SOTBMusic Quickies Vol. 17, 1/25/22

It’s Tuesday, you know what that means. Today has been…interesting. I mean, I’m doing another Quickies post a day after the last one (that won’t be a regular occurrence, but some things came up). That said, we’ve got a lot of new music to get through–especially since 17 is one of my favorite numbers. Let’s get into it and support dope music in all its forms.

Legaci – “Illuminated”

DMV artist Legaci’s “Illuminated” is, technically, a 2021 release. That said, it’s new to me. It’s like a mix between Missy Elliott and NighLawn. There’s just something about DMV women artists that sounds unique and unlike most of the rest of the world. Legaci’s rapid-fire lyricism hits as hard as most dude’s while still being a bop. “Illuminated” is a two-and-a-half-minute tour de force of hip-hop excellence.

AYO^ – Without You

DMV-based singer/producer AYO^ (pronounced “I-YO”) caught my attention with this one. It’s like a softer Durk song, because it’s got the grit but there’s the emotion and the “I’ll listen this time because I want you here” vibes here as well. “Without You” also has some great production, held together by booming bass and twinkling pianos.

Sun Kim – “It’s Been Awhile”

Korean R&B singer Sun Kim’s latest is smooth and beautiful. I had to translate the lyrics via Google, but love is a universal language. We’ve known that on SOTB for years. Sun Kim understands this and sings well about a lost love who he wants back. His vocals are chill, but they cause you to become intrigued by his plight as well. Sonically, it reminds me a bit of a Frank Ocean track or a Tom Misch song.

Kel Sykes – “Better”

A song about moving on, Kel Sykes’ “Better” has a lo-fi feel to it. I think that’s what grabbed me the most about it. It’s got a real bedroom recording vibe to it, but that adds to the emotions–at least to me. I also love the falsetto he gives us here, because it also adds to the weight of the song. The production is simple, which allows for the vocals to truly become their own thing.

Tai Marie – “Sukiyaki”

I’ve always loved this song, from the original Japanese version to the R&B version from A Taste of Honey. Interesting sidenote for my nerds out there, the original song isn’t named “Sukiyaki” in Japanese. Its original title translates to something along the lines of “I Look Up as I Walk.” Its English title is more of an American “it’s a Japanese word and it’s catchy” sort of thing. But we’re not here to discuss casual racism–at least not on this song.

Tai Marie’s version does a H.E.R. sort of rendition of the A Taste of Honey version. That’s down to the stripped down vocals and production on the song. It also helps that Tai Marie’s vocals are, well, a taste of honey in their own right. She’s got a sweet voice, but one that’s still powerful enough to hit you right in the feels.

Bobby Thibs – “Sins of the Father”

Need some boombap that discusses the growth of a man who wants to do better than those before him? Bobby Thibs’ “Sins of the Father” is for you. The sample speaks to me and the lyrics are hard-hitting as well as they are thought-provoking. He discusses growth, humanity and religion (specifically needing God in a life that’s a bit more secular than most) all in this one song, where he tries to find the answers to some of life’s hard questions. Ultimately, we get his opinions on these questions and the answers may not be as clear as we’d like. That’s human nature, though. Not everything’s meant to be spelled out in Alphabet Soup.

Jesse Roper – “Hold On Me”

I love the throwback vibes on this one. They’re giving me the feelings of, say, a mix between Bob Dylan’s vivid songwriting and Otis Redding’s vocals. The song itself is about an up-and-down relationship and how the woman in question still has, well, a hold on the singer. This one was crafted because Roper’s manager called him asking for “a hit.” Sometimes, our best music is brought out and up by others asking us to step out of our comfort zones.

Flores – “American Dirt”

Remember when I said that we would probably be discussing racism in today’s Quickies? Well, Flores’ “American Dirt” talks about folks being ignorant and vile towards her people. As someone who’s on the Mexican/American border, Flores uses cutting critiques against racism and ignorance to craft a song that’s not only a protest song but one that’ll get you emotionally invested in what she’s putting down. It’s like one of those songs that confronts racism and tells you “fuck that shit and learn why it’s wrong.” I love this one because it’s insightful and politically-charged without being cheesy or too on the nose.

DOON – “May I”

Virginia Beach native DOON raps his ass off on this short freestyle. It’s kinda like something that’d come together if MF DOOM worked with Curren$y. Like, it’s lyrically fire AF but also has that “Pusha-T Face” vibe to it as well. In other words, it’s one of those quick freestyles that leaves you wanting/needing more, like a quick hit of the blunt.

Calling Cadence – “Just The Way It Goes”

Imagine if Sam Cooke got ghosted in the 2020s and wrote a song about it. That’s the premise of LA-based group Calling Cadence’s latest. It’s a solid track, one that’s as soulful as it is anti-ghost. I love the instrumental bridge after the second verse, as it takes me back to those older songs my folks would play at every family function.

theMVP – “Whatcha Be About?”

theMVP’s one of those “real rap” hip-hop artists, but “Whatcha Be About” isn’t just one of those “I’m a god, y’all peons” sort of “real rap” songs. Instead, it takes MVP’s love of the genre (remember that Rap is the Art Form, after all) and challenges newer artists who aren’t here for the love to either step up or get shut down. It’s aggressive and still sounds like a 2020s rap track in its production, something that some purists struggle with (blending newer sounds with older messages). I like the “Second Round KO”-homaging video as well, which is one of the reasons why I’m posting about this one.

I promise we’ll be back to our regularly-scheduled SOTBness tomorrow (in other words, don’t expect a Quickie).

Speed on the Beat

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