Listening to the album Folklorde, the latest from Milwaukee young buck Lorde Fredd33 (pronounced "Lord Freddy"), is like taking a thrill ride through the dreamscape of a slightly unhinged mind. I say slightly unhinged because, even though the songs making up this seven-track outing range from somber and subdued to riotous and blaring, none of the emotions expressed are so alien that you can't relate on some level. Instead of hitting listeners with unrelenting pummeling blows, Fredd33 rolls out his creations in a methodical way.
Fredd33 stirs up the storm with the opening anthem "4Scott" - a darkly charged number that builds and crests with menacing energy before settling in a zone that lies somewhere between the Drill scenes of the U.S. and the U.K. It's a short and to-the-point introduction that could easily be used to amp up the crowd in a live setting (man...remember those?). From there, the energy morphs into something more organic with a stalking predator of a track called "Norf Korea". Featuring a hand-clapping, bluesy beat, Fredd33 switches up his voice and flow in an almost schizophrenic way while guest emcee Queen Tut injects a relative bit of calm into his musical storm. It's almost like hearing an ODB track with a guest verse from Ladybug Mecca (Thank you, folks.. Old Man Marvin is here for all your old-school referencing needs!)
Things cool out for a bit on the trio of tracks making up the mid-section of Folklorde - "Lick (Need$)", "Summer Breeze" and "Teen Angst". The beats take on a more soulful quality and the rhymes and choruses get a bit more sing-songy to varying degrees. "Summer Breeze" is a notable standout as you kinda expect its trap-soul mask to dissolve into a full-on pit-fight at any moment. But LF33 and guest artist Travis Mendes maintain the cool throughout and deliver a soothing change of pace that turns out to be a fully realized nu-era R&B number. Still, that doesn't mean that the jagged nihilism of midwest trap/drill music takes a holiday completely. "Lick (Need$)" opens with some wild lines that definitely won't win the Milwaukee Lorde any fans from members of the #MeToo movement and "Teen Angst" is a shoegazing serenade to ....well... teenage angst that ends starkly with the sound of a single gunshot. Steering things back onto a more lively path, the album closes with a chanting almost-interlude called "Reparations" before eventually punching you in the brain with a wide-eyed sound bomb called "Jumper".
In the same way that artists like Danny Brown and Elucid have done wonders to keep rap music interesting by drawing together styles and inspirations that feel at odds on paper (in this case, blues, drum & bass, and a form of ethereal indie-rock), Lorde Fredd33 has put together a nuanced album that feels much more substantive than many of the other projects that it will inevitably be boxed together with. And while many of the moments on Folklorde feel more inwardly focused than most of the projects flooding the zone this year, each of its songs can be used to tap into visceral feelings that you may have been keeping at arm's length for too long now. Life is short and stress can kill. So if you need to scream or cry or zone out or clap your hands & sing, just know that you're sure to find just the song to act as your soundtrack on Foklorde.
Forklorde is available now, via Downtown Records, on all streaming services