2020 Project of the Year | Trinidad James and Fyre's 'Black Filter'
Dec 31, 2020
It’s been eight years since he dropped his debut smash hit. And though his name has emerged time and again in reprises of its original cut, in features across singles and projects big and small, in further releases of his own, and in his role hosting Complex Magazine’s Full Size Run, it’s Trinidad’s current run – one that began with the release of 2019 single, Playli$t and culminated with the release of the Project of the Year, Black Filter – that has once and for all pulled his limelight status away from the fate emblazoned upon him by his initial stardom...
The 10 2020 Projects that Defined a Truly Unique Year
Dec 30, 2020
2020 was a year of challenges: a pandemic, racial reckoning, protests, and isolation. But, it was also a year of response to those challenges. Music, as it always is, was there through it all – there to reflect but also to push for change and growth. The best projects of 2020 pushed boundaries musically and socially. Some even reinvented the construct of crafting an album during times of quarantined isolation. And all of the year’s best projects helped define what 2020 ultimately was – a year of coming to terms with our realities; a year of overcoming...
2020 Artist of the Year | Nashville's Brian Brown was Everywhere
Dec 29, 2020
In a year particularly defined by the power of staying in place and diving deep into wherever that place is, Brian Brown acted as the city’s leader from a cultural point of view. A veteran rapper with an unmistakable draw and an even more obvious fluidity with words, Brown is not only an image of what music coming from Nashville can sound like once one looks past the mirage of its country music reputation, but also a figure in the evolution of hip-hop from Nashville, from Tennessee, and from the hotbed that has always been the South...
The 10 2020 Artists Who did the Most in a Year when Most of us did Nothing
Dec 29, 2020
2020. What else is there to say? From an artistic standpoint, creatives had to find new ways – new ways to make their craft, new ways to reach their audience, new ways to make their points, new ways to reach one another, and new ways to make a difference. And they did. When all else seemed to fail, the artists that we look to for music, for emotional release, for love ballads, for hype anthems, and ultimately for escape, prevailed in the face of adversity. And more than ever before, the best artists of 2020...
2020 New Artist of the Year | Giveon Redefined the Expectation of R&B
Dec 28, 2020
There were no young artists that found themselves in more places, doing more work, with a more unique aesthetic than the emerging R&B standout. The Long Beach baritone has spoken a lot on coming to terms with his one-of-a-kind voice, and it seems as if 2020 was the year not only for Giveon to come to peace with his individuality, but to refine it to a point that made his sound one of the most prominent in music all year. Perhaps there is something in his deep-toned croons that related to the pain and longing...
The New 2020 Artists That Proved Music is as Powerful as Ever
Dec 28, 2020
For music in 2020, ‘new’ found new ways to exist in a year that offered more time and more pain to feel passionate about and inspired by. There were a slew of new projects and albums from young artists and veterans. There continues to be a renaissance of socially motivated music and music culture orbiting the Black Lives Matter movement. And a handful of new artists in particular left their signature as a mark of positivity for the future...
2020 Video of the Year | 'End Of Daze' Captured 2020's Whole Essence
Dec 27, 2020
Much of this year felt like the end of days. In a calendar fueled by a battle against the pandemic, police brutality, climate change, and ultimately a reckoning with mortality and morality, there was more than an air of apocalyptic undertone fueling the day-to-day life of just about everyone on this planet. And yet, much of the response in the good fights against the bad brought to light a failing of a daze – a lack of clarity – that so many fortunate people had been under for too long...
The Music Videos that Captured The Ups, The Downs, & The Flavor of 2020
Dec 27, 2020
From far and wide, even under the constraints of quarantine and social distancing, artists continued a renaissance in the music video circuit, weaving dramatic, cinematic work onto the screen to bolster and reinforce their messages and their creative breadth. From the hometown block party anthem, to the ultimate reflection on the difficulty that this year brought into all our lives, music videos provided both escape and introspection at greater depth than even the gorgeous music they source. These are the five best videos of 2020:
2020 Director of the Year | Nashville's SECK didn't Just Steal the Show
Dec 26, 2020
‘Music videos themselves are an art form.’
Simple words from an emerging audiovisual genius whose work is much more complex. SECK is rearranging what the future of the music video – through the macro scale of boundary-breaking hip-hop and R&B culture – will look like. And he’s doing so from Nashville...
Neeko Crowe’s Debut Runs at a Fluid Pace | ‘Every Race Is a Solo One’
Dec 21, 2020
It is that revolving wheel of fluid fortune that makes him such an unparalleled force even in a modern hip-hop scene that is more well-rounded than any other; that Russian roulette kind of listening session that makes Every Race Is a Solo One breathe its stamp of independence at every turn. Greater still, his ability to balance even the furthest reaches of his aesthetic under the banner of a nine-track debut album, speaks greatly to his mastery of range...
dvsn are Back with Holiday Babymaker, ‘Blessings’ Towards Upcoming Project
Dec 18, 2020
Anytime dvsn is dropping, it’s worth a wait and a listen. And dvsn is dropping a lot of new heat – a lot of new Blessings – starting now. With the new single, a seeming follow-up project, Amusing Her Feelings, to acclaimed 2020 album, A Muse in Her Feelings, is beginning its rollout. And that’s good news for anyone with a lot of emotion and a lot of love for R&B. The masterful Toronto duo has been steadily redefining the scene since their debut project, SEPT 5TH, was released in 2016.
Case Arnold & Friends are Crafting Timeless Sounds ‘Round Here’
Dec 18, 2020
A blindingly sunshiny vibe is simply the result when certain artists are in the same room – or at least on the same track. And Round Here – a single that folds the meditative wave of Case Arnold, the high tones and deep bass of Mocha, the effortless cool of Peter $un’s poetry, and the lo-fi genius of Lasik’s production – emanates of exactly that kind of sonic warmth.
An Interview with J.I. Towards the Release of New Mixtape
Dec 15, 2020
Sometimes an artist – especially a rapper in the ever-evolving hip-hop sphere – is able to populate two stylistic spaces at once. Young limelight in accompaniment of continued growth can allow an artist to see so many aesthetic changes across the spectrum of what is and is not hot, that their own sound becomes a unique mosaic crafted from the things they know and have known; the things that are timeless and trendy. J.I. is one of those artists – one of those rappers...
Elujay & J.Robb are a Couple ‘GEMS IN THE CORNERSTORE’ with New EP
Dec 12, 2020
Like a BOGO on Arizona Iced Tea; like a porno mag with the plastic already peeled off; like the clerk who knows your sweets flavor; Elujay and J.Robb are a couple of GEMS IN THE CORNERSTORE. For the silky-smooth vocalist, the project is an immersive continuation of where he left off with 2019’s acclaimed Adojio. For the widely nuanced producer, it’s the continuation of a busy year denoted by the collaborative genius that a new kind of collective, Play Nice.
Kojey Radical is Ending 2020 on a ‘Good’ Note with Positivist Single
Dec 11, 2020
Good is more than tasteful and stylish, but envelope pushing in its inadherence to preconceived – pre-Kojey – possibilities in music. A fluidly dynamic exhibition of so many of his creative offerings, the single, albeit wide-ranging in its gatherings from his sung, rapped, poetic roots, is remarkably listenable and undeniably anthemic – another theme consistent across his mosaic canon.
Rhythm & Baritone Vocalist, Kwaku Asante Returns with Single ‘4 Free’
Dec 11, 2020
A year removed from his extremely well-titled debut project, honeycomb, the sticky sweet soul of Kwaku Asante is still dynamically redressing the possibilities of and Neo-Soul in 2020. The bold rhythm & baritone vocalist effortlessly pieces together anthemic, transcendent jams for modern Giveon fans that also find themselves returning to the aesthetic of 90’s Seal. Somewhere in the middle lies Kwaku’s sweet spot.
KAYTRANADA Releases Yakuza Inspired Visuals for ‘Look Easy’
Dec 11, 2020
Never without his surprises, KAYTRANADA returns to the screen with his Yakuza-style inspired set of visuals for Summer smash, Look Easy, featuring Lucky Daye. The Montreal tropical house overlord, on the heels of a trio of Grammy nominations, does what he always does: takes everything in a new direction. If at first, Look Easy doesn’t feel like a music video, that’s by design.
Greentea Peng is Spellbinding with Atmospheric New Single
Dec 11, 2020
Spells comes at the tail end of a 2020 that has seen a barrage of introspective Greentea Prng singles breathing especially pure in air defined by a particularly introverted year. Her music boasts in immersive sort of identity that can’t really be replicated, and Spells is another exhibition of that mystère. A minimal keystroke beat brimming with explorative ambient chimes sets the stage for Peng to cut in and out of tonal hums and vibrant lyricism.
Brian Brown Drops a Lil Sum’n for the Go Getters with ‘OnlyFans’
Dec 11, 2020
With a voice designed to tell stories, Brian Brown has emerged as Tennessee hip-hop’s draw-driven Dr. Seuss. And with his new single, he proves that no subject matter is off limits, and that with only a SoundCloud account, a listener can obtain access to the workings of his mind in the way one can only otherwise obtain access to other things via OnlyFans. Overtop a mellow Sir Illington beat, Brown belays ‘a lil sum’n sum’n for da go getters.’ The results? A money-making jam celebrating the income for anyone hustling for it.
The UK’s JVCK JAMES is Doing Nobody ‘Favours’ with Moody New Single
Dec 3, 2020
Over a gloomy beat built on booming bass, JVCK JAMES delivers a flow of bars and humming melody that delivers over and over again that he’s doing no one any Favours anymore. Just in time for winter and the lack of light that comes with it, JVCK JAMES holds steadfast in his delivery of anthems to feel something to, albeit Favours is certainly taken in a new direction.
Jordan Xx & Brian Brown are Confectionary with ‘BEN AND JERRY’
Dec 3, 2020
If two voices have emerged to define Nashville this year, JORDAN Xx and Brian Brown are likely candidates for the position. Their signatures draws, lyrical endowment, and utterly laid-back sonic demeanors define what it is to be part of the city’s illustrious emerging scene. With the BEN AND JERRY freestyle, their effortless knack for wielding tracks that are I end I fly listenable is on full display.
Jay Prince Continues ’SOL’ with Psychedelic 2nd Volume
Dec 3, 2020
The UK’s Jay Prince has been defining and refining his unique brand of blendaline, experimental hip-hop for years. And in 2020 - picking up where his 2019 masterpiece, WONDER, left off - he’s taking more risks, and garnering more respect in the process. So far, with two 3-track iterations on a developing SOL project, he’s spent his time crafting tracks that brim with an expected rapped-sung approach in harmony with modernist production that would make top shelf pop experimentalists from Tame Impala to Toro Y Moi grin.
'Since You Asked,' Jxdece's Debut is Melodic Poetry for any Season
Dec 3, 2020
It’s rare that a project can touch a listener at every point of their emotional spectrum. It’s rarer still that project is an artist’s debut, but nothing about Jxdece’s SYA brims with the mark of a novice, an amateur, or anyone poised to present their first work to the world. His strongest moments – and really all of SYA – come when he’s knee-deep in sentiment while pushing through the pain to deliver his evocative lyricism. It’s here that any fan of hip-hop, R&B, spoken word, and the ambient cool that underlines SYA’s entirety feels at home
Reaux Marquez is Nobody's Decoy as EP Reintroduces Lyrical Dynamism
Nov 27, 2020
With the meditative dynamism of Reaux Marquez and all the words that come in tow with his artistry, another name – a particularly key name at that – is, too, lending his unique talent to an ever-evolving Nashville scene poised to take over hip-hop, R&B, and the grey areas of culture that orbit both spheres. With NO DECOYS: a project defined by the grey areas floating between so many established sounds, Reaux Marquez is fooling no one – is no one’s decoy...
'While The World Was Burning,' SAINt JHN Pieced a New Collection Together
Nov 26, 2020
Nothing like fucking around and ending up with a collection. But, a happy accident, by way of SAINt JHN, is nothing if not an homage to his grind. Love him or love him, the transcendent Brooklyn artist quickly turned hip-hop sex god keeps his immaculate figure by refusing to take a moment off – continues rolling out his immaculate art by doing the same no matter what else is going on around him. And that included, as he so relatably puts it, While The World Was Burning...
'F*@k It,' Bari's New Album Burns Down Preconceptions of Hip-Hop's Future
Nov 19, 2020
In the wake of last month’s full-length delivery, Layer Cake, Bari is continuing to pace a path that none before him have so effortlessly navigated, sake for the renowned producers who have walked alongside him on this journey: VZN, Blake Wright, Monte Booker, Alley Knock, Niko the Great. Together, they’ve crafted a blueprint on how to create hip-hop for future generations living in faraway galaxies. Together, they’re burning it all down. Its title speaks directly to the corrosive acidity with which Bari’s music dissolves existing conceptions of hip-hop.
An Interview with K CAMP on what 'KISS 5' Means to Hip-Hop Evolution
Nov 19, 2020
Looking back a decade on the Atlanta hip-hop scene is like looking back a century on the changes that other cultural renaissances through history have seen. A paramount collective of artistry from the ever-evolving mecca of the South is nothing new, but the sounds currently reaching a global audience by way of the newcomers and veterans who alike call home to the ATL, is, boasting perhaps the widest scope not only in all of music today, but arguably one of the rangiest through music’s history...
Femdot’s Flow is Unfounded with New A-Side / B-Side Featuring Saba
Nov 15, 2020
There’s a lot to say – more importantly a lot to listen to – when it comes to Chicago’s Femdot. Hip-hop’s most unique flow and one of its most experimental forces, he’s back in action a year removed from dynamic EP, 94 Camry Music, and doing so with an A-Side / B-Side that also features a joint with another of hip-hop’s most underrated lyricists, Saba.For their collective part, Lifetime is an expectedly hard-hitting and poetic bout that succeeds every bit as much in its position as a vibrantly ubiquitous exploration of hip-hop melody...