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.
Meet Atlanta’s COMMAND and get lost in his mesmerizing, genre-blending WATERMOUTH
I hesitated for a moment writing the above header. At this point in our collective musical evolution—through the genetic diversification engendered by festivals, streaming services, and the spastic wake of Girl Talk—it almost seems a foregone conclusion to call something “genre-bending” or “genre-blending” or even the always illogical “genre-defying.” Country takes from hip-hop, hip-hop and EDM trade parts with each other, new R&B subgenres get invented every time a Soundcloud account spreads its wings, and pop cannibalizes (or accidentally encompasses) everything in its quest to grow ever fatter and more “relevant.”
Enter Atlanta’s 22 year-old COMMAND, who’s stellar debut project WATERMOUTH arrives as a surprisingly ambitious and fully formed though, a sprawling but cohesive 18 song collection from the singer, rapper, producer, multi-instrumentalist, and engineer.
According to COMMAND’s management, “WATERMOUTH is a record about the human experience of love. The record title refers to that wet mouth one gets when they’re faded right before throwing up that peach Ciroc, and to the uncontainable and unfiltered nature of the creative process.” As fitting a description as you’re going to find of a project this unusual and polished.
COMMAND doesn’t rap as often as he sings on WATERMOUTH, but his mixture of equally well-defined skills (though his production might be his most polished asset) turns rapping into a tool in a deep arsenal rather than a necessary mode, making those moments where COMMAND does rap even more intriguing. You could draw an ill-conceived, not-quite-direct line between COMMAND and someone like Big Moe or Nate Dogg, whose singing occasionally felt like and even was rapping at points, but that forced lineage doesn’t feel like it properly encapsulates what COMMAND is doing.
WATERMOUTH is often mesmerizing, a project worth listening to as a whole rather than as a cherry-picked set of singles. Digest it and get acquainted with yet another promising, idiosyncratic talent from one of America’s most consistently exciting cities for hip-hop.
SolomonDaGod – “Make It”
Each week, 5 On It comes together fairly organically, a product of old-fashioned digging, suggestions from friends, submissions, and serendipitous discoveries. I try to either follow a thread as it develops, or create some semblance of balance. In every edition, I like to have at least one song that I could imagine getting particularly excited about were I to find myself drunk in a club at 2AM. It doesn’t always work out—some weeks are decidedly turned down or focused on alternative rap—but it’s a tacit goal that hums in the background of my sleep-deprived brain.
This week’s addition to the drunk-after-midnight club: SolomonDaGod’s “Make It.” Big and bass heavy enough to go off in proper speakers, but slyly clever and strange enough to fit comfortably into the restless internet rap landscape, “Make It” is the perfect collision of tectonic plates. It hits hard, it’s dumb fun, and it feels like part of the cultural moment without baldly pandering.
Let go of your pretensions, grab a beer or four or ten and turn up.
FAKEPAKT ft. Kendall Elijah – “Floating”
Flexing range beyond his personal, lo-fi Biscuit #1 EP, Maryland’s Kendall Elijah pairs up with producer FAKEPAKT for a bizarre, hectic three and a half minute ride. FAKEPAKT’s trap-inspired drums and breakneck vocal chops make for an unusual backdrop in comparison to Elijah’s sparse, experimental indie rock-influenced production; in turn, Elijah pulls out flows he hasn’t flexed yet, showing versatility and comfort beyond his aesthetic wheelhouse.
“Floating” isn’t quite as substantial as Biscuit #1‘s dense introspection, but it’s a nice step outside the norm for the 24-year-old rapper.
Khaleed – “Trap Dreaming
From my Soundcloud and general internet investigation, it’s a bit unclear who to point out as the culprit of “Trap Dreamin.”
Credited to a rapper named Khaleed, hosted on a Soundcloud page of someone named Turls AKA Young Naraku, and emanating from an amorphous crew called the Concussed Boys (but also maybe FRVR WSTD, with Turls’ Soundcloud acting as the hub for all of the collective’s music), “Trap Dreaming” is an expectation defier: Its title suggests a subwoofer-destroying ode to drug dealing; its execution melds mellow samples with modern drums and an unusual self awareness in its raps (we’re talking about trap dreaming, not actual trapping after all).
Mellow and surprisingly clever thanks to a hazy, jazzy beat and Khaleed’s casually agile rapping, “Trap Dreaming” feels like hip-hop stretched through a wormhole, present fixations refracted through past sounds and moods.
Those Guys – “King”
Chaos. Sometimes that’s all you need.
Cincinatti duo Those Guys’ new single “King” is a raucous dose of organized confusion, boom bap drums forming the spine for staccato sampled horns and no particular structure. It’s a quick blast—just over two minutes of rapping—given life by its unusually abrasive take on what could otherwise be boring throwback production.
The accompanying video is suitably strange and probably should be preceded by a seizure warning for epileptics and a separate warning for those prone to acid flashbacks.