The area's emerging electronic scene needs a figurehead. Might it be the charismatic and omnipresent Oak City Slums?
As Oak City Slums, Raleigh electro-magnate and beat shark Rodney Finch has become an ubiquitous force within the Triangle's instrumental hip-hop and electronic music pockets. Through a string of recent performances in Durham in collaboration with the Bull City collective Raund Haus, Slums' kinetic, show-stealing sets have suggested he might be the most competent, compelling producer to spearhead local momentum. Might he lead us toward some fraction of the acclaim that Los Angeles's renowned experimental beat showcase, Low End Theory, receives with the likes of Flying Lotus and Daedelus?
Slums' most recent outing, Welcome, arrives just in time. The album is the third in a three-month-long series of projects that deploy greetings as titles, following in the bass-heavy glow of February's Hi and the hip-hop gutsiness of March's Hello. Welcome extends an invitation to a gruff dance dungeon.
Slums names these nine songs by number, suggesting you experience the album as a DJ set. It works that way and as a sequence of stand-alone tracks. The Jersey club assault of "Welcome.5" comes kissed with soulful steel drum echoes, pushing it beyond a busy patchwork. "Welcome.7" forces you into a crossfire of tribal footwork and bass hits, climaxing before it can get colossal. Slums isn't afraid of megalithic moments, but as with "Welcome.1" and the sensuous "Welcome.3," he prefers compositional patience and plotted bass to single, sudden releases, as is often the case with post-trap production.
Helping to build a scene of his own, though, Slums has no need to feed off such trends. As this set shows, his mix of tough demeanor and childlike enthusiasm for the small Triangle world of beat integrity is plenty strong on its own.