MUSIC

Eli Sostre's "EROS" Is Contrived and Monotone

The Brooklyn-native's third outing is thematically similar to his first two, which is both a good and a bad thing.

Eli Sostre is the face of a new underground movement in Hip-Hop. "I feel like [I make] late night drive music," the 27-year-old Brooklyn emcee told XXL.

FREE by Eli Sostre www.youtube.com

"It's mellow. It's life style music. People I've been compared to? I don't know I don't listen to comparisons...I'm better than everybody, that's how I feel." His amalgamation of R&B and rap with lo-fi production amassed a standing ovation of sorts, with his debut Still Up All Night seen as a changing of the guard in underground hip-hop. Alongside acts like Frvrfriday, Norman Perry, Pre Kai Ro, 451, and Soriano, (the latter two are collaborators with Sostre), the crooner has become a torchbearer for a genre that walks a thin line between rap and R&B, one steeped in hazy, minimalist production and dripping in melancholy.

Yet Sostre's latest project, Eros, sounds contrived. Songs like "Can't Have Both" and "Bad Luck" find the artist straining to experiment within the margins of his self-proclaimed genre, but Eros' 14-track runtime is mostly littered with recycled material. It'll be comforting for Sostre fans to hear him stick to the script, but those looking for an expanded palette will, unfortunately, find little to nibble on. He covers familiar topics: heartbreak, drug use, emotional unavailability. But treading such familiar thematic material feels irksome at this point in his career. "B*tch I got so many problems," he sings on "New Problems," "ride with my dawgs so I don't gotta solve 'em." On "Scene," he clings to a similar narrative: "I don't change, you don't change so I buy you big rings."

His resistance to growth is suffocating after a few tracks, even when he strikes the perfect balance on songs like "Free" and "Motorola." He has a kid now and announces it proudly in both the album's promotional trailer and cover art. But despite being a father and existing in a totally different musical world than the one in which he released his first album, Sostre continues to act like nothing has changed

Eros finds the crooner boxing himself in. It checks all the boxes of a Sostre album, but the moments that work are vapid and the moments that don't are overbearing. He doesn't seem aware that he's kickstarted an entire movement. "Sometimes I get too paranoid, don't trust a soul," he sings on "Come Thru." He has more support than he's willing to admit, and stardom is perched on his doorstep. All Sostre has to do is breathe and let other people in on the conversation.

MUSIC

Pre Kai Ro Is Ready to Take Over the World

The singer sat down with Popdust to talk about his new single, his relentless work ethic, and his plans for world domination

Born in Oman to Egyptian parents, Pre Kai Ro's complex music sensibilities can partially be attributed to his international upbringing.

pre kai ro - "el camino" prod. by olsem (Official Video) | kashkam www.youtube.com

During his childhood, he lived in Oman, Egypt, Ireland, UK, and Dubai, and was exposed to vastly different music as a result. "My environment was always split in the sense that inside the house, I was being exposed to purely African and Middle Eastern music," said the budding R&B singer. "[But] I was simultaneously becoming obsessed with Hip-Hop, R&B and Rock." Pre Kai Ro's production has always been dark and 808 heavy, but his voice is light and inviting, bouncing along effortlessly as he frankly discusses heartbreak, and his relentless grind for stardom. Popdust caught up with the singer to discuss his new single, "Baby Boy," and his plans for the future.

How did you find your sound?

When I was 10 I won a school talent show while living in Dublin after performing a rendition of "21 Questions" by 50 Cent. My mother was impressed but horrified. From then on, it was kind of a constant development of my sound and identity in music. It wasn't until 2016 while attending university in Nottingham, England when I [got serious]. I had spent years posting acoustic covers online, and already developed my sound [as a result.]

Did anyone, in particular, inspire you to get into music?

My biggest inspirations to this day are (in no specific order) Kanye West, Frank Ocean, Bon Iver, The Weeknd, and Future. I want to emulate their work and pay homage.

You've released a good deal of projects and have been grinding steady for a while now. What have you noticed change about your sound and creative process over the years?

For my first project, Mood with Olsem - an incredibly talented French man I consider my brother - we were at a point where the process was just extremely quick. He would send me a beat he just made and I would record in my room, usually with the first melodic and lyrical idea that came to mind. Tracks like "Queen of The New World" and "Need Me" would be finished in less than an hour. Our latest project, Vibe, was actually produced, written, recorded, mixed and mastered within 48 hours. Now that I'm focusing more on singles, the formula stays the same, but I'm trying to revisit certain songs to get them as "perfect" as they can be.

Was the process similar for "Baby Boy?"

I remember producer [Don Fuego] said he hadn't met an artist who could work as quickly as I did, so he gave me a challenge where he would nap for 30 minutes and expect a full ballad to be written by the time he woke up. I wrote about the turbulent artist life I'm living and how it seems to affect every form of relationship I have. "Baby Boy" is actually based on a culmination of messages I'd received from significant others about my absence as I continued to focus more on my career. Long story short, [everyone] felt "Baby Boy" had a certain magic about it.

What are your plans for the rest of the year? Tour? What can we expect from "King?"

My plans are to drop a single per month for the foreseeable future. I'm refusing to be limited by [everyone else's] expectations of me. I want to continue releasing the music that makes me and those around me feel something. If it doesn't move me, I refuse to let it move anybody else. I'm aiming for global domination, and that type of thing requires patience and careful planning.

Baby Boy