Browsing Tag

Ambient Hip Hop

Spotlight Feature: KAIS & Garrison Cade Created a Meditation in Ambient Old School Hip Hop with R.E.M. State

For his latest release, the singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and producer, KAIS, added an old-school hip-hop top-line to the beat of the standout instrumental single, R.E.M. State, which featured on his 2023 EP, What If I.

Collaborating with the rapper Garrison Cade, who has proven to be at the top of his game in his alt/indie band, Sam the Astronaut, which has taken Canada’s West Coast by storm, the two collaborators answered the question, what does it sound like when two powerhouses collide?

While we loved the artful ambience of the instrumental iteration for the temperate atmosphere that oscillated through our speakers, the hip-hop revival of the single reached the serendipitous pinnacle of visionary synergy.

With the verses flowing with the same transcendent philosophy as the intricate progressions, the reworking of R.E.M. State unravels as a meditation in authentically old-school ambient old-school hip-hop. KAIS & Cade couldn’t be derivative if they tried with their shared tenacity for versing and arranging melodies straight from the soul.

“R.E.M. State is the ‘Kaytranada – Bus Ride’ inspired track that started out as an instrumental on the ‘What If I’ EP released last February. A few ppl were asking for an old-school Hip-Hop top-line to the beat, and I thought Garrison Cade would make the perfect fit. Garrison is a talented rapper who also fronts ‘Sam the Astronaut’, a popular Canadian West Coast, Alternative/Indie band. I believe Garrison has the right pre-reqs for someone I could tour or perform a couple shows with at some point.”

Stream R.E.M State featuring Garrison Cade, which hit the airwaves on May 31st, via Spotify.

Follow KAIS on Facebook, and Instagram

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Jay Doce lays defencelessly bare in his ethereal rap track, Vulnerable

Up-and-coming Cali hip-hop artist Jay Doce versed poetry into an ethereal atmosphere in his standout single, Vulnerable.

Vulnerability is often something that we’re desperate to hide in our dog-eat-dog world, where weaknesses are exploited, and almost everyone has experienced being ghosted by this point. Jay Doce proved how sweet it can be to open yourself up completely and let the world see your soul exposed.

The melodically downtempo track hits all the right evocative notes instrumentally but the hardest blows come from the songwriter and rapper’s raw expression, which disarms you through the sheer visceral resonance. Any fans of East Coast hip-hop will want to save space for the lyrical luminary on their playlist.

Stream Vulnerable on Spotify now.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Tony Driver painted a portrait of disassociation and disillusion with his razor-sharp ambient hip hop single, Myself

Taken from his self-titled third album, Tony Driver’s single, Myself, is yet another testament to his bold vulnerability that allows his lines to hit bruisingly hard. Never afraid to navigate mental health struggles, Tony Driver delivered an intimate exposition of the lengths of his disassociation and disillusion with the world that makes alienation non-optional for so many.

To counterbalance the weight of the lyrics, “I’m tired of hiding, but who here would even care, is anyone even there?” Tony Driver set up an ambiently melodic chillwave soundscape which juxtaposes the dynamically flawless flows, which will cut razor-sharp with anyone in the same headspace. I, for one, can wholly relate.

Myself, along with the self-titled album, is now available to stream on Spotify.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Isaiah Sweh stays ambiently humble in his 2022 EP, Far from Perfect

Isaiah Sweh brought a brand-new depth to the hip hop genre with his resilience encompassing EP, Far from Perfect, which explores motivational themes, gets up close to the grit of modernity and covers the very real reality of never being able to keep our demons subjugated forever.

The 4-track downtempo release experiments with trip-hop, RnB, pop and trap textures, but the definitively hip hop release never veers all too far from the roots of the genre. The smooth and ambient vibes in the EP, especially with track 2, TAT (Time After Time), is what vibe out playlists are made for. As a whole, the EP is a much-needed trip away from the frantic pace of our external lives. It’s a chance to pause, reflect, and drink in Isaiah Sweh’s smoothly outlaid introspection.

Far From Perfect is now available to stream on Spotify.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Walker Deuce takes ambient trap to the realms of old school hip hop with ‘Chill’

From freestyle prodigy to vibe master, Walker Deuce’s sound may have evolved, but his bold, raw energy remains as visceral as ever. His standout release, Chill, has all the makings of your next vibe out playlist staple.

The short and sweet track may only run through for 1:34-minutes, but that is all the time it took for the Portland-based artist to lull you into a state of reflective catharsis through the wavy trippy tones and nostalgic old school sensibilities.

Chill carries all the grit of 80s hustler hip hop, but its colourful cadence and indie guitars stay on the more soulful and affable side of expression. Any fans of Snoop Dogg, Mac Miller, Dre won’t want to hang around in introducing Walker Deuce to their playlists.

Along with releasing eight albums, plus plenty more EPs and singles, the rapper and songwriter gives back to the hip hop scene as an indie label owner.

Chill officially released on September 29th; you can check it out for yourselves on YouTube.

Review by Amelia Vandergast


Lolo GB is On Flex in his latest alt-hip hop single.

Southside Chicago rap artist, Lolo GB, dropped his atmospheric drill track, On Flex, on October 23rd; prepare your vibe-out playlists for an immersively arresting addition.

The short and trippy track grooves through an ambiently wavy production through the bass-heavy 808 hits and reverb-drenched notes under Lolo GB’s deadpan yet dynamic rap bars. The production may not be the cleanest or the most robust, but that works in Lolo GB’s favour with the catharsis that this firecracker of an alt-hip hop can deliver as it works through its spacey lo-fi grooves.

On Flex is now available to stream on YouTube.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

UK rapper Chiron Loxton takes the urban grit out of hip hop with Out in the Trees.

It’s tracks like Chiron Loxton’s latest single, Out in the Trees, that exhibit the pointlessness of facade-delivered lyricism. Out in the Trees is the first track released from the luminary Somerset-residing rap artist’s mindful lockdown-inspired album. It is also the perfect introduction to his tendency to take lyrical hip hop to the next level.

Rap and nature rarely go hand in hand, given that it was created in the Bronx, but Loxton didn’t fail to take hip hop out of the urban era and root it in nature. The meditative trap beats with ambient drill undertones make for the perfect vibe out playlist staple.

The official video to Out in the Trees premiered on September 3rd. You can check it out for yourselves on YouTube.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Juice Patrol squeezed plenty of extra soul into his latest single, Timeline.

Before the grips of winter sink their teeth, get a taste of the Caribbean sun in the up and coming alt hip hop artist Juice Patrol’s third single, Timeline. The ambient grind and the hazy layers construct a mellifluously soothing platform for Juice Patrol’s soft, gentle and endlessly magnetic vocals to dominate as they work through the spoken word urban poetry.

The Ugandan-based solo artist used his fusionist genre and border-spanning sound to prove that soul can spark from the most emotionally fraught experiences. Timeline was inspired by a revolving door relationship and our tendency to turn a blind eye to red flags when affection and history are involved. Instead of giving it all in black and white, Juice Patrol added to the conversation in warm tones and kaleidoscopic colour.

With the depth and wit in the lyrics, Timeline makes you realise just how little nuance there is when it comes to lyrical introspection on toxic relationships. As for the chillwave vibe, you couldn’t ask for a sweeter vibe-out playlist staple.

Timeline is now available to stream on all major platforms via this link.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Tahj McQueen brings the catharsis in his spacey lo-fi hip hop single, Healing.

Healing is the third single released by the breaking artist Tahj McQueen, which extends his legacy of lacing the airwaves with meaningful introspection that explores the darkest parts of our 21st-century psyches.

The trippy lo-fi beats are as spacey as Brian Eno’s cathartic tracks; paired with McQueen’s soft delivery of the hard-hitting lyrics, you’ll want to prime your vibe out playlists for this soulfully provoking track that runs you through a timeline of trauma. The timeline may be personal, but the problems unravelled resonate as universal. It is singles such as healing that remind you that trauma doesn’t separate us. It unifies us.

Healing was released on August 27th; you can check it out for yourselves via apple music.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Pharaoh Santana treats his fans to a brand-new ambient indie trap experience with his EP, ‘PSP’.

LA-based hip hop artist Pharaoh Santana first appeared on our radar with his debut single, POP OUT, which hit the airwaves in 2018. With each new release, he has taught us to expect the unexpected. With his 2021 EP, PSP, he’s retained the soul and the wit found in his former releases and treated his fans to a brand-new sonic ambient indie trap experience.

PSP carries the hallmarks of a lo-fi hip hop record through the organic textures and intimacy offered through the minimal production. Yet, indie hip hop doesn’t come much smoother than the mesmerising tracks that are sure to lull you into a state of reflective serenity.

Track 1, Arvada Freestyle, featuring Cress Rilee, steps away from Western rhythms and serves as an intoxicating introduction to the 4-track release that keeps the grooves mellow and the beats cathartically arresting as Pharaoh Santana lays down the lyrical wisdom that he’s quickly becoming renowned for.

Track 2, Pretty Women, is a subversive ode to femininity and beauty where Pharaoh Santana holds his hands up to his vices, never being crass or misogynistic. Instead, he soulfully points out what a minefield dating can be in a hypersexual society, where sex can be used as a weapon, and people get left with scars.

Track 3, Zendaya, is the perfect summer chill hop track. As the smooth choral notes add to the ambience, Pharaoh Santana disrupts it with his strident lyrics that confront the type of person who always brings the drama instead of anything positive. Some people may pride themselves on the games they play, but Zendaya is enough to put anyone who takes pleasure in manipulation think twice.

Track 4, Tony Sparks, amps up the emotion from the former tracks and is undeniably the best introduction to the ingenuity contained in Santana’s almost haunting style on the EP. As the 90s-style RnB hip hop beats flow and glitch beneath his raw, honest vocals as he speaks of humility, you’ll get a sense that nothing was held back or added for prosaic effect. Instead, you’ll get to see how he can utilise tonal contrast to create a relatable and humanistic sense of conflict.

Pharaoh Santana’s EP, PSP, is now available to stream via Spotify.

Review by Amelia Vandergast