MIDDIES is a new series by the interns dedicated to highlighting the best up-and-coming hip-hop of the week gone by. It’s a midweek pick-me-up, a shortlist of the essentials and a chance to peep who’s next.
Denzel Curry – This Life
Denzel Curry’s star has been bubbling for a while now: ULT went viral thanks to Vine, the Rick Ross featuring Knotty Head got a good run and his latest run of dates in Australia scored rave reviews. It seems like he’s on the cusp of something special and the latest video for This Life might be what pushes him there.
A cut from his 2016 project Imperial, This Life is a nice showcase of Curry’s full range. His breakout songs are ferocious assaults, but This Life takes a melodic turn. With a distinct look, bubbly charisma and an underrated knack for songwriter, Denzel Curry is quietly becoming one of rap’s steadiest hands.
Kemba – “Already”
It’s a cliché for rappers to call themselves “your favourite rapper’s favourite rapper” but Kemba may actually have a claim to the title. Everyone from Waka Flocka to Kendrick freakin’ Lamar has gone out of their way to praise the New York rapper formerly known as YC the Cynic.
Not that it’s hard to see why. Already is the latest track from Kemba’s Negus mixtape to get a video and is a good gateway into his seductive brand of conscious rap. With a seedy midnight hue, Already draws you in with an understated snare and Kemba’s silky flow, but his lyricism keeps the play count climbing.
Given the current political climate, a firm sophisticated voice like Kemba could be exactly what resonates. It’s not hard to picture him sliding between ScHoolboy Q and Ab-Soul on a TDE cypher and at the rate Kemba’s tracking, something like that is right on the horizon.
$uicideboy$ x Germ – “Cash Me Ousside (How Bow Dah)”
Memes turned into songs are often disasters, as are rappers who dub themselves emo. Somehow, $uicideboy$ have bucked both trends simultaneously and turned Cash Me Ousside into an intensely spacious ode covering all of their favourite drugs.
The group has been a lightning rod for controversy because their overall aesthetic is polarising. Some see emo rap as the genre’s death knell, others see it as the future. That’s a discussion for another day. At this rate, $uicideboy$ are transcending the boxes they put themselves in and are making music even the haters can’t ignore.
KYLE. Feat Cousin Stizz – “Want Me Bad”
It’s no coincidence in the week the unsigned Chance the Rapper snatched a Grammy, Atlantic signed his frequent collaborator KYLE. to a deal.
A perky upstart with a loyal fanbase, KYLE. has the same vein of magnetic charisma that Chance displayed right from his earlier projects. Want Me Bad is his latest track with Ayo., the producer behind his big hit iSpy and features his tour mate, Boston’s fresh prince Cousin Stizz.
The two have undeniable chemistry and Want Me Bad has great replay value. It’s not an instant classic, but as a throwaway single Want Me Bad is doing its job of whetting our appetite for that full-length debut. Come at us, KYLE.
ELK – “Magnetism” / “Tranquility”
This week, 15-year-old LaMelo Ball dropped 92 points in his high school basketball game. That’s nuts. Given his age, there’s no sure bet that Ball will go on to stardom but… 92 points is a pretty promising sign he’s on the right track.
ELK emanates a similar vibe on Magnetism and Tranquility, his two singles that dropped this week. The 17-year-old from South Australia is pushing against the direction Australian hip-hop is heading in, doubling down on bare lyricism while the stream pushes to an expansive fusion of genres.
There’s room to grow and a coat of polish still needed, but ELK has captivating technique far beyond his years. Don’t expect an overnight sensation, but ELK is doing all the right things to grow into a fixture on the Australian rap scene for the next decade and beyond.