Buddy's Harlan & Alondra
Summates Decades of West Coast Music
Evan Dale // Jul 23, 2018
My immediate reaction is to feel nostalgic, which I then realize to be ridiculous since this project came out yesterday, July 20, 2018. I’m speaking of course, about Harlan & Alondra, West Coast multi-dimensionalist, Buddy’s newest full-length offering, which feels like an expansive, complex thesis on the history of Southern California hip-hop, funk, and R&B. In that order, respectfully, Harlan & Alondra unfolds as an impossibly fun and enlightening ride pumped full of enough lyricism, groove, and unapologetic sex to make any listener question the validity of the claim that Buddy alone is to thank for it all.
Naturally, the project is dotted with spot features from some of his most talented friends (he has a lot). A$AP Ferg, Ty Dolla $ign, Snoop Dogg, and Khalid format the list of high-profile guests, while lesser known Guapdad 4000, steals the show in the album’s number two spot, Shameless. Together, even those not hailing from the West Coast help to make the project one of the most true and wholesome West Coast exhibitions in memory, and almost certainly the most historically accurate representation in modern times. And that’s all thanks to Buddy.
For those of you that are new here, Buddy is from South Central Los Angeles. He’s damn proud of it. With a series of sounds built upon the strongest of West Coast pillars, Buddy has worked his way into an insane amount of collaborative work over the past half-decade. But over the course of the past year, Buddy has been more about Buddy. Firing off a breakneck string of releases dating back to the beginning of 2017, he has caught the attention and the praise both deserved from fans, critics, and most of all, fellow artists who, upon the heels of his 2017 project, Magnolia, have been eagerly awaiting what has become Harlan & Alondra.
Now that we’re here, there’s not much to say about expectations because Buddy has met and smashed all of them from the beginning of this ride. And now that Harlan & Alondra can be enjoyed as a full-length offering, Buddy’s genius too is revealed.
Back to his influences. Buddy kicks off the album with rapid fire, homegrown L.A. rap. Real Life S**t, Shameless, and Black put on display Buddy’s lyrical prowess, poetically navigating and easily disassembling classic California 808’s and synths. Here too, Guapdad 4000 and A$AP Ferg lend their lyrical expertise to the tracks, building upon the early sensation of a pure hip-hop project.
But then comes Ty Dolla $ign, Hey Up There, and a more downright funky turn. Dolla $ign who has become something of a legend of late, seems to always bring a certain smoothness and seductiveness to any track on which his voice is featured. Hey Up There is no exception and plays out as a mellow, Summery anthem of sorts laying the foundation for what’s to come. Legend, a 46-second undertaking whose narration and slide-ability George Clinton would himself applaud, Trouble On Central, the groove-strewn love story of carelessness, hope, and troubled pasts, and The Blue, the Snoop-laden West Coast funk template, all come together in the meat of the album as one of the most exciting and modernly innovative funk takes of 2018.
And right when you’re sitting there thinking Buddy couldn’t possibly blend in another creative tier, Speechless comes on and pulls your pants clean off. A classic baby-maker that would make Nate Dogg and his soloist exploits content knowing another West Coast vocalist is keeping his tradition alive.
Harlan & Alondra closes out with what is likely its strongest quartet, ripping through Buddy’s pre-established immense range and working towards a sense of finality that makes an album that much more complete. There’s Young, a Kendrick-reminiscent lyrical tear with a smooth and swaying hook, Trippin’, a Khalid-feature that is arguably the most intriguing of the five, Find Me 2, a particularly poetic, borderline spoken-word undertaking, and , one of Buddy’s signature tracks that led him to a soloist expedition of this magnitude.
Though the vast realm of inspirations and influences is noted, Harlan & Alondra is one of the most unique projects not just of the year, but of recent memory. The ability to capture and mold into his own so many sounds of his geographical and emotional past is by any definition, true, unburdened art that stands not only as a painting of himself and his artistry, but will live as a vibrant display of the Southern California auditory aesthetic for generations to come.