April 12, 2017 will forever go down as a day of sadness for me and I’m sure for most of America over the age of 22. Normally, I take this time to crack jokes and recap the week in Hip-Hop but not today. Today, we lost a legend. Not just any legend, but the man known as Charlie Murphy. Growing up, the Chappelle Show was a staple in my household. Sketches about black white supremacists and player-haters constantly blared through my TV set but they all paled in comparison to Charlie’s True Hollywood Stories. Throughout these sketches, Charlie hilariously recapped – probably – highly exaggerated stories about encounters with superstars like Rick James and Prince. Although Charlie never played the stars in either sketch – Dave cemented his status as GOAT with these – his commentary about Prince serving pancakes, Rick James digging his dirty boots in Eddie Murphy’s coked out couch and much more captivated me as a kid and carried me throughout my adolescent years where Charlie was prevalent in my favorite TV shows and movies like Roll Bounce, The Boondocks, embarrassingly my favorite, Norbit. Long story short, Charlie was way more than just Eddie’s brother and he should be remembered as such. Maybe he wasn’t as popular in the mainstream as say Kevin Hart, Katt Williams or even his mega-star brother, but that shouldn’t determine his worth as a person, nor his talents as a comedian/actor. I can go poll 10,000 Hip-Hop fans right now and ask them if their more familiar with Flo Rida or somebody like Shyne and I guarantee you that Flo Rida garners more, “Oh yeah, I know that guy!” answers than the man who took the rap for Puffy. What I’m trying to say is popularity doesn’t determine talent, nor should it determine respect. Sharing a similar sentiment, it’s with heavy hearts that we present you this week’s With All Due RESPECT. featuring buzzing Chicago artist Smino, Brooklyn native Stro and more. Rest in peace Charlie Murphy and may your legend forever live on. Our thoughts and prayers are with your family.
JMSN – “Drinkin'”
Soul music as a genre is greatly underappreciated, especially to this Millennial generation. No, I’m not talking about Bryson Tiller’s “trapsoul” ambient style of music that’s defining new age R&B. I’m talking about whiskey-infused, gut-wrenching, good ol’ genuine soul music, sh*t that comes from the heart. Sure, there are nostalgic, 90’s obsessed 20-somethings who still go back and revisit old Luther Vandross tracks for kicks, but is there a new torch bearer for the new school? One name that comes to mind is Memphis native Leon Bridges who, in 2015, released one of the best vocal albums in recent years, but he’s been pretty dormant since then and didn’t quite reach the masses like I thought he would. Enter in Michigan native JMSN, who writes, produces, and engineers his own music. He is also the man behind one of the most soulful, buzzing songs on the internet in, “Drinkin’”. Staying true to the title, JMSN sticks to the topic with lyrics like, “I’ve been drinking, thinking about that high, like a warm slice of apple pie,” & “Just cause you’ve got a preconceived notion of what I should do, don’t mean it’s the truth./ I’ll keep drinking all the time,” draped in an emotionally fervent falsettos, and at times, a smooth baritone approach that diverts from his normal range. To put it plain and simple, JMSN has the potential to impact the soul genre on the mainstream level. At first listen, artists like Sam Smith, Justin Timberlake and even Robin Thicke warrant a quick comparison to the East Coast native, but diving in deeper, it’s obvious that JMSN is in a creative realm that’s all his own. Check out, “Drinkin’” below and be sure to keep an ear on JMSN
Lou Phelps – “Last Call (Feat. Bishop Nehru)”
Unless you’ve been under a rock for the past 12 months, you’re aware of who Kaytranada is. Kaytranada, aka the Canadian-born producer/DJ who is behind some of last year’s BEST production – Mick Jenkins, Anderson .Paak, etc. – and is the mad scientist responsible for, in my opinion, the best album of 2016 in, 99.9%. Yeah, that Kaytranada. Well it seems that the, “Lite Spots” producer might have some competition… In his own family! Checking in next on the list is Kay’s younger brother Lou Phelps, who establishes himself as more than just a family affiliate with the hard hitting track, “Last Call”. Coming in off of his recently released, 001: Experiments mixtape, “Last Call” is a melodic, funky self-produced banger who’s chorus – and the aesthetic in general – seems to be inspired by the Kanye West classic by the same title. While Phelps makes his mark on this track, he takes a backseat – almost intentionally – to the show-stealing verse put forth by New York native Bishop Nehru. Nehru, known for having some of the best lyrical 16s in the world, fails to disappoint and lives up to his hype, and then some. Nehru uses the power of alliteration with stanzas like, “They’re irrelevant and out of my element,” while flexing his word play and sports knowledge with lyrics like, “Like Kansas City, I’m Royal.” I’m not sure who thought combine Phelp’s industrial, drum heavy production with Nehru’s sniper-like precision on his rhymes deserves an underground Grammy. Check out, “Last Call” below and be sure to give Phelp’s new tape a listen.
Elujay – “Mrs. Jackson (Feat. Rexx Life Raj)”
Coming in next, we check in with Oakland native Elujay and his Rexx Life Raj assisted track, “Mrs. Jackson”. An album cut from his impressive debut project, Jentrify – which, by the way, boasts the best cover art in recent memory, sorry Kenny – “Mrs. Jackson” is a groovy play on the Outkast classic but instead of Mrs. Jackson playing the mom of an unknown – okay Erykah Badu – hunny, Elujay switches it up and speaks to Mrs. Jackson, the lover. “By far you the coldest, copastetic, perfect picture, part it like I’m Moses,” rhymes the Bay Area native to his elusive sweetheart. While wordplay is definitely an attribute highlighted by the track – see Raj’s “click-it-or-ticket” like bars with, “Pull it over when I’m .09, swear the legal limit the only limit of mine,” – the way the two wordsmiths float over the tropical production is probably most impressive. The beat has dancehall-like riddims and would serve as a challenge for even the most polished emcee to conquer, which makes Euljay a force to be reckoned with. Check out, “Mrs. Jackson” below and catch a glimpse of, Jentrify, which is one of the more refreshingly sound projects released in the past 8 months.
Stro – “From Me (Feat. Marco Mckinnis)”
Ever since the early 2000s when I watched my first episode of American Idol, I’ve salivated over the idea of a Hip-Hop version of the phenomenon. I mean sure, we’ve had things like The Rap Olympics and countless freestyle shows on various outlets, but what about the artists who don’t want to be known for freestyling or battle rap, and instead would like to showcase their talents as a song-maker? Sadly, I’m still waiting for that show to materialize, but we got a glimpse of what it could look like when Brooklyn native Stro took the X-Factor audience by storm in 2011 with his adolescent charm coupled with his ability to rock the mic, which was obviously went way beyond his years. Fast forward to 2017 and Stro is no longer the child darling of a gimmick TV show, instead establishing himself as an artist to be taken seriously with his constant release of quality music. His debut album, Grade A Frequencies, is slated to be released 4/21 but his introspective new single, “From Me” is worth the listen RIGHT NOW. The NYC rep showcases his knack for kicking a meaningful 16, highlighted by lyrics like, “Stress is ample, souls burning like a candle/ Mother suffer Father setting bad examples/ And nah, I wouldn’t do it but my camp will/ I’m different only one on the block not, aiming the Glock,” displaying a level of comprehension that would be assumed to go beyond his years. The soulful, warm vocal support from Marco Mckinnis is what puts the cherry on top of this jazzy sundae. If this is anything like Grade A Frequencies is set to sound like, sign me up for the bandwagon now. Check out, “From Me” below and be on the lookout for the album next Friday.
Smino – “Blkoscars (Feat. Jay2)”
Alright, look. I’m well aware that Smino isn’t slept on. I’m also well aware that he is in fact regarded as one of the brightest up and comers in a stacked Chicago scene. I GET IT! But this list isn’t always about finding slept on talent, sometimes it’s about finding a song that isn’t reaching its full potential to the masses. Was Rob $tone’s “Chill Bill” slept on to the kids when we placed in last year’s list? Five million plays would say it wasn’t, but it had 0 radio play, which is something that I predicted it would achieve and it went platinum. Smino has the opportunity to be this year’s $tone in regards to this list, but with a longer lasting potential – his debut album has charted in the Apple Music’s Top 10 Hip-Hop albums list. His “Chill Bill”? It could probably be the buzzing track, “blkswn” but that’s far from his best work, instead highlighting the mainstream appeal that has labels tripping over themselves to sign Smino. No, I’m looking for the one that showcases it ALL. Enter in the Sango produced track, “Blkoscars”. Carried by heavy synths and funky adlibs, Smeety Pablo and special guest Jay2 absolutely destroy this track. I’m honestly having a tough time narrowing down my favorite bars so, I’m just going to list a few: “She sending nudes on the snap with the doggie filter cause nowadays I make up rules like I’m Adam Silver/ Couple pretty freaks when I visit Houston, I had to Lillard/ Game 6 on you hoes/ She feel clingy I’m outta pocket, Mike Vick on you hoes,”; “My eyes chingy the jackpot, I’m outta reach on my soul/ that sh*t is deceased, here I go, told ya I’m on a roll,” & “If you trapped in this life You’d be better off tellin’ yourself to get a grip/ Suicides on the Beamer, I’m with the squad like Will Smith.” Oh yeah, those were all in the first verse, thank you Jay2, sheesh. I have no more words, the Smino Di Grigio has my head swimming. Check out the track below and go listen to Blkswn, NOW!
There you have it! Let us know how we did, did we get it right? Are we still sleeping on your favorite local artist? Let us know in the comment section below!