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This Is Your World – [Shy Girls]

By Lucas Garrison // 17 Jan 2019

Though it is only about a year old, the Keep Cool imprint some serious weight behind it. Under the RCA umbrella, Keep Cool was co-created by  Tunji Balogun, who, if you’re wondering, has played an instrumental role in the career of SZA, Khalid, Bryson Tiller, H.E.R., and Goldlink (just to name a few). Just yesterday, the imprint announced the “Keep Cool Projects”, described on  Twitter as a “forum for events, visual content, everything-in-between + a way for us to release music we love that might otherwise get lost in traditional systems.” The first project? “This Is Your World”: a smooth, understated effort from Portland crooner, Shy Girls. With a plunging bass, steady drums, and a smooth guitar solo that rounds out the effort, the track gives off some jazzy vibes. Vocally, Shy Girls impresses with his gliding, feathery vocals that, when juxtaposed with the bass-driven boardwalk, provide a unique flavor, and the final result is a song that I can’t seem to keep off of repeat. That said, “This Is Your World” is the first single off Shy Girls’ forthcoming album, Bird on the Wing, set to drop this spring. Be sure to keep a close eye on the Keep Cool Projects as well. With major …

Better Forever – [Butch Dawson] ft. [Hemlock Ernst]

By Lucas Garrison // 16 Jan 2019

Baltimore emcee, Butch Dawson has been absolutely killing it with the visuals for his 2018 project, Swamp Boy, and his latest flick might be the best yet. One of the most interesting tracks off the album, “Better Forever” takes a key from the project’s title with a murky atmosphere, paced by the marauding strings and Dawson’s lurking flow. With such a distinct feel, “Better Forever” begs for a visual component, and, quite literally filmed in a foggy swamp, the video delivers.  As if “Better Forever” didn’t have enough mystique already, Dawson is joined by Hemlock Ernst, the rapping alter-ego of Future Island’s frontman Samuel T. Herring, who is one of the most interesting live performers you will find. Apparently can rap a little bit too and he definitely holds his own here. Dawson is definitely a name you are going to want to get to know, so go check out Swamp Boy if you dig this one. Watch here!

Beamlight – [Jay Prince]

By Lucas Garrison // 15 Jan 2019

When I see Sango’s name attached to something, I can’t press play fast enough. A longtime fan of the producer, I’m usually expecting something with tremendous bounce and color, which is why Jay Prince’s sinister new effort “Beamlight” caught me off guard (in the best possible way). Here, Sango joins forces with Savon, combining knifing snares and subdued keys that work together to create track’s callous feel. It’s the perfect canvas for Jay Prince to paint a picture of the challenging, unforgiving environment he comes from and his determination to rise above. From top to bottom– from the beat, to Prince’s calculated approach, to the striking, black-and-white visuals– “Beamlight” is so effective in its minimalism. It’s not easy to create such a powerful effort with such a bare-bones approach, but Prince nailed it. “Beamlight” can be found on Prince’s forthcoming project, the Mourning EP, set to drop on January 25th.

Mind Ya Business – [YGTUT]

By Lucas Garrison // 14 Jan 2019

Gearing up for the release IOU, YGTUT, is not messing around & the music speaks for itself. Just three days after unleashing the visuals for “Get It” (which, by the way, has been in  heavy rotation since it’s initial release), the Chattanooga mainstay returns with another rotation-ready effort in “Mind Ya Business”. What drew me into his music, continues to be my favorite thing about the emcee; his voice. Booming, and stalwart that voice carries so much weight, but, still, the emcee is deceptively fluid. That combination is on full display on this one. Again, his voice anchors the track, but he’s so in the pocket, he bends with the atmospheric beat from D. Sanders, to create a clean, headnodic effort. YGTUT  has been building something special, and I hope IOU is what sends him over the top. With “Get It” and now “Mind Ya Business,” it’s looking like that’ll be the case.  

Leave Me Alone – [Neeko Crowe]

By Lucas Garrison // 12 Jan 2019

With the release of his new, four-track project, Neeko Crow took to Instagram to provide some context for the aptly titled Four Now, saying, “I’ve put an emphasis on making music that embodies how I feel at the moment of creation.” The approach clearly worked, as evidenced by the project’s standout cut, “Leave Me Alone.” Arguably the most powerful of the four cuts, “Leave Me Alone” comes from a dark place. Utilizing croaking vocals that stroll the line between singing and rapping, Crowe opens up about his demons with lines like “Trying to get away but out the depths, I couldn’t climb” and “See the glass half empty, my body emptier.” The subdued delivery contributes perfectly to this dark, haunting atmosphere, and production-wise, Neeko’s Houston roots are on display, with a hazy, syrupy beat that Chad Butler would surely bend a few corners to. If you dig this cut, definitely check out Four Now, but be ready, because Neeko Crow has range and no two songs sound alike.

Mourning EP – [RITTYBO]

By Lucas Garrison // 12 Jan 2019

There’s a crazy amount of talent coming out of the Bay Area right now, and, with the release of her Mourning EP, its time to add RITTYBO to the list. I tried to find one track to highlight, but the more I listened, the harder it became to pick just one. Gun to my head I’d probably go “In The End,” but I was really impressed by the entire effort, and, with a 15-minute runtime, it’s one you can press play and vibe out to in-full. The runtime may be short (especially in this day and age), but in no way does it feel empty. The production has a consistent feel, often driven by airy strings complimented by crisp drums and some heavy bass to give the songs some weight (shoutout to the engineer who mixed this to perfection). Vocally, RITTYBO’s approach smooth, understated approach is perfect for the production. She tackles the frustrations relationships can bring, without ever overexerting herself, creating an original, R&B-rooted style. The Mourning EP is now streaming on the platform of your choice. Don’t sleep!

Deadass – [Kemba]

By Lucas Garrison // 11 Jan 2019

Freshly signed to Republic Records, running with the likes of Smino (see “Exhale”), and set to embark on a nationwide tour with Pell and Brasstracks, Kemba is poised to make some noise this year and there’s no question about it. Today, that noise begins with “Deadass” — an assertive, self-produced effort that showcases the Bronx emcee’s distinct sound in a refreshing way that will surely impress listeners. Right off the bat, Kemba’s deep vocals grab you, but it’s the flow that is the selling point of the cut. Despite his rumbling voice, his flow is noticeably fluid, as each line seems to fall into the next, giving the track some serious momentum. Adding fuel to the fire, the combination of the vocals and the flow — booming but smooth — hammer home the tracks underhandedly-brash attitude, and with this, “Deadass” is definitely a uniquely-flavored effort. With the major label resources at his disposal, it should be fun to watch Kemba’s rise. This rising talent needs to be on your radar for 2019, so be sure to show him some love and check out the new song below!      

New Year Theme Song – [HDBeenDope]

By Lucas Garrison // 10 Jan 2019

Already ten days into 2019, you might be struggling for some motivation to follow through on all those resolutions you made. Should that be the case (or even it if it’s not) you need to press play on HDBeenDope’s latest offering, “New Year Theme Song.” Determined to have a breakout year the Lyrical Lemonade Newcomer, comes out of the gate hot with an incendiary offering where he officially lays 2018–and all of its setbacks–to rest. Atop the horn-laden backdrop, HD recounts the adversity he faced last year–including what sounds like with falling out with Atlantic– utilizing a razor sharp flow and some loaded bars to get his authentic message across. Though the New York emcee really pulls back the proverbial curtain, he never compromises his confidence; a testament to his energy, flawless delivery, and, most importantly, his conviction. No word yet on larger plans for HDBeenDope, but if he attacks 2019 with even half as much energy as he did this track, it should be a big year for him.