Tag Archives: young rappers

The Vulnerable Layer

The Vulnerable Layer

by Dan-O

A lot of old school hip hop heads do a fair (or unfair) amount of complaining about pink hair tight pants and tattoos. These new kids on drugs trap beats and repeating words over and over again…are a much smaller percentage of hip hop than you might think.

I noticed this last year. Youngboy Never Broke Again dropped an incredible project called A.I. Youngboy with all the bounce and flavor of a great New Orleans Hip Hop album and has been following it ever since with searingly personal content. The mixtape that followed was called Ain’t Too Long and wasn’t nearly as fun but instead presented a Boosie level of personal introspection and meditation on loss. He has continued that on his long and very good Until Death Call My Name. At the same time from the well watched streets of Chicago Lil Durk dropped Love Songs For The Streets and it wasn’t weird at all.  Durk had begun the year before that drawing the camera lens closer and closer to his actual life friends and troubles, creating a relationship with his fans unlike any other young Chicago MC. That is really what stood out about this in 2017. These two are young! Durk is 25 Youngboy is 18 and they are opening up on tracks in ways we are not used to seeing from mainstream hardcore rap hungry young mixtape people.

This year has compounded the trend. Two very good albums that traffic in staggeringly personal content from rappers born in the mid to early 90’s have dropped. The most recent is from the production mind of The Internet, one of the best groups in hip hop. After the shockingly great 2017 Syd had I was prepared for how good Patrick Paige II Letters of Irrelevance could be or at least I thought I was.  The more I relisten to it the more I shake my head at the intelligent design of it. The first song is called The Best Policy where Paige declares his problems with adulthood, his abiding desire to speak the unfettered truth and it sets the stage for what he is able to accomplish. The sonic landscapes shift with a sure hand and dazzling accuracy as we go from a perfect D’Angelo recreation (Voodoo) to a slapping great time with G Perico and Sareal (on Get It With My N’s).  All the while if you listen he parses real truth of his topics. The end of the album makes it unignorably resonant. His Ode to Inebriation says “I don’t need a glass man F#$* a flask drink it in just what I bought it in just like my Dad”  in a tone so heartfelt and angry that it is awkward and rewarding. You watch him deal with his demons and did I mention that the song after that (The Last Letter) is to his dead Mother?

Letters of Irrelevance just came out 05/18 it will no doubt grow on me over the months to follow. The project that has come into my top 5 albums of the year through the sheer force of its personality (released in April) is Saba-Care For Me.  Saba deserves all the credit in the world for devastating lyrical work from tales of his uncle on Life to savvy intellectual critique of the music industry on Grey and possibly the best lyrical song of the year in track 9 Prom/King. In seven minutes and thirty one seconds he weaves an albums worth of content together and it’s not just pain. His pen paints friendship hormones nervousness unexpected calamity and everything in between. Its life in one song and while Prom/King stands out the other songs carry a similar weight. The other people on Care For Me that deserves a ton of credit are the musicians, great bass play, guitar work and subtle keyboard work that never overload the canvas allowing Saba to flourish and deliver on the promise of his last release Bucket List Project.

If someone tells you these new kids are trash ask them if they have heard Noname, Smino, Saba, Patrick Paige II, Isiah Rashad,  Kamaiyah, and the list grows everyday. This is not a generation with a lack of artistic perspective or want to experiment it is an industry that gives you what they know how to make over and over for fear deviation will cost MONEY. So if you want depth pay for it. You’ll see more of it become visible and that necessary vulnerability will nourish your playlist.



Patrick Paige II-The Last Letter




Mixtape Review-Body High by Lucki Eck$

Mixtape Review-Body High by Lucki Eck$

by Dan-O

“I’m still a kid anyway, I keep forgettin’ bout that sh_t (Finesse)” It’s easy to forget. Lucki Eck$ is a barely 18 year old rapper from Chicago who stepped into rap fully developed. His last mixtape Alternative Trap was one of those projects I couldn’t stop listening too and with each listen my expectations jumped higher. By the time I heard Body High was coming I had Big Krit level expectations on this kid without ever putting it in perspective.

Body High doesn’t sound like anything an eighteen year old would have in their mind. It starts with a track called 4th Commandment Broken. The title and song is an admittance that he has violated the 4th commandment of Biggies 10 Crack Commandments and is now high on his own supply. This is not the mixtape confession of a junky nor is it the high life brag of a teenage El Chapo (can rappers stop referencing El Chapo please…PLEASE?). On 4th Commandment Broken Lucki talks about losing money and laments Biggies advice “Biggie told me never use your own supply but he don’t understand I need it like its school supplies. So I’m just glued to the sh_t until I probably die.”

Body High is the slow descent into zombie. A mid-level dealer who serves his clientele all day every day until his social and economic world is full of craggily red eyed zombies. How long before he gives up and joins in? What happens when you have one foot in both?

The music isn’t drill at all. It’s Chicago Cloud Rap where the clouds are black. Xan Cage starts with 50 seconds of instrumental ambiance that never feels tacked on or futile. Every seconds points you to Lucki and what he’s about to say next. What he says is so clearly above the realm of traditional hip hop imagery that his sing song flow becomes even more arresting. On Can’t Blame You he describes thanksgiving with his family and says “Grannie made a meal for the elephant in the room.” Witchcraft is a heartbreak song with strange Chris Benoit pro-wrestling imagery and flying brooms with ex-girlfriends on them.

Body High is certainly about doing drugs and selling them. The two sides of the coin intermingle and become a chant on Reflections. It’s a rare project that is not just about the two sides of this issue but about maintaining your personality and character while traversing these extreme circumstances. Count On Me 3 is the perfect ending (12 tracks total) with the phone ringing and Lucki packed up for sales. He has a jaunty laugh in his voice as he brags about his dealer capability but it’s a defense; we know that from all the tracks that exist before it. A defense that’s needed for the stage of his life Body High is about. I hope everyone listens to it and feels the intelligence, the misery, and the humor. Maybe rap listeners will start to think of drug dealing in three dimensions.

Please stream or download Body High: