Rx Papi/Gud - Foreign Exchange Music Album Reviews

Rx Papi/Gud - Foreign Exchange Music Album Reviews
The duo offers a tight, cohesive project that binds Gud’s experienced pop precision with Papi’s uncontrolled intensity.

When baby-faced Swedish rappers like Yung Lean and Bladee first started racking up views in the United States, their viral success was owed as much to the beats as it was the bars. The cooing vocal samples, angelic synths, and crystal shards of sound synonymous with Sad Boys and Drain Gang were and are frequently the product of producer Micke Berlander, better known as Gud. Despite the now substantial influence and imitation of his sound, Gud has been relatively selective in the artists he works with: a beat on Halsey’s debut album here, a co-production credit on Travis Scott and Quavo’s Huncho Jack there. It’s especially noteworthy, then, that the aptly named Foreign Exchange came about not because of A&R or a phoned-in business negotiation, but because Gud was so taken with Rx Papi’s work that he reached out to the New York rapper directly about collaborating.

It’s a partnership that, at first glance, seems unexpected—the Swedish rap universe flirts with hyper-pop, and it’s hard to imagine Rx Papi ever working with Charli XCX—but it also makes a strange kind of sense. Sad Boys and the loose Rx collective alike conjure very specific stylistic universes with devoted cult followings, each group re-interpreting familiar trap beats and lyrical tropes into new languages of rap, uncanny but also familiar. Though the delivery might differ, both scenes have pushed the envelope in terms of vulnerability in rap, one with a kind of sensitive poetry and the other with unsparing detail.

The collective Rx discography is a veritable torrent that not even Noah could tread. Unlike the projects of the galaxy-brained Rxk Nephew, whose treatises still function best as YouTube loosies more than full-length records, Foreign Exchange is tight and cohesive, benefiting from Gud’s experienced pop precision. The Sad Boys affect was undoubtedly genuine—the lives of Lean and his collaborators have been marked by a number of tragedies since their explosion of success—but being an “emotional boy” is as much an aesthetic as it is a sincere expression, the Arizona-sipping, athleisure-wearing equivalent of goths from bygone eras. There is humor to Papi’s bars: a track like “Still in Da Hood” drops pop culture references from cartoons to wrestling (“Drako sound like Boomhauer,” “Spike Dudley with the leg drop”) with no irony or quotation marks, just small comforts in a world marked by the ever-present expectations of looming death or heat around the corner.

It’s not just the lack of accent or language barrier that makes this collaboration even more direct than Gud’s work with Sad Boys, but also Papi’s flow itself. Where the voices of Gud’s usual muses are ethereal and distant, sometimes verging on dissociative, Papi is immediate and unrestrained from the opening bars of “12 Stout Street.”’ His tone is somewhere between howling at the moon and crying out for help, a jagged blade sharpened by a lifetime of heartbreak: imagine “Dreams and Nightmares” filtered through Michigan rap, Lil B, and a thousand blunts. Like his comrade-in-arms Rx Nephew, Papi’s lyricism gives a swift middle finger to the concept of hooks, verses, or conventional structure—what he gives us instead is a relentless direct address, unsparing in its breathless stream of consciousness, the very definition of no holds barred.

Though the pair might make for dissonant bedfellows, it’s not hard to see why a rapper who’s flipped Pet Shop Boys would be attracted to synthesizer-driven melodies like “Split Decision.” Gud’s smoothest beats only accentuate the painfulness of Papi’s lived experience: as a piano line that could belong to a New Edition or Ready for the World ballad glistens on “N.L.M.B,” Papi screams: “I grew up around fucking dead bodies!” The Swedish producer’s work is often compared to trance, but his composition here is somewhere between neoclassical and quiet storm, grounded in piano and ambient textures more than bass drum and hi-hat. Where the bass in previous Papi recordings was so fat as to almost capsize the beat, here it can be conspicuously absent, merely a beating pulse within a body of sound. When Papi’s lyrics aren’t transparently emotional, Gud’s production enhances and emphasizes the grit and pain inherent in his voice.

That tension between voice and instrumentation magnifies both the unique beauty of Gud’s beats and Papi’s uncontrolled intensity. The more times you hear Papi say who he feels like when he walks into a room, the more it seems less like a boast and more like a coping mechanism, an ironic armor to fend off life’s daggers. The album’s final line, on “Liar,” reveals what he’s been keeping inside the whole time: “I walked in this bitch, I don’t want to.” When drums and bass are decentralized, as they so often are in Gud’s beats, there’s no steel or strength left to defend, just the raw skin of Rx Papi’s emotions.

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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Rx Papi/Gud - Foreign Exchange Music Album Reviews Rx Papi/Gud - Foreign Exchange Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on Monday, December 13, 2021 Rating: 5

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