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“Hold This L” by Conceptz

At the onset of “Hold This L,” the latest single to be released from hip-hop innovators Conceptz, there’s a slight industrial influence that never comes into focus completely, but it leaves an imprint on everything soon to follow without dispute. Understated aesthetics are a big part of the draw in this track, and although there’s scarcely a moment in which Conceptz aren’t drawing up something elaborate in tone here, it’s always steeped in the same sort of conservative artistic attitude that you would expect postmodern minimalists to value more than most. Theirs is a fat-free sound if ever you’ve heard one before, and it’s quite refreshing to come by this February indeed. 

The lyrics and the manner in which they’re delivered unto the audience are equally responsible for the charm “Hold This L” has, and I would even say that if the track were to be covered, remixed or featured by any other act I don’t think it would have the same emotional meaning or even have the same set of interpretable narratives that it does in this instance. This just goes to show you how signature a style Conceptz have at this moment in time, and how little they have in common with the status quo-level players in the game. 

The main mix for “Hold This L” demonstrates identity with a chest-beating pride while the acapella version of the track shows us the ambitiousness of their present trajectory, and when enjoyed in the same sitting I think it becomes obvious that Conceptz have only scratched the surface of what they’re capable of as an act. Their dynamics have changed so much in the seventeen years that have gone by since Volume One first arrived and thrust their moniker into the indie spotlight, and I don’t know that their evolution is anywhere near completion based on just how exponential their growth spirts tend to be. 

Compositionally, I think it’s impossible to look at this track without framing it as an experiment in anti-pop conceptualism (the better part of which is only possible when you’re on the outside of the mainstream looking in). Conceptz have always struck me as a unit disinterested in fitting in with the cool kids in school – they’re too busy carving out their own path to the summit to be concerned with the competition’s ascent, and if the principle idea here was to push the envelope even further while staying radio-friendly, they couldn’t have done a much better job. 

If there’s one act you shouldn’t count out in 2021, it’s the veteran hip-hop crew Conceptz, who live up to their name without devolving into pretentiousness at any time in “Hold This L.” I’ve come to expect a lot out of their output, and if ever there’s been a time in which they’ve earned the reputation they’ve got, it’s now. “Hold This L” is as much a look at their past as it is a sneak preview of their future, and for a fan like me, it really hits the spot this late winter season. 

Mindy McCall

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