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.
Here’s a moody anthem for whatever strip-club Drake is weeping in tonight.
In 2014, the moody strip club anthem is on the verge of comprising a hip-hop subgenre all its own.
The subtly titled “Cheeks” by Milwaukee’s JobJetson and Pizzle is already amassing a healthy play count without major cosigns or (to my knowledge) particular burn in the strip clubs of America. It’s the perfect anthem for those of us that like strip clubs but are also in touch with our emotions (the cross-section also known as “male Drake fans”). Raps about skilled dancers, popping bottles, and making it rain take on a slightly heavier, darker connotation when set against the sort of moody, atmospheric production that forms the spine of “Cheeks.”
Cry your eyes out in a strip club to “Cheeks.”
Cam Sheely – “Rocafella”
Over the course of the last several months, 18-year-old Atlanta rapper Cam Sheely has sent me a few songs, constantly rebuffed with a refrain that makes up many of my responses to submissions (and makes a few people think of me as an impossible, elitist asshole). One of my initial emails to him: “I see the potential here flow-wise for sure, but I’m not in love with the song. It’s a solid foundation, it just doesn’t feel like it’s bringing much new to the table in terms of content–it doesn’t really give me your perspective.”
Persistence—dedication to bettering craft and follow up—pay off.
Cam hit my inbox with “Rocafella” last Sunday, a haunting street narrative, harrowing sparse beat offsetting the kind of grim storytelling typically reserved for New Yorkers like Roc Marciano and Ka. It’s a young rapper’s most focused effort to date and a testament to perseverance in the face of criticism.
E•Noon – “Rain Coat”
When Constant Gardner emailed me with a potential entry in this week’s 5 On It, he didn’t exactly provide a ringing endorsement of E•Noon’s music: “idk if this is cool or not but something interesting about it to me…any of the songs—i listened to the first.”
Faint praise aside, CG’s assessment is actually spot on in its amorphousness: It’s hard to pin down precisely what makes E•Noon compelling.
On “Rain Coat” (the first song CG listened to and my entry point), the Nashville-based (according to his Bandcamp—though it’s hard not to hear a tinge of a British accent in his voice) rapper glides effortlessly across a funky, swung beat. Calm and calculated, his even-keeled raps emit a certain cool—when he says “I don’t give a shit about the money and the chains/I’ma step away and see what remains,” it doesn’t sound so much like anti-materialist rhetoric as the nonchalance of someone gliding above the fray.
Jacky Kickz – “Toad”
Boston rapper Jacky Kickz is probably going to sound too reminiscent of early Earl Sweatshirt (particularly over the rugged-as-razor-bumps production on “Toad”) for some listeners, but there’s a raw energy and effortlessness to his rapping that puts him in a class with many of the artists living in the digital halls of 5 On It: Prodigiously talented (though unpolished), rapping his ass off in search of compelling content.
“Toad” meanders, a display of Kickz’s ability without a chorus or a real structure. Though peppered with a few particularly inspired, darkly humorous lines (“Smoking blunts at 6AM, moms thinks that’s kinda early/Still wearing pants from Germany and dirty Yankees jersey/Mescaline just to even out, don’t think the ether’s working”), the song serves more as a window into what Kickz can do with a little more polish and topical exploration.
NA$TY – Sabotage EP
One of my favorite discoveries when digging online is an artist with prolific output and a seemingly limited following. I’ve long been fascinated with those who toil long in obscurity, building catalogs and whole worlds in the process.
Also, any artist whose music comes with the message “if u illegally download my music. your cool as hell” is pretty solid in my book.
20-year-old Fayetteville, NC rapper NA$TY has built a hefty collection of songs on his Soundcloud (43, to be precise, not including reblogs). While the first release dates back six months, NA$TY’s been putting out material regularly since, suggesting a considerable war chest of songs (or a very fast turnaround time).
Most recent EP Sabotage is as good as any place to dive into his growing collection of songs. Laid back, lo-fi beats form a basis for NA$TY’s twisting, elastic flow—part Prodigy, part amalgam of every early 90s hardcore emcee with a knack for stacking internal rhymes. As with Jacky Kickz above, the content might not necessarily stick with you, but NA$TY’s skill is apparent in every bar.