This week's Underground Sound features: Caleborate, ShaqIsDope, Jay IDK, SiR and Chuuwee
Coming off the heels of his sophomore August release, 1993, Caleborate’s using his varied flows and Soulection-like production to carve out his place in Hip Hop. Mixing G-Eazy's and Chance The Rapper’s styles, Caleborate employs a medley of soulful and jazzy tones to create a sound that his hometown Sacramento is proud to claim. While he loves to ride funky instrumentals, Caleborate is also a lethal spitter.
On “Kale” off 1993, the relatively simplistic production allows Caleborate to freely express his dynamic rapping and lyrical acumen: “I'll do magic and appearance hop the game like Hocus Pocus / And I'll just let you know this, Caleborate ain't for it / I don't come with a price tag and selling out sounding foreign / Told professor I'm sorry but finals week I'll be touring.” Caleborate is a determined young rapper whose relatability and skills are assisting his Hip Hop ranks ascension.
With one of Hip Hop’s coolest names, ShaqIsDope is what his name suggests: dope. The Toronto rising musician exploits his uniquely textured voice to create a trap soul sound reminiscent of Bryson Tiller. The 23-year-old’s hybrid rap/singing style is potentially indicative of his Toronto heritage, being from the same city as Drake, PND, Tory Lanez and The Weeknd, but he is by no means a repackaged wannabe. He is his own man with his own voice.
His debut EP, Black Frames, is an eight-track reflective and forward thinking journey finding our protagonist, Shaq, contemplating how his childhood struggles inform his current existence, and how his ambition will unlock his dreams. There is no shortage of conscious lyrics or trap soul production, making Black Frames and ShaqIsDope must listens. Keep the talent coming, Toronto.
Jay IDK is using his subtle trap aesthetic to assert himself in the rising emcee conversation. The DMV native spits with an unmistakable aggression that assertively transports the listener into Jay’s environment. His song “God Said Trap (King Trappy III)” off Subtrap will forcefully pick you up and drop you in the trap like someone moving a pin on Google Maps. This project has grown his visibility to the point where, in his words, “at least most the people in the industry kind of know who I am or heard of me.” That’s putting it lightly, Jay.
Jay’s stock is quickly rising and attracting big names, like features from Saba and CJ Fly on his most recent project, Empty Bank—an exposé on money’s corruption, akin to “Mo Money, Mo Problems.” His content is even drawing attention from large, non-music related outfitters, like Forbes, proving that he is transcending his DMV trap confines. Be prepared to hear a lot more from this guy.
Are you in the mood to treat your ears to something special? You should probably check out SiR—the smooth, melodic, soft-spoken R&B artist out of Inglewood, California who is determined to introduce you to his voice and story. With two projects under his belt—Seven Sundays and Her—SiR is consistently refining his style to manicure his best self, and proving his worth in this crowded Hip Hop landscape.
His projects are creative explorations showcasing SiR’s velvet voice, tenacious lyrics, and ability to ride experimental production to create gripping alternative Hip Hop. Commonly hiding his face under his thicket of dreads, SiR emits a mysterious personality that manifests in his music. People are taking notice, evidenced by receiving two A-list features: Anderson .Paak provided his distinct texture to the Seven Sundays track, “Liberation,” and Big K.R.I.T. added his southern flair on Her’s “Cadillac Dreams.” SiR has also been featured on .Paak’s Venice, Jay Rock’s 90059 and Isaiah Rashad’s The Sun’s Tirade. In a music world where it’s increasingly difficult to gain a competitive edge, SiR is standing out from the rest.
Juxtaposing soulful production with his hard-hitting flow, Chuuwee is converging different styles to produce impassioned music with a punch. The 26-year-old Sacramento spitter is not a direct representation of his Northern California roots, but he retains limited conventional regional elements, forming a parallel with fellow California trio, Pac Div. By weaving in a medley of conscious and weed-centric lyrics into his rhymes, I could see Chuuwee fitting in with Curren$y’s Jet Life collective. But, he already has a label home with Below System.
Through Below System, Chuuwee has released two projects: South Sac Mack and AmeriKKa’s Most Blunted 2. At 26-years-old, most artists would love to have released two polished projects, but Chuuwee isn’t most 26-year-olds—the man has 21-mixtapes out, including a collaboration with Cookin’ Soul (The Date Tape), and three albums with his 2017 disc, Dystopia, on the way. Work ethic isn’t something we have to worry about with this promising spitter, and hopefully we’ll continue to hear from him.