CJ Luzi

[Straight Talk Sunday] I Miss the MySpace Days

I tweeted a couple weeks ago that I miss the days of discovering music through MySpace. That’s how I got started on this whole thing. I got inspired after talking to a friend when I was home for Thanksgiving break and he told me about all these young hip hop artists from Seattle who he was really into (names like Macklemore, Blue Scholars, Dessa…but this was back in 2008, so even a name like Macklemore meant nothing to me yet). So to find their music, I had to go to their MySpace pages. And what was really fun was to find an artist I really liked, and then find out who they were into by searching through their top 8 friends on their MySpace page. It was kind of like a puzzle for me, and I’ve always been a big fan of puzzles. Sometimes the artists would put their top producers on their Top 8, sometimes they’d put their inspirations, and other times they’d put that artist from down the road who they were good friends with and wasn’t getting much recognition yet. I remember finding Ryan Lewis, specifically, and getting super excited. Here was this guy who was an incredible musician and producer, but also an extremely talented photographer and videographer. But nobody really knew about Ryan Lewis outside of Seattle yet. These days, everything’s so open – it’s almost as though there’s too much access. Everything’s right there in front of you on the table (or in your inbox, if you’re a blogger), it’s just a question of whether you have the time or attention span to go through it all. I miss the pursuit. There was a bit of a chase, and it was fun.

But what I can still hold on to is the joy I got out of listening to good hip hop. There’s something about finding a hip hop song that not many people have discovered yet and listening for raw talent that really gets me going. And to be completely honest, I haven’t been able to find much lately that’s been able to get me going. Day after day, everything seems a bit the same, life seems a little redundant. I’m stressed out at my job, I miss my family at home, and I look forward to vacation time more than anything else. I miss my friends and the simple lifestyle in North Carolina. It’s a scary feeling. But I reminded myself that I’m lucky to know of one thing that makes me really happy. It’s not that easy for some people to pinpoint. Music has been a constant for me for many years. So I let myself slow down and get back to doing what I love – finding music, and letting myself stop and listen. I took myself on a search for some new hip hop music (to be honest, I tried to recreate the MySpace chain search experience on SoundCloud to find people I hadn’t heard of yet, but it didn’t work very well) and included some songs below that I liked as I went along.

One thing I’ve learned in the past couple years is that you may not recognize as you’re doing something just how meaningful it will be in your life. Ordinary things may not stand out to you while you’re experiencing them. But once some time passes and you think back on those things, some moments may stand out that you didn’t expect. It’s like when you smell or see something that immediately reminds you of a time in your past. At the time, you may not have realized that you were creating a memory. But looking back, you wish you could go back to that moment in time. I had no idea that MySpace would be one of those things for me. It feels kind of weird saying that. But those days also remind me of being in college, of days of lesser stress about getting older and needing to know exactly what I want to do with my life, of having all of my closest friends within walking distance at all times. It’s not just about MySpace, it’s about the times that surrounded that experience. But while I sit here and wish I could go back to those days, I’m also trying to take a second to recognize the good things I may be overlooking in my present. I may be going through a hard time, but there are little things (right now it’s the smell of the wreath in my apartment, the cozy feeling of the twinkle lights I just put up in my windows, and the good music I’m listening to right now) that I may look back on and long for someday in the future. We’ll see, maybe I’ll be posting something a few years from now called Straight Talk Sunday: I Miss My Twinkle Lights.


OnCue – Staring at the Stars (prod. CJ Luzi):


BMB – Playah (ft. GoldLink)


Sunni Colón – Jezebel


Logic – Like Me (ft. Casey Veggies)


Vic Mensa – Suitcase (ft. Chance The Rapper)


NoName Gypsy – Samaritan (ft. Mick Jenkins)


Brothers From Another – Groov (ft. Asher Roth)

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[Video] Oncue – Rich Kid (prod. Brenton Duvall & CJ Luzi)

Very, very rarely do I ever find myself blown away, or even truly impressed, with music videos nowadays. Rich Kid, directed by Adam Ross, is an exception to that.

When I first heard the song, I wasn’t particularly blown away. But this video brings it all together for me and makes me realize just how important this song is, how real Cuey’s words are.

The visuals are stunning, both due to on-point framing and incredible after-effects treatment.

The best quality of this video is that it accentuates Cuey’s emotions, brings out the straightforward honesty in his words and works to further his point–it is not simply a cool looking visual accompaniment to the song.

It’s more than that.

I never was a rich kid, but best believe  I’m dying one


Dream Big

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Oncue – Feel Tall (The Soundmen Remix)

One of my favorite production crews remixing one of my favorite up and coming rappers? What more could I ask for?

Oncue and The Soundmen have both been heavily featured on Sunset in the Rearview, and I’ve actually had the honor to interview both.

This one is a little more mellow than the sound I usually expect from The Soundmen, but you can’t deny that it’s catchy.

The ambient synths give the song a really laid back groove, and Cuey’s lyrics sound dope as always.


Download “Feel Tall (The Soundmen Remix)”


Dream Big

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OnCue – Rich Kid (prod. Brenton Duvall and CJ Luzi)

I saw some chatter about this collaboration on Twitter over the past few days, and I’ve been waiting for the release since I first saw that Cuey, Brenton and CJ were working on a track together.

To be frank, these three artists are three of the most talented up and comers in the game right now, hands down. Just look at OnCue and CJ’s unbelievable “It Usually Goes”. I had the chance to interview Cuey about a year and a half ago, and it’s been clear to me that he is the truth since first hearing his music.

“I speak that realness,” Cuey says, and it’s hard not to agree with him. While his flow is always on point and production always top notch (thanks to CJ et. al), his lyrics are always open, honest, and meaningful.

CJ and Brenton produce an anthem on this one, and Cuey supplies it with a beautiful hook and a couple great verses. It’s got the vintage Brenton Duvall sound, and it’s awesome to see Brenton collaborating with CJ on the beat. I hope these guys do more work together, because this is awesome.

I never was a rich kid, but best believe I’ll die one

If Cuey keeps putting out music of the caliber he has so consistently put out over the past couple years, serious success is inevitable. Cuey knows it, Just Blaze knows it, I know it…do you?

Download “Rich Kid”


Dream Big

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[Fralbum] Oncue – Can’t Wait

For me and many others, this release has been long awaited. Oncue has been an artist I have felt particularly invested in, and seeing him progress has been extremely exciting for me, as I consider myself a true fan from the beginning. I interviewed Cuey last December right after Cuey Sings the Blues dropped, and every time I see a new release from him I am excited to see the progression Cuey has shown time and time again.

This one’s different though; this release means something more to me. You see, Cuey is kind of at that point where he’s just about to blow up, but hasn’t really yet; that’s an extremely vital point in an artist’s career, and they can go in multiple directions. They can make songs that they think people want to hear; poppier production, catchier vocals–this option often leads to a significant style change for the artist, and it can either lead to their success or cause their fans to feel alienated. Or, they can progress their sound naturally, remaining true to their artistic styles and beliefs–they can talk about issues that still pertain to their lives, they can speak honestly, and they can make music they want to make.

Cuey took the latter road, and is all the better for it.

Headlights starts the album with some really smooth, mellow production, and is one of my favorite tracks on the tape.

I got no days off, that means no weekends

Cuey has been working like a mad man to make his dream a reality, and testimonials to his hard work run throughout this project. He’s honest about the struggles he faces, and no song makes that more clear to the listener than another one of my tracks on the tape, “Better than Before.” With an awesome sample from Ben Gibbard’s side-project, The Postal Service, Cuey raps about how the life he chose has a lot of harsh realities–strained relationships, alcohol abuse, etc. One thing I really respect about Cuey’s style is this realness; while many rappers unfortunately rap about things they truly do not have and feats they have never actually accomplished, Oncue just lays his life on the line.

We can’t deal with the problems of being stuck on the bottom so we go and grab the bottle/ And I gotta ask myself, am I the common factor?/ Everything I grab a hold of falls to the ground and shatters/ Or maybe I’m not, I doubt it’s the latter/ Everything I chase after turns around and runs backwards it’s a hazard

Cuey’s style has progressed in a really great way–the songs I didn’t like on Cuey’s tapes were all the “poppier” sounding records, and there are a few of those on here: Only Thing We Know, or Running, for example. But while I didn’t like those kind of tracks on Cuey’s older work, I really do like that style of his on Can’t Wait. Cuey shows us that he has a really great, enjoyable voice, and this is exciting as I think it could really help his future popularity, boosting him to that next level. But it’s hard staying on a grind that at times can feel extremely lonely and fruitless, as Cuey points out.

My drywall is cardboard, windows made of saran rap/ All I’m trying to do is build a song and see your hands clap/ So much words I’ve spoken/ Tired of being broken/ Heal me I need the potion, why can’t I feel emotion anymore, lately I’ve been so fucking numb/ Where the paralysis coming from? I don’t know I’m fucking done (Better than Before)

Cuey’s voice is complimented beautifully with the great production on this tape; I honestly don’t have an issue with the production of a single track on this record, and that’s something I am rarely able to say. 88-Keys lays some really smooth jazz down for “Kinda Late,” the collaboration track with Mike Posner, and Matt Grover, manicanparty, and Justin W all provide tight production throughout, along with the always consistent, never not dope CJ Luzi.  Luzi has been Cuey’s chief producer for a long time, and it’s awesome seeing him progress along with Cuey. “They’re a pair that beats a full house,” as my grandfather might have put it. On “Running” they have a certifiable jam that I would not be surprised to hear on the radio. Cuey’s been working to make that dream a reality for a long time;

They don’t need to know, who about to blow/ No pun intended he was right under your nose/ 15 years old living in the studio rockin hand me down clothes tryna shimmy down flows/ Been focused, wasn’t till I left this shithole/ Yeah ya’ll took notice, now I’m hot/ Yeah you bogus/ I love my home I just hate some fuckers up in it (Can’t Wait)

One thing I pointed out the other day was how amusing it was to me that Cuey featured Mike Posner on a track and sang the hook himself, and also completely outshined Mike with his verse, as well. This is a testament to Cuey’s potential popular appeal, as he really shows time and time again throughout this project that he has a sound that can remain true to his artistic style while also appealing to a popular audience. Sonny Shotz also provides a nice cameo on Justin W’s wonderfully produced “Don’t Fall for That,” a standout on the album.

I titled this post with the preface of “Fralbum.”  That’s a term Mac Miller coined, and it applies to this project more than anything else I’ve heard in a long time.  This is not a mixtape–this is an album, free of charge. It’s a beautifully composed, intricately detailed, perfectly polished finish project. I would pay for this, and when he releases his next album I hope we all have the opportunity to give back to Cuey by reimbursing him for the gifts he has given us via his music. While I can’t say that a lot of the issues Cuey talks about directly pertain to me and my life, I still feel as if I can relate to his message; perseverance, hope, and loyalty to our dreams. Cuey’s making his dream come true, and inspiring many others to make their own dreams a reality; in my mind, that’s one of the highest praises I can bestow upon any artist, and Cuey deserves it.

I have streamed some of my favorites below, and I strongly, strongly urge you to download this entire album on Datpiff. It’s more than worth it

Oncue – Make It All Work (prod. CJ Luzi)

Oncue – Only Thing We Know (prod. CJ Luzi)

Oncue – Don’t Fall for that feat. Sonny Shotz (prod. Justin W)

Oncue – Headlights (prod. Chanes)

The good die young so I want to grow old (Not for Nothing)

Download full Fralbum from Datpiff


Dream Big


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[Video] Oncue – Better Than Before

Oncue – Better Than Before

Wow. I had to the chance to talk to Oncue about a year ago, and it’s amazing to see how he’s progressed. November 16th is a date that cannot come fast enough in my opinion; Cuey will be dropping his first entirely original (free) album, “Can’t Wait.” The tape will feature a lot of production by CJ Luzi, he produced this track as well as a lot of Cuey’s past releases.

This track highlights Cuey’s honesty and realness, and the cinematography really adds another level to this entire project.

Trust me, Oncue is just on the verge of blowing up big.  He’s working with Mike Posner (the two have shared a few different Twitter interactions referencing their collaboration), and I’m excited to see what Cuey does next after “Can’t Wait,” it’ll be interesting to see how this project launches his career.

“Better than Before” Video

November 16th — mark your calendars. #CantWait

Download “Better Than Before”

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Oncue – Eat Your Words [MUSIC VIDEO]


It shouldn’t come to a surprise to any of you that we at Sunset in the Rearview are big fans of Oncue (check the interview here). And I, personally, am a HUGE fan of Kings of Leon. So when Cuey decides to rap over KOL’s “Pickup Truck,” it’s no surprise that I’m going to love the final product.

“Eat Your Words” was a song off of Cuey’s project “Leftovers,” and it got the visual treatment by our friends over at It’s the Bino. Really well done video by Sperry, really dope song from Oncue, and an awesome project overall. I’ll let Sperry do further introductions:

I met up with Connecticut-native OnCue in late January at one of his concerts in western Massachusetts to sit down to do an interview. We came up with the idea of shooting an impromptu music video to one of his tracks, Eat Your Words. itstheBino ended up covering two of OnCue’s concerts and listening to some never before heard beats from his upcoming mixtape “Can’t Wait”. This is the result. This is itstheBino’s first ever music video.

Sperry mixes in great live footage with some cool shots of Cuey backstage and throws it all together really well. I can’t wait for Cuey’s next mixtape, “Can’t Wait.” He’s one of the artists I am most excited to see progress. He’s got a great voice, slick flow, and really strong lyrics: always a mixture for success. What I respect most about his music, though, is the raw honesty. The words he says reflect the life he’s lived, and that’s honorable.

Oncue || Facebook || Twitter ||


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Oncue – It Usually Goes (prod. CJ Luzi)

“It Usually Goes (prod. CJ Luzi)” – Oncue

Wow. This one blew me away. I’ve always been a big fan of Oncue (see interview), but this, to me, is on a completely different level. CJ Luzi seems to be Cuey’s go to producer, and this song makes it extremely obvious as to why that is the case. With a really great sample (that I just can’t seem to pin down…any of you guys know what it is?) Luzi creates a beat that is nostalgic and relaxing. Over that, Cuey lays down his always on point flow with some really strong lyricism.

Listening to Oncue is exciting to me because I know it’s just the beginning for him. With a great voice and flow as strong as his, there are few limitations for him. Disagree? He’ll have fun proving you wrong.

I’m always bout my business/ I ain’t a dumb white kid/ This is real shit I’m livin/ Father’s a crackhead my brother’s an alcoholic/ I ain’t Asher I ain’t Marshall I’m a fuckin whatchucallit

What’s amazing is that this one didn’t even make the cut for his upcoming mixtape, “Can’t Wait.” Really? This song isn’t good enough to be on there? Damn. I can’t even fathom what they must be making if this doesn’t make the cut. #Cantwait to hear it.

Download “It Usually Goes”

Thanks to The Beowolfe for getting this information regarding the sample:

Ambulance by Eisley. Great original, brilliant refix.

Oncue || Facebook || Twitter ||

CJ Luzi || Facebook || Twitter ||


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