Unsigned. Underrated. “Hip-hop transformations.”

This is a list of mostly young, underrated artists with little visibility by the public. They’re all building cult followings, making them important signs of trends  In no order.

1. DARROL WARD @YoungGwuallah – “GrizzleyWayzzVol1”  is a poignant piece from the GWUALLAH group, Young Gwuallah takes a break from self-righteous hoe-smashing paranoia, offers support to young lady. He shows unsurprising pride in her independence, a genuine protector to this young working lady who “kept her head on straight”:

Young G sings “you get this money, you go and get and it, girl.”

It’s trap house with a major revision but makes no big deal about it, it’s also got an ounce of tenderness. Young Gwuallah is a unique voice in hip-hop.

2. GALAXY GOD @GalaxyGod

Galaxy God is traphouse at its extreme. He is one of the most skilled, especially when you allow yourself to be hypnotized by “SNAKES”. Galaxy God Simmons switches from the chant-style to the speedy rhyme with no effort. Traphouse is certainly not for everyone but if it were, Galaxy God Simmons’ ominous tracks would be required listening. Galaxy God Simmons is already a powerful artist. It won’t be long until he’s president of a label.

3. MARTAVIUS

This young Florida native is onto something. Of all the spacey obscure hip-hop crammed with chants, MARTAVIUS actually is a Poet. And so hearing his auditory inventions is extremely exciting and confounding to listen to. There’s no sense of the superficial anywhere here: “Elijah speak out Elijah speak out” he repeats in “Enlightenment” while a metallic spinning periodically sounds . Then silence. MARTAVIUS then gives a stern spoken warning

“I dont want anybody to speak i dont want anybody to eat without Us coming. I want it to be ALL about us. … You will know our name, this is 3rd degree elite.”

4. JOSEF DREAMZ

JOSEF DREAMZ aka Z3FSC is arguably the most vocally openly gay hip-hop spitter in the biz. (Le1f is still working, no?).Dreamz definitely has a tight trap sound, his spitting so well-suited to the paranoid trap “fantasies” — His tone is hard, occasionally he takes on a severe mocking sarcasm that is almost palpable. DREAMZ is joined by 2Much & Gado in the dark trap story “3 Kingz”. It’s not an easy listen (try not to meditate too much about wha’s occurring to people in the background).

DREAMZ does a saracastic, sharp-cutting “Versace” tighter than any versions i’ve heard lately.

5. JUSS MONEYY is more traphouse. He takes on the traditional convention of repetition and takes it to its extreme. Juss Moneyy could’ve called it the Ten Commandments by and for him. “Neva Eva”

SLIM GUERILLA PERFECTS THE ART OF HIP-HOP (#STORYTELLING)

SLIM GUERILLA is a man on a misson: he’s an obsessive story-teller. I don’t make the diagnosis lightly nor do i have the credentials to attach ANY such label to to him or anyone.  People who do not understand RILLA’s appeal should hear the argument at least. Converts are cool.

SG RILLA MANE aka SLIM GUERILLA is a storyteller with a full vocal tone that might remind somebody of BrothaLynch . Forgiven, you. Who would not want to be legend-like at RILLA’s age.

Comparisons to Brotha Lynch end abruptly. SLIM GUERILLA does not have an enemy or an enemy’s baby on his dinner menu. RUBEN SLIKK is most often the other comparison.

“My Cadillac” from SG RILLA’s latest GROOVIE TUNE$ reveals the difference between SLIKK’s violent post-trap psychedelic porn and RILLA’s paranoid realism.

SG RILLA spits a narrative of mistrust, the threat of violence lingering.  “Groovie N***a” is RILLA desperately seeking irony (or paradise), it’s all runna-the-mill everyday hustling — think Ice Cube shrugging about good days. “Passion Music” is advice for future hustlers. Space music notes rise and fall, a gravity metaphor for : RILLA, who repeats his refrain “that hoe is not gon make you rich.”

As i am finding my taste go from approve to ambivalent re the Lone star drawl, SLIM GUERILLA is an essential voice for his genre. I will probably never, no offense to Texans, acquire a full-on obsession for Texas-centric hip-hop. And anyway: LYNCH is Cali, SG RILLA obviously is not So how do …

Brotha Lynch Hung

Is VON TAE’ the New King Of RnB?

He’s got a voice so youthful, clean and infectious he could bring a crowd to their knees. And (bonus alert) “Miss You So Much” ends our post-1990s quest for the perfect 1990’s breakup song.

He is of course VON TAE’ and he is the New King of Soul. I promised myself there’d be no MJ mentions.

“Speedin'”  and “Touche” are  irresistible slow-hump funk each about a different side of a man’s frustration in love: in the first he’s a man on fire-in-love so ready to get it. But he’s bitter with suspicion and angry, ready to quit it the other (“Touche”).

My Own Religion has been high on my list of 2014’s best albums since its premiere. Stylish, bold, and full of frantic fever for the dance-floor, it’s eclectic but not confused about genres.

The album contains some of the best spitting of the year (“Show-Out’, ‘Touche’). I was, still am, amazed and like everyone else blown away at VON TAE’s frenetic, show-stopping performance on “Stuntin'”. I still hear the song blasting in clubs and in cars alike. The Artist knows how to rock a crowd to exhaustion, we already knew it, we already knew he did it well above and beyond the average.. So what did VON TAE do in “Stuntin”?

Of course he raised the soul-stirring passion higher with his spitting. The song defines the name VON TAE’: proud, capable, humble but willing to admit he’s better than most, and therefore we add honesty, integrity, fearlessness. and strictly-held and enforced quality control standards. This album wouldn’t have been made by anyone else because they’d say “perfection” is impossible, that they’ll do their best.

VON TAE recently tweeted big life-changing news that since #BrokenBoundariesOfExistence was entirely predictable. I didn’t seek permission from the Artist to share his tweets so i will not be repeating his words here. I will say while there is a new, hyped-up name every month, its heat dies down and is replaced by another. VON TAE’ has been riding high with a steady, ever-growing wave of popularity and acclaim since early this year at album’s release. It has not died down. The first album was remarkable, made him a sensation. Sophomore slump is not a dilemma VON TAE suffers. A #VONTAKEOVER has occurred. Music’s most influential young star has i’ve no doubt big ideas on how to change the music scene.  #MyOwnReligion was one such big idea. Looks as if it’s paying off.  RATING * * * * * 5 star music

I

L.S – YOU’RE WRONG [MUSIC VIDEO] @LimitlessSoundz {Bars without Chains}

“Before you judge, you better honor.” Affirmative. This is a powerful line from L.S.’s single “You’re Wrong.”

L.S. aka LIMITLESS SOUNDZ. is a Chicago native who’s been making a lot of positive noise for himself over the past year.

Just look at his resume. He’s a Poet, Activist, Author,  Actor, Motivator, Producer, Hip-Hop Connoisseur, Linguist — and i’m as out of breath as mediocre rapper gasping between bars.  I’m guessing L.S. is probably a culinary expert, a political scientist and a psychologist as well. His rhymes reflect a vast and profound knowledge of the world. And anyway he’s called LIMITLESS.

“You’re Wrong” is L.S. long-awaited never-to-be-overrated hip-hop gem. It is also his first visual. {Watch it here )

Despite resembling a Nubian Model in, say, International Male, L.S. is not some “pretty-guy artist” with all style and no substance. His flow is hard and in my humble opinion he’s already joined the ranks of RAS KASS and BUENO. Indeed L.S. also has the ferocity and authenticity of Detroit’s legendary Poet E-FAV        –.himself a member of the Legendary hip-hop quartet CLEAR SOUL FORCES .

L.S. most recently raised his profile by collaborating with Chicago’s famous indie Soul Crooner JERELL on the Anti-Chiraq Underground Classic “City Of Broken Hearts”. JERELL turned a grim topic (gun violence) into a heartfelt threnody for lost youth. The critically-acclaimed song ended with L.S. spitting a disturbing metaphor about the plight of African-americans: “I shed so many tears / Might’ve broken a levee.”

“You’re Wrong” is as flawless as the intellect of its author. But L.S. really earns the crown & leaves no doubt of his prowess during the final 30 seconds: A bold acapella salute to himself, his Culture & his undeniably rich, complex visions: It’s unexpected, jarring and it’s one of the most brilliant 30 seconds of music i’ve heard in a long while.

I’ve failed to mention aspects of the visual. L.S. is energeticm spitting his rhymes in a graffiti-decorated alleyway. His presence is as stunning as his raw, impassioned delivery. And while he was most certainly lip-syncing as is the standard practice when filming, i wasn’t convinced of it. Again, it’s his confident stage presence that should probably lead to roles in TV and film.

Finally, i was completely moved both watching L.S. mouthing the final 30-second acapella as i was hearing the Poet’s rage without visual. “You’re Wrong” will hopefully put L.S. on a metaphoric pedestal where he can shine like the Poet he is. As hip-hop’s next to reign intellectual, L.S. might change the world.

RATING:* * * * 1/2

THRAXX: COSMIC DAD KEY NYATA

The thraxx genre described as “scary space music” is yet the next interesting wave in hip-hop. Thraxxhouse king Key Nyata gives not a taste but a heavy dose to the unitiated on his album COSMIC DAD.

“Nights with Aliens” introduces us to Key God who informs us that  “some call [him] Black Jesus.” It’s slowed, paranoid, and  cosmic. Key God has a point. “DE4THSTAR” is Key God’s claim on the universe. His spitting is, as you’d expect from Black Jesus, top-shelf. {I secretly hope that Key God is immortal}.

“Swerve” is a highlight, an instant classic no matter what the genre. Fractured beats accompany the ghoulish spitting by Cosmic Dad and Black Kray, while the song devolves a bit into sounding like a tortured mixtape.

“IWANNAD!SAP3AR” is an even deeper plunge into the Key God’s dreams. A fuzzy background mix (My Bloody Valentine?), paranoid spitting about conspiracies: it’s hip-hop but … something else too. Thraxxhouse is just something beyond any definition i could give it. Close as i can come: shoegaze, alt hip-hop, and industrial having a threesome?

The outro “B.O.S. (Body of Stars)” is Air-meets-trap. A fitting close to this fine work of art. Am i obligated to add a disclaimer: Not for everyone? Shit no. What music is for Everyone? Open-minded purveyors of the ever-evolving landscape of hip-hop in its many forms will no doubt delight in Key God’s eccentric poetry.

Other genre-clans may be taken in by COSMIC DAD‘s almost cinematic qualities. It’s not Rob Zombie fierce. Rather it’s unsettling in a nearly pleasant way. Like minimalist music perhaps. I’ll ask COSMIC DAD for his thoughts.

ALAGE: the Classic DO OR DIE Album Revisited.

Alage Do or Die

DO OR DIE is Boston Hip-Hop Poet ALAGE’s Masterpiece. Unfortunately it was more than a little overlooked. It’s well-past time to revisit this classicly raw street album. DO OR DIE has much to say, even more some two years after its original release.

First point is how ALAGE’s booming vocals invite comparisons to a few of the best MCs you could name. Ultimately ALAGE stands on his own. Not to be confused with any other MC. Confident defiance, simmering rage are both fuels for the passion running through this album.

The title song itself sets the tone right with its urgency. Anxiety over family and loss fuel that urgency. The infectious “Do My Thang” is perhaps the best of the 14 tracks here. Only by a hair though. ALAGE is “feelin good” in the midst of the album’s urgency without ignoring it. It continues the cleansing of the “Past that came before it.

I can’t neglect to mention the sheer revelry of “Keep It On Lock” where ALAGE’s vocals dare you not to listen. He’s a brilliant vocalist, his songwriting rises above the cliched shallowness of so many other less-talented artists.

Now of course, ALAGE has not let us ignore the Realities of “The Hood” he knew as a child. He’s reflected on both the celebratory aspects of the hood, and the perils as well. It makes for an album with the balance of reality, not simply the gloom he could’ve easily overemphasized.

Boston has a real voice in ALAGE. I really do hope people will revisit DO OR DIE. And consider that it was just a couple years ahead of its time. We can also picture ALAGE feeling trimuphant as listeners catch up to his visionary art. Lesser-talents find themselves chasing trends. ALAGE will be a well-regarded hip-hop trendsetter.