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With artists like Chance the Rapper serving as living manifestations of Kanye West's legacy, it's hard not to evaluate contemporary rappers according to how to relate to and differ from West in terms of music, persona or both. A rapper that invites this kind of comparison is Mateo Akhi. The Jersey City rapper's most recent LP, veyebes, features a potent mix of rootsy hip hop reminiscent of West's earlier stuff and the distorted edgeof his later works. The key difference, however, lies in the vocals. While West is mostly known for his rapping, Akhi raps and sings all throughout the album, quite literally, finding his own voice. Tracks like 'poplar trees' show Akhi at his best, with the stormy instrumental perfectly matching his intense vocals. You can catch him live at SOB's on 2/22. —Henry Solotaroff-Weber
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