D Smoke & Marsha Ambrosius – Clockwork
D Smoke was the winner of the Netflix show Rhythm + Flow in 2019. Since then, he’s dropped a couple projects. He’s proven himself to be a thoughtful artist and overall good songwriter. This song stood out to me not only because of its quality (I love the ticking sounds, they remind me of Royce da 5’9’s “Boom”) but also because this collaboration is pretty significant. Marsha has previously worked with Dr. Dre, and now she’s working with this growing star from Inglewood, California.
Blu – Mr. Blu(e)
Blu first became prominent in 2007 with the collaborative album Below the Heavens. Since then, he’s put out many albums, and in the past couple years has hit a stride with Miles and A Long Red Hot Summer Night. Now he’s released an album that has conceptual instrumentals and dense wordplay. My favourite of the songs is Mr. Blu(e). The overall sound takes me back to early Blu. The sample and flow both would’ve fit comfortably on the Below the Heavens classic, and I look forward to seeing how this album’s perception evolves over time. I hope we get more great Blu music for many years to come.
J’von & Elaquent – Brown Suede
J’von’s music sounds like Cam O’bi meets Monte Booker. Originally, I became of fan of him due to his singing on Spacesuit’s “Highly Overdue.” With “Brown Suede,” we’re hearing J’von catch a pocket. There’s no singing. His rhymes are dense, and his confidence is high. And Elaquent deserves props for the production too. It sounds like a Dilla influence on more modern sounds, and I really enjoy it. If you like this song, you’ll probably like the Just Adam song I shared in the pt. 2.
reggie & Smino – Avalanche
Dear reggie, please drop the album! Every single has been very smooth. His vocals draw comparisons to Andre 3000. Then Smino comes in with his iconic voice. This is a song I’ll happily dance to any day.
Pell – Waves (feat. Tonina Saputo)
“Waves,” the first song on Pell’s new album, caught my attention right away. Tonina’s vocals on the hook make for an ear worm, the piano sprinkling throughout the beat is really lovely, and Pell’s raps are good as ever. He used to remind me a lot of Kid Cudi, but I think he’s really grown into his own now. If you haven’t heard him yet, this is a nice place to start.
Asher Roth – Snazzy Kat
Is Asher Roth underground? I don’t know, but his recent music deserves a shoutout. On this song, there’s a heavy inspiration of 90s SP1200 beats you’d hear from Lord Finesse or J Dilla. The deep bassline and eroded drums create a dark atmosphere. Interstingly, this sound is vastly different from the crisp sound of his previous album Flowers On The Weekend (which I loved).
YGTUT – Black Benz
When Preacher’s Son dropped in 2015, I became a big fan of YGTUT. As a member of the same collective as Isaiah Rashad, he attracted comparisons. But on “Black Benz” YGTUT sounds more like Outkast meets Kendrick. The song is brooding, funky, jazzy, and political (“Huey Newton’s probably in his grave turning over” is a standout line). I have high hopes for his next album.
Tanya Morgan – A Whole Mood (feat. Jack Davey)
It was 2013 when I first found this NY-based classic-sounding hip-hop group. Well in 2021 they’re still proving why they deserve more eyes and ears. This song was my favourite from the album, and the rest of the album is good too. This song though… so good. It sounds like a classic. I picture kids walking home from school listening to this in their headphones, sun on their face, life is good. It’s feel good soulful hip-hop. It’s a whole ass mood.