You’re Dead! Album Review

Flying Lotus has produced yet another critical and sure-to-be-popular hit with his newest album, You’re Dead!

The album begins by showcasing collaborating bassist Thundercat’s skills in the first five tracks, up to “Never Catch Me” feat. Kendrick Lamar. Those tracks help establish the musical tone of the album: fusion jazz first, and dreamy hip-hop second.

That’s right. Steven Ellison (Flying Lotus) still produces sonic soporifics like “Coronus, The Terminator” on You’re Dead!, but this album (unlike Cosmogramma and Until the Quiet Comes) includes dreamy downtempo sporadically and not thematically. Steven Ellison, it seems, does not want to remain pigeonholed in one style forever. My favorite track matching this style in You’re Dead! would be Obligatory Cadence. A self-acknowledging nod towards the approach that made him famous, “Obligatory Cadence” nevertheless deserves to be listened to- although the rap tracks on this album, “Never Catch Me” and “Dead Man’s Tetris”, will probably receive the lion’s share of replay by mainstream media. If you only listen to one track from this album, listen to “Never Catch Me”.

You’re Dead! clocks in at 38:15, a great deal shorter than its predecessor which plays for 46 minutes and 42 seconds. In a way, the album seems to be a statement saying “This is where I transition to my next approach to producing music commercially. Like it or not, here it is.” Ellison’s rapping alter ego Captain Murphy makes several appearances on this album, including one with guest Snoop Dogg on “Dead Man’s Tetris”. Thundercat’s musical influence dominates for a significant chunk of You’re Dead!. Saxophone player Kamasi Washington deserves a shout-out too: his high-speed note output enriches every track he appears in, especially “Turkey Dog Coma” and “Cold Dead”.  Ellison has become more than a producer- he’s embraced a new role as a conductor, composer, and collaborator. At least for the moment.

 

By Nicholas Randall

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