For 2014: Milli Mars

a4061242399_10I’m not sure if everything is really bigger in the state of Texas, but I do know that San Antonio has a hidden gem in hip-hop artist Milli Mars. Thanks to a friend in the Austin area who hipped me to his music, I first learned of Mars in 2011 when I heard his second musical venture YMID, and was essentially blown away. Not that I am one to generalize, but the project didn’t sound very…Texan. Nevertheless, it stayed in rotation. Once I went back to the proverbial lab and listened to his debut, BrainwashedI knew that this was an artist I needed to keep an eye and ear out for.

After dropping only one track in 2012, “Au Revoir,” Mars came back in 2013 with a shorter, but equally dope release, The Toyotomi EP. Only seven tracks long and with support from Gianni Lee and Babylon Cartel, The Toyotomi EP has a much different sound than YMID, as the production, entirely from whizKIDDA (who also produced all of YMID and Brainwashed), at least appears to be a bit more focused. While the listener doesn’t enjoy the diversity heard on YMID, they will enjoy the layers of “Tokyo Noir” and the thumping drums of “Red Alert ’87.” “Hattori Hanzo” is my second-favorite track on the EP, and the bassline is seemingly perfect, although it arguably could have done without the bridges. The combination of drums and almost eerie bassline on the second half of “Battle of So-Chon,” along with the intermittent vocals, make it my favorite on The Toyotomi EP.

I’m sure that Milli Mars has more in store for us in 2014, and I hope he can build off of The Toyotomi EP. Regardless of commercial success, I know he has a buzz in Texas and assumingly, some sects of the south. It’s not enough to support artists in your area; the underground is the underground. Whether or not Mars or his fans consider him to be a part of the underground doesn’t matter. If Mars makes his way to the Midwest or I happen to be on my vagabond shit in the state of Texas, I’ll be sure to check him out if I can. I implore you to do the same. In the meanwhile, check out his music and thank me later.

Mixtape Download: “Trill Wave Deux”, Babylon Cartel

Trill Wave Deux is actually the second mixtape installment of The Trill Wave Project. Babylon Cartel’s Gianni Lee released this on Thursday, March 1, but a friend and I just gave it a listen last night. If you can get past the pretty girl on the cover, this tape is actually filled with good hip-hop music and artists, including Milli Mars, Ryshon Jones, Asaad and my favorite rapper at the moment, Kendrick Lamar, among others. Panda Reemy of Animl Hse hosts this compilation mixtape.

DownloadTrill Wave Deux, Babylon Cartel