BEST NEW INDIE POP: BUSU - DO 2 MUCH
Stylish Stockholm rapper Busu blends pop-punk and hip-hop, in a surprisingly effective blend.
At first glance, emo punk and hip-hop don't have much in common. One comes from the rough streets of the inner city. The other comes from the hermetically-sealed suburbs. One features low-slung, sluggish beats. The other features chipmunk-fast, hyper-frenetic cheese grater guitars. One is highly sexual. The other tends to be highly sexless.
Peel off the surface, however, and you might find more in common between pop punk and hip-hop. They're both about people, usually young people, trying to find their place in the world. They're both the soundtrack of fighting for equality, of standing up for what you believe in. They're both the soundtrack of struggles, both personal and political.
Pop punk and hip-hop come together in Busu's banging new single, "Do 2 Much," but you have to really squint to identify the punkish influence. It's more of an attitude, an unwillingness to compromise, which has defined the young Stockholm rapper from the very start. "Always wanted to do stuff mine and the gang's way, you know," he told Pigeons and Planes back in 2016.
Mixing genres is always a risky affair. It's like gene-splicing. You can create a wonder of nature, or a crime against humanity. Both emo and modern Top 40 hip-hop have more than their fair share of weaknesses which could come out like recessive genes, in the splicing. Praise be to the heavens, "Do 2 Much" is a successful experiment. It's short on the whining and heavy on the idiosyncratic "don't give a toss" attitude.
BUSU - DO 2 MUCH
"Do 2 Much" is built around a twanging, scrawny, nearly post-punk guitar, spiralling like a coiled spring over one of the most subwoofer shredding sub-bass beats We Are: The Guard have heard so far this year. "Do 2 Much"'s eclecticism and strange sound pallet make it a solid win, a stunning new reformation of various underground styles.
Busu's biggest takeaway from punk music seems to be songwriting instincts. Modern hip-hop, especially Trap Music, leans heavily towards intense repetition, which can sometimes be compellingly hypnotic but can also just as easily signify a lack of message. On the contrary, songwriting encourages musicians to dabbly in structures, to add and subtract and tell a tale.
Those little touches are subtle but present in "Do 2 Much". Handclaps rise and fall, seemingly at random but perfectly placed when you really dig into it. Squiggling synths arise like a fever dream, but if this is infection, who would want to be well?
We Are: The Guard absolutely cannot wait to see what this talented rapper and tastemaker delivers next! The best of the underground, and some of the finest Swedish music of the year!
J. Simpson occupies the intersection between criticism, creativity, and academia. Based out of Portland, Or., he is the author of Forestpunk, an online journal/brand studying the traces of horror, supernatural, and the occult through music, fashion and culture. He plays in the dreamfolk band Meta-Pinnacle with his partner Lily H. Valentine, with whom he also co-founded Bitstar Productions, a visual arts collective focused on elevating Pop Culture to High Art.