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  • Writer's pictureLucas Del Rosario

Album Love Letter: Ooh Rap I Ya

Ooh Rap I Ya by George Clanton (2023)

Why write about an album that came out 7 months ago? Because I like it and I want to. George Clanton’s nostalgia-woven, nonsensically-titled album Ooh Rap I Ya is one of the most vibrant pop releases of 2023. Each track, paired with its own hypnotic drum beat, is drenched in seemingly endless synth layers. Clanton produces a sound lasagna so dense and esoteric that I’m reminded of the iconic THX “Deep Note.” The lyrical content is introspective while remaining fun and playful. Ooh Rap I Ya is Clanton’s first solo project in nearly five years, and I think it was worth the wait.

The first track “Everything I Want” starts boldly, throwing the listener head-first into a complex matrix of glistening electronic sounds. The song helps acclimate to the thick, hazy atmosphere throughout the rest of the album. The lyrics illustrate the aching void created by the absence of a desired romantic partner when nothing else seems to matter.

“I’ve got everything but you / And that’s all I wanted.”

“Justify Your Life” is an exploration of purpose and purposelessness. Clanton proclaims that he’s “got love to give,” alluding to a familiar predicament: having something but not knowing what to do with it. Whether or not giving love is enough to justify his life, Clanton expresses a desire to start again, a desire that resurfaces throughout the album.

“Take a leap and start all over.”

“Punching Down” features chopped vocals and quirky electronic sounds that bounce all over the mix (including high-pitched “pew-pew” sounds reminiscent of an old arcade game). The song is an excellent display of Clanton’s production talent. The hypercritical lyrics are interesting, given the song's title: “You think you’re acting cool / You look like such a punk to everyone.” It’s unclear exactly what the subject did to deserve Clanton’s scorn and whether they really are in a lower position. Maybe he is just shit-talking himself, given the self-reflective nature of the album. If so, the lyrics do sound like something I might tell myself if I’m feeling particularly uncharitable.

If Ooh Rap I Ya is a crown, the retrospective anthem “I Been Young” is perhaps its most precious jewel. The song is Clanton’s vibrant reflection of the mistakes of his youth. Ethereal synths paired with a groovy beat make this song feel like a trip through the years of your life. Remember when you were a kid and had so much optimism about the future? We figure there will come a day when we finally know what we are doing. And that day never comes. We are just as scared and directionless as we were when we were children. This idea is reflected in lyrics like “I think I'm growin' up but nah (if I'm growin') / I'm just growing old.” What is most powerful about this song though is Clanton coming to recognize and accept the mistakes that he’s made.

“Wrong enough to say I’m sorry / Owning up to things I can't undo.”

The aptly named “Fucking Up My Life” (featuring Negative Gemini) has Clanton wondering if much of the pain he suffers is self-inflicted. Ironically, this is one of the most optimistic songs on the album. Despite his fucking up, Clanton embraces radical acceptance so that he can move forward with his life.

“And I'm feeling like I'm fucking up my life / … / And it feels alright.”

The title track “Ooh Rap I Ya” fully realizes Clanton’s desire for something more: “I believe there’s more to life than this.” To me, this album is ultimately about starting again, even when you feel you have messed up massively. We deserve the grace we are withholding from ourselves. The exact meaning of the phrase “ooh rap I ya” eludes me, but I suppose it can mean whatever the listener wants it to.

“To spend life split tangled up / Unflinching at the lie that we’re making up.”

There is much more to enjoy from this album than I have written about here. Tracks like “You Hold the Key and I Found It” and “Vapor King / SubReal” further display Clanton’s ability to construct an atmosphere for the listener to glide through. Otherworldly instrumentation makes you feel like floating on a cloud of multicolored vapors. Featured artist Hatchie’s siren-like vocals pair well with the fuzzy wall of sound on the album closer, “For You, I Will.” Ooh Rap I Ya provides a blissful sonic experience and relatable lyrical content if you are an aimless vagabond like myself. Give it a listen if you haven’t already.


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