Review: Oliver the 2nd – R+ Vol. 1 (self-released, Oct 24)

Fontana-based MC and producer Joseph Perry, better known as his alias Oliver the 2nd, comes out of the gate swinging on R+ Vol. 1, his first self-released solo effort since 2013’s The Kill Off. Other than that and Rawhyde, his wonderful collaboration with Jeremiah Jae that also came out in 2013, Perry hasn’t released anything else until now. Hopefully the “Vol. 1” subheading implies that there will be more soon, but for now this short EP is an enrapturing and entertaining slice of abstract hip-hop. Perry’s position as both beatmaker and rapper on this release makes for an interesting dichotomy between the two elements—or, rather, a lack thereof. The lush lo-fi patchworks of samples of everything from jazz to funk are more than just beats for Perry to rhyme over. Instead, the vocals often blend with the instrumentals until they are largely indistinguishable from each other; both the effects placed on Perry’s earnest flows and the various approaches he utilizes imitate the atmosphere and sonic qualities of the production, creating an entirely unified flow of rhythm and lyrics on each track. “noideashi,” as I mentioned previously, is a sudden and instantly magnetic introduction to the EP, the delirious collage of pulsing bass lines and snare cracks very much in line with the loose, fluid sampling technique popularized by artists like Earl Sweatshirt and MIKE. Perry is far from just an imitator, however; the rest of the eclectic proceedings clearly demonstrate his unique ear for unconventional structure. “slowdwn” is one of the more fascinating tracks, sticking with a sparse arrangement of jazzy walking bass and piano meanderings while a pitch-altered voice croons in its midst for the majority of its duration before Perry’s rapping even appears. And thought-provoking density aside, many of the tunes here are just fun. Songs like “imtheshtbtch” and “GodofRp” are groovy as hell and make me excited for what Perry puts out next—and I really hope we won’t have to wait another six years.