Boulder Colorado's Low Hanging Fruit Find Balance in New Album, Way Up
Evan Dale // Dec 27, 2018
At a time when hip-hop prides itself on being outrageously hyphy, brutally lyrical, and nothing whatsoever in between, sometimes we just want a little balance. Don’t get it twisted, extremes are great and all, but what’s wrong with being innovative while at the same time being stylistically accessible? Hip-hop – like all music – is meant to inspire thought and evoke emotion, but there lies an undeniable art form in merging its conscious directive and its energy with a route that simultaneously leaves it really damn listenable regardless of the situation. Artists these days seem less focused, or are maybe just less equipped in finding that balance. And that’s exactly the reason why we love Boulder, Colorado hip-hop collective, Low Hanging Fruit’s new album, Way Up. In all the ways that it’s retro-reminiscent, it’s also inventively futurist. Where it’s high-energy, it’s also conscious. Where it’s melodic, it’s lyrical. Where it’s thought-provoking, it’s also laid-back and listenable. It is, in its very essence, a work of balance in every way possible.
A lot of that balance is undoubtedly owed to numbers. Where there are more creative minds coalescing on a project, there is inevitably a wider scope of creative and directional influence. But it also means that the individual members of a collective require of one another incredibly efficient working relationships.
Musically, those relationships have fallen into place for LHF since the beginning. There’s Trip – a self-described East Coast-influenced lover of high energy, who brings to the table exactly that. The more melodic, forceful, and choral corners of Way Up tend to come from him. Then there’s Soup – a Denver local and fiercely poetic mind whose conscious acts as the underlying thematic compass of the group. The in-depth verses and boldly outspoken edges of the album are mostly his. There’s also Dirty Harry – A West Coast multi-instrumentalist whose exhibitions shape the project at large and sew it together with seamless production.
Creatively, their numbers extend even further into a talented circle of friends who indulge in photography, videography, fashion design, and more.
And in result, there is balance.
Way Up plays out over 13 tracks and 43 minutes, leaving when it’s all said and done, nothing to be desired. Dirty Harry blankets its entirety in a fun-loving sort of darkness where high-fidelity production and the deep vocal ranges of Trip and Soup merge together to create something that at first listen, may sound a little on the intense side. And rightfully so. The project, by the very nature of its creators, is a little intense – inspired by the East and West Coast hip-hop of old when rappers took their jobs a little more seriously. But, that serious undertone is provided its digestibility with lyricism that rarely exits the realms of anthemic inspiration and self-love. Instead of calling others out, Low Hanging Fruit is really about building themselves up. And there’s a lot to be said about that. In a hip-hop realm that has from the beginning been all about less-than-humble brags and in equal measure, violently volatile disses, it’s nice to hear a collective focused more on the positivity they see in themselves rather than the negativity they see in others.
With that in consideration, the album finds its peak application in being motivational. Whether at the gym or in the car on the way to work, Way Up provides the kind of anthemic backdrop that make all of us perform a little better. Defined by high-energy and built upon that foundation of self-love, it is a surprisingly modern work of psychological positivity built into the age-old mold of the high-energy hip-hop banger.
But, it’s not all bassline and intensity. There are moments of relief. Just listen to Man Now, featuring the vocalism of Corin, which again is defined by its upbeat positivity and explorations of the self, but does so in a way a little more R&B adjacent. Corin’s other guest spot on the album, Who I Was delivers a similar product. Again, there is balance, though in this case the balance definitely leans more heavily in favor of old-school-inspired hip-hop over its softer, more emotionally subtle undertakings.
If one consistency really propels Way Up forward, it’s its addicting nature as a series of anthemic hits. Each track can be removed from its greater product and serve its purpose to gaslight a party. Not a track on the album fails to deliver that repeatable, paean energy that turns any crowd into a mob, and as a whole, Way Up will serve in turning a great deal of hip-hop crowds into growing pieces of the greater Low Hanging Fruit mob.
With a constantly growing music scene and explosive local support, Colorado may just prove to be fertile ground as Low Hanging Fruit continues to grow on individual and collective bases, bringing in tow a uniquely eclectic sound, a bold vision of positivity, and of course, balance.