Reflection is not a new theme in hip-hop, despite what a lot of critics might tell you. Going back to the genre’s infancy, there’s always been a contemplative side to its best output – and this theme continues with persistence in the new single “Papa” from Ricci Bamboo. Instead of simply putting his thoughts to lyrics in this track, Ricci Bamboo is utilizing elements of texture and tonality to tell us a story, and it’s through his multifaceted expressionism that we’re reminded not only of the depth of a good hip-hop single but, moreover, its versatility as well.
There’s a lot of unspoken emotionality going into the melody here, and no matter how you break down the lyrical narrative at hand, the instrumentation creates a mood that is wholly inescapable for the entirety of the track. I get the impression that Ricci Bamboo wants us to embrace the intensity of his heart here, whether that means accepting this story he’s telling as one of warning or one of reminiscence, and he’s putting enough into his lead vocal to back up such an assertion. I absolutely love the confidence he has in his vocal, and it makes every verse he’s putting down all the more inviting to us.
The crushing strength of the harmonies as they come into focus by the midpoint of this track is another point of interest I couldn’t ignore when writing a review for “Papa,” but I don’t think it takes anything away from the substance of the lyrics as they stand on their own here at all. Contrarily, there’s nothing in this single that isn’t working towards a collective goal of understanding between artist and audience, which is often not the case with content I listen to coming out of the underground on either side of the Atlantic Ocean these days.
As far as instrumental aesthetics go, the minimalism in “Papa” is significant and worth taking notice of, but if you think this has any influence over impeding the momentum of the verses, you’ve got another thing coming. The distinctly summerly seamlessness of the execution starts and ends with Ricci Bamboo himself, and he seems to be quite comfortable against this sort of backdrop – especially given that it provides him supreme control over the arrangement with little more than his natural vocal, which is always a boon to a player of his skillset.
One of the most accessible indie listens I’ve come across in this genre all year long, “Papa” is quality content from a voice that people need to be paying attention to right now, especially as it relates to the future of the hip-hop identity so many people have seen diversifying like no one could have anticipated in 2022. Ricci Bamboo is someone who strikes me as an innovator and the type of musician who isn’t about to accept the status quo for anything, and with the release of “Papa,” he makes it even harder for uncertain critics to argue against what he’s bringing to the table as a creator right now.
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