Normally, I’d say that this project is amazing and it should be listened to by all. I’d talk about how songs like “How I Know” are certified bangers that still offer up some real advice to listeners. I’d say that tracks like “The Man” are funky and clean, but still manage to shed preconceived notions about the Portland-based artist. I’ll also say “support dope music in all its forms.” However, in lieu of that, I’m going to let TOPE himself tell you a bit about the project. So, check out this introspective from TOPE (which was originally written as a press release, mind you; he’s multi-faceted) and, well, support dope music in all its forms. Sometimes, you’ve got to let the artists speak on their own instead of trying to put words in their mouths, I’ve discovered.
It was January 2015 and TOPE had just released his breakthrough project BROKE BOY SYNDROME detailing surviving a childhood with two drug-addicted parents, losing his mother to that same addiction at 19, not speaking or seeing his father since 17, and trying to avoid surviving the traps of his own newfound rap success. With social media co-signs from R&B legends, Erykah Badu and Cody Chestnutt, plus a dedicated hometown following in Portland, many thought TOPE might be next to blow from the region. After releasing BBS, featuring a long sought after collab with underground hip hop legend Blu, TOPE found himself on XXL, The Source, 2Dopeboyz, Okayplayer, and more with rave reviews of the young producer/rapper’s new project. And then, without much warning, TOPE decided after almost 10 years of climbing the ranks through the Portland scene he would pack up his bags and move to the Bay Area, eventually landing in Oakland, California.
Quickly after his move, TOPE found himself touring the West Coast with another underground hip hop legend, this time, Gift Of Gab of Blackalicious. With his bags still packed in Oakland and recording equipment in storage, TOPE quickly traded in his comfortable spot towards the top of the food chain in NW Hip Hop for a life on the road as an underground touring act. Back off tour and in Oakland, TOPE found himself lending production to another Portland legend Cool Nutz as he collaborated with Detroit’s own Slum Village, as well as taking a trip out to Atlanta to perform at A3C Festival and licensing music from his BROKE BOY SYNDROME album to Oxygen’s “The Bad Girl’s Club.”
In June 2016, TOPE announced his first solo tour, The Tour – a 22 city journey covering 8 states in less than a month. Along with the tour, TOPE also announced his follow up project IN OAKLAND to be exclusively produced by Stewart Villain and released after the tour. After a rocky 3 weeks on the road and a number of disagreements with management, TOPE found himself stranded in Portland in the 5 remaining dates on his tour canceled and no motivation to finish his project after.
Life was moving fast for TOPE after a failed tour and things not exactly working out in The Bay like he had planned, TOPE once again packed up his life belongings and moved even further South to LA. Still reeling from a failed tour, the pressure of a follow-up album, and two major moves in less than a year, stress and depression started to catch up with TOPE. After missing an official A3C event in Atlanta and letting the summer of 2016 go without releasing his project, TOPE knew he needed to make a change or possibly step away from music for good. After abruptly breaking up with his girlfriend, TOPE threw all his belongings in a trash bag, rented a U-Haul and once again headed back to the Bay Area, this time landing in Alameda, CA.
At the start of 2017, TOPE was feeling refreshed. A new start on the year, with a plan to release music once a month until the release his album, all of this until the unthinkable happened. While performing in San Francisco at Brick N Mortar in January of 2017, someone went backstage and stole TOPE’s entire merch box containing his laptop and several personal valuable items. With no backup in sight, TOPE lost over 6 years of music and memories including the flies, songs, and ideas for his soon to be released album. TOPE was crushed. At a time in his life when he was strongly considering stepping away from music to pursue a different career path, TOPE almost felt as God was telling him music wasn’t the way. Defeated, TOPE had to start completely from ground zero with no way to make music for over a month and every trace of his album gone for good.
To quote Big Sean’s hit “If you’re a real one, you know how to bounce back.”
Quietly TOPE did just that, hitting the studio to recreate and resurrect some of the memorable songs from his IN OAKLAND project. Instead of a full-length project, TOPE decided to shorten things up and focus on the songs that truly mattered to him. In an effort to make sure he would actually release the project and also as a way of turning his attention 100% to a brand new self-produced project, TOPE finally decided on a new EP, SOME THINGS GOTTA CHANGE.
7-tracks deep, TOPE offers up his new soulful and introspective EP just in the time for the end of summer. SOME THINGS GOTTA CHANGE blends a mixture of light-hearted party jams with personal and emotional revelations, that every TOPE project has been known for. Produced by Portland’s Stewart Villain with additions from Farnell Newton, Zach Striar, and TOPE himself STGC also features the vocal stylings of Oakland’s own Cash Campain and Atlanta-based songstress Erikka J. With lead off summer singles like “Glo’d Up,” “The Man,” and “How I Know” TOPE give listeners an update on how life in California has been treating him. While exploring the ups and downs of his relationships and moves on “Trying To Forget,” “Better Place,” and “Thank You” TOPE even takes time out to address the recent increase in police brutality on “Let Us Pray.”
Speed on the Beat
Whatever you need to know about me, you can find out on speedonthebeat.com