It’s an all-around good time for ambient music at the moment, and while this can partially be credited to a newfound interest in the genre within Gen Z, it’s got a lot more to do with the abandonment of traditional scene politics in favor of something online and more international by nature. Dude Reppin Knowhere comes prepared with a keen addition to the lo-fi hip-hop playlist of the summer in “Airplane Mode” this July, and if you’re into ambient grooves that crossover into pop aesthetics, this is a track and music video that you’ve got to take a peek at when you have a chance.
The harmonies in this single are relatively mild in comparison to the framework around them, but the beat itself is by far the most intense element of the mix. It’s mastered to be a bludgeoning force of intensity, but we don’t ever feel squeezed by its presence beside the thrust of the melodic parts in the track, all of which sound rather smothered thanks to a well-planned EQ. Dude Reppin Knowhere might not have a scene he ascribes to, but he’s playing with material right out of the vaporwave handbook in this specific performance.
There’s a physicality in “Airplane Mode” that is balanced out by the almost clandestine stylization of the synth parts in the song, but I wouldn’t say the narrative is born of contrast alone. I would agree with critics who say that duality is one of the overarching themes in this single, as well as its music video, but it’s not the main focus for the lion’s share of the 3:42 running time – that role belongs to the insurgent mood of the melodies, which can be as bewitching as it is intimidating to those who don’t normally listen to this kind of music.
Equally ominous and rather exciting, Dude Reppin Knowhere is a project that I’m going to be very enthusiastic about as a critic thanks to “Airplane Mode,” and I’ll say now that I don’t think we’re getting the full artistic picture of what they’re capable of in this initial offering. There’s a rebel within the soul of this music that is too disciplined in the hook of this song to really come undone the way it’s supposed to, but the next time we hear from Dude Reppin Knowhere, this carnal attitude might be a little more accessible to the listeners.