New Age X
It wasn’t very far into my interview with Phill Real that I realized not only that we had something in common, but also that he’s quite funny, in his own understated way. During the ice-breaking stage, I’d found Real had stopped watching Sons of Anarchy some time in the third season, which is exactly when I’d stopped watching. While I had no idea why I’d stopped watching, Real said oh so eloquently that it had “turned into a bunch of old guys riding their motorcycles around who would make intermittent stops to hug each other.”
Other than that, the man was soft spoken, tired but engaged, and excited to talk about his hip-hop group. New Age X has just released their first official album, called Into the 5th Dimension, which consists of seven original tracks, all without any sampling. This is a big step for the group, who previously released online a 13-track mixtape called The Dawning for free 2011. (The mixtape and new album can be streamed at newagexmusic.com; the new album can be purchased for $5 at cdbaby.com/cd/newagex.)
The group consists of Real, who provides lyrics and music, AD-verse and Baby-B-Fresh, who also provide lyrics and vocals. They all live in different cities. Phill lives here in Reno, AD-verse in Arizona, and Baby-B-Fresh in Los Angeles.
I’m sure it would be much easier to produce and refine material when everyone is in the same place, but New Age X has found a way to navigate these pitfalls. They collaborate over the internet, sort of like hip-hop’s answer to the Postal Service. The problem is time. Sometimes it takes a few days to a couple of weeks to get through the back and forth. If they were all in the same place at the same time, they could be even more prolific than they have been in the last two years.
What’s even more refreshing than the music is the message. New Age X is about being optimistic. They deliver a “positive message that doesn’t disrespect our society.” Yes, they want a radio-friendly, polished sound, but to also deliver hopeful messages.
The thing about New Age X is that it doesn’t have a local feel. It doesn’t sound like music that your friend is making in the basement next door. It sounds like music that is—and rightfully should be—on the radio. It’s polished, from the mixing and mastering, to the crisp lyrics. As of right now, they get play on local college radio and the web, but they deserve to be heard by a wider audience.
“One time for my city that I don’t rep,” says Real in one lyric. New Age X is thinking bigger than Reno. They’re not dissing their hometown at all, they love Reno, but they realize it can be a stifling scene for bands, where it’s incredibly difficult to get people to acknowledge you, much less support you. New Age X is trying to bring a cosmopolitan feel to their identity. It’s working. They got together with an Arizona producer, called Efreezee, who put out a single off their new album, The Moment, which reached No. 1 on soundclick.com. That’s a big deal, considering there are millions of songs in the hip-hop genre on the site. It’s only now, since the product is crafted and packaged well, that New Age X is starting to become concerned with using its resources and getting into the arenas where it can be singled out in the midst of many artists.