Last week, one of Chicago’s most talked about young talents – Ibn Inglor – dropped his latest mixtape in the form of a project called New Wave. Let me start by saying if you’re looking for an enjoyable, uplifting listen on a beautiful fall afternoon… this is not it. Once you decide to sit down and press play, you’re going to find yourself feeling uncomfortable, uneasy, even stressed over the course of the nine tracks. New Wave is dark and brooding through and through, but in the midst of it all is a unique form of beauty. In its clashing nature, there’s something so human about it – something so magnetic that after one listen through, I didn’t hesitate to run the entire tape back from the top. Ibn Inglor is a special talent, and he’s not afraid to travel to uncharted territory to prove it.
The 20-year-old bounced onto the scene earlier this year with the February release of GawdSpeed, a 14-track collection that teased what would eventually be his output since then. Over the course of the past two months, Ibn unleashed two cuts off New Wave, including “WAXXX” and the title track, “NEW WAVE,” to a steadily growing fan base and increased attention from industry heads and major publications alike. With the arrival of the tape, which in an interview with Complex he calls “an experimental project… just a step before the actual big LP comes out” (and THIS just a few moments ago), Ibn makes a bold statement that regardless of who is or isn’t riding with him, he’s here to stay.
New Wave is a psychological trip, an incredibly raw look at life through the eyes of a young artist with an affinity for solitude – a refreshing stance in and of itself in an era overpopulated with posses and crews. Ibn takes us on an emotional roller coaster from the opening lines to the closing notes, but what makes the emotion, insight and social commentary so intriguing is his apparent numbness to it all. Ibn taps into his own insecurities (which happen to be ours as well) in zealous fashion, but he does so in an almost indifferent manner at times. The young emcee has accepted his isolated position to the point where things we’re afraid to admit to even our closest confidants, he raps about publicly.
On “WAXXX,” Ibn opens up about what he’s been going through with his family and girlfriend: “told me get a job but I never fucking did so I got kicked out I’m a bummy fucking kid, living on the curb with my girl, shit, she left me too, bitch gone…” In taking us on a journey through the darkness, though, he clarifies that he never fails to flip a negative situation into an advantage, touching on how he abandoned school and pursued his passion in lieu of simply “a piece of paper that burn easy.” He is an outcast that is openly accepting of his position, frustrated and lost at times, but ever confident – “got a lot of pain you don’t see through, got my own lane and it’s so peaceful.”
One of my favorite moments of the project comes on “EVERYTHING,” where Ibn focuses his attention on a female no longer in his life, rapping in collected fashion early on, then maniacally around the 1:30 mark where his emotions begin to spiral out of control. Just before he hits rock bottom, though, he collects himself and welcomes a wave of vocal-less ’80s dance music that rides for twenty seconds or so before the track cuts out abruptly.
This, in a nutshell, is the musical journey that is New Wave – something outside the box, daring in nature and violently honest, yet balanced and never straying too far from reality. The project has a heart of darkness feel, something we’ve all associated with even if we haven’t spoken from it, and because of that, Ibn connects with listeners in a genuinely effortless fashion. We trust him – not because he tells us to, but because he doesn’t care if we do. He’s lost in his world, and so are we. This is his personal escape, and somehow through that, it becomes ours too.
The production – featuring selections from Mhone Gior, PGMW, E.N.O.N. Jacobs, Tom Tripp and more – is dynamic, eerie and exhilarating from top to bottom. It’s clear Ibn doesn’t simply have a grip on his own sound and brand, but a team of talent that is equally invested in his vision as well. I’m currently on my fourth listen through the tape, and it’s only getting better. Ibn has stressed that this is just a sneak peek of what’s to come in the near future, and if that’s the case, this is a frighteningly impressive preview.
Stream New Wave in its entirety below, and download for free HERE. Stay tuned for more.