Emu Devine
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Bob’s Son is an incredibly short album, clocking in at just 35 minutes. It was released the first week of 2021 with hip-hop artist R.A.P. Ferreira on vocals. It was produced by himself, though credited through his producer tag Scallops Hotel, an assumed nod and parody of producer Clams Casino. Ferreria, who, in addition to Scallops Hotel, has also gone by the stage name ‘milo,’ has lived everywhere from Boyle Heights, to the American midwest, to Maine, and had one of the strongest openings to the new year as one could have. While receiving critical praise from Pitchfork to Forbes since the beginning of his career, his music has gone relatively under the radar. If you’re a fan of lo-fi rap, jazz-influenced music, or just need a laid-back album to work to, Bob’s Son is for you.

Image of Bob's Son tracklist
The tracklist for Bob’s Son. Image courtesy of Spotify.

The first few songs of the album, namely “battle report” and “The Cough Bomber’s Return,” serve as explanations to the inspiration for this project and its title, a poem by Bob Kaufman, also titled “Bob’s Son.” Honestly, I’ve personally never heard of the poet or the poem in question here, but, at least according to Genius, it’s both the namesake and a major motif throughout the album. Subject inspiration aside, the musical inspiration is apparent from the beginning; the instrumental production is very prototypical lo-fi hip-hop, the sort of beats you’d expect to hear on internet radio stations. Heavy samples, gritty and distorted sounds, as well as jazzy instrumentation is present throughout. It definitely comes off as derivative, so, for those who already aren’t big fans of lo-fi, there’s, unfortunately, not much more brought to the table here.

Lyrically, though, there’s a lot to go through. Progressing into the album, songs like “Yamships, Flaxseed,” “Diogenes On the Auction Block,” and “redguard snipers” show off strong songwriting and presentation. Delving into subject matter including the artistic process, systemic issues in the political sphere, and racial agitation under capitalism, Ferreira delivers with word-heavy, patterned rapping extremely reminiscent of slam poetry. The track “redguard snipers” in particular is arguably the best song of the album. With energetic and dynamic verses, a catchy but heavy hook, as well as the most instrumental experimentation, with the use of ‘80s synths and a beat change midway through, this song serves as the part of the album with the broadest appeal, while still being extremely unconventional.

However, following that is a bit of a slump, as I personally didn’t care for any of the next couple of songs at all, up until “Bobby Digital’s Little Wings.” This, as well as “Listening,” “High Rise In Newark,” and “rejoice” following, take on a much darker sound, with this low energy supposedly signaling the near end of the album. While I still really enjoyed these songs, the sudden shift in emotional tone might not be for everyone, especially those who enjoyed the lighter, more stereotypical lo-fi of the first half. Serving as the project’s outro is “Abomunist Manifesto,” a song I also personally didn’t enjoy as much due to the more rambling, somewhat spoken-word delivery of the lyrics.

Bob’s Son was an album I found mildly surprising. I personally had just discovered R.A.P. Ferreira a month prior to the release, and was excited to see a new project so soon after I started listening to this artist. This was very obviously a project Ferreira was passionate about, and I loved the creativity and expression he had here. However, it was still far from perfect. Most of the instrumentals were pretty bland, and probably wouldn’t be enjoyable if you didn’t already like this subgenre of hip-hop.

In addition, the short run time spread throughout 12 tracks makes for some very short individual songs, so while it’s easily digestible, there isn’t the most substance there. There’s also the more spoken word influenced tracks, such as “Abomunist Manifesto” in addition to “Sips of Ripple Wine” and “Skrenth,” that I personally didn’t enjoy. However, if you do like this style of rap or want some laid back music, I’d still strongly recommend it. Overall, I’d give Bob’s Son a 7.1/10, and if you’re interested in starting to listen to R.A.P. Ferreira, this album is a great, accessible starting point, especially listening to “redguard snipers,” “rejoice,” “The Cough Bomber’s Return,” and “Yamships, Flaxseed.”

Featured Image: Courtesy of  R.A.P. Ferreira / Bandcamp

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