Duwap Kaine is a real product of the web: a drifter among the many Soundcloud prolonged universe who’s had a marked affect on hip-hop however principally stands on his personal. His vocal runs are someplace between the hazy confessions of Lucki and the spiraling conspiracies of Rxk Nephew, and with a propensity for prolonged initiatives with no options, his work can really feel like a torrential flood whose particular person songs typically blur collectively. There’s one thing nearly Zen in regards to the swirling patterns of Duwap’s voice, marred by a distinctly digital sound, just like the audio equal of a music visualizer. On his new album, Religion Like Esther, the 20-year-old Savannah, Georgia rapper assumes a extra romantic and passionate tone—whereas he’s at all times had a sing-song supply, he now drifts nearer to R&B and pop.
An unapologetic rap nerd, Duwak typically interprets himself by means of the personas of different artists. On “Oppa Gangnam Type” he says he appears like Migos, then just some bars later adjustments his thoughts and switches traits: “This ain’t no Migos period no extra/We ain’t rockin’ Versace.” Because the title suggests, “Future & Designer” treats the resemblance between the 2 rappers as a metaphor for flow-jackers and clout vampires. Kaine’s move is dependably unpredictable: a melodic falsetto or a verbose stream of images combating the beat. As a lot as precise Auto-Tune, Kaine swaddles his voice in layers of reverb and overdubs, lending an nearly shoegaze essence to his supply. When he does land extra purposefully trolling punchlines, they’re offset by the ethereal layers of his voice.
Religion Like Esther can nearly sound like Drake fell down a rabbit gap right into a trippy Dr. Seuss-like dimension, and the beat of “Outro (Seasonal)” resembles a sped-up Baltimore Membership flip of “Passionfruit.” Beneath the highly effective 808 bass, “Onerous 2 Please” has an nearly Sade-like instrumental backdrop, whereas “Revolve Round Me” is like an R&B ballad on quick ahead, with an outlined sense of melody that’s compacted and hyperactive. After exhibiting a delicate and even sultry aspect, Duwap peaks into the pink with the noisy crunch of “ProPella,” grounded in demented synths and overcompressed bass. There’s darkness behind the clouds, and the bleary eyes and blurry colours come as a lot from inner wrestle as euphoria: “It’s actually exhausting tryna stop the lean/Particularly whenever you seein’ issues.”
Duwap can slip into darker territory, however he stays honest all through the mission, with an often childlike sense of affection seeping out of his bars. On emo banger “#Temper,” he croons about wiping away his tears with greenback payments, and he makes a hook out of his adoration for humankind: “If I may assist all people I might.” The title of the tune “ASMR” provides a transparent analogy for listening to Duwap at this stage in his profession—the phrases and the content material matter, however the expertise is equally knowledgeable by the feel and our instinctive emotional response. Whereas there’s nonetheless room to get hype, crack jokes, and specific ache, Duwak Kaine appears more and more involved with soothing the listener.