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SoundCloud can be tough to parse, so we’re here to help. Back to the Abyss is the first of a new monthly series by Lucas Foster and Harley Geffner, in which they’ll make a mix of their favorite songs that dropped on SoundCloud that month. The first mix features songs from a bunch of people you’ve never heard of, and so will the next, so deal with it.
1. Hunned Mill – Watch ft. Linus
2. Black Kray – Be 4 Everybody (prod. Wynter lincoln)
3. BMB Rxmbo – Prophecy
4. Nolan Be Rollin – Summit
5. **+Stunna Man La’Flare+** x Tethra64 x Dretti Franks – Fendi On My Waist
6. Yung Lunchbox – Triflin
7. Sybyr – Heat Map (prod. Cxrpse)
8. Eric North & Cxrpse – Hide And Seek (prod. DJ Plug)
9. Ghostie – Express (prod. Ghostie + Logicoma)
10. Ghostie – I like this
11. WifiGawd – Work (Prod. Spaceghostpurrp)
12. IcedOutAngels – Freeze w skress, toph24k!, and mochila (prod. skress)
13. .//TETHRA64 = CRIMSON:TYPE-F (prod.DYINGTETHRA)
14. TETHRA 64 + DRETTI FRANKS = OHKAY (PROD.TETHRA64)
15. Wifisfuneral x Robb Bank$ – EA
16. KirbLaGoop – In Yo Soda Prod.Jaguar Claw
17. OTISKILLYASELF – 223 + BLACK KRAY PROD.YUNGONFIRE (DJ NICK EXCLUSIVE)
18. basedtj & paycheck – Truss U, Pt 2 [prod. Basedtj]
19. Yung Mojo – Hood Goth 2 Lost Files (pro f0rza)
20. basedtj & paycheck – Life we Live
21. Yung God x Cartier’God x diamondsonmydick – gimme sum mo
Harley Geffner: Given that the first two songs of the mix are from Goth Money Records, let’s talk about them first. To me, they’re a pretty interesting case study as a group that hasn’t blown out of the underground, but are already considered legends. There’s an authentic quality to a lot of what happens in these underground circles and some people just aren’t that interested in heavier involvement with the industry fuckery.
It makes me think of this Nedarb tweet when he said that it should be everyone’s goal to get out of the underground. Yeah, everyone should want the bigger bag, but for a reclusive and mysterious artist like Black Kray, it’s not like he’s trying to be singing a fucking Sprite ad. Goth Money already has a core base of fans who will pay to see them in almost any city and actually buy their music from bandcamp. Merch sells out quickly. I’m sure they’re not living super uncomfortably.
But Kray seems primed to extend himself beyond the boarded up warehouse shows in 2019. I never expected to see him on WorldStar, yet there he was. Even if he’s not one to actively take steps to commercialize himself, he’s been working with Dommy Divine, who is sort of a fiend for trying to get people to pop. He’s corny, but it’s not bad having a dude like that in your corner. Lucas, how do you feel about Goth Money finally starting to catch outside attention?
Lucas Foster: I guess the question is what constitutes the underground at this point. If you’re not at least vaguely aware of Goth Money Records you’re either washed or not paying attention. Working On Dying were just on the cover of the Fader and they haven’t changed anything that they do since I wrote about them 18 months ago, or since they had the obligatory No Jumper podcast 3 years ago.
I remember close to 4 years ago I was sitting in my room with a friend and I showed him some X songs that I came across in a group chat. It was some absolutely weirdo cyber ghetto shit, the image was a 12 year old white kid smoking a blunt out of his nose, it was a “woah” moment for both of us, as to where underground rap was going, but I didn’t see it going anywhere close to the charts. I remember laughing at a Lil Pump song called “Obama” where he “sells crack on paypal, just like Obama,” I giggled and thought he might be a 2nd generation based world resident for a few months. This is what the people want. Parents, get your kids Goth Money Records sweatshirts now.
HG: That kid with the blunt in his nose really changed the world. Speaking of groups like Goth Money and Working on Dying, the R1 gang out of Philly is another collective making genuinely original music. One of my favorite producers out right now is Tethra64. The gang has a few songs in the mix, but the gem to me is CRIMSON:TYPE-F, in which Teth creates this dirtied drum n bass canvas with hints of EDM to sprint through the fire and flames. It’s like if Sonic the hedgehog got tired of chasing rings and went to smoke indo in his basement for a year.
Sampling video games isn’t new, but the extent to which the gang lives in a secluded anime and Nintendo world gives way to a gamified interpretation of life around them. Everything is a battle, a quest or a mission. And it’s all of them against the world. One of the members Cowboykillerr said “I take it as a compliment when n****s don’t fuck wit us,” on one track.
The thing that impresses me most about the group is their relentless drive to keep getting better. They’ve been steadily experimenting with new sounds and have found a million little niches since I first wrote about them almost a year ago. They won’t stop until they reach Hokage status.
And now they’ve started working with Dretti Franks out of Texas, whose sound perfectly meshes with their experimentalism. When Dretti produces, it’s these luxurious Houston synth slides that sound like an animatrix update on Pharrell’s N.E.R.D. days. In R1 and Dretti’s world, they’re sitting on the throne and we’re all witnesses to how they pull up in regalia.
LF: All I have to say to you is thanks, thanks for showing me what the Rare Boyz look like. All of the Tethra tracks here are of the moment, a portrait of what the underground is in 2019, shot on a FUBU brand Polaroid camera from 1996. The Dretti and Tethra production isn’t just trendy though, it’s a velvety combination of iced out melodies and genuinely creative experiments with texture and depth. Come to hell with them, just bring your best weed and best fit.
HG: Their tone fit nicely with the feel of the BMB Rxmbo tape you introduced me to also.
LF: BMB Rxmbo’s 777 EP is proof that the underground still has many dark underwater crevasses and canyons where beautiful, fluorescent flora and fauna thrive outside of the industry’s supposedly omniscient eyes and ears. It’s only appropriate that an affiliate of SpaceGhostPurrp’s Black Money Boys would be thriving in the abyss. This isn’t quite an overtly dark portal into the matrix, however, it’s a beautifully produced and melodic slide through goth shinin’ ambitions. It’s a succinct 10 minutes, but it packs a punch. Humility and melancholia, monotone autotune, light beats and disinterested lyrics; it’s good, honest song writing free from gimmicks, something this scene needs a bit more of.
HG: NolanBeRollin is as deep of a dive as you can get in to that dark grotto. Where the Rxmbo tape is reminiscent of a more melodic haze that floats in the middle like a bong rip that refuses to dissipate, Nolan inhabits a smog that fully engulfs the primordial swamp on his song “summit,” released on his secondary Soundcloud stream gotglocks. There’s no beautiful fauna here. It’s pitch-black in his swamp and the smog is only illuminated only by the soft lazer synths in production. Same day his dog died, he fell in depression mode. Now he can’t sleep or think as he groans these pill-popping Gregorian chants like half-written lunatic scribbles, barely audible and fading low into the mix.
LF: NolanBeRollin is going to have a moment this year, and you can quote me on that. He’s a new breed, an earlier adopter of the technological singularity. In 10 years everyone’s gonna be “juggin off the dark web.”
I think Anti-World is going to have a moment in the sun here too. Sybyr, the man who created Trap Metal, had an excellent project in December, and Ghostie’s Devour project, well, this is a lot. Most post-GBC sad boy rap seems to feign moodiness, more terminally cool than a real depressive episode. This is a house made of lead filled with Ghostie+’s heaviest and most intrusive thoughts. While Anti-World peers Sybyr and Eric North do Trap Metal, screaming and shouting and rubbing sandpaper on open wounds, Ghostie+ does something more like post-hardcore; it’s closer in theme and sound to Slint’s Spiderland than it is to most any rap music. His haunted mansion is made of intricately constructed and melodic production, as always, he reminds us that we cannot know how much he hates himself, then sometimes wanders off to a bit of a wink and a smirk between tears when he teases about fistfights over a house beat, yells at himself soon after.
It’s undoubtedly a difficult listen. An experimental project, recorded in a dark and dirty bedroom, extending from a corner illuminated by PC bluelight into a grand, paranoid vision should not be easily digestible. The tape is still so much more than just intellectual masturbation or narcissism. Ghostie+’s plethora of sing song flows blend beautifully between staccato synthesizer melodies, lush and organic soundscapes and quick, crunchy percussion.
It’s clear that Ghostie+ (formerly Quinn) is a genius, and his originality extends far past an aesthetic schtick or pretty-sounding flow. A question perhaps as dark as the album is whether his ideas are too strange for everyone else.
HG: If we’re talking too strange for everyone else, we’ve got to bring up KirbLaGoop. The Twitter hivemind going ballistic over Blueface would be a damn apertif compared to the madness that Kirb’s Chihuahua bark voice and flow would bring to the TL. Normal human ears bleed when I show them Kirb, but I have a few friends for whom he’s clicked (these friends are only the most deviant meme consumers). But that’s just his musical output, and his larger impact can’t be quantified by just his soundwaves. He’s a cultural force whose presence has been felt beneath the surface-level tastemakers and 14-year old Soundcloud reposters for years. Even before people like Yachty and Peep were fucking with him, he was facebook messenger scamming fools for lean and putting together C+S DJ Smokey style mixes under the name DJ Kirby. He was the quintessential wyling out white boy, perfected for the internet ghetto before he even touched a mic to squeal over goth beats.
LF: Kirb is always a monster, and as of this month his friend and frequent collaborator Ruben Slikk beat the case, God is good. I’m easily annoyed when plastic, well-marketed instagram personalities who happen to rap are described as “rap weirdos” when forces of nature on the scale of the Jizzlord are ignored. He’s been making actually weird, and occasionally beautiful, underground rap music out of florida for more than 7 years. Between the marathon recording sessions which gave him the posh and elegant flow on display here, he did mountains of hard drugs and had more sex than anyone this side of Lil B.
Of course, living hard and fast is never easy. After robbing a Walgreens with no mask and green dreads and catching a variety of violations, it looked like he was done, but, as I said, God is good. It didn’t make it into the mix, but his first track out of jail with Kirb is a sign of things to come – more beautiful strangeness.
I saw two mid-major SoundCloud success stories perform live on Thursday in Austin and I saw what separates Robb Bank$ and Wifisfuneral from Florida peers like Kirb and Ruben. They don’t rap about PCP or shooting fentanyl, they keep their beats in a digestible and secretly pop-inclined wheelhouse, and they are both excellent performers, handsome with absolutely magnetic personalities. Neither missed a lyric through the entire set, Wifi absolutely smoked a bunch of his verses acapella, and every time they asked for song suggestions the mostly adolescent and mostly white audience seemed to enter into shock.
I’m not trying to subtly neg them for their fan base or being popular: the Conn3cted tape they released this month is dope and I’m happy to see underground legends prosper. Of course, it’s a little less intriguing than Year of the Savage or Black Heart Revenge because neither wants to mess with the good thing they have going.
HG: A group I can see having that same type of mid-major success is Pretty Boy Clique. You’ve been on them since they were gayboiclique and dropping the hottest meme music of all time with extreme experiments in autotune. Well now they’re picking up steam as the mainstream is starting to accept basedtj-type beats as a normal part of our Thug clone world. The group is a bunch of teenagers trolling online in ways that are funny enough to be palatable without being so disturbing as the underworld Kirb represents. Paycheck and tj with their new tape create these cushy meadows with pink bubbles popping all around and golden retrievers running through in slo-mo. It’s luxurious pop music for scammers.
LF: PBC is beyond dope, Paycheck is next up, and that entire tape should be evidence as to why I’ve thought this for two years now. The same way no one knew they needed underground hits about gay incest 2 years ago, nobody but outrageous nerds like me has been asking for more Nightcore trap in their life. On the #BLOODDRIP EP Diamondsonmydick (having a little moment in the underground right now), Based World legend Yung God (who notoriously had his entire swag stolen by Ugly God) and Ocean Gang SODMG affiliate Cartier’God made it work. It’s a trend that should gather momentum, shout out to my bro cl9 who’s been making incredible Nightcore trap mixes for a few years now.