Despite living in Memphis, Tennessee for the entirety of his early and teenage years, there exists a geographically ambiguous quality to rapper/singer Trey Graves’ music. This might have something to do with his brief stint at Berklee College of Music, where he spent time both perfecting the technical aspects of his artistry and intermingling with students from around the world who had unique styles of their own.
What resulted from this incubation period was a fully-fledged artist.
While his music lacks that drawl stereotypically associated with southern acts, Graves instead delivers verses in a manner that comes across just as lax as it does emphatic; backed by infectious, The Internet-esque choruses and offbeat, yet transfixing bass lines that take a page straight out of Thundercat’s notebook, Graves’ music has a feel good sound perfectly suited for warmer weather.
Taking into consideration the increasingly idiosyncratic weather of Spring, Summer now seems to symbolize new beginnings, new adventures, new hobbies, and newfound love.
And summer love is tentative at first, before growing all-consuming, if only for a short while. Yet as each humid, sunny day blends into one hazy season, those fleeting moments begin to feel like a lifetime worth of memories.
Summer love is like an odyssey, a journey of emotions that Graves has managed to capture to near perfection on his debut album, drft.
The opening track, “on my mind.,” portrays love’s humble beginnings as infatuation. Over an erratic, punchy beat – think that of Isaiah Rashad – Graves croons his devotion to his love, proclaiming that he’s “down, always down if you feel the same way” while acknowledging that there is no guarantee that their relationship may progress beyond this initial attraction.
He gets into the topic further on the subsequent track, “ff.” Or, as he sings it, “fight, fuck, (and then make up).”
Here Graves and collaborator Lil elaborate on some of the potential pitfalls of a new couple – the relationship moving too quickly, or an inability to communicate. But when the fighting’s over, the duo can’t help but find themselves, as Lil describes, “on [their] backs” to then proceed to… well, give it a listen and you’ll catch my drift.
The album’s tempo picks up significantly on “new thang.,” as Graves’ true rapping abilities are revealed. Over a slinking, slithering bass line and rattling hi hats, it has the braggadocious, exuberant feel you’d expect from someone who’s recently found love and wants everyone to know it.
The buzz is very short lived however as Graves returns to form on both the title track, and “watuwannado?,” which compares his relationship to a dream, or “a cloud that they’ve been drifting on.”
Because while Graves excels on these breezy, easygoing songs, they appear in abundance and potentially overwhelm the album’s small track listing.
For this reason “special interlude’s” sudden appearance feels heaven sent; the hypnotizing chant of “all my life I know this is real, is that right?” on the song’s refrain provides that last burst of energy the album needed before transitioning into its closer, “feelwutifeel.,” where Graves reminds his lover once again that “if you grow with me, baby we could be something special.”
That line is meant to be taken literally: ultimately Graves’ proclamations mean nothing if his lover does not reciprocate his feelings. That being said, Graves rapping “I know you feel it baby” over a celebratory bass line suggests that the feelings are mutual.
drft. is an album that exudes warmth and vitality characteristic of summer months, and what it lacks in sonic variety, Graves makes up for by capturing the exciting purity of summer love. And that is enough to make it a worthwhile listen.
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