Download here: http://awonandphoniks.com/album/return-to-the-golden-era
The album attempts to capture the golden era boom bap sound of New York hip hop in the 90’s, with sharp, clever emceeing by Newport News’ Awon and smooth, jazzy production by Portland producer Phoniks. The album has storytelling (Blood In, Blood Out/ Get Yours), punchlines (Forever Ill), upbeat tracks, downtempo joints and consistency from beginning to end, while maintaining the raw sound of Golden Era hip hop. The whole thing sounds like it was cryogenically frozen in ’95 and it takes the listener back to a time when hip-hop was made with bulky samplers, floppy disks, and crackly old vinyl records.
Antwan Wiggins also known by his stage name “Awon” has distinguished himself as an emcee. Born on March 6, 1980 in Brooklyn, New York Awon was surrounded by culture. His earliest memories are of graffiti lined subway cars and DJ’s having jams in his neighborhood of Fort Greene. His influences were other prominent emcees of the Golden Era of Hip Hop like Big Daddy Kane, Rakim, and Slick Rick. In 1989 his family relocated to Newport News, Virginia.
In 2006, AWON appeared as a feature on Canibus’s Hip Hop For Sale album on a track produced by Nottz. At the time, Awon was working with a crew, The Soul Students, on his debut album Beautiful Loser that was released on May 17, 2008 by Goon Trax Records in Japan. Since then, Awon has been a figure in the new emerging Jazz Hop scene, working with close friend, Kameleon Beats to create distinctive sounds
Phoniks is a 22 year old up and coming producer from Portland who has built a reputation online for his series of hip hop remix albums with classic/old school flare, 2011’s “The Tape” and 2013’s “Basement Vibes” and “Make Beats, Don’t Sleep” have achieved success both domestically and internationally through his Bandcamp website. He has been featured on a number of hip hop blogs and magazines including Respect Mag, gripsquad.com, ughh.com, and whudat.de.
“This whole album came out of no where over the past few weeks. In early July I received an email from Phoniks stating that he wanted to work on a track. I listened to his music on his website and I was blown away at how authentic his remixes sounded so I immediately replied and agreed to work with him. Initially it was going to be an EP, but the creativity began flowing and I could not stop writing. The sound we have together is very nostalgic and reminiscent of 90s NY Hip Hop. Growing up in that era I took my experiences and put them on paper. At that time I was young and dumb feeling invincible. I sold drugs from the age of 14 to 28. I’m not proud of that at all, but that part of my life is the story I chose to tell as well as the aspirations of becoming an emcee. At that time everything I heard or saw was a projection of wealth and opulence. Selling drugs and rapping became a normal escape from poverty or a quick come up. It doesn’t make sense to me now, but at that time it made all the sense in the world to me. This album is very special because to me it feels like the soundtrack to my youth and these tracks are the stories of myself, my friends, and my family. Down to the delusions of grandeur paired with the crackly pianos and jazzy horns provided by Phoniks this album is the epitome of street meets purist. With complete confidence and pride I am happy to have been a part of this effort and I’m already excited about the follow up!”
“This album all materialized when I took a shot in the dark one day and emailed one of my favorite emcees some clips of my production. We exchanged a few messages back and forth and I went on to produce every beat, lay down all the cuts, mix/master, and do the album artwork all in a month’s time. A wrote every song, handled all the vocal recording duties, and produced the “40oz Wisdom” interlude.
It’s such a great feeling working with a dude like Awon where we share such a passion for hip hop. I’ll spend all day digging for a sample and making a beat and then I’ll send it off to A and he’ll immediately spend all night writing verses and recording and we’ll have a joint done by the next morning. We made this whole album in basically 3 weeks because we both just work like animals. Awon is a real authentic dude who grew up in the era of hip hop that I’m a diligent student of, so together the music we make is very real. And it don’t stop.”