AKTheSavior – ‘Blessings In The Grey 2‘:

Although AK, as half of Brooklyn spiritual rap duo The Underachievers and prolific with solo releases has garnered a respectable following for his talented rapping endeavours, I still can’t help but feel AK should get more shine for his contributions to hip-hop. I select ‘Blessings in The Grey 2‘ as for me, it’s a perfect hip-hop record that showcases the variety AK wields and has a really timeless feel; it’s one of the few projects that I can listen to over and over without tiring. Not only is every lyric that spouts from the lips of AK an engaging one that meets with your mind in the fashion of a synaptic explosion of consciousness but they furthermore are fun to receive, and entertaining.

Picking your beats well is a paramount constitution for your words landing with desired effect and in this regard AK has proven his ears to be more in tune than an experienced salesman hearing the faintest hint of money-to-burn on the young and impressionable soon to be faithful client that has just feebly walked into their showroom, their hunting ground. AK’s hunting ground is of course whichever booth he decides is worthy of a sermon.

I am not much of a religious man but I know gospel when I hear it and feel as though I’m leaving a morning mass, rejuvenated and blessed whenever I have just finished listening to AK and specifically ‘BITG2‘, or receiving holy communion (the same thing): You feel the proverbial light is shining down upon you. AK stands to be reckoned as a prophet within the current state of shallow rappers who glamorise society damaging ailments in a style of purporting, seeing as the large percentage don’t even live up to their weak bars, whereas literally every AKTheSavior (a name that becomes more and more apt as time goes on) contains wisdom and is dropping knowledge on these fools. For me, AK represents a perfect example of a modern rapper who can kill a beat, is pleasurable to listen to and encases a positive message everytime he touches mic.

For those unaccustomed to AK, just be warned; whenever you hear him exclaim his trademark “lawwwd” you know he’s about to go off. And it’s always magnificent, an incontestable flow full of soul and mindful goodness – not only is it sonically pleasing to hear his delivery grace a beat, it’s conducive to devote your attention to. Too often in my opinion, how someone sounds over a beat is what garners the credit (take Travis Scott’s recent offender ‘Astroworld‘ as a prime example, sure Travis may sound good in his spacey and deliberate flows, but the content of said offerings is often laughable imo) – AK serves as a perfect example of how you can conjoin these two aspects in a matrimony so holy, divorce is inconceivable.

You can be sure that AK’s group The Underachievers new project ‘After The Rain‘ (set to drop November 2nd; click here for all the details) will yet again see him on top form and further prove the pertinence of this point. – AS


Jam Baxter – ‘Mansion 38‘:
In a landscape on home soil that for me is far too saturated by artists who more often make no sense than seek to uphold a good standard of English as is commonplace in the murky phenomenon known as grime (yes I realise and accept that grime is a different genre to hip-hop, but an inescapable blurring has to some degree unfairly shadowed a lot of the UK’s best rappers), the sentiment I always believed in of ‘rap is poetry’ at its simplest form is trodden over for some flashy (cheap) bar about designer clothes or a way of ‘shanking’ someone using an unheard of term in a brain-hurting & cringy fashion. It is a shame for me that Britain’s foremost ‘rap’ ventures are not even remotely lyrical, it is a shame even further when there are a wide range of much smarter, much more profound hip-hop artists operating at a level seemingly underneath the popularity and mainstream appeal grime has attained.

I spotlight my favourite High Focus artist – Jam Baxter, and his most recent solo album ‘Mansion 38‘. The main thing about this project for me is how layered the lyricism is; I could listen to it today for the xxxth time and clock something witty or enlightening that previously I didn’t appreciate – yet despite this, Baxter remains an ‘underground gem’ for the most part. The various moods portrayed so strongly you connect with every syllable; feeling like you’re embarking upon a dissertation of dissection into a masterful piece of literature without such feeling in any sense like a task – more that it is pleasurable to do so.

For example when Baxter sits in melancholy on tracks like ‘Teeth Marks‘ & ‘For A Limited Time Only‘, you are but putty in the palm of his seismic lyricism following the respective pictures of a dwindling relationship and the stranglehold on society the farce that is advertisement holds. I could only imagine that having a conversation with Jam Baxter would be one of the most intellectually stimulating escapades I could treat my cerebrum to. The project reeks of mystique befitting it’s circumstantial birth – Baxter created the entirety of the project with talented producer Chemo whilst holed up in a dingy yet inspiring hotel in the centre of Bankok that shares the album’s title. Inundated with quirky quotable Baxter-isms that effortlessly enter your head as part of his sharp yet grimly vivid nature of lyricism with which he floats over the beats.

Set to release his brand new project ‘Touching Scenes‘ on November 16th (click here for all the info you need), I heartily urge you to get familiar with Jam Baxter now and open your cranium to a lucid, masterful lyricist that leaves you anticipating every syllable. – AS


Gabrielle Aplin:

There are few phrases I dislike more when it comes to describing artists than ‘underrated’. Too often it’s associated with smug faces telling you that they liked the song/musician/band ‘way before they got big’. It’s obnoxious and I’m really not a fan of it. But, if we take that association away from it – if we just remove hipsters from the equation – then I’m totally here for it. Especially if it’s applied to people like Gabrielle Aplin.

In my eyes, an artist that’s ‘underrated’ is one that has the talent and drive to have a bigger following (note that I said bigger not global mainstream – not everyone is destined for VMA greatness.) They’re people that deserve more than localised UK success. They shouldn’t be kept as a little indie secret but shared around because the art they create is too brilliant to be hidden. They are underrated in the truest sense of the word, not in the way that gets bandied around pointlessly nowadays. I’m look at you, people of twitter.

Gabrielle Aplin, a UK born singer-songwriter is not a secret talent. Her music has achieved chart success in the UK, with her voice being the Christmas Anthem in 2010 thanks to John Lewis and their penchant for creating commercials that hit you right in your emotions. With her debut album peaking at number 2 on the charts it might not make sense to say that she’s underrated. People know who she is, and there’s no denying that she’s successful. But I think she deserves more acclaim. And here’s why:

Throughout her career, Aplin has consistently developed. Her ability to write songs that people can listen to, and find similarities and comfort in has grown over the course of her career. From ‘Salvation‘ on the album ‘English Rain’ to ‘Waking Up Slow (‘Avalon‘ EP) and ‘Miss You‘ on her EP of the same name, Aplin‘s voice is piercing, pleasing and powerful.

Despite her early music being guitar-driven and the newer music having more intricacy and layers, there is not one song that doesn’t show of her voice and talent. Nothing in her music feels forced or manufactured, even with the shift in style and production. In a time where so many are racing to reach global success and radio play, sacrificing the essence of their own style in the process, it’s refreshing to have an artist that consistently delivers the music that she wants to hear, and create. And it’s for this reason that she’s underrated.

Miss You‘ is a song that could easily have become a number one. And, if we’re being frank, the existence of trends and global social media campaigns might be one of the only reasons that it didn’t. With a catchy modern melody, honest and well-crafted lyrics and the classic near angelic vocals so often associated with her, Gabrielle Aplin deserves more.

I knew her way before she got big, and she truly is underrated. And I, for one, think it’s a shame that she doesn’t get half the amount of recognition she deserves. – JC


Do you have any favourite artists or projects you feel are criminally overlooked? – Let us know in the comments section!

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