Jay Wood Credit: Courtesy the Artist

Three years ago Chicago rapper Jay Wood (a member of the Freesole collective) dropped his debut full-length, Self Doubt, where he made mincemeat of hard-edged beats while sharing the mike with more established MCs, including Ajani Jones and Femdot. Since then Wood has polished his skills and reconciled his fierce vocals with his interest in pop songwriting. On his new EP, Trackstar (Freesole), he matches the ironclad mettle of his toughest instrumentals and harshest drums with boisterous performances that tease out the sweetness hidden in the tracks—on “Champagne” he rounds off his rapid raps with a light, honeyed touch. Producers Namesake and Moses Mode also have an ear for glossy pop, which comes through most prominently on the title track—Wood matches the music’s ostentatious R&B vibes with gold-flaked singing that’s sensuous enough to make Travis Scott blush.   v