Alphonse Pierre is gonna do a column on NYC’s emo scene.
convolk– bursting hearts & night terrors
There’s some music that could never be made in the five boroughs. I’m writing this from a stoop in upstate New York and instead of the typical car honking and neighborhood residents to awkwardly nod to, the only things in my vicinity are the onslaught of tree branches rubbing against one another due to the breeze. It’s surreal that an hour and a half from the busiest place on earth are spots this calm and isolated. I’m here in stretches for school, but can’t take too much of it. The loneliness, the pace of a David Lynch movie. It gets to you.
convolk resides and spends most of his time in this sluggish area we call upstate New York. And it wouldn’t be hard to tell once you first hear his Lil Peep (who was also from a town a short distance outside of New York City) inspired melody on the introduction to his compilation mixtape bursting hearts & night terrors.
It would be easy to write off convolk as another one of the Lil Peep clones invading SoundCloud with pop-punk anthems, but that would be unfair. Unlike many of the artists with a style heavily derived from Peep, convolk’s music is more closely aligned with tracks prior to the Crybaby era. It’s one more rooted in hip-hop compared to the string heavy Come Over When You’re Sober which has been the reference project of choice by most.
But all of the influences and shit that we care about for some reason aside, you really do connect with convolk over the course of the somber five tracks. The closer “swimming” has these looping guitar strums provided by Zeeky Beats that add to his lethargic and seemingly lost flow. Songs like “only see u in my dreams” bring that college-aged angst you look for in rap on this side of the spectrum. And catchy ventures like “so sad, so sad” show a level of accessibility that should contribute to his fast rise in the alternative rap scene.
Hearing music like convolk’s bursting hearts & night terrors makes me appreciate the weeks at a time I spend away from the city, as it resonates with me in a way that it would not otherwise.
Envy Caine– “What More Can I Say/What We Do”
Let’s get this out of the way: Rapping over a beat from The Black Album or anything from Just Blaze’s catalog is cheating. Here I decide to ignore the cheat code and embrace Envy Caine bringing some modern Brooklyn flavor to “What More Can I Say” and “What We Do.”
Brooklyn is one of the few rap cities left where bars are still viewed as a major component in being a good rapper and Envy knows that. And to little surprise he sounds much better rapping over these classics than he normally does getting DJ L type beats from teenagers.
Make some room Cassidy, the radio freestyle circuit is about to get another long term member.
PNV Jay– “Cake (Feat. Nick Blixky)”
I worry about Brooklyn’s drill scene more often than I probably should. It’s going through a weird phase where artists who previously had nothing now have a little bit of money. And the money has led to a calm, one where the artists are content traveling from Airbnb to Airbnb in major cities chilling with C-list VH1 celebrities.
But what this sudden tranquility has done is open a lane for another rapper to slide into the forefront of the scene, and that is PNV Jay. In the last couple of months PNV Jay went from a rapper that was only brought up jokingly (he was rumored to be homeless) to just recently inking a six figure deal with Atlantic Records.
The record deal is definitely a steal for Atlantic Records because songs like “Cake” put Jay a step ahead of everyone else in the scene. Brooklyn knows that it needs to move away from the drill sound if anything with some sort of longevity is going to be built, and Jay is the first one to effectively make the transition. The beat produced by popular Playboi Carti type beat producer IAmTash and Banbwoi is as bright as you would expect and Jay’s commitment to creating a structured song should make his passage into a label artist that much easier.
Choppy Chan– “Floating *NYU Freestyle”
Far Rockaway, Queens is sometimes forgotten. It’s about as far away as you can get from Manhattan while still being in New York City. But it’s a location with some rap history, most famously (to someone my age at least) being the home of the late Chinx.
Choppy Chan also calls Far Rockaway his home and while his music is more rooted in the internet, it’s still worth noting. On “Floating *NYU Freestyle” Choppy caught my attention with his melody. It’s clean, enough to the point that if it does find the right audience on SoundCloud it would really take off. And if there is one thing New York rap needs it is more of a presence on SoundCloud, so go the fuck off Choppy Chan.
TrippJones– “Break Down/Strangle Chords”
Lower East Side rapper TrippJones released his debut album Machine Smoke this past month and to build anticipation for it released a two-part video for “Break Down/Strangle Chords.” It’s strange to think for a section of the city as strongly associated with graffiti and art as the Lower East Side is, a rap movement has never been able to catch steam there.
On both tracks TrippJones is able to capture the grit—or some would say former grit of LES—as his style is more in line aesthetically with some of the punk scenes that still have a place in the far corner of Manhattan.
I swear, if in response to saying LES has never been able to sustain a rap push someone says, “Alphonse, you’re forgetting Ad-Rock of the Beastie Boys,” I give myself permission to say “Shut up you old ass nigga.”