Respect The Neighbors • Jon Waltz

Age: 20 Hometown: Memphis, TN Follow: Twitter // Soundcloud

Jon Waltz is condensed soul, just take his lyrical potency and add water. The Memphis rapper + singer has been making waves over the last couple years, confidently sporting his smooth croon that keeps a natural and easy vibe to his songs while still avoiding convention like the plague. His music is truthfully emotive and structurally creative; no generic pop found here.  Jon Waltz is making honest music that avoids falling into cheese, and the answer for "how" is continued self – awareness.

Essential Listens

While you hear this mindfulness and knowledge in his words, the true application of his ability to look inwards is demonstrated by his pivot towards pop music. The Memphis performer started out making mysterious dream raps that rode a crackling arrangement of samples, but his sound has changed since his inception, while still staying 100% Jon Waltz. Alyss was his first EP, an undeniable musical success that was hard to explain but a joy to embrace. Cloud rap with one foot on the ground, Alyss was a portrait of strange streets and late nights in Memphis. It’s a sundown journey, but one with lightness so prominent you’ll catch yourself floating. Countless influences could be heard on the album, with notes of Drake, Outkast, 90's rock, etc. And this search for one's own voice could be why we now are hearing the new Jon Waltz. No doubt the Memphis rapper has taken some time deciding what direction he wants to bring his music as he settled on his sound. Now he has zigged where others have zagged and is running towards the pop sensibilities that he is uniquely suited for.

Since Alyss, Jon Waltz has two main new drops, one which just arrived yesterday. First was his track "Anna", which took a U-turn on his music aesthetics, eschewing the casual philosopher hymns for the more personal side of club music. And if that's all we'd heard, maybe we wouldn't have been into the switch-up that Jon Waltz is banking on. But as of yesterday he's just released his track “Justified", a song that takes the melodic weirdness of Alyss and once again sneaks it into a dance party, Waltz' Trojan horse for promoting his distinct voice. "Justified" absolutely bumps, and validates all the creative choices he's made up to this point. The verses and hooks slink into each other over the track’s shaking percussion, guitar wails and echoes, and Jon Waltz’ elastic voice. This isn’t selling out, this is expanding. Jon Waltz can see a lane opening up just for him and undoubtedly feels that his music can reach more people this way. Zoom.

Think you'll like Jon Waltz's bold creative choices? Check out our essential listens and see how you feel.