Cleveland hip-hop labels are a dime bag a dozen, but the new imprint Ill Vizion Records hopes to distinguish itself by scouting talent nationally and creating a roster that spans other genres. The first test of its success comes August 6 with a party at the Velvet Dog to celebrate its first release, the double-disc CD compilation The Takeover.
"I wanted to get out of the old sound of Cleveland hip-hop and try something different, bring an industry sound to Cleveland," says Ill Vizion's Don Harold, in reference to the grimy basement productions typical of local rap.
The former head of the fledgling Clean Dirt Records, Harold runs Ill Vizion with Chuck Slaughter, a producer/manager who helms the Mouthpeace Entertainment production company and oversees the career of promising Cleveland MC Vivian "Vi" Jones. Ill Vizion's initial roster features a dozen acts, including Atlanta rapper/producer Nervism, whose debut single "Tymboz" is already getting spins on Z 107.9. Drawling Memphis rhymer OB and Cleveland R&B singer cum rapper Feliciana are also signed on, and Harold expects rock and jazz artists to join the lineup as well.
"I look at Cleveland as an Atlanta of five or six years ago," he says, "when hip-hop was ready to explode."
· After eight years and two albums, the hook-laden metalers Biastfear have announced an indefinite hiatus.
"We were trying really hard to write new material, hopefully the kind of songs that would finally push us over the top," guitarist Ormi says on the band's website. "We haven't really been happy with the songs, and the band hasn't been very much fun for any of us for quite some time now."
With its blend of crunchy metal riffs and soulful vocals from frontwoman Crystal, Biastfear has long showed promise as a radio-friendly band with the potential for national success. The band's 2000 release, All Angels Scream, made it a local favorite. Recently, Biastfear was selected for inclusion on the soundtrack to the upcoming Cleveland-made horror film Dead Planet, alongside popular locals Dirt and High Ball, among others.
"Hopefully, this turns out to be a short break," Ormi says. "If not, it was a blast, and we have no regrets."
Biastfear's shutdown clears the way for an original side project. Ormi, drummer Skitch, and bassist Rob are now writing songs, and they are seeking a vocalist. "The music we will be doing will be all original and along the lines of Staind, Cold, Finger Eleven, Sevendust, Alice in Chains, Blindside," Ormi says. Hear the new music at http://www.biastfear.com/new.htm.
· The fast-rising Lakewood punk/hardcore label D.S. Records will release its Dude, Sweet! compilation in August. The album features in-your-face young Cleveland rippers Collapse, fiery local punks Karate for Kids, Boston/ Memphis noise duo I Am Genocide, and more than a dozen others. For more details, visit http://ds.records.com.