I don’t think 1980s Miami synth trap is an actual genre, but if it ever becomes one, “Max LeRoy Volume 1” is going down as one of its progenitors.
Max LeRoy says he is a huge J-pop fan, but his project is driven by a heavy trap influence and a ton of ’80s synthwave and hair metal references. It features a Japanese rapper, a Norwegian bassist, “sad rap” poster boy Little Pain, virtual idol Hatsune Miku and a bunch of other people I haven’t even heard of. It shouldn’t work, but somehow it does.
“Volume 1” sounds like Los Angeles is supposed to sound but never does. The first track features Japanese rapper Cherry Brown, whose entire verse is about hanging out at an LA beach and having a summer fling. Cherry effortlessly flips back and forth between Japanese and English slang, and makes it clear that just because he’s in LA it doesn’t mean that he’s going to switch his style up for the local women: “So tell me about yourself / Nah, not your number, I wanna know your LINE account.”
After Cherry’s bars, Kreayshawn steps to the plate and delivers a pretty good verse, which she then proceeds to kind of ruin in an adorable way by making weird noises. Somehow, though, the whole thing is held together by the production and (former Avril Lavigne guitarist) Eban Taubenfeld’s vocals.
Other standout tracks are Andre Martel’s ’80s hood-funk anthem “Ball Till It Hurts” and a Misterthumbs and Maya Vik collaboration titled “2022,” where Norwegian bassist / model Vik tells us why she doesn’t love us anymore.
The last cut, “That’s It Man!,” featuring Myrone on guitar, is probably the best summary of how impossibly incongruent and incredibly good this project is. Trap drums, “Miami Vice” synths, Lil’ Jon-esque shouts and intergalactic ’80s guitar shredding — all of it mastered to within an inch of its life. “Max LeRoy Volume 1” ends up like the perfect summer vacation: crazy, but memorable.
Listen to “Max LeRoy Volume 1” via Max LeRoy’s Soundcloud page at www.soundcloud.com/maxleroy/sets/max-leroy-volume-1.