Collectives find strength in numbers. Nowadays, thanks to the Internet, people have a new appreciation and obsession with sharing and collaborating, especially in creative realms. Artists have seen success in collaborating within a circle of trust. The majority of the collectives new to the game are independent. They work collectively, but stay separate from a bigger machine, a move that garners respect. There are a handful of squads in music that are ruling the digital space by creating ambitious art as one mind. Below is a list of collectives—from LVRN to Soulection—that are redefining the idea of crew mentality.
MEMBERS: Justice Baiden, Sean Famoso, Carlon Ramong, Jimmy Ngyuen, Junia Abaidoo, Raury, Jeremy Baiden, Gotti, Trevon Williams, Tunde Balogun, Saint Louis, Steven “Steve-O” Brown.
NOTABLE RELEASES: Raury’s All We Need.
All 13 members LVRN (Love Renaissance), the majority which are from Atlanta, share the mentality of creating art that “serves as inspiration to any walk of live.” Carlon Ramong mentions that when launching LVRN they decided, in unison, to give up their “top personal vices.” “For us it was like we were ushering in a new chapter of our lives, and to bring in that new chapter we had to overcome our biggest downfalls of our past lives in order to fully give ourselves to our company and to our cause,” he says. “Justice gave up alcohol. Raury gave up meat. I (Carlon) gave up my love for sneakers—I sold each of my 97 pairs [in exchange for] studio time, equipment and production costs for music videos.” The team intends to look beyond music. “Raury is seeking to open up a super unique styled vegan restaurant. He was inspired while in Australia,” says Sean Famoso McNichol. “We are looking for land in SW Atlanta to open an arts center or social club for kids [who] lost their art program by underfunded public schools.”
MEMBERS: Mike Waxx and Mike Carson (founding members), and extended family: Yung Jake, Prettypuke, Uzi, The Neue School, and Haight Brand.
NOTABLE RELEASES: Big Sean’s Hall of Fame, Diplo’s “Doctor Pepper” music video, Lil Wayne’s first annual Weezyana Festival.
ILLROOTS has been running the digital space for a minute now. Since Mike Waxx and Mike Carson joined forces in 2010, ILLROOTS has expanded to “a dozen or so creatives” which include directors, producers, artists, and “really smart kids with a good understanding of what people want and what’s next,” says Waxx. “We’ve been doing this long enough now to where artists like Lil’ Wayne will trust our direction and let us create naturally.” Besides producing events for artists, and assisting executing album rollouts, ILLROOTS are also behind the annual SXSW afterparty, ILLMORE, fashion brand ILLAMERICA, and ILLRADIO. They now have their sights set on technology. “We’re going to put out some really innovative projects in the next couple of months," Waxx says. "The art & music around us is on another level, I’m excited for the world to consume it.”
MEMBERS: Modele “Modi” Oyewole, Marcel “Marty” Marshall, and Quinn “Spicoli” Coleman.
NOTABLE RELEASES: Trillectro Music Festival.
Modi and the guys’ mission for DC to BC was to rep their city and “to provide a platform showcasing our city and the subculture that we’re apart of.” A year after producing Kendrick Lamar’s first show in DC in 2011, they curated the hip-hop and electronic focused Trillectro Music Festival, which celebrated its three-year anniversary in August. All three guys went to school together, making it easier for them to be comfortable to candidly communicate with one another, which is key in any strong crew. “We’re more like brothers than business partners, so it’s easy for us to communicate about anything. No tip-toeing around issues because we’re not afraid to keep it real with each other,” Modi shares. Individually, Modi and Quinn are revisiting their mutual love for DJing. Quinn is consistently seeking new talent as A&R at Warner Bros. Records. As a unit, they recently produced a YouTube series that director and writer Issa Rae picked up.
MEMBERS: Sean Famoso McNicol, Tunde Balogun, Steven “Steve-O” Brown, and Saint Louis.
NOTABLE RELEASES: Raury’s “All We Need” (Oct. 16), D.R.A.M.’s #1EPICEP and GAHDAMN!
The OMO—which translates to “child” in Nigerian—does it all: marketing, management, public relations, event planning, design, and more. You have to in today’s digital space, where aesthetic is key to a creative’s growth. “I think we were all born with the same fear of cubicles,” Sean says. “We all fear the idea of being constricted to four walls and a boss breathing over our shoulder with deadlines for projects which we don’t give a fuck about. The freedom of mind and lack of restrictions is what makes us us.”
MEMBERS: Cedric Hughes (rapper), Artel Carter (rapper), Max Fullard (rapper, event planner), Gabe Niles (singer, producer), Sunny Gicz (singer-songwriter), DJ Froxstarr, Myron Davidson (road manager, brand ambassador), Daf Roscoe (DJ) and Tashawn Jones (designer).
NOTABLE RELEASES: Sunny & Gabe’s “Hey,” Artel Carter’s “Wreck,” and Max Fullard’s “1999” and “And 1.”
“We’re gluten free and organic. Everything was built with no money invested, no co-signs,” says Gabe Niles, member of Virginia collective RBLE. “We legit built our brand from the ground up.” RBLE (pronounced rebel-e) consists of Virginia-bred creatives. Founder Hughes recruited players, one by one, who believed in the crew’s motto: “Creativity is about breaking the norm, breaking rules: Rebels Over Everything.” Since then, they’ve branched out to work on both solo and collaborative projects. Niles, known his for his production on D.R.A.M.’s #1EpicEP and hit song, “Cha Cha,” is currently working on the follow-up to 2013 #FREECANDY, an EP by him and Sunny (as the duo Sunny & Gabe). Fullard is dropping his EP, Nights of the Forth, this fall. Carter will release a new single, “James Brown,” this fall as well. “We wish to be the beacon for Virginia and bring more opportunities for the culture by collaborating with those who share the same mission as us.”
MEMBERS: Jordon Wi-Fi (singer-songwriter, director), Taurean Roye (art direction, rapper-songwriter), Christian Newell (visual artist), Thomas Cardiff (visiual artist), Ivo (photographer), KC (singer-songwriter), Collard (rapper-songwriter), Vonnie (stylist), Fwdslxsh (producer), MD$ (producer), and Porter Evlinger (producer).
For Last Night In Paris, Jordon Wi-Fi explains, the goal is simple: “represent us, push boundaries, [and] avoid all the basic shit.” The collective, which hails mostly from South-East London, began documenting their lifestyle, and, as Jordan puts it, “our artistic intuition stood out.” You can get a glimpse as to how keen their vision is in their short film, Pure, which blew people away with its dark, crisp cinematography and the fact that it’s all DIY—no outsourcing. “A big thing is being self-sufficient. We don’t really feel the need to dick-ride our way up or look at somebody else and go ‘we need to work with them because they will help us get xyz,’’ says Jordon. “It’s more important to strengthen our own talent until they’re recognized–until it’s the sound.” LNIP is set to drop their EP, Pure, this month, and then start working on solo projects.
MEMBERS: Joe Kay (Co-founder, Selection radio host), Andre Power (Co-founder, Creative Director), Jacqueline Schneider (Director of Global Strategy), Julio Gálvez (Director of Global Bookings), and Montalis Anglade (Director of Operations & Technology).
NOTABLE RELEASES: Soulection Radio on Beats 1.
Soulection is more than a collective or a label with a hefty roster of artists—it’s a family. The collective launched first as a radio show, then evolved into a label aiming to bring together artists who vibe together naturally. Their artists—such as Sango, Ta-Ku, and Lakim—sell out shows and “play music festivals with 50,000-1000,000 attendees,” says Andre Power. But their success is not without its difficulties. “It’s weird to say, but sometimes your day one fans don't like when something they found digging on Internet and are showing everyone and educating everyone about, gets big,” Andre says. “On the flip side, the success and growth has been the most enjoyable part of the journey for us, because we are able to reach so many more people than we ever have which opens up the door to so many opportunities that connect us with more like minded people at home and around the world.” Next up is a Soulection Festival, which the collective is hoping to launch in 2016.
MEMBERS: Brick (DJ, photographer, dancer), Kyle (rapper), Zini (style director), Nolan Smith (manager), Jesus (tour manager), Eric Wada (designer), Ugly (rapper), Maxx (photographer), Sean D (photographer), Scoobs (designer),
NOTABLE RELEASES: KYLE’s Beautiful Loser, Smyle.
Behind the success of KYLE is the Super Duper Crew. The L.A.-based collective consists of photographers, designers, managers, rappers, and more–all of which had a hand in the rollout of KYLE’s latest EP, Smyle. Similar to KYLE’s 2013 effort, Beautiful Loser, the crew promote each project heavy, making sure the merchandise, design, and promotional materials carry the same aesthetic. In October, Kyle explained to Green Label, “Everyone in it represents: a superhero version of themselves. When you’re in this group, you believe you can do anything."