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Jorge Velez - Roman Birds Music Album Reviews

Inspired by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, this five-track ambient wonder finds the New York producer letting pulses and motifs overlap until the tracks resemble the inside of a lava lamp.
Jorge Velez has long been prolific, but that’s been especially true in the past few years. Like many underground electronic musicians, the New York producer has taken advantage of the internet’s self-publishing opportunities—in particular, the direct-to-fans platform Bandcamp—to sidestep label gatekeepers, streaming services, and crowded retailers. (Velez’s Bandcamp page currently numbers 26 releases.) Velez first gained recognition a dozen years ago with blippy disco derivatives for labels like Italians Do It Better, but his output has gradually become more esoteric and inward-looking. He’s still capable of ebullient club tracks, as last year’s excellent Forza attests, but many of his long, undulating machine jams sound like late-night missives to himself.



Comethazine - Bawskee Music Album Reviews

The rapper’s joyless debut is the sound of a scam artist. It is unoriginal, outdated, and one of the most stylistically unappealing projects to come from the SoundCloud scene.

Put a team of desperate record executives looking to cash-in on a demographic that looks at No Jumper podcast host Adam22 as this generation’s Barbara Walters, and the result is Comethazine. The 20-year old St. Louis rapper is designed to be an amalgamation of everything that has worked on SoundCloud before him: edgy, polarizing, iconoclastic. The result is anything but, an unoriginal and outdated rip-off attempting to fool a generation obsessed with stardom into thinking he is a star. These qualities contribute to Comethazine’s debut album Bawskee, a project that tries so badly to force its way into the SoundCloud upper echelon that it ends up birthing one of the most wretched and stylistically unappealing projects to come from the scene.

In early 2018, Comethazine’s blatant attempts at manipulating his way into the limelight came to a head when his early single “Bands” bait-and-switched its way into the elusive No. 1 spot on the SoundCloud charts. A SoundCloud page by the name of SoundClout had posted YBN Nahmir’s “Bounce Out With That,” which was making waves on YouTube but had yet to be posted to SoundCloud. Almost instantly, it shot up to the platform’s top spot. Once there, the page took advantage of SoundCloud’s ability to swap sound files at any time and replaced “Bounce Out With That” with Comethazine’s “Bands,” making it appear that this relatively new rapper had hot-shotted all the way to having the most popular song on the platform. The song was eventually removed, and his label Alamo Records put out a vague “oops oh well” quote laughing off the foolery.

Quickly on Bawskee, it becomes evident that the SoundCloud file-swapping scheme was the only original idea ever associated with Comethazine. Borrowing flows and aesthetics has always been a part of hip-hop, but there is not a single point throughout the 18-track album—loaded with short little ad-lib marathons—where we get any insight to who the hell Comethazine actually is. The thievery is soulless as Comethazine doesn’t just reach for a flow but instead tries to copy the entire essence of an artist. Over the empty and heartless drums of “V12” he rips every aspect of Lil Pump: the jumpy ad-libs, the flow, and even the obsession with a former child star: “Demi Lovato my bitch but I’m still out here fucking these females.” His burglary extends to artists throughout the SoundCloud world: the BHUNNA-produced “Sick Shit” sounds like a Pi’erre Bourne type beat that’s been left on the shelf and Comethazine’s voice is hardly recognizable like a low-quality Playboi Carti leak that was never meant to see the light.

Essentially, Comethazine is not engaged with the genre of music he makes. The album is out of touch with the current direction of SoundCloud as if Comethazine hasn’t logged onto the site since the 2016 XXL Freshman List. The drums on tracks like “No Ex” sound leftover from an ancient 808 Mafia drum kit. And the speaker-blaring kicks on “Blicky” belong on an XXXTentacion project from his “Look At Me!” era. Even the features feel like hail marys, a last-ditch effort for some clicks by recruiting a tired Lil Yachty and a lost Ugly God clinging to relevance.

Comethazine seems to think that to be a SoundCloud star you need to be edgy. He creates a running gag throughout Bawskee about how he wants to sleep with Demi Lovato that plays out uncomfortably. On “Demi,” Comethazine’s trollish obsession with the pop singer is just not charming, at all: “I just wanna fuck Demi, nut on her titties/Whip out my cock, ayy, make that bitch lick it.” He then leans on some homophobic jabs on “Let It Eat” which don’t make an attempt at sounding the least bit clever: “Sweet ass nigga, you belong in a Gay bar.” And his humor rubs off on Yachty who drops a line on “Bring Dat Bag Out” (”Got them white folks saying ni**er/Got them black folks saying cracker”) that makes you ask the question: What the hell is fun about any of this?

It’s rare you come across an album as hollow as Bawskee. It’s so worthless across the board that you fear it might tarnish everything the SoundCloud scene has built from association alone. Comethazine is joyless, making an album that some executive must’ve told him will make his Instagram Live numbers spike. He is a vapid figure who has not developed a personality, direction, or sense of his own style, left to collect dust once the No Jumper diehards and out of touch label heads move on to their next cash-grab obsession.

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