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.
J.I.D – Dicaprio EP
Often enough, up-and-coming rappers get written off with the words “he/she sounds like X.” It can be an unfair knock against talents often still finding the most effective ways to use elements of other flows or voices that bear resemblance to those of their predecessors.
Two thoughts on complaints against sound-alikes.
One, the criticism that “Y sounds like X” can and should drive new artists to push their flows, content, and vocal effects (both computerized and organic) to new places. Rather than getting frustrated by being immediately placed in someone’s shadow, use the comparison as fuel to progress your style.
Two, sometimes sounding like someone great and idiosyncratic makes you the Pepsi to their Coke (or the Coke to their Pepsi, depending on your flavor preference and which you discovered first).
Atlanta rapper J.I.D will likely draw comparisons to Kendrick Lamar in technique and vocal tone. That’s alright, because it means J.I.D is an excellent rapper with an impressively agile flow and an ability to paint intricate, often autobiographical pictures through his rhymes. New EP Dicaprio showcases an artist already capable of rapping circles around most contemporaries, developing a sound and identity. Songs like sparse “LeTumbapart1” point to an ear for unique production that complements J.I.D’s voice and knack for imagery unusual enough to make his elastic lyrics stick.
Daylan Gideon ft. Key! and Niko – “Xan and Molly”
In this week’s edition of “Ignorant rap song with an awesome beat that I will probably listen to this weekend while drinking dark beer,” Atlanta rapper Daylan Gideon recruits one of Atlanta’s finest, weirdest up-and-comers Key! and crewmate Niko for “Xan and Molly” which is about exactly what you think.
Producer David Morse serves up a woozy beat worthy of Three 6 Mafia at their most smoked out and Young Thug at his most unhinged, inspiring a hypnotic chorus that sounds like the product of Xanax chewing zombies rapping at five in the morning.
“Xan and Molly” is probably the diametric opposite of conscious rap, if conscious rap is still a thing.
Onoe Caponoe – “Lord Of The Light (Sun Riddim)”
Speaking of drugs, UK rapper Onoe Caponoe either does a lot of them or understands their effects intimately enough to make a song and video like “Lord Of The Light (Sun Riddim),” gloriously loose and hallucinatory companion pieces.
Seizure-inducing colors, shape-shifting faces, fire, more seizure-inducing colors, and a hand that turns into a mouth comprise a video that gives entirely fitting new dimension (or perhaps dimensions, if you’re smoking DMT) to an already excellent slice of psychedelic rapping—a subgenre that feels a bit lacking from the UK’s hip-hop scene, and may simply be lacking from hip-hop at large.
Renz Young – “Congratulations II (Act III)“
We ain’t do enough
So when the sky blue it ain’t blue enough
Tryna get dough, I ain’t blew enough
Seem I can never tell the truth enough
My momma always told me I ain’t day enough
But that’s what happens when you’re movin’ up, when you’re movin’ up
Add Milwaukee’s Renz Young to the growing list of names (a few notables: WebsterX, Vonny Del Fresco, IshDARR) that make the midwestern city one of America’s most unsuspecting hip-hop hotbeds, a self-contained creative world that feels like it’s bubbling to the point of boiling over and gaining legitimate attention—perhaps not on the level of Chicago and Altanta-style industry feeding frenzies, but certainly beyond the Soundcloud searches of internet hunter gatherers.
Recent single “Congratulations II (Act III)” isn’t precisely a signature song, but it does highlight Young’s self awareness and capacity for agile, melodic rapping.
Medhane – “ALFI”
Alright so I’m assuming you didn’t get the email or you did and you thought it was so bad that it didn’t warrant a response
If you’ve ever sent me music and interacted with me via email, you’ll know that it occasionally takes me some time to respond. It could be a matter of hours, it could be some days, it could even be weeks.
Brooklyn’s Medhane sent me his song “Alfi” on 12/28, in the midst of a vacation from work and the Internet in general, a break from the usual vices that lead to my general lack of sleep and a quieting of the insane voice that tells me to dig deeper into the depths of the web for new music. Medhane also contacted me on Facebook, a medium I rarely check or use for messaging.
So my response was somewhat delayed, which led to the Facebook message quoted above.
The email had not gone unnoticed or read and then discarded. It had remained in my inbox—which often acts as a to do list—until January 12th when I responded saying that I actually really liked “Alfi” and wanted to feature it in 5 On It.
I wrote ALFI about a month after I started college. Like most freshmen in college, I found myself accosted by questions as to how things were going at school from friends and family back home repeatedly, and it eventually became not only annoying, but also very overwhelming. I was having a hard time adjusting to the college environment and found myself feeling very discontent most days. The motif of the struggling artist in university is very oversaturated, so I attempted to depict the rather common issue that I am having in the most unique intricate innovative way possible.
Medhane raps purposefully (if you close your eyes and use a little bit of imagination, you might hear the echoes of the ghost of Big L in Medhane’s voice and flow), exploring the psychological pressures that faced him as a college freshman with a voice well suited for the sort of soulful production backing him on “Alfi.”