MID AIR is anything but mid. Paris Texas make a big statement and claim to the alternative slacker rap throne with their second LP.

Release date: July 21, 2023 | Independent | Instagram | Twitter | Stream/Purchase

Paris Texas are rising up. The LA-based duo are doing things as big as Texas itself in indie rap, colliding a strong rock foundation with a chilled-out vocal approach that brings one-liners just as effortlessly as it does introspective chewing gum for the mind. You can’t really go wrong with them and on their second album, MID AIR, Louie Pastel and Felix show immense growth in just a few years and give off a magnetism that should keep eyes on them for the foreseeable future. Me and Dan investigate deeper…

David: Dan, my pal, how are you?

Dan: Pretty fuckin rad, ngl. We’re deep into summer, it’s hot as hell, aliens are probably real (THEY ARE), and this album is just absolutely wrecking my shit. How are you, big homie?

David: I’m about the same really. I just got back from a walk in 93° dry heat, but I’m off work for the rest of a week that was hard carried by some Paris Texas. This is gonna be interesting because you actually introduced me to them about a year ago or so. I really got into their first album BOY ANONYMOUS so I was looking forward to this one as they dropped singles.

Dan: They jumped on my radar pretty quick. No matter how much I spend my time elsewhere in the rap-o-sphere, slacker rap is my home. Their live instrumentation was an interesting addition, and BOY ANONYMOUS had some solid bright spots. “HEAVY METAL” is a standout track for me on that album, and although that release had some rough spots their proof of concept was pretty rad. I really love their loose jovial vibe. It carries a skate energy to it that really reminds me of Cool Kids, The Pack, Injury Reserve, and Das Racist. It’s been a while since we’ve had some solid activity in the slacker subgenre since Injury Reserve began winding down (RIP STEPA GROGGS). SCARING THE HOES (Danny Brown x JPEGMAFIA) have been injecting life into the scene with their releases, but beyond that it really is just Paris Texas out there (at least spotlight wise), and they’re making a good run at it. I literally can’t think of one track that felt like filler on MID AIR, so they really seemed to be focusing on honing in on their sound a lot more, and buffing out those rough patches.

David: I feel all of that. I really do love this approach to rap because it’s how I approach rap – yeah, I’m down for bars, complexity, and technicality (just like I am with metal some of the time too), but I appreciate when rappers can just chill and offer a vibey take too. MID AIR was released at the perfect time too: peak summer. The heat is hard, but so are these beats, motherfuckers. I really liked the singles and videos leading up to its release. I’ll admit, I didn’t catch many of Paris Texas’ videos before MID AIR’s, but the video for “BULLET MAN” was super intriguing with a wild message and “PANIC!!!” was great as well. They really do go for the same energy as a lot of the groups and duos you list and I love that!

What was a standout or two on your first couple listens?

Dan:  I’m a huge fan of lead-offs, and I think PT did a good job choosing “tenTHIRTYseven”. It’s a bad ass track to introduce the detractors, and sleepers to their evolved sound. “Lana Del Rey” is another highlight that shows up on the back half. I also enjoy “NüWhip” a lot. It’s a fun track that gets as close to a mainstream sound as these dudes are going to get, but even then it’s nowhere near the crispiness pop-trap easily exudes. It’s dusty, irritated, and too antagonistic in the best way possible. We both talked about “DnD” as a standout, and we both claimed that’s our favorite. What stood out to you the most with that track?

David: I love how “tenTHIRTYseven” sets things off for sure. Louie Pastel’s second verse has him sounding like Genesis Owusu with the shaky, low-tone delivery – yeah, I know he says ‘Only one of us, do not compare us to no so-and-so’ in the same song, but that comparison has stayed in my head ever since I heard that song.

You know, “DnD” originally stood out to me on MID AIR because it was the slowest, downest song on the album. It’s got that forlorn guitar, lower energy vocals, the Kenny Mason feature that matches that energy, and everyone’s just venting on shit in their lives. Kenny probably had my favorite bars of the song:

‘They gon’ try to say a ni**a ‘rock-rap,’ like it’s not rap
Guess that mean it don’t count when they get out-rapped
Sayin’, ‘It ain’t rock’ on a rock track
Guessin’ when you Black, it’s all trap’

It’s an outlier in the tracklist, but I don’t know if that’s my favorite anymore. I think I like a few others more like the song that follows, “Sean-Jared”. That song goes so hard. Great beat, again with a guitar focus, but it’s got this wonderfully synthetic feel as well, and the beat switch that happens in the middle when Louie’s verse starts to this throwback snappy ‘80s vibe is awesome. He also has the best double entendre one-liner on the whole album for me: ‘Go check the pronouns, they them ni**as

Dan: That line is such a standout, and absolutely just resonates with you after hearing it. The cool low-key weeded out delivery from everyone on that track makes it such a groovy ass late summer vibe. It may be that JPEG line from the new STH EP that is influencing my next suspicion, but I feel like “DnD” is throwing shade at Baby Keem a little bit. Right before Kenny spits, you can hear Louie playing with enunciation while he delivers in a cadence that sounds too similar to Keem’s:

‘Used to be dirty and dusty
Shawty 5’1″ and she busty
Shawty 5’1″ and she fussy
My children around, so no cussing
I’m in the cut where it’s pussing’

Kenny then follows up with a flow sounding really similar to Keem talking about an enigmatic beef he had with some ‘star’ who copped his style:

‘Went to war with a star ’cause a n**** tried to clone Ken
Came up with the style, n****s say I tried to clone them? Cool
When yo’ check hit, we both split it’

Not many people sound like Kenny Mason, and considering the fact that this person is a star, and Keem is connected to one of the biggest (if not the biggest) rappers of all time, and also sounds a whole hell of a lot like Kenny naturally, it just seems to fit. It’d be similar to Killer Mike‘s verse may or may not calling out Ye on Black Thought‘s “Good Morning”.  Either way, though, it’s a cool way to throw shade if that’s what’s going on. The nonchalance and cool breezy delivery kind of grabs, sticks, and jabs in the right places without needing to call attention publicly naming names.

David: I did love those lines from Kenny, yeah. I try not to read into potential beefs or subliminals too much, but that is an interesting observation. I’m one of those weirdos that wants names named if there’s beef – say it with your chest! I guess time will tell.

Speaking of aggression though… “BULLET MAN”. Between the song itself and the video, there’s a lot going on, a lot of potential commentary. Surfacely, it’s a tough dude rap with Louie and Felix talking that gun talk, but that’s not really their MO. Sure, they brag and don’t take any shit, but I think it’s more likely they’re riffing on mass shootings, US gun culture, race, maybe even gang violence too, but the video doesn’t necessarily support that narrative. Instead, it takes on this darkly funny tone with a bullet chasing a Black dude (who was a white dude before something unexplainable happened in his trailer home) through the city, around corners, into theaters (where the song is briefly subtitled in French which made me laugh), before finally hitting its target as the guy stumbles into a food joint where people exclaim at the body and move on with their day.

It’s a lot! But it’s nicely done, well-filmed and directed, one of my favorite songs on the album because of its energy and beat. This is a good time to shout out dilip who helped produce this album – he’s worked with ZelooperZ on some of his best songs, Juice WRLD, and even helped with one of Denzel Curry’s latest tracks “BLOOD ON MY NIKEZ”. Dude did great here and I hope he gets more recognition as a result.

Dan: I can definitely see that, and I dig that perspective. I’d definitely say it’s a reference to gun culture and race relations absolutely displayed in such an engaging way that fits the free spirited energy Paris Texas thrives on, while also making a pointed incision with a tone of playfulness that doesn’t come off as derivative or inauthentic, which is unfortunately a mainstay as socially conscious rap continues to be watered down.  The instrumentation stands out on that track a lot to me, and it’s something they do so well. The riffs all over this are pretty heavy, but in the chillest way possible, which gives plenty of space for their elastic and punchy bars. That coming just before “NüWhip and “PANIC!!!” is a pretty solid trifecta of how honed in their outfit is. There’s literally no room to catch a breath at all while they sardonically deconstruct all the trappings of rap and hood culture across those three tracks. I want to say it reminds me of The Roots, but not directly. There’s a lot of rappers with backing bands, but it’s really difficult to find a balance without having to sacrifice one element or the other. Much like The Roots I think PT did it on this record.

David: Totally agree with the trifecta. The whole middle of this album is just exemplary of their style of rap at a high level. “NüWhip” especially is exactly that sort of sardonic energy you mentioned:

‘I got some gold and some therapist money
I got some ’Now I’m Republican’ money
I’m ’bout to sip on the milk and the honey
I’m ’bout to piss in the pot when I’m cooking, I’m nasty’

Love the production here too – same rock-ish base with neat samples that play to their fun side. It’s colorful, but not too busy, somehow understated just like most of their approach to rapping and vocals. It’s just the most chill shit imaginable while still being wholly engaging.

I am curious how you felt about the end of the album. Both “Ain’t No High” and “…We Fall” take a bit of a turn into a more serious tone. “Ain’t No High” has flecks of BROCKHAMPTON or even a little Frank Ocean with how stripped down and melodic it is. It’s a song about drugs, but not the kind you would think – antipsychotic drugs are mentioned by name, the lyrics also refer to self-destruction and abuse, and it just seems very aware and sad. “…We Fall” feels like an ending credits track with Paris Texas really reflecting on things that have led up to this moment of dropping their second LP. It’s emotional, but not overwrought, just a wonderful triumph of a moment and the dudes deserve to bask in it a bit.

Dan: “Ain’t no High” has this really dope post-grunge alternative rock beat that balance both sadness and yearning along with hope, euphoria, and delight. Both Louie and Felix kind of deconstruct various family dynamics in comparison to other members and how they feel. It really has this moppy Neutral Milk Hotel or Isaac Brock on LSD era Modest Mouse. It’s a gem of a track, and completely fills in some gaps and hints that are sonically presented throughout the album. Just utter day high late afternoon late summer beach bum energy. After living in this inbetween the slacker rap and slacker rock gray matter it’s a really cool flex to have this kind of flex as the next to the last track.

“…We Fall” carries similar energy, but is wholly more comparable to the same griminess Odd Future hypes to 11. It’s breezy, grimy, and restorative, as well as just hooky as hell. That big Frank Ocean shift is a pretty juxtaposition against the pop-trap punk riffs that start it out. It’s really a perfect closing track that exudes this free spirited energy PT dials in so well.

David: Hell yeah. It’s kind of wild how enigmatic MID AIR is. While it’s not the most complex thing out there, it’s like a monster truck with huge tires straddling multiple lanes of a highway, arm out the window, a hand casually on the side of the steering wheel – just gliding. Even just vocally, both rappers utilizing a ton of inflections, cadences, flows, and lyrical themes. There’s so much to digest and then you shift to the production and that adds several more layers. It’s approachable as hell, but not necessarily easy to contend with if that makes sense. It’s almost oppressively easy-going despite some tougher topics being explored.

Dan: In such a crowded field, it’s been dope to see some folks play with different sonic palettes, especially when it’s live instrumentation. They’ve absolutely tightened up where they neeed to to make this a stellar release. This year has been a little slow on dynamics releases in hip hop compared to last year, and MID AIR has become a fast classic and standout for this year. It’s no surprise it carries the same energy SCARING THE HOES brought, with that being the other standout in the rap category. It’s also wild to consider how fresh and dynamic it stands out against the monolith releases from both Travis Scott and Lil Uzi Vert. Neither project was as compelling or hungry as MID AIR. They’re a darkhorse that absolutely deserve the spotlight, and the drive you hear on MID AIR is proof of that. I’m really looking forward to see where they go next.

David: Right, same. Just yesterday, one of my favorite YouTubers who occasionally covers hip-hop asked who in the alt hip-hop field is up next in a poll – he had Paris Texas as one of the options. And I would have voted for them if it weren’t for him also having Backxwash on there!

I think the cover art for MID AIR along with the title is the best representation of the album. The backhalf of a motocross bike suspended in the mid-air with dirt flecking off the treads of the tire as it spins, blue sky with light clouds in the background, made to represent an almost euphoric moment of defying physical law however temporary, catching that high that keeps you moving. Paris Texas really encapsulate that feeling of being energized, floating, and all about the fun vibe with their music. Love it.

Band photo by Saru Hagher

David Rodriguez

David Rodriguez

"I came up and so could you, and fuck the boys in blue" - RMR

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