Brian H Newman is an abstract artist from NYC who has been living and creating in Detroit since 2009. Graduated from CCS with BFA, he is the owner of Art Gallery Granny’s Chandelier in Hamtramck M.I. Primarily a mixed Media artist with a focus on figurative abstraction, and surrealist philosophy, when he switches his artistic gaze towards blending lyrics and instrumentals he takes on the moniker of Lokye. His album, “Color Coated 2”, pushes the genre forward musically, by looking back stylistically. The beats are extremely alternative and jazzy. It is not a hook-heavy record, instead this is hip hop that needs to be properly and fully digested.
This is a primary reason as to why “Color Coated 2” stands out in the current hip hop landscape. Rap is a genre that thrives on immediacy. Most of the best albums, are the ones that just jump off the shelves at listeners. But once in a while it is great to hear somebody like Lokye deliver a subtle work of art that takes a little more time to grow on you.
A good majority of today’s most popular artists offer little more than a misogynistic catchphrase over a bass-heavy beat. And like many fans, Lokye certainly believes there is a void in the hip hop world for what he has to say, and more importantly, how he wants to say it. By not wasting his time whining about the things that are lacking from the current scene, Lokye actually sets about filling that void with 17 unconventional and creative tracks.
Even better is Lokye ability to craft an album as a cohesive unit from eclectic and disparate sounds. Rap has become a genre dependent on singles, with most mainstream rap albums consisting of a couple of well-known tracks and a handful of filler to round out the rest of the album. “Color Coated 2” is variegated and interesting at every turn, flowing effortlessly between diverse sounding tracks that work extremely well together.
With a dozen different producers taking care of the beats, diversity is the order of the day. “Color Coated 2” tries to take you back to the good times when hip hop was more focused on making interesting music, and it sure does succeed. For all the strengths of today’s artists, I wouldn’t mind seeing a few more that are able to craft an album the way Lokye does. Lyrically, the album narrates intensely personal, life stories and experiences – or as the linear notes explain: “Stories of hardships, love, lust and loyalty, on the rise to excellence.”
From the moment the hazy and smoky, jazz-induced backdrop of “Kick Flip In Penthouse” (Prod. Magu The Dog), introduces the unusual extravagance of Lokye’s mellifluous flow, you’ll be hooked to the artist’s divergent creativity. “Mat Black El Camino” (DJ Prince) switches the sonic palette with cinematic strings and a rolling bassline, while Lokye’s rhymes become more urgent.
“Fucking With Me” (Prod. DJ SPINN) again flips the template with an epic wave of synth pads and banging drums underscoring Lokye’s soaring vocals. “Neverland” (Prod. TSRK) is excellent piano-based groove, while the soulful big-band sound of “The Question” (Prod. Magu The Dog) will resonate in your ears long after the song is over.
A living, breathing work of contemporary urban music art, “Color Coated 2” is chock full of highlights and standout tracks. From the dark and edgy “Small Business” Ft. Bleeklino (Prod. Eddie Logix) to the echoey falsetto-filled ambiance of “Blank Canvas” (Prod. TSRK), and the psychedelic guitar motifs of “Feel No Pain” ft. Mary Jade (prod. Mercer Boys).
By the time you arrive to “Gluttony” (prod. Eddie Logix) and “Uptown Blunted” (prod. DJ GIVE), you realize that it is pretty reductive just labelling this a rap or hip-hop album. This is so much more. It is the sound of an artist evolving directly on record, which also helps make the music surprisingly resonant, track after track.
Moving forward, across “Lucid” ft. Jypsey Jey Free (prod. Dusty Fingerz) and “Far Away” (prod. The Last Skeptik), to “Do Me Like That” (prod. DJ GIVE) and “Lavender Love Spell” (Mercer Boys), it’s invigorating to listen to a lit and creative Lokye, follow his muse right off the beaten path, even for the alternative genre, and deep into places few have gone before him. All the while, staying cohesive and accessible.