Channel Tres is a man who likes to take his time. Releasing his second EP Black Moses, he is coming off the high of touring with Childish Gambino, and he's got more dates coming up with Toro Y Moi. World tours, features on every Spotify playlists; nobody can seem to get enough of the Compton-house sound that Channel Tres has trademarked into his own. Yet, a year on from his breakout he only gives us another 5-track EP.
Tres' second EP may feel somewhat like déjà vu to last year's offering. The tracklisting hits play-for-play with its 2018 counterpart. The free-time gospel beat of "Orpheus" draws an easy introductory parallel to "St. Julian". It's no coincidence that last year's opening single "Controller" and this year's "Brilliant N*gga" share the same beat count. Subsequently, Tres takes it down a notch in a similar fashion on both EPs' track 3. The deceleration repeats from grime Rn'B beats of "Jet Black" to the sub-zero trap lines of "Black Moses". An eclectic and effective partnership with JPEGMAFIA, "Black Moses" is an exercise in extremes. Against the pistol-fire verses, Tres's baritone choruses remain subdued, explaining "it ain't about me" in his own time and rhymes.
This repetition is a testament to the caring detail the LA-based producer pays. Exacting in its cultivated verses, Tres sings lines like “you might have missed your chance”, which is a tribute to his incarcerated brother. “Raw Power” delivers an ode to The Stooge’s 1973 single of the same name. And it struts true to Iggy Pop’s shirtless videos. In that, it displays the sensuality Pop always commanded but minus the masochism of punk fandom. Tres’ update on masculinity through tracks like "Sexy Black Timberlake" — a critique on being objectified as a young black male — is a direction that Iggy Pop would wholeheartedly back.
Above all, the repetition of the EP sets the listener to zone in on its lyrical realism. Tres' crafted beats are like the wealth of knowledge gained when you stop to read the information plaques at the Louvre, rather than cramming with the hoard taking another photo of the Mona Lisa. In other words, it rewards those paying attention. As he sings, "They just want mansions / I got the check", it's clear that Channel Tres is seated at the table and ahead of the game.