Fact: for an extended period in 2020, every time I turned on my car the Bluetooth would sync and start playing Ron Obasi’s “Dem Crackas” from Sun Tapes. I already considered myself a casual fan but from that time forward, I was a locked in die hard for every morsel Obasi dropped. From the triple collab of “LORDY LORDY” to the mysteriously ethereal and undeniably badass “VILLELIKEMOOKIE” to the oft overlooked Dimensions N Demos to everything in between, there has been a lot of Obasi to enjoy in the last three years. Despite that constant outpouring, something about the release of Thirty Sunz feels especially elevated.
Over on Instagram, there’s an onslaught of promotional material for Thirty Sunz; videos depicting an animated Obasi endlessly floating on a cloud, a shrouded Obasi hovering through a eclipse, slow zoom shots of Nashville in black and white, photos of Obasi with his family. Promo materials are par for the course for any album but many are shot by Obasi himself; conduits to expand his artistic craft and provide inroads to hear his music.
This same care and craft extends from the album itself. Queue up “MONOPOLY” and you’ll hear Obasi’s insightful verses over top of a swirling beat; but listen even closer and you’ll hear a secondary layer of baritone vocals humming throughout, flourishes of certain lyrics doubled up and a deeper experience rewarded by your attention. Much of Thirty Sunz is a journey through personal anecdotes, largely tied together through Obasi’s experiences in maturation. “ZACHTALYORZ” and “DRAGONBALLZ” are Power Rangers and Dragonball Z references but are both far cries from cheap nostalgia references, they function as milestones along the way worth looking back at. “FINALFORM” is a literal nod to that elevation of craft and looking back at what shaped the journey, delivered atop angelic samples.
Over the years, Obasi has embraced a slower drawl and intentioned delivery. His tracks are filled with references to soul, R&B and jazz – sprinkled with modern beat manipulations. Thirty Sunz is a bold statement of where Obasi has come from and who he is now, confidently. It’s an elevated album about elevation; an artist’s maturation to expand his craft and embrace confidence. Also a helluva enjoyable listen. I’m still a diehard and looking forward to more.