Beginners’ “Stereo”, as the title’s connotations might suggest, takes a few cues from the ‘80s. Big, watery snares are the most noticeable, with cheeky synths and schlocky strings adding to the effect. It’s very much a modern song, though — the arpeggiation, distorted bassline, and vocal chops are straight out of radio pop-house. It’s a laid-back tune as ready for blasting from a Camaro system as from Spotify, and that timelessness is a wonderful thing.
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Paige Calico‘s “The Hard Way” is pristinely loopy Americana, a gorgeous arrangement warped just a touch by a layer of sand and dirt. Calico sings dreamily over lolling guitar and choral backdrop, a touch of chamber pop influencing the song’s hazy make. Given that it’s a song about the strength and enigmatic nature of love, its semi-lucid atmosphere fits it like a glove.
One of the central conceits of the Batman mythos is the idea that fear can be a powerfully useful tool for justice. This idea emerges as a conclusion drawn by Bruce Wayne when he first decides to take on the mantle of the Batman. Additionally, this conclusion becomes the motivating factor for taking on a particular identity in order to wreak vengeance on criminality, as he observes in Detective Comics #33: “[C]riminals are a superstitious cowardly lot. So my disguise must be able to strike terror in their hearts.”
This same conceit has also been central to Rocksteady Studios’s design philosophy for their Batman: Arkham series. Rocksteady’s success has been in creating a game that evokes a fairly authentic feeling of “being the Batman,” which is related to a host of well implemented design decisions, both in terms of how the character of Batman is not merely portrayed in their games, but in how Batman is “played” in these games. One of their best gameplay systems that supports this sense of being Batman is their “stealth-combat” room sequences.
Chris Ingalls: Judging from the deadened delivery, GAIKA is seemingly numbed by what’s happening to his city. The brutality and violence is palpable in the track, with music stabs and samples that seem to bring to life the unrest. Musically, it’s diverse yet danceable (although the starts and stops create the requisite drama). Yet another reason why, when looking for new voices in hip-hop, you need to cross the pond. [7/10]
Chris Ingalls: Daveed Diggs has rightfully established himself as an eclectic powerhouse thanks to his Grammy- and Tony-winning performance in Hamilton, and returning to his experimental hip-hop outfit Clipping. is a reassuring sign that he’s not content resting on his laurels. From their upcoming album Splendor and Misery, “Baby Don’t Sleep” is full of restless sonic experiments like static, distortion and myriad sound effects, but it’s Diggs’ rapid-fire rhymes that tie the whole thing together. For anyone who thinks hip-hop is getting stale, listen to this refreshing revelation. [8/10]