With his habit of playing around with some of the newer ideas in hip-hop, it’s unsurprising that Slugabed eventually decided to try his hand in the trap game. With his awareness of functional and captivating sounds under hip-hop’s wide umbrella, it’s also unsurprising that the aesthetic he aims for with “DO U C ME THO” seems to borrow a bit from TNGHT’s “Higher Ground” horn worship. Despite the use of these aggressive sounds, Slugabed never lets go of the hovering, airy synths that last year’s Time Team
displayed so prominently, which fortunately allows some of his charm to show through in the mix. Elsewhere, it’s hard to find. Combining the heavy impact of the horns with his lighter synth style runs the obvious risk of creating a track that fails to hit aggressively but is too functional to leave room for the lighter synth work, landing tepidly somewhere in the middle. But fortunately, Slugabed keeps one calculated hand on either style throughout the 2-track EP, and while he does sacrifice a bit of the relentless aggression that the tracks’ make-up could otherwise capitalize on, he manages to control both aspects of the sound fairly well. The result is a work that appeals on various levels, even if “DO U C ME THO”’s fittingly light whistling leads in the second half harken back to some of trap’s more gimmicky productions, which unfortunately raises the question of whether or not Slugabed is imitating producers far less talented and creative than himself.
On the flip side of things, “U RIGHT” is similarly split between the dancefloor tie-ins of rhythmic horn play and Slugabed atmospherics, though its more aggressive sections owe themselves more to grime than anything else. “U RIGHT” overall feels a bit more like Slugabed exploring the possibilities of the styles he’s playing with, and in doing so it feels slightly less formulaic. There’s still a very noticeable lack of much of the defining characteristics from Slugabed’s most memorable output, but at the track’s peak it still hits hard, though it’s also undeniably less focused than “DO U C ME THO”.
Taken at face value, DO U C ME THO / U RIGHT
is without a doubt an entertaining release, but it’s hard not to look at some of Slugabed’s earlier work and think that he’s dropping his own unique style and character for something more generic. It’s difficult to come down hard on the music here considering that both tracks, for the most part, accomplish what they set out to do. They’re fairly easy to enjoy, but they do very little to carve out their own style or really even remain memorable after initial listens. If these were the early works of a young producer, it would be easy to enjoy the positive qualities found here. However, for a producer like Slugabed, who proved early on in his career with tracks like “Quantum Leap” and “Gotyamoney” that he’s capable of accomplishing everything here using much more unique and inventive styles, it’s hard to look at this as anything other than a producer who is loaded with potential setting the bar much too low. Fun, yes. Creative, no.