Top 5 ‘Underground’ Hip Hop Projects of The Week

This week was rich with releases. Tons of great music videos and tracks were put out into the public via SoundCloud, YouTube and the like. I for one noticed that tons of great, full, projects came out in the past 7 days. While some were HUGE releases, there were some that were less highlighted. The ones below I listened to, loved, and believe were the cream of the crop. Discover some albums you may have skimmed by or plain didn’t know about.

1. Malcolm London – OPIA

Let me preface this by saying we posted this recently, but it deserved another write up and just had to be included. I know OPIA has been featured in every publication from The Fader to Pitchfork, but I know there has to be someone who hasn’t caught it.

From the opening track, New Day, where Malcom lightly sings “birds are chirpin,” we enter a new realm. OPIA is a flawless project; there is nothing out of place or isn’t sonically appealing. Malcom puts his absolute all into this. He can rap with raw emotion that sounds commanding (Get It Right) and then switch to a disco wonderland fitting right into the beat (House Party.) Let’s stick to House Party for a minute. He intelligently enlists help from How To Dress Well and the “you can’t stop him” emcee femdot. HTDW adds lush electronic vocals while femdot contributes the grit that is needed.

Like we wrote on our initial post, every artist featured on OPIA adds so much. All play their roles and they play them well. The album is sonically out of this world. You’ll get lost in Malcom’s spoken poetry that is influenced on every track. This is the project of the week.

Favorite Cuts: New Day, Get It Right and House Party

2. Dylan Cohl – Cowboy Jones 1.5 : Days In the East

I became hip to Dylan Cohl after he dropped impressive single Bigger Than Me. Not only was he sound vocally, he came correct with the self production. It was sample heavy and something I was really into. Then my friends over at Artistic Manifesto premiered the EP and the rest was history. I listened to it front to back yesterday, and I knew it would end up on this list.

The project is a very strong representation of what Dylan has, and will continue to offer to the genre of hip hop. He is a Texas native and strays far away from the state’s usual sound. The production has so much sonically; heavily influenced by Dylan Cohl himself, as he produced 5 tracks on the album. Sometimes he sounds heartbroken, other times he sounds angry. His ability to let out his emotions all over the EP shows he’s not afraid to be honest. And it sounds really fuckin’ good.

Favorite Cuts: The Feels, 300 and IGYB

3. Thelonious Martin – Late Night Programming (Instrumental EP)

2 months after wunderkid Thelonious Martin hit us with Static, and after just recently dropping his collaborative EP with K.eYE.D, Thelonious dropped ANOTHER instrumental haven in Late Night Programming. Everyone one of these reeks with goodness. Late Night Programming explores more genres, but in true Martin fashion it is rich with sample flips. It’s hard to compare his instrumental albums as they all sound completely different from the former. Of course there are similar themes, but he always goes outside the box. There is no doubt that this is one of the strongest releases of the week.

Favorite Cuts: Reign Man, Afternoon Swim (those samples though) and Memorex Memories

4. Oya Noire – Dangerous. 

“This is expression of me being a bad bitch.” This is the one line description Oya Noire has given us in her newest EP Dangerous. I wholeheartedly agree with this statement. Yes, she sounds like a nostalgic r&b/soul singer, but she knows what the fuck she wants. Just take a listen to cut Dangerous. “I’m so good at being bad” she croons. The track is full of her bad bitch sentiments and is a highlight. On her collaboration with JIMI, Exhausted With Your Love, she is done with the man in question. “even when I don’t want to be, I’m exhausted with your love”  Dangerous is full of naughtiness, but also of self expression at its finest.

Favorite Cuts: Exhausted With Your Love, Baby and Dangerous

5. Jay Prince – Smile Good 

Gotta show London some love. Jay Prince’s newest EP Smile Good made me do just that. You’ll learn a lot about him on this one. There are multiple genres influences across the board. Father Father has a glorious choir backdrop reminiscent of popular song Amen with Meek Mill + Drake. The collaborate track with Danny Seth and Michael Christmas is another highlight. This one is on the list because of its funkiness and its ability to go above and beyond what a typical London rapper leans on instrumentally. Jay knew the right production to get on and who to call on to make this project strong.

Favorite Cuts: Father, Father, Squad and Smile Good