H31R offers refuge from the madness outside with ‘HeadSpace’

The East Coast duo's latest album proves they can easily revitalize the sound of New York hip-hop.
A singer-songwriter from Boston, MA that also writes blogs about music from time to time. A loud and proud as fuck member of the Alt-Black, LGBT and autistic community.

New York has to have one of the most determined and strangest PR teams available today. With the help of plenty of artists who have been there, New York lords as one of the most majestic and legendary cities in America. “Home of the hustlers,” “concrete jungle where dreams are made of,” and many other quotes have been spoken about the city. On the other hand, New York is revealed as the most anxiety-inducing city in America as well.

Residents have overgrown, hungry rats, occasional violence and drugs, and the need to make it happen by any means necessary as it is one of the most expensive places to live. You may have to forego sleep even to attempt to live there (hence, New York being the city that never sleeps) and deal with the worst it may offer. Somehow, both the yin and the yang of New York have inspired everything from the proto-punk and local no wave scene to the genre and culture of hip-hop to even birthing artists such as Jean-Michel Basquiat. The latest in line is avant-rap’s maassai.

Not only does maassai tackle some of the freshest kinds of beats, but her voice is stern yet controlled—what she says isn’t just for kicks. Declaring she sounds very at home over Jersey’s JWords production would be an understatement and those who have heard their collaboration album ve•loc•i•ty would agree 150%.

If their debut didn’t prove it to you already, then H31R’s latest project, HeadSpace, will show that they could easily revitalize the sound of New York hip-hop. JWords’ glitchy, afrofuturistic production sounds like both the picture of New York’s grimy atmosphere and the unease and general distrust permeating maassai’s mind and bars. Together, they confront the shadiness of the people that surround you on “Backwards,” the use of manifestation to propel the grind mentality on “Big Bang,” and doing what you can to not get caught up in it all while not letting it destroy you on “Static.”

maassai also explores matters of the mind with the theory of mirroring the person near you on “Reflection” and the trepidation that can come with facing the real you on “Shadow Self.” Underneath each song, JWords’ bubble soap-thick liquid production compliments the low-key nature of maassai’s rhymes—even going so far as encouraging you to dance when she repeats, “I don’t feel seen, you don’t feel seen, we don’t feel seen.”

As spiritual as it is confrontational, HeadSpace offers a space to dance through and away from the madness—as hard as it may be to avoid being instrumental to it all.

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