Review & Interview: ThunderPlump! – Elusive Thoughts Of An Illustrated Mind

ThunderPlump! is a 14-year-old producer and rapper. He recently released his debut album Elusive Thoughts Of An Illustrated Mind, and it took me by surprise. He may be young, but his artistic vision is mature, and it’s apparent that he’s going to continue growing as an artist. I spoke with him about the album and what it means to him, which you can read below. You can see his linktree or find the project on Spotify below:

What has the reception been by your peers to music?

My reception from my peers has been quite well, they’ve been very very supportive for example my best friends Riley and Kylee they’ve supported my music from like day 1 so I love them for that. Usually theres like a person who shits on it trying to be funny but f**** em [to be honest], as long as I’m vibing I’m good.

What does this project mean to you?

This project honestly means a bunch to me. I started working on it during quarantine just as a little project to make time pass, but It slowly took up time. I have a homie—his name is Cayden but goes by Underdawg, and we worked together. [This project] shows my hunger and my true will for the love of music. So when it dropped I was so proud of myself. Something I spent my time, my blood sweat and tears on fully coming out for public made me crack a huge smile.

Is Underdawg producing? What’s his role like?

“Something I spent my time, my blood sweat and tears on fully coming out for public made me crack a huge smile.”

Underdawg is also a producer like me; we actually met on Discord in a Tyler, The Creator server, and we clicked like crazy. So in Discord call we worked on it, sharing samples with each other, ideas and everything. He’s a good friend.

How’d you go about getting features?

With getting features, I mostly used Insta and Reddit trying to find artists that would be down to work with me. I usually like listened to the artists full discog for like a few days to make sure they’ll fit on my s***t…. when I did, I would hit them up about what I was doing, send them audio files, and told them to not be afraid to experiment.

What are your future ambitions (music related or not, both are good)?

My future ambitions are to blow up honestly and inspire kids just like me. I started loving music but my parents always wanted me in basketball which I kinda did not enjoy. It wasn’t until I discovered artists like Ye, and Tyler, and Andre who were themselves and made things they liked. I realized I can do it too. So my goal is to change kids lives as they did mine. I want to just, touch people’s lives as much as I can. Even if it isn’t through music, just helping people is my goal.

Thunderpump! also is part of a collective called ANGELS INC. In their group is Underdawg, Violet (who designed album art for Thunderpump! in the past), Ashley, Finn Trevino and Dakkari (who belong to another collective LLAMASPIT). He said he’s thankful to these people for inspiring him, challenging him, and providing advice.

Looking for more underground artists? Checkout our collections of Underrated Hip-Hop Songs From 2021 Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3!

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Review & Interview: T.Castles – Flowers Don’t Grow Here

T.Castles is an Australian beatmaker who dropped Flowers Don’t Grow Here in November 2021. The project is a trippy, chill, textured journey. Songs like “Beachfront Funk” show his ability to take soulful sounds and combine them with funking, swinging drums that are bound to make your head nod. I spoke with T.Castles about the project; read below and develop a further appreciation for this great underground producer. You can listen on BandcampYouTube, and Spotify:

When you sequenced the beats, what was the process like? What sort of things do you consider?

For this project, I knew I wanted to use lush samples but arrange the track in a way so that there was more variety than just a 2-minute loop. I chose to use a bridge in some tracks to create that variety, or even to do a beat switch halfway through a track. I usually start by searching for samples that I love, and then deciding if I want to chop them up or take different loops and stitch them together. Once that is done, I can hear the drums in my head straight away, as I’ve been playing the drums since I was 9.

What inspired the title of the project?

The title of the project was inspired by both positivity and frustration. I’m living in Sydney, Australia, and the hip-hop scene here is very drill oriented, and not very good in my honest opinion. The artists I love are First Nations artists such as JK-47 and Kobie Dee. The frustration comes from the fact that the sounds is hip-hop that I love and are inspired by, don’t seem to be very prevalent here. So, the flowers that I could be receiving for my efforts and passion aren’t easily obtainable here. The positivity aspect comes from the fact that I might have to cultivate that for myself. It’s like saying “ok, they don’t grow here yet, but maybe I can change that.” Like my boy says in the intro, “you gotta make something from nothing.”

Q: I especially like Beachfront Funk. Very soulful and the drums are awesome. When making beats like these, when do you know what kind of vibe you’re going for?

It’s like saying “ok, they don’t grow here yet, but maybe I can change that.”

Thank you so much, I appreciate that! It makes me so happy when people take the time to listen to my tracks, and maybe even enjoy them. When making something like Beachfront Funk, the vibe comes from messing around with the sample is various ways. When I heard the original track, I knew instantly that I could make something with it. I started messing with the speed and pitch, which added some great texture and warm to the sample. This creates that soulful vibe you described. Stitching together different elements of the track gave me ideas for what drums to use, so that it could keep that relaxed, soulful sound.

I’m getting L’Orange vibes on some of the project. Who are some of your influences?

Wow, that’s a huge compliment, L’Orange is an incredible producer. My main influences are Madlib, J Dilla, The Alchemist, Exile, DJ Premier, and 9th Wonder. I have many more, and I could make a giant list of my influences, but these ones really inspired me to start making beats in the first place. I absolutely love when a producer can make a sample the focus of their beat, and give it that super soulful or even dark sound. Now that I’m using the SP404 MKII in my beat making, I’m honing in more on my sound and loving every part of the process. I would say that Madlib was the artist who really gets me to think about keeping things simple, and adding variety in unexpected ways.

Be sure to checkout the project and let us know what you think! To find more albums, mixtapes, and EPs, visit our Projects page.

Submit your hip-hop for a chance to be posted!

Chill Lo-fi Beats: The Best Channels to Help You Focus

1. Lofi Girl

This is the one you saw coming. There’s no doubt Lofi Girl has influenced how people use music to get work done. Did you know the creator of the channel even has their own indie record label? That’s right, much of the music on the stream is published through Lofi Records. Lofi Girl also has a handful of other live streams for lo-fi music, which you can find on their channel.


This channel also has a great lo-fi stream you can peep above. Plus, they’re always uploading really dope beat tapes from producers in the underground. If you’re looking for some beat tapes, checkout Zudo, Phlocalyst & Mr. Käfer, Sátyr, and more! Also, I’ve noticed they share a lot of work found on Beat Tape Co-Op and published by Radio Juicy (two more resources worth checking out).

3. Chillhop Music

Chillhop Music (along with their secondary channel Chillhop Raccoon) upload a lot of super relaxing jazzy lo-fi playlists. They also have some live streams, which are great if you like getting to see peoples’ live reactions to songs.

4. Little Soul

This channel has a tight collection of lo-fi playlists. Not only is the music great, but they have some super wholesome titles to their playlists. Get your work done or just relax with one these lovely collections.

5. Feardog

Feardog’s been uploading music for the past 4 years, and in that time they’ve created a goldmine of chillhop and jazzy lo-fi. I also like the look they’ve adopted in the past year, with cute icons and simple video names like “Ramen ~ Lofi Hip Hop Mix” and fictional characters like Cuppy (Cuppy ~ Lofi Hip Hop Mix).

Looking for more chill hip-hop? Try some of the tracks from our collections of underrated hip-hop songs from 2021 (pt 1, 2, and 3)!

I’m a Business, Man: Rap Lyrics to Motivate You

Sometimes all you need to push yourself is just a healthy dose of motivational rap lyrics. To find some drive, take a look through these lines.  And if you’d like to hear them all and more, try this playlist:

I’m not a business man, I’m a business, man/

Let me handle my business, damn/

JAY Z on “Diamonds From Sierra Leone (Remix)”

Although I try to put people onto lesser-known artists, I thought I better include the lyric that inspired the post. Truth be told, I could probably make an entire list of lyrics like these from JAY Z and Kanye West alone. They’re both kings of confidence-boosting lines.

Think if I call it the great, the people gon’ call it the truth/

Ain’t really trip on the credit, I just paid all of my dues/

Nipsey Hussle on “Hussle & Motivate”

Nipsey is one of those artists who didn’t get their flowers while they could still smell them. While his last album did receive recognition, after he passed, it became clear just how much people loved his music. These lyrics show his ability to be both confident and humble, and his discography has many more as well.

I knew a pastor that got robbed for his Jesus piece/

Then showed up to church with his sis and niece/

Forget the beef, cuz I’ve been tryna reach my peak/

Malz Monday on “Better Way”

Malz Monday is an artist on the come up that we’re keeping an eye on. The album this is from showcases a great ear for beats, clever writing, and smooth flows. On “Better Way,” Malz reconciles the harshness of life with his drive for something better. Despite all the violence and obstacles, he’s pushing for his peak. Hopefully this inspires you as well.

I know I’ll be still getting to it if I wasn’t rapping/

Flipping real estate or anything to make it happen/

It’s not about your words boy it’s all about yo’ actions/

And you can make it too if you just listen to yo’ passion/

Klassic Kell & Korduroy Kash – “I.I.W.R”

More great gems from the underground. These lyrics from the song “I.I.W.R” show Klassic Kell’s determination to make a living and improve his life. Also, I don’t think I’ve never heard another rapper say that he’d be selling houses if he wasn’t rapping.

Lived in the palace but it was the pits in where I learned my biggest lessons/

I embrace difficulties, I see ‘em as a blessing/

Gerald Walter & The 7000 – “Laundry (feat. Monroe Flow)

You might know Gerald Walter through his connection to Stalley, but you should know him for his music. He’s a lovely writer with great storytelling and introspective lyrics. He also has an EP with The 7000 that we recommend checking out sometime.

For more great rap songs to help you get your head in the game, checkout the playlist. And if there’s any you think we should add, let us know in the comments! Looking for more music? Try out these Tasty Tracks—food-related hip-hop songs that are perfect for your next lunch break.

Tasty Tracks: Food-Related Hip-Hop for Your Lunch Break

Lunch breaks are best spent with great food and great music. I don’t know about you, but I find that to really feel like I’m getting a break, I need to get my brain off work. Music is a great way to do that. Try these tracks or even toss on the playlist during your next break!

MF DOOM – One Beer

Hey, who said you can’t have a beer on your break? “One Beer” from Mm..Food is a classic song on a classic album. For those unaware, this song was actually recorded for Madvilliany (hence the Madlib beat). Ultimately Madlib felt the song didn’t match the vibe of Madvilliany, so it found its home on MF DOOM’s album—where it’s a perfect fit. RIP DOOM.

Lupe Fiasco – Gotta Eat

Lupe Fiasco’s The Cool is a great album front to back. This song in particular showcases Lupe’s ability to use metaphors to an extent that most rappers could only dream of. The song tells the story of a gangster who you learn about throughout the album, but on “Gotta Eat,” he uses food metaphors. Enjoy!

J Dilla – Last Donut of the Night

Donuts is one of my favourite albums, and this beat is a standout. It’s so smooth. When I had the idea for this post, I knew I had to include it. Plus, the music video is pretty funny.

Goodie Mob – Soul Food

On this title track, Goodie Mob show their appreciation for southern food like chicken, rice, and gravy. This is a song for the food that hits the spot.

Gucci Mane – Lemonade

Gucci’s song “Lemonade” might be one of his most recognizable, and for good reason. It’s fun, catchy, and provocative. This man said he’s putting codeine syrup in his lemonade and that his Corvette is painted lemon. I may not relate, but what I can relate to is craving a cold glass on lemonade on a hot Summer day.  

Kendrick Lamar – DUCKWORTH.

This song is about Kendrick’s father working at a KFC in the ‘90s. Top Dawg, who later signed Kendrick, was planning to rob that KFC. It’s a wild and emotional journey with a top-of-the-line beat from 9th Wonder. Not exactly about food, but the whole song takes place within a KFC.

A Tribe Called Quest – Ham ‘N’ Eggs

I’ve always felt like People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm was underrated compared to some of the other Tribe albums. A lot of the album has aged very well, with exception to the lyric “I don’t eat no ham n’ eggs, ’cause they’re high in cholesterol.” Now a days, we love our eggs. I’m eating eggs to this track, and some ham for good measure.

Looking for more great songs and artists? Browse one our collections of underrated songs from 2021, reviews of projects, and artist guides.

Artist Spotlight: Lute

Lute is one of my favourite rappers currently signed to Dreamville (J Cole’s record label). He’s from Charlotte, North Carolina, where he was a member of the now-disbanded Forever FC. I’ve referenced him in my Cam O’bi guide and one of my underrated songs lists.

Standing Out

In 2017, Lute dropped his debut album West 1996 Pt. 2. This album is a sequel to his first solo mixtape, West1996. On his mixtape, there’s a early 90s NY hip-hop influence, as you can tell by the cover (which is of course paying homage to Nas’s classic album Illmatic). Songs like “Carolina Folks” and “Real2Real” have lofi beats reminiscent of Blu’s mixtape Jesus. But on his debut album, Lute’s songwriting and vision became more focused. “Still Slummin'” reminds me of early Slum Village. “Juggin'” is personal and sentimental, reflecting on lessons he learnt from his parents, and the ups and downs of life. His raps are determined and his vibe is focused.

Stealing The Show

In 2019, Dreamville dropped their highly-collaborative and heavily-anticipated label album, “Revenge Of The Dreamers III.” I really enjoyed the album and the documentary that followed its creation. Out of the many artists involved, Lute had 4 features. Some of which are perhaps the best songs on the album (and there’s a lot of great songs). The production on these songs fit with Lute’s flow extremely well.

His Best Yet

In 2021, Lute dropped another album, and it is worth the 4 year wait. Gold Mouf has the passionate and focused verses he’s consistently created along with a very polished sound. The beats are more crisp than the ones on his previous projects. Also, I love the features he curated. Notably Saba (who just released the first single for his upcoming album!), WESTSIDE BOOGIE, Little Brother, and more. Honestly, I straight up love every artist on the album.

Review of TOBi – Shall I Continue? (3 Pack)

TOBi dropped what he’s calling a “3 Pack” last friday on Oct. 30. For those unaware, TOBi is a Nigerian-Canadian artist who both raps and sings. He reminds me of artists like Smino and Mick Jenkins, and I gave one of his songs a shoutout here. TOBi has one a JUNO, and I recommend checking out his previously released projects.

This small bundle of songs features three songs: “Too Hot (prod by the great !llmind),” “How Many?,” and “Shall I Continue?” respectively.

“Too Hot” features the type of beat I could see Drake on, but I actually think what TOBi did with it is better than what Drake would’ve. When he switches between his talk-flow and smooth, semi-falsetto, it sounds refreshing. The only crime is the song’s length… I want more! But the upside to a short song is the high replayability.

“How Many” is a gem and a half. Vibey, groovy, and chill. I can sway to this easily. I love the boom bap (ish) drums, shimmering keys, and TOBi’s effortless vocals. Lyrically, he’s poetic but not too heady, using metaphors that are easy to grasp (giving them more impact).

“Shall I Continue?” is very interesting to me. It’s undoubtedly the fullest of the three. It’s music video also dropped on YouTube a couple weeks ago. The beat is hard, old school, new school, grimey, and clean. TOBi raps like he has something to prove. There’s braggadocio (Head in the sky/Feet in the soil/Unlimited growth), wordplay (It’s funny how I brought the pencil out/’cause life is testin’), personal moments (I know my brother looking down on me/Is you proud of me?), and great flows.

TOBi spoils his fans, but hey, I’m already eager for his next release, whatever that may be. So yes TOBi, please continue.

Artist Spotlight: Cam O’bi

2013-2014: “Hey, who produced this?”

I first heard Cam’Obi in 2013 from his production credits on Chance the Rapper’s classic mixtape Acid Rap. Then his production continued to impress me on Vic Mensa’s Innaetape and a year later on Mick Jenkin’s The Waters. These nostalgic tapes from young Chicago artists spread through hip-hop blogs with unstoppable force. And yet, Cam (like most producers) wasn’t getting the props he deserved. Not many know he wrote the hook for “Orange Soda.”

Favourite/notable tracks:

2015-2017: “Wait, that’s Cam O’bi?!”

Cam continued producing, but he also began making notable vocal appearances. He had both production and some vocals on Noname’s Telefone (her debut project which I still listen to often), Domo Genesis’s Genesis (my favourite album of 2016), and Lute’s West1996 pt. 2 (I talk about his newest album Gold Mouf here). He also created great beats for Mick Jenkins, SZA, Towkio, and J. Cole. Cam was clearly becoming more recognized from within the industry and showing off his vocal abilities. Also, his beats started using more vocal samples, giving them a truly unique sound.

Favourite/notable tracks:

2018-PRESENT: “This guy’s incredible.”

Cover art for "TenderHeaded" by Cam O'bi
Cover art for "Grammy's Babies" by Cam O'bi
Cover art for "Perfect" by Cam O'bi

In 2018, there was a shift in Cam’s career. He released “TenderHeaded (ft. Smino,” the first single for his upcoming debut album. Cam finally was taking center stage, doing most of the vocals for the song and showing he can hold his even with Smino, who’s now a heavyweight in making catchy hip-hop. Over the past couple years, he’s released more singles and given tidbits on the concept of the album. He’s also continued to gather more vocal and production credits, most notably on the past two Rejjie Snow albums Dear Annie and Baw Baw Black Sheep. Cam’s album is probably my most anticipated one right now, and I hope it helps him get the attention he deserves.

Favourite/notable tracks:

Underrated Hip-Hop Songs from 2021: PART 3

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.

Underrated Hip-Hop Songs from 2021: PART 2

Jaywop – Suede (feat. Livt)

The title track from Jaywop’s debut album, “Suede” is smooth, catchy, and bittersweet. He transports the listener. I can picture vividly the imagery of glass on the road and the suede sheets. I recommend checking out more Jaywop if you like Isaiah Rashad.

Just Adam – True Story

Just Adam gives me soulful Chicago vibes reminiscent of early Save Money artists like Chance the Rapper or affiliates such as Saba. His voice is coarse, his descriptions are immersive, and his messaging is hopeful. He also reminds me of Curren$y. He’s a great artist, and I’ve been rooting for him since his 2019 project  Buckets.

Michael Da Vinci & Lege Kale – Neverland

Michael is a Chicago artist you may recognize from TheHouse, a collective featuring him, YGTUT, ChrisP, Brian Brown, and Isaiah Rashad. Chattanooga, Tennessee has created some great rappers, and Michael is one of them. He’s catchy and comfortable with his loose flows and all around cool atmosphere.

Masego, Big Boi & JID – Garden Party

Big Boi from Outkast is obviously not underground, and JID has blown up in recent years too, but Masego is next up. Drake recently sampled his song “Navajo” and he’s been building a solid discography since 2016. This song is a great introduction to the uplifting horns and almost spooky sound his music can have. Plus, you get some killer features too.

Lute – Flossin’ (feat. WESTSIDE BOOGIE)

This whole album is so great. Lute hadn’t dropped an album since 2017, but the wait was worth it. This is one of the best Dreamville artists right now (and the competition is high). I love the happy feel to this song during the hook. And then his verses are less happy, and more introspective. You go from walking in the sunshine to contemplating in the late night. If you like this song, I strongly suggest checking out the full album. Also, shoutout to WESTSIDE BOOGIE (who’s now signed to Shady). He’s made great music for a long time and I’m glad to see it paying off

Oompa – AMEN (feat. Benji)

Oompa and Benji make a lovely duo on this song. Both are great upcomers and on this summery track they both sound like they’re having fun. This song is from Oompa’s second album. Also, Benji dropped his debut album this year, which is also pretty fun. Throw these on your party playlist and get ready for people to ask, “What song is this?!”

Wiki – All I Need (feat. Earl Sweatshirt)

Wiki was a member of the group RATKING and Earl was a member of Odd Future, but both have recently found new inspiration in the sLUms movement. This song goes great with white wine on a boat. If you like Alchemist, Madlib, or anyone from sLUms, check the album out.