MATIAS PRIBOR ’16
While Snakehips’ most recent EP “Forever (Pt. II)” came out last March, they recently released a new single “All My Friends” ft. Chance the Rapper. They put on a crazy good show in Brooklyn over the weekend that inspired this review.
For those unfamiliar with Snakehips and their awesome sound, they have been described as “London based, left-field down tempo synthesists of several genres, including rap, electronic and a little R&B.” Coincidentally, this description fits another group who has experienced a meteoric rise in success over the past two years, Disclosure. The similarities between the two groups, Snakehips and Disclosure, are evident. They both are two-man groups hailing from London—their sounds frequenting clubs with jazzy, thumping bass, disco overtones and subtle hip-hop influences. Snakehips’ style is particularly impressive live, as they possess an undoubtedly rawer sound than Disclosure’s seriously produced house tracks. While Snakehips’ music generally falls within the greater house genre, the simple smoothness of their sound, compounded with R&B style bass, leaves listeners conflicted between the desire to groove to the jazzy-house or jump with their hands in the air.
Leading the “Forever (Pt. II)” EP is the self-entitled track “Forever (Pt. II),” which features the suave styling of Kaleem Taylor whose clean R&B sound are typical in an emerging house genre that values simple lyricism and jazzy flow (see Disclosure’s “Willing & Able”). The song begins with a funky, syncopated guitar beat and discotheque overlay, but a few measures after, the bass hits a church-like chorus repeatedly exhorts, “Forever in my life.” “Forever (Pt. II)” is a love song of the unrequited kind, but it is much more than that. The musicality of the song easily overshadows its lyricisms, with its layered beats and hip-hop samples; yet, the song’s love message adds a pleasant longing to a track that simply bumps.
“Gone,” featuring SYD, and “Poison,” featuring Daniella T.A.O.L., are the next strongest tracks on the four-song EP. SYD (formerly Syd Tha Kyd), Odd Future’s main producer, lends her minimalist vocal talents to a song whose sudden lightness contrasts nicely with Syd’s hypnotic house-rap style. “Poison,” with Daniella T.A.O.L., is closer to a pop tune compared to “Gone.” While both songs are laden with hip-hop style beats and production, Daniella T.O.A.L’s. feminine sound gives “Poison” a feeling reminiscent of other renowned female house accompanists, Jhené Aiko (“The Worst”) and Alina Baraz (“Fantasy” ft. Galimatias). “Overtime,” featuring Sasha Keable, is perhaps the weakest song on the EP, but deserves a shout-out for being at least an overproduced, Mary J-esque house tune—and at best a chill song to listen to quietly in one’s room.
Snakehip’s new collaboration with Tinashe and Chance The Rapper, “All My Friends,” can be found somewhere on the spectrum between “Forever (Pt. II)” and “Gone.” It is a definitively down-tempo track with a surprisingly critical message regarding the animalistic tendencies of excessively inebriated club-goers: “We open with the vultures kissing cannibals/Sure I get lonely, when I’m the only/ Only human in this heaving heat of the animals.” The reduced, almost underground hip-hop beat meditates upon the poignancy of these lyrics and Chance the Rapper’s unique auto-tuned verse. Chance The Rapper is by no stretch a competent singer, but his verse provides an interesting wrinkle in an above average track. Frankly, the message comes across as preachy for a group whose audience and genre is often characterized by excess and indulgence. That said, “All My Friends” is still a great choice for casual listening alone or with friends.
Snakehips currently ranks among my favorite emerging house groups, despite their roughly six years of experience in the music industry. Only recently have Snakehips hit their stride, finally making American tour stops to sold-out crowds filled with feverish supporters–like their performance in Brooklyn this weekend. Their sound and evident musical influences mark a greater pattern in the narrative of electronic music constituted by a movement away from atonal, festival EDM style. Like in current pop music, the disco revival has brought electronic music sounds designed to bring audiences to their feet and dance with a certain lightness, joviality, and musicality missing from EDM acts. Snakehips brings an altogether unique essence to the electronic genre that accompanies the newfound jazz, hip-hop and disco influences. Also, for the music video fans reading this, the “Forever (Pt. II)” video is a gem, particularly in a music industry more concerned with profitability than artistry.
MATIAS PRIBOR ’16