Very few artists are as well named as AJ Suede. I made the mistake, the first time I heard him on 2020’s Knowhatimean, of assessing him as an artist matching his smooth delivery to drumless (or drum-lite) underground beats. A lot of artists are particularly good at something and dig into that niche, making incremental progress over time within the same space. The good news for me: Suede is active. Avada Kedavra is Suede’s fourth release of the year on top of some great features (Joel Osteen on Premrock’s-Load Bearing Crow’s Feet). It turns out while his flow is smooth it’s nimble and durable on a level I’m just coming to understand.
The ten songs on Avada Kedavra are completely produced by Suede. The heavy headphone rattling boom bap and well chopped loop on Nebbuchadnezzar run completely counter to what I thought Suede was last year. He even ends the song with “Did it again, dropped another classic but better, give it a ten if your using numbers to measure.” Somehow his cadence and pronunciation make better rhyme with measure…which doesn’t even make sense. On the microphone Suede is like a new player to the league scoring over vets with tricks. How he got tricks already?!
Double Triple is a great example of the power of unexpected punchlines. You go from chicken sandwiches to 1986 Metallica and he even says “Why you talking to a eagle you a pigeon?” Psilocybin has a real bounce to it and his voice finds it easily. For two minutes and seventeen seconds he moves at a trap pace over a soulful beat with similar movement and does so while making every word clear. Did I mention I get Suede and Fatboi Sharif on Voodoo Tactics? Another superb sample with guitar for tension. Sharif is so ill he never worries about stealing the show, just flavoring the collaboration with his giant voice and a guest verse as Suede bars out the rest.
As a project Avada Kedavra isn’t his masterpiece but it’s a new ceiling without question. The first thing I think of when I see this album cover is Chronovisor. It’s everything I wasn’t sure he could do. The beat is giant sized with strings drums and knocking bass. Smooth voices can get drowned out when the sonics behind them get too big but on Chronovisor you can’t possibly miss him. Right off the bat the space time continuum is unraveling and he is still styling on you. From Catholic priests to Farrakhan talking about the mothership he leads and makes it sound EASY. It takes a while to realize that none of this was. That the calm you hear in his voice is purposeful, it is his center but that doesn’t mean he won’t grow in different directions from it. I have no concerns now, no idea how good he can be. Knowing that Suede can sound as good over big drums as he can over light horn samples that even though he is prolific he’s never going to be careless means I can just watch him become even better. I get to watch the work he’s put into the craft internalize, become second nature. On the last song when he brags about one-taking Mind Heavy you feel it. He’s not just happy he hit that shot, he feels like you can’t stop him when he takes that shot. The confidence is earned.
Buy Avada Kedavra here.