Friday, January 4, 2013 at 8:15 a.m.
ASAP Rocky in the midst of one of the best performances of Coachella 2012
It's the dawn of a new year, which for those of us who love music means a whole new year of live shows and another Coachella. Speaking a bit more specifically, it means another period of buzz surrounding possible Coachella lineups, rumors, definite answers, and photoshopped posters. This list is none of those -- we know, you're probably about to exit since we have yet to mention Daft Punk or something -- but it is a wishlist of sorts regarding hip-hop artists that need to be showcased on the level of Coachella. We have a full year of new, (hopefully) exciting sounds ahead of us, and hip-hop as a whole is in better health than it has been in years. It's 2013 now, and it's time to match the recorded strength of modern hip-hop and the quality of live hip-hop.
This up-and-coming psych-rap duo from NYC only has a handful of recorded tracks and played performances to their name, but they're already one of the most exciting newer hip-hop acts to watch. Together as The Underachievers, Issa Dash and AK mash and meld esoterically based lyricism with production that sounds like it was meant for a time and place years ahead of our current state of being. This is indeed some trippy shit, but not the type of trip that seems to involve Juicy J, lots of good quality ecstasy, and college girls who love Adderall and anything that has something to do with withdrawal. This is the opposite.
On paper, each song reads like something meant for decoding, as if its original form was hip-hop hieroglyphics translated through hallucinogenics. This is futuristic hip-hop music for a new age, with "wisdom from the light like Socrates," a swollen pineal gland, and a third eye with perfect vision, regardless of all the weed smoke clouding it.
Chicago is in pretty dire straights right now as far as the state of survival there goes, but in a twisted way that caustic environment has managed to produce a few notable and relevant rappers. There's artists like Chief Keef who may be able to produce a few unbelievably catchy hits but may very well lack the ability to stay and strive, and others such as Lil Durk and King L who can probably stick around long enough to form a respectable discography. Regardless of who they are, all of them are trying to aim for stardom and bloated bank accounts, but it's the charismatic King L we'd like to see take the stage.
King L can play the role of the ruthless, masked-up shooter on one record and then transition to more light-hearted band-popping and partying on the next. His mixtapes are structured like carefully-compiled albums, and he has strong crossover appeal, with songs like "Val Venis" appropriate for venues and festival grounds of any stature or state. He can actually rap well enough to stand under the the hot light of critical inspection as well. On his recent Juicy J and Pusha T assisted song "My Hoes They Do Drugs," he actually manages to stand toe-to-toe with the two veteran rappers. Even with the gloomy opiate swamp he has as a beat, his verse still sets the standard for what rappers should speak about when they're trying to make good songs about nights spent partying until critical mass is hit.