HYENA Signs Progressive Hip-Hop Trio ISWHAT?!


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"They are all about what's happenin' that a lot of people ain't even hip to yet. IsWhat?! are part of the next movement." -- Rahzel (The Roots)

Look for MC Napoleon on tour this summer as the special guest of acclaimed electronic artists, Mink & FS

New York, NY -- Cincinnati-based hip-hop group, IsWhat?!, have been making waves and “keepin' it real" in and around their hometown for the past seven years. With sold out gigs and opening slots for acts as diverse as KRS-One, DJ Spooky, Bilal, The Roots, Ken Vandermark and James Blood Ulmer, they've been declared by local media as “ceaselessly engaging," “downright stunning" and “one of the most creative acts to ever erect a bridge between jazz and hip-hop." IsWhat?!'s musical vision fuses old school jazz, socially enlightened rhymes, beat box mastery and the power of soul into a razor sharp sound unlike anything else to emerge from hip-hop in recent memory. The “Cammy Awards" and “Cincinnati Entertainment Awards" winning trio, comprised of MC Napoleon Maddox on the mic, Matt Anderson on upright bass and Jack Walker on saxophone and flute, has signed with New York City independent record label, HYENA, and will release their debut album You Figure It Out nationally on August 31st.

Three years in the making, You Figure It Out plays like a seamless sound collage drawing inspiration from refreshingly eclectic sources. Swirling vocal manipulations snap into tight cohesive grooves, obligatory shout outs disappear into African vocalese rhythms and turntable gymnastics give way to Coleman Hawkins-esque post bop. On three tracks, the trio is joined by world class drummer Hamid Drake, renowned for his work with Herbie Hancock, Don Cherry, David Murray and Bill Laswell. Also included is an exclusive remix by internationally known producer and arranger, DJ Spinna. Spinna has produced tracks and remixes for Michael Jackson, Mary J. Blige, Erykah Badu, De La Soul, Mos Def and J-Live among others. Other special guests include turntablists, The Animal Crakers, and John Doe of the 1200 Hobos.

“IsWhat?! is a canvas for us to paint our natural selves," states Napoleon Maddox. “Our music comes from a need to express a particular reality at that particular moment, and so You Figure It Out is the first chapter in the book."

Formed in 1997, IsWhat?! is built upon the infinite circle of creative inspiration and the common ground discovered between three irreplaceable musical personalities. Napoleon Maddox is the trio's natural hip-hop voice. His intelligent lyrics hark back to the days of The Last Poets, drawing keen observations about the world around him, while stylistically reminiscent of Rakim and KRS One. Maddox's beatboxing skills, however, are as important to the group's dynamic as his rhymes. The fierce exploratory rhythms and solid rock steady grooves conjured between Maddox and bassist Matt Anderson define the band's flow. Anderson, who plays stand up bass with an aggressive edge, is musically IsWhat?!'s most studied player having attended University of Cincinnati's esteemed music program, but his roots in punk rock and more recently free jazz have added a decidedly experimental edge to IsWhat?!'s sound. Finally, completing the circle is saxophonist and flutist, Jack Walker. IsWhat?!'s oldest member, Walker is the group's spiritual backbone and the link to its jazz roots. His soulful tenor phrasing and hypnotic flute lines are matched by his stature on stage. With a full white beard and graying hair, Walker conveys an air of timelessness and integrity that can't be disputed.

“We find that the confines of genre are not needed for us to communicate our experiences," continues Maddox. “When you allow people to play what they feel in their spirit and to express themselves in their natural human voice, there's something for all people to relate with."

IsWhat?!'s frontman, MC Napoleon, can also be found touring this summer with the “Hell's Kitchen DJ Duo" Ming & FS. He's also a featured guest on the duo's new album, Back To The One. Billed as Napoleon Solo, he'll tour with Ming & FS through September before launching national dates with IsWhat?!

ISWHAT?!'s MC Napoleon on tour with Ming & FS
8/11 Northsix - Brooklyn, NY
8/15 Grogshop - Cleveland, OH
8/16 Elbo Bar - Dayton, OH
8/17 Empty Bottle - Chicago, ILL
8/19 Mercy Lounge - Nashville, TN
8/20 The Dame - Lexington, KY
8/21 Echo Lounge - Atlanta, GA
8/22 Empire Nightclub - Tampa, FL
8/23 The Monarch - Jacksonville, FL
8/24 The Social - Orlando, FL
8/25 Stella Blue - Asheville, NC
8/26 Cat's Cradle - Carrboro, NC
8/27 Blue Room - Washington DC
8/28 Ottobar - Baltimore, MD
9/11 DNA Lounge - San Francisco, CA
9/12 Humboldt State university - Arcata, CA
9/15 The Grove - Bend, OR
9/16 Ash Street - Portland, OR
9/17 Chop Suey - Seattle, WA ( w/ Mocean Worker)
9/18 Eugene Celebration Festival - Eugene, OR

Fall ISWHAT?! Dates
10/4 The Elbow Bar - Dayton, Ohio
10/7 The Greenich Tavern - Cincinnati, OH
10/8 The Alltropy Festival - Indianapolis, IN

Additional Dates To Be Announced Soon

This story appears courtesy of All About Jazz Publicity.
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