Underground at its Finest, Villeboy Rand is Explosively Lyrical with 'E.A.$.T.'
Evan Dale // Aug 23, 2020
Rappers who can really rap: North Carolina has long been overflowing with those that fit the description, and whether or not they’re on top of the hip-hop game, directing its movements and introducing the world to a new generation of up-and-coming stars; whether they’re still underground but have all the chops to emerge at any moment, those from Fayetteville have a signature sound and an unparalleled pen.
Introducing Villeboy Rand, whose newest project, E.A.$.T., is a lyrically dynamic exhibition from a rapper whose name deserves – and should soon get – more recognition.
True to his position as a rapper whose poetry comes first, low-fidelity production offers Villeboy Rand, and E.A.$.T. at large, two advantages. First, his aesthetic is able to conjure reminiscence on the most lyrically endowed rappers through the decades, especially those with relatively deep, flat vocal ranges like RZA or Freddie Gibbs. Second, minimal beats lay the foundation for his bread and butter – his volatile lyricism and his brash delivery – to stand on every track’s pedestal.
But not all lyrical dynamos fluidly divulging tales of their experiences have a similar sound. In fact, with so much to say, and such an adept way of saying it, Villeboy Rand sounds like no one else we can really think to name. He just has a similar skillset. Instead – and beyond his penmanship – Villeboy Rand hones an aesthetic through E.A.$.T. defined most by a deadpan tone spitting such vivid bars that he has no trouble conveying emotion even with an unwavering vocal range.
Even when going about his signature business - spitting vocally steadfast, yet lyrically thoughtful bar after bar - Villeboy Rand never falls short of evoking something in his listeners. And that comes back to his words. Every verse – every line – of E.A.$.T.’s 20-odd minute run-time is pre-meditated, meaningful, and ultimately successful. There is no wasted space. And that is so much of the reason that the project feels longer than it really is. At a moment when human attention spans are at an all-time low, Villeboy rand defies the consensus, captures the attention of those listening, and by $upreme – E.A.$.T.’s second track – fully envelopes his audience in the poetic sphere of a simple and steady rapper delivering complex, deeply layered hip-hop of the timeless cloth.
But there are constant moments of slight stylistic differentiation through the project. The vulnerability of Lost Kids is a perfect example. Near the tail end of E.A.$.T., Lost Kids breathes of its immersive, emotion-stricken wave, all the while still shining Villeboy Rand in the hyper-lyrical light shining on the predecessing tracks. With a piano backdrop, the act of a strict rapper letting go of creative inhibitions, opening up the pipes a bit, and taking some successful creative risks, Villeboy Rand shows that even rappers by the most classic definition of the term can still boast range.
Loaded Clips embodies the other end of Villeboy Rand’s overarching creative sphere, where made seemingly simple by the effortlessness in his delivery, the Fayetteville rapper embarks down a two-minute march of thought-provoking braggadocio woven together where a knack for making a statement doesn’t come at the cost of what’s really being said. Overtop a classic Southern beat laced with jazzy infusions, light keystrokes, and an overarchingly minimal texture, Villeboy Rand delivers the most anthemically hip-hop explosion of the project.
And somewhere in between the high-energy intensity of Loaded Clips and the experimental melody of Lost Kids, the rest of E.A.$.T. meanders coolly and collectedly, never deterring from a lyrically-endowed precedent, yet never too one-sidedly poetic to push away those searching for a project that’s also easy to listen to. E.A.$.T. is both a lyrically dynamic exhibition from an underground rapper who could have thrived in any era’s most poetically inclined scene, and a jazz-led composition woven together with equal influence from 90’s cypher production and the more intricate instrumentation of the South. Keep an eye out for Villeboy Rand.