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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Rayven Justice f/ Johnny Cinco "Pull Up"
Mixtape: I Have a Dream Producer: Unknown
We recently identified Rayven Justice's "Slide Thru" as a song expected to have a very big Spring 2014. Right behind it should be the Johnny Cinco-assisted "Pull Up," yet another anthem about arriving somewhere, and another Cali cross-country collaboration with an Atlanta-based rapper (see also: "My Nigga"). Cinco, to date, is primarily known for his song "They Gave the Wrong Nigga Money," and for beefing very temporarily with Rich Homie Quan. This song, unlike the ratchet sound of "Slide Thru," slows down the tempo to an R&B-esque swagger, adopts the Lil Reese "Us" flow, and sounds like something of a meeting point between the coastal styles. —David Drake
Cunninlynguists "Dying Breed"
Album: Strange Journey Volume Three
It's sort of sad to admit, but this is the first time Complex has ever posted music from the Cunninlynguists. And they've been around for a while now. Since 2000, the group has accrued 9 projects and is about to drop its 10th, Strange Journey Volume Three. The upcoming album will be the first project the group, which consists of Kno, Deacon the Villain, and Natti, has put out since 2011 and was actually crowd-sourced (not for money, just for advice on how to put the album together).
Anybody who knows this group would automatically assume that "Dying Breed," the second leak from the project, is produced by Kno, as he handles most of the groups production and has become known for his smoothly melodic beats. But in this instance, those people would be wrong, as this beat was crafted by Thomax, a producer out of Norway. On the hook is Deac, with Deac and Natti both spitting verses. —Tony Markovich
DJ Disciple f/ Yellaman x A-N-T "Anybody Care"
Mixtape: Audio Vapors
This string heavy soul sample-based tick-tick-in-the-trunk beat from South Carolina’s KoldFiya really sets the mood for that I-45 connection from Dallas to Houston that is Yellaman and A-N-T. That humming over the vibrating strumming of the guitar is fitting for that steady cruising. Yellaman has been on his shit dropping some joints with Lil Pooh and HeartBeatz. He’s one of those new breed of Dallas rappers that leans heavy on that warmth of the country sound for a lot of his shit, a welcome change of pace in the trap-heavy landscape of rap right now. A-N-T is another up and comer. He’s from Houston, and at the age of 20 has already dropped a number of tapes. The team up works, and both of these guys lean back in their seats enough for the beat. Audio Vapors is a tape worth fucking with if you need that change of pace or don’t feel like learning a new dance. —Sergio Ornelas
Lil Chris "Keep Your Head Up"
Mixtape: iTunes only
Producer: David Jansen
Swiping the title of one of Pac's most iconic songs is a bold move, but Lil Chris makes up for it with an earnest and empathic style. A member of the West Side Chicago crew M.I.C., Chris has been building local buzz with heavily melodic rap songs that narrowly avert melodrama through teardrop-inducing pathos. If you're having a rough day, this is the track for you. —David Drake
B-Shot f/ XVL, Maniac, and Jose Guapo "Troops"
Jose Guapo leaked a few songs this week, one of which is with some of his XVL gang boys. It’s a track from B-Shot but it’s really a XVL posse cut. Guapo has been building some momentum and aligned himself with kind of that young Atlanta sound. His delivery is in line with a lot of the things that Peewee and Thug are doing, but not so much that he comes off like another Young Thug clone. "Troops" is a harder cut to leak, and they let you know out the gate with all the gun shots. The beat is on some standard trap shit, 808 rolls, high hats and a loop in there, but since the chorus is constantly accented by gun shots, it gives it the push that it needs to not be some forgettable trap joint. This can get the elbows out and makes you envision all these dudes mobbing together on a stage. Guapo’s verse is the strongest, but the XVL guys do their jobs as a supporting cast. —Sergio Ornelas
Jackie Chain f/ Rittz "Trippin'"
Mixtape: Bruce Lean Chronicles 2
Producer: Kasper Bright Side We've mentioned the fruitful but unheralded collaborations between the odd couple of Alabama's king of hedonism Jackie Chain and Georgia's reality-rap technician Rittz on Deep Cuts previously, so it's only right they've finally blessed us with a video for their best collaboration to date, "Trippin'." Taken from Jackie Chain's 2013 mixtape Bruce Lean Chronicles 2, "Trippin'" provides a middle ground where their audacious juxtaposition of rap styles—meat vs. math?—can both flourish, although it does feel more like a Rittz song featuring Jackie than vice versa.
What makes "Trippin'" such a gem is that both Jackie and Rittz step out of their respective comfort zones to rap over a sample from Dexter Wansel's "What The World Is Coming To" that had previously provided the scrim for Agallah & Sean Price's GTA III Game FM classic "Rising To The Top." Producer Burn One reshapes the Wansel sample into something more distinctly country, yet the ghosts of New York rap linger throughout with Rittz sounding like he's been possessed by Harlem's Max B. Ergo, "Trippin'" is a song which deserves a decent wave rather than a second wind. —Marty Macready
Uncle Murda f/ Keyz "Same Way"
Mixtape: Aint Nothing Sweet
Producer: Dollar From classic street DVDs to WSHH to VladTV, Brooklyn's Uncle Murda has a heap of very entertaining interviews to his name. Alas, his shit-talking and trolling hasn't often translated into good music beyond a smattering of cuts like "Anybody Can Get It," "I Just Shot Him," and "I Shot The Sheriff," leaving him a potential contender to post-50 Cent's NYC mixtape bully throne who seemed incapable of ever making himself a "Wanksta."
Then came last year's single "Wu Wuu Wuuu" with Rocko, a glorious recurring phrase track based on Martin Lawrence catchphrase from his sitcom Martin that, frankly, should have done for Uncle Murda what "UEONO" did for Rocko. Or was considered as avant garde as Young Thug's "Danny Glover." Murda's latest single "Same Way" with Keyz—the token Rap & Bullshit guy from Murda's GMG crew who can belt out hooks on demand—is a return to more conventional NYC rap with its rootsy '70s soul sample and rags-to-riches motif, but another surefooted step in the right direction for Murda. We're even treated to a moment of the dark humor that makes his interviews so compelling when he explains that selling crack was morally acceptable because it stopped him and his younger brother stealing money from their grandmother's purse. —Marty Macready