ISSUE is gaining steam. Websites have began picking up his music and interviewing him, while SPIN just called him one of the best new artists of the month. His Liquid Wisdom tape is what’s tipping the scale, after tons of free projects like Waves Of Italy (featuring guests like Murs and producers like Ryan Hemsworth) and PIG made a splash online.
ISSUE is E-40’s son and brother to Droop-E, who makes bottom-heavy shit to crack a windshield with. Unlike Droop-E, who favors more generic subject matter, ISSUE is an eccentric spirit, to say the very least. He’s closest to Lil’ B in his freewheeling, non-rhythmic style, singing without much care for hitting the notes and rapping without much attention to lyrical miracles. His music washes over you; listening to Liquid Wisdom is like an Italian glass of wine—pure, refined, soothing. He comes off as a kid in his bedroom, singing hooks to himself that only his friends find catchy. There’s a completely innocent quality to him, all he wants to do is put his joy into musical form. “I’m just livin’ on a dream and havin’ fun,” he sings on one song. It’s impossible not to believe him.
The rap progeny constantly posts pictures of exotic cars on his Twitter account and has frequently spoken of his hope to move to Paris in the future. He’s certainly aspirational, but like Lil’ B, he doesn’t promote the same tired rap tropes of bitches, money, clothes and hoes that wear listeners down after awhile. He’s aloof, both of tradition and of the beat at times.
His production is experimental to the point of being ambient/industrial, as on “I’m In Europe.” Other slappers, like the only self-produced cut “Ten Monks” (he should produce way more) and William Sneddon’s beat for “Livin On A Dream” evoke the breeze of Long Beach. It’s a mixed spread of beats—he’s as accepting of their wrinkles as he is if people in his rhymes.
It seems like listening to ISSUE is an exercise in acceptance. Narrow-minded folk who carry Black Star in their back pocket might not feel it. His music is deconstructed, gutted, filtered, and strained until little pulp is left. Only the acidic juice is available, take it or leave it, but it’s potent. It’s refreshing to hear a kid who isn’t willing to bow down to the rules of what’s expected from a rapper. He might not be conquering the URL circuit any time soon, but he is unlike anyone else. He even dons a mask like MF DOOM, sparing image for sound instead. If you’re tired of the current rap landscape and want to hear someone drastically departing from the norm, ISSUE is your guy.