5 On It: Get angry, get high, or get in your car and cruise


Image via Black El

Image via Black El

5 On It is a feature that looks at five of the best under-the-radar rap findings from the past week, highlighting new or recently discovered artists, or interesting obscurities.

Image via Keem Griffey

Image via Keem Griffey

JuegoTheNinety – “Type”

If I get rich I’d probably be to paranoid to enjoy it
My application keep getting turned down for employment
Alright, can’t work at your store? Well then I’m murkin the owner
Fuck the money, run out with a cherry Slurpee and donuts
Move my movement to a revolution

Baltimore’s JuegoTheNinety has spent 2014 quietly developing into one of the more intriguing indie rappers from a region that is an absolute hotbed for talents of all varieties.

Juego’s first verse on new single “Type” sounds like the work of a wild animal at rest, suddenly agitated, arching its back and bearing its teeth—beginning with reservation, coiling with rage and exploding as he raps about the stresses of his life.

Juego approaches social and political issues through an intensely personal lens; as he did on “American History X” (the song that first brought him to my attention), Juego makes economic difficulties violently real. It’s not right to call it “conscious rap”—”Type” and “American History X” before it are too visceral to fit on a spectrum with the sort of music that rappers like Common and Talib Kweli were making at the turn of the 21st Century (though there are certainly hints of Public Enemy and dead prez looming over Juego’s music). It is, however, conscious in the sense that it observes and absorbs its surroundings, urgently embodying Juego’s perceptions.

Another intriguing step forward for a budding talent.


Ezale – “Too High”

Bay Area rapper Ezale’s “Too High” is fairly self-explanatory: It’s a song about getting really, really, really high.

Though it could easily be an unnecessary addition to an already overstuffed category of rap songs (and one that certainly has its pantheon well in place after 35 years), “Too High” is infectiously fun, utterly reckless in its drug-mixing madness and packing a killer chorus.

Ezale is largely responsible for the song’s success, loose, charismatic, and humorous, with a comedic sense that extends to the video: He ends up alone, dancing high on what at first appears to be a public bus before the camera reveals it to be a shuttle to a hospital—a light-hearted nod to consequences.

If there is any justice in the universe, Danny Brown and Bay Area elder-statesman E-40 will see this video and we’ll get a remixed anthem for all sorts of illegal fun. For now, enjoy “Too High” (responsibly, of course).

Image via Black El

Image via Black El

Black El -“White ’95 Maxima”

Following the release of his nostalgic single “Olde English 800,” Boston rapper Black El and go-to producer Durkin cook up more smooth, summer cruising music on single “White ’95 Maxima.” Atop a beat that channels the sounds of late 1980s and begs for a West Coast remix (someone call up 100s), Black El perfectly matches the atmosphere Durkin concocts, rapping about his hometown—one of the more consistently overlooked in the discussion of regional hip-hop scenes.

Image via Giftz

Image via Giftz

Giftz – “Swerve”

Freddie Gibbs affiliate and Chicago rapper Giftz is very good at rapping.

Giftz’s New single “Swerve” isn’t the most original song, but it is an impressive display of modern gangsta rapping, a relentless, effortless avalanche of words. “Swerve” has no chorus and no real structure to speak of, a song that exists purely to showcase Giftz’s considerable abilities in an all-too-brief one minute and forty-seven seconds. It’s service for fans of great rapping and I wish it was about 5 minutes longer with not a sign of a hook in sight.

Image via Compl3xx

Image via Compl3xx

I love nothing like I love a healthy dose of conceptual ambition, particularly when it pertains to the ways in which music is consumed and experienced online.

While Florida rapper Compl3xx’s new project Phoenix is decidedly raw musically (standouts like “I Saw The Devil” and “Drugs On You” highlight Compl3xx’s imagination and charisma), its presentation and potential intrigued me.

Go to Compl3xx’s website. Scroll to the bottom and type in “psswrd” in the “Password” field. A parallax scrolling site loads up that serves as a sort of digital booklet, presenting bonus content and insight into the autobiographical details surrounding Phoenix‘s creation.

Image via Compl3xx

Image via Compl3xx

It’s not a groundbreaking achievement, but it is an intriguing take on the old “booklet,” suggesting how other artists and creators could reinvigorate part of the experience of a project lost in the wake of the ongoing demise of the physical album. That sort of care and thought makes Compl3xx’s world worth exploring and bodes well for his future projects.

  • Jay

    Juego always has the jams

  • Ezra

    JuegoTheninety sounds like 2 pac & Eminem mixed. fucking crazy

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