On February 14, 2012, Kirby Maurier released her EP, Class of '96 which is easily considered a classic to people in the United States, London, South Africa and other places across the globe. Class of '96 was one of Live Mixtapes highest rated R&B mixtapes from an independent artist the year it was released. The release has earned over 750,000 combined streams and over a quarter of a million downloads. People up to this day still listen and enjoy this body of work. It all started with the recording of one song.

In late 2011, Kirby was riding high from her debut single "You" (released on Valholla Entertainment) which later featured Broward MC, Ace Hood. The single garnered radio play in select cities in the United States, and other places overseas. With a follow-up in the works, Kirby started recording new music with production duo, Jackpot Music. (One-half of the production team included producer of her 2015 independent album debut, 'Doing The Most')

Before the end of 2011, the singer/songwriter recorded and released a remix to The Notorious B.I.G.'s classic "Sky's The Limit" which received such a great response. "Why not make an entire project of songs that have R&B remakes to Hip Hop classics?" said the project's executive producer, Vince Valholla. Then Kirby came up with the genius idea that all the songs must be remixes of hip hop releases from 1996. That's when the idea for Class of '96 was born.

After finding instrumentals of numerous Hip Hop hits from 1996, Kirby picked the songs she would record to and started writing to them. What many people don't know is, outside of the recording session for "Sky's The Limit", Kirby finished recording Class of '96 in one session (yes, in one day). That session was one to remember. The studio was filled with people and included lots of champagne and fruit. The champagne of choice was Moët Nectar Impérial, which was the go-to champagne for signings within Valholla Entertainment.

The vibe was set and that session was legendary. Kirby recorded 5 songs during that session and the project was arranged, mixed and mastered by the time the morning came. One fun fact about her recording of "Da Lick" was she wrote the song the night of the session and BIG NICS, which is featured on the song did a well. Once the project was done, it was time to prep the release.

We did a photoshoot for the cover on the same roof in Miami where we shot Doing The Most and she wore a jacket from her alma mater, Miramar High. She didn't graduate in '96 so we had to add the "96" to her jacket with Photoshop (I bet you couldn't tell it wasn't digitally added before). The cover was also shot by our long time friend, Staylookingout.

One of the things that contribute to how well the EP is made into a singular body of work is the sequencing. The project starts out with "I Love H.I.M.". The SoundCloud version of the EP has an entirely different intro leading into this song than versions available on other platforms. After this, there's an interlude with a sample of Common's "I Love H.E.R." as an acapella. If you notice, he closes with the words "Just Cool Out". It was Kirby's idea to place this before the next song, "Kool Out". This song features scratches from DJ NVS Styles and added a real flavor to it.

For "Sky's The Limit", which was the only song not recorded with the others is next. The intro throughout has a sample of Bobby Caldwell's "My Flame". This song sparked it all so if this was never recorded, we wouldn't have Class of '96. This song is along one of the few songs to feature vocals from Vince Valholla. "Da Lick" featuring BIG NICS (formally J Nics) was one of the last songs recorded and both wrote their verses on the spot. As of 2017, the song received the remix treatment by The Track Burnaz. The next song is "Kiss Kiss". The style and delivery was inspired by Mary J. Blige and contains an interpolation of "I Can Love You".

The last song on the EP is "Y?". This song is the true story of Kirby breaking the heart of a former boyfriend. She details the events in her interview with Rob Markman and Kristen Coral on The Red Light Special. She also knew this song would be last, hence her closing the song with "You know, all good things must come to an end" marking the end of her relationship with her former boyfriend and the end of the EP.

Class of '96 will be listened to for years to come and thanks to the people who've listened and spread the word, a whole new generation will appreciate this tribute to one of the dopest years in music.

Listen to "Da Lick" (The Track Burnaz Remix) by Kirby Maurier featuring BIG NICS


Valholla Entertainment

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