Hip-hop may have been forged from musical pioneers reappropriating technology and sampling classic songs to create a new sound and style back in the late ’70s, but it has come a long way since those days. So far, in fact, that it is one of the most recognisable sounds, not to mention one of the most lucrative and dominant musical forces, on the planet today. But over the years it has, like any genre that manages to stick around and find an audience, become a template sound, one where the less creative and unimaginative would be creatives can simple fire off the music which is conformist, predictable and mundane. So much for its rabble-rousing and genre-smashing early mission statement.
The reason I mention this is because there are artists making music today who still reflect those early creative juices. JFK Fetti is certainly one of them. And what is even more notable about his music is that, although it beats with a modern hip-hop heart, it is too those early influences that he looks to make his music stand out from the pack. Not because he employs those same samples or even looks to the same specific reference points, but because he echoes those classic sounds in spirit whilst making music for today. The result ismuic which is both cutting edge and comfortable, fresh yet familiar, forward-thinking but aware of the genres past.
Right from the start, opening salvo Mood is a wonderful blend of scintillating electronica and brap-brapping rap harmonies and deft and dexterous lyrical flows, in itself a sort of timeless amalgam of hip-hops sonic high points past and present. Up All Night is even more obvious in its ability to jump eras and genres, QUA’BABY adding sultry pop-soul sounds to soften the edges of a lyrically stark and unrelenting track. This is hip-hop hitting its self-penned lexicon hard and without compromise, but musically offering unexpected accessibility whilst doing so.
Similarly, California tips a hat to a more mainstream 90’s vibe, skittering trap grooves seeming to tick away in the background like a bomb, adding tension to the song as it goes and Cash on Me employing a funkier beat and more understated delivery.
Immaculate Vibes Only is an album that blends aggressive, often confrontational, lyrics with a sometimes softer musical vibe. It looks to the past for additional inspiration, talks about the here and now, about the everyday life of the street, the block, the city and in doing so creates a sound that will help ensure bright future of the genre.