Boomkat Product Review:
East Coast duo H31R pick up where Antipop Consortium left off on 'HeadSpace', spiking giddy, club-aware, sci-fi beats with introspective, tongue-twisting rhymes. RIYL 700 Bliss, Cannibal Ox, Awful Records, King Vision Ultra.
Producer JWords and rapper maassai made a splash with 've·loc·i·ty' in 2020, recapturing the forward motion of '90s avant rap and propelling some of those concepts into a complicated new era. 'HeadSpace' is further evidence of the duo's rare chemistry; not trapped into a particular genre or another, they concentrate on movement and texture, using aesthetic symbols without resorting to templates. So while there's a pounding, Basement-ready kick on 'Glitch in Time', it's not a dancefloor cut - maassai simply uses JWords' rhythm as an obstacle course, slurring around the bumps and modular squiggles and making it sound easy. "Oh you really ate that, but not in the way, you think," she shrugs.
On 'Reflection', JWords squashes a steppy dancehall pulse, decorating it with groggy oscillations, and maassai takes a moment to examine herself on the mic. "When you're scared of me, I'm scared too, you look at me and see you," she states soberly, as if she's seen a ghost. The most memorable moments emerge when H31R lean into their most psychedelic inclinations; 'Big Bang' is a skewed, synth-led free-associating snaker that reminds us of the most vital Cannibal Ox stand-outs, and 'Rotation' is as skewed as Nondi_'s 'Flood City Trax'. But the duo are also comfortable writing more straightforward belters. They effortlessly extend a hand to Jersey (where JWords is based) on 'Train of Thought', and graze the pop threshold on 'Glass Ceiling', a collaboration with Semiratruth.