5 On It is a feature that looks at five of the best under-the-radar rap findings from the past month, highlighting new or recently discovered artists, or interesting obscurities.
It started as Saturday stopgap and quickly became a ritual. To recap: In the beginning of 2014, I was doing a piss poor job of fulfilling my duties at P&P due to personal and professional turmoil. I stepped back for a moment and returned with an idea to center my scattered brain: A weekly column highlighting, as I described in an email to Jacob and Constant Gardner, “five rap submissions or things I find that are raw but have potential.”
At its core, 5 On It is an attempt to set a barometer for what I consider “great” or “interesting” while also trying to make sense of the world through other artists' efforts to comprehend their own worlds.
Since 5 On It started in March 2014, it’s evolved: From a weekly to a biweekly, a biweekly to a monthly accompanied by a few longer, singular editorials on interesting artists. It may even move away from that format soon. These shifts aren’t for a lack of interesting subjects (though five compelling new rappers every week was a bit of an ambitious pace to set at the start), but rather part and parcel of a landscape that celebrates words and serial columns less, and hungers for discovery without the savory editorial bits that got so many of us to love writing (and talking) about music in the first place.
We like our narratives and our new rising stars, but we increasingly like them first through playlists and then in videos and interviews that can be turned into memes and spread around like California wildfire. There’s no judgment there: That’s the mode of the day. It’s a little bit depressing for someone who grew up poring over issues of URB and Scratch—cutting out favorite editions Inside Hype (after all, the inspiration for this very column) and really believing in the sanctity of the Source’s “5 Mic” rating system—but it is our reality. You can adjust or stay stuck in your ways, evolve or die. You can still celebrate forms of the past (and even profit off of them, as certain small batch magazines have shown in the worlds of art and cuisine), you just have to understand that you can’t bring it back whole cloth.
Of course, none of that really has any bearing on 5 On It’s purpose, only its methods. For now, enjoy 20 of my favorite finds from the column’s third year in no particular order (and the 5 On It Spotify playlists below that collects some favorite songs from artists who've been featured over the last three years).