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Kan Wakan – Molasses (Feat. Elle Olsun)

This song is the musical version of onomatopoeia, the term for a word that resembles the sound it describes. But is there a word for songs that sound and feel like the title of the song? I’m too focused on writing this post (aka too lazy to open up another tab) to look it up, but I’m going to assume no. But dammit there should be, and Kan Wakan’s “Molasses” is the reason.

Listening to it feels like swimming in a river of molasses/honey/syrup/anything sweet with a high viscosity. There’s a slow but slinky flow that’s almost euphoric, and extremely cinematic. Sometimes it reminds me of one of those dreams where you’re trying to run but just can’t. Everything is in slow-mo, and you just kinda accept it and trudge your way through the dream. That’s what I like best about the vibe of this song, the duality of it’s “molassesness.” It can feel you’re moving with the current one moment, and struggling against the current in the next. I think that explains why sometimes I feel really happy after a listening, and sometimes I feel completely dazed and confused afterwards. Layers, baby.

Ok, I gave in and looked it up and didn’t find anything. So I think we can just go with “Molassesness” and give Kan Wakan’s song credit for the origin of the word. Now I’m gonna go contact Merriam and/or Webster and make this official.

Chet Porter – Stay (Feat. Chelsea Cutler)

Chelsea Cutler’s previous collaborations with Andrew Luce clued me in on the East Coast singer’s raw talent, but in tandem with Chet Porter, she has delivered a performance that solidifies her as a must-hear voice in electronic music. Delivering a crystal-clear melody that hits every note with a methodical ebb-and-flow, it’s difficult to conjure up many vocals from 2016 that can compare to the technical prowess of Cutler’s alongside the exultant emotions delivered.

As for Porter’s production, he does the Foreign Family Collective proud with an exercise in future bass excellence, not only in the most apparent portions of “Stay” like its ethereal, all-engrossing hook, but the subtle flares of the plucked synths and chopped-up vocal samples. The atmosphere he constructs is a wonderfully-layered space for Cutler to excel even further in result.

Rather than going on a spacey personal tangent per usual, I’ll hand things over to Cutler and Porter. Listen to “Stay” below.

Popeska – Take You Up On That (Feat. ACES)

An eruption of colors, blossoming like a flower from the ground at an accelerated pace, but not of this earth. Sunlight and moonlight trade back and forth with one another. It’s otherworldly, yet it’s home.

Popeska’s newest nudges this vivid mental imagery into existence with no regard for restraining sonic possibilities. As ACES’ vocals lay the groundwork for transcendent vibes to come, the future- bass drop propels it to that distant world.

After listening to “Take You Up On That” again and again, I sit here and think to myself: the universe is infinitely expanding. There are countless galaxies to one day reach, solar systems to explore, and planets to hopefully inhabit. Maybe, just maybe, when a new dawn comes and Earth is a distant memory in the back of humanity’s collective conscious, the world that Popeska has caused to materialize within my mind will be not just an idea, but a beautiful reality.

O.J. Hodding – Kicking Back (Ft. Masta Marx)

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When I first heard O.J. Hodding’s subtly accented flow clearly over a beat as smooth as a skater’s cruise down some stretch of concrete, it was like a gulp of cold water in this heat. Kicking Back quenches a thirst for clean lyricism I didn’t even realize I had.

There are a lot of new hardcore hip-hop artists coming up right now. With Desiigner, Lil Yachty and Lil Uzi Vert releasing tracks and mixtapes that focus more on hard-hitting production than lyricism, the rhythm and flow of the Tribe kind now feels extra old school with the genre filling to the brim with gangsta rap.  I don’t think this is necessarily a bad thing. The sophistication and specificity of good production is at its most satisfying right now, in my opinion. But no one can claim they understand any of the lyrics to Timmy Turner.

Especially with Phife’s untimely death earlier this year, Hodding’s track comes at a time when it’s important to remember those legends of the 90s that paved the way for today’s rap royalty.

The simplicity in the production of Kicking Back, the first track in Hodding’s new EP Mellow, is misleading, though. That kind of subtle layering to create a smooth yet wavy flow with lyrics driving it forward as opposed to landing comfortably in an overpowering bass is difficult in its own right. This kind of subtlety is lacking in today’s bursting hip-hop bangers whose weight barely makes sense past its club and party reign. Mellow is hip hop you can enjoy in your apartment or on the subway without feeling the anxiety of not being with your crew doing cool things out on the town.

Not that Mellow’s message calls for much intellectual analysis but there’s no denying a calculated effort to communicate something clearly in each of its full-bodied tracks, even if it’s just to chill out. That’s okay too.

Elephante – Catching On (Feat. Nevve)

I feel like one of the most unheralded aspects of a hit song is the way the production mirrors the topic matter. It’s a really subtle thing, and many a song passes by without me thinking about that type of sonic-conceptual chemistry. But Elephante and Nevve’s gem “Catching On” reminded me how important it is, and it’s a perfect example of how that chemistry can make a song that much greater.

Doesn’t Elephante’s track almost sound inquisitive? Almost like it knows something that you don’t? It sounds smart, sly and aware. Which is exactly the vibe of Nevve’s lyrics, talking about how she’s beginning to “catch on” to what’s going on with her love interest. Elephante’s “wub wub” melody (as he describes it on this song’s Soundcloud page) in the chorus completely matches Nevve’s dramatic revelation, and the whole thing sounds like a huge emotional breakthrough.

This is just one of the reasons why this is a great song, but it’s my favorite reason. I wish every producer and songwriter paid that much attention to the “completeness” of a song. “Catching On” is complete because it raises a point, builds the intensity, and then resolves the issue at hand musically and lyrically without a shadow of a doubt.