2010 – [Earl Sweatshirt]

To me, Earl Sweatshirt is so much more than a rapper. I first got into him over a decade ago when he was running with the Odd Future crew, and while everyone in that legendary group brought something unique to the table, Earl was just moving so much more differently than anyone else in the entire industry, let alone OFWGKTA. Since then, he has ventured off on his own, releasing more and more albums that seem to get more inventive each time, and while Doris is still a top 5 favorite project of mine, I think Earl has so much more left in the tank. His experimental sound is nothing short of captivating, but the way he uses his words lets you know just how intelligent, creative, and all-around legendary that the LA-based emcee truly is. Simply put, you might not understand everything Earl puts out, but he creates his music in such an abstract way that I can have an extremely different takeaway than you might have, and that’s nothing short of magical, in my opinion. Despite the fact that he has been featured on so many different songs since his last project FEET OF CLAY released back in …

Higher Self – [Navy Blue]

A rapper by the name of Navy Blue is ending 2019 by taking a moment to self-reflect on his new song, “Higher Self”. The new track and accompanying video showcase the rapper’s spoken-word style of rap as he lets his stream of consciousness flow in the form of methodical, thought-provoking bars. Navy Blue navigates between subject matter with a deftness for connecting floating thoughts in his mind, and it feels like he draws content for his lyrics naturally from his environment. He treats the song as one extended verse filled with vivid metaphors and double entendres that keep a listener on their toes. There’s an overwhelming melancholy that pervades the entire track, and producer Demahjiae adds to this effect with a beat that’s composed of an eerie piano loop and other sparse, ambient sounds. The video itself, directed by Ryosuke Tanzawa, builds a portrait Navy Blue’s world through vignettes into daily life as he walks down the street. The rapper seems to find his inspiration for his poetry as he moves through the scene, and his process gets rendered in a grainy, vintage style that reiterates the timelessness of his sound. Watch “Higher Self” by Navy Blue below:

Run It Up – [King Carter] & [Rago Foot] ft. [MIKE]

As they gear up to drop their collaborative mixtape ‘Prayers Ain’t Enough’, King Carter and Rago Foot have shared a new music video from the project. On “Run It Up”, the synergy between the New York rapper and U.K. producer becomes apparent with Carter’s flows adding a sharp edge to Foot’s loopy, sample-based production. The track also features bars from Carter’s east coast cohort MIKE, who dropped his standout ‘tears of joy’ tape a few weeks ago. Both Carter and MIKE are members of New York’s sLUms collective, which has been responsible for some of the most eclectic underground hip-hop releases this year. Filmmaker Ryosuke Tanzawa brings Carter’s and MIKE’s verses to life, cutting between abstract close-ups of that mimic the song’s lyrics and shots of the two artists rapping on a rooftop. As they go bar for bar over Foot’s incessant soulful chops, the visual gives the viewer a birds-eye perspective of the narrative that’s woven into the track. With ‘Prayers Ain’t Enough’ just around the corner, “Run It Up” makes for a promising preview of what’s to come.