Mano Sundaresan is like Kubrick with two bricks.
Shoreline Mafia – “Pour Two 4’s”
We’re now nearly two years removed from Shoreline Mafia’s debut ShorelineDoThatShit, a project that turned heads across the country to a group of friends and graffiti artists from L.A. who also happened to rap. It was the blueprint for Shoreline Mafia’s style: L.A. street rap conceived by a new generation of outcasts raised on the pill popping and VHS fuzz of the 2010s underground. The appeal was immediate, the potential was scary. This was distinctly regional music from a then-insular scene that could slot next to Playboi Carti and XXXTentacion in a SoundCloud mix and be understood by New York hypebeasts and online kids from faceless suburbs.
Since signing with Atlantic, Shoreline has mostly eschewed that DIY ethos for a sound more in line with what the nation wants L.A. rap to sound like: sun-kissed, expensive, fearless. It hasn’t worked against them; “Bands,” their biggest, most luxurious song to date, is also one of their best. But occasionally, they’ll remind us why almost every internet-soaked rap fan that stumbled upon them in 2017 liked what they heard. “Pour Two 4’s” has the mesmerizing, detuned stomp and retro-colored keys of something that Carti or Yung Bans would’ve floated on in their SoundCloud days. Ohgeesy takes on the chorus and his verse with his signature deadpan, while Rob Vicious snaps into an acrobatic double time for his appearance. It’s off their latest tape Party Pack, Vol. 2 that also contains excellent past loosies like “Free Drakeo, Free Greedo” and last year’s responsible driving anthem “Wake Me Up In Traffic.”
Maka Oceania – Pop Drill
A self-referential album title like Pop Drill should immediately raise red flags and, for some POW readers, evoke harsh memories of another self-proclaimed “genre-blending” album from 2015 that had teenagers moping around in Adidas dad hats and long tees for a few unforgivable months. But this album fortunately lives up to its name and offers an interesting look at the future of pop rap. It’s by Maka Oceania, a Cambridge, MA rapper-producer who has always struck me as a future hitmaker out of the scene, even if it’s ultimately in a songwriting capacity. He’s a gifted hook writer with a leathery, malleable voice and a strong ear for melody. He also has that element of weirdness that is paradoxically essential to great pop music. He hangs with guys from left-field underground collective Dark World, sells bright purple and gold trucker hats, and, well, just look at this album art.
On most of the songs on Pop Drill, Maka is sticking to the concept he’s defined for himself, nimbly crooning over drill drum patterns and bright synths. Maka’s at his best when he isn’t trying to do too much as a writer, letting his delivery and melodies propel the consistently great beats. There are moments deeper in the album that feel heavy-handed, as if Maka tried to rework some older songs to fit the theme, but when Pop Drill works, it’s incredibly fun, an experiment that’s exciting to witness unfold. Try the first three tracks.
Danny Brown – “Dirty Laundry”
In the first few seconds of “Dirty Laundry,” the lead single off Danny Brown’s upcoming album uknowhatimsayin¿, you hear that faint cry that popped up a few times on the last Tribe Called Quest record (it’s sampled from “Gimme Some More,” by The J.B.’s, for those who are interested). It’s probably the closest we’ll ever get to a Q-Tip producer tag and serves as a reminder that he’s behind the boards on this song and overseeing the rest of the project. He does not disappoint, crafting a funky beat out of beeps and whirs that gives Danny Brown plenty of room to stumble into new pockets and recount bizarre sexual escapades in his typically strange, opaque ways. Danny hasn’t slowed down as a masterful writer, tying together his raunchy anecdotes (his “dirty laundry”) with constant references to various cleaning products. It all culminates in the final verse, where Danny recalls a literal encounter with a stripper at the laundromat.
If this is a preview of the next act of Danny Brown’s illustrious career, there is plenty of reason to be excited.
Splurge, Rizzoo Rizzoo, Rico Recklezz – “He’s On Fire (Freestyle)”
Every time I think I’m getting tired of the hard, stripped-down beats Splurge popularized, I suddenly become enamored with a new song in that style. This time, it’s Splurge, Rizzoo Rizzoo, and Rico Recklezz trading threats over massive, echoing keys and a loop that could be dissonant strings or a machine whirring or the world’s largest door creaking open. They’re having too much fun in the video for a beat this nightmarish.
MoneyMarr – “Cable Box” / “New Obstacles”
Two singles from MoneyMarr to close out this week’s column. “New Obstacles” features MoneyMarr’s melodic punch-ins and “Cable Box” may blow your speakers out. Both are from his latest tape Draco Vibes 2, which is worth a listen despite that title, trust me. The self-proclaimed Youngest Trapper is only 17 and making music as infectious as anyone out of the DMV. He’s on the shortlist of DMV artists to break out within the next year.