The Internet, a hip-hop duo comprised of vocalist, Syd Tha Kid and producer Matt Martians, is back with the funky full-length, Ego Death. Although known to some as affiliates to the controversial hip-hop outfit Odd Future, the Internet majorly sets themselves apart with a musical style all their own.
Not reminiscent of the aggressive, gritty no-holds-barred approach that the Odd Future empire was built upon, Ego Death emits a laid-back, fluid vibe with elements of crooning, soulful R&B. Although a departure from the retro-futuristic synthesized soundscape of their debut album, Purple Naked Ladies, the Internet manages to still keep things hip on Ego Death, with unconventional smoky and sultry vocals from Syd and their fair share of dirty bass lines.
Enlisting the help of Janelle Monáe, Vic Mensa, James Fauntleroy, Kaytranda, Steve Lacy and Tyler, The Creator, Ego Death is very much a community effort. Syd’s and Monáe‘s velvety vocals intertwine effortlessly on “Gabby,” resulting in a soaring, tender track which comes closer to ballad material than anything else on the album. “Go with It,” featuring Vic Mensa, takes things in a more funky direction, with percussion and shakers that seem to transform “Go with It” into a more urban and modern version of an Earth, Wind & Fire track.
“Special Affair” is impossibly sexy: Syd’s smooth, pitch-perfect vocals doing their best to seduce. However, “Special Affair” distances itself from entering the typical Top 40 sensual slow jam territory: the deep, crawling bass line of the track keeps things refreshingly different. It’s Marvin Gaye meets Tinashe, with the dark mood of a Neighbourhood song. “Girl” is trippy and dense, establishing a dreamy and spacey atmosphere, yet staying grounded with a powerful and heavy resonance, seemingly another example of the strong bass on Ego Death.
Although one could argue the lyrics of Ego Death are not the strongest selling point of the album, on particular tracks, the lyricism is surprisingly poignant and moving. “Penthouse Cloud” is a prime example, with socially and currently aware lines like: “Did you see the news last night? / They shot another one down / Does it even matter now?” But on the opposite hand, tracks such as “Girl” would support the argument the beats on Ego Death are the strongest element overall, with lyrics like: “Girl, if they don’t know your worth / Tell ’em you’re my girl,” which gets a tad monotonous with all of its constant repetition.
Overall, despite brief moments of repetition and drone, Ego Death is one of the strongest hip-hop albums in terms of recent releases. It boasts masterful percussion and bass lines from start to finish, and Syd Tha Kid’s luscious vocals are perhaps the strongest selling point of all.