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“Paper Cha$e.”by Ray Lugar and The Collective Force

Rappers are the modern rockstars, and in 2020, their roar can be felt in almost every corner of pop culture. Breaking into this game is almost as difficult as breaking into pro sports – even if you’re talented, the climb is an uphill one due to both competition and the politics of the industry, but this hasn’t deterred Ray Lugar and The Collective Force from putting their best effort forward in 2020 with the release of a new single titled “Paper Cha$e.” A rebel cry against corruption that feels like at times feels like a rapper’s take on OG hardcore punk in all the right ways, “Paper Cha$e” is just the eruption of artistry you need to hear this month. 

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/collectiveforce/

There’s arguably as much of an emphasis on what the guitar is doing in this single and its music video as there is Lugar’s rapping, and with the intensity both elements are offering to the big picture, it makes even the more melodic moments here feel a little discordant. Thrashing about in the background, the percussion is almost more like an earthquake than it is a beat-generator in this instance, but for what’s going on up front, I think its brashness was a necessary inclusion. 

I really like the jaggedness of the shots in the music video for “Paper Cha$e,” and I think that, while I didn’t have to see it in order to like the song and its antiestablishment message, its visuals certainly add to the presence of the narrative and how we’re affected by it in the long run. So many of the hip-hop videos I’ve reviewed in 2020 have felt like lyric videos with a few glamor shots tagged in to create some (minor) distinction, but on this occasion, Lugar and his backing band want us to get something out of the images that extends the oomph of the lyrics all the more. 

If you listen closely enough, there are avant-garde jazz influences akin to a Naked City-style concept that I would love to hear this group explore a little more than they already did in this track, and provided they maintain this clear appreciation for detailed musicality, any full-length studio album they put together should definitely be worth a peek. You can’t fake good chemistry, and the way these guys are playing together, it would be foolish to pass up the opportunity to exploit their sound for everything it’s worth. 

It’s a bit highbrow for what some mainstream listeners are going to be ready for this season, but indie rap enthusiasts really needn’t search any further for one of the best new tracks of 2020 than Ray Lugar and The Collective Force’s “Paper Cha$e.” Hybrids of all genres and stylistic varieties are here to stay – this much is obvious even to the most novice of music critics in the world – but the artists who advance their framework towards a place of stability more in line with what we’ve known in the 20th century will ultimately be the ones to become legends of their own time. It’s still early to tell, but I think this group’s campaign is off to quite the running start in this release. 

 Mindy McCall



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