Atlanta and the Bay Area, despite their geographic distance from each other, have what may be the closest relationship of any two prominent cities in hip-hop; for years the two cities have embraced a true mutual admiration for the others' music scene. Further strengthening that relationship, one of Atlanta's most talented production crews, SMKA, has announced a partnership with leading Bay Area hip-hop site Thizzler On The Roof and environmentally friendly lifestyle brand C4 Belts to release a new mixtape, Darkest Before Dawn.
The tape, which will be released on October 4th, features some of the Bay's most talented established and rising rappers – names that include Mistah FAB, IamSu!, Zumbi (of Zion I), Shady Blaze, Roach Gigz, DaVinci, DB Tha General, and more – rapping over SMKA production. Already this summer, SMKA and Thizzler unveiled the tape's lead single, featuring DaVinci & DB Tha General, and today they're back with second single "Greatness" featuring Young Gully & Shady Blaze. The song was premiered this morning by SF Weekly, including a brief Q&A with Shady Blaze and Mike Walbert of SMKA.
While Young Gully and Shady Blaze haven't worked together previously, the pairing was a natural choice, given both of the rapper's proclivity for double-time flows and slick wordplay. SMKA's beat, an open, airy affair, serves as the perfect backdrop for Gully's and Blaze's fast-raps, as the two trade verses on life's past, present, and future. "We, as artists, do know our worth," explains Young Gully about the song's theme. "If we strive for excellence and greatness, we can think our futures into existence." More specifically, Shady Blaze was inspired to write his verse while reflecting back on his own life. "How I got to the point where I'm at," says Shady Blaze, "I started feeling like nothing was gonna stop me."
Darkest Before Dawn, executive produced by Thizzler On The Roof, is a Bay Area compilation set that features some of the most talented up and coming hip-hop artists in the Bay Area including 9 completely new tracks from 15+ different artists produced exclusively by Atlanta-based production collective SMKA. The project was recorded over 4 months in San Francisco at 37 Hundred Studios and was filmed by Left Lane Films to capture the creative process and conception of each record. Artists on the project include: Mistah Fab, Roach Gigz, DaVinci, DB The General, Erk Tha Jerk, iamsu!, Moe Green, Willie Joe, A-1, Young Gully, Shady Blaze, Symba, Zumbi, Richie Cunning, Amaar & Cousin Fik.