Dealer's Choice: Boston's Finest

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Monday mornings are usually about THE FIVE SPOT, a feature where local artists pick some of their favorite local tracks. But, once in awhile, we’ll be short a feature, and that’s where Dealer’s Choice comes in: I’m just going to pick my own selections. Someone has to man the store.

This week, we’re taking a short bender around Boston. These are some of my favorite rap acts from a city that’s seen a real renaissance in the past five years.

STL GLD is a hip hop band that’s grown around the duo of rapper Moe Pope and producer The Arcitype. They play adventurous, intricate music, but it’s anchored in a musical sensibility that’s all funk. And jazz. Well, and a lot of wild-ass EDM. You never know where they’re going to hit you from next, but you know it will be a polished song, every time. If you get the chance to see this live, jump on it.

Codenine is simply a savage. Always in the pocket, always on point, and always selecting exquisite beats to beat up. His IX project is still in rotation fairly often. “Tommy Jean Jacket” is a $15 single that dropped on City Yard Music, a label / crew that’s behind many of these picks, centered around producer Grubby Pawz.

Estee Nack is a natural-born star, a human being perpetually set to 11. His solo projects and his collaborations have been relentlessly professional for years now. He is murder on both written verses and genuine, off-the-top freestyles. He’s one of the most reliable guest features in Boston, and while I don’t follow dude’s career, I do always check out a joint with his name involved. This is a smooth, funny video, and another Grubby Pawz production. 

“Steel Sharpens Steel” was one of my favorite Boston LPs in recent years. SPNDA’s flow is so impeccably original, and he’s got a cutting rap voice -- let’s say, Sadat X by way of El Da Sensei doing GZA. My point is that it’s very good, and even better, he’s a visual writer with a knack for both storytelling and self-reflection. He is a compelling host who can run an album on his own. It’s dope that “Hitchcock” got a visual, becuase that beat absolutely slams. That’s Grubby Pawz. Again.

Back when I ran a rap blog dedicated to pure, uncut slander, someone sent in a dusty, dirty black and white video for Avenue’s old jam “Ain’t Shit Funny.” It was far too dope to slander and I’ve been checking for his work ever since. His recent project with producer Deon Chase, “Nightfall,” was lush, cinematic street rap, on par with anything out of Detroit and Chicago. I’m guessing Avenue’s next move will be huge.

Justin Boland