Rilla Force sings of unrequited love on his latest mixtape, ‘KAWAII GIANT’

The Boston-based producer and artist joins the early aughts tradition of sharing renditions directly with fans.
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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.

As “convenient” as streaming services such as Spotify and Apple Music can be to those without a whole lot of money to spend, there is just nothing like the feeling of going to a site such as DatPiff, MixtapeMonkey, or LiveMixtapes (maybe MediaFire or Wetransfer for the blog nostalgists), downloading a brand new mixtape, and listening to your favorite artist give their version of another existing song or beat. As a means to evade copyright laws, producers and performers would collect beats from existing singles (or a remixing of such), perform their rendition to degrees that can rank from disastrous to genius, and give it over for free as an exhibition of their talent. Each performance helps sell the talent and the versatility of said artist. KAWAII GIANT, the most recent mixtape by Boston electronic producer Rilla Force, finds him hopping aboard this bandwagon.

In an interview with Vanyaland, Rilla bemoaned how streaming kills music by putting more rules and money behind the streaming business, which means small artists never reap the benefits of having it there. He says, “Music should be inspirational, art should be celebrated and not be trapped behind a price tag.” As a result, he decided to place KAWAII GIANT on a strictly name-your-price basis on Bandcamp. However, such an approach is a red herring to the music itself. The important part about the album is its overall concept: longing for true love and poor luck in establishing such love.

The source materials for the tape are as much video game scores as they are instrumentals of classic hip hop/R&B tunes. Using the ambient braindance sample of Ridge Racer, “Player” feels like traveling through hyperspace while Rilla laments a relationship where he gets used largely for his money. A true intro for a live wire tape and a worthy demonstration of Rilla’s songwriting and producing talents. While the momentum continues with the electronic crunch of “‘04 Tekken,” it switches right over to straight R&B with “SHAKEITOFFTOP” (take a wild guess of what the source material for this one is) and tackling Slum Village’s “SELFISH.” One song imagines striking out with a mature woman, while the other imagines what would happen if a romantic courtship went smoothly.

The song that best blends the topic of unrequited love with how the original material was remixed is “YOUDONTFREESTYLE.” Rilla matches Alicia Keys’ lovesick energy over a drum-n-bass remix of “You Don’t Know My Name,” which sports a sense of both frustration and hope for something like true love to happen. The remix transforms the original from a classic slow jam into an almost anxious one that doesn’t lose any sense of emotional urgency.

Creating a genre that blends R&B, electronica, and hip hop—Rilla christened the genre as RNBDM—KAWAII GIANT is both a nice little snack for those who haven’t yet gotten into his music and a little sum’n sum’n for those who were already on board. And if you like what you hear, “YOURWORLD” tells a story of Rilla’s hunger to “make it” in music, which indicates that as long as his heart is in his craft, there will be more material on deck.

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