By: Jacob Plaza
Black Noi$e is a producer and DJ from Detroit who has been known as an innovator in the Hip-Hop community for several years. He worked with names like Danny Brown and MIA, before becoming involved in experimental Hip-Hop, producing for Earl Sweatshirt and collaborating on an entire album with Navy Blue. After signing to Earl’s label, Tan Cressida, Noi$e released a new project entitled Oblivion, which is an amazing collection of abstract Hip-Hop and soul, and serves as a chilling traversal through digital age darkness.
Released during an unprecedented time of global economic, political, and social crisis, it does not take long to figure out why the project is titled Oblivion. There is a profound sense of apathetic disunity throughout the record. Overdriven synth pads, compressed static and stretched vocal samples are contrasted with lush keys, crisp brass, and soft snares. Noi$e is excellent at subtly creating tension, before letting the instrumental release into an ambiguous sonic plateau.
Furthermore, the instrumentation on the record features a variety of emerging underground rappers and singers who showcase their unique talents. Their incredible performances are so cohesive, that the project feels like a collective effort. New York-based soul singer Duendita’s beautiful verse on “Glitch” transitions seamlessly into the relaxed grittiness of Pink Siifu on the eponymous track “Oblivion,” before being jolted by Danny Brown’s unrestrained madness on “1999.” Even though Brown is regarded as one of the most skilled rappers in the scene, these newer artists easily hold their own next to him.
“Bonnie & Clyde,” featuring Zelooperz, is one of the most impactful tracks on the album. The beat has a spacey groove that the Detroit rapper rides wildly, consistently raising the energy of the track before it spills into a super catchy, cathartic release in the hook. Noi$e then overdrives the vocals a bit, giving the performance a rough edge. Zelooperz really puts his all into his performance, and his energy goes unmatched by the other collaborators on the album.
Another notable song is “Mo(u)rning” featuring Earl Sweatshirt. The beat syncopates a sleepy flute with muted 808s and dusty drums. Earl delivers expertly-crafted bars about betrayal, saying “We was setting mousetraps, wouldn’t believe who we found cleaning house; he was cheesy back then, I see it now.” Combined with the reserved beat, this verse creates an esoteric atmosphere that is as menacing as it is coolly empowering.
The record ends with a beautiful song featuring the Detroit soul group Cousin Mouth. It uses serene piano loops that leave the album with enough closure to feel cohesive. However, the ambiguous lyrics, “Tell you it’s just a dream / Baby, go back to sleep / a shadow of me, much bigger” creates a mysterious twist that beautifully combines a feeling of closure that evokes a vast sense of impending darkness.
With it’s new-age production, Oblivion mixes the excitement of experimentation while still retaining enough familiarity with typical Hip-Hop conventions to be approachable. This forward-thinking nature provides a great reason to be excited about the future of the genre. Truly, it is an incredible collection of talent that anyone with an interest in emerging Hip-Hop should certainly listen to.
Recommended if you like: Earl Sweatshirt, Danny Brown, JPEGMAFIA
Recommended Tracks: 11, 10, 9, 5, 13