Rating: 4 out of 5.

LuvPlxto’s ‘N.E’ combines youth and wisdom, presenting himself as the voice of a generation consumed by their inner demons.

Aged just seventeen, the New York based hip-hop disciple shows he’s capable of being the voice of a generation, with his latest project ‘N.E’ serving as a gateway to a “new era”, one established on love and positivity.  The opening ‘Interlude’ immediately welcomes the listener to this newfound “era of maturity”, of which his reinvigorated self is unveiled in the shape of a mellow, spoken-word piece, which overlays a minimal acoustic loop. This transition into an auspicious, self-assured mindset serves as the introduction to a project constructed around mental health, and the importance of optimism.

But in spite of the buoyant message conveyed throughout the opener, LuvPlxto circumvents naivety across the record, remaining in tune with his inner demons and life’s tribulations throughout. This presents periods of vulnerability throughout the tracklist, during which he embraces his feelings, accepting “you can allow yourself to cry”. Further instances can be heard on ‘Afraid’, a hazy, reserved trap anthem on which he reveals his insecurities while singing, “don’t shoot me in the chest, my heart ain’t bulletproof”, before expressing his fears of losing his significant other. A similar case is presented on the euphonious ‘Ignore’, where the rapper confronts the voice of temptation,  defiantly singing, “I ignore the demons at the door”. This reveals the mindset of someone who’s overcome turmoil, but remains conscious of the mental challenges which permanently lurk in the shadows.

Sonically, ‘N.E’ is centralised around a melodic, acoustic form of trap, through which his auto-tuned harmonic qualities are clear to see. Throughout the project, there are occasions where LuvPlxto draws inspiration from the emo-revival rap scene, pioneered by exhilarating, intuitive artists such as Lil Peep. These vocal inflections can be heard most prominently on the hook for ‘Afraid’, where his reserved, intentionally off-kiltered vocal delivery is particularly effective as he glides over the beat. Still young into his rap career, LuvPlxto’s confidence in his ability is assuring, and to have mastered the balance of auto-tune at such a young age, provides a promising platform for his career going forward.

His exceptional ear for dark, atmospheric production ensures this album remains extremely consistent, with the spacey ambience of the acoustic melodies ascribing themselves to this concept of a freedom within the mind. ‘Old Me’ exists as the best executed track on the record, both production and vocal wise, with the clean delivery on the bridge gliding over the piano led melody, as he strives forwards, waving goodbye to the “old me”. The inclusion of the pitched-up sample and distorted 808s elevates the track to a new level, while also showcasing the sheer potential LuvPlxto has to construct some infectious hooks.

‘Controller’ and its remixed edition with BoyTam reaches similar heights, with the stagnated hi-hats and heavier 808s forging an intense anthem, which wouldn’t feel out of place in Spotify’s ‘Rap Workout’ playlist. BoyTam’s wavy vocal delivery sees him ride the beat in impressive fashion, complimenting what is yet another killer hook delivered by LuvPxto, again presenting himself as a talented songwriter, who understandings the value of a killer hook.

‘End of Time’ instigates a slight deviation from the atmosphere of the project, both sonically and thematically. Despite appreciating the sentiment and personal connotations attached to the track, I can’t help but feel like his vocals become enhanced, and are made to be more effective, when delivered over the moodier, trap instrumentals. With that being said, I certainly respect the self-assurance and desire to elevate his style, which I do feel will be perfected as he gains more experience.

As a whole, LuvPlxto’s ‘N.E’ is a defiant statement, on which he confronts his demons, while striving to live a more positive life. The NY rapper’s determination is nothing short of inspiring, and to have delivered a remarkably concise album at such a young age, I’m interested to see how his career unfolds.

Favourite tracks: Afraid, Old Me, Controller Remix (Feat. BoyTam), Ignore.

Least Favourite Tracks: End of Time

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