J.O. Vs Lil Auto is a new mixtape from hip hop artist, The Real J.O. This comprehensive release contains 13 full tracks, and nearly 30 minutes of music. What’s interesting about this mixtape is that it isn’t just a bunch of fun-filled party jams. Some of the songs are sentimental and even romantic. Overall there’s a lot of lyrical depth and emotion on this album, which is kind of refreshing and adds a bit of humanity to the songs. There’s extensive variety though, and some songs like To the Bank are downright pumpin’. The beats are often hypnotic and dreamlike, and the lyrical delivery has a very conversational flow. There’s a voyeuristic quality to this mixtape, as often times you feel like you are eavesdropping on a couple of dudes having a personal convo. J.O. Vs Lil Auto a very creative release and jam packed with rich content.
Favors is a new single from Dallas-based hip hop artist, J. Maurice. After the slick piano intro, J. Maurice gets right to the crux of the matter and declares he’s “a businessman,” and that he’s “through doing favors.” This song is basically an anthem for handlin’ biz and refusing to be taken advantage of. The backbeat features some synths which are notable for their really awesome vibrato and theremin-like effect, reminiscent of music from 70′s haunted house movies. The beat itself is pretty tight and bumping, with good bass levels. J. Maurice has a commanding vocal presence and no nonsense delivery. When the track really kicks in, the listener experiences the full force of his robust sound. Favors is a solid jam that will resonate with people who are tired of getting shafted and distracted at every turn. It’s about getting things done and putting first things first. Keep your eye on the prize.
R3V3RS3 is a new single from OXE’N, a Georgia based artist born under the bull sign of Taurus. This “take charge” track dazzles and hypnotizes through OXE’N’s vivavcious delivery. Her voice is accentuated by some excellent vocal layering effects, giving the song a conversational feel. She has a knack for storytelling lyrics, as she casually relays her experiences with the opposite sex. Her style is playfully confident and a little bit sensual. R3V3RS3 is creatively structured, with unpredictable breaks and strategic pace changes giving the song an artistic complexity beyond its mininalist beat. This is a smooth and laid back jam with enough charisma to keep the action going.
Come At Me is a new single from hip hop artist, GUDM. This jam is lively and vibrant from start to finish, and the lyrics are peppered with nostalgic pop culture references (Bowser from Super Mario Bros, The Kraken from Clash of the Titans, etc). GUDM’s delivery style is playful and conversational. His voice frequently alternates in tone along with the beat and never sounds boring. It’s kind of “sing-song” actually. He really seems to have natural rapping and lyrical writing ability. The performance is poetic, and the childhood references in the song seem to reflect the artist’s desire to get back to basics and reestablish himself with the fundamentals, both in life and music. I really like the production on this song. It’s a very crisp and clear recording and doesn’t contain any abrasive processng or autotune, unlike so many contemporary hip hop songs. Lots of potential here and GUDM has a unique style. This song is available on most streaming platforms and GUDM’s official instagram is @gudmgrime.
Whisky n Honey is a new EP from Irish rock solo artist, Dar.Ra. A prolific artist with a number of successful rock anthems under his belt, his latest effort incorporates elements of EDM, resulting in a fresh and unique experimental sound. It’s like if you combined rock vocals with futuristic EDM synths, guitars and drums, while mostly maintaining a hard rock’n’roll pacing. He refers to this pioneering new style as Rock Step. It’s retro-futuristic in nature and reminds me vaguely of the music you’d hear in late 80′s science fiction films set in the future. Of course, we’re in the future now, and Dar.Ra is out here fulfilling musical prophecies and making visions reality. He’s really a solid singer, too. They don’t make too many rock vocalists who can perform at this caliber anymore.
His track Whisky N Honey is a late night bar crawler with deep and reflective vibes, while The Lights is an epic and ethereal introspection which utilizes a light/dark contrast metaphor as part of a desperate plea to a loved one. Both songs have a very dramatic and theatrical ambiance, which reverberates all the way so the stars. If you’re not listening to them while dancing at a club, I would recommend cranking these tunes at full blast with the windows down on a midnight drive through the desert in the middle of nowhere. This EP is powerful stuff.
Now or Never is a new mixtape from Chicago-based hip hop artist, Slaw Raw. This release is jam packed with over 40 minutes of musical content, which is mostly synth driven but in actuality combines elements from a wide variety of different genres (R&B, Rock, Trap etc). The synths have a symphonically eerie quality to them, creating an ambiance not unlike a Castlevania boss battle. I have to say this mixtape would be worth listening to even for just the backing music alone. It’s melodic and just very phonetically pleasing to the ear. For his part, Slaw Raw has a unique delivery style. His laid back vocals carry the music, his voice almost taking on a sleepy drawl at times, while still somehow managing to sound charismatic and lively. It’s a recognizably chicago sound, but Slaw Raw’s personal style is still distinctive through his creative experimentations with delivery. The best example is probably the track, Rock and Roller, which is weirdly catchy and absolutely awesome, all owing to Slaw’s lyrical positioning. Overall, this mixtape is a lot more artistically creative than meets the eye. In fact, Now or Never is overflowing with personality and is an indie hip hop treasure.
Machine is a new album from hip hop artist, Wayz. The title is interesting because the musical backing at times takes on a mechanical, almost industrial synth rock sound. Other parts have more of a computerized, minimalist synth vibe. The album is very futuristic in tone, and sonically it is unlike most contemporary hip hop releases. On a deeper level though, the album’s message is how about we as people have become programmed to act like machines, caught up in our little routines which we do without thinking. Wayz delivers lyrics at a modest pace but with a larger than life, commanding vocal presence. His voice has a rough, bellowing lumberjack texture to it, and he sings with a life-of-the-party energy. Machine also features really impressive synth intros across the board, reminiscent of sci-fi film soundtracks both in ambiance and style. With 11 tracks, this album is full and satisfying on many levels.
Maya’s Chalice is a new single from hip hop artist, Eli Ramsey. Lyrically, it’s one of the better indie rap songs I’ve heard. Eli’s lyrics are autoiogrpahical and personal, as he ventures into and remains in storytelling mode throughout. The song contains elements of nostalgia and heartbreak. Eli goes into such impressive detail that one can visualize these events as he relates them in a lenthy narration. The delivery combines rap and “spoken word” poetry styles, while a dreamlike beat and delightful female backing vocals set the ambiance. Maya’s Chalice isn’t just about looking backward though, since the artist makes clear he’s hopeful for the connection to be rekindled in the future. It’s a solid song with a story that will keep you interested.
Playin With the Hustle is a new single from Florida based hip hop artist WESS MUSIQ. The song also features iconic rapper, Boosie Badazz. A theatrical musical backing with symphonic vibes gives the track a heightened intensity, while the artists maintain a cool and calculated delivery style. As the title indicates, the song mostly relates to the rappers’ committment to handlin biz, and the lyrics are conveyed in a professional, yet lively fashion. Playin With the Hustle is engaging and high energy. Even though the pacing is relatively moderate, the intensity on this bad boy is dialed up. Both production and performance are high quality. Musically, Playin With the Hustle affords audiences the opportunity to listen to a couple of true contemporary hip hop professionals at work.
Pride of Sacrifice is a new single from Indonesian born artist, AMEL D (co-written with Matthew Adkins). Blending elements of alternative, punk and rock’n’roll, this song is powerful and rocks pretty hard. AMEL D’s vocals are passionate as she belts out the lyrics at full throttle without missing a beat. This track features some excellent, professional guitar playing. The groovin’ melodic interludes (around the 2 minute mark) are particularly impressive. There’s also a bit of sentimental piano mixed in to give the music a bit of an “adult contemporary” vibe. Production quality is surprisingly top notch for an indie jam. Actually sounds more like a major label release. The mix is very bright and uplifting, and AMEL D’s emotional performance expresses vulnerability while capturing the spirit of perseverance. Pride of Sacrifice is a good song for anyone who really needs to communicate their feelings and get some things off their chest in a big way.