Album Review by: Sam Orley
Theophilus London’s second album, Vibes, is shattering the grounds for the standards of a modern day rap album. The 12 track project was officially released on November 4th, but it is already making serious noise across the globe. Theophilus was born in Trinidad, raised in Brooklyn, but delivers a sound that fuses those hip-hop roots with euro-pop and Motown influences. Bending all boundaries, the album is unwilling to be defined by a single genre. For lack of a better word, the vibes given off on this album encourages one to get up and dance. On “Heartbreaker”, a futuristic and erotic ballad, he declares, “When I dip, you dip, we dip / I’m on my guac and salsa shit.” Theo, simply put, brought the funk.
Vibes significantly differs from Theophilus’ past works. The intimate feel of production stands out and weaves together the sounds of new-wave and R&B, as well as topics like love and death. According to London, the album was dedicated to his Aunt who passed away a year ago. “Water Me,” the 1st of 12 tracks, speaks on not only death and morality, but also on blossoming growth as an individual. According to a recent interview with Elle, “Vibes is super spiritual foundation of where [Theophilus] grew.”
London is no stranger to growth. This more mature artist seems to have a better grip of his style. Having Kanye West as a mentor and Executive Producer of the album surely doesn’t hurt either. Whether you love him passionately or despise his arrogance, Kanye adds publicity to anything he is a part of and remains a creative mastermind behind a soundboard. ‘Ye is featured on the album’s 4th track “Can’t Stop,” which is a grand slam. Kanye erupts by ending his verse with “We smokin’ indo outdoor, in Palo Alto / If this party ain’t got hoes, my intro’s my outro.” If Kanye did not add enough cultural clout to the project, Karl Lagerfeld provided the album’s art direction and the album cover. Legendary Detroiter, musician, and songwriter, Leon Ware graces my personal favorite track “Need Somebody”. “Need Somebody” is laced with an ebullient chorus and represents an outstretched hand that is not only reaching for girls to arouse, but also for people to inspire. Jesse Boykins III, a dear friend of Theo, is featured on “Tribe,” the album’s 2nd single, which is a groovy plea to always show love.
In 2011, Theophilus released “Timez Are Weird These Days.” At the time, he had a hipster-rapper reputation which made him seem more concerned with his personal image than the quality of the music he was making. Today, he is globetrotting: party hopping with the Been Trill crew, sitting front row at Paris Fashion Week, and seemingly being everywhere you want to be and with everyone you want to know. Vibes has firmly established his newfound notoriety, which is unfazed by boundaries, borders, or bad spirits. As a whole, the album has a confident, uplifting emotion that promotes love, making love, and dancing. To quote “Get Me Right,” “Bad boy is back, back in town. / Bow down now.”
See the music video for “Tribe”:
Album Rating: 8/10