Verbal Kent Credit: Brandon Damon

Veteran underground Chicago rapper Dan Weiss (aka Verbal Kent) sculpts his syllables to display their contours or even give them jagged edges, but at the same time his flow lends his words a wiggle like Jell-O. He’s found a great partnership with D.C. production duo the Other Guys, who understand how to augment the swing in his performances. On their first collaborative full-length, Blade of the Short Cut (Hipnott), the Other Guys provide Weiss with understated, soul-inflected samples that befit his transparently soul-baring verses. Atop the dreamy, twinkling instrumental of “The Waiting Room,” he raps about trying to balance fatherhood with work (he’s the founder of Chicago coffee company Dollop), and his clenched-jaw delivery dramatizes all the stress and sweat he’s put into providing for his family—and how much harder he’ll work to spend more time with his kids.   v