The general understanding of today’s style of rap is that it’s dominated by heavy bass, images of expensive cars, females and the dreaded “triplet flow,” a grouping of three syllables repeated in rapid succession. While these things aren’t bad on their own, the combination can turn off some listeners.
Therefore, the rap game has developed what the media calls a counterculture. AJRadico, a rapper and producer based out of Queens, New York, is a perfect example of this counterculture.
This counterculture came after the rise of artists like Tyler the Creator, Joey Bada$$ and Denzel Curry back in the early 2010s. These artists rapped over awkward time signatures with flows that would barely fit over beats and didn’t hold themselves to the same clothing and jewelry standards as other artists. In basic terms, this counterculture was created because artists were tired of not being able to live in their own skin and be famous at the same time.
AJRadico rides the line between culture and counterculture through his fashion, lyricism and production. His triplet flows are complicated and refreshing, his fashion sits somewhere between bougie and bummy and you really won’t find many beats like his.
AJRadico’s most recent music video for his song “Armor” goes deeper than this though. Not only is it a perfect display of an artist expressing their true self, but the video also portrays the environment that AJRadico is most comfortable in. The video was shot in New York City over a span of a few months.
Based on the types of clothing that people are wearing in the video you can tell it was shot sometime in the winter of 2019-20 before COVID-19 became prevalent in the United States. The sense of nostalgia hits almost immediately after you start the video.
No masks, no social distancing — just a typical NYC experience. What makes this even more nostalgic is the fact that the video is edited to almost look as if it was shot in the 1990s through grainy footage and rapid shaky shots. If the goal of AJRadico and his team was to capture the final normal moments of 2020, they achieved it. Even if you don’t enjoy this kind of music, the video is so well made that it could be mistaken for a historical reference for how life was before the pandemic.
The song itself is refreshing to say the least. It comes in hard on the eardrums, with a melody as complicated as the city streets on a Friday night. The bass is loud and deep, but not overwhelming because of good placement and notation. AJRadico’s lyricism and cadence are clear as day, making it easy to understand on the first listen. He also includes a lot of references to early 2000s pop-culture and cartoons littered throughout with one example being the, “omelette du fromage,” line which is a reference to “Dexter’s Laboratory.”
Armor has gotten 42,000 views in just three weeks. The song instantly became AJRadico’s most popular release, the only unfortunate part is that he can’t perform it. In the meantime, AJRadico livestreams his beat making process every other week on his Instagram.