Last year, Rhode Island rhyme vets Chachi Carvalho and Swann Notty teamed up with producer/beat composer J. DePina to form THR33 Piece Suit. Their full-length debut platter titled Brand New Vintage is just that — a flavorful combo of jazzy, throwback beats adorned with some serious cuts and, of course, countless quotable bars. THR33 Piece Suit may have coined a new rap genre via the album title: there is nothing dated, stale, nor formulaic about the presentation, but the record is just that — a brand new spin on a classic sound. The first 100 people through the door at Fête next Friday (and/or those purchasing advance tickets) will receive an autographed "bootleg" copy of the album, and it will be available free-of-charge for a limited time beginning March 14 before officially hitting the shelves and iTunes in April.
A REALLY COOL RIDE Notty, DePina, and Carvalho (in the booth).
On a blustery Wednesday afternoon in "downtown" Pawtucket, all three members have convened at Carvalho's Beatbox Studio inside the Grant Building. This is my first time meeting Darryl Jordan, aka Swann Notty, his slim frame hidden behind a XXXL Beatbox Studios hoodie, as well as Joel DePina, who strolls in a few minutes later, while Charles "Chachi" Carvalho sits by his desk cueing up the album and reminiscing over a recent trip to Cape Verde.
Check the pedigree — both lyricists jumped onto the music scene nearly 15 years ago as charter members of the CNJ Records camp; Swann's debut single, "4 Steps" remains a coveted homegrown classic, and he later released two outstanding solo records in Classic Material and Right and Exact. Carvalho's skills have been on display long before he tore it up in front of a national audience on BET's 106 & Park five years ago. He is highly active working with youth, both as a mentor at the Met School and serving as a proud pee-wee football coach. And business is picking up at his Beatbox Studios (visit Beatbox on Facebook for rates and contact info), with local heavy hitters like Big Rush recently recording here.
"The three-piece suit has always been a symbol of respect, class, and dignity amongst men," goes the sampled intro, and all three men are already nodding in unison. Swann is a laidback cat, to say the least, while Chachi's Cheshire cat grin grows when the beat drops on "Can I Do My Thing?," where Swann raps, "The chemistry is magic," accompanied by DJ Mekalek's slicing up Slick Rick and Greg Nice in the closing moments. "I Wish We Were There" follows, and is on a par with De La Soul's "Much More." Looking through my notes, I had scribbled down comparisons to Golden Era classics like Breaking Atoms, Mecca and the Soul Brother, and The Low End Theory.
On the get-your-hands-up anthem "Outloud," Swann suavely delivers another memorable verse: "It's so natural the feeling is beautiful/This is my 9-to-5, I don't chill in a cubicle . . . the crowd shows love and the feeling is mutual," while Chachi declares, "Hey young world, I just wanna be your motivation, your daily inspiration/It's a helluva sensation when they give congratulations." And on "Take Your Time" Swann opens up with, "I was raised to believe in myself and keep an open mind/Dance to my own tune and follow no design." While there are plenty of positive-vibe rhymes on the album ("You feelin' good and love the vibe/Then come along, enjoy the ride," Swann raps on "Best Time Ever"), Brand New Vintage is no afterschool special. Swann and Chachi can kill with kindness on the mic.