Nigerian-American and Atlanta wordsmith, Kolo, pens an emotional track about keeping his mind on the work. “So Far, So Close” is an expression of having faith in your purpose.
A good posse cut is hard to find, but with bars, barbs and no shortage of character, Leon Ross, YS Perignon and IM REAL make it sound effortless. “No Invites” is a song for an exclusive crowd and the emcees let you know.
Leek Mali rides the high of a summer of crushing his goals. “Summer Forever” transfers his infectious confidence with a psychedelic beat that exudes timelessness, freezing listener and emcee in the high of success.
Cameron Donald struggles to come to terms with aging and the loss of wonder. “Old Jacinto” sees Cameron and the Slumberknights crafting a breezy instrumental for Donald to reminisce.
On “Flake,” his heartfelt hometown dedication to Portsmouth, Lebbs shines a light on an underappreciated scene — and places himself at the vanguard with jazzy rhymes.
Basking in success and indulging some excess, Lit Lyk Looney is on top of the game in the charismatic “Twosday Eve.”
Toronto group STAYOUTLATE pull up to our discovery section with a masterful posse cut. On “WUSSUP,” each emcee brings a unique flex rap flow to a horn blasting beat.
On their blockbuster link-up, Oakland emcees Tia Nomore and Stoni tear through The Bay, brandishing sharp bars as they literally bust blocks in the tongue-in-cheek music video for “Skirmish.”
He mightn’t be a local quite yet, but on “South Side Livin’,” CimplyDan salutes Florida and feels very much at home. Lo-fi production tints the artist’s laid-back bars with accents of beaches and sunsets in the sunshine state.
Blending hip hop with ancient Mediterranean instruments and brimstone bars, The Urban Renewal Project and Vic Mensa face “urban survival syndrome” with a warrior spirit. “Will to Survive” is a triumphant piece of music that energizes action.