Kasper 939 finds subtle ways to switch up his focus across the melodic worlds of house and PluggnB.
“Shawty, Jss au fond du club!” exclaims Kasper 939 with the title of his 2021 EP. It’s been a prolific year for the Paris artist “du club!” is one of three releases this year, and the only one coated in a distinct house aesthetic. Kaspers sound on this EP is one that calls back to the instantly recognisable but oddly nebulous memory of 90s club music, or at least the part driven by shadowy synths and the iconic shredding hi-hat of the 909 drum machine. Inspiring this connection is an explicit aim – the first track is titled “Back 2 the (N)ineties!” and builds into a lounging beat that’s far more vintage than dated. Each sound revels in its history, falling backwards from artificial to artifact.
Nostalgia might be the ruling trend, but modernity always finds a way to make itself known. dazegxd is an exemplar innovator in the underground EDM scene, integrating futuristic electronics on tracks like “mariah_obsessed_dazegxd_bootleg_draft.mp3”. Back in 2019, K9lizzy and JUNEBU66’s moody “2fucks” pit a shifty house beat against autotuned vocals, leaving the song equal parts anachronistic and arresting. Kasper goes much the same route on “du club!”, but where K9lizzy’s unnerving flow and violent lyrics put “2fucks” under pressure, Kasper’s voice is a constant source of energy. His singing on “Mr Kalani & Mrs Smith” is knowingly brilliant, flowing like wine between restrained autotune cascades and dragging notes. “Quand je suis sur le side, shawty mets-toi sur le side” lands with dance-floor ready dynamics, his voice opulent against the spare arrangement. Like Yuri Online, another excellent French rapper, Kasper uses autotune to push melodic syllables forward and combine others into satisfying clusters. The two meet on a cut from 8ruki’s album “Green Lobby” – “33R” shows each artist combining in a storm of harmony.
Other work by Kasper 939 exists in the realm of PluggnB, a genre so hazy it inspires visions of the past and future all at once. “Money & Feels” captures the genre pretty well, full of expensive production that sounds private and cinematic. It’s the only one of Kasper’s 2021 releases listed as an album despite a runtime of just 16 minutes, and as a result everything feels essential. “#2cool4school” features twisting threads of melody and a brilliantly composed drum pattern, “Bye Bye” by comparison is looser but full of quotable lines. “J’aime faire des missions, ouais j’ai le goût du risque” raps Kasper, embodying style.
PluggnB has always lent itself to emotive vocals, and Kasper is at his most piercing on these seven songs. “J’me dis peut-être tu vas come back” he sings on “Chit Chat”, an almost overwhelmingly gorgeous heartbreak anthem towards the record’s end full of crystalline pianos and shimmery synth leads. Translated, the lyrics mean “I tell myself maybe you’ll come back”, but you don’t need to know French to feel the emotion heighten from personal pain to pure drama. Kasper 939’s greatest talent is the way he subtly shifts his focus. “Alone or sum” changes tempo to reinvent its hyperactive energy as suave confidence. “Very Very Slatt”, a very popular loosie, leaves the autotune off for Kasper’s most convincing verse. His certainty shines through humour – “Autour du coup j’ai ces diamants qui pleurent”, or “all I have around me are diamonds that cry”. “1Way Up”, the closing track to his latest EP, is less rapid and more telling, a pure commitment to success. He might be at the back of the club, but Kasper wants to be on top of the world.
– Jamie (Managing Editor @108MICS)