Cities Aviv

Come to Life

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Ever-evolving Memphis rapper Cities Aviv launched his career with a series of funky underground releases that could have been lumped in with stuff from Anticon or Def Jux, but on his most high-profile release to date, the Throbbing Gristle-appreciating, self-admitted nerd is willfully caught up in the Childish Gambino/Death Grips/cloud rap whirlwind of 2013-2014. He's got the literal and barking style of Death Grips' MC Stefan Burnett even if he sounds like he was recorded down the hall; he flows and mopes like Gambino without the Hollywood surroundings, and his backing tracks (from Aviv, RPLDGHSTS, and other vanguard producers) are the hazy, crazy, and broken kind of beautiful sounds that go well with Mishka brand hoodies, lucid dreaming, and any off-world activity. Even if that sounds like a derivative pastiche brewed especially for taste-making blogs, Come to Life is an inspired, stick-to-the-bones album that offers a surprising amount of comfort, uplift, and new opportunities. Opportunities, such as when a mere interlude becomes a key track, which happens when "CTL 1" floats out of the speakers with something that sounds like David Lynch's soundtrack to paradise, plus a monologue from Abdu Ali that drives home the point that this life is your only shot. The YOLO lifestyle becomes more than just a slogan as "Perpetuate the Real" swims out of slowed Three 6 Mafia beats and offers some lady sweet, strange nothings ("Your body tastes like chocolate sweet strawberries") plus persuasive come-ons ("Don't ask, just act, cuz you know the deal") while the bright and brittle "URL IRL" goes from avant, to interesting, to attractive, as Aviv is all high kicks and hype-man, shouting "Come into you life until you know it's good, good!", because he's entirely right. The great walls of apathy and anger are addressed often as "Fool" declares "Party's over, I showed up at the ending/No promise of new beginnings," and there numerous other unsettled moments that Aviv studies, and then slays. Come to Life is aptly titled when it comes to Aviv's talents, and even if he didn't invent cloud rap, using the genre for such positive and poignant music is previously unexplored territory.

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