LISTEN: Lew Salem refines a nostalgic confidence on new EP

San Diego rapper Lew Salem

San Diego-based rapper Lew Salem first came to our attention sometime early last year, following the release of his 2018 music video, "Trials." With bars that cut through with wry, playfully self-aware wit, Salem's M.O. on the microphone calls to mind a now-unfortunately bygone era of hip hop, and not on that sappy '90s real rap shit, but instead a better time—the blog era. 

Reminiscent of the cocky steez, delivery and production of former IllRoots mainstays like Que, XV, and Charles Hamilton, Lew Salem's newest and entirely self-produced EP Don't Touch Me I'm Expensive breathes through with the refined freshness of a familiar scent. The production, though kept minimal, ebbs and flows within warm keys under snapping drums, while Salem casually rides each song in various pockets, never keeping one flow going for too long. "I often find that the sweetest highs come from bitter lows, had to put myself through the mud and now I'm drippin' gold," he spits near the end of EP standout, "Watch Me," a track focused on overcoming the hardships of navigating the path to success.

Catch Lew Salem performing as the headline feature at Black Xprssn on January 11th (before heading over to our Warehouse Takeover, of course) and make sure to stream his EP available on all platforms now.

Cover artwork photography by Ian Gutierrez, design by Alex Ellingson, and styling by Janay Taylor.

Lew Salem - Don't Touch Me, I'm Expensive EP