In the 20th Century, music was by and large described in broad strokes via genres like rock, country, rap, jazz, metal, etc. In the 21st Century, it’s all about them microgenres. I C O N I C, the latest release from wide spectrum music clearinghouse Let’s Talk Figures (LTF), got you on them for sure, fam. A collaboration between LTF mastermind and all around musical wunderkind Bob Icon, aka LRG, and prolific pizza aficionado Cody Troglin, aka PZA, I C O N I C’s self-titled debut is an ultramodern and especially postmodern affair from start to finish, covering the sounds of vaporwave, trap, vaportrap, cloud rap, lo-fi house, dream pop, mallsoft, and probably most importantly Troglin’s personal invention, #pizzawave, surely in addition to other styles possibly too obscure and clandestine to be mentioned in print.
Though it might not sound like it to a preponderance of Gen X or boomer ears, I C O N I C is very much a move into the territory of the mainstream by its millennial proprietors. You can hear this kind of music in most clubs where the majority of patrons are under 25, exemplified by artists like Migos, Young Thug, Gucci Mane, Yung Lean, BONES, and many others whom both members of I C O N I C are admittedly fans of and identify as influences. The use of autotune is relentless, though it’s also very effective. It’s rap and pop for the youth of today and part of a cultural movement away from your father’s norms and conventions.
Despite its modernity, I C O N I C has an almost codependent relationship with nostalgia, albeit in a highly surrealistic manner. Fans of The Legend of Zelda will instantly recognize the interpolation of the Fairy Fountain Theme that serves as the foundation of “Nike Flip Flops”. One of the album’s standout tracks, “Terrorist”, harkens back to the Dubya Administration and the early days of the War on Terror by extensively sampling President Bush and referring to 9/11 conspiracy theories, though this is done in an ostensibly ironic manner, another I C O N I C hallmark. More on that in a minute. Vaporwave itself, of which PZA’s pizzawave (not to be confused with pizzaGATE) is a direct offshoot, is aesthetically an aberrant appropriation of the culture of the ‘80s and ‘90s, aka the childhoods of most vaporwave artists, and there are consequently shout-outs to pop culture touchstones like Disneyland, Nintendo, meme iconography (pun intended), Mountain Dew, and naturally, pizza.
The bulk of I C O N I C was recorded last summer, and a lot has happened culturally since then that might shift the way some of the album’s themes are interpreted by anyone paying close attention to the lyrics. Idiosyncratic references aside, the songs largely deal with the standard hip hop fare of sex and drugs. Although some of this is done with a healthy dose of irony and perhaps some introspection and self-indictment, it probably shouldn’t be taken too seriously or too literally. Part of being an artist is making a statement that is not necessarily an advocacy but gives the audience an opportunity to decide what it means for themselves and address how it may or may not resonate within their own lives.
However, this is ultimately a record that is very plainly intended to be fun and serve as a soundtrack for partying, and as such it doesn’t feature an abundance of positively pensive moments. So, if you’re looking for some new tracks to listen to while raising hell you should head over to letstalkfigures.bandcamp.com and give it a download. Most of the lyrics are there to promote the party and serve the strongest aspect of the album, its production and beats. That makes a lot of sense considering that it was made by two veteran producers of electronic music. It’s not a Bob Dylan record, you don’t need to geek out on the lyrics to dance to this music and have a good time. Overall, it’s p dope, v sick, lit af.
Dave Morris is the Features Editor of Shindigmusic. He has written for the Arkansas Times, the Fayetteville Flyer, the Idle Class, and Fayettesound. His academic writing is featured in the book “First Amendment Studies in Arkansas”. He holds an M.A. in Rhetoric from the University of Arkansas and is a recipient of the Richard S. Arnold Prize in First Amendment Studies. He also attended Marquette University Law School. He currently performs with post-punk band The Inner Party when he is not dealing with his foolish cats or engaging in a shameful array of other geeky pursuits.