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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John Walt "KemoWalk"
Mixtape: #GETHAPPY 2.0
Pivot Gang are a new-ish underground crew lead by the talented rapper Saba, who appeared on Chance The Rapper's Acid Rap and has seen steadily rising local buzz since that time. John Walt, another of the group's members, dropped #GetHappy2.0 at the end of last year; single "KemoWalk" is a dreamlike salute to the West Side bop scene, led by dancer Lil Kemo. It slips into a melodic, emotive reverie, sneaking away with the Sicko Mobb's flow and blurring its edges, giving it a more dreamlike atmosphere. Fans of Chief Keef's "Citgo" will no doubt find something to like here. —David Drake
Mic Terror f/ Lucci Vee "No Panties"
Album: Fresh Prince Of Darkness
Mic Terror hearkens back to the aquatic Auto-Tuned sex-rap of "Going" from his Can I Borrow A Feeling mixtape with "No Panties," a battle-of-the sexes track with fellow Treated Crew affiliate Lucci Vee. Before Lil Wayne made cunnilingus not only acceptable but de rigueur, rappers had a much less-enlightened approach to oral sex. "No Panties" finds Mic returning to that pre-Wayne era of Grand Puba's "She said 69, I said 68 and I'll owe you one" approach to eating pussy on the first verse, until Lucci evens the score for the sisterhood in her verse by admitting she enjoys breaking dudes hearts by fucking them once and then ignoring them. "No Panties" then ends in a truce of erotic discourse with Mic and Lucci both bagging themselves 3-sums so they and, indeed, we can all leave the song happy. —Marty Macready
P Wild f/ Young Moe and Oochie "Savage"
Mixtape: Project Styles 2
Based Kidd is the youngster on the production for this. That beat starts off with some weird rattling 86’ Cutlass-type bass going on, but that gets traded in for a whining theremin wobble that's trying to haunt you. For a joint that’s all about being such a savage, it ends up being pretty goddamn bouncy because of that vocal drop that gives it some spring. It comes from Project Styles 2, which features plenty of the Slutty Boyz collective’s members—well, except for Trel—but it’s only 12 tracks long with a handful of freestyles, so it sounds more like an EP with some bonus material than a fully fleshed out mixtape. There are only two joints that don’t have features or are not a freestyle. Maybe he’s prepping for a bigger release. Either way, it’s worth copping. —Sergio Ornelas
Killa Kyleon "Black History Month"
Producer: Trill Gates
As a rapper, Killa does seething so well; he’s one of the angriest artists in Texas, as well as one of the best. He drops his views on Chicago, education, glorified strippers, and the state of Black America. Considering how disposable black life is in this country and how too many stupid motherfuckers want to pretend that we live in some kind of bullshit post-racist fantasyland, where we can all ignore the institutionalized racism that is perpetuated every fucking day in this country, this is some welcome shit, because there isn’t enough rap music with a goddamn point.
It’s the argument that old heads are always pushing when they complain about trap raps and the lack of depth in lyrics today. It’s not like songs like this don’t exist. But they don’t get the push that another useless balling out of control joint would. We need more Kyleons and Killer Mikes in the game. It’s one of those things Pimp C talked about, we need balance and as Kyleon repeatedly brings up, you must have forgot. —Sergio Ornelas
Lil Chris of M.I.C. "2 Fake"
Producer: WildlifeBeats x Boris Jets
Just when we thought Lil Chris was out, he pulls us back in! Lil' Chris spent 2013 releasing Bop-inspired records like "Automatic" and "Bop Like Me" that seemed to play to all of his weaknesses as a rapper, and were neither a patch on "Same Shit, Different Day" nor the anthems by west side Bop artists like Sicko Mobb or Stunt Taylor. All evidence pointed to Lil' Chris being a lightning-strikes-once artist who'd peaked with an early single...Until this past weekend when he dropped "2 Fake," which taps into the same vein of glorious melodic Auto-Tune wistfulness as "Same Shit, Different Day" and indicates Chris might be worth keeping an eye on again in 2014, as long as his next single is imbued with emotion and not just the incidental soundtrack to a video of Boppin' king Lil' Kemo in motion. —Marty Macready
ZMoney f/ JNeal and Brickfare "#IONDODAT"
Everything ZMoney has dropped since reuniting with JNeal has been hard to deny; this single is easily the most radio-ready record since "Regular," if not "Want My Money," the initial song that got the West Side Chicago rapper a level of low-key buzz and a cosign from Chance The Rapper. JNeal doesn't have the same effortless ZMoney swagger, but he does write oddly evocative, funny lyrics ("high as a kite, drunk as a stripper on Saturday night") and the beat has an undeniably catchy minimalist zip. There's no verse from ZMoney so far—he just serves as the hook man. But rumor has it, the full version, when released as a video, will include a verse from Z as well. Count on hearing this record again (and again) in the future. —David Drake
Tef Poe f/ Nick Menn "Libations"
Mixtape: Cheer for the Villain
Producer: DJ Burn One
The entirety of St. Louis MC Tef Poe's Cheer for the Villain is produced by DJ Burn One, longtime beatmaker and mixtape DJ who has worked with Down South rappers on the underground circuit like Starlito, ScottyATL, and Yelawolf, as well as bigger stars like A$AP Rocky and Gucci Mane. Tef Poe is closer to the former catagory, although he also has a background as a battle rapper and obtained a spotlight from The Source's Unsigned Hype column. "Libations" is one of the best tracks on his latest project, with Burn One's shimmering production providing a textured stream that lets the medicine go down easy. —David Drake