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Hometown Highlights: Blackstarkids, Cale246, Akchr0me, Window Seat + more

It feels like this month has been the busiest one for music since everything shut down in March. I suppose six months of sitting around waiting for the end of a pandemic led a lot of musicians and labels to, understandably, throw their hands up and start releasing things. Thusly, this column came out longer than I originally thought it would. As always, scroll downward and find a new Kansas City or Lawrence band or musician to love.


Blackstarkids - "Britney Bitch"

Local hybrid pop trio Blackstarkids is gearing up for the release of its third album and Dirty Hit Records debut, Whatever, Man, this month. The first single, "Britney Bitch," is another technicolor, post-genre bop and is on pace to be the most listened to song from the group yet, with the help of some key playlist placements. It can be argued that modern culture relies too much on nostalgia, but Blackstarkids make a strong case here that artists can still sound fresh while pulling from the past. The follow-up single, "Frankie Muniz," is a bop as well.

Silver Girl - "San Jose"

It's no surprise that even when Chloe Jacobson puts down the guitar, she's still making some of the most mesmeric pop music in town. Silver Girl -- her new collaborative project with producer Jared Logan -- released its debut self-titled EP this summer. The lead single, "San Jose," is a trip-hop slowburner about Jacobson's California hometown. The song's production is more synthetic than past material -- it wouldn't feel out of place in a commercial; Jacobson and Logan already have a licensing deal -- but her lilt and trademark honesty are still intact.

Tione Jackson - "Ithinkweshouldallbefriendsandgetalong (Fight!)"

One of Tione Jackson's most recent singles presses pause on the rapper's foray into emo introspection in favor of some literal fighting words. Performed during Kemper 10k's DJ set opening last year's Rico Nasty show, this song ignited the first of many moshpits that a packed Granada saw that evening.

Southside Dame - "All The Vibez"

Grandview's Southside Dame is one of the metro's most consistent young rappers. Ahead of his eighth full-length project, Pretty Girls Listen To Dame (out now via Mad Luv/Fearless), Dame built some hype with non-project single "All The Vibez." TheGoonez' production knocks, Dame is locked into another hypnotic flow, and the music video, directed by Jacob Schermerhorn, functions like an impressive low-budget recreation of Kendrick Lamar's Damn-era visuals.

Mac Sauce - "Sauce"

Those in need of some wholesome, G-rated raps look no further. This single from her debut EP, Teachers Pet (out now), features the child rapper choosing sauce over drip. Even better, the music video shows Mac riding in a limousine and eating a Happy Meal on her way to meet a gang of screaming fans. Is Kansas City home to the next Lil Bow Wow? (Seriously, someone from McDonald's needs to get in touch about a commercial.)

Blvvme - "Dagor Dagaroth"
Nearly three years after his first release under the Blvvme moniker, Lance Rutledge is back with another EP of eerie, blackened, post-doom malevolence. All three songs are rippers and a vast improvement in writing and production from the first EP. I'm recommending you the second song in specific though, because it's rare that I find a local band with a black metal song that I really love, and this is that.

The Roseline - "Inside Out"
Few Midwesterners can pen a jangly alt-country heater like The Roseline's Colin Halliburton. The Lawrence outfit's latest full-length, Good / Grief, is simultaneously as arresting and dread-inducing as the funnel clouds pictured on its cover. The anxieties often hidden in the album's more easygoing numbers explode into the foreground on "Inside Out" -- a key moment on one of the college town's most exceptional releases this year.

No$kope - "Scam Likely" (ft. Sam Simons)
No$kope's latest EP, I Do My Own Stunts, features some of the Kansas City rapper's strongest material yet. $kope and Sam Simons spend "Scam Likely" paying tribute to the late Kobe Bryant and felling foes with creative flexes. They also score bonus points for a music video partially shot at Westport's Videomania.

DMT O - "Capone Flow"
I'm not going to write something that takes that long to read about a one-minute-and-thirty-six-second song, but DMT O's throwback drill stylings on "Capone Flow" should provide a thrill for any fan of the sound. 

NBGWelch - "Dead Opps"
Don't let the drum machine fool you; "Dead Opps" is a heavy metal song. Kansas City rapper NBGWelch smacks listeners over the head with a dead-simple hook that's too tough to not bang your head to. 38Keys' beat is as fun and bouncy as it is menacing.

Akchr0me -"*~GLiTT3RFACE~*" (ft. Cole3k)
Attention Greater Kansas City Drainers: follow Akchr0me on SoundCloud. Known for his time spent in Houston hardcore bands Dress Code and Skourge and now in Kansas City's False Brother, Esteban Rubio's debut as Akchr0me is just as replayable as some of collaborator Cole3k's recent drops. Filtered vocals, Y2K aesthetics, and pop songwriting smarts are abound on "*~GLiTT3RFACE~*."

Stik Figa & Conductor Williams - "The Ritual"

Conductor Williams has had a busy year, landing placements on multiple Griselda projects, but he's still made time for a new project with an old friend. Tomorrow Is Forgotten is the latest collaborative album in his decade-long partnership with Stik Figa and it doesn't disappoint. On "The Ritual," Stik crafts a solemn tribute to friends and family gone too soon, recalls his past ("Thing is I've been dope since America's Pub"), and packs the track with wise one-liners ("It's a thin line between fear and respect / Difference between diplomacy and a spear to your neck"). Williams' beat incorporates warm pianos, dusty drums, and thoughtful samples in a manner not unlike Madlib's acclaimed works with Freddie Gibbs.

LK Ultra - "You're Not Gonna Like This"

The title track from LK Ultra's new EP functions as a proper reintroduction. You're Not Gonna Like This is the first recording the band has released sans keyboard and feels a tad more mature in its writing and performance, reflective of the time passed since the band's teenage beginnings. While still rooted in pop-punk, the melodies aren't quite as bright and poppy as before, though they still retain their catchiness and emotionality. The trio was covering Hüsker Dü's "Don't Want To Know If You Are Lonely" at shows just before the pandemic, further illustrating their move from high school to college rock. 

Smother - "Can't Think Straight"

Yup. You're getting a double dose of Lance Rutledge content in this column. Like the latest Blvvme EP, there aren't any losers on the five-song, six-minute demo from Smother. Rutledge's penchant for d-beat, while not completely eschewed, is less prominent, giving way to tough, East Coast capital-H Hardcore influence. Let's hope Rutledge puts a band together by the time DIY gigs are back.

Iris Elke - "Sunscreen"

Growing apart from someone you love can be a bitch, yeah? Iris Elke nails the feeling on "Sunscreen," the closing track from her debut EP, Empty Sounds. After growing up in Lawrence (along with sibling singer-songwriter August Henry, formerly of LK Ultra), Iris has departed to Tuscon, Arizona, but not before releasing these songs written during her high school years as a parting gift.

Lnrd D$troy - "Green Goddess" (ft. Ernest Melton)

Veteran Kansas City hip-hop producer Lnrd D$troy released a new album of instrumentals a couple weeks ago titled No Mondays In Paradise. "Green Goddess" is a lush beat near the project's end that features a smooth saxophone contributed by Ernest Melton. Think Weather Channel soundtrack, but a whole lot cooler.

Ricky Roosevelt & Tione Jackson - "Superhuman!"

Vivid Zebra's Ricky Roosevelt and Tione Jackson dropped a collaborative EP called They Want More on Friday. Both offer markedly different approaches to making music, but Tione's breathy and melodic delivery plays just fine with Ricky's trademark run-on sentence raps. The five-song release closes out with its two strongest songs, "Superhuman!" and "No Pain No Gain." 


Cale246 - "Dark Place In Ice"

I first came across Cale246 through a guest appearance he made on Dellio's July album Melodies For Members. Intimidated by his already bulky catalog -- he released three full-length projects last year and three this year -- I waited a moment before diving in. Turns out I shouldn't have slept! All three projects from this year -- and likely last year, haven't listened back yet -- are brimming with mournful, melodic street rap heat. Popular as this particular sound is nationwide right now, Cale's knack for creating gut-wrenching hooks and autotune euphoria (last year's "Kick It N" is reminiscent of a more rugged Makonnen) sets him apart. "Dark Place In Ice" was the first Cale track to grab me and feels like a serviceable entry point for potential fans.


Window Seat - "Save Room"

Window Seat is Lawrence's Rose Brown. Brown has spent the year penning delicate acoustic guitar pop, releasing three EPs on Bandcamp. Her most recent, 9, houses six thoughtful new tunes that utilize her kind, hushed vocals and pensive, wistful lyricism. Brown has demonstrated her bedroom pop proficiency, but I'd wager that she could also dominate in a louder shoegaze or dream pop setting as well if she was interested.


Corey Taylor - "CMFT Must Be Stopped" (ft. Tech N9ne and Kid Bookie)

Dude, this song fucking rocks.

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