Four years after his last self-produced, electro-hip hop album "Plateau Vision," Philadelphia rapper/producer Lushlife is still doing things his own way on his own timetable. His new album "Ritualize" dropped Feb. 19 and proves the rapper continues to follow the beat of his own drum, literally and figuratively.
"I refuse to work in the context of ever-shortening album cycles in the face of infinite content on the Internet," says the 34-year-old rapper, who was born Raj Haldar. "I took a long time making 'Ritualize,' mostly because it's an ambitious album that had a lot of moving parts. On the other hand, like any thirty-something, life got in the way."
Life in 2015 included going through a break-up and buying a large house in South Philadelphia away from the tiny Italian Market row home where he lived and handcrafted "Plateau Vision" in the basement.
"Life stuff, you know," he says, resignedly. "Ultimately, I was willing to take as long as required to bring what was in my head to fruition."
Working one's own timetable doesn't mean "Ritualize" sounds like the dreamy, sample-happy "Plateau Vision" or mash-up predecessors, "Cassette City" (2009) or "West Sounds" (2005). Far from it.
Recorded in South Philly, Fishtown and Los Angeles with the aid of the CSLSX team allowed for a broader sonic palette, pulling from vintage film scores and classic soul — "as well as baroque and avant-garde music," he adds. It's a darker, more expansive and nightmare soundscape at times.
Lushlife worked with co-producers CSLSX and supporting musicians for "Ritualize," rather than recording alone in his basement as he had in the past. Singer Marissa Nadler, War on Drugs bassist Dave Hartley, DJ-producer RJD2, Run the Jewels MC Killer Mike, lo-fi pop goofball Ariel Pink and legendary Philly rapper Freeway are but a few of "Ritualize"'s new components. Philly rapper Freeway will also join Lushlife at Saturday's release party.
"Having a production team hold down the fort allowed me to focus on my lyrical content," he says. "With that space and latitude, I’ve gotten to what I think is my most personal and lyrically challenging album."
If you go:
Saturday, Feb. 27, 9 p.m.
1201 N. Frankford Avenue, Philadelphia