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Call up the plug, now Harley Geffner is in the Matrix.
YNW Melly x Tee Grizzley – “Freddy Kruger”
YNW Melly never lacks melodies. The Floridian with murder on his mind rips them from the deepest level of his diaphragm, flying so close to the sun that he needs little vocal flairs to keep balance. He’s one of those artists who could say almost anything and make it sound good. Not only did I not cringe at “pussy mushy, gushy, nasty like some yogurt,” but Melly actually made it sound hot. Tee Grizzley sounds a lot better when he’s not trying to mirror Melly’s singing at the start of his verse, but ekes out some typically cold lines, threatening to go John Wick to see if they’ll still talk shit from the grave.
Bby Goyard – “The Ugly Truth pt. 2”
Does the term “Soundcloud rapper” really mean anything anymore? It seems to have evolved from delineating shitty mixing on an artist’s tracks and D.I.Y social media promo into a catch-all derogatory term to refer to any relatively obscure rapper that someone doesn’t like. It feels like a slight when someone calls a rapper I really like a Soundcloud rapper, but I think the connotation needs to change. It shouldn’t be a slight. Soundcloud has produced some of the most interesting trends in modern rap, as what starts with experimentation on Garageband with $40 mics becomes a phenomenon like Lil Peep.
Because of the low barrier to entry, it’s a “throw everything at the wall and see what sticks” platform. It means there’s a lot of experimentation, but also a lot of bad music that sounds familiar (eg: generic plug beat rapping trying to sound like D Savage or emo strings with wavering Auto-tuned melodies trying to sound like Peep). Sifting through all the derivative stuff can be a daunting task, and most wait for the cream to rise out of the platform into their rap caviar playlists.
But it’s not always the cream that rises. It can often be some of the least innovative artists that pop with label pushes. Tons of people are still experimenting and searching for weird sounds we’re unaccustomed to. The stuff that first seems barely listenable is often where the most interesting trends and trailblazers start. It’s a disservice to lump every artist on Soundcloud into the same boat when some are truly pushing towards new sounds where others are occupying the blueprint of those who “made it” already.
When I first heard North Carolina’s Bby Goyard, his music was a little weird to me, but I couldn’t get enough of it. Edging closer to dream pop than any form of traditional rap, his melodies and super pitched up vocals sounded cartoonish, but oddly comforting. I couldn’t keep him out of my head and I got the same giddy feeling listening to him as I did, like, watching The Fairly Odd Parents as a kid. I showed his track “Run Shannon Run” to a friend and I heard the familiar refrain of “yeah I like it, but it’s not actually good.”
The word actually is doing a lot there. It feels like some people base their subjective opinions on what “good” music is on what good music already exists. Music doesn’t have to follow any traditional blueprint to make you dance, hum along, or feel something. We need to drop this notion of something being actually good or not. Just because a new sound makes you uncomfortable doesn’t mean it isn’t actually good. Give in to the unknown and let it take you for a ride.
There’s no shame in liking weird shit on Soundcloud. In fact, you might just be ahead of the next trend.
Vic Mensa – “Dark Things”
Try to imagine a Vic Mensa type beat. You can’t. He has no real signature sound. When he was first coming up in Chicago alongside Chance, he helped change the perception of what it meant to be a Chicago rapper in a city that had become defined by violent rap. But since trying to distance himself from Chance and the sound of that era, he’s been flailing to find a comfort zone.
The “Dark Things” video is Vic’s latest attempt to stay relevant, borrowing a visual and thematic aesthetic from a wave of anxiety-riddled teens. The song sounds like a bad impersonation of a bad Juice Wrld impersonator. And Juice Wrld is already a bad Lil Tracy impersonator.
Though I personally agree with what Vic said about XXX at the BET Awards, to turn around and copy his whole aesthetic after publicly decrying him is mad corny. I can’t believe Vic thought he had one with this song. He even dropped merch with “Dark Things” sprawled across the chest in an eerily similar font to that spider gothic one from X’s tour merch.
I really liked Vic for a time after he dropped Innanetape. I truly hope he can do some soul searching and figure out what music he really wants to make rather than pretending to be some troubled adolescent.
G Perico – “Love Letter”
The closest thing the world has to a reincarnated Eazy-E, South Central’s G Perico delivers a love letter to a lady that he’s confident will one day be his. He dreams about her Coke bottle frame and doesn’t care if she has a man. Perico knows that he can speak the relationship into existence. Producer Dupri rolls out a smooth, vibey canvas for Perico to lay his heart out over and Polyester Saint takes it home with a sweet hook.
Nocando – “GLOW”
LA’s Nocando’s love for his daughters shines bright in the video for “GLOW.” It’s a beautiful ode addressed directly to then. He takes her through some of the ups and downs in his life with her mother and tells her how she was a source of happiness when there was none in the relationship. He calls her soul is a reflection of heaven and soars on the hook, coaxing her to never dim her glow. The line that hit me hardest is when he says the first time he held her in the hospital, it felt like every wall in the world had been knocked down and every light got a little brighter.
The song almost made me want to have a kid.