Low-key Likes: trap gems

By Louis Chavey (’22) | March 1, 2020

Welcome back to the first Low-Key Likes column of 2021, where I recommend a relatively unknown song, artist, and album under a unifying theme or genre. I will provide some needed context, a short description, and lastly, what makes them each worth a listen. In this issue, we’ll be exploring trap, one of the fastest-growing subgenres of rap, with some high-energy music, including the song “Boston Celtics” by Kuttem Reese, the artist JAHMED, and the album DIE FOR MY B****.

“Boston Celtics” is one of Florida-born artist Kuttem Reese’s many singles released in 2020. On the surface, “Boston Celtics” is a typical trap song: 808 bass hits, snappy snares, a catchy piano loop, flute embellishments (my personal favorite), boastful lyrics, and even a drawl similar to that of fellow Floridian Kodak Black are nothing new. However, Reese understands how to stand out while operating in such a saturated genre. Although he maintains the needed energy throughout the song, he strategically times his coarse quasi-screams with the beat drops in between verses, creating a dynamic similar to that of the West Coast beat scratch openings to songs. Combining this with witty, thematically cohesive (albeit surface-level) references to former Boston Celtics players like Kevin Garnett, Rajon Rondo, and Larry Bird, Reese packages all of this into a short but sweet two-minute song. The end result is not necessarily anything ground-breaking but just a cleverly creative, enjoyable trap song, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

JAHMED is an LA-based rapper that masterfully masks his vocal and lyrical control behind a dark and incredibly energizing sound. Having released a handful of singles and his debut album THE[expletive]MOBILE in 2020, JAHMED is just beginning to gain momentum. With his mastery of vocal manipulation combined with lyrical and technical skill, one can’t help but think of the master of combining both: Kendrick Lamar. Even just within the first couple tracks of THE[expletive]MOBILE, voices and flows reminiscent of Kendrick Lamar, Three 6 Mafia, Schoolboy Q, Vince Staples, and even Anderson .Paak are apparent in verses delivered at breakneck speed and teetering, off-kilter choruses. Rather than jamming his verses with over-the-top metaphors and similes, JAHMED deliberately chooses his verbiage to complement his ever-changing, eccentric flows. JAHMED uses his position as an emerging artist with an unestablished sound to his advantage: It is almost impossible to predict what his delivery will be, let alone what a song in its entirety will sound like. Every song, verse, and line are almost like a slot machine of idiosyncratic, engaging, lively flows and lyrics. With JAHMED, there is no losing, just surprise after surprise.

A project that I’ve been wanting to talk about for a while is  DIE FOR MY B****, which was released in Summer 2019 by Baby Keem, or Hykeem Carter. DIE FOR MY B**** was as much of a success that an upstart rapper like Carter could hope for; the consensus was that Carter was up next, preemptively crowned as the king of the next generation of hip-hop. The flashes of potential are undeniable: oscillating wildly between emphatic peaks and melancholy pits of loneliness, Carter displays rare versatility on this project. In fact, it is this raw, inconsistent tone that defines DIE FOR MY B****, which paints a vivid picture of adolescence in both style and content. As previously mentioned, Carter shifts tone quite drastically throughout the album, with hard-hitting, colorful trap anthems like “STATS,” “FRANCE FREESTYLE,” “NOT MY BRO,” and “ORANGE SODA,” brimming with the arrogance and toxicity of an adolescent male, as well as softer, pensive tracks like “HONEST” and “BULLIES” that are cracks in this shell of superficial pride. Even at a microlevel, lyrics like “Then I’ma hide you ’cause I really like you” on “ROCKSTAR P” cement Carter’s possessive, immature view of love. Ultimately, DIE FOR MY B**** artfully maneuvers the highs and lows of youth that will assuredly match any mood you’re in.

While “Boston Celtics” by Kuttem Reese, the artist JAHMED, and the album DIE FOR MY B**** may be relatively unknown songs, artists, and albums, their vocals, lyrics, and tunes provide an engaging listening experience that you will surely remember.

Categories: Entertainment

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