AJ Suede & steel tipped dove : Reoccurring Characters

AJ Suede Steel Tipped Dove Reoccurring Characters review

Brooklyn producer steel tipped dove exists as a parallel to The Alchemist of the New York underground. Just as often as rap fans speculate how someone’s avalanche of artistic output could consistently feature full-length projects with such high-profile names like Earl Sweatshirt and Freddie Gibbs, it’s hard to keep track of dove’s non-stop contributions in the ever-blossoming scene forged by Armand Hammer and the like.

AJ Suede, a prolific artist in his own right, is following up on his self-produced Ark Flashington from just this past summer with Reoccurring Characters. Neither dove nor Suede reinvent themselves or bend to each other’s whims, mostly because they already occupy a similar thread in the hip-hop web. As far as the Alchemist comparison goes, one of the keys to both their success seems to be a high curation watermark from a tight-knit crew of collaborators.

Following his record with Fatboi Sharif from earlier this year, Decay, dove’s production on Reoccurring Characters offers a streamlined batch of beats. This, in tandem with a sub-half hour runtime plays to a seamless-yet-satisfying flow rather than being born out of compromise.

With the wailing, seedy funk of the opening “Automatic Amnesty,” dove sets a tempo; Reoccurring Characters trudges forward at an even, measured pace. That consistency invites Suede to lounge around the beat rather than body it. He’s never been a “lyrical miracle,” but the album’s pacing spotlight’s one particular similarity he shares with the type. With verses often stringing together a loose series of references and one-liners, Suede’s sounds at least equally concerned with simply sounding good over the beat as he is with conveying anything. The deeper you dive, the more menacing the songs grow, and the more Suede’s weathered timbre fuses itself to them.

No central idea holds Reoccurring Characters together better than the smoky veil enveloping the whole thing. Sometimes, you’ll catch the odd gem of a couplet: “Many squares tried to reinvent the wheel/If the wheel’s made of squares then the car stands still.” But if Suede sets himself apart in any single aspect, it’s his unabashed nerdiness. The frequency at which he name drops Nintendo, along with like Sonic the Hedgehog and even the Criterion Collection is staggering. Rarely do they serve as anything than the punchline to a one-liner, and are even a little rote with lines about being “off more shrooms than Mario.”

Despite the rare head scratcher, the two never lose sight of why the record functions as it does. Apart from the bonkers piano sample on “Tell Me When To van Gogh,” flashiness isn’t the goal. Suede chains himself to the groove, he trusts the process. dove’s chugging drums duly reinforce the weight of every word. The two play as complementary ingredients in each other’s recipes. {Reoccurring Characters} stews and simmers, but never lets itself burn.

Label: Fused Arrow

Year: 2023

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