Best New Tracks / by Alex Young

Benji, Tairey, Hardo, Knuccleheadz, Kizzl, Bill$up, Zende & Linwood

Let's roundup the quality music that's released from some Pittsburgh artists recently.

Benji - Smile, You're Alive!

 Benji's "Smile, You're Alive!" cover art by Yung Mulatto

Benji's "Smile, You're Alive!" cover art by Yung Mulatto

The godsend talent through musicianship has given us a meaningful album. Benji's listeners take away hope after they've spent time with the "Smile, You're Alive!" album. He takes risks by sharing personal, vulnerable stories that drive his confidence in himself. Feel your jaw drop when you listen to "Zola Rose," but then get in your bag when the bass line drops in the second half of the song. Additionally, appreciate the artistry throughout the project thanks to the live instrumentations like strong keys and even the cover art by the legendary Yung Mulatto.

Tairey featuring Hardo - Nothing New

This music video is everything. The coolness of it goes hard. The bop meets the trap, and Tairey and Hardo are the perfect characters. Tairey opened up for the Migos in Cleveland last May, and Hardo gears up for his new album "The Fame or Feds Story," which has a complementary "trapumentary" about growing up in the hardened Wilkinsburg neighborhood outside of the 'Burgh. Both rappers have been tested in Pittsburgh and nationally, so the duo present a refined product. "Nothing New" is that excitement you want from a fun song like this. Watch the video first and then cop the track on iTunes.

KNUCCLEHEADZ - Endless

 Kellz & Heem of the Knuccleheadz at the Strip District Music Fest [2016] | photo by Alex Young

Kellz & Heem of the Knuccleheadz at the Strip District Music Fest [2016] | photo by Alex Young

Two youngins ran into each other at a gas station. One was a local rapper, and the other was a local writer. As he pumped air into his tires, the rapper Jiggy of the KNUCCLEHEADZ handed an early copy of his group's "Endless" album to the writer who was pumping gas. The exchange would be atypical in a city like Atlanta where people who ask you to check out their mixtape is another way of saying hello. In Pittsburgh, that interaction is not so common. The KNUCCLEHEADZ's "Endless" album improves their hip-hop image. Heem, Jiggy, Kellz and Shady Higgler created a soundtrack for self-indulgent lifestyles. A variety of sounds are on display in the album. "No feelings" is fun, trendy and lit. The following song "Yeah You" flexes the group's classic retro gangsta rap flow that they are known for, and "X2c" changes the mood completely to a chill reggae mood. Also, production from Taylor Gang's Sledgren moves the project along. Support "Endless" on iTunes or Spotify.

Trapway Kizzl x Bill$up - Nightmares of a Chevy

Come from the trap, and you're a different breed. You can tell stories in ways others cannot begin to understand, and that's what makes trap music so interesting. The gritty risk-reward lifestyle seems anxious and glamorous at the same time. "Young nigga tryna see the top ceiling. Packs for my woes. Bags for my hoes. Pistols for my foes. You know how it goes," Kizzl raps over a crisp Bill$up production.

Zende featuring Linwood - Girlfriend (prod. YourFavoriteProducer)

"Girlfriend" explains the contemplation a man goes through before he asks a girl to be his girlfriend. Rapper Zende enjoys the pleasures of a woman even after she "met my momma, brother, sister," but she "still ain't my girlfriend," he says. Linwood, a rapper originally from Worcester, Mass. who makes his home and music career in Pittsburgh, gives Zende some motivation in his verse saying, "take it there." Linwood, along with Tairey, will open up for the Sheck Wes show at Diesel Club Lounge on the South Side come July 1. Listen to "Girlfriend" and maybe provide some advice for the young artist Zende.