Rapper Moemaw Naedon and producer C.Scott’s September project, River Rats, emerged from days and nights spent outdoors on the banks of the Allegheny.
As is often the case with these artists’ work, River Rats is dusty, sample-heavy, and gritty, a real throwback hip-hop record. The meditative, jazzy “Owls in the Sun,” which brings Driving While Black Records’s JM the Poet into the fold for a guest verse, conjures a nocturnal atmosphere; you can just imagine city lights glimmering against murky water when you hear the track’s rippling piano, mysterious hums, chunky bass, and subdued percussion. Moemaw, his gruff voice locked into a steady flow, poses difficult questions (“Is a quiet witness the same as an accomplice?”) and details late night recording sessions (undertaken when others “hit the pillow after the club”), while JM sends his words skipping over the instrumental’s surface like a stone across a river, switching up his cadence while touting his own tireless drive (“Work ’til I’m a nuisance […] Got the keys and I’m working overnight”). It’s a lush, evocative piece of music cooked up by three night owls.