Finally. After a little under 4 years, RL Grime‘s highly-anticipated sophomore album “NOVA” has arrived. Suffering a surplus of delays and setbacks, the impatience among eager music fans only grew larger over time. Now, we can all let out a sigh of relief and enjoy the journey that this 15-track project offers. Before we get into that, we must talk about how we even got here in the first place.
After the release of his debut album “VOID“, fans were incapacitated at the god-tier production that was put on display. The dark and sensual project put everyone on notice that the bar had been raised for trap music. He was the king, at least that’s what everyone saw him as. Rightfully so, RL Grime took that responsibility and never let anyone down. The album left us with some iconic anthems in “Core,” “Scylla,” “Valhalla,” and boasted some impressive features with Big Sean, Boys Noize, and Djemba Djemba. The future was certainly bright for the 23-year-old (at the time), but nobody knew what it would sound like.
The first single off “Nova” defined a new direction for the artist. “Reims” was a melodic fireball that carried an exuberant amount of energy. It was different, yet sounded so familiar. The sound design, the drums, the vocal chops, It was this song that made me notice RL was developing. His vision and musical ability were evolving and you could just tell he wanted more. He wanted to be more than just a DJ/Producer, he wanted to be viewed as an artist.
With all of that said, the expectations for this album were sky high. Needless to say, everyone was curious to see what the artist has been working on for the past 3 or 4 years. After treating fans with a plethora of singles, each song both excited and confused us all. “Era” and “Pressure” provided an immense amount of hype for being the most rugged and intense tracks on the whole project itself. Reverting back to his prominent sound, each track had a haunting presence to it that you couldn’t ignore.
This is what most fans expected the album to bring but oh were we wrong. “I Wanna Know,” “Light Me Up,” and “Undo” introduced a much more commercial appeal than anything the artist has ever done. Most fans hate to see artists stray away from their original styles, but with an open mind, you have to respect the producer for tackling and flourishing in new areas of music.
That’s exactly what this album is, it’s versatile. The producer doesn’t just broaden his horizons onto different genres of music but to different frames of mind. Over the course of these 15-tracks, the project is separated into different sections that administer distinctive tastes. “Feel Free” kicks things off with a climatic intro. Luring you in with its charming breakdown, things quickly morph in grotesque fashion. We are then spoiled to the feature-heavy section of the album that experiments into the depths of R&B and Pop. Records like “Light Me Up,” “Undo,” “Take It Away,” and “OMG” establish the progress RL Grime has made as he cultivates his sound. Enlisting a superstar cast, Miguel, Jeremih, Tory Lanez, Ty Dolla $ign, Joji, Chief Keef, and more inject a liveliness into every record.
“Reims,” “Pressure,” and “Era” takeover to allow us to hear the RL Grime of old. His brutal and edgy sound returns to the spotlight to contribute balance. Already making countless rounds in many DJ sets played today, these songs exude power into the album. Without missing a step, RL showcases his impeccable sound design once again.
The deeper you plunge into this recording, the more you seem to notice how seamless the transitions are. The singles are incorporated in so well it makes it extremely easy to listen to the whole thing in one sitting. This leads into my favorite branch of the album. “I Wanna Know,” “UCLA,” “Rainer,” and “Atoms” create a vulnerable ambiance that runs perfectly. Showing off prowess in the songwriting category, I would go as far as to say these are easily some of the best songs RL Grime has ever made. They have a bit of personal flair to it, allowing listeners to connect with the artist. This 5-track sequence closes out this LP in monumental fashion.
Picking up where he left off with “VOID“, “NOVA” is the perfect contrast for it. RL Grime took a risk knowing what most would expect from him and it paid off. Sure, you can argue he didn’t blow our minds with something we’ve never heard before, but he really developed as an artist of his own. I feel like this album was a huge sign that he has matured as a composer and the progress is evident. He truly expressed himself and allowed us to see him in a moment of vulnerability. Most importantly, I think these songs will age very well. As a musician, creating timeless music is one of the biggest things you can achieve and Henry Steinway does just that.