As fun as it is to pretend like the clock striking 12:00 is a magical moment of renewal… it’s highly likely you’ll be scribbling out 2017 and rewriting 2018 for the next three months. So before we get too hasty, let’s get hip to a recent EP release from a fearless up-and-coming rapper: RAIN. x Jay Wood. (listen here on soundcloud)

The forecast for this project (meteorological pun aggressively intended), features artists like Femdot & fellow Freesole artist Chulo. Not to mention, obtuse beats with versatility, an agile flow and direct lyrics describing the reality of a young black artist clinging to his faith and sanity amidst the chaos. While the delivery is clutch and charismatic, its the authenticity that seals the deal. This EP will grow on you.

Speaking of growth, the Midwest music scene is undeniably doing just that: growing in confidence, support and reach. Adding to the momentum is a one Jay Wood a.k.a. “Wizzle”, the young rapper out of Chicago boasts a unique voice, contagious passion and lyrics that you can’t ignore or minimize. (Think – lunchroom cypher spontaneity, spiked with the bitterness of  adulthood and the awareness of the narratives he’s expected to fall into. Think – teriyaki sauce, familiar, sweet, but deeper than just that. Opaque brown and thick consistency, fun but heavy.)

You get the point. Now let’s go through the 8 tracks, dropped just this December, together and peep his inspiration for each.

  1. FAITH.  You can’t prepare yourself for the intro, so just let it happen. An alien invasion opens after landing and out comes – no, not a purple monster with tentacles, but “Wizzle” with clear cut confidence and a killer hook. Suddenly, the invader sounds less alien and more like one of your own voices in your head. His inspirations: Faithful x Common, T-Shirt x Migos. Listen.
  2. SOMETHING TO GIVE. A personal favorite. The rhymes are stacked and the sound will put you in a trance if you let it. True Jay Wood style and variation and an almost unbearable familiarity in the track’s content. You’ve been there. His Inspirations: Stoney x Saba, All Falls Down x Kanye West. Listen.

  3. DESTINY. (feat. Christian JaLon and Oliv Blu) A cool interlude that sounds just how stepping into those pools that don’t have stairs but actually slope down like a beach, feels. Inspo: You Can’t Stop the Rain x Loose Ends. Listen.
  4. RIGHT NOW. (feat. Chulo and Femdot) The title fits like a glove, this song is as much a hype track as it is a call to action. Phonetics and emphasis are dancing with each other and each of the flows present are distinct yet complimentary. His Inspiration: Roc Boys x Jay-Z, Like My Style x 50 cent. Listen.
  5.  JESSE WHITE. (feat. Ajani Jones) Funky tones like a droid from a space movie meet an equally sporadic style as Jay Wood spits the real seemingly in every octave, with Ajani Jones coming in with heat. The quirks of the song fits the artist, like the 8 ball cap perched on top of the iconic mane. His Inspiration: Like a Pimp x David Banner, Modest x Isaiah Rashad. Listen.
  6. MILKNHONEY. A vibe I’d call damn near the best remix of the Charlie Brown song, in the best way – trust me. The steady message is layered and intentionally obstructed. Whether lyrics come from your voice of reason or a crackling megaphone, the song supplies both force & direction and the sweet title almost hides the true danger of our desires.  His Inspiration: The Commander x Kid Cudi,  Get Out My Way x Alex Wiley. Listen.
  7. STREETLIGHTS. A quick blunt report of the overlooked grind and what cultivates behind trendy culture, in the reality of the shadows. Inspo: BON x King Louie. Listen.

  8. LET HIM IN. The track is gentle and smooth with the kind of hooks and ad libs that makes you feel involved. Part of the appeal is not only Jay Wood’s ability to befriend you through a speaker but also there’s encouragement and hope. Humble hunger and real thoughts make the track all the more relatable.  His Inspiration: All of the Lights and Stronger x Kanye West, Immortal x J. Cole. Listen.

Find Jay Wood on Twitter and Soundcloud or mobbing with a family of artists to a stage near you.

Full Circle. As a country, and maybe even as a human race, 2017 comes to a close with some horrendous memories politically, huge societal failures and almost comical gaps in accountability. While the general team record is hot trash, if you’ve been paying attention the year has been full of exponential growth in areas like sexual assault awareness, climate change and of course, in music. To be specific, Hip Hop and R&B (after flirting with senseless chaos, demonic glorification and gassed up vine wannabes) has evolved and thrived this year. Whether it’s because we need more music to cope with the impending nuclear war, or because people are beginning to fight for themselves and support fellow creatives, taking advantage of the digital age – it’s hard to say at this point. The result is infectious growth (ew, not the best word choice but you know what I mean). We often forget how much impact personal growth can have.

Jay Wood Jesse White

Shout out to Jay Wood and all the artists putting real life into their craft and not letting a bunch of sheep in suits, uninspired parents or dream killing teachers crumple their destiny. Shout out to the artists multitasking and going to get that thing.

Growth is not defined by an A+, a piece of paper or worldly success but successful learning. Learning from pain failure and frustration, from love, tears and laughter. Countless artists and misunderstood individuals forget that being stuck in pain means you are in prime position for growth, if you fight for it. The music you love, like RAIN. come from those spaces and the minds we take for granted and forget to explore. If you don’t make music, make something. Make an effort to grow, and support those around you who are doing the same. If you need  inspiration check out Jay Wood and the Freesole (soundcloud page) fam.

Thanks for visually digesting my word collage. Listen to RAIN. again and plot your next move. Grow.

Written by babyshmay

Art is the fossil of the mind. Just trying to find out if I'm as dope as I think I can be.

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