NYU Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music sophomore Jordan Taylor (known as Akari) isn’t in any particular rush on his new EP, “Lazyboy,” which dropped on streaming services Aug. 24. On “Lazyboy,” the enigmatic producer jumps from Soundcloud to Spotify. No longer just a beatmaker, Akari is spitting rhymes with a characteristic deep croon that pierces through his sunny production with a sinister undertone.
The first track, “Island Boy,” has Akari mixing smooth flows with a catchy chorus, resulting in a blunted haze of psychedelia. The subdued and introspective tone sets the pace for the whole EP. “It’s just me and myself,” he affirms on “Breeze” — alone, perhaps, but far from uninspired. “Gatsby” showcases Akari’s more confident demeanor, as he boasts “It’s the Black Gatsby, n—-s can’t pass me.” Early in the song, the beat switches up, turning into a slower, chopped and screwed bootleg of its previous self. Guest rapper Am brings a welcome and seething sharpness to the track, which juxtaposes nicely with the drifting ease of the instrumental.
Track after track, Akari proves to be at his most comfortable on this project. “2D” is less rap and more lo-fi hip hop, with a wandering low pass beat that lets the almost indiscernible vocals fly high and carefree throughout the song. The glimmering guitar on “Breeze” is reminiscent of a Frank Ocean summer jam mixed with lo-fi funk flare. As he “[hugs] the beat like [he] missed it,” he alludes to a certain connection with his own music that many musicians fail to grasp. The last track on the EP, “Deux,” is a kind of triumphant capstone to the project. Akari’s rhyme patterns are at their most diverse here. He varies his flows throughout the song, and the soaring background horn stabs and interwoven instrumentation aptly decorate the track as Akari raps confidently throughout. As the song ends, the listener is left with the satisfying aftertaste of a chilled-out project that’s equal parts tranquil and eerily trippy.
If there’s anything left to be desired from this project, it is that Akari never fully reveals his true self to the listener. Instead, he sits a level removed from the audience, in a kind of psychedelic plane of existence far away from worldly woes. This is not necessarily a bad thing, as it allows Akari to maintain a level of mystique that would have been difficult to achieve with a rawer sound.
“Lazyboy” isn’t just Akari’s debut EP on streaming services, it is his debut style, likely setting the pace for what’s to come. His previous work on Soundcloud largely featured a smattering of well-thought-out remixes and one off singles, without much in the way of unifying themes. However, Akari really comes into his own on this EP. Not only is it stylistically clear and consistent, it’s paced incredibly well. The tracks flow effortlessly into one another. Akari gives the listeners just enough to grab their attention, but not too much to reveal his hand. In an age of instant gratification, “Lazyboy” is proof that sometimes it’s better to just sit back and reflect on it all.
A version of this article appeared in the Monday, Oct. 2 print edition. Email Connor Gatesman at [email protected]