Falatek - r a v i
r a v i, the sophomore effort of Los Angeles' Falatek, is perhaps the best American answer to the sort of vaporous, heavily autotuned pop exported most notably by Swedish cloud rap artists like Bladee, Thaiboy Digital and Yung Lean. If you're familiar with the music associated with the "Sadboys" and "Gravity Boys" cliques, you'll have a good idea of what to expect from Falatek: narcotic instrumentals that take influence from the surrealist, new age aesthetic of vaporwave, paired with a laid-back vocal delivery digitally effected to the point where it almost resembles the artificial speech of Japanese vocaloids. His sound blurs the line between hip-hop and R+B; many of the songs on r a v i would feel right at home alongside "Furthest Thing" and "Own It" on Drake's Nothing Was the Same. The crystalline production that permeates the album only enhances Falatek's ability to keep his listeners isolated in a bubble of sleepy, postmodern vibes.
r a v i puts its best foot forward with "late night", produced by Lexington, Kentucky's Manitee✌. It opens with aquatic pulses of electric piano that slowly help lower the listener into the album's serene atmosphere, as beautifully dark and desolate as the depths of the ocean, making for a jarringly intimate that forces the listener into a reverb-induced trance. Following it is "tears", a joke track of sorts that features 11-year-old rapper Lil Shark, who recently cashed in his 15 minutes of fame thanks to an online feud with SpaceGhostPurrp. Though Shark's look at rap culture through a 5th grader's eyes is pretty hilarious, it's kind of sad that it overshadows the stunning beat it accompanies, a shoegazey slow jam crafted by my current favorite producer, Cosmastly. "Robot City" is another standout track, including Falatek's tightest vocal performance to date as well as a infectious hook sung by Marblegarden. With an all-star lineup of American cloud rap artists, r a v i is a bedroom pop triumph with mass appeal, a "slo-fi" take on modern pop that stands tall next to its influences.