by Leor Galil
Tremaine "Tree" Johnson has been popping up all over the place since he landed on the Reader's B Side cover in August. At the end of the month MTV Hive premiered "God Listens," a track Tree cut with North Carolina rapper Deniro Farrar; that same week Mishka released Supreme Cuts' collaborative mixtape with Barbadian rapper Haleek Maul, Chrome Lips, which includes some great guest verses from Tree; and in September Tree announced that the full-length he's been working on with producer Frank Dukes (Ghostface Killah, Danny Brown) will hit iTunes in November. Tree was supposed to drop a new EP called Trillin in September, but given how many plates he has in the air, it's hardly a surprise that it's been delayed. Fortunately it looks like the EP will come out soon, and Johnson has finally released its first single, "Karl Malone." Johnson has billed Trillin as his take on drill and trap music—the EP's producer, 110% Pure, has been making trap beats for some time—but the rapid-fire synth squeals and sharp, lean drum patterns have more in common with Johnson's "soul trap" sound than drill music.
"Karl Malone" feels right at home alongside Sunday School highlight "Good Shit/Roses," which features gravel-voiced local rapper Vic Spencer. Spencer is releasing the mixtape Spence Ethic at the end of the month, and he just released a cut from it called "Black Sour." His nasty growl blends well with Ikaz's slightly sinister instrumentals, and the track also includes guest drops from Kami de Chukwu, Michael Anthony, and Vic Mensa.
It's been a little while since South Holland rapper Kembe X has released new music—his most recent effort, a collaborative EP with fellow Village MC Alex Wiley called Can I Borrow a Dollar, came out in March—but last week he finally dropped a new cut, "Soul Fever." The Monster Mike-assisted track has a great, uplifting organ hook, and Kembe's easygoing flow gives it a feel-good spirit.
Sasha Go Hard has been called one of the city's best up-and-coming female rappers, and she's often associated with the hot and controversial drill sound. Her latest song, "On My Mind," is a step away from the aggressiveness of her best-known material and also showcases her flexibility as an MC. Sasha sounds almost like a dancehall singer as she stretches out her vocal delivery to match the sparse synth instrumentals.
The "On My Mind" video includes cameos by a couple MCs from west-side group M.I.C; the dead giveaway, for those who don't recognize them by face, is a T-shirt that says "9/14/12 #NEXT2BLOW," the release date and name of the trio's latest mixtape. Local videographer and producer extraordinaire Duan "DGainz" Gaines—perhaps best known outside hip-hop circles as the guy who made the video for Chief Keef's "I Don't Like"—did the clip for "On My Mind" and has recently been working with M.I.C. He put together the video for Next 2 Blow standout "Same Shit Different Day," an elegiac-sounding solo track by M.I.C rapper Lil Chris. You can cop the mixtape from DatPiff.