It may be IDK’s birthday today, but he’s the one giving out gifts. Not just any boring goodie bag either, but the first single off his highly-anticipated, debut album ISHEREAL. Though not as explosive or catchy as you might expect from a first single–especially compared to his last release–to me, “Digital” sounds like a deeper cut that will still fit nicely into the flow of the whole project. Don’t get it twisted, the (now) 27-year-old rapper, still delivers in full, slicing through Kal Banx’s clapping boardwalk with a potent, brutish flow, but it just has a different feel than a typical single. What I love about IDK’s approach here (and in general) is how his tracks progress and how the fluid the progressions are. The DMV-product is so good at changing his cadence, style, or tone and he does it so naturally as to never disrupt the flow of the song; it definitely keeps you hanging on every word. Happy Birthday, IDK! Can’t wait for the album!
6o has really impressed me this year, releasing 8 tracks since January, each one hitting in its own way. Now, he’s back with 6 more tracks, this time, released together as an EP entitled Therapy. That kind of work rate is astounding, but yet again he delivered something fresh. Following suit, 6o’s melodic-driven style engines the project. He really bounces atop some light, colorful production. Though there is a consistent vibe in the direction of the boardwork, 6o does a great job of incorporating unique elements into each one–like the intro on “Therapy” or the heavily atmospheric “Used To It”– to keep things flowing. Vocally, he crooner has a feathery, poppy style, matching the production, but they have some real feeling in them and it’s reflected in the lyrics as well. That ability to convey emotion but do so with a glossy, pop-splashed feel is 6o’s strongest asset, is what has sustained his crazy drop rate, and makes Therapy EP required listening. Standout cuts: “Rather Be Dead,” “Paranoid,” & “Used To It”
Translated, Gwai Mak’s name means “Black Ghost.” It’s a fitting title. Like a ghost, he has an aura of mystery around him, hiding his identity behind a mask. His music, too, is like a ghost, because it always seems to haunt me, appearing at random times and really catching me off guard. Released last month, “Hermit” keeps popping back up in my rotation, especially late at night; with a hazy atmospheric production, it oozes that after-midnight feel. His soft crooning, draped atop the chiming backdrop really echo the ethereal sound. Still, even with a light, airy vibe, there’s a melancholic aura to his vocals, which, when juxtaposed with the track’s soft nature, give “Hermit” a haunting, almost eerie subtext. For more from the enigmatic Atlantan, check out “1 of 1” or his 2018 album Just Demos.
Bonbon Anglais’ new single, “All Along” is different. Not “different” in the way you describe an 8-year-olds art project, but different in that it’s one of the more unique songs, I’ve come across lately. No matter how many times I listen (a number which is growing constantly) I can’t quite place it in any one style, region, or genre. I may not know a lot about Bonbon Anglais– wrapped in a mystery, nobody seems to– but I know that “All Along” is a smash. The self-produced effort draws you in with an effervescent vibe set off by the warm, danceable beat and Anglais’ interesting vocals; I love the sticky drawl in his delivery. Don’t let the refreshing, tropical feel fool you, though, there’s some real meaning to take away from the lyrics, where the crooner comments on about how we spend our time and who (and who we don’t) spend it with. Keeping things light, free, and feel-good, but still having an emotional density, “All Along” is a super convincing offering and has me really excited for Bonbon Anglais’ future.
The DMV is home to some of the most raucous, wild rap right now and I’ve been doing my best to make sure the world gets hip featuring artists like Alireza, Kelow LaTesha, and (by way of Kelow) Black Fortune. Now its time to introduce yet another balls-to-the-wall emcee in El Cousteau via his new video for “Feel Good.” With his own style, he calls “Jammer Music,” El Cousteau brings that brash, uncouth feel with the bars, the beat, and the visuals combining to create an effort that is cohesive in its raw, unrefined direction. Atop StatiQ’s metal-leaning production Cousteau brashly expresses his love of doing what “Feels Good” over what doctors, parents, or anyone with a lick of sense might recommend. Bringing it all together the visuals are frenetic, blurry yet still visually engaging. What impresses me most is how well Cousteau maintains the aggressive, frenetic energy; he never lets up and it makes it all the more convincing. If you dug this one definitely give his album, Straight Drop Season, a spin.
With how quickly everything moves these days, I think artists can fall into the trap of moving on from their last release too quickly without giving it enough attention. That’s why I was happy to see Quadry come back with a video for “Louis” a track off his 2018 album Malik Ruff. I really enjoyed the album when it dropped in November, so the recently released “Louis” video was a nice reminder to get back to it; it also happens to be a great representation of the project as a whole. Quadry, a Baton Rouge native, actually recorded Malik Ruff in L.A. and it’s well reflected with “Louis.” Sonically, he combines the swagger and confidence of Louisiana with the breezy, headnodic bounce of the West Coast, to create an effort that is potent, a little sinister, and light. With how naturally the song soundtracks the West Coast landscape, that L.A.- LA connection is represented visually thanks to the direction of Theo Martins. If you dig this one, I highly recommend giving Malik Ruff some time; it was definitely one of 2018’s most slept-on projects.
Miami-native Twelve’Len has appeared on the pages of LL before as a guest–most recently as a part of Cesar Santalo’s “Light You Up“–but here he makes his solo-Lemonade debut thanks to a charismatic effort in “Thank The Gang.” For this one, the up-and-comer takes a second to celebrate not just his accomplishments but the people behind him who have made it all possible and he does so with a retro twist. Grabbing a chiming, cushioned beat from Mickey De Grand IV & FnZ and loading the visuals with fluorescent lights and a blurry coating (, Twelve’Len gives off an 80’s R&B type feel. Even with a cushioned 80’s vibe, his voice is still splashed that Florida grit to give the effort some edge. No word on if this is a part of anything larger as of yet, but considering how strong this track is, it wouldn’t surprise me to see it on a tracklist down the line.
Though this is his first time gracing the pages of Lyrical Lemonade, this isn’t Mac Ayres’ first rodeo. Thanks to a pair of stellar projects, Ayres has, time and time again, showcased a special ability to cut right through me with the emotion he packs into his lighter, softer crooning. Ayer’s unique brand of R&B just hits different, and his latest” Better” is no exception…it even hits differently than his prior releases. The Sea Cliff, NY native has always seemed to lean to the slower side of things, perhaps because it’s a great environment for his melancholy-doused vocals. On “Better,” however, Ayres connects with a different sound. His feathery vocals, seemingly glide atop the breezy, infectious instrumental to create a feel-good, sun-kissed track that much lighter feel. Let’s hope Mac has more in store for us soon because this sound is perfect for Summer playlists. Extra Credit: “Calvin’s Joint” & “Get To You Again”