cocainejesus
"SKIPYEAR" is full of new sounds and insane features. (Illustration by Rachel Glucksman, Rhode Island School of Design)
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cocainejesus

cocainejesus captures a reveling, adventurous spirit in his most introspective album yet.

“SKIPYEAR” is exactly what any cocainejesus fan would expect: obscure, nothing short of innovative and full of sounds that nobody has really ever heard before. The inner thoughts and workings of cocainejesus are portrayed through bubbly, experimental electronic music.

He might be young, but cocainejesus is hardly at the start of his musical career. The Ohio-based artist has over eight years of piano experience and started producing music when he was just 11 years old. With five albums and a plethora of singles released at the mere age of 18, it’s safe to say he’s a prodigy.

cocainejesus often creates tracks that are simple enough for collaborations, but complex enough to stand alone. He caught his first break with the 2015 release of his single “She,” which would eventually go on to gain over a million listens on Spotify. It’s a stand-alone track that, like all great electronic and piano music, proves lyrics aren’t a necessary element to striking a listener’s emotion.

As it turns out, emotion is a key element in the production of cocainejesus’ work. “With every project I release, I let out a piece of me that I would never feel comfortable sharing with anyone,” he said.

Another key influence, he says, is his older brother, who is also a musician and mentored the young artist in his adolescent years.

Outside of his clear aptitude for composing, his music stands out for its niche-ness. His sounds pull from all electronic subgenres, yet are presented as an equivalent to lo-fi hip-hop. Finding accurately comparable artists proves difficult and, despite clear distinctions in purpose and production, cocainejesus is often thrown into the “vaporwave” category.

It’s a discography that falls somewhere between beloved soft house artist Nosja Thing’s hit track “Aquarium” and the discography of the infamous Hot Sugar. cocainejesus creates sounds that are light but downtempo, mystical yet introspective. It’s serene music made for those absorbed in the digital space, an approach that has thus far worked to gain him a modest following.

Despite his well-established discography, “SKIPYEAR” is actually the first cocainejesus album to be released since “Nervous” in 2017, partly because the artist needed time to build experience. It’s safe to say the two-year break paid off. The compilation of beats reveals a level of artistic maturity not seen on previous releases.

At the same time, “SKIPYEAR” is nothing short of what a listener would anticipate: Dreamy, playful beats that are reminiscent of a beloved anime. They prove electronic to be much more than just club music. “SKIPYEAR” is quick and upbeat, yet lacks the flashy, overwhelming elements seen in popular electronic genres like EDM.

The reason for this?  “I was inspired a lot by dubstep build-ups being ruined by the drops,” cocainejesus said.

“SKIPYEAR” is consistent in style both throughout the album, as well as when compared to the artist’s past discography. But that doesn’t mean it lacks diversity. The 19-track album brings in seven different features, including less-known artists like Cult Member and MOM$.

“I’m a huge fan of fusing sounds,” said the young producer. “I felt so close and in tune with the people I was working with on this album.”

It’s no doubt that featured artists played a huge role in the meaning of the album — cocainejesus himself says that “Human Soup,” an animated, beat-driven track featuring gg. Mothra, is one of his favorite tracks and “best represents what the album is about.” Other tracks, like the synth-heavy “Brain Inject” and funky “Wsup Shawty,” are also held in similarly high regard.

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The tracks are filled with samples, complex patterns and floaty themes that tie them all together, similar to Sam Gellaitry or iglooghost, but with a stronger feeling of naivety. Admittedly, his tracks are better listened to than described, in part because cocainejesus’ music fails to conform to traditional standards, but also because they lack lyrics. The meaning has to be felt.

Surprisingly, the vibrant, compelling tone of the album was driven by less bubbly sentiments. The young artist describes the album as influenced by “a period of anxiety and breakdowns … resulting in me attempting to re-learn everything it was that I stood for and wanted to accomplish.” The output is an introspective album nearly long enough to be two albums, and listeners aren’t complaining.

Clearly the album has thus far proven to be a success. In only two short weeks, several tracks, including “Worthless Sentiment” and “Basement Ghosts,” have already risen to the artist’s top charts on Spotify and Soundcloud. For a blooming artist in a genre that lacks a mainstream audience, a warm reception is no small feat.

It might have taken a “skip year,” but cocainejesus accomplished what he set out to do: Balance his need for external expression with a widespread and reliable appeal.

“It was a climax of ideas and goals I wanted to show the world I was capable of achieving, without straying too far from what my fans expect of me.”

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