Slauson Malone is best known for his work in the New York collective, Standing On the Corner, who were featured on the recent Earl Sweatshirt album, and who also released their second album RED BURNS in 2017. With his debut project, one can see the amount of creative influence he has in the group. However, A Quiet Farewell is at the same time a completely different ballpark. With this project, Slauson Malone paints an intimate and gripping picture of a man trapped in an unjust reality.
Slauson Malone makes it pretty obvious that injustice towards black people was a huge thinking point when creating this album in a statement he released on his social media describing the album. He states that he confronts his emotions caused by white supremacy, global warming, black suffering, and more. A lot of the song titles contain different dates throughout history—all moments of black suffering (i.e. unjust murders of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, and more). There is also plenty of personal sorrow being addressed. A common lyric throughout the album is the phrase “smile at the past when I see it.” Slauson Malone said in reference to the repeating lyric, “I became obsessed with its implications and lack thereof.” All of this combined makes an extremely thoughtful and purposeful album.
Besides the considerate thematic elements of the writing, the production of this project is by far the most impressive part. Each track seems to get better than the last, and they work well with the topics Slauson Malone wants to address. One example is the closing track “Two Thousand Eighteen, Bye” which has a slow, somber, and contemplative mood, contrasted by the frantic fluctuations of the beat, all of which evokes a sense of fear and desperateness. It reminds one of a panic-attack driven by sheer paranoia. A lot of the sampling done throughout the project come from older jazz and soul songs. Most of the songs have a very minimal frame, but are complimented by the distortion and fragmentation of the production. The simple bass line and piano melody on “08/09/14, Smile #1” is all that is needed for this uplifting track, where guest Caleb Giles proudly shouts “I need what I need!” His performance along with all the other features, including Medhane, Pink Siifu, Maxo, and even more, are all stellar.
With all this in mind, it feels both refreshing and inspiring to see a project with a lot of thought and care behind it. Slauson Malone said he hopes this album “proves existence is possible between the World’s plates of definition. To claim, that nowhere is a where. And Being is and can be beyond what I/we/they say it is.” A Quiet Farewell shows us someone who has portrayed the complexity of the human condition in a realistic and genuine way, and it’s unmitigated versatility is something that goes beyond hip-hop.
Recommended If You Like: Standing On the Corner, Earl Sweatshirt, Madlib
Recommended Tracks: 6 (King Sisyphus of the Atlantic), 15 (Off Me! “The Wake” Pt. 1 & 2), 20 (Two Thousand Eighteen, Bye)
Do Not Play: None
Written by Griffin Lowry on 05/02/2019