POSTS BY: MIKE DEL RO

Watch Anderson .Paak Perform “Tints” & “Who R U” on SNL

By Mike del Ro // 2 Dec 2018

Anderson .Paak’s new album, Oxnard, dropped just a few weeks ago, and the West Coast representative’s follow-up to 2016’s Malibu has already been met with acclaim from both critics and fans. This past weekend, Paak took his arsenal of funk and soul-infused sounds to the Saturday Night Live stage for performances of two fan favorites from Oxnard, “Tints” and “Who R U”. Paak never disappoints when it comes to a live show, and this performance was no exception. Kicking things off behind the drums for “Tints”, he brought out Kendrick Lamar and transformed the track into a full-blown jam session. From there, he turned up the visuals for “Who R U”, closing the show while moonwalking across the stage. Watch Paak’s impressive SNL performance below and if you haven’t yet, check out Oxnard here.

Mercy – [Grace Weber] ft. [Vic Mensa]

By Mike del Ro // 30 Nov 2018

Singer-songwriter Grace Weber has been honing in on her forthcoming solo project, and she’s offered peeks at her creative process through a series of versatile singles over the past year. The latest song from the Milwaukee artist comes with an accompanying music video and features Chicago’s own Vic Mensa. “Mercy” showcases the soulful singer-songwriter at her most vulnerable—a zone she clearly thrives in as evidenced by this track. Layers of delicate harmonies create a warm one-woman choir, providing the base to hold up Weber’s airy inflections. The song seems to come to a halt when Vic enters the picture, and he sounds at home as he starts to unravel the type of unbridled lyricism he’s always been capable of. It’s a refreshing feature on this track and accompanies Weber’s vocals perfectly. Chicago’s Carter Lang and The Social Experiment’s Nate Fox and Nico Segal produce the song with trained ears, making sure Weber’s voice remains the main attraction. The video for “Mercy” captures the same sense of human connection and forgiveness Weber writes about, and you can see it for yourself below:

E. Coli – [The Alchemist] x [Earl Sweatshirt]

By Mike del Ro // 30 Nov 2018

With a new EP slotted for Nov. 30, west-coast producer The Alchemist has dropped the project’s first single featuring Earl Sweatshirt. On “E. Coli”, the veteran beat-maker matches his ear for hazy, sample-based instrumentals with Earl’s timeless straight-bar style. Earl’s monotone, steady flow hovers atop the production with a weighty presence. Thoughts come out in a moment of lucidity, blending introspection with storytelling in a daydream like stupor. “E. Coli” feels like a quick smoke break of a song and an example of rapper and producer moving in tandem almost effortlessly. There’s also a music video that goes with the song, and thanks to director Jason Goldwatch, it’s actually so uncomfortable that I’d rather you just watch it for yourself instead of trying to break it down. So, peep the perplexing monster battle-inspired visuals for The Alchemist’s “E. Coli” below, and stay tuned for his ‘Bread’ EP coming Nov. 30.

Excited – [Saba]

By Mike del Ro // 30 Nov 2018

Saba keeps the weekly drop streak going this Friday with yet another new song titled “Excited”. On the heels of last week’s Pivot Gang crew-cut “Blood” and the 2nd annual John Walt Day show, the West-side Chicago native’s work ethic seems to really be kicking into gear right now to end the year with a bang. On “Excited, Saba puts his flows on cruise control, navigating the beat with slick cadences that seem to come automatically for him. Always one to incorporate whatever’s going on in his life directly into his lyrics, he raps about the lifestyle of being on tour and being in a relationship and ties everything together into a warm, melodic hook. Frequent collaborators Daoud and DaeDaePIVOT handle the production alongside Saba himself, adding warm textures to his bars through soft horn sections and a steady bounce. Listen to “Excited” below, and be on the lookout for a possible new release next week from Saba as well:

Blood – [Pivot Gang]

By Mike del Ro // 23 Nov 2018

Pivot Gang’s story up to this point has already been a long one, yet the Chicago collective spearheaded by Saba is only starting to garner the attention they deserve. Their new crew cut, “Blood”, serves as a reminder of the range of talent in Pivot’s ranks and a family reunion just in time for Thanksgiving. ‘Chicago’s Most Charming Rapper’ Joseph Chilliams kicks off the track with his signature sense of humor, followed by MfnMelo’s laidback flow that switches up the pace of the song at just the right time. Frsh Waters, who’s emerged this year with a few promising tracks of his own, closes the song out and finishes his last verse with finesse. Saba holds things down on the hook, tying the gang together by proclaiming his loyalty to his family. It’s been a minute since Pivot dropped a group track, and hopefully “Blood” is a sign of more to come. Listen to “Blood” below, and if you’re in Chicago this weekend, see Pivot Gang in action at the 2nd annual John Walt Day this Saturday. produced by @daedaePIVOT & @squeakPIVOT

Beautiful Smile – [Saba] ft. [IDK]

By Mike del Ro // 16 Nov 2018

Following the release of “Stay Right Here” last week, Saba keeps the new music coming with yet another single. Titled “Beautiful Smile”, the Westside wordsmith takes us to the more dismal side of his discography, offering a bleak confrontation of certain aspects of his current place in life. Saba touches on how his life has changed in recent years, the shifting of relationships with people around him and the friends and family he’s lost with a level of vulnerability he’s proven masterful at time and again. His verses unfold like a screenplay, turning stories from his past and present into raps that spawn into vivid images in a listener’s mind. IDK, who dropped his exhilarating ‘IDK & Friends :)’ project just last week, absolutely demolishes his verse as well, making for a natural compliment to Saba. It’s no doubt been a big year for Saba, with the release of ‘Care For Me’ earlier this year bolstering the Chicago native’s status as one of the game’s current strongest lyricists. On “Beautiful Smile”, he keeps things unflinchingly real, making it clear he has no intentions of switching up anytime soon. Stream the new song below and catch Saba at the 2nd annual …

Exhale – [Kemba] ft. [Smino]

By Mike del Ro // 16 Nov 2018

Bronx rapper Kemba has been blending thought-provoking lyricism with an uncanny knack for catchy flows for a minute now, and today, he makes his first appearance on our page with his latest song. “Exhale” marks the first single off Kemba’s forthcoming album and features Smino. With a level of lyrical consciousness derived from influences like Mos Def and an untouched confidence following in the footsteps of the Bronx’s hip-hop history, Kemba’s inspirations undoubtedly shine through in his music. With that said, he melds his flows with atmospheric melodies, spiraling in a way that makes each bar connect seamlessly. Smino seems to be riding the momentum of his already highly-acclaimed ‘NOIR’ album that dropped just last week, as he delivers a memorable feature verse that couldn’t be any more Smino-y. “Exhale” feels like a song borne out of a moment of reflection, and Kemba takes inspiration from the people in his life to craft a track that’s bound to stick with you long after it’s over. Listen below:

Long Way – [Rexx Life Raj]

By Mike del Ro // 16 Nov 2018

With his forthcoming ‘California Poppy’ EP due out at the end of this month, Rexx Life Raj has dropped the first single and music video from his project. “Long Way” showcases the Bay Area native paying homage to his home, as he parades around his streets surrounded by Golden State Warriors fans. With wildfires continuing to intensify in California, this video feels especially timely and offers a reminder of strength in the Bay Area community. The track itself takes on a celebratory tone, as Rexx stays loyal to his roots and clarifies that he’ll never switch up. His easygoing demeanor comes through in his verses, and he ties the track together with a melodic hook that floats atop atmospheric production. Peep the video for “Long Way” below, and look out for ‘California Poppy’ out November 30:

MORE STORIES