Passive’s immaculate new record sees the rapper flaunt his assured cadence, intricate flows, and lyrical prowess.
Every once in a blue moon an artist bursts onto the rap scene with enticing charm, authentic flows, and a real sense of pre-eminence. With the sensational release of ‘the lost demo’, the enigmatic Winnsboro rapper has done just that, announcing himself as not only an aspiring individual, but also an accomplished wordsmith and an exhilarating emcee.
“I go by passive, capitalise the ‘p’ and at the end you add an asterisk – that’s for my aggression” he raps on the opening track ‘identity intro’, promulgating the presence of a self-assured rapper living in harmony with his own ability. But despite the seasoned delivery and unwavering charisma, Passive recognises this hasn’t always been the case, proceeding to admit “my delivery used to be hella repetitive”. So, what better way to stifle these doubts than to spend the entirety of the intro relentlessly switching up flows in ways some of the best technicians can only dream of?
Passive’s unpredictably intricate flows are a staple throughout ‘the lost demo’, immediately setting the rapper aside from his peers, and along with the frequent vocal shifts and impressive beat switch-ups, the listener is kept on their toes throughout. ‘like it is’ offers a great example of this diversification, starting out with the delicate woodwind melody and prodding 808s which capture a moody atmosphere reminiscent of Travis Scott’s ‘90210’. Passive compliments this backdrop with the reverberating auto-tune, providing some infectious harmonies which brilliantly showcase his diversity. But by 1-minute in, the hazy instrumentation is replaced by the punch of an acoustic trap beat, as Passive’s heartfelt melodies are exchanged for the JID inspired convoluted flows.
The reason you don’t hear many rappers transition between styles at opposite ends of the spectrum is because it’s a difficult skill to master, yet the ease with which Passive achieves this reveals a competent artist at the peak of their powers. ‘sheesh’ showcases the best of this cadence, as the Winnsboro MC trades punches with the flagrant boom-bap beat, finding inconceivable pockets to flow through, all while delivering complex, sonically pleasing rhyme schemes. As ever, Passive drifts from one flow to the next, adopting a more stagnated approach as he spits; “Pride got a funny way of showing his face, I got a funny way of making mistakes”.
But beneath his lyrical prowess and composed delivery lies a fragile state of mind, one which is attended to throughout the tracklist. ’94 interlude’ exhibits this vulnerability, with the zealousness of the lyric; “running from my fears, fighting back these tears, if I could write it all, it’d take a thousand years” presenting a more intense side to Passive’s lyrics. This sense of introspection continues into the following 2 tracks, ‘pretty like the moon’ and ‘broke’, the former featuring a downcast piano loop, as Passive despondently addresses how his “9 to 5 diminished my health”. While the latter contains the warmth of the jazzy, lo-fi instrumentation, the rapper’s poetic verses and cries of “I don’t wanna be broke forever” brilliantly contradict the production, once again shedding light on his outstanding artistic qualities.
The journey concludes with Passive exploring his religious identity, seemingly as a way of dealing with life’s tribulations. “I need Jesus” – he sings on the shimmering, up-beat ‘switch up’, finding spiritual resilience on what is the most unconventional beat on the project. These religious undertones proceed into the penultimate ‘i pray’, a spine-tingling, cinematic, track where his distorted vocals reveal the pain of a generation consumed by “tv violence and 9/11”, with Passive recognising the mistakes he’s made over the heartrending wheeps of the slide guitar.
As well as flaunting his neat flows, diverse vocab, and crisp delivery, ‘the lost demo’ reveals the workings of an artist with abounding creativity, as his musical knowledge provides an intoxicatingly unique experience. Whether offering words of self-advice on ‘ease up’, or going back-to-back with G Monsta on the industrial ‘same ol same’, Passive’s versatility shows all the makings of a TRUE artist. And by closing with the experimental interpolation of The Beatles on ‘let it be outro’, Passive shows the risks he’s willing to take in order to succeed in the ever-competitive rap game. A Must Hear.
Favourite Tracks: identity intro, like it is, broke, ease up, i pray