Flying Lotus‘ journey through music has been one hell of a roller coaster ride, over the last couple of years he’s worked with Earl Sweatshirt, Blu, Mac Miller and so many other artists. These collabs all happened after his 4th LP release in “Until The Quiet Comes” which dropped in 2012. On top of all of that FlyLo decided to step from behind the boards and start emceeing under the moniker of Captain Murphy. So needless to say Flying Lotus has been through a lot these last couple years and it’s bound to have some type of effect on his music. Enter “You’re Dead”, before its release no one really knew what we were going to get from the producer. I am pleased to inform you all that what we got was more than just a piece of music, but rather an experience.
From the jump with the intro “Theme” Flying Lotus let’s the listener know that this isn’t just an album with the best sounding tracks that seemingly flow well together. Because at times this album is disjointed but still cohesive, allow me to explain. “Theme” begins with a myriad of sounds that made me feel uncomfortable at first but after a couple listens to the song and album it fits perfectly in the theme of the project. To elaborate more “You’re Dead” is a roller coaster ride of sounds. Take the four tracks that come after “Tesla” (the second track), “Cold Dead” comes in with really strong guitar riffs with some jazz infused in the track. The very next track “Fkn Dead” is only a little over 30 seconds long but has such a strong soul sound that it has a distinctly different sounds than the track before it. I won’t cover the Kendrick Lamar assisted “Never Catch Me” because I’d be willing to bet money that you’ve already heard the track already. “Dead Man’s Tetris” continues this range of sounds with more of a trap and video game influence to it, not to mention that Snoop Dogg and Flylo’s alter ego Captain Murphy bring heat just like Kendrick did on the track that came before it. I mentioned all these tracks simply to point out the large range of sounds that Flying Lotus uses, normally this would steer some away, but somehow FlyLo is able to make all these sounds come together making the album more cohesive.
I think my favorite set of songs on this album are “Stirring” “Coronus the Terminator” “Siren Song and “Turtles”. While I won’t get into all four of them, I think they all have their own distinct sound but progress the story that FlyLo is trying to tell perfectly. “Coronus the Terminator” slowly but surely became my favorite track on this album. The soundscape created is so spooky and couple that with singing from both Flying Lotus and Nicole Randa and you have a hauntingly beautiful track that tells the story of what seems to be the Angel of Death. “Turtles” is also a beautiful song that has some unique drums and once the bassline (which isn’t too hard hitting but has more of a chill vibe to it) comes in, the relaxed atmosphere created is a sharp turn from the “in your face” sounds that the album started off with.
Along these same lines, the album really starts to mellow out towards the end. “Eyes Above” is another one of my favorite tracks on this album and has a darker feel to it. It is short but I had this song on repeat for a long time (even now as I’m writing this review). My favorite aspect of the album that Flying Lotus has created is the story. Now it’s not a straightforward story, but I feel the listener is able to create whatever story they want personally. I personally feel Flying Lotus created a character that is going through the process of accepting his/her death. As the album progresses the character goes through everything, dying, denying their death and eventually going on to accept their death and rest in peace once “The Protest” comes on.
I’m going to be straightforward and say that I believe Flying Lotus has crafted the best album of this year. Keep in mind that yes, I’ve heard a lot of hip-hop this year and at first I truly believed no one would surpass the greatness that was Freddie Gibbs and Madlib’s “Pinata” LP. However Flying Lotus was able to tell a story through numerous types of sounds and influence of genres. FlyLo was selective on guests and rightfully so because each guest brought their best to the table. I think my only beef with this project is that it’s so short, coming in at just under 40 mins. Granted Flying Lotus gets the job done in this time so I’m probably just salty that there weren’t more songs or that some songs weren’t longer. “You’re Dead” is not just an album of songs, but an experience for the listener to interpret on their own. Flying Lotus may nudge the listener in a certain direction but it’s up to the listener to craft the story and what they want to take away from this masterpiece. Unless you’re just not a Flying Lotus fan at all there’s really no reason not to cop this album because it’s perfect.