I wasn’t sure what to make of Jimi Tents when he first took the stage at Music Hall of Williamsburg on December 9. As the opener for Vince Staples on his Circa ’06 Tour, Tents’ dark grooves, equal parts soulful and synthetic, mixed with dense rhyme patterns and just a touch of charisma caused the room to explode – and that was before he’d even performed “Landslide.”
Looking at his debut EP-turned-mixtape 5 0’Clock Shadow released last October, it’s easy to find an entrenched soul wise beyond Tents’ 19 years. He can balance bravado and introspection with the best of them, with an eclectic ear for beats that keeps his rhymes bouncing through your head. Did Kendrick Lamar just cross your mind for a second there? Tents dropped a freestyle over the Thundercat-assisted beat of Untitled, Unmastered‘s fifth track that makes a bold swipe at that claim “In ’96, n*ggas thinkin’ Pac the profit, in 2016, n*ggas thinkin’ Dot the profit/I ain’t sayin’ anybody’s lyin’ cause both them n*ggas is fire, but in 2020, get ready to crown me the messiah”.
5 O’Clock Shadow is proof positive that the East New York rapper is off to a good start, so here’s a handful of songs from there and across the internet that will help chart the path.
“Fuck You Freestyle: Death To Boom Bap”
Tents doesn’t seem to enjoy labels all that much as this 128-bar freestyle proves out of the gate. He was only 18 when this track dropped last year, but with lyrics that are double-dutch complex and with confidence to spare, “Fuck You Freestyle” alone proves that he’s got a future in rap.
East New York is capable of being both bleak and breakneck, and Tents doesn’t hesitate to show the Brooklyn subset’s darker side while railing against it on “District 19.” “Linear as a tightrope dangling in the center, I’m tryna not be a product of my environment,” he raps following observations on the divisive power of violence, EBT, and family-inherited blood pressure. If that isn’t enough to submerge you, the minimalism of the beat will do the trick.
“Elmer Fudd” (feat. Moxie Raia)
Tents links 5-0 with everyone’s favorite bumbling hunter Elmer Fudd on this thumping Sedroc-produced track. With lyrics like “If a body drop in the hood and nobody hear it, does it make a sound?,” “Elmer Fudd” is running the same streets as Kendrick Lamar’s “Alright” but at an even more somber pace that makes a potent juxtaposition with the thump in its step.
Through all the trials and tribulations life throws at him, Tents just wants to win on his own terms, and “Landslide” is a testament to his drive and works solely as a low-key jam in its own right. Whatever direction Jimi Tents is headed in next, his landslide of fans is sure to keep growing and growing.