Blessed to Premiere: Rothstein & Connor Donovan’s “Coast Guards”

Cambridge, Massachusetts doesn’t exactly scream hip-hop. For most, the city’s perceived cultural legacy is as stagnant as the American History lesson plans we know it from, seldom calling to mind associations with anything other than the puritans of the Massachusetts Bay Colony or the academic pomp of Harvard and MIT. Needless to say, that perceived legacy is in dire need of an update, and that’s exactly what Dojo Records emcees and Cambridge natives Rothstein and Connor Donovan have provided on “Coast Guards,” their most recent track released under the moniker of their collaborative duo, Magazine.

Produced by Brooklyn-based labelmate Maero, the dark, hard-hitting soundscapes of “Coast Guards,” serve as a harbinger of Cambridge hip-hop excellence that brings John Winthrop’s “City Upon a Hill” spiel out of its lofty Ivory Tower and down onto the coast of the Charles River’s Magazine Beach, where Rothstein and Connor grew up, penning their first rhymes together as childhood neighbors on Magazine Street.

Though not Rothstein and Connor’s first collaborative effort, and surely not their last, “Coast Guards,” is meant to be a “barometer” of their “growing sound,” both as collaborators and as solo artists, according to Rothstein.

Now 23 and 21, respectively, the two have come a long way since their teenage, rhyme-slinging years on Magazine Beach. The “Coast,” no longer purely refers to what Rothstein describes as the “stretch of grass, dirt and gravel along the Charles River” in Cambridge, “where high school kids would come to smoke, freestyle, party and fight.” Their respective fan bases have spread beyond Cambridge to New York, where both currently reside, and down the entire Eastern Seaboard. Trust, it’s only a matter of time before they’re guarding more than just the Coast.

Listen to “Coast Guards” below.

Alex Oka