Nappyhigh's 'WeekDaze' | A Thesis on West Coast Timelessness & Unbound Style
Evan Dale // April 13, 2020
Had Tarantino’s latest film taken place in mid 90’s South Central instead of Once Upon A Time In Hollywood, WeekDaze is the album that would have soundtracked its violently light-hearted entirety. Nappyhigh is the kind of producer better described as a DJ if for no reason other than the Dre-in-purple-velour nostalgia of his aesthetic. But, it’s not to say anything he does feels antiquated. A modern Southern California hip-hop texture is still very much dug into the synths and spins of its signature roots. And from those roots, Nappyhigh has flourished into a grand exhibitionist of a sound never truly lost, only built upon into eternal timelessness.
I’m not going to sit here and write to whoever is reading pretending that I’ve been a fan of Nappyhigh from the jump. WeekDaze is my first introduction to his music, only turned this direction amidst a flood of records from quarantined artists by the adjacently old-school aesthetic of R&B crooner, Devin Morrison. But, I’ve heard enough in that introduction to know that Nappyhigh is something special.
The testament from Morrison says enough. And the testaments from Curren$y, MED, Iman Omari, Sy Ari Da Kid, Blu, Mick Jenkins, Elzhi, and soul/hip-hop project, BlueNotes collaborator, Memnoc cement the truth: that Nappyhigh is the truth. The jealousy-inducing list of features also says something else: that Nappyhigh – like Tarantino – exists outside of genre, styling, or even era. Instead, he exists within a sonic South Central snow globe of sorts, where music through the generations is tethered akin by something that halts time and promotes consistency.
Nonchalant is a fitting place for WeekDaze to begin – albeit much more fitting of a Thursday evening cruise to the liquor store in hopes of an early weekend than it is fitting to a Monday where its introductory position places it. Cool, floaty sampling dictates the melodic course, steering us straight into a change in pace that feels pulled right from the Anderson .Paak & the Free Nationals playbook of West Coast roller disco anthems. I guess what I’m trying to say is that by the end of Nonchalant, Nappyhigh has pulled up the ’93 Coupe DeVille and transported us to the 2020 In-N-Out parking lot in style.
From there, WeekDaze is a half-hour flex of Nappyhigh’s intangible ability to squeeze every shape and size artist seamlessly into that very same ride. Newcomers and vets, soul singers and rappers all coalesce ‘neath a banner sewn of synthesizers, high-hats, and classic soul samplings. Curren$y & Oxnard rapper, MED float over an immersively layered, jazzy foundation with Ride. Iman Omari & Devin Morrison pedestal their timeless R&B vocals above the meandering, muffled Time. Sy Ari Da Kid, Blu & LeoLegendary dive headfirst into Blessings – one of the two most lyrically endowed tracks on the project also brimming with its most low-fidelity moments of breath and meditation. Blu & Mick Jenkins again shine their light on the the importance of poetry with Right Now. Acclaimed Detroit MC and producer, Elzhi who both reshaped and paid homage to Nas’s Illmatic with Elmatic and produced most of Slum Village’s albums, trades lines with Memnoc and Nappyhigh on Awol. WeekDaze is a collaborative masterpiece expected from a masterful DJ.
By the time Saturday, Sundaze rolls around and the immensity of the credits on such an underrated project begin to make themselves clear, its joyous, celebratory tone feels right at home as it kicks us out of the sample-ridden party that Nappyhigh threw for Los Angeles, but was nice enough to invite us outsiders in for.
It should be noted, too, that one month after WeekDaze’s February release, Nappyhigh dropped a 7-track EP titled Orange. Equally immersive and continuative to some extent, it is also very much worth a dedicated listen.