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New Album Review

Colaboyy- Prosthetic Boombox Album Review

This is an album from word-of-mouth only, so I don’t have a lot to go on. The context I can give you is that this is an R&B album, it has a warm nostalgic sheen to it, and that the artist is “A Comrade.” Beyond that, we’ll have to take the music on its own merits, so let’s talk about Neo-Soul for a moment.

Neo-Soul refers to exactly what you’d expect. If an R&B album features little to no rapping, dense retro instrumentation, and is mostly lyric-driven, chances are someone has called it Neo-Soul. If that definition sounds a little vague, it’s because it is, but in practice, the genre is more cohesive than you might expect. The scene started as a specific revival movement for 60s and 70s soul, before taking on a life of its own by incorporating more disco, Motown, and hip-hop stylings. The big mainstream moment for this style was in the late 90s when Lauren Hill, Erykah Badu, D’Angelo and Common took off. The commercial success of the style has waxed and waned over the years, but it has never really gone away. Recently, artists like Tyler, the Creator, Tierra Whack, Frank Ocean, and D’Angelo (again) have been making waves with the style.

Colaboyy is an artist in this tradition, but his musical influences have moved up 20 years, a move that actually took me off guard. Conventional Neo-Soul takes inspiration primarily from the classic soul era, especially the chill yet political work of Marvin Gaye. Colaboyy, by contrast, is stuck firmly in the 90s. He’s not copying 90s Neo-Soul, mind you, that would get a little recursive (Neo-Neo-Soul?), his influence comes from electro-disco and early 90s R&B, before the genre began margining with hip-hop. Boys 2 Men, Poison—this is a pretty fondly remembered era, so it’s cool to see an artist fuse it with a 70s disco aesthetic. He was also inspired by Latin funk according to his website, but this is something I personally struggled to hear in his latest album.

The album isn’t perfect, in fact, it’s a little lacking in cohesive songs, but, as I’m pretty sure my fellow kids are saying, the vibes are immaculate. Colaboyy isn’t trying to make “what’s going on” at the moment, he’s content to make an atmospheric and elegant album with some light political and social theming. It’s easy listening and can play in the background of literally any activity, so give it a shot.

By Delusional Melodrama

DJ and occasional contributor to the WKNC blog. Specializes in all music that sounds like a lawnmower swallowing a rock.