Within the wide expanse that is Chattanooga's hip-hop scene, artists approach their respective influences from a variety of angles. Boom bap, trap and bounce are explored through a combination of barbed lyrical asides and layered musical experimentation, but it's the earnest honesty that local musicians invest these sounds with that sets them apart from so many other artists who can imitate the noise but not the emotion. Among those who can extract the depth of inspiration and caustic feeling inherent to these beat-driven rhythms is Trueyy Hendrix (AKA Brandon Jackson), whose vision for Southern hip-hop is as amorphous as the foundations of the genre itself.
On his new song, "Ain't Gotta Flex," he teams up with Cinematic to create a trap-influenced landscape where vocals hover menacingly in the air while dense synths and echoing beats lay out the path for the song. Melodies are chopped up and rearranged on the track, a complex burst of shadowy intentions and evaporating rhythms that speak for themselves without relying on the strengths of their assorted influences. For those who don't understand its relevance and motivations, hip-hop can be bland, filled with empty promises and attitudes, but for Hendrix, it's a wide collection of experiences and emotions that can be dissected to help further his own musical needs.
There's a tendency to look at any sort of voice alteration as some kind of cop-out, a cover-up for a weak voice. But Hendrix's voice isn't so much molded by the shift in sound as it is treated as just another instrument to be reshaped however he sees fit. Cinematic's deft vocal counterpoint highlights both the elasticity and compatibility of these two artists and their individual musical outlooks. Together, they build a substantial rhythmic environment that draws out the excitable momentum that spills over from their collective creativity. "Ain't Gotta Flex" is equal parts boast, plea and self-realization—not bad for a song that barely hits the three-minute mark.
Joshua Pickard covers local and national music, film and other aspects of pop culture. You can contact him on Facebook, Twitter or by email. The opinions expressed in this column belong solely to the author, not Nooga.com or its employees.