$avvy Take us all Down the Rabbit Hole of Art School Fervor and Cassette Deck Energy with New Album, ‘bunny!’
Evan Dale // July 28, 2023
Spoken with retro fervor into a landline and projected overtop some vintage R&B, $avvy picks up the introduction to his new album, bunny!, right where we’d have expected him to leave off any backroom conversation amongst creative confidants, with which, the Birmingham-raised, Nashville-based rapper, vocalist, and all around curator of spaces vibrant and unique, surrounds himself in patterned, concentric circles. That introduction, progressively hopping, isn’t merely an exploration of the aesthetic nuances that frame one end of his vast polygonal breadth stretching from eclectic personality to indefinable artistry; it’s also a deep moment of emotional vulnerability for an artist on the rise, and evermore in need of his tribe, his base - his purpose, and himself. Speaking on fears, anxieties, stresses, and a gap that’s beginning to make itself felt between he and his growing audience, he heads down the rabbit hole, music flourishing into Wonderlandian dynamism at new heights.
Boys Wear Pearls in 2021 acted as introduction to the many cultural intersections $avvy maneuvers, triangulating him somewhere between vintage video games, artfully curated thrift shops, and parking garage photo shoots. An effortless, spoon-fed delivery fueled by an explosive knack for punchlines had made him a force since Bag/Purse first began introducing his string of single releases en route to the project. Brimming with addicting hooks, and some well-placed sadboy energy (listen to Spain), BWP set him en route towards something ultimately unique, unapologetically himself.
In 2022, POOR expanded his abstract artistry, delivering a heavily pop-influenced, yet avant-garde take on next-gen hip-hop where influences of the internet era seemed to have backfired, and where instead an adherence to the amalgamations of all things retro-nuanced crept into every corner of the album. Tape Deck energy. All without losing his outrageous ability to infuse hooks with a lighthearted touch of humor where $avvy is never taking himself too seriously, (listen to Shia Labussdown), and infusing his production with tech-retro sheen, the project took what was already one of the more unique forces in a rising art school hip-hop movement orbiting the small-market South, and allowed $avvy to be experimental even when weighed against himself.
And now, in 2023, bunny! pushes forward $avvy’s one-of-a-kind sound even further, but finds a delicate balance that also makes it inexplicably cohesive. A far-reaching well-roundedness tethered by a beat pack that feels pulled from some corner of the internet most aren’t youthful enough to access and yet still reminiscent of MFDoomian cassettes, defines the meandering path of bunny! from beginning to end. From track-to-track, $avvy’s own flow, vocal runs, and energies traverse in and out of one another, in constant flux. And yet, something about his ability as a rapper, and as a vocalist feels almost secondary to the way he architecturally designs the album’s structure. A collection of overwhelmingly short tracks bounces off one another in surprising harmony, as $avvy handily shifts gears without exposing a listener to too much turbulence. And still, at the same time, he introduces the listener to every angle of his artistry, old, established, new, and experimental. For 30 minutes, it’s a weaving, cohesive ride.
It’s a Tyler-the-Creator-worthy skillset with the addition of some omnipresent vocal prowess that makes it feel as if $avvy - with bunny! - is bridging a few gaps between early the 90’s cassette era, 2000’s LA, modern Nashville, and somewhere in the solar system or cyberspace where his taste for retro futuristic neon feels connected to mixtape hip-hop’s imperfectionism. Just as broad is his stylistic adherence, which transcends from the funky, synth-driven experiment that is booyah! to the bass-thumping, hard-hitting eden in just two tracks. Through the 15 tracks that bunny! spans, it’s $avvy’s dynamic adherence to always switching up the vibe that makes his third project a fluid evolution, and vast step forward, for an artist who has seemingly accepted that his sound cannot be boxed in, but can be corralled into something particular.
Take ho said she like steve lacy, where the new internet beat-pack is tossed asunder for an organic instrumental bit of composition bleeding with keys and a bassline; where the vocal-tinged, spoon-fed raps are replaced with one lightning-fast verse bookended by $avvy’s honed register spewing some a hilarious hook in orbit of the track’s title. Somehow, some way, what feels like a quirky, intermissionary inclusion feels perfectly at home amidst all the changes of pace, and in defiance of the album’s elements that are mostly consistent from bunny! beginning to bunny! end. In that way - tying things together, even without his most congruent elemental structures in certain spaces - $avvy’s ability to tie the project akin emerges as nearly impossible to define.
But truthfully, that’s how bunny! should be consumed, at least the first - or first ten - listens through: bunny! beginning to bunny! end. A lengthy composition, busting at its seams with stylistic jolts from one direction to another as minute and two-minute long cuts pierce each other at their ends. And yet, it's tethered akin by that indefinable $avvy savviness. The album is easy-listening, yet complex. It’s digestible, yet vividly experimental for even the most ardent fan’s of rap’s most artfully defiant corners, through music’s wild stylistic pendulum swings with every new technological influence.
At the end of the day, it’s just a good time; yet also a vulnerable bit of musical and personal reprieve for one of the most interesting, indefinable names out there. Keep hopping.