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Will Schube does his best crooning in the finest karaoke bars.
There’s always someone up next in LA. Right now it’s 20-year-old MCM Raymond, a graduate of Hamilton High’s Music Academy and the heir apparent to the R&B-indebted bars that have become a staple from deep in the Valley all the way to Watts. Raymond calls Inglewood home, but like any good resident of the 310, Raymond’s slim but powerful discography fixates itself on a melting pot of influences—both local and national. His SoundCloud features a smattering of tracks and guest spots, but he’s already found an audience with his big single, “Every Week.” With production from Ereqfuheva, Raymond’s melodic approach bounces along a light bed of synths, hi hats, and the occasional 808 bomb just to keep the bass engaged.
Raymond splits his time between a sing-song style and more casual rap flows, falling into the camp of LA crooners like Kalan Fr.Fr and 03 Greedo. He’s a product of this era, a collective of emcees that get as much use out of vocal texture and interesting phrasings as they do punchlines and strong 16s.
“Every Week” is the obvious summertime hit, casual and breezy, with a healthy dose of autotune giving Raymond’s voice a little boost and character. The song’s already nine months old, and with almost 700,000 SoundCloud streams on that song alone, he’s placing himself among the next class of rap heroes in the city. Raymond’s recent output hasn’t hit the same wave, but proves that he’s more than capable.
“Late Night” takes a stripped down club beat with DJ scratches and ghostly chords, backing it with Raymond’s unassuming, almost voyeuristic flow. He’s less a storyteller than an observer, recounting long nights driving around the city and sleepy days that begin when most folks get off work as if it’s from a movie he’s seen a long time ago. These songs have cobwebs. They’re lived in. Raymond sounds familiar, as if he’s been doing this for 20 years. “Bad Bitch & Nudity” is perhaps the most aptly titled song of 2019, beginning with an instantly-iconic line from Raymond: “He lyin’ if he said he never heard of me/On me all these females used to curve me.” During the chorus, he succinctly spells out what men have tried and failed to say for hundreds of years: “I need a bad bitch and some nudity.”
None of Raymond’s most recent tracks reach the musical highs of “Every Time,” but they situate him as a steady voice among LA’s next great rappers. A mixtape or two should bring him closer to that upper echelon. The single already has Lil Tecca on it, and with a co-sign from Billboard’s newest Top 10 presence, Raymond is sure to get some ears outside of the city limits.
During a year in which LA’s two biggest presences have been stolen from us, these little consolation prizes are worth gold. Even if Greedo and Drakeo were free men, though, I’m certain MCM Raymond would be buzzing. LA’s always big enough for one more star.