The FADER's weekly column What Rules highlights one of our office's new obsessions.
Who are they?
Name: YNW Melly
Style: Melody-driven but can also rap extremely well — can turn a love song into a gun song and a gun song into a sing along.
Location: Gifford, Florida.
Why should I listen?
Melly's most popular song, "Virtual (Blue Balenciagas)," dropped shortly after he was released from jail in March, after beating a case that would've had him looking at a 15-year sentence. But before legal trouble temporarily sidelined his career, the 17-year-old had been gaining momentum in Florida with early tracks like "772 Love" and "Legendary," sing-songy tracks that showcased his natural ability for hook writing.
Much of Melly's catalog strikes a strong contrast between his words and the way they're delivered: "Blue Balenciagas" is an earworm with a sung hook about getting red blood on his blue shoes, "Slang That Iron" repurposes Chris Brown's "Say Goodbye" melody into a gun-toting ballad, and lines about flying his girlfriend out to an island come just after a couplet about unloading a clip on "4 Real." These moments could be read as sort of callous — he can also deliver love songs without any violent winks — but they also reveal a dark sense of humor. A quick listen to his discography in chronological order shows that Melly's changing his life for the better. His debut album is out in July.