While it’s a bit early in the life-cycle of Kanye West‘s most recent album to label anything (particularly something that could have been recorded prior to its release) post-Yeezus rap, we have started to see a few artists implementing techniques and sounds that bear the mark of Kanye’s challenging opus.
Built on wordless, auto-tuned vocals, and buzzing bass notes, New Jersey rapper Lewis’ “Red October” fits perfectly into rap’s current darker fixations, tossing aside hooks and traditional structure for a fixation on distorted texture and a sort of low-flame ominousness (it never quite reaches Yeezus or Travis $cott levels of outward agression). Though not as visceral as its primary point of comparison, “Red October” distills brooding, industrial menace into something that feels leaner, less concerned with grand ambitions and genre conventions, confined to successfully creating a grim mood.
While it might be easy for some to write off Lewis as part of a first wave of Yeezus imitators, it’s worthwhile to think a bit about why a sound like this one might be arising now, spurred by social turmoil, increasing room for sonic experimentation, and potential inspiration (whether in sound or in spirit to create against the grain) from rap’s fieriest superstar. “Red October” is by no means perfect, but it does suggest the room left for growth in an emerging style.