After nearly 2 years since his last project, Southern California rapper RandiVision delivers an impressive album. “909”, released on September 9th, is a 9-track, 31-minute, avant-garde work of art. Like many artists, RandiVision blends trap and hip-hop on “909”, but other artists aren’t doing it like he is. What makes RandiVision’s blend stand out is his stunning array of nuanced textures, layered arrangements, and purposeful lyricism. His influences from Jazz, R&B, Soul, and Rock are clear-cut. But I wouldn’t limit the influences to just those genres, something about this album is sonically exotic. The West Coast Rapper opts to challenge the status quo of what is “supposed” to be on a mainstream Hip-Hop record.
The first song on “909” opens direct and matter of fact with the line “I will never be owned”, setting the tone for an album that places an importance on the lyrics. The song, titled “Neva Be Owned”, balances a conventional beat with a snappy flow. His vocals have hints of that familiar trap overlay but remain mostly tranquil. This approach certainly helps exude his “I don’t give a fuck about you” frame of mind throughout not just this song, but all of “909”.
Samples and Sound Bites
Scattered throughout the album, clips of conversation, news recordings, and skits shuffle between backbeats and guest verses. The second song, “Airborne”, opens with a sound bite from the 1989 animated film, ‘Little Nemo’. The dialogue of the sample immediately draws you in and builds anticipation for the track. The sample fades into futuristic synths warping in the background. RandiVision comes in with a subdued vocal approach, but the opening line is just as hard-hitting as the last, “to be honest I don’t care”. The production and vocal execution highlights select bars with an auto-tuned soaked falsetto, giving “Airborne” heavy Travis Scott vibes. RandiVision’s music might lean trap but he stays delivering messages. The West Coast artist lets us know that in his corner, dreams do more than come true, they become reality. After digesting the narrative during the first play, the ‘Little Nemo’ sample becomes more impactful with each listen.
If “909” has anything, it’s consistency. RandiVision starts the third song, “The End”, off with warping synths and another sound bite. Though, while most of the album shies from strong melodies, this track boasts a jaunty hook. Another notable detail is the orchestra strings sprinkled throughout, coming in front-and-center on the outro. The production on many of the tracks throughout “909” resemble movie soundtracks. This unique taste is surely what attributed to RandiVision’s successes in TV and film network placements.
Halfway through the album, a shift starts to take place. There’s a lilting two-step beat, a rich baritone voice, and a drill-style delivery. “Options” sounds like a collaboration between Pop Smoke and the Gorillaz. While most of the tracks on “909” err on the longer side, three and a half to four minutes, “Options” stands as the shortest song on the album, at 1:49. It’s as if this is meant to be a middle-album interlude to prepare listeners for the sonic change in the second half.
Tempo and cadence pick up but RandiVision’s vocal delivery remains collected and relaxed. Guest features heighten the momentum, complimenting the songs extraordinarily. In “Down The Road”, Aleks James, a talented Illinois artist, drops in adding a consequential verse, instantly brightening the song. RandiVision lays down a hook declaring “you never really know, what’s down the road, we just keep pushing fosho”. Boasting a well-written collaboration, Aleks follows with “How many times ya’ll looking back? I went down the road, no looking back. Self-made some years later, yeah, look at that.” At 2:35 the song ends and the sound cuts to a truck revving up and skirting out. Suddenly a beat-switch pops off and another verse comes out of nowhere. It’s a heavy-weight Gorilla Zoe tone. We LOVE a good faux ending!
Seamlessly, the next track, “Flip”, opens with the same deep-hardened tone. A repetitive “flip, flip, flip” is hitting on the beat, building anticipation for the drop. Right as RandiVision takes off, a trumpet begins wailing over the backbeat in an ominous but somber manner, with a slight wham at the end of each hold. The production of the instrument’s crescendo and diminuendo was carried out perfectly. Kingshaw jumps on the albums most experimental moment. With a fast cadence and crisp voice, Kingshaw adds a nice contrast to “Flip”.
Diverse Influences and Flavorful Production
RandiVision’s diverse influences seep out into the mechanical landscape of “I’m The Man”. It’s undoubtedly a flavorful production perfectly framing RandiVision’s pulsating flow over a sparse, freeform beat. The track draws on grime and electronic music, blending transporting riffs and futuristic samples. Just when you think the West Coast rapper doesn’t have any more tricks left up his sleeve, he shows off his accentuation range on “Known”. “Stop asking questions about things you don’t know, things you wanna know, things that you can’t know” mutters RandiVision in a hushed voice – a 21 Savage moment. The artist immediately transitions into gritty inflections, shifting back and forth between vocal styles.
With dark undertones and a weighted beat, “Bravo” wraps up the “909” album tremendously. RandiVision manages to leverage everything about this track to seamlessly tie together the album. In the first 10 seconds, you can immediately pick up a sample from an earlier song on the album, “Flip”. From the cohesive lyricism, breathe control, and production, to the sequence of the songs, the use of sound bites, and sampling a project within a project, RandiVision brought a more professionally thought-out album than most seasoned artists.
Overall, “909” is a tremendous work of art that flaunts depth, dynamic, and texture. It’s evident that RandiVision is influenced by an array of artists and genres and is not afraid of showcasing multiple styles at once. By no means does he feel pressured to conform to a singular style for a project. Unlike most artists, RandiVision didn’t just throw a bunch of loosies in a pile and call it an album. He created a real work of art which can only be done with intention. “909” is certain to satisfy Hip-Hop fans looking for some artistic come out of the mud rap.
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