Community is all about creating a feeling of togetherness that fosters a sense of belonging—elevating each other’s value and leaving a bigger impact than any one individual ever could. Van Buren Records is a community, but also so much more. Stemming from childhood friendships formed in Brockton, Massachusetts, Van Buren Records is an artist collective composed of rappers, producers, engineers, visual creatives, fashion designers, and more. The last few years has solidified them as one of the strongest forces in Massachusetts, but their authenticity and intention has elevated the group to national visibility. Best of all, if you ask them, is that this is all going exactly as planned, with chess moves masked as music releases building momentum into their first group album Bad For Press, out now.

Van Buren as a concept has been around for nearly 10 years, but the Van Buren Records seen now is the summation of approximately three years of timed individual music releases. Nearly all of the recording artists in the group have taken turns releasing solo projects under the Van Buren Records banner, allowing each to step into the limelight while the remainder of the group plays their parts as hypemen and genuine fans. They promote each other’s music as if it was their own, and this effectively allowed Van Buren to always have fresh releases to promote, leading into the big play of their group album.

On Bad For Press, the Van Buren Records crew paints the picture of their city and their lives, retelling some unsavory moments from the past, but always being proud of the people and artists they are becoming. The mastery of Van Buren is they are able to pack context into replay-worthy music, and the group’s charisma and synergy bleed through the speakers, operating like an Olympic level relay team through rap verses. Maybe the best example of this is the album single “Gangbanger (Remix)”, a dead sprint of colorful rap verses between Luke Bar$, Lord Felix, SAINT LYOR, Jiles, and Meech.

The togetherness and community aspect is hyper-apparent throughout the album, with the cascade of different production and verses introducing you to new members of the clique. However, Bad For Press isn’t your typical group album, because Van Buren Records isn’t your typical group of artists. Individuality is seen and celebrated throughout, allowing all the artists to maintain their personal styles while also working on something bigger than themselves. If Van Buren is a community, then Bad For Press is a gift to the city—most importantly for Brockton.—Greg Gaffney

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