Lokye – Color Coated 2

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Color Coated 2 is a new album from Detroit-based abstract artist, Lokye. Originally from NYC, Lokye (aka Brian H Newman) has been active in the Michigan art scene for over ten years and is the owner of Granny’s Chandelier, an art gallery in Hamtramck, MI. As we see with this latest album, the abstraction carries over into this artist’s musical endeavors as well. The sound blends elements of jazz, boom bap, avant garde hip hop and spoken word poetry. It reminds me a lot of underground 90s arthouse film soundtracks I remember when I was a teenager. The vibe is just very real and has an approachable, community oriented feel. Lokye’s delivery is powerful, which is remarkable given that he has a very mellow and sincere style, often coming across more like a stage poet performing in a theater troupe than a traditional rapper. He’s actually an impressive vocalist as well. While this is subtly apparent even on quasi-hip hop tracks like Neverland, on other songs like Kick Flip In Penthouse he goes into full-on lounge singer mode and does so beautifully.

Of course, while the musical backing is stylish and creates the perfect intimate, conversational atmosphere, the lyrics are rich with abstract, thought provoking commentary. According to Lokye, the album is about “living in abstraction” and seeking out understanding in the world. It chronicles the hardships people face as they build local communities with family and friends. One of the more straightforward hip hop jams is Small Business, which details the struggle of having opened an art gallery right before the pandemic hit. Ultimately though, the theme of this album relates to overcoming these kinds of obstacles on the path toward excellence. Color Coated 2 has 17 tracks, and the music is both enjoyable and inspiring.

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