Demigod - VI Seconds
(Genre: Hip Hop/Trap Rap)
VI Seconds is someone that I've been watching on YouTube for a while. I've always enjoyed his incredible wordplay to awesome boom bap and new school beats. Being a New Yorker, I always could expect clever punchlines that take a second to catch and many turns of phrases. The thing is, much of the songs he released in anticipation to this new project (that I enjoyed heavily) were not on the album. Instead, I got the same feeling I received from his previous mixtape: disappointment. The usual choice of production gets replaced by loud or uninspired trap beats that don't match his signature lyricism. There's still great punchlines and a few good choruses, but it gets too drowned out by the instrumentals in my opinion. The few songs I can recommend are "3:30am", "Addict", & "The Season". The rest mainly is according to your own taste.
IAJAN - Mike, The Emcee
(Genre: Hip Hop/Rap)
Mike, The Emcee is a rapper on the rise in Florida that I became privy to almost a year ago at a local showcase. This was another project that I was eagerly awaiting, once it was announced. This is his EP he presented in view of Black History Month. It's short and to the point with quick anecdotes on cultural appropriation, growing up in a troubled household, striving for equality, & black pride. The new school production and poignant lyrics combine to make a pleasant listen. Then, the outro has an irresistible bounce to it as the mantra to "Stay Woke" and "Stay Black" repeats until small message of hope enters before it fades. I can greatly advise giving this one an ear as you'll be pining for more. Basically, my only gripe is that it is so short.
Shame The Devil - Stik Figa x Arkutec
(Genre: Hip Hop/Rap)
This collaboration is a long time coming in the Kansas scene. Stik Figa is a local legend (in my hometown) who has been known for his witty writing and down-to-earth themes he pens to any beat that comes his way. Arkutec, another big name in KS (when comes to production), is also known for his diverse, yet unique sound in the area. This EP carries a boom bap/new school soundscape and thematically based around trying to live in this world while maintaining your own sense of morals and ethics. There are a few moments where braggadocio slips in, but it never detracts from the experience. If you dig varied flows and social commentary in your hip hop, I highly recommend this masterfully done project. It's really hard for me to choose favorites here, but lyrically "Prey" and sonically "Testify".
Untitled Unmastered - Kendrick Lamar
(Genre: Hip Hop/Jazz Rap/Trap Rap)
Finally, we come to the unexpected delight of the review! If you are familiar with K. Dot then you may know that ever since To Pimp A Butterfly was close to its release, his live performances tend to include untitled and unreleased verses or entire songs. Many people, after almost a year since TPAB's release, gave up on ever having studio versions of these compositions. Lo and behold, we all were surprised by a tweet informing us of this project. Every song is still untitled save the (recording) date associated to each track. Most of what has been performed live on television have different production than previously present except his Colbert Report & Jimmy Fallon performances being the closest to our initial encounters. This is surprising and actually kind of interesting to hear in a different motif. That being said, the production of this release will be as polarizing as TPAB was as it will go from hood trap bangers to soulful jazz/funky then near experimental rap. Yet, all the lyrics are typical Kendrick bars that carefully teeter between poetic social & internal observations and the hood mentality that's the product of his Compton environment. If you can enjoy the musical diversity of the album, this B-Side-esque project should satisfy your taste! I like them all but if forced to pick top tracks, I'd say "3", "5", "6", & "7".