It’s been one year, 14 weeks, and four days since the last time Charlotte hip-hop heads got together for the 2020 CIAA tournament edition of the monthly Player Made party and live concert at Snug Harbor, but who’s counting? All this time later, and things are finally opening up so we’ll be able to see our favorite Queen City rappers gracing Charlotte stages any day now.
In the meantime, in between time, local lyricists have been hard at work making sure that as we reopen, there will be plenty of new music to keep the starving crowds fed. I went ahead and put a list together of 10 releases that dropped this spring that I’ve been bumping in the lead-up to what promises to be a very hot summer (plus a couple bonus tracks that don’t quite fit in to the “Charlotte in spring” but need to be recognized regardless).
Cuzo Key – Nionek 3
Straight outta north Mecklenburg, Cuzo Key dropped his first Nionek volume back in 2016, then took a hefty hiatus from solo prjects before releasing Nionek 2 in December 2019. Luckily, we didn’t have to wait that long for the third, which he dropped earlier this month, featuring the same laid-back Port Arthur/Houston-inspired swag we’ve come to expect.
Jay Pluss – Chasing the Sun
I was introduced to Jay Pluss when I reported on his debut project in 2019, and he’s kept pushing one of the most refined flows in the Q.C. since. His new album Chasing the Sun is broken up into a Day Time and Night Time to symbolize his ‘round-the-clock grind, beginning and ending with a laid-back tracks representing dusk and dawn, while filled with more intense, get-at-’em vibes in between.
Seph Dot – “Bombae”
Seph Dot of The Bushes came into spring like a lion, having dropped a five-track EP Fuzzy back in February, but he was not about to come out quiet like a lamb. He kept it moving, dropping a new single “Bombae” as soon as the weather began to warm. The track, produced by Likkle Slave, is a slow-moving homage to summer love and good weed, accompanied by the below video, which aims to show how life is but a series of moments.
Lute – “Myself” feat. DEVN
Dreamville CLT representative Lute is simply not the kind of guy who wants to rush along a new album, as he described on me and Mark Kemp’s old Local Vibes podcast shortly after dropping West 1996 Pt. 2 back in 2017. In the nearly four years since, he hasn’t budged from that position much, but I’m not here to give him shit for it. He gets enough of that on Twitter literally every time he posts. I’m just appreciative when he drops a gem on us here and there, especially when it features up-and-coming Charlotte “trap soul” artist DEVN (look for his debut dropping this summer).
Casino P – “Let the Beat Breathe”
Emerging Greensboro native and Charlotte rapper Casino P quietly dropped his debut single, “Let the Beat Breathe,” on June 4, and the track is ironically titled, as the beat serves as a backdrop, allowing P’s lyrical skill to take a front seat. Look for more from this promising newcomer in the coming year.
Simon SMTHNG – because we must
A year after his work with Autumn Rainwater on her three-track Cloudy EP, simon SMTHNG is back with his own eight-track solo tape, sold in cassette and digital. It’s not all about the beats, either, as simon drops bars on tracks like “condos on freedom,” a song title that’s only beat out by “vegan mac and cheese is the devil.”
Jah-Monte Ogbon – “Run Me My Bread Taylor Even Though I’m Up”
Jah-Monte simply does not stop working. He dropped this one-shot video that takes place during a photo shoot last night as a teaser for his upcoming project, Too Little Too Late. He says the album title is aimed not only at those who may have doubted Jah-Monte’s rise to the top, but also toward those who think he may one day fall from the position he’s spent years building up in Charlotte hip-hop and, lately, countrywide.
Erick Lottary – Safe & Sound
Long one of Charlotte’s best rappers, Erick Lottary has never been one to play it safe, so it makes sense that he switched things up on us and jumped from hip-hop to R&B for his recent release, Safe & Sound. It’s a four-track venture into new territory, but Lotto tackles it nicely. I just need to see him perform it live, because sometimes it’s hard to believe that’s him singing.
Nappy Roots feat. Elevator Jay – “How I Feel”
It’s hard to think of a more fitting collaboration for Elevator Jay than Nappy Roots, whose backwoods Kentucky sound flows so well with the Queen City king of Catawba fishing holes (and Player Made).
10cellphones – “Like Me”
I the lead-up to his upcoming album, 10cellphones dropped this single and video, putting his own contemporary twist on a beat by producer Cranky that took me back about 15 years to the days of Dem Franchize Boyz.
Just Up the Road a Bit: Tia Corine – The Saga of 34Corine
Winston-Salem’s own Tia Corine recently dropped The Saga of 34Corine, and it’s been giving me such strong pre-summer vibes. The highlights are not the feature from DaBaby or perfectly placed film clips (Baby Boy, Rush Hour and Snakes on a Plane make appearances), but the incomparable style that keeps you nodding your head and wondering WTF she’s going to say next. My favorites are “Luigi,” “Pancakes,” and “Mine.” Catch her at Durag Fest on June 19.
Before It’s Over: Deniro Farrar – Okay
We’re dropping this list a little early, so even though we haven’t heard Deniro Farrar’s new album Okay yet, it’s only right to include it as an anticipated drop for Charlotte hip-hop, as it’s scheduled for release on June 18, just two days before the season is over. We’ve got more in-depth coverage of what he’s been up to on the way, but in the meantime, you’ll just have to “Wait” while you check out this video he dropped in January featuring some of CLT’s finest.
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