Having sonic depth is important in every genre of music, but it’s becoming increasingly pivotal to making a mark on the swelling hip-hop underground. It’s not enough to have a sleek verse and some killer hooks anymore – you’ve got to have instrumental competency as well as creative wits that fill up the entirety of a master mix, which is exactly what players like Laforren remind us every time they step into the recording studio.
His new single “Outsyder” has one of the most full-bodied sounds I’ve heard in a long time, and yet it doesn’t feel the least bit overproduced.
From beginning to end, this rapper’s delivery is easily one of his best attributes. He’s never unsure of himself or looking for a way out of a verse; he’s got the ability to set the flow without having to lean on a huge bassline, and his percussive backdrop winds up following his lead as opposed to the other way around. Laforren doesn’t require a lot of assistance to make a big statement, and if there was any debate about this ahead of this single hitting the record store shelves, I think it’s going to be silenced now.
I love the smooth stylization of the bassline here, especially in terms of how it contrasts with the drums. There’s a profound color to the bottom end of this mix, and Laforren isn’t running away from it – on the contrary, he’s running straight-on for the heat behind the hook. Rather than limiting the catharsis to one concentrated point in “Outsyder,” this guy is spreading the wealth around epically, and arguably setting a standard that a lot of his contemporaries both in and outside of the underground in hip-hop might have a hard time keeping up with.
It’s clear that Laforren isn’t going as intense after the verses here as he could be, but it’s not necessary given how much is going on to the left and right of him. There’s so much texture coming off of the melodic componentry that’s never being stifled by anything else in this mix thanks to the spacing in the arrangement, and to have put more panache on the lyrics probably would have made the entire track sound more indulgent than it needed to be. This is a good balance, and one that makes it obvious we’re in for even more magic on the stage.
This feels like just a small sampling of what Laforren is bringing to the table in 2023, and if there’s anything we can learn from “Outsyder” about his future, it’s that he isn’t willing to go with a conventional model in the name of moving a few extra units. This artist is looking to travel his own path, and it’s one that will challenge him consistently from this point forward, but I don’t get the idea he isn’t ready for the next big thing. Instead, he’s racing the competition to the finish line with a spirited awareness I cannot wait to hear more of soon.