Hailing from Port Arthur, TX, hip hop artist Earl the Monarch released his first album in February of 2017 titled, Pain On the Rocks. He is slated to release a new album, This Will All Be a Memory, and one of the jams set to appear on it is “Hold Ya Head” (featuring Elan Noelle.) Producer LWilliams gives the track a clean, pro sound. Everything in the mix is right where it should be.
Earl the Monarch has a laid back, conversational delivery style and relatable persona. His lyrics are substantive and tell a story rather than relying on flash, ego and gimmickry. The video for Hold Ya Head (shot by Team Rich Visuals) provides context. The interesting thing about Hold Ya Head is it features Earl the Monarch confidently giving words of encouragement and helpful romantic advice to a depressed female over the telephone. At the end of the song though, he arrives outside her apartment only to find that she is opening the door for another man who has brought her flowers. He puts his head down briefly, and we realize that he too is going through a struggle and must hold his head up.
Earl the Monarch wisely defies a lot of hip hop stereotypes and cliches and in the process manages to make a genuine connection with the listener.
Hip hop artist “Maid” has an assertive new track out titled, Straight Action. It has a full sound, and Maid’s delivery maintains it’s intensity throughout. Like the title suggests, the song’s protagonist sticks to handlin biz and has no patience for any nonsense or chumps. He “feels like it’s his last night” and lives as though it should be action packed. Maid has some solid rap skills and gives a charismatic performance. This is not a jam for laid back chillin or the sentimental but for the focused and determined individual with a take no prisoners attitude toward living life.
The Band of the Hawk and Houey Freeman, (a Hip Hop producer formerly known as Ash Ra,) have released a debut single Dirty Dollars (Reloaded.) It’s a collaborative effort which features several artists: Breeze, Yeaux Majesty, Noah Archangel and J Hope. This single is set to appear on an upcoming LP titled Godbody Jones.
The synth backing on Dirty Dollars (Reloaded.) gives it a kind of dreamy cerebral quality. The rappers on this track are stellar, with on point timing and a flow that never seems awkward. Even with multiple voices and personalities, the song stays the course and doesn’t go all schizophrenic. There are also some memorable choice lines such as “Like my whip clean when I’m riding dirty.” This song is more proof of the budding new hip hop scene that is rising out of these young collective efforts.
Jo Oliver is a one man band in the most literal sense. A veteran musician, he sings and plays all the instruments on his latest single, Shine On (You) and he does it with a great deal of enthusiasm. The energy he displays in his performance is infectious, and it’s almost impossible not to like this guy. Jo Oliver hams it up for the camera and has a ball, all while managing to play all his instruments very well. Shine On (You) is a little bit of rock, mixed with funk and soul. He certainly puts his soul into making these recordings and it shows.
Electric Radio Kings (featuring ex-members of legendary bands: LA Guns and Sex Slaves) have released the single “Grabbing At a Distant Star.) As you might expect with veteran professional guitarists that have spent decades fine tuning their skills and tone, the performance here is top notch. Some great timing, precision and technical guitar. “Grabbing At a Distant Star” is a deeply melodic hard rock jam, which packs energy with a full, robust sound. Paul Christiana’s charismatic lead vocals drive the song, but the guitar solo around 2:24 is badass and my favorite part of the song. This single delivers everything you’d expect from a group of polished musicians (and more.)
“Hysteria” is a new single from underground rap artist, XYTHGRT. Part of an Atlanta base hip hop group known as Tha Overachievers, XYTHGRT was born and raised in poverty in Memphis, TN before creating success for himself as an artist. The song Hysteria was produced by gfather, and it is a very well produced track. It’s at a level of professional quality, with excellent clarity and mixing. XYTHGRT has a natural, conversational, laid back delivery style. His relatively deep voice adds presence, drives the song and has a certain authoritative element to it. It has a very authentic, deep South vibe.
Lyrically, Hysteria deals with romantic and sexual themes. The often repeated line “She just wanna be here. She just wanna see me,” conveys a sense of hysterical, desperate attachment on the part of the female interest in the song. Though also XYTHGRT deals with his own resistance to overly indulging these temptations in order to avoid distraction. Overall, this track does a nice job with storytelling and narrative and manages to hit all the marks musically.
Originally Emil 13 had intended to pursue a career in massage therapy, but as fate would have it, and injury to his thumb led him to return to his passion for rapping. His new single “Angela” is an upbeat party jam. It’s hard not to feel the contagious energy and enthusiasm in this track, which features a very full and epic musical backing. Emil 13′s delivery is peppy and charismatic, without coming off overbearing or cocky. His vocals have great clarity. “Angela” is a casually romantic song that is smart enough not to get too mushy or emotional. It’s a nonstop, whimsically musical funfest that doesn’t give you a break to rest.
BUCK50ENT presents “Rollin,” a new single featuring OG Kaylyles, C Dollas & Get Right Sour. I have to say that the cover image is pretty pimp tight and looks like something out of a Grand Theft Auto game, even though the song itself is low key and chill. For a 3 minute jam, Rollin packs a lot in and makes the most of the track. The rappers manage to successfully create some harmony together and play well off of each other. Rap tends to be a very individual driven and sometimes ego driven medium, but these guy do a great job of making it about the song and the crew rather than themselves. There is some impressive lyrical flow, but it functions as part of an actual melodic song. This is a nice, laid back jam for cruisin…for people that aren’t about the drama.
Kentucky based hip hop artist “YOUNG C” has released a video for his new track, “STAYD DOWN.” It appears to be set primarily in Lexington (Kroger Field is one of the locations.) The song is about someone recently released from prison after having served some time. People can have a change of heart in prison, sell out their friends, or transform themselves into something crazy. However, YOUNG C reassures his homies that he’s still the same guy and has stayed true to himself and the crew. STAYD DOWN seems to me to be about doing what you have to do to survive but also maintaining your integrity.
Musically, STAYD DOWN is surprisingly well constructed. A lot of indie rappers just throw some shit together and call it a song, but this track has structure and YOUNG C seems to have a natural talent for lyrical narrative and timing. His experiences give the song a personal touch. This jam is a good example of what can be achieved with a little bit of effort and passion. The repetitive chorus is also pretty damn catchy.
“All Falls Down” is a new track by John J off his new album, “Still Howling Too.” It’s a high energy, action packed, little jam. The video reminds me vaguely of a tricked out version the opening title sequences to James Bond films. The song itself is a top tier production. For someone not particularly well known, John J shows surprising skill as a rapper and manages to put together a solid collection of songs. His assertive but measured tone gives the music a “life of the party” vibe (particularly in “All Falls Down.”) John J’s vocal delivery is noteworthy for its power and clarity. The beats and backing tracks add an ambiance of excitement and high drama.
Some of the other songs on “Still Howling Too” like “It’s the F*ck it In Me” and “5 Star 2.0″ have a bit harder edge to them, almost like the kind of mid 90′s rap you’d hear people bumpin while driving around in the golden days. “Faded,” the last song on the album, is probably my favorite. It serves as a mellow, laid back finale (and appropriately features actual howling noises in the intro.) It just seems so much more melodic and sparkly than some of the other songs. “Still Howling Too” is a worthy album and solid, authentic effort by John J.