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.
StressGods – “That’s That”
We aim for a sound that makes the listener feel abnormal with next level production that makes you want to damage shit. We go to FIT all we do is terrorize the place until our sound is heard.
It feels only right that a post-Halloween edition of 5 On It begin with something askew and unsettling. New York and Atlanta-based collective StressGods emailed me a short, intriguing description of their song ‘That’s That”: “The heavily atmospheric and synthy production creates a dark, omnious [sp] vibe that is sure to numb the mind.”
At that point, considering that it had been all of 12 hours since my mind had last been numbed, I couldn’t possibly turn down the invitation.
“That’s That” feels like it might collapse under the weight of its distorted bass and the effected, rapid-fire refrain of its title. Energetically grim, “That’s That” is more about mood and style than content—particularly on its excellent, unhinged second verse.
Jabbar – “Halloween Town”
A large part of Atlanta’s success in the hip-hop landscape over the last few years is a sort of outsized, cartoon menace that pervades both production techniques and rap styles. Whether in the dense chaos of Lex Luger’s peak-era output, the violent shouts of Waka Flocka, the almost unintelligible threats of Future, Atlanta producers and rappers have mastered styles that relay the urgency of standing on the edge of sanity (within that there’s a much longer discussion to be had about how life under certain conditions produces such “at-the-breaking-point” hip-hop as an equal opposite reaction).
Rapper Jabbar (from the excellently named Douglasville, Georgia crew Lousy Human Bastards) seems to set himself up to trip on the goofily titled “Halloween Town,” but the DJ Suave-produced song is one of the better, weirder entries in this year’s 5 On It canon.
Taking a page out of the blistering, brutally simple book of OG Maco (it should come as little surprise, then, that Jabbar’s Key!-featuring “Ving Rhames” is produced by Brandon Thomas, the architect behind “U Guessed It”), “Halloween Town” strips down to a skeleton of eerie, restless piano and rumbling bass. It’s a perfect B-horror movie backdrop for Jabbar’s clever, pitched-down chorus and otherwise impressive rapping.
Flash Giordani – “Boomerang”
While it might not be particularly journalistic or precise to describe music as “wavy,” there are few other adjectives (especially for a certain segment of rap listeners) that properly capture the music of Baltimore rapper Flash Giordani.
New single “Boomerang”—his first in eight months—sees Giordani sing-rapping his heart out: “Girl you my boomerang/Baby come back to me, come back to me.” Surprisingly clever quips like “I’m just another grain of sand on the beach/And you keep stepping on me with them pretty feet,” give “Boomerang” an endearing humor, a reminder that sometimes the most honest, pointed perceptions come sugar-coated and on the razor’s edge of corniness.
Flash has a knack for catchy hooks and melody accompanied by an unusual enough vocabulary to make him well worth watching (and the sort of rapper who could happen upon a hit almost by accident).
wifisfuneral – “Light Skin Trick Daddy”
When my friend Matt Colwell sends me something, I’m sure to click the link and at least give whatever it is a minute of my time.
When he sends me a song called “Light Skin Trick Daddy,” he has my full attention.
Bronx, NY-born Florida resident wifisfuneral (who lists his current city as “graveyard, cemetery” on Soundcloud) is an impressively able rapper, energetically commanding a flow that weaves in and out of different rhythms with ease. At surface “Light Skin Trick Daddy” isn’t particularly profound. In hip-hop, it’s all easy to read only superficially and not dig deeper.
“I feel that my music pertains to wifisfuneral itself. The whole meaning behind it is that it’s an example of today’s generation from ages 15 and up. It’s not necessarily a ‘sad wave,’ but more of a sense of depression among kids these days. I feel like it connects with people because they understand how I’m feeling but I’m voicing my personal experiences and the experiences of others through a trap beat. But then again I don’t look at it as just ‘trap music,’ I look at it as ‘trap imagery’ so to speak and that’s probably the corniest thing I could’ve come up with, but when you listen to my music you can picture what it is that I’m talking about because I’ve never lied in any of my lyrics. They’re all true. From being addicted to and selling Xanax, selling drugs with my best friend, and being not necessarily the ‘underdog’ but more of a joke my whole life. So I feel like people can connect to my music because a lot of youth today feel like they don’t have a voice to say how they feel. So just listening to my music, maybe people won’t feel so alone because I’m right here saying everything for them.“
That sort of insight doesn’t shine through the music just yet; it’s hinted in places, but it’s the kind of story that might need to be teased out over time and through much practice. It does, however, help give context that makes wifisfuneral’s lively, dark rapping all the more enjoyable.
MFN Melo ft. John Walt and Anthony Pavel – “Pass The El”
On “Pass The El,” Pivot’s MFN Melo and John Walt grab a gorgeous beat for soulful stream of consciousness, skillfully reflecting on their struggles and aspirations with the weight of men raised in a city of violence. “Pass The El” is spiritual navigation, never preachy, never even especially focused; it plays out like a mournful, meandering conversation between friends smoking weed late at night.