It will always be difficult for rappers who populate well-established subgenres to stand out from their peers. Devin the Dude achieved cult status as the OG thoughtful stoner, and a host of flow-easy MCs such as Dizzy Wright and Curren$y have carried the torch.
Price and Oktane, who make up Audio Push, also ascribe to this style but have carved out their own identity. Their latest album, Cloud 909, endearingly combines their after-hours musings and accessible crooning for a fun-yet-sophisticated vibe.
Newly minted Still Movin-affiliates Audio Push are a healthy mix of Dizzy Wright and THEY. The duo’s versatility allows it to be introspective and zoned-out, peaceful and aggressive, and hopeful and melancholy. The prime example of Audio Push’s flexibility is “Status,” the Eric Bellinger-assisted joint that is a millennial’s delight. The song features rainy-day piano keys fit for a jazz lounge but also benefits from Oktane’s smooth vocals on the hook. Even though they’ve been in the game for years, Price and Oktane maintain a youthful exuberance that balances their carefree demeanors.
That’s not to say that they’re akin to smartphone addicts. Actually, Price and Oktane are wise beyond their years. “Honda” is at-once silly and profound, with whimsical guitar licks to accentuate the feel. Oktane elicits humor on the hook by explaining, “I drive a Honda, ‘cause life can get a little wild” before singing “I hope you enjoy yourself.” Meanwhile, Price reflects on his days as a youngin’ before wittily asserting his value: “They named me Price for a reason, ‘cause I don’t let ‘em play me cheap.” There’s a sense that they understand not only their worth, but the worth of all people, and this self-awareness and positivity enlightens Cloud 909 with a bright spirit.
Brevity can be a rapper’s best friend or his worst enemy, but lengthy albums almost always have drawbacks. Cloud 909 is 18 tracks, and while there are no real duds, a few of the songs should have been left on the MacBook for a more focused effort. “Bye” is breezy and “Silver and Gold” is effortlessly chest-thumping, but neither add much to the overall product. And while Audio Push has a sense of uniqueness, there are times the duo falls prey to trends. “No Bad Days” and “Sanctified” would have been gems, but their hooks are marred by rushed, choppy flows akin to Big Sean on “Moves.” Still, these flaws do little to bog down the overall excellence of the album, which remains groovy even in its missteps.
It’s hard to predict where Audio Push will go from here. Fan-favorites can easily slide into complacency out of loyalty to the familiar sound their followers covet. Regardless of what’s next, Cloud 909 remains a fresh take on life, and a reminder not to take it too seriously.