Whilst many seek the safety of a pre-defined genre to nest their music in, H31R (pronounced ‘heir’) search for the opposite; as they ask on their lead single and standout banger ‘Backwards’, “Why you movin’ backwards?”. HeadSpace, the duo’s second record, is in no way afraid of the rapid movement of popular culture; rather, it uses it as a vehicle to challenge conventional ideas about the world we live in. No song on the record is longer than two-and-a-half-minutes, each littered with catchy, repetitive lo-fi electronic hooks perfectly engineered for TikTok. However, unlike the throwaway culture that’s so often encouraged by that platform, no track on this album is ephemeral – here, there is plenty to digest.
H31R is made up of New Jersey-based producer JWords and Brooklyn based rapper and vocalist maassai. Born out of their mutual desire to construct a synthesis between hip hop and club music, this duo have entered a new era in their development. On Shadow Self, H31R seek to challenge the listener by asking who you really are when all your familiar surroundings are taken away. Serving both as a dance floor anthem and an introspective bedroom lo-fi tune, ‘Shadow Self’ is one of many tracks on the album which are equipped with this duality of purpose and context.
As the title suggests, HeadSpace is primarily concerned with ways of thinking within a digital or cybernetic framework. ‘Train of Thought’ represents this excellently, focussing on how often clarity of vision can mutate into madness. This album is a mystifyingly brilliant portrayal of the contemporary brain in our digital age; it’s sometimes anxious, fast-paced and neurotic, but underpinning all that is the certainty of growth and regeneration which will undoubtedly propel us into the future.