It was only a matter of time before rap and ambient merged into a full syrup, something that’s been on the cards since Lil B appeared in 2010 on DIY label Weird Forest (home to Emeralds, Hair Police and Yellow Swans) with a truly eccentric braindump of stream-of-consciousness raps laced over totally anomalous ambient pads. Iceboy Violet took it further with 'Drown To Float' in 2020, granulating the edges of tracks from Lil Durk, Thugger and Gunna, and now Yungwebster propels the sound further into the blissed abyss, and in the process provides the Sferic label with its most essential release since Space Afrika’s ‘Somewhere Decent To Live’ album in 2018.
Yungwebster’s debut sweeps up tracks recorded over the last couple of years, taking the signature crawl of Southern rap that guided cloud rap's first steps (look up Viper and thank us later), and dissolving it with Ambient froth, lean-hued ATL melancholy and YouTube/TikTok micro-clique self-expression. Yungwebster is here joined by Cali producers astarii, Tavo and 6rantt, Rxmer from the Netherlands, Alabama's Sasmochi, Chicago's Dielauryn, Smooks, Cominalone, Star, local rappers Agxny and Tnotsobad, and NY producers Kacie Free and Sonofadm, all of whom contribute to the album's waved atmosphere. Each track is deployed at diff speeds, often melting into a slowed-down redux, giving a nod to DJ Screw and acknowledging the Houston original's overwhelming influence on contemporary ambient-experimental styles. He speeds things up on 'Stay FOCUSSSS', paying attention to Florida's quicker pulse, heard in music from artists like Ski Mask the Slump God and Smokepurpp, before he fades into a regular-speed coda.
Through each track, Webster works like a musicologist, presenting a wide-angled view of rap that's both nostalgic and forward facing. When he references Future's most inward material (think the soul-piercing 'Monster' finale 'Codeine Crazy'), he inevitably juxtaposes those feels with euphoric risers and psychedelic pads. On 'pull it to the side' he raps over asymmetrically Eno-esque waves and delicate, skeletal 808 Mafia-inspired rhythms. Even the commanding power of Imogen Heap (not only was she sampled on Lil B and Clams Casino's 'I'm God', but Lil B's The Pack bandmate Young L made an entire album from her voice in 2011 with 'As I Float') is referenced on the record's closer 'Coraline'. Circled by ethereal chorals, Yungwebster sings to the heavens, leaving trilling hi-hats to whirr into the clouds.