In this week’s special edition of “It Came From Bandcamp,” I’ll be focusing in on one important recently released album from the area. As I was prowling the Bandcamp archives, I came across a mixtape released by the “HBG Summer League,” which was uploaded on June 1. To my pleasant surprise, the mixtape was put together by a group of Harrisburg kids aged 10-13. The kids assembled are Essence, J. Glizzy, Lil’ Matt, Lil’ Riq, Shantel and Vern Boy. Of course, it wasn’t just the kids assembling this project. Amanda “330” Carter, a distinguished rapper in her who right, helped to produce and write some of the music.
The eight-track album flies by due to the presence of an intro, outro and two interludes but frankly, that’s where the charm of the album comes out in full force. The last interlude, directly preceding the Fall Out Boy AND Susanna Vega sampling “Remember Me,” one of the kids (who I am fairly certain is Vern Boy) drops an a cappella verse on his life ambitions. It’s worth reading in full:
“First of all, I get straight A’s, and I’m gonna get straight A’s all through middle school and all through high school. Then I’m gonna get a scholarship to Morehouse College. I’m gonna major in biology, then I’m gonna go to medical school. I’m gonna become a great doctor, so when someone busts you in your big ass head, I’ll be there to sew it up for you. And you gonna remember me.”
It’s amazing in its simplicity, and it shows how critical after-school music programs can be. Vern Boy might not have been able to recognize his potential without encouragement through hobbies like music.
As far as actual tracks go, Lil’ Riq shines on the only solo feature on the mixtape, the too-short “My City.” The beat bangs and Riq raps honestly about not going down the familiar path of dealing drugs and how a natural aversion to the police isn’t hard to understand. Riq also gets a verse on the almost-posse cut “Ballin’,” which opens the album. Also featuring J. Glizzy, Vern Boy and Lil’ Matt, the song sounds like it could legitimately tear up radio, like, today. Admittedly, the “turning up” of the hook might just be too much sugar considering the age group, but Kidz Bop, this is not.
Regardless of any pre-conceived notions you might be thinking, these are talented kids. The group is asking $5 for the album, which will go entirely to the formation of City Arts Space in Harrisburg, a safe place for alternatives to regular after-school programs like this very album. I can’t think of a better use of $5.
Key Tracks: “Ballin,'” “My City,” “Interlude 2”