Connect with John on Twitter and Instagram.

Sum Bout U – [645AR] feat. [FKA twigs]

By John Matraia // 5 Aug 2020

Love him or hate him, 645AR brings a truly unique sound to rap. He just recently released a new track and music video featuring FKA twigs, called “Sum Bout U,” proving further that he will not be put in one box. FKA twigs is a generational talent who has put out a number of great albums over the past decade, and to see her dive deeper into the hip-hop genre is an exciting indication that she’ll dominate this decade as well. She kills it on the track with a pitched-up, extremely catchy refrain on the hook, and a tight verse. The production here, done by SenseiATL and El Guincho, is a laidback and moody trap beat with a melody that manages to play to both artists strengths. 645AR and twigs go back and forth here and display an impressive level of chemistry that will make this song one to look back on. While both do tend to experiment in their music, it was still quite the surprise to see these two artists work together. The fact that this exists in 2020 is something to celebrate. Check out the music video down below. Director: Aidan Zamiri Exec Producer: Morgan Clement Producer: …

Adam Snow – [42] ft. [Freddie Gibbs] & [Josh Alias]

By John Matraia // 28 Jul 2020

Freddie Gibbs can do no wrong. He’s been on a legendary tear ever since the release of 2019’s Bandana, his second joint project with Madlib, and after the recent release of his collaborative project with The Alchemist, Alfredo, he’s already proved that 2020 is his year too. Not only has he been putting out some great songs himself, but he’s dropping amazing guest verses effortlessly, the latest of which lands on Adam Snow’s new track “42,” which also features Josh Alias. This track features production from Adam Snow, who comes through with a solid chipmunk soul beat to set the stage, and it suits the two rappers well on the track. The song starts off with a verse you’d expect from Freddie Gibbs, which means it’s great as usual, and Josh Alias picks up right after this with a reflective verse that carries the track to a strong finish. This is not the first time producer Adam Snow has worked with Freddie Gibbs, and hopefully, it isn’t the last. They proved their strong chemistry on 9 to 5, a track from earlier this year that is just as great as this new one. Snow has the ability to chop a sample …

Shinigami – [Paris Lndn]

By John Matraia // 27 May 2020

Let me just cut to the chase: Paris Lndn is a stud. He’s put out a number of great singles over the past year, and his new one, “Shinigami”, is his best yet. He’s only improving on all fronts, and it’ll be exciting to listen to what he has to offer going forward. “Shinigami” contains Paris Lndn’s most experimental elements to date while also being his most commercially viable song, which is what makes this one an absolute smash. Sticking out in the landscape of melodic rap artists in 2020 is no easy feat, but Paris Lndn seems to do it by just being himself, and this song has a little something for everyone. The mix of Lndn’s vocals here is perfection, and brings together the ethereal feel that the subdued melody of the beat creates. He uses his time so well, and when he starts singing, he doesn’t stop, seamlessly transitioning from the addictive hook to his mystical rapping in the verses, which also have some incredibly catchy vocal melodies that keep the listener enthralled. Paris Lndn is finding himself more as an artist, and his music continues to feel like a breath of fresh air. His flow throughout …

Nippy – [Student1]

By John Matraia // 21 May 2020

I first became aware of Student1 through his feature on “Watch This” by Crashprez, an absolute haymaker from a few years back, and it’s been interesting to watch him grow as an artist throughout the years. His newest offering, titled “Nippy,” released late last month, proves his growth and versatility more than ever. “Nippy” is a hazy, laid-back tune, featuring an effortless delivery from Student1 that pairs very well with the twinkly keys and sharp, yet sparse, percussion. The track is noticeably well structured, which is what elevates it from good to great. Student’s tasteful vocal mixing and lyrics, along with undeniably catchy vocals in the refrain and verses make this one next level, and he doesn’t try to do too much, which pays off big time. Nothing is wasted and everything he gives the listener is necessary for the track’s success. I can’t wait to see where Student1 goes from here, as his range up until this point is impressessive, and if there’s more from where this came from, we should be in for quite the treat. Give this track a listen down below.  

Cholla – [Jerry Paper]

By John Matraia // 21 May 2020

It doesn’t quite feel like summer, but it is getting to be that time, and now more than ever we need feel-good summer tracks to keep our spirits up. Luckily, Jerry Paper just recently dropped the video for “Cholla” off his brand new album Abracadabra. You may remember Jerry Paper from his contribution to Tyler, the Creator’s Grinch Inspired EP from late 2018. His deep and charismatic vocals stand out right away and bring a unique and likable characteristic to his tracks, and this stays true here. “Cholla” is a lot of fun. The guitar riffs are playful, the bouncy bass lines are infectious, and the keyboard melodies create a strong foundation that guides the track along. Jerry’s vocals pair nicely with the light instrumental and he comes through with a catchy refrain that ensures this track will stay in rotation all summer long. The visuals here are strange to say the least, with very surreal animations that I can’t quite put into words. Mr. Paper’s face fills up a square screen in multiple different forms throughout the entirety of the video, twisting and turning along with the animations. Check out the otherworldly visuals for this track down below, and …

Soulfood – [Redveil]

By John Matraia // 23 Apr 2020

I always get this feeling of satisfaction when I recognize a sample used in a track I’m hearing for the first time. This is what initially caught my ear when I heard “Soulfood,” by sixteen year-old Redveil, and I’m happy I continued to listen because he proved to be quite the talent. While I enjoy hearing a familiar sample, I’m also worried that an artist may botch it when making it their own and implementing it into their track. However, Redveil proves to have a good ear, picking a beat (produced by Tom from Mars) that maintains the soulful nature of the sample while adding a groovy, compelling aspect to it that is further complemented by Redveil’s delivery. Vocally, the Maryland-native starts with a laid-back flow but ramps it up a bit in the second verse, showing off some interesting introspection and storytelling.  The lyrics here are evident that Redveil is more mature than most kids his age, so it will be exciting to see where he goes from here, lyrically and sonically. Check out this single on Spotify down below and Apple Music here.    

Straff From Nigeria – [Straffitti]

By John Matraia // 23 Apr 2020

Every once in a while I’ll come across a track that features undeniably radiant energy.  “Straff from Nigeria” by Straffitti is one of those tracks, and there isn’t one dull moment throughout the entirety of this new song or its accompanying visuals. Straffitti proves to understand how to put out a high quality track and video without taking himself too seriously, and it’s hard not to root for him because of this. His lyrics are as silly as they are catchy, and the visuals here are very well put together and pair perfectly with the music. The synth-work in the production at the midpoint and towards the end of the song is impressive, and ensures that the track comes to a strong close. Along with this, Straffitti’s vocals are dynamic but consistently catchy, which is only more evidence that he has a hit on his hands with this one. Check out the visuals for this fun track from Straffitti down below, and stream it here. Directed by: Straffitti & Bidemi Popson Edited by: Bidemi Popson Assistant Director: Dvmian3000 Produced by: Namatsey & Natse D.O.P: Mesele

Four Albums with Distinct Atmospheres

By John Matraia // 1 Apr 2020

We are currently living through a historical event and at times, it is difficult to keep our spirits up. All we can do is try to adapt and do what we can to keep ourselves safe and sane while being cooped up indoors. One way to cope is to try and step away from the tragedy for an hour or two. I’ve personally found myself watching movies, reading, or listening to music to distract myself. There are many different ways music can help, but I’ve found that albums that distinguish themselves from the rest are those that create a distinct atmosphere and a world of their own. They do this by establishing consistencies, not just sonically, but also in terms of subject matter. An atmosphere alone isn’t ideal though. Many albums fall victim to using the same presets, filters, or vocal pitching across songs to the point where they blend together and create an album that serves as nothing more than a soulless tone. What is really impressive is an album’s ability to have a collection of songs that stand strong on their own, while also reinforcing the qualities that many of the tracks around them share, thus creating a …