Every album that Edgler Vess releases, breathes with a distinct personality, each a shape-shifting assemblage of personage and programming that sounds more like a kind of miraculous hyperlinked sound collage than rap. His lyrical feats go unmatched for sheer idiosyncrasy and insight; beyond rap enthusiasts, many of his strongest supporters are probably writers and music heads. A master of the microphone and the beats, Vess has constantly swapped out his tools and themes, avoiding revision and instead choosing innovation. When Edgler Vess does what he does, he’s impossible to ignore.
He’s profound, he’s impressive, and he’s damn entertaining. In short, he’s one of the best underground rappers going. Over and above that he is also a prolific artist, frequently dropping new recordings. Two months since his surprise EP “Nathan”, the Portland based rap artist returns with his next full length project, “Violet”.
Across the 8 tracks that make up the album, Vess’ voice is one of the best parts about his sound. His voice soothes the soul while it blasts rhymes at any speed he chooses. The opening track “Pm Dawn Fm” is a perfect example of this. A soft psychedelic keyboard sample is looped throughout the song over an understated, but thumping drum beat.
The title track “Violet” layers a whole lot more of the goodness found on the first cut, with Vess’ resonant voice taking center stage. Although secondary to the genius lyricism, and Edgler Vess’ flow, the album’s production is outstanding throughout as well.
“Seasonal Affective Disorder” showcases exactly how to put together an alternative rap track with a groovy beat, set against a backdrop of swirling keyboards and lush vocal arrangements. Vess picks up the pace and flips into a funky bass driven joint on “Purple Pico”, before sliding into the slow and slippery vibe of “James Brown”.
The overbearing and sometimes uncomfortably eclectic backing track sounds both twisted and glorious, especially when Vess adds in his lo-fi flow and bizarre stream of consciousness lyrics. And that is why this is essential to your hip-hop collection.
“Sophia” has a muted beat and sample in its underbelly, while it’s Vess’ voice that once again triumphantly carries the track on its shoulder. One of the truly unique storytellers currently in the game, Edgler Vess maintains the same structure on “Mama Thinks I’m Handsome (Interlude)”, as he weaves through a hypnotic sonic backdrop to emphasize the lyrics, while using the instrumentation as a tool to permeate the verses and choruses. However unconventional, this strategy works perfectly in promoting focus on the rhymes.
Always abstract but never completely outside of his atmosphere, “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” is a perfect example of complex lyrical passages coupled with the illest beat this side of experimental. It’s definitely an acquired taste, but once you become familiar with Edgler Vess, you’ll see why this is a landmark in independent hip-hop.
Get it in any way you possibly can, because no hip-hop head should have to do without this album. “Violet” clearly shows the quality and effort which was put into its making. From one of the busiest and talented emcees in the game right now you owe it to yourself to get this album, assuming you can get hold of it…