The rap industry has always moved fast, but the tempo at which new hip-hop trends spread and proliferate means that many artists can become deeply influential while still being relatively young. Dayton, Ohio’s Jasiah is an obvious byproduct of the speed of digital music, steeped in a world of online micro-genres, furiously sliding between contemporary rap-rock and something closer to hyperpop. It’s easy to mistake his work for what’s colloquially generalized as “SoundCloud rap,” but really, his music thrives on YouTube, where the algorithm will autoplay fan-made hour-long loops of his visuals for “Break Shit” and “Crisis,” directed by omnipresent video bro Cole Bennett.
Jasiah began attracting attention online in 2018 with a tribute to XXXTentacion—a spirit hovering over his music. But his two primary influences are artists his age: Florida’s Denzel Curry and the more elusive cult rapper Sybyr of Maryland’s ANTI-WORLD collective. Jasiah’s 2019 debut album Jasiah I Am offered spare, guitar-driven ballads and angsty vocals alongside a Travis Barker feature; and while that record is indebted to X, his new EP WAR leans more in the direction of another anti-Christ figure, 6ix9ine, featured on Jasiah’s 2019 Law and Order-sampling single “Case 19.” Like 6ix, WAR is pure animated aggression, all cut-throat and forceful, a 15-minute blitzkrieg with a cover that puts a militaristic spin on the alt-comix aesthetic of Big Brother and the Holding Company’s Cheap Thrills.
Listening to Jasiah’s music feels a lot like channel surfing: His first viral hit, the Yung Bans-featuring and Ronny J-produced “Shenanigans,” flipped SpongeBob SquarePants, and 2018’s “Regular” built its beat from Regular Show dialogue. “Crisis,” WAR’s closing track, chops up Courage the Cowardly Dog, and several other songs on the EP would be at home in a Saturday morning cartoon. “Spit” blasts big band brass, and “Surfs Up” samples Bruce Morgan’s classic surf rock piece “Exotic.” “Break Shit” crafts a spy movie theme from an unexpected source: a flip of the horn-heavy “My Spies,” by the ’80s London-based Afro-Caribbean band The Republic. The self-produced “Unintelligible,” featuring frequent collaborator Nascar Aloe, is the most sonically extreme of the EP’s cuts and the most interesting indication of Jasiah’s hybrid potential. Its frenetic chiptune-like electronic beat almost recalls the futuristic hardcore of Machine Girl or anamanaguchi; the influence of Maryland’s ANTI-WORLD is most prevalent in the song’s brief flirtation with electronic music.
Given his screamo-inflected vocals, it’s surprising that Jasiah so frequently gravitates toward instrumentals that aren’t rock or punk-influenced at all—though the EP’s core rhythm has mosh-ready aggression. The cartoonish quality of his sound sets it apart from vocally similar artists like City Morgue, but its novelty and referentiality can sound engineered with TikTok success in mind. Hoodrich Pablo Juan collaborator Danny Wolf proves Jasiah can do something different with the horror movie squeaks and stabs of “In N Out,” a bow-throwing posse cut that enlists TheHxliday and Rico Nasty—Jasiah’s most literal connection to hyperpop, given her collabs with 100 gecs and Charli XCX.
Jasiah’s music is ultimately indicative of his digital origins. Even more than hyperpop, WAR takes an accelerationist approach to rap, devouring a half-decade of online scenes and styles and spitting them out into a chewed-up psychedelic combination. He screams loud enough to make you listen, but it’s hard to tell if his shouts will sustain for longer than 15 minutes.
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