Much like the carefree lyrics of the song itself, the music video for 148’s “Topeka Vibe” is relaxed and aching for us to engage with its embracive attitude. 148 generally have a calm demeanor even when they’re hitting us with everything they’ve got in the new album Sampati, and whether you’re a hardcore hip-hop fan or just an occasional listener, the record’s exuberant pop crossovers – “Topeka Vibe” included – are worthy of a couple of extra spins this year. Unlike a lot of the players in the Canadian underground today, this pair has more interest in exploring the future than perpetuating the past, and I think that’s why Sampati is getting the love from critics that it is at the moment.
The drill elements in this record are impossible to escape, especially in songs like “Odds” and even the looser “MIA,” both of which have some of the heaviest vocals I’ve heard in an indie hip-hop record this spring. It’s not overwhelming, nor coupled with the violent imagery that you would hear out of an American act of the same aesthetical persuasion, but the artistic influence is so strong that you can tell what 148 were listening to when they conceptualized Sampati.
An overall lack of featured artists in this tracklist definitely highlights how personal a collection of songs this is to 148, who give us a strain of chemistry in “Pop It,” “Wavy,” “Body Rock,” and “Summer Breeze” that I could fall in love with any time of year. They don’t have to front with a lot of bells and whistles because they’ve got something to say in this album, which is not something I have been able to say about some of the other artists I’ve been following both in and outside of their local scene in Canada.
I wasn’t listening to 148 ahead of checking out Sampati for the first time this April, but now that I’ve gotten a feel for their collective skillset through these nine enrapturing performances, I don’t think this is going to be the last I hear from them. They’ve got the potential to expand into postmodern dimensions of alternative rap if given the right setting to do so, and from the looks of what they’ve done here, they aren’t going to slow their momentum for anything as they continue trying to find ways to refine what could easily become their signature sound sooner than later.
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