For all its bass and bounce, hip-hop is centered not around the club but around personal experience, the kind of intimate revelations that can happen at any moment—yes, even at the club. But there’s no limit to how an artist can approach their own history through this mass of blanketing bass lines, rumbling beats and elastic lyricism; hip-hop is forged from an expansive and freeform musicality, resulting in an impressionistic landscape where music twists in an effort to redefine its own expectations.
It can sometimes be difficult for musicians to find their place within this broad musical environment, filled with labyrinthine rhythms and cascading lyrical melodies. But for Chattanooga mainstay Cinematic, the genre is welcoming and open for refining—there’s no single course of action, and influences are bent and reshaped depending on what inspiration they might serve. Melding the liquid grooves and attention to melody that has become a hallmark of modern R&B with the brash poetics of classic rap music, he’s developed a sound that’s as reverent as it is relevant.
On his latest mixtape, “Game of Thrones: Rise of the Dark Prince,” he employs the services of artists such as JaboTwoCrunk, Barti, Brazil, Trap Demon, Koyz, CD7, ManMan, Jay Kenz and 808 Plugg to create an environment where rap and R&B support one another, adopting aspects of the other to build a coherent vision where Cinematic guides each track to its unpredictable conclusion. These songs (some previously released, some new) are all evidence that he’s well-aware of the established connections between these musical ideologies and is well-versed in how best to build on their combined strengths.
There’s both a light and dark side to his work, with tracks such as “Righteous” and “Whoadie” revealing a wide thematic spectrum, a musical range that can trace the shadows as well as it can the last evening rays of sunlight. Regardless of the track’s swagger or intent, Cinematic never forgets the underlying structure that has to be in place to support the weight of his creativity. He’s managed to subvert our expectations time after time with the help of some truly talented musical collaborators. And with this mixtape, he’s once again positioned himself as a leading figure in Chattanooga’s ever-expanding hip-hop scene.
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.