Independent Chicago Artist, HXRY Transcends Genre with Stunning PIECE OF MIND
Evan Dale // Jan 8, 2019
After years of production behind the scenes, independent Chicago musician, HXRY (Harry) made – well… not the jump exactly – but instead, expanded his creative output to include each and every step of the artistic process required in the release of a complete project. With production and instrumental skills refined from years of work, and a one-of-a-kind auditory aesthetic born of suppressing and channeling his knack for songwriting, vocalism, and raps from the limelight through the same span, he’s emerged out of the floorboards over the past year as one of the most unique, influential forces in underground R&B. Culminating the first step of his introductory path by starting off 2020 with the release of his debut project, PIECE OF MIND, it’s undeniable that HXRY is here to stay as a necessary force of transcendent talent and experimental boundaries pushed.
PIECE OF MIND is a thesis on what’s capable from independent artists in today’s day and age.
But it’s not a blueprint to follow. Its non-replicable stature is owed to its identity as the raw, organic kind of art that can’t be remade. Instead, it can only be sourced for inspiration. Even from track to track, HXRY himself refuses to follow suit of what came before and what is ultimately to come. With the kind of all-encompassing artistic aura that HXRY carries with him, comes in tow a whole lot of range that – in today’s scene that prioritizes modernistic transcendentalism – is worth exploring in full.
In just 20 minutes, PIECE OF MIND dissects at depth the different aspects of HXRY’s experimental artistry. Each of the six tracks is a different wave entirely, but each and every wave flow together harmoniously from the mellow subtlety and electronic nuance present in the romantic opening ballads, BACK N’ FORTH & HOLD ON to the hilarity and up-tempo changes of pace in ALASKAN THUNDERFUCK & MRFREEZE.
Though belonging to no exact delineations. PIECE OF MIND is an ordered exploration of the unordered. It flows from the emotive and more staunchly founded in Rhythm & Blues to the danceable, funky and more nearly adhering to R&B-born hip-hop. And yet, even through the worthless attempts to box it in to aged labels of genrefication, PIECE OF MIND is purely a project of post-genre transcendentalism. And purely one of the best. It is a brash display of non-conformation in which so many ears tuned to so many sounds can find something to love and learn.
Full-length albums rarely boast the range that HXRY feels so effortlessly able to conjure through just six tracks.
And even fewer projects of any kind are able to coalesce that range into the perfected and veteran product that HXRY has summoned with his debut. Surely, that stems from his musical foundation as a practiced and creatively bold producer. There are moments in PIECE OF MIND particularly worth discussing in terms of their ability to control the listener’s emotional state, and all of them stem first and foremost from HXRY’s compositional ability to play with a listener’s emotionality.
Through two minutes of soft, simple piano keys and encapsulating vocal highs on HOLD ON, HXRY completely envelopes the listener in an expected, welcomed range and cadence. And then suddenly, progression ensues, momentum shifts, and the track altogether changes. Having built up such a comfortable sense of expectancy, HXRY – knowing exactly what he’s doing with HOLD ON’s worldbuilding – is subtle but genius in pulling the floor out from under the listeners, bringing into focus one of the most memorable and creative moments on the project at large.
From top to bottom, I’LL BE YOURS – originally released as a single through friend, collaborator, and fellow independent Chicago artist, Aaliyah Allah – is an unparalleled work of modern R&B. A seamless duet, HXRY’s production is just as much of the track’s shining standout as his voice, his penmanship, and the silky soul of Aaliyah Allah. A poppy, electronically inspired beat weaves fluidly in and out of highlighting vocal bouts, building throughout and leaving the listener hopelessly attached to the love song at hand – perhaps now detached from their own for its lack of comparative realness.
The chorus on MRFREEZE – exploding with HXRY’s at this point well established falsetto absurdity – is the ultimate offsetting antithesis to the pimp-rooted hip-hop of collaborative feature, Jeff Doubleday. Together, the two close out PIECE OF MIND on a high, leaving listeners starved for more funk.
Starved for more R&B and hip-hop as well – the likes of which could have never existed in such cleanly, experimental harmony before a modern era run by transcendent artistic forces of which HXRY might be most unexpected and most exciting.
PIECE OF MIND isn’t a standout debut. It’s simply a standout piece of art.
Akin to only the rarest of fellow transcendent independents curating every piece of their musical spectrum, collaborating with other timeless talents, and culminating their creative paths with experimental projects, HXRY with PIECE OF MIND is stunning in his debut. The sky is the limit for him, for Chicago, and for music as we kick off 2020.