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King Riley Releases New Music

It’s obvious when listening to the bars beneath the lyrics in King Riley’s “Substance” that Afrobeat had a significant influence on his sound, but this isn’t the only reason why we’re talking about his melodic take on hip-hop right now. In both “Substance” and “Clout,” both of which are out everywhere quality indie music is sold and streamed this spring, he’s pushing lyrical dominance like nobody’s business and making it pretty clear that riding familiar samples and banging out simple hooks is not anything that sits on his list of priorities when he’s making new music.

The vocal delivery in “Substance” is really smooth, whereas “Clout” has a bit of hesitation on King Riley’s part, in contrast to the loose-fitting verses that Salt breaks off in a collaborative guest role. There’s no debating whether or not this guy is comfortable in the booth, because if he wasn’t I don’t think we would be feeling the level of charisma coming off of his words as we do in both of these songs, including the latter. Even when he’s being a little conservative with his execution, he’s owning the stage, which isn’t something that can be taught to an artist of any genre. 

“Clout” is much more tonally-focused than “Substance” is, but its rhythm doesn’t have as much to say here as its counterpart’s does. The beats behind “Substance” are punishing in spots, but it has to be – for him to make it clear to the audience how much is weighing on his mind, there’s no mincing words nor melodic foundations. The production quality on both of these singles is masterful, and I can say the same for the visual scheme for their accompanying music videos as well, being they look much more mainstream than they do anything indie. 

I will say that “Clout” showcases a bit more compositional versatility than “Substance” does, but there’s no denying the potential these two tracks are laying out before us. The very fact that the multidimensionality of this artist’s technique is as evident as it is in both songs is something all on its own, and although I had never listened to his music before now, this has made me intrigued by what other experiments King Riley might be able to put together if given access to even higher profile features and more elaborate mixes made for the club or the concrete the same. 

“Substance” and “Clout” are a fun pair of tracks for King Riley that will give listeners a look at what they’re in for if they join his movement, which is already starting to feel like a legitimate thing after getting hooked on these beats over the past week. King Riley has picked the most difficult time in history to break into pop music, but his lack of novice ignorance and urgency with a verse on his mind both give me goosebumps right now. His material has time to mature, but this is a great beginning if I’ve ever heard one before. 

Mindy McCall



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