Music is a form of expression that is timeless. Through a single song, a single lyric, a single beat, a single adlib, or a beat tag, it can literally define a specific generation. This has sort of gotten lost as times have gone on, I mean, sure we have iconic revolutionaries like Playboi Carti and Uzi among countless others to label as the ground-breaking, genre pushing artists to point towards and reflect on 20 years down the line; but behind them, underneath them, in the underground, where do we stand? We’ve been going through a bit of a transitional period since the phenomenon of industry plants and the last of the renowned, legendary soundcloud wave blew up and were introduced to the masses. But since, we haven’t seen much progress in the past two years or so. And it’s a bit mind-boggling since right now we have some incredibly talented artists but the crowds of the underground usually choose to look the other way or just label them as overrated or ignorantly call them “over-publicized” and say that blogs never cover the “true underground.” But if that’s the case, how come many rarely look at artists like BBY Kodie, Houston’s new king who has the swagger of Jackson, and rhymes of Busta? Or why does mixed matches, one of music’s most refreshing new voices, rarely gain any recognition for his work? Why is nappy 01′ so overlooked that it hurts my noggin, why is Hatesonny, one of Chicago’s brightest new talents, only sitting at a mere 1000 followers on SoundCloud? Questions like these always simmer in my mind and cause me to ponder, getting me a bit frustrated at times. There’s so many gifted artists in the underground, yet most gain little to no appreciation, and it makes me sick to my stomach everyday.
Throughout all the long, treacherous days spent withering away, stuck in places I don’t want to be, throughout all the brisk cold winter days of New York, throughout all the constant ups and downs we struggle with mentally, music has always remained a refugee for not only me, but millions of other people all around the world. And as the months have gone by, as the days get longer and more troublesome, there’s been little things keeping the light in my bulb bright and vibrant, with that one wire being Neilaworld’s queen, Belis.
Her music is something truly special, everything she does is pretty unprecedented, especially when it comes to female rappers, most never even attempt higher vocal inflections, because their afraid they won’t be as accepted; but Belis is living proof that it can be welcomed in music. She’s breaking out of the boundaries of what’s usually accepted, people usually feel like they have to stay in a box and they have to rap a certain way, but Belis is doing something entirely different from the rest of the crowd, and for that I revere her. She wears her “flaws” on her sleeve and wear them as a badge in her music, recently mentioning that she has a facial paralysis which causes loss of muscle control on the of her face, effecting her vocal ability. But instead of having it impair her, it helps make her stand out, making her appear as more of a rare gem and in return adding another layer of depth to her music.
Through her one of a kind vocal delivery, she’s practically created a whole new language that fans have begun to call “belish.” From her ridiclulous adlibs that are reminiscent of genre-breaking artist Playboi Carti, to her insane amount of charisma and energy on a track, she’s being nothing but her true self, and that’s something many artists can’t say about their work. She’s completely herself on a track, putting her heart on display for fans, crafting her passion and emotion through seemingly joyous and playful rhymes that are covered by beautiful, upbeat instrumentals.
She’s been essentially a studio rat as of late, making a bunch of songs and sitting on them, while continually teasing fans with new material nearly every week or so, with the most recent snippet of hers, “intel” becoming a fan-favorite already, causing fans to almost fiend for it. Belis has all the cards on her side of the table that set her up to win, and winning is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the great things she’ll accomplish in her already prosperous career.
nappy 01′ & mixed matches
These two savants are literally godsend, everything they make is just pure bliss and so soothing to the core, and with mixed matches blissful production that can tell a story just off the aura alone, paired with nappy’s impressive commandment over his vocals and his bouncy, vibrant hooks and verses; their an unstoppable force, and absolutely deserve all the praise in the world. “Tweak” is a perfect example of this, whenever these two get together it’s an instant hit, with mixed matches crafting a modern, dream-like pop beat that grasps onto your earlobes, carressing them with the amazing synths and chords. On top of the already joy-inducing instrumental, nappy comes on the track with this jaunty, cheerful vibe as courtosey of his ever-growing vocal ability that is drizzled with just the right amount of auto-tune, coming up with a merry hook that’s sure to make you move, reciting:
“When I step, AirMax 97/Kill that nigga, send him to heaven/They DM me, say I’m a blessing/They don’t know me, don’t feel my prescence”
It’s a bit of a basic, redundant hook substance wise, but that doesn’t matter, because it’s simply just nappy having light-hearted, carefree fun over a lively mixed matches beat; and that’s exactly what music should be, just people having true enjoyment from doing what they love, what they’ve always dreamed of as a child. And whenever you have that, a true love and desire for something, you can’t help but construct a great piece of art– and in result, you get nappy and mixed matches catalog.
Other than their series of “unwanted” tapes (#2 – june 29th), they both do an incredible job on their own as well. Mixed Matches recently came out with an extremely personal project, entitled “ready for the world,” where he speaks his thoughts out to the world for 6 tracks, over the span of 17 minutes. My personal favorite off the tape, and one of his best songs ever, is the first track, “ammonia.” This track did it for me, and cemented mixed matches as one of the most exciting, refreshing voices the scene has seen in quite a long time. The way he progresses his production, are just so perfect, I swear, each time I listen to one of his songs it just takes me back, forcing me to look back at all my past screw-ups, all my times stuck in the gutter, all my regrets, and reflect. Not many artists have that ability, but this saint, does. Certain lines like:
“Who knows if I care if it’s up to me/Cause I don’t even think I’ma try/And if it really matters, then I show my face/I wonder if it’s even worth the time/Cause you’re just wasting your time, I feel/Cause I just wanna feel, that I know, that this is worth it”
Make my gut wrench because they hit so close to home, and it’s makes me feel more comfortable, more content with myself because I know that there’s someone there who’s felt the same pain, even thought we’re on completely different sides of Earth, there’s a voice out there that can guide me through those tough times– and for that, I’m forever grateful, and will continue listening until my deathbed.
Kayo is probably the youngest artist out right now in music, even younger than prized underground king Duwap Kaine somehow. He’s only 15, and is currently is Paris, modeling for Alyxstudio and appearing on the front pages of huge fashion sites like Vogue, all while making some of the hardest music I’ve heard in recent memory. Kayo only has a handful of songs out including the infectious Messi song with Shabbazz PBG and his fan-favorite single “Glitch,” as well as two flawless 3 song EP’s entitled: +++ and —. But through all of them, you can sense that he has an incredible ear for production, already tuning in with a specific producer, Warpstr who quickly seems to becoming the Pierre to his sound, producing all of the tracks on both of his projects. He can make a vibrant, hood-like ballad as seen on “East To West,” make a Young Thug inspired banger like “Count That” or make a cutthroat, in your face track like “Lisa.” Name it, and he can do any style you throw at him. The beginning of Kayo’s potentially fruitful career is proof that age is merely just a number on a page, and no matter how young, or old you are, you can make your dreams come true. Between regular facetime calls with icons of the likes of Playboi Carti, visiting the Eiffel Tower as if it were an everyday thing, modeling for one of the hottest fashion brands right now, and making hits with Pi’erre Bourne that are still unreleased, Kayo has all the tools and connections that most people would die for; and so far, he’s doing great, simply just making music that he loves, and it shows.
Many rappers lack one important thing: passion. Whenever you have true heart, and put all that emotion and determination into something it shows; and it’s clear as day whenever someone is lacking that key part. But Sonny, and everyone else mentioned in this article, all share passion. Whether it be just through a simple bar, their delivery, their wordplay, or just by the way they carry themselves, they all have heart in their work. Rapping/singing is one of the only reasons they’re alive, one of the only ways they can express themselves and hopefully gain some income off their craft; and in Sonny’s case, he’s full of heart.
He spends all day in the studio, whether it be the hottest degrees out or the coldest, you’ll probably find him there, working, thinking, and every thought that he says and sends out into the world, is straight from his chest. Songs like “Solace” exhibit this, with Sonny questioning his very existence, pondering about why people continuously try to “play him” or why he hates himself; reflecting on his past actions, talking about his longings for a special someone, his struggles with his mental health, and to simply put it, his general thoughts on “life.” Lines like “I can’t sleep, nights too short, but the days to long” resonate, and show Sonny being completely transparent with himself and his thoughts that most rather just keep vaulted away in their head, letting them build up and up, until they blow.
“Good Luck” and “Bad Luck” are just glimpses of Sonny’s long list of creative capabilities, and wherever he decides to go from here, it’ll only bring him up. The two projects feel like the end of an era for Sonny, and the beginning of a new one, that’ll likely open up new doors for him, and as I sit back and watch him grow throughout the months, I can’t help but feel joy.
There’s so much underappreciated talent out here in the underground, there’s been artists like Kevin Kazi that have been grinding for years, making hits in his sleep, crafting tracks like Status, Genes, and SSR1 but still remains severely underrated. He’s gone from making parody tracks like “djwf” with Prettyboiclique to powerful compositions of music like “Die free” and “believe” as well as progressing from a technical standpoint, recently spitting some of his hardest verses of all time like on “Terror in Tokyo” and “Born in 06′” under American Terroists with Bigbabygucci. To think that he’s been relatively known in the underground for years, been responsible for some of the most fire music out there, and still hasn’t gotten his shot is unbelievable.
Then you have absolute icons like BBY Kodie, who’s been breathing in a whole new wave for Houston, yet still practically get’s no attention from major outlets. By himself, with no one else by his side except for close friends whom make up his collective Hollyworld, have garnered a huge, loving fanbase that constantly run up all his tracks, begging for new songs nearly every week, and showing love on every new snippet, with his latest already reaching his promised comment goal in a matter of hours.
All independently, BBY Kodie has created a die-hard fan-base, yet most publications still don’t talk about the greatness of Kodie Kardashian; it’s a shame, everyone sleeps on different things, I sleep on a nice cotton pillow while everyone continue to sleeps on BBY Kodie’s breathtaking rhyme schemes and flows.
Melodic geniuses like David Shawty who is like Bladee’s more aggressive brother, continue to drop off a plethora of incredible tracks like Dorothy, Belle Delphine, Fairy Tale and Digimon, yet still remains a diamond buried under heaps of sand, dying to be uncovered. Lyrical adept poets like Mavi, Maxo, KYSLINGO and Lerado are still underappreciated for their incredible bars of passion and pain, and it’s a shame. They, and everyone else in the underground deserves heaps of more praise and I believe it’ll come in due time, but maybe it doesn’t matter whether or not they necessarily blow up. With or without a mainstream audience, they’ll still continue to prosper, and work on their craft, making timeless music; they’ll continue to grow and expand their fan-base beyond imaginable horizons. They’ll continue to make music from the heart, something many of the past few industry planted artists severely lack. Maybe a niche, close-knitted fanbase is all they need, and want. Whatever it is, the underground and the “soundcloud wave” is still very much alive, you just have to open your eyes and witness it grow and transition; rather than turn a blind eye like everyone else.