The ascent of AJ Suede over the past few years has been a fun journey to follow. The Seattle MC simply can’t be pinned down due to his shadowy style, versatility, and eclectic influences – it might surprise you that a mainstay of PNW backpacking who works with R.A.P. Ferreira is actually from New York and affiliated with the Raider Klan, but here we are.
While Suede has always had a steady output, it was the 2022 collab album Metatron’s Cube with Televangel that broke him to many new fans, and everything he’s dropped since then has been so vastly different from the last and on a whole new level of quality. While there are few doing this dusty, heady hip-hop better, we can only hope he keeps it up in 2024 and maybe even returns to his harder roots.
Here, we will discuss some of AJ Suede’s best projects of 2023:
Suede came out in 2023 swinging, dropping Indica Music last January. It was apparent from the title and artwork that he’d be stepping into his trippy bag, but little could prepare you for how layered and entrancing the production would be (shout out to Bloodblixing in particular), and the biting commentary that’s rapped so frankly and so haunting that it comes across as conspiracy.
As soon as Parthian Shots was announced, you knew it was gonna be a big deal. As the follow up to the phenomenal Metatron’s Cube, AJ Suede and Televangel were obviously going to pull out all the stops by grabbing big name features (Bruiser Wolf and PNW legends such as Nacho Picasso, Onry Ozzborn, and Milc), and adding some emotional, thematic weight. Tracks like “All That Jazz” place the world in Suede’s words for it’s minimal keys, and the duo’s chemistry is apparent across these 16 labors of love. Fake Four Inc. is a mecca for this brand of rap and they do so much to put great artists on.
Reoccurring Characters was the final sign that Steel Tipped Dove was one of the best producers of 2023, having already done full projects with Fatboi Sharif and Alaska Atoms. The cover art reflects the album’s entire sound well, with Steel Tipped Dove busting out some suffocatingly open and airy beats that draw on Suede’s darker side well. While it’s a short listen, they manage to cram in a whole lot of mind bending bars and beats that make it worth countless listens. Hopefully Steel Tipped Dove keeps at this pace in 2024 and keeps lacing so many off the wall MCs.
G’s Us – What Them Dogs Don’t Know They Know (with R.A.P. Ferreira)
This was overdue, and it couldn’t have made for a better victory lap to AJ Suede’s 2023. The Ruby Yacht duo are really quite different on paper, but they clearly had a lot of fun through the recording of What Them Dogs Don’t Know They Know. It was a chance for AJ to step into that thoughtful, poetic mode, while Ferreira is acting as an OG of the scene and as a label head now. What’s more is it’s full of Steel Tipped Dove beats. Hopefully G’s Us is more than just a one off.