Texas rapper WhoisBama dropped of some visuals for his track Run It Up. Directed by Leke Laflair (one of the best out rn), this is one of the cleanest videos I’ve seen in the underground, for one of the catchiest tracks I’ve heard in a minute. Bama is super commanding on the song, projecting his presence all over with a lot of energy and confidence. Watch the video below, check out Bama’s music here, and see more work from Leke here.
Making major waves in the central Texas area for a minute now, the ascension of the PNTHN boys has been very interesting to watch. They came in with their own swag, super high energy at shows, and a greater attention to detail in their music than a lot of niggas out, plus they’re always making the right moves to keep all eyes on them. They just dropped Potluck, an 6 song EP that shows they just keep getting better with time. Every member brings something unique with their verses, and their in house producers, Por Vida & Romby, are some of the best in the area. Each track holds serious weight, with Chrome and Vigilantes being some major standouts. Listen to Potluck below.
The chemistry of artist and producer is arguably the most important thing in rap right now. Like, everybody wants to work with Metro, but not everybody can even fit with what he brings to the table (cough, Nav & Big Sean, cough). More than ever we just hear artists rapping over beats sent to them, sounding good to the ear but lacking true depth, and it’s honestly become rare to hear something that sounds truly organic. Sometimes though, if you look hard enough, you might find collaborations that fit like a glove.
Members of the Backyard Noize collective, Lona and A.K.A. are no strangers to working to together, yet this project is the first time everything has felt so tight knit. A.K.A.s vibrant, bouncy production style is in full force, matching Lona’s voice and delivery very well, whether he’s holding a melody or delivering a verse. He has a talent for remaining distinct with his sound while keeping each beat unique in their own right, with their own life and style. A.K.A. steals the show with his feature on LUV 4 U as well, his R&B pseudonym Alvynne showing serious melodic ability. Lona’s versatility is one of his best qualities. Being able to transition between rapping and singing with ease is a highlight, his singing standing out on Precious Tyme, and 1998 Freestyle showing he can rap with the best of them over a classic feeling bounce.
Neither of these guys ever disappoint. Serving as an appetizer until Lona’s 346 album drops, Moment’s Notice is the blend of artist and producer connection that the game needs more of. Listen below.
When I found out about the inception of PNTHN, I wasn’t sure what to expect. As time progressed and they pushed out more and more content, it became apparent that the best way to describe them is a gang of dope people creating dope shit, and each individual brought something special to the table. Tony Tone was always one of the standouts, his classic flow and voice reminiscent of mid 90s New York, with a lyrical style to match. His latest solo work, the Two Face EP, is full of Golden Era influence, with sample filled boombap production and authentic emotion riddling every verse.
The feel and vibe of the project is purely immaculate, reminding me of projects like Westside Gunns Flygod, or the legendary Madvillainy, classic hip hop with a modernized sound. Soul samples are my favorite thing ever used in hip-hop, and this thing is full of them, perfectly used. Each track is soulful and vibrant, production from lofi heavyweights Knxwledge and Por Vida full of life and nicely orchestrated, and really so beautiful that I honestly need an instrumental version that I can study to, and Tony really glides over each one with his lyrics. Every line is unapologetically his, every verse has you really feeling like you’re learning about who is a person and really understanding his mindset, and there’s a lot of straight up dope lines, like “Make these fuckers eat they words like some cold breakfast”, and “Our diction gonna piss off a couple false christians”. Start to finish it’s like you’re on his journey through life, next to him every step of the way, not knowing you’re destination but experiencing every moment path he takes.
This is a very good project, and you should listen to it.
If you never heard of Key, you’ve seriously been lacking. He’s an Atlanta heavyweight, dropping quality music for majority of the 10’s, and is an originator of a lot of the flows and styles dominating the scene right now. He may not have gained the mainstream clout he deserves yet, but any new music from him is a big deal for the underground. Ice Scream Hello just might be his best song yet, full of quotable lines and dreamy yet slapping production from Kenny Beats. What has always made Key impressive is his ability to go right catchy trap lines, “My bitch look like Hillary Banks” is a quote for the ages, and how he can switch through multiple flows with ease, both skills that are on full display here. The new year just started, and I already found my favorite song. Listen to Ice Scream Hello below.
While we wait for his next project, Blackball, to drop, ZOTiYAC tossed us some new shit to pass the time. Lost Language may be small, but the energy behind it is huge, delivering 5 heavy hitter tracks. Zo is known for his dark, almost evil sound, and is really in his bag with this one. His gritty lyrics and trademark flow are always on point, and the amount of pure aggression he consistently brings whenever he drops is all over LL. The standout tracks are LICC HOE$ and Unleashing Sum, but each track carries serious weight on their own. One of my favorite underground artists, he never fails to bring the ruckus. Check out Lost Language below, as well and his Too Hotty freestyle.
For the past few years, JMAC the Dragon has been a soldier on his grind. He’s consistently shown a strong pen game and a serious hunger for success, and he enforces that even more with his latest, The Wait. He’s delivering every line with a newfound energy, fully owning his sound, flow, and style, and the A.K.A. production is powerful, the grimy melody and heavy bass making each bar feel harder than the last. Peep the wait below and be on the lookout for what else JMAC has in store.
Houston via San Marcos singer RaeBeth is bringing forth a brand new energy with her latest offering Dropout. Featuring San Antonio rapper AJ Bray, Dropout has a laid back vibe that blends the sounds of chillhop, neo-soul, and hip hop, but mixes them in a way that works together very nicely. The transition between RaeBeths’ sultry and unique singing, and the flow and style AJ is known for, rais seamless, uniting two different worlds in a way that you wouldn’t even be able to tell were separate. Listen to Dropout below.
With the year winding down, I just want to take a moment to show some love to a project that I felt like glossed skipped over by the majority. I found Peak in an article somewhere in like May, and was honestly blown away by the fully developed and organic sound, truly bare and honest lyrics, and a wave of emotion packed into each track. Probably the most interesting part of this album is that it’s Chokers debut, self-produced and self-released. Blending indie pop nuances with a Hip Hop core and some artistic embellishments, Peak has a wide soundscape that reminds me of a lovechild of Frank Ocean and Toro Y Moi with a dash of Joy Division. Chokers spoken word style flow puts you right in the middle of each scenario he describes, pulling you in with scenes of love, heartbreak and growth. The instruments are tightly contained and all over the play at the same time. One moment they can be soft and subtle, and the next you can be hit over the head with beautifully aggressive kick drums and synthesizers, shown in the breakdown in Sunflower and the production on Moshka. If you take the time to listen, this project really checks all the boxes of a good record. I don’t wanna sit here and give you a massive breakdown of the album, that’s not the point of this. I just wanna let everyone know, if you skip this one, you’ve skipping easily one of the best projects of the year.
New Braunfels rapper Lil Ooh really just turned up the heat. His lastest offering LOOKATDEES has gained a lot of steam since he dropped it, so its only right that he pairs it with his cleanest video yet. Ooh is one of the most hardworking artists in central Texas, and it’s only a matter of time before he gets some serious shine. Check the David Jiang shot visuals below.