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“Outsyder” by Laforren

It’s been an amazing season for hip-hop, and not just on the mainstream side of the business. In the Canadian and American undergrounds, rappers have been evolving from the singular to the multidimensional in droves, with incredible collaborations and hybrid experimentations taking over the headlines for the better part of the last year, and in his new single “Outsyder,” America’s own Laforren asserts himself as one of the more provocative young players in this generation of emerging talent. There’s no give-up in the vocal performance that Laforren presents us with in “Outsyder,” but there’s an aesthetical boundlessness that speaks to his capabilities as a songwriter and rising star in the producing game. It’s got my attention, and I think it’s worthy of yours this May.

I love that the hook in this track feels pretty flexible despite the consistency of the rhythm, which is a combination I haven’t been hearing a lot of in trap and crossover hip-hop lately. There’s nothing anti-melodic about Laforren’s delivery, but he’s being pretty black and white with the structure of his verses. I don’t get the impression he has an interest in using a lot of the frills some of his peers would model an entire album around, and just going off of the efficiency with which he puts together everything in “Outsyder,” I would have to say we shouldn’t expect anything less than a prime cut of audio whenever he steps up to the microphone. There’s some reckless ambition sewn into the very foundation of what this composition is, but it’s so far on the wild side that it strikes me as exciting more than it does concerning in any capacity.

Where a lot of other rappers have been reticent to fill up a track with bass and percussion, that’s not a problem for Laforren; truth be told, he’s utilizing every inch of sonic space in this mix the same way a rock band would. He’s got a very alternative perspective on crafting this piece, which I like for a few reasons – above all else, it makes his vocal the center of the arrangement instead of one pummeling element of the sonic beat-down. Instead of assaulting us with everything he’s got at once, he’s letting the tonal presence of the instruments alongside his voice expand into the corners of the mix, making it feel as though we’re listening to someone performing live on stage instead of inside a cold studio removed from the real world.

If this is what Laforren is going to be slinging on the regular moving forward, there shouldn’t be any doubts as to whether or not he’s going to sustain a consistent audience with his sound. There’s nothing to correct here, but if there’s one piece of advice I would extend to this young rapper from a critic’s point of view, it would be to remain as true to the rhythm he’s sporting here as possible. Forget the slow jams and the club anthems – he’s found his speed in “Outsyder,” and I don’t see any need to experiment with the finer points of his personality for anything.

Mindy McCall



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