Rx Papi and Gud
Foreign Exchange



by PumpBoffBag USER (95 Reviews)
January 25th, 2023 | 4 replies

Release Date: 2021 | Tracklist

Review Summary: I walk in this bitch, chopped and screwed

The pairing of Swedish pop producer Gud and NY hip-hop icon Rx Papi is a truly bizarre one on paper. Although their styles have certainly overlapped on occasion throughout the course of their respective careers, the accessibility vs. marketability element should have seemed so ill-advised, particularly considering the individual caché of both artists. Despite the underlying peculiarity of the match-up, however, Foreign Exchange is a thing of beauty. The sheer audacity of this bite-size chunk of precise, intriguing and creative hip-hop is so satisfyingly fluid that every single facet feels cohesive and complementary, without becoming heavy under the weight of some of the more unusual choices in direction. Considering the musicians at the heart of this project, that's quite a feat.

The juxtaposition of the thick, abrasive lyricism (both in terms of tone and content) and the synth-heavy, moody melodies serving as beats create a whirlpool of tremulous hip-hop renderings; eight glossy, harmonious showstoppers that glide by like a tinted Sedan. Not a single instrumental on the release feels typical, employing a range of percussive effects like claps, rim shots, chimes and hi-hats, occasionally cowled by surging bass rhythm that thrums with intent. These foreground metronomes are backed by elaborate, contorting electronic loops that seem to develop as organically as the rhymes the accompany. Opener '12 Stout Street' demonstrates a fractal pairing of this dichotomy, as the use of a simple melody is accented by the hum of sustain on every note, allowing Rx's delivery of his bitter, personal lyrics to escalate, spiral, and then simmer accordingly. The effect is wonderfully off-kilter yet gives the impression of the component pieces being almost symbiotic in how they clash yet never collide. The lyrics themselves are a veritable crash course of criminal brags and drug-fuelled mischief, interspersed by allusions to legal issues and aspirations. These themes are certainly nothing new, but it is the moments of personal reflection and epiphany that encapsulate the experience as not only an exaggerated memoir, but a template for emotional realisation. This, coupled with the unconventional musical style creates an eccentric sense to Rx's character that transcends the fairly common themes and allows for an introspection seldom seen on releases focussing on such concerns, criminal fetishization et al.

'Teflon Don', with its gentle opening keys and increasingly breathless flow is a ruthless and classically 'gangsta' ode to ambition and status, lent a sombre poignance by the delicate chiming of the instrumental and the steady reverb of the thunderous bass. The production seems to almost emphasise the rapping as a factor within the music itself, rather than an addition to the forefront of the sound. This renders the themes and ideas an almost ethereal reverence and even dips a toe into the realm of 'unreliable narration', if the listener is so inclined to read the collection that way. Whilst this may not be the most realistic analysis, the duology of such hard-hitting concepts and such an otherwordly, floaty sound create an uncomfortably ambiguous undertone that's as vital to the listening experience itself as any of the face-value subject matter. In much the same way, sister piece to the aforementioned track, 'Albino Steve' employs a particular technique seen elsewhere on the album, but nowhere else is it as pronounced; overlapping bars. The vocal lines intersect each other as though Rx is arguing with himself, or finishing his own sentences through a second persona. This production choice truly solidifies the intangibility factor, but also creates a frantic, hopeless discord as though the artist is desperately trying to convince himself of his own words. It's kinetic, lucid, and even disturbing to a degree.

The journey through Foreign Exchange doesn't follow a clear-cut path, but serves as a series of asides and externalised thoughts that plague, fascinate or seduce to varying degrees. Whether through the relatively simple yet vicious 'Still In Da Hood', or the warped synths and suggestion of hope on 'Rahkel', the collection always has something meaningful to say. Sometimes these statements aren't with definite clarity, and sometimes their projection and transparency are obscured by the cloudiness of the instrumental choices, but this confluence of aesthetics form a tenacious and intricately weaved whole that takes a unique slant on flows and a breezy style of trap-influenced pop, before blending them into a brisk and emotive twenty minutes of polished refinement. 'Liar', the final track, is the perfect conclusion to Foreign Exchange in many respects, not least because of its earworm hook, but perhaps most because of its final line; 'I walk in this bitch, I don't want to.' A reworking of bars heard found earlier in the album where Rx compares himself to prominent crime figures- now the declaration is a noncommittal statement of intent and revelatory wilting; a context-heavy backtrack where the protagonist now feels weight, repercussion and self-awareness. It's a sober ending and an ideal parting shot for a brief musical saga that offsets braggadocios posturing with earnest emotionality- in this simple closing line, both ego and conscience present themselves for a final curtain call.

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user ratings (25)

Comments:Add a Comment 
January 25th 2023


Album Rating: 4.5

c/c much appreciated as always, and thanks for reading

January 25th 2023


Album Rating: 4.5

hell yea brother

January 25th 2023


oh shit some Rx love on here. Very nice. Great review!

January 25th 2023


Album Rating: 4.5


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