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.
It really be the artists around you with the most genuine and authentic sound. Jay$teez and Eddie B linked up for Diamonds, and it’s one of the best underground songs I’ve heard in a minute. The laid back, soulful, and jazzy instrumental is so infectious you could listen to it by without vocals, and both artists know how to ride, Jay$teez bringing the melodies while Eddie B hitting with bars like “put the ring on the game like it’s Smeagol” for all my nerdy niggas. Listen to the track below.
Already back to work after hitting us with his latest body of work Gucci Durag Chronicles II, AJ Bray blessed us with a new hit. Produced by Izak, who’s careers starting to heat up himself, Make It Quick shows off AJs talent who instantly quotable lyrics and perfectly riding a rhythm with his delivery. Listen to Make It Quick below, and be sure to peep GD2 here.
Houston’s Lona is on a wave to the next level. His grind and commitment to his art paired with his levelheadedness translates very smoothly into his music. Stay Sleep is his latest single from his upcoming album 346, telling all those who aren’t rocking with him to keep that same energy when he’s at the top. The A.K.A. production is dark and aggressive, perfectly matching Lona’s energy as his spits about his come up and the ups and downs that come with putting your all into this shit. People might think the game is all about the limelight, but Lona shows us not everything that glitters is gold. Listen to Stay Sleep below.
Khawaja has been putting in a lot of work recently. From dropping collab projects and singles, a solo project, and a handful of loosies, he’s had a busy year, and with this new track, he might just have a hit on his hands. His latest offering Sabr, arabic for patience, pays homage to his cultural roots, and shows us what it’s like to hungry, trying to make it in the game at any means necessary, and you can really feel that hunger come thru when you listen. He’s tired of being patient, he’s kicking the door down and forcing his way into the game. Khawaja has a seriously high production quality in his tracks, so you know the tape he’s got in the chamber is about to be major. Give Sabr a listen below.
AJ Bray been making waves in Central Texas for a while now, and after dropping his latest single Mobbin and moving out to LA this summer, he’s been hard at work at his next project, the follow up to last springs Gucci Durag Chronicles. The first was a nicely developed representation of him as an artist, and the sequel takes what he’s curated as his sound and pushes towards its next level.
I put this thing on for five seconds, and I looked in the mirror and had a complete edge and the wettest waves on the planet. Beginning to end, Gucci Durag Chronicles II showcases AJ in his purest form, owning his flows, being overtly confident in his lyrics, and showing off a strong ear for production, coming into his own and really dominating his individual sound. Though the tape is short, it doesn’t really lack any weight, sacrificing length in exchange for high quality. Track by track you don’t really find anything missing or bare. Straight out the gate, the intro track Busy is a braggadocious banger. The idea behind the track is that somebody like AJ Bray doesn’t have time for any extra, he’s too busy running up bands to worry about anything more. Indolence Beats production on it sets it off with think heavy 808s and a dark melody, but it’s the presence of the artist that gives it true life, which is a theme that’s mirrored throughout the whole project. Waitin On is an energetic track that makes fun of the opps that fail to bring AJ down in any way. The guest verse from Chxpo fits nicely and adds that extra layer of depth to the track, the transition from the hook and the feature so seamless that it’s like they were together in the booth when they recorded. Those paired with the other tracks, Dap You Up, WWYD, and Mobbin all work together to offer a nicely cohesive project, the Aye Cue verse on WWYD is a strong standout as well. Sounds from producers like Kashcloud and Cashmoney AP sprinkle the project and add a nice punch with their beats, and there is no mistaking any style or flow on the entire tape. This is 100% AJ Bray.
As a whole, GDC2 is dope as shit. It serves as a strong introduction to a blossoming artist if you weren’t already familiar, or shows a new form of growth of his artistry for his fanbase. With the being the first induction of the type of level he’s on since his move, I’m already ready to see what else he has in store. It’s only a matter of time before we start to see big things.
San Marcos via New Braunfels rapper Lil Ooh came through with some heat, dropping his latest track lookatdees. The S.Diesel beat allows Ooh to bring forth the raw energy he’s known for as he takes a look at all the lames around him under a microscopes. He’s really been impressing with his recent output, so let’s hope he blesses the streets with a project soon. Listen to lookatdees below.
Texas City rapper Yung Fuji dropped off a visual for his track Lxner. The hazy xGod.Lifex x Pa$tor Herb$ production nicely complements Fujis flow and style, which he uses to prove why he’s easily up next. Once of the best voices in underground, his consistency and confidence in each of his tracks is steadily pushing him towards success. Check out the video below.
San Marcos rap collective The PNTHN is back at it again with Vigilantes, once more hitting you upside the head with some straight quality. The Por Vida instrumental is super smooth, nicely samples some orchestral sounds, and knocks very hard, serving as the perfect playground for 2 top notch MCs to spit that shit over. The back and forth repertoire between DC and RA on impeccable, showcasing a strong chemistry that is replicated in almost every PNTHN track. Listen to the new heater below.
Texas rapper Shamans new track is doing big numbers. Abuse is an anthem for anybody masking the bullshit they go through with the bottle just to get by. The realGRADEAMUSIC production is dark and ominous, adding to the songs Aesthetic, and Shamans lyrical introspection really makes you feel every word. Listen to the track below.