Denton has a great rap scene that often goes unnoticed and under-appreciated by the majority of show-goers. You probably already know some of the larger hip-hop artists in town, like AV the Great, Ritchy Flo, Wild Bill, Stu Brootal or Elijah Heaps. A few of them might be referred to as OG's of the Lil d rap scene, but there's another younger group of kids creating drug-addled beats with nerd-centric, indie rap lyrics who deserve to get some attention. So, this month we're talking about a few of these artists, specifically J3's Journal, Lil Durt and Xanni.
Zachary Ryan, or Xanni, is a young rapper making waves in Denton. Ryan's been playing music for eight years, rapping for six and producing under the name "Xanished" since 2015. We first started noticing him after he released "Fairy Fountain," a Zelda inspired rap song with a sick beat and synth samples from Ocarina of Time. Xanni's tracks tend to have a slowed down, comatose feel to them which compliments his muttered, depressed vocal stylings. At last year's Oaktopia, Xanni, J3's Journal and Lil Durt all opened a show for the Awful Records owner, Father. The team stayed in touch with Father, going on to host shows with his label-mates Rich Po Slim, Lui Diamonds and Slug Christ. Ryan even had a painting featured in a Slug Christ video for the song "Wonder Why."
J3's Journal, or Jordan Jamal Johnson, is one of the most low key rappers in town. His stage name comes from that triple "J" alliteration and is also why he sometimes goes by Threezus, but only when he's being a real hypebeast, so look out Kanye. Threezus is coming for you. Johnson's track "Daisuki Desu" is Japanese for "I Like You," showcasing his tendency to focus the lyrical content and soundbites around anime and the culture surrounding it. The hook goes "I just wanna drift away, all my girls are so kawaii, I can't even feel that great, livin' life in anime," referring to the artist's love for "kawaii" girls, a term he describes as "being like me, she's into anime, cute as fuck and dresses like an anime character." In order to start hosting more rap shows in DFW, Johnson started The Tron Collective with Stephen Wilson, Luke Peterson, Garin Powers and Jabari English, now they're hosting a house show almost every other weekend.
Jabari English produces and raps under the name Lil Durt, F.K.A. Durty Chin, and returned Tuesday from a week long trip with Xanni in NYC where the two booked a few shows through Beta Boyz, a good sign of how big they're getting outside of Denton. English has been producing music and rapping for four years now, and recently recorded, produced, and wrote an EP entirely by himself titled "Thanks Ben." The opening track, "Don't Go Outside," conceptually sets the theme for the rest of the album, which is mostly about drugs, women and his hermit lifestyle, while the album name is a shout out to a homie for building him a new laptop and allowing him to start producing projects by himself. Lil Durt's in a few side projects, too, including "Digital Drugs," a duo with Xanni, a four piece group called Kundalini, F.K.A. Kundalini Kids, which combines his powers with J3's Journal,Xanni and Dallas rapper P.O.E.T., as well as a duo with Magmar rightly named "Durtmar."
Speaking of Magmar, we've got a bonus track in addition to this month's three songs. Alistair Graves, or Magmar has been spitting lava and atomic vomit in his songs about video games, Pokemon, getting paper and past loves for four years. We stumbled upon his track "Link Cable" last year while researching Elijah Heaps, give him a chance and he'll have you linked in, too, and we don't mean via some professional social media service. Graves released the song "Pro Skater 3" on a three track E.P. at the beginning of this month, his beats have become better than ever and his flows will leave you doing a dab.
Thanks for reading 3 Songs, our monthly music column which takes a few minutes to highlight music from the lesser known local artists you should be listening to. If you're interested in catching some of these acts live, check out their "Make Denton Gucci Again" show at Rubber Gloves Rehearsal Studio on May 28th, if not to just go to Rubber Gloves as much as you can while it is still around.