Photo courtesy of  Rico James

Photo courtesy of Rico James

THE FIVE SPOT is a feature where I invite local artists to recommend some of their favorite artists. The catch is that the fifth track has to be one of yours. For the latest edition, we’ve got Mavstar selecting some deep cuts. Enjoy.

XP - In All Honest

"In All Honest" opens with a melancholy and sorrowful vocal sample, perhaps evoking memories of old times. This leads the listener to the intro of what turns out to be a very smooth and laid back instrumental. In the first verse, XP divulges memories of a veteran in the game who's been through it all, perhaps elaborating on that same vibe hinted at in the opening. Meticulous rhyme schemes and effortless flow are pervasive throughout. This is followed by a crisp and matter-of-factly delivered hook that constitutes a very iconic element of the track. Verse two continues on the same theme, and you can hear XP emphasizing his disdain for rappers who are maybe less worthy of holding a mic. Awesome track.

Raw Deff feat Yung Breeze - Come On

Boom - right from the jump this track opens with electricity surging and a tasteful explosion, and we go right into the high-energy, two part hook. "Big Def's up in this bitch- kickin' the door down-" it's no mystery that Raw Deff has entered the building, and he's clinically insane on this track. Classic Deff bodies his verse, and Yung Breeze comes in equally unhinged, and clearly right at home on this style of beat. Did I mention that the beat is diabolical? Definitely a track that makes me want to start robbing people — or at least commit a couple misdemeanors. When in Rome, right?

Humble- 8mm

On this joint, after a brief intro that sounds to me like a mariachi band, we get the instrumental that utilizes the playful and energetic melodic percussion. What I like about Humble is that he never tells you what he wants you to think- he's more apt to paint a lyrical picture and leave the listener to connect the dots. There are different elements of narrative going on, coalescing together to create meaning. This track is an homage to the 8mm motion picture format.

Basic Brains- Redesign (Angelic)

I'm just a big fan of that melodic percussion sound. The instrumental goes heavy outdoors-wilderness vibe on this one. Basic Brains raps about self knowledge based on experience interacting with the outside world, reminiscing back to simpler times when we were kids. The theme here is redesigning who we are to reconcile the loss of freedom that goes along with growing up. At least, that's my interpretation - the campfire crackling in the outro invites the listener to reflect.

Mavstar- What's Been Goin' On

This is my favorite track off the Gangsta Trail Mix record that I put out last year with ILLu. Sometimes a simple guitar riff is all you need for the basis of an instrumental, and DJ Kanga's masterful scratching during the intro adds a nice touch. The verses are nice, multi-syllabic rhymes permeate throughout, and I have a kind of unpredictable flow. My favorite part of this track is the hook section. It came out so crisp and polished; SkySplitter did a great job shepherding me through the recording process of that part — I have to admit I'm not that great of a singer in real life.

Justin Boland