I hope you’ve already delved into last week’s roundup, but if not, I’m here for you with some more tracks! We’ve got some seriously groovy music on the roundup including new songs from Monte Booker, Andrea Valle, and Omo Frenchie.
Interstellar: Monte Booker ft. Bari
For a while now, Monte Booker has been a very sought-after producer. Throughout his burgeoning career he’s produced tracks for many Chicago-based powerhouses such as Smino, Ravyn Lenae, and Mick Jenkins, to name just a few. Booker delivers these dreamlike sounds on behalf of the famed record label Soulection, an independent music platform, radio show, and artist collective that was founded in Los Angeles. Boasting a roster of producers like Sango and Lakim, among others, Soulection has always been at the center of the progressive electronic, trip-hop, deep house scene. This track features Bari, a young rapper from St. Louis, who just released his debut album.
Personally, I’m obsessed with this track. The opening hook is catchy & classy, the structure is engaging, and Elton’s flow is reminiscent of old-school Kid-Cudi (which is a huge compliment). There is little to say about Elton, mostly because his online presence is minimal, but his full name is Elton Aura, he is a Chicagoan, and he opens for my girl Noname on her Room 25 tour. His most recent release is the Elevated EP. Check it out and bask in the rays of his shining, neo-soul ballads.
Nobody Knows: Stephen Smith ft. Mick Jenkins
This is good-quality, 90’s style hip-hop. Having said that, it doesn’t innovate much and feels like a variation of J-Cole’s “Fire Squad”. Despite this, I’d still choose Stephen Smith over most of the rappers in the mumble rap scene. He can rap, that’s obvious, and he does so without conforming to the industry’s demand for a distinct style of hip-hop, so I appreciate that. Of course, Mick Jenkins’ verse is also a highlight here. The production, however, felt half-assed. The single dropped Jan. 18th and was an independent release, Smith’s second single in three years.
Fall in Love: YUNO
Signed to Sub Pop Records, YUNO is the result of an interesting compilation of cultural influences. Born to a Jamaican family living in the UK, but creating his music in Jacksonville, Florida, YUNO’s musical upbringing tended to revolve around skateboarding subculture. This track is my personal favorite on the roundup, largely because I appreciate Yuno’s voice; soft and otherworldly and in perfect parallel with his dreamy production. This young skater produces, writes and designs all aspects surrounding his album—what an impressive guy, huh!
Afro Drill: Omo Frenchie
Have you ever heard of drill music? If not, drill music is style of trap that originated from Chicago in the early 2010’s. Almost universally it has violent, gang-affiliated connotations, something which Omo Pierre is aiming to change through this fusion genre: Afro Drill, a blend of afrobeats and drill music. The British-Congolese rapper dropped “Afro Drill” in late January via Defenders Ent alongside the video, both of which are getting a fair bit of airplay.
No More: Andrea Valle
A simple, honest piece of music. Andrea Valle, a relative newcomer to the music industry, is a Philadelphia-native and this is her debut single. Through this song, she shows us her heart and I am willingly mesmerized by her cosmic neo-R&B. Valle dropped “No More” on b4, an NYC futuristic label launched in 2018, however, before entering the music scene she was well-known as a model. She’s been spotted on runways at NYFW, in campaigns for H&M and Nars, and starring in Black Thought’s new ‘Conception’ music video.
Middle Child: J.Cole
I was initially reluctant to share Cole’s new single, only because at first glance it wasn’t innovating or evolving from J Cole’s staple sound. After some thought I sat down, re-listened, and reminded myself that Cole’s lyrics are his gems—the shaky foundation of his fame. Knowing that, I was convinced. Produced by T- Minus, this track is old-school J. Cole swag, but not anything special in terms of production. The lyrics, however, live up to the standard Cole has set for conscious rap—a standard that only the talented can reach.