Obijuan and Philanthrope – SAXRED GIN – EP

 

 

Artwork by – huereallyisit

Words by Daniel Farrell

We’re massively thankful to have a communicative relationship with Obijuan, whereby he’ll send us previews or hints of his upcoming projects, SAXRED GIN being one of them. We were perhaps a little slow to the jump, but, when the dust finally settled on the project and we’d soaked it up, we asked him a few questions about his latest collaboration with Philanthrope, in a bid to better understand their approach. So, firstly we’ll be reviewing SAXRED GIN as a project, and below, you’ll be able to read a few answers of questions we put to Obijuan himself. 

POISON IVY

All the tracks on SAXRED GIN are relatively short. It’s something we’ve grown accustomed to with a lot of Obijuans tracks as he employs a sort of ‘get in/get out’ style; It’s a style that works very well for him, as he doubles up bars on the tempo with assumed and assured ease. POISON IVY is no different. Philanthrope lays a mysterious combination of subdued and consistent drum patterns with these alerting tuba styled shrieks. This upped-pitching keeps us intrigued whilst we endure the onslaught of bars from Obijuan.

“Flows by the truckload, full tonka”

Obijuan’s flow is so distinguishable and highly revered at this point – the growth from his much earlier pieces such as The King’s Wishes is remarkable. He seemingly leaves himself no pause for breath, it’s just one ever-lasting flow that he embarks on, like he’s almost got too much to say, his mouth is trying to set a pace that only his brain can. This is consistent throughout the project, as it is with a majority of his recent releases. This franticism is calmed down by the beat beneath him, and that’s massively apparent in the second track, RED RING.

RED RING

This is probably one of the nicest joints Obijuan has dropped, ever, or at least we think so. The first thirty seconds is an ode to the notion of calmness, where Philanthrope combines long standing bass with more subtle pan drums and an even more subtle glissando on the keys. It’s like having a 20 year-aged oak-barrel whisky atop a snow-topped peak, with a Dominican Ashton cigar in your other hand. Smooth. 

The intro subsides before the main bulk of the track ensues, and it’s just as calm. An aerated wisp fills the soundscape as those keys and bass meet once more, harmoniously. 

“Ay yo, hear ye, small window of time left, it’s eerie”

What’s markedly different about the way Obijuan raps, compared to others, is his flow. He’ll take a short phrase and double – fuck it triple and quadrouple – it up, which is massively apparent in RED RING. Without wanting to weigh too heavily on this track, it’s a highlight of the EP and really showcases Obijuan’s abilities.

WATCH TOWER (ft. looms.)

Supposedly the EP’s highlight track, WATCH TOWER, comes at the midway point and was decided as the track that would earn video support. For the video, Obijuan decided to couple up the track with the EP’s closing, CROOKED VISOR. You can read about why Obijuan opted for these two tracks to be combined in the Q&A below.

We don’t wanna speak too much on this one, the visuals tell a better story than we ever could and you’ll probably deduct different meanings. There’s something about sailing the open sea in black and white spitting bars that needs no further assessment. It’s a bizarre video in many ways, not for it’s effects, because there aren’t really any. Obijuan explained to us how they shot on real film, which was colour graded to black and white. It again shows thoughtfulness in every step Obijuan and his people take to get things right. Who doesn’t like a choral-backed rap track, whilst a man speedboats on the open sea? Everybody likes that shit.

We couldn’t talk about WATCH TOWER without mentioning looms. This desperate, aching voice greets us in the second half of the track. It’s this semi-constructed voice cracking or wavering that’s so alluring. It’s obvious why these two opted to collab. Their approach to rapping and more generally their approach to creating an atmosphere is absolutely to be respected. Their similarity in styles and approach proves why the UK/US underground relationship has never been so strong. WATCH TOWER is an emotional tirade, a song to be endured by the more regressive, and revered and utilised by the ones who are thriving. It’s a unique, balanced and ultimately controlled track.

Directed by Broken Antenna Filmed by Ahmet Husseyin Edited by Ben Boullier Colour grade by Jack McGinity Animation by Optixlab

CYBERPACK

Philanthrope continues with the same pallet of eerie, subdued bass, which is accentuated by a great many plossives from Obijuan. It’s as though Obijuan said “fuck the pop filter, let ‘em hear something raw”. As seems to be the case for the entire EP, the mixing & mastering has woven Obijuan’s voice into the track, which can, at times, make the lyrics indistinguishable. Admittedly, some might find this frustrating, but for many it implores them to listen over and over, in a bid to fully soak up the lyricism. It’s one of Obijuans most useful traits, which certainly sets him apart from others. It’s music made from a puirists perspective. Raw, unhealed and exposed, Obijuan & Philanthrope have cooked up a real treat for true fans of rap. Intrigued, we asked how long the process took, start to finish. “I flew out to on a monday it was written and recorded by that friday”. That’s a 6 track EP constructed in a working week. Kinda crazy.

HENDRICKS (skit)

Skits are usually a way for the artist to put us in their shoes for 30 seconds or maybe a minute, and they typically utilise dialogue and ambience relating to the recording process. For HENDRICKS, we got something a little different. There’s not a great deal of dialogue, and far less that’s distinguishable. We hear the bubbling of bongs, extended chesty coughs towards it’s rear, but primarily we get to enjoy Philanthope’s range of production. It’s teasing in many ways, because you can hear Obijuan doing bits on this sort of beat. It’s in his BPM bag, but his artistic choices are to be respected here.

“beat was too fire for me to rap on so i wanted to use it as an interlude. my son yung algorithm was off da super pack, soon as i said that instantly he said he had a vocal sample for it in mind. as you know shit fit perfectly” 

Our thoughts were they maybe he wanted people to have a little break from his relentlessly giving flow. Either way it’s a suitable penultimate track, and one Philanthope and yung algorithm deserve full credit for. It’s relaxing, soothing, and impressively all this calm entirely contradicts the massive up-turn in pace we see in the EP’s closer, CROOKED VISOR. 

CROOKED VISOR

As mentioned, the pacing in this one presents Obijuan an opportunity – An opportunity to offer us, the listener, one last enduring challenge of taking onboard his raps. He goes full throttle on this one for the duration. 90’s drums, 4-key glissando and continual ad-libbing marry neatly to offer a minute and thirty seven of real rap. Philanthrope opts for a number of subsidiary soundscapes. Radio transmissions are blended throughout, in a bid to create this sort of area-51 aura, which is apt considering Obijuan’s other-worldly style. Obijuan doesn’t rap for anyone but him, but this isn’t to be selfish. Though the comparison shouldn’t at all be taken literally, he could be likened to KA in his approach, where it’s all about utlising the languages he’s procured, and the cultures he indulges in. If people get it, great, if not, it’s still great. He just likes making music, making art, and that seems to be our real takeaway from any project he releases. 

Anyway, shouts Obijuan AND Philanthope for coming together and making this. Keep scrolling and have a little read of some questions we put to the man himself, love.

What’s your favourite track of the EP and why? 

hard to choose yo but prolly poison ivy, we made it mad quick n came up with da album title while i was writing it so yea prolly dat one 

Whenever you collaborate with a new producer, it seems highly calculated, is this the case?

yea ofc ion work with anyone unless it makes sense. ion ever have to compromise my style, neither do they nahmean. same time shit always sound like it was made specifically for me regardless. the beats producers send to me are different to what they send every other rapper they work with. i get the top secret joints out hidden vaults niggas never knew existed type shit 

 What’s the message you’re trying to convey with this piece, or is it more an amalgamation of random thought?

i was in a bad place, but i decided to look at the bigger picture. had to release my anger via raps instead of slippin up nahmean

When working with different producers, do you approach your raps differently?

nah never 

Did you approach looms. about the feature, if so why, or nah how’d that happen?

yea we family man, soon as philanthrope started makin the loop i knew it was gone be me n looms. on it. wrote my verse, sent to him & you know the rest 

 Have you got anything else cooked up with Philanthrope?

if i told you id have to kill you.

What other projects are you working on, anything you can reveal?

PT. III in da trilogy with dylantheinfamous is finished. LO2 is finished. ESG VOL. 2 almost finished. got a whole LP w my nigga YUNGMORPHEUS on ice too for after allat. ain gone say much else

What’s your plans for 2022, we ain’t far away now?

get fresh and get money. drop music and stay healthy. who knows nigga i might live in tokyo by december i can’t plan ahead hahah

How long did SAXRED GIN take to manufacture, from idea to wax?

top secret information. wax took lil longer than usual this time around cuz of covid n allat, but my process is quick we got the fire connects on deck. 

salute to Bad Taste niggas know we got that special formula. 

Who led the project, did you go to Philanthrope with specific ideas, or did he send you some beats and it worked from there?

no one led it. me n philanthrope always end up meeting in the middle. you know i fuck with the grimy shit and he got dat clean sound goin on but we both fw alla same type of rap so once we drinkin some good liquor & smokin some expensive weed we catch a vibe like it’s nothig

What’s your philosophy when you’re working, and was it different on this project compared to your previous shit?

always the same. long as shits natural and it feel right at the time, then we gucci. all i need is a pen, some fire weed, a crazy loop & it’s history. ion ever force the process otherwise the product would sound whack 

What was the thinking behind combining CROOKED VISOR and WATCH TOWER for the video? Visuals are too cold. The passion so visible in the gesturing for that first minute.

good looks man glad you fw it. we wanted to blend the two together because they showcase the same exact focus and resolve over two completely opposite styles of music. shit is like left and right. looms. & i were in completely different countries when we had to film. sunn already had some other shit booked so we couldn’t fly him out. he said he ain mind us taking his verse off for the video so we could still complete the vision, so we made it work.

That concludes this piece. A massive thank you to Obijuan for his time and patience on this one, we’ve once again loved indulging in your artistry. Big up Philanthope, Dylantheinfamous and everyone who helped bring this project to life, it’s sure to go down as another classic in the years to come. Go buy it now via Bad Taste – fucking get that wax – it’ll be worth millions when the oceans have eaten the land – and the billionaires want good music to listen to in space.