Flying Lotus – You’re Dead! [Album Review]

Flying Lotus You're Dead Album Cover
Flying Lotus You’re Dead Album Cover

Between running Brainfeeder Records, scoring films and performing to sold out crowds at Coachella, it’s somewhat flabbergasting that Steve Ellison still finds time to release a full length studio album. Otherwise, known as Flying Lotus, the man has come a long way since first having his music featured on Adult Swim all those moons ago.

Maturity is perhaps the simplest word to use when describing the sound of one of Warp‘s most foremost composers and producers. In practice, however, you’ll find that it’s not that simple. Songs such as Never Catch Me however, encapsulate this maturity more so than others.

Whilst the constants throughout his career have always been down to his experimental nature, it is those very same experiments that have proven to be the variables. This is no were else as present as it is in Turkey Dog Coma, a Jazz laden medley. Thundercat’s bass fingerings are ever present in all the madness that this album has to offer. This provides a familiar element, which however is contrasted by the chanting vocals and tons of specious reverb.

Coronus, The Terminator is by definition, your quintessential Flying Lotus. But it also manages to bridge the gap between his earlier, more down-tempo works and his newer sound, which is more spacious and robust.

In a world where trends dominate mainstay pop culture, it takes something truly special in order to stand out from the crowd. This is a bit of a conundrum, seeing as any step away from the norm is always feared to alienate the majority of mainstream listeners. Once again, Flying Lotus somehow manages to expand his horizons whilst exercising the pulling power of featuring the likes of Kendrick Lamar and Hip Hop legend Snoop Dogg. You’re Dead is truly in a league, all of its own.

Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp A Butterfly [Album Review]

Kendrick Lamar - To Pimp A Butterfly Album Artwork
Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp A Butterfly Album Artwork

Is Hip Hop dead? Well it all depends on who you ask. With Flying Lotus, Boi-1da and Thundercat plus many more featured on production, ‘To Pimp A Butterfly’ was always going to be a colourful album.

At first King Kunta seems like a steady ride until the key changes start occurring at a rate faster than one’s ears can anticipate. The song seems to blend a topic of historical importance, in slavery; ‘Everybody wanna cut the legs off him, King Kunta, Black man taking no losses’, with issues Lamar perceives in the modern music industry ‘I was gonna kill a couple of rappers but they did it to themselves, Everybody’s suicidal they don’t even need my help’.

These Walls is an R&B laced and featured packed song with Bilal, Anna Wise & Thundercat all contributing towards the song’s final incarnation. With clean drums providing a solid backdrop, a pad, synthesizers and a lusciously warming bass all come together to provide the perfect platform for Lamar to shine.

U seems to tilt the listening experience back to the mysterious side of things. The song is a roller coast of emotions, albeit on a more depressing note; ‘Shoulda killed yo ass a long time ago, You shoulda felt that black revolver blast a long time ago’. It reveals some of Lamar’s darker moments and seems more like a moment of venting than a moral lesson.

If U presents a one-sided story of self-loathing then Alright seems to be a catalyst that might lead to a solution to that issue. The song ends in a similar manner to a number of songs on this album, with a spoken word passage.

For Sale? is another interlude, and one addressing something darker, with the seductive ‘Lucy’ representing Lucifer. The song is addressing one of humanity’s oldest superstitions in a deceptive manner, clothed in a soulful aroma.

Hood Politics as the name suggests is a politically driven number. The song, whilst essentially repetitive at a melodic level, seems to offer more in terms of thought provoking lyricism; ‘They tell me it’s a new gang in town, From Compton to Congress’.

By the time the album begins to wind down, you realize the importance of this offering from Kendrick Lamar. If not his opus magnum then the album at least marks the beginning of Kendrick’s stint as one of, if not, the top dog in Hip Hop. With many already proclaiming him as the new ‘King of Hip Hop’, Lamar shines on The Blacker The Berry.

The dynamism of Kendrick Lamar is evidently on display throughout this masterpiece. Having nearly broken Spotify with first day hits peaking at more than 9 million streams, it’s fair to say that Kendrick Lamar has reached new heights in his career.