February 22, 2007

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Hip-hop, relaxed
Lifted chills out with loungerap
By Erica Febre efebre@hippopress.com

They call their music “loungerap” but they’d need a pretty large and comfy couch to fit all eight members of the Lifted crew.

Lifted is a live hip-hop instrumental band coming from New York.

“Loungerap was coined back in 2000. It’s basically just encompassing a hip-hop foundation with various other musical styles included. It gives us the freedom to pretty much put anything to a hip-hop track,” said Jo-el Gonzalez with Lifted.

Lifted’s eight members are Gonzalez on trumpet, frontman Jesse “Atlas” Binotto; frontman Paul “Wylee” Calderon; Joe Lambert on drums; Ben Geiss on bass; Paul Vinton on guitar; Zach Lucas on keys and alto saxophone and Aaron Dressler on tenor sax.

Although Lifted is a hip-hop act, they find that most of their listeners are not the usual everyday hip-hop listener. Gonzalez says a lot of their fans, who don’t listen to any hip-hop at all, like Lifted’s music because it has a positive message.

“I see this music as a tool to introduce hip-hop to a lot of different people or to bring more people into the hip-hop genre,” Gonzalez said.

“The music is hip-hop-based but the message is a real positive message. Hip-hop that you hear on the radio is all about guns and violence. But this is more of a positive, jazz and funk based style hip-hop,” Gonzalez said.

Lifted has been doing the live hip-hop band movement for more than seven years now, starting back in 2000 and first coming to New Hampshire to perform in 2001. Lifted will return to New Hampshire on Saturday, Feb. 23, along with Project Move, a soulful hip-hop and rap trio from Massachusetts.

With a wealth of original material, their set can be a combination of new material, old material, on-stage improvisations and some covers of artists like Outkast, Nas and A Tribe Called Quest.

“Our band is high energy. It’s not really laid back so much. We try to bring the atmosphere of a dance party to every show,” Binotto said.

Lifted released their debut album in 2006, Loungerap Music, Vol. 1. Currently they’re of producing another album with their own production company, called On The Couch Productions.

Gonzalez and Binotto are both working on solo projects with On The Couch. They’ve also pulled in a few other hip-hop and r&b artists from the New York and Boston area.

“There aren’t many bands out there that are doing what we’re doing. But, there’s definitely some other bands on the grind that we can appreciate, like Eclective Collective and Audible Mainframe from Boston. We’re all kind of in the same unit, in the live hip-hop band movement,” Gonzalez said.

Get Lifted
Who: Lifted w/ Project Move
When: Friday, Feb. 23, starting at 9 p.m.
Where: Milly’s Tavern, 500 Commercial St., Manchester, 625-4444
For more information: For a complete schedule and to hear music samples, go to the band’s Web sites. Lifted is at loungerap.com and myspace.com/loungerap. Project Move is at myspace.com/project move.