2016’s Most Underrated Rap Jam: Eversince by Bladee
Eversince is Swedish rapper Bladee’s first album, released in 2016 following his 2014 mixtape Gluee. It’s divisive to say the least – his shaky vocals buried under enough layers of autotune to suffocate a reasonably sized adult are certainly jarring on a first listen, or even on a fiftieth. Nestled in between the hordes of rabid fans in his YouTube comments are statements of utter confusion and even outright disgust. It’s easy for people to dismiss this as meme rap, much in the same way fellow contemporary Yung Lean was treated for his arguably genre-defining single Ginseng Strip 2002, but if you stay long enough to become ‘drained’ – the cloud rap equivalent of your third eye opening – you’ll discover there’s plenty of value to be found here beyond the surface.
The production is fantastic, namely due to the involvement of wunderkind producer WhiteArmor. It’s nothing short of a miracle how comfortably it shifts from twinkly and energetic on tracks like So What to the depressive lethargy of Skin. Bladee’s combination of singing and rapping can seem mumbled and awkward at first, yet his lines are delivered with a lazy confidence. He’s able to transition from chest-puffing bravado to introspective and genuine lyrics with ease – Who Goes There is deceptive, as its explosive beats take focus away from Bladee sluggishly singing about his difficulty relating to the world around him.
I’ve always found that Bladee and, by extension, collaborators from Sad Boys and Drain Gang have this intangible quality to their music that I’m never quite able to explain – I could probably dedicate a thesis to just trying to unpack why. Perhaps it’s the ethereal vocals and mysterious, tonally dissonant lyrics working together in tandem to craft an indescribable sensation I haven’t been able to find anywhere else. There’s something about the genuine passion they put into their music that elevates their work from unremarkable to utterly charming. It’s entirely unique and not afraid to take risks – Bladee himself comments in an interview with The Fader that “Once you stop taking in outside influences and trying to please other people, that’s when you can really start going crazy with your craft”. Eversince is a perfect example of this – it’s not designed with the intent of being easily accessible, it’s an unashamed manifestation of the artist’s vision. It’s worth a listen for the experience alone.
Matthew Derwin – Music Editor