Straddling the line between classic hip-hop and early ’90s R&B can be a daunting task, as it takes an artist who has a certain lyrical awareness but can also play to the dense melodies that smooth out the harder lines of rap music. On past releases, Chattanooga musician Chacho has been able to straddle these musical ideologies without losing the strengths of either. He paints a compelling picture where elastic grooves wrap themselves loosely around raw emotional reverberations.
But then again, his music possesses a deeper awareness of the connections between these two genres than any simple label might indicate. He doesn’t rely on the strengths of one to offset any perceived weaknesses of the other—through his music, he reveals a detailed understanding of how these two aesthetics are fiercely intertwined, linked by experience and history. And he uses these musical associations to highlight both the innate similarities and brazen differences in how each approaches their respective work.
On his latest single, “Pepto,” Chacho messes around with a stark beat that shudders in space, echoing out into that vast emptiness. Braced against the steady flow of his voice, the music crawls and crouches in the shadows, waiting to leap forward at anything that happens to come along. It’s a dense and foreboding sound, as if the darkness were a living, breathing thing that would casually swallow you for just stopping to pay attention to its austere features.
Produced by BricksOnDaBeat, the track reveals that you can produce a minimalist sound without sacrificing the inherent gravity of the music. With some slightly wobbly vibes haunting the background of the song, the beat maintains a stomping momentum, one that doesn’t retreat or alter its trajectory as the song progresses. Chacho seems to be comfortable weaving through these sounds, and it’s a testament to his abilities (and that of his producer) that “Pepto” never feels disjointed or weightless—it’s a weighted, striking look at the shared musical foundations that these genres share.
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.