George Clanton

Ooh Rap I Ya

by Colton Game

George Clanton has been an artist I’ve been fascinated by over the past year. Embracing the campy nature of 90’s lyricism while incorporating the dream pop and baggy aesthetics from the same era, as well as including the vapor/electronic elements of the 2010’s has always been really appealing to me. I wasn’t crazy about his first solo release (excluding his other projects), but Slide has become one of my favorite albums from the 2010’s. So, obviously, I had very high expectations for his first solo album under the Clanton name in five years, and luckily, he didn’t disappoint.

Ooh Rap I Ya expands upon many of the ideas from Slide, but includes more acoustic instrumentation than before (although it very well could be electronically produced and I just can’t tell). Here, we hear acoustic percussion with what sounds like bongos on tracks like “I Been Young,” as well as a flute passage on “You Hold the Key and I Found It.” However, the center of this project is still primarily Clanton’s incredibly psychedelic and spacey synth-based soundscapes. The first track, “Everything I Want” explodes into its shoegazey synth-heavy chorus right at the beginning, with the fuzzy sound completely enveloping the track until the verse simplifies it for a softer approach.

“Justify Your Life” takes the 90’s vibes to a max here, with the single cover art even looking like it could’ve been produced by a boy band from the time. The lyrics are similarly broad and can be made to relate to almost any person, talking vaguely about love and taking leaps and such. Despite that, I love the throwback sound. “Punching Down” is one of my favorites here. It’s not as grand as the past two songs, but the arpeggiating synth gets really entrancing after a while, and the echoed “what’s it feel like?” repetition is a great addition.

“I Been Young” is another 90’s inspired single, with another chorus that could be taken straight from the decade. Clanton’s vocals on the verse are also a little different than usual, almost with a staccato quality spoken in a higher register that I really like. Once again, some pretty broad lyrics like “Growing up is never easy/Can’t you see how life is blinding you?” that works very well for the chorus. This whole track sounds like a summer evening, and it was heavily in my rotation when it was first released in April.

“You Hold the Key and I Found It” is the first of a few lowkey tracks in the tracklist, with a really persistent drum loop and very little vocal presence, other than a few lines in the second half. It gives the feeling of floating in some warm, orange, infinite space that’s really comforting. “Vapor King” and “SubReal” fill the same role, being primarily instrumental and just being interesting soundscapes to explore and lose yourself in. His repeated “da-das” and “ah-oh” chants through the songs are really comforting as well.

The one lone dip I see in the tracklist is “F.U.M.L.” featuring Negative Gemini. I love the core fuzzy drum loop here, but the chorus does get a big grating after a while, with the fuzzed out vocals not really fitting here with how abrasive they are. Alone,

I wouldn’t really mind this track, I just don’t think it fits the vibe of the album as well as the rest. I love Negative Gemini’s really soft vocals throughout though, and they’re a nice addition.

The last two tracks, the title track and “For You, I Will” wrap up the album very nicely. They do a great job incorporating the grand 90’s vibe of the first few songs, as well as the more instrumental/ambient passages from the midway point. They’re both pretty subdued, and the “Ooh Rap I Ya” chants at the end of the respected track are really blissful. “For You, I Will” features Australian artist Hatchie (who also releases music in a similar vein to Clanton) starts off with a really heavy, fuzzy guitar, but evolves into a light soundscape with some pitched down Clanton vocals, as well as some incredible contributions from Hatchie. Lyrically this song is just more repeated chants, but they’re easy to get lost in.

Overall, this album sounds exactly like the cover looks. The title of Ooh Rap I Ya essentially amounts to nothing but a gibberish chant, but I feel like that’s the point. I’ve seen a lot of criticism about how this project only amounts to background music, which I somewhat understand, but I disagree considering it’s so instrumentally dense. While I still think Slide is slightly better, Ooh Rap I Ya proves Clanton to be the best at utilizing nostalgia to make some incredibly psychedelic soundscapes.