These acts have gone underappreciated for far too long
The highly anticipated return of Lady Gaga, the unexpected collaborative drop between Freddie Gibbs and The Alchemist, the sensual R&B crooner Ro James returning for his sophomore go-round: These are but a handful of big-time releases that will consume the masses today.
With an overwhelming amount of new music presented each Friday, it's important to shine a light on the hard-working underdogs, the artists who are putting out captivating tracks without mainstream recognition. Below are a handful of independent acts that also released new projects today. From the silky bravado of Keffa to the idiosyncrasies of Deem Spencer, here are underground releases that need to be on your radar.
Hudson East – "Smoke City"
Hudson East - Smoke City (Vertical Video - Quarantine Edition) www.youtube.com
The London based Renaissance man has all the makings of a modern-day pop star. He is a fierce rapper with a polished knack for R&B. 2017's East Ave was an underappreciated gem, a brash R&B/rap fusion with a splash of reggaeton that deserved more attention. After remaining relatively quiet for the last three years (he released a tropical 3 song EP to close out summer 2019), he returns in 2020 with "Smoke City" a snappy amalgamation of all of East's talents. With hard-hitting 808's, East floats with ease between rapping and singing. It's a bouncy show of force that announces the emcee's return with a vengeance.
TeaMarr – Before I Spill Myself
Haitian-American singer TeaMarr's new album, Before I Spill Myself, is immersive and deeply layered. Experimenting with reggae, R&B, jazz, and electronica, each song on Before I Spill Myself is vastly different from the last. While the production is bombastic and chaotic, TeaMarr is just as multifaceted. Her voice moves effortlessly along with each instrumental as if she's taming it. With strong features from Top Dawg crooner S.i.R. and North Carolina-based lyricist Rapsody, Before I Spill Myself is an eclectic journey.
Friyie – "Elastics"
While relatively unknown in the states, Friyie has been crafting monumental trap hits for the city of Toronto throughout the last few years. His hit track "Money Team" personally soundtracked the legendary Mayweather vs. McGregor fight press conference in Toronto, and on his debut ANF: Ain't Nothing Free, he enlisted the help of Roddy Ricch and Tory Lanez to make the project one of the most surprising debuts of 2019. He returned today with "Elastics" a hard-hitting melodic trap song that features assertive bass and polished high-hats. The track snaps with aggression and is worth a spin today.
Keffa – Victimless Crimes
Toronto-born crooner Keffa released a haunting new EP today titled Victimless Crimes. Aided by ghostly minimalist production a la The Weeknd, Keffa offers soul that carries its weight in heartache and melodrama. With a wide inspirational palette ranging from Kid Cudi to Linkin Park, the young R&B polymath should be getting more attention than he has been.
Love Mansuy – "Count On You" (Feat. Lil Wayne)
The LA-based future soul artist Love Mansuy released an impressive remix of his already enthralling single "Count On You" that features a breezy verse from none other than Lil Wayne. Remix aside, Mansuy's 2019 debut EP Of Age was an intimate and immersive exploration of love, heartbreak, and the distress of newfound fatherhood. Mixing new-age soul with electronica and alternative rock, Love Mansuy's talents have somehow remained under the radar. Here's to hoping the Lil Wayne co-sign brings with it a massive, well-deserved, break into the mainstream.
Joel – Grunge Gospel Side-B
Another R&B aficionado out of Toronto, the 22-year-old released side-B of his Grunge Gospel EP. The project finds the young artist traversing isolation with the swagger of a young Tory Lanez. His vocals are crisp and his control is on par with R&B veterans. The melodies on Grunge Gospel simply flourish.
Deem Spencer – "byke"
deem spencer - byke (official music video) www.youtube.com
Spencer's eclectic 2019 debut Pretty Face was as confusing as it was compelling. The production loosely arranged, Pretty Face's minimalism was indicative of a young New York artist completely in his own element, devoid of any inspiration from past NYC rappers. Its nonchalant presentation gave way to divided criticism. Many called the work profound and full of potential, while others cited it as lazy and humdrum. Today Spencer silenced the critics with the release of his new single "byke," a not-even-two minute offering that detracts even further from the soundscapes of Pretty Face. It finds Spencer singing a garbled lo-fi melody into barely curated high hats and piano chords. It's a dizzy track that will warrant plenty of dissection and discussion.
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