Andre Martel, “DUI”

James Johnson

Andre Martel His Majesty Obscured

Despite the silly name, the Nature Boy collective has come to represent some of the most interesting hip-hop music being produced today. Distorted raps with a punk aesthetic, as championed by members such as Cities Aviv and Antwon, are laced over neo-LA, chiptune beats from the likes of Nanosaur and Froskees. It’s a hybrid that has made underground waves since early 2012, and clearly been influential on the sounds of newer artists like Little Pain or Abdu Ali. With such collectives, attention naturally turns towards the lesser-known members, especially those without too many releases: what purpose do they serve?

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With his new single, “DUI”, Andre Martel (fka Himself the Majestic) makes a strong bid as the next Nature Boy to watch. Half of the duo Shadowrunners, Martel had been making sharp, densely referential raps on tracks like “Flip Phone“, but “DUI” sees Martel in a much more serious space, reliving a night of drinking gone wrong. If not for Martel’s appropriately world-weary delivery, the hook, “I been drinking all this alcohol/All these liquor bottles ‘round me” could read as a more up-beat celebration of alcoholism, but in fact we see him crashing his car, presumably dying. It’s a clever flip on the boastful tropes commonly associated with drug use in hip-hop, substituting dark lines like, “At my service in the casket/passive/wishin’ y’all was comin’ with my ashes.” Coming out of a lineage of tracks glorifying drunk driving—Exquire’s “Huzzah!” comes to mind—Martel may be the most adept at utilizing the same form to poke large holes in the objectionable (at best) subject of drunk driving.

The track’s instrumentals are covered by Karman, an up-and-coming Soundcloud producer who made it to the finals of the VFILES/Def Jam DJ competition earlier this year. Like the hook, the instrumentals are deceptive. As we are drawn in by Martel’s subject matter, once-cute vocal samples take on a mournful tone. It’s not an incredibly complex beat, but it’s good to see Karman working with vocal artists, as opposed to the instrumentals and remixes he’s done in the past. The track comes off Andre Martel’s upcoming solo project, His Majesty Obscured, out October 21, and a fitting title given the recent name change.

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