Photographed by @johndot.one on Instagram
On May 16th, The NYC-based rapper Orrin released his self-titled album. On it, he comes with a compilation of egotism, catchy hooks, clever wordplay, subtle wisdom, and a touch of debauchery.
The album is weaved together by Warren Wolfe’s production, which is atmospheric but present at the same time. Orrin’s delivery and flow are never boring — He’s bouncing between monotonic rapping, soulful singing, and baby voice rapping.
The album’s cover, designed by the 3D visual artist @ned.stasio on Instagram, invokes the aesthetic themes of cyberpunk. This biotechnological rendition of Orrin might be an expression of his thoughts on singularity. It may be saying that he’s one with the digital age, not hindered by its overarching ADHD and superficiality, but enhanced by it. His braggadocious energy points more toward the latter.
As a rapper, he’s multidimensional and indefinable. Labels roll off of him. If you immerse yourself in his discography, you’ll find that he can be cute and romantic, morbid and depraved, or ignorantly self-assured. This is a contemporary phenomenon — existing in post-post-modernity is to be everything at once, a jack of many trades. It’s a frenzy, and Orrin depicts the freelance rapper’s life with vividity.
His multi-dimensionality speaks to his level of awareness: what he’s doing isn’t autonomic. While he’s musically raw and expressive – Orrin has a larger vision and message imbued in his art. He knows what he’s doing.
VICE’s i-D pointed out that his video for “System Control,” illegally shot in the MET, was a middle finger to their exclusionary, classist/racist pricing. Noisey discovered that his video for “Vampire” was an ode to the existential anxiety of the digital age — how it’s affecting our humanity and communication. Orrin has spoken to beats 1, Busy Works, and other podcasts/publications discussing these worldly conundrums. And his newest, self-titled album is another exhibition of his affinity for abstraction.
“Orrin” is donned with playful bangers that are contrasted by relieving, emotive songs. It feels like Orrin is fleshing out his emotional cycles on the album, like a very well translated expression of his mind’s motions. At one moment, he’s confidently rapping lines like “Step in the building / I walk in the room and all the eyes on me,” then he’s rapping about heartbreak.
Throughout the album, the songs ping pong between two emotional extremes. The first two songs are straight party tracks, and as the second song fades out, the album immerses you in the warmth of an electric piano on “By My Side.” Here, Orrin sings about a lost love. System control brings us back to the party, a kind of rising from the ashes, and the album follows this pattern. The more emotive tracks are like emotional laxatives for Orrin, where we come back harder on the party songs with faster, grittier beats.
Orrin’s wisdom breaks through on “Fear,” where the chorus states “You gotta face your fears,” and “Smoking kush and popping pills will make you fail.” Advocating for a mature stance on life and personal growth, all expressed through the sonic/lyrical palette of trap rap, is a bit of a contradiction. Many (annoying) rap purists denigrate the trap genre as ignant, calling contemporary rappers pillheads and empty vessels, where kush and pills are the fuel of their genre. But Orrin occupies the indie rap space differently — he’s unapologetically honest towards it.
There’s a dualism to Orrin — he keeps everything bouncy, but behind the music, there’s a serious face with serious ideas. Referring to his i-D VICE interview on the video for System Control, he states: “When you listen to the track you’re like, ‘wow, this is dope, I can bump this at a party,’” he says. “But then you watch the video and it’s like, oh, there’s actually a greater purpose behind these lyrics, they’re meant to make fun of some of the hip-hop tropes that we see.”
Overall, his music and videos display a deep aesthetic consciousness, with an ability to move between visual styles that depict the essence of his varying sounds.