Yeezy season, "Summer Sixteen" and Cornrow Kenny. January was a busy month for the big names in rap, which means it was a busy month for the DJBooth squad. Our think-piece fingers were going a mile a minute trying to keep up with all the big news. But we also need a brief respite from all the Twitter goings on and superstar releases - it’s time to get back to our roots. We’ve provided plenty of coverage for all the big artists, so it’s time once again to give the smaller ones some love.
How small? Under 1,000 followers small.
You know the drill by now, right? Just like the last50times, I seek out the best unknown talent the internet has to offer with two requirements: they have to make dope music and they must have under 1,000 followers.
Ready? Let's go digging.
Aaron Taylor (@iaarontaylor) - 366 Followers
I always start my search looking for rappers, but I always find something different. London’s Aaron Taylor is that something different.
He may not be spitting hot fire, but I hardly think you’ll complain because his soulful crooning is outstanding. I love how feathery his voice is and yet it doesn’t lack depth. He has a natural style, it just works. What really stood out to me, though, was the production on his records, specifically the drums. I love soul and I love great singing, but sometimes I find soulful R&B production lacks the necessary “pop” that I get out of hip-hop. With those vocals, Taylor could have gone light on the production, choosing something more atmospheric, but what makes his music really jump out at me is the kick all of his instrumentals posses; he’s the Messi of soul music.
“Lesson Learnt” is my favorite song off the newly-released Still Life because of the unique, clapping production. Not to diminish the power of his voice, but what sets Aaron Taylor apart is how intricately produced this project is; it's that next level of focus that really convinced me that he’s special.
Who produced it, you ask? That would be Aaron Taylor. He wrote, arranged, and produced every track on the project, including the keyboard work, claps and drum programming. How many soul/R&B crooners also have that knack for production? Aaron is a rare breed.
Doc 0bvious (@Doc0bvious) - 507 Followers
In the past I have included singers and bands in this feature column because, to be frank, it’s difficult to find overly-impressive emcees who are under 1,000. Maybe my standards are too high, but I need to hear something polished. There’s definitely talent out there, but it’s often hidden under unmixed production or average lyrics. No matter how many followers, I don't do middling, middle of the road, “I guess it's OK” hip-hop. I need to be convinced.
Doc 0bvious convinced me.
After several long nights of sifting through rap records that were recorded with a laptop mic, I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop, something in Doc’s music that would take me out of the groove. The more he rapped, however, the more I listened and the more I was convinced.
I went from watching through my eyes to bobbing my head. What jumped out at me immediately was Doc’s knack for slick one liners. Punchlines are great but they can't be all you have. As easily as he rattles off some slick 16s (see “Plot Summary” and “Next Level”) he can muse on life and love (see “Tough Love” and “Recollect”).
Aside from lyrics and great production, I was sold on Doc because he sounds like an emcee. I realize that sounds obvious, but it's also true. Part of being a believable emcee it sounding the part; you just can’t teach ease. You either have it or you don’t, and Doc most definitely has it.
Don't believe me? Listen for yourself by grabbing a digital copy of his (free) album, Attention To Detail.
L.A. Salami (@LASalami) - 607 Followers
There's a good chance you were expecting me to highlight another rapper. L.A. Salami is not a rapper, but L.A. Salami is magnificent and deserves your attention
I'm going to keep this short because there are no words, none of my poetry, to accurately capture the power of his poetry.
L.A. Salami is different. Very different. He’s not a rapper, he’s not a soul singer, but I decided to feature him here because he is so immensely talented that even the stingiest hip-hop fans will appreciate him in their ears. You may prefer your sixteens, but I know rap fiends love good songwriting and let me tell you, Salami’s songwriting is some of the best I’ve heard in a long, long time regardless of Twitter follower stats. So jarringly beautiful. So deep, complex and vivid. And yet.... the final product always sounds so organic. The words seem to just fall from his mouth. It’s almost too potent. Listening to his music hurts me. He's too heartfelt, too elegant and yet has this laidback, understated style. It all adds up to form a winning combination. L.A. Salami is magic, pure and simple. You can should buy his album here.
Take us out, L.A.!
[Lucas Garrison is a writer for DJBooth.net. His favorite album is College Dropout but you can also tweet him your favorite Migos songs at @LucasDJBooth.]