Every week, The FADER’s Brandon Callender shares his highlights from across the rap world, from megastar artists to the deep underground.
Wizz Havinn - "Nigga Uhh (Freestyle)"
Wizz’s Havinn’s adlibs sound like they were recorded in a cave to maximize the amount of echo he gets. It rules, and it’s probably the reason why my own inner thoughts have started to come with a little bit of echo. On “Nigga Uhh Freestyle” the Tallahassee rapper slides on a beat that’s straight out of late 90s New Orleans with the kind of breezy, laid-back flow you’d expect from the Panhandle. It’s a good snapshot of what makes Florida’s rap scene so exciting right now: They’re pulling in influences from all over the country and from eras of rap without losing any of their homegrown identity.
AKAI SOLO – “What’s A Win??”
AKAI SOLO’s Spirit Roaming is an anime training arc in album form. Like True Sky with Navy Blue from last year and 2020’s Ride Alone, Fly Together, it’s meditative and reflective, but on those albums, AKAI sought out solutions and answers with a wandering mind. Here, the Brooklyn rapper is on the offense, entirely focused on what’s in front of him—there’s no side questing to be done here. It’s best shown on “What’s A Win??,” where he lays out his mission in plaintext: “The higher we ascend in the tower, the games get riskier / Victory more elusive, attainable still / A slim chance, convert it to a pathway,” he raps over the blistering horn loop. AKAI SOLO’s music is rarely this straightforward, but when it is, he makes sure it’s an invigorating affirmation.
Tae Rackzz – "Shooting Fast"
It’s unclear to me how seriously Milwaukee’s Tae Rackzz takes rapping. His vocals sound like they were recorded with an old pair of iPod earbuds and his beat selection is biased toward twerk beats that sound like they’ve been sitting on a dusty hard drive for who knows how long. But what is clear is that Tae Rackzz has a lot of fun recording songs, and I suspect that he wants you to have fun listening to them, too. Just listen to “Last Countdown,” where “If You’re Happy and You Know It” gets turned into a sweaty ass-shaking anthem. Or look at “Free RTM,” where the comments are full of people talking about the song like a guilty pleasure. “Shooting Fast,” his latest, would still be confusing if it had dropped in the height of the Snap Era with his near-robotic voice, nursery rhyme melodies, and the occasional smoke detector beep adding some flavor. I imagine it’s the result you’d get if you got Siri and GPT-3 to collab on a twerk song. No rap scene sounds like they enjoy making rap songs more than Milwaukee right now.
demahjiae – “AWB” (feat. Zeroh)
It’s difficult to pin down demahjiae’s Angels Wear Black. The Oakland rapper/producer’s words loop around like cursive script, leading your ears to unexpected places with enjambed bars and shifting rhythms. “AWB,” the EP’s slow-going closer, is a graceful and stylish meditation on grief and finding the power to push forward. “I get to learn a lot from Sage, he told me I should grieve / Oftentimes I don’t have much to say either my brother,” he sighs over the shimmering instrumental. demahjiae’s voice—straight from the chest—acts as both an anchor and rudder, keeping the song grounded while steering it toward something more hopeful: “I gotta stand to fight all the shit Imma conquer/I pray the same for my niggas, ‘cause I’m the same as my niggas.”