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Timothy Isaiah’s “Ropes”

Strikingly disciplined to the point of sounding a bit frustrated in a couple of memorable moments, the beat behind the music in Timothy Isaiah’s “Ropes” plays a pivotal role in creating the energy through which the mood of the lyrics will be filtered. There’s already a lot of angst in the instrumental parts and a virtually menacing bassline circling from afar, but when tacking on the additional stress of the groove, this is a single as in love with tension as a rap song can withstand. Isaiah plays it cool from start to finish with an easygoing vocal in the center of it all; his message here being one of remaining calm amidst even the harshest of storms (which I must say is quite appropriate for the times we’re living in at the moment. 

The swagger Timothy Isaiah gives off in his performance of “Ropes” is superb and not as arrogant as some might expect it to be given the success he has been experiencing in recent times. He doesn’t sound hesitant about any of the moves he makes here; instead, I would argue that he comes across as being rather sure of himself, to such an extent as to allow his emotion to bleed into the music even during the song’s most angular moments. This creates a sense of optimism on the other side of the hazy discord in the instrumentation, and it’s one of my favorite features in this single.  

The harmonies are definitely the most alluring cosmetic element to behold in “Ropes,” and they intentionally play to a headier side of the hip-hop spectrum I would usually say does too much for a composition as black and white-simple as this one is. The video is similarly conceptual and feels like an actual major motion picture in more than a few moments, and in both of these instances, I think it’s overwhelmingly clear that Isaiah’s heart and head were in the right place when designing the finer points of this release. The surreal component of the imagery in the video indeed appeals to the ongoing trend exemplified brilliantly by his American rap counterparts, and if the goal was to build off of a familiar style with more of a melodic center (as is customary in this generation’s work, to some extent), I suppose these elements would be all the more inviting. 

Though it might seem slightly overambitious in certain spots, the overall results of Timothy Isaiah’s experimenting in “Ropes” are worth taking a peek at if you’re a fan of the best this genre’s indie pulse has been putting out lately. He’s very much in the process of figuring out what kind of an artist he wants to be, and whether that means sticking with the present format he’s worked with thus far or not, I think he would be wise to keep all options on the table. His is a style that doesn’t actually need a lot of assistance to sound accessible and even quite charming to the casual rap fan, and if getting simpler and stripping down improves his disposition with the international audience, “Ropes” might become the tipping point for an entirely more exciting era in his solo campaign.  

Mindy McCall



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