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.
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.