November 30, 2023


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H31r – “HeadSpace” (Review) – ByteFM

H31r – “HeadSpace” (Review) – ByteFM

H31r – “HeadSpace” (Big Dada)


H31rs loves vague and ambiguous things. What the band’s name means — whether it’s “heir” or “air” — even the label doesn’t know exactly. Both fit well. Following “Ve·loc·ity” from 2020, the experimental hip-hop duo have now released their second album, “HeadSpace”, on Ninja Tune or their sub-label Big Dada, which will return after a relaunch in 2021. Contains a select artist roster With precision (including Yaya Bey and Rahel) and a strong agenda: “Major Dada has a long history and legacy on which to build, while at the same time preserving its cultural identity by supporting and providing resources to a new generation of artists.”

If you can’t do anything, you’re somewhere else

Brooklyn-based singer and lyricist Masai and producer JWords (New Jersey) know what they can do and what they can do. That’s why “HeadSpace” differs from its predecessor only in detail: again, with an album duration of less than 30 minutes, with 14 songs (including an interlude and “Air It Out”), that is, on average less than three minutes per song. . H31r Like Sketchy, they love short EPs, which they can release on Bandcamp in subtle format and in different compilations.

The album is very intimate, with guest vocals only appearing twice. Once it was Chicago rapper Semiratruth (who actually worked with JWords on their EP “Loading…”), and once it was Quelle Chris, who showed up with some casual routine lines on “Down Down Bb.” Otherwise, the H31r stay to themselves. Which is great, because that’s the only way “HeadSpace” can have an impact: “Trapped like a pod” is said at one point in “Back”. A “HeadSpace” can be envisioned as a hermetically enclosed space in which Masai thoughts are almost exclusively allowed to move freely, although they often simply circulate. Masai describes her songwriting as a planned process, with its flow seeming very spontaneous, as if she is guided by the flow of introspective thoughts directly when recording.

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Fantasy architecture

In this completely uncomfortable hip-hop jam, Masai is politely assisted by her partner JWords, whose syncopated beats (mostly heavy drums, often with a slightly annoying, but still very cool, rhythmic emphasis) actually go against the grain and yet are orchestrated Perfectly combined with Masai’s rap music.

The trick to the H31r is that the Maassai and JWords never travel at quite the same speed, but they still get along well with each other. It’s especially nice when JWords’ beats can actually escape the boundaries and literally break away: it’s as if Maassai were rapping over an elusive Pantha Du Prince track (“Static”). The small electronic devices for home use with which JWords constructs her tracks have allowed her to take on a complex rhythmic language and make it experiential with such expression that the music can literally be seen as an imaginary structure in various forms and you believe you can see the assembled states before you. Strange and beautiful.

Published: November 17, 2023
Tag: grand dada

Image with text: Support Association

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