Best of Utah Music 2015 Preview | Best of Utah Music | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly

Best of Utah Music 2015 Preview 

The showcase artists of City Weekly's 2015 Best of Utah Music

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click to enlarge New Truth
  • New Truth

New Truth
For the past few years, West Valley City rapper Marcus Agee, aka HQ, and producer Milo Green have been dropping underrated but first-rate albums as New Truth, and their latest, 2014's Truth Hurts, shows they're not slowing down anytime soon. Combining dirty Southern-influenced beats—HQ is originally from Mississippi—with aggressively delivered rap, Truth Hurts is a searing, satisfyingly heavy example of the way New Truth can attack a creative vision with style and laser-like focus.

Lost, the Artist - ZACH LAMBROS
  • Zach Lambros
  • Lost, the Artist

Lost, the Artist
Since summer 2014, the duo of emcee Lost, the Artist and producer Site Saturn have been periodically releasing tracks from their soon-to-be-released full-length album, Lost Boy vs. the World. There's no official drop date yet, perhaps due to the level of detail they're putting into this release, which is evident on multifaceted tracks such as "Steady Drowning" and "Closure." Site Saturn's experimental production brings together dark, gritty beats and atmospheric instrumental touches to make a fitting foundation for Lost, the Artist's introspective lyrics, which he can spit with ferocity as well as sing with some impressive pipes.

  • Steven Chapman
  • Umang

Emcee Umang Khosla, more commonly known just as Umang, is a New Jersey transplant whose brutal style has been heard most recently on his album The Black Rose Certificate, released in November and produced by B.B.Z. Darney. He raps with the driving force of a battering ram, and with the ability to control every syllable of his lyrics down to the letter. And underneath all that wordplay is production influenced by throwback '90s hip-hop that's tinged with moody atmosphere, as heard on tracks such as "Accomplices" and "Urban Legends," which seem to fade in, explode, then fade out again.

  • Q1

Pleasant Grove emcee David Quiñones, aka Q1, has been involved in the local scene for years, as a member of the rap group Free Speech Syndicate and an occasional contributor to albums released by House of Lewis and other rappers. But in 2014, Q1 made his official solo debut with the full-length album To End Is to Begin—a collection of sometimes weird, often funny and always personal tracks that feature guest spots from his own family—which established him as a skilled emcee in his own right. Whether he's rapping a letter to one his biggest influences ("Dear Eminem") or poking fun at himself ("I'm Atheist without the hair plan," from "Weird Science"), Q1 spits his brain-tickling lyrics with emotion and agile flow.

Jay Citrus
  • Jay Citrus

Jay Citrus
In a way, it's fitting that emcee Jay Citrus begins his mixtape Suck My Lemons—released in May 2014—with a line of dialogue from The Big Lebowski, because he channels a bit of The Dude with his mumbly, sleepy delivery. A mellow head-nodder that's a mix of loose rhymes, old-school samples and a haze of blunt smoke, Suck My Lemons is a good example of Citrus' off-the-wall style. But in September, Citrus was already back at it with the Esscarrgo-produced Alone With Two Drinks, which is often just as chilled-out, but picks up the energy on hard-hitting track "Chum Bucket."

Illwinded P - TIANA MIERA
  • Tiana Miera
  • Illwinded P

Illwinded P
It's no wonder that Spirited Away Vol. 2, the latest full-length album from Layton rapper Illwinded P and the followup to 2012's Spirited Away Vol. 1, sounds great; after all, it features beats from a long list of great producers, including Flying Lotus and El-P, as well as influential locals like Piccolo of Dine Krew. And Illwinded P's verbose rap does all those high-quality sounds justice, as he can lay down airtight, barbed rhymes with tongue-twisting agility (like on the smooth and jazzy "Emma Goldman") as well as sincere emotion (like in the personal true story of "Actinomisis").

House of Lewis
  • House of Lewis

House of Lewis
If there was one thing that rising rap crew House of Lewis proved in 2014, it's that they're full of surprises. Throughout the year, emcees Donnie Bonelli, Atheist, Apt and Chance Lewis, along with DJ SkratchMo and DJ ChuOnWax, racked up an impressive list of boundary-pushing, ground-breaking projects and huge shows, all with a level of flair and talent that is becoming House of Lewis standard. Some of the highlights included Bonelli releasing his official debut, the funny and honest Shakeface—easily one of the best local albums of 2014—House of Lewis playing to 4,000 people at the Rooftop Concert Series (although the real star was probably Apt's full-body flower suit) and Atheist adopting the moniker Rhyme Time for his new online variety show, Rhyme Time Television. But House of Lewis isn't out of juice by any means—these dudes are just getting started.

  • Yze

The latest album from American Fork rapper/musician Yze (of the Alive & Well Family) was a long time coming, but worth it, as it displays his unique devotion to his craft. Released in January and produced by Chance Lewis, Ugly Picture Perfect stands out partly because all the music is original (no samples in sight) and mostly was performed live with physical instruments, including guitar and piano. And that varied sound is utilized deliberately, so as Yze aggressively spits rapid bars on "Homemade Explosives," the head-pounding drums echo the track's urgent lyrics.

Dine Krew
  • Dine Krew

Dine Krew
Salt Lake City rap collective Dine Krew hit the ground running with their experimental 2013 debut, Dine and Dash, and since then, they've only further proven their skill and unconventional approach to hip-hop, especially with their latest drop, WE-E.T.'s Vol. II. Created by the Dine Krew offshoot duo WE—emcee Harrison Montgomery (aka Erasole James) and enigmatic producer Andrew Auman (aka Piccolo)—WE-E.T.'s Vol. II was one of the best local albums of 2014, made up of evocative instrumentals, anime references and razor-sharp stream-of-consciousness rap. With every release, WE and the rest of the Dine Krew family raise the bar for local rap.

  • Zigga

Midvale rapper Zane Anthony Dennison, aka Zigga, included a long list of local rap talent on his 2012 mixtape, Lake Bonneville, but for his fourth and latest release, 2014's Big Cottonwood, he focused on guest spots from only three other emcees: label mate Bentley, Cig Burna and major-label name John Boy. And that focus is also reflected in Big Cottonwood's songwriting and production, a cleanly executed blend of hip-hop and G-funk, as heard on tracks like "Bird Call" and club banger "Too Turnt Up. ZiggaBiz

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