Top Two Tuesday: QuESt and Boogie

Top Two Tuesday is a weekly effort to recognize two artists who deserve more attention, respect, and praise in the music world. This week is a mix of two almost similar artists that I discovered almost five years apart. They’re also almost described as another artist, although that’d almost ruin any true description of them. Almost.

The best part is both of them are currently working on their respective albums– something I’m more excited about than my own future.


High Voices, Higher Intellects

QuESt

A squandered opportunist who hasn’t squandered a single beat. 

Image via @YesIAmQuESt

I was introduced to QuESt back in my backpacker days with “Gambler” off of his first project, Fear Not Failure. I promptly forgot about him.

That was a mistake.

I recently rediscovered him with his latest project, Searching Sylvan. I let one song come up on shuffle and left it. Then I listened to the entire tape in its entirety. The production was wonderfully melodic and well done, especially for an underground rapper. QuESt has this unbelievable power to spit over any beat– his voice is strange and high-pitched, but he uses it to keep pace with the production to tell stories and recite poems. He does have his certain style that he seems comfortable with– what can loosely be called Americanized grime. His production has heavy inspiration from both dubstep and DnB; the impressive thing is that he never fights it. He works with shuddering synths and deep bass so well you’d think it’s in his blood. QuESt is the hungriest rapper I’ve ever heard.

Sylvan is a loose narrative of a period of his life in his town of Miami and the struggles he faced as a person, a musician, a son, a friend, and a citizen. He plows through quick tempos to shout his frustrations as a “struggle rapper” in the aptly titled “Struggle Rapper,” then turns around and bounces through disappointments in “Erase Me.” The interludes and skits, including one from Tupac, are both personal and relatable– QuESt manages to give the listener a view of Miami from his perspective without dominating the narrative.

This is where the terrible comparison starts.

Searching Sylvan is like a more human good kid, MAAD city. Where Kendrick discusses the city of Compton and the struggle of everyone there, QuESt goes deeper into his emotions and personal reflections and painful struggles of a man trying to find his dream. Don’t get me wrong, gkMC is still my favorite album of all time– but there’s something staggering in Sylvan. 

Listen to:

1. Struggle Rapper

2. Erase Me

3. Automatic

4. The Memories

Download:

1. Searching Sylvan

2. Fear Not Failure


Boogie

A man whose thirst for success is matched only by his criticism of thirsty-ness. 

Photo by Jack Wagner for LA Weekly.

Boogie punched his way into my ears with Oh My (produced by Jahlil Beats, who has made some of my absolute favorite Kevin Gates beats). For someone who is just barely breached the scene, Boogie is terrifyingly polished. He’s mastered his flow and style almost immediately. His content is far from your expected, “I’m going to come up and be the best, I’ll call out these other rappers!” Instead, he has a way of reflecting and critiquing the life around him. His raps aren’t intimate as much as they are friendly– he talks like a friend on the corner, looking at life and his city and calling out what troubles him with a certain degree of quiet wisdom.

Thirst 48, arguably my favorite title of anything from the past few years, has this beautiful, consistent tone that Boogie takes full advantage of. The skits and interludes, including one from Tupac, are brief and offer a little bit of insight into what Boogie sees. He never changes from this personable, laid-back mood, even if he’s going off over brass or atmospheric echoes. His songs invoke vivid images of LA streets in the summer.

This is where the terrible comparison starts.

Boogie is like an LA Chance the Rapper (odd, seeing how he’s older than Chance). He’s confident on sing-song melodies and he’s just as confident on bangers (re: Oh My). He’s not afraid to change his flow or break it entirely. Now my only concern is that Boogie sticks to killer raps and doesn’t lose himself to sing-song nonsense.

Just kidding, there isn’t a chance he’ll go in any direction but up.

Listen to:

1. Oh My

2. Bitter Raps

3. Save Me

4. Let Me Rap

Download:

1. Thirst 48

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