As the months start to warm as we approach the summer, artists seem to contribute to the change in the weather. From Medhane’s poetic wordplay and HOOK’s shift into more melodic singing over mellowed beats, all five of these highlighted projects see the artists behind them bringing something new to the table. These five projects are all fire and definitely should be played at full volume.
Medhane – COLD WATER
Within the past six months, rapper/producer Medhane has dropped two seamless projects, and now, he has dropped a third with “COLD WATER.” With each subsequent release, Medhane seems to be developing a concrete tone and style as he consistently reveals new tricks up his sleeve. Medhane embraces fluid drum loops that pair nicely with his simple, distinctive lyricism; his style is provocative. On “COLD WATER,” the Brooklyn rapper reflects on gaining self-confidence and finding himself throughout the project’s 15 tracks. Occasionally branching out into more melodic flows that are a refreshing change of pace, the album further polishes his skills as both a rapper and a producer. While speaking on his internal battles and lessons from friends and family, Medhane firmly establishes that he is a force to be reckoned with and he’s not planning on quitting anytime soon.
Fresh off his collab album with Offset Jim, “22nd Ways,” ALLBLACK delivers his first solo outing since 2018’s “Outcalls.” His charismatic energy radiates throughout much of his music including his beat selection and writing choices. Despite being only two tracks, “On a Sick One” is a bold departure from his previous material. On the EP, he embraces more traditional old-school production with G-funk twangs and bouncy kicks. Featuring LA’s Falcons and Atlanta’s Warhol SS in addition to fellow Oaklander’s JUSTBANG and Offset Jim, the EP is stacked with charisma and brash wordplay that’s both hilarious and hard. ALLBLACK’s raspy rapid-fire bars are sure to please
After developing a lullaby-based ASMR channel, Houston’s Alaina Castillo began covering songs on YouTube as a senior in high school. Shortly after, she began to gain a following on YouTube. Her vocals are lush and warm, in both Spanish and English her songwriting and silky vocal tone are elegant and pure. “mensajes de voz” is a collage of vignettes of broken-heartedness and overcoming her obstacles.
When life feels hopeless, you could use a feel-good album to help uplift your spirits. Brooklyn’s Kota The Friend’s sophomore album is vibrant with upbeat bops that fill the listener with joy. Blending his love for neo-soul and hip-hop, Kota’s sound is euphoric, nostalgic and infectious. The project features fellow New York natives Bas, Joey Bada$$, as well as a standout feature from soul singer Kaiit. In addition to his fellow musicians, Kota weaves interludes from Lupita Nyong’o and Lakeith Stanfield, providing intimate additions to the overarching themes of what everything means for the listener versus what it means to Kota and his collaborators. In an opportune moment this project has arrived; “Everything” is a well-structured project that deserves attention and praise.
Riverside, California’s HOOK has been making waves in the underground world for a little over a year. Her take on melodic trap rap is playful and in-your-face, and that’s what sets her apart from her peers. Within the past year, HOOK has released four projects, each one with its own signature. Where “I Love You Hook” (the first installment) and “Crashed My Car” were heavy, banger-driven projects, “I Love You Hook 2,” takes a more tranquil approach.