Some Projects in 2020 that Slid Under the Radar
Wow, 2020 has been shit. Let’s be real, there’s very little going for it and what is going for it has been an absolute shit show. However, while sifting through all the shit and garbage, there have been a few bright spots. Through these terrible times, as I have mentioned many times before, I find peace in music. With lots of time on my hands during the quarantine, I actually found some really great albums.
There've been albums with good reputations that have lived up to my high expectations like Westside Gunn’s Pray for Paris or Freddie Gibbs’s Alfredo, but there have also been tons of albums that were amazing and didn’t necessarily get the recognition they deserved. So, without further ado, here are my favorite albums that have slid under the radar.
Weight of the World by MIKE
Out of the 16 tracks on this album, all but four were produced by MIKE himself (or better known by his producing alias: dj blackpower). When listening to this project, the first thing I noticed was the terrific use of sampling that MIKE displays on this. If I could give him a nickname, I would have to pick “The Surgeon,” from his precise and focused sampling techniques. His splicing and cutting of these samples are far more superior than what you’d anticipate from a 21 year old. The chaotic blur of instrumentals jumbled together juxtaposes MIKE’s umbrageous, monotone voice which really pin into his innermost feelings. The album tackles many heartfelt topics about social issues and personal hardships that are calamitously beautiful. Oh yeah, and the legendary Earl Sweatshirt provides a breathtaking verse that is one of his best feature verses in recent memory.
THA PLAYA$ MANUAL by Ramirez & Rocci
What if I told you that the Bee Gees were collabing with $uicide Boy$ to make an album? Would you look at me in complete and utter disbelief? Do you think it would ever be possible for these two extremely diverse artists (who are practically the antithesis of one another) to collaborate? Well, if I were to predict the outcome of that album, I think it would be very similar to THA PLAYA$ MANUAL. This is Rocci’s first full length project and he did not hesitate to murder the production, which is completely self produced. Rocci provides glamorous choruses and vocals to the tape that compliment Ramirez’s deep and edgy voice very well. The collaboration and chemistry between these two artists are something I seldom see and usually only see in bands or rap groups. I pray to the lord every night that they continue to make music together and collaborate frequently. I’ve heard some of Ramirez’s and Rocci’s old work, and I can tell you that when together, they brought the best aspects out of each other. They somehow created a perfect blend of South Florida hip-hop and groovy 70s disco that became one of the most alluring sounds in music now.
P.S. If Ramirez and Rocci read this, once again, please make a group together. It would be enchanting to say the least.
TO FEEL ALIVE EP by Kali Uchis
On April 24th of this year, I was blessed with a beautiful surprise. Four songs by the fabulous and beautiful Columbian goddess, Kali Uchis. Even though Kali herself said they were demos, its impact on me was far more profound than the expectations that four demos hold. The beautiful piano chords and background vocals surrounded me like a warm bath filled with elegant floating rose petals. Ms. Uchis provides gorgeous takes on our innermost feelings of blind love with relatable lyrics such as, “You’re just like a drug, Can you be my Pablo Escobar?” and “If I think too much, I might come up with reasons to have doubts”. Throughout the album, you can hear an influence of Lana Del Rey, so if that’s your vibe, I would highly suggest this album. I would let Kali cut off each of my toes, one by one, and forcefully feed them to me just to hear her sing one of these tracks to me live. (Sorry you had to read that.)
Innocent Country 2 by Chris Keys & Quelle Chris
This might be the second of the two collab albums that I mention on this list but the order means absolutely nothing. This is Chris Keys & Quelle Chris’ sophomore album after Innocent Country and it lived up to every expectation imaginable. Chris Keys’ instrumentals are very organic probably because almost every single instrument used on the tape is played by the main man himself. The fact that he can even play such an array of instruments is impressive itself but the fact that he has mastered them is absurd. Every string is so beguiling and every drum is so powerful. Hell, even the rare synths on this thing are peaceful. Before this album, I knew very little of Keys’ work and he absolutely dismantled my expectations. Quelle matches the smooth production with very vivid and powerful dialogue, making you feel as if he is giving you a very intriguing college level lecture: very profound and makes you question the world around you. The features on this are countless and interconnected smoothly among each other ranging from the legendary Merrill Garbus to Pivot Gang phenom Joseph Chilliams. This album shows that the combination of Quelle Chris and Chris Keys is not only proficient but will have a lasting legacy on hip hop for years to come.
Cardboard City by Zack Villere
I won’t go too much into this review because I wrote an entire article about this album, but I feel like if you didn’t read it before, this is a notice for you to read it. Link below shows my love for this album.
3.15.20 by Childish Gambino
Marty, every single person reading this article knows about Childish Gambino. How does this qualify for the “Slid Under the Radar” category? Well, Marty, speaking to myself because I’m a delusional maniac, this album did do just that. I have no idea why, but it seems like as soon as this album came, it went right out the door a week later. No one really talks about it and if they do, the comments are mostly negative. But I still can’t understand why! This album is so fucking good. I don’t know if it’s the fact that the songs don’t have names or that people didn’t like the features, but the public just didn’t like it. But on this album, Glover hits some of his best vocal performances, has some of the most steller and expensive production, and dives into the most intriguing themes of his career. In “12.38”, my favorite track, the high pitched vocal performances and wacky synths and computer chimes match perfectly with the boisterous mushroom trip he’s having. The irony of “Algorhythm”, an upbeat song making fun of itself, is super creative and bluntly tells you how to feel. And the closer, “53.49”, is one of the best outros I have heard since “Okaga Ca.” off of Cherry Bomb. If you didn’t like it the first time you listened, please give it one more trip.
(Yeah this is the album cover ^)
Barnacles by SahBabii
I am convinced this is the horniest album ever made. If that proposal makes you uncomfortable in the slightest, I would recommend ignoring this option and looking at the tamer options on the list like Kali’s EP or Cardboard City. However, if you do like robust sexual innuendos and bars that make you giggle, man do I have an album for you. After doing some #BurbsMath, in Babii’s hit song “Giraffes and Elephants”, 78.13% of the lines in the song reference a sexual encounter or a sexual relationship. My mans said “Gave her both of these balls, LaMelo and Lonzo”... Name another rapper who would have the Balls to say that! Once I heard that bar, I knew it was my civil duty as a writer at Burbs to tell my small viewership about it. Something about the Carribean, glossy, and wavy production mixed with Squid Lord’s graceful and delicate voice puts me in a comfortably uncomfortable state that is oddly appealing. To my trap rap listeners, you will enjoy this.
THIS DOES NOT EXSIST by Lil Darkie
This album is chaos, but I fucking love it with all of my heart. Earlier this year, I wrote an Underground Spotlight on this man, and talked about how this was the highlight of Darkie’s career thus far. This belief still holds true today. As some songs on here are seriously inaudible and borderline insane, if you can sift through the album, you will find some downright top tier emo rap. “COMPOSITION XI”, “EGO DEATH”, and “I AM ADDICTED TO DRUGS AND TIRED OF IT” show the depths of someone who is suffering through immense drug addiction and struggling to self love. This album portrays the heartbreaking ups and downs of substance abuse in a creative and unique way. Every instrumental is distinctly different from the other, and Darkie’s flow, bars, and delivery are downright amazing. As cohesion is good in an album, an album with a lot of varied sounds really can show diversity in an artist and really express the range. Darkie shows this immensly in this project. This album isn’t for everyone as many may find it extremely offensive, but the courageousness that Darkie exhibits through his raw emotions and thoughts are something to be admired.
So far, most of the projects have been my favorite and I recommend to evaluate your music taste and see which album would excite you the most! Well that’s all I got. Peace!!
Cardboard City Review