Browsing Tag

Lyrical Hip Hop

Ride the waves in Caleb X’s latest flood of experimentalism, Kick Start ft Zay-OH

Since blasting off his career with his 2019 debut single, Space, the Atlanta-born, Virginia-based rapper Caleb X has honed his sonic signature to become one of the most authentic names in the hip-hop domain. His latest single, Kick Start, featuring Zay-OH takes motivational hip-hop to the next inspirational level while epitomising his ethos to ensure his music is as versatile as his own identity. Sonically spitting in the face of conventional constraints, Kick Start is a declaration of his ability to transplant humanism within catchy distinction.

By grounding the lyrics and bars in realism and the relatability of ennui with the era we’re all enduring and allowing the kaleidoscopically spacy instrumentals to ebb and flow in trippy trap-esque waves, Kick Start is a cohesively convictive juxtaposition that exhibits Caleb X as a promising luminary who has exactly what it takes to become one of the biggest new urban experimentalists.

Kick Start was officially released on January 26th; stream the single on Spotify and follow Caleb X on Instagram.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

I AM Cricchi shared how he became a conduit of hope through his eclectically authentic discography in an exclusive interview with A&R Factory

Born in southern Maryland and now based in Texas, Tyler Cricchi, known as I AM Cricchi, presents a compelling narrative in the music world. His journey, transitioning from a typical suburban childhood to grappling with substance abuse in his teenage years, underscores the stark realities that shape his music.

With his vast, eclectic and always raw discography, Cricchi has independently charted multiple times, showcasing his ability to blend genres from hip-hop to country. His music is characterised by its authentic lyrics and versatile delivery, resonating with a wide audience.  In this interview with A&R Factory, we delve into the world of I AM Cricchi, exploring his journey from personal struggles to musical achievements.

I AM Cricchi, welcome to A&R Factory! We’d love to know a little more about your most recent release, Weighted To Breathe featuring Caskey. What’s the story behind the single?

“Weighted To Breathe was written at a time when I wasn’t sure if I was doing the right thing chasing my dream in music, most regular people usually call it or consider a dream as such, ‘crazy’. The purpose behind this record was to remind myself and anyone else in a similar spot that if we waited or chose to give up, we’d be right back where we were, at a place where most wouldn’t want to be. Some might say at rock bottom. It quickly became one of the biggest solo songs of my career and shortly after I was blessed with the opportunity of having Caskey feature on it. That really proved my point and made everything come full circle because an artist with a much bigger influence and resume thought it was as dope as I did! NEVER GIVE UP!!”

Your upcoming project, The Road Back, talks about overcoming addiction; can you tell us more about the project and the inspiration behind the release?

“Addiction is a topic I hold close to my heart. I personally have been through the depths of hell while abusing drugs and running through the streets. This was my first project with The Lotto Tribe, and I wanted to make sure it was very special because I recognized that they believed in me, similar to the way I believe in myself. I reached out to a hometown producer Tilli Mack and told him I needed something to spill my pain on and thus this record was birthed. The writing aspect of it for me was just a matter of putting myself in the mindset of not ever wanting to go back to my old life. That’s why I’m so inspired after breaking away from it because I never want to go back to that life I used to be, stuck, in. In other words, I wanted it to be the music I wished I had when I was broken and hopeless

More than anything I wanted to create something that could save someone’s life or make a change for someone in a dark time and for me that’s what all this is about. The road back is never easy, but I hope this record gives someone, anyone, hope. It releases on May 3rd, 2024, worldwide, on the first Friday of National Mental Health Awareness month and is supported by the organization, To Write Love On Her Arms which supports mental health.”

How do your most recent releases compare to your past projects like; No Time, Runnin A Lot, I Gotta Grow, and Say Less Do More?

“I definitely don’t fit in any box. I make a variety of genres and I’m always exploring new sounds. The music I write is always dependent on the moment I’m in. Sometimes I’m happy and sometimes I’m not but that’s life and that’s what I put in my music. I don’t over-exaggerate or attempt to portray anything, I’m just me. If there is one thing that ties every song to the next it’s the authenticity of my story. Every song and every word was lived, meant and felt by me. In the end though, all my music is for everyone and anyone. I just want to bring awareness to my story, and my life and give others hope.”

How did you get into music, and where has your creative journey taken you?

“I got into music before I can even remember. My father is what I would call a “beast” on the guitar and loves to play. My dad worked a 9 to 5 for more years than I had been alive, and I never saw the same happiness he had when he was holding that guitar. That put a spark in me. It made me feel that maybe music was where he belonged, but he never tried or never could take the chance to be truly one with.

The ability to write started with my love for poetry in 2nd grade and continued through middle school. It wasn’t until I was in a juvenile youth center that I started to experiment with trying to rap on beats or write with a specific sound in mind. After that, writing music kept me alive through years and years of addiction and depression, almost daily wondering if I should live. It wasn’t until 5 years ago when I got sober that I started to clearly see the vision. Since then, I have hit the iTunes Charts twice independently. I’ve accumulated over a quarter million streams in 2023. I’ve done songs with legends such as Blind Fury, Caskey, Merkules, and many other amazing artists. Most of all I’ve been finding myself along the way and that’s something special to my heart.”

What role has the indie label The Lotto Tribe played in your career?

“That’s a chapter of my life that is just getting started, but something I’m really looking forward to. So far, it’s been nothing but love and solid continuous guidance from them. They continue to bring me confidence and opportunity. They have helped me align contracts with many industry partners and continue to put my name in the right places for growth. I genuinely appreciate them for their work so far and again, I’m very excited to see what the future holds with The Lotto Tribe!”

Which artists inspire you the most, and is there anything else that inspires you to create?

“Artist-wise, I’d say Caskey, Jelly Roll and LaRussell give me the most inspiration currently. The hustle and the constant innovation are something I respect and appreciate from all of them.

I’m inspired by different people at different times, but I often pull my inspiration from my own life. Whatever I’m feeling or whatever I’m dealing with at that moment is what I write about. Music is a way to cope and a safe space for me, so emotions often drive it. I’ll often base the lyrics, beat cadence and melodies off of just how I feel in the moment. Music is something that makes me feel alive and through it, I’ll continue to try my best to be my best.”

Can you tell us a little about your global distribution deal with Memphis’ Select-O-Hits? and being attached to The Orchard?

“This is another chapter of my journey that’s just getting started! Johnny Phillips has been extremely helpful in getting me set up over there at Select-O-Hits and I genuinely look forward to our future years together. They’re very well known from the days of his father Tom and uncle, Sam who founded Sun Records. They’ve also been influential in distributing Memphis hip-hop legends Three 6 Mafia and Lil Wyte. Even Jellyroll had projects through them in his early career. I’m just happy to be here in the now and be a part of something with such a history!”

What else is in the pipeline for you?

“This year will be my greatest yet. My biggest news so far this year will be the full rollout release for the single project with The Lotto Tribe, “The Road Back”. It’s one of my most meaningful pieces to date and I can’t wait to share it with the world. We also have shows lined up across the country including a SXSW visit here in Austin, Texas. I plan on dropping multiple singles and a possible full album once the vibe and timing feels right! There will also be more collaborations, big features and visuals but you’ll just have to follow me and wait to see what things I have in store! This is just the start for me.”

Stream I AM Cricchi on Spotify and discover more about the artist here.

Interview by Amelia Vandergast

reubencmg looked beyond the surface level of scars in his compassionately raw rap track, Insecure

In his latest single, Insecure, the UK rapper reubencmg opened a narrative on how we can walk through life buried under the weight of our trauma which bears down on everything we do, from how we navigate relationships to what we will passively accept from life’s protagonists who bank on people being bruised enough to tolerate exploitation and humiliation.

With the soul in the backing vocals harmonising behind the George the Poet-esque spoken-word cadence, which adds to the melodiously wavy vibe of Insecure, reubencmg keeps it raw and real while delivering a gritty urban soundscape that people can seek solace within every time they need a reminder that every person you walk past in the street has their own demons to defeat and burdens biting down on their psyche.

Stream Insecure on Spotify now.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Lem’s Sophomore Rap Track, S.A.D, Is A Stark Reflection of Modern Angst

In “S.A.D”, Lem’s second release, there’s an undeniable gravity that pulls you into the heart of today’s societal unease. The track starts with a haunting piano melody, subtly setting a sombre mood. As Lem’s verses unfold, there’s a tangible shift from mere melancholy to a profound, introspective exploration of contemporary disillusionment.

Lem’s lyrical prowess shines as he navigates through the complexities of modern life. His words are a candid portrayal of the pressures we face, from economic turmoil to the distorted realities perpetuated online. His approach is refreshingly sincere, standing out in a genre often dominated by surface-level expressions of frustration.

Lem’s raw narrative resonates with authenticity, offering listeners a glimpse into the struggles beneath the facade of everyday life. His choice to reveal the real sources of his anxiety and depression is both brave and rare, making “S.A.D” a standout piece in UK rap.

“S.A.D” is an impactful addition to Lem’s growing discography, showcasing his ability to articulate the complexities of the human psyche in a way that is both enlightening and deeply moving. It’s a compelling invitation to engage with his music and a strong indication of his potential to leave a lasting mark on the music scene.

S.A.D was officially released on January 12th; stream it on Spotify.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

King Apollo juxtaposed grit with glamour in his alt-hip-hop hit, Holliwould

King Apollo, hailing from Columbus, Ohio, is not just another name in the rap game; he’s a whirlwind of creativity reshaping the hip-hop domain. His latest single, ‘Holliwould‘, stands as a testament to this bold assertion. This track is a journey through a soundscape where jazz’s sophistication meets the raw energy of rap, creating an experience that’s as enigmatic as it is enthralling.

From the first note, ‘Holliwould’ envelops you in a world where the past and future collide. The instrumental arrangement is a masterclass in melody, weaving a tapestry that’s both spacy and wavy, with a jazzy undertone that feels like a nod to the classics. Yet, it’s undeniably forward-thinking, a fusion that feels both nostalgic and novel.

King Apollo’s bars are the centrepiece of this musical odyssey. His wordplay is not just clever; it’s a sly wink to the listener, as intricate and layered as the title suggests. The lyrics dance through the beats with a devilish charm, offering a glimpse into a mind that’s as sharp as it is creative. It’s this blend of wit and wisdom that sets King Apollo apart, ensuring that every line resonates long after the song ends.

By blending the glamour of film noir with the unvarnished truth of street life, contrasting elements coalesced with effortless grace and established this sense of duality as a mark of King Apollo’s artistry.

Stream Holliwould as part of the 2023 LP, OuterSpace, on Spotify now.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

JAIZE became the voice of reason and rebellion in his standout rap track, FIRE.wav, ft Kwillo

JAIZE, hailing from ATX and one-half of the hip-hop duo Global Octopus, has delivered a potent and thought-provoking track with FIRE.wav from his eponymous EP. Featuring Kwillo, this single is a wavy meditation on the tumultuous times we find ourselves in, a reflection of the chaos and the quest for solace amidst it.

The track stands out for its unflinching stance on the humanitarian crisis in Palestine, a topic many artists shy away from. JAIZE, with his glitchy yet luxurious production, creates a soundscape that visualises the struggle to achieve mental equilibrium in times which normalise humanitarian crimes. His rap bars, delivered with a flawless and steady urgency, do more than just provoke thought; they ignite a fire within, challenging listeners to question and dismantle the oppressive constructs around us.

FIRE.wav is reminiscent of Kanye and Jay Z, yet JAIZE brings fresh conviction to the table while allowing his music to unravel as an authentic expression of himself.  This track is a bold statement, a testament to JAIZE’s ability to blend personal introspection with broader social commentary.

With his self-titled EP, JAIZE has not only created a compelling piece of music but has also positioned himself as a voice of reason and rebellion in an era saturated by superficial sonic themes. His hands-on approach to the EP, handling all the mixing and mastering for the first two tracks, and collaborating with Kwillo for the last three, showcases his dedication to his craft. He’s only going to get bigger from here.

Stream the JAIZE EP which dropped on December 15 on Spotify.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Dell Feddi waxed lyrical on life’s ebb and flow in his latest rap track, Sometimes

Dell Feddi’s latest single, Sometimes, is a striking testament to the dynamic nature of life, encapsulated in a track that resonates with the rhythm of our ever-changing mental states. The Bay Area rap artist has delivered a piece that is as profound in its message as it is captivating in its delivery.

The track is a narrative woven with the threads of life’s unpredictability. His killer flow and sharp lyrical wit are the driving forces behind this track, each word meticulously chosen to reflect the myriad of ways a new day can alter our perspective. The bass-swathed beats, inspired by 90s boom bap, provide a robust backdrop to his charismatic delivery, making the track a massive hit that leaves a lasting impact.

The song delves into the essence of human experience – the simplicity and complexity of life, the ups and downs, and the ever-changing rules that govern our minds. Feddi eloquently elucidates the concept that nothing, especially our mental states, is forever. Each day brings with it a new point of view, an opportunity to don another guise and see the world through a fresh lens.

Feddi’s ability to articulate this perpetual motion of life and mind is not just creative; it’s a flawless exposition of the human condition. The track invites listeners to reflect on their own experiences and to find solace in the fact that change is the only constant.

Check out the official music video for Sometimes which premiered on December 1st via YouTube.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Genaddy took motivational hip-hop to a cinematically fiery new plateau with his debut, 1,000 Mile.

After dropping his debut single, 1,000 Mile, the veraciously fresh rapper, Genaddy, has already shed his up-and-coming underdog status, amassing over 56k monthly listeners on Spotify with his astronomically high-octane energy.

By taking motivational hip-hop to a cinematically fiery new plateau with orchestral elements sweeping across the big beats, there’s no overstating the epic scale, dramatic intensity, or the way the production enhances the storytelling.

With a flow as fervent as Busta Rhymes and Twista paired with the sharp and ingenious wordplay of Nas and Lil Wayne and the production pumping out the innovative and emotional resonance of a Hans Zimmer score, we may as well hand the keys to the hip-hop dominion over to Genaddy in 2024. With a debut LP locked, loaded and ready to drop nuclear bombs on the airwaves next year, Genaddy isn’t an artist you want to sleep on.

Check out the 1,000 Mile single, featuring the B-side, Circles, on Spotify now.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Mr Asap made lyrical bombs out of his mic drops in ‘Heathrow’

Taking influence from Dave, Lotto Boyzz, MoStack, and Wu-Tang Clan and turning that inspiration into a brand-new urban fusion, the London-based up-and-coming artist, Mr Asap, is ensnaringly fresh on his new track and music video, Heathrow.

By bringing cinematic elements into his instrumentals, including evocatively weighted minor key piano progressions and classical strings, Mr Asap went beyond the drill beats to deliver a track that will consume your consciousness whole while he flexes his skills with wordplay in a way that makes lyrical bombs out of mic drops.

It may be early days in the industry for Mr Asap, but his determination to step out of the ordinary with every bar has established him as a luminary the spotlight deserves to shine on. Expect even bigger things from Mr Asap in 2024; with his swathes of charisma and his gritty true-to-form intellectualism, he won’t disappoint.

The official music video for Heathrow premiered on November 24th; stream it on YouTube.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Solomane advocates authenticity in his meditative rap track, Higher Self

The climactic track, Higher Self, from Solomane’s latest LP, The S.O.L.O. Tape, Vol. 1, is a profound meditation set to music; a contemplative dive into the essence of self-actualisation and the pursuit of authenticity.

The Franco-Moroccan artist, who is a self-made man in the world of music, brings a rich tapestry of cultural experiences to his work, and it shines through in this latest offering. Having honed his craft in various cities from Brussels to Barcelona, Solomane’s worldly perspective is embedded in his lyrics, which he delivers in a mellow tempo that’s as reflective as the message itself.

The track speaks to those striving for something more meaningful than mere imitation, advocating for autonomy and originality. In a time when it is all too easy to see an image on social media and lament the disparity between you and who you think you see, the message is as necessary as it is powerful.

Solomane’s eclectic influence—from the golden era of New York rap to the rhythms of reggaeton and the soulfulness of R&B—is masterfully blended into a backdrop for his sound which effortlessly transcends genre constraints. The production of Higher Self is undeniably contemporary, echoing the thoughtfulness of artists like Oddisee. His flow is seamless across the succinct instrumental layers as he demonstrates his versatility as a rapper and his reverence for the craft.

Higher Self is a testament to his journey, an anthem for the genuine, and a celebration of the inner self in a world where external facades are all too common. This track will resonate with anyone on the path to finding their true self amidst the noise of societal expectations.

Stream Higher Self with the rest of Solomane’s latest LP, The S.O.L.O. Tape, Vol. 1 on Spotify.

Review by Amelia Vandergast