Welcome to the fourth edition of The New Wave, our monthly series highlighting the freshest talent on the rise in Los Angeles.
With summer on the horizon, the release schedule is starting to heat up as artists look to drop their soundtrack to the season. April saw several TNW alumni release quality albums, including Kee Riche$’ From Broke To Rich and Chris O’Bannon’s Sauce Meets World. There have been plenty of high-profile singles as well, like AD and AzChike teaming up over a funk-filled sample on “Bruce Lee,” and Blueface bringing back the mop for “Stop Cappin.”
Several of our latest selections have been busy as well. For some, April meant the release of a well-received, full-length project; for others, the month ushered in the unveiling of new material to tide fans over until their next entree is ready to be served. Regardless, it’s time we gave five more artists making noise in Los Angeles a little more shine.
Rappers adopting royal nicknames is nothing new in hip-hop. Debates have long raged over who is the rightful King of New York, Los Angeles, and every city in between. Though Compton’s Azjah isn’t claiming to sit atop the throne—she refers to herself as the “Princess of Compton”—she has made clear she’s next in line.
This past April, the EMPIRE signee released her debut album, aptly titled The Princess Diaries. On “Don’t Hit Me,” twinkling keys set the mood as Azjah steps to the mic to proclaim, “I’m in my bag, so don’t hit me / Said I changed, bitch you right.” For much of the album, she retains similar energy, reveling in her come-up while keeping her focus strictly on the road ahead. That stoicism makes her breaking moments more compelling, like on “Loved Ones” when she sings an ode to a fallen comrade through wavering vocals.
Naturally gifted and only 24 years old, Azjah stands out from the pack thanks to a dynamic upper register. Given time for her wordplay and storytelling to take another leap forward, she could very well be the next powerhouse in LA.
“On a Mission” ft. 1TakeJay
“Don’t Hit Me”
By now, you should know that in hip-hop, all publicity is good publicity. Just ask Conradfrmdaaves (pronounced Conrad from the Aves), whose latest single, “Vintage & Adventurous,” recently caught the viral bug.
Originally released in February 2019, the record has seen a recent surge in popularity on social media, thanks in large part to quotable bars like “I’m from where you betta keep the thumpa.” At the end of April, Conrad followed up his viral hit with “Stfu,” a record that keeps the chilling soundscape of his prior release with its colossal synths and bass blows.
While “Vintage & Adventurous” is easily Conrad’s most played record to date, the rapper from the Crenshaw District is anything but a new artist. In 2014, he released Mollytron, an album highlighting his distinctive delivery and unorthodox inflections. Throughout the 12-track project, Conrad strikes a firm balance between humor and gravity, accentuating his weighty bars with attention-grabbing ad-libs and sounds.
“Vintage & Adventurous”
The Money Come First collective is a tight-knit crew, one that prefers to build from within. Their head honcho, Westside $tew, possesses an abundance of every desirable artistic intangible, rapping with the charisma, confidence, and creativity required to hold your attention at every turn.
On Fidel Cashflow Vol. 2, released last October, $tew teases his full form, igniting a wildfire on the racing “Cap’n,” before slowing things down on the relaxed outro, “Stand Tall.” The soulful instrumental soundtracking his words on “Death Before Dishonor” adds a satisfying old-school twist, inviting listeners to roll up something strong and cool out.
Legal trouble has hindered $tew’s forward momentum—he is currently locked up—but with a sweeping skillset that translates well over a wide range of beat selections, should he put it all together, the 22-year-old rapper has all the potential to be a force in Los Angeles and beyond.
TrapDes has a personality for miles. Part rapper, part comedian, he’s quick to put a smile on your face—that is, before he rips apart your ears with his confrontational barbs.
If you need a visual reinforcement, look no further then his latest music video for "Try Me."
Before turning the page on 2018, the 22-year-old released The Problem, his most complete body of work to date. From start to finish, the tape finds the Pico legend comfortably in his element from the first bassline stab to the final chorus.
“Fortnite” is one of many bright spots on the album, featuring colorful synths and straightforward yet engaging wordplay, while on “Get It Get It Go,” TrapDes teams up with the Stinc Team’s Good Finesse, who adds a monotone contrast to his buoyant contributions.
Hailing from Figueroa, Rozay Royce has a chip on his shoulder, and he’s quick to let listeners know—including the first bar on "Lockdown: Active Shooter" from his newly-released Undergrad mixtape. The 10-track project showcases the South Central spitter's effortless flow over old-school samples, R&B inclined production, and thunderous loops.
On “Coupe Talk,” a sample of Tyrone Davis’ “In the Mood” sets a hazy ambiance, adding an air of luxury to Rozay’s first class raps, while “On My Job” features angrier synths, creating an unflinching tone as he professes his dedication to the grind.
For a more West Coast centered sound, I recommend turning to last year’s appropriately-titled Westside Vibes EP, on which the 25-year-old rapper links with the standout producer Paupa on four songs.
A top-tier lyricist in Los Angeles, Rozay’s freestyles are more intimidating than his officially-released songs; you can feel the passion for his craft in each word. If hard-hitting bars are your cup of hip-hop tea, Rozay Royce is your guy.