Written by: Kez The Dude
Yesterday a good friend of mine and fellow hip hop enthusiast texted me. His message was simply hip hop is dead. I understood the sentiment behind his dramatic statement because there is a measure of truth within it.
The culture which was brought to mainstream media after a decade of communal sharing and building has now morphed into a different animal. We are living in strange times. Strange times, where soundcloud has replaced the radio as the source of new and or “popular” music. Streaming content is the new method of making profitable influence and products widespread; accessible. This is a time where the divisions between pop music and the counterculture that was once hip hop are becoming thinner and thinner. Artists and their fans reflect the cultural exchange and genre bending that is taking place in music.What it means to be a rapper, or what it means to a “hipster” or even a music lover is quite perplexing. This is a time where being different has been not only normalized but popularized. This is a good time to mention Towkio. The ephemeral artist who slithers between the cracks of sonic exoticisms found in electronic music and “hip hop”. His brand new song Reflection is produced by the ultimate sonic barrier breaker himself, KAYTRANADA. On this track the funky bass-line, simple yet varied deep kick drum, sizzling synths, and Towkio’s passionate vocal all work so well even though they should not.
The 110 - 120 bpm range has given way to many hip hop fueled sonic experiences that use a lot of elements from dance music. Both genres started with black artists and machines. Reflection displays these historical ties. Where this track succeeds is where other experiments fail. Towkio tells a story of a lonely drug addicted girl. His story is filled with imagery and empathy. His danceable beat and grave story contrast and in doing so create magic. In this song there is a true marriage between producer and vocalist. The result is a “pop” song with grit, an electronic piece with a human soul.
We live in a time where the bass of George Clinton has graced Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly. We live in a time where G-Funk has finally caught up with producers outside of the hip hop culture. We live in a time where genre’s and most of the vocabulary used to describe music are not a realistic reflection of what music actually is. Towkio’s new album .wav theory is set to drop next week.