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Pop Hip Hop

Saint Kon’s Latest Tour De Force is a Sonic Crusade for Empathy and Justice

Some artists use their platforms for good; some use them for ground-breaking greatness. After Saint Kon released 10000 Hours on February 8, she’s definitively in the latter camp.

The pop-meets-hip-hop mash-up ensured the track has swathes of cross-over appeal while her bars bruise in a way that you may start to question if you’ve ever been hit before. The raw and heavy lyricism explores everything from suicidal ideation to the compulsion to heal others despite how deep our own scars bed down in our psyche.

After a minor key piano prelude, the bass-heavy boom-bap hip-hop instrumentals storm in as she switches from vocal harmonies to a killer rap cadence that blazes through her compulsion to fight the countless injustices of the world.

If the orchestrally heightened, inventively produced and polished track doesn’t fuel you with the motivation to use your time on earth to fight against the insidiousness that seems to get more nefarious with every trip around the sun, you can probably consider your own soul defunct. 10000 Hours is a lesson in convictive empathy; if it worked its way into the consciousness of everyone who existed, the human race would be transformed overnight.

10000 Hours is now available to stream on YouTube.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Othenic borrowed from the Beastie Boys while tracking the warp speed of the human experience with ‘Last’

If you chiselled an indie pop edge into the legacy of a discography belonging to the Beastie Boys, you’d be left with a sonic sculpture bearing a striking reminiscence to Othenic’s latest single, Last.

With a touch of Crazy Town’s Butterfly written into the alternative mix of indie, pop, and hip-hop, the alt-90s nostalgia within Last is arrestingly potent. While the angular staccato guitars lend themselves to melodic mesmerism, Othenic reflects on how the human experience moves at a warp speed and leaves us questioning how the innocence of youth slips us by and catapults us into the monotony of corporate reality.

“Life’s too short, you might as well make it last” may seem like a simple lyric, but lean into it deeper within the context of the track and you’ll see a testament to the Kentucky-Cincinnati-based artist’s proficiency with wordplay.

Last was officially released on October 19; stream the single on Spotify and follow Othenic on Instagram.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Join Black Prez & Shaun Reynolds on cloud nine with the high-vibe hip-hop staple, Feel Good

With the million streams mark way behind him in the rearview mirror, few contemporary hip-hop artists share the success of the Berlin-born, LA-based, songwriter and actor, Black Prez.

After playing shows with everyone from Big Sean to G-Unit, getting sync deals with Netflix & HBO and his hits featuring on Fast & Furious, Call of Duty and Tony Hawk’s Pro Skaker, he stepped into the studio with Shaun Reynolds to collaborate on the hot summer single, Feel Good.

Showing the sunniest sides of their cheeky devil-may-care dispositions, Feel Good is an infectious serotonin-spilling celebration of positivity. While the lyrics show you how to compartmentalise negative energy, the pop-instilled keys and horns tabs paint blissfully euphoric melodies to implant you on cloud nine alongside Prez and Reynolds. Who said perfection can’t exist in music?

Get Feel Good into rotation by heading over to Spotify.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

V3x reclaimed the power of her vulnerability in the future-embracing alt-pop hit, D34D

NYC alt-pop originator V3x puts the experimentalism of Grimes and FKA Twigs to shame in her standout future-embracing trip-hop-y single, D34D. Making no bones about attacking mistreatment through ferocious innocence, the luminary independent artist came into her vindicating own through this 8-bit-adjacent earworm.

With “sometimes I think I might be dead, given the way you treat me” as an opening lyric, the instrumentally sunny single, which spills the tropic heat through the scorching synth timbres and brings in the indie intimacy via the guitars, empathy is non-optional.

We’ve all been there, handing our vulnerability over to people that were always going to manipulate it. In 2:30 minutes, V3x proves how sweet it can be to reclaim that susceptibility instead of stripping it from our psyche.

Check out the seminal single, D34D, from V3x via Spotify.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Indie hip-hop icon-in-the-making Ramey laid down more introspective gold in his melodic hit, Regrets

‘Regrets’ is the latest indie hip-hop earworm from Birmingham, Alabama-hailing singer-songwriter and producer Ramey, which has all the fixtures of a new wave country hip-hop playlist staple.

The melodically angular indie guitars around the slow and steady self-produced beats are a testament to Ramey’s ability to complement his dynamic rap flow with seamlessly synergistic beats for an evocatively immersive listening experience.

Using pop and contemporary hip-hop elements to light a fire under a distinctive brand of country ambience, the 26-year-old hasn’t failed to carve out a niche and thrive within it. In 2017, he blew up through his covers of Post Malone and Blackbear, amassing over half a million streams on SoundCloud in the process.

After the release of Regrets, Ramey has another clear shot at going viral. The only conceivable complaint is that the short and sweet hit that stands in defiance of sticking by actions despite consequences isn’t longer. Although, that’s all the more reason to check out the rest of his discography to tap into more mindfully witty introspective gold.

Regrets will be available to stream on Spotify & Apple Music via this link.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Jonathan Machen, aka Profit, sells sanctuary in his hip-hop pop track, Refuge

Singer, hip-hop artist and songwriter Jonathan Machen, aka Profit, is living and breathing proof that regardless of how many battle scars your trauma brandishes you with, success will always be in the sightline if you look for it.

Following his viral debut single, Daydreaming, which has amassed over 1 million streams on Spotify alone since it dropped in 2021, his sophomore single, Refuge, is a consoling reminder that everyone deserves sanctuary regardless of the hostility the world has shown you before.

The country hip-hop-meets-pop instrumentals against his compassion-soaked vocals that run through the lyrics and affirm everyone deserves another soul to fall into hits all the right evocative notes while unravelling as a hook-rife melodic earworm.

Jonathan Machen’s distinctive approach to music starts to contextualise around the understanding that his life experiences shaped his creativity more than any artist came before him. After suffering from extensive burns that covered 90% of his body, his self-confidence ebbing away at an early age through bullying and becoming a single father of three while dealing with the grief of losing his mother and everything he owned, music has always been his peace and motivation. Now at 35 years old, in a happy marriage, he is here to confirm that injustice never has to last forever.

Refuge was released on January 6th; check it out on Spotify.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Meoni Samir has made his debut with the party rock hip-hop anthem, Party Time

If talent is in short supply in underground hip-hop, presume the Baltimore trailblazer, Meoni Samir, stole it all to create his debut body-rocking hip-hop anthem, Party Time.

East Side or West Side, you will want to move over to Samir’s side after this flawlessly fresh that sets the bar for other up-and-coming artists. The independent, for the time being, rapper pierced pop hooks into the vibrant hit that sets the mood for hedonistic pleasure around the old-school jazzy samples and nuances of RnB.

The polished-to-perfection beats create a solid platform for Samir’s Playboy persona and dynamic bars that consistently switch up in tone and tempo to create a fully rounded release that gets better with every repeat listen. It has all the makings for a staple; after the first hit, you’ll be hooked.

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

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Iamyungtip – Locked Out: Future-Ready RnB Hip Hop

Looking back on a scar-littered relationship, Iamyungtip’s latest single, Locked Out, is a remorseful retrospective account of a chapter of history where the lows pitted out the highs, but the affection is unwaning.

The mature slice of future-ready RnB hip hop is a testament to the Youngstown, Ohio-based artist’s songwriting skills that he has been working on since he was eight years old when he wrote poetry for his crushes. In adulthood, he’s lost none of the diehard romanticism and picked up plenty of sonic skills to evolve his expression from the page to the airwaves.

The melodic hooks, the way his cleverly effect-laden harmonised vocals lock in with the sweepingly arrestive melodies and the way he always brings you into the heart of his music makes him a triple threat and a playlist staple worthy artist for anyone who appreciates a hip hop icon unafraid to show his emotion.

Locked Out is now available to stream on Spotify,

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Mars Alva shares the euphoria of escaping toxic relationship dynamics in his latest alt hyper-pop single, Erase

Here to prove that there is nothing sweeter than the euphoria of breaking free from a toxic relationship dynamic is the alternative Houston, TX artist Mars Alva, with his latest indie hyper pop single, Erase. It is a markable sonic shift from his spacey single, CRASH!, which came four months prior. The raw nature of the lyricism necessitated the off-kilter production that reflects the tumultuousness of dissonance gifted by narcissists.

Erase looks back on the love-bombing stage of a relationship, where the facades that were painted on thick soon started to slip. Upliftingly, Alva supercharged his release with the visceral energy that manifests when the only regret you have from walking away is the time and energy you wasted. Even if you haven’t been there yourself, you will still get the rush from this sonic firestorm, influenced by the 1975, Kanye, Frank Ocean, and The Weeknd.

The official music video for Erase will premiere on October 14th. Catch it on YouTube.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Spotlight Feature: Denim Blue tore off the facade in his indie rock bedroom pop EP, Vacation Blues

In his new EP, Vacation Blues, the Norway-residing bedroom pop artist Denim Blue tore off the facade and abstracted any sense of pretence to deliver a 6-track release which encompasses the dissonance that the journey of loss and recovery imparts.

Inner turmoil is always a field of landmines, but never has it been filled with so many efficacious hooks. Vacation Blues stands as a testament to Denim Blue’s ability to capture the confusion within the human condition while sending you deep into a state of sonic beguile.

Track 1, Brand New, is undoubtedly the earworm of the EP. Unlike your average earworm, the melodic indie pop rock hit sticks to your synapses like superglue through the cohesion between the apathetically hooky vocals and the colourful melodies. Track 2, Tear Me Down, heightens the emotion by stripping back the production to an art pop serenade of lost love.

Track 3, Field of Dreams, shares sonic textures with shoegaze while Denim Blue runs with his signature rough, raw and relatable vocal timbre before Down completely shifts the synthetics of the EP into a hazy synth-pop lament. Decidedly one of the sweet spots on the EP, Waste My Time exhibits the best of Denim Blue’s lyrical gravitas before the concluding single, Bloom, blossoms under warm saturated delay.

Putting context and intensifying the listening experience, this is what Denim Blue had to say on Vacation Blues:

“Vacation Blues is a short but open story. There are a few ways to interpret it as it grows darker with different stages of losing hope, love, will and identity. At the end of the EP, there is a realisation, but it is a cyclical story; the first and last tracks have the same vocal hook with different meanings.

It is about struggling to move on, whether from heartbreak, addiction, mental health, or any other personal matter; it is up to you to decide, as the listener. I wanted it to feel familiar, almost like the inner voice that tries to speak up.”

Stream Vacation Blues on Spotify & SoundCloud.

To stay up to date with new releases, follow Denim Blue on Instagram.

Review by Amelia Vandergast