trap pop

Marlei: “Sheesh”

There’s no question that Queen Bey’s court extends to the furthest reaches of the globe. But especially in her hometown of Houston, Beyoncé really is royalty. Her majesty’s legacy – in particular her role in the progression of R&B into trap-pop – continues to shine as a statewide piece of inspiration with its pinnacle smack dab in H-Town.

And although she’s not necessarily taking a shot at Beyoncé’s crown, rising singer-songwriter Marlei could definitely feel at home in “Third Ward Trill”‘s inner circle. Marlei first emerged in Fall 2021 with her incendiary debut single “Burn”, instantly channelling Beyoncé’s regal confidence and sultry, soulful vocals. And today, just in time for rising Texas temps, Marlei’s cranked things way up on her sophomore offering.

Embedded in the steamy essence of the Bayou City, “Sheesh” finds Marlei directly comparing herself to the Queen and Ariana Grande before accepting and amplifying her own intrinsic audacity. Produced by Zayn/Mind of Mine magic ear XYZ, “Sheesh”‘ll have you saying its namesake thanks to Marlei’s lilting intervals, disciplined harmonies, and a sense of unbridled sassiness that might even make Sasha Fierce use her safe word.

waverly: “overcomplicated” (feat. mHart)

Trap-pop. It’s decidedly a young person’s game. I mean sure, you’ve got “older” folks like Drake and Doja Cat purveying it on the Billboard charts but really, the target demographic and the generation who’s going to take it to the next level are people in their teens and twenties. Which brings us to Wil Brookhart. Born in Cambodia and now based right here in Austin, Brookhart’s been no stranger to collaborations in recent years; a continuing contributor and Artist Instructor for Mother Falcon Music Lab, this multi-instrumentalist/producer has also helped shape the sound of Carley Bearden, fruit collective, and most recently Casie Luong. Throughout all those endeavors, Brookhar balanced guitar-driven indie with MIDI-textured R&B, but his jump from producer to solo songwriter is really what propelled Brookhart into the big top of pop trapeze within the past year. That shift coincided with the adoption of a new handle, waverly, and the release of four standalone singles since April. Electric guitar is still the central instrument, but beats, bass, synth pads, and now, Brookhart’s processed-yet-velvety vocals complement these otherwise-spacious arrangements. Today, on Brookhart’s 24th birthday, waverly stirs a little bit of Juice WRLD into a three-minute sonic smoothie. Unmarred by complex techniques or convoluted chord changes, the simplicity of “overcomplicated” (compared with its emotional weight) is what guarantees it to be an enduring, widely-accessible earworm.