By Jailel Barr
Acid Jazz, a feel good type of music composed of drums, guitar, and a sultry vocalist with a sassy tambourine. What better band that embodies it all; the Internet, a band west coast born and based. This group is compiled of 6 members; Syd Bennet (Syd the Kyd), Matt Martians, Jameel Bruner, Patrick Paige, Christopher Smith, and Steve Lacy. Lead vocalist, Syd Bennet as well as Matt Martians are both former members of the hip hop group Odd Future (OFWGKTA). Going on their first tour soon, this rising band has recently released their latest album, “Ego Death”. Don’t be alarmed by the jarring title. The album gives easy listening and relaxing yet groovy vibes that anyone who has never been a fan can enjoy as a first time listener. After you press play nothing else needs to be explained.
Ego death is an album that drips with a mix of funk and sensuality but by an initial perspective you may think other wise. Ego death means to have a complete loss of self – identity and subjectivity. This is a truth the band lives by through their music as well as their image.
Compared to their previous albums like debut album, “Purple Naked Ladies” and sophomore release, “Feel Good”, vocals and production have matured. The track list is 13 songs long and includes features from artists such as neo soul vocalist Janelle Monae, rapper Vic Mensa, and fellow OFWGKTA member Tyler the Creator. Each song brings their own message and vibe to the ear and the soul. Some of light subject such as “Go With It” and others of a more seductive nature like “Special Affair”. The lyrics and the rhythm intertwined nicely on each track and worked to make each other stand out on their own to allow listeners to feel the emotions that were being evoked.
Like taking a shot of your favorite spirit there was no easy way to start it off. It was not a smooth transition into the album as most start off with but it does settle in as the guitars and drums play on. The artists kept the same theme throughout their work and even when the pace picked up in some of the songs it didn’t take you through a loop to question whether or not it was still the same band. One thing I rather enjoyed about the album is that I wasn’t eager to flip to the next song or wonder how much time was left. It was hard to keep up with when the next song came on due to the fact the transitions between each song were very clean and blended. I suppose helped that each track had relatively the same pace in beat.
What captures my attention about an album is the cover art. With many acid jazz albums I have seen the covers seem to be sometimes perplexing as well as beautiful and artistic. Looking much deeper than the cover of an album of this genre I wonder about things such as similar rhythm as well as a blended mix of elements of funk, soul, disco and of course jazz. Do they work well together, and not only sound good by themselves but also make each other sound better collectively. They must also compliment the vocalist. The vocals cannot be over bearing but work also as an instrument with the rest of the tones. While they cannot be over bearing, they still must be strong and be effective. With soul being one of the elements, it must be heard through the voice and ultimately captivate the listener in one or more of their emotions. Song theme has to be relatively the same, it cannot be from one extreme to the other or contradict any of the topics on previous songs. Something else that I think is important is the transitions into the album, between each song, and out of the album. Without these things, what am I really listening too?
Surfing the web at odd hours of the night I never expected trip on such aninteresting discovery that is the Internet. At the moment that I clicked the play button it didn’t take me long to really enjoy myself.
I broke the album down into three sections: beginning, middle, and end. In the beginning section are three songs. With no lead up, the instruments and main vocals from Syd the Kid dive in with the first song, “Get Away”. Seemingly electric guitar penetrated the ears made you feel awake but still content and calm. The intensity of the guitar and drums simmer as the piano blends in and Syd changes tone of voice. The lyrics fit well with the title. On this track she is speaking to a young woman about going away with her and getting away from all the troubles of their world. “Girl calm your nerves!” is one of the lyrics to the song, which implies that the other person is having regretful thoughts.
The second song blends with the first song and is blurry when exactly it started if you don’t pay attention, “Gabby”. This groovy song makes you do a nice little head bob or jig. Thanks to some funky guitar with drums and symbols it’s hard to get the repetitious name Gabby out of your head by the end of the song.
“Under Control”, one of the more up beat songs on the album gives listeners the first soulful track on the record. While her voice is not very intense on any of the songs, I felt that it was complimented well with the melody.
In some songs it can be heard that she used a little auto tune to add more dynamic or even sexify her voice. That can be heard in songs like “For the World” and “Go With It”. Both of these songs are included in what I labeled the middle section. They really transition the beginning mood to the end mood. The tracks “Just Sayin/I Tried” and “Girl” play a big part into that. The first song is basically the break up anthem for Syd and her lady who she can’t stand to deal with any longer. “But I gotta say girl you fucked up, now I don’t even want you, can’t believe I wrote another song about you,” which implies that her ex-lover had wronged her for the last time and stepped on her last nerve. The song eventually fades into a murmur of “I don’t love you no more” and slides into the more seductive side which may be inferred as Syd being a classic bachelorette and seeking out her sexual desires which is described in the song “Special Affair”.
In the last section, the end, the mood of the record gave us the song “Pent House Cloud” which was some what of a ballad discussing the plethora of violent acts committed against people, possibly in their community or nationwide. It gives off an emotional vibe that makes you take your thoughts seriously and be conscious to the world outside of yourself. In this song Syd’s voice was very natural and is supported by a melodic beat including soft strings and calm drumbeats.
Fast – forwarding to the last song, Palace/ The Curse, Tyler the Creator makes a special appearance. He surprisingly flowed well with the band’s genre style. He was lively but not crazy as he may ordinarily be portrayed or associated with his own music. Syd and Tyler made the concept of this song very light and a feel good track to bring the record to a positive close. I thought it was interesting when Tyler says sincerely, “No drinking and driving” towards the end of the first half of the song, implementing good and safe habits for all listeners and fans to follow. The second half of the song The Curse is a wind down and consisted of beats created by someone on the team rather than guitar and drums that they usually have already as a band. Even without their usual band instrument components, the general music flow was the same, sending us off with a little electric keyboard and a message from a friend talking about his life being saved.
So you’re sitting around enjoying a nice afternoon, close your eyes and let the soundtrack to your evening be the Internet’s latest album, “Ego Death”. The vocals are not hard on the ears and compliment the instrumentals exceptionally well. The track list is a decent length and transition well from one song to the next even though initially it is an unexpected dive. Song theme is essentially the same, some topics refer to relationships, care – free living as well as erotic behavior. Through out the course of their music career they have grown as individuals as well as a group. I predict that it’s only up from here for this fellowship of creative bodies. It’s refreshing to see this group be more than what subconscious stereotypes want them to be – just another rap group because they’re African American – maybe after listening you too will want an ego death.