“The compilation album is a rite of passage for elite hip-hop producers” we are informed by Guelph, Ontario-based producer Elaquent‘s team.
It’s true – mixtape culture is still alive and well in the hip-hop scene, while collaborative efforts between producers and artists still frequent wherever you access your music from in this climate. Timbaland, Neptunes, J-Dilla, Khalid – all names that have curated artists to work alongside the beat they’ve crafted.
Well. Maybe not so much Khalid.
Forever Is A Pretty Long Time follows on from Elaquent’s 2019 release, Blessing In Disguise, which surprised many with the deftness the producer pulled together a chilled-beat album that shied away from the overtly laconic nature of some contemporaries.
“Trapdoor” from Blessing In Disguise was my first foray into the world of Elaquent and it immediately captured me with it’s chilled out, yet slightly glowering hook. I was hoping for a little bit from the same menu, truth be told.
The dynamic is a little different now that there are vocals more predominantly involved.
The beats are still at times languorous, such as those heard in “Lottery Check” but with the addition of vocal bars over the top, they take away from the malignant undertones the production had.
It does though open up a whole dimension to Elaquent’s already discernment to his artform.
Keeping with “Lottery Check”, what instrumentally would be something from the same pantheon as modern-day hypna-hop artists across Soundcloud and Bandcamp is now decidedly a lot more playful, thanks to Brainorchestra’s verses.
The beauty of Elaquent’s work is the spaces he has left throughout his new album; those spaces created that unnerving quality I enjoyed from his instrumental compositions.
Those spaces have now allowed a range of vocalists to either have the freedom to spit effortlessly (“Airwalk” with Chester Watson, “Guidelines” with Oddisee) or to rise to the challenge crafting something in a confined space (which Lost like Alex manages to do so in “Time”.)
The producer hasn’t neglected those of us who enjoyed his instrumental works though and they seem astonishingly more dynamic interspersed through a lyrical heavy entity.
Sometimes, those moments seem like filler, respites from the main emphasis albums have. Those brief moments here may well just top the collaborations.
As Forever Is A Pretty Long Time winds down, “Vices” seems to bookend the jazzy album opener “Forever Intro”, with that post-inebriation (see: baked, stoned), late-night session aura cut through with synth stabs, just to keep you alert.
It was “Jollof” from the album that stood out for me. A near-perfect 3 minute 16 seconds of ambient, placating beats with the sample of what I believe to be some sort of choir that acted as the overriding hook. Almost like what Fun-Da-Mental did with the remix of “Goldburger.”
I was new to Elaquant ahead of reviewing this album; part of me feels like I missed out something I should have been enjoying much earlier, especially given the rise of lo-fi hip-hop across the internet.
That I’ve gone back to trace some of his earlier stuff is a testament to just how enjoyable Forever Is A Pretty Long Time is, and despite not being as low-key as some other artists in the same field, its more mainstream attention shouldn’t make it feel diluted in any way.
Pretty much a “must listen” for enthusiasts and newcomers to lo-fi hip hop.