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“New York City is everything. We wouldn’t have made this project if we didn’t live here. There are so many people, personalities, stories, sounds, etcetera everywhere you turn,” explains Weekend Money lyricist Ne$$ of the theme behind their new EP Naked City, due out early fall. “The city is the muse for this project.
Weekend Money, compromised of aforementioned NYC/Philly MC Ne$$ (member of Dead Prez affiliated group A-Alikes) and Brooklyn by way of Iraq producer/vocalist Baghdaddy, aren’t the first to cite the city of New York as a major influence on their work. New York has it’s fair share of acts in a flourishing hip hop scene, but the duo are a perfect example of New York’s multicultural melting pot and their music is no different. Weekend Money’s debut EP, Naked City, is a contagious blend of underground hip hop, ‘hood street swagger and spaced out beats that play like a diary of a NYC hustler touching on his experiences and thoughts and revealing both the glamour and grime of the city.
“Naked City speaks to what we were going through while recording the EP. It’s about New York and our perceptions of it. If you line the tracks up by date of creation, they tell the story of our past year and the trials we went through - the hope, the pain, everything,” says Baghdaddy.
The duo first came together when a mutual friend introduced them at a party. At the time, NE$$ was working on a solo effort and was seeking producers for the project. Knowing that Baghdaddy had never produced for a rapper before, NE$$ was interested in hearing what he could bring to the table. The two began experimenting with different sounds and ideas eliminating samples from all production and using everything from Fisher Price xylophones to the sound of drumming on trees for beats. The recording process saw the duo learning from one another with NE$$ educating Baghdaddy on the history and elements of hip hop and Baghdaddy introducing the rapper to chord progressions, new production techniques and music theory.
The result is an album that’s much more than a mix of rap and electronic music, but rather a unique fusion of layered and complex sounds built on NE$$’ quick witted, street style in conjunction with genre-bending production aimed at taking the listener into a world that is as brazenly ambitious as it is stripped down. One has to look no further than the syrupy, reggae dancehall-tinged groove of “Coke ‘N’ Coffee,” with its head nod inducing chorus; the Timbaland-esque sirens and handclaps of the psychedelic “Yellow” or the sharp rhyme flow and trunk rattling violence of “Impala”.
Naked City’s first single—the two-fisted, synth-driven soundclash “Insomniac”—serves as the initial collaborative spark for the EP’s creation. “I remember asking Baghdaddy to play some beats he was already working on and one of them being this beat he named ‘Savage’ which really stood out,” NE$$ recalls. “I laid down a mumble track to it and took it home where I wrote the first verse and chorus to ‘Insomniac’. When I came back the next session and spit what I wrote, we both knew we needed to make a whole album together and the rest is history.”
What may have at first seemed like an unlikely pairing, Weekend Money is an example of two passionate musicians coming together to grow and expand their artistic palette, mining their own sonic differences and tastes. Naked City serves as a glimpse into the life of a hustler but also sets the stage for a new burgeoning music scene - one that blurs genres and allows artists to move beyond any previous set boundaries.
“We just create and work toward making something special. I don’t think we’ve ever tried to sound like someone else and that’s reflected on the album,” explains Baghdaddy. “New York City took me in and I belong here. The whole music scene is wide open and we can make whatever we like.”