Independent Spotlight is a continuing series on Stewart’s blog. The series revolves around independent artists and bands sending their music to Brett to review. No band is promised a positive review, and all music is reviewed honestly in an effort to better independent music.
In this morning’s edition of the Independent Spotlight, we’re going to shine our gaze on over toward a promising independent hip hop artist, Ayre. Currently a theater major in college, the young performer has put out one of the more passionate, intriguing hip hop efforts of the last several months. ‘Director’s Cut’ is his first full excursion in the studio, marking his debut with six sharply produced tunes. Let’s dig into them.
I’ve said it many times, but it bears repeating every time it’s relevant: independent hip hop is the most saturated genre in the scene. For every ‘good’ indie hip hop review I issue here on the site, I write a dozen much more critical ones. I get about fifteen hip hop records a week. I say this, as I have before, because it weighs the importance of a genuinely excellent indie hip hop effort. I’d argue that’s what you have with ‘Director’s Cut;’ the tracks, produced by Novascotia, shine a light on a young talent with immeasurable potential.
‘When You’re Not Sleeping, Keep Yourself From Dreaming’ is the dynamic, explosive introduction to Ayre. Those string sections, bombastic percussion pieces, and harmonizing vocals are incredible. “I wasn’t born into money, but tough luck,” he exclaims over an absolutely elegant soundscape. I love those brass sections as they rise and fall around Ayre - stunning. His lyricism is fresh and inviting, even if he painfully realistic. All too often, I get indie rappers that land on my desk and think they’re the second coming. At least Ayre is humble. (And in honesty, he’s a hell of a lot more talented than those guys, too.)
‘Wish Upon a Scar’ is a poignant lyrical endeavor as well, touching on array of social issues that have culminated into a modern social conscious in the last year. Poor schools, lack of opportunity, domestic issues, etc. As someone who lives and works in Chicago, these are issues that are particularly relevant to me right now, and thus, tracks like ‘Wish Upon A Star’ resonate with me.
‘You’re My Melody’ is an interesting love track, one that remains rooted in reality instead of fairy tales. It remains lovely, though, and proves there is more than one way to pen a track like that. ‘Sugar High’ is the best track of the bunch, masterfully connecting instrumental and production prowess with some of the most passionate delivery I’ve heard in months. It feels incredibly retro, reminiscent of a Grandmaster Funk track or the like.
‘For the Fame’ and ‘Soulless Succubus’ concrete my opinion that Ayre is one of the more talented indie hip hop songwriters I’ve reviewed this year - and not a day too late. (Quite literally.) Spin him on Spotify below; he’s great and deserves your attention.