K.Burns – Mafioso Status
Brooklyn rapper K.Burns is back with Mob Ties, another gritty collection of tales from the underbelly of the Big Apple. “Mafioso Status,” produced by Kheyzine, sees Burns breaking out flows both menacing and melodic overtop neo-noir strings and piano. He remembers trading the stoop for the streets at twelve years old, rapping, “My skin bear the wounds/Ain’t no hiding the scars.” He drops the track’s defining couplet (“I ain’t a rapper/Just a gangster with bars”) before repurposing Nas’s “The World Is Yours” refrain as a statement of divine right. It’s New York to the core.
Lord Byron – Too Many Things
The English Romantic poet Lord Byron was described by the aristocrat and novelist Lady Catherine Lamb as “mad, bad, and dangerous to know.” On the track “Too Many Things,” from the album Riku, Dallas, TX rapper Lord Byron sounds wide-eyed, dazed, innocent, the polar opposite of Lamb’s description of his namesake. Gazing out from beneath a blanket of swirling synths, Byron riffs on the phrase, “Too many things I cannot explain,” free-associating about “ice on my wrist/ice on my veins” and “rolling in flames” while admitting, “Too many rings/I cannot complain.” His delivery is one part Lil Yachty, one part ILoveMakonnen, one part Lil B. Is the track a brag? A meditation? A lament? Maybe it’s all too much for Lord Byron to keep track of, so he’s just following the spirit where it leads.
Spacelectro – Find You
“Find You,” from the album STRaWBeRRY by Tokyo’s Spacelectro, is a sugar rush dubstep track featuring the vocaloid persona Kagamine Rin singing lead. Vocaloid is a voice synthesizer software that acts as a stand-in for a human vocalist; different software packages are marketed as unique “singers,” each with their own look and sound. I often find myself plunged into the uncanny valley when listening to vocaloids, what with their impossibly perfect sense of pitch, but I’m also intrigued by their glossy malleability and by their accidental sadness. A robot singing a love song is kind of tragic when you think about it; does Kagamine Rin understand the words that she’s been programmed to sing when she says, “I miss your smile,” for example? This unbreachable emotional gap stands at odds with the euphoric, PC Music-esque bounce of the instrumental, giving “Find You” an unexpected depth.