Switching the planes between Avant-garde Jazz music and free-form Hip-Hop music is a hard task, but an essential procedure for music’s evolution. As of now, Rap music is the biggest source of musical entertainment.
Rap music is able to blur the lines between Pop music (Travis Scott, Cardi Bi) and Emo music (Yung Lean, XXXtentacion), all while defining its own noise and personality. It is also the father of a multitude of subgenres, such as Trap music, Trill Hip-Hop (Memphis Rap) and Jazz Hop.
Appearing from the depths of the hidden for years now, there is an esoteric form of Rap music that until Earl Sweatshirt’s Some Rap Songs, hasn’t witnessed the breadth of its own height. Avant-garde Rap mostly shines with a few musicians, with rappers such as Quelle Chris, Denmark Vessey, and Pink Siifu.
Image from pitchfork.com
The genre is made up of odd, older Jazz samples cut up and arranged in a distorted manner, often eerie, but at other times, poignant. The personal instrumentals give leeway for the rappers to express lyrics that portray personal grievances and thoughts.
Besides Earl Sweatshirt’s Some Rap Songs, I wanted to introduce some projects that define the subgenre well and should be essential listens for those looking for uniqueness within the music industry.
Pink Siifu – ensley
Image from ronee.bandcamp.com
Carried well with twenty-five tracks, there is an array of different textures and emotions. Pink Siifu is an L.A Rapper inspired by soft-spoken wordplay and Bebop Jazz cuts. His sound is heavy with themes of oppression, solitude, and pride. The themes that typically surround the Rap community are present here but delivered with such thoughtfulness that it doesn’t even seem transparent.
Jean Grae and Quelle Chris – Everything’s Fine
Image from quellechris360.bandcamp.com
Quelle Chris isn’t afraid to tackle the far stretches of the spectrum of sound. Jean Grae is an overshadowed but prolific lyricist who’s wordplay matches that of Illmatic-era Nas.
Everything’s Fine is their introductory project into the depths of twenty-first-century anxiety. In the description under their Bandcamp page, Quelle Chris writes, “Released on Mello Music Group (music label), this album replaces that reflexive cliché with honest and eloquent tangents. It’s specific and subtle in its execution, achieving equilibrium in its lackadaisical detours to smell the flowers and the frantic acknowledgment that there’s an inferno raging outside.”
Strongly presenting fifteen tracks, this album takes a more liberal approach to sound, taking influences from Jazz music, early 1990s west coast Rap music, and other odd dedications. It is overall quirky, enchanting, and honest.
Denmark Vessey – Sun Go Nova
Image from dmksvy.bandcamp.com
This is the perfect nocturnal listening session. I can’t recall a more personal album in the recent years than Detroit’s compatriot to Earl’s musical growth. Denmark Vessey, who’s artistic persona is named after the nineteenth-century Black revolutionary figure, was introduced in 2018 with one of the quietest, ambient, and solemn projects of the year. This album, reigning strong with fourteen tracks, is solely produced by both Earl Sweatshirt and L.A. producer Knxwledge.
The first handful of tracks are personal retributions swaddled by eerie and ambient production. The song Trustfall, produced by Earl Sweatshirt, is a track that comes solely from Vessey’s anxieties and anguish. The second half of the album is full of instrumentals, mainly conducted by Vessey and Knxwledge, but sustain the same feeling nonetheless.
This type of subgenre is just one of many that make up the whole realm of Hip-Hop and Rap music. The genre itself went through multiple changes over time and now will wait to see what other forms of self-expression and influence comes next.