Guayaba, “Casa Blanca”
The singer/songwriter/MC formerly known as Aeon Fux digs into her Afro-Cuban roots as Guayaba—an assertive, alluring presence delivering a debut EP of bilingual, electro-inflected hip-hop. On “Casa Blanca,” beatmaker Luna God drops salsa-style horns and rhythms while Guayaba mythologizes herself into the supernatural.
J’Von feat. Froyo Ma, “The Escape from the Evil Queen”
J’Von raps with peculiar, Homeboy Sandman-esque verbosity and, in his videos, animates his alter-ego Catman exploring pastel-colored cartoon landscapes. Combined, J’Von’s visual and musical expressions lift his fantasist hip-hop into an unprecedented imaginative realm. Here abetted by Louisiana singer Froyo Ma, he spins a dreamy anti-romantic yarn.
Blake Madden launched Hotels in New York more than a decade ago but has long resided in Seattle, making a lot of eclectic music with a lot of talented friends in the local scene. The ladies of NighTrain (RIP) sing the chorus to “Linette,” a deliciously strange, slinky slice of post-New Wave noir pop.
Owuor Arunga feat. Aliyah Niambi & Chris Turner, “A Requiem for Black No.1”
Big production, big composition, big message: This activist anthem by Owuor Arunga is straight-up heroic in its ambition. Best known as Macklemore’s dapper trumpet player, Arunga writes, produces and arranges a slow-burning soul-funk jam with a chorus of “Freedom/I want you to be mine”—part protest, part aspiration.
Rudy Willingham, “Why?”
One of Seattle’s most prolific producers and flamboyant DJs takes “the DJ Shadow/RJD2 approach” of repurposing vintage samples to create original, fully formed bangers. With this vocal-heavy, sax-singed track, Willingham opts for bluesy balladry over floor-filling funk and the result is profound.