Music – What's Up With


Real name: Calvin Howard (foreground)

Age: 27

Hometown: Lindenwold, N.J.

Why they sleepin’?: “It’s different. Hip-hop fans in general have fallen right in line with a formula right now. I’m outside of that box so people aren’t gonna just latch onto me. It’s gonna take a while before the cycle of hip-hop returns to where it used to be. A change is gonna come, and hopefully I can contribute to that change.”

On the movement: “We’re friends who happen to be artists. 420 the group is me and Slim DSM. We also have solo careers, and our DJ, producer, promoter, engineer and manager extraordinaire is Caliph-NOW.”

Represent: “Shout-out to everybody on the album: Reef the Lost Cauze, Side Effect, Adam 12, Slim DSM, Stress, Eye-Go Direct, Krush Unit—that’s a tight family. We work with them all the time.”

Dividing lines: “The nature of hip-hop is very clique-ish, like high school. You’ve got the jocks, nerds, the cool crowd, the uppity crowd. For whatever reason, we don’t suppor one another. Since I’ve been in the Philadelphia hip-hop scene it’s always been like that. Instead of everybody representing a Philly sound, they’d rather represent their block. I’m down to collaborate and do whatever I can to bring some balance to the equation. We need to big-up the city as a whole.”

On that feel-good music: “That was the goal with this album Jersey’s Finest. It’s a departure from my normal sound—it’s usually a lot darker. It’s my most upbeat album to date. It came together perfectly.”