Samename, Pelican Fly, photo by JD Pictures
Photo by JD Pictures

Same Name, Evolving Style

Samename has always been something of an outlier in the world of Pelican Fly, where his Eastern grime leanings stood out against the exaggerated rap beats and brass instrumentation most of the label’s roster is partial to. But that distinction fades with his new EP, Yume, as he sheds some of our expectations of him and as the label continues to deviate from its original sound. The record is harder to define wholly as grime influenced, with its varied beat patterns and new bass colors. And the label has moved beyond its early style - as dictated or inspired by its founder Richelle - with its new releases by Nadus and Sam Tiba, which bookend Yume

In fact, the EP is more easily tied to the sound of Fade To Mind than any strain of Pelican Fly. Grime is a clearer strain of discussion for many of that label’s artists’ work. And their darker mood more closely resembles Same’s state of mind as well. He’s even gone as far as using a number of stylistic traits popularized by Fade artists such as swords clashing and chantlike synths.

The comparison becomes even more apt when bringing Fatima Al Quidari’s new album Asiatisch into the conversation. (Fatima is one of Fade’s earliest members, but the album was actually released on Hyperdub.) Asiatisch was another effort rooted in grime but channeled through mediated Eastern musical ideas. But Fatima’s album was minimal and sparse, and Same’s EP is packed so full it won’t close. Asiatisch also interprets Chinese ideas, whereas Samename looks to Japan. As Fatima is quick to point out, much of the West’s idea of what sounds Chinese is warped by how our media interprets it. And the same is true for Japanese sounds. But as a first world, technologically advanced nation, Japan has more of a say what the world see of their culture - not that the West doesn’t create its own Japanese stereotypes (see Avril). 

Samename concedes influence to a wide array of Japanese culture, from anime and video games to traditional instruments and contemporary artists. While the British producer declined to name anyone specific, you can hear similarities to maximalist Kawaiians like Emufucka and Quarta 330. His tracks, like theirs, brim over with melodies and drum sections, featuring soaring ideas full of enthusiasm. They all burst with Wario 64 colors, bringing to mind a dance battle held at the arcade rather than the club. But Same inhabits more turbulent realms, choosing not to scale the full brightness of electronic pop that his Japanese counterparts often prefer. His is also a rounder, more natural sound, buffing out pixelated edges and relying on acoustic sampleage as much as digitized synths. 

But one thing that Pelican Fly seems to push as part of its identity - other than music that is never easy to categorize - is quality, and this EP definitely furthers that tradition. The care put into it is hard to miss. There’s innumerable little effects and atmospheric samples, polyrhythms, dynamic drum kits, beat switch ups, harmonies and counter melodies, and instrumentation… The record is endlessly immersive. While it’s not dance music necessarily, it’s also far from subtle. The sounds are planet-sized and attention grabbing. And there’s something of a narrative to it all, where each element dictates the next step to be taken. A story looms behind it, and he paints clear pictures of that world. But rather than tell the story I hear, I’ll let you do so on your own. That’s half the fun, isn’t it? 


Not that I’d actually rock these or drop 3 bills on em, bu the fact they exist is coo. KTZ White Mask Linda Farrow Edition

Not that I’d actually rock these or drop 3 bills on em, bu the fact they exist is coo. KTZ White Mask Linda Farrow Edition

Present for Ma Dukes

Present for Ma Dukes

Times, they changing

Times, they changing

Most Overstood Klan

Most Overstood Klan

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In 5th grade, I lived in an apartment complex wedged in between an airport and a juvenile detention center. My mom kept telling me I’d end up in the center if I kept fuckin around - I’d been caught by the police a couple times for sneaking onto the airfield. I was too young to be wistful about the idea of traveling (since riding my bike into nearby neighborhoods was still new to me) but those powerful jet engines blasting people into the sky right outside my bedroom window was too much to resist. 

These days, I watch a constant procession of planes flying out of JFK or Laguardia when I lay in bed and look out the window. And I definitely think about what’d be like to take one of them to Costa Rica or Hawaii or something. 

I hear a lot of that in Rich Flyer's new tune. Called “Maui,” it's about taking a trip somewhere to escape the negativity. The cover looks like its shot from the window of a car leaving the city, but it could just as well be a view from the BQE, driving to one exit from another in the same borough. And amidst all the talk of leaving, the song is invaded by the reality of an urban setting, where sirens compete with silence. The trip is definitely metaphorical, and the jet engine samples that screech over the intro and outro emit the haze of a daydream.

It’s a track that tries avoiding a sunrise that will cast light on the reality out the window. Flyer - who’s now assuming his given name of Eli Sostre for his vocal tracks - is talking about leaving a girl before before the drugs wear off and she loses interest. He’d rather just dip out before all that. He made a connection with her through the drugs, and to avoid the let down of reality creeping back, it seems likely that drugs will aide his flight. But that initial heightened passion of the high also pervades the track, and despite the cold and metallic leanings of the production, it resonates with emotion. 

The 22-year-old, Marcy Projects-raised producer says his style is a direct reaction to the sound of “Chicken Noodle Soup,” which he couldn’t stand. Dance music was not, and is not, for him. He prefers the work of artists like Marvin Gaye, James Blake, and of course Hov. Flyer’s style is a balance between rap and R&B, somewhere in between the obvious reference points of Drake and The Weeknd. 

This is his first vocal track in a minute, as he’s been focused on handling production duties for the likes of his Neighborhood PHCK$ fam Phreshy Duzit or Flatbush Zombies and The Underachievers. He actually made the beat for UA’s second release, “Gold Soul Theory,” which I appeared in the video for. (You can spot me up on a ladder, in the middle of tagging “Peace, Love, Unity, Respect,” and looking back to ask if we’re rolling.) The beat on this new one is mostly the work of Crazy K, who also helped Flyer with much of his new tape, All Good Things, which is expected to drop next month. 

But for now, just take a flight with “Maui,” which he was cool enough to send over as a free download for you all. 

East Village Radio is closing down. :( Gunna miss that place. Some great memories. Photo by Edward Keating for NY Mag

East Village Radio is closing down. :( Gunna miss that place. Some great memories. Photo by Edward Keating for NY Mag

Possibly the most flee outfit to ever exist on planet Earth

Possibly the most flee outfit to ever exist on planet Earth