“Role Model” excels at creating an environment for the listener to stew in. Broughton raps with intention over lightly pressed keys and gently plucked strings. There’s no sense of urgency in his flow, only the inevitability of his words hanging on wax
On his new single, “Free,” Dayon Greene raps about the internal freedom of expression that he feels within, while recognizing all of the ways that he sees freedom around him that he wants to gain. The upbeat instrumentation is inspiring and energetic.
The underdog story is a relatable one, but stories are often too easily romanticized. In glorifying the struggle for justice we can overlook the battle scars of the soldier. On “UNDERDOG” Dirtsa raps about the inner turmoil of fighting black oppression around the word.
Named after the comedian of the same name, “Bill Bellamy” is just as fun as the actor’s classic films. Jaywop isn’t just a talented rapper. He builds a song overflowing with character from the dynamic production to his clever bars.
Traveling around the world for shows has given ATlas BLK an incredible bag of tricks to pull from the music of diverse cultures whose strongest common ground is a love of his music. On “Tell Me How You Feel,” The Martianz familiar production builds around the rapper’s confident pocket.
Popular advice for any writer is to “show not tell.” On “What it Feel Like,” Dewey Da Don bodies the technique by rapping in a way that is felt more than heard. He punctuates each syllable with life experience and natural cadence.
Life is rarely easy and just as often unpleasant. When great art imitates life, great artists recreate the strength of life’s best moments with the pain and confusion of its worst. Some projects go above and beyond surface level thematic connections to tie the very soundscapes of an album to the great never-ending confusion and chaos of existing.
Coming off a #1 hit in Hot97’s WHOSNEXT, Manny Maserati made himself known to the Sauce with “Black Rose.” Inspired by the likes of Nas and Rakim, Manny raps with soul and grit. He doesn’t write to make music, he writes to get the world off his chest.
The best examples of self-producing artists really know how to mesh their vocals and beat in just the right amounts. This smoker’s anthem, “Smoke” by Power features a seamless blending of ad-libs and synthesizer flares to settle the verses in for a smooth ride that keeps the listener ahead of the track.
In uncertain times like these, we need artists like Stevie Ray to remind us to value the things that can’t be taken away. “Nothing But Love” is a fun, sweet, R&B reminder that love is a truly limitless resource when we make it a priority.