Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Roy French's cure for wintertime blues

Posted By on 01.08.14 at 02:00 PM

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The polar vortex didn't quite end my love of winter and snow, but it did more to damage my tendency to romanticize the season than waddling through blizzards ever did. Before Monday's negative temperatures I enjoyed gazing out my bedroom window at night at the piles of snow glowing in the moonlight, but after the barrage of stories urging people to stay indoors the snow began to look more like a cage. As easy as it was to understand why plenty of folks don't like the cold, it wasn't until earlier this week that I began to look at the outside world and see winter for the grey slush that saps some of the magic from snow days.

I haven't entirely fallen out with wintertime, but I'm definitely seeking more assistance to get through it than I normally do. For this I look to the handfuls of MCs whose music, videos, and cover art pop with color, such as, say Chance the Rapper's visual for "Juice"; it came out almost a year ago, and part of what's so intoxicating about the clip is the way the bright lights of Times Square illuminate the space around Chance as he dances, jumps, and twirls around in the cold. The song itself is life affirming, and Austin Vesely captures the lively spirit of "Juice" and its creator in a way that feels magical, especially watching it during this time of the year. For at least two months I'll be trying to burrow into my coat every time I step outside, but watching Chance leap into the air in his tie-dyed hoodie gives me a boost.

That hoodie, or rather the color of that hoodie, offers a nice visual kick I'm in the mood for right now—I should probably buy one from local streetwear line Dope Boy Magic to get through January—and there are plenty of other rappers around here messing with psychedelic colors. Alex Wiley's got a series of videos with absurd color schemes; "Own Lane" in particular has a hallucinogenic quality to it that reflects the maximalist pop of his Club Wiley mixtape. Lucki Ecks and his pals in the Outsiders Clique roll with blurred and hazy cover art that draws upon the sometimes leaned-out beats in their songs, particularly those on Lucki's Alternative Trap; the way Martin Sky raps over dreamy beats about wearing tie-dyed bucket hats on Time(less) is rich and inviting. There are plenty of others, but right now I'm stuck on Roy French's Face God mixtape, which dropped late last week.

French knew just how to hook me—much of the cover of Face God looks like it's ripped from a psychedelic kaleidoscope you can buy outside of a Phish concert, which normally might not sound so irresistible but in this time of cold fatigue the glistening colors behind a cartoon of French are just what I need. The music shares the bright, shape-shifting aesthetic of the mixtape's cover, be it in the twinkling "Tunnel Vision," the syrupy songs "Meditate" and "Easy," and the moody, spacey "Extraterrestrial." One listen to Face God should help battle the frigid temperature blues—stream it below.

Leor Galil writes about hip-hop every Wednesday.

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