Last week NYC hip-hop collective thebaremax released their sophomore studio record Smudge. Following the release of a few singles in 2021, Smudge sees the collective’s four members – Bert Knox, lamuse, GLENWORLDTOUR and yeahCALEB – delivering tenacious and energetic performances over the LP’s ten tracks. Smudge is the group’s long awaited follow-up to their 2019 debut PULP, but despite the hiatus, each song carries thebaremax’s own signature take on the New York hip-hop sound. One track that stands out in particular is “Hunk Money” – a laid-back banger that levels the collective’s undeniable talent with an infectious bounce.
“Hunk Money” sees Bert Knox and yeahCALEB trading verses that come so naturally that their performance is almost effortless. Over a mix that synthesizes a vintage hip-hop sample with modern trap percussion, the two young rappers go bar-for-bar giving listeners a glimpse into their background and artistry. The composition of “Hunk Money” is much more minimal than something you may find on thebaremax’s debut PULP, but somehow Bert Knox and yeahCALEB are able to instill a rare creative energy into this track that is, quite frankly, uncommon for artists this early into their career. If you’re a fan of rappers like Kota the Friend or Chuuwee, be sure to check out Smudge before they blow up. The rest of the record features additional performances from members not heard on “Hunk Money” alone, so consider Smudge the best way to dive in. If you’re anything like me, you’ll be adding some new tracks to your weekly rotation.