Atlanta has always been a creative epicenter in hip-hop, but in the past few years the city has really started to own that reputation. Whatever your opinion on ATL’s new school, dem boys aren't afraid to get weird, and push genre boundaries in the process. While sometimes the weirdness comes at the expense of real songcrafting, that’s definitely not the case for the green-bearded Rome Fortune, who’s style is just as unique as his color-changing lumberjack facial hair, which (actually) according to his latest Twitter photo, is now mostly orange with some green left at the very bottom.
Of course, the successes of ATL's most eccentric superstars wouldn't be possible without an array of superproducers behind the boards. And it's encouraging that Rome Fortune, five mixtapes in, has already recruited a team of eclectic and highly talented beatmakers. Some of his frequent co-workers like Childish Major and Dun Deal have made hits for the biggest names in the South. He’s also ventured elsewhere into more electronic worlds, with instrumentals on his latest mixtape by the likes of dubstepper Bassnectar and underground dance legend Four Tet. One of his go-to guys is the young Suicideyear, who's produced five of his official tracks, including three on his latest tape, Small VVorld. Suicideyear has managed to, however unconsciously, bridge the two genres that Rome tends to weave in and out of. His music is carried by the spirit of Southern rap, with specific odes to Louisiana, and, undeniably, ATL. In between the 808s, though, he layers cosmic synth patterns in sync with other delicate bells and whistles.
"5 Second Rule" is the mixtape's most aggressive song, where Rome, sometimes eloquently, sometimes not, asserts that it's indeed appropriate to eat the booty if it hits the ground for less than five seconds at a time. Suicideyear masks Rome's appetites with a dungeon anthem cloaked in an eeriness that makes all the vulgarity feel rather charming. "Workin Gal" features an electric Zelda-like melody that's fractured by a heavy sheen of percussion underneath. Fortune croons and mumbles (he's from the A, remember?) about his favorite workin gal's (those who work for him). Most of Fortune's subjects are familiar, i.e. sex and drugs, though we rarely hear a guy get so explicit while still sounding so gentle. On these tracks specifically, this is achieved in large part by Suicideyear's visceral trap motifs placed alongside mystical melodies that hit a much more introspective space.
At the end of last month, Rome and Suicideyear put out "No Drugs Anymore," and it looks like this tandem will have plenty more for us in the future. It's a similar contrast between producer and rappa/sanga. Suicideyear constructs an airiness that flutters between nostalgia and outright melancholy, while rolling hi-hats lend some structure to Rome's free-flowing laments. Together, they reflect how a substance-imbued love affair can be both innocent and incredibly alienating. Check out the recently released video below.