Another one from the old Substack:
2019 was years ago but here’s a list.
Connis – Conn(is)
This album will always feel like my last semester of college. Trip after trip down Rt. 2 (road road road rest stop road road field road cows…) feeling like MA is empty and everything, not knowing where I’d be in x months. Connis had the road map. This is uniquely MA Music, born out of the world-shrinking, the quotidian grays and blues. It’s cloudy, cold, insular. It struggles with stuckness in its most complicated form — the kind where you can’t decide if you want to dig yourself out of the mud or just sink into its warmth.
Saint Lyor – “Gossip”
Came out of nowhere and shot Brockton’s Van Buren Records into another dimension with this song. “No I’m not from Boston / ET I’m from Brockton” is the bar for every kid who’s told a non-MA person they’re from Boston when they’re actually from, like, Auburn.
Kadeem – World Sport
“Man of my word, hand on the Bible / The burning bush spoke and told me fan all this fire.” Some days he’s the best rapper alive.
Rah Zen – Upon The Apex
Sounds like some lost RZA files melting in the desert.
7981 Kal – “Trapline”
From a national reach perspective, 7981 Kal might’ve had the best year of any MA rapper. The Polo G and Mozzy features/co-signs turned a bunch of heads. Kal’s earned every ounce of his success. He’s such an affecting writer.
G Fredo – “Lose Yourself”
Kal’s close friend and fellow member of Boston’s H$M collective. This is technically from late ‘18 but I kept running it back all year.
BJ, GNipsey – “THAT GLTT!!”
More excellent MA drill.
Maka Oceania – Pop Drill
If someone told me to listen to an album called Pop Drill, I probably wouldn’t. However here I am, that Someone asking you to listen to an album called Pop Drill. Yes it’s gimmicky. Yes it still bangs. While you’re at it, follow Maka’s IG Story. Dude is in Japan cooking a different fish every day. Best marketing strategy out.
Catman – Timeworm
Fluttery dream-stuff that doesn’t stop unfurling.
Gogo. – “Tap In.”
Simple and irresistible. Or, as Gogo. would put it on his IG Story, “SUBSTANCE. ENERGY.” Cambridge is a melting pot of these rap-singing types.
Jiles – “Nic Nacs”
Big Jay Rock energy from another Van Buren artist. Their roster is so deep.
Vintage Lee – Draw 2
This tape feels weirdly nostalgic, like a shard of MadeinTYO’s 2016 travelled an eternity to get to 2019. Boston’s Vintage Lee has the same ear for sturdy flows that build energy off repetition. Perfect for 18-minute walks.
DJ Lucas – “Dunkin Story”
Real Western Mass Stuff.
Weird Dane, Kala – Mooncake City
Western MA/Dark World polymath Weird Dane now raps in Mandarin. He married a budding Chinese rapper named Kala, and they live together in Shanghai. Their album Mooncake City can be a little on-the-nose (I mean, it’s called Mooncake City) but the novelty of this collaboration carries it past the missteps. Also the “Tunnel Song” video is SICK.
Luke Bar$ – “OK OK”
VB’s secret weapon. His delicate vocal delivery paired with the surgical flows is killer.
Cousin Stizz, City Girls – “Perfect”
Should’ve gone diamond.
Other things I liked:
Van Buren opening for Stizz at House of Blues Boston.
The Conn(is) Show, wherein he performed the album with a live band.
Nightworks, Boston’s beat music showcase.
Kadeem x billy woods at Dorchester Art Project.
Stizz being the voice of the Boston Celtics.
Connis, Gogo., K Merc, Soap.wav, and Adam trekking out to western MA to play my musty ass basement venue.
Connis performing “succubus freestyle” at said show