Don’t sleep on Roy Blair’s electro-rap fusion, ‘Graffiti’

Thursday, September 12, 2019 - 5:39pm

NOSELL

ROY / EMPIRE

Roy Blair wants his new EP Graffiti in the hands of Timothée Chalamet. Quite literally, there is no better project for Chalamet’s personal narrative. Blair’s second track on the EP, “Franzia,” fuses synth-pop with an electronic dance beat that creates an aura that I would call the “Study Abroad in France” space. Graffiti launches listeners into the auditory equivalent of taking transcendental humanities classes while Timothee Chalamet invites you to fall in love with the French electro-dance clubbing scene. Blair is a young heartthrob (despite his claims about having a punchable face) and with Graffiti he has shed his sprightly skin, evolving into a detailed-focused artist who wants to make music and then disappear. The Chalamet bells are RINGING. 

Lime green is Blair’s choice for his newest hair color and for Graffiti’s cover art; the electricity of lime perfectly matches Blair’s emergence into a fusion of synth-pop electronic rap. The lime green visualizes a phoenix mentality, a new flair for crazy syncopation and impressive synths. Graffiti follows Blair’s debut coming-of-age album: Cat Heaven, which Blair released when he was 20 (he is now 22) in an ode to his cat, Gary, who passed. Cat Heaven was a DIY project known for its nostalgic happiness and appealing, melodious raps, which allowed Blair to score a spot as Kevin Abstract’s opener. Graffiti launches Blair out of the fresh-faced cat mourning phase and into elevated lyricism with more tricky, embedded meaning. These lyrics flourish with the support of producers Slaters and Sasha Daze, who effectively drag Blair out of his bedroom rap and into Pharrell-inspired production. 

Graffiti fires up interest in its impeccable production, but falls in its lack of cohesiveness, which is to be expected in a 3 track EP preceding a full sophomore album (to be released in 2020). The production flows seamlessly among the tracks, but their themes seem to ping-pong with personal identity quarrels and ills of relationships. That being said, the atmosphere created is gripping in every sense — it seems to move effortlessly between clubs, liquid, and solitary confinement. The track “I Don’t Know About Him” uses off-beat rhythmic stresses to unsettle the listener, creating this dull feeling of standing in line, waiting for something a tad too long. The track closes with the glory of what seems to be an angel playing the piano underwater. The dance scene track “Franzia” is the sort of song that bounces back and forth from your right headphone to your left headphone with a high pitched autotune that resembles the mocking SpongeBob meme where EVerYtHinG SoUNdS LiKe tHiS, a voice-cracking that embodies vulnerability in every sense.