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.
Kendall Elijah – “Lazy Don’t Prosper”
In a recent conversation, voicing his frustration about the musical landscape and feedback he’d recently been given, Maryland native Kendall Elijah told me, “I’m not trying to make hits, I’m trying to pull your heartstrings out of your chest.”
Elijah’s music is rough hewn, bearing more in common with the aesthetic of Mac Demarco or the basement recordings of an artist like Cody ChesnuTT than any potential rap contemporaries. There is a grit and honesty to songs like “Lazy Don’t Prosper,” raw though they may be, that speaks to Elijah’s desire to bleed on songs and connect viscerally with listeners.
Troubles of the world
Mahalia keeps singin’
Cleaned out my closet
Found a reason for being
“Lazy Don’t Prosper” is built on a sparse, coarse composition, but polish and fuller arrangement would diminish Elijah’s candor and world-weariness, expressed through clever, dense lyrics that require more parsing and repeat listens than many young hip-hop listeners might expect.
It’s not the song you’ll turn up to over 4th of July weekend, but it’s as American as the existential crises shared by any number of young adults in Elijah’s generation.
Chaz French – “YNN”
With only a handful of songs to his name available online, D.C.-native Chaz French is already quietly establishing an intriguing persona—explosive, emotional, and personal, a sharp flow tying together his impressive energy and narrative.
“YNN” feels as immediate as previous single “Came Down” though certainly not as pissed off, focusing more on French’s observational abilities and gift for melody. Another reason that the DMV is one of rap’s most vibrant and exciting regions at the moment.
Izy – “Tasteless.”
Bridgeport rapper Izy’s “Tasteless.” feels like it’s a few Vine videos and an #ImSoTasteless away from becoming an online sensation. While smartly poking fun at materialism and label-whoring (note the subtly clever Kreayshawn flip), Izy provides a reminder that satire is most effective when it not only mocks but also excels in imitating its target.
While its production might be a bit too woozy and laid-back for the club, “Tasteless.” has the sort of hook that drills its way into your head after only one listen. Here’s to hoping that the internet works its magic and turns “Tasteless.” into something more than a relic trapped in the Soundcloud ether.
Lil Silk & Vegas – “Worthy”
We already know that Lil Silk is a rapper and that he’s one of Atlanta’ more unusual, spirited talents—a tall order in a city that is consistently producing some of the most intriguing, trend-setting, experimental, and commercially viable rap music in America. The boundaries of his style, however, are yet to be fully defined as songs like “Worthy” show his ear for beats stretches beyond what might be expected of the live-wire emcee.
“Worthy” probably won’t win any converts to the Lil Silk bandwagon, but it’s another exciting addition to the Atlantan’s unusual catalog for those already down for the ride.
Hurt Everybody EP
It took me some time (5 months to be exact) to warm up to Chicago crew Hurt Everybody. When I first heard “Stoic, Cosmic Her,” I was intrigued but decidedly put off by group members’ Supa BWE and Carl’s off-key sing-song rapping. It felt a bit too dissonant for enjoyment, amateurish rather than concerted or effective (in the way that, say, Young Thug or Future can be dissonant).
You be so stuck in your write-ups that you’ve stopped reading yourself
Hurt Everybody’s new self-titled EP shows how much the group has grown (or what they’ve been holding back) since they first started posting music seven months ago. It’s hip-hop that feels at least spiritually connected to the lineage of Project Blowed if not directly inspired: conscious without being particularly focused on pedantic social awareness, jazzy, loose, psychologically-inclined, and abstract in its imagery and absurdist wit.
I do it for the beauty
And that’s usually where they lose me
That’s not music, you’re using that term to loosely
Plugged into the new wave of Chicago’s alternative hip-hop scene (features on the EP include Mick Jenkins, Saba, Alex Wiley, and Kembe X), Hurt Everybody still seem to be figuring out the boundaries of their style. For an EP, their self-titled outing is a bit overstuffed (14 songs), but it’s full of exciting ideas and moments of truth that point to the trio’s considerable potential.