Combining an assortment of musical styles, trainings, talents, and ideas, Jude Icarus has arrived with a truly multi genre project that roots itself in the delivery style of 90s hip-hop. The 23 year old from Portland notes, ” I grew up listening to everything from Philip Glass to David Bowie to Talib Kweli, and while the music I make is rooted in Hip Hop from the ’90s and 2000s, these eclectic tastes and influences still actively inform my sound and sensibilities.” He’s spot on there. Jude’s style uniquely combines this early hip-hop style of production and delivery with elements of rock and roll and experimental.
Trained in the classical violin and rock, you might not expect Jude to be a proficient MC with that kind of CV. However, just in the first minute of the opening track ‘Killin Me’, all these apprehensions immediately go away. ‘Killin’ Me’ sounds right out of the 90s, the clear Eric B and Rakim influence is all over the delivery, flow, and even the beat.
On ‘Me and the Music’, Jude switches the style entirely. Using additional vocal melodies, and even singing, the song highlights how the album refuses to constrict itself to a particular style. Jude retains a similar delivery in his rap verse, but the distinctive feature here remains the vocal harmonies on the grandiose chorus soundscape. ‘Riot’ uses a neat little guitar riff, one that sounds very alternative as the beat. The powerful “Here we are, entertain us” is an instant win in my eyes.
‘New Classics’, “It goes hip. hop” begins Jude. Throughout this album you can just hear Jude’s passion for his craft. Despite an amazingly accomplished musical background in instruments that are generally far removed from mainstream hip-hop, he’s managed to synthesize them into a style of rap that died out over a decade ago. It’s so refreshing to hear modern artists rocking that turntable, punchy, and happily upbeat delivery. “Are you not entertained? I could catch Zeus’lightning in a bottle of flame then get struck by it twice and win the lotto all the same”. With bars as effortlessly entertaining as that, you’d be hard pressed not to be jiving along with a smile on your face.
The rest of the album moves fairly similarly. Jude delivers authentic 90s hip-hop flows passionately alongside a very accomplished and eclectic production style. I’ll mention the titular track Cloud 9 as an especially noteworthy piece. A much more slowed down and emotive track, Jude pens a positive lyrical experience here to accompany an uplifting choir lead chorus.
You’d be amazed to even hear an album like this in 2021. It’s so in line with a style that was overwhelmingly influential to the growth of mainstream music’s most relevant genre, but at the same time we haven’t really seen that style revived much. “Cloud 9” is fun, nostalgic, and impressive all at once. Go stream it now.