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Music

Travis Barker’s Biggest Hip Hop Moments

You know Travis Barker—he’s a seminal figure in emo pop-punk history as the lead drummer of Blink 182, a newly-established reality tv stalwart thanks to his marriage to Kourtney Kardashian, plane crash survivor and a memoirist. Over the last ten-ish years, he’s also sneakily built up a discography  as a hip-hop power player that rivals just about anybody else in his genre. Under his auspices, hip hop has entered its new pop-punk era with Barker shaping a new generation of heart-stricken crooners such as Machine Gun Kelly and Iann Diorr. Here are Travis Barker’s biggest hip hop moments as he transitions from rock drummer to all-purpose musical guru. 

1. “Crank Dat” Cover
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Every piece of this video feels dated—the shaky, out-of-focus footage that looks like it was captured with a camcorder, the title’s “(EPIC DRUM COVER)” parenthetical, the very fact that it’s a rock-music-adjacent rendition of “Crank Dat” by Soulja Boy. Filmed in the late 2000s, Barker’s Soulja Boy cover was part of a series of remixes of popular rap songs that Barker uploaded to YouTube during this period—his version of Flo Rida’s “Low” was similarly well-received. While Barker wasn’t yet creating original hip hop music, these little viral showcases demonstrated his comfort blending different styles and genres.

2. TI, “Yeah Ya Know (Takers)”
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This 2010 collaboration between Barker and southern rap legend T.I. marked one of Barker’s earliest forays into hip hop. Although the song doesn’t carry the Blink pop-punk hallmarks of Barker’s more recent work, the Blink 182 drummer’s fingerprints are apparent in the crisp drum pattern and the wailing electric guitar in the background. “Yeah Ya Know” might not have made waves as a hit single, but it laid the foundation for Barker’s future successes, legitimizing him as a serious hip hop producer outside of the purview of his day-job as a drummer. 

3. “Give The Drummer Some”
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Barker’s debut album was an opportunity to flex his hip hop bonafides—Lil Wayne, Rick Ross, Swizz Beatz, The Game, Pharrell, Lupe Fiasco, RZA, Raekwon, Ludacris, Snoop Dogg, E-40, Twista, Busta Rhymes, Lil Jon, Kid Cudi, Tech N9ne, Bun B, Beanie Sigel, Paul Wall, Jay Rock, Kurupt, and Clipse all have features. With its loaded track-list of rap royalty, Give the Drummer Some served as a de facto industry-wide endorsement of Barker. 

4. Pitbull, “Bad Man (Featuring Robin Thicke, Joe Perry, Travis Barker)”
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People don’t take Pitbull seriously and it’s not hard to understand why. He makes silly songs! And while Pitbull is largely regarded as a remnant of the confusing mid-2000s culture that had people wearing lens-less glasses, his embrace of Travis Barker in 2016 seems downright visionary in retrospect. To be sure, “Bad Man” isn’t a traditionally good song, but Pitbull and Travis Barker make it listenable through sheer force of charisma. 

5. 03 Greedo, “Meet the Drummers”
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In the summer of 2019, 03 Greedo was in high-demand, working with super-producers such as DJ Mustard and Kenny Beats during his final days of freedom before the start of a lengthy prison sentence in Texas. Naturally, though, Greedo found time to link up with Barker, laying the ground-work for Meet the Drummers, a five-song EP. Even across these five songs, their chemistry is clear on standouts “Cellout’ and “Trap Again.” For years, Greedo has described his sound as “emo music for gangbangers;” with Barker, he evidently found his perfect emo music muse. 

6. UnoTheActivist, “Might Not Make It”
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Whereas most of Barker’s collaborations are with big-name artists, UnoTheActivist is still relatively underground. Combining Playboi Carti’s idiosyncratic vocals with Gunna’s unwavering chill, Uno makes prototypical, blissed-out Atlanta-style trap music. More, working with Uno represented an opportunity for Barker to dabble with a new sonic palette. As such, Might Not Make It sounds unalike any of Barker’s earlier hip hop projects while still maintaining the general pathos of his other work. 

7. Machine Gun Kelly, “Tickets to My Downfall” and “Mainstream Sellout”
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For the last decade, it’s felt like an inevitability that Machine Gun Kelly and Travis Barker would collide at some point—Kelly is a “rapper” who’s pined for pop-rock stardom; Barker is a pop-rock idol who’s transitioned into more hip-hop-ish territory. On 2020’s Tickets to My Downfall and 2022’s Mainstream Sellout , Barker positions Kelly as a new-age Mark Hoppus, smirkingly tearing through hook-y, uptempo pop-punk songs. It’s a natural fit for both Kelly and Barker—in Barker, Kelly finds the legitimacy to credibly switch his sound; in Kelly, Barker has the frontman to recapture the star-making energy that defined Blink 182 and has has now drifted back into the zeitgeist. Together, they combine for one of Travis Barker’s biggest hip hop moments, if not his single biggest so far.

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Music

10 Metro Boomin Projects, Ranked

To a degree, hip-hop as we know it wouldn’t exist without Metro Boomin. Born Leyland Wayne, Metro Boomin has been one of the most prolific and influential producers of the last decade. He has produced top 10 hits for Drake (“Knife Talk”), The Weeknd (“Heartless”), Migos (“Bad and Boujee”) and other superstars. According to Lil Durk, he and Metro are currently cooking up a collaborative project. Metro Boomin projects are studded with so many precious metals it would make even the most experienced gemologist blush: 1 diamond single, over 30 platinum songs, another few dozen gold records. Here’s the official, inarguable ranking of the 10 best Metro Boomin projects. 

10. Double Or Nothing
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Big Sean is an easy target; he once rapped “I’m Quagmire, I fuck hoes/My cashflow I ‘giggity-get’ it” without a hint of irony. And part of the reason it’s so easy is that a lot of it is also true. While Big Sean has evolved into a more thoughtful and effective artist, Double or Nothing finds him in a weird half space between the artist he was (the musical equivalent of that time Hillary Clinton was just chillin’ in Cedar Rapids) and the artist he would become (an above-average rapper). Here, vagina jokes run aground on Rosa Parks analogies run around on 69 jokes run aground on Colin Kaepernick takes. It’s a weird hodgepodge of juvenilia and half-baked social commentary that not even Metro’s beats can fully salvage. 

9. Perfect Timing
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I mean, there’s nothing wrong with it. Like all Nav projects, Perfect Timing just kind of exists; it sounds nice—the beats are expansive and moody, Nav is capable of twirling out a few earwormy-y melodies, the guest list is star-studded—but you never leave a Nav project hungry for more Nav. In this sense, it’s musical fast fashion, something adequate and satisfying but ultimately disposable. Nav’s greatest strength as a rapper is his ability to match his collaborator’s energy, yet he’s surprisingly inert on Perfect Timing, in large part because Metro Boomin doesn’t provide him with the most exciting backdrop. Ultimately, it’s a project that indulges both of their less good impulses—NAV is all too happy to settle into the low-gear groove that Metro creates for him. In the end, Perfect Timing is enjoyable without being memorable.  

8. Not All Heroes Wear Capes
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When Not All Heroes Wear Capes hits, it really hits. Unsurprisingly, the best tracks come from his most frequent collaborators—21 Savage menacingly whispers his way through “Don’t Come Out the House” and is uncharacteristically excitable on “10 Freaky Girls;” Gunna glides through “Space Cadet;” Travis Scott and Young Thug turn the studio space on “Up to Something” into their personal Dreamatorium. The rest of the album, however, is plagued by ponderous songs and gratuitous experiments. Forays into of-the-moment reggaeton and afrobeat sounds are clunky and unnatural; tracks like “Dreamcatcher” and “Lesbian” are so narcotized they border on narcoleptic. As is typical for this kind of producer album, NAHWC has some astounding highs but is padded out by lots of filler. 

7. Droptopwop
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Released on the one-year anniversary of his 2016 release from prison, Droptopwop is a triumphant victory lap from one of hip hop’s most beloved elder statesmen. Even if it’s not quite up to the standard of Gucci’s best work, it’s a fun little joyride. Just try not to smile when Gucci tries his hand at Offset’s hypnotic triplets-flow on “Met Gala” or when he calls himself a “conniver, a miser, a plug despiser” on “Finesse the Plug Interlude.”

6. What A Time To Be Alive
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Ever since it dropped in 2015, Drake and Future’s collaborative mixtape has had high school basketball layup lines in a headlock. Overall, this is a fairly one-note project, it’s just that that one note happens to bang. Obviously “Jumpman” is the enduring hit but slightly deeper cuts like “Diamonds Dancing” and “Scholarship” offer even greater rewards; Drake’s flow switch in his “Scholarship” verse is just about as good as any other micro-moment in his career.  

5. Savage Mode 2
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Whereas the original Savage Mode was a punishing, spartan experience, Metro Boomin and 21 Savage pull out all the stops for their legendary mixtape’s sequel. On Savage Mode 2, the whole enterprise feels luxer—the beats click along at a more head-nod-able pace, the sample budget is fat enough to accomodate interpolating 50 Cent’s “Many Men,” Drake shows up. Perhaps the single biggest flex, though, is that Morgan Freeman narrates the project, which adds depth to the expanding 21 Savage-Metro Boomin universe. 

4. Purple Reign
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Released in early 2016, Purple Reign capped an 18 month stretch where Future became the best rapper alive. The full breadth of Future’s powers are on display—“All Right” and “Salute” are bitter, curdled bangers; “Perkys Calling” and “Purple Reign” are two of the tenderest songs of Future’s career, laying the foundation for his balladeer turn on HNDRXX.  Although it doesn’t quite measure up to DS2 or Monster (more on this later), Purple Reign has more great songs than most rappers have in their whole career.

3. Without Warning
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A surprise drop on Halloween 2017, Without Warning enlists Offset and 21 Savage to tell horror stories. With Metro supplying eerie, menacing production, Offset and 21 unspool tales of violence and gunplay with unsettling casualness. Although the tape didn’t spawn any radio hits (“Ric Flair Drip” is probably the closest thing to one), there’s a thrilling cohesiveness to the project as all three of its principals work in concert. 

2. Savage Mode
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From the moment he rose to prominence in 2014, Metro Boomin has been one of the best producers in hip hop. The Savage Mode, though, established him as an artist beyond merely being a beat-maker. Across its nine songs and 32 minutes, there’s not a single extraneous bar or drum kick. The beats are lean to the point of brutalism and the lyrics are bleak to the point of nihilism. The first album with Metro listed as an artist rather than just as a producer, Savage Mode is evidence of the clarity of purpose that’s fueled his greatness. 

1. Monster
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One of the very Metro Boomin projects, if not one of the very best mixtapes at large. If you don’t understand why, go listen to “Throw Away” and “Codeine Crazy until you do. 

Categories
Sports

Darren Waller Displays His Passion and Talent For Music

While the number of athletes who record music is rapidly growing every year, it remains a rare sight to find those who are talented and committed. Throughout the NBA, we’ve seen Damian Lillard and Iman Shumpert legitimize themselves as rappers but in the NFL? It was hard to think of anybody until Darren Waller entered the picture.

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Waller, a multi-time Pro Bowl tight end for the Las Vegas Raiders, has been making music for a few years at the tune of various singles, music videos, and his 2021 LP, Delusions of Clarity. Under his real name, the Raiders’ star raps about real-life perspectives and personal struggles, a far cry from his athletic counterparts who rather rap about their riches and fame.

But besides his interest, Waller’s connection to music goes back to his family. Thomas “Fats” Waller, a legendary jazz musician, is Darren’s great-grandfather and is recognized as the first black man to write the score for a Broadway musical. History of that magnitude would later inspire the athlete/rapper’s musical journey, as he explained in a recent interview with Andscape.

You can click here if you want to know more about Darren Waller and his music. Besides releasing a new music video (which can be seen above us), he also dropped another one at the beginning of June. We’re excited to see what’s next for Waller’s music career!

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Music

The Best Wu-Tang Clan Albums, Ranked

Next year will mark three decades since Wu-Tang Clan first kicked down our doors with their debut album Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers). Since then, excluding their incredible array of solo releases and vast amount of compilation albums, the group has released a total of seven albums since 1993.

At least a couple of these are heralded as classics by fans and critics alike, with their positioning up for debate. We decided to take a crack at ranking the Wu’s albums from best to worst. Check it out below and let us know what you think. Perhaps you’ll notice a pattern that emerges in the order.

7. Once Upon A Time In Shaolin (2015)
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Once Upon A Time In Shaolin takes the lowest spot on this list by default. If you’re familiar with the name but are wondering why you’ve never heard it or seen a review about it, this is the LP that the Wu sold the sole copy of to Martin Shkreli for a whopping $2 million, making it the most expensive body of musical work ever sold. The process was a statement against the digital era of music, which Wu felt was devaluing art. The current owner is PleasrDAO who bought it for $4 million. Some of the album has found its way online, but judging it off of those low-quality rips isn’t fair at all. If you’re reading this, it’s unlikely that you’ll ever get to hear it officially too, because it’s only allowed to be played at listening parties until the year 2103, when it can be ‘commercially exploited’.

6. A Better Tomorrow (2014)
Amazon

In general, A Better Tomorrow isn’t really an outright bad album. There are still standout performances on it and in places, it feels enough like Wu-Tang Clan to give you some nostalgia as a celebration of two decades since their inception. The problem is that some of the lows are really low, and consist of the group trying to reach outside what they do best. Some of the group’s members weren’t on the same page for this album’s creation and it actually comes across a little in the music. Overall, it falls short of why we love the New York crew in the first place.

5. 8 Diagrams (2007)
Slant Magazine

This is the infamous album that came after a long hiatus, largely due to the tragic, untimely death of Ol’ Dirty Bastard. This was the first Wu-Tang album since their debut to feature RZA’s production on every single song, even though he had credits on the vast majority of all of the albums in between. His style of production on 8 Diagrams was a point of contention for Ghostface Killah and Raekwon, who didn’t like that the album wasn’t true to the cold, gritty sound that they considered the group’s signature. It was what birthed Shaolin Vs. Wu-Tang, which intentionally didn’t include any input from RZA. Despite Rae and Ghostface’s frustrations with the sound, most people enjoyed the fact that the group stepped outside of their comfort zone.

4. Iron Flag (2001)
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Iron Flag was put out a year after the group’s last album, The W. It was a quick turnaround that had some skepticism about the group’s status and how much longer they’d be together, but those rumors were dispelled on the LP. The sound of Hip-Hop was changing around this time. Jay-Z had just dropped The Blueprint and the turn of the new millennium meant new things were on the horizon. Iron Flag was a great combination of Wu-Tang Clan adjusting to that, but keeping their raw feel too.

3. The W (2000)
Focus Hip Hop

For many, The W is the best album of the year 2000. It was the last Wu-Tang album to feature ODB and saw them mostly stick to their stripped-down, dirty sound, with some songs that tried to step into other genres in a way that the aforementioned Iron Flag and 8 Diagrams did in a bigger way. It felt only right that after a classic debut album and a classic sophomore follow-up, they should step out of their bounds a little bit. While the album falls slightly short of those kinds of honors, it’s a solid project that’s only a step below their best work.

2. Wu-Tang Forever (1997)
Genius

After their classic debut album in 1993, some of the group’s members had great solo success. In 1995, GZA put out Liquid Swords and Raekwon put out Only Built 4 Cuban Linx, two of the better albums to grace the genre. Due to that though, the pressure was on when the group came back together for their second album, Wu-Tang Forever. Could the magic be there a second time around? The answer was a resounding yes. For many, this album could easily top the list of the best Wu-Tang Clan album, but coming second place is nothing to turn your nose up at. Its lead single ‘Triumph’ was ambitious, coming in at 6 minutes and conforming for no one. It got airplay regardless. The Wu really couldn’t miss on this one. It turned 25 earlier this month and hasn’t lost its edge at all.

1. Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) (1993)
Amazon

To complete our list of ranked Wu-Tang albums, which coincidentally is every Wu-Tang album in reverse chronological order, here’s our #1 pick, 36 Chambers. It isn’t so much a debut album as an introduction to the entire world of the Wu-Tang Clan, which is why its title is so fitting. The samples were unlike anything anyone had ever heard before. The beats were grimy and took you straight to the streets of New York. The bars from every member were mesmerizing and came together with a chemistry that most artists could only dream of. To top it all off, it could have easily been an underground classic, but it received a lot of commercial success too. The album truly hits all marks and is easily one of the best Hip-Hop albums of all time.

Categories
Music

The D.O.C. Discusses “NFTs With Attitude” Project and Rap’s Generational Gap

Among the many quotes and beliefs that have existed in hip-hop, only fewer lived longer than “it’s a young man’s game.” And while it may be accurate due to the youth being the culture’s most active participants, a veteran and legend such as The D.O.C. often serve as a reminder of how the past can impact the present and future.

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Alongside prolific videographer Matthew McDaniel, the proud West Coast duo has partnered with Hip Hop Archive and NFT Genius to release NFTs With Attitude. Consisting of 200+ hours of never been seen footage of legendary hip-hop group N.W.A. and South Los Angeles, the NFT collection offers fans a chance to get a greater glimpse at the times and environment that influenced their music and lives.

“Way before the music became popular, McDaniel had the vision to document what was happening around us,” D.O.C. said. “So he’s finally letting some of that footage go and the people who loved those guys [N.W.A] will see cool stuff.” Even in 2022, hip-hop is still adjusting to letting its legends and environments be seen more intimately. But given the success of various documentaries, podcasts, and biopics, NFTs offer another step in encouraging the culture to advance.

“It’s beautiful,” The D.O.C. said as he briefly overlooked the gloomy view of the Hudson River. “People don’t always see the behind-the-scenes stuff which ultimately brings us together.” A perspective like this is not only at hand when it comes to integrating NFTs in hip-hop but in another prominent area: Age.

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While hip-hop sees its most active participants on the younger side of things, primarily because of the influence and power of the dollar, it doesn’t mean a generational gap should exist. NFT projects such as this D.O.C. and McDaniel-led endeavor provide all millennial and Generation Z rap fans the opportunity to initially learn or gain greater context about those before them and why their impact still exists.

“Our connection between this generation and my generation isn’t what it should be,” D.O.C. said. “But with all of these opportunities, numbers, etc., we should be to come together and win since there’s enough for everybody.”

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Music

Curiously Curated 007: Top-Notch Underground Talent

Here we are on volume seven of our Curiously Curated series. We’ve come a long way thus far, and there’s plenty more ground to cover. Today, we’re introducing you to five artists that you need to know.

1. Dee Aura
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One of New York’s most impressive talents is Dee Aura. The rapper has come a long way since his start, and most recently was brought out by Skepta on stage at Governors Ball earlier this month. He stepped up to bat in front of a massive crowd at Citi Field, and showed them what he’s got. I had the luxury of seeing it live, and it was beyond gratifying to see Dee Aura come this far. For those who know the rapper, it’s implied that he’s just getting started.

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In addition to his ties to Skepta, Dee Aura is insanely tapped in across the globe. Here’s his latest video with Philly phenom Matt Ox:

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2. Quarters of Change
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With two hits to show for their relatively young career, this band is showing a ton of promise early on. You’ve probably seen Quarters of Change on TikTok, whether for their debut hit via 300 Entertainment, “Kiwi” (featuring Juice) or their scenic Wall Street video shoot for “T Love”. The band has a nostalgic yet original feel to them, and their music (and visuals) make it perfectly clear. Not only are their music videos fire, their TikTok is pretty entertaining on its own.

Here’s the TikTok video that blew up their single, “T Love”:

<code><blockquote class="tiktok-embed" cite="https://www.tiktok.com/@quartersofchange/video/7080960444294368555" data-video-id="7080960444294368555" style="max-width: 605px;min-width: 325px"> <section> <a target="_blank" title="@quartersofchange" href="https://www.tiktok.com/@quartersofchange">@quartersofchange</a> From highschool graduates to college drop outs we are QOC and we will be bringing the heat 🧡 hit dat pre save button <a title="fyp" target="_blank" href="https://www.tiktok.com/tag/fyp">#fyp</a> <a title="rock" target="_blank" href="https://www.tiktok.com/tag/rock">#rock</a> <a title="alt" target="_blank" href="https://www.tiktok.com/tag/alt">#alt</a> <a title="indie" target="_blank" href="https://www.tiktok.com/tag/indie">#indie</a> <a title="nyc" target="_blank" href="https://www.tiktok.com/tag/nyc">#nyc</a> <a target="_blank" title="♬ original sound - Quarters of Change" href="https://www.tiktok.com/music/original-sound-7080960385645480750">♬ original sound - Quarters of Change</a> </section> </blockquote></code>

3. Hass Irv
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Hass Irv has made quite the impression with his notable career thus far. He seems to not only have a knack for music, but a similar knack for networking and connecting with his audience. He manages to get in the room with some of today’s most popular act. His impressive level of talent makes it (seemingly) easy to consistently connect dots, resulting in underground hits like the one we’ve featured below.

Oh yeah, he’s also an insanely gifted designer, as made apparent in his boutique balaclava brand, brainface.

Hass Irv’s video with G Herbo for his “All Day” remix is one of the New York rapper’s best. Take a look:

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4. Jay Swishes
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Another New York talent worth noting is Jay Swishes. He’s built quite the catalog, including a solo hit “Good Company,” and a powerhouse feature from Rowdy Rebel on “John Wicc.”

Jay Swishes has a way of going in on both dancehall beats and harder hip-hop focused beats, giving his sound a signature that is hard to replicate.

In addition to his latest drop, a debut EP called ‘I’m Him,’ Jay made some major noise on YouTube with his video for “John Wicc” featuring Rowdy Rebel. See it for yourself:

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5. meat computer

One of the greatest parts of the latest evolution of music is the level personalization you see in artists’ brands. Before the SoundCloud era when artists could (finally) independently distribute their music, when would you ever see a name like ‘meat computer’?

Yes, meat computer is an actual artist, and he’s so, so, so fire.

meat computer is one of a kind – and don’t take that lightly. He always manages to think outside of the box, regardless of the medium: music, visuals, social media, or anything else.

Here’s the perfect intro to the wild world of meat computer, his video for “eyes wide shut”:

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What a week this has turned out to be. These five artists are all immensely experienced, which has translated to respective recent success. Take a listen to our Curiously Curated playlist on Spotify, which features this week’s artists, as well as all 6 previous editions – recording artists and producers.

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Categories
Music

Which 12 New York Rappers You Should Know?

While New York’s rap movement is currently ignited by its combination of OG’s, superstars, and upstarts, another wave of talent is waiting to surface. Across the state of New York, specifically the tri-state area within Westchester County and New York City, MCs are steadily building their audiences while adding to their resumes.

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Whether it’s releasing music videos that attract millions of views, collaborating with one of the culture’s biggest acts, or touring alongside a Grammy-nominated artist, this list of rappers has done a bit of everything and getting closer to introducing themselves to hip-hop’s mainstream audience.

Here’s our list of 12 New York rappers you should know.

Young Devyn
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Coming from Brooklyn, NY, Devyn has established herself as a talented rapper and songwriter with the ability to make many records– ranging from drill to soca. Over the past year, the 20-year-old MC has signed with Island Records, released a new EP (Baby Goat), and performed at Rolling Loud.

Dougie B
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Alongside his close friends and fellow collaborators, Kay Flock and B-Lovee, Dougie B has become a prominent Bronx drill act. Inspired by his infectious energy, Dougie has provided various standout verses (I.E., “T Cardi” and “I’m Back”), worked with fellow Bronx native and multi-platinum MC Cardi B, and performed at HOT 97’s Summer Jam earlier this month.

Malz Monday
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Coming from Westchester County, NY, Malz has become an early favorite for those loving lyricism and storytelling. Coming off of his acclaimed December 2021 release, Super Heroes Don’t Exist, Malz has reached over 215,000 monthly Spotify listeners and is performing at the Mercury Lounge on July 2nd.

Ice Spice
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If you’re really into New York drill, you’ve probably entered a rabbit hole and discovered plenty of artists before– with Ice Spice being one of them. The Bronx, NY native is gaining a lot of steam right now as her standout single, “No Clarity,” has nearly 200K views on YouTube, and she got featured in Converse and Foot Locker’s Black Music Month campaign.

Kenzo B
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Within the last five months, Kenzo B has quickly caught the attention of fans around New York City, and for a good reason. Aided by her slick wordplay and smooth delivery, the NYC native is positioned to have a good summer as her “Bump It” single is consistently being played at events and throughout neighborhoods.

Niko Brim
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Whether as an activist who played a crucial role in making Juneteenth a national holiday to touring with Grammy-nominated MC, Cordae, Niko Brim‘s star has been steadily rising over the past year. The proud Mount Vernon, NY native, who’s also a co-founder of the buzzing rap collective, CYN, has been busy releasing new and well-received music— an April-released joint EP with Kai Ca$h titled ELEVEN53 and various freestyles.

STEELYONE
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Coming out of New Rochelle, NY, STEELYONE has become one of the Tri-State’s most respected and experienced lyricists. Fresh off releasing another stellar project in Lost City last January, the Stainless Global leader completed another sold-out overseas tour through Europe and is gearing up for more releases before the end of this year.

Iman Nunez
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In recent years, Iman Nunez has produced one heck of a resume. Between exchanging verses with the legendary Styles P, performing alongside Lil Wayne and Machine Gun Kelly, and making his SXSW performance debut this year, the Yonkers, NY MC is sure to take off even more in 2022-’23.

Shawny Binladen
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The “King of Samples” may catch people by surprise with his name, but his music does all the talking. With “Whole Lotta Wickery” being a massive success and following singles such as “Shawn Ye” and “Hercules/Paradise” gaining traction, it’s not a surprise Shawny got added to Rolling Loud’s New York lineup for this coming September.

The Girll Codee
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The evolution of The Girll Codee over the last year is a clear example of consistency at its finest. Brooklyn’s Shaa Bigga and Siddity have done nothing but deliver incredible verses, great energy, and a fun live show– the latter, I witnessed during their performance at HOT 97’s Summer Jam. Next month, they’re reportedly releasing a new EP.

Melvoni
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Regarding top-notch videos, Melvoni is one of the few artists from New York in that conversation– especially as an up-and-coming artist. “Feel Alive 2” is quickly becoming a standout record of his, and there’s a lot to like about Melvoni– great melodies, strong songwriting, and a good ear for production.

26AR
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Even though record labels are making a great effort to sign artists from New York, the pairing of Def Jam and 26AR makes me excited. Ever since his Rocko Ballin-assisted “MANEUVER” got over seven million YouTube views, the new Def Jam signee has been on a hot streak– most notably releasing “MY SET Pt.II,” “Beatbox Freestyle,” and most recently “Hottest In My City.”

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Music

AG Club Discusses New Music, Odd Future’s Influence and More

While duos and trios are familiar sights in hip-hop, it’s been a while since collectives took center stage. And if we’re being honest, what other collectives can fans think of besides Odd Future, ASAP Mob, and BROCKHAMPTON over the past decade? But with AG Club, the reality of hip-hop birthing collectives isn’t only existent but filled with great excitement about what they have and will do.

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Coming out of the Bay Area via San Francisco, CA, the nearly 15-member crew attacks all angles of the music industry. As the duo of Baby Boy and Jody Fontaine create magic on records– their F*** Your Expectation album series is stellar– the remainder of AG Club consists of talented photo/videographers, stylists, and graphic designers who’ve been friends with each other for years.

“When we first came around, people didn’t understand what we do,” Fontaine told me after AG Club’s performance at Lyrical Lemonade’s Summer Smash last Friday. “But it’s dope people understand now.” Terms of what have helped fans understand and accept the Avant Grande collective’s efforts are great music and momentum.

Alongside both editions of F*** Your Expectations being well-received, the Bay-Area natives also collaborated with NLE Choppa and ASAP Ferg for the remix of their biggest single, “Memphis,” before touring with Pusha T and Denzel Curry since the beginning of this spring. To be so young in their careers, yet able to touch different demographics is impressive, especially with great musical aspirations.

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Upon listening to AG Club, you’ll quickly recognize their diversity in sound. In one moment, their music can spark a riot (“Columbia”), the next, their harmonies will remind you of the early 2000s R&B-pop group B2K (“Popeye” feat. Peach Tree Rascals), and lastly, you’ll find the fitting anthem to play in your car (“Brass”).

This level of execution reminds rap fans like me, a millennial in his late 20s, of the previously mentioned Odd Future and ASAP Mob. “Everything is better when you’re doing it with friends, and we saw that in Odd Future and ASAP Mob,” Fontaine says before he and Baby Boy point to their friends. “We all love this s***,” Baby Boy says with a smile. “We do it together because it makes sense.”

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Music

The Three Best Moments From Lyrical Lemonade Summer Smash 2022

With lines of attendees wrapped around the corners of Douglass Park, this year’s Lyrical Lemonade Summer Smash festival was greatly anticipated. Launched in 2018 by Lyrical Lemonade founder and acclaimed music video director Cole Bennett and established concert promoter SPKRBX, the Chicago, IL-based event was once again home to an assortment of rap’s biggest and upcoming talents last weekend (June 17-19th).

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The crowd’s energy didn’t come down from the first moment attendees entered the park and then sprinted toward any of the three performance stages. All-day long, despite the weather ranging from being hot to slightly cold and windy, the mostly Generation Z crowd rapped and danced to every song in rotation– whether it was with up-and-comer Elijah Wallace or multi-platinum superstar Post Malone.

Lyrical Lemonade’s Summer Smash has carved out a space for itself in the evolving festival space due to its natural existence at the intersection of what’s present and the future of rap; an evident influence from its founder (Bennett) whose creative vision and execution of music videos either birthed or refreshed the careers of several artists.

Here are our three best moments after attending Summer Smash.

Post Malone’s performance further reminds us of his superstardom
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Even though the numbers and bodies of work have long legitimized Malone’s resume as a superstar, his Summer Smash performance was a huge reminder of why.

As Posty closed out Saturday’s portion of the festival, tens of thousands of attendees sprinted to the main stage and let out a massive ovation as the multi-faceted artist stepped on stage and performed a mix of his biggest records and cuts from his new album, Twelve Carat Toothache.

G Herbo received a lot of hometown love
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For any festival in a major city, it has become a mistake not to have one of its biggest acts performed if possible. But that wasn’t a concern as Summer Smash welcomed one of Chicago’s most popular acts, G Herbo, and he delivered an exciting performance.

My favorite moment was watching Herbo perform his classic “Who Run It” freestyle and having the crowd rock side to side as he did in the original video

Offset and Takeoff perform a surprising set
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Even amidst breakup rumors surrounding the Migos, that didn’t stop Quavo and Takeoff from representing their group and surprising fans on Sunday. Wearing their three-headed chains with a picture of each Migo, the crowd enjoyed watching a pair of Migos on stage and couldn’t stop recording their performance.

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Music

JELEEL Talks with ONE37pm at The Roxy in LA

Who is JELEEL?

You may have seen JELEEL on your ‘For You Page’ on TikTok doing backflips and ripping off his white tank. He has taken TikTok by storm, amassing 1.5 million followers and 54 million likes. In the span of just over six months, JELEEL has jumped from 115,000 monthly listeners to almost 2 million. That’s the power of TikTok. 

However, JELEEL has been working hard to make a name for himself for years while facing adversities like homelessness in the city of LA. There are clips of him on the internet singing for Adam22 on Melrose Ave back in 2018. JELEEL also tells the story of the time he met Zane Lowe in a pizza shop on Fairfax Ave in an unreleased interview.

<code><blockquote class="tiktok-embed" cite="https://www.tiktok.com/@jeleelyeah/video/7100695862493547822" data-video-id="7100695862493547822" style="max-width: 605px;min-width: 325px"> <section> <a target="_blank" title="@jeleelyeah" href="https://www.tiktok.com/@jeleelyeah">@jeleelyeah</a> thank you @zanelowe you the 🐐! <a title="realrawenergy" target="_blank" href="https://www.tiktok.com/tag/realrawenergy">#realrawenergy</a> <a target="_blank" title="♬ DIVE IN! - JELEEL!" href="https://www.tiktok.com/music/DIVE-IN-6964686945083459585">♬ DIVE IN! - JELEEL!</a> </section> </blockquote></code>

JELEEL’s Come-Up

JELEEL’s sounds stem from afrobeat music and inspiration from artists like Kid Cudi, 50 Cent, and DMX. He grew up in Rhode Island where he attended high school and trained to try out for the basketball team. He made the team but unfortunately suffered a knee injury that caused him to sit out the rest of the season. After coming back for his senior year, JELEEL was cut from the team. Once he graduated, he decided to attend Loyola University where he graduated with a degree in Psychology. 

In his time at Loyola, JELEEL found himself becoming more immersed in music and decided to release a number of songs online in the year 2017. After graduating from Loyola, he took a one way flight to Los Angeles. In 2018 he released “WARTIME!” which would go on to be featured on the popular hip hop blog, No Jumper. It was during this time JELEEL was homeless in Los Angeles, focusing solely on building his music career. 

Fast forward to June 11, 2022, the last stop of ‘The JELEEL Experience’ at The Roxy in Los Angeles. JELEEL headlined a venue in his old stomping grounds where he walked around, homeless and performed his music tirelessly to those who would listen. This was a full circle moment for JELEEL and his team after experiencing years of resistance.

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The JELEEL Interview

Thanks to JELEEL’s managers, we were able to chat with JELEEL after his unbelievably energetic performance to ask him a few questions. 

Courtney: “What has been the most memorable moment of your career so far?” 

JELEEL!: “I guess performing at The Roxy. This was fun!” 

Courtney: “Was this a full circle moment for you, coming back to Fairfax after so many years?” 

JELEEL!: “Yeah, these were my stomping grounds. I used to rip my shirt outside The Roxy everyday and look where we are. We’re at The Roxy performing, headlining.” 

Courtney: “Who is your favorite MMA or UFC Fighter?” 

JELEEL: “Jiri Prochazka. He just fought and won today. Jiri, he’s my favorite. Shoutout to Jiri!” 

Courtney: “And if you had to choose, Gatorade or JELEEL Juice?” 

JELEEL: “JELEEL Juice!”

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JELEEL Juice is not only one of my favorite JELEEL songs, but it’s also a tasty juice his team created! Check out the music video here:

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