Every morning before going to work, my mother turns on her old stereo system and plays a tape of shlokas, a type of poetic meter used in India. Similar to hymns, the shlokas are set to music, sung in Sanskrit, and pertain to our religion, Hinduism. She’s been playing the same tape every morning since my childhood.
While not shlokas, I start every morning with music too. My morning playlist usually consists of a deeper, more intense listen to whatever artist I found the day before while diving into a Spotify and/or SoundCloud K-hole. Finding new music and sharing it with y’all, our readers, is the most therapeutic aspect of my writing practice.
Through a fierce amount of digging for our latest installment of Under 1,000 Followers, I am proud to present four more must-hear artists that demand your attention.
Elton Aura (@eltonaura) — 672 Followers
Elton Aura is from the Chicago suburb Fox Valley and not from the city (the same suburb as Chicago-based producer and vocalist Phoelix—they even released a song about it), but Chicago’s music scene has been on the lookout for Elton for a while now. Though he has yet to release his solo debut, Elton has proven his abilities through a handful of loosies and features, working with Chicago rappers Qari, Dally Auston, and #Under1k alumni LyriQ The Misfit.
On his latest effort, “Jagged Edge,” Elton enlists the help of both Phoelix and Qari, delivering a funky and lively tune where all three artists are given room to shine. Riding along the bounce of the bass, the three musicians don their rapping caps, their individual styles offsetting each other. While Elton’s raps are drawn out into singing, Qari’s approach is monotone and even-keeled, and Phoelix—his vocals light—effortlessly spits at a fast pace.
Pink Palaces (@pinkpalaces) — 12 Followers
Hailing from Central Mississippi, the R&B/soul duo Pink Palaces—comprised of Nigel Cole and Ben Atkinson—was birthed while the two were working on a completely different musical project. From that happy accident came their first EP Pink Noise, a three-track project that spans the breadth of their sound (at least for now).
The title of EP standout “Hotboxin the Whip” immediately took me back to high school when I spent too many days with friends, whipping around St. Louis and passing the dutchie on the left-hand side. I’m sure many can relate. The lyrics touch on nostalgia too: How many of us have made that late night call to our crush to smoke and listen to music? Cole and Atkinson serenade us as we reminisce on times that were—at least for me—much simpler.
JSPH (@jsph-2) — 747 Followers
The first time I came across Northern Kentucky-area artist JSPH was when DJBooth editor-in-chief Z published JSPH’s excellent letter to the editor. The most acute aspect of his letter is that it really speaks to what this industry is all about: Being unapologetically yourself. Others doubted JSPH’s ability to pursue a music career, but he did so anyway, and it's since been consistently rewarding. It's been rewarding for us, too, as JSPH makes great music.
Often, there’s something about an artist’s first song that really embodies his or her rawness and vow to their craft—and that’s exactly what you'll hear in JSPH’s debut offering, “Breathe.” Describing the song, JSPH wrote, “‘Breathe’ is a record that’s a reminder to let go.” Indeed, he allows himself to take a chance. The rhythm accentuates his message further, providing time for his listener to ruminate.
Zay Greedo (@nastyzay) — 482 Followers
With this past summer serving as evidence, New York is doing just fine in terms of rap reputation. JAY-Z, Cardi B, French Montana, A Boogie wit da Hoodie, and Nicki Minaj all made appearances on the Billboard Hot 100. But every hip-hop scene needs a constant influx of new talent, and that’s where an artist like Brooklyn’s Zay Greedo comes into the picture.
With a debut EP titled Grown and 29 tracks under his belt, Greedo has set out to establish his worth—also the concept he pushes on his most recent record, “Don’t Play.” Any rap career (especially in the beginning) calls for a hearty blend of self-referential egoism, which Greedo has and displays in a no holds barred fashion. Charged with braggadocio and over a downtempo, modest beat, Greedo waxes poetic on keeping his inner circle small and keeping his mind focused—two things that are essential to any successful creative pursuit.