Dope artists I discovered this year p.1

by Dan O

Poise is noticeable.

OKnice & Teddy Faley-

I didn’t group these two because they are friendly or because they are doing an album. These two belong together because they possess an incredibly difficult skill (I’m assuming didn’t come easily). It’s a very difficult and rewarding thing to gut yourself of the ugliest parts and craft them into well executed art but the truth is…most of the time nobody wants to experience that. The audience had a hard day as well and might not feel they have enough space within them to take on the brutal specifics of your interior world. It takes a very special talent to make that heaviness enjoyable to listen to. OKnice on Have You Tried Being Happy? Teddy Faley on Teddy Brown Brown both execute deeply sad albums that bang quite hard. Repeated listens aren’t any sort of chore I take on to honor the work. Every time I press play I marvel at the ease of the terror.


God You’re Beautiful does something I really love. It acknowledges the violence, the poverty, the brutal discomfort in Memphis while not letting it be the star of the album. Watch the video for Eastend and you’ll know what I’m talking about. While serenading a romantic partner  he still looks up and damns his enemies (existing and potential) but it’s only for a second. Our lens goes right back to their love.  It’s a big album full of juicy hooks and lush production. The stories are specific; they crash like waves sweeping us up only to break on the shore. A little over thirty five minutes none of these songs stay too long from Regret to Incarceration this is radio friendly with real heart and soul. For some reason, listening to Preauxx reminds me of watching the movie ATL for the first time. Living in a place I’ve never been and so much richer for it. 

Big Cheeko-

On my first full listen with Block Barry White I knew the person I was listening to was fully formed. This isn’t a rookie season it’s someone I just hadn’t had in vision. From the deep thick knock of the production style to the syrupy Barry White tone and composure. On top of being stylish with a great ear for beats Cheeko just feels superior in terms of organization. We’re talking about an album with Devin The Dude, Mach Hommy, Styles P, and Smoke Dza but the peak of it is the 4, 5, 6 run of songs that are all Cheeko. Thirty two minutes exactly on eleven songs while not many artists in 2022 are focused on making my car knock. I appreciate the mission and I hope Cheeko drives and thrives.

Jesse The Tree-

Poise is noticeable. You can hear when someone is pressing, you can feel when a project is hastily bound together with the excitement of release. I live in Maine so a lot of New England hip hop I hear suffers from this. The thing about Pigeon Man is none of that is present. Jesse is an expert on himself and makes the traits that define him work for him. Mopes gave him a Dungeon Family beat on Macadoo so the hook becomes a direct homage. Album starts with a rapping @$$ rap song (Shakedown Street) but by track 8 we have the full origin story (Blue Dream). This is not a mixtape, not an EP. Pigeon Man is an album with great handles that can move it’s defender wherever it wants. That kind of poise some folks never get.


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