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Killer Bee ‘Irl’

Olivia here. Since I first clapped eyes on Pokémon when I was around 5 or 6, I’ve conducted a bit of a secret love affair with anime and manga. It started out with a few comic books here and there, rented from my local library, the odd figurine purchased from Forbidden Planet, a few badly dubbed episodes of Death Note streamed on Youtube after school. It was after attending a couple of comic book conventions that I started to shy away from the whole subculture – my thirteen year old self horrified at the prospect of being considered nerdy or in anyway uncool. It wasn’t until relatively recently that I started enjoying anime again, especially since Netflix have made it so much easier to stream shows you would have been forced to watch in 8 minute segments on Youtube not so long ago. Happily for me, it’s now kind of cool to be into that kind of thing, especially with the adoption of Japanese iconography by underground music genres like Vaporwave and more recently by lo-fi hip hop (although don’t get me wrong, people who listen to this kind of music are almost definitely closet nerds). Lo-fi hip hop is intriguing in this way – juxtaposing all things ‘nerd’, including anime, 80’s computer games, VHS,  and old TV shows with hip hop, which is a decidedly ‘cool’ music genre. Just search for lo-fi hip hop on Youtube, and the first page is saturated with music cut to anime videos. Indications of traditional binary descriptors (cool/uncool) becoming more blurred is furthered by the genre’s popularity on geek havens like Reddit, whilst also being assimilated into the mainstream, with more and more hip hop artists experimenting with crackly sounds, heavy low ends, ‘nerdy’ samples, and muddy frequencies. One lo-fi artist who knows all about the relationship between geek culture and hip hop, is New York producer Killer Bee, who’s latest album ‘Otaku‘ (slang for a Westerner obsessed with Japanese culture), is a goldmine for old school hip hop and RnB refrains, loose drum patterns, and collage style sampling. One stand out track from the album is ‘Irl‘, which features cinematic chime ostinatos, smooth RnB vocal runs in dreamy harmony, and samples of Eazy E tracks sitting above the ethereal mix. All at once this track, (and the rest of the album) is evocative of years gone by, whilst sounding entirely fresh – and I can guarantee having this on your party playlist will make you the coolest nerd ever.

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