Born and raised on the South Side of Chicago, 22-year-old Zane Alexander is a DIY artist in every sense of the term. He writes, produces, mixes, and masters his own music, and he likes it that way—it gives him full control. He doesn’t have a label, a lawyer, or even a manager. Alexander shares this matter of factly over the phone before mentioning that the one thing he’d like is some help with is marketing. For now, he’s been printing and distributing flyers in his home city.

His new project My Soul, My Beats is out now, and if you’re listening to it today, you’re early. Alexander currently has 39 monthly listeners on Spotify and no editorial support or noteworthy playlist inclusion, but the project was shared on release day by fellow artist and collaborator G. King. And it kind of blew my mind.

Before taking that as too strong of a co-sign, you should know: Zane Alexander’s music probably isn’t for everyone. But as someone who grew up listening to underground hip-hop and has been craving more experimentation in music lately, this project hit a sweet spot. Dynamic beats and psychedelic swirls on songs like “Fuckas” and “A Hero At A Thousand Paces” evoke the energy of some of the trippiest 2000s Edan production, and Alexander’s intense delivery and in-your-face lyricism hit with the kind of unyielding force that makes artists like Denzel Curry, JPEGMAFIA, and Death Grips so captivating. To make things even more interesting, Alexander veers away from rap completely and explores strange melodies and drum & bass beats on “See You, Cowgirl” and “Running (I Keep On).”

Thank god for word of mouth, because I could never stumble on something like this through TikTok or an algorithm’s recommendations, but it’s one of the coolest new things I’ve heard all year.—Jacob Moore

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