HARRISON BORTS 2022

As I was scrolling through my personal Instagram account, I came across a music advertisement. I get a bunch of Ad’s of small artists putting out new music, and since I proclaim myself as an Equal Opportunity Listener, I try to give these artists a chance to listen to what they offer. But with life being so busy, I rarely get to write articles about them. But I gave this one a chance, and I am SO glad I did. I definitely found one of my top albums of 2022.

Harrison Borts is an 18-year-old rapper and producer hailing from San Diego, putting out music since 2021. There is no doubt that he is inspired by Kanye West, and it is fun to see how an artist can inspire others (just as Kanye inspired a generation of rappers such as Drake and Kid Cudi) and create new art (which is what this project pretty much is). This project is pretty hard to describe music-wise, but elements of electronic hip hop, hyperpop, and alternative music are spread thought this 20 minute package of experimentation.

Let’s jump in to the album.

Why Wont You Listen To Me

The introductory track takes us into a guitar crisp-bass driven track. It’s the audio experience of watching the sunrise on a bright orange, July morning. Whispers of the rapper’s name move around in a Spacial Audio experience, like propaganda omitting in low frequency to get the listener into becoming a fanatic. This is all over the album. Truly genius production.

This is Kanye West post-Watch The Throne. It is a sample of what is to come with the rest of the project.

My Turn

Borts recollects how he has been disappointed in his life by being outed out as the weird one, the one that won’t amount to anything. He tells the negative people around him that sadly they view the world with their eyes closed to feel good about their cast in judgement. But he is trying his best to not let this negativity affect him; he needs to accomplish his goals and find a companion that will be on his side for this ride.

A “low-fi” style instrumental, there is a sense of rhythmic determination in this track. Borts vocals and the instrumental of My Turn take turns at some points in the song, complementing each others’ way through the journey of the song. At 1:45 we embark into a beat switch, where its soundscape is reminiscent of Drake’s Nothing Was The Same.

Photo: @cam.jpg

September 17

This track deserves a music video of floating in outer space.

One of my top tracks of this project, September 17 is something straight out of Kanye’s Graduation. Full of emotional synths, the lyricisms alludes to the themes of My Turn, manifesting dreams and hopefully being able to be happy with the musical goals Borts has. The track is relatable to me as it gives me the feeling of being stuck in life while your head is full of dreams that can elevate your current situation.

The second half of Verse 1 summarizes Bort’s internal and external battle of whether his decisions will amount in the long run:

I’m lookin’ for reason and I been so paranoid

It feels like the world around me wanna take my joy

Or at least sell me some watered-down version

It feels like I’m the only person with a purpose

Moneydance

We get a braggadocios, bombastic, hazy dance track in Moneydance. Low, heavy bass synths hit both listening channels thought the track with the now-signature high pitch vocals. Reminiscing of rap songs bragging about “we made it,” Moneydance is the party track of the album. There is no short of material of Borts telling us he want a woman that he can cuddle with, and cook for. It’s a comedic feeling that in reality many of us do pray for, so why does Borts have to feel ashamed for wanting a girl he can run the world with?

Put your fist in the air and Go, go, go, go

OilSpill

We get taken aback to a dreamy, hazy RnB, Frank Ocean-esque track. The vocal manipulations on this track are astounding. It is a bit hard to decipher Oilspill, but it seems like Borts went through a breakup that kept him awake for seven nights straight; alludes it to an oil spill. His former stabilizer is now an ex of the past, and he feels lost.

The lower vocal tones on the chorus would make one think they are a feature, but Borts production talent shines through, it’s all him. The same can be said by the guitar solo starting at the 2:19 mark. I am not a production expert, but the jumping bass and synths in the last minute of the track must have taken work with the way that all stems flow with no lag or cuts. Things like this makes this project so special to me, with every listen, I hear new clicks, drops, tones, vocal manipulations and so on.

At one point, the listener can hear drips of water in echo, as if the soundscape is in a dark cave. Lost in the cave of a lonely breakup.

photo: @rachelweiss_

L3t 1T G0

Let it Go is what I consider the more “emotional” track of the album, for its lyrics and chord progression that purposefully tugs at your heart (but Oilspill is definitely in competition for this title). Definitely the sister track to Oillspil, Let It Go is simply about letting go of the hurtful past, of those who hurt or did you wrong. Tears have come out of my eyes listening to Let It Go.

During the repetitive chorus, Borts spills his emotions: he is ready to move on. Another Kayne-styled production, hard-hiting synths are exploding like crystalized euphoria. Borts repeats to himself to let it go, let all of the pain go to finally be free and get the (money and) musical goals that he desperately is searching for. Once again, the production and melodic breakdowns are phenomenal; hard to describe in words.

Photo: Camille Chang

?!

The most experimental track in the album, ?! [pronounced Question Mark, Exclamation Mark] is a 808-hyperpop-trap combo that is both confusing and catchy as fuck. When listening to the song, the chorus sounds like cartoonish garble… is he saying beefarooni???? Hilariously, Borts is repeating:

Men aren’t healthy, men are stupid
Men are stupid, men are stupid

Is he calling himself stupid? Or is he calling another guy stupid? If so, is this a continuation of the previous two tracks that allude to a relationship breakup and the pain of dealing with it? [Or by men does he mean humans in general?]

Borts now has gained confidence, so much that he tells us he is more confident than his hero Kanye West, and that he would’ve been besties with rock icon Prince. He may not have a job or be in college, but he has what it takes to be the next it guy in music.

His pronunciation of San Diego is like smooth butter. The entire track is vocally delivered so well (regardless of the manipulation it takes place, because the editing is what makes it original) that I have no words to fully dissect each stanza in the track. And that beat breakdown in the end?! I just fucking love this song!!!!!

Music Is

The closer takes us to the days of hip hop where the rapper takes us to their real life through recordings of their environment in the past or present. The listener is digesting a natural occurring conversation that has a reason to be in an album. In this outro, Borts tells us that music is “a beam of light, an aid that helps those in the dark, and a light that will help him reach his dreams.”

In conclusion, there must be a god because I am so glad to stumble upon this project. The cocky, confident, crazy lyricism and production is a breath of fresh air that is needed in the music industry. Even if we can hear Borts influences in this album such as Kanye’s style of vocal delivery and production, this project is still original and a, dare I say, a trailblazer. The lyrics of this album are genuine, and universally relatable even if this album is about one person’s specific vision for their future. Similar to Rina Sawayama’s debut album SAWAYAMA, this is the direction pop music (and definitely hip hop, ala Vince Staples’s Big Fish Theory) needs to take in order to revolutionize. 10/10

*Borts seems to be gearing up for his next era, so jump on the hype train before it leaves the station.

Top Tracks: September 17, ?! , l1t it g0

Click here to his website

Hyperlink for all streaming services: https://songwhip.com/harrison-borts

Check out all of the album’s lyrics on Genius here [courtesy of users LukeRage and TheHeroinFather9]: https://genius.com/artists/Harrison-borts

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Website Built with WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: