Special Delivery: November's Best NYC Hip-Hop
For the month’s issue of Special Delivery, we did a deep dive into Soundcloud to find a sampling of rappers from across the tri-state area. The result is ten hard-hitting, melodic songs from a an extremely promising group of young talent. These are the artists who are uplifting New York rap and fostering the ongoing flourishing of NYC’s underground scene.
TheeBluntSmoker ft. B-Hi and Vinny Mac, “Bleezy”
If you didn’t notice the reference in TheeBluntSmoker’s name, then the single art for “Bleezy” is a dead giveaway: Backwoods, a grinder, rolling papers. Clearly TheeBluntSmoker and his comrades like to burn one down — and his song “Bleezy” is the perfect soundtrack. With ethereal, laid-back production, the track itself feels like it’s encased in a cloud of smoke.
Devvon Terrell, “Man Down”
Some songs are just plain addictive — and that’s Devvon Terrell’s “Man Down.” Though brief, the song offers the listener a little bit of everything: A powerful bass, politically-charged lyrics, an R&B-tinged singing voice and a forceful flow. Terrell strikes a solid balance in his delivery, shifting between rapping and singing with ease.
Aaron Rose, “Swank Corleone”
On this track, Rose invokes the spirit of The Godfather, both the book and the film: Rose spits about a fair amount of braggadocious, criminal-like behavior. He caps off the song by letting us know that he’s the swagged-out version of the Corleones — he’s the illest around.
Siya, “My Sons”
Siya is both an actress and rapper, currently starring in the Oxygen television show Sisterhood of Hip-Hop. Her music catalog is also pretty extensive, but her more recent songs, “New York,” “My Sons” and “I Know I Know” are her best work yet. As a native of Bedford-Stuyvesant, she’s got her Brooklyn flair nailed down on “My Sons,” a gritty, sinister track that reveals some of the more dangerous activities that her and her friends partake in.
Stevey Steve — “Beat em’ wit success”
Backed by a energetic bassline, Stevey Steve’s lyrics follow the traditions of his native South Bronx. The pressures of his reality weigh on him, a strenuous tone that’s palpable in his voice: “Bodies gettin’ took out / Shit, everybody tryna eat like it’s a cookout / This is what the hood bout / Youngins pullin’ guns out instead of pullin’ the book out / Yeah life’s a bitch but / I ain’t finna pull out.” He uses the song as a promise to himself that he’ll see this rap thing through.
Hood Celebrityy, “The Takeover (Bando Freestyle)”
On “The Takeover (Bando Freestyle),” Hood Celebrityy adds extra style to a fairly standard hip-hop beat by rapping in Jamaican Patois. There's only a bit of English, but it's enough to tell us what the rest is about, even if we don't understand the words that follow: she opens, “Many girl wish death upon me / Blood inna now my eye, dawg me can’t see.” She later adds, “You better watch how you talk when you talk about me / Cuh me come and take your life away.”
Denzil Porter, “The Unknown Caller”
While some rappers gravitate away from regional sound, other emcees flock to it. Cue Denzil Porter, whose soulful, instrumentation-heavy sound and echoed flow is reminiscent of hip-hop’s founding age—and, in some ways, evocative of his contemporaries, Pro Era. Unlike a lot of the emcees on this month’s edition who waver between rapper and singer, we have no doubts that Porter is a bona fide emcee.
Docman ft. Mike Hardy, “Ride Wit Me”
“Ride Wit Me” is just as catchy as Devvon Terrell’s “Man Down”; on his song, Docman takes us on a jaunt, using the three minutes to describe why the object of his affection should roll with him. Spurred by dynamic synths and basslines, this one is bound to get stuck in your head. New Jersey rapper Mike Hardy shows up and provides contrasting vocals, his rap delivery punctuated for maximum effect.
Mike Hardy ft. Lil Hoov, “We Up”
Speaking of Mike Hardy, his own song “We Up” gives us a deeper dive into his delivery. The repetition of the track gives it a head-nodding feel, where Hardy spits both relaxed lyrics, and quicker, more condensed raps. Like “Ride Wit Me,” “We Up” shows that Hardy is a rapper through and through.
Kidd Boogie, “Casino Change”
Rather than a syncopated flow, Kidd Boogie veers more toward drawn-out singing-raps, and it works in his favor. The inflection of his manipulated vocals is effortlessly carried through the humming beat; he makes it pretty clear that “Casino Change” is a euphemism for something other than taking your chances at a coin slot machine.
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