How Awful Records Made Its Mark On Atlanta Hip-Hop

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Like virtually all legendary rap crews, Awful Records started as a bunch of buddies. Forming in 2010 when Father met Archibald Slim and Stalin Majesty at Georgia State University, the trio quickly linked up with fellow Atlanta natives Ethereal, Rich Po Slim, Micah Freeman, and Playboi Carti, who all went to highschool collectively. KeithCharles Spacebar and Dexter Dukarus began going over to Ethereal’s home to make beats, and highschool buddies Lord Narf, Pyramid Quince and Lui Diamonds joined the equation quickly after. Slug Christ was launched to Awful after his band’s bassist offered KeithCharles some weed at a live performance. This entire crew moved right into a home collectively (after which one other after the primary one obtained trashed), and Awful Records was shaped.

Awful set itself aside from different labels with its unbiased DIY aesthetic, with in-house manufacturing, engineering, movies, graphic design and merch. Father produced and engineered recording classes. Rich Po Slim shot movies and did PR. Zach Fox grew to become the group’s graphic designer underneath the pseudonym “Bootymath.” Having full management over all facets of their output was a vital element of Awful’s play-by-its-own-rules philosophy.

How Awful Records Made Its Mark On Atlanta Hip-Hop

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Much of the world was launched to Awful Records by way of Father’s 2014 breakout single “Look At Wrist,” that includes iLoveMakonnen and KEY! With hilariously self-aware strains like “Never needed to whip a brick, however I get the gist,” the one was a refreshingly enjoyable tackle the hyper-serious entice music that dominated Atlanta on the time. The simplistic, self-produced aesthetic introduced comparisons to lo-fi rap pioneers Soulja Boy and Lil B, who Makonnen shouts out with the road “Super chef Makonnen would possibly sprinkle serotonin.” What actually makes “Look at Wrist” stand the check of time is its authenticity. No document govt was telling Father, Makonnen and KEY! to do any of this music – it was merely three buddies having enjoyable. This natural creativity got here to outline the spirit of Awful Records, and set the label aside from its friends.

One of the members who exemplifies the label’s unhinged creativity probably the most is rapper/producer Ethereal. With beats starting from entice, increase bap and R&B to storage, jungle, and drum and bass, Ethereal has set himself aside as a one-of-a-kind producer. “Ethereal is a legend,” Playboi Carti advised DAZED in a recent interview, “Without him, I don’t know the place the f*ck I’d be.” Producing a few of Carti’s earliest songs, together with “Beef” and “Freestyle four The People,” Ethereal helped popularize a synth-heavy, video game-inspired sound. Ethereal has additionally notably labored as the only producer for the singer Alexandria on her albums Rebirth (2014) and Cut of Cloth (2017).

In 2017, Ethereal satisfied Awful to signal Faye Webster, an alt-folk singer and photographer from Atlanta whose colourful portraits embody these of Offset, DRAM, and her center college good friend Lil Yachty. While a people singer could look like an odd contribution to a rap crew, Awful’s energy lies within the sheer number of its artists. Since members repeatedly function on one another’s work, Awful Records’ finest songs are sometimes a cross-pollination of varied genres and influences. The 2018 single “No Way,” for instance, combines Ethereal’s laidback supply and synthy entice beats with Lord Narf’s frenetic, double-time move and Faye Webster’s soothing singing voice.

Another one in all Awful’s standout artists is the self-described “Darkwave Duchess” Abra. Father reached out to Abra in 2014, after discovering her acoustic guitar cowl of his music “Spoil You Rotten” on YouTube. She joined Awful in 2015, and shortly launched her debut album Rose. Writing and producing the whole album herself on a laptop computer and USB mic, Abra crafted a hauntingly lovely mixture of R&B and 80’s-inspired darkwave. At over 14 million views, her music video for “Fruit” stays Awful Records’ most-watched music video at present.

Abra – “Fruit”

The solely visitor to function on Abra’s Princess was Tommy Genesis, an experimental rapper from Vancouver who signed to Awful in 2015. Sometimes rapping, singing, talking and even screaming on quite a lot of menacing beats, Tommy’s unpredictable nature suits completely into Awful’s anything-goes fashion. In 2015, Awful Records launched World Vision, Tommy’s debut album, that includes manufacturing from Father, KeithCharles Spacebar, and Tommy herself, in addition to a duet with Abra on the nearer “Hair Like Water Wavy Like the Sea.” Tommy Genesis launched her second album in 2018, for which she extensively collaborated with super-producer Charlie Heat.

As one of many founding members of Awful Records, Lord Narf has steadily labored in direction of turning into among the best rappers on the label. His Witchcraft album spans an assortment of darkish, witch-inspired sounds, together with the apocalyptic spotlight “On My Tab.” Produced by Awful O.G. Dexter Dukarus, the beat for “On My Tab” conjures up apocalyptic Lex Luger-style strings, and Lord Narf rides the beat like she’s the one accountable. Up subsequent for Lord Narf: a collaborative tape with up-and-coming producer Meltycanon, who combines cute and innocent-sounding samples with menacing entice beats.

Though not formally signed to Awful Records, Meltycanon has been behind the manufacturing of a few of the label’s finest data prior to now two years. By the tip of 2015, Father was within the midst of a drug-induced stoop, uninspired by the music he was making whereas underneath the affect. This is when Meltycanon despatched Father the beat for what would change into one in all his hottest songs: “Heartthrob.” Opening with the strains “Better name the cops / I am ’bout to run up in your block” over what feels like a toy piano made for 5-year-olds, the ironic cuteness of “Heartthrob” completely fits Father’s sarcastic fashion. In 2018, Father continued working with Meltycanon for his collaborative album with Adult Swim, Awful Swim.

Today, Awful Records and its associates are burning brighter than ever. iLoveMakonnen has gone on to have huge success with the hits “Tuesday” and “I Don’t Sell Molly No More,” whereas on the similar time staying true to himself – whether or not meaning recording LSD-fueled entice bangers or heartfelt piano ballads. Makonnen’s collaborative album with the late Lil Peep is ready to drop this yr. Fellow “Look at Wrist” collaborator KEY! simply launched his breakout album 777 final yr with Kenny Beats. Dubbing the album his “Reasonable Doubt second,” KEY! shines on 777 with exhausting flows, eclectic beats sampling the whole lot from gospel choirs to Björk, and hilarious one-liners like “Run inside your sh*t, I want an ESPY / No Scantron, do not check me.”

How Awful Records Made Its Mark On Atlanta Hip-Hop

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Zach Fox can be up there because the Awful Records member to observe for in 2019. After working because the label’s illustrator, web comic, and host of the radio present “BRUH with Awful Records,” Zach Fox has been making an attempt his hand at rapping – and overwhelmingly successful. Last yr, Fox dropped “Square Up,” a ridiculously aggressive banger produced by Kenny Beats, and “Family Function” with Father, on which he steals the present with strains like “I dropped my strap on the Soul Train Line.” Zach Fox not too long ago posted on Twitter that he’s on the lookout for beats, so it’s very attainable we might be anticipating a full undertaking from him within the coming yr.

Since its inception virtually a decade in the past, Awful Records has been repeatedly innovating the Atlanta hip hop scene as a free-spirited, DIY rap crew. “I’m utterly stumped as to why this sh*t works,” Ethereal stated within the Boiler Room documentary Awful Days. “It utterly spells ‘catastrophe.’ But for some purpose, Awful Records is sort of a well-oiled, drugged-out, machine.” Ethereal, Father, Abra, Lord Narf and Co. have been influencing hip hop with their experimental and various sounds for years now, they usually’re solely simply getting began. With talks of main movement footage within the works, in addition to a number of albums to return quickly, Awful Records is bound to be impacting the sport for years to return.

Awful Days: A Documentary