Soundclouds of the Underground: Right Now Edition

Published October 3, 2013

ABOVE: KELELA

These days, music truly lives online, with an infinite number of websites dedicated to hosting tunes for the laptop-wielding masses. However, the web’s bottomless pit of blogs isn’t the only place to troll for mp3 treasures—some of the newest and most exciting (Internet-friendly) artists can be sought out via Soundcloud, the online stage that allows musicians to promote and distribute their music to fans and friends across the globe. In this weekly column, expert Internet sleuth Alex Chapman goes into the depths of the music-sharing site, in hopes of shedding light on emerging acts, as well as sharing some digital diamonds in the rough.

Known music enthusiasts are oftentimes confronted by friends and family with a vague, albeit totally fair question: “What are you listening to these days?” For some, the answer is quick, easy, and practiced in the mirror several times a day. For others, the inquiry sends them into a spiral of confusion as they climb through the backwoods of their brain, searching for any name they can think of before their taste is questioned, only to discover mental images of the McDonalds they ate the night before and a few Rihanna songs that literally everyone knows. We here at SCotUG understand the hurdles of having an impressive iTunes library but a crappy memory, which is why we’ve provided three of the hottest songs out this month, all by artists that are most definitely worth telling people about.

Kelela: “Go All Night (Let It Burn)”

Who: Kelela is undoubtedly the coolest act in music at the moment. Her debut mixtape Cut 4 Me was released Tuesday (via Fade To Mind) to great acclaim, and with one listen it’s easy to understand why: The Los Angeles-based artist’s captivating vocals—which carry a tinge of the soulful, faintly rough Velvet Rope-era Janet—navigate through myriad airy, ambient R&B-oriented beats provided by some of the best producers around (Kingdom, Nguzunguzu, and Bok Bok are all featured).

Song: The sensual slapper “Go All Night” (a track that ends entirely too soon) pairs Kelela with Night Slugs’ Morri$, an established name in his own right thanks to tracks like the Robin Thicke-sampling “Maison Purple.” Here, the producer shows off his skills once more by cutting up a vocal sample that becomes a part of the song’s rhythm, adding to some sexy drums and an even sexier vocal from Kelela, who coos, “Now we smokin’ up baby.”

Current Project: Be sure to check out Kelela’s mixtape ASAP, as well as her Facebook page for more info.

Vic Mensa: “YNSP” (ft. Eliza Doolittle)

Who: Although people are tending to clump together the Chicago MC with his friend and frequent collaborator Chance The Rapper (this makes sense, given that the two both craft convoluted, rapid-fire flows with an onslaught of impressive twists and turns), Mensa is an artist all his own, something he more than proves with his newest effort, INNANETAPE. Featuring Chance and Maybach Music’s Rockie Fresh (another talented Chicagoan), Mensa’s INNANETAPE unabashedly addresses drugs, his family, gun violence, and a more in a way that is seamless and conversational.Song: “YNSP” wins you over with the beat alone, as cool synth chords ride along with a high-pitched sample made to sound like hiccups. Mensa soon enters the track, joined by the UK’s Eliza Doolittle, a stunning singer best known for her song with Disclosure, “You & Me.” Here Doolittle plays hook girl to Mensa, whose flow is jaw-dropping, a flurry of one-two punches like “You know the name, you know the game, you know the saying ‘We Up Next,’ but fuck that I’m right now, Young Net.”Current Project: Get the tape here and keep up with all things Vic via his Facebook page.

Junglepussy: “Picky Bitch Checklist”

Who: Brooklyn-born rapper Junglepussy is no stranger to this column, but that’s merely because she exudes everything it is about: Internet-savviness, underground cred, and an innovative sound and style are all elements that make JP work. Plus, anytime the artist puts out a track it’s sure to be an event—Junglepussy releases are rare, and the MC currently hosts only two tracks on her Soundcloud. But her strategy is more than working, and we wouldn’t be surprised if by this time next year everyone you know is saying her name (and what an amazing name it is…).

Song: “Picky Bitch Checklist” is likely to become the 2013 manifesto for young women (and men) who demand respect from their significant others. “I’m not bougie, I’m selective,” Junglepussy powerfully states at the song’s start, before asking her man to “Shut the fuck up and look sexy.” Clearly a writer by trade as can be observed through her uniquely clever rhymes, JP is able to easily teeter between explicit flirtatiousness and female empowerment, outspoken but dignified. A highlight of the track is no doubt the production, courtesy of much buzzed-about producer Shy Guy, also responsible for Le1f’s “Damn Son.”

Current Project: Stay updated with JP through her hilarious Twitter timeline.

Soundclouds of the Underground runs every Thursday. For more, click here.