“How You Feel” – The lead single of School of Hard Drops (The Mixtape), the hypnotic, ultrainfectious, super chill song was written on a cold day in Paris, when the duo was dreaming about the beach and sunshine. With lyrics like “Feel like getting the money/How you feel/Feel like chilling somewhere sunny,” the song is about moving forward and making big things happen.

“Get Checks” – With an increasingly groove intensive vibe driven by “future bass,” one of Lya’s favorite EDM styles emphasizing modulated synth bass sounds, “Get Checks” is another “paperchaser” song designed to make the listener dream, dance and move at the same time.

“Make M’s” – Over a fresh, trip-hop dubstep flow (another favorite of Lya’s), this track is about two things: spreading love while visualizing yourself making money. It finds Jvgg in a positive mindset, acknowledging difficult struggles but encouraging people with the idea that if you’re talented, have solid values and are willing to fight for good things in life, your dreams are attainable.

“Jump” – Jvgg started this dynamic dance jam (the mixtape’s second single) alone in Paris, not sure what Lya would think. She loved it and asked him to send her the “stems” so she could build on it, structure it and create the intense drop. It’s a free-spirited party song with a Dutch flavored EDM vibe, created with the intention of getting people to literally jump and bounce around the dance floor.

“Move It” – This ultra-creative, rhythmically eclectic joint features some of Lya’s most creative spinning and sound design, along with a showcase for Kpoint, a rap powerhouse currently blowing up in France. It’s all about movement and as Jvgg says, “doing whatever you want to do in life and going crazy about it. You’ve got to move to make things happen!”

“Cannot Lose” – Moving soulfully from a jazzy flow on the hip-hop portion into a hard, head banging dubstep drop illuminated by electronically enhanced vocals, the track – penned quickly by the couple in the Paris studio – is again, a call to action and positivity. Jvgg says, “It’s all about, I cannot lose, you cannot lose, and we just want to win. When you listen to the song, you should be telling yourself that you cannot lose!”

“Super Flower” – Composed recently in their new digs in Las Vegas, this “natural song” (as the duo calls it) blends a taste of the Caribbean islands with old school electronic music vibes circa 2000. In line with our changing attitudes, it’s an unabashed “weed” song telling us that when we get high, we can fly and nothing can hold us back – so don’t try.”

“Drippin’” (featuring Lil Shakk) – Originating with a friend of the duo (Loxx) but including a fresh verse and Lya’s trademark drop, this mystical, hypnotic yet ultimately hard driving track is a prime showcase for Jvgg’s 15 year old half-brother Lil Shakk, a talented rapper in his own right. Theres’ no specific story, just playful references to “drippin’ in fashion” and a vibe perfect for head banging at festivals.

“Got There” – Highlighted by one of Lya’s quickest drops, the overall cool and slightly melancholy flow of this track underscores a highly autobiographical narrative that reminds us of the value of hard work. “Don’t think we’re here because we’re just lucky,” Jvgg says. “All of this has taken a lot of sweat and hard work, and that’s what the song is about.”

“Buck Nero (featuring Bok Nero)” – True to its funky title, this heavily electronic track is a spirited, mystical/trippy then percussively dense showcase for Buck Nero, a fellow hiphop/ EDM artist – and frequent collaborator with hard dubstep DJs – they hooked up with on social media. Jvgg crafted lyrics around his name, including a line about getting “bucks like Nero.” Gold Lemonade has also created a version featuring a harder dubstep drop that they are excited about performing live.

“Way Up” – Composed just before their recent trip to perform in Virginia, this track was created purely as a fresh “banger” to add intense energy to the live set list for that show. It continues the ongoing motivational theme, with references about aiming for the sky. Jvgg says, “When you listen, you will want to go out and get whatever you’ve been desiring.”

“Blue Bills” – One of the few songs on the mixtape to not feature a distinctive drop, the dreamily flowing track adds a uniquely cool dreamy funk flavor to the collection. It’s a morning song about those fresh new blue $100 bills that demands to be listened to as a kick in the butt early in the day.

“Grind” – With elements created in Paris and Las Vegas with French DJ/producer Frank Zona, this well-traveled, jazzy and laid-back track is, for Jvgg, “a tune to drink champagne to while you’re on the beach watching the sunset and chilling.” Despite its relaxed vibe, it’s also about “trying to move them hills” and being true to ourselves instead of trying to be someone else.

“Yeah Yeah” – Another track without a single electronic drop, Jvgg calls this sensual, free flowing, Post Malone flavored tune his favorite on the mixtape, “and also the most emotional.” It’s a song about being aware that people might get angry and jealous and turn their back on you when great things happen in your life. “We’re asking, ‘Why are you not happy for me?’ he says.

“Lost” – This is the lone cover on the mixtape, a fresh, hard hitting re-imagining of rapper Gorilla Zoe’s 2009 hit from Don’t Feed da Animals. “We wanted to give it another round,” says Lya. “We respected the original instrumental passage and we use the same keys and instruments, with the same melody and lyrical flow. It’s a message we wanted to bring back to the cultural consciousness.”

“Sorry for the Noise (featuring Lil Shakk)” – Another high impact track featuring Jvgg’s half-bro Little Shack, this one grew out of a visit Jvgg made to his home island of St. Martin after Hurricane Irma devastated it in 2017. He brought a mini home studio with mics and computers to help Lil Shakk write and record his own music, and the two – along with Lya and another friend – wrote the song on the spot. With its cool hip-hop flow and later scorching drop, the piece is a perfect sendoff for listeners who have made it all the way through the mixtape. Jvgg says, “It’s like, hey, this is the last song and we’re leaving the stage. Sorry for making this noise, and hope you enjoyed it. Nobody’s done a drop like Lya did here, and that combined with the guitar at the end is amazing, the right way to wrap it up. We hope you felt the message.”


©Critically Amused