The Rap-Up: Week of July 27, 2020

The Rap-Up returns with heat from lojii, Tony Shhnow, and more.
By    July 27, 2020

No gimmicks, no private equity benefactors, just the best rap music every week. Please support Passion of the Weiss on Patreon.

Mano Sundaresan will waive his revenue share with the block this Friday.

Tony Shhnow – “No Ceilings / Trap Addict”

The mark of a good music video is when the music is almost secondary, just a component in the cinematic experience. Moshpit’s videos fall into that category. Their YouTube channel is a continuous surrealist landscape, a confluence of cherry skies and bolts of fire, cars and cartoons. To reflect this environment, the songs themselves are altered, EQ’d differently, peppered with thunder and rainfall, chopped and screwed. It’s a refreshing, unprecedented take on the rap video format, and Moshpit is using it to give talented underground rappers the shine they deserve.

In this video, Tony Shhnow, Atlanta plug rap extraordinaire, leaves his house and meets up with a flat, animated dude with a balloon-like orb for a head. “No Ceilings” isn’t much more than a few keyboard plucks and quiet percussion, and Shhnow brags with the most somber, confessional look on his face to this cartoon: “I put food in my music ‘cause I know that they gon’ soundbite.” They say goodbye, he lights a cigarette, and heads home. You’d expect to see the credits roll at that point, but it seamlessly transitions to visuals for another Tony Shhnow song, “Trap Addict.” Moshpit never disappoints.

Capolow – “Drop That Bag”

Capolow’s “Drip” hasn’t left my rotation since the single became a frenzy in the Bay Area (and Harley wrote about it in this column). It checks all the boxes of a platonic summer hit, including sounding a lot like Fetty Wap. In fact, Capolow is basically Oakland’s answer to Fetty, from the voice to the melodies to even the vibrato. His latest single “Drop That Bag” continues the momentum. Capolow’s irresistible hook, slight melodic hints of “No Scrubs,” and of course his trademark “Ay ay!” make for another one that’s going to go off for a while. 

Avenue & 9Cinco – “Comin Alive”

The other day, Massachusetts music mensch Jeremy Karelis asked Twitter, “what is your favorite Boston rap song of all time?” The replies ranged from the rightfully obvious — Cousin Stizz, Mr. Lif, Guru — to the more obscure and local — Reks, Jefe Replay, Vintage Lee. One name kept popping up that I’m positive most rap fans outside MA haven’t heard of: Avenue. He doesn’t do crazy numbers, and judging by his music — restrained, true-school — doesn’t aspire to be a star, but arbitrary metrics and careerist narratives could never define someone like him. Every city has rappers like Avenue. Artists who aren’t trying to “shift the sound of rap” or attain critical acclaim but instead aim to deliver quality project after project for a small, loyal audience within a 10 mile radius. You listen to Avenue for balance, control, and an eye for local detail that you could only attain by living in Boston’s South End/Lower Roxbury neighborhood and paying close attention. “Comin Alive” is a good entrypoint; try his 2015 tape The Chandelier View for the full experience.

lojii – “patience”

Across Spotify and Apple Music’s algorithmically derived interfaces, moods are tapped, computed, generated; nostalgia is bottled up and personalized; and “discovery” is turning into shapeless, recommended-if-you-like songs that are spoon-fed to you. The worst part of this is the platforms’ devious flattening of vibrant artists, scenes and subgenres into “vibes” and “feels.” 

lojii’s music has probably ended up in one of those big, generic Chill playlists, and in such a context, sure, it is “chill.” But it’s also anxious, stoic, writerly. His song “patience” transports you into his own world of highs and lows. Even when his mom and dad are going through their own troubles, there’s dew on the grass, purple haze floating by, and hope dead-center in his vision.

EBK Young Joc, EBK Trey, EBK Durkio – “Back 2 Back”

This song by three of the EBK Hotboiiz reminds me of how good and underrated Stockton, CA rap is. It also reminds me of Indian soap operas. Seriously. I don’t know where else I’d hear strings like these.

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