Rippy Austin - Patiently Waiting (2013)

Rippy Austin
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Joining a movement of emerging artists whose ambient music is more impressionistic and fluid than fixed and structured isa bright young twenty-two year old college student who apparently is a one-man production company all his own. Rippy Austin’s debut EP, Patiently Waiting, is lovely listening, but fans outside of hipster and electrosoul circles may want a bit more meat into which they can sink their teeth.

Joining a movement of emerging artists whose ambient music is more impressionistic and fluid than fixed and structured isa bright young twenty-two year old college student who apparently is a one-man production company all his own. Rippy Austin’s debut EP, Patiently Waiting, is lovely listening, but fans outside of hipster and electrosoul circles may want a bit more meat into which they can sink their teeth.

Bay area born and bred, the keyboardist/producer is reportedly largely self-taught, which is impressive given the competence on display. Rapping with the light, vaguely self-effacing touch of fellow West Coaster, Murs, and singing with the tone and phrasing of a Jesse Boykins III or early Dwele, Austin’s delivery is smooth and uncomplicated. His voice asks you to just lean back and enjoy the flow. The use of space and astral jazz atmospherics can find references in a strong ‘90s through mid-2000s catalog of hip hop, trip hop, drum ‘n’ bass and indie soul classics, from Tribe Called Quest’s A Love Movement to Leon King’s The Digital Church. In some ways, Austin’s creatively the kid composer/producers Ahmed Sirour and Nicolay are too young to have. That Austin is talented is without question, as is his promise. It’ll be interesting to see how his time at the University of Southern California and its surrounding LA music culture will further his artistic evolution and musicianship.

More than a singer and rapper, Austin produced and wrote every cut on this seven-song experience (three are really interludes, leaving four songs to do the heavy lifting). The entrepreneur also created all the visual art for the project’s marketing collaterals, including the album cover. Each announces the artist’s brand with clear direction, focus, and a talent that one doesn’t necessarily attribute to the average college kid.

An EP is supposed to titillate an audience into wanting more from an artist, especially an introductory debut. In this, Austin fulfills the job requirements. Opening on an “Intro” interlude with an oddly accented L.A. flow for a young rapper from the Bay, the artist declares he just “wants to be free in a crooked world” and proceeds to tell you who he is as an artist and what music means to him for the next two minutes, with just enough braggadocio to let you know Austin is not lacking for ego. The chest thumping gives way on the cover of “Mrs. Jackson” which splices the familiar chorus and layers it against an elegant musical bouquet of keys, synth strings, guitar and effects, stripping the original song of its country thump until the only thing that’s left of OutKast’s original is its soulful heart. “One Day” returns the project to the softer side of hip hop with playful, conscious rhymes with rapper B9 + Versis over a spare, jazzy soul track that would have made Q-Tip proud. These three more hip hop-inspired cuts have a beauty, but are bested by the lead release.

The single, “L.O.V.E.,” and its less trippy, more groove oriented remix finds the artist squarely among peers like Peter Hadar and Jesse Boykins III in vocal and compositional approach. The drum ‘n’ bass juxtaposition to the synth flares of ambient effects makes this flirtatious introduction of “I just want to know your name/and we can just be cool” on the original “L.O.V.E.” a driven work but still romantic in its chill-out conventions. The “L.O.V.E. Remix feat. Nasty Nate and Rob G” eases the tempo to a slow drag, with a ménage á trois of rifts and runs of the hook, taking the deconstruction to its own digital church before eventually releasing to a unexpected disco beat.

For all the swag on the opening, the closing “Outro” is a moment of sophisticated reverence and a synth key vamp that displays a power and emotion only hinted at in all Austin’s previous hipster lounge material. His masterful keystrokes leave me wanting to know and feel more of his work; just as my appetite is beginning to be whetted the experience is over. Still hungry, I don’t know whether to thank him or beat him for the tantalizing tease. Unfulfilled and annoyed by the sudden musical end, I can safely say the deserter certainly left me breathless for more. Can I have some more? Highly Recommended.

By L. Michael Gipson

 

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