In 2014, the world is inundated with music. Deep Cuts is here to help you sort the trash from the treasure. Taking a closer look at mixtapes, loosies, and obscurities, we comb the genre to find tracks that you may have missed. Great songs on terrible tapes, rappers who haven't received the shine they should, or underrated tracks from recognized names, we dig through the detritus so you don't have to.
For 2013, Deep Cuts was a monthly column, but it's become apparent that the demand for more and newer, unheard music is still out there, so we've decided to make it a weekly post. In addition, many of these songs will be posted ahead of time, throughout the week, as we discover them, rather than waiting to compile them for the column. If you want to keep up with what we're posting, just follow along here. And make sure to check back every Friday for a new column covering the previous week.
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Mixtape: Platinum Plus EP
Producer: PURP DOGG
The Platinum Plus EP by Miami rapper Cashy hit the 'net to near-indifference back in January. But this past week, it's spread like wildfire from blogs to media outlets, as everybody wants to stake their claim in an unknown rapper. Unless you're a fan of Tumblr-rap cliches (faux-Pen & Pixel cover art, snippets of Screwed vocals, '90s Three 6 Mafia nostalgia, cloud-rap beats) the EP isn't a particularly noteworthy release—with the exception of "Stupendous," which received the visual treatment two days ago, Cashy stuntin' in a Miami arcade like he's Birdman.
The Birdman comparison is key because Cashy sounds like the young Bryan Williams in his early B-32 & DJ Crack Out days, even if Cashy's rapping is more obviously indebted to more modern rap villains like Gucci Mane. The Gucci Mane comparison is also crucial here because "Stupendous" is cut from the same cloth as Gucci's recurring adjective concept tracks like "Wonderful" and "Awesome." As for PURP DOGG's staccato production, it sounds like a long lost Happy Perez instrumental made sometime between Young Bleed's "The Day They Made Me Boss" and C-Loc & Lil' Boosie's "Outlawz." —Marty Macready
J Stalin f/Too $hort "F**k That"
Album: Shining in Darkness (Unreleased)
Producer: The Mekanix
Over the past couple of years, J. Stalin's tended to make his best music when flirting with "Ratchet" club music. 2012's "The Molly Song" with L.A's Problem sounded closer to E40 & co's "Function" than the Bay Area gangsta-rap from whence Stalin came, and on "Fuck That," Stalin and his go-to producers The Mekanix fully embracing the melodic snappiness of IamSu & his HBK Gang chums with a little help from an Oakland veteran who can seemingly turn his hand to any passing trend: Too $hort. Is it a blatant attempt at Ratchet bandwagon hopping? Perhaps, but who cares when the song has inspired Stalin to sound fresher than he has in a couple of years and it includes a frankly eviscerating cameo verse from Too $hort? —Marty Macready
Zilla f/ Young Dolph "Yeen Said Nothing"
Producer: Bobby Johnson
Bobby Johnson—fresh off King Louie's "Again" and, of course, his titanic namesake "OG Bobby Johnson"—seems to be making a run at 2014 as "his year." "Yeen Said Nothing" has the kind of rumbling bass sheet reminiscent of the chorus of Cru and Lox's "Live at the Tunnel," dropped over a Down South rhythmic template. Zilla's consonant-swallowing flow does its job, although it takes a backseat to the production. Young Dolph can't really outshine the beat either, but his accent is an underrated weapon in rap, a laconic Memphis flow so far back on the beat it feels like an echo, without sacrificing muscle. —David Drake
King Louie "Again"
Mixtape: Drilluminati 2
Producer: Bobby Johnson
"Again" is violent, paranoid, and all oriented around a rapid-fire bass. The beat is composed of just a few parts, but when it hits, it bangs, and Louie brings the appropriate amount of “fuck’em” to it. He’s on that statement rap, fitting for a punchy beat like this that comes in bursts of energy before reloading. This is the highlight of the tape, and a great exercise in the appropriate use of adlibs. (You could make the case that the entire song is adlibs, with the way he delivers each line.) This is kind of a return to that original sinister-ness that made drill appealing. Autotune is cute and all, but when you’re trying to be menacing it just doesn’t cut the way straight up raps do. You lose the gruffness of the words. Rather than spending time making one song a day for a month, Louie is better off making songs that showcase his viciousness. —Sergio Ornelas
Iceberg "Here We Go Again"
Producer: DJ Sam Sneak
Miami’s Iceberg just dropped this track he did with DJ Sam Sneak. This beat is all over the place. It’s pulling hard from that classic Miami bass jam pony party style with hints of electro bleeding though. But man, those drums make this some shit you want to hear loud as fuck in the club. He builds a foundation on what made Miami great: booty music. Iceberg drops his verses in between commands to sit on the dick and ride out, random usage of stereo panning, OH’s, WHAT’s, "get lower" chants, Portuguese, and all kinds of other change ups. Really the only drawback of this song is that’s it’s barely over two and half minutes long. It’s like being wasted at 10 PM, and you can’t remember how the fuck you got so turnt: you should be worried but goddamn, that was fun. —Sergio Ornelas
Percy Keith "Stories Pt. 2"
Mixtape: Crazy on the Outside (Unreleased)
Percy Keith's "real name no gimmicks" style simultaneously recalls the one and only Percy Miller while invisibly drawing attention to the rapper's humble origins, a la his Bread Winners Association labelmate Kevin Gates. There are no Kings or Chief's here; earnest and pained, the song is a confessional packed with dark memories given dignity with plainspoken intensity: "I'm gambling with this rap shit, hope I hit the jackpot/Hope mama stop stealing, hope Daddy quit the crack rock/Felicia quit the crack rock, she don't know how proud that made me/Apartment caught on fire, grandma died an hour later." The song is a tour de force of emotionalism on record, melodramatic only to those who assume a level of cynicism that borders on sociopathic. —David Drake
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