PFOS: VOLUME 21
close my eyes and clear these thoughts of mine, more problems arise
Happy Friday and welcome back to PFOS. It’s been quite a while since the last new music roundup, so I figured I’d publish one that covers December 2020 through last weekend.
As usual, rap music is flourishing, even as the world around it crumbles...
ALBUMS / MIXTAPES / EPs:
Producers: Crazycookup, DaOnlyWinnie, DatBoiShai, DJ Shawdi P, Eem Triplin, Figurez Made It, Gitt Fai, Helo Helg, Jai Beats, JBFlyBoi, John Lam, JuanRa, Kado Beats, LuciG, Mac 10 Go Dummy, Palaze, Secret Stash, Strizzy, Youngin Chriso
Label: T9ine Music / Columbia Records
T9ine is a 19-year-old Tampa native whose career has been snowballing since he first went viral for freestyling over a classic Junior M.A.F.I.A. instrumental in 2018. On his sophomore mixtape Fast Life Living, he delivers on the promise of his previous work and establishes himself as a distinctive voice among Florida rap’s crowded new school.
T9ine songs don’t slap, they flicker and glow with campfire-like warmth. His ear for gentle production lends coherence to Fast Life Living, which leans on languid guitars and lounge music pianos. As a writer, T9ine finds poignancy in grounded observations, and his deft melodic phrasing turns straightforward lines into stirring refrains. “This for my menaces, locked up fighting sentences / Just keep it real with me, stop all that pretending shit.”
T9ine’s laid-back presence on the mic understates his craftsmanship. There isn’t a single song on this project that misses its target or belabors its point, and solo cuts like “One In A Million'' and “3 Deep” are honest-to-god masterpieces of modern blues rap. Fast Life Living offers a study in poetic contrasts - it’s guarded yet expressive, skeptical yet hopeful, stormy yet sunny.
Producers: Atake, Buru Beats, Dubba-AA, Flex on the Beat, FOREVEROLLING, Greedy Money, Juke Wong, Ronnie Lucciano, Tay Keith, TayTayMadeIt
Label: Everybody Shine Together Ent.
Over the past couple of years, Louisville rapper EST Gee has become one of the hottest upcoming artists in the Midwest by flooding the internet with releases and collaborating with like-minded luminaries from Detroit (42 Dugg, Babyface Ray, Sada Baby, Icewear Vezzo & Payroll Giovanni). On his latest album I Still Don’t Feel Nun, Gee sketches drug dealer narratives with sardonic wit and hard-boiled wisdom.
Any English speaker who loves language can find something to appreciate about EST Gee’s rapping. He makes elaborate feats of writing appear effortless, like a Harlem Globetrotter casually sinking trick shots: “My play from down the way got 12K, so eight should get me straight the cheaper way / I’mma pop this perky and get geeked today / Riding with this broomstick, don’t get swept off of your feet today.”
Since dropping I Still Don’t Feel Nun in December, EST Gee has inked a deal with Yo Gotti’s CMG imprint and performed on Jimmy Kimmel with fellow Kentuckian Jack Harlow. His sludgy brand of mafia music is durable and rewarding as hell, and it’s encouraging that he’s found some commercial success without compromising his point of view.
Producers: Rx Brainstorm
Label: Brainstorm Productions
Rx YP is a young artist from Atlanta who’s built a small but fervent following on YouTube and SoundCloud through his collaborations with underground innovators like Baby Plug and Rx Peso. His ascent in ATL’s rap scene has been stymied by legal problems, but he managed to record his new EP YP Meets Gunna with the producer Rx Brainstorm during a recent stretch of relative freedom.
“We made YP Meets Gunna at YP’s folks’ spot on the east side the week he got out,” Brainstorm tells me over Instagram DM. “He was out about 4-5 days before he got locked back up.”
The brilliance of Rx YP’s music reveals itself through immersion. Lyrics that feel like throwaways at first get repeated into abstraction. Structures that initially scan as predictable collapse on themselves and morph into unexpected shapes. Brainstorm’s production puts a psychedelic spin on YP’s freewheeling verses, and the final product sounds like a message from the future. In YP’s smoked-out house of mirrors, familiar phrases become jumping off points for impressionistic tongue-twisters. “Hundred round drum, get the issue / Hundred round drum, big pistols / Hundred round drum, get the picture?”
Asian Doll - “Nunnadet Shit” (prod. DJ C3nturii)
Asian Doll’s personal life - especially her relationship with the late Chicago rapper King Von - receives extensive coverage from hip-hop tabloids, but her skills as a rapper often get lost in translation. The Dallas native can absolutely torch an instrumental when she feels like it, and that’s precisely what she does on “Nunnadet Shit”.
Since her mixtape days, Asian Doll has relished the art of talking pointed, pugnacious shit. Over a trunk-rattler from DJ C3nturii, her taunts pierce like poison-tipped arrows. There’s genuine disgust in her voice when she accuses unnamed foes of being fake, and she’s probably the only artist on the planet who can make a reference to Everybody Loves Raymond - “Everybody loves me bitch, like Raymond!” - sound cool and intimidating. Come for the fiery raps, stay for the over the top video, which casts Asian as a pink-haired militia leader in some sort of laser tag dystopia.
Teezo Touchdown - “Technically” (prod. Blessque)
What’s the story with Teezo Touchdown? His music has been circulating online for years, but he’s currently in the midst of an intriguing rebrand that began with his video for “Strong Friend” last July. While Teezo’s early work relied on his melodic intuition and eclectic taste (Doja Cat remixes, Panic! At The Disco samples), his recent run of singles indicates a bigger budget behind his left-field artistry.
Though his background is rooted in rap, Teezo’s new releases dabble in everything from arena rock to 80s synth pop. He serves up theatrical genre experiments like “Social Cues” and “SUCKA!” with a winking sense of humor, as if he’s reluctant to take his own avant-pop ambitions too seriously. On his latest loosie “Technically”, Teezo croons like Sahbabii in one breath and enunciates like a pop-punk frontman in the next, melding divergent styles into an offbeat tale of two lovers negotiating a doomed relationship.
Sheff G is the Blueprint - Ivie Ani, Audiomack
Can the Mainstream Catch Up to Rico Nasty? - Joe Coscarelli, The New York Times
“Everybody Got Their Certain Intentions For You”: An Interview With Ola Runt - TE P., Passion of the Weiss
How Brent Faiyaz hit the sweet spot - Lawrence Burney, The Face
Buying Beats for Viral Songs Is Becoming a Popular (and Messy) Business - Elias Leight, Rolling Stone