The Weeknd featuring Kendrick Lamar – “Sidewalks”
Local producer Bobby Raps snared a writer and producer credit alongside St. Paul legend Doc McKinney on the Kendrick Lamar-assisted “Sidewalks” off the Weeknd’s third studio album, Starboy. McKinney returns as executive producer for the first time since he helped mold the Weeknd’s masterful trilogy of mixtapes, bringing longtime protégé Bobby Raps into the fold for the guitar-driven funk lean of the multi-layered track. On “Die For You” and “False Alarm,” Bobby’s Stand4rd collaborator Psymun provides additional instrumentation. McKinney speaks highly of Bobby Raps (“Well, Bobby Raps is a genius. I call him Bobby Warhol cause he’s definitely very brilliant and extremely passionate about everything he does,” he said in an NPR interview), and his inclusion on Starboy reflects how far the young rapper and producer has come.
Andre Mariette – “From a Seed”
Adding imagery to his nature metaphor about rootedness and growth, Andre Mariette strips himself of his phone, his keys, his clothes, and his cares in the serene, autumnal video for “From a Seed,” the title track of his upcoming EP. In the self-directed and shot video, Andre Mariette adds an elastic flow to the swinging serenity of his flute and vocal samples and creates a uniquely pleasing vibe that carries the smoothness of his stride.
Nazeem & Spencer Joles – “Black Friday”
Dropping a song on Black Friday that confronts the ugliness in capitalism, Nazeem & Spencer Joles introduce their harrowing political track with news clips covering the murder of Philando Castile and ominous bells that build an appropriate level of tension. “Froze by my grief, I cling to this Colt 45 / You cannot be weak if you intend on staying alive,” raps Nazeem in a frenetic flow that highlights an acute fear, frustration, and refusal to comply.
Finding Novyon – Super Saiyan 2
Finding Novyon continues a hot streak, one that recently landed him an opening spot for YG for 30 Days in LA, with the follow-up to Super Saiyan. The 10-track project sees him flexing his versatile flow over a range of production styles, including several trap tracks from Atlanta’s Sonny Digital, the syrupy crawl of the Ness Nite-assisted Mike Frey production “Hold You Down,” and some beats of his own. He’s steadily improving his songwriting and ability to bleed his live energy into the tracks, and he proves a flexible and invigorating artist continuing to gain attention for the right reasons.
Rich Garvey – “No Fuss”
A breezy, smooth house track produced by Phib, “No Fuss” finds rapper Rich Garvey in a laid-back groove that teases future collaborations that hopefully continue this collaboration’s chemistry. With a twinkling organ intro that also serves as a break amidst the rapping and four-on-the-floor beat, the song’s cross-genre feel compliments Garvey’s low-key delivery as he spits warm party grooves with aplomb.