Lushlife is one of those hip hop acts that constantly astonishes me for multiple reasons. The main one being the fact that he’s not nearly as huge as I think he should be. I’ll even go on record as saying that he may be one of the most underrated acts in indie hip hop today. His newest album, entitled Plateau Vision, totally solidifies that notion.
Plateau Vision is Lushlife’s second official full-length album riding the hot trail of his last mixtape, No More Golden Days. That mixtape was incredible to me so when news broke that he was dropping a new album I was instantly intrigued. One of the things that has always interested me about Lushlife is that his albums are so diverse. They’re hip hop while drawing from a lot of different influences, but not appearing cliché. The newest album takes influences from jazz, psychedelic pop and indie rock combining them perfectly into an incredibly unique hip hop album. Another cool aspect of Plateau Vision is how he makes it move along the way a great movie moves from scene to scene seamlessly. After a while you almost feel like you’re listening to a movie score that just happens to have a dope rapper on it. The album makes you wanna chill while bobbin’ your head at the same time, which is something I can’t say I experience too often with hip hop. Watching a video of him creating beats, Lushlife immediately brings to mind someone like Kanye due to his clear passion for music and ear for sounds. Being a multi-instrumentalist, he is able to lay down these beats using live instrumentation as opposed to relying too heavy on samples. A person creating beats of this caliber while still being impressive on the mic is truly rare.
Plateau Vision starts off with the plush sounds of Magnolia. When the song comes in you’re immediately taken by the oddly psychedelic beat. The light and airy vocal sample in the background combined with the strings are done beautifully. You almost wonder how the hell a rapper is going to rhyme over this, but when Lushlife comes in all your preconceptions are thrown out of the window as he somehow he manages to fit over these beats flawlessly.
The album rolls right into Still I Hear The Word Progress which features Styles P, which is easily one of my favorite tracks on the album due to the weird video game sampled beat. By no means is this a track you’d expect to hear Ghost on, but he definitely impresses by spitting a real nice 16. Then Lushlife comes in and, to me, takes the show. His flow is just so perfect on this track. I’ll take this time to mention that all of the features on the album served to be welcomed additions. None of them overshadow Lushlife in the realm of lyrics or personality.
I’d be remiss not to mention the amazing Gymopedie 1.2 (with Shad) where Lushlife shows just how inventive he can be producing a hip hop track with absolutely no percussion, instead using beautiful piano and ambient sounds to fill the spacw. And I have to say that Shad’s verse is just plain stellar.
The track The Romance of the Telescope shows, not only Lushlife’s diversity, but also his extreme creativity as he remakes a classic OMD song. He keeps that 80’s synth pop feel while adding his own spin to it. All I can say about that track is that it’s wonderfully executed.
Lushlife’s Plateau Vision reminds me a bit of Edan’s Beauty And The Beat. Not completely in the sound, but more in the way the songs are crafted with the layered production. And like Edan, Lushlife spits braggadocios raps over production you wouldn’t really expect to hear those types of lines over. That’s not to say that’s all he raps about. His lyrics cover the areas of his life, love, overcoming obstacles and just loving life in general. And while his production is really hard to place demographically, his flow clearly brings me to New York. I can tell he’s heavily influenced by the gritty NY sound, but adds his own spin on it. People like Nas and Jay as well as groups like Mobb Deep are very present in his rhyme style, but he doesn’t let that turn him into a fraudulent MC. Listen to his first verse on Hale-Bopp Was The Bedouins and you see what I mean. “Pulled a hammer on ‘em. That’s if I ever had a hammer, black. Matter of fact I’m searching for my new America without a camel back.” He can borrow from that style of rap, but isn’t comfortable presenting himself as a person that he’s not. And, to me, honesty is always an admirable trait in an MC.
I don’t really have any negatives to give on this album. The closest I can come is commenting on how short the album feels. Even though it clocks in at over 40 minutes long, it doesn’t feel that way. Overall, I think Lushlife has definitely taken a step up from 2009’s Cassette City. He’s shown that he’s a person to be taken seriously when it comes to the craft of MCing, but also that he has a real knack for songwriting. He takes a more modern approach with production while keeping a more classic approach with his rhyming, which you would think is really hard to do. However, he manages to make everything mesh perfectly. Once again, I’ve added an album to my best of the year list. I really don’t look forward to narrowing this down come December.
“We’re wastin’ our time on TV chasin’ that BET or MTV dream. See me waitin’ spittin that BDP and meditatin’”
I also reviewed the show he played in Atlanta. View it here.