5 On It is a feature that looks at five of the best under-the-radar rap findings from the past week, highlighting new or recently discovered artists, or interesting obscurities.
Kevin Joye – “Grandma Told Me”
Atlanta rapper Kevin Joye’s “Grandma Told Me” has many of the makings of an unexpected regional hit. Producer Goose’s sparse, eerie backdrop (sounding like a spiritual successor to something that might have been on a late ’90s Witchdoctor or Cool Breeze song) gives Joye ample space for an impressive variety of flows and a constantly repeated refrain—”didn’t even know nothing about it”—that burrows its way into your brain by the end of the song. It’s not a huge stretch to imagine a more established rapper seizing that line and this beat for his own devices.
In spite of a catchiness that could overwhelm content and ability, Joye makes a serious impression on “Grandma Told Me,” combining budding technical prowess and variety with a knack for clever observational rap.
J $tash ft. A$AP Ant – “Nuthin (Remix)”
No element of J $tash’s A$AP Ant-featuring “Nuthin (Remix)” screams innovation: It’s a song about selling drugs and getting money over a grim trap beat. For all its gothic dealer darkness, “Nuthin” succeeds in its familiar lane. Its enjoyability seems wrapped up in the aesthetic of the video and its star J $tash. The Florida rapper has a look and energy that make up in large part for the song’s well-worn territory, suggesting considerable potential for knocking out the sort of dope boy anthems that creep off the internet and into car stereos.
Cornelius Chandler – “BlackBloodBoor”
You can teach a rapper many things, but, by and large, the voice is an immoveable constant—you’ve either got interesting pipes or you don’t. You can add effects, contort your vocal chords, and rap with accents, but the tenor and quality of one’s voice is difficult to ever fully change (word to Lord Quas).
Much about Cornelius Chandler’s “BlackBloodBoor” is extremely raw (the production in particular feels in need of a few more hours in the oven), a glimpse of an artist at the very beginning of his journey. While Chandler’s rapping leaves certain room for improvement, there’s a passion and rasp to his voice and an an occasional sharpness to his flow (he seems to pull from 2Pac and Eminem fairly heavily in cadence) that bodes well for him as he sharpens his ability to transmit his message.
Also promising: The slight weird side he flexes as the song ends, sharing an excellent vision for humanity as the beat plays out: “All I wanna do is smoke weed, have sex, and study ocean marine life, and then let other n*ggas have the access to the same tours that I got so they can sit back, smoke weed, have sex, and read books about ocean animals too.”
Manny Phesto Ft. Greg Grease – “Rabbit Hole”
Need an alternative to the iTunes visualizer (if anyone still uses that) or the same episode of Planet Earth (probably “Ocean Deep”) you’ve been watching while you smoke and listen to music? Minnesota rappers Manny Phesto and Greg Grease have you covered with their fittingly titled “Rabbit Hole,” a kaleidoscopic video to accompany a woozy, charming song built on a series of excellent samples.
Get lost in “Rabbit Hole” for a few minutes.
Tay Butler ft. Haz Solo – “Cuban Linx”
This week’s entry in the “weird rap lurking in the wings of Soundcloud” pays very overt homage to Ghostface and Raekwon’s classic partnership, with Milwaukee rappers Tay Butler and Haz Solo (who does justice to the style Raekwon pioneered) grabbing a beat for the aptly titled “Cuban Linx” that sounds like RZA at his most grittily unhinged—stomping drums, invasive, angular guitar samples, and layers of unidentifiable sounds (the drums sound like they’re being played through an industrial strength fan).
While homage in rap can often feel misguided, “Cuban Linx” manages to capture the essential, sonic essence of an early Wu-Tang track, old school in sound and approach but sufficiently weird enough to feel like the spirit of the the Clan’s earliest material is being preserved.