Of all the artists to come from that strange, nebulous movement dubbed “cloud rap”, “internet rap” or even “trillwave”, Bones is possibly the most interesting artist to emerge. Notable for his guarded persona, tendency towards short songs, a dark 90’s influenced aesthetic that colours all of his output and the range of styles his music covers (moody languid raps to hyperactive trap heavy bangers to the occasional metal or acoustic number), he’s amassed a strong underground following. With a work rate that would terrify most musicians, releasing a mixtape nearly every two months, Useless is his first release of 2016.
Beginning with a cold, cloudy title track, it’s clear that Bones is stepping up his game, both vocally and in terms of production. At 9 tracks this is a brief project, especially considering the fact the longest track on here is only 3 minutes 22 seconds. However Bones makes excellent use of this short running time to deliver one of his most intense, cohesive yet still diverse mixtapes to date. The recording quality, vocals and production have improved greatly from his earlier material, every element packing a punch whereas before some parts of his sound could fall flat.
The instrumentals this time around tend to have a lot more going on, in comparison to the stark simplicity that defined many of his earlier songs like “Dirt” or “HDMI”. Leading single, “RestInPeace” is Bones’ angriest track to date, featuring a filthy bass heavy trap beat, an aggressive flow and even screamed vocals towards the end, creating an eerie, vicious turn-up tune to destroy your speakers. Yet he is still able to dial down the aggression with “Translucent”, a very subtle, subdued number with heavily autotuned vocals serving more as an almost shoegaze like effect much like fellow cult internet rapper Yung Lean. “GladWeHaveAnUnderstanding” is a rather interesting number, mixing screamed vocals with subdued cleans and an eerie atmospheric beat, structured more like a post-hardcore song than a traditional rap song. Even tracks featuring more typical Bones flows manage to succeed and not exist as filler tracks, like “Coinstar”’s introspective vibes and the grimy “RightOnSchedule”.
Lyrically Bones is more introspective this time around, focussing more on his place as a rising artist and his drive to succeed on his own terms rather than weaving the grim tales of blunt smoking and chilling out in graveyards he was previously known for. While he is not an artist notable for sheer lyrical prowess, he does come out with a few interesting lines here and there, throwing in references to Paul Wall and CoinStar games while offering commentary on society filtered through a Backwoods fuelled haze.
Final thoughts on this album? If you’re looking for a dark, unique take on hip hop music, with a range of styles covered within a rather short running time, I would highly recommend checking this mixtape out. The production is some of the best in the genre, Bones is constantly improving as a lyricist and spitter, I for one am excited to see where he goes from here.
Recommended Tracks: RestInPeace, GladWeHaveAnUnderstanding, RightOnSchedule (yes these are how he writes the titles).
For Fans Of: Xavier Wulf, Yung Lean, Three Six Mafia.