The extensive influence of synthwave and lo-fi can be found across the pop spectrum at the moment, but in the new single “Airplane Mode” from Dude Reppin Knowhere, the aesthetics are getting the showcase they haven’t received among all of the hybrid content. Where a lot of other artists are working these aesthetics into a single sound, DRK is doing the opposite in “Airplane Mode,” and producing the sort of low-fidelity hip-hop that critics have been craving for a long time now – myself included. This isn’t a stab at hybridity, but instead a tribute to the original movements.
I love lo-fi content to begin with, but through the precision of this master mix I think we’re able to get a better feel for all of the texture in this song, especially as it’s being presented in balanced stereophonic sound. There’s no obsessive bass swell to contend with as we reach the climax of the song, and I love the way the track feels consistently on the same level from the time we press play up until the conclusion. This is a very evenly composed piece of material and even better executed by Dude Reppin Knowhere.
The compressed vocal on top of the instrumentation works really well for this kind of a setting, and where it would have lent a lot of unnecessarily plasticized energy to the big picture in another performance, it’s giving this track a bit more breathing room. Everything is gelling together exceptionally well, and it’s rather surprising that more critics haven’t been talking about this updated look for one of the more artistically provocative sub realms of the hip-hop universe. Dude Reppin Knowhere plans on changing that, and his drive makes that quite apparent when listening to a song like “Airplane Mode.”
All of the emotion in this performance rests on the harmonies, but this doesn’t mean that the hook is underwhelming without forward movement from our vocalist. On the contrary, I think this is a track that could be remixed a few different ways while still maintaining the sweet charisma it has in this rather abstract form, which is saying a lot when considering just how charming a sonic brew Dude Reppin Knowhere assembles ahead of the midway point in “Airplane Mode.” This is more thoughtful than anticipated, and undeniably more endearing for those of us who can get lost in the haze of a good lo-fi track.
There are a lot of layers to get through in “Airplane Mode,” but if you’re getting a little bored with the streamlined sound you’d find browsing the FM dial just about any day of the week, the vaporized melodies and smooth beat of this track might be what the doctor ordered. There’s not as much tension in this single as there could have been, but the creative intent is more than obvious on the part of one Dude Reppin Knowhere. I’m intrigued with what he’s got planned next, and I doubt he’ll waste any time in showing us with his follow-up release.
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