Get Refreshed: The Importance of Astari, lei’s Hot Streak Continues, and Remembering The Month Of Uzi

“Get Refreshed” is a weekly column by Billy Bugara covering all things digital in the music world. Refresh yourself here

Cover by Bernard Vernon

NOVAGANG (Feat. Funeral and Zee!): “HUNNID ROUND”

Talk about the most obvious pairing to ever exist. Though the former is among the group’s longest-tenured members and the latter being recruited just this year, NOVAGANG’s very own Zee! and Funeral perform together like Magic and Kareem. Both these two have the ability to take on practically any style they’d like in a given moment, but the relentlessly brazen deliveries heard on tracks like “HUNNID ROUND” are perhaps where they shine brightest on a consistent basis. Every time these two take this particular approach, the resulting track always factors out to an experience that’s equal-parts intoxicating as it is poignant. Combined with exceptional production work from their collective’s now de-facto leader Stef, no track better exudes the group’s eternal mantra of “intensified simplicity” than what we have here.


lei: “whatiswrongwithme?”

Could someone please tell lei to just… miss? For once? I mean, we’re nearly 3 months into 2021, they’ve dropped almost 10 songs in this time, and not a single one hasn’t been a hit. What’s even more spectacular about this output is just how diverse the casts of sounds and approaches are on each of them; each track sees them flaunting at least one new impressive creative tool out of their seemingly endless repertoire. “whatiswrongwithme?” – their latest single – is perhaps their most addicting yet, as they take advantage of the multi-faceted chaos that the ria and pandi-produced instrumental offers with all the infectious elegance they could ever offer vocally.  


Co-op (Feat. Space): “Proud of Us”

There are some songs that come along and just perfectly encapsulate all the best things about a particular creative style; so many come close, but the ones that fully accomplish this are so very rare. Somewhat out of the blue, Co-op’s very own Space just did this with their recent drop on the collective’s page “Proud of Us.” This type of moody, downing, yet deceptively-energetic approach to hip-hop and pop has already seen its highest peaks reached with fellow acts from Co-op like Roxas and 4am – the latter of the two providing production on this track – but Space’s efforts here truly bring out the best of this sound in its fullest effect imaginable, featuring nearly 2 straight minutes of memorable bars and maddeningly appealing refrains. 


bodyGaard & Exodus1900: “Auto Salon”

Words by Mano Sundaresan

As it goes in any genre, the most promising digicore artists look both forward and back as they create art. To listen to some of these vocalists and producers is to hear them in conversation with a decade-plus of online rap, and on “Auto Salon,” bodyGaard and Exodus1900 pull in the gothic textures of tread music. Popularized by the producer collective Working On Dying, tread was the sound of late-2010s SoundCloud, defined by overwhelming 808s, high-BPM beats and muted zombie raps. Woven into the melodic approach of two digicore artists by producer skoolio, it feels in step with the scene of today, a testament to tread’s impact on the shape and speed of online music.


Donate To Astari, Watch The keyblayde808 Video. That’s All.

Any online music fan would likely say they “know” the extensive influence that Astari – one of the 2010s most prominent talent hosting channels on YouTube – has to their name, but even if so, I encourage you to think even harder about that fact. Astari has been and forever will be an irreplicable tastemaker — someone who has helped craft, chronicle, and complete the ever-evolving picture of underground music as it has continued to develop since the channel’s inception. Each and every participant within the online underground owes something to this magnificent platform of creativity and inspiration alike; it’s really as simple as that. 

They just showcased a typically-masterful video for keyblayde808’s “trust issues” — the lil wet wet-shot production being entirely worthy of such an honor due to the quality of the song and visual cues alike. But going beyond the outstanding release, Astari has recently been faced with some incredibly rough circumstances and they need all the help they can get. That’s why it’s so important that you donate to their Patreon if at all possible. This is not just a cause for the greater good, it’s a cause that allows us all to repay such an influential figure after all they’ve given to us throughout these years.


Fresh Reflection: When 2020 Belonged To Lil Uzi

March 2021 marks a year since the death of normalcy across the globe, and for better or worse, all of us have spent this time mulling over the past 365-plus days with a telling sense of exhaustion above all else. We truly do have quite a lot to think about in regards to the lost potential brought on by the pandemic, but I think it’s fascinating how we’ve collectively forgotten about the sheer impact Lil Uzi Vert entered March of last year with. His social media firestorm surrounding the long-awaited Eternal Atake was one thing on its own — but then the album actually came out. A week later, he goes and drops a deluxe version of the album, except it’s a sequel to Lil Uzi Vert vs. the World… but it’s still noted as a deluxe album. That was a typically-confounding Uzi move; this entire month was, in essence, a typically-confounding Uzi move. And yet, it was all-but-forgotten and dismissed by the time April and its proceeding months came along for obvious reasons. Think about this time and really ask yourself the following question: could Uzi have left a bigger impact with these releases if our world had stayed normal?