For the Hank Aaron Edition of Quickies, we’ve got a lot of great music. Let’s skip the formalities and get right into the swing of things.
SplashBrothaz x Sadat X – “Barz is Life”
A song that has a distinct old-school feel to it while still sounding timely, “Barz” features the SplashBrothaz tag-teaming with Sadat X over a Ski Beatz production. I like this one because of its feel. Lyrically, it’s also a solid track. But the feel is like a summer breeze: full of potential and equally cool.
WestWrldSyd – “Chosen One”
A song that sounds like a mainstream street single with an edge, “Chosen One” is very radio-ready. However, the bars on the song are more lyrically-inclined than your typical street single. The West Philly-born artist is boisterous but also has a flow that’s unique, kind of like a mix between Joey Bada$$ and Lil Baby.
Maro Music – “Never Give Up”
Polish producer Maro collaborates with reggae artist Deadly Hunta to provide a song that’s equal parts revolutionary and bombastic. The production feels futuristic and dark, which lends itself well to the theme of the track. That is, we’re given a lot of “even when things get rough, don’t back out” vibes on the lyrics. The futuristic visuals add to this theme of fighting against the darkness as well. I like the emotions Hunta gives the lyrics as well as the beat. All in all, it’s a solid song, one that’ll appear on Maro’s REJECTS project.
Namir Blade – “Ride”
A song that’s futuristic in some ways while also being lyrically in-depth, “Ride” is equal parts vibe and love letter to the vehicles that can “at least get [us] from point A to point B.” It plays like a KRIT song sonically, but also discusses the classism and technological advances (or hindrances) that come with each sort of car. I like the multilayered nature of this song, which is the first single off Namir’s Metropolis album, due out June 3rd. If the album proper is anything like this song, you’re going to get a bevy of sociological commentary while also songs that just make you want to bob your head to the beat and let the lyricism wash over you and take you with it.
Lil Zib – “On My Own”
A song that’s about breakups and everything that comes with them, Zib’s “On My Own” reminds me of something you’d hear from a mix between Mac and Tyler. It’s bouncy at parts but has an underlying darkness and struggle within the lyrics. The artist is trying to figure out where they’re going after the breakup and that is really half of the battle. I mean, once you figure out your path, you’ve got to live by these new rules and grow up and grow on. I like the production, especially towards the end, because it’s got a dreamy boombap sort of feel to it.
Toxic Holiday – “hurt me love”
A mix between Summer Walker and Maxwell sonically, “hurt me love” is one of those songs that’s about the nature of unhealthy relationships and the toxicity that comes with them. It’s got a feel to it that’s educational but also warrants you wanting to give the group a hug and say “damn, I’m sorry you got screwed over. Let’s rebuild ourselves together.” This song itself was two years in the making and it feels timely and, at points, timeless in its discussion on unhealthy loves and how they can break us down–only for us to want to build ourselves back up, stronger and better than before.
Reeny Smith – “Goodbye”
Another song about moving on and upward after a negative episode, “Goodbye” is inspirational as well as empowering. I love the production here, as it feels very funk-centric. I also just love the message of being better for yourself after something goes left. The Canadian singer/songwriter/producer left everything out there emotionally on this song, which helps it become that much more stronger.
Cliff Savage – OD
This is one I’d recommend just listening to the track versus reading me talking about it. That’s because Cliff Savage here is like a mix between Kendrick and IDK. Lyrically, the song’s one of those anthemic sorts of tracks that seems destined to make a mark sonically. However, the B&W video adds a bit of grittiness to everything because we see Savage as a further mix between the old and new schools of hip-hop. The song’s a bop, but it’s dark and lyrically impressive.
Elle Baez – “Mister Possessive”
A song about taking back control in toxic relationships, “MP” finds Baez on a journey of self-discovery–and saying “damn these toxic men and their behaviors.” It’s equally a middle finger to that possessive ex and a song that’s catchy and tries to empower as much as it does just flip off the negative vibes. In other words, Baez knows she’s moving onto bigger and greater things and she’s making it known that this person won’t bring her down anymore. It’s also an anthem for those who may struggle to get out of these relationships, like an “I understand because I’ve been there” sort of thing.
Jthurston – “Seven Days”
I like this one because of the 2010s-esque West Coast production and the lyrics. It feels like a mix between YG and Too $hort sonically. Then the lyrics are essentially a healthy dose of “no days off; can’t sleep until I make my mark.” And it works. That’s especially because it’s equally a song for the dreamers who may not have 24/7 to devote to their craft(s)–but still do the damn thing regardless.
Tony Pops – “For Keeps”
I love this one because it’s sexy in a Salt-n-Pepa sort of way mixed with some neo-soul. That helps bring out the idea that this song is about sexual desire and even a little obsession with that person who gets you off in just the right way. I love the production here because it’s smooth and reminds me a bit of a Prince song as well. I guess that’s what Tony meant when it was said that their music is “genre-bending,” as there are a lot of moving parts here that just work so damn well together. This is sexual without being incredibly crass and in-your-face about sex without being overly abrasive, which always gets my attention for sure.
Mannix – ‘Samples with Some Bars’ EP
This one grabbed my attention with two songs. Those were the title track and the Smokey Robinson-sampling “Duffel.” “Duffel” got me because it samples one of my favorite Smokey tracks (“Baby Come Close”) to discuss some mental health struggles. And “Samples with Some Bars” got me because, well, it’s a great sample with a ton of quotable lyrics. Sonically, Mannix sort of reminds me of Mac Miller with his love of soulful flips and introspective hip-hop. The rest of the four-track EP is equally impressive and beautiful as well. However, I’d pay special attention to “SWSB” and “Duffel.” He’s aware of his struggles and seemingly uses music to help deal with the negativity in his life while also letting people know that they’re not alone in their own struggles. It’s kind of like a certain “No-Fi King” who also writes his butt off about other people and their music.
Josh Sallee x K.A.A.N. – “Let Me Live My Life”
This one is a bit of a full-circle moment, especially since K.A.A.N. was one of my first interviews that wasn’t housed on SOTB. It’s also a full-circle moment for the artists on the song since Sallee and K.A.A.N. collaborated twice over the past decade. I love this song because it’s one of those tracks that lets it be known that being yourself is the way to go–and the only way to truly get ahead in life.
Linqua Franqa – “Oh Fxck”
Featuring of Montreal & Pip The Pansy, “Oh Fxck” is another bombastic track from Franqa’s Bellringer album. This one’s bouncier and more upbeat than some of the other tracks off the album (especially the defiant title track). However, it’s equally empowering and pro-dissembling the patriarchy that’s trying to keep us all down. I love it, but that’s especially because Franqa’s become one of my favorite indie artists in such a short amount of time. Their grasp of what makes a hit song mixed with what it takes to make protest music? It’s an amazing combination, one that you don’t really get as often in hip-hop these days. Their music’s like a futuristic throwback and it’s equally pro-love and pro-working-class. In other words, you need a bop that also challenges capitalism? Look no further than Franqa’s music. “Oh Fxck” is the perfect summer anthem if you’re about getting yourself away from tyrannical forces and patriarchal insanity and just enjoying life.
The Loosies – “Crustaceans”
I’ll admit: this is one of those “don’t judge a book by its cover” sort of tracks. I mean, the visuals feature the group dressed up as crabs and shrimp. However, I kept listening and got a song about rallying to combat racism, negativity in humanity and standing up against terrible leaders. It’s a bit fitting that this one lists right after Linqua Franqa’s song, because like “Oh Fxck,” “Crustaceans” is a protest song masked as something else. I’m here for the funkiness of this one as it reminds me of a mix between Pigeons Playing Ping Pong and The Roots.
Otis Mensah – “Aurora Borealis”
A darker sort of song, Otis Mensah’s “Aurora” features the artist playing the piano in an abstract-jazz sort of way. It’s alternative hip-hop in the best possible way: it’s unlike much else while still discussing the human condition–specifically the human condition as it relates to grief and loss. This song, like “Black Box,” appears on Mensah’s to-be-released things I should have said a year ago EP, which is slated for an early May release. I’m intrigued as to how the rest of the project’ll play out. If nothing else, it sure as hell will be interesting to hear.
And on that note, I’m signing off for the weekend. Listen to these tracks, support dope music in all its forms and enjoy the weather. Next week and week after next, I’ll be a bit out of pocket as I’m taking some time off to enjoy with my children.