Standout Track: No. 7, the unconventional “Purified Madness,” which has a long, meditative intro and no verbal hook whatsoever. When the lyrics do kick in, they deliver memorable impressions of people whose lives are forgettable or frustrating.
Musical Motivation: Awthentik says serendipity was critical, particularly in the artfully delicate 13-second breakdown near the beginning. On an Akai MPC sampler and drum machine, he’d chopped up “Life Cycle,” a track by the obscure soul/jazz group The Earth Disciples, and configured beats with those sounds. While testing them out, he accidentally hit the MPC’s last pad, which had an extended, unedited sample on it. “And it just like does this crazy build, and I caught it right on the fly, and I dropped the next sequence. And I was like, ‘It’s perfect.’ And I immediately started writing to it,” says the Silver Spring rapper and producer, who also fronts DMV hip-hop group The Fif.
Shook Ones: The song’s key line—about being driven to “open my trenchcoat, blasting”—is a sideways homage to a close friend who committed suicide while away at college. “It seemed as if his death was overlooked….What if he just came into a classroom instead and shot it up, Columbine style? Maybe people would remember him more?” Awthentik says. The song’s other central figure is a woman whose high-school glow has disappeared now that she’s had a few kids. “That body done, it may be through/Fuck it, I’m with it,” raps Awthentik, who says the character is a composite of several people. The honesty apparently works in his favor: “A lot of chicks actually say, ‘Yo, that’s my favorite song.’”