Photo:  Drive  (and  DJ Mike “Philly” Fulton! ) courtesy of   Brett North Photography

Photo: Drive (and DJ Mike “Philly” Fulton!) courtesy of Brett North Photography

Editor: The Five Spot is a new series where I’m asking local artists to select some of their favorite local tracks, and talk about why. The catch is that the fifth song has to be their own. The first-ever installment was by Omega Jade — her picks are excellent — and next up is promising Lamoille county emcee Drive. Dig it.

There is no order with this list, if you are offended by it then don’t read it.

Jarv - “Move”

This is not only one of my favorite VT hip hop tracks, but one of my favorite tracks in general. It’s one of those songs I play just about every time I feel unmotivated or want to get hyped about a studio session. It’s smooth, catchy, clever, and real. Can there be a better combination? I’ve never not been impressed by a Jarv song, but this one in particular has stuck with me for a multitude of reasons. For one, you can really tell (especially if you follow this dude on social media) that Jarv truly puts in the work that he speaks of which is a quality that is quite rare these days. Listening to this track and seeing the sheer amount of effort that Jarv puts in day to day is truly motivational, as a young artist it’s the type of quality that I hope one day to attain through the moves that I make.

SkySplitterInk - “Force Field Ahead ft. Humble, Question the MC, and Rajnii”

This track is almost indescribably good, but I’ll do my best. Every single artist who participated on this cut absolutely brought their A game. From the producing, mixing, and mastering to the soulful, advice filled verses, this song has cemented itself into my Top 5 VT Hip-Hop tracks so far. Everyone on this track is someone I look up to. Ever since I first saw Humble and Question freestyle at my first Monkey House show, they have been huge inspirations to me musically as well as for life in general. I’ve spent a lot of time with Question (I mean he is my uncle) but no times have been as great as the ones of recent memory, specifically when I started to delve into the Hip Hop scene. He constantly is providing me with advice, history, and life stories much like he does with his music. SkySplitterInk is the person I most respect in all of VT Hip-Hop due to his kind attitude towards everyone, monster work ethic, and the pristine quality of everything he works on. I do not know much of Rajnii’s body of work but he absolutely did his thing on this as well. Thank you all for this gem of a track.

Raw Deff x XP - “Love and Hate”

When I first played this off of the absolutely phenomenal Uninvited Guest project by Raw Deff, my jaw literally dropped. Chills ran through my body as I knew I had stumbled across something amazing, this might be the most relatable song I’ve ever heard from an artists standpoint. Not to mention Deff & XP are two of the best artists I’ve heard, and that’s not just locally. These dudes are creating gold with every track but this one hit home for me. Crisp and precise verses topped by a beautiful hook make this song something I bump on repeat no matter my mood.

Yung Breeze - “Call It That”

Yung Breeze has THE most versatile catalog I have heard, period. If you want bars he has them, if you want to get hype he has tracks for that, if you want to vibe he has tracks for that, and if you want to get taken back to the golden era of Hip Hop he can take you there as well. So it was very difficult to pick my favorite Breeze track, but this is the one that came out on top and I know he has a lot more quality work coming. This man is the definition of grinding for what he loves, so he gets nothing but the utmost respect from me. This track in particular is in my opinion a solid showcase of Breeze’s style. He says what he wants, he says what he feels, and he does it all with clever wordplay as well as his standard effortless delivery and flow. I highly suggest you check this man’s catalog as well as everyone else on this list.

Drive - “On That”

Now normally I would not include myself on this list, as I don’t see myself anywhere near the top 5 tracks in VT Hip Hop…yet. This is not my favorite track I’ve made, but it is my favorite that I have released, as well as the one that I have gotten the best response on. I made this track for a one take competition and it really was a step in the right direction for the style that I have been trying to attain throughout my short career. I pride myself on wordplay, lyricism, and realness all of which were touched in this track thus making it my favorite release so far. It was also extremely fun to create, from working with SkySplitter and watching him work his magic to the filming process with my close friend Liam Lenel. It’s truly amazing creating something from scratch with friends and it’s something I really hope to do more of throughout 2019.

Justin Boland