Just because the weather’s beginning to shift from warm summer days to hoodie season doesn’t mean we can’t still bump those summer tunes.
Still, as the days get shorter and darker, we might be in a more pensive mood. For this edition of #Under1k, we selected a collection of artists who will hit all those vibes: something a bit more melancholic, something a bit more hard-hitting, something jazzier, and something bright.
We did the digging so you don’t have to.
Roy Kinsey (@roykinsey) — 428 Followers
Chicago rapper Roy Kinsey’s work is autobiographical in nature, a characteristic that can be visibly heard on Blackie: A Story by Roy Kinsey, released this past February, as well as on early offerings from its follow-up, More Roy, an EP due out September 24.
On More Roy cut “Black Boy,” featuring Peter Sayke, in particular, Kinsey delivers a hymn on his personal history, as well as the personal history shared between black boys and black people—Kinsey pays tribute to Philando Castile, Mike Brown, Trayvon Martin, Laquan McDonald, and Rekia Boy—speaking on the idea that black people are dispensable.
The song opens with a poignant joke from Chris Rock’s recent Netflix comedy special Tamborine. “It’s rough out there for a black boy,” Rock says. “Some people say young black men are an endangered species. But that’s not true—‘cause endangered species are protected by the government.” The song is immediately haunting and tearful, as it becomes continually more difficult to differentiate between Kinsey’s own experiences and that of any other black man or woman.
Jay Spice (@jayspicethedon) — 278 Followers
Earlier this year, Acworth, Georgia rapper Jay Spice released his 15-track project Grandma’s Boy, the follow-up to his 2016 debut Bloom. While Grandma’s Boy is an exceptional effort—the title will take you back to the classic 2006 stoner movie of the same name—on his subsequent release, “Skillet Roasted Spiced Okra,” Jay sounds better versed in his phrasing and finding his pocket.
It also doesn’t hurt that Jay spits over the thudding bass lines from Tyler, The Creator’s self-produced track “OKRA.” Rather than mimicking Tyler’s flow—a flow Tyler more or less borrowed from Valee—Jay holds his own, with lyrics that dance around the beat and raps about being Nigerian and eating okra.
Cyanca (@cyancais) — 797 Followers
Cyanca hasn’t released much music; the only tape on her SoundCloud, The Isle of Queens, is almost a year old. Still, the five-song missive has aged well.
The legendary Erykah Badu heavily influences the North Carolina artist, both in name—The Isle of Queens contains a track titled “Badu”—and in sound, but more than imitation, her leadership serves as a stepping stone to the discovery of a new artistic identity.
Regardless of the homage paid to Mama Badu, Cyanca explores her own sonic landscape on the tape, particularly on “Eat,” a track indebted to jazz aesthetics. She pulls similar harmonies into her latest song “Future Mystery,” featuring Jaguar Summer, where she sings about a love lost, still intuiting Erykah, but on her own terms.
Roy Banks (@theroybanks) — 285 Followers
Before I even hit play on Chicago artist Roy Banks’ latest offering, May Mayhem, I was initially drawn to the project’s vibrant artwork, a cover color-blocked in yellow, orange, turquoise, and pink. It was striking and inviting, and urged me to indulge the four-track tape—and what I found was a collection of records that matched those warm tones.
Of the four, “Willin,” featuring Cartel Mason, is the standout, a soulful, upbeat cut that—while a bright summer anthem—will surely help us transition into fall. As the title suggests, it’s a song about having a strong will, about not backing down when you set out to do something.
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