Review: Aisha RaQuel looks to introduce you to the “New Rebel Groove”

Hip-Hop is a culture that tends to move in waves and trends as it grows throughout the years. What is common right now may not be in just 5 years. For instance if you take a listen to most music from 2008 it was right on the cusp of when autotune was being introduced to the genre and used extensively. 10 years later in 2018 you’d be hard pressed to find a song that doesn’t carry some sort of melody backed by autotune.

Another trend for the culture that was prevalent around that same time is the lack of capable women in the industry. For a long time, with top acts like Remy Ma and Lil Kim serving jail sentences, the lane was pretty sparse save for the rare exceptions like Nicki Minaj. That is not as much of an issue in the current, with women like Cardi B and Rapsody earning critical and mainstream success along with a slew of other femcee’s buiding strong fanbases on a more underground level. Even in the state of Mississippi you will find quite a few strong MC’s who also happen to be female. One in particular is Hattiesburg representative Aisha RaQuel who is fresh off the press with her latest release “New Rebel Groove”.

In regards to Aisha’s vision heading into the creation of the EP she stated: “When I went into creating New Rebel Groove I wanted to grind through the winter and have it pay off in 2018. I’m just trying to get my foot in as many opportunities as possible and let the music grow.” Those words given to me before I even checked out the project became evident upon starting the music.

Things begin with “2 Time Zones” which acts as a not only an intro to the New Rebel Groove but also a view into the person who is Aisha RaQuel. The drowsy, slow pace of the production is the canvas for her to give you her roots but also her current position in this wide universe of ours. “Just a young shorty from the south side of Mississippi. Spit that sh*t that leave they mouth wide, keep f*cking with me.” Abrasive and honest, those lyrics are the first bars on a song that manages to effectively showcase a level of vulnerability and confidence that is rare combine. Good pick for the intro.

Next up on the 7-track opus is the project’s single “Deja Vu”. It’s much more of an upbeat tone than the previous, celebrating the belief she has in herself and how she can overcome any pitfalls she may be going through in the current moment. I can see anyone being able to relate to this one if nothing more. We all have those times when we need reassertion.

New Rebel Groove continues forth with “Sidewalk Surfin”. For an EP that does feature a style from Aisha RaQuel heavily featuring vocal effects it’s probably most well done here. The record is a trip from start to finish, definitely more of a stoner track with its content and melodic flow over sparse production. I feel as though she had the most fun recording this song out of all of them and it is kind of palpable when you check the song out. It’s a personal favorite of mine and I think many would agree upon listening to New Rebel Groove.

“Energy” follows and is kind of a mixture of the previous two tracks in both content and feeling. Those who are proponents of mary jane as a vice know that there is a certain energy that surrounds the feeling and that’s what this song aims to capture. Gspitta joins the record to add a few bars of his own.

Taking a break from the music to switch things up a bit, we get an interlude in the form of “OG Swizz Speaks”. I have no clue who OG Swizz is but I know he is one cool motherfucker after hearing the interlude. Essentially he gives us a motivational speech in his own OG format that adds a nice feel of uniqueness to New Rebel Groove. I think we all know someone like OG Swizz, but this particular skit showcases a personality that you didn’t even know you wanted to feel until it happened.

As we get towards the back-end of New Rebel Groove the song to come next is one that I feel is arguably the strongest of the project. “No Substitiution” is a song of hope for one who is chasing their dreams. The single is well put together and is one I could see as a fit for radio play. Ladone features on this one and absolutely kills his verse, taking the track to another level. This song is easily one of the more impressive ones to me.

The finale takes us to a more moody side of Aisha RaQuel. Titled “305 County Dr.” the track is probably the most introspective of the entire project. Here we get a focus on a lot of the battles that Aisha has had to face to get to where she is currently. It gives off a certain timestamp, making it a track that as an artist she can always go back to and know exactly how she was feeling in that moment. I like the fact that it is so specific on her left in this very moment as it gives us as listeners something to leave with until the next time we hear from her musically.

In conclusion, Aisha RaQuel proves herself well throughout “New Rebel Groove”. While I would not say she is in the upper echelon of the indie music scene in Mississippi as of yet she certainly shows the potential to be able to get there in the near future. Sonically everything is well placed on the project and her lyrical content sticks out as a strong point. She doesn’t make verses that don’t contain some words you can take with you in life. This is great in an era where a lot of music can be very meaningless. The main flaw I find with the tape is that she needs to work on developing better melodies if she intends to use them on every song as she did here. At times the melodic patterns can take away from the tracks when not done as effectively as on some other songs. Still, I would consider this a must listen to anyone interested in adding a new female MC with vast potential into their rotation.

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