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Jack Larsen - "Ugly"

I love me some rap music but I'm a sucker for chillingly smooth vocals, so Jack Larsen's "Ugly" was a welcome surprise as I journeyed down the slippery slope that is SoundCloud in search of new music.

With synth-heavy production that teeters on the verge of pop, Larsen glides through the sonic backdrop, filling the canvas with punctuated, interspersed delivery. The Chicago-based artist makes full use of the three minute run-time, coupling the instrumentation's highs and lows with his voice, majestically setting a prominent vibe over the course of "Ugly".

"Ugly" serves as the first release from Larsen since Push-Ups, his debut EP released via Closed Sessions. While I'm new to the sounds of Larsen, it's quite apparent the artist is willing to push his creative boundaries, unafraid of experimenting with his sound in order to grow and progress artistically. It doesn't take more than a quick listen through Push-Ups and a few streams of…
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Roy Blair - "Happy" (Video)

Sometimes, you show up late to the party. And even though you know you've missed out on quite a bit of fun between kick off and when you arrived, you're still happy to have finally shown up.

Roy Blair is that party.

Man, have I been missing out on something special. But I'm so grateful to have found my way to the dance. As the old cliche goes, better late than never - and I'm not sure there could have been a better way to become acquainted with this artist than "Happy".

If I were commenting on YouTube, I'd say something like, "Natalie Green brought me here." A longtime fan of everything Green touches, I somehow missed out on the signs leading me to Blair. Fortunately, the stars would align and some pre-release tweets in regards to "Happy" found their way to my timeline. And so I became intrigued, which lead me down the rabbit hole of research - I watched some older videos, listened to Cat Heaven, browsed some interviews and features..…

Zhero - "Hellp" [prod. Matthew Cyr]

Zhero popped up again recently with his assist on the smooth Jordan Daniel cut "Midnight", and now he's back with his first solo drop since January of this year.

"Hellp" is a somber affair, featuring sully but self-aware trill from Zhero. Released with the subtitle "an expression from Zhero", the new track offers listeners a glimpse into Zhero's emotional state of mind as he mourningly reflects on a tumultuous and apparently severed relationship with an unknown subject.

Produced by Matthew Cyr, "Hellp" takes the sorrowful pain Zhero is experiencing and leaves it quavering through those who encounter the song.

Hit play below to experience the feels.

Bklyn Lo - "The Color Purple"

Bklyn Lo dropped off a quick joint last month and today the emcee is back with "The Color Purple", the first taste of what is hopefully a full collection of new music from the CT-based artist.

Throughout the track, Bklyn presents an equilibrium of confidence and gratitude, delivering a reflective prose but doing so while in the now. If you've ever heard a record from Bklyn, you know dude can rap, filling most tracks with rapid fire quotables. On "The Color Purple", however, listeners are on the receiving end of a delicate balance of lyricism and a more melodic delivery. As a result, the new loosie fits well as a single, with it's ability to appeal to a wider audience.

Like a body serves as a vessel for the soul, the production on "The Color Purple" provides Bklyn with the physical house his substance needs to breath and live. For both the lyrics and the catchy, contagious chorus, the instrumentation encapsulates Bklyn's content.

Preview "…

NIKO IS - "The Never Ending Sky" [prod. N Z M]

In an industry littered with trend followers, clout chasers and industry planted cookie cutter illusions, NIKO IS has been a breath of fresh, tropical hair air since the release of GOOD BLOODin 2014. Having caught the attention and, more importantly, the respect of hip-hop OG Talib Kweli, it was all but a forgone conclusion that NIKO was destined for greatness. Fans and foes of Kweli need not look far to recognize his list of co-signed artists that have taken the world by storm - a list that includes but is not limited to Kanye West and Kendrick Lamar.

Couple this co-sign with the even more important work ethic and chilluminated state of mind possessed by NIKO, and you're left with a top-shelf recipe for success.

Having blessed his fans with BRUTUS in 2015, the Colours of the Culture representative has been working on his follow-up project for a few years now. For NIKO, patience is clearly a virtue - the Brazil-born and Florida-based artist recognizing that his life and career ar…

Review: Ryan Bibisi - 'No Place' (Art Series)

Connecticut-based artist Ryan Bibisi took one of his favorite albums - A Lot Like Birds' 2013 release, No Place - and created a unique graphic for each track. While the band's original concept for the album was a sonic representation of various rooms within the same house, Bibisi presents his own interpretation throughout the series using a line from every song to construct ten unique structures.

1.) "In Trances"

Much like the album itself, Bibisi's No Place series begins with a calm introduction. There is nothing noticeably special about this house - it is your average looking home, rather plain and uninviting. From my perspective, this initial piece is a well done representation of most people's train of thought in regards to their own home. We become so accustomed to "home" that we don't view it as significantly special or noteworthy - even if we cherish it, it is just "home" to us, normalized in every way due to the amount of time …

Stream: Star BBY - 'Elric (It Costs an Arm and a Leg)' (EP)

With "Star Stuntin'" still resonating on my daily playlist, Star BBY comes through with a collection of tracks he cooked up while presumably working on his upcoming project. The 6-track Elric, which draws heavy inspiration from the 'Fullmetal Alchemist' manga,features production from Bassti, Tusken, Idealism, Eugene Cam, Saiko and Kupla. 
Throughout the tape, the production provides listeners with an easy going foundation to journey upon, as Star BBY laces jazzy instrumentation with precision, painting vivid imagery with his storytelling lyrics. As his sonic experimentation carries on, the CT-based artist continues to find a new balance of "rapping" and laying vocals, combining the two into a smooth, crooning lyricism. 
Elric does not sound like "Star Stuntin'", which leaves me anticipating his forthcoming project even more. As described by Star BBY himself, Elric contains a series of songs he created while "reaching for something.&qu…