Harley Geffner will not stand for anyone questioning his cred as a Knicks fan.
Larry June – Product of the Dope Game
Larry June is possibly the most consistent force in the industry right now. He drops a nearly perfect tape every 2 months. While he grapples with the trying aspects of fatherhood and the morality of pushing dope to pay for diapers on this tape, there’s also his classic casual asides about the most normal shit, like how he’s cleaning up his kitchen listening to Anthony Hamilton or shopping at Trader Joe’s and watching movies from the 80’s. He does such a good job of really bringing you in to his space.
Wondha Mountain ft. Yung Lean – “Divine Madness”
The backup plan has always been to go to a monastery in Southeast Asia to live an ascetic lifestyle in search of liberation from samara (wandering). After taking a class on Buddhism in college, I determined this would be the best course of action if burnout reached an extreme level in my mid-30s or if I had to flee from the feds (ostensibly for plotting the communist uprising). In class, we learned about the challenges that many ancient traditions and ritualistic enclaves have had to deal with related to the integration of technology.
Many monks have welcomed modern conveniences and new ways to spread the good teachings, but of course it also takes us further from the present moment and our physical surroundings, which is inherently at odds with the pursuit of full spiritual awareness.
This is the song that I imagine the more tech-savvy monasteries use for their morning wake-up prayer. Listening to Wondha Mountain’s mostly incoherent wailing feels like a meditative act in itself, with the echoes amplified through a stone-laden structure deep in the forest. According to Yung Lean, Wondha, who hails from Mongolia, has “been a member of the Sad Boys and Drain Gang since the early days, both as a spiritual leader and a crazy designer.” He links with Lean here to deliver this powerful sermon on finding common ground with the natural world around us. It’s impressive that on any song with Lean, he could be the less mystical sounding artist, but the Mongolian’s vocals deliver you to a serious place of self-reflection, as if you listen carefully, you can make out a hazy “Up in the mountains, I been working on myself.”
Though the visuals are kind of cool, it feels overdone. Wondha designed all the costumes and wings and shit, which would be really dope in a fashion show, but I’d rather just watch a quietly running brook and let my mind wander into the mystical sphere on its own. Forcing a vision of this mysticism on us is an annoying creative choice, but I get he’s flaunting those crazy designs. Just grab the mp3 for your next nature walk and be done with it.
Bandgang Biggs & Bandgang Javar – Free Biggs
2019 has been the year of Detroit. And while the Bandgang crew has appeared more like sidekicks to the breakout stars like Teejayx6, Sada Baby, and the Shittyboyz, they’ve been building the city’s rap scene’s momentum for the past 4 years, laying the blueprint for the stars to bring national attention. On Free Biggs, Bandgang Biggs, who is dealing with some legal troubles if you couldn’t tell from the title, and Javar offer a more relaxed vision of the day-to-day lifestyle of a young midwestern scammer.
It starts with a buzzing feeling over your skull, as Biggs sits in the barber chair explaining the origins of his name, which like most nicknames, pops up on you whether you like it or not. The more you dislike it, the harder it sticks. Then he delves into some pretty standard getting money bars over some pretty standard funky, haunted Detroit basslines. It sounds like it should be a little boring, but it actually feels like a nice respite from the frenetic energy of the punch-in flows. Biggs and Javar’s lines seem to casually slide over top of the previous ones, instead of hammering you over the head. You’ll still find some laughable or hot phrasings, but it’s easier listening than most of the music that’s come out of the city that demands full attention and sharp listening. And FYI, the features are labeled on the Apple Music and Spotify versions.
Chester Watson – Nebulous EP
Chester Watson is speaking from the future. He says as much on the opener to the Nebulous EP, chanting that soon we’ll know what he means. His musings on the nature of reality and self-growth are dreamy, and the cover art of just a patch of clouds is the perfect setting for his music. Adult life has sped up my mind to the point where it feels like a vacation to just look up the clouds sometimes and Chester’s music has that same effect.
Yungeen Ace – “Step Harder”
This is a damn Tarantino movie. There’s a million dollar hit out on Yungeen Ace and he’s just murdering every hitman who’s trying him. With or without the gratuitous violence, the song is straight up hot. Ace’s twangy Florida accented melodies can make literally anything sound good and if you’re feeling it, his new tape titled after this track is a great listen.
The Outfit Mel – “Berzerk”
Mel, of the Outfit TX, carries his Dallas swag on his back. It’s a casual sort of swagger that comes off in his lowkey dance steps. But he mixes that laid back country nature of his with the water bottle chucking and street stomping spunk of someone like Da Baby. The result is a no frills attitude that’s easy to latch on to.