(Distant Dreams Music)
Thanks to a serendipitous collaboration with Kendrick Lamar last year on his debut mixtape, Watts Up
, Gee Watts is one of Kansas City’s most buzzed-about rappers. And when his debut, 199x
(say: nineteen ninety never
), was at last released, in April, it stirred up a flurry of approval from underground hip-hop blogs and local listeners.
Watts earned this success without a bunch of big-name assists; there are minimal guest appearances, and no Lamar. The appeal instead lies in Watts’ ability to merge throwback samples from the likes of Jay Z, Outkast and 2Pac with his own fresh flow and slick production (compliments of Arkutec, Mike Hurst and D/Will). The result is an album that was born from the blissful marriage of ’90s-era hip-hop and the synth-driven beats of the Internet age. It’s hard to settle on just one highlight of this excellent release, but “Flatline” makes a strong case as Watts delivers his purposeful lyrics over a smoky, jazzy bass line.
Stream the album here