DRIP DROPS of HIP-HOP from CHATTANOOGA
By Colt Cupit
What’s up world, welcome back to ‘20/20’, the monthly review of what’s what and who’s who in the Volunteer State. This month’s edition is coming to you a little late thanks to my time being caught up with our Daily Chiefers 4/20 show in Atlanta (and my birthday the day after). With that being said, better late than never so buckle up and get ready for a quick cruise through the last month of dope shit made by Tennesseans and Tennesseans only. If you feel like there was something I missed, or you want your music to be considered for next month’s column; hit an email over to firstname.lastname@example.org and get me hip to what you’ve got going on!
The Eye Test
Here I’ll be picking 20 tracks and videos that released in the last month that caught my eye, in no particular order. I’ve got 20/20 vision so there should be a few slappers in here somewhere.
Fxnesse2x– “Tattoos” [Nashville]
First up on the list is a returning member to 20/20 in Nashville native Fxnesse2x. I’m not gonna lie when Fxnesse first hit me with this I wasn’t digging it that much, but something about it just begged to be replayed. After a second, and third…. And fourth listen, I realized this Midnight7k-produced track is hot af and is the perfect length and mixture of cadences to keep me liking it more every time I come back.
Brian Brown – “TENN Toes” [Nashville]
Fuckkkkkkk. I needed this. Nashville’s own Brian Brown steps out of the shadows to remind you he hasn’t gone anywhere, he’s been working. “TENN Toes” is a hefty Josephfiend-produced slapper that is riddled with that mix of raw energy and soulful delivery that makes Brian the timeless arist he is. I don’t need to say anything else – listen to this. Journey OTW!
Apollo the Gemini & Swerzie – “How You Feel (hyf)” [Chattanooga]
I guess theoretically this track never really ‘released’, as it was posted to a leak account, but fuck it - it’s on the internet and it’s some heat so we’re putting it in here. Chattanooga mainstays Apollo the Gemini & Swerzie link up for a sonic adventure as the croon over some sexy ass production from Keadrean that just begged for this type of track to be made out of it.
Taylor Narain – “Ego Trip” [Knoxville]
If I had one thing to say about the direction music is heading, it’s that the ladies are about to reign harder than ever. Female MCs in the past year have made one hell of a statement to their immense artistry and rawness that can be put on display and toe-to-toe with any man’s when it comes to this rap/music shit. One chica who needs to be on your radar is none other than Taylor Narain or Dreama’. She’s probably been quietly adding her soft and lucid vocals to some of your favorite tracks without you even knowing it, but lately it seems like she’s set on developing her sound and - wow does it show. In the Alexander12 & Tavi Montelle-produced “Ego Trip” you’ll see exactly what I’m talking about.
Kemosabi & Mees – “Merch” [Nashville]
Kemosabi is back and this time with a fresh change of pace. “Merch” is definitely my favorite track I’ve ever heard from Kemo if I’m being honest. It’s such a different (more mellow) vibe, and the way he bounces off the beat with hella charisma and clever lyrics keeps me coming back for more. Mees’ contribution is fire too and fits the tone nicely. When you throw in that killer hook, you’ve got yourself a real deal hit here.
Skitty – “Um Hum Ok” [Knoxville]
It’s been a while since we’ve gotten some music from Knoxville native Skitty, but it was well worth the wait. In his first single to be delivered to all DSPs, he more than delivers on the anticipation. “Um Hum Ok” is the most polished version of Skitty’s sound that we have yet to hear, as he blends sub-genres like nobody’s business with memorable bars and jarring flows.
Swayyvo– “Numb” [Chattanooga]
In case you missed it, Chattanooga’s Swayyvo dropped off his first project in some years and it’s not something to be missed. Trunk Therapy is definitely in my top albums of 2019 so far from ANYONE. Being from Chatt, and having the history he has with TheHouse, it’s no surprise Sway picked up some of that Southern Bounce along his way as an artist. With that being said, this album is an amazing example of just how he has flipped that sound on it’s head and made it something entirely unique and all his own. Trunk Therapy masterfully blends the roots of his sound with soulful melodies and groovy live instrumentation. Listen to the whole thing front to back, but “Numb” is my favorite track. (did I just rhyme?)
Walt Flames & Maniia– “Rich Bitch (Maniia Edit)” [Nashville]
Some people might find this track off the wall, but maybe that’s why I’m so into it. Maniia flips this Walt Flames track for something in the middle of lo-fi, heavy-hitting rap, and wonky downtempo house. If I were at a warehouse party at 3 AM and heard this joint come on I’d probably lose my shit and be up until 6 AM just off the energy. Maybe try listening to it in that setting? Let me know. Either way, I think it’s fire.
Knox Holiday – “Count” [Chattanooga]
This track comes from a submission from none other than Chattanooga’s Knox Holiday. When I came across the email I didn’t think I had heard of Knox before until I realized I had come across his fire collab with Michael da Vinci sometime ago. Needless to say, that left me excited to peep his latest track, “Count”. This one is definitely a vibe and his consistent, gritty delivery provides an easy track to sway to as the production evolves from the front to the back.
FKY9 & Head Huncho – “Don’t Cry” [Knoxville]
FKY9 has definitely become more and more one of my favorite artists to listen to with every release. There’s really borderline no one out there with the smooth delivery that he’s figured out. On his latest, “Don’t Cry” he recruits fellow Knoxville artist Head Huncho to give their rendition over the production to “woah” off of the latest XXXTentacion album. That’s my favorite track off of SKINS so the bar was set pretty high, but I have to say the duo really stepped up to the plate. It’s a hit.
Kensei Abbot & Payday – “Backpack Shawty” [Chattanooga]
I guess technically this isn’t a purely Tennessee track, but it was too fye not to include. Produced by Chattanooga native Payda, “Backpack Shawty” is a jumpin’ track from New York’s Kensei Abbot. Blending a variety of influences from what sounds like Carti to even some more soulful sounds, he really tackles this production to come up with an impressive outing. Payday’s production is what brought me here, and I’ll be damned if it doesn’t bring me back again!
Lul Lion & Daisha McBride – “2TENN” [Nashville]
If you read what I said earlier about female MCs, that shit is MOST evident on this highlight track off of Lul Lion’s new EP $TSLA. Lion and Daisha McBride finally give us a collab that we all knew we wanted, even if we never said it out loud. The duo really feed off of each other’s energy and it only amplifies as the track progresses. The way these two sound together is waaaay too good for just this one track so hopefully we can get a few more in the future. In the meantime enjoy this and the rest of Lion’s fire new project.
Permavibe – “Riptide” [Knoxville]
Knoxville three-man group Permavibe has managed to slip my radar until recently, but I can promise they won’t be falling off of it any time soon. The collective’s latest release “Riptide” is a smooth rendition that exemplifies the thing that makes this group stand out: their diversity amongst themselves. As it changes between each artists’ contribution, their stark differences maintain interest while still flowing together to create a dope track to ride to. Roll the windows down for this one.
NLE Choppa – “BIRDBOY” [Memphis]
Back out the trenches, NLE Choppa finds his way on to yet another 20/20. But gahdamn can you blame me?? The Memphis native is dropping nothing but hits that blend the traditional raw sound of Memphis with the new wave of production that sounds are evolving towards. Turn that volume knob to 12 and a motherfuckin’ half and let “BIRDBOY’ bump!
Swerzie – “LOOKOUT!” [Chattanooga]
It’s been 5 months since the last Swerzie drop, but who’s counting? Well thank god we don’t have to count anymore cause this new MuneyLxrd-produced banger is here to save the day. Swerzie’s aggressive whispers get me leaning back in my seat like he might bust through the speakers of my whip and start screaming at me any second. The switch never flips but the energy never fades, and that alone left me on the edge of my seat until the track came to an end. You already know I went back and hit replay.
Caysen Skies– “Meant to Me” [Kingsport]
This is probably one of my favorite releases to ever come out of this state. And I seriously do not put that lightly. This kid Caysen Skies isn’t even 18 and is already paying attention to every detail of his artistry as if he had been doing this for decades. This song is as smooth as they come, and the Ilyaonthefly-directed visual is more than stand-out. It’s trendsetting.
Mad Salvy – “The Second Coming” [Nashville]
Mad Salvy and I actually went to highschool together so you know I was tryna peep when he sent me his latest project for a listen. I gotta say, although this sound may not be 100% for me, Salvy is definitely tapping into something here and I more than appreciate the direction he’s heading; I fuck with it heavily. In a world where producers set the sound, he’s looking to the right realm of sonics to lay his knowledge out on. “The Second Coming” is probably the most well-polished version of his sound he’s dropped yet, and it’s left me excited for how he continues to grow.
Swoop Neb & IKSHO – “Hurt” [Nashville]
Swoop is back to this week’s 20/20 as well, but it’d be hard to deny after this exotic new track. Recruiting IKSHO, the track is a genre-blender for sure. The punk like wails over hi-hats and heavy bass era might seriously never get old, especially not with hit like this one being made.
423KidK – “Potential” [Chattanooga]
This isn’t normally my type of jam but I can’t deny how smooth KidK’s vocals truly are. His vocal dynamics are in another fucking dimension and it’s perfectly out for display on “Potential”, a track off of his newest EP Projection.
The Passion8 – “King Sphinx” [Nashville]
Someone please tell me how I didn’t find these peeps sooner? I don’t know much about The Passion8 but this is some of the most soulful R&B/Rap hybrid music I’ve heard in more than a minute. Modern sentiments and themes only add to the effect of the Jean Crème-produced outing. Do yourself the serious favor of listening to this below.
5 People to Follow
This section will feature five different individuals from Tennessee each month that you should follow on social media! Movers & shakers, people who can provide a service, or maybe someone just saying some truths you need to hear!
1.Kadeem Phillips (@AChanged_Man)
Kadeem is the founder/CEO of Power Entertainment. A University of Tennessee alum and a Tennessee native, Kadeem has poured his heart into what we have going on here more than most. Follow him to keep yourself hip to some of the ins and outs of the underground, and to maybe even find your next favorite artist.
2.D’Llisha D. (@ItsTwoElles)
D’Llisha is the founder of the original Tennessee internet blog, Two L’s On A Cloud, as well as one of the most prominent event and culture curators to come out of the tri-star state. And she rocks for Nashville to this day. Follow her to stay in tune!
3.Sacha Gautreau (@sachafromfrance)
Sacha is a curator, innovator, artist, and friend. I first met him when was running WeTheKids, a clothing line that he was selling in the mall in Knoxville. Since then I’ve seen him really find his groove and he’s gone on to not only further develop his fashion skills with popular lines such as Maniac, but he also is one hell of a graphic designer. He’s been responsible for several of the flyers I’ve had made over the years and never disappoints!
4.Lucas Helmer (@itslucas)
It might not make much sense to put Lucas on this list, because you don’t find him on social media too frequently. However, the few times you catch him he might just drop the gem of info you’ve been waiting for, or the link to your next favorite artist. Formerly management for some of your favorite artists such as YGTUT, and Brian Brown, Lucas has one of the most respected ears to come out of the state of Tennessee.
5. Chase Rutledge (@schaserutledge)
Read below for the debut of the spotlight section, featuring the fifth person to follow in an in depth interview!
Spotlight: Chase Rutledge
So as if you didn’t think I put enough to digest into this one-shot monthly column, from now on tune in for an in-depth interview with the fifth ‘person to follow’ every month! Kicking it off this month is none other than Nashville rep Chase Rutledge. Chase is the founder and creative drive behind SILENT ANTICS, a clothing line and brand that has more than made a name for itself both inside of the state and out. There are countless pics of some of your favorite artists repping SA that you may not have even realized. From KEY!, to Swae Lee, and more; everyone is fucking with the antics. Chase not only has wedged his way into any noteworthy conversation about Tennessee clothing lines, but has managed to effortlessly toe the line between innovative designs and simplistic brand recognition. I caught up with him to get a little bit of background info into his drive behind Silent Antics and where he hopes to head in the future!
What first lead you to become interested in pursuing the creative process of creating clothing lines?
The way Rob Dyrdek repped DC, I knew I wanted to be like that with my own brand one day. I’ve got so much shit to say I knew I could express myself through clothes.
Is there/has there ever been a particular designer or other direct influence to what you would define as your style?
Not one particular. I try to take motivation and influence from everything that happens in my life and try to implement that into my clothes. From the big “designers” to all the small brand owners, there’s so much dope stuff being made you have to be influenced to work hard, stand out and be YOU.
Does SILENT ANTICS have a particular message or creedo that you hope to get across with your drops?
That’s always a tough question because to me SILENT ANTICS is self explanatory because I am SILENT ANTICS. It’s like if you know me, you what we we’re about. It’s a way of thinking and moving. Everything is calculated. We KNOW actions speak louder than words and hard work beats talent. That has to be in our conscious every day.
Name one or two things you would say are big milestones that you've achieved for yourself over the past few years?
In 2019, we had more online sales than we did all 2016. That was huge. Getting a SILENT ANTICS billboard downtown was super awesome for me and everyone in Tennessee who supports SA. It was kind of like a monument we had for 30 days that was built by us. It was dope.
Who's your favorite artist that's worn SA before, and name one you wanna see in it in the future?
Rae Sremmurd & I’d like to get Wiz in SA one day... speaking this into existence now. Refer back to this when it happens.
What's the craziest or most bizarre clothing item you've created?
See through SA jacket. That went stupid. This year will be full of big surprises and I’m challenging myself to step out of my comfort zone and try different things. Be on the lookout.
I'm stealing your phone and looking at your last 5 played artists, who are they?
If you took my phone right now it would be John Mayer, Michael Jackson, Billie Eilish, Future & Tre Stoner. I’m all over the boards.
Who the Titans taking in the draft?
Couldn’t tell you but they better take a OL/DL if they’re smart.
Explain your printing process (without giving anything away) and why you think it makes you stand out amongst your peers.
We are hands on with every single item. From beginning to end. There’s no third parties involved. We print, tag, package and ship every item on our own. That’s what makes us.
Be sure to follow Chase at @schaserutledge and SILENT ANTICS at @silentantics to stay up to date!
AVAILABLE NOW AT SILENTANTICS.COM
Tha Milk Drop is a site focused on highlighting the hip-hop culture in Chattanooga, Tennessee, but also taps into hip-hop worldwide. Each week we drop exclusive and new content from artists. Also catch the profiles and interviews of hip-hop artists and creatives.
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