Over the past month, we’ve seen some creative ways through which hip-hop’s true spirit continues to thrive during the pandemic. Along with new dope tracks, we’re featuring a live cypher filmed at Dorchester Art Project with some of Boston’s rising LGBTQ+ rappers. As with every Listen Local: Hip Hop Edition, we focus on uplifting the voices and artistic output of our local community members of color in an effort to expose a larger swath of Boston listeners to new perspectives in the bars written, beats produced, and stories told.


MiSFiT’s CLUB CYPHER VOL.1 feat. J.A.B.S, Medino Green, and Kweeng Doll

Beats, rhymes, and life—that’s what The MiSFiT’s Club served up at ‘the Cypher Vol.1 showcase on the Dorchester Art Project stage.  Local LGBTQ+ rappers Medino Green, J.A.B.S., and Kweeng Doll came together for an epic cypher in front of a masked DJ WHYSHAM for some classic, raw, dressed down hip-hop that would give any hip-hop die-hard exactly the fix they need. The flows had swagger, the beat was old-school, and the rhymes were mellow with a positive vibe. On Instagram, The MiSFiT’s Club explains that they’re about “breaking down boundaries and showing that there is a space for the LGBTQ+ community in the hip hop world. The Cypher welcomes all LGBTQ+ rappers to a safe and comfortable space to also connect with one another. MiSFiT’s Club Cypher is for LGBTQ+ artists by LGBTQ+ artists with hopes to shine more of a light to these artists and spitters in our community[.]”

-Jared Steinberg


Cash Rules” by 8Zipp

This is a track for Wu-Tang fans!  It’s a gritty, well-built homage to the hip-hop pioneers from Staten Island. Under the label Shooterz Muzik Machine, proud Roxbury resident 8Zipp never shies away from talking about his surroundings.  With ominous background strings playing as a thunderous beat drops 40 seconds in, the song abruptly takes off—grabbing the listener and pulling them into the car for the ride.  8Zipp uses notable wordplay to sprinkle references to the Wu-Tang Clan throughout the song, whose title references one of Wu-Tang’s most notorious tracks, “C.R.E.A.M. (Cash Rules Everything Around Me).” 8Zipp raps, “Cash rules everything / believe it, it’s true / we OD’d with that Method like a piece of the Wu,” referencing Method Man and the infamous, deceased rap icon, ODB. Also known for his intense visuals, 8Zipp’s videos are gaining steam, rounding up to over 100k+ views on YouTube this year.  

-Jared Steinberg


My Truth” by Marquis Filthy

This is an honest track about inspiration, overcoming adversity, and vulnerability with lyrics like, “I just needed to be the husband mama needed[.]” Boston-based rapper Marquis Filthy writes extremely revealing lyrics about his past in this song, giving the audience full view of his deepest vulnerabilities; it’s not hard to see that the song feels like a therapy session for the artist. The production uses a sped-up soul sample on the hook and adds an additional beat halfway through the track that gives it extra bounce. On making his album Deeper Than Filthy, Marquis recently told Vanyaland, “I went on a journey of unpacking layers of my past, from beginning a healing and seeking my truth to eventually writing myself free through this album.”  

-Jared Steinberg


Virtue” by $ean Wire

Between Wire’s scratchy vocals and perky ad-libs that echo the likes of Anderson .Paak, it’s easy to wonder how the hell he’s flown under the radar for so long. On his track “Virtue” an undeniable bounce rides on and Wire hits on the crevices of life where injustices lurk, from the war on Black people and the divisive, skewed coverage of it, all the way to the very root of the bigotry. He decries, “fuck the system, fuck the news, can’t kill us, multiplying.” When the chorus hits, Wire lays out this tug-of-war mantra where the definition of Wire’s character is contradicted by two significant perspectives in his life, his reverend and his grandma, rapping, “Reverend call me a sinner, my grandma call me a winner / wrong but it feels so right/my old world grew bigger.” His unfiltered edge—both in his verses and his vocals—and the authenticity that Wire rides on is what makes his work so gripping. If there’s an artist that’s going to break Boston hip-hop’s glass ceiling, it’s $ean Wire. 

-Kristen Sallaberry


Lean Lean“ by Vintage Lee

When a Vintage Lee track hits the speakers, it’s evident that the Roxbury rapper grew up where rappers like Cousin Stizz, Big Leano and Jefe Replay run the streets. Although Stizz may have introduced the world to Boston’s homegrown trap, Lee’s been busy brewing her own blend. On the visual that accompanies her most played track, “Hennythings Possible,” Lee raps around the city in a bright yellow blazer, feeling as fresh as she looks, grooving and bumping to her own beat. This beautiful display of self-love—self-liberation—is infectious. “Lean Lean,” the introductory track from her 2017 record PiMP, runs solely on a few dubious bells that ride at different ranges and a few snare-sounding snaps to solidify the beat. Dignified as ever, Lee raps, “I’m the one with the wave right now/So please get out the way right now.” Though Lee doesn’t have a visual for “Lean Lean,” you can hear her rap through that sly smile, and you’ll be sitting there thinking “Well, damn, she’s right… anything is possible.” 

-Kristen Sallaberry


Graphic by Madison Arrichiello

Left photo by Dalvin Lopes
Middle photo by @btsdesignstudio
Right photo by @gentyprovisions

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