Words by Brique
In a world where millions of songs are at our fingertips, it’s tough making time for the artists around you. Brique, an underground rapper himself, brings you some of his favorite indie projects. The best music is being made by people you don’t know yet. If you want to know them before the world does, tune in each week for Brique’s Picks!
In the words of ILOVEYOUGUY, a 24-year-old father of two: “I’ve always wanted to make music tbh. As a kid/teenager I was poor so I didn’t have the money to spend to get the necessary tools to create and after high-school I had a lot of other priorities so I didn’t start making music until my early 20s.
“That whole time I would listen and listen to music digesting every second of it. Just observing, learning, and appreciating the vibrations that helped me through all the struggles of my life. So this project was to do the same what it did for me. Indulging in themes of struggle mentally and politically. This album is meant to be sounds of empathy of others. And views I’ve acquired along the way as well. In all it’s struggle and the emotions that they come with.
“As for my influences. Endtroducing… by DJ Shadow, Kid Cudi in general, Donuts by J Dilla, And Rage Against the Machine.”
Track 1: “Intro 2020”
A news reporter narration intro – something we’ve heard many, many times. But this one is intriguing. Usually artists tend to include such recordings as ways to introduce themselves, either by using content tied to their identity, or to a particular ideology. In this case, ILOVEYOUGUY samples a journalist comparatively describing the wildfires in Australia and California. Mysterious, yet stirring curiosity as to what’s next.
Track 2: “TENSION”
I’ll be honest, as a 2000s Hip Hop aficionado, I’ve had very little exploration of purely instrumental albums. This is certainly outside of my usual realm as a listener, yet already into the second track, it reminds me of Kid Cudi’s “Satellite Flight,” where vocals are secondary to the invigorating sounds that adorn the project. Continuing from the foreign touch in the Australian news story in the intro track, this second song starts off with what I assume to be an Asian language. Then, a spacey vibe sets in, showing the first signs of the album’s title.
Track 3: “your holiness”
Unlike the previous two tracks, which, albeit relatively simple in structure, contained quite a bit of character, “your holiness” has far more depth and variety to it. Video-game adlibs (reminding me of the level-ing up sounds in Mario games) are layered throughout the beat pattern, which has a background of a ghastly female voice. Police sirens also resonate through the song, and at this point, my mind’s begun to form vivid imagery of what the subject might be: the chaotic, seemingly unpredictable social landscape of the US.
Track 4: “hard to swallow”
Seamlessly flowing in from the previous song, this one reminds me exactly of the ascension stage in the Cudi project I mentioned earlier. This is clearly an album to listen to at night, in bed, surrounded by complete darkness. There’s no lyrics to go off here. The listener is instead left to his own thoughts, fostered by the cinematic micro-sequences of sounds incorporated into the project. A feeling of peace maintains a presence among the mysterious vibes of the 21-minute-long album.
Track 5: “RAGE”
Finally, after 3 consecutive tracks largely structured around instrumentals and sound effects, we hear another skit. This time, it’s a man speaking on the horrors of America – in his words, a society founded on anger, rage, and calamity. This voice is not informative like the reporter in the first track; instead, it is dominating. You believe every word he’s uttering, and classic American conspiracy theories begin to rise up in the conscience. All of a sudden, halfway into the track, the voice is gone and instead, the darkest rhythms of the project up to this point come into view. The title certainly does this track justice. The first four songs were certainly brain puzzles in themselves, but this one takes the curiosity to a whole new level.
Track 6: “forces at work”
What a sudden change in emotion. This song begins with a vintage clip of a nursery rhyme -–colorful voices singing “let’s all go to the lobby” in the tune of Ol’ McDonald Had A Farm. Then, Asian chords lead the segway into another commentary from a man passionately monologuing on the issues of society. Ending with a shout of “my life has value, dammit!,” the masculine voice disappears and the song once again switches up. The space vibes from earlier in the album set back in, and so does the nursery rhyme from the beginning of the song. Except this time, the colorful voices are now distorted and stretched out – a clear reference to a black hole, which pulls apart matter until it no longer resembles what it originally was.
Track 7: “The Reaping”
This project is now dark as ever. A teenage boy in pain screams in frustration from what seems to be a combination of mental and physical suffering. His voice then disappears, making a quick reappearance later in the song as the black hole distortions make yet another cameo. A mocking voice asking “what’s with the getup, huh? Going to a funeral?” ends the track.
Track 8: “Tears from the moon”
Another commentary, this time about the symbolism of the moon, as well as concepts about hell as a representation of hopelessness. Rather than honing in on any specific political topics, this album instead presents the listener with an arsenal of tools to create his own experience with. If you wanted to, you could perceive this project as one of societal conspiracy; you could just as validly claim it to be a journey into the mind of an individual searching for answers in life. ILOVEYOUGUY leaves it completely up to you to decide. I think that’s a highly commendable accomplishment, especially for an artist at this level. The longest song on the album, this one feels as if it’s hours in length, in a good way. I was captivated by every second.
Track 9: “Here Lies YOU”
The outro is here, and even though less than 20 minutes have passed, I feel as if I have become entirely entrapped into a powerful audio experience. The dark vibes are gone. So are the bouts of anger, violence, and protest. A piano serves as the medium between a conversation to a scientific commentary on the brain. A very welcomed instrument, because it slowly but surely brings the listener back down to earth, and back toward peace. “You are in heaven … hollow it be” sings a confident, yet somber male voice as the song closes out the final chapter of this incredibly enthralling project.
Closing Thoughts: Orthodox hip-hop fans may not have the appreciation for such experimentation. Newer generation listeners may not have the patience. But if you’ve got the time to sit down and give this project a chance, in the setting I mentioned before – eyes closed, mind open – this project offers a universe of material tightly packed into 21 minutes. I often listen to albums on shuffle (yes, I know this will draw criticism from most music fans) but this is 100% a project meant to be heard in sequential order. Even if this was out of my usual taste, it certainly made me a fan. I believe with some more refined concepts, and mainstream production facilities, ILOVEYOUGUY could be a frontrunner in the next wave of genre-less cloud music.
Follow ILOVEYOUGUY on Twitter @iloveyouguy222 and listen to his album Blackhole Spectrum below.
A Memphis native, and current college senior, Brique tries to bring new perspectives to hip hop commentary. Having been a fan of the genre since 9 years old, he’s explored everyone from Lil Wayne to Scarface to Kid Cudi to Slick Rick and many, many more. An appreciation for the greatest, and the latest, is what Brique strives for, and he hopes you can be part of his musical journey – both as a scholar and a creative! He can be found on Twitter @lilbrickmedia and Instagram @petitbrique