Every week, The FADER's Brandon Callender shares his highlights from across the rap world, from megastar artists to the deep underground.
Rylo Rodriguez — “Basketball Numbers”
If I’m being completely honest, the best way to listen to Rylo Rodriguez is to sit out on the porch as the sun sets while a playlist of the Mobile, Alabama rapper’s leaks and unreleased songs rolls on by. If you don’t have a porch, or the time to sift through his snippets, one of his seldom released official singles will do just fine too. There’s an entire type beat industry built on the guitar built on the kind of sparse guitar loop that “Basketball Numbers” is built on, but Rylo is one of the few people who can still draw a hint of emotion from them with affecting songwriting. “Say he get excited when he see an envelope, he live through the mail,” he raps about an incarcerated friend. Because he takes a more muted approach to his Starlito-like punchline-focused writing style here, they’re even more likely to fly over your head if you aren’t looking out for them.
Seiji Oda — “Breathe”
Leave it to Seiji Oda to drop one of the chillest tracks of the summer. “Breathe” isn’t much of a departure from his usual laid-back hyphy style, the soothing melodies he raps on could calm down even the hardest drums. Here, the Oakland rapper’s asking for a bit of space to figure out what he wants, though it’s clear that there’s only one girl on his mind. “She could be overseas, imma still slide,” he raps over the soft drum pattering. “When you say my name, it feel like summertime.” It’s nice outside, but Seiji Oda’s music still feels like a window of escapism.
T9ine — “Iguodola”
T9ine has a raw and hardened voice that turns his plain-spoken observations and reflections into poignant one-liners. There are a number of rappers from the South working with a similar blueprint; listening to their music can feel like pressing your ear up to the door of a therapy session, though there’s a warmth to Tampa rapper’s drawl that makes a song like “Iguodala” sound more inviting than one of Rod Wave’s bluesy tales. “Do shit off the muscle, what’s a favor? I don’t count them,” he exhales over the weepy beat. T9ine’s one of Florida’s most emotionally gripping artists, and that’s saying something.
Tae Dawg — “Percocetty Teddy”
If you're someone who’s grown a little tired of the minor key three-note piano loops that’ve become synonymous with DMV rap, give Tae Dawg a chance. He has an adventurous ear for beats that only fellow PG County rapper Lil Gray can rival, surfing on ragey synths and wading through murky melodies without it feeling like a gimmick. Production from DMV workhorses like Sparkheem and SpizzleDoe become canvases for him to throw ideas at, the more off-kilter the better. On “Perocetty Teddy,” a druggy ballad from his new mixtape Rhythm and Ooze, he leans more into his melodic side, crooning over a nostalgic beat from Johnny Carvaggio that could be slipped onto a 112 album without anyone noticing. It’s a blissful trip that I wish lasted a little longer.
4amJuno and Glockboyz Teejaee — “Crazy Ain’t It”
This year, city-specifc rap news pages and graphic designers have been hosting mixtapes with features from big names like Babyface Ray, Ralfy the Plug, and Tony Shhnow and more emergent ones like Jugg Harden and Shaudy Kash. It’s a little strange, but I’m not against it. We’re in a new era where anyone can host a project, one not far from last decade when brands like Karmaloop were hosting mixtapes. Nothing can beat the good ol’ producer-presented track, though. Detroit producer 4amJuno’s first single Crazy Ain’t It” is a link up between him and Glockboyz Teejaee, who has been on an undeniable run this year. Juno laces his steely raps with an sparkling, ominous beat fitting for a JRPG cutscene. “She tellin me I’m the one, so I ask her why she lying to me/If she in my DM and she fine, Imma fly her to me,” he raps.