Winter is a time for plotting and planning, a time when I largely cling to downtempo beats, and songs that are reflective and mellow.
Before we shake off the cold and shift into spring, swapping soulful music for something a bit warmer, let's pay tribute to the season now past in our latest #Under1k column.
I do the digging so you don’t have to. Let's go.
Jesse 5000 (@jesse_x_5000)—428 Followers
One of Jesse 5000’s biggest musical influences is André 3000, and not just in name; on “Difference Is,” he intuits 3 Stacks through a sultry and soulful delivery. Jesse makes the cut his own, though, particularly through his vocal flourishes, as he varies between drawing out each line with a trill, or change in pitch. The subdued beat is tinged with a heavy bass, which compliments his waxing poetic on enduring struggle and the fickleness of the world. Though it’s the only song he’s released via SoundCloud, the Chicago native has us excited about his future.
Savv (@savvisblue)—484 Followers
Last month, Toronto rapper Savv followed up to his 2016 album blue. with the six-track EP winter., a mixtape that exhibits the full range of his artistic style, hovering somewhere between rap and alt-R&B. In between those projects, he released the loosie “downtown,” which emits a lo-fi, carefree, spur-of-the-moment mood right off the bat: the song opens with someone coughing, as Savv meditates on feeling lost. It’s almost a treatise of the sentiment, driven home by his manipulated, sobering voice.
9DSVN (@9dsvn)—555 Followers
9DSVN is a producer by trade—he’s released two beat tapes in the last year, entitled Season 1 and Season 2—but he also sings, having just released a collection of his songs in 2017. DSVN, not to be confused with OVO duo dvsn, is a member of Chicago’s Freesole collective, a crew abounding with talent, including #Under1k alumna Jay Wood and Chulo.
The standout upload on DSVN's SoundCloud is “Backwood Interlude//.,” in part because it’s a tribute to backwoods, but mostly because the Chicagoan’s voice is like pure butter. His first words reference Kanye’s 2010 hit “Dark Fantasy,” and the rest of DSVN’s song is a play on both concepts: “Can we get much higher?”
Wayi (@itswayi)—45 Followers
Belgium’s music scene is thriving, and the latest emerging talent to hail from the country that gave us the best damn waffles is Wayi, a 24-year-old singer-songwriter who released her debut single “The Way I Am” in February.
At first, the song sounds like bedroom music at its best: soft and sensual. Yet, as the melody picks up, there’s a tenacity and self-assuredness that radiates from the production, as Wayi sings, “Love me the way I am or I’ll go / Being me, being free.” Her voice, skipping across the Spanish guitar-infused beat, lets the listener know that she won’t falter on her promise to herself.
Bonus: Ajani Jones (@ajani_jones) - 1,132 Followers (Honorary #Under1k)
It’s always gratifying to discover an artist who has a smaller listener base on SoundCloud and, within a couple months, major growth occurs. That’s what happened with Chicago rapper Ajani Jones, who, when I first came across his page in early February, had well under 1,000 followers. But since releasing his project Cocoons on March 2—his debut through Chicago indie darling Closed Sessions—he’s surpassed the 1,000 mark.
Though Jones previously released several projects—2016’s Astrals EP and 2017’s Eternal Bliss—Cocoons is the most polished introduction to the young emcee, acting as an outstanding display of his depth for lyrical dexterity and vocal range.
On the tape’s third track “Pyramids,” featuring labelmate Kweku Collins, Jones opens the song by harmonizing with the beat. His voice, which is paired with the somber chord progression, creates a slight dissonance. It is purely sonically alluring and the most memorable moment on the project.