Tag Archives: underground hip-hop

A Guide to the “Unorthodox Flow” of Rapper Heem Stogied

Heem Stogied

The main attraction of Heem Stogied’s music is his genuinely “unorthodox flow.” The Atlanta underground rapper is a master of nested lyrical patterns, regularly rhyming eight or more bars at a time until his verses accumulate a bulletproof momentum. His voice is an instrument, with tone and inflection conveying as much emotion as his actual words, and the echoing syllabic cadences lend an extemporaneous quality to his impassioned conviction and peerless technique.

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Artist-Activist-MC Kimmortal Makes Her Own Map

Kimmortal

The first words on X Marks The Swirl, the new full-length from Vancouver, British Columbia-based queer Filipinx artist-MC Kimmortal, are a mantra: “I am made of stars,” Kimmortal intones, repeating the phrase on each go-round of the chorus to album-opener “Stars.” The song doesn’t start with these words, though. It starts with the sound of water flowing—calm and steady and swift. It is the sound of water running through unsurrendered Coast Salish land—land on which settler Vancouver now sits, and where Kimmortal lives and works.

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The 70-Tape Legend: A Guide to Tha God Fahim’s Extensive Rap Catalog

Tha God Fahim

Illustration by Rune Fisker


It would be easy to label this decade’s surge of neoclassical East Coast rap as a strictly revivalist enterprise. But that would mean overlooking the ways the artists trafficking in this style—particularly rappers from Hempstead, Buffalo, and now Atlanta—are reinterpreting and building upon the blueprints of yesteryear. The music of Atlanta native Tha God Fahim certainly recalls ’90s hip-hop, when New York rappers sampled old gangster flicks as a way to build larger-than-life personas, but his music is rarely restricted to the confines of a standard 4:4 rap bar.

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Los Angeles Rapper YUNGMORPHEUS is a Name You Should Know

YUNGMORPHEUS

The March 1993 cover of High Times is pinned to the wall above YUNGMORPHEUS’s desk. On the front, the rapper Redman—prompted by the headline “GET BLUNTED!”—studiously lights a spliff. In his sparsely-decorated apartment, Morpheus is celebrating the release of he and VIK’s new collaborative album—Strapped 4 Survival, under their duo name Blackfist—with tightly-rolled, conical joints. His girlfriend, Sofya, sits on their bed, smoking and drawing in a sketch pad. Their black and tan dog, Booker, shyly gambols around the room. It’s a bright spring day in Los Angeles, their houseplants are flowering, and Morpheus’s career seems to be blooming in kind.

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How The Atoms Family Became a Force in Hip-Hop

Atoms family

The Atoms Family’s roots can be traced back through the history of independent hip-hop in the mid-’90s. Founded by Cannibal Ox’s Vast Aire and Vordul Mega, the Family collective at one point included 35 artists, and was known for excelling at the freestyle ciphers that took place outside New York City’s open mic venues. But the interconnected soloists and groups claiming membership in the Family yielded only a few official releases. The first mention of the name Atoms Family was stamped on the cover of the 1996 vinyl EP Beyond Human Comprehension—even though that project is credited to the group Centa Of Da Web. Cryptic One, the MC and producer who ended up taking on the same sort of de facto leadership position that RZA undertook with the Wu-Tang Clan, says, “Looking back, it’s weird so many people knew us and respected us but never actually heard us.”

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Album of the Day: Jeremiah Jae, “When Daffi Attacks”

Jeremiah Jae’s music doesn’t hit you straight away; it floats in and slowly unfolds in a massive jumble of faded soul, obscure movie clips, and dirt-encrusted drum loops. To appreciate Jae is to appreciate despair—the cold-blooded psyche it induces, the darkness from which prosperity can emerge. Across several releases, the L.A.-based rapper/producer has spoken to those on the come up, presenting himself as a modern-day street poet wearing struggle on his sleeve. You hear it in his flow—a tattered, sedated delivery that barely rates above a groan—and throughout the lo-fi beats he assembles.

Jae’s impressive new EP—When Daffi Attacks—is even darker than usual, flipping through several themes in a dense 25 minutes. Performed through Jae’s alter ego, Daffi, the part-vocal, part-instrumental release grapples with anxiety, police brutality, and the inherent dangers of being a young black male in a major city. It’s similar to the hardship Jae dissected on 2012’s Raw Money Raps and 2016’s A Cold Night, but here, his judgement cuts with deep, pinpoint precision. “What’s ISIS when they paying cops for homicide,” Jae quips on “No Chill.” “You vagina behind a badge wit a mustache.”

Lines like these come in spurts for Jae, whose tone and cadence resemble that of Mobb Deep’s Prodigy, and lyrics that tend to withdraw into the soundtrack. As with any Jae project, Daffi is best consumed in one chunk, preferably at night or under the influence. There’s a strong cinematic aspect to the EP, and as it plays, one can almost see the songs take shape. Yet through all the seething resentment, Jae remains hopeful in the grander scheme, punching holes in the dark until he sees a glimmer of light. In his world, where sleep is nonessential and the grind is paramount, there’s nowhere to go but up.

-Marcus J. Moore