I’ve been asking myself lately why it is that humans have such an affinity for playing, creating, and listening to music. I just could not imagine a world without music. It could be the expression through musical forms enables connection to people being one of the key non-verbal forms communication in this world, which we can reliably turn to under many contexts. Against The Current EP is the co-creation by Pittsburgh-based producer Derlee and New York-based hip hop artist Des Brennan that reminds me why I turn to music myself.
From my perspective, there are some unique forces at play in this album, like how sampling and lyrical work intertwine to deliver the feeling and a message. Against The Current EP presents a format not often seen: sample-based instrumental hip hop beats with hiphop lyrics. This format adds new subtleties which bring out artistic expression in a more complex form.
Aside from the format, the content of this album guides us through a tour of themes commonly witnessed inside of the human experience. Stories are told musically and lyrically throughout that foster self-reflection by touching upon matters of living and seeing yourself through to discover inner-transformation.
The title track introduces the whole album, which seems to present two sides of one story. We glide into the first measures of the album with a soft, almost despairing composition, being met with a sample: "This is where a struggle for survival beings or could end". As this sinks in, Des breaks into some rhythmical flow.
Shortly thereafter, the opening track switches into a new movement. It speaks on opportunity, spreading good vibes, and killing negative forces with kindness. I got the impression that these two movements within one track show the balance in feelings and situations we go through. From then, we take a journey through the lense of Derlee and Des Brennan to give us some food for thought for the rest of the album.
Musically, we get clever sampling and melodies spanning the spectrum from somber to sunny to guide us down the lazy river of our existence. The beat inventory has a distinct style serving as the rhythmic foundation for this journey. "Night Rider” brings together phat musicality and creative wordsmithing becoming almost the essence of the album, in my opinion.
Regardless of my opinion, these guys were all in on staying authentic about shit that matters in life with this release. It kind of makes you think about and appreciate how musicians use their spotlight to impact people and influence shifting mindsets in the world. For this, I gotta give Derlee and Des mad props.
We took notice to the chill-hop & soul producer Derlee some months ago following his Off The Beat’n Path release through Philos Records. Following his own minimix on Stereofox, we got word that he was working on a collaboration and we just had to premiere it.
Download the Album for free from the link above.
Disclaimer: these are all my own observations and opinions and if you have anything to add, feel free to tell me what’s up in the comments below