Solja: “X X X” wanders into twisted, blissful territory

Solja is a musician born and raised in New Orleans, who has released his first project entitled “X X X” under his independent label. Through a carnivalesque rotation of warped melodies, hallucinating drums, swirling synth and bass riffs, and ever-hazy dreamlike effects, interspersed with psychedelic musical flourishes, Solja puts together his personal blend of alternative hip-hop. Sonic textures and treated vocals are laced throughout, repeating and fading at will, as Solja delivers his mantras of resilience across the four tracks. The EP’s fluidity is compelling, seamlessly bleeding between percussive stomps, twisted vocals, and eerie synth drips. Blurring the normal and the supernatural, the beautiful and the abrasive, as if it were an audio novel caught between reality and fantasy.

The ambitious architecture resembles a twisted distillation of Solja’s eclectic mindset into a diverse yet contained 4 tracks, where its transience serves to further its eccentric allure. Solja’s vocal flexibility finds its true artistic accomplice in the production, which coaxes his eccentricities to the fore.

Solja’s constant flitting between raps, and hazy melodic motifs not only form the backbone of the tracks but consistently shift their dynamics to keep them fresh. Though verses float in and out like objects caught in the flow of production, what is said only serves to animate the project further.

Not only does Solja come across as an endlessly entertaining exaggeration of himself here, but he sounds witty, focused and clever. It sounds almost as if the music embodies something deeply therapeutic for our daily trials and tribulations. The past is inescapable and the future is unpredictable.

The process of instant liberation, could very well belong to this soundtrack, which is hypnotically distracting. As soon as track one, “A G O”, opens the recording we fall into a whirlpool of trance-inducing sounds. The dancing hi-hats, spacey synths and Solja’s echoed narcotic rhymes are paralyzing.

“Die” is dark, dulcet and sweeping. The shift in tone doesn’t feel jarring, but instead like it was building up to these flourishes and reflections. What differentiates Solja from most rappers is that he understands the importance of melody, so he molds each song to match his imaginative themes.

Furthermore, instead of trying to appeal to a wide, generic audience, his music speaks directly to those who seek something ‘different’ in the game. Psychedelic aficionados and stoners would certainly get a kick out of these soundscapes.

Probably the most eccentric, and mind-boggling track on this EP, is “Speaking Japanese”. Though Solja’s effects-filled narrative remains conscious throughout, it’s tough to decipher, as his dreamlike delivery wanders into blissful territory.

You’ll need to hit replay quite a few times to unravel the meaning and message of this one. Which of course only amplifies the EP’s shelf-life. The title track, “X X X”, which is described as the artist’s personal favorite in the compilation, is another complex arrangement. It sounds like two layered voices, echoed in different time lapses, while the music is played backward.

Whether that’s true or not is irrelevant, as it makes for extremely creative listening either way. Clearly Solja has the kind of imagination that can produce fantastical musical visions. The EP “X X X”, is a great example of demonstrating the dimensions of a genre that has an immeasurable range, if artists liberate themselves from its clichéd chains. You hardly even have to be rap fan to enjoy this!


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