For a rapper based out of the rainy Pacific Northwest, it’s fitting that Young Braised’s Northern Reflections furthers his exploration of cloud-rap based sounds. Featuring smooth beats and distorted vocals, Reflections is notable for its endless stream of entertaining samples and clever rap vocals; exploring new sounds while still feeling rooted in an older rap sound that endures throughout the album. Reflections succeeds most by blending dreamy beats with samples of old school rap. This fusion validates Young Braised’s own rapping abilities while also showcasing his unique exploration into new areas of sound mixing.
Not many artists choose to rap over the extensive layering of beats in the way that Young Braised does. Under the moniker Young Braised, rapper Jaymes Bowman displays immense patience with his listeners, selling the long intros and outros that build and recede throughout the album without being overindulgent. “Entertainment’s” slow, bass-filled build and vocal sampling nearly hides the point, as Bowman actually begins rapping over the song. Even his verses obscure the listener’s sense of consciousness. Repeated rap lines, choruses, and distortion prove to be Bowman’s signature tools in producing this track’s dark, dream-like allure.
The album’s middle lightens up in tone significantly, becoming slightly more upbeat while not overusing its laugh-inducing, tongue-in-cheek samples. Tracks “Casserole” and “Canada’s Economic Action Plan” share computer-like glittery samples, while bookending the sentiments of sound with voice recordings.
Songs “Meditation” and “Middle Class Homie Quan” settle back into a darker tone for Reflections, with bells and synths establishing the tracks’ cold tone. Sharper drumlines and vocals by Bowman infuse these songs with a dark, contemplative sound, more commonly found on modern rap releases. Bowman, however, never takes himself too seriously in these songs, as is evident in the comedic rap phrases that are repeated jokingly throughout the album.
Indeed, it is the constant juxtaposition of Bowman’s vocals and his immense collection of samples that make Northern Reflections sound so unique, yet so easy to listen to. Never too grating to enjoy or too slow to ignore, Reflections will suck you in and just as easily drift by while you listen. Northern Reflections holds appeal for rap lovers and electronic music enthusiasts alike.