In the past few months, the phrase "good art should be challenging" has found its way into a number of musical discourses surrounding a plethora of boundary pushing artists, no more important than Kanye West. His frequently autotuned, decaying postindustrial ragefest has found its way to the top of multiple "Best of the Year" lists, thanks in no small part to the fact that it has such a polarizing effect. Listeners were divided on what to make of Yeezus, some fell madly in love with it and nuzzled warmly in its embrace; while others felt like it was forcing itself upon them and struggled to escape its grasp. However, it did continue and bolster a debate among fans about the role of the artist in relation to their audience; should they always give in and make work that will be deemed "perfect" or can they follow their artistic passion, even if that means enthusiasts will have to catch up to their pace, and still be respected? Time and time again, the only conclusion the collective could agree on was that "good art should be challenging."
If we are to take that phrase as golden truth and demand our musicians to push constantly forward, into the great unknown and beyond, Liv Martez and AshTreJinkins have performed their duties to the utmost. These two have collaborated on one of this barely birthed year's most adventurous and unorthodox EP's, Ronee Has Acid For Sell. Encompassing both an audio and visual component, the twenty five minute experience leaves you feeling as if you are in the midst of peaking, during a really good LSD trip, not especially surprising, when it's title is taking into account. Although its more than that in a way, it literally looks, sounds, and feels so high that it breaks from all traditional psychedelic and hip hop traditions, choosing to have form itself melt away, instead of just colors. Following the story line is incredibly difficult, but discovering its weird trajectory and pacing is half the fun; the music takes dramatic shifts and contains uniquely intricate layering, figuring out whether you like it or not keeps you weirdly engaged.
Los Angeles' own AshTreJinikins produced the entirety of the project, and has shown himself to be a forward thinking beatsmith. The Compton producer incorporates a wide array of influences seemingly at the same time, welcoming clashes and embellishing imperfections, creating an style wholly his own. Although his avant garde sound can be grating and abrasive, when it clicks together the results are often beautifully emotive—like the instrumental on "Harmony Korine."
Liv Martez is the voice of the group, tasked with the expressing the narrative and meshing with the atmosphere laid out for him. For the most part, the Ohio native's anxious, nihilistic, double timed monotone rhymes capture the essence of the characters he is trying to portray. There are parts that find both Liv and Ash jumping so far from typical construction that it is hard to fully appreciate, but those cause you to come back and listen again.
Liv and AshTreJinkins have created a piece of work that is tough to fully put into words, but incredibly enjoyable to behold. It is strange, trippy, and confusing, but try your hardest to keep going and you are bound to find the gem hidden in the middle. They are sure to make more music, and it will be interesting to see how they continue to develop.