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Zeroh - BLQLYTE Music Album Reviews

The enigmatic Los Angeles rapper-producer's latest is a journey of discovery within a world of shadows, and his best and most stimulating music yet. 

The elusive Los Angeles rapper-producer and engineer Zeroh, born Edwin Liddie Jr., has been active for nearly a decade, but he’s been covering his tracks. As Blaqbird, Zeroh, and a few other different names, Liddie Jr. released music for free on Tumblr, eventually linking up with producer Jonwayne, electronic musician Shlohmo, and the Wedidit crew. He became immersed in the L.A. beat scene, sampling Flying Lotus and Georgia Anne Muldrow and working with producers like the late Ras G and Low Leaf. For a while, some assumed Zeroh was the rapper behind the Captain Murphy character because of his connection to Low End Theory, his knack for hiding in plain sight, and his smudging, multisyllabic wordplay.
In many ways, BLQLYTE is a culmination of his many years of experimentation. Created over a six-year span and entirely self-produced, his debut for Leaving Records is a journey of discovery within his world of shadows, and it is his best and most stimulating music yet. In its consideration of the effects of psychoactive drugs on the mind, the album shares lessons learned through introspection, though not in any straightforward manner. Just as a black light often reveals things unseen by the naked eye, on BLQLYTE, Zeroh illuminates the things that go unobserved in dark places.
It can sometimes be difficult to derive any linear meaning from Zeroh’s songs, but their freeform narratives can be riveting just for how they sound. He revels in challenging listeners, and his sentences break apart until they begin to smear. On the title track, his bars dissolve into a phonetic soup (“Hue imbued human suit on two-inch tape/Tried and true like chest techniques”). The deeper you get into any verse, the more unbound it seems to become, and they are even headier when taken in the context of a psychedelic odyssey. “You should be shrooming in the ashram/Superhuman in the strug’/Levitating through the chasm/Cause hitting rock bottom may never be enough,” he raps on “4D.” There is something to be gained for the casual listener, the careful listener, and the mindful one.

More impressive than Zeroh’s improvement as a beatmaker or his sharpened skill as a writer is his evolution as a producer. If there was ever a knock on his music before, it was that nothing bound his projects together, but BLQLYTE shows a gloomy and glitchy personal style forming. The whirring vortex of synths on “Invaluable” sounds like being sucked into an airlock. On “Mudblood,” wheezing electronics and misfiring drums settle into a mosaic, his raps skipping along the edges. Closer “Aquamane” is hushed, rippling, and bottomless; it sounds like the ocean floor. There are a handful of mentions of microdosing, and it feels like Zeroh is trying to induce a mini-hallucination or trigger some sort of breakthrough—if not in you, then in himself. His production is nearly heady enough to pull it off.

Zeroh’s nature is to obfuscate, but here that obfuscation is stylized and purposeful. He wrings meaning from murk, tangible feelings from riddles. “It definitely feels like stuntin’ when you bend/blur the lines and show people what’s possible,” he recently said, and according to this metric, he is definitely stunting across BLQLYTE. In so doing, Zeroh both reintroduces himself and redefines what is possible for his music.
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