether you love him, hate him or are still recovering from his last album’s drug induced tracks, Eminem is back with “Relapse,” his newest compilation of hits that was officially released on May 19.

With the reputation that he’s upheld in music, it would surprise no one to say that “Relapse” pushes the envelope. But even this is a drastic understatement for hip-hop’s latest.

Let’s just say Eminem takes a sharp knife to the envelope all while popping Valium and fantasizing about raping celebrities. The entire album gives fans a deep look into the life of an addict—and he doesn’t spare a single detail.

The first track, “3 a.m.,” describes a drugged-out episode that leads the rapper on a killing spree. In a dark, yet comedic undertone that only he has managed to master, Eminem references murder, drugs and Hannah Montana all in the same verse.

Several tracks flaunt Eminem’s rhyming brilliance, reminding fans of older hits and making up for the ridiculous rants that dominated his “Encore” album.

“Déjà Vu” follows Eminem’s relapse back into drugs and alcohol, as he describes how one sip of NyQuil turns into a drug binge.

“Couple of sips of that then I gradually graduate/ to a harder prescription drug called Valium like yea that’s great/ I go to take just one and I end up like having eight.”

On “My mom,” a track that is almost a sequel to “Cleaning Out My Closet” from 2005’s “Curtain Call,” he claims “Valium was in everything, food that I ate, the water that I drank, f***in’ peas on my plate/ She sprinkled just enough of it to season my steak/ so everyday I have at least three stomach aches.”

In true Eminem fashion, many tracks slip into an uncomfortable zone that even the most devoted fans might find excessive. On “Insane,” he raps about being molested by his stepfather, and “Stay Wide Awake” details him raping and killing a girl as he admits, “There’s a monster inside me. It’s quite ugly and it frightens me.”

Nowhere near the caliber of his previous albums, “Relapse” offers a few good tracks, a few disasters and enough Slim Shady to give you nightmares.

May 31, 2009 Posted by | Reviews | Leave a comment

The Grouch & Eligh: Reviving Hip-Hop

grouchandelighHip-hop may be dead but The Grouch and Eligh, part of the influential underground hip-hop group Living Legends, resurrected the art in the last show of the “Say G&E Tour” on May 18 at the Glasshouse in Pomona.

Hundreds of fans packed the venue, donned mostly in Living Legends T-shirts and anxiously awaiting the night’s performances.

Clouds of smoke filled the House from audience members sneaking puffs of cannabis wrapped in grape flavored Swisher Sweet and finally, the show began.

Scarub of Living Legends and rapper Very, who make up Afro Classics, kicked off the evening to a very responsive crowd.

Afro Classics performed songs off of their new album “The Classic EP,” released on May 10, including “Boom In It” and “The Follow Through.”

The chemistry between the two performers was electrifying — so much so that halfway through, they broke out into the electric slide, much to the crowds’ enjoyment.

Rootbeer, made up of Pigeon John and Flynn Adam, both artists sporting stylish fedoras, performed next and gave the night a touch of old school beats and fresh lyrics.

Songs were off of the group’s latest album “The Pink Limousine EP,” and included “Girlies,” where Flynn Adam admits “girlies hit me up because the homie is famous.”

Pigeon John made another appearance with the show’s headlining performers, The Grouch and Eligh.

The audience roared as the two members of Living Legends hit the stage. The Grouch, always sure to make a positive statement with his music and attire, rocked a shirt that read “Sell Beats Not Drugs,” while Eligh needed nothing more than a white T-shirt to compliment his tattooed sleeve and neck.

The two opened their set with “Say G&E,” the first single off of the new album, and the audience was more than happy to shout “G&E” at every request.

Eligh, who couldn’t hide a grin throughout the set as if he was still in awe at the mob of fans screaming his name, impressed with his Bone Thugs ‘N’ Harmony-style rhyming.

He previously recorded a self-titled album with his mother Jo Wilkinson and invited her on stage for a duet performance.

Wilkinson, promoting the boys with a “Say G&E” T-shirt, belted out notes that easily stole some of the limelight from her son.

The music performed by each of these artists exposes listeners to true hip-hop that spares us the superficial lyrics about bling and booty.

The Grouch, who’s lyrical genius is behind songs like “Artsy” and “Breath,” promotes more genuine subject matters.

In “Breath,” he raps “Break bread, make good, awaken/ We takin’ this hip-hop back to self creation/ Meaning I can say whatever I want, and I don’t got to act a certain way to make a chunk.”

Eligh’s verses paired with his ability to rap at such a fast pace, sound clear and keep a good beat is remarkable.

With authentic lyrics and head-bobbing beats, the “Say G&E” tour blew away unsuspecting guests who had never heard of the artists and reminded longtime fans why they should listen to more.

May 31, 2009 Posted by | Reviews | Leave a comment

Lebanon or bust…

lebanonSchool burnout is setting in and not even the colorful walls of Building 1 can keep me focused.

Up until last week, all I had to look forward to that was remotely close to a vacation was the unfamiliar Mt. SAC campus where I planned to enroll for summer. How exciting.

As I sat and scrolled through the course offerings, I realized that for every summer since the ninth grade, I had sacrificed travel, fun and experience to sit in a stuffy classroom and daydream about all the places I would rather be.

So now, taking a class over summer sounds about as appealing as watching New York Goes To Work—at this point, it’s just torture.

Though I can’t argue the benefits of knocking out a few courses over summer, the life changing experiences that come with a exploring a new country and culture are beyond measure.

Like most students, I had always planned to travel, but this pesky little thing called reality kept ruining the picture.

My mental list of things to do after graduation included “land an internship” and “find a job,” and since the lovely economy has made both these things sad impossibilities, taking a long vacation had been sitting on the back burner for a long time.

Then I threw the damn list out the window.

Instead of forever putting off fun for the tedious schoolwork that already overwhelms 90 percent of my life, I went the road less traveled—literally.

I signed off of the license agreement for my apartment, skipped my summer registration date and booked a two-month trip to Beirut, Lebanon.

I figured that my summer could either amount to four units on an endless transcript or 60 days of the ultimate adventure.

The choice was easy.

I decided on Lebanon first and foremost because it is my parents’ native country and I had gone before with my mother several years ago.

My previous trip consisted of visiting every friend and relative that ever crossed my mother’s path as they offered me cup after cup of Orange Tang—remember Tang? It’s like crack to them.

Needless to say, I deserve a re-do.

This time I decided to ditch my mom, hide from the Tang distributors and have the vacation I’ve always dreamed of.

So after 10 weeks of writing, ranting, cramming and cursing (it gets stressful around deadlines), it’s time for Sarah in the City to sign out.

For those of you staying in sunny California for the long summer, I urge you to find some time to put aside your responsibilities, at least for a while, and just have a little bit of fun.

In the meantime, I’ll be in Lebanon probably guzzling down some Tang—I don’t want to be rude—and soaking up all the country has to offer. Bon Voyage!

May 27, 2009 Posted by | Sarah In The City | Leave a comment

It’s the Lake Show

lakersIt’s Sunday evening and as I sit here trying to decide what to write about this week, I can’t stop thinking that four short hours ago the Lakers were defeated by the Houston Rockets in Game 4 of the Western Conference Semifinals.

Devastation aside, I have to say that the series has been nothing short of a circus, with more conflict on the court than actually plays.

Now this is not a sports column, but when NBA playoffs start to look more like boxing matches, you can’t help but stay glued to the television.

And before the male readers get their jock straps in a twist about a female writer discussing playoffs, let me just say that if you guys are allowed to wear thong flip-flops and skinny jeans, we can watch basketball.

Fair trade.

During Game 1 against the Rockets, I figured the Lakers must have put a hit out on Shane Battier because by the end of it, I thought I was watching Bloodsport.

Cue the blinding powder.

Even though the Lakers lost the game and home court advantage, the aggression definitely set the tone for the rest of the series—and it was cool to see him bleed.

Go Lakers.

Game 2 was something else.

The referees were handing out technical fouls like Christmas presents and the trash talking from both sides was priceless.

Derek Fisher came to the aid of his team in more than one way, most notably by practically assaulting Rocket’s power forward Luis Scola.

The Lakers’ quiet and  eloquently spoken point guard showed off his football skills when he tossed Scola an elbow that sent the 6-foot-9-inch Argentinean sliding down the court.

Very impressive.

Whether it was intentional or not—and judging by the satisfied smile on Fisher’s face after being ejected, I vote yes— it benched Derek for Game 3  leaving him alone in his hotel room Twittering with the rest of us.

Ron Artest, rocking a Mohawk and the Rocket’s logo shaved into his fade, and his Kobe-must-die frantic bared a striking resemblance to the belligerent displays of Dennis Rodman from years before.

Don’t you just love basketball?

Though tonight’s Game 4 loss was a hit to Los Angeles, I doubt that a team that lost in the first series of the playoffs last year will hold the No. 1 team in the west back from those shiny championship rings.

The Lakers and Rockets face off again tonight at 7:30 p.m. for Game 5 of the seven-game series.


May 12, 2009 Posted by | Sarah In The City | Leave a comment

The Pursuit

writingThe current state of our economy has removed any doubt from my mind that finding a job after graduation will be difficult. I can just picture it: cap and gown, diploma in hand, jobless and forced to sell my heels on Ebay to survive.

Though we’re all in the same sinking boat, I find it inspiring to see those around me continuously pumped with ambition.

When it comes to the younger generation, especially those involved in creative arts, there is no such thing as a recession.

Even though entry level positions are practically extinct and decent internships are hard to come by, when I look around I can’t help but be impressed.

Whether it’s my fashion designer cousin, who after being laid off from her last job decided to start her own couture bikini line, or the three wide-eyed hip-hop artists who can’t stop telling me about future performances and projects, or myself and other writers who will freelance for anyone who will put our names in print: quitting is not, and has never been, an option.

Admittedly, I have had days where I feel like “starving artist” will be branded on us forever, but all it takes is a glance at the dedication we have for our work and those worries crumble.

When my cousin shows me her latest designs or when the boys excitedly discuss their upcoming mix tapes, it becomes clear that what they’re doing means more than just a paycheck.

It’s the love we have for what we do that assures us of our future success.

Because of this, I have realized the importance of supporting these young entrepreneurs. Whether it’s attending an underground hip-hop show, amateur art gallery, fashion line launch or simply reading the college paper, these are the people who deserve our time.

While no one can argue the fun in exploring the creative genius of the Versaces and Kanye Wests of the world, a lot can be said of those who have yet to score their million dollar deals and are surviving on passion alone.

April 28, 2009 Posted by | Sarah In The City | 1 Comment

The Grouch & Eligh Performing @ The Glass House

May 18th
@ The Glass House
Pomona, CA

say-ge1

April 23, 2009 Posted by | Sarah In The City | Leave a comment