“Please accept these good ass raps from a grown ass man,
Before my black grown hands smack some young ass stans
We move the merch quick from out the back of vans,
Don’t need an S on my chest, always hated Superman” – Steddy P on “Pocket Full of Loud”
Steddy P doesn’t need an S on his chest when he has an Indyground eyeball tattooed on his arm.
At the release party in St. Louis for Steddy P and DJ Mahf’s new album, Breakfast with Doctor Gonzo, the Indyground Entertainment team is out in full force. Founded in 2004 by Kansas City rapper/writer/director Steddy P, the Indyground label has been on the rise for the last decade, signing acts, releasing records, hosting festivals, and growing into a serious grassroots movement.
This STL show is one of three releases – one in St. Louis, one in Columbia, MO, and one in Kansas City – celebrating the album and the crew of people who made it happen. After impressive opening slots by KC newcomer Joey Cool and CMJ-dominating duo Brett Gretzky, Steddy & Mahf take the stage, joined by STL producer/Rick Rubin twin, Matthew Sawicki, on bass. We learned a bunch of things at this show: “Pocket Full of Loud” hits hard live. “Vicious Cycle Circles” would be better live with Tef Poe and Mike Mictlan, who feature on the track. DJ Mahf can scratch in triplets in double time. Steddy shines on “Sophisticated Ignorance.” And Gonzo may be Steddy & Mahf’s best project to date.
Kansas City’s Steddy and St. Louis’s Mahf have been making waves for a while now. They’ve been touring hard in the last year, and Gonzo is the fourth studio album from the pair. You may not have heard of them yet, but Steddy and Mahf have joined tours and opened stages for some of the best in the business, ranging from Bone Thugs and Talib Kweli to Slaughterhouse, Tech N9ne and Raekwon. And we’re not talking one out of 27 others – when Snoop played St. Louis in May 2012, Steddy & Mahf were the only opening act. The duo rep their home state of Missouri hard, but there’s a worldliness to their sound that isn’t bounded by region. If you’re looking for original songwriting and sample-free production in a mashup of lyrics and turntablism, they’ve got you covered.
Gonzo is anchored by standout tracks: the radio-ready “Universal Love Story,” “Vicious Cycle Circles” (with Tef and Mike), the anthemic “Sophisticated Ignorance,” and “Part 3 (Steddy Persistence).” And though it features a large crew of producers and featured artists, Gonzo manages not to sound like a room full of people with competing visions. The production is streamlined and tight, full of sing-able hooks and stay-in-your-head instrumentals that keep the album grounded in reality.
And then there’s the “gonzo.”
A world without universal truths, all journalism is subjective. William Faulkner took it a step further when he said the best fiction is truer than journalism. Hunter S. Thompson’s gonzo journalism came out of these ideas, merging fiction, nonfiction and artistry to form something closer to the truth. Breakfast with Doctor Gonzo uses these ideas as a starting point, then skydives off Thompson’s cliff and doesn’t look back. Gonzo achieves something really hard to do: it’s a concept album without being obnoxious, it’s angry without being cynical, and it’s optimistic without being naïve. One part weird-ass art project and one part pimp shit, Gonzo is a universal love poem to dedication, individuality, and sophisticated ignorance.
For more info, check for both artists on their respective, official sites – SteddyP.com and DJMahf.com. The duo will be touring to support the record for the next few months (check the dates here). To get a taste of what to expect, stream Gonzo below and purchase on Bandcamp. We guarantee you’ll be seeing them on the national radar soon––just remember where you heard it first.