Lance Skiiiwalker has a sweet setup. He’s on arguably the hottest rap label around, Top Dawg Entertainment; an establishment where artists have the freedom of expression without being forced to pander to mainstream sensibilities. The Chicago-born Skiiiwalker has taken that freedom to heart and then some on his debut album, Introverted Intuition, which is a flawed but intriguing foray into abstract soul over a futuristic soundscape.
A hodgepodge of sounds takes center stage through intricate placeholders within the album. B. New’s strings on “Lover’s Lane” add sophistication to Skiiiwalker’s calls of love to an anonymous woman. The carefree whistling on “Advantage” provides a happy feel fit for a lazy rainy day. And O’bonjour and Taebeast’s “Could It Be” is a low-key trip to outer space while Lance muses over love. Each time, the music creates an untethered environment for Skiiiwalker to reign free with airy vocals. Sometimes, the ahead-of-its-time vibe also produces disjointed sounds. The buzzing on “Forbidden Fruit” is particularly jolting. The cringe-worthy dial-up internet sounds that recur on “Stockholm” will have the listener counting high-speed connection as a blessing. More often than not, though, Skiiiwalker’s backdrop is pleasantly breezy.
With the thoughts of women on his mind, Introverted Intuition allows for thoughtful romanticism to be the underlying theme. He skinny-dips with a lady-friend on “Could It Be,” creating a nostalgic feel of simpler times. That futuristic soundbed and his tales hearken back to teenage sentiments only makes the song that much more intriguing. “Speed” finds him on one in the midst of an ecstatic night of partying, but when it’s over, his clarity shines through. “So when I’m clean and sober, all I see is you/And when the party is over, I start again with you.” The grounded sentiment is a breath of fresh air on such an astral-fueled record. Skiiiwalker may cold rock a party, but he’s a lover at heart.
Then, there are the moments when Skiiwalker’s abstract ways backfire. Four skits that find Lance playing the role of a radio DJ are both obnoxious and unoriginal and do nothing to add to the album’s theme. It’s unclear if he was attempting comedy, but if he was, color him a failure in that department. His voice distortion techniques are also hit or miss; as he works to wonder alongside label-mate ScHoolboy Q on “Toaster,” but creating a bloated ear-sore on “Forbidden Fruit.” These flaws stick out like a sore thumb and put a damper on Introverted Intuition’s quality and eventual replay value.
Regardless of his artistic shortcomings, Skiiiwalker sounds like nothing else out there. He fearlessly puts his heart on his sleeve both lyrically and musically, and his vulnerability is commendable. Despite its moments of befuddlement and failed experimentation, Introverted Intuition is a vivid look into the soul of a true artist.