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.
Obii Say – “Undone”
Former Daily (re)Discovery Obii Say returns to the pages of P&P with his first release in three months, “Undone” (you can hear his last song, “The Zoo,” which I missed when it first dropped, below “Undone”).
Since discovering Prefuse 73 back around 2002, I’ve felt that glitch, as a sound and stylistic influence, has been underused by producers and rappers alike, so it’s nice to see a young emcee like Obii tackling production that nods to the sub-genre. It’s a choice that makes his pointed everyday observations feel particularly mournful.
Bone Thugs-n-Harmony, Yung Lean, and an anime fanatic walk into a bar…
I imagine the best place to begin a discussion of Flash Giordani is how I discovered him: digging through the depths of Soundcloud, using the profiles of others as a sort of slingshot for revealing new music.
I can’t recall where “DEADZONE,” one of two brain-splitting songs below, was shared, but I know it was reposted by a producer I follow. My mind went blank somewhere around 34 seconds and the lines “My bitch wanna model/My bitch never cuddles.” At the expense of sounding like a shitty Upworthy blurb: Then Flash started singing around 1:35 and everything changed. I dove deeper into his catalog; I saw that he identified his genre as “Scuba Rap”; I listened to “Wedding Day,” which almost made my brain burst with its combination of Bone Thugs-n-Harmony-worthy melodic rapping and Yung Lean-level emotions.
The above paragraph is probably only going to make sense to a ridiculously slim cross-section of people; the below music might make sense to still fewer. Regardless, there is something intriguing about Flash Giordani. A raw, irreverent talent and able rapper with an occasionally humorous sense of absurdism that allows all of this madness to make sense, if only tenuously.
Shafi Darr – “Answer Me”
As much as I get a rush out of the hunt for new, largely undiscovered music, I also love it when 5 On It writes itself—partially because I am, at heart, sort of a lazy lump of humanity that just wants to eat unusual foods at nauseating rates, but also because those times when it writes itself usually mean I’m getting music from trusted sources.
Illinois rapper Shafi Darr’s “Answer Me” came to me from someone who works closely with Shafi’s cousin, previous 5 On It entrant and talented Milwaukee up-and-comer IshDARR.
My experience with listening to “Answers” can be properly summed up in three subsequent emails:
Though it doesn’t seem that Shafi has yet found his voice entirely, there’s a deliberateness to his rapping that reveals a greater complexity of vision and stronger understanding of technique than the opening bars of “Answer” might suggest. Subtly intricate lines like “I’m in need of skunk and almost seven blunts/’Cuz man my baby mama got me stressin’, I ain’t seen my kids in seven months” show a rapper capable of crystallizing his world-weariness succinctly and cleverly.
Kadell Slaye Devich ft. Wolph Shimabukuro – “Bolivian Woman”
My 9th grade English teacher Mr. Zavatsky had a funny way of telling his students not to drugs. He’d say we didn’t need drugs because Salvador Dali didn’t take drugs. In a horrific Spanish accent, he’d slightly misquote the famous artist’s response to whether or not he did drugs: “Drugs? I don’t need drugs! Dali is drugs.”*
It’s cool when people rap like they do drugs, but I like it when people rap like they are drugs.
I don’t want to accuse Kadell Slaye Devich of doing drugs. I haven’t interviewed him. I haven’t even tweeted at him to ask if he does drugs. Kadell, if you read this: Please let me know if you do drugs. You don’t have to say which. You can be on Adderrall or antibiotics or even Dimetapp.
I will accuse Kadell Slaye Devich of rapping like the human equivalent of some sort of amphetamine (so Adderall would make perfect sense), particularly when he’s making songs like “Bolivian Woman,” whose title could easily be a loosely veiled reference to cocaine. He bounces across an enjoyably repetitive beat with unkempt energy, sounding like some sort of twisted cousin A$AP Rocky keeps in the basement until a session really needs to be turned up.
Below is the other song available on Kadell’s Soundcloud, “Matrixx.” It might actually be crazier than “Bolivian Woman” because it sounds like a lost Outsidaz demo and guest rapper TK Cadaver cops bits and pieces of Eminem’s Soundbombing-era flows.
Kadell and TK are part of a crew called Ratchetmobb Militia that put out a free album called Antidisestablishmentarianism last year which features the line “Kill a man with my bare hands/Kill a bear then kill a man with the bear’s hands,” and my fucking brain hurts. I need to take a nap.
*The quote, according to a quick Google search, is apparently “I do not do drugs. I am drugs.” Then again, Dali may not have always been his own hallucinogenic. So much for that after school special.
Lonny X – “BORN 2 LOSE”
A few years ago, before I started writing for P&P, I scribbled some notes for an essay about the power of lo-fi music in an increasingly polished, mechanical landscape. I’d spent many months listening to Clams Casino beats and since the release of Jay Z’s Kingdom Come, I’d harbored a silent, solitary resentment towards Dr. Dre’s antiseptic mixing techniques.
A brief description on Lonny X’s Soundcloud encapsulates at least a small portion of the rapper’s musical philosophy: “LO-FI/LAZY.” Songs “BORN 2 LOSE” (which uses the iconic “Bumpy’s Lament” to great, syrupy effect) and “Tokyo 7” prioritize atmosphere and feeling over proper mixing, whether intentionally or circumstantially. The result is rap music that seems uncommonly personal, more like a transmission from a bedroom than a recording studio (and perhaps it’s coming from a room that doubles as both).
Audiophiles should probably skip it, but those looking for something with a bit of grit and an air of honesty should dive into Lonny X’s lo-fi, lazy world.