Fresh 11: February
11 Songs You Need to Hear
Every month I will be highlighting 11 songs in the hip-hop, r & b realm which I believe deserve your attention. These tracks could be street rap records, wavy progressive hip-hop, lyrical tracks with a message, or a combination of these boxes people like to put hip-hop music in. One thing is for sure, if its on this list, I recommend you give it a listen. This month’s selections include artists from Oakland, Berkeley, Los Angeles, Maryland, D.C., Chicago & more.
Rexx Life Raj - Sundaze/Devin’s Song
(prod. Kyle Betty/Drew Banga)
Berkeley native, Rexx Life Raj had a hell of a 2016. He takes off right where he left off with a fire release here that is already achieving anthem-status in some circles. He shows two sides of his artistry spitting memorable bars on “Sundaze” and “Devin’s Song” two tracks with vibes of their own. On the first segment he creates a catchy melodic track that will resonate with most and on the second track (Devin’s Song), he spits over a more laid-back beat and showcases his distinctive vocal harmonies. Rexx dropped an impressive project last year, and looks like he will continue his streak and continue to make waves this year.
Elujay - Golden
(prod. JULiA LEWiS, Kev Choice & Chris McClenney)
Similar to the Lil Dads track we showcased in last month’s Fresh 11, Elujay does a fresh take on the house meets hip-hop subgenre. Elu sounds extremely comfortable on this eclectic beat which is the product of three very talented musicians coming together. The hook is super catchy, and the song structure is seamless as one hardly notices where the verse ends and where the hook starts, and I mean that in a good way. Just as I stated with Rexx Life Raj above, Elujay dropped an impressive project last year, and with releases like this he is proving that he is continuing to build off that momentum in 2017.
Sahtyre - Momma’s Sun
(prod. Mike Gao & Eureka The Butcher)
Los Angeles emcee Sahtyre, has been working on his next LP, Cassidy Howell, and after releasing several dope singles last year, and a fire collaboration with Trizz and Derek Pope last month which made our last Fresh 11.This track sees him spitting vicious bars over insane production from Mike Gao & Eureka the Butcher. Saht speaks on the track’s origins on his soundcloud page:
“The sins of the mother are to be laid upon the children. Despite our differences, I've grown to realize how similar to my Mom I can be. At times I make questionable decisions, as we all do, but I accept that every choice leading up to now has molded me into the person I am today. In this way, my world cycles before my very eyes the same as the Earth revolves around the Sun.
#CassidyHowell, Sahtyre's next solo project is coming soon.”
kojo a. & Uno Hype - Chef Curry (feat. Yung Kyle & Aus Taylor)
(prod. kojo a.)
DMV artists kojo a. & Uno Hype team up for a fire 2-track ep called 2 Much, this track is pure flames as both artists Uno Hype does a great job utlizing kojo a.’s unique bouncy production. The Maryland natives tap fellow DMV emcee Yung Kyle & vocalist, Aus Taylor for memorable vibes on this dope collaboration.
Just Adam - Remote (w/ Darrion)
Rising Chicago emcee Just Adam drops a dope track which highlights his style of fresh lyrics and hip-hop delivery over this futuristic xander production. The honest lyrics of self-reflection and use of the remote analogy for change work well on this track, as both emcees spit personal bars. They add a new twist to the “girl you can’t change me” type message that is common in hip-hop tracks nowadays, but their take on the subject is a fresh and original one.
Locksmith - Agenda
(prod. Locksmith, Mike Blankenship & Mike TopNotch)
Veteran Bay Area emcee Locksmith spits some poignant bars over this hard-hitting production which include socio-political truths intertwined with clever schemes and punches. Lock does so without uttering a single curse word, and all while paying homage to A Tribe Called Quest with his “Can I Kick It” hook. He tackles various subjects such as separation of church and state, flaws of the education system, police brutality, music industry ploys and much much more. Lock proves he is not only a gifted emcee, but also a woke individual with clever observations about society.
Oddisee - Like Really
Oddisee is an artist most heads should be familiar with as the DMV emcee/producer has been dropping quality projects for years now. His latest track, “Like Really” sees him weighing in on the madness that surrounds us in 2017. With a catchy hook, and bouncy jazz-infused production, Oddisee serves us a worthy message in melodic form. “How you saying all lives matter, when the stats saying we are not adjacent”. This is just one of the many witty bars/questions he poses. I rarely use the term “Instant Classic” but its hard not to with music like this.
YMTK - Fall In Place
(prod. Ekzakt & Wax Roof)
A dope melodic ballad sees the Oakland crooner feeling right at home over this dope beat from Ekzakt which features additional instrumentation from Wax Roof. YMTK’s message is clear, he isn’t trying to force anything, and is confident that things will “Fall in Place”. Combining clever raps with melodic vocals with just the right amount of auto-tune, YMTK has a distinct style and just like his fellow Eastbay artists Rexx Life Raj & Elujay, doesn’t look to be slowing down after releasing a solid project last year.
Saba - Monday to Monday
(prod. Richie Souf)
Chicago emcee Saba is another artist who released a dope project in 2016, with Bucket List Project. Like many other artists on this Fresh 11, he too, seems to be starting off 2017 in the right fashion as this track sees him spitting about his relentless hustle which has led him to already make a noteworthy freestyle-laced appearance on Sway as well as embarking on a 19-city solo tour. This track is a bit more trap-infused than his LP, but sees Saba spitting vicious bars and a melodic hook which proves he can make hits with the best of them.
Alex Wiley - Pass it to Me (feat. Kembe X)
(prod. Mike Gao)
Alex Wiley & Mike Gao have released their collaborative project, the third installment to Alex’s Village Party. Village Party III: Stoner Symphony sees them collaborating with the likes of Kembe X, Mick Jenkins, Hippie Sabotage & more. This track sees the melody-driven emcee seamlessly gliding over this unique production from Mike Gao. The two display great chemistry and this record combines dope bars from both artists with the futuristic production and vocal effects.
Chuuwee - Dispersion (Wave)
Originally from Sacramento, and now living in San Diego, Chuuwee has been an indie favorite and has developed somewhat of a cult-following in recent years. As he gears up his next release, Paradiso, he recently previewed 2 tracks off the project. “Dispersion(Wave)” sees him once again exploring dope concepts and metaphors with his tracks and projects. The fact that the emcee combines vicious wordplay, trap-infused production, esoteric raps is clever and well-timed on this release. This song is a good indication that his pen is sharp as ever in 2017.
Written by Arman “StrongArm” Mahmoudi
g.o.a.t Hip Hop