Every time it appears Madison’s talented hip-hop scene has reached its maximum capacity, someone else jumps on board.
Adding themselves to an already-packed list of artists to watch is Kenny Hoopla with his new EP Beneath the Willow Tree.
On the first part of the project, Hoopla raps and sings, sometimes both, over beats made of stripped down guitar parts and trap drum beats. It’s an unlikely combination at first, but it sucks the listener into the different worlds Hoopla crafts on each of his tracks.
On each of these initial tracks, Hoopla’s vocals are at times numb and others are downright depressed. His lyrics create abstract, yet striking imagery that focuses on the ins and outs of cyclical depression. It’s music that doesn’t stick out because it sounds good, though it does, but more so because of the emotional qualities Hoopla and his producers are able to capture in sonic form.
Hoopla’s ability to do this should remind the listener of Kid Cudi’s earlier work, and for good reason.
It isn’t until the last two tracks of the record where Hoopla switches things up, bringing more energetic flows with beats to match.
On “WHERE DID YOU GO??”, Hoopla and featured artist Bray Costello rap over a trap beat with wind chimes. It makes for an abrasive track where Hoopla seems to lash out against the demons that haunted him on previous tracks,
The albums finale, “CASKET//” is the closest it has to a typical rap track, where Hoopla raps slowly over a synthy jazz beat. On it, he still seems plagued by negative emotions, but there’s also a hint of clarity, or at least acceptance.
Though short, Benath the Willow Tree tells an intense, abstract story about Hoopla’s own depression and depression in general.
It’s an immense indicator for the potential he has as an artist.