Laforren Releases “Outsyder”

When considering that its contents are little more than stacked synth parts, a supple bass and drum component, and a lot of vocal moxie from Laforren himself, it’s rather surprising just how full and intense “Outsyder” feels from a sonic perspective. From the swell of the melody to the foundational bottom-end as it ascends into focus, specifically around the midsection to the latter climax of the song, there’s a physicality to every part of the melodic faceting here, but not so much that it feels overindulgent to the casual hip-hop fan. Those who are a bit more invested in the genre shouldn’t fear at all; there are plenty of brilliant excesses repurposed into a cerebral musical matter in “Outsyder,” and it’s accompanied by such a strong dose of emotionality through Laforren’s lyrics that there’s no arguing whether or not this is coming from the heart and soul of the creator.

Grounded hip-hop has been making a substantial comeback more than forty years after its genesis rose to world prominence, but of the indie players I’ve been following giving the genre a credible update, this man has become one of my very favorites lately.

There’s relatively no polish on the instrumental parts in this single – in fact, I would even have to say that they sound pretty gritty in spots as if they were recorded live rather than among the comforts of a proper studio. On more than a couple of occasions between the start and finish lines, Laforren’s vocal feels bigger than pretty much anything else in this mix is, but it’s not because the production style is buffering the space between verse and versatile instrumentation with a lot of unnecessary fluff.

He’s got a big voice as it is, and I think this is just an occasion on which he’s able to give us a more impactful performance behind the microphone than he has previously. I’m really curious to hear what a song like “Outsyder” would sound like live, primarily because I have a feeling that it could be re-stylized and arranged many different ways for a concert without losing any of the organic, enamoring lusters that it has in this thoroughly well-rehearsed version.

Big, riddled with excess, and proudly sporting some of the beefiest rap melodies I’ve heard from an artist on either end of the pop spectrum this spring season, I think that Laforren’s new single is probably the best one he’s put out contemporarily. He’s managed to work a lot of progressive influences into his sound whilst rejecting the nonsensical theatrics that has always kept me from really getting into the more conceptual bands and solo artists in hip-hop, and if he’s able to get “Outsyder” to a wider audience beyond that of college radio, I think Laforren is going to be in for a lot more exposure and critical support from around the underground and beyond. This is his era to own, and from the looks of what he’s already been able to drop so far, there’s little that can slow his drive at this moment.

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