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July 13, 2024

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Oaklandazulasylum (Anticon)

By: Cam Lindsay

The beauty with the Cali-based Anticon label is how mouth-wateringly diverse their records are. Though considered a hip-hop label/collective to most, Anticon's Why? (aka Jonathan Wolf) is much too difficult to classify as, well, anything really. Also a member of cLOUDDEAD and Reaching Quiet, Why? offers a very reflective look into Wolf's life, whether it be through his family (primarily his father) and his Jewish upbringing or his constant childish thoughts (crushes, sex, partying). While a lot of it is rhyme-based, it's not exactly Jay-Z's party lessons in booty 'n' bling that Why? presents. His kitchen sink, do-it-yourself approach to everything is most reminiscent of such artists as Fog and Phil Elvrum of Microphones. The beats are there to discover, but they don't dominate the music. Instead, Why? throws in too many cymbals, quirky samples, settling ambience, guitar structures and interesting vocal takes. Completely in his own realm, he's like a painter's palette, with too many colors to choose from. Oaklandazulasylum may have a hard title to pronounce, but it's musical content is a breeze (and a kick) to listen to.
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