The state of Tennessee is synonymous with America’s music history perhaps more than any other state, responsible for a multitude of styles and approaches to the creation of music for the better part of a century and Memphis and Nashville have each affirmed their place in history and then some as their histories are intertwined with the success of so many artists from these areas, but of the three major cities in the state, Knoxville has always lagged behind in terms of culture and certainly musical output. Knoxville is a blue-collar city located in the mountains of East Tennessee but like most places in the Appalachian region still struggles greatly against problems like the opioid epidemic and seemingly inescapable poverty and while authors of old like Cormac McCarthy worked tirelessly to paint pictures of the strife and resolve of this region, their stories have gone untold for the most part in recent years.
That was, at least, until two artists burst onto the city’s scene almost five years ago, offering unabridged tales of the streets, ambition, and luxury that came from the risks they took. These artists are Hardaway1k and Yung Honcho who captivated their city’s youth and spread their style across the entire state, demanding to be heard regardless of what outsiders might say about where they come from, from the outside looking in. They amassed thousands of fans quickly and flooded the streets with mixtape after mixtape and visuals that showed a side of the city seldom seen by anyone but the people from there, even capturing the attention of big-name artists like Lil Baby, Meek Mill, Kevo Muney, NoCap and more.
Unfortunately, the pair were both locked up about a year ago in federal prison and Hardaway remains behind bars, but Honcho has worked tirelessly since his release to regain the notoriety he had stripped from him as he was forced to sit down. He matured as an artist, truly discovering his voice and unlocking new flow after new flow and gifted fans with a long string of music videos attempting to reclaim the throne he occupied as the heir-apparent to be the first artist to explode onto the mainstream from his city, ever. This culminates today with Honcho’s newest mixtape release Major Pain where he takes massive sonic steps forward and demonstrates the large improvements he has made as a vocalist and songwriter over the last year. The tape is brief at only seven tracks but is much more potent than the run-time would lead you to believe.
Yung Honcho sings about heartbreak, gun violence, drug-dealing, and family, painting a vivid picture of the risk and reward associated with the life he leads and seeks to both honor those who have been lost and motivate the ones who remain. He recruited two guest features for the project, each coming from two of Alabama’s most exciting upcoming artists, CTG DayDay and Jay Montana who fit nicely alongside Honcho, who time and time again has shown himself to be an early identifier of talent time and time again as he has a knack for locking down features from artists just before their meteoric rises. I cannot wait to see Yung Honcho regain the love and acclaim he had before going away to jail but fickle fans are part of the rap game and Major Pain ought to be the project that brings them fully back on the bandwagon.
Twin Hector Drops “Special”
Platinum-selling recording artist Twin Hector releases the intoxicating and alluringly disruptive new music video for his single “Special”. Striking a perfect balance between decadent R&B soundscapes and addictive pop melodies, Twin Hector will push you over the edge with his sensual sonic daydream. Written about a divine union, “Special” is an all-enthralling love song about a deeply passionate connection.
Directed by Ben Tyler / Left Hand Films and Tai’Yon Hector himself, the visual for “Special” was inspired by R&B legend D’Angelo and captures Twin Hector in an intimate, black and bronzed aesthetic.Twin Hector takes his time, drenching you in a seductive wonderland of pulsating beats and heavenly vocals as he muses over his soulmate. “There ain’t nobody I’d choose over you.”
Watch Twin Hector’s video for “Special” for a sweltering, sultry experience that will leave your racing.
MICHAL MICHAL WANTS YOU TO ‘KNOW ME BETTER’ ON FRESH SINGLE FEATURING JAYD
So nice, you can’t help but spin it twice. Michal Michal kept his foot on the gas with his latest love-torn offering, “KNOW ME BETTER,” on Dec. 1. Featuring JayD and production from SK THE PLUG, the new single, which is Michal’s second release this month, is yet another head-turning effort that demands more than a first listen. Layered with woozy 808s, fleeting vocals and unbridled personality, ”KNOW ME BETTER” is packed with a barrage of Michal’s raspy flairs – a distinct hallmark of his sound. Continuing to embody his youthful aura, Michal ultimately has his sights set on searching for “the one” with “KNOW ME BETTER,” as JayD’s mesmerizing hook expertly plays into the sample-clad cut. “After all these years that we’ve been together, I thought you would know me better,” it hypnotically drones, Stringing together strong performances all year, following the success of his previous track “DON’T BLAME THE KIDS” and Summer’s End, which is now his top track on Spotify and Apple Music, it’s better to know of Michal Michal before he takes off.
Check it out here!
Emerging Alt Hip-Hop Star Kembe X Shares New Song “Rolling Stoned”
Isaiah Rashad joins Windy City wordsmith Kembe X for his Hippie Sabotage produced cut “Rolling Stoned.” A thought-provoking masterpiece that cleverly disguises its depth with wordplay and ethereal Alternative Hip-Hop instrumentation, “Rolling Stoned” invites listeners to embark on a journey of hidden meanings and insights. Serving as yet another teaser to the Top Dawg Entertainment affiliate’s forthcoming ‘Sleep Paralysis’ project, it may initially appear as brash rap but the record unfurls into a profound exploration of personal growth, dreams, and self-discovery.
“When we made this song in September 2021 it felt like a reunion and an opportunity to show Hippie Sabotage, I’m not the same person who moved from Chicago to LA and crashed on their couch. It was a chance to demonstrate my newfound confidence in my creative abilities and a willingness to adopt a fresh approach to music. It’s not a reinvention of my artistry, but a shedding of old skin and a dreamy exploration of a new version of myself, deeply connected to my psychedelic discoveries,” shares the Chicago native in a press statement when asked about his “Pole Vaulting” follow-up.
Known for his work with artists such as REASON, Guapdad4000, Jay Rock, and Ab-Soul, Kembe X stands as a beacon of innovation in a musical landscape often mired in conformity. His music, with over 10M+ UGC views on TikTok and 5M+ views on YouTube, has ignited a cultural wave, resonating across platforms. Accumulating a staggering 30M+ Spotify streams, Kembe X’s tracks encapsulate the essence of his artistry.
Beyond mere numbers, Kembe X’s compositions, from the introspective depths of “Voices” and “Cozy Forever” to the bluesy contemplation of “Body Language” and “Anyway,” paint a poignant picture of battling depression, touching hearts and minds. His magnetic stage presence has left an indelible mark, from headlining the Hippie Sabotage Tour in 2016 to sharing the stage in the ScHoolboy Q CrasHtalk Tour in 2019, not to mention legendary performances at Rolling Loud Miami from 2014 to 2017 and Rolling Loud Los Angeles 2017, solidifying his status as a festival favorite.
Stream Kembe X’s “Rolling Stoned” on your DSP of choice via BMR / The Orchard and watch his live performance recap of “Pole Vaulting” at Red Rocks.