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Introducing Around The World With Passion of the Weiss

The POW Rap-Up

Discover the biggest bubbling songs and artists from the West Coast, the South, New York, and London.

By passionweiss


Passion of the Weiss is the last rap blog. Founded in '05, it has survived blogroll purges, broken 404 links, and cyber-attacks (allegedly) from October's Very Own to persevere as one of the only daily publishing independent music sites. With a primary focus on hip-hop, its coverage also includes dance music, psychedelia, sports, and other miscellaneous skepticism. Its regional Rap Up features a collection of some of its most knowledgeable contributors identifying one bubbling song from their respective regions, aiming to capture the diffuse spirit of a multi-faced and global genre. Read POW here.

Amidst the deadening homogenization of mass culture, regional rap exists as a bulwark against the tyranny of corporate streaming and algorithmic diktats. If there was a palpable fear in the late 2000s about the internet destroying the local scenes that had developed their own dialects, cadences, and rhythms, the anxiety has been disproved by the rise of West Coast nervous music, Jersey club, and the shit-talking scam Houdinis coming from Michigan. 

Of course, there will always be a healthy exchange of ideas across the continent (and now the globe). Never forget that the foundation of New Orleans bounce music—the Triggerman beat—originally came from sampling a relatively obscure Queens rap duo named The Showboys. This is testament to rap’s sublimation of the old adage: good artists borrow, great artists steal. If the state of major label rap is at a low ebb, the artists summoning weird sounds in small rooms continue to propel the genre forward. It’s the same as it ever was, but thankfully, the slang is different and the drums cause havoc at faster tempos. The style stays wild—it’s just being broadcast on YouTube now. —Jeff Weiss

Los Angeles 

S5 - “Fear Of God”

Gangsta rap is so quintessentially LA that it’s right up there next to palm trees, weed, and gridlock as its main cultural exports. It’s part of the city’s genetic source code, twisted deeper in its double helix than Snoop’s fingers. Though Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, Tupac, and the earlier crop of gangsta rappers became household names, few regionally-minded artists from the greater LA area have broken out nationally over the past decade.

The populist poet from Compton who’s now on his self-care journey and the artsy skater teen whose silhouette once ate a cockroach are the two biggest to break. But the cohesive sound of the city—what you actually hear outside of just the bars frequented by people who work as part of the techno-cryptocracy—is a modern outgrowth of LA’s classic gangsta rap.

It’s not exactly a new wave, as SoCal gangsta rap never went anywhere, but it’s slowly morphed in new (and sometimes old) directions. Right now, we have the Baby Stone Gorillas from the Jungles gaining popularity for their shoot ‘em up bangers with a comedic twist. South Central’s G. Perico keeps street-hustler storytelling alive, and then there’s an enormous crest of rappers who have warped themselves in the image of the late Drakeo The Ruler, whose style slid through the city’s rap scene in a Rolls Royce Wraith that came with an umbrella.

The sunny murder raps have turned darker, the grim reaper suits are more diamond-encrusted, the lingo is more bingo. Stoneda5th (formerly S5), out of the Inland Empire, is one of the many rappers who have steeped themselves in the cold-hearted shit-talking style. Dismissive, slick, and confident, S5’s music reverberates through your spine. It’s sharp as a cold gust, but formless enough to keep you curious and engaged. He raps over the dominant sound in the city, a new wave of post-nervous rap beats that sound scarier than a ceremonial death drumbeat. “Fear of God” shows S5 in his prime, puffing his chest out and murmuring about pulling up on an enemy rapper’s show to ruin the night. It’s real murder music, and best played at night. 

He and frequent collaborator also out of the I.E. R3 Da Chilliman have been racking up hundreds of thousands of views on their YouTube channels, as well as a growing list of big name collabs. They’re not just doing Drakeo karaoke either—they’re each great rappers in their own right with original twists on the overarching style. They’re as poised as any to be the first ones since Drakeo to bring their black hoodie missions and lingo beyond the region. —Harley Geffner

New York 

Maiya the Don - “Body”

In early October, Maiya the Don released her long anticipated first mixtape, Hot Commodity. It fulfilled the promise made by the Brooklyn rapper’s debut single “Telfy”—about New York’s official purse—that held the city hostage for months earlier this year. The Crown Heights native took the leap from TikTok beauty influencer to rapper off the strength of that single, which took a cue from New York’s nostalgia powered “sample drill” movement, mining hits from recent history that leave the source material largely intact. Maiya’s wrinkle is that she’s a throwback New York rapper, not one of the latent screaming drill kids that populate the scene and vie mainly for streams from guttural, aggro provocations built on uncleared samples. She’s a polished, fully formed artist interested in pursuing the Bad Boy model of raiding their mother’s record collection for pop rap anthems.

I first heard her mixtape standout “Body” through the speakers of Maiya’s phone at a dinner over the summer, and immediately knew it would be the one. The choice of sample is a no-brainer, both because Mariah Carey’s “Touch My Body” is a perfect, timeless hit, and because it has recently enjoyed a second life as a trend with its own viral dance on TikTok (Mariah allegedly personally approved the usage).

There’s been much hand wringing in New York over “cheap nostalgia” via samples. It’s an artform, and some local critics feel our young rappers are settling for gimmicks over thoughtful curation. Maiya puts on a clinic, displaying precisely how to avoid that. She builds her hook around the interpolation with a vocal snippet, as a fellow New Yorker once did, having fun flexing the peg with several inventive utilizations in her wordplay. The song is the tape in miniature, starring Maiya unearthing pocket after pocket and switching cadences by the couplet, changing her grip in the glove and dazzling the listener with the type of technique and instinct it takes lifetimes for the best rappers to achieve, while most never will. —Abe Beame


YTB Fatt — “Let’s See”

Arkansas doesn’t have the prestigious rap history of neighboring states Texas, Tennessee, and Louisiana, but a crop of rappers with brusque flows and even blunter lyricism, namely Cootie and BiC Fizzle from Blytheville, as well as Mudbaby Ru, have slowly carved out an identity for the state in recent years. And YTB Fatt might have cracked the code. The West Memphis rapper, who signed to Moneybagg Yo’s Bread Gang after being discovered at dice games, blends the funk of Michigan production with the ominous and blustering sound of a post-Tay Keith Memphis. On his debut mixtape Who Is Fatt, he taps into this happy marriage of the Midwest and the South, regions that have formed a mutually beneficial relationship as rappers from up north move to cities like Atlanta for opportunity, and street rappers down south pull from Chicago drill and Michigan for creative inspiration.

“Let’s See,” Fatt’s latest single, could very well soundtrack your next deadlift PR. The raging peaks and simmering valleys of YTB Fatt’s music can become predictable, but here, he starts at a violent rolling boil and doesn’t stop until the lid’s blown off. “Let’s see who car the loudest,” he smirks, upping the ante in the next line. “Let’s see who diamonds hit when they smiling.” Over strings, droning keys, and hard-hitting drums that’d overpower a less self-assured MC, Fatt looks like a titan. His roaring voice doesn’t cut through the beat’s mayhem as much as surfs its destructive wave. YTB Fatt isn’t striving to invent new recipes; his take on meat-and-potatoes street rap is satisfying because it veers off book at just the right amount. Brandon Callender


Milc - “Mankind” 

Oregon rap has always lived in the shadow of California. Seattle at least has Macklemore, but the closest Portland has come to producing a genuine rap superstar is probably Aminé, famous for 2017’s “Caroline.” You can kind of count Yeat, who technically grew up in Orange County before moving to the affluent Portland suburb of Lake Oswego. However, I don’t consider either of them capital P “Portland Rap,” because they both moved out of the city at the first chance they could and neither’s sound is particularly indebted to the Pacific Northwest.

Excluding the aforementioned expats, the Portland rap scene has always maintained a trademark strangeness through underground rap pastiche and a flurry of technical, reference-heavy asides. It’s a city of dense lyricists and roaming sensibilities, never quite knowing where to land and taking a larger inspiration from the gloomier East Coast underground rap world as opposed to the heady, non sequiturs of West Coast underground trailblazers like Hieroglyphics or Del the Funky Homosapien. It’s also a city that’s frequently, and somewhat unfairly, maligned for its supposedly crumbling city center, open air fentanyl markets, and its ever-growing unhoused population.

Portland’s greatest hope is a guy born and raised in the Northeast who was once featured as a basketball prodigy in the AND1 Mixtape Vol. 7 in 2004. Milc has a large and commanding presence, with long hair usually spilling out of a beanie or well-worn hat. There’s something genuinely surprising the first time you see him rap; this sort of mastery of the craft and appreciation for the music is usually only coupled with artists stuck in the past, artists unable to get over or recreate the magic they felt in high school the first time they heard like, Rakim or something. Milc sounds like an old head born two decades too late but who’s never had trouble keeping up or fitting in, like a 1980s cocaine dealer who easily managed to transition to the darknet when wholesale dealing moved online.

Milc’s new record, The Fish That Saved Portland, loosely pits the rapper as an irreverent  Deadpool-style superhero tasked with saving Portland from the type of nationally-exaggerated social rot featured in some of the country’s largest newspapers. Fish was entirely produced by Pacific Northwest mainstay Televangel, best known for his work as one-half of Blue Sky Black Death, who earned credits with artists like Cam’ron and Crooked I before disbanding in 2017. The way Boldy James and The Alchemist were able to sonically embody the helplessness and resiliency of Detroit in their collaborations is the way Milc and Televangel have come together to capture Portland’s gloomy eccentricities, with its endless array of characters, frigid soul, and forgiving drug laws.

“Mankind” is guitar-laden boom-bap with a chorus featuring a flute solo that reminds me of careening down Burnside Boulevard in the pouring rain. “I’m geeked, I just chewed a 10, I spent Christmas with Chinese like my Jewish friends,” Milc says. Nacho Picasso comes through with his classic aphoristic flow, saying “I be where I be and I’m at where I’m at, one fun fact: Vin Diesel half-black, he only went bald to try and cover up the naps.” Milc and Televangel’s densely listenable collaborations have the ability to disrupt the city’s stale and sanitized rap scene that’s leaned on battle rap and commercial whimsy for far too long. Yes, Milc can rap, but he can also make a decent song. Could he and Televangel finally be the ones to make Portland weird again? —Donald Morrison


Zino Vinci - “Tamagotchi Crocs”

Zino Vinci is your East London nerd who can vibe with the roadmen on the block as well as the Naruto-heads dressed like the Akatsuki at Comic Con. With Zino’s latest project, Filthy & Disgusting, the German-born, East London-raised rapper and graphic designer portrays the sensibilities of inner-city London living and emotional butterflies of old crushes.

On top of Piro’s adrenaline-pumping trap-influenced production, the Filthy and Disguisting’s comic relief “Tamagotchi Crocs” is backdropped by his home of the fast-tongued grime MCs which birthed Ghetts and J Hus, a book that Zino takes a page out of with his skippy flows. You smell of fried chicken that used to be £3 with fries in the pre-fried chicken YouTube content days and an earworm-y hook bookended by visual punchlines of confusing straps with the ergonomic design of Crocs.

It’s an image that feels precious against the face of an ever-changing London landscape. The lane of independent UK alt rap is fruitful—where Knucks and Little Simzs are touring and breaking glass ceilings while collecting silver BPI certifications, Mercury Awards, and getting that coveted Larry June feature.

At a time when there are more eyes on the London rap scene than ever, Zino breathes fresh life into it, drawing from the experiences of comic book nerds who can seek self-discovery in graphic novels and kill sample-heavy rap beats in the studio.

Zino Vinci is well positioned as a key player in the UK alt-rap Gen Z wave, anchoring authenticity with sharp storytelling so personal you may find yourself represented in his brightly coloured canon. —Ethan Herlock

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