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.
- - - -
The Jacka "Ask God"
Producer: Don Juan C
Richmond rapper The Jacka was one member of the Mob Figaz crew, a posse of rappers that included the 50 Cent-style g-rap of Fed-X, the clenched-teeth Pac-isms of Rydah J. Klyde, the aggressive whirlwind AP9, and the singularly manic Husalah. Of them all, Jacka has always been the velvet glove that hides the Bond villain-esque iron fists. His is a sleepily melodic style, like a West Coast Max B, hazy, weed smoke-infused philosophical meditations on life and death and what it's like to live illegal. His words tend towards minimal and sparse, implying more with less. His output has slowed in the last few years—after 2009's Tear Gas, it became evident that he'd reached a kind of creative nexus. But "Ask God" has a vintage Jack Artist feel, even if it sounds like a memory of greater accomplishments now past. —David Drake
Rapid Ric f/ Doughbeezy, Paul Wall, Fiend, and Mookie Jones "Get Loaded"
Mixtape: Intervention: Episode 2
Producer: Rapid Ric
Rapid Ric is behind the boards on this joint, and builds his "lets get fucked up" theme around twinkles and fading lazers all over that warm Texas bass. Mookie does the hook and has a voice suited for it, in a style reminiscent of his pimpish tendencies from his Playa Ass Nigga tape. As for the three verses, Doughbeezy is the first and the highlight. Him and Mookie rep a new breed of Houston rap, and Beezy has been flexing his talents on any track he can get on. Paul Wall does Paul Wall, although he doesn’t even really drop any ridiculous similes, but rather sticks to the vague "get loaded" storyline. Fortunately, Fiend stays more in his gruff Fiend persona instead of being International Jones, which has a tendency to get to grown and sexy. He carries some melody in his delivery but then gives a little stress to the words to keep you from getting too comfortable in the pocket.
Over all though this is a dope blend of two eras of that Houston sound, fitting for driving on that 610 loop when you probably shouldn’t be driving. —Sergio Ornelas
Kato featuring Trouble "She Da One"
Mixtape: Kato's Revenge
Kato of the Atlanta-producer collective SMKA returns to Deep Cuts with another song from his Kato's Revenge mixtape, which finally hit the internet this week. It's a typical producer's 'tape full of pairings like the current single "Popular" and posse cuts like the previous Deep Cut "Pimpin' Mane" remix, so the most refreshing song comes when Trouble of "Bussin'" fame gets a solo outing. "Bussin'" was a big record in 2011 when Waka Flocka Flame was the people's champion of Atlanta but times have changed. In 2014, the city is an entirely different locale run by romantics like Future, eccentrics like Young Thug, and slightly eccentric romantics like Rich Homie Quan, so Trouble has adapted his style accordingly for "She Da One", a lovey dovey moonlit drive of a rap song which still retains some of the thuggin' that made "Bussin'" so compelling.
If Young Thug's "All I Want" was Atlanta's key Valentine's Day song this year, then "She Da One" is a handy post-script for all contrarians who prefer to celebrate Valentine's Day the week after. —Marty Macready
Apollo Kidd f/ Bloody Jay and Tarxan "Hard Way"
Mixtape: Hoes & Plays
This hook goes; it’s perfectly suited for yelling at motherfuckers in the club that you don’t like. This beat is on some low budge Mike Will Made It-sound, with its use of the filtering effect he perfected. But it works here too, because when it drops out at the beginning of their verses and then drops back in, it makes this shit work. Bloody Jay’s intro to his verse is the best use of the drop. Between that, and the way the hook comes in, this song brings some life to a tape that needs a bit more aggression. Ball out, crack raps, and trap joints are cool too, but man, sometimes you just want some angry shit to get hype to. —Sergio Ornelas
L.A.D. AKA La the Darkman "Ice Cold Guinness"
Album: The Living Daylights
Producer: Bronze Nazareth
Willie The Kid is a rapper from Grand Rapids, Michigan best known for being the younger cousin of Wu-Tang affiliate La The Darkman, and for being a former member of DJ Drama's Aphilliates Music Group who appeared on numerous Gangsta Grillz mixtapes and albums, including a verse on Lil' Wayne's classic "Cannon" (AMG remix) in 2006.
Willie has a sprawling, frankly intimidating discography, but seemed to have a moment last year with his Aquamarine mixtape, which drew coverage from the sort of media outlets whom wouldn't usually touch a Willie The Kid project with a bargepole; it was a 13 track collection of densely wordy brag-rap over off-kilter, often bizarre production—"Glasses Of Water" flipped a sample from famous scene from The Fresh Prince Of Bel Air—whose closest point of comparison would be a lost album from the late 90s boom of N.Y indie-rap: 7 Eyes, 7 Horns by Scaramanga.
Willie just dropped a new retail album with fellow Grand Rapids Wu-Tang-inspired and now-affiliated producer Bronze Nazareth, and while it's more meat & potatoes affair than the shrimp & lobsters exotic-ness of Aquamarine, it's still a steak and cream charlotte seed potato meal for all fans of Willie's bars (Drake and/or Wu-fanatics). "Avalon" with Roc Marciano is the obvious highlight and the album generally continues in much the same vein—vivid wordplay over soaring soul/Blaxploitation-samples—aside from "Ice Cold Guinness", which Willie hands over to his older cousin/mentor La The Darkman for a quick solo cadenza.
Quick being the operative word here; at 75 seconds in length, "Ice Cold Guinness" is a mere interlude, but it sounds like an unreleased RZA-produced track from La's 1998 debut album Heist Of The Century, but with much better rapping than the young La was capable of back then: "people say live by the gun, die by the gun/I say don't live by it, get killed by one!" —Marty Macready