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.
WebsterX – “Doomsday”
We’re all doomed, we’re all doomed dawg, but it’s not doomsday.
Milwaukee rapper WebsterX is inspiringly ambitious and persistent.
When he initially sent me a rough mix of his new single “Doomsday,” I told him “This is generally really cool, but feels a little bit sloppy in spots on the verses to me and not super-well mixed—it points at something very interesting and ambitious, the execution just doesn’t always feel there.” It was a song high on potential, lacking the polish to be fully effective.
He went back to the drawing board, cleaned up the mix, and sent it back. I told him that, even with the improved mix, it was difficult to understand his rapping—it was challenging to my ears in a way that didn’t feel productive. His response:
“This song is meant to do that tho, create a vibe and a feel, the hook and the second bridge are meant to lyrically engage and the first is to entertain (it’s like constant wake up calls to consume the listener)…”
Of course, 5 On It isn’t purely about finished products, it’s about developing talent—shedding light on glimmers in the raw. In that spirit, Webster’s “Doomsday” merits sharing, a positive vision that manages to avoid being corny and channels the spirit of artists like Kid Cudi without feeling too much like pale imitation. A window into Webster’s promise.
Kent Jones – “Rocket Ship”
An odd one, here. Typically, 5 On It features artists that are unsigned or otherwise unaffiliated with larger entities.
From the look of things, Miami rapper/producer Kent Jones is signed to DJ Khaled’s We The Best Music Group; from Kent’s music, you’d be hard-pressed to guess that the imaginative artist behind “Rocket Ship” is working with a man best known for shouting “WE THE BEST!!” and typically confusing listeners about what it is that he actually does (other than suffer from success and post really inspirational photos and videos on Instagram
Dashes of Kendrick, K.R.I.T., and Andre, inventive references to Ahmad and Big Pun, and a gift for clever, unexpected turns of phrase give Jones’ “Rocket Ship” a quality both nostalgic and utterly fresh, the revelation of a talent raised on a broad variety of classic hip-hop putting absorbed lessons into practice. Jones doesn’t stray quite far enough from his influences on “Rocket Ship” to announce himself as a purely autonomous creator, but his purposeful free association and personal flourishes point to a rapper with much to say and many entertaining ways of expressing himself.
Izy – “Freez”
The author of one of the most gloriously ignorant, catchiest indie rap songs of 2014, Izy, returns with a follow up that points to his technical growth as a rapper.
While “Freez” isn’t quite as catchy as “Tasteless” (the song that first brought him to my attention), Izy sounds more confident in his abilities, taking a beat from producer Rambow (a fellow member of up-and-coming crew Swim Team) and serving up another simple, catchy hook—a reminder that often it’s not what is said, but how it’s said.
SolomonDaGod – but ur not god
Christian…I forgot which [sect] it was. I haven’t been to church in years.
While rappers’ fixation with calling themselves gods or God seems to mostly have subsided by the close of 2014, such loosely defined and explored ground still bears plentiful ground for exploration.
Previous 5 On It entrant SolomonDaGod’s new album but ur not god largely concerns itself with sex, drugs, fashion, and other various and sundry expressions of hedonism and general abandon. It doesn’t seem ostensibly religious or even particularly insightful, save for its curious title and often seemingly contradictory song names.
I asked Solomon about his thinking in creating but ur not god and, specifically, what people might perceive as a bit of a rift between its content and its outward projection:
“Well I want the contradictory feeling when listening because life is a contradiction. But basically the message is that we are all god and we all create our own reality. The title itself isn’t telling people they aren’t god, it’s saying, ‘after listening to the things said on here, do you still think that We are not god and do you still object me calling myself god?'”
“Basically the album is telling a story about my experiences and my beliefs, it takes you down a path where you see all sides of me. I want people to listen to this album and feel like they literally can do anything they want because they have the power to do it.”
When listening to the album, that might not sound particularly convincing; it does spring from a thoughtful frustration with the promises of religion (in the case of Solomon, Christianity).
“I was born into a religious household, the thing that really made me question it all is watching a family strong with faith struggle endlessly, I always wondered ‘why doesn’t this faith change things for them.’ Then I went searching for the truth.”
While but ur not god doesn’t always seem to land its somewhat lofty goal (there are times when the concept produces an interesting cognitive dissonance, others where it just seems like a bit of a catch-all excuse to share any number of common sentiments in current hip-hop), Solomon is an often exciting and inventive technical rapper, certainly cut from the present moment’s cloth without sounding flatly derivative of more famous peers.
New singles “Knotty Headed” and “Pastures” are grimmer than Rascoe’s previous outing, reminiscent of some of the lo-fi southern greats (Three 6 Mafia always provides the obvious point of reference, but here it feels particularly fitting even if it isn’t a direct influence). Right on for the darkness.