Stop Sleeping on this City: Western Mass (Part 1)
It’s no secret that Massachusetts isn’t exactly a hip hop oasis, but the lack of attention the state’s music scene garners is absolutely not a result of lack of quality artists. Though most would look to Boston as the defining city of Mass hip hop, there are a surprising number of artists worth looking into coming out of the western region of the state. The artists coming out of Western Mass show just as much versatility and diversity in sound as Boston itself does, if not more so. Read up on who we think defines the sound of this particular area below, and STOP SLEEPING ON WESTERN MASS!
Mello$av is the shifty trap rapper out of Springfield, Ma that deserves greater recognition after the release of his latest tape “Moonlight Moods”. Smooth transfers from rapping to a melodic hook has been the formula for a handful of artists in this era of hip hop and turns out it works for Mello$av as well. Glossy hooks on songs like “Concentrate” and “Captain” flow like water and manifests the ambience of a soon to be hitmaker, no joke. It’s safe to say there’s startling potential in his temperate harmonies of self assurance and street memories that spotlight his expanding awareness towards his writing. Enriching creativity and exploration over the duration of 2018 tape “MMIIG” to “Moonlight Moods” is steadily swaying Mello$av’s music in the direction of discovering his most comfortable sound; undoubtedly it’ll be gold if he digs it out. Check out his music and watch out for him in the near future.
Hailing from Springfield, MA, Championxiii found his way to fame through Tik Tok virality, capitalizing on the popularity of his “rappers be like” posts, and tallying 1.2 million fans on the app. Eventually, the Springfield native posted a snippet of his hit single “Becky,” prompting fans to push for the full track, which then earned almost 8 million streams on spotify alone. “Becky” became the lead single off of his debut studio project “Champion Status,” which itself has earned Championxiii over 657,000 followers on spotify. A master of influence, Championxiii has used his social media exposure to showcase his musical ability, often featuring prominently consistent hi hats paired with a beautifully inconsistent flow in regards to style. Though “Champion Status” is a short project with a runtime of 30 minutes for 12 tracks, there is no lack of versatility from a production-centric banger like “Becky” to softer sounding tracks like “Sometimes” and “January’s (Interlude),” even showing flashes of R&B on “Move on Up.” The 24-year-old uses production that features recurring elements to establish an overall cohesive sound, though there’s definitely room to grow from his first true project.
Though he hasn’t released music since his 2017 project “Wildman,” the Sturbridge, Ma product started freestyle rapping in 1999, releasing his first project, “Soul Sessions” in 2002. 9 studio albums later and 20 years into his career, Souleye may be arguably the most proven and established product west of Worcester in regard to body of work. He’s done nothing but show consistent growth throughout his career - a happening much more impressive due to the Mass rapper’s extremely unique sound. Souleye makes great music sonically, using traditional elements of hip hop, as well as pulling from EDM and soul sounds, which make for extremely complex and intricate production courtesy of a number of different collaborations throughout his career. Married to Canadian-American singer Alanis Morissette, the two have collaborated on a number of tracks, which has done nothing but even further evolve the MC’s sound. Despite not having released anything since 2017, “Wildman” features such a well-balanced sound that it’s nothing short of absolutely refreshing today, offering bars over a truly innovative melodic approach so opposite of the oversaturation in the industry today. Keep an eye out for his next project, which he hinted is coming soon on his Twitter.