Sickeningly stylish rapper Le1f, now known as much for his eccentric outfits and sweet spitting skills as he is for his notorious anti-Macklemore tweets, dropped his newest mixtape, Tree House, yesterday.
Favoring demonically distorted vocals and moody crystalline synths, the mixtape is perhaps closer to Zebra Katz’s moody DRKLNG than it is to Le1f’s earlier, more club-ready tracks like “Wut” and “Yup”. We’ve previously featured Le1f as a rapper that is better than everybody else, and while this new mixtape is certainly a change in artistic direction, that proclamation still rings true.
Tree House is a 14-song free-download and is well worth the hard-drive space, but don’t expect to be voguing down or twerkin hard to the new jams. Tree House is a much more contemplative, almost Björk-ian soundscape than anything previously released by the underground gay rapper. The mixtape picks up slightly with the already-released single “Damn Son,” which has Le1f speed rapping over a synthesized flute.
As if anyone had ever questioned it, this song along proves that Le1f can keep up with the likes of Lil Wayne and Drake as one of the more competent rappers in the game, with the speed of Busta Rhymes to match. “If you know what I know / Then you roll where I roll / Let’s roll up these spliffs / When I dip you dip we dip // Fresh like downy, soft like chiffon / damn I’m the bomb,” he growls.
The mixtape cover art has Le1f swathed in fur and slinking around the shadows of a large tree trunk, indicating a more earthy and arty sound to come from an artist who has been pre-occupied with avant-garde noises — albeit in a more video-game inspired vein. Le1f’s trademark 16-bit noises can only be heard in “Hibiscus,” and while the song “Free Kiki”’s title promises a campy jam, it delivers only more of the same hypnotic trip-hop inspired beats and effects.
Le1f’s fondness for, reverberating, vocoded and auto-tuned vocals do little to distract from his lyricism and clever rhyming, and while Tree House might not be the booty shaking hip-hop anthem we had hoped for, it is certainly a pleasant and pretty contribution to the genre.