In Jackson Hole, Wyo., in late May, as media, influencers and celebrities congregated to hear Kanye West’s ye, 070 Shake huddled with her 070 crew, celebrating her two features on the album. Fresh off an appearance on Pusha T's Daytona and prepping for another on Nas’ Nasir, her contribution to ye’s “Ghost Town” proved to be a breakout moment. Long before West came calling, though, the 21-year-old Shake (born Danielle Balbuena) and her 070 collective have been plotting breakouts of their own back home in North Bergen, N.J. Named for the first three numbers in the ZIP codes of various Jersey cities, 070 has about 11 members (it varies), including a trio of producers dubbed The Kompetition (Razsy Beats, Ether Phoenix and J-Sebastian). The group, which dropped its first collaborative mixtape, The 070 Project: Chapter One, on manager YesJulz’s 1AM Entertainment label in December 2016, plans to release two new EPs this summer. “When we’re together, we just want to have fun,” says 070 Shake of her squad, which grew out of her friend group at North Bergen High. “It’s all about love, and when one of us stumbles, we pick each other up.”
Before 070, the 20-year-old (born Malick Ba) had never thought about making music. But once he found the crew and the family it provided, he started experimenting in the studio. His debut EP, My Name Is Malick, arrives July 6. “It’s my first project ever and it’s very personal, but it’s also me as a beginner,” says Malick, who has been rapping for only a year. “I want people to understand that I’m growing as an artist -- but I think this is still good.”
Discovered by YesJulz and then, according to Shake, signed to G.O.O.D. Music in 2016 after a friend introduced West to her music, Shake released her debut EP, Glitter, in collaboration with The Kompetition earlier in 2018. “Kanye inspires people to get more musically inclined, so I just want my stuff to be very musical and theatrical,” says the artist, who is working on her debut album,Yellow Girl, out later this year.
The 23-year-old had performed locally with artists like Talib Kweli before talking to The Kompetition about starting a label. But after clicking with 070 in the studio, he officially joined the crew. His current, as-yet-unfinished and unnamed project will be the first under his birth name, Mark Jean-Phillipe. “I try not to have any boundaries,” he says, citing influences including Musiq Soulchild, Sade and JAY-Z.
River has been making music at home since age 15, drawing on the influence of Michael Jackson and Prince, Big L and 2Pac. He started taking things more seriously after recording with Shake in 2016. “On [070 Project] you mostly hear my rapping, but most of my unreleased stuff is me singing,” says the 21-year-old born Raphael Enterriors, who, along with Shake, is signed to G.O.O.D. Music. “It’s a different challenge for me -- I want to be able to grow.”
Hailing from East Orange, N.J., the 23-year-old Safari, whose real name is TreniceHassel, had planned to be behind the scenes in music. But after coming on to engineer a few songs for The Kompetition, she joined the collective as an artist and plans to release her first project, the electronic dance-inspired Pure Intentions, on Aug. 2. “As an artist, my message is influencing people to be free,” she says. “I was in a really depressed state recording this, so it was about breaking out of that.”
From left: Ralphy River, Treee Safari, 070 Malick, 070 Shake and Phi photographed on June 13, 2018 at 934 Music Studio in Totowa, N.J.