It’s time to spin the records of our hip-hop and rap recommendations. These songs are at the cutting-edge of the genre from some of the globe’s best underground acts, so pay attention kids, you’re about to lear something.
Here’s an alternative hip-hop treat for you all from the lesser known New Zealand scene, although Chase Woods is fast becoming a familiar name around here. Song in question ‘Roaches’ is lifted from his debut Terrace End Tapes EP. This Māori rapper uses his craft to convey the experiences living in his community. You’ll hear flashes of his life and personal interactions that contrasts his childhood in a run-down neighbourhood to his current life of success. The main refrain, “Roaches on the dresser to smoking out the windows of the Tesla” is embedded in chunky hip-hop beats, warm lofi production, and Woods’ slanting wordsmithery.
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Kovei’s track ‘I LOVE MUSIC’ is brimming with ambition and passion from the heart of this Ohio-based artist. Through his music, he combines spiritualism with instinctive craft, as you’ll hear in blossoming images of the lotus flower, the artist’s connection to chakras and the power of the self, and the patterned Indian drums in the backdrop of this song. It’s has a relentless energy that repeatedly affirms that Kovei’s music is one with his very being. He delivers this positive message with a bold and confidence rap flow.
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Things are hotting up in here thanks to this steamy single ‘Olay!’ from multi-genre artist Preach It’ 2 Em’ Chris. Hailing from Oxnard, California, this producer, songwriter and singer employs smooth R&B, subtle hip-hop and catchy bedroom-pop styles to set the mood for this sensual, personal track. More than being the perfect soundtrack for the twilight hours, this one is also the West Coast’s defining statement of what his sound and style is all about. With that in mind, we can’t wait to hear what else Chris has in store this year.
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We’re feeling like heading to the club with this solid banger from Ice Meez, the California-based hip-hop artist with ten years worth of music experience under his belt. ‘Fake Friends’ is giving us those mid-2010s vibes with the bold-yet-minimalistic beats and the repeat-worthy lyric hooks. This artist is giving us both style and substance, because the message at the centre of this track is so important – no one needs false people around them. Overall, the track and music video is relatable, familiar, nostalgic and a really strong reminder of just how good this artist is.
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On the topic of friends, we’ve got this fire tune ‘Vibrate’ from UK artist Orae Khalil who reminds listeners that while good friends can make tough times easier, there are also bad friends who actually might be creating those situations. It’s clear that this artist is vibrating on a higher frequency with this iconic sound that merges reggae samples with bassy beats and a flawless British-style rap. Everything about his track hits the right spot, whether it’s the innovative production, fast-paced lyrics or the raw, authentic narrative.
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Next up we’ve got Exile, the hip-hop outfit made up of Ryan Knutson (Explicit), Paul Heinzelman (Ill Logik), and Janelle Stoker from Quesnel, British Columbia, Canada. Their recent track ‘Talk’ is steeped in nostalgic 90s sounds with a simple-yet-effective combination of a repeated keyboard loop and bottomed-out bass; this soundtrack is topped off by the group’s undeniably old-school rap approach. It’s the perfect vector for they layered message they have, about missing out on life, mental health problems, and making connections. It might have been penned in the pandemic, but this is still as relatable as ever.
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‘The Best It Could Get’ is a super fresh slice of alternative rap from newcomer Free Shane. It starts off with some funky disco rhythms before slipping into a hazy, bedroom-style production that shows off the playful heart of this track. After all, it’s about swimming in memories of happiness and that’s all kind of warped and unclear when you really think about it, especially when your present life isn’t going in the greatest of directions.
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Most likely, this one is gonna hit for real. This Ohio-based songwriter/rapper Bobby JaGGerJacK gives us the honest banger to get through January, ‘I Hate My Job’. Working through this month is rough and sometimes we also want to throw our alarm clock at the wall and shirk off all responsibilities. We can hear that frustration and daily grind running through this bass-forward, experimental beats tune, with Bobby’s distinctive vocal delivery front-and-centre. This one is for when mundanity is just too much and you need a healthy dose of hip-hop catharsis.
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