The aurora surrounding Brockton, MA is one filled with collective jubilation thanks to a multi-talented bunch from Van Buren Records. From Luke Bar$ to Lord Felix; Meech to Jiles; Premo.Dee to Saint Lyor; the scene is bubbling more than boiling water right before spaghetti hits the pan.
Visors, black masks, aliens, and riding around in a Benz with only your closest of friends-this is Van Buren’s original brand. It may as well represent the mainstream stylistic choices in 2020 as well.
The independent label continues their meteoric rise to national prominence with a fury of different releases spanning the past two years. Lord Felix’ In Bloom, Forever, Saint Lyor’s If My Sins Could Talk, Jiles’ Fuck Jiles, and Bar$’ GoodEvil are some of the many projects that have successfully displayed the full ambidexterity found within the “City of Champions” (a title given to the Brockton thanks to an illustrious sports history). Not since Red Auerbach’s Celtics have we seen such an unstoppable force from Eastern Massachusetts. If you have any idea what’s going on out here, you know exactly what I’m talking about.
Continuing this unprecedented run of glory is producer/engineer RLouie with his recently-released EP Louie Black. Much like the video game anthology from ALFII, this is a small collection of songs that eradicate the excess for a concise vision predicated to emphasizing both the best rappers/singers in the area and RLouie as a resourceful orchestrator of different aesthetics.
If you’ve listened to anything out of the Brockton area that features pastoral drums and reverberating keys, then you’ve most likely immersed yourself into the unequivocal perfectionism of an RLouie production credit. His most recent snippet with Meech perfectly encapsulates a bevy of instrumentals that are as crisp as a New England fall day.
Louie Black succeeds in its ability to adapt and spread beyond the confines of soul-crushing 808s that pierce your heart like Shakespearian dagger. The Dupes-assisted “Need” is a jaunty Afro-fusion of recoiling electric guitar and fluttering keys. There’s a gorgeous horn passage that beautifully coincides with Dupes’ exotic seduction (“One kiss from your lips makes my whole body shiver/You remind me of some liquor, each and every shot goes straight to my liver”).
The standout aside from Louie’s production is Bar$, who showcases all sides of his Smino-esque pitter-patter. He crafts a head-spinning chorus on the bass-rattling “Know Me,” but quickly pivots to a heartfelt bellow on “Change” and a fundamental acrobatic on “Feel.” “Change” contains a synth that hits the mix like a stone rippling through a lake as Bar$ croons about an optimistic future filled with effervescent modification and long-lasting comradery-“And all I’ll ever ask is to check up on me/And all I’ll I ever ask is to love me like you did.” “Feel” sounds more cluttered emotionally thanks to arpeggiating strings that are as chaotic as Bar$’ ruminations on love and ephemeral feeling.
RLouie also leaves room for gut-wrenching bangers and playful energy, a condition found on the Big Leano-featured “Chips” and the subtle atmosphere on “Counterfeit.” Meech provides a haunting whisper on the latter, while Lord Felix continues to show that he works best within a sublime stratosphere.
Saint Lyor and Jiles continue their own run of oscillating swag-talk to correspond with Bar$’ unbridled energy on “Know Me.” Everything seems to work in harmony when these guys are together. Confidence and healthy collaboration are the key catalysts for projects such as these. When you have a producer like RLouie and collection of rappers who take their art seriously, it’s even easier to accomplish those goals.