Wednesday 4 December 2013


Wahoo! Here it is. Yes. Ever since I first encountered the music of Houston rapper Cory Jreamz well over a year ago, he's been on a constant curve of improvement; coming across as a guy who not only seems intent on conquering the world, but also as someone whose future efforts must surpass those that came before, it's no surprise that he gets better and better. His latest EP, Invictus ("unconquerable" or "undefeated" in Latin), released a couple of days ago, is his third to date and follows on from last year's Vague Current Vivid Fated, an angst-ridden quartet of songs from the mind of 18-year-old Cory Jreamz. One year and four months later, and one year older, CJ has developed his sound and his style and come up with something very striking indeed.

From the first ultra-distorted, unearthly sounds of 'Pressure' you know you're in for an intense ride. The very first lines introduce the Cory's uncontainable emotion, littered with varied name-drops: "Teen anger's all in my heart / Sylvia Plath all in my veins / I ain't takin' shit like Rosa Parks" and "Play this piece in the Pantheon / I'll play it all in Versailles too / Write a script with Hitchcock / Then show my cock to Lucy Liu" particularly. Grinding saw-waves rise like razor waves from a steel sea, framing a dizzying slew of references – both pop culture and high culture – from Cory Jreamz throughout the song: Napoleon, Thomas Edison, Genghis Khan, to name just a few. He roars the song's refrain – "They should've played this shit up in the movie Casablanca, and have a black man rapping while they fight Nazis" – draping a fierceness across the rumbling beat of the track that he has absolutely no qualms about displaying. He doesn't ooze confident, he burns with it.

At the end of 'Pressure' he brashly raps "I'm the black black black black black Marlon Brando" – clearly unafraid to make a point of his race, something which is still very much an issue in the US. Speaking of Marlon Brando, Cory must be a fan because he references the actor in 'Alive' as well, a song with a more chilled beat, dripping with strings and samples yet still retaining Cory's love for dark atmospheres. This track comes with a new extension, known now as 'Alive/NYC', the 'NYC' part comprised of a track he dropped earlier this year, 'Driving To New York AT 4AM'. It's a wholly nightmarish and menacing closer to the EP, in which he implores, "let my family know that I'm gone with the wind" and spits vitriolic and ironic desire for model wives and fast cars in the nocuturnally alone atmosphere.

As you can tell by now, Cory Jreamz is full of inspiration and influences, from films and pop culture to literature and historical figures. I love them; they're really entertaining, I find myself listening intently to hear who is gonna find themselves mentioned in a rap. The grime-flavoured 'Nina' is packed full of references and irony, displaying a confident, sarcastic lilt against a triumphal, war-like brass section. Also, in 'Howl' (check the video here), for instance – the title itself a reference to Allen Ginsberg's famous poem of the same name – Cory summons art world references in his defence, raining down fiery scorn on anybody who refers to his career as a pipedream.

He tackles that same judgemental attitude in 'Will You Be Here', condemning the world for making people conform and stamping down his conviction for success with lines like "Ain't never stoppin' I'm always climbing" and "Nigga this more than a rap hobby / All this soul up in my body / If I don't make it and get a Grammy / You can shoot me like I'm Bobby." In the second half of the song the music turns slow, ambient, fluid, echoing with ghostly samples in a stew of everdreaming subconscious, the perfect evocation of the "lost highway" he finds himself on, countering fear of death with determination to leave a legacy: "When the lights go out I'ma still be here / Rockin like Keith Moon till my last breath of air."

The cocksure, audacious lines don't stop, gloriously full of Cory Jreamz' personality: determined to make something of himself. Amidst its raw beat and scratching synths, 'Swim' is a track in which he humorously explains "I never learned how to swim or ride a bike" whilst contrasting this with determination in the form of a tongue-in-cheek middle-finger-up attitude to detractors. 'Swim' is potentially my favourite from the EP, because of its very legible beat and being the track to best display the almost yawning flow of Cory Jreamz, talking out the side of his mouth (seemingly) in a sarcastic manner that truly gives no amount of fucks to "doubters".

What more can I say? Alternatively dark beats that scream just as loud as Cory Jreamz's soul seems to be and, as he says himself in 'Swim', his voice is a piece of art, something to enjoy. You don't have to relate to it, of course. But the fact that it exists, and is consumed like art, is enough. With this said, it's pretty evident that Cory Jreamz is going to get bigger – this EP has confirmed it. And since bettering himself from last year to this, I don't really doubt that he's going to top this Invictus next year when he releases album The Lonely Painter. Also, look out for a video for track 'Nina' in January.

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