Continuing our CYPHER AVENUE PLAYLISTS series, here’s Nick Delmacy’s 20 Most Favoritist Under-The-Radar Songs and Videos.
A lot can be revealed about a man by the music he listens to…Your man, Nick Delmacy, is no different. While I’m always very clear on the fact that I’m a huge fan of Hip Hop and Rap, my tastes are still very diverse and eclectic within that genre of music. For anyone out there that wants to dig deeper into my psyche, this playlist of 20 seldom rotated Hip Hop tracks should help.
I chose the songs and/or music videos that I’m REALLY digging right now…The best of the best…My “most favorite” shit…And I tried to keep the release of the songs selected to within the last few years at least.
For this list I’ve only tracks that had a music video available online, but there are many more that could have been added. By the way, these songs are listed in no particular order.
1. “Sweatpants” – Childish Gambino ft. Problem
It’s no secret that we’re big fans of the Stone Mountain, GA native Childish Gambino (aka Donald Glover) here at Cypher Avenue. While his sophomore album didn’t quite move us as much as his debut, there were still some really inventive and memorable music sprinkled throughout. One of those tracks was “Sweatpants”, a song that’s as weird and creative as the music video it spawned.
2. “Down On My Luck” – Vic Mensa
I’ve been a fan of rap “newcomer” Vic Mensa ever since I “discovered” him 5 years ago when he was the lyrical lead member of the band, “Kids These Days”. He’s gone solo now and is regularly seen with partner in crime (and Cypher Avenue fave) Chance The Rapper. Vic Mensa was also inducted into XXL Magazine’s Freshman Class of 2014, a well earned acknowledgment of his talent on the mic.
Although I could have chosen any of his solo endeavors for this playlist, I went with “Down On My Luck”, a funky dance track with a very dope “Groundhog Day” music video. Similar to the new Tom Cruise movie, Vic Mensa gets to relive the same day repeatedly until he gets it right.
3. “Modest” – Isaiah Rashad
Chattanooga, TN native Isaiah Rashad is still relatively new to the scene. His debut EP Cilvia Demo was released in January of this year and has slowly helped the young 23-year-old MC garner similar early buzz gained by Top Dawg Entertainment label-mates Kendrick Lamar and Schoolboy Q.
This track, “Modest” was one of my favorites from the EP. Anytime a rapper drops Larry David’s name in a verse, he’s going to get bonus points from me. Even though I haven’t touched herbals in nearly 15 years, I always felt this song is perfect for vibing out, smoking and playing video games to while listening on repeat.
4. “Cold Win” – Ghostpoet
London based rapper Ghostpoet’s album “Some Say I So I Say Light” was the album the got the most burn by me last year. I love this record, its spoken word type poetry mixed with Ghost’s british accent on top of the melodic production was the perfect soundtrack for me on long airplane fights and long writing sessions.
The beautifully shot music video for “Cold Win” perfectly fits the hypnotic vibe of the music and flow.
5. “Chill Pill (Experiment 2)” – Hawk House
The best was to describe this London based hip hip trio, Hawk House, is to imagine a British answer to 90s rap group Digable Planets. This creative music video for the song “Chill Pill” gave me flashbacks to the dope hip hop songs that used to come out on the regular back in the late 90s.
Their 10-track EP “A Handshake to the Brain” was just released on iTunes.
6. “FML” – August Alsina ft Pusha T
August Alsina’s star has shined brighter each month since his mainstream debut last year with the club banger, “I Luv This Shit.” The 21-year-old not only cleaned up at the 2014 BET Awards (winning Best new Artist and Viewer’s Choice), he also managed to become the only non-rapper on XXL Magazine’s Freshman Class of 2014.
This song, “FML (Fuck My Life)” is one that you’ll likely never hear on your radio’s Top 40 rotation. The song and the music video is very dark and serious, touching on depression and suicide. Oddly enough, this song still bangs…its also very beautifully melodic. The lyrics speak to something many of us experience at one point or another. No matter how many great things we have going on in our lives, feelings of depression can affect anyone.
7. “Jimmy” – Booba
Sexy, muscular, talented French rapper Booba is one of the most successful rappers in the world that many Americans don’t even know exists. The 37 year old rapper has released 7 albums in a little over 10 years, all of them going either gold or multiple times platinum and peaking on the Top 10 charts in France.
Don’t let your lack of understanding his French lyrics stop you from checking out his music videos, they’re like amazing mini action movies featuring brown faces. The video for the song, Jimmy, is a prime example as it tells the story of the title character without an appearance by Booba or even ever showing the face of the actor who plays “Jimmy” at all.
8. “Let Me Rap” – Boogie
Sometimes all you want is to smoke weed in your bed while eating a plate full of sandwiches as your little son dances around you. That’s what 24-year-old, single dad, Long Beach, CA rapper Boogie shows us in the music video for the classic 90s hip hop sounding track, “Let Me Rap.” Boogie’s new to the scene, but after hearing his song “Bitter Raps” I instantly knew he was an artist on my radar to follow.
9. “Alobam” – Phyno
Enugu born rapper/producer Phyno is only 26 years old and he’s already taking the Nigerian rap scene by storm. The rapper recently had to push back on gay rumors when a photographer snapped a oddly angled photo of him speaking to fellow rapper Kcee at an awards nominees party.
Although the artist and song is a byproduct of Africa, the song “Alobam” feels very Caribbean. According to 360nobs, Alobam is “street slang for your best friends who have your back at all times.” No matter what country you’re in, its definitely good to have Alabom.
10. “Allergic” – Young L
“When it comes to being broke I’m…Allergic.” This is what Berkeley, CA rapper Young L sings in melodic auto-tuned smoke track “Allergic.” If you’ve never heard of Young L, you may be aware of his former group mate Lil B, both were members of The Pack. If you like weird rappers who make equally weird hood music (as I do), Young L is definitely for you.
11. “The Blues” – Tito Lopez
Its a crime that 26-year-old Gulfport, MS native Tito Lopez is not bigger than he is in the hip hop game. His sound is reminiscent of early Dungeon Family music, with bars and a flow that’s very accessible and marketable. This track, “The Blues” is relateable no matter your age or where you’re from.
12. “The Worst Guys” – Childish Gambino ft. Chance The Rapper
Guess who’s back?! Childish Gambino is definitely my kind of Hip Hop cool and weird. On “The Worst Guys,” Cypher Avenue Best New Artist of 2014 Chance The Rapper joins Gambino in proving not rappers can how fun in ways that don’t involve clubs, bitches and bottles of top shelf liquor.
13. “Open Letter Freestyle” – Siya
I’ve written about openly gay female rapper Siya before, so I won’t go into her background too much here. This simple, one-angle music video proves that if you have the bars, you don’t need elaborate visuals at all.
One thing I want to add: Gay female rappers GO HARDER than gay male artists. Real talk. Most of the dudes are all way too SOFT! And by “soft” I mean they either want to be R&B divas or they have no idea what real rap is all about: Attitude, lyrics and bars.
14. “Impressive” – Sweetz P ft. Freddie Gibbs
Here’s another example of an openly gay female rapper GOING HARDER than the gay men who claim to be rappers. Sweetz P (along with heterosexual rapper Freddie Gibbs) spits like she’s the female equivalent of Rick Ross. This track makes me wanna channel my inner hood nikka by grabbing a Black & Mild and a 40 oz of beer and banging this shit on repeat!
15. “Bottom Line” – Dj Martian Marley ft. KeKe, Guch, KEL, Mookie & Justified
Yet another example of gay female rappers KILLING the gay male rappers! This shit is LIGHT YEARS more mainstream and more of a club banger than that “Boy Pussy Popping” and “Gay Voguing” type music that gay men put out to the masses. This shit makes me want to get a group of gutter hood lesbian friends and hit the clubs with them.
16. “Pull It” – Kore Stacks
Oh shit, I spoke too soon. FINALLY a male gay rapper that knows what CURRENT trill turn-up rap music sounds like! Openly gay rapper Kore Stacks makes his way to Cypher Avenue for the first time by going BALLISTIC with HARD lyrics and a HARD beat on his song “Pull It.” That’s right, this dude makes the type of music us men go wild to in packed clubs…and he happens to be gay. I’m a new fan.
17. “Dreams” – Cozz
This joint takes me back to when I first fell in love with hip hop…A simple boom-bap beat with a young Wordsworth spitting relateable lyrics. J. Cole just signed the South Central rapper so I’m sure we’ll be hearing and seeing a lot more from this young man in the near future. Looks like dreams come true.
18. “Beef” – Earl Swavey
Part of the rowdy Oakland, CA “Kioe Boyz Crew”, Earl Swavey is the rare young West Coast rapper to make threatening ratchet hood music sound fun. I’m a sucker for turn up music.
19. “My Life” – Kota Santez
Native Atlanta rapper Kota Santez’s “My Life” makes me wanna hop in a Cadillac and bump this track on the 808s while smoking with the windows up. His sound takes me back the music of UGK and Eightball and MJG.
20. “On Fire” – Redway
At the end of the day, I love dope lyrics and a beat. I don’t even need a hook. Just give me lyrical heat. That’s what I get from 24-year-old Toronto, Canada rapper Redway’s track “On Fire.” It seems that Canadian MCs are on the come up, even Redway acknowledges “If it ain’t Drizzy then you lookin’ at me.”
So there you have it. Your 2014 Under-The-Radar summer playlist!
Were there any Hip Hop tracks that I missed? Add your selections and music videos in the comments section below!