By Eric Jeffery
K.Flay, born Kristine Meredith Flaherty, is a female rapper who represents the progress of hip-hop. It is not hard to tell that technology has had an immense impact on the rap industry over the years, and almost any person with a laptop can create beats and record raps. The key to excelling in modern day hip-hop is innovation, creating a sound that is unique and desirable, yet still personal and relatable.
Flaherty has the formula. A Stanford graduate with degrees in Psychology and Sociology, the foundation for K.Flay was laid during her freshman year. She challenged herself to make a rap song because she thought most songs at the time were simplistic and formulaic. She thought it would be easy. For her, it was.
By her sophomore year, K.Flay was performing in front of live crowds. By her Junior year, she released her first album, “Suburban Rap Queen,” and established a firm, but growing, local fan base.
Content is everything in media and music in particular. K.Flay is a talented lyricist who is well aware of her artistic identity. Flaherty is from Wilmette, Illinois, an affluent suburb north of Chicago. The hurdle all suburban hip-hop artists must overcome is a lack of substance. Hip-hop originated in low-income urban neighborhoods where rap was used as an outlet for people to talk about struggle, hardships, and making something from nothing. How can a suburban artist be competitive in hip-hop if they did not start from the bottom?
K.Flay had a simple solution. Every person has a story to tell. She raps about the events that shaped her. He edginess is the product of divorced parents, a tomboy phase prior to high school and the untimely death of her father in her freshman year of college.
Some would argue that the genre of music K.Flay creates is more of an indie electronic style, but no doubt her lyrics are as poetic as any rap song.
A Rolling Stone article written by Oscar Raymundo quotes K.Flay in reference to her lyrics saying, "It’s very introspective…But I don’t know if it’s that dark. It’s all stuff that I’ve gone through, or stuff my friends have gone through. We all seem to be ok now."
A more obvious obstacle for K.Flay as a rapper is her gender. Female artists have the challenge of appealing to a largely male audience in the Hip-hop genre. However, all hip-hop fans appreciate an artist with good flow, and in this craft, K.Flay has undeniably natural talent. Hip-hop today thrives on pop culture references and K.Flay delivers some surprising ones, including mentions of former bulls Forward Carlos Boozer and former Cubs pitcher Greg Maddox.
K. Flay is the best female artist rapping right now. She is innovative, smart, and edgy enough to make big moves in the future. If you are looking for modern hip-hop music to add to your playlist rotation, check out K.Flay.
By Eric Jeffery
To Pimp a Butterfly, Kendrick Lamar’s highly anticipated follow up to historic G.o.o.d. Kid Mad City, was released on March 16, a week before the anticipated drop date. First impressions describe To Pimp a Butterfly as dark, masterful, and extremely black. It is easy to appreciate Kendrick’s art when it is understood as a narrative of Kendrick’s life. The album conveys Kendrick’s rise to fame, intense guilt and depression for leaving Compton, his return to Compton and reflections of what he learned, and changing his ways moving forward as a responsible role model. Notable tracks include King Kunta, Hood Politics, and Momma.
On March 23, Action Bronson delivered his second studio album entitled, Mr. Wonderful. Bronson was highly acclaimed at the YouTube Music Awards, which debuted his video for song, “Baby Blue” featuring Chance the Rapper. Notable new tracks from the album include Brand New Car, A Light in the Addict, and Falconry. While the sophomore album has been criticized for lacking depth, Bronson delivers an album that is a joy to listen to.
Earl Sweatshirt released, I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside: An Album By Earl Sweatshirt, also on March 23. Earl expressed discontent for the albums early digital download release and the lack of cooperation from Sony Music Entertainment. Earl intended to debut his music video for “Grief” prior to the digital pre-order release date. Notable songs from the album include Faucet, Mantra, and Wool featuring Vince Staples.
By Eric Jeffery
Action Bronson fans are eagerly awaiting the release of his second studio album on March 24, appropriately titled, “Mr. Wonderful.” In preparation for the big debut, Bronson generously gave his followers a taste test of the album with, “Terry,” and “Baby Blue,” featuring Chance the Rapper. Quite some time has passed since the first single, “Actin Crazy,” first appeared but the recent release of a video for the song is outrageously entertaining and nothing short of the ridiculousness that fans have come to expect from Bronson. As if Bronson’s live performance antics weren’t crazy enough (i.e. Bathroom break performance in Canada), give the man a green screen and the possibilities are limitless. This is precisely the formula for the “Actin Crazy” video, in which Bronson posterizes Godzilla in an animated dunk worthy of SportsCenter’s top 10.
See for yourself below:
By Eric Jeffery
1. DSL – Joey Bada$$
Joey Bada$$ delivers 5 of the hottest bars to open any verse I’ve heard in a while. That is what Joey is all about, as his rhymes do not let up at any point during the track. At only 17, Joey’s skill and natural hip-hop talent has raised quite a few eyebrows. Comparisons to an early Nas have sparked intrigue from hip-hop fans ranging from Joey’s home town Brooklyn, New York to Newcastle, Tyne and Wear in England. Listen to DSL (Da Special List) and decide for yourself if the hype is right.
2. Fuckin Problem – A$AP Rocky feat. Drake, 2 Chainz and Kendrick Lamar
With four of hip-hops fastest rising stars (some of which may already be considered established stars) on the same track, it’s hard not to appreciate a song with a verse from three out of four of them. This being the second single released off of A$AP’s major label debut album, “LongLiveA$AP,” hype is building fast for A$AP Rocky. A$AP assured fans the new album will be out in the coming year and a mixtape from the entire A$AP Mob will be out prior to the release. Fuckin Problem has only boosted the hype.
3. Khadifi Dub and Tayyib Ali - Trap $#*!
Khadifi Dub has released his newest single, “Trap $#*!” with Tayyib Ali, in light of his forthcoming mixtape “The Compound,” set for release some time in the near future. The Philly Natives spit over a harder beat than fans are used to hearing from chill rap connoisseur Tayyib Ali. The new style may be an indication of what to expect from Keystone State of Mind 2, Tayibb’s sequel to well received mixtape Keystone State of Mind. Two artists with big things coming, be on the look out and enjoy the visuals for “Trap $#*!”
4. Wi.sh feat. Malakai – Ice Cold
Philly meets Philly when Wi.sh collabs with Malakai of rap duo Ground Up. As it turns out this formula is one for success. Ice Cold has been received warmly and serves as a nice introduction for many people to rapper, Wi.sh, who settled in Philadelphia after growing up all over the map. If you like what you hear, be sure to check out "Wi.ShList Vol.I" below
Audio Link: http://www.hotnewhiphop.com/wi-sh-ice-cold-song.1101899.html
5. Big Boi feat. Kid Cudi – She Hates Me
Kid Cudi is featured on the chorus of a more traditional style rap song, not to overshadow Big Boi who’s verses hold down “She Hates Me.” The two deliver a somewhat emotional love ballad about enduring a relationship while balancing work/music on the road. This song has a sort of Kanye West [My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy] vibe in the dramatic edge it possesses.
6. good kid m.A.A.d city – Kendrick Lamar
My new personal front-runner for album of the year, and a definite milestone in what should be a very long music career for Kendrick Lamar, good kid m.A.A.d city is extraordinary from top to bottom. Highlighted by Backseat Freestyle, Money Trees, The Art of Peer Pressure, Swimming Pools (Drank), m.A.A.d city, and Poetic Freestyle, there is no track on this album that isn’t worth listening to all the way through. If nothing else, people will remember Kendrick Lamar for his ability to tell a story. Kendrick, formerly known as K.Dot, flows with a purpose as he communicates his passion into metaphors, double meanings and elaborate narration. His stories of burglary, drug exposure and struggle to survive in Compton (among other personal experiences), act as a tour guide for listeners as they observe the life of Kendrick, and explore his loss of innocence. If you don’t download this album, you’re missing out.
7. King Los – Back Seat (Freestyle)
Kendrick Lamar’s Backseat Freestyle was very impressive, but Carlos Coleman, a.k.a. King Los, was confident enough to rap over the same beat; and he does it justice. King Los is a freshman for Bad Boy Records and hails from the city of Baltimore. When he’s not rapping or performing himself, Los ghostwrites for well known artists in the music industry. His lyrical ability is on display for the world to hear in his Back Seat (Freestyle).
8. A.dD+– Can’t Come Down
Dallas rap duo A.dD+ is representing the south for hip-hop, and comparisons to Outkast make the artists reputable. Bud ballad “Cant Come Down” documents life as a working stoner, and concludes with a confrontation by the rappers boss for being “too high.” If you like what you hear check out A.dD+ full length album “When Pigs Fly.”