Written By: Ethan Griggs
My Music: ethangriggsmusic.virb.com
Originality: (4 / 5) Vocals/Flow: (3 / 5) Lyrics: (3 / 5) Production: (4 / 5) Average: (3.5 / 5)
Somasu, whose real name is Mat Leppanen, is certainly a different kind of hip-hop artist. His sound not only features classic and modern elements of hip-hop (i.e. the trap beat, the carefully arranged flow), but it also ventures into the world of alternative rock music and authentic electronica. On his newly released EP From The Water, the London based rapper and singer deals with themes of identity and redemption through deadpan, dry singing and accurately pinpointed rap verses.
The follow-up to the artist’s full-length debut, January’s OCCASIONALESQUE, is often a soupy combination of all the genres listed above. The strident and serious “Everybody Loves You”, product by Yak Beats, opens the disc with what sounds like the beginning of a traditional hip-hop song – but as soon as Somasu starts singing, the listener is immediately reminded of the current landscape of alternative rock. The track sounds like it was distinctly influenced by modern pop monoliths such as Twenty-One Pilots and Imagine Dragons. Lyrically, it’s difficult to decipher what the singer is talking about, but he keeps referring to a significant other that’s moved on as he murmurs “No way back, no way back/Is it truth… That you lack/I’m the fool… That wants you back”.
“Permutations” is a little more on the hip-hop side of the record’s musical spectrum. While it still opens with a sung chorus, there’s a noticeable amount of flow in Somasu’s phrasing. He then goes on into full rap mode as he speaks of his spiritual beliefs: “Let the time reveal its faith – let the cowards wash their face/Kill the lies, watch them fade, yah yah/Still trying to find my faith, Yahweh/Don’t let me die in vain, yeah that way”.
The synth-packed “Gabi” is a straight-up love song, but it doesn’t take away from Leppanen’s musical and sonic aesthetic, as it is as club-worthy as any other of the EP’s five tracks. The production supplied by b.eatzonmeth (best producer name ever) is atmospheric and as smooth as anything else you’ll hear this year. With quick percussive tones floating around your head along with well sung, processed vocals from Leppanen surround the listener in ecstasy.
“You Want Help” is another blatant and dominating hip-hop track. Again, the singer is attached to a lover who seems damaged and distant. As he raps “Don’t leave, it can’t be /Crucify yourself for me /I can’t even fool miss/Watch that step playing your new glitch”, Somasu sounds as confident as ever. The EP closes with a bang, saving one of the best tracks for last. “Still”, which was released as the record’s lead single, provides the artist at his most defiant and charged up. Leppanen makes it clear he runs the place when he emits the song’s chorus: .“On this broken glass I lay/Run this block, I run this block, I/Let the spirit take my place/Watch this glock, just watch just glock, now”
There is a little bit of monotony to the songs overall, but as far as EP’s go, one of the five songs on From The Water is bound to strike a chord with you. It’s evident that Somasu sees another dimension to hip-hop, and this is surly going to expand with each new release. He’s created a record that has a little bit of rock for the open-minded hip-hop fan, and a little bit of hip-hop for the diehard rock fan.