BY -  @johnny_barnes



Phillip Saint John - The Sound EP

“The sound made of love is the sound made for us...” 

I had the pleasure of hearing this project’s intro when it was previewed at at open mic back in February. Since then, I’ve had my eye out for it’s full release, which has finally arrived. Vintage sounds, injected with new flavor; Upbeat raps with a message of love and acceptance. These are just some of the things you’ll find on this new EP from Minnesota artist Phillip Saint John. But amongst the light and positivity you’ll also find a story of temptation, reminders that those we look up to may not be as perfect as they are portrayed and warnings to be careful of who we allow to get closest to us. All in all, a very well rounded project. Highlights for me include the aforementioned intro “The Sound” and track #4 “The Foundation, an exercise in rhyming speed and lyrical stamina.


Exxe - “Never Knows Best”

I was first introduced to this artist through his verse on the Demon Marcus posse cut “Sundown”. His raw delivery captured my attention, immediately placing him on my radar. This new single provides a different energy, though equally as captivating. On the title track to his forthcoming EP, Exxe slows things down and gets introspective. Laying out flaws he sees in himself for all to see, the rapper details his battles with self-love, being distant with loved ones and more. During the chorus, he takes time to let the listener know that if they never truly alone. If they struggle with issues such as these, there are assuredly others who are fighting the same fights. Following a track as powerful as this, I look forward to hear the rest of the project, set to drop later this month.


CRAM - Eat Ass EP

My first exposure to the music of this Minneapolis five-piece came by way of their song “Surf Gear” (#5 on this EP),  which features a show-stealing verse by St. Paul rapper Longley. In regards to the overall project, ‘Eat Ass’ is 18 minutes of high energy rap entertainment. The variety in voices and deliveries certainly keeps things interesting, ensuring no two tracks sound exactly alike. Production is handled by what appears to be a mix of work by group members Shrimpnose and Bathwater, and Miami beatmaker 1KLowkey. Best played loud, these tales of sex, substances and dollar signs take on a new life when the crew hits the stage; so if you ever have a chance to see them in a live setting, I highly recommend it. Aside from the previously mentioned “Surf Gear”, other standouts include “Do Like Me” and “HHH”. May you enjoy this project, and be on the lookout for the next CRAM release ‘bloodbath’, coming in May.