The Smashing Pumpkins recently embarked on their Shiny And Oh So Bright reunion tour and celebrated their 30th anniversary with a show at PNC Bank Arts Center in New Jersey. The band also has a new album in the works, which was produced by Rick Rubin. We’ve heard one song from … More »
Remember the first time a kid from Chicago really challenged hip-hop’s status quo? He showed us how swapping 808s for chopped soul samples might actually be cool and that skinny jeans and neon Polos could be just as hip-hop as football jerseys and Cartier. He ushered in a new era of hip-hop by allowing himself to be weird and detailing his journey through the come up across three coming-of-age themed albums that have since cemented their places in the hightest echelons of modern hip-hop history. That kid was Kanye West, and nearly two decades after his emergence, his influence has shaped three of the genre’s brightest new torch carriers: Chance The Rapper, Vic Mensa, and now undisputedly, Towkio.
Each of these three young forward-thinkers are now pushing hip-hop into the future on those same principles, and at times, experimental appeal — though now Towkio is officially planting his flag with his debut LP, WWW. One listen through the new album, and it becomes clear that Towkio’s definition of hip-hop not only sets him apart from most of his contemporaries’, but also that it doesn’t necessarily adhere to current hip-hop conventions either; he doesn’t seem phased in the slightest.
Conceived between the journey from an emerging Chicago rapper to lamping at Rick Rubin’s mythical Malibu recording sanctuary Shangri La, Towkio sets the narrative in WWW.‘s first bars on “Swim,”
“New chapter, new page, made some money off the first mixtape. Now I’m living, good chillin by a beach that’s not a lake. Said the earth controls the moon so we control the waves.”
Relying heavily on these ideas of perspective, frequency and resonant connectivity, the foundational motifs go beyond just the track titles and lyrics. They are weaved into the record’s eclectic complexion of genres, roping together dreamy psychedelic intros, footworking breaks, funk, trap, R&B, and a healthy dose of his throaty vocal hopskotch. Creating the album took the “Drift” rapper to pyramids in Mexico, winding Hawaiian hills, and ultimately 92,000 feet into the atmosphere to quite literally drop his album from a visual vantage point that only a microscoping group of humans in history have ever witnessed.
Sonically, the record plays upon hip-hop’s new wave versatility, with a welcomed serving of pop appeal on tracks like “Hot S**t,” the Teddy Jackson-assisted “Symphony,” and a cheeky breakbeat cut on “Disco.” Louis The Child‘s contribution to the album, “Loose,” opens like it’s the much needed mid-record breather, before quickly tightening down and breaking into a rambunctious collection of bombastic kicks and tenacious spits.
The real respite, however, comes as one of the album’s final additions — a sleepy R&B piece alongside Grammy-nominated SZA called “Morning View.” Throughout its 13-track span, celestial trains of thought play a key aesthetic role in WWW.‘s compilation, culminating on pieces like “Alone” and “2 Da Moon.” Such a theme is not unlike the early outputs of fellow unconventionals like Kanye and Kid Cudi.
photo credit: Lenny Gilmore
Towkio showcases his inextricable acceptance of weirdness, and unapologetically declares it cool in his own way as well. It isn’t cookie-cutter rap music, and it wouldn’t be true to Towkio if it was. If still not skeptical about the Yeezy coming-of-age parallels, listen to him and Vic Mensa go in with brilliant, youthful defiance on “Forever” and tell me it doesn’t sound like the logically matured progression to West’s seminal classic, “We Don’t Care.”
On paper, WWW. is built by a team of sharp industry power players, with Lido behind the console raking in substantial writing and producing credits with Knox Fortune and frequent SZA songwriter Carter Lang, all beneath the legendary Rick Rubin’s watchful eye. Together, a seemingly motley crew of differently-wired creators have come together to aid in the delivery of Towkio’s triumphant longform debut — a relatable narrative of introspection and simultaneous emergence, all wrapped up in the underlying concept of the “overview effect” and how we relate to the daily risks we all take living on this big blue rock with one another.
Nowadays, the burgeoning rapper keeps his head in the stars, his feet in the California sand, and he’s survived a plummet from space that would humble anyone. Towkio has officially staked his claim in his corner of the ever-growing hip-hop empire, and in two more decades from now, who knows how WWW. will inspire an entirely new generation of rappers?
Earlier this month, Billy Corgan teased a Smashing Pumpkins reunion by posting an in-studio picture of himself hanging out with founding members James Iha and Jimmy Chamberlin, fueling the long-swirling rumors that the group would be getting back together. Over the past couple days, Corgan has been posting more photos from inside the … More »
Rick Rubin has a relatively inactive Twitter account. Aside from that one time he retweeted a Periscope video of the reactionary right-wing Dilbert creator Scott Adams babbling about Putin, the sole tweet he’s ever made reads as follows: “Microphone check, one, two.” The music mogul only follows 160 accounts on Twitter, … More »
Legendary producer Rick Rubin (pictured) and famous pop intellectual Malcolm Gladwell have launched a new music-centric podcast together. As Pitchfork reports, it’s called Broken Record, and the first episode went live today featuring an interview with Eminem. Among the revelations: Jay-Z was the one who convinced Beyoncé to sing on Eminem’s new Rubin-produced … More »
DRAM, who recently dropped the periods from his name in semi-comedic fashion, is back today with a new song produced by none other than Rick Rubin. “Check Ya Fabrics” is a loose, floaty, psychedelic R&B track with pitched-up vocals, like Kendrick Lamar spouting manipulated vocals over an outtake from Electric Ladyland but, like, … More »
Spotify held their inaugural Secret Genius Awards in Los Angeles yesterday, and the big event of the night was Frank Ocean presenting the “Legendary Genius Award” to famed producer Rick Rubin. Both are men of notoriously few words, so perhaps it shouldn’t be too surprising, but it sounds like their much-hyped appearance ended up … More »
Frank Ocean will make a rare public appearance at Spotify’s inaugural Secret Genius Awards to present Rick Rubin with the first-ever Legendary Genius Award. The award’s goals are “to celebrate the people within the songwriting and producing community that contribute to the creative work behind some of the most streamed songs on Spotify,” per a … More »
(AllHipHop Rumors) Hip Hop legend Rick Rubin played a big role as executive producer on Kanye West‘s Yeezus.
Even though the project was not the most loved among many Ye fans, Rubin is said to have given Yeezus its “stripped-down minimal direction.”
Then last year Kanye released the Gospel-tinged The Life Of Pablo which was also EP’d by the Def Jam Records co-founder.
With reports of more work on the way from Kanye, is the G.O.O.D. Music boss back in the studio with Rubin?
Chicago’s Towkio gave the public a hint as to what’s happening with Kanye and Rick.
The SAVEMONEY crew member posted a screenshot of his text conversation with Rubin to Instagram.
Rubin’s message included him telling Towkio that he played one of the 23-year-old rhymer’s songs for Kanye and former Vampire Weekend member Rostam Batmanglij.
Could that mean Ye will jump on the track?
Or will Towkio be the next young talent to help Ye find a fresh sound?
Think Kid Cudi on 808s & Heartbreak, Travis Scott on Yeezus, or Chance The Rapper on Pablo.
A photo posted by WWW. (@towkio) on