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Hometown Highlights: Daduworld, Steph Up, Full Stop + more

It's been a long time since I made a Hometown Highlights update. I won't bore you with the details, but I was really out of it, mentally and emotionally, for the last half of 2018. I haven't been magically healed or anything, but over the last couple months, I've been gaining the energy and motivation to make up for the time I let slip by. This is the longest update I've done so far, so I'll let you get to it now. Thanks for sticking with me. I hope you find a song that makes your day a little better.

Daduworld - "Rude"
Daduworld first caught the attention of Kansas City's hip-hop underground last year with his track "Zion." Named for Duke's breakout basketball star, the track's ominous piano pounding, booming bass, and steel drum rhythms provided the young rapper a prime opportunity to float his catchy, too-cool-for-school flows. Dadu's latest drop, "Rude," features a similar level of nonchalance, and its title rings true within the first several bars. Among many quotable one-liners lies one that epitomizes Dadu's outlook on the rap game thus far -- "I'm humble, but I'm better than these weirdos."

Rachel Cion - all of her singles since "Collision"
It's been about a year since Rachel Cion dropped her single "Collision." If there are multiple singles or loose tracks dropped between Hometown Highlights updates, I'll usually just choose my favorite, but Rachel made that too difficult. Here are some brief writings on all of her recent drops:

"Vein" - A collaboration with her pal Alex Manriquez, this lo-fi slacker rock tune is cut with morbid nostalgia and melodies you can hum for days.

"Headlights" - Alex is back for another one. The keyboard and synth tracks on this one sound as if they're simultaneously sped up and played backwards. The downbeat progressions within them, in addition to Rachel's lyrics, paint a picture of a gorgeous sunset that has gone ignored due to the troubling presence of a car in the driveway.

"Citian" - One minute. No instruments. No chorus. Just two vocal tracks, one in each speaker. A ghostly poem about a love no longer requited. Rachel pauses between each line, allowing the listener to soak in every bit of that hurt.

"Ugly Girl" - "Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned," (at least according to some old British dude who was probably a jerk). Instead perhaps, file this under "don't fall in love with a writer." Heavy "MTV Unplugged In New York" vibes.

Bigfatcat - "Movies"
That's right -- more Rachel Cion content. "Movies" is the first release from Bigfatcat -- a group featuring Rachel Cion and schoolmates Olivia Markey and Courtney Honors. On a pop track that could have very possibly been made with an all-Casio setup, the trio crafts a wholesome breakup (or maybe just "let's not be a thing") song briefly interrupted by the most pleasant dance break.

Full Stop - "Work"
You may know him for his production work with Rachel Cion, or perhaps his duo Foghorn, but Alex Manriquez, too, has a new group. Manriquez -- an Olathe native now living in Sacramento -- has teamed up with rappers Mikel XL and Ke'mana, and fellow producer Evan Musil, to form Full Stop. The first single from their upcoming tape, "Loiret," is called "Work," and boy, did they put some of that in.

The opening beat sounds like the hi-fi equivalent of a prodigious child banging on every pot and pan in their parents' kitchen. Halfway through, that beat switches up to something more like a 2018 "Look At Me Now" as Mikel and Ke'mana go the hell off. Their deliveries land somewhere between Vince Staples and the mic-holding members of Injury Reserve. Also, if someone could sync the opening beat up to this Vine, that would rule.

DWalk - "Clappers"
Oh, man. Oh, no. They put this song on and now the club is burning down. A fireball shot through the roof. The building is shaking, crumbling. You can hear the screams coming from inside as the embers float through the night sky. I hope my children never have to witness something like this. Fire trucks are finally arriving, but it may be too late. Life is cruel and fleeting. (This song is great, and if placed in the correct hands, could become a national strip club anthem).

Steph Up - "Sippin'"
Steph Up embodies almost every quality that embittered rap fans hate about some of the genre's youngest stars. He's got face tats, gold teeth, and lyrics written to inspire shock and awe. Love him or hate him, Steph Up is going all in this year. He's been dropping a music video nearly every week, and while some miss the mark, when they hit, they hit.

"Sippin'" was dropped in January and is a great place to start for prospective fans. Steph matches the song's aggressive trap beat with half-shouted raps so vulgar that you'll rewind in disbelief. His phrasing is also on point -- check the pause between "I'm fly like a eagle" and "thug like I'm Beanie Siegel." Steph Up could truly become a star this year (if the terms of his probation allow it). If you don't feel like sifting through his dozen or so YouTube posts, "Baby Joe" is another choice cut, with a video that features Steph and friends clowning around on the Country Club Plaza.

Raymond - "Something About Me"
Vivid Zebra vocalist Raymond's debut EP, "Good Girls, Bad News," was released in February 2016. The collective was hardly known at the time, even among Lawrence's most loyal scenesters, and had hardly performed out. Fast-forward three years (and several VZ releases) and Raymond's debut full-length has finally arrived. "Future Holds" is an often bleak record, full of longing and the anxieties found within that longing.

Thankfully, despite being another relative downer, "Something About Me" at the least gives listeners an opportunity to move their feet a bit. Summoning the energy of popular 2000s electronica and contemporary R&B, Raymond and producer Brad Girard assemble a pop song that may not break in any mainstream sense, but should at the very least prove anthemic to Replay Lounge regulars (and hopefully Granada regulars at some point) in their quest to find love and understanding in each other. (If you're looking for a slow dance, "Swim" may be the track for you.)

Rory Fresco - "Drippin Tears"
In true rockstar fashion, Rory Fresco refuses to take his foot off the gas. It's been less than four months since his latest project, "Pretty Death Machine," and we've already been given three new singles. The first of these three (the other two being "ASAP" and "Deja Vu") is "Drippin Tears." The tone is mournful, but it's basically Rory's way of doing the "world's smallest violin" gesture for the tearful girl he's moved on from. The bouncing rhythm and acoustic guitar picking on this track make it a prime candidate for a Gunna remix. Rory also teases a new mixtape that is slated to drop before he departs to support his new label mate Kid Ink on a European tour next month.

Kye Colors - "Sweet Thang"
Has anyone noticed how many love songs are about a girl named Mary Jane? Really weird. Anyway, Kye Colors' latest track is a funked-out R&B cut that should very well please suburban teens and trunk-rattling Whale Mafiosos alike. Kye's next project, "Juvenile," is due for release this spring.

Mike 2x - "Real Luv"
Mike 2x has grown up a bit over the past year. Mike's lyrical ability and natural delivery have been evident since he first began releasing music a few years ago, but his last three tracks have highlighted a slow transition from adolescence to adulthood. After mourning a close friend on "Just Like Rosie" and fretting over his mother's well-being on "On The Rise," Mike is now examining what a real adult relationship may look like, vulnerabilities and all. The song also takes on a g-funk R&B style not dissimilar to his friend Kye Colors' latest offering.

Donne77 - "Intergalactic"
Donnell has flipped his L's upside down. The newly re-monikered rapper/singer has also flipped Cameroonian R&B artist Lorine Chia's "Intergalactic Love" into his own personal plea for companionship; smooth bars, trap drums, and all. After a year or so of keeping things generally lowkey, "Intergalactic" is a hopeful way to kick off 2019.

Deaton Chris Anthony - "Mr. Call You Back" (ft. Triathalon)
Deaton Chris Anthony has updated his SoundCloud bio, calling 2019 "the year I win," and he might be right. Andrew Lovgren spent portions of the last year traveling, rubbing elbows, and collaborating  with like-minded rising stars Clairo and Zack Villere.

Despite releasing a few loose tracks during that time, his latest, "Mr. Call You Back," is his most focused Deaton song since his 2015 LP "BB." Assisted by fellow synth- and internet-enthusiasts Triathalon, Deaton takes his personal brand of aloof, plugged-in heartthrobishness to new heights, likely reaching more ears than ever this time. A new full-length titled "B OY" is tentatively scheduled for release later this year.

Ogechi - "Boffum"
As far as I know, most acclaimed poets don't make music like this. "Boffum" is Ogechi's club rap ode to the powerful, motivated, and multi-talented women in her life and beyond. It's also some of her most polished material yet, as she inches closer to cultivating a fanbase outside of Kansas City and Atlanta

Amira Wang - "Werk It"
Hot off her "Rap Game Ragu" EP, Amira Wang is back with a new single that, if implemented correctly, could likely coax the most timid party-goers into shaking it. If Wang stays consistent, she'll be hitting some major milestones in no time.

Sydny August - "Like That"
Lawrence-via-Chicago R&B singer Sydny August dropped a new song from her "August Project" EP each week of August 2018. "Like That," a smooth pop tune about an unexpected love, may be the most potent of them.

Solomon - "My Soul" (ft. [Walt])
Originally released in the fall of 2018, Solomon just re-released his song "My Soul" with a feature from [Walt]. The Cavi duo highlight their daily stresses -- a friend locked up, others who have been proven less than trustworthy -- and what they do to feel better about them -- making music, smoking, seeing friends, and watching TV. It's more of a mood piece than anything (and definitely great for making TikTok videos), but it shows that Solo and [Walt] are still on their game.

Zotiyac - "Jungle Book Freestyle"
I'm surprised Zotiyac isn't signed yet. Each of his last dozen tracks have garnered tens of thousands of listens, and each new drop seems to have more ridiculous one-liners and a nastier, more blown-out beat than the last. Just skim his SoundCloud "tracks" tab if you don't believe me. It seems to be a matter of time before teenagers across America are moshing at his shows and claiming he's an industry plant.

Stik Figa - "Young N**** S***"
Stik Figa may have the highest batting average in Kansas (or slugging percentage, I never knew what that meant). "Moon" is one of the handful of projects Stik has released in the last year and it features some of his and Conductor Williams' most well-rounded collaborations yet. "Young N**** S***" is a lounge-y, New York-style cut that exudes a certain suaveness only achieved through years upon years of hustle.

Beep Collins - "Seasons" (ft. Yung Bans)
It's warming up outside and there may not be a better local hip-hop track to play with the windows down right now. "Seasons" a smooth piece of post-cloud pop rap courtesy of Kansas City's Beep Collins (f.k.a. Lil Beep, part of the Caviart extended family), who here has linked up with enigmatic internet star Yung Bans. It's the first track Beep has released since his debut "Beep Collins" EP from February.

Oxford Remedy - "Fake"
Since the spring of 2016, Kansas City's Oxford Remedy has been amassing a YouTube subscribership that currently sits at 5,300. Alternative rock fans and other well-wishers cheered on the young band as they routinely posted covers of songs by Nirvana, Weezer, Wavves, and other favorites. It wasn't until February 2018 that the band began posting footage of original music. To much excitement, a studio version of their original song "Vending Machine" hit the web back in January. I'm pleased to tell you that its follow-up, "Fake," is even better. Kate McKown's rapid-fire delivery oozes an attitude and confidence that any student of nineties alt-rock can appreciate, and the instrumental elements of the song are far from sounding like those of a cover band.

No$kope & Plu$+ - "Kar Show"
Aside from a few seconds at the end of the song's first verse, there is not a moment of "Kar Show" that isn't drenched in distorted drums. Not even Plu$+ or No$kope's vocals escape this most lo-fi of fates. It's the last song on their "Off Day" EP and perhaps the heaviest hitter the duo has teamed up on yet.

Avie - "MOtown Jig
Avie's Instagram is peppered with different snippets and freestyles, but the only track populating her streaming profiles so far is "MOtown Jig." An exercise in it-girl energy, the "Jig" is a lively cut that may well trigger an uptick in girls the city over dumping their significant others and chasing their dreams.

Riley The Musician - "Junglecat"
Prepare to channel your inner teenager. "Junglecat" is the latest single off Riley The Musician's upcoming "Art Is Dead" project and it's overflowing with cheery percussion and heart-on-your-sleeve raps about being in love. I'm not sure exactly what it means to be someone's jungle cat, but this youth from the city's southern suburbs makes it sound pretty wonderful.

Samurai - "I Dnt Believe Anything You Say (Love U Frvr)"
Samurai has always incorporated a range of emotions into his music, but until now, his more successful endeavors tended to be his devilish party songs, focused on counting cash and flexing. "I Dnt Believe Anything You Say" is an emotive, post-GBC tale of distrust that any sad-boy, -girl, or -person can likely relate to.

Dreamgirl - "Weekend 4 The Girls"
Forty years ago, Lacey Hopkins could've been your favorite new wave singer. To the detriment of her bank account, she came of age in the 2010s. "Weekend 4 The Girls" is first single from Dreamgirl's upcoming EP "Post-Cool" and, following a feature in Nylon, was a stellar introduction to the St. Joseph band for potential fans outside the metro.

Rare Juice - "Molly Dream"
Now off at college, Rare Juice (half of Olathe duo Rage Gang, Beam Team) is getting in the swing of dropping solo material. "Molly Dream" is a party rap track, but not in the way that most RGBT songs are. Instead of stoking a mosh pit, "Molly Dream" is an airy, euphoric number that could soundtrack a more slowed-down dancefloor, ideally after midnight, outside on a breezy summer night.

TGBeam - "Joy"
What's the other half of RGBT up to? Something a little more upbeat. TGBeam's sunshine-y new single, "Joy," is also his third solo track. Beam is coming "from the future like lil' Elroy" -- I'm glad rappers are still referencing the Jetsons -- to let fans know it'll all be okay (the track's description alludes to finals season). If you're reading this, you made it!

SoulFoodSuede - "Synergy"
SoulFoodSuede may have the most appropriate stage name of any new local hip-hop act. From the first moments of her debut "Green" EP, Suede's neo-souled-out R&B hits the ears like the perfect home-cooked meal. She hasn't been on the bill of too many formal shows yet, but she seems to be a regular at Awaze's One Mic Stand series if you're in the mood to see her.

La Chancla - "Balm Of Gilead"
If you prefer your post-hardcore to be a little on the dramatic side, La Chancla is your new favorite band. "Balm Of Gilead" sits in the middle of the band's debut LP, "Bummer City's Best Lawn." Note Will Gough's gripping bass grooves and singer Cliff Martin's ability to supply both a clean, sing-along-able chorus and moments of throat-shredding climax.

NA.Locc - "Down For My N*****"
There are several talented lyricists in the No Alternatives crew, but Locc is without a doubt the most "bars-first" rapper among them. That's how he was able to take on this old school beat and pack more action into it than some rappers pack into a whole tape. Locc is yet to release his own project yet, so hopefully something will be materializing soon.

Lonnie Terrell - "S.I.P." (ft. NA.Westside)
Lonnie is another No Alternatives member yet to drop a project, but as they say, the tortoise and the hare, etc. "S.I.P." (swaggin' in public, of course) features Lonnie's laid-back flows and effortless cool, making it the track you want to hear as you hop out of your car outside the party.

Tafi - "Disgruntled"
Tafi has been dropping multiple tracks per month for the last three months, and he sounds hungrier with almost every release. "Disgruntled" is about the race to the top that he's joined, and by the looks of it, he's gaining momentum with each lap. Top notch pop rap.

Adam56k - "Piped Up (I Been Flexing)"
Searching for a local track to fill that "Mo Bamba"-sized hole in your heart? Look no further. Kansas rapper Adam56k's "Piped Up," from his October "3065" EP, could rile up a pack of frat boys like nobody's business.

Supa Flowa - "Angelic"
More so a stream of consciousness freestyle than a rarified Song™, "Angelic" is a new minute-long drop from a Supa Flowa that is continuing their artistic blossoming and becoming more comfortable on the mic by the second.

Hollis Ohio - "3rd Party"
Much like the proverbial box of chocolates, you never know quite what you'll get when you press play on a Hollis Ohio song. It's often bite-sized and driven by colorful melodies, but beyond that, it's a tough call to make. "3rd Party" is compact at one minute and 44 seconds, but Hollis uses that time wisely, dropping bars about his tiresome work ethic and lofty goals, set to a trendy beat full of picked guitar and banging bass.

MB58 - "Rather You"
The second song on MB58's new project "Off-White" is a charming, gritter update of N.W.A.'s "I'd Rather Fuck You," which in turn is an interpolation of Bootsy Collins' "I'd Rather Be With You." Some sounds are simply timeless.

Khari - "Brighter Days" (ft. Kaensensei)
Khari and Kaensensei dish impressive flows over some lo-fi beats to study/chill to.

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