Blink and You Might Miss It
Following the June release of his New York Times bestselling essay collection How to Ruin Everything, slam poet and rapper George Watsky’s fourth album x Infinity, released August 19, offers biting social and political commentary and reflects on issues including drug use and sexuality. As the rapper closes in on 30, there’s a sense of urgency and controlled frenzy in his high-speed delivery, and temporality is as inescapable on the album as it is in real life.
The first track and second single “Tiny Glowing Screens, Pt. 3” is the latest installment in a series introduced on 2013’s Cardboard Castles, opening with sounds of busking and honking cars, which gradually morph into a futuristic, cryptic introduction. On “Love Letters”, Watsky discusses the dilemma of balancing commercial viability with artistic integrity, and the fourth track “Little Slice” acknowledges the rapper’s appreciation for small luxuries like Denny’s, spliffs and jacuzzis. Later, he gets in touch with his inner Kanye on “Don’t Be Nice”, puffing out his chest and stroking his ego with an oxymoronic quip: “I would not have spent a decade doing this if I did not believe I was at least a tiny bit ridiculously filthy at it.”
While the first half of the album is fairly light-hearted, the second half is more serious and takes more risks, including on the first single “Stick to Your Guns”, the three verses of which are written from the perspective of a shooter, the media and a politician. “The Lovely Suite”, comprised of the last four songs on the album, acts like a subplot within a larger framework, and a standout from the collection – and the album as a whole – is “Conversations”, a sentimental track that reflects on his first realizations about death. The album is interconnected and cyclical, with the final track “Theories” ending where “Tiny Glowing Screens, Pt. 3” begins.
Like a great movie or novel, x Infinity is thought-provoking and challenging, and you’re likely to discover something new with each listen – if only because Watsky said it too fast the first time.