This week's Underground Sound features: Kodie Shane, Nick Grant, Conway the Machine, ABRA, and Demo Taped
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t initially enticed by Kodie Shane because of her cuteness. Because the reality is, she’s pretty damn cute. But once I shook this superficial attraction, and actually dove into her work, I was pleasantly surprised. (I just checked, she’s 18—we good).
Kodie Shane is one of Epic Records most exciting signees, thanks to her fun personality, eccentric flair, yes, her cuteness too, but ultimately because of her talent. I’m pretty biased against “bubble rap” or “cloud rap”—some weird ass sub-genres, but I digress—mainly because I just don’t like Yachty, but I think Kodie Shane is this polarizing sub-genre’s saving grace. Suddenly, the bubbly, auto-tuned aesthetic isn’t met with reproach with her at the reigns—it’s actually pretty fun.
Shane’s 2016 five-track Zero Gravity EP adequately demonstrates trap music benefitting from a female’s presence in a male-dominated genre. Kodie sufficiently differentiates the Atlanta sound while staying grounded in its roots, effectively diversifying trap’s allure and continuing its rapid expansion. Perhaps I’m just blinded by my crush on her; but perhaps Kodie Shane is the real deal.
If there was any question which region is taking over Hip Hop, this year’s emerging artists should answer that question. I’ll give you a hint: it starts with A and rhymes with Atlanta. It’s no secret that the ATL is Hip Hop’s trap flagship, but thanks to rising emcee, Nick Grant, Georgia’s capital is diversifying its rap command.
Already, 2017 is shaping up to be Nick’s year. Like his Atlanta contemporary, Kodie Shane, Grant is also signed to Epic (in addition to Culture), who had the distinct pleasure of releasing his brand new album, Return of the Cool. Featuring unknowns, like Bhess, to rising star BJ The Chicago Kid, this album represents Nick’s highly operative mind through clever lyricism. However, he marries his witty intellect with thumping production to create a palatable product. His allure transcends conventional rap fans, and is knocking on mainstream’s door.
On Monday January 16th, Nick made his national television debut on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert by performing a medley of his songs, “Love” and “Get Up” to an excited audience. Cool, calm, and collected, Nick demonstrated seasoned poised as he controlled the mic while delivering a stellar performance. Expect big things from this kid moving forward.
CONWAY THE MACHINE
Okay, okay I get it—you’re sick of fakes, trappers, mumblers; everyone who’s the antithesis of “real rap.” You might be sitting there, bumping Biggie or Cube, dabbing away single tears rolling down your cheek, shaking your hands at God demanding real rap’s return. (I’m picturing Dave Chappelle’s Clayton Bigsby yelling, “All that ching chong chang, I can’t understand you! Go back to your country! White power”). Like I said, I get it. Fret no more Hip Hop purists—Conway the Machine is here to re-instill your confidence.
The Manhattan spitter is a shot out of the ‘90s. The beats, the flow, the lyrics—they all ooze raw ‘90s vibes that will dry your tear ducts, and talk the purists off the ledge. One-third of New York’s rising Griselda Gang (in addition to Westside Gunn and Mach Hommy), Conway raps from a mature, experienced perspective—he’s clearly witnessed shit that he doesn’t hesitate to speak on. He is a strong proponent of converting deep pain into beautiful art.
His 2015 album, Reject 2, is an ominous portrayal of his excelling lyricsm. Dipped in a gritty layer reflecting Manhattan’s uncompromising streets, Reject 2 paints a dark, honest picture of Conway’s troubling adolescence that’s put a chip on his shoulder, and provided a magazine of lyrical ammunition. What he lacks in mainstream awareness, Conway compensates with authenticity—line off “Wraith-Ful”: “You can tell I’m gangsta’ from my posture.”
I’m developing an obsession with the relatively new artist, ABRA. For starters, her 2016 EP, Princess, reflects her alternative style by featuring her topless leaning on a white horse. Nude attractive women and farm animals? Now you’re talking my language. Weirdly implied jesting bestiality aside, ABRA is a talented emerging artist.
ABRA’s style is an intriguing cocktail of pop, electronic, and Hip Hop that continues music’s progression of blending genre lines into indistinguishable categories. Borrowing a Michael Jackson flair coated in experimental production, while employing her Lil’ Kim side, ABRA presents a refreshing, confident style necessary for standing out in today’s crowded music scene. There are thousands of wannabe trappers. There’s only one ABRA.
Listening to her 2015 album, Rose, nestles you in the ‘80s, rips you out into the ‘00s, stops off in the ‘90s, all while ironically maintaining a progressive sound. Her work is a journey—a fun one. Proceed with caution.
Surprise, surprise—we’re featuring another Atlanta artist, Demo Taped. I might have to change this segment’s name from “The Underground Sound” to “Atlanta”—something tells me that name’s taken already. Anyways, meet Demo Taped, the electronic-skewing teenage sensation keen on lighting up your day by spreading good vibes.
Poppy synths, electronic experimental instrumentation, and wavy sounds comprise the production that supports his pseudo R&B aesthetic. Demo’s ranging influences, like Flying Lotus and Toro y Moi, contribute to his unique texture that will undoubtedly paint a smile on your face. Without an official album release under his belt, Demo’s potential is sky-high, hopefully suggesting a bright future for the young musician.