by Itoro Udoko
If you remember my review of Chancellor Warhol’s listening party for Paris Is Burning, then you’ll remember me calling it the local hip-hop event of the year for 2013. Last month, Chancellor Warhol finally dropped the much-anticipated Paris Is Burning, albeit after a few delays. Paris Is Burning is Warhol’s fourth project to date. It builds on his continued focus on making pop art within the context of hip-hop, a theme that’s been a recurring one in Chance’s career since his 2010 debut, Japanese Lunchbox.
Warhol describes the record as the “soundtrack to the last two years of my life.” Indeed, this new album is his first release since 2012’s Playlist for Edie mixtape. And it seems to show. Paris Is Burning is a meticulous and balanced record with much attention to detail. And on it, Chancellor Warhol shows the most ease he’s displayed behind the mic to date.
Warhol’s new album also shows his growing understanding of pop. Seven out of the 10 songs here contain at least one guest artist. But instead of making for a lazy record, each featured guest is memorable, well-timed, and ultimately only adds to Chance’s vision. Whether it’s Minnesota rapper and frequent Nashville collaborator ThatGuySoda’s standout performance on “South of France” or Cherub’s unforgettable falsetto on “Marlon Brando,” you never forget that Paris Is Burning is Warhol’s world. By choosing a bevy of collaborators who all add their indelible touch, Chancellor Warhol only further establishes himself as the grandmaster and center of the unique universe he’s created. Paris Is Burning is available for purchase via iTunes.
BLKSUNCHILD is a 22-year-old Nashville/Brooklyn rapper. He’s an affiliate of The House (a Tennessee rap crew that includes Isaiah Rashad, Rikki Blu and Michael da Vinci, among others), who last month dropped his first official release, an EP called Hii on the Lows.
As far as introductions go, BLKSUNCHILD’s debut EP is a memorable one. BLK is a smart rapper with a sharp tongue. On Hii on the Lows, he muses on love, women, aspirations and adolescent life in the city, and he does it all in a fluid and lucid style that allows the EP to develop a narrative between the lines. The EP is just seven songs long and clocks in at under 20 minutes, with stellar production (BLKSUNCHILD lists Space Gang, OG Caliber, Balthazar and The Entreproducers among the credits. BLKSUNCHILD is soulful and pensive, and so is Hii on the Lows. Among his contemporaries, BLK’s most natural comparison might be Isaiah Rashad, but to me, Hii on the Lows is most reminiscent of Mos Def’s Black on Both Sides during its most soulful moments, particularly songs like “Umi Says,” “Climb” and “Brooklyn.”
That being said, the stylistic theme of Hii on the Lows is how BLKSUNCHILD counters this mellow soulfulness with a one-of-a-kind, frenetic flow and a tendency to switch up his cadence at the drop of a hat. For a prime example, see “Hood Soap Opera," where his raps frantically continue to escalate until you realize that the verse you’re listening to has turned into the hook, right as the bottom was about to fall out of it. Stream the EP below or download it here.