A steady pounding synthesized beat. Fade in a resonating bass line and a twanging guitar riff. Next comes the anticipated moment: crisp words firing at breakneck speed into the ears of the listener. Commence the head bobbing and the “chillaxing” frown. That’s rap.
Vanilla Ice’s 1989 hit “Ice Ice Baby” paved the way for a growing subsection of this genre: white rap. The boundaries of rap are being pushed every day, with women and various nationalities making names for themselves in the originally African-American based industry. White rappers like Hoodie Allen, G-Easy, Macklemore and of course, Eminem are especially claiming the spotlight. We present to you a review of a few unorthodox and emerging white-rap artists in various criteria ranging from one to five; one being intolerable and five being fantastic.
Popular song: “Feel I Bring”
This reggae-inspired, alternative-style rapping and singing duo from Wayland, Mass., is gradually making a name for itself across the nation. 18-year-olds David von Mering, who mainly sings, and Carter Schultz, the rapper, combine genres, tempos, subject matter, and harmonies to create an unexpectedly cohesive and different sound. This “fresh Aer movement” is upbeat, relaxing and evokes summer-y and beachy musical imagery. Although the majority of their songs relate to drugs, girls and alcohol, Aer sometimes refreshingly veers from these aggressive themes and vouch for lessons on how to live life instead. “Songbird,” from the album The Bright Side, offers a critique of cynicism of the world, emphasizing positive attitudes for future generations instead. Von Mering and Schultz vary the traditional rap scene by incorporating guitar-reliant melodies and using background vocals to set the beat. The only complaint: the acoustic parts can sound very similar in some of the songs.
Song variety: 4
Popular song: “My World ”
Iggy Azalea, primarily known for being the first female rapper featured in the hip hop magazine XXL, is a 22-year-old breakout Australian rapper and model. Azalea recently released her EP, Trap Gold. Her music mainly features electronically reliant beats, and as a result it all sounds the same. Azalea begins with repetitive claps, pops and booms, followed by fast-paced rap in a whiny twang. She does not integrate her unique Australian accent, and instead imitates the style of generic rap; pursuing an exaggerated and overly soulful tone. The majority of Azalea’s songs feature the same resonating drones of synthesizers and faux snare drum, with equally as laughable lyrics and titles (“Murda Bizness,” for example). Overall, Azalea’s songs are captivating for the first few seconds with a strong beat, yet ultimately fail to impress with her repetitive lyrics and fake street-cred.
Song variety: 1
Popular song: “Crap Artists”
As one of the lesser-recognized rappers out there, Despot, otherwise known as Alec Reinstein, from Queens, N.Y., merges mainstream rap with fresh lyrics and varied beats. Although he has collaborated with relatively more famous groups like Ratatat, Despot’s own work is far from traditional. Despot mixes up his backbone of strong beats with interesting pauses and superb flow. His music evokes a feeling of toughness through intriguing, empowering lyrics. While his beats may be attention grabbing at first, his songs can become repetitive and monotonous. His bold New York accent adds character to his image, but can also be distracting. Additionally, the beats and synthesizers drown out his rap, forcing him to yell over the music. Even though Reinstein has been in the rap and music scene for a while, he does not have many released or professionally recorded songs, and deserves much more credit and attention for his personal twist on conventional rap.
Song variety: 3.5
Popular song: “Feel Tall”
Brooklyn rapper and singer Brenton Duvall, or “Cuey,” has a wide variety of sound, combining rap, hip-hop and pop with an alternative feel. His more thoughtful and sophisticated content criticizes the topics discussed in his fellow rappers’ lyrics. For example, he starts “Feel Tall” with the lyrics “I’m cool with Katy Perry hooks in my cannabis verses/ Long as y’all open up your wallets and purses.” Though he has not been signed by a record label, Cuey has released many mixtapes and is quickly rising in popularity. Cuey provides contrasting bridges that are singing-based and choruses that are a relieving break from the concentrated, fast-paced rap of most artists. However, his slightly lispy rap style becomes banal at times, and might not appeal to everyone.
Song variety: 4.5
Popular song: “Google Female Rapper”
The spiritual content of Kellee Maize’s songs sets her apart from traditional rappers. Maize, a Pennsylvanian artist who is the No. 1 female rapper on Amazon, mixes traditional rap with unconventional background music and beats. Maize takes the creative route with lyrical choices deeper than expletive and drug-ridden frat rap. Although her distinctive tone differentiates herself from other rappers, her music sounds a bit gimmicky and preachy. It is too obvious that she is trying to stray from the clichés of sex and partying and opts for the environment, third eyes, yoga and extraterrestrial dimensions. Unfortunately, her songs drone on for too long, and the originally fresh beat and background effects lose their luster.
Song variety: 4