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Hometown Highlights: Ray Muney, Synthetic Salem, Ivy Roots + more

Shut up. You have nothing goddamn better to do in this freezing cold than to listen to all these new local songs. Something for everyone, blah blah blah.

Ray Muney - "Boobie Trap"
This past summer, Caviart welcomed Ray Muney into the fold. The young Kansas City rapper already possessed the ability to command any beat handed to him, often completely abstaining from supplying choruses just to squeeze in more bars. Now, with the backing of his Caviart crew, Muney's path to success is seeming more certain with every passing day. "Boobie Trap" is one of his most potent tacks yet, utilizing a strong hook that's capable of becoming an eastside anthem.

Calrie - "Lullaby"
Carlie Johnson -- now better known as Calrie -- has a timely new song called "Lullaby." The track is quiet in nature, but its lyrical content approaches topics that make many want to cry out in pain. Conceived several years ago following an abusive experience with a boy, Johnson tucked the song away until she was recently compelled by the #MeToo movement to unearth it. She ended her Instagram post about the song's release by saying, "I wish I hadn't had to write it."

Unique Sixteen - "Evening Primroses" (ft. NA.Westside)
Unique Sixteen's second single further exemplifies the lyricist's ability to ignore what's trendy and set his focus on stoking the imagination of his listeners. "Evening Primroses" is a gorgeous slice of R&B hip-hop for the thinking person. A bongo drum break seamlessly pops in and out after a lyric referencing Buddhism, a Kanye West interpolation happens, but doesn't cause a distraction, and NA.Westside's vocals are simply an added treat.

A'Sean - "Open"
As discussed on a recent episode of the Shuttlecock Podcast, A'Sean has a knack for getting under peoples' skin on Twitter from time to time. "Open" may not surprise those who follow his work closely, but to a random online follower, the song may evoke a double take. A'Sean doesn't raise his voice as much as he gently follows the song's late night R&B melodies and makes his appeals to a love interest. It's some of A'Sean's most mature output to date. For those interested in his more mischievous material, he also dropped another track titled "Black Men Don't Cheat."

Nadroj - "Be With You"
"Be With You" begins with a warm crackling, akin to a slab of vinyl or a warm fire. Nadroj, a newcomer to Kansas City's R&B scene, suggests that he and his crush fly to the moon or an array of other romantic destinations, but this track would work just fine as a soundtrack to a cozy night in. The singer's buttery vocals glide over producer Origami's synth-laden beat and right into your subconscious for the rest of the day.

Synthetic Salem - "Crucified Lullaby (Burn The Witch)"
Synthetic Salem has released nearly 12 full-length mixtapes in the last year and still somehow crept under most of the city's radar in 2017. The rapper-producer has a penchant for the occult and spins tales of mangled bodies and other unholy acts on this mixtape opener.

Solomon - "Speed Racer"
Revered No Alternatives rapper Solomon is back with his first song post-"Serious" EP. "Speed Racer" follows a simple chorus-verse-chorus structure and is long gone before you know it, but its impact will have fans leaving it on repeat. The song's passionate, mortality-focused lyrics, colorful imagery, and sing-songy melody make it Kansas City's nearest relative to Uzi's infamous "XO Tour Llif3."

Morris - "Amber Diamonds (Prince Morris' Its 311 Somewhere Edit)"
Bear Club Music Group's Morris just released a hulking hour-plus mix that you'll have to hear to believe. The fourth installation of his "Pop.Morris" series is his most ambitious yet and cleverly mashes together handfuls of unlikely tracks. On "Amber Diamonds," the mix's second song, Morris introduces Rihanna to 311 for a track that will grace only the strangest of dancehalls. Every other song on this mix could blow minds if dropped with precision in a club setting. The mix also makes for a solid year (or two) in review.

Ivy Roots - "Hypothetical"
R&B fans suffering from autotune fatigue should look no further than the latest single from Ivy Roots. The guitar-slinging singer-songwriter quietly strums away on "Hypothetical," backed by a series of soothing snaps, clicks, and harmonized vocals that very well could have been recorded all alone on an iPhone. If so, Apple oughta break out the checkbook and get prepared for their next great commercial.
Trvp Zeus - "Can't Control It" (ft. Riley PnP)
Don't call it stoner rap, but Zeus and Riley have one for the smokers here. "Can't Control It" is the opening track on Trvp Zeus' "The Devd Tvpe" and bumps, jumps, and rattles like any other gritter jam, but the pair of rappers focus less on the streets and more on the clouds above them. Zeus reps St. Louis heavily -- check the "314" tattoo on the cover art -- but this collaboration is more Kansas City than nearly anything else out this year.
Star B - "Desert End"
The more sinister the beat is, the harder Star B goes. Like "Nothing For Free" and other past tracks, "Desert End" features the Kansas City rapper at his most palatable, unloading impressive metaphors in an increasingly urgent tone. I wouldn't like to be the one standing between Star and what he wants.

[Walt] - "Heartless"
[Walt] always has a trick or two up his sleeve. In this trick, he interpolates a certain Paramore track and voila -- it's now a glimmering, trap-style tale of love lost that the town can milly rock to. Nobody outside of his crew know what's coming next, but it's likely to be just as magical.

Arkutec - "Edge Of The Tomahawk"
Topeka producer Arkutec is capable of crafting many types of beats, but the style he takes up on tracks like "Edge Of The Tomahawk" is often the most intriguing. This instrumental from "LPF2" -- a sequel to his 2014 release, "The LPF Experiment" -- is vibrant and nocturnal as all get out. It plays like you're watching [Adult Swim] late at night at a friend's house but you're pretty wasted so your mind wanders for a while before you snap out of it and realize you've been staring blankly at the TV for five hours.

Van Cil - "Maybe Things Just Don't Work Out, Maybe We'll Have To Wait And Find Out"
It feels like every other day Kansas City musician Tidecruz releases a new album. After all, he boasts over 50 of them on his Bandcamp page. Perhaps this massive catalog is what prompted him to switch things up and release music under a different moniker. His new project, Van Cil, while still delicate and emotional like the music of Tidecruz, is anchored by Midwest emo and math rock guitar work rather than electronic instrumentation and ambient sounds. Its debut EP closes with the song "Maybe Things...," which sounds like pure and utter audio loneliness.

Samurai - "Drip Niagara Falls"
Atlanta, Ontario, and everything in-between seems to be frozen solid at the moment, but some new tracks from Kansas City-born rapper Samurai might be able to warm things up. "Drip Niagara Falls" is the lead single from his new "Wintertime Madness" EP and dispenses liberal amounts of his signature "spice." G'Cinco's warped, ground-rumbling beat should allow for some creative dance moves to take place in the song's upcoming video.

Zotiyac - "Snakes"
Zotiyac seems to be treating "Snakes" as a throwaway track, but it rivals some of the strongest material he has out. The Kansas City ex-pat is currently preparing his "Blackball" mixtape and has been catching press from national outlets like Elevator. Hopefully the tape's release will propel him to the next level and allow for a visit home from Vegas. Fingers crossed.

Rage Gang, Beam Team - "Games 2"
Rage Gang, Beam Team is currently the most buzzing high school rap duo in the Kansas City metro. The gang/team headlined what looks to have been a massive party at the Ritz Charles in Overland Park last week and have been releasing a solid string of singles for the past year. "Games 2" -- a sequel to their debut track -- features Tolu and Juice dropping memorable one-liners and their catchiest hook since "Go Ghost!"

No$kope - "Amne$ia" (ft. Nightcrawler)
No$kope may be your drug dealer's next favorite rapper. His raps on "Amne$ia," impressively, are equal parts confident and laid back, complimenting the track's lush cloud rap sensibilities. A clever guest verse from Nightcrawler -- f.k.a. Hotboy Leon -- seals the deal.

Dreamgirl - "Bollywood"
St. Joseph pop outfit Dreamgirl released its debut full-length on the first of the year. The self-titled effort is packed with dreamy synths, glittery guitars, and syrupy male/female vocal harmonies. It's much too early to tell, but "Bollywood" may be one of the best local ballads of 2018.

Sorce - "Mellow Vibe"
Aaron Alexander has become locally renowned for his use of jazz instrumentals, but seeing that Kansas City touts itself as one of the "pillars of American jazz," I'd say there's room for more. Sorce's "Mellow Vibe" is true to its name and calls to mind everyone's favorite Native Tongues emcees.

Campaign Maka & GM Foreign Boy - "Spit On A Hoe"
"Show The World" is a collaborative EP that marks the first release from GM Foreign Boy since switching his name from Zarin Micheal late last year. On "Spit On A Hoe," Foreign and Maka, both current students at the University of Kansas, trade heavyweight bars and flaunt their ability to seduce women. Both rappers have indicated that they have solo projects on the way and that this effort is simply a warmup.

MoonCity - "5 More" (ft. Solomon)
The members of No Alternatives are known for their creative, colorful approach to melody and visual art, so when MoonCity drops a song this aggressive, it's instantly intriguing. "5 More" features the highly active Solomon and offers stellar contrast from the more upbeat tunes featured on the "A Thousand Moons" EP, which also collects old favorites like "Adrianna."

Lonnie Terrell - "Superficial" (ft. [Walt])
Lonnie Terrell's flows on "Superficial" are elastic. It's the second single from the No Alternatives rapper, following last year's standout "Bitch My Name Terrell." The No Alternatives crew continues to put its best foot forward and is looking forward to an exciting 2018.

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