By Alex Dye
Crate-digging producers in the hip-hop world are not averse to crossing genres for a drum beat, a bit of a melody line, or spoken word to chop, flip, and arrange into something entirely new from the original product. Jazz, obscure soul and r&b, African disco music, and even psychedelic rock have all been staples in producers’ oeuvre for decades now. Now, I’m by no means an expert on the subject, but I can say I’ve never heard of an artist who mined the world of big-band and 50’s era radio for hip-hop purposes. But along comes L’Orange, North Carolina-born beatmaker and producer, who takes a brand of music commonly found in your grandma’s garage or musty cardboard boxes in the back thrift shops and works it into intriguing and, dare I say, sexy compositions that stretch the imagination for the potential of the genre.
L’Orange’s last several releases have been collaborations with some incredible underground rappers, including Imaginary Everything with Namir Blade that dropped earlier this year. He is also half of the duo Marlowe (along with emcee Solemn Brigham who just released a new album), who put out one of the best hip-hop albums released last year, Marlowe 2. But on “The World is Still Chaos But I Feel Better,” L’Orange lets the music speak for itself, orchestrating a musical journey through the unease of our current world and peppering his brief but hard hitting tracks with spoken word snippets that offer encouragement such as “the world is still chaos, but I feel better when I’m surrounded with the people I love and who love me” (“Delonte Needed Help”) and “happiness is the byproduct of a purposeful life” (“I Don’t See You”).
He also does not shy away from the struggle, allowing his Marlowe-partner Solemn Brigham to throw in some of the other side of reality: “You know what, the world is still chaos but I don’t feel better, I’m just trying to survive.” I for one really appreciate the realism offered here, that within all of us there is the potential to experience the chaos around us with a sense of optimism or to acknowledge that we are having a difficult time and the best we can do right now is to just survive. As a firm believer that ‘toxic positivity’ does more harm than good, there is nothing wrong with a little honesty.
If you want to get a taste of the overall flavor of the album, be sure to check out “Delonte Needed Help” which is pure fire, chopping in some stuttered big band era brass and woodwinds in a way you’ve never heard before. Then do yourself a favor and listen to the whole album, several times if needed, and repeat after me: The world is still chaos, but I WILL feel better eventually. You can listen to “The World Is Still Chaos But I Feel Better” on all streaming platforms or on bandcamp, and follow him on Instagram and Facebook.