The main reason I do what I do – review and talk about a bunch of music – is to give it more shine. Everything I write about deserve more ears on it and someone out there will really like it even if I don’t. This isn’t changing with this review – in fact, it feels stronger than ever, that feeling of wanting to share cool-ass music and the people behind it.
CONNIE‘s been a producer I’ve had my eyes and ears on for a while now, since he started producing for ZelooperZ on last year’s “Arbyz” from his Microphone Fiend project. The first thing to note is his producer tag, ‘CONNIE, are you fucking kidding me?,’ before a beat drops in that makes you say the same shit to yourself. Then they dropped “GS1” together and that was it, I wanted a project. I start following the dude on IG and just listen, mostly to clips he’d post to existing or upcoming songs, picking up on his contributions with JELEEL!, grouptherapy., and Zack Fox. Finally, we have a collection of previously released material along with a couple brand new bonuses.
Hi_TEK MZK, VOL. 1 in totality is exemplary of the kind of producer CONNIE is, and that’s a very eclectic one. He’s clearly influenced by dance music as much as he is more traditional, if a little off-kilter hip-hop music with specific progenitors of his being Daft Punk, Pharrell, and SOPHIE. There’s also some palpable influences from the grime scene you can hear like in “FIRESTARTER” with Izzy Spears on the mic, a song that’s slathered in chirping bass as much as much as it is agile drum & bass production. Spears, a rapper I’m not terribly familiar with, really lays out a hedonistic MO to navigate life with on the hook – ‘I want more war, more whores/Anything, just tryna fill a void/More guns, more funds, no fun/Better run and get your toys‘. The last minute of the song switches up to a wavy, ravey diversion that could set off any queer club it plays in.
And that’s just the first track. From there, it’s a kaleidoscopic trip through dance rap anthems, lusty sex jams, and songs to joyride your mom’s Hyundai Elantra to Del Taco with. Featuring Godly the Ruler and Curtis Waters, “MERCURY” is a punchy one that flirts with flashy hyperpop stylings. It’s horny and really shows off what the ‘Hi_TEK‘ in the album title wants to get across. If you like high BPM and have a mating dance to nail, I’d start here. “GS1” is a similarly high-octane track – I love the distortion and effects on the beat that rattle the bass and gives it a dubstep affectation. This is one of CONNIE‘s most adventurous beats on this tape and ZelooperZ just glides on this shit, as expected from someone that rapped effortlessly over a grating, deformed Crash Bandicoot beat before. This is definitely the ‘joyride your mom’s Hyundai Elantra to Del Taco’ track.
“PURPLE APE” sees CONNIE hook up with BAYLI, a Brooklyn artist that fans of Junglepussy and Kari Faux should check out – so me in other words. She uses a rapped cadence and low-toned voice to complement CONNIE‘s heat wave synth beat. The drums actually take a back seat to other textures and it works out so well for it. Lyrically, BAYLI dominates and doesn’t play when it comes to her money, lifestyle, or lovers. “GRFX88”, one of this project’s two brand new offerings, has Matt OX providing a confidently vibey hook for the song and RXKNephew bringing a hard-bodied verse over an EDM-laced knocker of a beat. This sounds like it could be on the soundtrack for Bust Down (very underrated show, RIP to Jak Knight) or something that Kenny Beats may have had a hand in when he was working with Rico Nasty.
CONNIE himself said of this tape, ‘This is a world where boundaries dissolve & feeling leads the way,’ and that’s a spot-on way to capture the essence of what’s on here. I’ve never taken drugs, but I imagine this is the musical equivalent of taking something like acid or shrooms and just riding that high, feeling every nerve in your appendages twerk to the beat (maybe don’t watch the video for “GS1” while high though). This is truly a future-oriented take on rap and its intersections with electronic, experimental, and alternative accoutrements without being too left-field and retaining the ability to play to melodic sensibilities and hit hard rhythmically as well. I also must point out that I love how he’s collabed with some queer artists on this tape, something I think needs to be done a lot more because, let’s be honest, some of the best music undoubtably comes from those artists and their perspectives.
Hi_TEK MZK, VOL. 1 is just a fun-ass time and every song hits for different reasons. Some may read this as it being disjointed, but CONNIE has a way with sonically linking all of his tracks with common threads that are slowly establishing his unique fingerprint on high-energy rap with other fixings thrown in. This goes far beyond a simple melding of styles, where the soul of the music itself feels ambitious and preeminent. Soon, we’ll be able to tell what’s a CONNIE beat even without his iconic tag at the beginning of tracks, and it’s exciting to think about. People searching for hip-hop and adjacent genres’ pulses now and in the immediate future needs to link up with this dude and what he’s doing.