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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Speaker Knockerz "Erica Kane"
Release: Erica Kane single
Producer: Speaker Knockerz
This past thursday, South Carolina rapper/producer/songwriter Derek "Speaker Knockerz" McAllister, was found dead of a heart attack in his garage at 19 years old. In the past 3 or 4 months Speaker Knockerz really began to flourish as an all-talented auteur, releasing a string of killer singles, including the Vine twerking-anthem "Freak Hoe," and "Lonely," an Auto-Tune ballad which sounds like it was played on the piano from the "Purple City Brydgang" video by Arnold Schwarzenegger during the final scene of Terminator 2: Judgement Day.
"Erica Kane" ("These n***as is all of my children, I'm Erica Kane") was the latest edition to this string of singles. It was also the final song Speaker Knockerz released, hitting the Internet a mere 2 days before he was found dead. As swan songs go, "Erica Kane" serves as an accurate summary of the bricks & mortar of the Speaker Knockerz style, with its half crooned Auto-Tuned rapping and surreal nursery rhyme production recalling some of his best tracks. But it's also a tragic glimpse into what his future material had in store as he continued to develop his own voice by playing around with words and sly little melodies. —Marty Macready
Kap G "Fuck La Policia"
Mixtape: Like A Mexican
Producer: Squat Beats
Kap G first appeared in the spotlight thanks to Chief Keef, who appeared on his single "Tatted Like Amigos" back in summer '12. The Mexican-American rapper with the boyish face and blonde highlights has returned under the Atlantic Records banner. Which means, of course, an unnecessary cosign-remix of "Tatted Like Amigos" with Wiz Khalifa and Kirko Bangz ends the record. That aside, Kap's tape is packed with strong pop-rap jams, never mind beats from producers as established as Bangladesh, Drumma Boy, and even Pharrell.
Kap's not the world's most amazing rapper from a vocal perspective, but he plays to his strengths, picks interesting beats, and has the novelty factor of being a serious Latino artist in an industry that only intermittently has incorporated Latino MCs outside of New York. "Fuck La Policia" is a surprisingly serene version of "Fuck the Police." Tackling that archetype has been a street rap essential since N.W.A. (see Lil Boosie's version, Styles P's version, shit even Jay Dilla's). In addition to putting it in a Mexican-American context ("I know what you're thinking, think I got no green card..."), Kap gives the theme a kind of stoned summertime resignation, at once cold and comforting, dark clouds on a sunny day. —David Drake
Casino f/ Young Thug "Communication"
Mixtape: Frank Matthews
Producer: Cashout Beatz
Casino, the FreeBandz hardhead who appeared on original versions of "Karate Chop" and "Move That Dope," tends to be the one left behind when, say, six minute songs become four minute radio edits. That's still a step up from being a FBG benchwarmer, but nonetheless, Casino's presence on-record, while welcome, hasn't exactly set the world ablaze. Although he has a gruff charm, his latest tape, Frank Matthews, isn't liable to blow him up any further, primarily because the sound quality throughout the tape is so iffy. The exception is the Young Thug feature "Communication," which finds Thugger gifting million dollar pop hooks and improvisational, exploratory, invigorating guest verses to otherwise average mixtape tracks. Certainly, whichever label is trying to lay claim to Thugger right this moment has to be disappointed this stuff is just vanishing into the DatPiff aether. —David Drake
Mestizo f/ DoseOne "Turning Tables"
The ever-so-nomadic Mestizo of the Machina Muerte mega-crew has uprooted himself to Philly from Los Angeles, and apparently kicked this beat he made over to Dose to help create a flood of straight terror storm. There is no hook, just a quick sample, a loop and some crisp ass drums riding a slow wave of dark synths. They just run through the gauntlet of raps. Mestizo brings an unrelenting barrage of rhymes and only stops to let Dose take his voice down to the bottom of the gravel pit. It’s a throwback to a style that never left and is still ahead of you. Sometimes the men need to come down from the mountain and chin check the village. —Sergio Ornelas
Wes Fif f/ Ill Essense "Live This Life"
Mixtape: High Definition EP
Wes Fif dropped a new eight track EP this Monday. "Live This Life" is the slumper on this project. It features fellow Orlando rapper, Ill Essense. The biggest shit is really the screwed hook and those slow, drawn-out bass notes. That soul clap gets tossed in there to keep it from being too syrupy. The EP is fairly diverse overall, he’s got some soft R&B joints and a faster bass track that features Uncle Head of the almighty Splack Pack. But then he also has some cloud rap-type shit that walks a fine rave-rap line to the point that it feels like it’s gonna go that way at any second, until a “Yeah Hoe” gets dropped to reel it back. —Sergio Ornelas
Young Lox "Legion of Doom"
Judging from his latest album Illest, a collection of old and unreleased songs, Young Lox—Loxycotin to his friends and customers—seems to do his best work when rapping over Sade samples. "Couldn't Tell You" with Stevie Joe reconfigures "Sweetest Taboo" into the album's bounciest track and a celebratory treatise on the ‘can't tell me nothin'’ maxim. Meanwhile, album highlight and today's Deep Cut "Legion Of Doom" reshapes the most sensual parts of "I Never Thought I'd See The Day" into a moody barbiturates-ballad that's worthy of Jacka's own 2005-2008 zenith.
Wonderful stuff, just don't let Sade find out out that her music has become a constant backdrop for criminal argot by regional gangsta rappers who probably don't bother to concern themselves with clearing samples. —Marty Macready
Doughboyz Cashout "Started as a Worker"
Mixtape: We Run The City Vol. 4
This dropped a few weeks back, and like most Doughboyz Cashout jams, it sounds like a spiritual son of midwest gangster rap from the mid-00s. The Doughboyz Cashout formula is refreshing thanks to their back-and-forth verse-for-verse energy, similar to the Hot Boyz, or an old school hip-hop routine. It works best over especially propulsive production, and when they stick to blue collar corner-selling motivation music. "Started as a Worker" is basically street rap's "whistle while you work" with a better beat and fewer dwarves. —David Drake
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