Lushlife - Ritualize
"...attitude-thick rapping...with gorgeous production..." The New York Times
"...spectral and melancholy..." Pitchfork
"‰Û_fuses intelligent, gritty hip-hop with forward-thinking indie tropes." ‰ÛÒ KEXP
From the moment you hear the bristling boom-bap chorus on album-opener "Totally Mutual Feeling," it's apparent that Lushlife's third full-length finds the Philadelphia rapper-producer at his most introspective. Themes of isolation and mortality permeate Ritualize, a cinematic hour-long odyssey co-produced by enigmatic production trio, CSLSX (pronounced "Casual Sex") and featuring contributions from Ariel Pink, Killer Mike, Freeway, Marissa Nadler, RJD2, and more. With CSLSX at the boards, an entire universe opens up for Lush, where the pulsating Juno synths of '80s LA night music sit side-by-side with gorgeously propulsive indie-leaning jams, and low-fi soul burners too. "After toiling over two self-produced LPs in the last half-decade, I felt compelled to bring on an outside production team for Ritualize," Lushlife (born Raj Haldar) explains. After a chance encounter with CSLSX, who had been quietly self-releasing low-fi dance gems to remarkable organic blog buzz, the newly-formed team set out on a three-year journey that would eventually yield their new joint album. From album cut, "The Waking World," which finds Lushlife spitting thorough sixteens from the vantage of Mark David Chapman lying in wait for John Lennon, to "Incantation," a song that's as much inspired by Allen Ginsberg's Howl as the general, street-level anxieties of urban life, Ritualize is nothing short of a step forward. For proof, look no further than "Toynbee Suite," a 10-minute, 4-movement rap epic. As the centrepiece of the album, "Toynbee Suite" was the subject of a 2013 documentary, and itself represents the combined work of 20+ musicians, including RJD2, Nightlands, Yikes the Zero, and a full chamber orchestra. "Hong Kong (Lady of Love)," a collaboration with weird music godhead, Ariel Pink, is a sparse yet powerful four-on-the-floor ode to LA.