Some of the most powerful music is discovered at six in the morning and it’s sometimes very specific to those late nights of no sleep and a zombie-like state. So we decided to start Late Night Music. If we find ourselves listening to a song between 2 and 6 in the morning, we’ll post it between 2 and 6 in the morning. See you out here, fellow insomniacs.
In the often negative discussion about the true-schoolism and revivalist hip-hop leanings present in Joey Bada$$ and his Pro Era crew’s music, critics are quick to toss around the word “nostalgic” pejoratively, maligning music that sounds ripped directly from a bygone era. Rarely does anyone stop to question the nature of this nostalgia or the impetus that drives it.
Trips back into the depths of memory are often derived from a search for comfort, whether real remembrance or the illusion of a misremembered past. While Joey and company were barely breathing during hip-hop’s golden era, many of their older fans (and there are more than a few, they aren’t followed solely by teens) view their music and their ethos as a window into a bygone era. Forget the philosophizing about a better age for hip-hop or music in general; for many, the past becomes an idealized fossil, hazy scraps of film that replay in a positive light when certain triggers strike. I was only six years old when Nas released Illmatic; I discovered it when I was twelve. I don’t associate it with 1994, I associate it with my teenage years, with the discovery of all hip-hop had to offer beyond the year 2000 and with an awkward coming of age that had more than its fair share of sunny moments.
Critiquing an artist for polishing up an old style and calling it new is often warranted, but it’s important to remember that recalling the past isn’t always an act of blog-baiting self-consciousness.
Nino AM‘s Infinite Culture EP is cut from the same cloth as Pro Era’s music, but feels a bit more effortless, concerned more with the sound and style of golden age hip-hop as the best vessel for expressing moods than using Dilla and Premo beats as aesthetic badges of honor. Songs like “Thoughts of Infinity”–a gorgeous, all-too-brief two minute cut driven by piano and reminiscent of Pete Rock’s stunning remix of Black Star’s “Respiration”–and “So Close” take cues from older greats without spiraling into sentimentality. Infinite Culture is comfort food, opening the doors to whatever positive affiliations you might have with this brand of hip-hop.
And if you hate this sound, that’s fine. There’s plenty of hip-hop right now that doesn’t sound even remotely like it.