This Week's Underground Sound features: A.CHAL, Daye Jack, Mark Battles, Demrick, and OverDoz.
What happens when you mix a Peruvian with a medley of Hip Hop-centric sounds? You get A.CHAL, the Peruvian born singer/producer Los Angeles transplant—a psychedelic-soul-R&B fusion, whose employment of varying sounds hampers our ability to reduce him to a single genre. But since this is primarily a Hip Hop site, and since A.CHAL is “Hip Hop” enough, we’ll use that designation to classify his diverse musical styling.
A.CHAL’s sedated melodies are an onslaught of eccentricity—the type of music that relies on a diverse experience and journey. Given his Peruvian birth, Queens adolescence, and his nomadic journey landing him in LA, A.CHAL’s diverging background perfectly supports his electric artistry.
His 2016 album, Welcome to Gazi, is an adequate microcosm of this musical approach. He recruits a dichotomy of instrumentals to reflect his dynamic mindset and emotions—some production is sparse, borderline ominous (Beverly Kills); others retain a hyphy, trap soul sound (Vibe W/U). Listening to songs out of context reinforces his differing style; absorbing his full projects demonstrates his ability to take juxtaposing sounds and messages to create a cohesive entity detailing his life and perception.
20-year-old Daye Jack might have grown up in Atlanta, but the Nigerian-born, conscious rapper is anything but a trapper. No, he does not have colored dreads; he doesn’t brag about consuming toxic levels of drugs; he doesn’t rely on auto-tune and dope production to mask any ineptitudes. Daye Jack is an inspiring story of what happens when a naturally bright mind meets its potential; when an unwavering attitude incessantly grinds toward a goal.
Jack started pursuing musically seriously as an NYU student. Attending one of the world’s most prestigious universities allowed Daye to be surrounded by likeminded intelligent people. Not saying that his peers were also rappers, but being immersed in a creative, education-enriched environment incites one to enthusiastically pursue their destiny—however that may materialize. Daye answered his Hip Hop calling.
Daye’s intelligence seamlessly translates to his lyrics and mature perspective, and can be found on his projects, Soul Glitch and Surf the Web. The former was his inaugural Warner Bros. project, earning him widespread attention that piqued the interest of the Atlanta legend, Killer Mike, who collaborated with Jack to create the politically charged record, “Hands Up.”
If you’re sick of drug-laced rhymes or shallow content, get deep with Daye Jack.
Mark Battles is probably the least qualified “Underground Sound” selectee, given his relatively prominent Hip Hop career. However, the 25-year-old Indiana-born rapper is criminally underrated, and deserves increased publicity. (Not sure if this little blog qualifies as increased publicity, but hey, it can’t hurt—I got your back, Mark).
Battles is a rapper’s rapper. His confidence tip toes the line of cockiness without stepping out of bounds, allowing him to impart wisdom on certain issues—both outward and inward—without compromising his perspective. He’ll discuss copping dome or other sexual exploits, but not necessarily as a direct braggadocio—more so to alleviate his constant life stresses. He doesn’t mince words or thoughts. But even the most self-assured individuals fall victim to conflicting emotions and mindsets.
It almost seems like Mark plays a lyrical and conceptual tug-of-war battle between shallower concepts and deeper explorations, finding him assertively in the middle, not quite giving way to either side. This dualistic approach either emphasizes his continuous self-exploration, given that he’s only 25 and has plenty of time to evolve, or proves that he’s able to channel opposing ideologies into his music. Does this make him versatile, or unsure? I’m not quite sure.
If Meek Mill and Omelly tarnished Philly’s Hip Hop image, then Demrick is singlehandedly restoring its prominence—with the help of Lil Dicky, of course. (Not Lil Uzi Vert. Fuck Lil Uzi Vert). Although he’s hardly new to the scene, Demrick’s rise reinforces the sentiment of someone being an overnight success 10-years in the making. No, Demrick is not a household name, yet, but he’s clawing his competition, propelling his ascent amidst an oversaturated Hip Hop market.
While he’s by no means strictly a “weed rapper,” he is regarded as Cypres Hill’s protege, and has collaborated with the marijuna king himself, Snoop. However, unlike these two weed rapping pioneers, Demrick enlists a soulfulness typically lost on this hazy sub-genre, stemming from the production, his plight, and overall aesthetic. But, like I said, he’s by no means strictly a “weed rapper.”
Demrick uses Hip Hop in the traditional sense: as his diary, his therapy—it’s his coping mechanism, and his greatest listener. Whether he’s discussing difficulty disassociating himself from his troubled past, ending toxic relationships, celebrating life, or just celebrating some good bud, Demrick bleeds the words he emotionally spits. There is no bullshit with Demrick—just a lot of potential waiting to be uncovered.
LA-based Hip Hop collective, OverDoz., is exactly what their name suggests: an overdose of a varying production, complemented by their fun, clever lyrics. Their music is an aberrant barrage that strictly follows OverDoz.’s vision, without succumbing to outside influence. It’s not stubbornness—it’s confidence. They’ve cultivated an intriguing sound that’s awarded them high-profile collaborations, including Pharrell Williams, A$AP Rocky, The Internet, amongst others.
Composed of Kent Jamz, Joon, P, and Cream, OverDoz. is reminiscent of a West Coast Flatbush Zombies—quirky, offbeat, fiercely independent, self-assured. Their unmistakable style and flair directly translate to their music, pulverizing any shred of palatability by creating a very distinct sound. You’ll either love or hate OverDoz.—I really don’t think there’s any room for wavering. And to be honest, I don’t think they care—they’re aware of their positively trending brand, and aren’t tinkering with what seems like a winning formula. Don’t fix what’s not broke.
Their music is rooted in California culture both sonically and conceptually, evidenced by their manipulated use of G Funk bass lines and sparsely sprinkled weed-centric songs, like F$WSAD (fuck, smoke weed, and sleep all day—but I gotta get this money). But simultaneously, they are anything but singular—they flow over varied production, explore various concepts, and refuse to be predictable.