By Grant Golden
April 1, 2021
Despite the tumult of 2020, Winston-Salem’s OG Spliff is coming off his most successful year, racking up a couple hundred thousand streams and earning features on Spotify’s “Fresh Finds” playlist, among others. Spliff kicks off 2021 in an equally impressive manner– tapping some of his most esteemed local cohorts Sonny Miles (Winston-Salem) and LesTheGenius (Raleigh) for an impeccable new single, “Still.”
On its own, “Still” showcases three young and inventive emcees, but paired with a visual accompaniment from the equally prolific Underrated Views and Ryan Pham, “Still” proves to be one of the early standout releases of 2021. Beginning with a water gun robbery and devolving into an alleyway game of craps with Arizona Tea cans in hand, the video for “Still” shares the same blasé but playful attitude as the track.
The olsc-produced beat is composed mostly of negative space with vocal samples and keys peppered throughout the track. Instrumentation is sparse, primarily riding on a steady blend of hi-hats, snares and kicks. The rare burst of keys sit low in the mix, giving Spliff, Sonny and Les the ability to navigate around this loose structure with their own freewheeling melodies to dazzling results.
“Born to finesse so like how could you blame me?” Spliff raps near the top of a verse that outlines a complicated relationship with women, finances, and the daily grind to success. Spliff’s cadence is both percussive and melodic, blending attention-grabbing line breaks with lyrical sincerity to make for a stellar outing from the young upstart.
Sonny Miles’ verse showcases his own unique style rap-singing, turning his rhythm on a dime from a suave croon to biting deliveries. Continuing the thread of gracefully embracing life’s struggles, Miles beckons that “we all dine / know that time is precious” as he closes with a playful Michael Jackson reference.
Raleigh’s LesTheGenius closes out the track with a packed verse, cramming in as many punchlines, similes, and hard facts as possible in the minute he’s allotted. With topics ranging from biased over-policing to financial hardships it would be easy for this to feel like a particularly heavy verse, but Les brings in just enough to display his excellent sense of dynamism.
Towing a delicate balance between optimism and realism, “Still” is a track that reaffirms the talent of these young artists in 2020 and helps to keep momentum strong for Spliff’s upcoming EP, Pre-Roll.