The Dean’s List
I haven’t heard much new material from our boys in The Dean’s List lately, but I got a new song from them today and it might be one of my favorites yet. It sounds like these guys have moved beyond a rookie sound and have found true potential in their more mature-sounding tunes.
The Dean’s List is comprised of three really good friends from Boston and New Jersey. Sonny Shotz is the group’s rapper and songwriter. Mik and Mendoza handle the beats. It is simple, but it works. The group was formed only 3 years ago and has quickly gained a loyal following on the Internet, thanks to the consistently displayed on their first two mixtapes Undeclared and The Drive In. Just a few weeks ago, the group’s commercial debut Generation X was released on iTunes, and I got to talk to the guys about their new album, their main influences, and the movie Drive.
Arjun: First of all, I got to ask you about “Dear Professor.” That is one of the most played songs on my iPod. What was the inspiration behind that?
The Dean’s List (Mendoza): Yeah, well, “Dear Professor” took awhile. I know Mik found the sample on YouTube, and we kind of really worked with it, and it took awhile. That was probably one of the first records we came across and then probably the last one we finished. It took awhile; it was a really great learning experience moving forward for when we were working on Generation X.
Arjun: Okay, now. About Generation X. Can you tell me a little about the recording process of the album?
The Dean’s List (Sonny Shotz): Well, yeah, basically the recording process will just be Mik and Mendoza working on a beat and then it slowly comes together–either Mik starts it off or Mendoza starts it off. Then, I just give them my input–what I think about the direction it’s going–and then I write the lyrics. It all just comes together like that.
Arjun: What were some influences behind the new album?
The Dean’s List (Sonny Shotz): We listen to just about everything–every genre really. Personally, I listen to a lot of Bob Dylan. He’s my favorite artist. I know Mendoza listens to a lot of John Mayer. Mik just listens to everything on the radio. He’s all about the pop hits. He’s a big Justin Bieber fan.
I’ve been waiting for this to happen. Two things:
The result? A really fun song from two groups with massive talent. Happy Monday!
Hulkshare: The Dean’s List – Unbelievers
“I’ve been writing for the last 15 minutes. That’s all it takes.”
The Dean’s List returns to the music scene with the release of this brand new song, Kryptonite Sanity Room. Definitely a different sound then The Dean’s List material released in the past. That’s exactly why I love it. It’s unique. Sonny has really stepped his game up. Peep it below!
“This ain’t even a song really. I’m just talkin’ to the people.”
Hulkshare: The Dean’s List – Kryptonite Sanity Room
I’m using my late pass on this one. This has been out for about a week, but it didn’t impress me at first. Until I started listening to it…over, and over again. Music is a beautiful thing because every song has the potential to grow on you and you end up loving it. This is the case with The Dean’s List latest track called All My Troubles. I love it. Enjoy!
“Fuck it, I’m young!”
That’s pretty much all I have to say about this track. It’s dope. I mean come on, it’s The Dean’s List!!
After going on The Animal House Tour together, Sonny Shotz and Brenton Duvall paired up to create a song that’s slower than expected, but still a showcase of talents behind the mic and on the instrumentals. Brenton and Sonny are both young men bursting at the seams with talent. It’s incredible to see how far they both have come, despite both being younger than 21 years old. Sonny is the frontman of rap group The Dean’s List and Brenton has produced hits that feature rappers like Young Prince and tons of remixes that have topped the charts of Hype Machine. Sample on this song is from a Frank Ocean song.
What’s Left: 150 Days. 49 Bands.
Band #50: The Dean’s List
When/Where: April 5th, Cat’s Cradle, Carrboro, NC
Expectations: I didn’t particularly love the latest release from The Dean’s List (The Drive In). Funny thing was, all of my friends seemed to be going to the show to specifically see these guys (over Brenton Duvall and XV). Clearly they must put on a good show.
Concert: So that whole ‘clearly they put on a good show’ thing? Total understatement. I riddle you not: Sonny Shotz is a ridiculously entertaining performer. When I got to the venue, I met up with Brenton Duvall and went backstage to meet the performers. Brenton was his usual self: fun, youthful, energetic, hyper. XV was incredibly sweet and remembered me from an interview we had done about 8 months ago. The guys from The Dean’s List, on the other hand, were a lot more standoffish and quiet. Sonny, DJ Mendoza, and drummer Tyler Thompson were all on one couch, choosing to keep to themselves a bit.
As it turned out, the majority of the crowd showed up to see The Dean’s List. They waited anxiously through two local openers and Brenton’s act for The Dean’s List to take the stage, after which most left before watching XV perform. While this was disappointing to me, I must say, they got their money’s worth with The Dean’s List. The show was incredibly upbeat, there was a full band (they recruited Berklee student Ellis Tucker to be their guitarist on the road – he is an INCREDIBLE guitar player) with a bass guitarist, drummer, and a DJ, and Sonny dominated the entire front section of the stage.
Within seconds of being on stage, Sonny took his shirt off and got really into his performance. While it’s hard to put my finger on what exactly had me so incredibly sold on his act, here are a few things. The dude puts all of his might into rapping. His dance moves are entertaining. He raps a’capella at times, which furthers the intensity. He corrals around stage, hyping up his fellow band members, pushing them around playfully. And last but not least, he appears to have an incredible time on stage. It’s fun to watch, the music is upbeat and lively, and the crowd was loving it. And let me tell you, the second “Dear Professor” came on, the crowd went absolutely wild.
Concert Afterglow: Um, wow. I could wash my clothes using Sonny Shotz’s abs. Just sayin.
Recommendation: Like I said, I wasn’t a huge fan of The Drive In, but the culture and the attitude of the music is completely different when it’s performed live. It’s convincing, it’s fun, and I’m a total fan.
Written by Lydia
*Photography Disclaimer: my camera wasn’t working. Sorry for the poor quality; I had to use my cell phone.
Did you know that Sunset in the Rearview writers are trying to see and review 100 live shows in 365 days? Read More about 100Bands and See Our Other Reviews.
The Dean’s List recently released a mixtape hosted by Karmaloop and Brobible and sponsored by DatPiff, Good Music All Day, and Academy Printwear. I’ve been hearing really good things all over Facebook, Twitter, and blogs, so I finally took a chunk of time to give it a good listen. I was expecting a little bit more than what ended up coming through my speakers, perhaps because I hear so much of this type of music every day. I think that since there are so many groups that have this type of sound, somebody’s going to have to take a drastic measure to be different. That’s why Odd Future are killing it right now, they’re different. Nobody else seems to be doing what they are. With The Dean’s List, though, there are so many other people who sound so similar, it just has trouble standing out to me.
That said, though, there are a few tracks that I really enjoy. “Burn It All,” streaming below, is likely my favorite track. Other favorites include “The People,” “Dear Professor,” and “Troy.” I think with this type of party hip hop, the beats really separate you from the pack. What do you guys think? Will this make Best Mixtapes of 2011 list? Does it stand out from all the other groups that have a similar sound?
I was recently introduced to Riot !n Paris by my friend Haley, who was quick to tell me that I needed to check out this music because it was posted on Kanye’s blog. That’s a pretty accurate call to action, since it seems that whatever Kanye brings to the limelight eventually leaves a mark on society. Whether or not that’s a good thing is questionable, but I think what we have here is a good thing. If I had to classify it, I think I’d say hipster-hop, but it’s not falling in the class of Hoodie Allen, Chiddy Bang, The Deans List, Rocky Business, to me. It’s a bit of a breath of fresh air. They sing a bit, they raps, they won me over.
Riot !n Paris are a hip-hop rock duo hailing from Brooklyn, NY. They are signed to Champion Sound. Before being signed, they went by the name of The Freshmen, but soon after changed their name to Riot !n Paris. The two emcees go by the names of Mercy and Pete.
“Ready to Go” – The Dean’s List
Just now hearing about this group called The Dean’s List. The energy in their music is contagious. Sort of reminds me of Rocky Business, but personally I think the rapper from The Dean’s List is more talented. He sounds a bit like XV, and at times flow is a bit like Wale. If you ask me, that’s recipe for success in today’s hip hop world. That and the obvious pop influence in their production, which I will add is quite nice!
Oh, and another thing. They sampled “Breakeven” by The Script in one of their songs that I’ll include below. Great song, but who would have thought to rap over it! Digging. Yall hear the XV similarities?