In an extremely tight and competitive battle for top honors in the genre of Rap & Hip Hop at this year's 25th Review Music Awards Ceremony, a pair of regional artists gained stellar acclaim with the manner in which they compose compelling urban vignettes of contemporary society.
The Midland based Hip-Hop posse of M-20 was selected by readers & fans with honors of Rap & Hip Hop Artist of the Year, along with a nod to Erik Lytikainen as Best Producer. The group came together when Erik Lytikainen, his cousin Josh Kline, and Andrew Pool decided to join their talents together. With the addition of Cody Faddis and Jesse Loree there are now five members in the group.
“We chose the name M-20 because we all grew up out 20 on the Westside of town and aren't the stereotypical rich suburban white boys that people assume we may be simply because we are from the City of Midland,” explains Lytikainen.
Erik says the group “were very pleased this year with year with the outcome of the awards”; adding “We recently pressed up and released Back At It and sold all copies in two weeks and then re-ordered. We are currently in the process of getting another batch pressed up and the CD's we sell by hand-to-hand random transactions, because we promote heavily anywhere we go. The liquor store down the road from our studio called J Jo's on M-20 also sells them.”
When asked what he feels distinguishes their sound & musical approach, Erik notes “Our style is straight underground, influenced by many different genres of music including Classic Rock, Underground Michigan Rap artists, even a little bit of Country. I think that is why we appeal to so many different crowds of people.”
“We are currently recording a new mixtape, using mine as well as other Producer's beats, which will be finished by August and are also working on another full-length album produced fully by myself, Firecannon Beatz, that we will release by early summer of 2013.”
Alphabetics (aka Jordan Braun) secured two nominations at last year's Review Music Awards and this year walked away with the nod for Best Mixtape/Release for Honey I Shrunk the Rappers and has secured a strong position as one of the more creative Hip-Hop acts impacting the regional scene.
“I started writing rhymes in the mid-90s under the Rap name Knightkrawler. But it wasn't until I met Poindexter and we formed Forbidden Poets that I changed my name to Alphabetics. I was evolving as an Emcee and that name fit my style better, as my goals are to make a different kind of Rap music.”
“At the time, all Saginaw's Rap scene offered was Gangsta Rap and Horrorcore,” he continues, “and clearly I was neither. We met DJ Snakes and started doing Jamestowne Hall shows. Back then bands were the only ones to book us!”
Having record the first Forbidden Poets album back in 1999, which was released in 2000, after that Jordan did two more group albums and he has three solo CD's under his belt.