A Few Hidden Gems

The best thing about music these days is the fact that you’re no longer limited to only hear the “popular songs” (by popular I mostly mean songs that get tons of radio play). There are tons of artists these days and plenty of platforms to hear whatever it is that you want to hear. While that in many ways is a blessing, it is also a curse because of the fact that many talented artists don’t get to shine as bright because the pool of artists is so big.

So today I’ve decided to give a shout out to a few of my favorite songs from artists who should be a lot more famous than they are.

I’ll start with the most recent single from my favorite R&B songstress, NAO.  Her song “Another Lifetime” is just an example of the great voice along with the powerful songwriting ability combined the amazing production that all her songs possess which makes her a force to be reckoned with. And its only a matter of time before the world gets hip to it.

Another song people should know about is a little older, because it dropped last year but its never too late to listen to some fire music. “Nvm What I Was Saying” by Donte Jackson is a song that when I heard it, it reminded me of “Marvin’s Room” by Drake. A great song from a great artist that I know is flying under the radar.

 

And the last gem I’ll bestow upon the people will be in the form of a rap song. ATL native, Nick Grant is incredibly underrated, and I believe its because he’s a rapper who prefers to rap over boom-bap beats as opposed to the heavy bassed trap beats that are popular today. He’s a vintage style emcee who is trying to shine in this new generation of rap, and I admire him for valuing his craft. Here’s “Lincoln Apts.” off his latest LP “Dreamin Out Loud:

 

 

Beef is Great for Hip-Hop

 

In case you been living under a rock for the past 24 hours, just know that we’ve been blessed with another great moment in hip-hop. Beef/tension is something that makes Rap unlike any other genre, because in this culture, rather than immediately try to squash it, we encourage it (unless it results in any violent activities then by all means we try to end it). The best part of any rap beef is when we get great music that comes from it, because in its essence, Hip-Hop is competition and hearing two emcees duke it out on tracks is the greatest. Whether its Ice Cube vs NWA, Biggie vs Pac, Jay vs Nas, 50 vs Game, or even today with Drake vs Pusha T; Hip-Hop fans relish at the opportunity to hear a great diss records.

To give some background, Pusha T has been sending shots at the head of Drake and Cash Money records for quite some time. Whether it be more subtle on a verse or more blatant on full records like “Exodus 23:1”; its safe to say that Push has wanted the smoke for quite some time. To the casual fan, putting a diss record like “Infrared” on his new album, DAYTONA may come off as a ploy to get more attention, but to the people who know, this is just Pusha being Pusha.

“The game’s fucked up
Niggas beats is bangin’, nigga, ya hooks did it
The lyric pennin’ equal the Trumps winnin’
The bigger question is how the Russians did it
It was written like Nas but it came from Quentin”

For years Pusha T has been making records like this, so of course this isn’t what made the headlines. When the snippet of this record began to surface, rumors began to circulate from Drake’s camp that a response may be in the works, but no one thought anything of it due to the fact that Drake had been ignoring him for so long.

BUT BOY WERE WE IN FOR A SURPRISE. Not only did Drake surprise the world, but he came out swinging with nothing but haymakers. From the moment Drake’s “Duppy Freestyle” dropped, Twitter could not stop talking about it. And for good reason:

Must’ve had your Infrared wrong, now your head in the beam
Y’all are the spitting image of whatever jealousy breeds

Don’t push me when I’m in album mode
You not even top 5 as far as your label talent goes
You send shots, well, I got to challenge those
But I bring Calicos to the Alamo

Beef excites the hip-hop community, and if these are the type of records we’re going to get, I honestly can’t wait to hear about whatever happens next.

Back Like Never Before

My mom tells me all the time that things tend to trend in cycles. Meaning if they go away for a period of time, eventually they find their way back in a different form but with similarities to the previous ones. And I think that’s what we’re starting to see with this new emergence of R&B.

No offense to the legend, but when T-Pain reached his peak of success back in 09′-’10, his overuse of “autotune” slowly killed R&B. No longer were singing artists actually singing and caring about their lyrics like we’re used to. We saw an overflow of not only singers, but rappers making music with autotune, and were more focused on being catchy rather than substantive. The quality of music took a deep decline.

This is not to say that all R&B that was being made during this time was poor; we still had artists such as Beyonce, Trey Songz, Frank Ocean, Chris Brown, etc. giving us quality music but the majority of the hip hop and R&B landscape was being dominated with the use of autotune. We saw more and more artists who didn’t have strong vocals but we’re considered R&B acts because of their melodic songs (i.e Fetty Wap, Bryson Tiller). But times are starting to change.

We’re now seeing actual vocalists and songwriters being championed again. You see the great success that Solange had with her last project, A Seat At The Table. We’re also seeing the rise of a new R&B songstress SZA with her critically acclaimed debut, CTRL. And with the growth of social media and the internet being the main location where people hear music now, more and more artists are being discovered and the quality of music hitting mainstream sound-waves has increased. Artists like Daniel Ceasar, Khalid, H.E.R., Brent Faiyaz, dvsn, and many more have benefited from this new wave of receiving music.

As a fan of quality music, I think the direction that music is going in, at least as far as R&B is concerned, we’re in a good space. I don’t think we’ll ever matched the kind of music made back in the 90s, but I think we’re taking steps to be just as great.