Guardian of the Rap: Soundtrack Your Hot Nerd Fall With These Slept-On Rappers

On September 5th 2019 » By Michael Penn II

Zhalarina

Peace and love, blessings to all the nerds and dweebs who read Guardian of the Rap, pining for some new drops from folks they’ve never heard. It’s the August edition, and I’m scaling down a bit to let us all breathe: This month, we got three. A little less noise, a little more focused, and a lot more with That Gay Shit. Deadass tho, tell your (GOOD) rapper friends to lace my inbox with that fie, it’s been a drought since I made the new Gmail. Archaic discovery format be damned, they cain’t stop me…

…even if they STOPPED ME. maniacal laughter as I fall into oblivion, rain pouring.

Nevermind me, I’m just in the cut waitin’ on Hot Nerd Fall to approach so I can bask in my glow. I’ve waited a decade for this shit, so it’s Open Season on niggas! Megan said so, I’m back in my bag! The hotline remains open for good MCs to bling it, no restrictions: guardianoftherap@gmail.com. If this column changes format again — hopefully due to an influx of amazing shit! — I’ll let y’all know once some leaves hit the ground and I can spend half my life in a hoodie.

I love y’all tho. I know I said that, but… nah, I’m deadass.

JB Gotit: “Lemon Lime”

(producer unlisted) video released 05.31.2019 directed by Shot by Sheka available on all streaming platforms

This is the kinda record that just… floats onto your timeline from almost nowhere, like a glitch. (Speaking of which: Have y’all noticed the new thing where rappers snip the building moments from a viral video as a placeholder to promo their own videos? Thankfully, this didn’t come from that.) I’d heard of JB Gotit through the shuffle of Queer Twitter asking to promote its own, damn near one of the only chances queer-identified rappers actually have of rising from the depths of an industry that continues to prove how little of a fuck they give about them. Especially the Black ones, though those watchful eyes clock every innovation. Bookmark for later. Highway robbery, straightwashed boredom.

“Lemon Lime” doesn’t concern itself with the inevitable surveillance; JB Gotit anoints himself as the trade of the evening, and dismisses niggas with their shoddy requests for his appearance. The moment JB touches down, the beat (producer unlisted?) crash-lands into the eardrum with sugary tendencies that demand any and all nearby cheeks to collide into one another. The visual’s fairgrounds setting only reinforces these demands, and JB proves a formidable shit-talker that knows the code to the wifi in a way Aubrey’s unfamiliar with. JB Gotit’s not creepin’ for none, he’s familiar. The faux-bulletproof vest on his chest is clearly for fashion, or is it? Ironic nonetheless, this shit is the summer bop buried in the static. And from Atlanta, of course; should he continue to tap into his hitmaker potential, JB’s virality may quickly extend past his IG Live shenanigans. His handle is @GayRapGod, and we may one day bow down with hands on bent knees.

Zhalarina: “Lala”

produced by Zhalarina released 08.09.2019 available on all streaming platforms

Zhalarina’s someone I consider a sister, and she’s one of the hardest MCs from the Florida we’ve infatuated ourselves with on the national stage. No rap cap. She’s all pineapple upside-down cake and Blue Magic and Sunday Service with the soul food afterwards. (No, her church’s merch doesn’t go for much on Grailed.) Walking between documentarian and dramatist, Zhalarina’s music places us right in the Tampa that kept her whole while maintaining an empathy that permeates through her story and shines its light onto the rest of us. After several monthly drops, she’s given us “Lala”: another slice of her soul, as told by clips of family interviews and first-person accounts of her father’s charms and shortcomings.

In almost five minutes, we’re thrust directly into the psyche of a child whose father’s spent the majority of his life entangled in addiction, street life, and the justice system. The rage boils over into regret, but the love never disappears from the situation no matter how jarring the scarring may be. Zhalarina’s beat clangs along, grounded by the piercing vocal samples and a subtle somber melody that drives us through the unparalleled detail of each memory. Rina raps with a narrative quality that goes unmatched by an overwhelming majority of MCs in her age bracket, and beyond. She takes us to stashing the pillbox, the front gate of the prison, the frontlines of finding her father during an overdose. And yet, she aligns the whimsical imagery of Disney films and Biblical tales to let the depths of her childhood roam freely, bright streaks across her struggles. I hereby declare it criminal activity to ignore the raw power of Zhalarina’s work any longer… wake the fuck up.

Cyrus: “Bad Bitch”

produced by combustion + ghostface released 02.19.2019

First of all, shouts out our East Coast Ambassador Desuana for throwin’ me the lob on this one! I sent a tweet out about not wanting cishets dominating my shit, and got a quick response from Philadelphia’s own Cyrus. With a minimal social media presence, and his music still living on SoundCloud, I found myself quickly attached to this “Bad Bitch” record in a way I hadn’t felt for any SoundCloud drop in a long while. In context, the combustion + ghostface production thrives in the SC space with its driving 808s and minimal looped oddity for a melody. It quickly finds a home in the SC Gold Rush that buried many purist heads into the proverbial sand of youthfulness. However, Cyrus’s presence alone threatens to offset the default cishet machismo that still dominates productions like these… it’s hittin’ different!

After letting the bass breathe, Cyrus charges his way forward with self-proclamations and casual threats for any and all opposition. The song sells itself, right down to the acrylics on the cover; Cyrus leans on the drop punchline format with an updated sauce that trims the fat and potential corniness often associated with blog rap eras long gone. In 110 seconds, Cyrus did what he came here to do: get thick off the rice and cabbage, put in the work, and be a badder bitch than he was yesterday. It’s no frills, DIY as fuck, and will set the warehouse ablaze after midnight.

Michael Penn II

Michael Penn II

Michael Penn II (aka CRASHprez) is a rapper and a Vinyl Me, Please staff writer. He's known for his Twitter fingers.

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