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.
Listen to skipp coon’s Miles Garvey, a blistering soundtrack for America’s burning time
skipp coon has made one of the most important albums of the year.
As I mentioned a month back, Jackson, Mississippi’s skipp coon is unlikely to ever reach the audience that truly needs to hear his pointed words on what it means to be a black man in America. While new album Miles Garvey was recorded well before the tragic events that have embroiled Ferguson, Missouri, the album feels both prescient and chillingly close in its apocalyptic sound and revolutionary words (and that, undoubtedly, is a commentary on the state of a country for which the death of Michael Brown is only the latest jolting occurrence in a long-bubbling undercurrent of unresolved racial and social tension). skipp’s words are poignant and striking, necessary cuts for anyone who listens, set against sparse, percussive production that lends his intricate, forceful rapping greater weight.
Please dive into Miles Garvey below and think about the state of our world (not to mention whatever each of us can do in our own way to improve it).
Yung Trell – “Queen Endia (Tribute)”
It is frightening and saddening that only in times of particular pressure do we even begin to broach the deep issues many of us would rather sweep aside on a daily basis. Persistent awareness and discussion of tragedy can become exhausting, but the glazing over of our collective eyes to the seemingly unending violence besieging Chicago is, ultimately, just as damaging to the fabric of America if not more so.
At Yad Vashem, the Holocaust museum in Jerusalem, there is a room lined with towering shelves containing testimonies of survivors. Throughout the museum, individual accounts of survivors and deceased alike dot the retelling of the larger history. Yad Vashem exists in stark contrast to Washington, D.C.’s United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. The American version captures the horrifying scale of the Holocaust; Yad Vashem reminds visitors that every grand tragedy, every genocide, every act of callous murder and dehumanization is an assault on individuals, not mere numbers on an index.
Even in sensitive conversations about Chicago’s homicide epidemic, reduction to the brutal awe of statistics can easily obscure faces, names, and once-breathing histories.
15-year-old Chicago rapper Yung Trell doesn’t directly address the larger conflicts on “Queen Endia (Tribute).” Instead, he creates a painfully personal memorial to deceased friend Endia Martin, a 14-year-old girl fatally shot by another 14-year-old girl this past spring. Trell’s musical eulogy is all the more poignant given his age, bearing the sort of world-weariness unluckily afforded those raised in war zones.
Connecticut rapper Dom McLennon responds to the tragedy in Ferguson, Missouri
My people are staring down the barrel of a smoking gun/
And the people holding it protect us/
This is past born to lose/
What you’re telling me now is it’s a set up/
Shit, you don’t care to respect us/
A few nights ago, Dom McLennon sent me a link to his newest song “this song wrote itself.” Featured on his website, “this song wrote itself” is accompanied by a simple, stark cover—the now infamous diagram of Michael Brown’s wounds—and a live-updating stream of tweets mentioning #Ferguson (which you can see below).
Releasing something as a direct response to a tragedy (or any current event) is a tricky proposition for even the best writers. McLennon keeps it brief, succinctly, sharply voicing his anger. “this song wrote itself” addresses the Ferguson incident, but it provides commentary on a far larger context in which the shooting of Michael Brown happens to be one of the most incendiary and publicly discussed occurrences.
JuegoTheNinety ft. Witty Rock – “Ninety”
While “Ninety” isn’t Baltimore rapper JuegoTheNinety’s most overtly political or “conscious” song, it is a continued embodiment of his bubbling frustration and rage—each an extension of personal circumstance and daily reality.
“Ninety” sees Juego channeling one of his biggest seeming influences, Eminem, more overtly than ever, using an emphatic, serpentine flow to give voice to his anger. Perhaps not his most inventive song—not quite as unhinged and surprising as “American History IX,” for example—”Ninety” is yet another sign that the young Baltimorean is a talent well-worth watching.
Bert Kenerson – “Playuz Dew”
The only entry in this week’s 5 On It that offers a bit of levity comes in the form of a “Freaky Tales”-style narrative from Chicago native Bert Kenerson. “Playuz Dew” displays Kenerson’s talent for straightforward storytelling, an underrated and oft-neglected skill made all the more enjoyable by hints of Z-Ro and Nate Dogg in the rapper’s tone, delivery, and tendency for melody.