Little Artists, Big Sounds: Five New Artists You Should Hear

It’s hard to imagine a better time to be a young MC than right now. Older rappers are putting the kids on in a big way, and you can produce, record, and distribute tracks from anywhere in the world. No more pushing mixtapes in Times Square, no more sending demos into the depths of the A&R mailbox. It’s made the musical landscape more democratic. Taste is king and talent rises to the top. Here are five young artists on the rise including two rappers from the frozen north and an MC bringing lyricism back to NYC.  

Who: Jazz Cartier
Hometown: Toronto, Canada
The Music: So you saw that Jazz Cartier is from Toronto and you figured he’d be a Drake clone, right? Not even close. Cartier growls through huge, marching beats dipped in something sinister and he’s been doing it since before he could vote. “Everyone in the States compares me to Drake,” he snarls on “Talk of the Town,” the cavernous opener to his 2016 LP Hotel Paranoia. Those comparisons are on the verge of stopping, though, as Cartier is drawing his own map of his hometown.
Why You Should Listen: Cartier’s 2016 LP Hotel Paranoia lives up to its title. It’s claustrophobic and anxious, like a darkened hallway in a haunted mansion, and Cartier floats inside the tracks like an angry specter. (The chilly, techno-flecked trap beats on Hotel are courtesy of Cartier’s longtime collaborator and fellow Canadian Lantz.) Cartier makes music for long, dark nights that spread over Toronto for the better part of the year and has the rare ability to distill his affinity for his hometown into something exceptional and raw.   
What’s Next: Cartier is in the midst of a 40-date North American tour with Post Malone with stops in Montreal, Detroit, and New Orleans next month.
Listen to This: “Wake Me Up When It's Over”


Who: Nef the Pharaoh
Hometown: Vallejo, California
The Music: Be honest, the first thing you think of when you hear “Bay Area rapper” is that booming, rubbery hyphy sound made famous by MCs like E-40 and Keak da Sneak. The genre has dominated the Oakland and San Francisco rap scene for years, but Nef the Pharaoh isn’t one for staying in his lane. Even though the young artist was put on by hyphy godfather E-40 back in 2014, Nef dedicated his 2015 debut EP Big Tymin to another regional flavor: New Orleans bounce. The geographic expansion has treated the 21-year-old well, and he’s well on his way to being the next big thing out of the Bay.
Why You Should Listen: Bay Area artists have a tendency to succeed on a massively local scale, but Nef seems to have his eyes on a career defined by his eclectic appetite. He’s already been an opening act on a national tour with YG, another Cali-native that made it big by grafting his own broad tastes to a thoroughly local sound. Nef’s energy is unmatched and, given his co-signs from Bay Area icons like E-40 and L.A.-native Ty Dolla $ign, it doesn’t look like he’s slowing down anytime soon.
What’s Next: Nef just dropped a mixtape, Straight Outta Space 3, and is working on his debut LP My Great Impression.
Listen to This: “Everything Big”


Who: Dot Demo
Hometown: Bronx, New York
The Music: New York City casts a long shadow when it comes to gritty lyricism. Grandmaster Flash rhymed about the ravages of crack and crime, Rakim put the Black experience to poetry, Biggie and Nas gave us imagery of New York as living, breathing organism. The Bronx-born MC Dot Demo is attempting to add his name to that illustrious list of wordsmiths by taking on contemporary issues like detachment and technology over smoky, jazz-flecked beats. His smooth flow on songs like “Indigenous Man” belies Demo’s biting observations about life in the Bronx just like the spare, piano-drive production on “Sinister” softens his caustic lyricism.
Why You Should Listen: Demo has the rare talent that will satisfy hip hop purists pining for the golden age of the early 90s as well as millennials who pack Joey Bada$$ shows. There’s a bridge between eras in his songwriting as well as his production, the latter of which sounds equal parts Gangstarr and J. Cole. He’s the latest in a developing line of NYC artists who are well-versed in the history of their local scenes as well as those in Houston, Atlanta, and Chicago. That manifold appetite will take him far.
What’s Next: Demo dropped (O.B.E) Outer Body Experience on September 20th and is already back in the lab writing and recording. Keep your eyes open for a tour in early 2017.
Listen to This: “Me Pt 2”


Who: Mick Jenkins
Hometown: Chicago, Illinois
The Music: There can be times when you wonder where Mick Jenkins’ seemingly bottomless energy source comes from. The 25-year-old Chicago MC spits every line like he may never see a mic again, adding an emotional sheen to his already imposing baritone. On his 2015 LP Wave[s], Jenkins, along with Haitian-Canadian producer Kaytranada and the music collective THEMpeople, crafted an album that reflects his own sense of urgency. It has all of the hi-hat hallmarks of a contemporary hip-hop album, but keeps adding layers of styles until the whole thing brims with different influences and genres and lets Jenkins cook.
Why You Should Listen: If Kendrick Lamar’s anthem “Alright” is the opening track to the Black Lives Matter movement, chances are Jenkins will be writing the follow-up. He’s part of the growing cohort of poet warriors who have taken different tacks in addressing social and racial inequalities through music. Jenkins strategy is direct and uncompromising, an approach to the world that only serves to bolster his already towering talents.
What’s Next: Jenkins is slated to drop his new album, The Healing Component, on September 23rd and begin a big North American tour shortly afterwards.
Listen to This: “Your Love”


Who: Allan Kingdom
Hometown: St. Paul. Minnesota
The Music: It’s clear immediately why Kanye chose St. Paul MC Allan Kingdom to sing the hook on “All Day.” There’s something tropically gothic in his voice, and Ye’s harsh, needling beat complemented Kingdom perfectly. But that howl only scratches the surface of what Kingdom can do. His strikingly honest 2016 LP Northern Lights is kaleidoscopic, shifting between airy trap on “Monkey See” to the Chance-style funhouse of “Hypocrite” to the dark, digital title track in all of 10 minutes. St. Paul’s finest is only getting better.
Why You Should Listen: Minnesota isn’t really known as a hotbed of hip-hop but Kingdom has made the most of it by drawing in influences from all over the map and giving them an icy sheen. (The stripped down funk of album closer “Outta Pocket” is a frozen 40 Shebib beat wrapped in warm synths.) Also, that Kanye co-sign is like gold in the rap industry so rest assured “All Day” won’t be the last time you see Kingdom sharing the stage with some heavy hitters.
What’s Next: Kingdom has dropped hints that he’s completed a new set of songs and is ready to drop them soon. But in the meantime he just dropped a new single “Froze” and a music video for “The Ride,” a standout track from Northern Lights.
Listen to This: “The Ride”  

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Pharrell's New Netflix Kids' Series Focuses On Importance Of STEAM Learning

Pharrell Williams is the executive producer of a new children’s show on Netflix that focuses on educating little ones on the importance of science, technology and current events.

“I got involved with ‘Brainchild’ because there is a desperate need to raise awareness about the importance of science with our youth, we must edu-tain,” Williams told Variety about his new series. The show is hosted by Indian-American actress and comedian Sahana Srinivasan.

Brainchild will use “interactive games, experiments and skits” to teach and highlight the “core concepts and principles of STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math).” It was co-created by Atomic Entertainment, and is billed as a spinoff of the Emmy-nominated show “Brain Games,” which aired on National Geographic Channel for seven seasons.

Williams and his i am OTHER production partner Mimi Valdes also discussed the idea of the show’s accessibility for teachers and students. Per Variety, “The curriculum is available without having to sign up or register for any account, and can be used at home or in the classroom to supplement existing tools.”

“It’s especially important to me to get STEAM-focused programming in front of minority communities,” Pharrell says of attempting to reach viewers. “That’s because at the core of the plight of children of color in this country is a lack of access to actionable education.”


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Prepare to have your minds blown 🧠⚡🌊💖💡🔬 I worked with the masterminds of Brain Games on a show that will empower kids by approaching STEM topics in a cool, new way and to provide anOTHER way into science. Thank you to our host @Sahana.j.shree, @AlieWard, Atomic Entertainment, @i_am_other and the @Netflix team. Brainchild OUT NOW on Netflix. #brainchild

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Jacquees Blames 'Hater' DJ Mustard For The Removal Of His 'Trip' Remix

DJ Mustard, the producer of Ella Mai’s “Trip,” is responding to reports that he was “hating” on Jacquees, who famously deleted his “quemix” of the aforementioned song. Jacquees visited the L.A. radio show Big Boy’s Neighborhood, where he discussed the controversy behind deleting his version of the popular track from the Internet.

“Really, DJ Mustard hated on me, no cap, that was crazy,” he told the hosts about the issues at hand. “I wanna work with DJ Mustard too, but that was a hating move.” The release of his popular version sparked rumors that the “Boo’d Up” musician was jealous of the 4275 artist’s success with his version.

Mustard, who founded Mai’s label 10 Summers, commented on Instagram about his feelings on the R&B star’s latest comments. "That n***a Big Boy said ‘it was really goin’ too!'” he laughed in a video shared to his IG Story. “You stupid ni**a," he continued.

Last year, Mustard wrote on Twitter that if a song that the artist doesn’t own is monetized, it’s stealing and “no one steals from 10 Summers.”

“This is simply a press or marketing plan, or some strategy to deviate from the narrative that Ella is breaking records left and right because the music she’s making is cutting through straight to fans at a rate people haven’t seen in years,” he continued. “Ella’s career started by doing covers and we support all her fans and fellow artists doing the same.”

To whom it may concern .

— Mustard (@mustard) September 26, 2018

I’m not going to blogs or any media outlets to address this Jacquees situation ima address it right here and after this we will never address anything like this again I’m just tired of people picking on @ellamai !

— Mustard (@mustard) September 26, 2018


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#PressPlay: #DJMustard responds after #Jacquees talks about his #Trip remix getting removed!! (SWIPE)—(📹: @bigboysneighborhood)

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'Black Monday' Becomes A Dramedy As Its World Flips Upside Down: Episode 9 Recap

Blair was Mo’s mirror in episode “295.” In this week’s episode, he internalizes Mo’s qualities, and now the reflection wants to take over the original’s life, like a scene from Jordan Peele’s Us. Some of the most analytically rich parts of this episode revolve around all the allusions to Blair assuming Mo's role after agreeing to go along with the Georgina Play, two months after Mo informed him of the rouse.

Blair flirts with Dawn – the woman Mo still loves – while sitting in Mo's desk chair as Mo walks in and sees them. He gifts all of the Jammer Group inner circle with replicas of Mo's custom-made Rolex and calls them “Molexes” with "f**k em all" engraved on them. It’s the latter mantra that, in a surprising twist, leads to Blair potentially ending Mo as we know him.

An early criticism of Black Monday was Andrew Rannells’ inconsequential portrayal of Blair in the first few episodes. After carrying a large number of scenes in last week’s episode, this week’s showcases his shining moment. One of the funniest scenes s when Blair stops himself from saying "it's all good in the hood," after glancing at Mo, before replacing "hood" with "municipalities." That’s a very artful way to say if he wants to be Mo, he’ll have to do more than speak like him. Consequently, Blair does just that in order to get Tiffany Georgina to go along with the Georgina Play.

The Agency Of Tiffany Georgina

Casey Wilson, who plays Tiffany, needs to star in a spin-off show if for nothing else than to see her do another interpretive dance routine to a remixed version of the national anthem like she did at Tiffany’s wedding reception. We predicted in our review of episode “243” that Tiffany would have a bigger hand in the Black Monday collapse than we originally assumed, and this episode brings our prophecy to life.

Tiffany admits to Blair in the final scene of the episode that she’s a lot to handle but poignantly justifies it by stating everyone isn’t as sure of themselves as she is. It’s in that moment we realized out of all of the characters with considerable screen time, Tiffany may be the only one who never lied about herself. The comments about smart “orientals” are vacuous and her obsession with social status is asinine, but they’re also genuinely Tiffany; Everyone else adjusts their morals and personality to fit whatever gets them money.

Tiffany also reveals that when she was in sixth grade, her parents prevented her from legally emancipating herself from them by giving her a cartilage piercing and a new credit card. In episode “243,” when Blair innocuously says he’s staying late at work to do “compliance,” Tiffany instinctively knew that meant illegally shredding documents because her family is wealthy. Tiffany’s parents had their own daughter kidnapped in last week’s episode to boost the company’s value and now their daughter plans to steal that very company from them. The Black Monday writers used the Georgina family this season as a commentary on how money can make anything transactional, even love and loyalty.

Just like with Mo, the Georgina family may be undone by a monster they created.

The Dramedy

In today’s age of television, shows rarely fit perfectly in one genre. Orange Is The New Black’s second season was nominated in the drama category at the 2015 Primetime Emmy Awards, a year after its first season was nominated in the comedy category. This blurring of the artistic lines has created a new type of show that is equal parts drama and comedy: a dramedy. After the last two episodes, Black Monday has become more dramedy than comedy.

In the first half of the season, Black Monday was roughly 90% hilarious debauchery with the 10% of deep introspection reserved for the final minutes of the episode. Over time, that ratio began to even out until last week’s episode, which delivered the highest concentration of drama acting of the season. In this week’s episode, the double and triple crossings in Blair and Mo’s heated rivalry are more central to the episode than Keith’s hysterical attempts at tricking the SEC and Tiffany’s ridiculous wedding. Aside from Dawn and Mo forming a secret alliance, the episode concludes with Blair’s most intimidating piece of dialogue as he breaks down the illusionary world Mo has constructed for himself.

While episode “7042” is the most compelling episode of the entire season, so far, the move into dramedy has its drawbacks. There are still gems like Mo’s double entendre of “I’ve unearthed secrets, got winded and fired,” a play on the name of legendary funk band Earth, Wind & Fire, who released their 1987 Billboard hit “System of Survival” a month before the events in this week’s episode. But, the hijinks and absurdist humor that Black Monday is predicated on are more separated than in any other episode.

As a result of this shift into dramedy, certain jokes not only fall flat but feel out of place and tonally different than the rest of the episode. Keith referring to the ability to know who is gay as “Navi-gay-tion” would be amusing in almost any other Black Monday episode. Him delivering it at the end of this week’s episode, after a dramatic exchange between Dawn and Mo, felt cringeworthy.

Hopefully, there’ll be plenty to laugh about when everything comes crashing down in the season finale next week.

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