5 Atlanta Songs You Might Have Missed

Written by Maxwell Cavaseno 

People have jobs, romances, hobbies, personal crusades and subsequently, sometimes they doesn’t see the necessity of trying to dig around Lil Silk’s Ask.FM page; finding rare freestyles of Slew Dem Mafia in a kitchen somewhere; spending an hour crying because digitaldripped.com went up to the URL heaven taking many rare YG freestyles with it. It’s a tedious, painful task that costs one’s dignity and ensures death from computer screen radiation. It’s not a wonder why so very few put themselves through the torture of endless rap nerd archeology to find something new and remarkable.

So let me to show you some of the smaller rap diamonds that have emerged from the cosmic mess of Atlanta. I’m sure plenty of you’re waiting with bated breath for the hot new Future leak or Migos remix, but these artist deserve your ears and are probably just a bit too drowned by all the blog-bait fodder types for you to have heard ‘em.

Yung LA – F.R.F.R.

Ever since the day when Leland Austin’s shrieks of “I ain’t did shit bruh!” rang out from computer speakers across America, the former Futuristic poster-boy has been a subdued presence. Last year’s “Whoooop” was a subdued return to form, but this slab of Will-A-Fool produced heat does a magma-like creep while L.A abandons his trademark voice for a post-Migos bellowing obnoxiously about how he’s “Crawling like the spider, hoe!” Maybe substituting J-Money for Quavo is a bit obvious a switch-up for a guy best known for a particular brand of cartoon trap nonsense. But he manages to sell the record with an energetic performance that gives hope for the fallen star to ascend back to prior glory.

Rich The Kid – Ghost

While everyone gravitated to “Jumping Like Jordan,” which bears the distinct ‘honor’ of being converted into a star-laden attempt at a hard-hitter (Haaaan!), Rich The Kid’s best song might be his least attention grabbing. Rich still feels slight, most of his songs lacking any defined presence, but “Ghost,” a gem from the premier guide to the current Atlanta underground Lobby Runners finds him working with a bit of extra elasticity. Nimbly ducking and dodging around a lumbering Zaytoven instrumental that feels like some re-purposed soundtrack for a Japanese video game themed around a talking woodland creature; Rich blurts out about escaping to Tennessee and women calling him master with goofy enthusiasm. It’s not an immediate banger, but the sound of someone wood-chopping away at discovering an identity, and that’s not without its own charms.

Jose Guapo – Getting Paid

While his friends in Travis Porter have now become practically inert, Jose Guapo seems to be moving too fast for anyone to pin down. “Fuck The Rap Game” was a welcome comeback hit for the Rich Kidz alumni who’d struck gold with “Guaponese,” but whose 2013 output showed exploring new styles and palling around with other southern outsiders in Young Thug and Speaker Knockerz. “Getting Paid” is yet another example of something seemingly obvious going hideously wrong. What started as a simple, serviceable rap banger starts goes awry, as Guapo bellows out “It’s my court, bitch!” while his flow starts to run off-track. And by the time he starts screeching out about sofas and loafers on the next verse, one wonders how the bright-eyed kid on “Patna Dem” got himself so twisted.

Skippa Da Flippa (feat. Migos) – Wells Fargo

Armed with a vocal tone reminiscent of Busta Rhymes with an aggressive chop, Skippa Da Flippa—formerly “Migos Skip”—serves as the first of what could be the start of Migos attempt to dominate the landscape after their lucrative 2013 run. “Wells Fargo,” yet another Lobby Runners standout, Skippa enlists his patrons to do their usual work and let him get his shine on as well. Quavo chants and storms like a town crier sweating out the bubonic plague, whilst Skippa and Takeoff’s aggressive streams of bars sound like machine guns rattling over the track. Perhaps the track’s greatest gift is that Offset cannot be heard, perhaps too busy  with such difficult tasks as getting his family into more Twitter beef or buying them more weird steam-punk cosplay gear.

Johnny Cinco – No Choices

A former member of DJ Pretty Boy Tank mainstays The Hellacoppa Kids, Johnny Cinco’s been gaining some traction with his “They Gave The Wrong Nigga Money,” a slab of rambly Auto-Tuned babble that sounds like a homeless cyborg with their best Tony Montana impersonation. But “No Choices” a highlight of Cinco’s own Cinco mixtape, as well as a strange addition to various mixtapes belonging to bigger Atlanta stars, just defies logic. Like Chief Keef at his most mush-mouthed, Cinco bubbles and froths about teachers, public transport and leaving all of that in the past, as he occasionally breaches out of the codeine sea murk.

Welcome to Black Portland

Written by Maxwell Cavaseno

In the 21st century, to call Atlanta the focal point of the rap game wouldn’t be unrealistic or unfair. From Crunk, Snap, Trap and dozens of other trends that are less easy to pin-down, the Peach State has held reigned over the general rap populace. However, if you wanted to indicate where rap’s going in 2014 based on Atlanta’s energy, the best the city could probably offer is a dazed expression and a non-committal shrug. Right now, the scene seems to be spiraling in a pitch-corrected, hyper-rapping, molly-whopped-out-of-it’s-brain, bellowing, screaming, mess with Black Portland just about the perfect snapshot available.

Look, it’s 2014, you read blogs (including this one!), and I’m not going to pretend you don’t know who Young Thug is. Bloody Jay, on the other hand, has a tape or two under his belt, some tension with Gucci Mane’s camp and appears to be on his way to building national profile. The duo, who have collaborated together in the past, have formed an Atlanta Post-Futuristic supergroup that honestly sounds more like the name of a Neo-Soul collective. Unlike most Rap supergroups however, these two actually managed to bang out enough tracks to serve a tape for the public’s enjoyment.

It’s probably no coincidence that the tape comes out the same year as Snap star Fabo’s comeback; both of these rappers have a deliriously groggy sort of glee in their performances, provided by a combination of neon-bright beats, illicit substances, and perversely brain-dead humor. Thugger has been notoriously out there, so nobody’s shocked at his antics. Bloody Jay, on the other hand, is not interested in being outshone. Between his deranged old man’s croon on “Suck Me Up,” and his bellowing Casino’s Inner Child hook on “Let’s Go Play,” you will probably lose count of the times you burst out laughing both with and at this bespectacled gangbanger. After all, how can you ignore a man who invokes R.L. Stine while repping his set?

What you get is one of the most surprisingly joyful mixtapes, since the Futuristic movement went from cotton-candy sweet melodies and earnestly optimistic teens to a bunch of jaded post-adolescent perpetually rising stars, trapped beneath the shadow of portentously unnecessary grim-faced “Trap-Star O.G.s”. “4 Eva Bloody” sounds like one of the suped-up Saturday morning cartoon “I JUST GOT A BIG WHEEL GUISE, LOOKIT MEEEEE!!!!” jams of Thug’s under heralded true classic I Came From Nothing 2, strapped up to a firework. Meanwhile on “Florida Water,” Bloody Jay serenades lean like Barry White stuck in a trance club with blue haired girls in parachute pants flailing, drenched in sweat or rather, it sounds like he’s there, even if he was just in a studio. His comrade cheekily makes a dipping sauce pun, while Bloody Jay declares himself “Zack Morris Cool!” and we all collectively rub at our temples, stressed out at how far we’ve let Atlanta get ahead of themselves.

It isn’t all Speak & Spell beats and kooky cartoons. “Signs” sounds like a missing Dungeon Family and Hypnotize Minds collaboration, with Bloody Jay screeching and bellowing like an unstable Rick Ross, Thugger Thugger strutting and skipping over flows like he isn’t describing AK-47s blowing apart rivals in drive-bys. Tragically, when it comes to solo cuts, Thug kind of cheats us by giving us “Danny Glover.” And not that they were really competing, but when Bloody Jay breaks out his street sermon flow on solo cut “Nothing But Some Pain,” you get the feeling that Jay got the chance to lyrically outshine his blood brother without a fair fight.

Black Portland not only has one of the hottest young rising stars of the Atlanta continuing his ascent, but he brings up yet rap maniac who seems determined to outrap every one of his competitors, and even temporarily his co-pilot. It’s aggressive, but jubilant and downright silly, and defies the logic of what could’ve been just a quick cash-in on the duo’s chemistry. Perhaps one day we may even see the duo reunite in the future, though who knows what’ll result from such volatile experiments.