The concept of simply “playing it by the books” is something of a prevailing attitude that the grander underground music scene holds true from a spectacle. Because this landscape is so young, so fresh, and so appealing at its core, acts have the ability to consistently go about their careers in an effectively consistent manner — one that does not stray too far away from challenging any conventions that their scene already hasn’t challenged on its own.
But when artists go above and beyond and dare to pave new lanes and execute a concept never before accomplished before or since in their respective scene, that is when pure and utter magic is created, and magic that will stand the test of time much longer than any run-of-the-mill offering could ever even dream of doing.
As it currently stands this year, perhaps no other project has worked to put this notion in its fullest and most heightened effect than the newest full-length offering from Zee! and Stef entitled #USNOTTHEM.
This 6-track project is an anomaly in only the absolute best ways imaginable. These two are certainly large figures in the rising new wave of hip-hop and pop bursting from the underground – knowing their association with the all-too-prominent Novagang collective – but even they have outdone themselves as far as coming through with a full-length offering that stands among any single project that dares to step at its level.
Though it clocks in at under 10 minutes in its entirety, this offering is nothing short is full, substantiated, and simply complete in every sense of those terms respectively. Taking cues from even the most esteemed of conceptual albums, each track here flows into each other seamlessly — taking on and mastering an approach that usually is only reserved for experienced and acclaimed artists at high points in their respective careers. The fact that both Zee! and Stef can lay claim to executing this approach so early in each of their own musical journeys is something to be absolutely admired over for a great deal of time, just proving how remarkable of talents they both are.
And if that fact alone fails to display that sentiment as much as it should be, then both of their performances on the project itself certainly will. Zee! takes the majority of the vocal duties on this project, coming through with some absolutely gripping and resounding passages that do nothing else but bask in all of its catchy glory from a collective standpoint. His performance is matched in its quality by Stef’s production on each and every song here, as each instrumental is just as earworm-inducing and completely entertaining as well, with Stef pulling out all the stops to allow the flow of this project to shine through as much as it possibly could.
These two have come through with a concept that will likely fail to be matched for the rest of this year, and possibly even beyond just this point. #USNOTTHEM is not just an impressive offering from two musicians who never fail to impress, it is a landmark moment that has the potential to spell out a new future for how artists in their respective scene take on full-length offerings from this point forward. That statement certainly needed to be made, and the fact that these two were the ones to do just that makes it all the more better.