MorMor

I was listening to Beats1 radio this morning, and host Julie Adenuga said something I found poignant. She was talking about the band Basement Jaxx, and that she sometimes forgets how good they are. That’s not the poignancy; it’s Why she forgets. Like all of us, she gets caught up in the 9-5 grind during the week, and on the weekend, she just wants to forget about it all. Like all of us, she gets caught up in living a life.

MorMor is someone I forgot I liked. Weeks ago, I listened to their song “Whatever Comes To Mind,” and added it to my library. I haven’t listened to it since; I got caught up in living a life. Like I said earlier, I was listening to Beats1 radio, and Julie Adenuga played a new song that I had to add to my library: “Heaven’s Only Wishful.” I obsessively replay songs I like, so during the third listen I looked up the artist only to find I’ve already liked their only other song available.

I don’t know about you, but this can’t be mere coincidence. MorMor is someone I might become a big fan of.

“Heaven’s Only Wishful” is the first single from MorMor. On this track, MorMor croons over a ballad vibe, guitars and synth are brought together to create a funky, ambient jam. Driving the song is a simple, crisp drum beat that doesn’t fight for visibility on a track that demands intimacy. The opening lyric also defines where the intimacy comes from: vulnerability. He says “I’m just a poor boy, waiting for answers.” The music does a good job mirroring this character.

The lyrics continue on the theme of vulnerability, and the effect of the world’s chaos on a person’s mentality. At one point or another, we realize the limits of what we can control, and “Heaven’s Only Wishful” is a good coping mechanism for a world at odds with each other.

Towards the end of the song, MorMor lets loose. The clean electric guitar picks up some distortion, and Mormor, who’s been delicately singing up to now, begins to inject some anger in repeating the closing outro: “Some say/ You’re the reason I/ I feel this way.”

All in all, “Heaven’s Only Wishful” is a realized song about true emotions. Today’s topics are vulnerability, coping, social awareness, and the fight to handle them maturely. Sonically, MorMor’s production blends very well with the poetry of the lyrics, producing a driving, pensive experience.

When taking this first single, and considering it along with his second, “Whatever Comes to Mind” (which didn’t get talked about a lot here) MorMor starts to seem a virtuoso of tenderness. His easy guitarwork and delicate vocals are staples of his sound, but it doesn’t keep him from providing music of differing moods, all with a touch of intimacy. Also possessing talented songwriting, MorMor is a promising figure in the music scene to come.

Quin NFN

I went shopping at my local streetwear store yesterday and ended up talking to the sales associate about hip-hop.

“You hear that new J. Cole,” I asked.

“You know, I’m one of the few who’s not really a fan. I know he says good messages, but his music just doesn’t do it for me,” she said.

I didn’t even trip. “So, who do you like?”

“I like Kevin Gates. I like Lucci. I guess you could say I like more ‘gangster’ hip-hop.”

Yesterday was a wakeup call for me. I realized I assumed that every hip-hop fan is concerned with the “Mumble vs Conscious rap” argument. Hop online to see that everywhere, from the artist themselves, to comment sections to podcasts, everyone is giving you their two cents on what real hip-hop is. It passes the time, but it creates real barriers for artists who are just trying to put their music out, and music fans who just want to enjoy themselves.

Hey, Alexis, this one’s for you!

Quin NFN, 17-year-old Austin, Tx native (ayyyyy!), is a hot iron. Whether he’s talking about his girl on “Lil gangsta”, flowing over industry standards in “BODAK BLUE” or mobbing on “Revenge”, Quin NFN snaps on every track. He employs the triplet flow, which is so good at making you rock your shoulders, but he makes it his own by sending it to you as intensely as he can. In an interview with Elevators, he says: “All I’ve seen as a youngin is stuff anybody in any hood in America has seen so I rap about it because I know they don’t have a choice but to feel it.” I think his intensity comes from the need to rep his people, and the stories he’s lived.

What I find most interesting about Quin NFN is when he says he’s been writing raps for 7 years. In that same amount of time, Soundcloud has influenced the game, Migos introduced the triplet flow, and opiates have swept through the country. How does this get translated into the music of a teenager who’s so early in the game? His Soundcloud shows the resulting dexterity; he switches from trap anthem to love song just as quick as the game itself has changed. The old school streets and new school pop are alive in Quin NFN, and as time passes, he’ll only continue to be in a position to add a different take on the industry’s current sounds.

PNTHN

PNTHN (Pantheon) is an 11-member hip-hop collective hailing from San Marcos, Texas. Admittedly, it being less than an hour away from the state’s capital, Austin, and the state university, UT Austin, I often overlook San Marcos as a city offering anything. Yet, San Marcos is also the origin of “the internet’s first boy band,” Brockhampton. Despite how ignorant I am about San Marcos, PNTHN is making, and riding their own wave.

The group’s most recent project, POTLUCK, is a short, six track EP, with each song featuring a different member of the group. The sound is distinctively Texas: deep, resounding bass kicks fill the tracks while ambient melodies float over them. The end result is an EP of smooth, underground hip-hop, which is perfect for Texas cruises. Each member of PNTHN is from Texas, and this facet of their identity is something they try to rep, but also try to not be boxed in by.

You see, this isn’t just another Texas rap group. If you generalize PNTHN as just another “lean sipping, women pimping, gangster” crew, you’d miss the entire point. To see them in concert is to see them use hip-hop to mosh and shake off the consumerism infecting hip-hop. To hear POTLUCK is to hear the EP they started in the studio but finished at home because they believe in their own DIY. Where PNTHN shines is in their energetic, and humble house party vibe.

Rolling 11-deep is no joke, and the group seems to remain egalitarian within itself. In a YouTube interview, one member said he was the self-proclaimed captain of the group, but he also admitted he has a hard time getting the others to agree. People say your vibe attracts your tribe, and PNTHN lives and breathes the motto come one come all. In this atmosphere, everyone can add their own flavor, and everyone works to incorporate it.

PNTHN makes music for their friends, and here in Texas, we wave at everyone.

Bakar

Bakar, the self-described “baggy, skinny” rocker hailing from London, is unconventional. If you look for the first pieces of information on him, you’ll find a short interview from 2015 written by i-D. At that time, he appeared to be in the same fashion/music scene as Jeremy Scott and ASAP Rocky in some capacity. If you look him up now, you’ll find interviews on him from Pigeons and Planes, Fred Perry, and HungerTV talking about his music career.

Since 2016, Bakar has been releasing genre blending indie music that has no hint of his influences. Per Fred Perry, when asked about his sound, he says: “I love UK Rap/Grime just as much as the next man. I’m here to be the alternative for kids growing up in the city, like you can rap and do Grime but you can also pick up a guitar.” It’s this defiant approach to social norms that I love about Bakar, and it shows in his music.

Most tellingly, all of his songs are different from each other. If you were to randomize the five singles he has on Spotify or AppleMusic, you might encounter: Big Dreams, a danceable indie rock track that serves as a pep-talk to himself, drawing from his personal stories; or you’d hear Small Town Girl, a pastel song filled with crisp guitar strums, and intimate vocals. It’s this dynamism that makes Bakar’s music captivating, and his career hard to define.

More subtly, the best way I can describe Bakar’s defiance as an artist is as a rubber band. I don’t mean it in a “fall 9 times, get up 10” way, I mean Bakar seems to understand life is moments of both tension and relief, like the elasticity of a rubber band. On one song he’ll have you challenging the rat race, then he’ll have you get in your feelings. He does this on purpose. When asked what song we’d be surprised to learn he likes, he says “Everything. My whole iTunes. The music that I’ve made is the answer to that question.”

Currently, he is working on his first mixtape, #BADKID, and released the first single, Million Miles. He then followed that up with the second single, All In. Here we find Bakar thinking back on all the things he’s had to endure to follow his dreams and deciding it’s worth it to continue. In under three minutes he’s given us what we all want: a chance to take the burdens off our shoulders for a moment, tell our story, and reaffirm our love for life.