Rhymes, beats, and audio lava. On his sophomore full-length, Yellow Steve serves up a sweet-sixteen collection of cosmic hip-hop, slo-glop tracks that are as inscrutable as they are impressive. With a delivery style that sounds more like languid spoken word than urgent raps, and a production approach that is lo-fi, hyper compressed, and borderline eerie, Suspended Animation is one of the most refreshingly odd local records of recent years.
The samples warble and buckle in place, sounding more like early 80s analog tape loops than surgically excised-and-grafted digital shards. Weirdly enough, the minimal sonics of tunes like “Drowsy Armyman’s Song” and “Nadir” come across like a spontaneous hybrid of Boogie Down Production and Gang Starr with circa 1982 German industrial gurus Einstürzende Neubauten; with Yellow Steve dropping the turntable down from 33 to a glacial 16 rpm.
At age 20, Yellow Steve is a sonic cohort of folks like Denver Hall and the Black Toilet, which makes evident sense: all have their distinct styles yet all seem to move in orbits outside of hip hop, including the already potent Duval scene.
This Local Music Spotlight originally appeared in Void Magazine’s February 2020 issue.