Clams Casino

32 Levels

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In the way that dubstep artist Burial dominated the left-leaning bit of his genre, the equally mysterious Mike Volpe, aka Clams Casino, slinked through the experimental side of hardcore rap and became a renowned figure with only a few interviews, some scattered releases, and a very humble attitude. The proof was always in the pudding as his woozy work for Lil B and A$AP Rocky helped break those artists, while remixes for Lana Del Rey and Big K.R.I.T. made them instantly cooler. Now his official full-length debut album triple underlines this importance as it grinds and echoes in the style of U.K. producer the Bug, but these dark constructions offer artists like Lil B and A$AP Rocky the required grooves on which to rhyme. There's also worthy musical terrain for pop singers like Future Islands' Samuel T. Herring, who uses highlight "Ghost in a Kiss" to channel both his inner Leonard Cohen and Nick Cave. The beautiful and strange "Back to You" sounds like a Major Lazer cut melting into something riveting and onyx-colored, but hip-hop is still the most fruitful genre for Clams, as the swaying "32 Levels" with Lil B and Joe Newman is the album's key cut, its title cut, and as Lil B would say, it's "evocative AF." "Be Somebody" with Rocky and B brings the dark in a hooky way, as does the crossover-worthy "All Nite" with Vince Staples, and with so many vocalists taking their turns, the album is still cohesive as they come. Call it based, cloud rap, or crumble core, but whatever the subgenre, Clams Casino's vanguard style now comes in a near-perfect package dubbed 32 Levels.

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