WYEXPECT Round of Applause: January

The month of January tends to be a slow time for the music industry. If you are looking to make it into the ceremonies of the music awards, you’ll need an album to stick out. While all of the mainstay names are in the shadows, this is the opportunity for the underground to make a name for themselves. I decided this was a great chance to show some of the best music of each month. Here is the breakdown of how January went. 

The First of New Year: Monday Night x 3wayslim

The first of January was highlighted by Richmond, Virginia’s own Monday Night and 3wayslim. Their collaborative EP Good Company showcases the best of what these two can do. Monday Night is slick, his bars come in braggadocio bunches as the beat entices his willingness to slide in your girl’s DM’s and pronounce his unmatched swagger. On the other hand, you have 3wayslim who is more focused on his surroundings. The hunger in his voice is adamant, almost knowing that this is his way out.

Their dichotomy in the duo’s personality lays perfectly on tracks like “Kwanzaa” and couldn’t be more distinct. 3wayslim comes in hot, promoting his attention to detail on how to pay his dividends through the music. His mind is locked in on things he can’t trust like the government and his brother. It’s a militant state of mind, meanwhile, Monday Night is here for the relaxation the beat provides. He weaves through thoughts on women, playing on the word “brick” and other men being lame. “Dawned On Me” is another track proving their strengths are captivating. 3wayslim sounds way more paranoid than usual, and then there is Monday Night who is eased by the chaos. Truly a great project to start the new year off. 

Redemption Story: AllStar JR

It was only a few weeks before the unfortunate shooting incident that could’ve ended the young career of Detroit rising star AllStar JR. It took him time before he could even enjoy solid foods, much less the fruits of his labor. His rapping and voice are fierce, they cut like a knife and it helps his story be told.

There are moments of triumph, destruction, and reflection that sat with JR for the past year and a half since his last record. His story-telling steals the show throughout the album, with riveting moments that explain just who he is. The triumph is heard on the first record, “Critical 2 Stable”, where he has an honest moment with himself about not knowing how his life would turn out. He professes to give his heart out to the streets, bleeding profusely and it was all for nothing. The thought of seeing his child and woman by his side keeps that pressure down a tad.

While “Get A Bag” is a motto for him, it’s also a life-or-death understanding. He confesses in “One Time I Cried” that his broke state made him shed tears. The reflections of trapping and being active over sentimental production paint the picture of the struggle. The core of the album has big-name Michigan features Babyface Ray, BabyTron, and Icewear Vezzo. He comes to the conclusion in “Deep In The Game 2” that his past doesn’t have to be his present. He is coming into his second chance with a new thought process; get a bag and provide for the family. This story isn’t just for redemption, but a celebration that AllStar JR defied all odds and was able to rap even better than he’s ever had. 

Remember The Name

Luke Bar$

When I think about rappers from Massachusetts, regrettably I think of the blandness that is Sammy Adams. His swagger-less demeanor instantly soured my thoughts on what could be for that state as a youth. Then there are the cringe fest’s Joyner Lucas and Token. Recently, there have been budding stars that have risen such as Bia, Cousin Stizz, and the collective of VanBuren. One of the members of that group is Luke Bar$, who dropped Angels Never Die.

His energy speaks to that of a Smino prototype; with high-pitched tones relating to the days of old and what has impacted him personally. On a record like “Sim Simma” you get the ferocity in production, but the whispers about getting money by any means. Then you have the sweet sounds of harmonies on songs like “Peanut Butter” with pure serenity in the production. His flows on “I Feel Like Aaliyah” are cutthroat, hitting all his peaks at the inspirational end of the album. His talent is undeniable at this juncture. Luke conquers all with his newest album, fitting in all pockets of his background and his talent as a rapper. Massachusetts got a good one here. 

OB Santana


If you needed a reason to feel motivation flowing through your veins, look no further than the Scranton, Pennsylvania rapper OB Santana. With the scene trying to expand in the Electric City, one of the biggest standouts is separating himself from the rest on Lost In My Mood 3. During the first two series, he flows through confidence, ponderance, and pain. OB is coming at everyone’s neck on his newest tape, flexing his muscles of drive and determination. “Interlude” is the perfect track that embodies the long nights of perfecting his craft and keeping your head afloat from all of life’s bullshit. His investment in music is specifically noticeable in the energetic flow he conducts in the song.

Throughout the eight-track project, his display of conviction only grows stronger. “How Much More” is a plea, trying to understand what more he has to prove in showcasing his talents. “Who willing to put it all on a bet with me, I’m five steps ahead of n***** that’s next to me.” OB wants to carry the throne and take risks that he feels no one in his situation would. “Look How We Live” is his outlook on the future. He envisions face-timing his mother as he overlooks everything he’s earned from the hard work he has put in. It features some of the better talents from Scranton such as ENVY Goat, Situated Ty, and Eli Benji. But OB Santana is looking to lead the pack to success through his faith in himself and versatility of genre switching.


The state of New Jersey has gotten a lot of love for the “Jersey Club” swing that has taken over the nation. Lil Uzi Vert has taken it upon himself to show love with his latest smash hit “Just Wanna Rock”. However, Papo2oo4 is here to disrupt all of that with a more stern approach to East Coast rap. His sound replicates something of the G-Unit days, you can hear prime 50 Cent in his voice and aura. PAP on PED’s symbolizes where he feels his skills are ranked. It’s like remembering how great Barry Bonds is, but now he is hitting 70 home runs compared to 45. It’s elite on a new level.

You can hear that influence of the baggy G-Unit tees on a track like “Chi Town”, with grimy production and a locked-in mindset of wealth. Papo’s voice echoes throughout “Onna Westside”, proving he is the star of the show compared to his producer. The most compelling track comes from the collaboration of Papo and Monday Night on “Kurt Rambis”. The luxurious keys and the regal vibe is what Monday Night thrives on, shit-talking on a professional level. Meanwhile the Elizabeth, New Jersey artist follows up with a more tempered verse himself. Where he is mostly mean-mugging the whole project, Papo decides to elegantly glide on this track. His main purpose is to have his name stick and soar beyond the competition. With this new project, he succeeded at just that. 

Best New Singles

Some singles stood above the rest, in a mix of famous pop stars, hidden R&B singers, and rappers who are making a name for themselves. 

  1. Miley Cyrus – Flowers
  1. PARTYNEXTDOOR – Her Old Friends
  2. Brionne – RUMBLE ft. COUPE
  1. ASAP Rocky – Same Problems?
  2. Armani White – GOATED ft. Denzel Curry
  3. Marcus Ariah – Bird Call
  1. EST Gee – BLOW UP 
  3. Kali Uchis – I Wish You Roses

10. Vic Mensa – STRAWBERRY LOUIS VUITTON ft. Maeta & Thundercat

Press Play

January impressed me, considering the situation of artists not wanting to drop that early in the year. However, there are more than a few that deserve a spin that I have either already written about previous to this article or haven’t mentioned yet. 

  1. Lil Yachty – Let’s Start Here (January 27th)
  2. Popcaan – Great, He Is (January 27th)
  1. 21 Lil Harold – After The Curse (January 13th)
  2. Boldly James x Rich Gains – Indiana Jones (January 20th)
  3. 03 Greedo – Free 03 (January 9th) 
  4. Oddisee – To What End (January 20th) 
  1. French Montana x DJ Drama – Coke Boys 6 (January 6th)
  2. Ice Spice – Like…? EP (January 20th)
  3. BabyTron – Bin Reaper 3: New Testament (January 13th)
  1. Styles P – Penultimate: A Calm Still In The Wolf (January 27th)