Cities Aviv is here to wake us up and bring us to life. His skewed take on the rich cultural heritage of the Memphis rap scene is the skeleton of his sound even though he is openly unimpressed by a lot of his peers. On ‘Come To Life’ he trades disillusionment for revelry and creates a space where carefree production, hyperactive soundscapes and magisterial delivery are paramount to his hyper-real existence.
One highlight of the LP is ‘Still’ featuring Toronto’s Bizzarh. Just after the two-minute mark, a racing beat folds over the spaced-out melody and creates a real sense of human vitality without falling back on any kind of vocal work. The same goes for the second track, ‘Fool’ where the beat and the urgent synthesizer-line crash into one another before his distinctive flow plays second-fiddle to the busy production. It’s this ethos of intent and urgency that occasionally makes ‘Come To Life’ a hard record to follow. ‘Realms’ for example, carries a great feeling of carelessness but when you hear “Shout out to my distant relatives” at the tail-end of a two minute track you have to re-evaluate what is a happy-go-lucky side-effect of a lust for life and what is an occasional misstep on an otherwise enjoyable path.
‘Self 100 (Know Who You Are)’ doesn’t make the same mistakes, this is the right breed of nonchalance where vocals are submerged in to dreamy beats and ethereal sounds float above the blueprint for a conventional Memphis rap tune. These are the moments of triumph on ‘Come To Life’- cuts like ‘Worlds Ov Pressure’ and ‘URL’ where a Jai Paul-esque collaged style of production takes centre stage for a full blast of life, idealism and boundless creativity. You won’t finish this LP and think Aviv is any better or worse at rapping but if that’s what brought you to the record in the first place you’ve kind of missed the point entirely. For all it’s over-ambitious moments of congestion and disjointedness, this is a record with a pulse that doesn’t flatline until the final seconds closer, ‘Don’t Ever Look Back’.
This is an LP that exists outside of the zeitgeist but sows itself so firmly in to the turbulent but limitless realm of digital actuality that it feels extremely liberating. It’s not a perfect album but it’s one that employs the most perfect of ideas; individuality, creativity and waking up.
Words: Duncan Harrison