Chapel Hill rapper Well$ has been doing a great Drake impression of late.
No, he’s not issuing back-to-back dis tracks at fellow rappers or crooning over Latin riddims like the OVO flag-bearer, but his recent behavior mimics something that only Drake and a handful of other major artists seem to have successfully employed so far: the loose “single” as the most powerful marketing tool in any rapper’s arsenal today.
Since May 2014’s MTSYD: Revenge of the African Booty Scratcher, Well$ has been completely quiet in terms of traditional releases. No EPs, no albums, no mixtapes. There were hints about a project called $ophisticated Trap going into 2015, though it seems as if that has been scrapped.
And yet, far from floundering in low-output purgatory, Well$ has thrived, not only maintaining his foothold as the Triangle’s most hyped up-and-comer (with King Mez now in LA) but further establishing it, through a series of off-the-cuff, unexpected single releases that continue to garner national attention.
His latest offering, “Coldest Heart,” is immediately recognizable by the simplistic, pixelated rendering of a human heart used for its cover art, ironic following a week in which Twitter nearly sparked an insurrection among its most avid users for an unexpected heart release of its own.
But where Twitter used its spontaneous heart rollout to destroy a beloved, core part of its identity, Well$ used the opportunity to embrace an asset that listeners could only want more of: his punishing technical abilities on the mic. Well$ delivers a number of memorable lines throughout the song’s nearly three-minute run time, starting with an opening salvo that is equal parts critique and celebration of his current lifestyle: “I done died twice/In the belly of the beast, chasing the night lights/Friday night stardom, Saturday hangovers.”
At one point he even references the high rate at which he’s been churning out individual tracks, saying, “Boy I roll with some hooligans/ doubled up on the output they coulda swore it was two of him.” This is Well$ at his best: with the space and freedom to roam between choruses and treat us to basketball-inspired gems like “Everybody thinks they can do it until they guard Kobe,” and calling himself “Tactician, the X’s and O’s, Brad Stevens with no diploma.”
It’s another promising taste of what’s to come from Well$, but ultimately it’s just that—a taste. There’s no release date as yet for the follow-up to MTSYD, so we’ll probably hear another random loosie before his next full-on project. If it’s anything like “Coldest Heart,” though, that’s not necessarily a problem.