POSTS BY: MIKE DEL RO

Breezin & Coolin – [SoloSam]

By Mike del Ro // 16 Oct 2018

The steady success of SoloSam’s ‘ITIS’ EP has been well-deserved for the independent Chicago rapper, and his come-up thus far has thrived solely on the quality of his music. His style is grounded in straightforwardness, leaving nothing to distract from his sheer rap skills and abilities as an artist. In his latest video for “Breezin & Coolin”, a standout track off ITIS, Sam reminds us of this fact with a visual that packs a punch behind the laidback single. He embodies the song’s title in multiple ways: riding around on a scooter, playing tennis with a giant robot, and turning into a centaur for some reason, he appears to give zero fucks as he delivers some of his strongest bars to date. Directed by Chicago brother-duo Stripmall and premiered via HotNewHipHop, “Breezin & Coolin” marks an exciting new development in SoloSam’s already successful year. Watch the music video below:

Robot Jesus EP – [CLICHE]

By Mike del Ro // 12 Oct 2018

Following up on a couple fire singles, CLICHE drops his debut effort today in the form of an EP. Titled ‘Robot Jesus’, the project offers an introduction to the scope of the 19-year-old artist’s talents, painting him as a dextrous lyricist with an imaginative mind. Over four tracks, a constant bounce supercharged by CLICHE’s seemingly boundless energy resonates, making for a project that’s altogether just fun to listen to. He has an undeniable ear for catchy hooks, and in between the nursery rhyme-like cadences, he makes stories based on real experiences feel like outlandish tales. Under CLICHE’s animated presence lie beats that feel just as playful, thanks to producer Jachary. He embellishes CLICHE’s buoyant persona with pounding percussion and video-gamey textures—a natural combination that ultimately pays off. With the release of ‘Robot Jesus’, CLICHE secures his own sound and gets a party started along the way.

Clockwerk Orange – [Vagabond Hendo] Prod. [Swarvy]

By Mike del Ro // 11 Oct 2018

A rapper by the name of Vagabond Hendo makes his first appearance on our page today with his latest track, “Clockwerk Orange”. I’d never heard of Vagabond Hendo before coming across this song, and upon hitting play, his name was engrained in my mind within seconds as one I ought to remember. My immediate first impression was how difficult it felt to place Hendo in an era, and while his deep-toned, steadily knocking flow delivers a dose of old school nostalgia, his output thus far feels more timeless than a nod to the past. On “Clockwerk”, he ruminates out loud, pondering his place in the world, his relationships, and his art. It’d be criminal to not mention the ridiculously cold beat that’s enabled Hendo to do his thing. Philly/LA-based producer Swarvy has produced some of my favorite beats this year, and Hendo flips Swarvy’s track “Overdose” in a way that fits naturally. It’d be easy to get outshone by the beat, but instead, Hendo wields it to his advantage and raps his ass off in the process.

Jordan vs Jackson (Like Mike) – [Eiigo Groove]

By Mike del Ro // 9 Oct 2018

Hearing about a new song or artist from someone in person versus on the internet makes the discovery feel that much more organic. At a party this weekend, someone mentioned I should check out a rapper from Chicago named Eiigo Groove. I immediately typed his name into Soundcloud and played his latest song, trying to drown out all the other noise around me at the time while holding my phone up to my ear. Although listening conditions were far from optimal, the track still stuck, and after hearing it again in the peace of my own room, it became apparent that this rapper who I previously hadn’t heard of was on to something. Eiigo Groove’s “Jordan vs Jackson (Like Mike)” seems to pit the two legendary Mike’s toe-to-toe, and along the way, the Chicago artist turns the track into a come-up anthem of sorts. He raps about aspirations and hustle with a fresh sense of ferociousness, offering listener’s a quick spitfire of a track that shows a whole lot of promise in the process. The booming production fits his flows with drums that crash to the punches of his tongue-twisting cadences. He puts full conviction into everything he says, making …

Break the Simulation – [Cameron Butler]

By Mike del Ro // 7 Oct 2018

North Carolina based producer Cameron Butler is no stranger to our page, and the multi-faceted artist’s output this year has been nothing short of impressive. Along with his full-length ‘Pink Nirvana’ project, on which he introduced listeners to the most experimental limits of his sound, he also recently dropped the smooth, vaporwave-inspired ‘Fly On The Wall’ EP. Today, Butler keeps the hot streak going with a new single titled “Break the Simulation”. Butler continues to prove he’s not afraid to push his style in different directions, going for more a party track with this song. With that said, he still works in the spacey textures and auto-tuned vocals that have become a staple of his sound so far. Listen to Cameron Butler’s new song below:

Mudboy – [Sheck Wes]

By Mike del Ro // 5 Oct 2018

From star basketball player, to viral hitmaker, to Cactus Jack and GOOD Music’s most promising signee, Sheck Wes’ career has already been a whirlwind. Today, the 20-year-old rapper delivers his highly-anticipated debut project, ‘Mudboy’, marking another milestone point for the Harlem-native. At its core, ‘Mudboy’ functions as a come-up album, charting the young talent’s success up to this point and projecting where he plans to go in the future. Wes fills the project with exactly what you might expect from him stylistically at this point, relying on his 0 to 100 vocal presence. In a moment’s notice, he can go from whispered mumbles to full-volume howls and already iconic ad-libs. While he does try to switch things up, 14 songs is just a lot of Sheck Wes to take in at once. He’s at his best when he’s rapping from experience, whether he’s painting the walls of his Harlem upbringing with grimy resonance or repping his endeavors in basketball and high fashion. He strikes a good balance on the album’s closer, “Vetements Socks”, tempering his jagged-edged energy to suit a more low-key, atmospheric beat. Although it gets sidetracked by some songs that just feel like filler, ‘Mudboy’ still contains glimpses …

Infatuation – [Jemal Four]

By Mike del Ro // 4 Oct 2018

Earlier this year, we had the pleasure of premiering the debut mixtape from Dial Up. The fresh-faced Chicago-based collective brought a barrage of sounds that stuck and introduced a roster of rappers, singers, producers, and everything in between. Jemal Four, who had multiple highlights throughout the tape, will be the first of the gang to drop a solo project, and he’s released a lead single in anticipation today. On “Infatuation”, Jemal gives listeners a quintessential introduction to what he’s working with. Over pulsating synth stabs retro-fitted with booming 808s, he sounds right at home over the production and uses it as an opportunity to flex. His bravado-packed bars get delivered breezily as he dismisses a past love, trying to not get too in his feelings. The video, shot by Dial Up’s in-house director Link Wolfe, reimagines the prom night you never had with a whole lot of stunting involved. With his self-produced album ‘Honestly Not Really’ dropping later this month, “Infatuation” gives a promising preview of what’s to come from Jemal Four.

Baby Boy – [Casa Lee]

By Mike del Ro // 3 Oct 2018

On his latest EP, Toronto-based artist Casa Lee thrives in the dark. Making use of dismal, haunting self-produced beats, he quickly curates a vibe that becomes synonymous with his name on ‘Baby Boy’. It opens with the dramatic, slow-building “Transylvania”, which sets the scene for the rest of the project with cinematic flair. Lee’s voice pierces through the dreary synths with poltergeist-like demeanor, torn between self-destructive additions and ambition for something greater. This confrontation with his own psyche forms the backbone for ‘Baby Boy’ and crafts some hefty bangers in the process. Standout track “Y-3” showcases his hit-making potential, combining explosive ad-libs with ominous melodies drowned in auto-tune. Delivering both thematic and sonic consistency, ‘Baby Boy’ gets a listener’s ears tuned to Casa Lee’s frequency, leaving you intrigued to hear more from another fresh voice out of Toronto’s alternative hip-hop scene.

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