With songs like Lil Uzi Vert’s “XO Tour Llif3” permeating the cultural consciousness before ever hitting a streaming service besides Soundcloud, the discussion about the cultural ramifications of the upending of all traditional metrics of song popularity by the shifting landscape of music consumption has reached a fever pitch…
…and I haven’t been listening, because I’ve been too busy playing these extremely sick songs that happen to not be available on Spotify, Apple Music, and probably Tidal. I don’t know anyone who has a Tidal subscription to check.
Don’t let the lack of a Distrokid/Tunecore account keep you from getting acquainted with rap’s next wave.
I Got Wateva by Valee
Lean, unsmiling, hooded eyes peering through satin ribbons of blunt smoke and heavy hair shot with turquoise tied on the back of his head. The appearance was a surprise, but I recognized Chicago rapper Valee the second he stepped onto the stage at Fake Shore Drive’s Lil Bibby & G Herbo show to perform his breakout Soundcloud/YouTube hit “Shell.”
I was starstruck. Most of the crowd was not, confused who the unannounced interruption was.
Valee has an album with producer ChasetheMoney (his collaborator on the most ominious and threatening tracks off the recent 12:12 Again! project, including “I Got Whateva” and “Molly Fun Ride“) coming 5/21. This time next year, the entire venue’s going to be screaming when he drops into a show.
Seeing Faces by MfnMelo
Loss and those left behind are a constant theme for Chicago’s Pivot Gang, who lost a founding member right before heading out on a North American Tour in support of Saba’s phenomenal Bucket List Project. No matter why those you love are no longer near – “god took em or they caught some cases” – anyone who’s come to terms with their own particular ghosts will find this emotional track heartbreakingly relatable.
Eat Your Heart Out by Drayco McCoy
Trap Star by Lite Fortunato ft Squid Nice
Famous Dex (blech) protégé Lite Fortunato links up with fellow New Yorker and adolescent autotune crooner Squidnice after previously teaming up on tracks like “Who?!” for sing-song street rap over a barely-there beat on “Trap Star.” Their interplay is fluid and affectionate, meriting pet names like “Squiddy” and “Nato” as well as your time.
#FREESMOKE by UnoTheActivist
It’s worth noting that producer Pi’erre Bourne also produced Playboi Carti and Lil Uzi Vert’s Woke Up Like This. His credit turns up on the better songs on mixtapes throughout the Atlanta rap scene’s scene, but with a running clock ticking down to Carti’s debut mixtape, Bourne’s beats are about to get a larger audience than ever.
More Recent Articles by Lorena Cupcake:
Feature on Mykele Deville for Bandcamp Daily
Profile of Chicago streetwear destination Fat Tiger Workshop for MEL Magazine
Primer on Mexican soda for AV Club
Observations on 90s references as subcultural currency for Mel Magazine