Get Refreshed: Twikipedia and SEBii’s Trip To Eagleland, A Year Since Exeter, and Saturn’s Guide to SoundCloud

“Get Refreshed” is a weekly column by Billy Bugara covering all things digital in the music world. Refresh yourself here

Cover by Brixton Yorker

Twikipedia + SEBii: “hotel”

Occasions like these remind me that nothing ever truly grows “stale” in music, no matter what the hardcore skeptics and critics of the world may think otherwise. Both the art and the craft of basing entire hip-hop tracks around video games – while always being present and developing – have taken on prominent and exciting new forms over the past decade. MCs and producers alike from scenes that stretch from South Florida to the Kanto Region ushered in this wholly entertaining era as the 2010s entered its waning years, and though this particular approach had its moment for quite some time, it certainly isn’t at the level of supply that it once was. 

Now if anyone from today’s crop of superstars-in-the-making were to give this approach a welcomed return-to-form, could we have chosen a more obvious pairing than Twikipedia and SEBii? I seriously believe there could have been no one better to take up this task than these two given their track record of video game-centric bars and aesthetics alike; the shared passion is and was right in front of us. And that’s exactly why an entirely Earthbound-focused single like “hotel” went off as well as it predictably would given this context. These two flaunt their exceptionally entertaining prowess on the mic over an instrumental based upon the game’s “Enjoy Your Stay” track for what can only be described as two-and-a-half minutes of pure elation for any fan of the Mother series, or, you know, fans of these two masterful talents by themselves.

Fresh Reflection: We Forgot About Exeter

In all fairness, I think we’d all like to forget everything about April 2020: also known as the month where any semblance of hope for a return to normalcy in the world was lost. But with that being said, one of my fondest memories from the early days of the pandemic came from seeing this 9-track album drop right out of nowhere, and honestly at the most fitting time imaginable. In our continued state of confusion and confoundment during this particular period of time, we desired, and even expected, any and all random occurrences to happen; it makes a lot of sense then to see why we took so fondly to a release like this. 

Recorded within a single week during a Gotland, Sweden sabbatical that Drain Gang’s Bladee and Gud had been on, Exeter thrives off of its subtle and reserved makeup. It’s a project that makes the quick and minimal feel as ample and complete as those terms could possibly be — what with its brief, yet fully-realized song structure, simple, yet diverse cast of sonic elements, and an overall approach that exudes just as much momentary ambition as it does artistic merit.

In his review of the project for Pitchfork, Ben Dandridge-Lemco – among my absolute favorite writers working today – called the album’s minimalism “controversial” at the time. Now that an entire year has passed since it’s release, I feel as though any sense of “controversy” in regards to that specific aspect have been superseded by more thought-out releases by Bladee and other Drain Gang members. In saying this, Exeter accomplished what it intended on standing for from the moment it dropped, that notion just needed some time to be fully comprehended. 

Kaixan: “444TheBetter”

You can’t ask for anything better than a young artist with a completely real, refined, and for a lack of a better term, refreshing, approach to their craft. When evaluating music scenes from a top-down perspective, one can see how easy it is for artists to get wrapped up in this idea of always “needing to do more with their sound” or “needing to switch everything up” in any given moment. For someone like Kaixan and his respective place in the online music landscape, these sentiments need not apply; he’s absolutely mastered what he’s been so great at from the jump, and this fact becomes that much clearer when comparing his work to his closest contemporaries. 

It’s a notion that’s going to get hurled into the upper echelon once his promised album arrives this year — a project that will serve to be one of the most standout examples of digicore’s divulgences into the worlds of pop-centric hip-hop. Let the album’s lead single “444TheBetter” speak for itself in regards to this prediction, it’s easily the most spotless and signature release that Kaixan has come through with to this point, adding so much substance to these previous claims about his newfound prowess in all regards. It’s a relentlessly engrossing track that sets out to accentuate each and every single aspect it has in store, resulting in the ideal tease towards what is set to be a wholly ideal album to come.

How Reserv Makes “Perfect” Music

Nobody’s perfect, nor can anyone ever be perfect. But that term stands for something other than its agreed-upon denotation when talking about a particular musical experience. The way we as people understand and react to music on a day-to-day basis often correlates with our present circumstances in any given day — both physically and mentally. Put simply, certain pieces of music affect us differently based on how our present environment dictates our moods and feelings alike — so a “perfect” song might not be as “perfect” on two separate occasions; in fact, they almost never are.

But that’s where Reserv begs to differ, at least in regards to me as an individual. No matter what type of day I’m having – the highest of highs, lowest of lows, or more often than not, a frustrating mix of the two – Reserv’s music always stands out as effectively relative to me. They always have that “perfect” song for any occasion — an impressive feat considering the range that my emotional spectrum covers, especially on those dreaded days where the highs and lows both occur at the worst times in a 24 hour period.

Maybe this is the case simply due to how Reserv’s music feeds into that notion of “mixed highs and lows.” There exists an equal sense of desolation and hopefulness in their artistry; it’s an approach that I’ve yet to see another act convey so masterfully. Their latest single “blissful rotations” – featuring Boysnightsout’s outstanding talent sg lily – provides all the evidence one would need in understanding how their work comes off in this manner. It’s a simultaneous experience of awestruck beauty and depressive undertones, something right in line with their previous work that’s already spelled out this notion as it is. 

Nobody’s perfect, but I think Reserv is to me.

Traplord Stevie + Okaminokami: “INFERNAL”

Underground hip-hop – at least the sector of the landscape that’s defined by its experimental nature – is taking on a brand new shape to begin this decade. It is no longer defined by elements of clarity, nor even any semblance of brightness; rather, the brooding,  hex’d-out sounds that are steadily gaining popularity amongst the underground masses have brought on a much-needed shift in the landscape’s tone and overall approach as a whole. 

This approach is being meticulously progressed and refined as these days, weeks, and months have moved forward — resulting in some absolutely fantastic examples of how this particular sound is developing so rapidly. Rising act Traplord Stevie’s latest offering with fellow standout Okaminokami entitled “INFERNAL” is just the latest evidence towards that notion; these two came through with an ideally grim, brooding, and entrancing cut that does more than enough to set the bar for this sound to stand on in the moment, and certainly enough to place these acts on the map as figures who will carry this approach to its highest peaks as the year progresses further. 

The Importance Of SoundCloud, As Told By Saturn

Words by Saturn

One of the great things about SoundCloud’s platform is that with enough effort you can find constantly find yourself in the process of discovering new sounds and artists. Many of my early days making music were spent falling down this rabbit hole, finding artists who over the years I have become proud to call my friends and collaborators. As the site and the artists grow alongside each other, it can be easy to lose track of scouring pages trying to find what’s next to stick. It’s why I often find myself repeating the rituals that landed me in the position I am in now. Artists like rouri404, ljp2900, rodneyy, and vamp leek are proof that there are plenty of artists waiting for their moment, and it won’t be much longer.