Killer Mike | “Run”
Michael Santiago Render, aka Atlanta hip-hop scion Killer Mike, has been busier in recent years with his rap duo Run the Jewels. The group, Killer Mike and El-P, embarked on a tour this past year with Rage Against the Machine. Even with this solo venture, his first in a decade, Mike told Complex magazine that “if Run The Jewels is the X-Men, this solo song represents a storyline that’s just Logan.” It’s been a busy year for Mike, who also managed to squeeze in a compelling guest appearance on the Netflix series Ozark.
With “Run,” the rapper and activist wanted to draw attention to Black Americans’ contributions to history, which he said are often overlooked during the national celebration of freedom and independence. To that end, this powerful video features civil rights icons from across the centuries, including Frederick Douglass, Sojourner Truth, Shirley Chisholm, Tommie Smith and John Carlos.
The song also features verses by acclaimed fellow Atlanta rapper Young Thug, who along with rapper Gunna is currently awaiting trial from jail as part of a RICO prosecution.
Old Sea Brigade | “5 a.m. Paradise”
It’s probably no accident that Ben Cramer, aka Old Sea Brigade, has seen his songs featured in television shows that tend to go for the emotional wallop, like Grey’s Anatomy and This Is Us. His songs, though quiet and easy enough to lay under a dramatic scene, are also lyrically potent. This one is no different.
The Atlanta-born, Nashville-based one-man band has been building a name for himself on the indie scene since his self-titled EP debut was released in January 2016. While he hasn’t released a full-length album since May 2021, in November last year, Cramer collaborated with singer Nina June on her song, “The Great Reveal.” That track also included the contributions of singer/songwriter Jon Bryant. June told American Songwriter that the three artists came together from their respective time zones to work remotely and finished the song in three hours.
Cherish | “Power of the Female”
So, check this out if you want to feel old: The Powerpuff Girls, if we were going by roughly when they were in their heyday to now, would be full-fledged Powerpuff 30-somethings today. Somehow, it’s been a full 20 years since Blossom, Buttercup and Bubbles made their sadly doomed feature-length film debut that, especially when competing with megahit Lilo and Stitch that year, was almost guaranteed as a box-office bomb. Though it only drew $11 million in ticket sales, it nonetheless garnered some decent reviews at the time . . . and sort of paved the way for this ode to the girls, released a year later by Atlanta’s own Destiny’s Child-esque group, Cherish.
Comprised of the King sisters — Farrah, Neosha and twins Fallon and Felisha — Cherish were evidently huge fans of the Cartoon Network show and, given that they were still in their teens themselves, were excited to contribute. A few years later, they would release their biggest hit in 2006 with “Do It To It,” featuring Sean Paul. That song climbed up to the #12 spot on the Billboard charts. But our Vintage Track of the Week always had to be this one — for the extra-retro special effects alone.
Since they faded from the public eye, Fallon and Felisha King have kept busy penning with a multitude of different ventures. They’ve written songs for the TV show Empire, co-produced for pop artists like Justin Bieber, and even taken forays into reality television.