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Quadeca finally released his album ‘From Me To You’ recently, and anyone who has been keeping tabs will know that it has been a long year since we were promised the project was ‘coming soon’ at the end of the ‘Alone Together’ music video. Anyone who has heard of Quadeca will probably know him from his cliché and cheesy YouTube beef with KSI, who called him out as being a less than impressive lyricist. This is how I too was introduced to the young rapper, and having heard his diss track I never really saw myself being a fan. Sure, it was a good laugh and a perfectly fine song for the purposes of a YouTube beef, but it never really had me doubting that KSI’s harsh sentiments were untrue. It was with the release of his first album ‘Voice Memos’ that I finally realised the talent that the young man had. Whilst his album as a whole wasn’t anything particularly ground-breaking, it did fully showcase the skill and potential that Quadeca has to offer and certainly got me excited for projects in the future. Since then, some very strong single releases have had me eagerly anticipating the release of this new album, and I have to say it really didn’t disappoint. The atmospheric, dark and anthemic sounds on display in ‘From Me to You’ are truly magnificent, and it presents a far cry from ‘Voice Memos’. It seems that the artist has now gained the confidence, after releasing a fairly commercial sounding album, to go and do things his own way and I personally am all for it.
Before I listened to this album I have to say there was an extra weight on its shoulders for me. A while ago now I wrote an article on whether it is fair to tarnish all YouTube artists with the same brush. Having not come up through the A&R channels of mainstream label artists and with many not being musicians prior, it is so easy to just assume that with every YouTube release comes a rich kid trying to make more money. Releases like ‘Obsessed’ by TikTok star Addison Rae do little to help this. With Quadeca, though, it is different, he has always been about his music and he is genuinely talented. He himself rapped "people judge my music by the platform used to distribute it" in his ‘Not a Disstrack’ video, along with some other scathing lines about the snobbery used to judge Soundcloud rappers who then go on to top the charts. With this album, therefore, I was keen to see whether he could shake this whole YouTube rapper judgement and gain some respect because his music speaks for itself.
‘Sisyphus’ opens the album as the first full song following the short ‘Couloir (Intro)’. This was released as a single shortly before the album and only intensified my excitement for the project. The song encapsulates almost everything that excites me about Quadeca as an artist. Throughout there is imagery of mountains and the wilderness with sentiments that the young man wants to leave his hectic lifestyle behind and get away from it all, living peacefully in a log cabin in he middle of nowhere. There’s also a really great line about following the path up the mountain, which leads on to Quadeca saying that he has been so close to the peak but is now worried about avoiding the drop. This line packs a meaningful punch about how the artist has had some success in the past, but really feels that pressure to try and capitalise on it and not fall short. What is also great about this line is that it is shortly after talking about a metaphorical drop we hear the beat drop for the chorus; if I didn’t know Quadeca, I’d suggest maybe it was a happy accident, but it isn’t the first and won’t be the last time that we see just how clever Quadeca is when putting together a song. In fact, the opening of this song is another moment of sonic genius. The song begins with a beautifully atmospheric and dramatic build complete with vocals and a really broad sounding instrumental; a dash of reverb gives it the feel of a distant yet powerful sound. When Quadeca’s rap comes in suddenly the reverb disappears and the instrumental drops right down, there is a new closeness to the sound. I’m not sure words can quite do it justice but the contrast of the vast and distant build with the vocal really gives the impression of the wilderness; as if you are surrounded by huge mountains and vast landscapes before zoning in on Quadeca, stood alone in the middle of it all. It’s so intelligent but it also sounds amazing.
‘Alone Together’ is another high point. As mentioned in the intro, this song preceded the album as a whole by nearly a year and has been a favourite of mine long before the album came out. I was excited to hear that on the album, however the song comes with a new opening; a full minute's worth of a beautiful string introduction complete with all the drama and emotion that the rest of the song requires. As with ‘Sisyphus’, this song encapsulates a lot of what the album - and Quadeca - is about. The instrumental is pretty simple, consisting mainly of a deep synth playing the same sequence over and over, but somehow sounds like the most vast and intense backing behind the vocals. This is echoed when the drums come in, again playing a slow and simplified beat but somehow completely dominating the track. The new album version actually has slightly different drums than the original single release; there are no major changes, but some of the hard-hitting snares have been replaced with an almost alien-like laser beam sound. I have to say I was a little disappointed by this as so much of the gravitas of the song was carried in those simple yet sensational drums. Quadeca’s vocals manage to keep the intensity of the song, however, switching seamlessly between an almost shouted section to completely quiet and close in the chorus. The whole song is just packed with such emotion and power that it really is something that you have to listen to.
‘Summit, Pt.1’ and ‘Summit, Pt. 2 (Outro)’ signal the end of the album, and aside from the singles that I was already familiar with, are probably my favourites on the whole album. Continuing the mountain theme, ‘Summit, Pt.1’ almost feels like Quadeca looking back at the end of the album, considering where he has come from and where he is now. The sentiment of the song is that he has come a long way but is still far from done, with the summit being the metaphor for success. Quadeca raps that some people would say he is halfway there, but he thinks he is still halfway from it, emphasising that instead of resting on his laurels he is determined not to fall off the edge, similarly to ‘Sisyphus’. The song in the second verse addresses someone else, presumably a partner, and is a beautiful message about how the rapper knows the sacrifices the other person has made to help him get where he is, and that he is ready to repay the favour for them. After the second chorus the song breaks down into a hauntingly beautiful passage in which we just hear a piano and some strained, distant vocals harmonising. It is unclear what the lyrics are, but this section really isn’t about the lyrical content and more about the amazing sound that the vocals produce. It contrasts perfectly with all of the intensity and power that has come before it in the album. As with the start of the album where the first few songs beautifully blend into each other, ‘Summit, Pt.1’ ends with the piano quietening and slowing before ‘Summit, Pt.2’ re-introduces some vocals to the same backing. Again, as with the end of part one, you cannot easily distinguish what the lyrics are, but as the outro to the album this is so perfect. After all the emotion, intensity and anthemic power that has come before it, this stripped back, calm and quiet ending is just so beautiful.
So, what did I think overall?
The album really surpassed my expectations. ‘Voice Memos’ really was quite commercial and I expected ‘From Me to You’ to be quite similar for the most part, despite the singles from it that I had already heard. Throughout listening and reviewing the album, the whole time I was trying to think of someone who had a similar sound, or a similar style to compare it to, but I’m not sure that there is anyone. This album really feels like Quadeca expressing himself and I love that. Beyond the great lyrics and rapping on this album, I think my favourite thing is the sound. I’ve never heard anything like it. It is unbelievably simple in its mechanics but the whole thing just sounds so vast. This is completely deliberate too, it feels like every sound and every moment has a purpose on the album. The whole thing carries a real intensity and drama throughout that uses the most basic of instrumentation to create this huge, huge sound. It gives that sensation that you are in the wilderness, that you are surrounded by mountains; it conveys that in a way that I’ve never heard before. It’s so unique. After listening all the way through, I really had this strange feeling that I’d just been a part of something special, as if I’d experienced something, and that for me is the sign of a truly amazing album. What is even weirder about this is that the album is so much more than a collection of songs; I did like the songs individually and there were a couple I really liked, but in the context of the album they all work. Some of the songs on there are good but not great, you’d maybe be indifferent about them if you listened to them on their own, but in the context of the project they were all moving parts to create this one amazing collective at the end. This was helped by the way a lot of the songs seamlessly transitioned into the next, creating the feeling that this is one continuous piece of art rather than a bundle of a few completely separate pieces. I’d say that the one thing the album missed was some of the really impressive rapping that Quadeca can do; the lyricism was great on this album, but there weren’t any particularly fast or wordy bits and he is so talented that it would be great for him to have showcased this. I also, however, completely understand why he didn’t, as this is what he showcased on ‘Voice Memos’ and this project wasn’t really suited for that kind of rapping. Overall though, Quadeca’s YouTube diss tracks showed him as a good ‘YouTube rapper’, ‘Voice Memos’ showed him as a talented lyricist, whereas ‘From Me To You’ shows that he is a great artist, and I can’t wait to see what he does next.
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