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Hometown Highlights: 4oe Baby, Cole3k, Flash Gottii, 1010 Benja SL + more

It's been a very long time since I posted a Hometown Highlights update. You can chalk it up to having a full-time job (until a recent furlough), some health problems (feeling better now), and being overwhelmed by the amount of music I wanted to write about. I had literally several dozens of songs on my "shortlist" for this piece, so I think I'm going to try to do another one or two HH pieces in the next month. That being said, here are thirteen of my favorite local songs from the past few months; I hope you enjoy them and maybe find a new local fave!
Rory Fresco - "Renegade"
I always sound like a broken record when I say this, but Rory Fresco's stardom is inevitable. Since his departure from Epic Records a few years back, Rory struck a partnership with DJ Ill Will's imprint Tha Alumni where he's collaborated with Kid Ink and toured Europe opening his shows. Now, Rory is one step closer to becoming a household name, releasing a series of music videos with Reel Goats -- the production company that helped realize DaBaby's larger than life persona, helmed by director James Rico with frequent assists from Logan Meis, both Kansas Citians. "Renegade" is perhaps Rory's catchiest single since an underappreciated run a couple years ago that included "Delusional" and "Involved."

4oe Baby - "Puppets"
4oe Baby (pronounced "foe") might not be old enough to legally drive the BMW in this music video (one YouTube comment asserts that he's 13, while another jokes that he's actually 30), but there's no age limit on getting bars off. The teenager tackles this track -- a souped-up "Super Freak"-sampling slapper -- with more confidence than most rappers twice his age. 4oe Baby may very well be next up in Kansas City and he has time on his side.

Alexander Preston - "Forbidden Fruit"
File under: anthemic as shit. The first single from producer/now-vocalist Alexander Preston's upcoming album, Retrograde, marries two popular sounds -- steely late '10s pop-rap and maximalist '80s radio pop. While songs that use these elements are dime-a-dozen right now, through his songwriting chops and sheer authenticity, "Forbidden Fruit" transcends the trends and lands in the clouds -- it's euphoric. Cap things off with a cathartic outro guitar solo from Bummer's Matt Perrin and you've got a let-the-credits-roll type of hit.

Zarin Micheal - "Cry In The Rain"
Life's pressures get to all of us sometimes. On "Cry In The Rain," a highlight of his latest project, Foreign Boy, Zarin Micheal details the difficulty in maintaining relationships, building a career, and advocating for yourself all at once. Zarin also pays tribute to fallen stars Pop Smoke and Mac Miller as he raps about his struggle to avoid the same kind of tragic endings they met. This song is Zarin rapping with more conviction and raw emotion than on any track of his before and producer Corey Plescia's cinematic, melancholy beat compliments the rapper's sentiments perfectly.

Cole3k - "Bad Apple"
Watch out -- Cole3k has arrived, and he might break your heart. Over the last decade, Cole Crawford has released several instrumental electronic and hip-hop projects under his own name, an EP under the alias Alliance, and assisted on recent tracks from both Daniel Gum and Solomon. "Bad Apple" is one of the first few songs Cole has released under his new moniker and its combination of shimmering, glitched-out hyperpop production and relatable, lovesick lyricism is addictive.
Canyons - "Tell Me More"
Canyons can't be killed. Vocalist Bobby Johnson and guitarist Punch Mabrey have had a revolving door rhythm section in their twelve years as a band, but new additions Dylan Pyles (bass) and Trevor Burk (drums) are no weaker than their predecessors. "Tell Me More" comes just past the midway point of the group's new album, Stay Buried, and utilizes hardcore grooves and noise rock discordance to make for a steamroller of a track.

Daduworld - "Slatt" (ft. 38 Baby)
Clocking in at just over two minutes, Daduworld's latest drop is short, but far from sweet. "Slatt" sees Dadu rapping about his fly threads and access to exotic weed while sending only the most blunt of missives at his enemies.

Dom Chronicles - "Hold It Down"
Though it's difficult to say so definitively (he's been releasing projects for nine years now), Dom Chronicles may have just released his best single yet in "Hold It Down." It's the first single from his upcoming album "Let's Go Outside" and while the beat oozes a sunny, West Coast stoner energy, Dom's raps carry a stern tone as he reminds listeners of his continued presence in the scene and hardened work ethic.
Blueface - "Traphouse" (Remix) (ft. Flash Gottii and 03 Greedo)
Flash Gottii is a Kansas City rapper with an unconventional success story. After spending over a year in Los Angeles trying to make connections and ending up homeless at one point, Flash traveled to Atlanta to shoot a music video and met Blueface and manager Wack 100 while staying at the same hotel as them. Flash regularly sent Wack music to no reply before Wack finally informed him that his daughter had enjoyed one of his songs. Soon after this, Flash opened Blueface's Made In America Fest set, got signed by Wack to a deal with eOne, opened a tour for Blueface last year, and one for Trippie Redd this year. Blueface's remix of 03 Greedo and Shoreline Mafia's "Traphouse" provided Flash a fine opportunity to showcase his infectious energy and propensity for partying in front of a national audience.
1010 Benja SL - "Woodrow"
Immerse yourself in the weird world of 1010 Benja SL. The singer/producer grew up a punk rocker in a religious Tulsa family and spent time on his own in both Oregon and New York before winding up in Kansas City within the past few years. Despite landing a deal with prestigious British indie label Young Turks a few years ago, Benja has remained largely absent from the local music scene (to my knowledge, he hasn't performed a show here) and only released one EP and a small handful of singles so far. His latest track, "Woodrow," features only his vocals, a keyboard, and the occasional overdubbed ad-lib and plays like a modern R&B singer contorting his own songs to fit the structure of an aged jazz accompanist. No two of his songs sound the same, though, so dig in.
Kye Colors - "What I Look Like"
Upon repeated listens to "What I Look Like," I've come to realize that Kye has slowly been developing a strain of g-funk that's all his own in both his production -- no other city's g-funk uses the specific instrument tones Kye does -- and his rapping -- he's cited Mase an influence before, which would explain his smooth and often understated delivery. The town is currently waiting patiently for his upcoming project, With Love By Faith.

Solomonluvbugs - "We Made It" (ft. A'Sean)
Sometimes waking up in the morning is a feat worth celebrating. Solomon's two most recent singles land on opposite ends of the hip-hop spectrum, "Denzel Washington" being highly melodic, featuring only one verse and "Her" being a wordy exercise in narrative storytelling. "We Made It" hits the sweet spot between the two; you can practically hear Solo hopping up and down in the booth, but the bars are as meaningful as ever. A'Sean's guest verse is also among his best, in which he grapples with the strange and haunting feeling being of thankful his friend is just locked up instead of gone forever.
Amira Wang & The Epitome - "Big Bawdy"
It's truly a shame that Kansas Citians can't gather this summer, because some irresponsible shit would absolutely be going down to this song. This music video could not have been filmed during COVID, either (NSFW -- unless you're working from home right now).

Also, I wanted to make note of some very exciting production placements that some Kansas Citians have landed recently. J. White Did It (known for his work on multiple Cardi B hits) has three credits on the outrageously fun Flo Milli debut, ConductorWilliams (f.k.a. D/Will) has two tracks on Griselda emcee Westside Gunn's latest, and BloodPop served as executive producer on Lady Gaga's eminently danceable new album Chromatica.

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