by Big Flowers
In a single word this album is hair. More on that later.
In several words, .dev/Pink Navel is an icon for a turbulently prevalent philosophy: to normalize something it must be radicalized first. Not in a dichotomy, but a stark opposition, normal directly contradicts radical, with moderation as the arbiter of the court of “good” music. What .dev embodies to me is the new normal. A year and some change after the world stood still in front of a galactic mirror, normal was defined in a way more immediate than ever seen before. Everyone was finally paying attention to everyone else. Black liberation, intersectionality, gender being de-binarized (if I may) were all shoved to the surface. Voices were heard that could never break through the cacophony of the global gears. In certain times there are certain individuals that deliver a voice for a certain diaspora. For the previously radicalized, enter .dev, suddenly normal, infinitely epic.
What strikes me as another juxtaposition to the normalcy within this project is its delivery. This album is transparently live. Front to back a single performance. Live albums have been done before, but this is the first I’ve heard since the radicalization of live events, and the concurrent normalization of live-streamed bedroom concerts. Again, it took the stark contrast of one month to the next. Yes, shows are coming back, but going back to shows the way we knew is not normal. It’s a good thing I can be on Central Ave, cities away from the young brilliance, but still smell the beer stains near where he’s been around family. This is a slice of Pink Navel, the one you would have gotten from an artist at a show, but can’t anymore, times have changed.
The final juxtaposition to the philosophy that this project embodies to me is its composition. In a release landscape boasting project after project on a seemingly hourly basis, each one with its own legacy, lore, the whole 9, you’d expect radicalism would be what breaks through the noise. In cases, sure, and in some other Ruby Yacht cases, most definitely. This paper was a product of Pink Navel and an SP…live from their home studio, I assume. Realize the normalcy in that. Now think about the radical nature of what some of their close contemporaries perform. Among the crop of the cutting edge, .dev separates himself not by being just as radical, but by being radically normal. A home recording of raps over a 404 reads like a tweet caption more than an album nowadays but among the kaleidoscopic topography of Ruby Yacht, it’s .devs seemingly normal approach to an album that strikes as the most radical.
Sonically, the crust of every upstate pop punk dive bar venue holds hands with the gutter that boom bap was drained into, as they dance through the bonus level of an unnecessarily hard 80’s game, the kind before we knew anything about game design. Lyrically, .dev is hyper specific, deconstructive, but all in pursuit of the greater meaning: reductionism for the sake of reaching a meta.
The one line from the opening track I planned on quoting is the follow up to my opening point: “cutting off my hair, maybe that’s the motive.” .dev has some serious hair. I know this line was said somewhat facetiously but there’s gravity to the potential it creates. I’m sure .dev’s circle somewhat and inadvertently associate them with their hair. It’s radical hair, but it’s normal for them. Shave it, so goes the normalcy. While buzz cuts are so normal, it would be radical, we’re used to a fuzzy navel. With clippers in hand, EPIC cleaves radicalism and normalcy, making a wig for a rainy bald day. Normalcy should be as fluid as gender, as should music: angenreny [androgyny+genre]. A non-binary black rapper should not be radical to you. From the outside you may want Pink Navel to seem strange, but they are endearingly so normal for these new times.
Stream then buy EPIC below: