Every time I turn on my car, the stereo pairs with my phone over Bluetooth and starts playing the same song. Up until October of 2020, that was “Coming Up” by Paul McCartney; every day, no matter what. Then I snagged Sun Tapes by Ron Obasi and for whatever magical illogical reason, now my car plays “Dem Crackas” every time I step in. If you’re currently unfamiliar with the record, it’s a track that features a refrain of “sick of dealing with these bitch ass crackers” atop a delightfully float-y piano line. As a white male, it’s a nice reminder to be mindful of my privilege in the world and, frankly, it’s a catchy song to boot.
Obasi spent October releasing a number of tracks on his website under the title Droptober, released a collaborative track with Elements and put Sun Tapes out in the world. That’s a rather abundant period of releases that might lead one to overlook the album; which would be a damn shame because it’s a uniquely crafted piece of work from start to finish. Throughout the 36-minute runtime, hard snapping beats are woven between twinkling piano lines and freeform saxophone solos that all pay service to Obasi (and guests) verses that pull no punches. The aforementioned “Dem Crackas” tackles white privilege, “Pennys Interlude” references police violence and “S.U.N.S.” brutally tackles capitalism being stacked against people of color. Throughout the record these hard hitting topics and more glide across deceptively gentle tracks. It’s a dichotomy of music and message that is pulled off effortlessly.
Obasi hasn’t slowed down since the release of Sun Tapes, having released a captivating video for “Pennys Interlude“, the new single “Suck Yo Teeth” and a live performance for Eighty Vybe that proves his MC skills shine in person just as much as they do in the studio. His output can be a firehose to consume but start with Sun Tapes as your introduction and dive right in to the rest.