In many ways, EP opener "Faces in My Memory" is the archetypal Porter Ray title: His work wrestles, almost obsessively, with the past, with nostalgia, with things or people who've touched the young rapper's life before abrupt exits. His opening triptych of tapes (WHT GLD, BLK GLD, and RSE GLD) reflected this introspection and refracted it in gorgeous, soulful fragments of growing up hustling in the pre-gentrified Central District through the haze of high-school sweethearts and kush smoke.
This new EP represents a welcome bit of progress from Sub Pop's newest hiphop signee, even though the beats tread the familiar ground of smoky soul and 1970s blaxploitation licks. Nightfall may prove to be his If You're Reading This It's Too Late, a stopgap between early highs and future immortality.
Ray has positioned himself as a '6 god from a different area code, a sensitive soul with a soft spot for subdued melodies and storytelling. He even croons for a minute on "Dreaming (Interlude)," bringing to mind Drake's better moments on Thank Me Later. The rest of the all-too-brief tape is devoted to sharpening Ray's liquid, lyrical swords, even throwing in some Wu-Tang-repping kung fu dubs on the opening track.
At this point, it wouldn't be misguided to compare Ray's stunning early work to Proust's Swann's Way or Knausgaard's My Struggle: a never-ending reckoning with responsibility, reaction, and recollection. Seattle needs some sort of broader response to the Macklash than we've gotten, after all the attention that great white hope brought to our fair burg. Not to say local rappers haven't been cutting it, but true talk: Shabazz is too weird, THEESatisfaction too mercurial, Nacho Picasso too insular. If the city needs a new rapper to claim the crown (and it does), it seems Porter Ray is the man to claim it.