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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.
Meet pizza boy., an emo, lo-fi rapper from San Diego obsessed with porn and food
Last weekend, I received an intriguing email with the subject “a debut album from a thing named pizza boy.” It opened with a bit of wry wit that suggested a sender who’d been doing some thinking and had an unusual level of self-awareness (and self-deprecation): “to my understanding, you’re a part of a music-oriented website. therefore, as a self-respecting musician in 2014, i’m sending you my album.”
So I dove into no tip necessary., the debut album from this thing named pizza boy.
pizza boy.’s album begins with the lines “I should be in class/I shouldn’t have masturbated/I can’t seem to help it when my jeans drop.”
The video that accompanies the album (which you can see on pizza’s tumblr) maxes out at a modest quality of 360p—what I imagined to almost certainly be an intentional limitation mimicking the lo-fi quality of the music. Fascinated by the project as a whole, I replied to pizza boy. seeking whatever clarity he was willing to share:
“pizza boy. is a persona i recently created in order to provide myself with an outlet to place sentiments that i wouldn’t usually share under my main moniker. in short, this is a secret side project. however, i feel as if what i’m saying on this album is more relevant to my life and artistry at the moment than my primary work, and thus, more important. therefore, i’ve been carrying a sense of urgency in wanting this to be heard.
the lo-fi aesthetic is absolutely intentional, just as much as it’s a necessity. the album was recorded in my bedroom, but during the mixing stage i definitely made an effort to highlight that fact rather than attempt to ‘hide’ it, as i usually would; i felt that it was crucial to the content and integrity of the album for me to do so. if anything, i just wanted to make sure there was enough sheen so that the listen would be comfortable, yet indicative of my situation as a proverbial ‘starving artist.'”
Certain to be a bit art-y, nerdy, and undigestible for some tastes, no tip necessary. is a curious intersection of ideas and cultures, largely internet-inspired and likely raising more questions than most other hip-hop projects. I haven’t fully digested it and I’m not sure I ever will, but for now it’s a strange artifact I’m happy to ponder and occasionally laugh with and at.
Hot Boy Major – “Where You From”
Baton Rouge, Louisiana rapper Hot Boy Major’s “Where You From” is a field day for any fans of New Orleans and Louisiana hip-hop at large (with a dash of Memphis’ darkness sprinkled into its sinister piano-laden beat). Though heavier on the 808s than production by peak era Beats by the Pound or Mannie Fresh, “Where You From” rides a sound that often feels hermetically sealed in the the window between 1996 and 2000—so limited in its use and unique in its particular palette that it still manages to have a certain originality and freshness (pun intended or no pun intended, who cares it was the first thing that came to mind) to it.
Major’s rapping is classic New Orleans, reminiscent in its cadence (if not distinctive drawl) to BG. Using bounce’s repetition (as filtered through rappers like Juvenile) to create menacing, neighborhood flag-waving energy, “Where You From” is a thundering beacon in a sea of same-y sounding trap beats and Zaytoven knock offs. It makes me want to relive listening to 400 Degreez for the first time.
Ars-Nova – “Ear Play Ting”
Ars-Nova is a 5 On It All-Star at this point, with some of the most promising, technically impressive displays of rapping that have graced the not-quite-pages of this column.
Latest single “Ear Play Ting” is an excellent addition to his catalogue, using a beat simultaneously energetic and atmospheric to flex his versatility—smooth and calculated on the verses, “Worst Behavior”-level rabid on the chorus. Better still, “Ear Play Ting” is a bit more personal than past output, bravado on the hook set against candid introspection: “Face the math/I never really could face the past/I’m pacing fast/Collect an L and I’m facin’ that.” An excellent step forward.
Kingsy – “Philosopher Stoned”
Atlanta emcee Kingsy’s rapping feels like discovery in motion, rhythm finding words as it moves across the beat. Whether intentional or merely by accidental absorption, his flow is of a piece with the sort of rapping that typified the various core members and descendants of Project Blowed: loose, melodic, occasionally staccato, and making great use of repetition and various poetic devices. That complexity could be incidental, but lines like “the way I align these lyrics don’t sound like rap to me” lead me to believe there’s a considered, concerted effort behind Kingsy’s weed raps.
Keano Spitta – “Like Me”
Orlando crew Weirdos Forever Forever Weirdos hasn’t produced a breakout moment or star quite yet, but songs like member Keano Spitta’s “Like Me” point to the ample potential of the individual pieces that comprise another young collective to keep an eye on. Energetic and agile, Keano isn’t quite breaking boundaries (and he occasionally succumbs to goofy punchlines), but his beat selection and lithe rapping make for an engaging listen. It’s the immediate, catchy, and uncannily familiar hook—my knowledge, memory, and Googling powers may be at a loss here, but the chorus sounds like something—that points to Keano’s real power and potential.
Keep an eye on the city most known for Disney World, the early years of Shaquille O’Neal’s basketball career, and Wesley Snipes (it might not actually be known for Wesley Snipes, but he was born there and he was in New Jack City, so that makes him hip-hop royalty).