Connecticut Rap Music is Weird: Breeze Dollaz and Other Hartford Emcees are Changing the Way We Think About Millennial and Generation Z SoundCloud Hip-Hop.
It is often in the overlooked cities we find the most exciting rap movements. When places like Houston and New Orleans arrived on the hip-hop circuit, their artists achieved commercial success slowly compared to their West and East Coast counterparts. Now, Hartford and New Haven, Connecticut, tucked in the suburbs, away from the typical commercial influences of New York City and Philadelphia, are producing significant flows in an all-ready saturated genre.
Your first experience listening to Connecticut rap will be overwhelming, if not jarring. Its regional sound reverberates throughout your psyche. In multiple crossfades dance-friendly twists, synthesized singing, and fast bass push against your eardrums. Many local artists like Breeze Dollaz, Mula Guapo, Snowprah, and Brillo are disorienting SoundCloud hitters. They ironically mimic the distorted, low-budget motifs that currently flood the platform. Connecticut rappers are ruthless in their creative attempt to stand out and rebrand Millenial and Generation Z internet hip-hop with joyful, dance-filled chaos.
In addition to rejecting, and then embracing current SoundCloud samples, Connecticut artists also refuse to regurgitate chart-topping trap music like Migos or stadium-sound, contemporary flows like Drake. Instead, they deliver mood-altering hip-hop POP that refuses to take itself too seriously.
In the past five years, the popular rise of the “yanking” dance/sound movement has made Hartford’s emcees utilize its chaotic sound in almost every track. Yanking is a fast-paced melody and combination dance move that merges fast footwork with rolling shoulders, tweaked clavicles, and sky-high waving. Initially inspired by twenty-year-old Zoe Dowdell (aka Gangstalicious), recently killed by New Haven police, yanking offers local emcees a recognizable sonic flow to stand out regionally.
Dowdell’s sound, similarly to most Connecticut rappers (although while each unique), actively plays with hip-hop’s legendary chart-topping hits. The most recent single, Hartford Yank Anthem by Future Allah (produced by Freddy Duko) introduces “I’m from Hartford” with the sole intention of sending you onto the dancefloor.
Breeze Dollaz is one of the newest emcees establishing Hartford, Connecticut’s rap scene for commercial consumption. Breeze is known for his work ethic in Hartford. In an interview for Super Indy Kings, he speculates about his current role in its rap renaissance, “You got to be a different type of breed,” a sign that signifies that “you are different.” His newest EP Dear Summer features three tracks that carry his unique vibe into the Fall. In “Down 4 Real,” his verses bubble over sleek notes. “Really Tho” echoes like you are underwater as he cascades into self-reflective flows about his never-ending hustle. The last song, “Body Callin’” brings you the closest to summer’s gaze.
Connecticut rappers like Breeze Dollaz are releasing their energy on the hip-hop genre. In This is Your Brain on Music: The Science of Human Obsession, author Daniel J. Levitin says that a “song is a living, breathing entity” where the tempo has a gait, or pulse “which the heart of the song is beating.” Young, independent emcees like Breeze know that arcadian rhythm, the rate at which all new rap trends will tend to fall. Its unique approach gives him authority and embraces Connecticut’s hip-hop heart, pleasure is more amusing than traditional East Coast basslines.