Having caused newswires to buzz incessantly as part of Leeds, UK cloud rap revivalists The NorthaZe, rapper Kosi Tides has set off on a solo side-mission with the release of his new EP 2088. The NorthaZe gave us blunts laced with stream of consciousness rhymes about city life and the various means undertaken to cope with the pressures, plus a mammoth bass injection. Kosi’s solo work doesn’t stray too far from this blueprint, but a few individual flourishes make the key distinctions. It is not always necessary to go with a complete curve ball on solo releases just to make some grand artistic statement, a la Everlast. The difference is, while the music is as horizontal as ever, now we are staring at the purple sky of a post-apocalyptic Akira future under a dilapidated neon bridge, smoking whatever weed they can grow under dangerous levels of radiation.
The intro, “The Sequence” reluctantly rolls out of bed, grabs the joint from the ashtray and proceeds to bless us with sparse kicks, rising synths and meanderings scribbled on old receipts, pieced together in an attempt to make sense of an uncertain future, while getting really high. At this point we know which way things are going, but then “Up the Anti” catches you on the North side when the snapping drums and warm bass frequencies drop. To keep the Akira metaphor going, this is the point where Tetsuo revs his motorbike with a small, foreboding smile. “Up the ante, I got reasons for my demons/And the season’s ending just like Entourage/Plane’s taking off.”
The song ends with an extended instrumental section pulsating with lush textures and dripping with CBD oil, teeing up for the cleaner, infinitely more banging “Sedations.” This is the point where our hero must take tackle his demons with the help of a cohort in order to move forward with the plot. This cohort takes the form of vocalist Toshiro Steel, and together they glide through this introspective phase, leaving long, jagged tire burns behind for the historians to decipher.
The EP reaches its zenith with brief but pounding highlight “Waverunner 2088,” a swerve through the rain-slickened highways of Neo-Tokyo while sinister melodies hover and the bass rumbles with intense intent. Kosi Tides chucks all cards on the table for this one, shutting down functions and seeing the mission goal with crystal clarity through a dense narcotic haze. “Unfortunately, I’m not sharing what was born for me/Whatever you thought it be, it’s far from ordinary.”
“Pastel Paints” deals with the emotional fallout of the events, assisted by prodigal Leeds talent Pertrelli Purple, who weaves narratives from thin air and disperses them at will. Dramatic piano chord progressions underline everything at stake here and both rappers drop their verses with understated urgency, keen to draw proceedings to a close with a victorious resolution. This victory is all but confirmed on the final track, “Channel 8”, which triumphantly slaps with crunching bass and end-credits digital symphonies all but accompanied by an 8-bit sunset.
Kosi Tides and The NorthaZe have cracked a formula genius in its simplicity. Take some real life issues, mix in some existentialist musings and some iconic film imagery, add some soft melodies and hard bass, et voila. It’s a formula that continues to dish out surprising results, perfect for that certain indefinable mood in that certain unplaceable place. While 2088 will hopefully continue to raise the profile of everyone involved, at least when these artists inevitably blow up they won’t have to kill their friends as a result. That was one final Akira reference, now go grab 2088 here.