Because this is the Mercury’s Womxn’s Issue, and because it’ll technically still be Black History Month when this goes to print, I’ll be using this precious space to celebrate recent works from local Black artists, especially Black womxn and nonbinary folks. With new videos from Maarquii and Karma Rivera and tracks by TYuS and Eso.Xo.Supreme, here’s the latest in Portland hip-hop and R&B.
Karma Rivera, “TOG”
Karma Rivera recently posted a hard-to-ignore lyric video for a song called “TOG,” which stands for “That’s on God.” Produced by Deadbrainz and Jack Kennedy, “TOG” clocks in at less than two minutes, but it’s packed with punchlines about being a tough bitch with goals, and being “so low-key like Kung Fu Kenny/Sip horchata with the henny.” My favorite line: “We go like gin and tonic/Late 20s, we don’t vomit.” For now, you can only listen on YouTube, but Rivera tells me the song will be available on other streaming platforms soon. Another thing to look out for is Rivera’s music video for “Not Yours,” which happens to be one of my favorite songs on her debut EP, Don’t Sleep on This. (It even landed in my top 100 Spotify songs of 2018.)
On Valentine’s Day, Maarquii blessed us with the music video for the JVNITOR-produced track “C.A.B.O” (an acronym for “cut a bitch off”) from the rapper/singer/multidisciplinary artist’s recent album of the same name. In the video, Maarquii’s in-your-face sex appeal (and yes, twerking) can make you forget the song is actually about outgrowing a friendship. In an interview with Paper magazine, Maarquii explains that although the song is fierce, it was actually written from a place of mourning: “I had gotten into it with my best friend ever and—we’re both in our late 20s approaching 30,” and their friend apparently wasn’t progressing. I guess that explains the passion behind those “you’re tacky, ho, you’re tacky, ho, you’re tacky!” lyrics. This broken friendship is visually represented by Maarquii recklessly “snip-snipping” the hair of a client (played by Kerry Yamaucci) in a dark alley. There’s also some gorgeous choreography involving swords, and Maarquii’s usual slew of backup dancers. Directed by Tiki, this visual is everything.
Soul artist Eso.Xo.Supreme also dropped a new track on Valentine’s Day, the emotive “Nexus.” It’s a super easy listen, with crisp, wavy beats produced by Franky2Fresh and Eso.Xo’s effervescent vocals continuously bob along the surface to spit lyrics about his anxiety regarding a new commitment and trying to grow from past behavior. The song’s got a cool vibe, and I’m here for the low-key progressive message. (Also, one of my favorite new things to do as I proofread and fact-check this entire newspaper is to sing “facts” like Eso.Xo.Supreme does in his new song “Facts,” produced by Reckless.)
TYuS, “How Far”
Along with getting out of his Warner Brothers contract and announcing his new EP, The Dope Tape, R&B singer TYuS recently dropped another sexy slow jam called “How Far.” The song exudes ’90s Ginuwine vibes, and is the first single off his upcoming EP. It’s got a lot of the same themes we’re used to hearing from 22-year-old R&B singers, but hey, sex sells! And I’m a frequent buyer! I gave “How Far” about three repeats when I first listened to it on my way home in traffic, and TYuS’ tender, soulful runs definitely calmed my road rage.
Want to suggest something local and hip-hop related that I should check out? Holla at me: firstname.lastname@example.org