Mano Sundaresan thinks you’ve got dumb for brains.
Quelle Chris – “Guns” (prod. Chris Keys, Dane, Quelle Chris)
Detroit’s Quelle Chris has quietly put together one of the most consistent runs in indie rap over the last decade. Initially operating in the shadow of J Dilla, he has since come into his own and become a torchbearer for the subgenre, both as a rapper and producer. Quelle Chris is a conversational MC, dropping gems quietly and making you work to notice them. On last year’s Everything’s Fine, he and Jean Grae packed massive themes like identity politics, trauma, and state violence into taut, biting verses.
Chris is readying his next album Guns for a March 29 release, and the eponymous lead single carries the subversive quality of his best work. He explores the ethics of gun possession, rapping from the perspective of a gun in the chorus. The flanged piano and drums are the ideal backdrop for Chris to document his peers’ first times shooting a gun and explain how “procrastinating will get you popped.” It’s somber and slight and a little snarky.
Buddy – “Cubicle (feat. 03 Greedo)”
It makes sense that Buddy is one of the most popular rising hip hop artists out of LA. Polished enough for mainstream radio but unafraid of throwing it back, he’s everything the average rap listener is looking for in an LA rapper. He’s always been a bit of a chameleon, too, which has worked to his advantage. The biggest single off Harlan and Alondra was a pop rap song with Khalid; the second biggest was a Compton soliloquy set to G-Funk.
He’s back with that album’s re-release, which includes four new songs. The best is easily the Greedo song “Cubicle.” Every moment of new Greedo is a blessing and here he bodies hook and verse duties. Buddy and Greedo feels like a pop rap duo that should’ve happened. It’s still Free 03, all 2019 and beyond.
BBY Kodie – “KEY ?” (prod. No Friends & White Forest)
This song could’ve been so much more annoying (it’s only a little) but BBY Kodie lands every line near-perfectly. He’s an 18-year-old rapper from Houston, TX, whose SoundCloud page is full of distorted bass and meme raps. His music with producer No Friends, by comparison, is airy and distinctly Houston. Here, Kodie is very funny and sneaky technical.
Lil Cj Kasino / BooGatti Kasil – “I’ll Be Back”
I could listen to Lil Cj Kasino do the punch-in triplet flow forever.
Qari & greenSLLIME – “Operation Hennessy”
Dark, humorous night rap from two Chicago stars. Qari is a spitter from Chicago whose aloof, yet contemplative and intricate rapping has earned him considerable buzz locally. Green Sllime supplies him with seven soulful beats that sample everything from The Life Aquatic to MF DOOM. Qari hops and slithers in and out of rhythms, and he’ll sometimes wait an extra second or two to finish phrases, then leap into them like he’s planned everything. His writing is similarly jumbled yet tightly knit. Try the title track and “Pony.”