POSTS BY: MIKE DEL RO

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Q&A: Chicago’s CP releases debut project, ‘CINEMA’

By Mike del Ro // 24 Jan 2020

For Chicago rapper CP, making music just seemed to go with the natural flow of his life. From messing around in the studio with his friends to dropping his first official song a few years ago, the process has never been something that’s forced. This approach to rap resonates on CP’s debut project, ‘CINEMA’, which showcases the artist homing in on his own sound–an eerily cold mix of hard trap and drill production paired with the rapper’s whispery, raspy vocal tone. While CP distinguishes himself on ‘CINEMA’ by embracing this darker side of his sound, the rappers who’ve influenced him up to this point effortlessly come through in his own flows. As a result, ‘CINEMA’ functions as a solid introduction to a rapper who thrives off of following his gut, never overthinking while still delivering something that sets him apart from the pack. Listen to the full project and find out more about the making of ‘CINEMA’ in our latest Q&A below: — MDR: How did you get into rapping and how long have you been doing it for? CP: I’ve been making music for about 2 years. It started ‘cause I was just trying some new sh** with my …

FAF/Peakin (Music Video) – [Juto]

By Mike del Ro // 17 Jan 2020

Following the release of his ‘Wool’ EP in November, Juto is back with a visual for two tracks off the project, “FAF/Peakin”. The singer and songwriter has established his name with a unique blend of RnB, funk, and alternative influences laden with a soothing vocal style, and all of these aspects of Juto’s music come through both sonically and visually in this new video. Directors Tommy Nowels and Matthew Kaplan align their vision with Juto’s musical style in a way that meshes naturally, and the overall cinematography of the video utilizes creative shots that match the tone of the song. Being Juto’s second official music video that’s been released, his character comes through in front of the camera and matches the indifferently angsty attitude that gets portrayed lyrically. The second half of the video switches tones to a much more serene environment, as Juto is seen lounging in a dreamy tropical garden, finding peace of mind as the credits start to roll. Watch the video for “FAF/Peakin” below:

YUNGBULL – [JODI]

By Mike del Ro // 16 Jan 2020

NYC’s sLUms collective has steadily become a consistent source for some of the most exciting experimental hip-hop releases in the past year, and sLUms artist JODI continues to build this sonic barrier pushing reputation with his latest project, ‘YUNGBULL’. Mixing jazz samples, improvisational flows, and a stream of consciousness style of lyricism, the rapper and producer supplies a listener with a ceaseless amount of memorable moments throughout. Each track seems to build upon a different aspect of JODI’s craft, leaving a listener with an overarching sampler of the artist’s versatile sound. He fills the project with no shortage of entertaining and surprising detours, and every flow he finds over the array of unconventional beats hits harder than the last. JODI seems to really refine his bag on the track “KEN GRIFFEY”, as his punctual verses land on top of an incessant arsenal of snares and an expertly chopped-up sample that deserves listening back to over and over again. With that said, ‘YUNGBULL’ contains plenty of tracks to entice a listener to revisit the project, and JODI leaves a lasting impression through combinations of sounds that feel fresh and pack a resounding punch.

Catch Me If You Can – [Aaron Deux]

By Mike del Ro // 16 Jan 2020

Multi-faceted artist Aaron Deux is starting off the new year on a high note with the release of his new single, “Catch Me If You Can”. Deux’s talents as a songwriter and producer are in full effect on this new track, manifesting in an upbeat, positively focused track that feels like a teaser for what else the artist has in store. A listen through the Houston musician’s discography so far proves he’s no stranger to catchy, bright melodies interwoven in his music, and he capitalized on this quality of his sound on “Catch Me If You Can”. The song has a natural bounce to it that’s bound to get a party started, and Deux’s animated vocals only function to add to the lively energy that flows throughout his verses. Get in tune with Aaron Deux and hit play on his latest track below:

The Roaring 20s – [Ausar]

By Mike del Ro // 15 Jan 2020

While rising talent Ausar has no shortage of accomplishments to be proud of from 2019, appearing on Netflix’s ‘Rhythm and Flow’ and dropping his collaborative ’The Good And The Bad’ EP with Josi Green to name a couple of them, the Chicago artist is already focussed on the new decade ahead of him. Ringing in the next chapter of his career, Ausar comes through with a new track titled “The Roaring 20s”—a moment basked in lyrical excellence over a booming soul-chopped beat produced by 99. The way Ausar attacks the beat on this new track makes it clear that the talented lyricist is reinvigorated, and the song feels like a reintroduction of sorts to the emcee. Those who are familiar with him won’t be surprised by the fast-paced and articulate flows on this track, and while Ausar definitely stays true to his own style in this regard, “The Roaring 20s” also hints at directions in which he may be evolving with his forthcoming work. Specifically, the song itself speaks from the perspective of a rapper who sounds more polished in his craft, balancing bits of wisdom that might come from a seasoned veteran with the hunger of a young artist …

Piece of Mind – [HXRY]

By Mike del Ro // 15 Jan 2020

It’s easy to get lost in one’s own artistic process, and losing track of one’s initial values and approach to creating art due to exterior forces is par for the course in almost any creative field, but especially in music. RnB artist HXRY got to know this feeling all too intimately after making the transition from producer to vocalist last year. Upon stepping into the spotlight, HXRY quickly encountered the pressures of keeping up with expectations, trying to outperform himself, and churn out hits every time he wrote a new song. This newfound pressure forced HXRY to take a step back to reevaluate himself, and the result of this process culminated in ‘Piece of Mind’—a meditative EP where the Chicago native uses the music as his vessel for self-reflection. HXRY’s ear for classic RnB melodies immediately jumps out on this EP, and the tracks take on a timeless quality when combined with his soothing vocal quality. While he may not have been focussing on creating “hits” for this project, there’s no shortage of hooky songwriting throughout the EP. One moment that stands out is the track “I’ll Be Yours” which features guest vocals from Aaliyah Allah. The two artists go …

Shades – [Vee Miyagi]

By Mike del Ro // 3 Jan 2020

Chicago native and LA-based rapper Vee Miyagi remained relatively low-key last year, seemingly taking time to rebuild and recalibrate behind the scenes before launching back into rapping. Before the year ended though, Vee made his reappearance with a new music video for his song “Shades”, a visual that proves the rapper’s ready to pick back up right where he left off. Vee makes himself known as a straightforward lyricist on this track, relying on little more than his own bars to carry the song. Amid cinematic gunshot blasts and ambient instrumentation, Vee sounds like he’s rapping to us from the void. It feels like the sound of someone speaking to a listener from inside their own mind, a plane of existence apart from the actual world. It’s in this plane that Vee’s able to articulate his most clear revelations in the form of rap verses, and he instills a level of introspection in his raps that couldn’t have been achieved overnight. Instead, every line feels meditated on and intentional, a rare and refreshing sound that’s unbothered by any noise that’s surrounding it. Watch the video for Vee Miyagi’s “Shades” below: (Directed by @ashtarisborn)

MAD SPACE – [MAD MOON]

By Mike del Ro // 3 Jan 2020

Brooklyn rapper AKAI SOLO dropped a plethora of new music last year, and the East Coast MC culminated his busy year with a project from his collective MAD MOON titled ‘MAD SPACE’. With beats by producer Iblss and co-production by $hay Buttah, the 16-track endeavor cements the rising wordsmith’s signature sound and enshrines in with the jazz-influenced experimental hip-hop scene that’s been steadily incubating in the Empire City. The somewhat ominous presence of AKAI SOLO’s voice serves as a constant standout characteristic of this project, and his clear intonation behind hyper, raw flows adds weight to every single bar on the record. Mostly offering listeners an autobiographical account of his environment and approach towards music, ‘MAD SPACE’ announces SOLO’s arrival as this madman whose mind moves at a million miles per hour and manifests in the form of rap verses that seem like they could go on forever. This style hits especially hard when paired with the heavy sample chops and lo-fi distortion that reverberates on every track. One effective example of this deadly combination comes through on the song “Chopped Cheese” which features menacing horns that sound like the score to a suspenseful heist movie—a fitting beat for a …

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