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Jamaica’s Queens Connex releases second album

The band comprises two independent rap artists, Curtis Taylor, aka Bugzy-Nite and Wesley Brocklenberry, aka G-Slim, and an entourage of other talents, all Jamaica residents, who have helped an underground hip-hop project into the spotlight of the local scene. Songs depicting an honest, business life on the harsh backstreets of New York's outer borough are a product of both bare-bones production and the back-of-the-brain experience that life has taught the Connex crew."It started in the 10th grade. We had a rap group called the 'Five Deadly Venoms,'" Bugzy said. "We were mostly influenced by the Queens artists - Nas, Mob Deep, A Tribe Called Quest."Before G left to pursue college, the other remaining members - Joseph Middleton, aka Logic, Dmitri Vasquez, aka Skeeter and Oliver Sanford, aka Precise - formulated Queens Connex. G was eventually encouraged to write a verse for their first song, "We In The Club," which would be the first time he wrote any rap lyrics. Although he drifted away for some time, G's early results would be a premonition of what would come from him later in the game.Bugzy and Logic were left behind after G traveled to college, Skeeter went to school for pharmacy and Precise stopped rapping, leaving the two lone artists to transform their moniker to Frontline. After getting a plethora of new songs together, Frontline made an impact on the scene by handing out their new project by word of mouth and a determination to get recognized in their community. The drive for bigger things led them to present their newly spawned project to hip-hop label Desert Storm. It was at this point that G would return to elevate the group's skill level."G worked harder than ever - Logic didn't have the time and money he needed to live in the now - so it was me and G-Slim for now and we decided to switch our name back to Queens Connex," Bugzy explained. "But (Logic's) still a part of our entourage. He passes the word around and supports us all the time."The story of their next album, "Stolen Property," is one that was a rare mix of perseverance and luck."There was a site where you could negotiate for beats to use in your songs," Bugzy said, "but the beats usually were too expensive; the prices were too high. Our producer, Paris, had to sneak in and get us those beats because he felt we were worth it."The album was meant to show the producers who had snubbed the latest Connex project what they were missing out on."We put it underground and it sold around 1,000 CDs in 2004-05," Bugzy recalled. "We still get people who tell us they loved it and not just the younger fans - people ages 35 to 40 tells us they like the new concept."The success of the second project fresh in their system, the members of Queens Connex once again pushed their work to Desert Storm. The studio reiterated its past opinion, saying something was still missing from the overall feel. Undaunted by the eye of the storm, Connex got back to the craft with more tenacity."The original idea was for the self-titled album to help out the community, maybe give back something to where we once were. To show the hood can still be the hood, but it doesn't have to be a violent hood," Bugzy said.Eventually the material was too much, so the duo released the self-titled album with about half of their intended project, which is what stands today.The bite of Desert Storm - and reality itself - does bring a kind of concept that Queens Connex has utilized in their favor."The industry is still a foul game to play," Bugzy said. "It's all about payolla - if you have the money to spend, it's good, but it also should be about the love of hip-hop."Despite the drawbacks of Desert Storm's rejection, Connex has furnished itself a fiery following from the ashes of past defeats. One of their most influential allies, Niatone Records, has helped them along in the independent game, operating from California (which results in more publicity for the albums on the other side of the country).The group reaches for the stars, but remains with their feet firmly on the ground. Bugzy works as the graphics and layout artist for the TimesLedger Newspapers and G is a customer services representative for the MTA. Beyond all the battles for recognition, the original image of what five high-school students perceived as hip-hop continues to survive."The music represents what the borough is all about - the nostalgia style of the '90s hip-hop in New York and a futuristic mix. It's for honor and to honor the artists who came before you," Bugzy said of his musical mission.The road still winds and at the pinnacle of it lies Queens Connex, lit up like a dynamo and connected to the heart of what Queens has always been.

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