*This first paragraph is a copy of a previously written synopsis of the point behind the new section, The Flock.*
We have two goals here with our blog and our podcast; we want to help you find a bunch of new artists that you love, and we also want to support those artists. We came up with a new idea for a post where we take a genre, and give you a few artists within that genre. That way, it helps everyone. If you come here because you love one artist, you’ve got five more that you’re probably going to love now. That helps you load up your playlist with tracks that will impress your friends, and it also helps the artists hit untapped markets and possibly network with likeminded artists they didn’t know existed. Without further ado, I present “The Flock.”
ARTISTS LOOK HERE: Caleb and I have started a Facebook group that we want to turn into a place for artists from around the country to find likeminded bands to fill shows out, find shows, and really just a community made by artists to talk about the industry. If you’re interested in joining that, CLICK HERE.
Ikigai – Private School
This beat is so slick. Ikigai keeps it fairly minimal and doesn’t make the same mistake that a lot of hip-hop artists make by trying to cram too much into the beat. The key here is what he does with the pieces that he does add. He plays with offbeat tempos, fades, crescendos, and a number of other tricks to make the track seem just as full as something that uses a lot more instrumentation.
Caleb definitely relates to the lyrics a lot more than I do seeing as how he’s a teacher in a private school, but things translate pretty well to us public school peons. Ikigai comes through with his first official release to tell a story about pressure, insecurity, and fears through formative years of his school career, and implores you to stop caring because years down the road, you’ll want nothing to do with that part of your life.
Ricky Mapes – IDWDT
IDWDT is a song that very few people can relate to, but everyone pretends they can. Everyone is invincible until they’re not. When the song started out, I thought we were listening to another rap song that talked about what 75% of rap songs talk about: making money. This song is so much more than that. This is a song about having to do unthinkable things to get out of the neighborhood, being okay with the repercussions of the lifestyle, but also the inevitability of being afraid when you’re staring down the barrel that doesn’t give a fuck about you. With a clean beat, straightforward flow, and brutally honest lyrics, this song is a song that few people can actually relate to, but everyone can groove to.
Charles Edison – Waking Up
This is the kind of song that comes along and we are kicking ourselves for not having it on the podcast. We already had our lineup for our “Addiction” episode locked up when we came across this song, and it is the epitome of what we were looking for on that episode. Charles Edison opens up about one of the darkest points in his life:
This track is from my EP of the same name and details my struggle with addiction for 5 years which culminated in hospitalization following a suicide attempt, and a decision to go to residential rehab for 3 months. I entered rehab on the 11th September 2016 and have remained clean and sober since. This track represents the state of my life at the worst point of my addiction.
*Congratulations Charles, and great work on taking the necessary steps to keep yourself clean. A lot of people don’t have that same resolve. In fact, I recently had to deal with a very crazy situation that we will talk about on the podcast because a person doesn’t have the same steadfast resilience that you have. Keep it up!*
The backing vocals are haunting and the beat stays clean throughout, but the lyrics are really what pulls this song together. You can feel the struggle, and appreciate what Charles has gone through.
Rite Hook & Chris Rivers – The Motions
This is what a fire looks like. A hard beat, quick flow, and insightful lyrics have moved Rite Hook & Chris Rivers’ song, The Motions, up my playlists very quickly. This is the perfect example of what I look for in hip-hop music. I get people emailing me constantly wanting me to check out their song. A lot of them have a good beat and good lyrics but I really don’t like it for one simple (to identify, not to fix) reason. In rap music, I hate being able to not only predict your cadence, but predict your words the first time through the song. These guys give a master lesson on what it means to diversify your rhyme schemes and cadence throughout the song. If you want to see what I mean, start the video at :48 and listen to 1:15 or so, and then jump ahead to 1:46 and listen for thirty seconds or so. Same beat, but it almost sounds like it could be two different songs.
Also, if you feel like you recognize Chris Rivers, the guy in the red, it may be because he is Big Pun’s son.
Joe P. the MC – fear
I love when we get previous artists back on the blog. I feel like it’s like revisiting an old friend. Joe P. the MC comes in with a song that is under 2 minutes, but says more than most rappers and MCs say with 5 minutes of bars. We hear you, Joe. Pouring his heart into every song he writes, Joe P. dives into everything from calling out negative rappers who make money by hating on other people to the feeling of fear that independent artists get when trying to push their music, hoping someone believes in what they’re doing. Once again, he runs that spectrum in less than 2 minutes. That’s insane! With clean and articulate delivery, Joe rattles through his lines at an impressive pace, moving forward at a pace that is unexpected from the mellow beat behind him. Once again, Joe P. hits home with us on this one.
Capital Ode – Live Illegal
Once again, this track was a pleasant surprise. When I heard that the name of the song is “Live Illegal,” I thought it was going to be another rap song about selling drugs and getting money. I’ve heard so many songs that follow that hip-hop trope, and it’s something that gets a little boring. Lyrically, this song is what this country needs right now. Capital Ode’s family calls him Ode, but after listening to this song, a more appropriate name for him is Cap (like Captain America) because this is about as patriotic as a song can get. If you’ve hung out on the blog or the podcast for any length of time, you know that Caleb and I aren’t exactly fans of the current administration and the tyrannical decisions it’s making. An immigrant to the United States, Cap isn’t a fan of the administration either, and wants you to know exactly how he feels.
And once I get on, I’ma put on all my peoples
I’m the original
My son’s the sequel
My pieces hitting now
In immigration sitting down with my country of origin written down
And it’s funny how when this was what I was worried about
Niggas would run they mouths
But by the time they figure out
The best rapper in the country’s an illegal immigrant
They gon’ try to send me back even if I’m heaven sent
Don’t understand my accent?
Oh, you do
You say you don’t
’cause you don’t like the way these bombs I’m dropping hit close to home, huh?
I love the line about his son being the beneficiary of his hard work, and how this is a similar thought process that most illegal immigrants go through. Sure, there are drugs crossing the borders and shit like that, but 99% of immigrants come to make a better life for themselves and their family members. Working in restaurant management, I see it everyday. We had a dishwasher who was forced to go back to Guatemala even though he was just making an honest living and sending most of his money back home. It’s absolutely devastating to see that kind of thing happen, and it’s unfathomable that we are a country that is allowing what is currently happening at our borders. Cap is making something really cool here by being proud of his status as a refugee instead of trying to hide it, and using his platform to try and enact change.
Hoolie Gu – Make It or Take It
The dichotomy presented here between past and present is so interesting. Hoolie Gu shows us in this video the man he is and aims to become, and then shows us who he had to be to get there. Like Ricky Mapes’ song above, the content of this song is something that I can’t personally relate to, but it is an absolutely riveting story.
Hoolie Gu talks about how everything he did was a calculated move to achieve bigger goals, and even though he may (or may not) have been acting on the wrong side of the law, he did what he needed to do to make sure he was taken care of. He doesn’t act proud of the things he did, but recognizes them as factual and necessary events that took place. I like the honesty and how he says that he took a lot of losses throughout the process. I feel like this is such an important piece of becoming a successful artist, and rappers are notorious for trying to cover up their flaws to present a facade of perfection.
With honest lyrics, a well-rounded beat, and a piano that makes you swoon, Hoolie Gu is the kind of guy you want to cheer for.
Warm Blizzard – “The Vibe”
If you look in the dictionary under ‘vibe songs,’ you will find Warm Blizzard’s, The Vibe. This is that ethereal smoke music in its purist form. This is a track that wants to take you on a trip, and I’m buying a one way pass. The video is trippy too, with a green blanket providing an interesting and unique set piece throughout the song. This is the kind of video that you watch when someone thinks that things are about to start winding down. Bring them back into it by showing them this, and then watching building demolitions on YouTube. Trust me. This combo works.
Dreemy Sinatra – Feel Alright
I was immediately hooked into this song with the Alina Baraz sample of “Make You Feel” at the beginning. Then this song proceeds to run down an epic lyrical path that describes a worldview that’s both cynical and hopeful simultaneously. It mentions police violence, Flint, Michigan, gang violence, and many other things that are strikingly difficult about the challenges facing the speaker, and our world in general. The hope rises from the self-assured bravado that is carrying the protagonist out of all this chaos. There is still an acknowledgement that this chaos could hold him back, but he’s not going to let it.
-Caleb and Seth
Did you know we make a podcast? Well now you do. Go check it out here. We have 14 different episodes, all featuring music you’ve never heard.