Joonbugs, if you haven’t heard the latest After The Smoke EP, Microwaves, you are missing out! This is truly a great hip-hop album, a definite worthwhile listen for fans of the underground, space-texture, and electronic-melodic scene. Hailing from Tallahassee, Florida, After The Smoke is comprised of front man Rob Coin (Whuzi), and producers Joao Gonzalez (Soft Glas) and Day G. Their multi-genre mixture of hip-hop, R&B, and p-funk lend for an enigma of hazy atmosphere. With textures of different analog/digital synthesizers and drum beats that drive through their spiraling void of color, Whuzi ties it all together with his astonishing lyricism that is nothing short of poetry.
The opening track “Follow Me Down” begins the album with a strange, otherworldly texture followed by Whuzi’s first words, “Follow me down/feel that/‘aint it magic/ want me dead/‘aint it tragic”. Maybe the best way to start the album, these words exemplify the entire work, following Rob Coin down his smoky rabbit hole into a world of magic and tragedy. His quarrel between beauty and deception, light and dark, magic and evil are all brought to the table throughout the album.
“Hit To The Head” is one of the most notable songs, featuring singer Viola Snow, who is given parts throughout the entire piece. Her incorporation of melodic hooks leaves certain tracks extremely memorable. “Come and Leave” is another example where Viola smoothly enters her vocal to establish a solidified melody. Her contribution is definitely a major component to the success of this album. It creates contrast between Whuzi’s rapping and sweet yet dissonant textures. In songs, such as “Feel Better” and “Raise Your Cups”, Rob Coin touches on the idea of turning away from strife and feeling good within your own body and mind. Trying to feel better, Rob Coin expresses his disdain for “bad bitches” and his love of having a good time and partying hard, which is awesome in its own right. These songs also talk about money and wealth, living life in luxury and celebration. However, Rob Coin uses this concept to also show how evil money can be. In the song “Wallstreet," which is accompanied by a beautiful music video, Whuzi says, “Now what they telling you?/Don’t ever purchase what they selling you/I think you know why”. What makes this album amazing is its explorative morals about the hip-hop lifestyle. We break down the building blocks of life to examine the microcosmic world in which we dwell. Our ears are tuned in to media so heavily that sometimes we find it hard to turn down the volume. At the bare essence of this album, we find that Whuzi is a prophet, trying to break the haze from within the smoke.
It takes a special kind of magic to make an album such as Microwaves. After The Smoke’s unparalleled vocabulary of synthetic analogs and rhythmic variation creates an atmospheric euphoria. Coming down off that work day drift and settling into a sonic exhibit of colorful audio paint, this is an album for the wondering spirit. It is an album to both celebrate and glorify life, to find some sort of path through the haze of a burning reality. We turn our ears inward and away from strife, waiting for the smoke to clear.