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TLE Cinco talks his new album “Self-Conscious,” unique sound, and the current climate of Alabama rap

By Jack Gregory // 13 Feb 2020

Thanks much in part to rap’s new national prominence many new regional destinations have emerged as notable hip-hop strongholds and, to me, one of the most intriguing areas that have surfaced is Birmingham, and there is one artist, in particular, that seems to encapsulate the 205 more than his large group of rap counterparts. TLE Cinco hails from Bessemer, AL, which is a city to Birmingham’s southwest that has been known to the world as a football factory rather than a major outpost for rap talent, but that seems subject-to-change as Truck Load Entertainment begins to unite Bessemer under their banner. The regional nature of rap has always been one of my favorite aspects to the genre and one of the great things that an art form as open and devoid of limitations like hip-hop is the consequential localization of trends, words, styles, and even sounds have become inextricably linked to different regions and neighborhoods because of different sonic metonymies brought about by that particular area’s local artists who help craft an identity for the place they’re from and broadcast it to the world through their music. For years music has been an outlet for expression that has allowed artists …

Serotonin – [Tycho Jones]

By Jack Gregory // 11 Feb 2020

London’s Tycho Jones recently unveiled his new track “Serotonin” that comes as a follow-up to his critically praised debut single “Scrolling,” and Jones is still able to easily live up to the hype that surrounded his initial release. “Serotonin” was a step in a more soulful and melancholic direction, using a simple drum pattern and distorted vocal sample to set the backdrop for this pensive track and this downtrodden mood helps make his introspective lyrics all the more poignant. At this point, Tycho Jones has hit two home-runs with his first singles and I am thrilled to hear his new music going forward and would highly recommend taking a listen to both “Serotonin” and “Scrolling.”

Minimum Wage – [Fizzler]

By Jack Gregory // 10 Feb 2020

The new “drill” sound is one that is currently quite familiar to American rap listeners as artists like Pop Smoke, Sheff G, and Fivio Foreign have all put Brooklyn on the map with this new thumping creation, but its roots can actually be traced back to London where this sound was not only invented, but in my opinion perfected. South London’s Fizzler has a brand new video for his transparent and grimy new track “Minimum Wage,” that details the trials and tribulations of Fizzler’s upbringing. He explains that his decision to enter street life was made out of necessity for survival, rather than a choice stemming from a sense of rebellion. Fizzler’s energy is undeniable and “Minimum Wage” is one of my favorite drill tunes from London in the past month or so.

No Food February – [Jalopy Bungus]

By Jack Gregory // 6 Feb 2020

Arizona rapper Jalopy Bungus is one of my favorite up and comers currently and the Phoenix artist is back with a cinematic new visual for his confrontational track “No Food February” and with this song, he takes aim at clout-chasers and nay-sayers who are coming around him now that he is seeing more and more success from his music. Uzi Edwards handled the song’s thumping percussion and his instrumental perfectly set the stage for Jalopy to shine. This is one of the best videos I have seen in 2020 already and Ian Q. Baker and Colin Latham did a wonderful job with its direction. Arizona as a whole is poised to make a big leap in the next year and I would highly recommend tuning in before it is too late.

Klout Chasing – [Lil Queze] x [Ganz]

By Jack Gregory // 6 Feb 2020

In the past year Nashville, Tennessee’s rap scene has sprung from anonymity and a sparse local scene into a new formidable outpost for hip-hop fan’s across the southeast, and much of this can be accredited to the youth’s movement, pioneered by Fredo Ruthless, Ganz, TeamLilStraw, and Lil Queze, and while Fredo Ruthless may currently be incarcerated, the rest of the city has picked up the slack. Most recently Ganz and Lil Queze of Street Konnected Everywhere (or SKE for short) teamed up with 615 Films for an incredibly well-edited new visual for their DJ Cash, Smokey Hendrix & DJ Chill produced track “Klout Chasing.” Lil Queze continues to lead the SKE charge with his unabashed confidence that remains unchanged, even after local police deleted his Instagram ahead of this release. Ganz also is proving himself to be quite the lyricist, but this is not the first time these two have collaborated to make magic. I am very excited to see what each of these artists is capable of next and I would highly recommend tuning into the rap revolution happening in Nashville.

Circles – [CARR]

By Jack Gregory // 5 Feb 2020

Los Angeles based artist CARR recently unveiled her poignant new visual for her mellow track “Circles” and her downtrodden energy perfectly encapsulates the feelings of hopelessness and heartbreak, featuring her tender yet tormented vocals. “Circles” is a song about love and its cyclical nature and CARR ponders about the merits of taking a former love interest back into your life after a rough patch, because after all, no matter how angry you may be at a former partner they still know you better than anyone else. CARR does a wonderful job of breaking down the psyche of returning to a relationship after it would seem that there is no longer any connection. I very much enjoyed this song and the accompanying visual and I am excited to see what direction CARR goes in next.

Icey Baby – [Baby Plug] x [Yung Icey]

By Jack Gregory // 5 Feb 2020

Its hardly a secret that Atlanta’s next generation of artists has an almost obscene level of talent across almost every conceivable niche of rap, r&b, and pop and perhaps my favorite new rapper to begin to emerge is Baby Plug, and recently he unveiled his latest EP, Icey Baby, since his 2019 mixtape release Let Me Pop My Shxt. Icey Baby was produced South Carolina’s Yung Icey who is steadily building a number of credits from several artists who are poised to make the leap to mainstream relevancy in the next year, so don’t be surprised if you hear “Icey, I’m so sick of you,” tagged on some major records in the near future. Baby Plug stands out first and foremost for his undeniable vocal ability and has already garnered a number of impressive comparisons off of the strength of his natural talent alone. He is perfectly assured of himself and forces nothing while maintaining a distinct charisma that is earning him the respect of his peers and the older generation alike. The project has only one feature on “Pop It Off” coming from Atlanta OG Lil Scrappy and he falls perfectly on the track alongside Baby Plug. I am really, really excited to …

Haunt Me – [Chrysalism]

By Jack Gregory // 5 Feb 2020

Music at its core is meant to help an artist unpack and express their emotions through an avenue of expression that can ease the burden of dealing with these feelings in a more traditional way, and it speaks greatly to the current state of society both in America and overseas that so much popular music has become an outlet for dealing with melancholy and hopelessness. As the world gets drearier and drearier it makes sense that artists would pivot to more bleak overtones and this somber sound has become a particular calling card for more youthful artists that feel as if the rest of their existence will be an uphill battle. One of my favorite recent examples of this came on a SoundCloud dig this week, culminating in my new discovery of London artist Chrysalism who unveiled their single “Haunt Me” ahead of their upcoming project Your Name Here that is set to debut in the coming weeks. Chrysalis laments his broken heart on this track. The gentle, yet breaking tone of his voice is juxtaposed by the dreamy instrumentation, making for an even more poignant atmosphere than his vocals alone could provide. I am very eager to check out Your Name Here and …