“Wicked” — Chester Watson

Fixating on a talented young artist’s age seems so obvious and lazy. Then there’s 19-year-old Chester Watson, the first signee to rap writer and media proprietor Jeff Weiss’s POW Recordings label. Watson’s impressive load of audio offerings showcase a mature mastery of flow, but “Wicked” doubles down on a velvety softness. Bedded in a loop of the Wizard of Oz‘s Wicked Witch of the West theme, the track slithers with a playful sneer. It’s worth noting how prolific this dude has already been in his short life, reinforced with the line: “Working 24/7/ So don’t ask where the passion is.” The cut sears with chilled-out confidence, zooming around like a stoned teen skateboarding around an abandoned parking lot, sans audience.
It’s this serene swagger and raw self-production that makes this track stand out. The rapper knows he’s going to nail this proverbial kick-flip and he doesn’t need the validation of gaggle of Bettys to make that real (though surely they’re lingering just out of sight — “Wicked” has a strange, nebulous sexiness emanating from it). He flexes a simple albeit solid diss, “My fucking shirt cost more than your whole outfit,” though it’s nearly negated by a self-aware chuckle. Watson knows it’s a game but plays it well regardless. —Beca Grimm
“Lost Dreamers” — Mutual Benefit

I’m not convinced Jordan Lee propels his mortal form on this earthly plane by something as pedestrian as legs. His music is so quietly and carefully constructed. Instead of walking, he must carry himself aboard a cosmic wind of sorts, drifting like a tide and collecting impossible small shards of glass along the way. The innards of “Lost Dreamers” is a network of complexities, made up of aging hummingbird bones. Each tiny piece is delicate and essential, coming together for a lush audio dream. It’s rare when a song has the power to pull a listener so swift from the now, softly dunking their head in a golden glow so they may re-emerge refreshed, if not a little more zen than before.
This track is tender yet unbreakable. It’s glimmering Teflon, non-pretentious in its secret resilience; cool in its candy cloud demeanor. “Lost Dreamers” has twisted tapestry ribs, gorgeous words penned stitched in gold. Though Lee has a penchant for writing apt prose in his songs, with this song, that comes secondary. Vocals are so creamy they act as an additional texture to the elegant structure, holding a rewarding discovery should any human be so bold as to gently prod.—Beca Grimm

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