The rap and R&B collision course that’s been enduring since well before Chris Rock’s prophecies on “Champagne” has become complete. Drake stepped into the cipher with a yarmulkah, a bag of lemongrass candles, and a mission to be the light-skinned Keith Sweat and executed with ruthless Canadian efficiency. Regardless of your feelings on the Sultan of Simp, it’s obvious that he flipped the paradigm for what rappers can do. This can be both good or bad. The bad is that it allows for margarine-voiced rappers to auto-tune themselves to death while crooning cynical hooks reminiscent of Eddie Winslow’s “Baby Baby Baby Baby” song.

But when applied effectively, it allows rappers to essentially vertically integrate themselves. From hook to bars, young artists are given leeway to write complete songs: radio-friendly melodies that aren’t mutually exclusive to rappity raps. See basically: everything that got airplay from good kid, m.A.A.d. city. Which brings me to Jon Waltz, 18-years old and clearly apart of a generation influenced by this approach — along with Kevin Abstract, his closest stylistic a-alike. The video for “Bang” shows an artist shrouded in the darkness, invoking pills, pools of liquor and the feeling of drowning. It’s what “Swimming Pools (Drank)” has wrought — young kids unafraid to reflect on struggles with substance abuse and the violence that comes easily when people are getting that first little taste of the nightlife (to quoth the 3Stacks).

Waltz’s other most recent single, “Video Girl” grapples with similar themes. Darkness, smoking too many cigarettes, the plague of bad thoughts that come after too many drinks, how it can get uncomfortably hot when you’re wearing black clothing. The topic of writing songs to “Video Girls” is slightly played out, but there is a whole generation of kids who didn’t grow up on BBD’s “Poison.” And they all deserve their own cautionary tales about how one should never trust a big butt and a smile. Waltz hails from Memphis, but seems regionally agnotistic — it’s probably a wise move to let the Triple Six mimics run their course and tap into the universal laments and frustrations of your peers. He’s not offering any answers, but he’s not avoiding questions either. If he keeps it up, he could be one of the few artists that actually figure it all out.

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