Texas artist Xebra impressed us massively with ‘Goddess’, and on his monolithic compilation album Lo-Fi Sessions he has done so on an even larger scale. Comprised entirely of previously released material, this streaming exclusive release features everything that a fan could want from an up and coming singer-rapper.
The thing is immediately noticeable about Xebra’s music is his voice, of course. The man is one hell of a talent on the mic, his incredibly passionate vocal performances skipping between bouts of eerie, seductive singing and venomous raps. There are parallels to be drawn to other artists here (Michael Jackson and The Weeknd being the most obvious) and on tracks like ‘Supernova’ he’s clearly following the successful formula of 2010’s R&B-trap fusion, but Xebra’s intoxicatingly dark take on the sound allows him to stand head and shoulders above any other contemporaries. Immediately following ‘Supernova’ is ‘Palace’, a magical-sounding sex jam dripping with charisma. The pitch-shifted vocal affectations not only make Xebra sound like a seductive cyborg on this song, they also blend marvelously with the sparse, melodic production. I also really love the adlibs on this song, they act as effective backing vocals during the singer’s x-rated monologues.
The rapping doesn’t take precedence on these songs at all, but this is rectified elsewhere on the project. With 33 tracks to sift through there’s a lot of material to consider, and yet Xebra maintains the same songwriting quality across every second of the 90 minute run time. ‘Dante’ features some skilful rapping that only takes a break to leave room for the atmospherics of the crooned hook. Despite pulling its tracklist from a variety of previously released projects, Lo-Fi Sessions manages to keeps up a consistently dark yet melodic sound, edgy enough to be appeal to fans of artists like 6lack and PND while maintaining a club-ready identity. Discography highlight ‘Goddess’ proved that Xebra can be commercially viable, propelled as it is by glimmering synths and massive percussion, but it also displayed a sinister, noirish tone that is present in much of the artist’s music.
Other highlights include ‘Moon’; a downtempo jam with sultry yet nightmarish vocals, ‘Nightfall’; an eerie tour through a night of well-intentioned hedonism, and ‘Event Horizon’; an all too brief number that features one of the singer’s most tortured performances to date. In general it is true that Lo-Fi Sessions is at its strongest from Xebra is showcasing his incredible voice via a seductive ballad or stripper anthem, but he’s certainly no slouch when it comes to rapping either. Throughout this project he keeps listeners old and new entertained with stunning sound design (this release really isn’t lo-fi at all) and engaging songwriting and lyricism, never placing a foot wrong in the process. If you’re a fan of the golden age of dark R&B, you will certainly find something to enjoy here.
Stream the project below.
Follow Xebra on Twitter here.
– Chris (@108seraph)