The headline applies to anything in life, but I’m speaking from a musical standpoint for this particular blog post (and I will also do so when I formally announce a project for this particular corner of the internet early next week).
We, especially hip-hop and r&B fans, usually are bored, unmoved or just downright annoyed with what we hear on mainstream radio and even when artists release albums with songs that don’t make it into regular rotation. We talk about when artists used to be talented and have something to say in their music – the days prior to all-computerized everything.
Well, if you look hard enough (or if you have the good fortune like me, to follow some music-savvy folks on Twitter), there are musicians and artist bubbling below the surface that can make you forget about autotuned vocals and non-sensical rap bars that aren’t fit for a deaf person to listen to.
Take for example 24-year old Justin Scott of Meridian, Mississippi. Name doesn’t sound familiar? Okay, then you might know him as Big KRIT (stands for King Remembered In Time). KRIT, a recent signee to Def Jam, has dropped two masterpieces in the last year (KRIT Wuz here and his latest smash, Return of 4eva, available for free download on his website.), two albums full original content and honest lyrics befitting of a rapper that also creates his own beats more in the vein of the late Pimp C than Kanye West. KRIT delayed the release of Return of 4eva by six days to tighten it up and it was WELL worth the wait. Plenty of chest-thumping, trunk and window-rattling beats to go with truthful lyrics of a young man struggling to make his dreams of being a successful rapper come true. By all accounts, KRIT is someone you should root for, and his musically masterfully explains why.
Another underground artist you may not know (or just starting to get to know) is New Orleans native Frank Ocean. While Big KRIT raps his truth, 23-year old Ocean (born Christopher “Lonny” Breaux) evokes memories of your own life stories by telling his own with a solid voice and a knack for picking the right music to accompany his heart-felt vocals. His self-released album, nostalgia.Ultra has everything from a sweet cover of Coldplay’s “Strawberry Swing,” to the West-Coast funk of “Swim Good”, as well as an ode to wild relations called “Nature Feels.” Ocean also recorded several tracks under his Lonny Breaux alias, compiled and available here. Those 64 tracks (the file downloads fast, no worries) give you an insight to how talented he is and the potential he has.
So while neither Big KRIT or Frank Ocean are widely known yet, maybe it’s better that way so the industry doesn’t corrupt their talent. They are outside of the norm’s sweet little secrets, artists who’s honesty and talent is uncompromised by big label politics. But if you were able to find them before all of this happens, you can say you knew them then – when the music was real. Hopefully they can stay the same and change the game instead of it changing them.