Dreamland is a new album from hip hop artist, 8BitJ. Not much is known about this enigmatic performer, who sports a mask, but he was apparently born in San Francisco. His music has more an an experimental, cerebral style than straightforward hip hop. This latest release is a soulful, “concept album,” which manifests as a 15 track, avant garde tour de force. On these rather unique recordings, 8BitJ is surprisingly open about his thoughts and feelings. The reflective lyrics are rich with detail and substance. They range from intensely personal to broadly philosophical, but they are undoubtedly raw and uncut. His delivery style is clear, concise and casually charismatic. He has a very “matter of fact” way of rapping.
Musically speaking, the songs incorporate a plethora of different elements, including samples, snippets, creatively constructed beats, synths and who knows what else. 8BitJ manages to weave it all together to form a coherent and artistically distinct sound. Some of the sounds are reminiscent of the kinds of quirky “boings” and “bonks” you’d hear in vintage cartoons. Indeed one track is even titled Old Cartoons. Interestingly, the backing music often takes a soulful turn, as 8BitJ raps against a backdrop of obscure, classic records. Wholesome melodies play in the background, accentuated by a warn analog crackle and subtle tape hiss. Some tracks like Heaven’s Gate have a more symphonic and theatrical ambiance that will keep you on the edge of your seat.
What’s striking about listening to this album is realizing what a massive undertaking this project must have been. There’s just so much material here, so many pieces to the puzzle and somehow 8BitJ makes it all fit. While the songs are beautiful musically, they are of course designed to bring you out of your comfort zone, so be mentally prepared for that as you enjoy these exotic jams.
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