About a month ago, one of my favorite producers and writers, Blockhead announced that he was (mostly) shuttering his excellent site, Phat Friend. One of the best recurring columns at that spot was “Yay or Nay,” in which Block evaluated up-and-coming rappers and asked readers to vote on what they thought about their music. We’re proud to be publishing it here.
For the aging rap fans who still prides themselves on not turning their nose up at today’s youth movement, good new rap is hard to find. We try to walk that thin line of not loathing all things new, but also not wallowing in the trenches of our old school philosophies. It’s interesting because, sometimes, the music made to appeal to our sensibilities doesn’t fly. Like, why would I wanna listen to some kid in 2016 rap like it’s 1993? We already did 1993 and it was great, so let’s move on. I’ve never been into any rap revivalist movement. For it to work, it needs an edge, and not a simple tip of the hat and knowing wink.
It needs to perhaps simply borrow from that era without being submerged in it. A good example of this is J’Demul. A St. Louis based rapper who couldn’t be more than 18 (ed. note, he’s 20). He raps like where he’s from. Thick drawl. Often hard to understand at times. Yet, at the same time, his style is very much current. I think the difference here is he’s rapping over beats that could have been popular in the mid ’90s. It’s a risky move because really, in rap music, fans are fickle and you sometimes gotta pick a side.
Without sounding even remotely like it, it’s marriage of styles that reminds me of the first time I heard Chicago rapper Tree, who blended soul samples and trap-ish drums to make a sound all his own.
Like most young rappers, I’m not sure he’s ready for prime time but anything that can make my eyebrows raise, nowadays, is something, right? There’s definitely something here.
So, what do you think?