I’m always wary around rap, hip-hop, urban…call it what you will… music. Not that there is inherently anything wrong with such genres, of course not, it’s just that as part of my music writing income there is a place where I am employed to review new, emerging and unsigned music from a more A’n’R point of view. It means that most of it is low budget, most is pretty unreconstructed and most of it is rap. And sadly for every one shinning gem I find, I have to wade through dozens of mumbling, bedroom based, self-aggrandising misogynists blending trap beats with whatever pre-programmed electronica was on the pre-settings of their Casio keyboard. Thankfully DEVMO is everything that is not.
It just goes to show you that even though Change My Mind is constructed using a lot of the same sonic building blocks, skittering trap beats, glitchy and pulsing electronica, fast and flowing rap and edgy and socially poignant lyrical content, it does a number of things that those urban wannabes don’t. It makes clever sonic choices, offers interesting arrangements, uses its imagination and wanders wilfully across the dynamic spectrum. Everything that the aforementioned also rans could only dream of.
Changed My Mind in particular wanders through some dark and sensual places, flitting between and flirting with both the profound and the profane, it bears its soul and throws caution to the wind and Kylie Jenner is a mesh of intense pop textures, futuristic dreamscapes and celebrity adulation. Get My Shit Together is a hip-hop-pop hybrid, all off-kilter dance groove and slick word play. The individual sonic components may be familiar but the way they are put together is astounding. A builder may stack bricks but it takes an architect to create beauty.
In a world where I often feel that rap music has gone down a certain rabbit hole, DEVMO is the Alice that holds a mirror up to Wonderland by showing it how ridiculous it is, just by not following the rules. It pricks its bubble of pretension and self-importance and reminds me that there are indeed artists who represent a bright new future for the genre. You just have to know where to look.